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  • It's OK to have a Baby Registry Without the Shower.

    While living and working in far flung countries can be exciting, there are most certainly downsides to being separated from your loved ones. This physical (and psychological) distance can be especially difficult when it comes to special life events, such as the announcement of a little one on the way. Celebrating Life Events..Online However, technology has recently shown to be a great tool for keeping friends and family spread across multiple continents and time zones connected. In the last few years, I have celebrated birthdays, engagements, baby showers and even weddings in the virtual sphere. The emotions and connections experienced behind the screens were just as valid as if we had been there in person. Evolving Traditions While baby registries have historically come hand-in-hand with baby showers, this is yet another tradition that can be evolved to suit the new reality of today's digital economy and the nomadic living arrangements of some modern families. Not everyone that would like to contribute to your baby preparations can attend a physical event, especially if you're located in a different city/country/continent. Rest assured that sharing a baby registry (even without the shower!) will be well-received by loved ones. It helps take the pressure off finding the right gift by providing clear guidance on the exact items your growing family needs. Here are some tips on how to make the process as simple as possible for all: How to Share Your Baby Registry (without a Shower): Choose a Platform: Amazon UK, Amazon, Babylist (US, Canada, NZ and Australia only) are all great choices for baby registries. They offer a wide selection of products, group-gifting (crowd-funding for bigger ticket items), generous return policies (for when you change your mind), gift-cards and cash funds (Babylist). Construct Your List. Both Babylist and Amazon offer checklists organised by category (e,g, nursing, feeding, bathtime, etc) to help ensure you don't forget anything vital. Plan Ahead. Anytime between week 12 and 22 of your pregnancy is a good time to plan your announcement and share your registry. By week 30, you should have a good idea of what baby items have already been bought and still have plenty of time to shop for what's still needed well before your due date! Share Your News! Via Email, Whatsapp or Text. Create a personalised announcement using photos (e.g. your ultrasound and/or the couple). Consider using an online design tool such as Canva to create an eye-catching invite that's easy to forward on. Don't forget to include a clickable link to your online baby registry in the text accompanying the images! Messaging. Keep it simple and light so there's no perceived pressure. For example, "Little hands, little feet. Hello baby, goodbye sleep! We can't wait to meet our little one. For those asking how they can help us prepare, we have created a baby registry. More than anything, we are grateful for your love and support!" Another suggestion: "We are thrilled to be welcoming our new baby and can’t wait for you to meet them. If you are considering a gift, we have created a baby list on ______ for ideas". Preparing for Baby There are definitely a lot of extra things to consider when a baby is on the way. However, a baby registry will prove to be one of the best things you can do to prepare for your new bundle of joy. Babies need a lot of stuff! Not only will a baby registry help you get organised and save money, but it gives well-wishers the chance to show their love with items you will cherish and use... shower or no shower!

  • How Ditching Moisturiser Saved My Skin

    The beauty mantra "cleanse, tone, moisturise" has been around since time immemorial. Even the ancient Egyptians had cleansing soaps, sea salt exfoliation and moisturising honey and milk masks. If it worked for Queen Cleopatra, it should definitely work for us. Or so we've thought. 3 Step Program I'm sure we all remember as teenagers the marketing campaigns for products promising to banish acne. The drugstore's beauty aisle would have multiple brands offering a 3 step program of cleanser, toner and moisturiser, all promising that if you followed the regime dutifully, you were almost guaranteed to have perfect skin and the confidence that came with it. Despite these assurances, they did not always deliver, and my teen years and twenties were still pitted (pun-intended) with attempts to find the perfect product. The Quest for Smooth Skin Even if my face was clear, I was still bothered by tiny tiny little bumps around my temples and forehead. Over time I was able to achieve a smoother texture with microdermabrasion, and as the beauty scene evolved, chemical exfoliation. However this was an expensive habit, and probably overkill for someone with relatively young and fresh skin. Too Much Product It was in 2019 when I started to question the necessity for moisturiser. When I moved to Nigeria in 2017, I had to overhaul my skincare regime to accommodate the hot (consistently 32C/90F) and extremely humid climate. My oily/combination skin now required the lightest of water-based moisturizers but at times it still felt heavy in the tropical heat. Ditching the Moisturiser It was an atypical day when I decided to just go without moisturiser. I was probably headed somewhere without air conditioning and I didn't want my face to melt with product. It only took a few days to see a massive change! My skin had smoothed out and no longer had a rough appearance. My hormonal acne on my chin calmed down and was rarely seen again. I've never looked back. For hydration, I now supplement my skin routine with hyaluronic acid, polysaccharides, beauty waters and essences. Stimulate Your Natural Glow It's not the most mainstream stance, but there is a growing number of dermatologists warning against over-dependence on moisturisers. While they are very good at solving the immediate issue of dryness, they are not great providing long-term hydration. Moisturisers can also fool your skin into reducing its natural exfoliation and moisturising mechanisms. As a result, the build-up in dead skin cells makes your skin more susceptible to congestion. By limiting the use of moisturisers, you can actually stimulate cell turnover and wake up your skin's natural glow! Shake Up Your Routine The skincare industry has greatly evolved since the days of Cleopatra and the products of our youth. With so much new technology and research coming out these days, it shouldn't be surprising when certain foundations of skincare get challenged. If any of my experiences resonate with you, you might just want to shake up your routine... and ditch the cream!

  • Safe Skin Care for Pregnancy and Beyond

    Being pregnant is an amazing condition, but it comes with a lot of changes! While the hormonal fluctuations may give some lucky moms that effortless pregnancy glow, they can also deliver skin issues such as breakouts, melasma and sensitivity. Be Prepared Given my commitment to healthy looking skin, I started researching suitable products for pregnancy months before we were even ready to start trying. I was very aware that there are certain ingredients that are harmful to the baby, and I wanted to phase them out and find replacements as soon as possible. This would also involve trialling new products to ensure they were compatible with my skin. What to Avoid Using research sourced from Healthline and other reputable sources, here is my guide to the top skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding: Retinoids Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acids Thioglycolic Acid Hydroquinone & Alpha Arbutin Formaldehyde Chemical Sunscreens Parabens & Phthalates (Some) Essential Oils It's a fairly long list, and demoralising if you have to strip out half (or most!) of your perfectly curated skincare routine. But never fear, it is possible to find a balance between maintaining your glow and keeping your baby safe! What's Safe to Use The following ingredients are deemed by multiple sources as safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding: Vitamin C (great for brightening) Hyaluronic Acid (absolutely for hydration!) Azelaic Acid and Mandelic Acid (mild exfoliation and fights acne) Niacinamide (good for pigmentation) Physical Sunscreen (keeps those aging rays away) Adjust your Skin Routine Taking these guidelines into account, I carried out a deep-cleanse on my skincare products a few months before we started trying for a baby, just to ensure my body was free of any residual effects. Unsuitable products were put in storage or given away to friends. This is the end result of what my regime looked like while pregnant and breastfeeding. Please note that this list includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases: 1st Cleanse: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. I've found using an oil cleanser on oily skin extremely gentle and effective at clearing out dissolved dirt and excess sebum from your pores. 2nd Cleanse: BIODERMA Sebium H20 Micellar Water Apply to a cotton or reusable pad and swipe to remove any remaining residue. Exfoliation: Vivant Skincare 3% 3-in-1 Toner. Also helps with pigmentation and acne! Hydration: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair (both AM & PM) Serum: Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster (AM) or Vivant Skincare 8% 3-in-1 Serum (PM) SPF: Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free Dry Touch SPF50 A physical sunscreen suitable for oily and hyperactive skin. I've trialled a number of sunscreens that range from $ to $$$ and this is the only only that didn't make me break out. Get that Glow! Using this regime, I managed to maintain healthy glowing skin throughout all three trimesters and into breastfeeding. I hope these tips prove similarly helpful in keeping your skin looking great and your baby safe through this exciting new phase! Disclosure: This article is not intended to replace medical advice given to you by your physician. Your doctor knows your medical history and should make all final decisions regarding skincare products and ingredients during pregnancy.

  • 5 Dos When Dating Dads

    My single friends will tell you that these streets aren't getting easier. Dating in your 30s (and 40s!) have a few more considerations that rarely came up in your 20s. For instance, there is a much higher probability that the person that you're interested in has been married before and/or has kids! Such was the case when I met my husband Y. I did my research (i.e. speaking to my girls), and learnt that, although single, he had a daughter. My knee-jerk reaction was that a relationship with a dad would be so much more complicated and I shouldn't consider it. However as the months went by, I got to know Y better and realised what an amazing, genuine individual he was. I decided that I couldn't disqualify him based on pre-conceived reservations and should at least give a relationship a try. And the reality was so much better! I learnt that Y is a great and very present father, which proved to be a solid indicator of the kind, decent man he is. Let me share with you the questions I asked myself before starting the relationship with Y, knowing in advance that he had a child already. I hope this helps guide your thought process should you come across a promising candidate...with a kid. Roughly in order of importance: "Am I happy to come second?" There will be situations where he will not be available and he needs to spend time with his child. Are you selfless enough to be understanding when this happens and he chooses his kid's priorities over yours? " What kind of father is he?" This will also guide your answer to the first question in terms of his priorities. Is he hands on and visiting every week or is he a passive "special occasions" dad? Clearly the two require different time demands. While the latter may enable more time for your relationship, it is also indicative of his values and the kind of father he will be to your children (should you choose to have them). " What is his relationship with the previous partner?" Is it close? acrimonious? How often do they discuss co-parenting? Will you be upset if they are on the phone talking about their child when needed? Conversely, if his partner is intentionally disruptive (late with handovers, missing items), do you have patience to handle these situations with grace? " Will your partner protect you?" When the inlaws/partner are being meddling or his child is being unreasonably difficult, will he stand up for you and protect your feelings? Your happiness is also important and you need to be able to trust his ability to manage competing interests. " What relationship do you want (or can have) with his child?" . Are you a bonus mom? A fun auntie? An indifferent gf? Be honest with yourself, and make sure this is communicated to your partner. There is no wrong answer to these questions, because it's OK to be selfish when it comes to your time and recipe for happiness. You certainly don't want any resentment in future. Factor in "worst" case scenarios, discuss them with your partner and ask yourself if you can accept those arrangements and potential compromises in your relationship. The key to dating a dad, as with any relationship, is communication. Whether you have already started a relationship with a dad, or considering entering one, I hope these questions will help provide the clarity in defining your relationship with him...and his child.

  • 6 Ways to Make New Friends as a Mom

    Congrats, you've had a baby! You've just gone through a huge life transition which will be met with a flurry of well-wishes and visits from friends and family. However, you may find that some of your friends that have yet to enter motherhood can't fully relate to some of the changes and experiences you are going through. That's why it's really helpful to also have a group of "mom friends" that can help support your physical and mental wellbeing during parenthood. Just making plans to get out of the house for a coffee or a walk makes a huge difference! Making new friends as a mom can be daunting, but extremely worthwhile. Here are a few ways you can build a new tribe to accompany you on this fresh and rewarding phase of life: Strike up a conversation with the mom next to you in the ward! The first night in the hospital without my partner and a brand new baby, I felt incredibly isolated. The lady next door had sounded friendly enough so I started up a conversation by speaking to the curtain "Hi there! I can't believe they've just left us alone with our babies like this. Do you mind if I come over?!". It turns out we have a lot in common and 6 months later, we are still friends. Start a Whatsapp Group. A friend of mine invited me to a Whatsapp group for first-time moms when T was 3 months. I was the 5th person to join chat and we were all encouraged to make referrals to new moms we knew. In less than 3 months, we had over 20 first-time moms in the group! A Whatsapp group is a great source of information, especially from moms that have older tots and have gone through the paces already. It can also fantastic support during those late-night feeds... it's very likely that someone else is also awake at 3am! Join a local moms group in your area. It's a great way to meet other moms and get out of the house. In the UK, you can register with your local Children Centre and take part in classes such as baby massage. There are also new digital apps such as Peanut that connect you to moms nearby. Join a mommy and me class. These classes serve the dual purpose of teaching you helpful tips about your baby and connecting you to moms with children at a similar age. For those who are more nomadic or live in homes away from home, there are online parenting classes that offer the opportunity to connect digitally with a community. Ask your friends and family. Chances are they know other moms who would make great friends. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for an introduction! Take initiative. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other moms that you meet in passing in your local area. If they are just as hungry as you for a connection, a simple “Hi” or “How are you finding things?” could be enough to get the ball rolling and lead to casual meet-ups.

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