5 Ways To Include Exercise In Your Daily Life

As busy parents it can be really hard to add a fitness routine into the day – I know when I have a few minutes to myself I’d rather sit and sip coffee than sweat on an exercise bike! However, every bit of exercise helps, if only because by some cruel twist of fate, the more energy you expend in the right way, the more energy you have for the fun things. Or so they tell me!

I read an article recently with great tips for including exercise into your daily life which made me think of ways mums can include exercise into the things we already do.

The reality as parents we are very active a lot of the time anyway, but sometimes it just takes a little creative thinking to make the most of the time and energy you have, while at the same time making it fun for the kids and showing them a healthier way of life.

1) Walking


I often take the kids to the park and sit in a shady spot while they play. Instead – with the motivation of Fitbit challenges! – walking around the outskirts of the park I can keep an eye on them, and get the step count up along with the heart rate.Read more: 5 Ways To Include Exercise In Your Daily Life

Premier Inn Family Friendly Budget Hotel Review

A few months back, Premier Inn, the largest budget hotel chain in the UK, contacted me to review a few of their hotels. As we aren’t able to go on holiday this year, we decided to use the nights for a few mini trips over the rest of the year.

Last weekend, we had our first night in the Tower Hill Premier Inn in London, ready for our day out at Lollibop Festival for Kids.

We had an absolutely wonderful stay at the Premier Inn.

Unfortunately this particular hotel didn’t have parking, so once we’d found somewhere to park, and walked back to the hotel, our stay officially commenced.

On arrival, the receptionist was really friendly and helpful. We confirmed our wifi for the night and were told that we had breakfast included in our room rate and that our two children would eat for free – two free child meals with every adult meal, which is fabulous for single parent or four child families! The children were given activity books and colouring pencils. In the lobby there were fliers with maps of the area, and discount codes for places to eat.

There was also a Costa coffee cafe with snack food we could buy for dinner or lunch and the restaurant was available for dinner too. Since we were in London, however, we availed ourselves of the opportunity to take a walk along the South Bank and grab something to eat in Covent Garden, for which we received 20% discount from the fliers we were given at the reception, which was welcome.

Our room was fantastic. I opened the door and let the family in and Ameli’s reaction was pretty fabulous. She walked in saying ‘this is amazing!’

That’s always a good start!

The room was huge, and contained a king sized bed, a single sofa bed and a floor bed. Ameli immediately claimed the floor bed for herself and Aviya and I had the huge king. There was more than enough room on the bed for my tall husband too, but he fell asleep reading on the sofa bed, so we all had plenty of space.

The room came equipped with a desk and room service menu, television, kettle, cups, coffee, tea, sugar, extra cushion if you prefer a firmer or softer pillow, extra blankets and a room safe. I think there was an iron and ironing board too, but we didn’t use those, so I didn’t pay much attention.

The bathroom was basic, but amply sufficient with a basin, toilet and shower. In the shower there was a dispenser with hair and body soap and I used that as shampoo too. The water pressure in the shower was amazing. Quite frankly, it may have been one of the nicest showers I’ve had in a long, long time.

We were worried that we were going to have a noisy night as we were just below street level on the one side, and on the major thoroughfare to the breakfast room on the other, but no, we didn’t hear a sound all night. It was pure bliss. Even Ameli slept through the night.

The next morning we went to breakfast, where there was a choice of hot breakfast, cereals and continental breakfast, as well as juices, milk and a help-yourself Costa machine. Yum.

We ate as much as we could stomach, so that we wouldn’t be starving by the time we arrived at Lollibop and the food was really very good. Ameli had a lot of fruit, Aviya had a small bit of cereal and egg, and the husband and I had a cooked breakfast and yoghurt each. I thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast.

We had to wait for the croissants to come out the oven and watching the chef was like watching a classical dance on stage. Seriously, he moved non-stop, one hand pouring, one scooping, then lifting, then flipping, then turning, then swapping, then dishing, then serving, in and out, open and closed – it was mesmerising watching him!

Checkout couldn’t be simpler – we walked to reception, handed over our key and walked out with a friendly ‘goodbye’ from the receptionist.

Overall, we had a really fantastic stay, and Ameli wanted to back after our day out. She was quite upset that we had to go all the way home!

A few months ago I had the good fortune to stay in a really expensive, five star hotel. It was incredible, with things like a turn down service and mints on the pillow. It was wonderful, but at £175 for me I was very glad not to be paying, specially since I still had to pay for the bar snacks in the room.

The Family Room at Premier Inn ranges from around £1o9 to £133 for the whole family, including four breakfasts. It was supremely comfortable, spacious and certainly didn’t feel in any way like a budget hotel.

If I was spending someone else’s money, of course I’d like the £175 hotel for a night on my own, but as a family holiday hotel, a budget hotel, and affordable night out, the Premier Inn, and specifically the Tower Hill Premier Inn, wins hands down.

We have a few more nights booked over the next few months, and we’re looking forward to them!

AnyBook Reader Review And Competition

You know how every now and then, you find a product, look at it, dislike it, and then on closer inspection fall in love with it?  Well, this is one of those.

The AnyBook Reader is basically an electronic-pen-slash-voice-recorder-and-player-backer.  The premise being that you read your child’s favourite books while recording yourself and they can listen to them at any time, in your voice.  Initially, I have a problem with this in so many ways. If used as a replacement for time with your child, for example. But, after a while of thinking about it, I realised that there are examples of where this would be wonderful – like when a parent is deployed, away on business or otherwise unavailable. It’s a great way for the non-custodial parent to still get to be part of the bed time routine, for example.

And the more I thought about its potential application in our lives, the more I loved it. I decided to try it out and came up with this: I typed up a book, and emailed it to my parents. They then read the story into their phones, recording it on Whatsapp. They sent it to me and I recorded it into the reader and just like that, Nana and Oupa can read Ameli a story from across the world.

I’ve done a little video clip to show you how it works, so watch this:

But in short, click a button, record, hold the pen to a little sticker you’ve applied and listen.  There are no cables to connect, nothing to upload or download, and no new stories you need to buy or keep adding to.

In your started pack you receive 200 reusable stickers, which you can attach to each new page or to the front of the book. You also receive character stickers – faces – that we’re using to identify who reads each book. (So a book read primarily by Nana has the little face with glasses on it, and my parents have added a ‘we’re going to read a story now, so settle down and snuggle up’ type welcome message.) There are also some sound stickers you can use in stories – a cow, bell, ringing phone and so on. You can also buy another 600 stickers if you need them.

The AnyBook Reader is so simple and easy to use, and I think when a parent or other family member isn’t available, it’s perfect for keeping a connection alive.

The AnyBook Reader is available in the DPR-4000 (£69.99) model can store up to 60 hours of recordings and the DPR-3000 (£49.99)which can store up to 15 hours of recordings.

We have been shortlisted in the MADS awards as best pregnancy blog and best new baby blog. I would be so grateful if you would take 1 minute and vote or us to win in those categories.


If you’d like to win an AnyBook Reader, leave a comment below telling me the name of your favourite story that you’d like to record for your (or another) child.

For an additional entry, (which is not compulsory, and is not sponsored by Facebook and which has nothing to do with Facebook or its employees) you can like Any Book Reader, and leave a second comment below saying you have. Also, leave a message on their wall telling them I sent you!

This competition finishes at 23:59 on 11 June and the winner will be randomly drawn. Winners will be announced here and on the Diary of a First Child Facebook Page. Please check these to find out who won.


Please read the competition rules.

You do not have to tweet or share this competition to enter, and doing so does not give you additional entries unless otherwise stated, but doing so helps ensure that I can keep bringing you competitions! You can subscribe to Diary of a First Child by RSS  or to our competitions only RSS feed or email. You can also follow us on Facebook or on Twitter. We hope to see you back again soon!


Forging A Village In The Absence Of One

I loved packing my bags and boarding the plane for England. My family weren’t there to see me off, since they were living in Malaysia. When they left Malaysia and eventually immigrated to Australia, via a few years back in South Africa, I was already married and living in England.

Our parents met over coffee in a restaurant a 12 hour flight from where we were sitting at our desks working. We were already married, so the pressure was off. We’ve just always been together, now. Together, alone.

Read more: Forging A Village In The Absence Of One

Blackmail, Violence And Emotional Abuse As Parenting Tools

Blackmail is a crime. I think we’d all agree with that.

Emotional blackmail is abuse. Again – we all agree.

So why on earth would anyone offer emotionally blackmailing a child as a suitable option/alternative to smacking?

A mother asked on a parenting group the other day what she could do about her very destructive 21 month old. In response she had answers like this:
Read more: Blackmail, Violence And Emotional Abuse As Parenting Tools

Pic Of The Week 52-11

This slightly stalkerish homage is actually a tribute to my sister. My younger sibling, and outside of my marriage, my best friend, we’ve been through a lot together, both good and bad. To all the mums and dads out there dealing with children who can’t stand each other, take courage, have hope: My mother once threatened to lock us in a room with two knives and not open the door till only one of us came out. She didn’t do it, of course, but we didn’t get along very well as children.

This is possibly the “thing” we’ll miss the most when we return to England: Day trips, outings and time spent with our favourite (and only) sister and aunty.

Thanks for joining us for our pic of the week

Pic Of The Week 52-07

This is the one where everyone sleeps, basically.  I have been very ill and during my recovery, Ameli spent some time with my parents.  Whenever she is with them, they send me regular updates by picture message, which I  really appreciate.

Before I had Ameli, I always thought a baby sleeping  in your arms was a sure sign of trust. I still think that, and that’s why I love these pictuers.

Thanks for joining us for our Pic of the Week

I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…

The theme for this months’ carnival of natural parenting is “I cannot image parenting without…” At first I thought it was an easy answer, but a bit of investigating brought me to a totally different conclusion.

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I thought that perhaps it was my Ella Roo sling. It was the best thing I ever acquired in the first months of parenting. It made my life so much simpler, without a pushchair up and down the stairs into our house, and never having to leave it outside at Rhyme Time. Of course, there’s also how lovely it was to be able to keep Ameli close to me, soothe her, lull her to sleep, and get on with the housework while she’s asleep on my back.
Read more: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…

365-336 to 365-342 A Week in Pictures

A much busier week, in comparison to last week! Lots of family, friends and all sorts of things going on.

Day 336 – Farewell, Again

Our last day together. It’s a bit sad not knowing when you’ll see your brother again. Hopefully it won’t be another ten years before we’re all together again.

Day 337 – Walking to the Pot Holes

An early morning walk to get there and back before the heat of the day. It was a beautiful walk, up and down the mountain towards the Pot Holes. Martin and my dad walking ahead, I love seeing them together. Ameli was carried in turns – my mother carried her on our Hippychick and my dad on his shoulders. I love the halo around her head 😉 and the final picture is of the pot holes.

Day 338 – Playground Fun

Our last day and I finally managed to snap some pictures of Ameli on the play equipment, which she loved, climbing up and down the ladder, running across the swingbridge then plonking herself down at the top of the slide and whizzing down it – so long as there’s someone to catch her at the bottom – she’s still a baby after all!

Day 339 – Christmas Party Number One

A lovely poolside Christmas party, the way I remember Christmas!  My lovely friend Wendy – the friend I’ve had the longest in my life, even though seven of our almost eleven year friendship has seen me in England – was our gracious host. It was a hot day with great food and awesome company.

Day 340 – Helping Daddy

A quiet braai (bbq) at home, and Daddy decides to blow up the pool. Ameli, of course, wants in on the action, sticks her mouth around the other hole and starts blowing. I don’t suppose she helped much, but it was very cute!

Day 341 – Milk Bank

The first of the supply for the milk bank – having been away I couldn’t do much, but that was for November. Here’s hoping it can go to sick babies in need.

That’s all for this week. Thanks so much for joining us again for our week in pictures!

*P.S. I’ve you’ve noticed some missing numbers between last week and this, it seems I’ve lost two days, somewhere in the year – but never mind, we’re back on track for the rest of this year now!