What I wish I'd known before having children

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If you’re already a parent, you’ll know that no matter how much you research into having children, NOTHING will ever fully prepare you for what’s to come.

If you’re yet to become a parent but think you know what lies ahead, think again! You don’t! You have no idea! haha

I thought it would be funny to ask fellow parents what the one thing is they wish they’d known before having children AKA if someone could have warned them about something in particular, what would it be?

I’ve even included one of my own….I won’t highlight which one specifically, but if you know me well you’ll know! ūüėČ

Happy reading!

  • Before having kids, never complain about being tired – you’re absolutely not!
  • You will never pee (or poo) alone again!
  • Your vagina isn’t the only thing that can tear!
  • Never agree to sniff your child’s finger, especially if they’ve been suffering from an ‘itchy bottom’!
  • Ear plugs are essential to block out the constant cries of “Mummmmmyyyyy”
  • Three is two children too many!
  • Lower your expectations….like, a lot!!
  • No-one tells you to think beyond the baby months – the pre-school years are intense!
  • You will learn to love coffee!
  • They’ll have a cold constantly and a tummy bug at least once a month….which you will then also catch!
  • Childcare costs are a joke!
  • Babies don’t want to be put down but that’s OK / totally normal!
  • Sleep/rest as much as you can whilst pregnant, because once that baby comes you will be “hella tired!”
  • Don’t read the books – they don’t have a ‘what to do when your baby won’t sleep’ section!
  • Babies don’t just go to sleep when they are tired!
  • Kids are tw*ts!
  • Baby brain never goes away!
  • They don’t sleep properly for years – it’s not just the first year that’s tough!
  • The more babies you have, the worse the retraction of your uterus is!
  • When you’ve changed the nappy and think you should be fine for a little while….think again!
  • Repetition of swear words comes at an earlier age than potty training!
  • You’ll fall in love with the little things like the smell of their head and cheesy feet!
  • Kids will eat their own poo….and not even flinch about it either!
  • What worked well with you first child won’t necessarily work with subsequent children!
  • Mums of boys, be prepared for the question ‘Why don’t you have a willy?’
  • Wrinkly belly skin is a thing, no matter how toned you were pre-children.
  • It’s called a family bathroom because the whole family will be in there while you’re trying to go to the loo!
  • Time speeds up at a scarily fast pace, which also means you age!
  • At some point you will use your hands to catch bodily fluids that don’t belong to you!
  • Baby blues – that hormone crash that comes a few days after giving birth!
  • When you sneeze you need to cross your legs…and don’t even think about going on a trampoline!
  • It goes by too fast…..have all the cuddles! <3

For more information on a photoshoot with Hampshire family photographer Baby Love Photography please visit the Homepage or drop me a message


What us mums really want for Mother's Day

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It’s that time again – Mother’s Day!

The one day of the year when us mums actually receive some appreciation for everything we do ūüėČ

If we’re lucky, we might also receive a gift of some sort. And whilst flowers and chocolates are nice (and always welcome, especially the latter), there are a few things us mums would REALLY like this Mother’s Day….

  1. Sleep.

Through the night. A lie in. Maybe a daytime nap. I’ll take any of the above, as long as they’re in my bed, uninterrupted and for at least eight hours (I’ll settle for two for the nap!)

2) A wee/poo in peace

Door shut, radio on, preferably no-one else even on the same floor as me, let alone in the actual room. I don’t want to hear moans of “mummmmmy” through the door. I definitely don’t want to hear “Hurry up, I need a poo too” because there’s nothing worse than feeling rushed but also worrying about what might happen on the landing carpet if you don’t. I’m thinking a good 15-20 minutes (like the men take) where I can peruse my phone and re-centre myself ready for the chaos that will ensue as soon as I unlock the door.

3) A bath

With bubbles – the ones in the water and the ones that go in a champagne flute. Again, on my own. Again, door locked. I want to lie down, shut my eyes and soak in silence – not open them to see one of my (three) naked children next to the tub holding a bath bomb and saying ‘budge up’!

4) A massage.

Wishful thinking I know but hey, a girl can dream right?!

5) A shopping trip

Once more, alone (can you see a trend emerging here?). Where I’m mostly shopping for myself, not for a male (we have four in our household so it’s safe to say I’m somewhat outnumbered on the gender ratio). I want to be able to look around Primark without shouting ‘Don’t touch that, stop fighting, no you don’t need another superhero T-shirt, get off the floor!’

6) A hot drink.

The key word here being ‘hot’. Not luke warm after I made it 20 minutes ago but got distracted by requests for snacks, refereeing a fight between my oldest two or needing to wipe a bum (feel free to take bets on whose).

7) Silence

Even if just for half an hour (preferably doing one of the above). I just want a small fraction of the day where I don’t hear the word “mummy”! Please. Is that so much to ask?!

8) For the clocks NOT to go forward

Seriously, what kind of evil f*cker (obviously a man) decided we would lose an hour’s sleep ON MOTHER’S DAY?! I mean, COME ON!!

9) A designer handbag

Because let’s face it, you’d never say no to a nice new handbag. And actually, there’s probably more chance of getting one of these than any of the above anyway!

10) A family photoshoot

You didn’t think I’d get through a whole blog post without a tiny bit of self-promotion did you? ūüėČ

Despite desperately wishing for all of the above, the reality is us mums adore our kids (99% of the time) and we wouldn’t actually want to change them (50% of the time)! So what better gift than some gorgeous photos of you all together to plaster over your walls….preferably in the toilet so you can enjoy looking at them whilst enjoying your 20 minutes’ ‘poo in peace’ time – I’m asking a lot there aren’t I?!

So dads, if you’re reading this and you’re yet to buy your (better) half a gift, pop me a message and we can discuss photoshoot gift vouchers….it might even get you out of the massage ūüėČ


A look back at 2020

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2020….what a year!

To say it’s been a bit crazy is somewhat of an understatement. Highs, lows and not a huge amount in between!

Covid-19 has been an absolute nightmare for small businesses like myself so fingers crossed for a better, less rollercoaster-esque 2021!

However, I always like to try and see the funny side of things so, in light of that, I’ve put together a calendar of photos to reflect the different months of 2020 and the various emotions we’ve all experienced living through a pandemic.

Enjoy!

JANUARY:

“Gosh, I’ve eaten way too much this Christmas. I reallly want to eat this cake but I know I shouldn’t as I promised myself ‘New Year, New Me!’ Humph!”

FEBRUARY:

“It’s Valentine’s month and I’m feeling the looooove”

MARCH:

“Ooooh what’s this Coronavirus thing people are talking about? Is it serious? Will it affect us? I wonder….”

APRIL:

“Oh God, yes we’re affected. Ahhhh what is happening to the world? I don’t like it! Somebody stop this ride, I want to get off!”

“Trapped!”

“We’re all in this together”

MAY:

“I really don’t like this now. I am royally fed up. Humph humph HUMPH!”

JUNE:

“Yes!! We’re allowed out again! Things seem to be going back to normal. Wahoo. We’ve got this guys!”

JULY:

“It’s Summmmmmmmerrrrr! Sun’s out, guns out! Thank goodness we bought that paddling pool in the sale last year – it is hot hot HOT!”

AUGUST:

“Eat Out to Help Out…..don’t mind if I do!”

SEPTEMBER:

“Oh no, it’s coming back!!!”

OCTOBER:

“Coronavirus, I see you and I don’t like it! WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?!”

NOVEMBER:

“Officially DONE.WITH.THIS.NOW!”

DECEMBER (the first half anyway):

“Yesssss! We made it – Christmas! Festive greetings to all. I can’t wait to see the back of 2020!”

DECEMBER (second half):

No words needed…


Older newborns | Baby Love Photography

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Anyone who has enquired or booked a newborn photoshoot with me or any another Hampshire newborn photographer will know that we like to try and get them done within the first 14 days ideally. The reasons behind this is that babies are (generally) still super sleepy and curled up, so getting them into the classic newborn poses is typically more achievable.

However, there can be lots of reasons why parents can’t make it to me in those first two weeks: perhaps mum or baby had to stay in hospital a little longer than planned; mum might not be feeling too good after giving birth – especially if she had a caesarean – so may need a few extra days to recover; or maybe as new parents, mum and dad are just not quite ready to venture out into the big wide world with their precious new addition just yet!

There’s also now another reason why babies may have not been able to get to me as quickly as their parents would have liked…..Coronavirus!

Before we went into lockdown, my diary was full of babies due between March and May. I was so excited to meet and photograph them all…..then Covid-19 hit! The country went into lockdown and I was unable to work. I was devastated, as were the parents who were so desperate for photos of their newborn.

However, all was not lost! There’s nothing to say newborn photoshoots can’t be done outside of the 14 day period!

In fact, I have had babies as old as eight weeks in my Fleet photography studio and have still managed to do a newborn-esque shoot! Obviously there are certain poses e.g. the froggy, that we can’t do with an older newborn. But there’s still plenty we can do – wrapped shots, awake natural shots, and even some posed pics if baby is in a decent sleep routine already!

So if you’ve given birth over the past few months and had given up all hope of getting some photos taken of your new addition, please don’t! Pop me a message or an email and I’m certain I will still be able to get you some treasured photos!

All of the images featured in this blog post are of older babies – from about four weeks up to nearly eight weeks old!!

And even if you’re worried you’ve missed the newborn stage, the 3/4 month milestone is also a super cute one to capture on camera – think tummy time and lots of smiles!

Everyone deserves beautiful photos of their babies and I, for one, refuse to let a little thing like a worldwide pandemic stand in our way of getting them! ūüėČ

E x


CORONAVIRUS - THE UPS AND THE DOWNS PART 2!

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It turns out lots of you enjoyed reading my last post: Coronavirus – the ups and the downs!

So, with that in mind – and because I’ve since thought of some more positives to come from the pandemic lockdown – I’ve decided to write Part 2 of my Covid-19 experience!

Any of these relevant to my fellow parents (and non-parents) out there?

  1. I’ve been so much more organised with my food shopping! In an attempt to only visit the shop once a week, I’ve been really good with planning meals and making sure we have enough food to last all week! Whereas normally I would send my husband round to the local Sainsburys every few nights to top up the fridge or buy something I fancied, I’ve been buying a full seven days’ worth of food during my weekly visits. As well as saving money (as I haven’t felt the need to splurge on takeaways) it’s also forced me to plan ahead with our meals which is always a good thing!
  2. We’ve sorted out the garden! OK, not entirely as it would literally take us a month of Sundays, but we’ve done things to it that we’ve been saying we’d do for years! Putting the net around the trampoline; fixing the boys’ swing set; getting the paddling pool out when it’s been hot….our normal daily schedules don’t allow much time for extra curricular activities but with me out of work and my husband WFH, we’ve had lunchtimes and evenings to get out and get sh*t done! And it feels goooood!
  3. Talking of the garden, I have spent many hours in it sunbathing! Hasn’t this weather been incredible?! And as a result, my tan is looking pretty good if I may say so myself. I’m not a fan of fake tan – I’d much prefer to wait for the sun and get myself a natural glow! And the lockdown has been perfect for this, whether it be catching some rays whilst my youngest naps or donning a bikini whilst I supervise the kids in the pool!
  4. Money! Unbelievably, we’ve saved some! Obviously we’re down on our usual incomings due to my inability to work during lockdown, but with my husband WFH/not needing a train ticket and the closure of shops, childcare facilities, pubs, restaurants etc, we haven’t needed to spend anything apart from the weekly food shop. Oh, and the odd bit of internet shopping here and there – oops!

5. Roast dinners! OK, so who doesn’t love a roast – and we’ve been having loads of them! Again, thanks to my pre-planning with the food shop but also because we’ve actually had time to make them for once! We haven’t always been the best at timing them – we’ve ended up cooking one in the boiling heat at 5pm on a couple of days when a BBQ would have been far more suitable – but they’re always worth the effort! And you can’t beat a nice chicken and roast spud salad for lunch the next day!

6. I’ve learnt stuff! Yep, whilst homeschooling my eldest I’ve actually picked up on a few things too! Who knew the corners of shapes were called vertices? Or the various differences between evergreen and deciduous trees? It’s true that you learn something new every day….especially whilst homeschooling a five-year-old! haha

7. I’ve always loved reading books but haven’t had time to do so in forever. In fact, I think the last time I actually sat down and read a book in peace was during my maternity leave whilst waiting for my eldest to arrive – six years ago! So far this lockdown I think I’ve finished 4, maybe 5, books and it’s felt so nice to read again! They’ve ranged from thrillers to chick flicks but my fave has to be a beautiful book called Lily & The Octopus. Think Marley & Me but on paper….and yes, you will cry!

8. “True friends are always together in spirit.”

I think we can all agree we’ve missed our friends and family dearly during this time! What I would give to see them all, share hugs and glasses of prosecco and then head out for a carefree boogie on the dancefloor. However, lockdown has forced us to find new ways to communicate! There’s Zoom – seriously, I’ll be amazed if there’s anyone out there who’s survived lockdown this far without at least one zoom chat! And phone calls! OK, so admittedly this isn’t exactly a new thing, but in normal life I rarely pick up the phone for a proper chat! However, I’ve loved catching up with my nearest and dearest on the blower – either whilst sunbathing in the garden at lunch or once the kids have headed to bed in the evening!

Another way I’ve managed to keep in touch with one of my besties is by singing. My normal life includes performing with various local theatre companies but sadly, due to Covid-19, rehearsals and shows have all been halted until it’s safe to open theatres again. Not wanting to give up singing entirely during this break, my friend Dale and I found a way to stay in touch AND continue our love of performing! Our first video, a rendition of ‘Only Us’ from the incredible Dear Evan Hansen, received such lovely comments so we decided to do another one.

This is ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ from the equally amazing Wicked….we hope you enjoy it!

So there you have it! Several more positives to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic! Obviously, there have also been many negatives to the whole experience and my thoughts and best wishes go out to anyone who has lost a family member during this time!

Stay safe, stay positive, and stay in touch with your friends and family on Zoom until we’re given the go ahead to meet in person! Love, Emily x


Coronavirus - the ups and the downs!

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So, here we are, nearly nine weeks into lockdown thanks to Covid-19! It’s certainly been an experience, that’s for sure! Stuck at home with two children and expected to homeschool, entertain, feed, water, exercise and nurture the pair of them whilst also taking care of the house and trying to keep my beloved little business afloat…. I’ve survived, but only just – and thanks, in most part, to wine….and gin…..and the odd vodka!

But do you know, whilst there have been obvious disadvantages to being stuck in lockdown this whole time – not being able to photograph being the saddest one for me – there have been some real positives to come out of the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ situation.

Nope, not convinced?

Allow me to elaborate….

  1. My boys have become closer than ever! They’ve always gotten on (mostly) but the bond they’ve created over the last few months is truly wonderful and has been lovely to witness. They’ve played far more together than previously – outside on the trampoline and inside with trains and cars – and it’s now clear quite how much my youngest looks up to my eldest. He idolises him and no-one can make him giggle quite as hard. Even when they’re sat on the Kindle they’re playing racing games together….I really hope they don’t miss each other too much when schools/childminders reopen ūüôĀ
  2. My husband has been home! OK, he’s been working mostly during the day, but he’s normally based in London which means leaving the house at about 6am and not getting back until almost 7pm. Currently he starts works at 9am (after having gotten up with my youngest so I can doze for longer) and then finishes at 5pm to help with dinner, bath and bedtime. It’s normally at this point that I crack open a bottle and escape for some peace and quiet in the bath. It’s been lovely to have some help but also for us to be able to eat earlier, cook healthier and just generally tackle things together which I would normally be left to handle on my own until he walks through the door at 6.50pm!
  3. I feel fitter than ever! OK, I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I have been absolutely smashing the virtual workouts. Not only can I exercise from the comfort of my home – I can do so wearing just pants and a sports bra if I like (and remember to turn off the video on Zoom haha). My classes are only half an hour long but that’s 30 minutes for me to focus on myself and work up a sweat before a day of dealing with the kids! I should add, I would probably be even fitter if I hadn’t discovered a love of baking during lockdown….thank God for my exercise classes to balance out all the white chocolate cookies I’ve been demolishing!
  4. I feel positively revitalised. No, not because of the exercising or all the calories in the cookies…..because of sleep!! I actually think I’ve slept more in the past few months than I’ve done for years and years! The reason….my eldest gets himself up, goes downstairs and puts the TV on so we don’t even know he’s awake. Pre-lockdown my youngest would normally wake up about 7ish, at which point I would have to get up anyway to start preparing for the school run. During lockdown, he’s been going to bed a bit later which has meant he’s been sleeping in longer. He generally wakes up about 8am, at which point my husband goes to get him, takes him downstairs, puts him in the high chair with some cheerios and comes back to bed. We then both doze until 8.45am when my alarm goes off ahead of my exercise class at 9am! It’s been absolutely bliss! No stress of school runs, no ‘put your bl**dy shoes on now’ arguments….the laidback lifestyle is certainly something I could get used to! It’s been quite nice not having to run around like a headless chicken in between drop offs, pick ups, after-school clubs, swimming etc. The highlight of our day is a late afternoon scoot down the road….and the lack of cars out means the kids feel safer than ever!
  5. I’ve realised I can go and extra day or two without washing my hair! Being in lockdown means no-one has to see me, so I started pushing the hassle of hair washing from two days to three days….OK, I admit, sometimes I even went to four! And do you know what – it wasn’t even that bad! So from now on, I will wait a minimum of three, meaning less water used and less money spent on shampoo and conditioner. Bonus!

As mentioned, with the positives do come negatives; our house is a tip since the cleaner hasn’t been here; our weekly food bill has sky rocketed with a husband and two growing boys here all day every day eating me out of house and home; our alcohol intake has doubled if not tripled (anyone else finding themselves drinking EVERY DAY?); and the car battery says low every Wednesday when I go food shopping as it’s been used so little over the past few months!

But, in a weird way, I’ve kind of enjoyed lockdown! I’ve missed photographing beautiful babies and fabulous families like you can’t imagine, but I’ve filled the days spending much-needed time with my own family. And that’s time I have cherished and will never forget!

I think a few changes will definitely be made to our lifestyle when we finally get back to normal life. Or should I say, the “new normal” post-Coronavirus pandemic!

* My thoughts, of course, go out to anyone who has been affected by / lost a loved one from Coronavirus. A huge thank you also to anyone who works for the NHS – you’re all amazing! *


It's official, I'm Award-winning!

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So, you may or may not know, but I received some pretty exciting news a few weeks ago: I was voted ‘Best Photographer in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’ at the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2019. Yippee!!

In case you’ve never heard of them, they bill themselves as ‘the UK’s most prestigious lifestyle awards, championing the very best local businesses across 21 counties.’

750,000 votes were cast across the UK by the public and it kind of blows my mind to think that a significant amount of those were for me…..and chose me to win!

I launched Baby Love Photography 4.5 years ago after being made redundant whilst on maternity leave. It was a massive step for me, but I knew from the get go that it was the right thing to do. I adored taking photos and meeting new families and I wanted a job I could fit around Flynn, then 1.

Since then, I’ve never actually entered any of my photos into competitions. There are lots out there, but they mostly make you pay to enter and I don’t really agree with that – I feel like a certain number of entries will always be graded so as to keep people happy and keep them paying to enter each month.

However, when I heard about the Muddy Stilettos Awards, they felt different. There was no cost to enter and the winners were decided purely on public vote. They’re also genuinely passionate about helping local businesses – and as any small independent business will know, we rely on word of mouth and the support of others to keep going in what is a very competitive business world.

When I found out I had won, I was honestly over the moon. The support I had received from my friends, family and clients had been amazing, but I was up against some amazing photographers so I knew it would be a close call. Even when I saw my name on the website I couldn’t quite believe it….luckily the editor called me shortly afterwards to reassure me that it was all true! haha

So what did I win?! As well as the official title of ‘Best Photographer in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’, I was also invited to an award’s ceremony at Pylewell Park in Lymington to receive my certificate and to meet the team behind Muddy Stilettos Hampshire. It was such a lovely afternoon – there were drinks and nibbles from several local suppliers, including one of the nicest Proseccos I’ve ever drunk by Cottonworth and super tasty (and on brand) biscuits by Gates Bakes (as you can see below, mine didn’t last long once Flynn had set his sights on it!)

As well as using this blog post to shout about my award, I just really wanted to use this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who took the time to vote for me – both to reach the final five and to be crowned the winner. It’s hard for me to put into words quite how grateful I am and I honestly hope my sincerity comes across – genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

I couldn’t have won this award without all your support, but more importantly, I couldn’t do what I do without it: To all new clients who put trust in me to take their family photos; To all my returning clients who come back to me time and time again; And to everyone who recommends me to their friends and family and allows me to meet new families on a weekly basis…… THANK YOU!

At Baby Love Photography, we are most definitely feeling the LOVE right now!


Top 10 things for kids in Hampshire & Surrey

OK, so I realise i’m posting this the wrong side of half term –¬†although to be fair I was in Dubai so I didn’t actually spend the week frantically finding things to entertain my hyperactive four-year-old (sorry not sorry). However, it dawned on me that Easter is only just around the corner and that’s a whole TWO WEEKS that the kids are off school so I figured I should start planning what I’m going to do with Flynn during that time. That then got me thinking about this blog post……so here it is, my favourite things to do with the¬†boys around Hampshire and Surrey!

1) Wellington Country Park РReading

We absolutely LOVE it here! I’ve had an annual pass for the last few years and it has been a God send! It’s fab for all ages! When Kit was a baby I used to go there for walks around the lake or for a coffee with friends, and ever since Flynn has been walking, I’ve been taking him to see the animals at the farm, to play in the splash park (when it’s warm enough), to hunt for balls in the mini golf¬†or¬†to burn off some energy¬†in the various parks! They even do themed events in the holidays e.g. Hallo’welly’ween in October and a Mega Egg Hunt at Easter. It’s only about a 20-25 minute drive from my home in Fleet and with the annual pass, it doesn’t matter if you only go for a few hours as you’ve already prepaid! However…..they have put their annual pass prices up rather drastically this year, to the point where I’m really torn whether to renew ours or not! Now that Flynn is in school I would only be able to take him during the holidays and it can get very busy during this time. My current thinking is that I will renew mine (Kit is free until he’s 3) and then just pay for Flynn when I want to take him on the odd occasion. But we will see. Regardless, it’s been fun while it lasted!

2) Soft Play

We LIVE in soft plays – especially during the winter! Flynn can run around like a lunatic, Kit can crawl safely in the baby sections¬†and mummy can sit and have a drink and some cake whilst keeping an eye on them both – and occasionally getting stuck in myself! Some also do a post-school meal deal where the older kids can play and eat for about ¬£7 (bonus – saves me cooking when I get home!).¬†I’m thinking I will do a whole separate blog post on the various soft plays around here as I have tried them all and each has their pros and cons but for now, here are a few of my faves for you to check out:

–¬†Run-About¬†(Farnborough)

–¬†Active Monkeys¬†(Fleet)

–¬†Active Tots¬†(Reading)

–¬†Farnborough Leisure Centre¬†(Farnborough)

–¬†360 Play¬†(Farnborough)

3) The Lookout Discovery Centre РBracknell

We’ve only been here once but Flynn loved it and I’ve been meaning to take him back but just haven’t had the time – it’s probably easier to do so without Kit now though¬†as he won’t stay in the pram for long and it isn’t really the best place for him to be crawling around! It’s basically a big indoor science exhibition with over 90 activities which kids can enjoy and learn from. Flynn was only just four when I took him and he had lots of fun but I think as he gets older he will start to enjoy – and understand – it even more! There’s also a big outdoor play area and it’s right next door to Go Ape and Coral Reef – neither of which I’ve been to but have heard good things about!

4) Hart Leisure Centre РFleet

Flynn loves swimming. He’s forever asking daddy to take him – how much actual swimming¬†he¬†does I don’t know – but even if he just runs through the water, he has a ball! We’ve taken Kit a few times too. He doesn’t seem to be quite as much of a water baby as his big brother but time will tell. Hart Leisure Centre is the closest pool to us so we tend to use this the most – Jonny has a swimming membership too as he goes himself in the evening! However, I personally find the pools quite cold (especially the big one) so I tend to sit on the side and just help with the drying/dressing part at the end. When Flynn was younger we also used to use the¬†swimming¬†pool in Aldershot¬†a fair bit.

5) Rosie & Bean

This is a little play cafe in Fleet that is super cute. They have a bouncy castle which is ideal for the slightly older kids and then lots of different toys – wooden shops and kitchens, train tracks, fancy dress station etc – which the younger kids enjoy. It’s quite small, so when it’s busy it can feel rather¬†chaotic (also when it’s busy parking is a nightmare), but catch it when it’s quiet and it’s a lovely little place to hang out. They also do the best jacket potatoes – I pretty much ate my body weight in them when I was expecting Kit!

6) Redfields

This is a lovely big garden centre in Church Crookham that sells everything from plants and home essentials¬†to clothes, kids toys and independent¬†food/drink labels. Upstairs they have a little play area which is perfect for younger babies – you can sit right next to it and eat cake while they play! For crawling babies it’s not as perfect as there’s no barrier to the play area so they can get out and crawl around (and the stairs downstairs are only a little crawl away) but that just means you have to ditch the cake and sit in there with them (not the end of the world, I know!). There’s also a TV in there and a little computer screen for the older kids – and they sell gingerbread men which always seem to be a firm favourite with the toddlers! Food is pretty pricey, so it’s not somewhere you’d want to eat out at every day, but for a treat now and then, it’s fine! Oh, and at Christmas they have these fabulous singing reindeer which are definitely worth visiting for!

7) Bowling

This is a fairly new one for us but ever since we introduced Flynn to it a few months’ back he’s been asking to go every weekend since. The first time we went Kit was young enough to sit and watch from the pram so I got to play…..and Flynn beat me!! No joke! IN BOTH GAMES! However, fortunately (for me) Kit now won’t stay for longer than two¬†minutes in his pram so I have to sit with him while Flynn and daddy play. Saves me the embarrassment of losing to a four-year-old I guess. We generally go to¬†Farnborough Bowl¬†as it’s the closest but the other day we tried out¬†Hollywood Bowl¬†in Basingstoke and that was pretty cool too – they have arcade games too which Flynn also loves!

8) The park – Fleet

Now that the weather has picked up a bit I just love popping to the park after school to catch the last of the sun (if we’re lucky) and to burn off that last remaining bit of Flynn’s energy before dinner and bedtime. Our go-to is Oakley Park on Albany Road as that’s on our way home. It’s a cute little park with a heater skelter slide, multiple swings and some floor games and it’s next to a big piece of greenland where you can play football/chase etc. We also like Azalea Park in Church Crookham as that’s a bit bigger and has all the usuals as well as an assault course and a scooter track and there are several parks around Elvetham Heath that we like to visit – the main one at The Key is good as it has a separate baby section as well as a skate ramp and zip wire for the older kids.

9) Farnham Park

As parks go, this is the creme de la creme. As well as 320 acres of rolling grassland, nestled in the middle of this deer park is a huge wooden play area for kids of all ages. There is a big slide, a zip wire, a castle, an assault course….honestly, there’s something for everyone. It’s lovely and clean and once you’re done playing you can either pop into Farnham for a wander round the shops and a bite to eat (it’s¬†my favourite local town – it’s so pretty)¬†or go for a walk around the rest of the park. There’s even Farnham Castle which you can look around – and a little cafe that sells ice creams (essential come the summer months)! One word of warning though….if you park in the main car park by the cricket pitch/ranger’s office (which is absolutely chocka at weekends when the weather is nice by the way) the park is fine to get to as it’s at the bottom of a massive hill but oh my gosh it’s a KILLER¬†to get back up to your car – especially when you’re either pushing a buggy or trying to drag a tired, hangry child along with you. Saying that, the promise of an ice cream from the cafe at the top usually works wonders as bribery ūüėČ

10) McDonalds – Fleet

Yep, there you go, I said it. WE LOVE MCDONALDS! haha Now, I promise you we don’t go there THAT often, but as a nice little Friday treat every so often it’s not the biggest crime, right?! Let’s be honest, it’s dirt cheap (¬£2.99 for a Happy Meal), I can guarantee it’s the one meal that Flynn will most definitely eat all of and he even gets a toy to play with #winning

Better still, the one in Fleet has a little soft play area in it so we can stay long after he’s finished eating and he’s fairly content! Oh, and¬†I can walk there from my house. And the other day I gave some guy a nappy because his little girl had done a poo and he’d been caught short and he bought me a McFlurry to say thank you #doublewinning


Little Darling Dress Up shoots

When you think about it, the concept of buying wedding dresses is a little crazy. You spend THE BIGGEST amount of money on a dress which you wear for ONE DAY only –¬†or if you’re anything like me, a few hours and then you get hot and decide to change into your pyjamas to dance the night away in! After that, you (perhaps) get it professionally cleaned and then pack it up in a box unlikely to ever see the light of day again. Isn’t that sad?! A dress which meant so much to you and signifies one of the happiest days in your life stuffed away, never able to bring such joy to you or¬†another person ever again.

WELL, THINK AGAIN PEOPLE!

As a photographer, I’m always trying to come up with new photoshoot ideas for babies, children and families. I like being able to mix in classic, portrait photoshoots with quirky mini sessions as I really do believe you can never have enough photos of your kids.

A few years back (over four to be exact) I had the idea of daughters dressing up in their mum’s wedding dress for a photoshoot. I took some practice shots with my friend’s daughter but never got round to advertising them – cue blaming life for ‘getting in the way’. However, armed with a new lease of energy (post-Christmas and with a one-year-old now sleeping a solid 12 hours at night), I decided to kick my butt into gear and finally got round to launching them

Welcome Little Darling Dress Up sessions…..

For 30-45 minutes, your darling daughter can experience what it felt like to be you on your wedding day. “A princess like mummy”. Veils, shoes, tiaras, accessories….all are welcome as we dress your little one up in your most prized possession. Imagine her little face as she gets to see your beloved dress for the first time. Imagining it?…..¬†Now picture her face as she gets to TRY IT ON!! I promise you, there’s nothing quite like it! Pure joy and elation….the same way you felt trying it on for the first time before you made it your own.

Feeling left out of all the fun? Well get this….as well as your daughter wearing your dress for the shoot, why don’t you borrow your mum’s dress and wear that¬†alongside your little girl for some photos?!¬†Can you think of anything more special for “grandma” than a photo of her daughter and granddaughter wearing their mummy’s dresses?…..No, didn’t think so! ūüėČ


Newborn images: your fave poses

As a specialist newborn photographer, I’m always learning new poses. I try to include as much of my posing repertoire in every shoot to give parents maximum¬†variety as possible, but there’s no denying I have my favourites. Saying that, when picking their top five images, all too often I find that parents choose shots/poses which I personally wouldn’t have picked, and it got me thinking…..I might love a photo because I know it’s one of the trickier poses to achieve and I believe I’ve nailed it and therefore feel like it’s my best work. However, parents might look past the complexity of the pose and might actually be drawn to a more natural image where baby is completely un-posed. I can spend¬†five minutes grabbing some quick awake shots of baby at the beginning of the session before we feed them and get them to sleep and then up to an hour trying to perfect the ‘froggy’ pose (see below if you’re unsure what this is)….what if I’m wasting time on poses that parents don’t want to see their baby in?

There’s only one way to find out…..

Below I’ve listed (and included photos) of practically¬†every newborn pose I know. It would be REALLY helpful if you (yes, you reading this post)¬†could go through all of these and then on my¬†FB page¬†(underneath the link for this blog post) name your top 3-5¬†poses. That way I can see which shots tend to be most appealing to potential clients/which ones I should be prioritising each shoot versus those which I could theoretically avoid and parents wouldn’t really miss.

As well as helping me, you’re also getting the opportunity to look at lots of photos of absolutely adorable little newborns! Win win, I say! ūüėČ

Froggy

Taco

Sidelay

Tushy Up

Chin on hands

Tucked in

Wrapped

Curled up

Swaddled

Floral Wreath

You raise me up

Parent's hands