Welcome to the Neev Spencer column. Each month, DJ and presenter Neev shares her latest adventures in motherhood.
I can’t believe summer is over, and what an odd summer it’s been. I hope you and your families are all still safe and well. If you managed to get out and have some kind of a holiday then, hooray! We are still yet to do a vacation or a staycation but have been trying to make the most of this new world.
Vivienne, my baby, turned 1 in July and we celebrated it with a small gathering for our immediate family. We had a yummy cake made by Maya Dahlia Cakes and it was a really intimate and special occasion.
I can’t believe how much has happened in these last 12 months and I am just so grateful for our blessings. Genevieve, my eldest, turned 4 around the same time and has finally started at big girl school! We spent a lot of time preparing her for this new change. Alex & Alexa has a really handy ‘Back to School’ section online, which makes choosing all the necessary things so much easier. She loves her new uniform and was very happy to pick out brand-new shiny school shoes from the website.
I made the decision to start to settle Vivienne into nursery because she was showing signs that she was ready. Meeting other babies and exploring beyond the comforts of our home is such an important thing for any baby. She’s been absolutely loving her two half days a week and it’s been so nice to not only get my time back, but also see how much she enjoys it. I managed to time this perfectly with the beauty salons opening back up and I literally skipped to my local salon to have the full works. Aurora Spa Chiswick was somewhere that stood out, with socially distanced appointments, diligent hygiene rules and treatments. I had my nails done for the first time in 7 months… and a very welcomed facial. I can honestly say it was the most relaxing afternoon I’ve had in a long while!
I’ve found my post baby weight loss the hardest thing to maintain through lockdown and I’ve pushed this back up to the top of my priority list by joining my local David Lloyd club. The hardest thing is finding the time to workout with the little one with me so finding somewhere that has a creche to take your baby while you prioritise your fitness is such a big thing. So, here I go again… I need to get that fitness and weight loss regime back into my life in the safest and most maintainable way.
Keeping our families’ immunity high is still such a big thing for us, so I’ve been using Vitabiotic. They have an amazing range for the whole family. It’s a simple daily ritual but puts my mind at ease that we are doing what we can to stay fit and healthy. As we go into unchartered waters once again it’s comforting to know that we all have the same priorities in mind: safety and our families well-being.
The Neev Spencer Columns: A Strange Summer for All
Summer is finally here, although it is a very different summer to one we have ever had before. The last month has been an uphill struggle at times with the lockdown restrictions, but we have made it through and, thankfully, all of our family are still safe and well.
Vivienne, my youngest, is now properly walking and even attempting to run. It’s such a cute sight to see, as she insists on carrying things as she toddles around.
Due to her newfound freedom, we had to install a number of baby gates around our house. Stair gates are such an important safety aspect when you baby proof your home, we went for the Fred Pressure Gate. It’s easy to open (with one hand) and has a plastic see-through door.
Genevieve, my eldest, will be four in a few weeks and has been off nursery now since the middle of March. She has found fun in helping me look after Vivienne and on our daily walks (which have become a highlight of the day, no doubt) have kept us on adventures and exploring.
I’ve seen skates on buggies around my area and always thought they were such a good invention because little legs get tired and being able to hop on the buggy at any time really helps Mummy get from A to B without a huge tantrum or inadvertently needing to be carried with one arm as you struggle to also push the buggy. I chose the Laskin Buggy Board which Cheeky Rascals stock (as well as the baby gates).
Our fashion looks this summer has been more stay at home style then beachwear but I loved dressing up my little one in cool prints from Alex and Alexa.
We have had a real chance in this time of reflection to consider our health and I wanted to make sure the children were eating better we also continued daily probiotics which I think really help their digestive systems. Vivienne takes the new version of Opitac’s Infant Probiotics. They now come in the form of drops which is easy and quick to use.
Genevieve starts school in September so we have been preparing her for this change by giving her a big girl bed. We went for a mid sleeper, which makes use of the space we had and also allows her to choose the colour. Happy Beds do a lilac pink wood bed that has storage below the bed, including a desk and a walk-in wardrobe. This has really helped her feel more grown up and prepared her for her induction day on Zoom and she is excited to meet her fellow classmates and teachers. She just had the dreaded preschool booster jabs and is now preparing to return to nursery in the lead up so she can make the most of all of the preschool graduation skills they teach.
Speaking of injections we have Vivienne’s 12-month jabs in a couple of months. I always find the calmer I am and the more fun I make it the better for not just the little ones but also for myself, the better.
The Neev Spencer Column: Settling in to Life in Lockdown
What a strange few months we’ve had! In this time of newfound stay at home routines, the main thing for us has been trying to practise wellness techniques and create a safe and fun environment. Children always pick up on an adult’s feelings so we have had to be mindful about how we communicate our fears.
In order to get myself into the most positive place about all this, I spoke to Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos again about anxiety. He suggested a few actions that can help: A social media diet limiting the amount we consume; watching the news only once a day; writing down any concerns we may have each morning and ending the day by writing down three things a night that made us happy. This technique teaches us to focus on the positives, and not just the negatives.
Vivienne, my 10-month-old, has been struggling at night so we called upon Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny, to help us again. We used the reassurance technique helping her to learn to self soothe so that her daytime naps improved, therefore, allowing her to have a full nights sleep. Vivienne is crawling really confidently now and trying to stand whenever she can.
I found the Bumbo floor seat brilliant for juggling housework with a curious baby who wants to sit up and be a big girl but keeps her safe and in one place. Another really handy thing has been Kit & Kin nappies because they offer home deliveries which is a huge tick at the moment.
Entertaining Genevieve, my 3-year-old, has probably been the most challenging thing this month but ordering toys and at-home activities from The Entertainer Toy Shop has been an absolute godsend. She now has a new mini kitchen to cook up and pretend to play with and Vivienne loves her sensory playmat and building block toys.
Now the weather is changing and we are getting those much-loved hotter days, we can’t wait to use the family paddling pool and get some well-deserved sun!
Home fitness has become an absolute must but with mindfulness as a priority, I have chosen Yoga as my main practice. I’ve been working with Hannah Presence, a teacher with years of experience who has a passion for helping people with not just their physical self but their mental health too. Hannah has been bringing some welcomed calm into my day with deep breathing techniques and strengthening my post-baby body helping me continue to get back into shape the right way.
This month I am loving my new Ring doorbell which allows you to communicate remotely with whoever is on your doorstep. With all the constant parcels and deliveries this has been a huge help.
So yes life has totally changed for us and having two little people under the age of four with us 24/7 hasn’t been easy, but at the same time it’s been so wonderful to get all this time back as a family. As we navigate through these next stages of Lockdown I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and sound!
The Neev Spencer Column: Adjusting to the ‘new normal’
Everything feels so different at the moment! This last month has been filled with so many changes and we’ve been trying our best as a family to keep safe and as healthy as possible.
We have taken this time at home to work on a few developmental changes for our little baby Vivienne and firstly it’s been all about her newfound love of food. I feel like I can’t keep up with this little lady but I’m trying my best.
With my firstborn Genevieve, I had to practically do summersaults to get her to eat so I’m relieved this little lady has taken to weaning so well.
I love Bellota Baby’s organic baby food range for when I’m on the go. It has so many options all organically made and filled with goodness. Nuby does a weaning kit of body cover bibs, spoons and bowls all perfect to get the new 3 mini-meals a day started.
Getting back into work before the Lockdown began meant it was time to look at childcare options but the idea of leaving my littlest one with a stranger filled me with absolute dread.
After finding a reputable nanny agency, looking over references and meeting a number of different candidates we found someone great & now have nanny help for a few hours a week.
For us, the most important thing was someone with experience in baby care but that also had a natural connection with our children. I celebrated last month by having some time back to myself by visiting the Espa spa at Fenwicks London for an Inner Beauty facial and massage.
Vivienne is now sitting really confidently but doesn’t seem to be crawling yet. While doing tummy time I noticed she seemed to struggle to lift herself onto her arms and constantly just gave up. I went back to see Osteopath Kam Panesar at London Osteopathic Care before the Covid-19 outbreak and she did some further cranial work with Vivienne.
Kam helped Vivi extend her back better so she could start to lean forward with her arms. She also helped me with a new problem I had developed from this ‘separation anxiety’ phase. She informed me this is an incredibly common problem that many mothers face. As the baby gets heavier and moves through their different mental states of neediness, we tend to hold a heavier baby for longer and longer.
Kam treated me, got rid of my shooty pains & gave me some exercises to do at home to help combat the issue. So now I make sure that I do 10 mins of stretching each morning. This has made a huge difference and I feel a lot stronger, physically.
Vivienne now seems to be lifting herself and crawling is definitely on the horizon! This month I’m loving the new Espa Positivity Blend range. A portable pick me up of essential oils that aim to inspire self-confidence and optimism at this current time this couldn’t be more important we all need something to help us keep smiling. I wish you all good health and happiness and see you next month!
The Neev Spencer Column: Baby-led Weaning
Hello longer days of sunlight! I’m so looking forward to this change of season after a gruelling winter – although we may have to wait a little longer to get out and enjoy it! I feel like this winter has been twice as hard.
We decided to break up this time of year with a trip to Dubai for some well-needed winter sun. The Ritz Carlton was highly rated as a great place for families and after having such a fantastic time at their Tenerife property it was a natural decision to go back to them for our first proper holiday with the baby.
Travelling with a little one for the first time can be really daunting but Jojo Maman Bebe has a really handy section on their site called ‘Holiday Shop’. Giving you an easy virtual shopping list to tick off and order direct from. It’s so hard to think about every single detail so this section of the site really helps make sure that you have all the bits you may need.
Vivienne was showing all signs of being ready for solid foods while we were away even though every baby has a different history in health and feeding it’s important to know your baby and trust your instincts. Baby-led weaning worked perfectly for Genevieve who, now at 3 and a half years old, eats most things, rarely won’t try something new and has a very healthy varied diet.
Vivienne naturally showed an interest in food and I felt she was ready so I consulted with Gill Rapley who pioneered the concept of baby-led weaning and also wrote a brilliant book with Tracey Murkett called Baby Led Weaning.
Gill advised now that Vivienne can sit up independently, reach out and grasp things that interest her and take them into her mouth she was ready for solid foods. She suggested sharing mealtimes, eating healthy food, avoiding highly processed food, making sure iron is included once a day and cooking without salt or sugar. Starting with stick-shaped pieces or foods with a handle offering rather than giving and making sure only your baby puts food into her mouth.
She stressed that it’s not really about eating but more about discovering and learning and that breast milk or formula are still a baby’s main source of food at this stage. Vivienne is absolutely loving being part of mealtimes and she’s taken to food really well. It’s made feeding both children much easier too!
This month I’m loving the Beaba BabyCook Neo. Now that I am preparing fresh food for my baby daily, this food processor is an absolute dream. It’s easier than ever to blend up yummy fresh ingredients for her new palette.
I’ve been busy keeping up with both children but also trying to consider my own health and mental health. Eating the right foods, still doing workouts when I can and making sure I take a moment here and there across my busy days just to breath and bring in some mindfulness.