Thursday, August 20, 2020

Our Dream Staycation Destination: Cornwall


At this time of year, we'd normally find ourselves on a transatlantic flight to Washington state - spending lazy afternoons on my parents' sun-drenched deck eating fruit-stand strawberries, strolling along the Tacoma waterfront in the early evening, and taking weekend trips to the stunning San Juan Islands. I'd been so looking forward to bringing our eldest back to my hometown, now that he's old enough to understand a little more about the world around him, and the twins are at an age (7 months) where they'd be content just being outdoors - primarily what the Pacific Northwest is famous for. 

With our international travel plans scrapped for this year due to the global pandemic, we're wistful for a restorative coastal break (well, as restorative as you can get with 3 kids under 3!), keeping in mind all the safety precautions we need to take at this time. The obvious choice for this? Cornwall: sun (mostly!), sea, and pretty coastal villages selling ice-cream and fresh seafood at dusk.

I've always been drawn to the coast because of my upbringing in the Puget Sound, but Cornwall is truly special - a glittering jewel in the south of England. The first time we visited was over a decade (!) ago now: John surprised me with a trip to Looe. We arrived after a 7-hour car journey, in the dark, and all I could make out from the window of our charming bed and breakfast was a blur of twinkling lights, which gave way to a sparkling blue sea and cloudless sky come morning. When we were much older, and before our eldest was born, we stayed in St. Ives, memorably hiking part of the Southwest Coastal Path in a pair of Stan Smiths (me!) and visiting the beautiful Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. 

I have memories of the train slowly pulling into St. Ives and the sight of Porthminster unfurling before us - trees giving away to sand giving away to the tide. I remember thinking I'd been dropped into some sort of paradise as I shielded my eyes from the sun and made our way down the length of the platform. That night, we walked along the same beach before sitting down to dinner at Porthminster Cafe, clinking glasses of crisp white wine as the sun set beyond the picture-frame windows surrounding us.

Although the Southwest Coast is a far cry from the Pacific Ocean and the conifers that surround its shores, Cornwall remains one of my favorite places to visit in England - a place I can't wait to show my children. We're currently browsing for accommodation in Cornwall and thinking of all the ways we can travel safely in line with current government guidelines (e.g. only traveling together as a family in the car; making very few, short stops on the journey; washing and sanitizing our hands, and practicing safe social distancing measures at our destination).

The way we travel certainly looks very different in 2020, but the ability to revisit our favorite destinations here in the UK safely and responsibly isn't impossible. And that, my friends, is the light at the end of the tunnel.

This post was written in collaboration with All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Top 5 Life Hacks For Living With 3 Kids Under 3


Someone reposted this image on Instagram yesterday and kindly described it as a "lived-in" room, rather than the chaos it actually is! But yep, accurate representation of what my toddler's room often looks like, although I actually unearthed these books from under his bed when I changed the sheets, so they were sort of "put away". Sort of. 

Anyway, the recurring refrain I hear these days when people find out I have a 2.5-year-old toddler and 7-month-old twins is, "Wow! YOU must have your hands full!" Ha. Ha. Ha. Like I haven't heard THAT ONE before. 

Yes, we often quite literally and figuratively have our hands full. But on the whole? It's not too bad. And that's partly down to the routines we have in place (and also because our eldest is with his nanny and her son during the day - a critical mention!). I thought I'd share some of them here, since I get asked about how we "manage" a lot! 

So, here are my top 5 life hacks for surviving - I mean, living with - 3 kids under 3:

Cook dinner in the morning - this is my favorite tip and one that I invoked when my eldest was a tiny baby. When I was on mat leave and my husband was working during the day (as is our respective roles now), I found it easiest to prepare dinner first thing in the morning, then re-heat it at night, as the evening inevitably always signalled cranky kids, fussy bed and bath times, etc. Ordinarily, my husband would cook dinner after work (since he's working from home at the moment) while I do bath time with the twins, but this way, he gets to spend some quality time in the evenings with our toddler (or I do, if we switch) and we aren't tempted by the Uber Eats or Deliveroo apps on our phones. So yeah, it's a little weird, but I tend to make dinner as soon as I bring the twins down after their first feed in the morning, which is usually around 6:30 a.m./7:00 a.m. 

Have strict morning and evening routines in place - everything runs like clockwork at our house, because we keep an eye on the, well, clock and ensure that we're not more than +/-5 minutes off of schedule. For example, in the evenings, we have sole parental responsibility for our eldest after our nanny leaves (soon-to-be-nursery!) at 5:30 pm, which means we play and catch up with him together when one of us gets the bottles ready for the twins. The twins are fed at 6 p.m., in the bath by 6:30 p.m., upstairs having stories read to them by 6:45 p.m., and asleep by 7:15 p.m. in their cots. Dinner is ready by 7:15 p.m. and John, our toddler, and I will eat together then, before our eldest has potty time for 15-20 minutes in front of his favorite TV show (currently Blippi on YouTube - "I'm an excavatorrrrrr!"). Bathtime for him is at 8:15 p.m. and he's in bed by 8:30 p.m, down between 8:45 - 9:00 p.m. (he typically wakes at 7:30 in the morning).

Do 10 things at once - okay, maybe not 10. But at least three. While dinner's cooking, I also throw on a load of laundry, put something in the oven that I can batch freeze for the twins' baby-led weaning journey (yes, I just referred to their feeding as a "journey" - no idea why), and prepare our toddler's breakfast before he wakes so that it's ready when he comes downstairs and I don't hear, "READY YET, READY YETTTT?"

Prepare for the evening in the morning - as soon as the twins finish their morning feed, I make the bed and prepare their cots for the evening, ensuring that their sleeping bags and pacifiers are in each cot, the curtains are drawn, and that their towels are set out for bath time. It may seem a little OTT, but it is an amazing time saver at night and makes life just that little bit easier.

Bring in the troops - sometimes, it all gets a bit too much. And without family nearby to occasionally lend a hand, we can easily feel overwhelmed. There have been times when John's had to work late, and so, rather than try to be a "hero" (and invariably be faced with three separate meltdowns from three separate kids all at once), we've asked our nanny to stay later to help keep an eye on our eldest while I wrestle the twins out of the bath or drafted in a neighbor to babysit for a couple of hours. 

So, those are the best tips I've found that have helped our family so far. If you have 3 under 3 (or even 2 under 3), how do you survive? I'd love to know!

© angloyankophile

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