9 Things We Have Learned From Hosting Guests.

For us, the next few months will be a little unusual, in that we don’t have plans to be hosting any guests or visitors until Christmas. Living abroad has many advantages, and one personal favourite of mine is that you get to host many visitors as they travel to see you and your new home.

It’s been a year since we made Switzerland our new home, and in that time we have had ten sets of visitors, some visiting multiple times, enter our home and share our space with us. Honestly it’s something we both truly enjoy and we only hope that each time the people staying with us have a great holiday and experience too.

On that note, there are definitely a few tips and tricks we have learned along the way about hosting that make it a lot easier and comfortable for all during visits.

One: Get a feel for what your guests want to do when they visit

A few weeks before people arrive to stay with us; we always try to discover what key things they want to experience while in Switzerland. No two visits are the same and so it’s important to know in advance what is high on their must-see lists. Do they plan to relax and recuperate, or expect an active weekend where they can see as much as possible?

We usually provide visitors with our detailed guide to the local area ahead of their stay, so they can then use this to let us know what kind of activities really takes their fancy. Moreover, we include costs and any clothes or unique requirements so there are no surprises or disappointments when the trip is underway. Preview our visit guide below if you are inspired to create something similar for your guests.

Plus, we like to do something a little unique and special for each visit as people have made a lot of effort to come and see us. Here’s an example of a Weir Wine Tour we made for one of the trips!

Two: Time the visit well

Based on the above, it’s really important to be conscious of the timings of visits where possible. If you have guests wanting to do outdoor pursuits, it’s best to let them know when the weather is reliable. For those visiting when you still need to work, make that clear ahead of the trip so they can organize their days and plans in advance where needed.

Three: Have a spare key cut for your guests

Even if you are going to be spending the majority of your time together, it’s good to offer guests their own key so they can come and go without worry. This makes it easier if they tend to go for runs earlier in the morning, or will be entertaining themselves whilst you are in the office.

On that note, a house guide for those who will be in your home without you for extended periods is always a good idea. It means they can easily make themselves at home without worrying about how to work the TV or heating.

Four: Don’t forget the little things

Ensuring you have fresh bedding, a clean home and a well-stocked fridge are the basics when it comes to hosting, but sometimes the little things that make stays a lot easier can go overlooked. We try to put adapters in the sockets for those coming from abroad, the bedside tables in the guest room have eye masks, ear plugs and sleep spray and we like to leave a little welcome gift or two from the local area in the room as a surprise. Plus, put fresh towels in their room, so they don’t realise mid-shower they haven’t got one at hand!

We keep our little guides we get from great places we visit and tourist information booths to provide to visitors so they can easily see what’s good to do nearby without too much effort.

Five: Check on dietary needs or special preferences

Make sure you know in advance if people have specific needs. Whether it’s specific dietary requirements, cat allergies or a particular fear which might make an activity you choose unsuitable, we’ve seen it all.

It’s always easy to navigate as long as you know beforehand, so if in doubt, just ask.

Seven: Prepare some meals in advance

If you are going to be using your time to see as much as you can with your visitors, you don’t want the day to day chore of cooking to eat into these precious hours. Prepare one or two meals you can throw into the slow cooker in the morning for when you arrive home tired at the end of the day. Lentil curries, hearty soups and five-bean chilli are easy solutions for quick group meals.

Plus, snacks never go amiss. Have plenty in to put in bowls in between meals, and take supplies out in your bag with you to keep guests satisfied in between meals especially if you’re hiking or doing something active.

Eight: Wow with a good breakfast

On that note, having a good selection of goods for breakfast each day makes sure you start the day well-nourished and gives you time to sit round the table and plan the day ahead as a group. During the weekend, put out cereals, pastries, breads and fresh fruit alongside some yoghurts and a warm dish to allow people to take their pick and have a slow brunch before heading out for activities.

Nine: Have fun

Hosting is about spending time with people whose company you truly enjoy. Prepare in advance but when they are here, just try to relax and make the most of the time together. We realised just last week we should have had a lamp in the spare room all along to make our guest more comfortable, so there’s always more to learn!

No hosting is ever perfect, but we try and make it as good for our guests as we can each time.

What are your top hosting tips? What do you always notice or appreciate when you are staying with friends or family?

Gorge de L’Areuse – Fairytale Walk in Neuchâtel

❖ Length – 11km one-way with return by train

❖ Three hours needed at least plus ten minutes for train return

❖ Toilets at start and end and middle in hotel restaurant

❖ Restaurant in the middle – Champ Du Moulins. Picnic spots throughout and fire places by the river.

❖ Family friendly for older children or young children if they are carried in a proper carrier. Not stroller friendly.

The Areuse Gorge has to be one of the most beautiful riverside walks I have done to date. It’s not as daring or thrilling as some of the gorges we have explored since moving here, but it definitely is one of the most beautiful and tranquil. I particularly like it as no matter how warm it is, the gorge always has a little breeze flowing through it and is mainly shaded, making it a great place for family outings away from the sun. 

The most photographed parts of the walk has to be the famous ‘Saut De Brot’ bridge, which honestly looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. It reminded me of Rivendell and fairy tales. The hike is relatively long, around 11km one-way, but you can return to the start by train and the time passes quickly with all the surroundings to distract you. Plus, it is well signposted, just follow the yellow walking signs dotted about the path. 

At the half way point, at Champ Du Moulin, there’s a little restaurant serving classic Swiss fare, should you prefer a sit down meal to a picnic. If the latter is more appealing, there are plenty of places to stop from traditional benches to little coves by the river where you will see many people making little fire pits and having a lunchtime barbecue en route. 

I highly recommend parking and starting the hike at Noiraigues railway station and ending at Boudry. This way you see the whole route and also get to take the train back easily to where you have parked. Alternatively, we have also started before at Champ Du Moulin, parked there and then walked to Boudry before turning round and heading back to the car. This is a harder route as you have to walk uphill on the return and trust me, there are a lot of steps! Especially when you have a little one strapped to the front of your chest. You will also miss the Saut De Brot bridge by doing this route, but I personally think that the gorges and riverside are the most scenic after Champ Du Moulin anyway. 

There’s little man-made Weirs along the route, to please people who love a little waterfall, and some beautifully designed bridges and crossings. I would recommend arriving early if you want a peaceful wander. We started the walk at 10am and it was relatively deserted on a Sunday. By the time we headed back to the car at 1pm there were plenty of people and lots of waiting to pass on the steps. 

It is an easy hike, which will take you around three hours if you don’t stop. It is family and young children friendly, however at times there are a lot of steps or narrow passes so you want to keep them close and have those not too steady on their feet in a carrier at times. It isn’t stroller friendly. 

There are bathrooms at the stations and the restaurant hotel midway. Parking at the stations was free when we did the walk. If you take the train from Bole back to Noiraigues, it’s direct, takes ten minutes and just means a short walk for you from the end of the trail to the station. If you go from Boudry, you need to make one change. The tickets are around six francs one way per adult. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. If the weather has been bad recently, perhaps give it a miss as it can be muddy and slippy.
  2. The route has some steep ladders which when going down can be tricky for little ones.
  3. If you mainly want to see the Saut De Brot bridge, then park at Champ Du Moulins and walk 2km to the bridge, and then return back to your car.
  4. To return without the train will take you around six hours and be a 22km walk
  5. Parking is free, but spaces can be quickly taken up during the day so try to get there early. Also helps with the weather situation!
  6. The easiest route is from Noiraigue down to Boudry, if you do it the other way around the whole hike is uphill.

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Arboretum du Vallon de l’Aubonne – Gentle Walk With Scenic Surprises in Morges

This vast park houses a beautiful collection of trees and plants from all over the world, including a unique and beautiful Japanese garden. There’s also a river that rushes by as you walk, a large pond with bridges to cross it and many landscapes from fields, to forests and flowerbeds. 

When you arrive at the Arboretum there’s a free parking area off the road to the right where you can leave the car. From here, you then follow the path and will quickly come across a route map of the Arboretum where you can choose from four different loops around the nature reserve, depending on how far you want to walk and what you wish to see. For our first visit we chose the Chemin Du Lac route which is around 3KM so a very short walk, however it was our second outing of the day and we also had a three month old with us so we wanted to avoid being out with her in the baby carrier for too long stretches at a time. The great thing about the Arboretum is that you can combine many of the different trails they propose for a longer walk where you get too see more of the variety of trees and plants in the nature park.

Along the walk there’s various signs highlighting the different tree species you see, as well as great sculptures – look out for the giant bugs as you start the path! 

It doesn’t take long at all to complete the Chemin Du Lac route, around an hour, and at the start and end you have public toilets, as well as a shop, restaurant and the Wood Museum. We would have loved to enter the museum but it was closed during our walk. It’s definitely somewhere we will be returning to though in the near future so I will make sure to update this post with what we find and our thoughts after we head back.

There’s plenty of picnic places on your route if you want to extend your stay and enjoy some lunch or dinner while you are relaxing in the tranquil forest or by the pond. 

We found that a lot of the route was shaded, which is good with small children, but obviously on a hot day there’s parts where the sun can’t be avoided and it definitely can get warm on the exposed longer paths. 

Overall, a visit to the Arboretum makes for a peaceful half a day excursion, and has plenty to entertain all the family as they explore this well-kept nature reserve. 

Top Tips for the Walk:

  1. Check online to ensure it is open as it depends on the season
  2. It’s probably not a great place to visit in bad weather, and even in good weather make sure you dress accordingly
  3. Bug protection is a good idea, put on some deet or a gentle repellent before arriving
  4. Pack a picnic and enjoy a rest mid walk on one of the many picnic spots
  5. Combine two of the routes to see a good variety of landscapes. But if you have little ones who can’t walk too far or limited time, the orange route is a great way to visit a lot on offer in a short space of time.
  6. Combine this with a visit to the nearby Signal De Bougy if you have young kids – there’s a free play park, mini petting zoo and facilities here to entertain everyone. We even loved it as adults with a three-month old!

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Gorges Du Dailley – Incredible Hike With Waterfall Views in Valais

❖ Length – 5km if taking the Gorge route return

❖ Two hours needed at least

❖ Toilets at start and end at either the car park or the restaurants

❖ Two restaurants, one at the start and one at the end. Picnic spots in the pine forests after the Gorges.

❖ Family friendly for older children or young children if they are carried in a proper carrier. Although it may be hard to do the walk with the added weight of a young one with all the stairs. Not stroller friendly.

We are big fans of a gorge walk, and I have to say that the Gorges Du Dailley are some of the most spectacular we have hiked through so far. The views take your breath away in places, and the ascent and climb can do the same too thanks to the various different stairs, footbridges and ladders you need to pass to complete the route. 

The construction of these incredible passes will amaze you as you head down deeper following the flow of water and into the forest lined pathway which provides refreshing shelter on a hot summers day. 

Arriving there from Switzerland or France can be quite the drive. The roads at the last 10km are very narrow mountain passes with single track roads through the cliffs. It is a very scenic route but for those unsure on the windy mountain roads, perhaps not the best to take. 

There are several ways to walk this hike, however we primarily were there to see the gorges and therefore wanted to maximise our time there. With this in mind, we parked near the Auberge Du Vallon de Van, and then began our walk through the tree lined pathway following the signs for the ‘Gorges Du Dailley’ and past the welcome sign. 

We navigated through the trees until it opened out to the entrance of the gorge and the first ladder descent began. Then it was around thirty minutes of slowly descending the different contraptions and pathways, taking in the various views of the mountains surrounding us and waterfalls behind us as we hiked. After a short climb down, we again reached forest ground where we walked for a short duration to turn and see the incredible ‘Cascade du Dailley’ from the base. We continued walking until we hit the wooden shelter and then decided to turn around and tackle the gorges and steps but this time from the ground up. We wanted to make the most of the views of the cascade and also push ourselves with the climb up the 600 plus steps to the top! If you fancier an easier route, you can instead walk another fifteen minutes through the pine shaded forest and reach the main road, where you turn right to follow the route back to your car.

Overall, it was around a 5km walk in total but it was exerting thanks to the stairs you had to climb back up. Therefore bear this in mind when visiting with young children that may need to be carried if you do the Gorges both directions. It is definitely not stroller friendly. 

At the end, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious meal at the Auberge Du Vallon de Van. The menu changes with the seasons, and they have great local wines to sample to refresh you at the end of your walk. The service is great, and there’s an outside terrace if the weather is good. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. If it is hot, the hike can be both difficult due to the number of steps to climb up (600+) and that it’s often in direct sun. Wear suncream and go early or later in the day.
  2. The route has some steep ladders which when going down can be tricky for little ones.
  3. Good shoes are a necessity.
  4. The drive to the walk can be a little precarious at times, so take it slowly if you are not too familiar with single track mountain roads.
  5. Parking is free, but spaces can be quickly taken up during the day so try to get there early. Also helps with the weather situation!
  6. Those looking for an easier walk should take the Gorges down from the Auberge Du Vallon restaurant and back up via the road, rather than the other way around.

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Lac Du Vernex Hike and Picnic Spot – Hikes in Vaud

❖ Length – 4km loop

❖ 1.5 hours needed at least

❖ Toilets at start and end

❖ Picnic spots around the lake on the banks.

❖ Family friendly and stroller friendly for 90% of the route which is gravel / paved but babies best in carriers.

You’d be hard pressed to find a calmer or gentler walking route for a beautiful Sunday hike than the looped trail from the quiet mountain town of Rossinière to Lac du Vernex.

It is an easy 4km walk suitable for adults, families and those with babies if they are in a suitable carrier. We did it with a three week old baby and it was really enjoyable and a great walk for some gentle exercise.

It should take just a little more than an hour to complete the loop, longer if your hiking group has little ones who prefer a slower pace. 

We started our walk at Rossinière train station, where we also parked our car to return to later thanks to the looped route. If you turn right with your back to the station, you begin the walk on the better paved side but then after around 40 minutes arrive at a beautiful grassy bank on the left where I would recommend you stop for a picnic. It is just past a house, and the slope eases down to the lakefront making it the perfect place to stop and refresh. 

The water is very cold, even in the summer months, so take a dip if you are brave enough (we were not!) but I would advise testing the water temperature first so you are not in for a nasty surprise when you jump in!

Continue the loop around after your lunch, ending right back where you started.

I love this walk as it is so peaceful, there’s great spots to pull out a blanket and read under the sun for a quiet afternoon, and it’s super accessible for all levels of hikers. 

All in all, you can easily spend half a day here if you walk, eat and spend some time on the lake. It’s a beautiful place to explore and especially nice on a warm Spring day.

Download the free PDF version of the guide today

Arnensee Hike and Boat Trip

There are many beautiful lakes in Switzerland, but the Arnensee easily makes it into my top five due to it’s incredible backdrop of mountains and forests, and the icey turquoise of the lake which shimmers in the midday sun at just over 1500m elevation.

It is easily accessed by either car or foot, both taking a trail through the forest and alongside a river until you emerge at the rewarding mountain lake. We drove there from Gstaad until we reached the town of Feutersoey and followed signposts to the lake. From Feutersoey it is around a ten minute drive, or an hour and a half (6KM) walk. With a newborn in the car, we chose the driving option, although one day would like to return for the hike as it was a beautiful path, albeit it mainly uphill. 

If you do drive, be mindful that you need to pay five francs entry in order to open the barrier and access the route to the lake. The machine at the barrier also only accepts coins, so make sure you’re prepared in advance. 

When you reach the lake you have several options after taking in the beautiful scenic view. We chose to first hire a row boat and head out on to the lake before it got too warm from the direct sun. These are easily hired from the restaurant ‘Huus am Arnensee’ on your left of the lake. We paid 15 francs to hire a rowboat for one hour, and you can pay by cash or card, but they also have stand up paddle boards and pedalos. The staff are really friendly and happy to help.

After your lake excursion, you can then walk the path around the water’s perimeter which takes around an hour and has some beautiful picnic spots, fire pits and places to enter the lake for a cold but refreshing swim if you wish to. It is an easy walk but only stroller friendly on the right hand side, so babies are best in carriers. 

Finally, round off your day with a refreshing drink and the delicious spicy tomato soup at the Huus am Arnensee restaurant. The prices are really reasonable and the terrace has great views for a midday or end of hike stop before heading home.

All in all, you can easily spend half a day here if you walk, eat and spend some time on the lake. It’s a beautiful place to explore and especially nice on a warm Spring day where you can row out without worrying about too much sun exposure.

Top Tips for the Walk:

  1. Get there early to avoid crowds and secure a boat. We arrived at 9:30am and it was perfect.
  2. You need 5 francs in coins if you want to drive up to the lake to pass the barrier 
  3. Parking is free at the top however
  4. If you want to swim, remember it’s a high altitude mountain lake and therefore a bit cold!
  5. Only a paved path on one side of the lake

Download the free PDF version of the guide today

Gorges De La Jogne Hike – Scenic River Trail in Gruyeres

This tranquil and scenic hike follows the river over bridges and along carefully carved out footpaths until you reach the impressive Montsalvans Dam and Lac de Montsalvans. 

It’s easy to follow the walk, and takes around an hour and a half to reach the final stop at the Montsalvans Dam where you can pause for a picnic or continue on to Charmey for lunch at one of the towns’ restaurants. We always choose the picnic option as it’s so nice to sit by the blue of Montsalvans lake and refresh before walking the same path back to the car (so it’s 7km in total, taking around 3 hours without a stop).

It is family friendly, and great for kids to explore, however it isn’t stroller suitable and if you have a baby who has yet to find or only recently discovered their feet you will want to take them in a suitable carrier instead. 

If you put the destination ‘Gorges De La Jonge’ into your Sat Nav or phone maps, you will be taken to the start where you can park the car before beginning the walk. The turn off the main road to the entrance of the walk is just around a bend and can be easy to miss so try and take it slow as you approach. 

Begin the walk at the car park, and follow the path along the river until you hit a little cave, just after the waterfall, where you pass through on to a wooden bridge curving around the rock face. Then just keep following the trail until you get to the dam at the end. It’s very easy to find your way and there are places to stop and picnic places along the trail if you want a break or get a little hungry. 

We really love the walk as it’s always so serene and we rarely pass other people when doing it. We have also experienced it in all seasons, such as when we were met with some unseasonal May snow which made for a very different type of walk and views along the way. 

Be warned that they don’t open the gates to the start of the walk until April at the earliest, and it closes again for winter. I would recommend checking out their website online to see if they are open before heading there – https://www.la-gruyere.ch/en/Z10968/gorges-jogne 

Once we didn’t as it was mid-summer and our path was blocked by a fallen tree that had broken one of the bridges crossing the river, so now we always quickly check. 

Top Tips for the Walk:

  1. Check online to ensure it is open as it depends on the season and weather conditions
  2. Pack a picnic as there are not any restaurants or stalls where you can get refreshments along the way
  3. The same goes for toilets, you will need to go ‘au natural’ if you need to along the way
  4. It is kid friendly but not stroller friendly
  5. Wear good shoes as the path can be a little uneven at times
  6. Take a camera, it’s truly beautiful!

Bisse Du Torrent Neuf Hike – Easy and Scenic Trail in Valais

❖ Length – 6km one way, 12km return

❖ Three hours needed at least

❖ Toilets at start and end

❖ Two restaurants, one at the start and one at the end. Picnic spot at the end.

❖ Family friendly if you keep a close eye on young children, but not pram friendly

The Bisse Du Torrent Neuf is an easy but rewarding hike across a 6km path (12km return as it’s one way) that begins through the shaded and gentle forest, opening up to a narrow path at dizzying heights with incredible views across Valais. 

It’s accessible and doable with children, we had our two month old baby in our ErgoBaby carrier and we managed just fine, although be warned, it’s not stroller friendly and you will need to keep an eye and probably a hand on young children in many parts as some of the sheer cliff edges don’t have barriers. That being said, we saw many families with children as young as three enjoying the hike when we were there.

You begin the hike at the parking lot, if you park at the second one as we did, you have a twenty minute walk through the forest to the Chapel St Marguerite and a small local restaurant where the official path begins. It can be a little tricky to initially get from the parking lot to the forest path and then the Bisse trail, so you can either do as we did, and follow people up ahead, or look for the yellow path signs to Chapelle St Marguerite. 

When you begin the trail, you are met with incredible views along the way and it continues with narrow pathways and four different suspension bridges which are not for those afraid of heights. It will take you around two hours to complete it all from the forest to the end if you are stopping for photos and a break on one of the benches. 

Along the way, there are great signposts and plaques educating you on the history of the Bisse as well as some impressive photos showing how it was built and how people used to access it.

At the end of the trail there is another restaurant, ‘Brac Chalet’ and toilets, where you can stop for refreshments before taking the same path back to return to the car park. 

Our top tips for the walk:

  1. It’s best done in good weather, especially considering the steepness of the narrow pathways
  2. It can be hard to initially find the start of the trail in the forest, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the maps at the car parks before setting off.
  3. Good shoes are a necessity.
  4. It can get very busy, we arrived around 8:30am which was ideal as by the time we were on our way back, we had to wait to cross a lot of the bridges as you can only pass one direction at a time. Avoid the lunchtime rush where possible. 
  5. If you want to enjoy a picnic (or feed the baby as we did) there’s a little private hut just before the second bridge, or picnic benches along the way and at the end. You can also put up a picnic mat in the field at Brac when you reach the end of the trail.
  6. Again, it’s not a hike for you if you don’t like heights!

Download the friendly PDF guide for more details on this hike

Are We Going To Hear The Pitter Patter Of Tiny Feet Any Time Soon? Pregnancy, Endometriosis and Our Journey.

After being married for six years, and together for almost a decade before we announced we were extending our family, we had slowly started to hear less of the common question ‘when are you thinking of making it a family of three?’ 

Honestly, I don’t massively begrudge anyone who asked it of us. For many people, it was a natural question and something they obviously expected from us based on their own choices and experiences. That being said, there is a lot to learn and be mindful of when asking something that can be deemed as incredibly personal or sensitive. Personally, I don’t ever ask. I respect that there is a usually reason for not adding children into the mix, and leave it up to the couple to share this should they ever wish to.

So, what about that family of three? 

The reason I am sharing this post now is because this month marks Endometriosis awareness month. It’s been a good few years’ since I last wrote on this particular topic as I often feel the conflict between sharing something quite personal, and the importance of being honest to help others, but I think that with my current circumstances it only feels right to share something quite close to my heart.

Following a long journey, laparoscopies (surgery) and endless scans and tests that I won’t go into detail with here, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2014. 

Surgery number two – 2016

Since then, I have faced a series of hospitalisations, burst cysts, bloating and IBS and trials of different pain management solutions to try and get a handle on the condition day to day. 

But what actually is it?

Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.  Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape, and instead leaves behind these tissue linings which can cause cysts, inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.

It is a chronic and debilitating condition and can lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems amongst many other things. 

It is also notoriously difficult to diagnose, and many women, myself included, go years with painful symptoms and no support or answer to why they are suffering. 

So, “what about that family of three?” we often got asked. 

Well, based on the above, we were suddenly very aware a year after getting married that if we ever wanted to expand our family, there was a big chance it wouldn’t be straightforward and could result in disappointment and years’ of frustration ahead. 

This, paired with our goal of seeing a lot of the world and building up our careers led us to the mutual decision that for the foreseeable future, we wouldn’t even worry or focus our energies on the big ‘what if’s’ about starting a family. We made a big pre-baby list of everything we wanted to do first and put our heart and souls into having the best five years as a married couple that we possibly could and to ignore the could we / couldn’t we question.

However as we reached our thirties, we knew it was time to dig out this obstacle we had pretty much buried, and face the realities it could bring head on. Especially as for my husband, children were a big dream. We knew we were ready for a family; we just now needed to find out what it would take or if it could really happen for us.

We started the journey knowing it could take a lot of time or not even be successful. A lot of medical advice recommends couples trying to start a family try don’t approach it ‘scientifically’, and you hear that regular phrase which is ‘as soon as we stopped trying it happened!’ just like in the What to Expect When You’re Expecting Film.

We knew that for us, this probably wasn’t the best route. I won’t go into the details as honestly a lot is still quite personal, but we spent a long time preparing with expensive private medical visits, scans to check the current existence of lesions or cysts, and a big diet and lifestyle overhaul to name just a few. Honestly, it involved a lot of saving, patience and trust and we know we were fortunate in that others have it much worse than we ever did. 

It took quite a bit of time, and we had a few pretty awful bumps, tears and scares along the way, but eventually we were incredibly lucky in that it actually happened and I am now writing this at 35 weeks’ pregnant with our little girl. 

I wanted to share this post and my story as from the outside, it often looks quite easy or that people just manage to get pregnant without much effort. For many couples, that can be an amazing reality, but for others not so much. If you just looked at my Instagram you’d probably think the same of us and not be aware that even for the first twenty weeks of this pregnancy I had two cysts bigger than the baby still hanging around and needing to be monitored, and thanks to my surgery scars my belly button is a sight to behold right now.

Cysts bigger than the baby

Really, I wanted to just highlight that we never really know what has gone on to get someone to the place where they are with or without children, and that we should all be mindful of this when raising the questions such as ‘when are you thinking of making it a family of three?’ or comparing ourselves to others. 

For those with endometriosis or going through something similar, and who want to talk, always reach out to me. A strong network does wonders and you don’t need to go through this alone. 

My Second Trimester Must Haves and Key Learnings

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to pregnancy, with no two journeys ever being the same. During my second trimester, I gathered some pretty useful pieces of advice, or discovered a few things I wish I had known a little earlier. All the below was mainly discovered thanks to incredible tips I received from my mum-friends, pregnancy books and tried and tested personal experiences!

Overall, for me the weeks 13-27 were the best so far of my pregnancy. I had much more energy, could exercise easily again, and my only niggles were on-going rib pain and my sickness continued (albeit with a lot less frequency than in the first twelve weeks).

Here’s a collection of things I discovered that may or may not help you if you are in the middle of your second trimester, or want to prepare early for the months’ ahead.

Smart and comfortable maternity work-wear

It was around twenty weeks that I had to swap out my usual pre-baby wardrobe for some new maternity staples. That being said, I regularly wore my maternity work trousers and dresses from the moment I got even a bit of a bump (or pretended I did when I had just massively over indulged on Thai food) as they were so much more comfortable and less restrictive on a sore bloated belly than usual clothes.

You really don’t need much, but 1-2 pairs of work trousers and some stretchy specialist dresses will see you through the pregnancy and all trimesters without too much cost. For tops, I recommend buying floaty and loose for the workplace, and using a vest underneath to add length when they shorten due to the growing bump.

I found Bandia Maternity (purchased through ASOS) and Seraphine Maternity both had the best fit, and options that didn’t make me feel frumpy or bored of my wardrobe as my body changed.

Also, top tip: Mango shift dresses have lasted me right up until 35 weeks so far, and they are so comfy. I just took a size up from usual and they have seen me through.

A belly band

A lifesaver as your belly is expanding but you are not ready to give up your old jeans just yet. Pop a belly band over the waistband to hide the fact you can’t properly button up anymore and to protect your modesty. Also it just feels nice to have something covering the bump as it grows. This wonderful invention meant that outside of work I could wear my non-maternity jeans right up until my third trimester.

Bath with Epsom salts before bed

I don’t have a bath because I foolishly thought I wouldn’t miss one when moving to our new apartment. Note to past Lyndsay – it was a very bad move. So whenever I travel whilst pregnant I always request a hotel room with a tub because of the wonders a warm soak does for a growing body. Throw in some Epsom salts, light some candles and spend a good thirty minutes in the water to reduce swelling or pressure on your limbs.

A body pillow

My incredible brothers and sisters-in-laws got me this as a gift when I discovered I was expecting, and during the second trimester it really became invaluable. As your options for sleeping when you’re pregnant are pretty much limited to left side, or right side, you want to make sure that you are comfortable as possible. Trust me, your hips get sore after eight hours slumber on the same side.

A pregnancy pillow helps remove some of that pain, and they make for a great substitute partner to cuddle when they are working away or they have migrated to the spare room bed to escape the pillow pregnancy fortress you’ve created in the main bedroom.

Pregnancy exercise subscription

If you are feeling well enough and up to it, a mild exercise routine tailored to your stage of pregnancy can do wonders to help you feel a bit better on a daily basis. Don’t worry if you’re not, your body is growing a whole human and pretty preoccupied right now.

I loved pregnancy Yoga, and using Kayla Itsines – Sweat with Kayla pregnancy specific workouts for a big of an endorphin rush and to help with aches.

Comfy pyjamas and lounge-wear

You’re going to spend more and more time in pyjamas and loungewear because let’s face it, nothing is more appealing when in your second trimester than being cosy at home with a good book and comfort foods. Treat yourself to some new stretchy and comfy sets.

I got a couple that will be both worn now, in my hospital bag and great for nursing afterwards too so they have longevity. For this, button down shirts are key.

I got some lovely pieces from The White Company and H&M.

Rennies

Buy Rennie’s in BULK to help with heartburn. I lived off them after most meals.

Notebook or pregnancy journal

Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, the weeks’ really fly by and you tend to forget some of the small details or funny stories that happen day by day as you discover new symptoms or put the hairbrush in the fridge (true story).

I would highly recommend getting a pregnancy specific journal so you can take half an hour a week to capture each stage. I already am looking back at it and laughing and I am still pregnant, so I know it’s going to be a great memento for years to go.

I got the ‘How To Grow A Baby’ Journal – which is a great accompaniment to the same named book from Clemmie Hooper. You can get it via Amazon and it has some great week by week question prompts to help you fully capture your journey.

Classes

If you are wanting to take any specific classes throughout your pregnancy, now is a great time to do this. Hypnobirthing, pregnancy meditation and yoga, and breastfeeding classes are ones that I personally am getting a lot of benefit from. But it’s each to their own.

Microwavable heat pad

During my second trimester, and apparently a lot earlier than most people, I started to get burning and aching pain under my left rib on a daily basis, especially after I had sat for too long or had just eaten a big meal. Don’t get me started on the five hour flight to Northern Tromso I booked before this became a symptom and it then flared up. Basically, with baby and my short torso, there really wasn’t much room for much else so my ribs began to push out to make space.

Rib flare apparently is common, and for me a heat pad really helped ease some of the burn after a long day at the office.

Books!

Start getting recommendations, borrow good used copies from friends and max out your library card to prepare you for the days where you are perhaps feeling like you have a little less energy and need some entertainment.

I have started to stockpile now for my last few weeks before baby is here and I am on maternity leave / to have something to occupy me during breastfeeding sessions.

If you are not a big reader, then swap the above for magazines, podcast recommendations or a good Netflix to watch list.

Shape/support-wear

Hear me out, I am not recommending that you wear Spanx or similar when pregnant to protect your image or to produce a more flattering bump. As you grow, and your bump gets bigger, you definitely start to get a little more uncomfortable due to the extra weight your back and legs are now supporting.

I found that a good belly support belt, and specialist maternity support-wear did an incredible job of helping to ‘hold up’ the bump and keep me from feeling as much strain when I was on my feet for a lot of the day. This can range from high-waisted yoga leggings to specialist Lycra shorts. Do some research and see if anything works well for you.

Seven Secrets You Need To Know To Make You More Productive and Organised

As I have got a little older, I have become more self-aware of things I am good at, and things that I perhaps should leave to others (coordination sports, digesting lactose, long phone-calls for catching up, drawing and multi-tasking to name a few).

On the flip side, I am a good natural organiser and tend to thrive with tasks requiring self-discipline, productivity and planning. Recently, a few people have been asking for what it is I do each day to get stuff done, or get stuff done quickly. So I thought I would share a post on my top reflections and habits that I think contribute towards my productivity in case it’s useful for a wider audience.

With the above in mind, I also want to reflect that until recently I used to be pretty embarrassed of just how organised (read: borderline control freak) I was as a person. These days though, I welcome it with open arms. I think that because of these traits I find it easier to go after the things that make me really happy, and put a lot of energy and effort into events, trips and plans that leave a lasting impact and memories for years to come.

Top ways to keep organised and productive on a day to day basis:

One: Know your goals, and know your plan

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the hype of being ‘busy’ or hyper productive. There are methods that get you to write down 5-7 habits a day to do every day. Others encourage you to break down big tasks into more manageable chunks to make them seem more attainable.

Personally, I think that the most important way to keep disciplined and productive is to have three things established. One, a very clear vision of where you want to be in life in the next 3-5 years. I am not talking specific here (although feel free to be detailed) but a good understanding of what life looks like for you in the coming years. If you don’t have a good goal, nothing’s going to motivate you.

Secondly, an understanding of your main priorities in life and what matters most to you.

Lastly, a personal acceptance of the fact that you really can’t do everything, but you can do a lot.

If you know you want to be a full time writer, living in a small house in the remote countryside in the next three-five years. You are aware that your priorities are your family, your health, your friends, travel and writing. Then you can easily take a moment to assess your day to day and even week by week plans to see what is contributing towards that and what is distracting.

If in a week you spend two hours a day watching Netflix, but the above is your plan, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out it won’t happen for you in the near future because it’s not where you are putting your energy.

Two: Do what makes you happy

This one isn’t really easy for all, but I am a firm believer that unless you are doing something that challenges you, makes you happy and feel fulfilled you’re never going to have the motivation to put 100% into it.

If you are feeling stuck in a rut, or like you’re limited because you are pursuing something you really don’t enjoy, make a change today. No one can be productive all the time for something that doesn’t make them happy.

Three: Do the hardest tasks of the day first, every single day.

Block out the first hour to get the rough stuff done. The stuff that makes you scared, a good dose of exercise, the email you’ve been putting off writing or the paperwork you have yet to reply to and file.

Often the things that are the hardest to do, or that we avoid are the ones that bring the biggest changes or impact on our day to day.

Honestly, if you can just change one thing this for me would be it. Before reading the news, before social media or joining a call, put aside an hour to just get stuff done.

Four: Know your own habits and routines

We all have our own habits and pitfalls when it comes to organisation and discipline. Personally, I know that after 6pm I am cognitively useless. If you check my blog and writing performance, I always have a dip in publishing mid-month.

Instead of being frustrated by these habits, I instead just work my projects and days around them. I write more at the start and end of each month, and during the middle I focus on other priorities such as getting outdoors, trips and down time.

It’s the same with household tasks like taxes, budgeting and planning for my husband’s business, I know if I don’t tackle them in the first week of the month I will lose motivation. So I make these a priority.

After 6pm I don’t do anything ‘mentally taxing’ and use this time to unwind.

Embrace your own ways of working and natural habits rather than consistently trying to overwrite and fight them. Make them work as part of your productivity.

Photo by Michaela on Pexels.com

Five: Time blocking

If you are always finding yourself too busy to do the things that matter, take some time to block out and organise your diary now to make room for the bigger priorities. Give yourself an hour every day to work on projects. Refuse meetings or calls on a Friday to use this time to turn your ideas into reality.

Give yourself an hour a day for self-development.

Six: Don’t hyper organise

An app can be incredibly helpful if you already know your goals and priorities. A notes site can be fantastic to collect articles to read later, if you actually are going to read them. A well-structured calendar will only be effective if you are actually going to stick to your agenda.

We seem to love technology and hyper-organisation when it comes to being disciplined and often think that certain apps, tools and tech will help us become productive. The reality is, these tools complement an already productive lifestyle.

Plus, with these tools we tend to want to add 7-8 habits a day rather than one or two that will actually get done, because otherwise the list looks bare.

Get apps if you need them to further habits you already have, or interests you already stick to. Don’t expect them to be the cure.

Seven: Outsource

This one took me a long time to firstly realise was a thing, and then secondly do properly. You don’t need to do everything yourself, and to go back to my first tip, in order to be productive you need to realise that you really can’t do everything, but you can do a lot.

Outsource whatever it is that distracts from your priorities or what you enjoy where you can. Obviously some aspects require financial freedom to do it, such as having a cleaner or someone or taking a load of laundry to be dry cleaned once a week.

Others however, not so much. Sites like Fiverr make getting all sorts of tasks done quickly and easily for less. They have everything from virtual assistants to data entry and video editing.

Same goes for things like present shopping, do you know many big online stores now offer free personal shopping services or AI powered Chat Bots to get you the perfect gift in next to no time. Or food shopping, have a service deliver a weekly pre-prepared favourites list to you and then add in things you fancy as you think about them.

Lastly, the biggest thing I think that has helped me be more productive is living a lot more minimally. I have less stuff to clean, no real clutter to sort through, I don’t spend hours worrying about outfits as my wardrobe is pretty capsule and I don’t spend hours working out how to get the new car I covet or striving after the next big material success. When you let go of the distractions, the must-haves and the noise, it becomes really easy to just get stuff done.

What are your top tips for being productive?