Last weekend Rex and I attended BritMums Live – or #BML17 as it was more commonly known on social media. I had prepared myself for the fact that I would be on my own. In a hotel room. With a baby. A baby who doesn’t sleep well at the best of times!
We set off from Somerset for London at around 9.45am with one pitstop at Fleet services for a breastfeed for Rex and a drive thru Starbucks for me. Once passing the Hammersmith flyover, the inevitable happened and we were stuck in London traffic. Rex hates being stationary in the car. So, there I was with my left arm over my shoulder rocking his car seat every time we came to a standstill. Not that it helped much! It made even more interesting when a lorry broke down in the middle of Knightsbridge!
On arrival at the Travelodge, I found somewhere to stop in a side street. My plan was to take some luggage in (obviously taking Rex in with me too in his car seat) and then drive to the car park which was a 10 minute walk away. Thankfully the staff were extremely helpful and informed me that the side streets around the hotel allowed 4 hour paid parking until 6.30pm then it would be free until Monday morning. Thank goodness! It was 2pm so I waited in the car until 2.30pm, giving Rex another feed in the process.
So, how did it go? What did I learn? And will I do it again?
You will always have help
I was so lucky to receive so many offers of help. I was surprised to see so few babies in attendance this year – unlike previous ones when there were so many. I saw just two others – one of those was Ami from Ami Elizabeth and 4 month old Florence. We managed to set up a little area in the corner of the room where we left pushchairs and made sure we had a seat – especially during lunchtime when it got particularly busy.
The first sign of help was from Angela when we were leaving the building to board the London Eye on Friday afternoon. She helped to lift the pushchair up and down the steps. More help swiftly followed from Monika and Jen, as well as various other offers of support and help from the other bloggers and staff at the London Eye.
Throughout the conference the following day I had lots of support from many different people. I have to say thank you in particular to Steph, Monika, Jaime, Clare, Helen, Jen, Ann, Prabs and Helen and to all the people who donated the Hipp Organic baby food jars out of their goodie bags!
Monika came to my rescue the first evening I was in London. The next night, I was totally exhausted and had a persistently crying Rex. I made a bit of an error staying for the BiBs party as it was on a boat with no way of getting off. I guess I wanted to go because I was up for the Family and Lifestyle award (the fifth year running that I have received a nomination). I do not know what I would have done without Jaime and Clare to help me back to the hotel that evening. They offered to bring me food too but by that point I was far too tired to eat. The following morning, Jaime hadn’t forgotten me and came up to my room to sit with Rex which enabled me to load the car for a speedy departure. The kindness and support of blogger friends continues to shine through.
You/Your Baby will get plenty of attention
There was no doubt that Rex was the star of the show. He knew it too! He had a smile for pretty much every person who peered over the side of his pushchair or chatted to him over my shoulder. If you have a baby with you, you are bound to get plenty of attention!
People are more likely to approach you
In previous years at BritMums Live I tended to keep myself to myself. I don’t know whether it was because it was a smaller venue and easier to see people or whether it was because I had Rex with me (I have to say, I do feel it was more the latter). A baby is a great conversation started and really good way to break the ice. He was a big hit with many of the PRs!
It’s harder than you think
The evenings and night times are the hardest parts of the day with a baby. When you are on your own, in the middle of London, at a conference and trying to be at your best, it is ruddy hard work! Plus, you have to remember to carry all the things you need for a baby. You certainly can’t pack light and you definitely need to take a changing bag with you (especially when your baby decides to perform a poonami – as Rex did just as we were leaving the hotel on Friday!).
Don’t stay out too late
The first night of the conference I was very sensible and decided to eat at the hotel then go up to bed. I knew that the next morning was an early start so I wanted to make sure that I get in some sleep at least – especially knowing what Rex is like during the night! The following night I wasn’t quite so sensible and, as mentioned above, I decided to attend the BiBs party. A very tired, crying Rex and rather emotional me made it back to the hotel with the help of Jaime and Clare. I don’t think I would stay out again with a baby after spending a whole day at a conference. Lesson learned.
You will not be able to focus on the sessions
I am pleased to say that I made it to two of the sessions. One about Facebook for bloggers and the other for Pinterest. Both of them were around 40 minutes each which is long enough if you have a baby to focus on. I am pleased to say that I came away with great information from both sessions and have managed to implement advice from both. I also made it for some of the keynote speakers.
Make sure the venue caters for babies
One of the first things that shocked me as I walked into County Hall with my pushchair was a Security Guard telling me that I could not push it through their halls. I told her that this would be a bit of a problem as I was sure I wouldn’t be the only mum doing this. Plus, there was no way I was carrying a baby round all day! She let it go in the end. The other issue was that there was no baby change in any of the toilets. A quiet corner of the room had to suffice!
If you have a nosey baby, they will not sleep!
Rex loves to know what is going on – at all times! He fights sleep at the best of times and, with a hall which echoed with the sound of voices and all the to-ing and fro-ing, Rex hardly slept at all during the day (which was probably part of the issue during the evening – see above!).
Travelodge, Elvis has left the building. Well, the King (Rex) has at least. What a lovely weekend seeing so many wonderful people. Rex and I had a great time and he smiled for so many – little charmer! I need to say a huge thanks to Steph, Jaime, Ann, Clare, Monika, Helen, Prabs, Ami, Helen and Jen for all their support with Rex and a mum on her own as well as thank you to Jen, Susannah and Nadine and team for their organisation this weekend. Loved the venue and had a great time.
Pack as light as you can
I have to say that I took as little with me to the conference as possible. I took a changing bag, a pushchair organiser and my coat. I am glad that I left my big camera at the hotel in the end (although I forgot I put my business cards in that particular bag!) as it made space for a very large goody bag and a beautiful hamper which I won – or should I say Rex won! – from the wonderful people on the Spain stand.
Forget public transport!
In the weeks leading up to the conference, I knew that I would not be taking the train. London and public transport is hard work at the best of times so I made sure that I had a pushchair which folded down easily (for use on the London Eye) and a hotel which was easy to stop outside of to drop off my luggage together with parking nearby. I made sure that I was prepared to walk everywhere and that everywhere I was going was within fairly easy walking distance!
I have to say that, as much as Rex and I loved the attention and the fact that everyone got to meet him, I certainly won’t be taking a baby with me again – unless they are specifically geared towards babies. I will consider any future conferences ‘me time’!
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