VW camper summer holidays

How to survive long car journeys with kids

As the summer gets into full swing some of us will be embarking on a long car journey with kids. It’s the down side of going on holiday in the UK but here are some tips we do to survive

Try and travel when you kids would be sleeping. We always go with nap time for Grace (aged 2) but inevitable Joe (aged 5) does have a little nap, which means a later bedtime for him.

Create a playlist that has a happy medium of music you like and your kids like. Test it out at home first so you have mixture of songs that everyone can listen to and enjoy, there will be a few shocking choices from the kids but I find I can tolerate the odd awful song when its sandwiched between songs of your choice.

Play Classic FM loud this seems to calm everyone down and sends kids into a trance.

Don’t mention the word sick, ever since we had the most horrific sick car journey ( I won’t forget that lay by just after Stonehenge as it will always bring back the memory of a full costume change for Grace whilst Joe just napped through it) with Grace every time we mention the word sick she makes herself sick??????? So sick is a banned word in our car.

Try and get as far as you can before stopping for a break, if you are desperate for a coffee you could use one of the new drive thru Costa coffee at the services (Clackett Lane)

Snacks, snacks, snacks and more snacks. Select your snacks carefully on mess levels, smell levels and accessibility levels. I find pom bears, naked bars, fruit pouches, rice cakes and more pom bears work well.

Games, we love a game. Eye spy is a classic, spot the purple car (pick a rare colour then the game lasts longer) and counting together for example Joe says 1, Grace says 2 and so on, obviously Grace can’t count that high so I join in too. Another good one is saying different colours it can get down to duck egg blue, elephant whisper as paint chart colours count too.

If you are going on a long journey try and section up the time, for example when it is nap time have all the pillows and covers out then packed away when its awake time.

Accept there will be whinging and of course the classic “Are we there yet?”

I’m sure there are loads more tips out there for long car journeys, what are yours?

 

 

 

Banning Tv

What happens when you ban TV for a week…..

So the other day when I pulled out what I would like to call “the big guns” I threatened TV would be banned for a week. There was a small sigh from my husband and I was told “you can deal with that”. Now one thing I try to stick too is once you have committed to a punishment you HAVE to go through with it. We both still recall years ago we said to Joe “If you don’t go to sleep you won’t be going to Grandmas and Grandads for a sleepover” and he didn’t go to sleep and we lost out on our childfree time, repeat, we lost our childfree time! We learnt our lesson and never again have we pulled out the “big guns” until now.

Of course after some in-depth thought by Joe he needed some clear rules on how this punishment would work, nothing gets passed this five year old. Firstly he said;

“How will Grace watch TV?”

My answer was “Grace will sit by the TV and you will sit in the other room” ,

“What will I do?” My answer “Play with Lego”.

This is my favourite question and in all fairness he does find it hard to sit still, “How will I sit down? It’s the only way I can stay still.” my answer “Let’s get the Lego out.”

Day 1

Feeling pretty smug, only a little bit of moaning in the morning and then they played with Lego and completed puzzles. I actually should of won “Mum of the year” award today, but to be fair he was at school most of the day so I didn’t actually have to parent too much.

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Youngest sibling

The benefits of being the youngest child

As the youngest child you can get a raw deal on occasion, for example:

  • You will probably rarely own anything new (we are still waiting for the red scooter to fade to pink in the sun, that was the cunning plan and it hasn’t quite worked out as hoped)
  • You will have the smallest bedroom in the house
  • You are not allowed to play with older siblings toys as they are not age appropriate and it always causes arguments.

HOWEVER,  all is not lost there is a plus side to being the youngest child….

Your parents have pretty much given into the fact that life will never be the same again. Lie ins are years away, holidays that actually involve reading a book in the sun are simply something they can look forward to in their retirement but they are taking it in their stride and almost enjoying it.

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Ouch Pouch review

When you have Child Ninja’s the Ouch Pouch is essential when out and about.

The Ouch Pouch  has evolved from the product the Spilly Spoon . The Spilly spoon was invented by entrepreneur Mum, Philippa. As a mother of 3 she struggled with the challenge of giving her children medicine and invented the Spilly Spoon. She has won countless awards with this product and it is available worldwide. In 2013 she followed on this success with the Ouch Pouch, a portable first aid kit that fits perfectly in your bag.

The Ouch Pouch is a portable first aid kit that has many handy features.

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Working friends

Working mum to stay at home mum

I have been both a working mum and now I am a stay at home mum (SAHM).

When I had Joe I went back to work after 11 months and everything worked well. I worked in a job share with a guy who also had children and we both did three days each. He covered both of my maternity leaves so the continuity was there. When I returned the second time he left to pursue his career as the next Ed Sheeran, something he always wanted to do, which is amazing, go CHRIS!

I always knew it was going to be hard going back the second time as an extra person to the family dynamic makes it tricky. My company honoured my three days a week and were very accommodating and offered flexible working.  I had long days and shorter days so I could be around as much as possible.

Leaving my job was not a decision I took lightly and quite frankly something I thought I would never do as I LOVED my job and LOVED working but after some careful consideration it seemed the right time to become a stay at home mum. I believe my company would of offered more flexible working but I knew that my job needed to be done in the office and would almost become redundant if I was to do it from home. My job was the Head of Scheduling in a post production company that makes adverts. I was the person that would solve people problems and get adverts delivered on time by finding creative ways of “creating” time when there wasn’t any.  This was a face to face job which couldn’t really be done on the phone or over email, so for me working from home wasn’t going to work and I felt I would just end up doing two jobs badly. We worked out how we could survive because after commuting, childcare and my addiction to Itsu and the odd Friday lunch tipple the figures where doable, so we took the plunge.

As in any new job it can take a few months to get up and running so here are some ways I’ve settled myself into becoming at SAHM.

Accepting I’m not Supermum 

My expectations did not meet the reality, I thought the freezer would be full of home cooked meals, I would paint furniture (never have I done this before), fit in five gym classes a week, create an amazing healthy eating plan that I would rotate every 3 weeks, and quite frankly it hasn’t happened. The food shop still arrives with the quick fix meals and I still always forget something, every bloody time. I’ve given up trying to make furniture nice as there is always a child defacing it with stickers, crayons or dirty hands. I do make it down the gym but it’s not five times a week and most importantly after a bit of time I’ve said this is ok to myself.

I’ve made some new mates

I’ve filled my work friends gap by seeing my friends more and making new mates that are in the same situation. I feel this is a pretty natural thing to do in life as you are drawn to people who you share common interests to you. Luckily Mums the word online popped up at the right time and now I wasn’t working I could attend more of the Mama meet up day events. They always hit the nail on the head with their speakers, they really do smash it out everytime. So as you all know my hobby is writing this blog which can be a bit of a lonely world unless you actually meet other bloggers!

Instagram, now if someone had said to me you would be going out for a drinks night with someone you met on the Instagram a year ago I wouldn’t of believed them but this has actually happened and it was bloody great. These “getting to know other mums like you” with a glass of fizz are popping up all over the place, to name a few Lorna who does a great event called PIZZ UP   based in South West London and in the South East Mama Mixers.

It’s the little things that count 

When your boss is yourself a little inner self praise is good for the soul.  The other day I said to my husband “I have simple goals these days if my children have brushed their teeth, eaten food, and slept I’m happy” because quite frankly this is not achieved everyday.

Write lists, lot of lists

So when I was working I would have lists of lists etc and work through these lists to get the job done. When I first started out as a SAHM I was always trying to do everything at once and obviously I couldn’t achieve this so I’ve started using the   Bullet Journal concept to get organised and even though I don’t use it to the levels others have it has really helped.

The soundtrack to my life 

I really enjoy music of any type really, I used to listen to it on my commute but now the commute has gone I’ve started to inflict my musical taste on the kids more and they actually quite like it, I can’t sit in a silent house there always has to be sound in some shape or another.

So this is the phase I find myself in now and it’s going ok, I will be honest I don’t really know what is the next phase is but I’m just enjoying it whilst it lasts.

Photo of my leaving drinks with Disco Dave and Pillababes AKA Top Table.

My reasons why I don’t have Mum guilt

That feeling of mum guilt is something I think everyone feels once or twice in their lives as parents. However, I have learnt how to deal with my mum guilt (well most of it) by remembering the more challenging parts of parenting and reminding myself I should enjoy this guilt free time.

Here are my top 9 reasons why I don’t have mum guilt;

• Chicken Pox – We have had this three times in our house and I only have two children. The first time round it was when my eldest (Joe) was 3 and the youngest (Grace) was 6 weeks, we were contagious and house bound for about three weeks, it was a tough time.

• For the broken glass in the back door after I said “don’t throw stones”. Yes this happened but on the plus side I have been using this quite a bit. For example “Please don’t climb up there you might fall” he still climbs “do you remember that time when mummy said don’t throw stones and you broke the glass” he gets down and doesn’t climb anymore. Boom.

• The time I fished out a Lego head out of the toilet. When Joe was younger his reward chart toys were Lego mini figures and one day he dropped it down the toilet in his poo, he was so upset as he had worked really hard, I took a deep breath and fished that Lego head out.

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Family Christmas

How to parent like it’s the Christmas of 1986

The summer has well and truly left us but now it’s time to cosy up and get ready for Christmas. Forget Elf on the shelf, Ice skating and booking Santa visits in August (we have all done that once) here’s how I remember Christmas in the 80’s.

Stockings

Stockings should be knitted or your Dad’s football sock. This should be stuffed with “Smellies” bubble bath or even bath pearls shaped as various animals, stars and maybe something Christmas themed. A big tube of fruit pastiles, a selection pack of Cadburys chocolate bars including Fudge, Chomp and Wispa and of course a bag of chocolate coins. But let’s not forget that lone satsuma right at the bottom of the stocking. This can be added as an attempt to encourage some healthy eating on Christmas day.

Christmas Decorations

Now don’t hold back, every corner has to be covered. Strings of paper chains along the picture rails, shiny colourful snow flake strings from each corner of the room to the light in the center of the room. Homemade crepe paper doves stuck into the ceiling with drawing pins. Tinsel, tinsel and more tinsel on everything from banisters, door handles light switches, anything that can be given that Christmas touch with some tinsel. The tree can be an explosion of colour of small wooden brass bands, fake robins, knitted angels and loads of lights. Decorating the house can sometimes take a couple of days with constant additions appearing throughout the month of December.

Main present

The main present, the one thing they have had their eye on all year, the present that they have been secretly searching the house for months, working out the size and where you could of hidden it. They have been watching all your comings and goings for the past couple of months and any unusual behaviour has been analysed. There will always be constant discussion about the “main present” with siblings and making sure they have asked for something of similar value.

Christmas TV 

This is the one time of the year The Radio Times appears in the house. Hours are spent going through each day from when they break up from school and the calculations on how many films they could watch over Christmas. The excitement level used to be high as it was only four channels then and films were a rare treat.

Only Fools and Horses

Christmas day is not complete unless the whole family sits down with a drink (Cinzona, G&T or a lager shandy) in hand to watch the Only fools and horses Christmas special. Everyone should cram in the front room and if you are the youngest sibling you have no chance of getting on the sofa so the rug in front of the fire is yours (where you will heat up to temperatures close to boiling) and inevitably half way through a grandparent will start snoring.

Christmas Dinner 

The best meal you have seen all year with all the toppings and trimmings. A roast potato dash will commence, when the roast potatoes are this crispy and light you have to get in quick. Pigs in blankets, stuffing, turkey, pork and of course the humble sprout. I often think like the lone satsuma in the stocking it can be another failed attempt to eat healthy on Christmas day.

Tree present

Now even at Christmas the tree is feeling generous and will bear a gift to all that had celebrated Christmas day with it. The kind tree will bring gifts of books, hats, gloves and maybe some more “smellies”.

Boxing Day 

A breath of fresh air after all the indulgence, you can try and use as many of your new items as possible, hats, gloves, scarf and maybe even your “main present” of a bike and of course get through a couple of those Cadburys selection boxes for good measure.  A trip round the park then it’s off to a boxing day party round friends. This can involve a couple of families getting together eating the leftovers, watching films and playing darts. Games like Killer or beat the score can be enjoyed however it can be a little risky with kids throwing darts you need to have your wits about you!

So whatever your Christmas traditions are ENJOY!

Center Parcs review ……Holland style.

We recently embarked on our annual trip to Center parcs in Holland. Now there are plus points going to a Center Parcs abroad as its a lot cheaper, the car trip and ferry is exciting for the kids (maybe not so much the parents) as you can treat it like a mini cruise.

So over the last four years of holidaying with children I have now accepted it’s not going to be relaxing, next year we are definitely going somewhere with a kids club! I brought these “This Mama does” milestones cards to capture the highs and the lows.

Scorchio/Rain rain go away – It definitely was not hot, but this actually didn’t really matter as when you are at Center Parcs there is loads to do inside and the trees are a good shelter, there is also nothing like whipping out your mum’s borrowed pac-a-mac in all of its purple patterned glory.

Happy Campers – Holidays are about doing stuff but sometimes everybody needs some “down time” so the iPad can be brought out, which in our house is a holiday treat.

Are we there yet? – The classic car trip to holiday but it all adds to the fun, the excitement building up in the car as you cruise through Europe listening to French radio (Joe fm). Even if the sat nav says 10 more miles add on an extra 7 miles for the detour round the small villages that the sat nav has sent you on to avoid that 30 second traffic jam.

Scream for Ice Cream – The whole family could scream for this but this year we were more scream for M&M’s that Joe and Grace enjoyed helping themselves to in the fridge door.

Picnic Party – No picnics on this holiday, the ground was too wet or covered in bugs so it was a packet of mini cheddars in the villa.

A bit of culture/Day Tripping – It would seem Grace is not on the blogging corporation band wagon yet and can not hold a card. We did visit a national park in Holland called De Hoge Veluwe where there is free bike hire, and a museum with Van Gogh paintings, obviously we didn’t get to go in there but the restaurant and play park were great.

Water babies – Joe and Grace enjoyed a jacuzzi bath every night and even made the seat bits into their own slide. I would like to say I enjoyed a jacuzzi bath but it was a bit loud and would have woken the kids as it sounded like a plane taking off.

And Chill – For about 43 mins then you end up falling asleep as you are so knackered but it is quite nice because you don’t have the daily things to do and that endless to do list can wait.

Living the dream – Having a BBQ is living the dream for Joe, so off we went to the nearest town to purchase a disposable BBQ for €1.99 and Joe’s dream came true.

No washing up – We did venture out one night to the buffet that meant no washing up and the chocolate fountain and the ice cream machine were amazing.

This is not relaxing – We waited for 15 mins with the mini carousel going round and round but they loved it, even though myself and husband where on catch Grace when she tries to jump off duty.

Happy Hour – Clearly we were not going to be taking advantage of the happy hour but breakfast was our happy hour it consisted of bacon, sugar, honey, lemons and blueberry pancakes.

Holidays are go – When your kids go on safari and try to drive a small jeep round a dirt track, everyone’s patience was tested but actually pleasantly surprised and I think Joe might be a better driver than me.

 

 

 

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Sorry, I’m really shit at goodbyes

So for some reason I’m really shit at saying goodbye. The end of an era fills me with fear, not because I haven’t enjoyed our time together at school, work or a holiday, it’s just I don’t want to do it and cry and when I say cry I mean sob like a baby.

For example I recently left my job, not to go to another job but to look after the family full time, so there was no reason to be nervous right? Firstly when I handed in my notice I was trying to be all adult about it but needless to say I sat down in front of my bosses and cried even before I had actually said why, they thought someone had died. From that moment I wanted to slip away as if I never existed at work. This wasn’t because I didn’t like the people I worked with, quite the opposite it was because it was like leaving my second family. So as my “low key” leaving do approached I dreaded it, with tears welling up on the train on the way in and walking to work for the last time. Anyway the day came and after an emotional outburst in the pub the week before (again it could of been like someone had died) I felt getting a bit tiddly woo was the way forward. Previous to this I had made a quick “leaving do” playlist on spotify that I thought summed me up. To start with “Simply the best” by Tina Tuner (nothing like a bit of self praise) “Working 9-5” by Dolly Patron, however as a parent you actually work 5-9. As the average age in my office is 23 and the choker was making a big come back I put some “cool” tunes on there, well what I consider cool anyway like “Waves” by Robin Schulz and finally for a bit of inspiration and to make it slightly liberating  “Go your on way” by Fleetwood mac. By 6:43pm it was like that scene out of Bridget Jones diary at the Christmas party with the lighters, with people swaying and me looking like a dick.

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Stop sibling rivalry: How to get yourself noticed as the 2nd child

When you are the second child things are tough, you are sharing your parents with another equally needy (in different ways) sibling. Here is a 16 months old top tips on how to get noticed as the second child.

  • Be a good sleeper at first, this will lure your parents into thinking they are totally winning at the parenting game. Anyway as you are the second child they won’t get up to every sniff and snuffle as they know you are fine, so just grab yourself a jellycat and snuggle up. Sleeping also gives your parents energy to do lots of fun things, parents are much more fun when they are not staring into space most of the day and shaking from the caffeine intake.

 

  • Build up a bond with your sibling or siblings as this makes  your life a lot easier and your parents will notice you more as you are hanging out with the one that they focus all their attention on.

 

  • Spend the first five months in your bouncy chair observing what your sibling does on a day-to-day basis, ensure you note their weaknesses. For example my parents clearly would love my brother to sit down and colour and create beautiful artwork worthy of framing and becoming part of the family home, so once you are fit enough start showing an interest in colouring, showing off you ability to sit down and hold a crayon and make a mark on the page.  Your parents will think you are genius and start muttering things like “look she might be a sit down and colour kind of child”

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