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Outdoor Days

Make the most of the nice weather because we all know winter days drive us crazy.
I love just getting in my car and discovering new places. If you’re lucky enough like me to live in South Wales then here are a few of my favourite places to go for a nice walk:

Penllergaer Forest
Right on my doorstep Penllergaer Forest is full of surprises. Originally the home of John Dillwyn, the forest was the grounds of a huge manor house. The gardens were landscaped to have lots of different features. In recent receipt of a grant there is work going on now to restore the gardens but you can still see so many beautiful sights. Walk across the top path and look down on the lake or walk on the lower path across the recently restored Llewellyn Bridge. See caterpillars, birds and beautiful water features. You can walk all around and end up in a lovely cafe. Nothing nicer than ending a nice walk with a coffee in the open air. Water for dogs available.

Forest Map

Cadle Mill

Part of Penllergaer Forest, the area of the forest in Cadle is a hidden gem. Lots of different paths to take which lead to a small waterfall and to the most beautiful lake I’ve seen. The paths are flat so ideal for little ones and it’s just quiet and beautiful.

Loughor Estuary

Another hidden gem just hidden behind the Reverend James Public House in Loughor is the beautiful Loughor Estuary. You can eat a picnic on the surrounding parkland or walk along near the water collecting sea shells. It’s such a peaceful spot where you can really appreciate nature.

Lliw Reservoir

When you drive in to Lliw Reservoir you are immediately struck by its tranquility. Great expanses of water covering two different reservoirs are bordered with different paths- some suitable for wheelchairs, prams and those who like a flat walk. Across the reservoir are more difficult walks which are ideal for rambling. There are hidden benches where you can enjoy a picnic, an old flour mill and a lovely cafe. It’s a favourite place of mine to walk.

Cwmdonkin Park

A favourite haunt of Dylan Thomas, Cwmdonkin Park is a great expanse of green with many hidden treasures- a giant slide, a pavilion cafe, sculptures, a play park and peace and tranquility. Simple but you’ll stay for hours

Margam Park

For about £20 you can visit Margam Park as many times in a year as you like (Excludes Bank Holidays). You could not find better value. Margam Park is a magical place where you discover something new every time you visit. There is a land train, a farm, wooden sculptures, a cafe, a shop, a castle, a lake, a play park, a discovery centre, a fairy tale village, abbey ruins, a church, a greenhouse, an orangery and probably more than I’ve mentioned. It’s an amazingly beautiful place that changes with the seasons.

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All a Toys Are Rubbish

Real life is better.

How many times I have you heard a parent say that their child played with the cardboard boxes for longer than the toy?

Most toys don’t do enough to keep children occupied yet we fill our homes with them. Ok I know some toys are great 🙂

As a working mum with traditional values I find you can’t go wrong with these ideas:

HOMEMADE PIZZAS

Making the dough and putting all the toppings on is great fun and keeps children occupied for ages. Let them help wash up too. Not only is cooking fun but it’s also educational.

SHOPPING

Keep lots of kitchen items to use for shopping games- empty cereal boxes, sweet tubes, jars and tubs. Nothing sharp. When finished everything can go in the recycling bins.

GARDENING

Give your little one a trowel and something to kneel on and they’ll play for hours. Let them help pull up weeds, sweep,play with empty plant pots and watering cans.

CRAFT

I love making things. We’ve just bought a big bag of loom bands and are happy creating things together. I love crafts using leftover household items like toilet roll binoculars, pen holders from Pringles pots and landscapes using all manner if leftover items.

COMPETITIONS

Egg and spoon races, dancing competitions, who can make the best potato face, hide and seek. Anything can be made in to a competition to create fun for hours.

COLOURING

My little one is a whizz on the ipad but she will spend longer with good old fashioned colouring lens and colouring book. I love those great big felt pictures you can colour in. Colouring books are great for dexterity, colour recognition, colour use and concentration. Tracing paper over a colouring book is also good. Pavement chalks for outdoors. Bath crayons for bath time and paint for old wallpaper. Simple fun costing very little.

I don’t think you have to spend a fortune to have fun.

Children who can a use themselves will be less demanding of attention. And will be less likely to get bored as quickly.

Sometimes movie time with a hot chocolate is a great way for the whole family to relax.

Remember your little one wants to be just like mum or dad so role play games or helping out games will be just up their street.

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Rubbish Mums

RUBBISH MUM

A pack of scented wet wipes on a white background

When your family grows by one or more you become increasingly aware of the amount of household waste that is thrown away every day-particularly when you are in the nappy phase.

I took my daughter to a science museum this weekend where one of the exhibitors were appealing to the public not to throw waste down the toilets. I’ve always disposed of nappies safely but I do sometimes throw a wet wipe down the toilet. I didn’t realise the effect this has on our water supply:

  • The wet wipe market is growing at more than 15% a year according to research
    company Nielsen.
  • They don’t break up like tissue
  • Fat sticks to them and hardens to cause what the industry call ‘Fatbergs’
  • Wet wipes will block the system as they aren’t designed to decompose

With this in mind I am going to ditch the wet wipes and go back to good old fashioned soap and water. On cue my little girl has just come running in after washing her hands-so there is life after wet wipes. Are you an eco-mum?

FEED THE BIRDS-TUPPENCE A CAKE

birdcake

Another idea I stumbled upon is bird cakes using left over cooking oil.

I bought a cheap little kit to do this but you can make the so easily.

It services two purposes-feeding the birds and creating a use for cooking oil which is hard to dispose of.

Instructions:

Get a silicone muffin case

Drape in a piece of string folded in half (So it forms a handing loop at the top)

Fill the case with birdseed

Pour in left over cooking oil

Put in the fridge to set

Another idea for old cooking oil is to put it in a vessel-leave to set and then scoop in to the food waste bin.

HEART OF GLASS

candle

Another lovely idea for re-using glass jars-cover with crystals, tie ribbon round the centre, fill with pebbles or add a tealight. The uses are endless-it’s really easy to create shabby chic jars by using pinking shears to cut hearts out of fabric and glue to the glass-tie a ribbon around the top and glue a button in the centre and you can use the jars for holding cotton buds, make up brushes, toothbrushes-what ever you like.

If you search the internet for homemade gifts you will find lots of ideas for glass jars.

It’s really satisfying making something pretty and a lovely project to do with children.

Hope you enjoyed this blog.

Next time I write I might just be wearing a kaftan

 

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Is My Child Safe?

The sad news today of a little missing boy found after going missing days ago really touched me. I cried as if I knew him-I wanted so much for him to be found safe. Why did it affect me so much?

Because I think every parent thought-could this of been my child?

The reports initially said that the little boy had let himself out of his house in the middle of the night. Although this has turned out not be true it has forced  me to think about how safe my daughter is. Our children can be clever, devious, surprisingly clever and ingenious when it comes to getting what they want.

I’ve seen my daughter climb on to a radiator to get a sweet from the windowsill, I’ve seen her unbuckle her seatbelt and stand behind me and I’ve seen her switch the oven on and get her oven gloves on!

I think I’m quite a relaxed mum-I think the best way to learn is by experience. Obviously I protect my daughter from dangers that can cause her serious harm but I let her be as independent as I can-I’ll let her put the wrong shoe on the front foot, read a book upside down, struggle putting on her own jumper. I’ll sometimes watch her throw a tantrum because she can’t do something and then watch her delight as she realises she can.

My fundamental belief is the best way you can keep a child safe is by giving them the knowledge they need to make the right choices. Of course we’re all bound to get it wrong every now and again.

So what do we need to do to keep our children safe-children of any age

*Stranger danger-I’ve always found it odd when as proud parents we encourage our just talking children to say ‘hiya’ to everyone who might give them attention-then we have to re-teach stranger danger. It’s really important to make sure that they know how to keep themselves safe. And of course there is stranger danger online now too. How and what do we teach?

Remember Charlie Says?

The best advice I could find is on the Kidscape website-click to find out more.

Home safety-Make sure doors are locked and keys taken out of the door if your children are young. Keeps keys at close reach in case of fire.

Green Cross Code-Practice not preach the code so it becomes a behaviour. Talk  about the importance of not using a mobile phone or texting while crossing the  road. How many times have you seen someone crossing and texting who doesn’t even know you’re there?

Teaching your child to cross the road safely

  1. Find the safest place to cross with a clear view all around, away from parked cars, junctions, bends or the brow of a hill if possible. Explain to your child why it’s important to choose a place with a clear view.
  2. Holding hands with your child, show them how to stop on the kerb, look all around and listen for traffic before they cross.
  3. When there is no traffic coming, walk straight across (not diagonally) and keep looking and listening.

There’s danger everywhere but you can’t live life in a cocoon-all we do it make what we think are the best choices and as mums these will differ amongst us.

It’s really important that you know what limitations your child will have at a certain age-for example my little girl is three and although she’s very bright I need to be aware that sometimes she can get distracted. She is learning about road safety and I am trying to teach her that running in and out of the clothes rails in shops is not funny-she’s like a whippet a times.

There’s so much for her to learn-I don’t want her growing up frightened of everything.

I do want a savvy little girl who knows how to help keep herself safe.

Easy right?

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Will There One Day Be No Santa?

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You might think I caught Santa off guard with this photograph but no- it marked a moment for me where I felt actual sadness at the way our society has evolved to be one that is scared to trust people.

As I got my camera ready to take a photo-Santa spread his arms wide to show he wasn’t in contact with my little girl. I could cry now- my husband and I were there with two little elves. How awful that this man had to do this. It really did upset me. I know evil things happen but so do accidents and sickness- you can’t live life being untrusting of everyone.

Maybe one day there will be no Santa?

It got me thinking this afternoon-actually it got me thinking a lot about how parents can ensure their little ones are safe. And I’m afraid ignorance is not one of the options I came up with.

So what can a parent do?

The NSPCC launched a campaign called The Underwear Rule

Learn the Underwear Rule and you’ve got it covered

PANTS is an easy way for you to explain to your child the key elements of the Underwear Rule:

Privates are private

Be clear with your child that parts of their body covered by underwear are private. No one should ask your child to touch or look at parts of their body covered by underwear.

If anyone tries to touch their private parts, tell your child to say “no” and to tell an adult they trust about what has happened.

In some situations, people – family members at bathtime, or doctors and nurses – may need to touch your child’s private parts.

Explain that this is OK, but that those people should always explain why, and ask your child if it’s OK first.

Always remember your body belongs to you

Let your child know their body belongs to them, and no one else.

It can be helpful to talk about the difference between good touch and bad touch:

Good touch is helpful or comforting like a hug from someone you love.

Bad touch is being touched in a way that that makes you feel uncomfortable.

No one has the right to make them do anything with their body that makes them feel uncomfortable. And if anyone tries, tell your child they have the right to say no.

This can be a good time to remind your child that they can always talk to you about anything which worries or upsets them.

No means no

Make sure your child understands that they have the right to say “no” to unwanted touch – even to a family member or someone they know or love.

This shows that they’re in control of their body and their feelings should be respected.

If a child feels confident to say no to their own family, they are more likely to say no to others.

Talk about secrets that upset you

Your child needs to feel able to speak up about a secret that’s worrying them and confident that saying something won’t get them into trouble.

To help them feel clear and comfortable about what to share and when, explain the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ secrets.

Bad secrets:

•make you feel worried, uneasy, sad or frightened
•may be asked to be kept in exchange for something
•bad secrets often have no end time.

Good secrets:

•can be nice things like surprise parties or presents for someone else
•will usually be shared in the end

It’s important that your child knows the difference because ‘secrets’ are often an abusers greatest weapon in stopping a child from telling anybody about abuse.

Phrases like “it’s our little secret” are their way of making a child feel worried, or scared to tell someone what is happening to them.

Speak up, someone can help

Tell your child that if they ever feel sad, anxious or frightened they should talk to an adult they trust.

A trusted adult doesn’t have to be a family member. It can also be:

•a teacher
•a grandparent, uncle or aunty
•a friend’s parent, or
•ChildLine

Whoever they feel most comfortable talking to, reassure your child this adult will listen, and can help stop whatever is making them upset.

The more your child is aware of all the people they can turn to, the more likely they are to tell someone as soon as they have a worry.

Remind your child that whatever the problem, it’s not their fault and they will never get into trouble for speaking up.

Many people tend to shy away from this subject and while I think you can’t protect your children against everything I do strongly believe that it is your job to teach them the ways of the world and how to deal with them.

Ignorance is not bliss- ignorance is danger.

Thank you to the NSPCC for helping parents to be powerfully knowledgable

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Weird Science-Fun Stuff for kids

I was no scientist at school- all I can remember is the whole science class quietly humming at the same time so that the teacher didn’t know who was doing it. I think Grange Hill was responsible for that one!

So the great thing about having a child is being able to learn with them all the things that you didn’t learn when you were young. Of course under the pretence that you already know it.

I took my little girl to an event at The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea called ‘Weird Science’ and we picked up a few fun tricks I thought I’d share with you.

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SLIME

Put a few spoons of corn flour in to a plastic cup. Add some food colouring for effect and mix with warm water. Add more water or more flour until the mixture is a paste that still is thick but still moves around like liquid (Hope that make sense)

When mixed tip a blob of the paste on to a plastic tablecloth, place mat or similar.

Now for the amazing part-when you pat the blob it feels hard-not like liquid at all.

If you slowly trace your finger through it, it moves like liquid.

If you scoop it up quickly and roll it around it turns in to a putty like ball.

Scrape it all up and put it back in a cup-liquid form again.

This was a really fun experiment-the reason for these changes is that the paste is neither solid nor liquid. Something about it’s molecular structure. Ok so I’ll now add a scientific reason in case you’re interested:

‘Corn flour and water, when combined, become a non-Newtonian fluid, which has a shear rate that increases independent of velocity. Adding food coloring to this simple physics demonstration tints the corn flour and water mixture, which better expresses its properties visually’ (Source; E-how)

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8287633_mix-corn-flour-water.html#ixzz2jbzUlgB6

GLOW STICKS

Get a glow stick and crack it along its length to make it look neon.

On stand by have a glass of hot water and a glass of cold water.

Put your glow stick in the cold water and you’ll see its neon qualities fade as it reverts back to its original state.

Put your glow stick in to the glass of hot water and you’ll see it begin to turn neon again but even brighter than it was when you first cracked the stick.

Easy bit of science but very interesting.

Just before I started writing my blog I saw a post from Mashable on Twitter which gives some great ideas for science tricks:

14 YouTube Tutorials for Science Experiments

You never know-with my new found knowledge my daughter could one day be a scientist…………………….

Thanks for reading