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Beat The School Holiday Rip Offs

This is the first time I have booked a week off work in THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!

No problem-I thought. I’ll beat the price hikes by holiday companies and beat the system. I’ll book a Sun newspaper £10 holiday. So I Googled the passwords and avidly got to work booking my July holiday.

I chose Devon first- plenty of dates available-in 2015!

Then I chose Somerset- plenty of dates available in October!

Ok I’ll stay close to home-a holiday park up the road in South Wales. Not a sausage! I give up!

Lots of exclamation marks I know but it was very frustrating indeed.

Deflated I knew I had to book a full price holiday. So typing in Devon holiday parks I got to work searching. The prices varied from an eyes on stalks £1,000 for a week to the lowest of around £679 for a week.

I just didn’t have that sort of money and more importantly I didn’t feel like a week in a caravan was worth that sort of money-just because it was July.

So my next step was to wait for a last minute holiday. I set a budget of £300 which I might add made a private caravan owner laugh when I turned down her caravan for £490.

And I waited. Every day I scoured Teletext holidays.

My friends started going on their holidays and I started to think my frugality was going to get me the Worst Mum Of The Year Award.

We’d have to stay at home.

The Monday before my week off began my luck came in.

I found a holiday cottage in Brixham in Devon within budget. My first choice of location. It started life as £627. I’m winning. I checked Trip Advisor and the location had over 6 marks out of 10. Great.

The packing began. My little girl started counting down her sleeps.

Then I began to worry- I must have done something wrong to have got this. Once on the motorway to go to Devon I had to pull in. We’d gone less than 10 miles. “I think I’ve booked the wrong dates” I said. I pulled the car in and checked the confirmation. No. I’d booked it right. Phew. Off we went again.

We arrived in Devon and I was half expecting poor accommodation. To my delight we opened our cottage door and found lovely clean sheets in the beds, a nice clean apartment, two nice bedrooms, beautiful views out to sea and a patio door opening to a little garden.

And there the holiday began. We had a fantastic time and my little girl had lots of those precious ‘first experiences’. She went on a ferry to Torquay, had a horse carriage ride on the beach, went crabbing on the harbourside and went on a pirate ship.

I wanted to share my journey with you because I found the huge hike in prices really shocking.

Bide your time and set a budget- I’m sure you’ll have a holiday like ours.

I’m off again in a few weeks time. £1 camp sites offer this time- can I do it all again?

I’ll let you know

Thank you for reading my blog.

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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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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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Mums The Word

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I asked my mum friends six questions on being a mum-their answers makes for a great honest read:
1) What was the hardest thing about being a working mum with a toddler
2) What was your lowest point?
3)What is your most treasure memory?
4)If you did it all again what would you change?
5)What would be your top tip to pass on to another Mum?
6)Who is your ‘mummy’ idol?
My own answers were:
1) What was the hardest thing about being a working mum with a toddler?-for me it was ‘having’ to become very domesticated. I couldn’t really cook before.
2) What was your lowest point? When I went to a baby group and felt so fat and unattractive and embarrassed.
3)What is your most treasured memory? When my daughter had a test in hospital to see how she was developing she was given some cereal hoops to see if she had a good pincer grip. Instead she sucked the hoop in to her mouth and ate it
4 )If you did it all again what would you change? I wouldn’t have bought soooooo much stuff! Babies and toddler don’t need everything there is on the market. I bought way too much. My house became a toy shop
5) What would be your top tip to pass on to another Mum? Have good people around you who can help you but also keep being an individual and have fun.
6) Who is your ‘mummy’ idol? Probably my friend who is quirky, quite laid back, headstrong and independent.
My friend
1) What was the hardest thing about being a working mum with a toddler- not having any time for anything… for my son, for the house, for me, for my husband or life in general.
2) What was your lowest point? To be honest I have had a few, mostly due to lack of sleep and life’s stresses
3)What is your most treasured memory? Again so many, most recently me and my son in shop-he grabs my face kisses me loads and tells me how much he loves me. Lush
4)If you did it all again what would you change? More family time …it’s so precious and he grows so quick.
5)What would be your top tip to pass on to another Mum? Don’t stress over the milestones, relax they will happen when they will and just enjoy your child they grow soo fast
6)Who is your ‘mummy’ idol? many of my friends are working mums whom i respect greatly for keeping sane… and I take my hat off to and those with children who have medical problems … All good mums are Heros and mummy idols x
Another friend wrote:
1.Hardest thing about being a working mum with toddler is having no me time to do the things I used to do.
2.lowest point was when my daughter was unwell as a baby, nothing too serious but it made me really sad and I cried a lot.
3.most treasured memory was hearing my girls first little cry and cuddling her when she was born. Also everytime she says I love you, Mummy tank fills right up.
4. If I’m ever lucky enough to do it all again I would labour longer at home before calling the midwife. Every day I also struggle to be calmer than I feel.
5.top tip: all children need happy/ functioning mummies. So find what keeps you happy/ functioning.
6.my Mummy idol is my friend as she’s cool, calm and creative.
And another friend was kind enough to share this:
1. Having to say goodbye.
2. Seeing them ill and not being able to take their pain away.
3. First sight of them.
4. Make sure I enjoyed every tiny thing they did, not to do the ‘I can’t wait until’ routine.
5. No matter what happens you are an amazing mom and don’t let anyone or anything make you feel different.
6. Every mom who loves their children for who they are, not what they want them to be.
Whatever situation you face in life it’s always good to have friends you can share experiences with. You never have to struggle on your own.
Please share your thoughts-I’d love to hear them
Thank you to my friends for being so open and honest.
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TOP SANTA STUFF FOR KIDS

There’s a huge amount of fun stuff online to entertain your children -here are a few fab ideas for you to try this Christmas:

  • Get a personalised video message from Santa where he speaks their name, shows a photograph of them and says whether they’ve been a good boy/ girl this year. It’s free if you do it online but the app is £2.49. At the same time you can get a birthday message for Santa too where Mrs Clause kindly bakes your child a virtual birthday cake.
  • Add a free app called Fake Call To Santa– I love this one. On screen it looks like Santa is calling-there is a jingle bells theme tune and you press connect to take the call from Santa. My little girl loved this-we were having a ‘I’m tired and I’m going to rebel against life’ moment so I said “Santa won’t call if you are being a bit naughty”. With that I left the phone outside of the baby gate. Next thing she asked to go and clean her teeth before bed-snatched the mobile phone, ran in the corner of her bedroom and tried dialling Santa. Love it!
  • Don’t pay for a letter from Santa-there are tons of websites out there that give you access to letters you can amend and download to print. Add some porridge oats in a clear bag as reindeer food and you have a lovely little surprise.
  • Go on You Tube and type in Santa songs and get in the Christmas mood-warning! I did this for my little girl tonight and turned up the volume for a Christmas song-out blasted ‘There’s no presents for Christmas because you’ve all been little sh*ts! Ooooops that volume went down quickly

  • Use Pinterest for cool ideas of Christmas goodies to bake and make. You can never run out of inspiration

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  • Track Santa to find out how many days, hours and minutes are left until Santa arrives, check out the North Pole , play games and listen to music on one of the best Santa websites NORAD. Add to your favourites so you can visit this site easily as many times a day as you want.
  • Christmas colouring- keep them entertained on a cold or rainy day with printable activity sheets. I love these join the dot sheets-free and good fun
  • I found a great talking book too online about ‘How The Elves Save The Day’ -great for learning

I’ve loved writing this blog-I hope you’ve loved reading it.

Merry Christmas

Thank you to my work colleague for passing on some top tips

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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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Jungle Boogie

Todays blog is one of the easiest to write because I’m going to give you some ideas on parties-love them or hate them they are an essential part of a child’s social life-where else are they going to learn to hide under a table eating a blancmange, have a fight in a bouncy castle or get their faces painted like spiders?

Today my daughter had a joint party with five of her friends-all celebrating their third birthdays.

We decided to share the party after all six of us mums met in a parent and toddler group in a local library. It was a turning point in my enjoyment of being a mum. Before this I was stuck at home, used to working, desperate to go back to work. When I met these girls for the first time I wanted my maternity leave to last forever. When you become a mum friendships like these are invaluable. Anyway-I digress! So we all met and we thought a shared birthday party would be great for those of us on a tight budget.

I thought I’d share my top ten best party ideas for you-based on our party today:

  1. Eyeball jellies-these really were the star of the show. A lychee set in jelly with a grape or blueberry in the centre. Simple and great fun for kids (great for Halloween too) Courtesy of Gillian Jackson DSCF1829
  2. Share the cost with friends-we had a two hour party complete with face painting, games, bouncy castles, food and hall for less than £40 each. It’s easy to spend close to £200 for this sort of party on your own.DSCF1839
  3. When you are having a party for younger children the less structure the better. Just let them play and have fun. We had no sit down buffet and the children could just come and go as they pleased.
  4. Set a really broad theme-we chose jungle because of the bouncy castle we hired- one friend made home-made bunting in animal fabric, another friend brought yellow cutlery, animal plates, another friend bought wrapping paper to cover the tables with in animal pattern and I brought in some soft animals to put on the buffet table. Another friend made palm leaves to put on the tables, It all tied in so well and more importantly it was easy for us all to buy items in different places.
  5. With food have a selection of foods so parents can choose whether they want to have a healthy meal or a plate of party nibbles or a bit of both. We had a good selection of fruit, vegetables sandwiches, crisps and of course cake.DSCF1837
  6. Party bags-our entertainment company Fizz Kids sold these at £1.90 each which was a really good price as you can go overboard as they can often look cheap. Our party cups were nicely wrapped, jungle themed-with a whistle inside, sweets colouring book and animal stickers. By the time you buy a few bits you can easily spend three or pounds per party bag so it’s worthwhile looking at buying them ready done.DSCF1827
  7. Keeping everyone happy in a party- it’s important for all parents to make sure they’re children are behaving as tempers can flare up with all the excitement. Keep a lookout for any situations which may ruin others’ enjoyment of the day
  8. Try and include parents who may have come to the party alone-parties are great events to make new friends-not just for the children!
  9. Birthday cake-shop bought or home made-don’t worry. Just don’t forget the candles as that is what makes a little persons day.
  10. Have fun and don’t stress. The only way you’ll be judged is by how much fun the children have had-not on how much you have spent.

Thank you to Fizz Kidz and all my mum friends for making this blog possible.

Have a good week all

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