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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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Too Much Of Everything

I don’t think I used to be a hoarder and I don’t really think I am now but I can’t explain how every corner is full of stuff!

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Stuff in the cupboards, stuff in every drawer, stuff under tables and stuff over-taking every room.

I keep quite a tidy home on the exterior but look in an cupboard and you’ll find them brimming with stuff.

Obviously the fact that one of me became three has added to the situation but it’s one lovely little girl that has really changed things.

Like most Mums I want her have the best I can afford but as she approaches four years old I am of the opinion that I may have gone a little over the top in my generosity. I haven’t substituted material things for time either-we spend lots of time together and we enjoy good old fashioned fun.

These are the ‘stuff’ lists I need to do something about-I wonder if you are reading this and thinking the same:

BOOKS

I am a complete sucker for books and must buy a book or two at least every few weeks. We read together almost every night so I like books we can both enjoy. Trouble is that there are so many books we can’t see them all. I need to find a really good storage solution-oh and stop buying more books.

TEDDIES

They are breeding in my house-every night I go in to my little girls room and she has gone to sleep with five or so different ones. Why do teddies have to be so huge these days too? They are under the bed, in baskets, in her bed, in my car, in the conservatory, on the table. Everywhere. Biggest trouble is now Mum is mean because I will not buy anymore soft toys-poor Ty Beanie Bert and Ernie were dumped in the toy shop today. I had to put my foot down.

CRAFT STUFF

I love making things and keep lots of bits n bobs for craft making. I can see a project with everything so always cut up old cards, keep bits of card and am always bring home the free pencils you get at restaurants. Its all stuffed in a craft chest-we love rooting about in it but is has made me a bit of ‘collector’

CLOTHES

Um of course like any other woman I don’t have enough clothes and I never have the right outfit for an occasion but I am slightly embarrassed to admit I have two double wardrobes full of clothes split In to three sections-work, casual and going out. And I have similar for my daughter-two rails of clothes and a whole storage system full of tops and skirts. I know it’s too much and I need to get rid of items. I just hate throwing away things when there’s nothing wrong with them.

Today I’ve made a pact to myself to start de-cluttering.

It’s stressful having so much stuff around the house.

I really find it hard not to buy my little girl nice things but I must stop doing it or she wont value things.

Where do I start though? One room at a time? With the books, teddies and clothes? With a bonfire?

Stick with me-I can do this. Can you?

Just seen a lovely new dress though 🙂

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Turn The Page

World Book Day is coming soon-March 6th 2014 and my little girl has just brought a letter from school saying they have to go in dressed as a character from their favourite book.

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I’m so excited-I mean my daughter is so excited.

This comes on the day, however, that as I was tidying her room this morning I found two crumpled pieces of a gorgeous pop up book in her bed. I was a bit sad to see she’d ripped this as it really it a lovely bright book with lovely thick glossy pages.

She loves books though and has a bookcase full in her bedroom and a book box in the living room. At Christmas time we have a Christmas book box filled with stories of Santa, Snowmen and the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I love books and have a floor to ceiling book case-full of art books, novels and hobby books. I have a case full of cook books too.

But I rarely get to read which is sad.

Books are a way of escaping, a way of dreaming and a great insight in to other people’s lives.

So what are our favourite books?

My daughters:

  1. Daisy Duck-A delightful story of a little duck who swims off with out her Mummy
  2. Peppa Pig and the tooth fairy
  3. Flip and flop-a story about two penguin friends
  4. Santa needs a wee-yes it’s still out and being read
  5. Day Monkey and Night Monkey (Secretly my favourite book of hers too!)

My favourite books:

  1. Phantom of the Opera by Susan Kay
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia
  3. The Diary of Anne Frank
  4. Lord of the flies
  5. We’re going on a bear hunt (Love reading this to my daughter)

There are some great resources for parents:

WORLD BOOK DAY ONLINE STORY http://www.worldbookday.com/videos/dr-seuss-on-the-loose/

TIPS ON HEARING YOUR CHILD READ http://www.topmarks.co.uk/parents/ten-tips-on-hearing-your-child-read

BUY BOOKS TO SUIT THEIR AGE http://www.thebookpeople.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/cms_rhPlainArticle?storeId=10001&catalogId=10051&langId=100&articlePath=%2Fjamboree%2FRed+House%2FTop+10s%2FTop+Ten+Books+by+Age%2FThree+years+%2B

So celebrate World Book Day and get reading.

I’ll let you know if my daughter goes to school as a duck or a pig!

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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.