Daily inspiration for stylish parents & their kids

Follow me!


Subscribe to my feed
Ad

Archives

Ad
meet other mums

Share our button


away-resized

I know I’ve hardly mentioned it at all, in fact, brace yourselves as this may come as a shock BUT… We’re officially on holiday now! As you’re reading this, we’ll be in DisneyWorld, jet lagged and wondering how we managed to survive a 9 hour flight with 3 totally batshit kids.

Don’t despair though (as if you would ha!) I couldn’t possibly be away from social media for more than 4.2 minutes at a time so you can find me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook!

We’ll be documenting our experiences live across the networks so do join us!

See you on the other side!

H X

Tsum tsums

You know I love Disney. I love to support independent too but Disney will always be my boo.

Have you heard of Tsum Tsums? Of course you have! Just in case you haven’t they are super weird toys from Japan that come in all different Disney characters. They are utterly charming and have been a firm favourite of Edith’s since she was tiny. The soft toys are just the right size for her little hands to squeeze and pull without getting slapped in the face by dangly legs or arms and she seems to love biting and pulling at them. So when I saw that there are now little collectable vinyl figures, I knew it was only a matter of time before she was bouncing in the trolley and squealing for one like a piglet in a kangaroos body.

The little vinyl Tsum Tsum toys come in a variety of sizes and “kits” – a 3 pack with one tiny, one medium and one large stackable Tsum Tsum, and a 9 pack which is just all levels of exciting.

Admittedly what started off as a fun and cute gift for tiny Edie has become a bit of an obsession for everyone in our house – especially for the boys since the arrival of these vinyl characters. While Toby adores soft toys, these seemed too small for him and never quite piqued his interest, and by contrast to Edie and Tobes, Reuben is ambivalent to soft toys (other than his beloved Harold, DO NOT mess with Harold) oft was totally uninterested in swiping his sister’s Tsum Tsums.

Totally different story with the vinyl characters. Our Tsum Tsum friend’s have been run over by over enthusiastic Thomas the tank engine trains, blasted by transformers and even dunked in the bath, only to be rescued by Finding Dory and her pals. The varied life of a Tsum Tsum ey?

The toys are aimed at ages 6 and above (in fact, it says so on the packet) and while the mini ones are too small to allow Miss Edith to play with them, the large ones are the BEST little toys for her to hold, kiss, chew, bash and throw. We have decided to wrap up the large Tsum Tsums for Edith to take on the plane (remember my post about entertaining children on the plane?). These will keep her entertained, be big enough that she can’t hurt herself or choke on them and, most importantly, didn’t break the bank if she manages to drop one and loses it. Considering the other options were mega rare Disney princess dolls and Maileg mice that require a mortgage on their own, I’m happy to go with vinyl Tsum Tsums.

The rest of them? Well, if the boys haven’t fed them to Yoda before we go they will be sat awaiting our arrival, out of reach and stacked as they should be, on Edith’s bedroom shelf.

H x

chillinsurance

As you will all know by now, we’re going to be heading off on holiday in less than a week. It is super exciting, I really can’t wait but I have been feeling a little bit, shall we say concerned, after reading an info graph sent to me by Chill Insurance. It has a tonne of stats that have left me wondering if my job makes me even more vulnerable than most when it comes to the risk of burglars, robbers and thieves during a long absence from home.

home-safety-infographic

According to the info graph, a lot of us make the mistake of checking in at the airport, practically hanging a “check it out guys I’m not in for the next few weeks” sign on the door. I, more than most, have announced numerous times to the various criminally minded types out there, that I am going to be away – I’ve written about it here, here and here… Yet in my job there is no way around that, and the way that social media connects us now means that the majority of people are announcing their absence.

So what to do?

Well, accruing to Chill Insurance, 62% of us are asking our neighbours to keep a lookout but ask yourself, if your neighbour asked you, how safe could you keep their house? Do you work? Make a regular, scheduled and possibly pre-annouced on Facebook appointments or classes? If there is a whole home’s worth of loot, do you really think a burglar extraordinaire won’t suss out when you aren’t about and strike? So are we mistaken in putting our trust exclusively in our neighbours? I reckon so. More to that, how well are we going to do asking a family member to have a key – do you really want Auntie Bess going through your stuff? You need a combination of safety guards.

Having announced to the world that we are in fact going to be half way across the world on Tuesday for our jollies, I’ve decided to ask a friend to keep an eye on the house and given her a key as well as asking our (curtain twitching) next door neighbours in their 80s to keep a watchful eye on the property… but in light of the fact that I don’t think that will *quite* cover the millions I’ve tax dodged and stuffed into my mattress, what else have we opted for?

  • A good alarm system. Unfortunately the area I live in was targeted by thieves a few years ago so almost everyone took the initiative to get themselves a touch of extra protection.
  • Inform neighbourhood watch in your area.
  • We have a car in the driveway – homely right?
  • All moveable and valuable possessions are either being placed in safes, at family friend’s house and or are coming with us. Though upsetting the TV isn’t as important to me as my Grandmother’s jewellery so I’ll be leaving it behind (Adam doesn’t share this view… what will he watch sport on?)

Apart from the burglar risk, we have swept the house to make sure that it is safe from accidental damage – all the plug sockets are OFF (this is SUCH a big one, so many people forget) and the windows and doors are locked up tighter than a Yorkshire man’s wallet. Lastly, check your home and contents insurance covers you, if not, get something, just in case.

What are your tips for securing your home while on holiday?

H x

 

burkinisboobssexism

It’s tough being a woman, your automatically entered into what feels like some kind of shit lottery when you have a vagina. Every day there is some way you are judged, some way that you are told you fall short of the requirements, some way in which your male counterparts haven’t even contemplated. It covers so many branches too – religion, attire, work, sexuality… The list goes on.

It’s become so bad, so pathetic that a few weeks ago the newspapers were devoted to several incidents where Muslim women wearing burkinis, a full coverage swimwear item that does NOT cover your face, but covers your hair, on a beach had effectively been made to strip in front of everyone by police. Western world, if ever you wanted to give Muslim people a reason to see you as “the bad guy” to rise up and fight against you, make their daughters, their wives, their mothers suffer this indignity. By becoming so fearful, so hateful and so ignorant that you could force a woman to strip because she was “too covered” we play into the hands of extremists by becoming extremists.

Prior to that, the presidential candidate Donald Trump attacked a Muslim couple whose son had died as a solider, because the mother “didn’t speak” and as he put it “probably wasn’t allowed to”, yet the same man who seeks to tarnish the reputation of Muslims as women haters is openly sexist and believes that women are sexual objects for his gratification. It isn’t just trump either, but rather society. Women in burkinis are too covered, too religious, yet women in thongs are sluts, asking for it. Even down to using our breasts for their intended purpose is scrutinised, shamed and attacked as “attention seeking”, “exposing yourself” – as is choosing to NOT use them.

So tell me, where do we stand? If I cover my body I am prudish at best, indoctrinated and brain washed into being subservient to my male counter parts at worst. If I don’t, and I wear skimpy clothes I am a slut, asking to be raped, goading men who simply can’t help themselves.

On top of this, the punishments for such acts as rape, one of the most heinous crimes I think we all agree, are totally dependant upon the speculative worth of the women raped. Is she wealthy? What colour is her skin? Who committed the crime and did his wealth out weight hers? A perfect example of this is the early release, after three months no less, of Brock Turner who was convicted of three counts of rape and indecent assault. No only was he rich and white, but so much was his worth that his parents wrote letters to excuse their son’s behaviour and plead for the remainder of this life. The victim? Reduced to nothing more than a “bit of skirt” according to the boy’s father.

Where does this end?

As a mother, especially to a daughter, I fear this societal impulse to attack females. I fear the attitudes towards my daughter as she grows and I fear the implications that this will have on my sons and their beliefs. Their reactions to the women around them and in their lives, the way they will feel they have an upper hand and how they view themselves.

Already I’m seeing the creeping of sexism colouring my daughter’s life; she will like princesses, she will like high heels, she will adore pink and while there is nothing wrong with those things, it is not the sum total of what she will enjoy. Reuben, at the sweet age of 5, has started telling me he has to protect his sister – she is a girl, she will need his protection. I don’t think so buddy, she’ll more than likely beat you and Toby up, but then that makes her bossy right?

Being a woman is tough in this world, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, black or white, disabled or not. Being female automatically puts you in the firing line and we have to change this, not just for ourselves, but for our daughters AND our sons.

H x

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We’ve never tried gluten free cereal in our family, never had a need to. No one is gluten intolerant, however it does make me wonder – what would like be like if we were? I mean have you ever stopped to think how much of your daily meals contain gluten?

If you’re not intolerant, I can imagine the answer is no. My best friend Kate is allergic to nuts, yet I frequently forget and offer her food that I haven’t checked, food that I have prepared and I’ve forgotten contains nuts. It’s not that I’m a bad friend (maybe a little?) but I just don’t have to deal with it on a continual basis, so I just don’t think.

When Nestle got in touch to ask me if I would like to write some unique recipes for them, using their new gluten free cereal, I was super honoured. I love to cook and bake, it is a passion that has been passed down from my mother and in truth I really wish its a love that I could indulge more often. So, writing recipes, especially for such a well known brand (and when I’m not a food blogger) was a really huge pleasure… I had to act quickly mind, because the boys descended on the cereals like a pack of rabid dogs, with Reuben offering his seal of approval in the form of smashing through three bowls for breakfast. Which in all honesty is fine by me as Nestlé GoFree™ Rice Pops and Coco Rice are fortified with B-vitamins, folic acid and iron, so they make a much healthier breakfast or snack than the usual sausage rolls or crisps that the boys request.

I was given some inspiration by three rather delicious recipes written by celebrity chef Phil Vickery, which you can find here:

  1. Nestle Avocado on Toast
  2. Nestle Pancakes
  3. Nestle Cake

I then went away and thought about our own family, the things that I love and that the kids eat on a frequent basis and I came up with the following, a mixture of desserts, snacks and dinner time treats.

Nestle Gluten free southern fried chicken strips

  • 3 cups Nestle Gluten free rice pops
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 500ml milk
  • 2 large chicken breasts, sliced into long strips
  • 1 egg, beaten

Put the rice pops, pepper, salt and cayenne pepper in a food processor and blend until the mix is like very find sand. Set aside.

Place the chicken and milk in a bowl and marinade for 2-3 hours. Take the chicken and milk, place in a saucepan and boil until the chicken is cooked. Once cooked, take the chicken out of the milk, allow to cool slightly then dip into the egg followed by the rice pop mixture. Repeat once, you should have a good coating.

Fry on each side for approximately 2-3 minutes until the costing is golden.

To make this less spicy for kids, use a 1/2 tsp of paprika instead of cayenne.

………………………..

Nestle Gluten free no bake chocolate peanut butter cheese cake

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

For the base:

  • 4 cups Nestle gluten free chocolate rice pops
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 healed tbsp peanut butter

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 X 200g cream cheese packs – supermarket brand is fine
  • 560ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 packet of mini Reece’s peanut butter cups
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar

Glaze:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1- 2 tbsp cream
  • 50g butter.

I used my food processor to crush the rice pops up, you are aiming for lumpy and crunchy not fine powder, so don’t over do it. I then added it to a bowl with the butter and peanut butter. I used a 23cm spring form tin, for quite a wide cake. Push the base into the cake tin and then pop it in the fridge while you with the cheese filling.

Whip up the cream (again, food mixer for me!) then combine the whipped cream, icing sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice and the full packet of peanut butter cups. Add to the base and smooth over and chill for 3 hours at least.

To make the glaze, melt your chocolate then stir in the butter and cream – this will cool the melted chocolate and form a tepid but pourable glaze. Pour over the cheesecake once cool and then refrigerate for another 1-2 hours.

 

So delicious, and a great dessert for those avoiding gluten!!

………………………..

Nestle Gluten free chicken and broccoli bake

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This was one of my favourite recipes as a child but with a gluten free twist. The original recipe is here, my mum used to make it when I was a child and I always loved it.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced into big-ish chunks (all about the technical terms over here!)
  • 1 tin of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 heaped tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/2 head of broccoli
  • 2-3 cups of Nestle gluten free rice pops, blitzed in the food processor to make breadcrumb consistency crumb
  • 100g grated cheddar.

Preheat the oven to GM7.

Fry the chicken on a mid-high heat to brown, then place in a deep baking dish. In a jug mix the tin of soup, Mayo and curry powder together, and pour over the chicken. Pre cook you broccoli in a bowl of water for 8 minutes (blanched).

Add in the broccoli, stir to mix all up. Mix the cereal and cheese together and top the chicken mix.

Bung in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Devour with potatoes or rice. Serious NOM-fest!!

……………………………….

Nestle Gluten free “breaded” fish bites

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

  • 3 cups Nestle Gluten free rice pops
  • 300g fish, cut into strips or chunks (we use cod but you could use anything chunky – salmon, monk fish etc!)

Pre heat the oven to GM6.

Place the rice pops in a bowl, and use the butt of a rolling pin to smash them down the a crushed consistency. You don’t want them to be *quite* sand blitzed but you also don’t want them to be too crunchy.

Take your fish, roll in the crumbs. You can add an egg to this recipe and do a “double dip” so into the egg, into the crumbs again.

Bake for 20 minutes.

………………………..

Nestle Gluten free Chocolate after school bites

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

A variation on the old rice crispy cakes, but slightly less kids baking and more afternoon tea with the girls.

  • 4 cups Nestle gluten free chocolate rice pops
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 75g butter
  • 1-2tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 cup Mixed fruits (optional)

Blitz the chocolate rice pops in a food processor until they are a smashed consistency. Don’t over do it or they will end up like sand, you still want a bit of crunch.

Add the butter, golden syrup, cocoa and mixed fruits if using.

Mix together and then push into a baking tray to form a 2 inch layer. Refrigerate for approx 1 hour and then cut into bite sized squares. Ideal for an after school treat!

Hope you try these out – I had a blast writing them!

H x

P.s – Just in case you were wondering, I checked to make sure that all the ingredients I used were gluten free and approved by Coeliac UK (which Nestle GoFree has been). You can grab Nestle GoFree cereals at  Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Ocado.

disneyworld

We often get comments about our decision to take the kids to Disney World at such a young age. Usually along the lines of “Oh but they won’t remember it!” Or “but what’s the point, they’re too young”. I have to say it’s something I questioned myself – Edith isn’t quite 2, in fact she’s just passed 18months so she really won’t have much recollection of this holiday, our holiday of a life time, if any at all.

The truth is, there is a time limit of the magic of childhood and I can help that feel it is running out more and more each day for Reuben. Yeah, Disney World is always going to be a magical place and it’s always going to be amazing not matter what your age, but to really, truly believe in the magic I think you have to be little.

DisneyWorld wasn’t the only thing we considered, we shopped around and looked at various options. I pretty much lived in Tots to Travel for the better part of 2 weeks while I was pregnant. We’re talking water park extravaganza style hotels in Europe, the coolest beach destinations in the Caribbean, crusies designed just for kids… The list of options was endless but ultimately it always came back to Disney.

As a child it was a dream of mine to visit DisneyWorld with my dad. After my parents split my mum often promised to take me but I would always reply “No! Daddy is taking me, he’s promised!” And that was that. I didn’t really have a very good relationship with my father after my parent’s divorce, and sadly Disney World was just one more let down. So I never went.

Now as an adult it is still something I dream of, and every day it becomes more so with watching my children grow and fall for the Disney magic more and more. Disney World was never just a holiday to me, it was an unfulfilled childhood dream that is being brought to fruition.

I’ve been thinking about what I would like to bring home from Disney World and Universal studios, what souvenirs I would like to remember these special moments, and there are so many!! Disney souvenirs are slightly outnumbered by Universal and SeaWorld souvenirs, for me Disney holds more of a lure for Christmas present shopping and trying food. Lots of food.

So what do I want to bring home? Please jump in with your suggestions too!

Disney:

  • A Christmas Bauble – cliche, yes. Give a fuck? Not at all. It is a quintessential part of the Disney experience I think, and it’s something I really want to have with us, and pass down to my kids.
  • Micky/Minnie ears – come on now, I don’t care if you’re 5 or 500, these are probably going to be my first purchase. Yeah they are.
  • Unique toys – a few years ago we bought a Disney wooden train set from EBay that was a Disneyland Paris special. Each resort, each park and each shop apparently has stuff that you simply can’t buy anywhere else in the world. We’re planning on allowing ourselves the indulgence of Christmas shopping… And since its the Halloween period at Disney, we may well have to come back with something for that holiday too!
  • Food – unfortunately with customs restrictions, il be limited to what I can bring back, but I will be trying EVERYTHING while I’m there, and then bringing back whatever I can! Yum!
  • Pins – I heard about his craze while trawling Pinterest for ideas for what to do in Disney, but I’ve already bought the boys some cheap collectable pins and they can exchange them with “cast members” as they go around the park. It would be sweet to buy a really unusual or unique one for each of them… Or maybe even to swap one!
  • Tsum tsums – Edith (total lie, it’s all me) is obsessed with Tsum tsums. They are small enough for her hands and easy for her to snuggle. We’ll be buying her some of the unique ones for sure!
  • A mug – I love Disney mugs, who doesn’t? So, in terribly middle aged fashion, this has made my wish list. I want a mug. For coffee. Ha.

Universal:

  • Transformers memorabilia – the boys (including daddy) are obsessed. Totally obsessed. I wanted to see if we could find some unique memorabilia and unique toys for them to bring home.
  • Harry Potter loot – this list could drag on forever: all the food, all the drink, a wand, a jumper… So much. So so much.
  • Superhero loot! – the boys are huge super hero fans, so I am super excited to get them some awesome gifts for Christmas!
  • Unique toys again – if there is only one place to get it, you better get it. For reals.

What else should I add to my list?

H x

Edith's favourite satay chicken skewers

Edith's favourite satay chicken skewers

Every year we have a food festival in my home town of Malton, usually around May. Malton has carved a reputation for itself as the “food capital of Yorkshire” and to be honest that suits me fine! I love food, I love cooking and I have such a thing for trying new foods and new cuisine. It’s one of the things that I am most looking forward to about DisneyWorld in a few weeks.

Anyway, the last time Malton had a Food Festival, we had a plethora of food stalls and food vans that drove around the country sharing their fares, their diesel generators whirring, calling to me like an ice cream van to the boys. My favourite by far was the Thai food van which was selling a mixture of freshly cooked grub that was oh-so mouth-wateringly good and spice packets to bring home.

One of the things that the Thai van sold that had me coming back for more (we’re talking at least 3 times here) was their chicken satay skewers. I asked for their secret and was told it is all in the marinade!

After a little play, I’ve come up with my very own chicken satay recipe, we’ve recently had it at a friend’s bank holiday BBQ and we’ve been making it all summer – the kids love it too!

Edith's favourite satay chicken skewers

Chicken satay skewers for 4:

  • 2-3 breasts of chicken
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • small piece ginger
  • 2 garlic clove
  • zest and juice 1 lime
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter

Take your chicken, encase it loosely in cling film and beat with a wooden rolling pin or meat beater until it is approximately an inch thick. Slice into long strips and set aside.

Mince the garlic and ginger, then add the lime juice, honey, curry powder, soy sauce and peanut butter and blend. Divide the mixture in half and add your chicken to one portion, cover and leave for at least 6 hours (over night is best I’ve found!).

While the chicken is marinating you can make your dip. Take the remaining peanut butter mix and a can of coconut milk, mix in a saucepan over a medium heat until thick.

Thread your chicken onto skewers. We use wooden skewers, they are super easy to use and if you wet them first they won’t catch fire on the BBQ – less washing up too. Grill or BBQ under cooked through, this really shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes because the chicken is so thin.

Edith's favourite satay chicken skewers

So tasty!!

Do you have a favourite food festival recipe? Maybe a food van that you adore?

H X

flexibleworking-resized

Flexible working hours.

Rarely does a phrase invoke the same reaction as this does in most parents, it’s often enough to send us into a frenzy, fan girling over the proposed hours like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert. Unlike Biebs super exciting concerts, flexible working hours aren’t available by the thousands and your whole procreation potential could depend on them.

I left work to work for myself because I wanted to be there for my kids, no matter what, and the brutal truth is that while working for an employer, the vast majority of people can’t say that they will never miss a sports day, school play or the chance to put their kids to bed. They can’t guarantee that they will be able to pick them up from school or pre-school. If their child is ill or their childcare provider is closed, thousands of parents struggle, despite the parental leave rights available, these just don’t work in practice. It’s not just parents who suffer but parents-to-be too, with issues over sickness, maternity appointments and so much more.

The jobs and companies ARE out there though, they just aren’t advertising their flexible potential which means, as parents, we’re stuck in the job that we have had pre-kids, where the employer doesn’t have any flexible options and we’re too terrified that come mortgage day we won’t have secured a new job that DOES flex for us if we try to change things up.

According to national statistics, we are a new breed of workers now, and out of the 31 million of us in the UK that are working, 1 in 4 of us are part time employees and even fewer wish to be – though those that do wish to be (roughly 86%) are so unlikely to find a job advertised that meets their desires and needs.

How many of us have left work because we can’t guarantee our flexibility? How many skilled professionals, who can’t be replaced by Phil who just graduated and is still a touch wet behind the ears, feel they have been edged out of work because they simply can’t get flexibility? According to TIMEWISE, who are pioneering the way forward in flexible working and flexible hiring, only 8.7% of all jobs in the UK mention what we’re after: flexible working options, despite 57% of the UK’s working population now working flexibly. To break it down, if you are a qualified professional looking for a little bit of spandex style, flex it out working, you will find less than 1 in 10 jobs advertised for you. Less than 1 in 10. That is a statistic that should really only reflect the amount of days I manage to get the kids to be well behaved without the use of iPads flung in their direction.

I posted a picture to Instagram last month asking people to support Mother Pukka’s FLEX appeal, share their stories and ask the companies they work for to look at how other companies are doing it. Being flexible means that we can keep parent’s, specifically mother’s in the workplace more easily and utilise their skills. They have so so many wasted skills! One instagrammer meyouandmagoo told me her friend was suffering with depression after being told by her company that she would not be granted part time hours, despite explaining her childcare needs. On top of this, the company (which hasn’t been named) has put a MALE colleague with her to shadow her and openly pointed out that he can, in fact, commit to full time. Another instagrammer, kitchenwitch29 suffering comments like “the one whose off all the time for being pregnant” despite having been in hospital with HG.

We need to make this stop. Flexibility IS possible in all sectors. Retail is one of the worst sectors for flexible working, yet so many parents are happy to work split shifts around school pick ups and drop offs, unsocial hours for late openings or even shorter shifts over more days but they just aren’t given the chance. The jobs ARE out there, we just need to be given to the chance to see that we aren’t stuck in a rut and get companies to change their outlook AND the way they recruit.

TIMEWISE have recently launched their Hire Me My Way Campaign, which aims to treble the proportion of quality jobs that are advertised with flexible working options by 2020, to one million.

One million jobs that could fit around YOU. Around LIFE. Around PARENTS.

In order to do this, they are asking men and women who want, nay need, flexible working options, who don’t want to be stuck in this continual rut because they dared to use their reproductive organs, to sign up to the campaign. They want to be able to say to employers these people want to work for you, they want you to be flexible for them and in turn they will share their skills, their talents and their experience, with your company. The campaign in NOT a recruitment agency so doesn’t take a percentage of your wage if you do find a flexible job because of it, rather it is like an online directory of awesomeness and flexibility. A place for you to see who wants your skills, and for companies to see what they could have if they actually put the effort into changing the way they recruit and employ people.

Also, like a friendly older friend guiding you through the do’s and don’ts of dating, Hire Me My Way will be there to hold your hand through the job search shlep. Everyone who signs up is automatically emailed a totally FREE guidance pack with mucho friendly advice on how to grab the parenting holy grail that is a part time or flexible job in a skilled sector. And if you are a parent or carer living outside of Greater London, you may also be eligible for FREE career advice sessions.

Don’t be the person that goes to work everyday and hates it, don’t waste your life like that. I’m not suggesting you go to work and live to work, but you should be able to take the skills you have and apply them in a flexible manner. So limber up and get flexible, things will only change if we change them.

H x

suncream

Let’s talk about the sun.

We don’t get to see it all that often in the UK do we? Obviously not we’re headed off to sunny Florida in less than two weeks, I’m feeling a little bit like the unprepared, moronic uncle figure who isn’t really sure what he’s doing. Some websites tell you to cover up, avoid the sun in peak times, stay safe! Whereas others tell you to get on out here, enjoy yourself and soak up the vitamin D. Which one is it?

One thing we all seem to agree on is that sun cream is a must. I’m dreadful at using sun cream. Truly, utterly dreadful. I rarely use it and apparently I’m not alone. A recent study, conducted by Piz Buin found out a lot of interesting stats about young Brits not seeing sun protection as a summer essential. According to their study 68% of 16-24 year old Brits were going on holiday in August and a quarter of them were not taking any sun protection with them. While I appreciate that I have slid perilously out of this bracket and gently strolled my way over to the practically thirty section, I still feel like I have this false mentality lurking. In truth, I take sun cream for the kids and I forget it for myself… I wear it IF Adam puts it on for me!!

Now, we know sun cream is all important, but which one?

Well, we take a few different ones on holiday because, without realising it, people often use the wrong sun cream because using one for every member of the family just doesn’t cut it. Personally, I use a factor 15-30 oil spray as I like to try and build some form of tan and look a little less Casper-esque however that doesn’t really work for the children.

Another common misconception for families is that the higher the factor of sun cream the better, not so. Factor 50 does not offer children significantly higher protection than factor 30, it’s all in the re-application. So one bottle of sun cream is never enough for a family of 5, in fact you are better off buying a larger pack and bringing some home for those few and far between sunny days over here.

When it comes to Adam, he has become a true fan of Piz Buin Cool and Protect this summer. Adam would be the first to admit that he is quite the hot totty, and I do mean hot in the rather literal sense. As a child he never quite managed to maintain his body temperature and ultimately would over hear very easily, it’s something that he’s always struggled with so a holiday where the average temperature will be 27C isn’t necessarily perfect for him. Cool and Protect has a natural cooling agent, so not only only will reapplying it spare him a nasty burn but it will also help to keep him cool in the heat.

Sun cream isn’t the only thing you need for sun care. After sun is hugely important to moisturise the skin after sun exposure, as is keeping covered during the “magic hours” of 11am to 3pm – which also happens to be the time that the majority of people head out to the beach or pool after lunch!

To summarise;

  • different people need different sun creams.
  • Reapplication top trumps factor ever day of the week
  • Staying out of the direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm is best, but if not, keep covered and reapply sun cream frequently.
  • After sun isn’t just for burns, it’s key for moisturising skin after sun exposure

What sun cream do you use?

H x

Rainbow_Bookshelf

Ahh summer, it’s sad to see you finally coming to an end – unless you’re counting the summer holidays, that can’t tick away fast enough – but I am going to miss those warm evenings and chilled out sunshine days. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about doing a little ‘nest-building’ before the colder months start to draw in, I am what my husband affectionately refers to as a “seasonal decorator” which means I basically re-jig everything every other season!

One thing about having a busy home is that space is always at a premium, so as much as I would love to put in those mega stylish minimalistic pieces of furniture, it really ain’t happening! With the kiddos constantly finding new ways to scatter the toys across the floor, and we keep adding to the piles with more toys after birthdays and special occasions, I’ve been looking for some ways that we can use some crafty space-saving furniture in our home.

2149236639_1b6e6e2cb6_b

One of my favourite pieces of multi-functional furniture has to be these modular shelving units. Thanks to companies like Brickbox it’s now pretty easy to store all of those kid’s books and toys with ease as the stylish wooden boxes can be slotted together and stacked up without even using any screws – pretty handy if you’re DIY-phobic like me. Another idea I like is to use these as a room divider, now that the boys are getting bigger and need some space from each other (thought they say they don’t want it!)

 

These kinds of storage solutions are great as they mean that, regardless of how big your room is, you can always build higher in your bid to try and free up some floor space (and save your sanity by removing the stuff that Edie can’t reach!). It’s something that you can apply to more than just a bookcase too – think along the lines of a bed, what goes underneath that bad boy? Answer: EVERYTHING for us.

Our bed is an ottoman bed and I can honestly say they’re a great space-saving device that I use for storing towels, sheets and even hot-water bottles… everything! Obviously buying a bed is a pretty big investment, but if you shop here at Bedstar then you can find all of the latest cool designs that can save you some serious pennies as well as lots of space!

And it’s not just in the bedroom that space can be saved, as our kitchen has been made a little less chaotic thanks to converting our under stairs cupboard into a walk in pantry. We don’t have any hanging cupboards (yet!) but we really want to put some in, however with Disney World this year, moola is short so we are waiting until the following year to even consider it. By shifting all of our chuck-that-under-the-stairs-love style junk and adding a couple of cheap shelving units we have managed to free up 4 cupboards by putting tonnes of food in there… yeah, we eat A LOT!

3820608517_458f3a9dff_b

Last ideas for you if you have older kids, something I will totally be begging Adam to put in once the kids are bigger; a vertical bike rack! How cool is this? Just going to show there is 100% no limit as to how creative we can be in our space-saving endeavours… just call me Mrs Ikea and be done with it 😉

What do you do to save space?

H x

At the moment travel is very much on the forefront of my mind, but while I’m sorting out insurance, car park stays (nightmare) and who is going to be in charge of Yoda while we’re away – how will he maintain his Instagram account? – the boys are very focused on a different aspect of travel.

The mode.

Will we go in a plane mummy? What kind of plane mummy? Will there be a ship? Can’t we just drive there? So. Many. Questions.

All day, every day, a world of questions. So it got me thinking, could this be a fun opportunity for them to learn a little bit, after all they are very into it and that usually guarantees co-operation! So I came up with a few ideas for teaching children about modes of transport.

Planes.

  • My in laws very kindly bought us a “50 things to spot at the airport” card set, which has all the different types of planes, along with other vehicles that are in fact an essential part of airport life. I’ve put this in our hand luggage and we’ve been going through the cards to figure out different types of planes that we might spot.
  • Go online and grab the details of the plane you will be travelling in, and Google for the info about that aircraft. It’s a brilliant way to learn about the way you will be travelling. We’re travelling with Thomas Cook, so I can search for their flight number and it *should* tell me what aircraft we will be in.
  • Make use of printables, you only need to search “plane printables” on Pinterest for a whole host of fun!

Ships and cruise liners

  • I remember going on my first cruise years ago now and it was fabulous! We had the best time, and when I’ve told the boys about this they have been fascinated by the idea of being on a big ship. If you visit the website for your cruise they should have a list of the different ships, or if you choose your specific cruise path, they will tell you what ship you’re on. Then google and go!
  • Utilise Pinterest again. Great printables on there, lovely for colouring and you can even colour code different parts.
  • As a child I was always mesmerised by the fact that such a HUGE object could float. Why not talk about some science – why does it float? How does it work? Such a fun lesson for kids to learn.

Trains and coaches

  • Yes trains and coaches are holiday vehicles! Kids don’t realise this as they are often just a part of mundane life. Get those printables and get colouring.
  • Visit a train museum, our local one is totally free and it has trains from all over the world. It also has a brief explanation about how trains (different types) work, and how they can take us under ground as well as across it.
  • Visit the local train station or bus station, draw the buses you see and learn about the different colours. Great one for toddlers.

Cars

  • Beep beep! A great chance to chuck some geography into the fray. How does a car go from one country to another? Drives over the border. He boys were amazed when we explained to them that you CAN drive to another country.
  • Google the different parts of a car, print out some pictures and see if they can guess what is what and where it goes. For example: Engine, tyres, exhaust… Endless fun!
  • Fuel the fires of imagination (ha, sorry, corny but so fun to type) and get the kids talking about fuel. This really could apply to any of these things, not just cars, because they ALL need fuel.

What else can you think of?

H X

howtoentertainkidsonaplane

For years I had my daily schlep within the baby and children’s product industry, advising parents on various topics and the such, and one of the things I would hear every single time a customer needed help with their holiday purchases would be ‘Oh god what do I do on the plane?’. I mean let’s be fair, the thought of being in a small space and pretty much shackled to your toddler with no escape for anything between 2 and 14 hours in pretty horrifying. At least at home you can move about right?

Despite that, plane journeys are not that scary when it comes to having your toddlers or even young children with you. There are so many things on a plane that can entertain a child, and so many things you can do to ward off the old temper tantrum. We’ve been away a few times with the boys, right from when they were only a few months old and the only one that I’m actually concerned about this time is Miss Edith – purely because we’re breaching the unknown and she is a demon. With that in mind, I have put together a few suggestions for how to entertain the kids on a plane.

  • Take something that usually entertains them at home – for instance an iPad, kindle, books, games. If they will sit and enjoy it at home, they will on the plane.
  • Sticker books are great for any age, although I wouldn’t take colouring books for toddlers unless you know they will stick to the book. Too often have I heard a mama shout on the plane ‘No don’t draw on that!!’ be safe and go for sticker books if you aren’t sure… the stickers will peel off the back of the seat. We’re taking Melissa & Doug reusable sticker pads – they are ingenious.
  • For older kids 3+ take some small toys, like schleich animals or mini toy cars, and wrap them in gift wrap for the kids to unwrap at intervals on the journey (this is especially fun if you have a long plane journey). We’ve spent roughly £20-25 on little toys and we are going to give on to the boys every hour or so to unwrap. Yep, totally cash you don’t have to spend and you will be picking em up off the floor constantly, BUT do you value your sanity at around £20? I doooo!
  • Utilise the info packs and things that are in the back of the seats on the plane. Kids love to investigate new things, they love to take in new information, be it pictures or words for older kids. Try something like a find it game, or I spy.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. On your own but need too eat? C’mon, ask! People aren’t that awful and if I saw a mama (or Dad) struggling I’d offer up the parental paw of solitude and try to help.
  • Don’t take everything with you on the plane in order to entertain the kids. Have you ever been stuck in a shop between 3 or 4 pairs of shoes? Too much choice is a killer. It’s the same principle on a plane for kids, too much choice is overwhelming and they will have everything out at once.
  • Watch the movies if you have older kids. Make sure you take ear phones for them, it will save you having to buy them on the plane.The boys have some from Primark and they LOVE them.
  • Take a blanket, or if you are on long haul flights these are given out, because your kids will probably fall asleep, especially if they are under 4. Both my boys always sleep for about an hour on the plane – it’s great (though they are never synchronised!).

That’s it really! Did you know that if you have any queries you can always email me them and I will do my best to help sort you out. My email is harriet@tobyandroo.com – I would love to hear from you if you have any extra tips on travelling or if you need help/advice. You can always get some great help from other Mamas via my Facebook page here.

Harriet x

What's in my hand luggage? via Toby & Roo

What to take on the plane.

It’s a question that I have been asked rather a lot lately, I mean, I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m going to Disney World in a few weeks (oh you missed it?) so it’s right there in the forefront of my mind. As such, I kind of wanted to write about what I take on the plane in my carry on luggage for everyone – I see a lot of posts about “what to take on the plane for a baby” or ‘What to take on a plane for kids” but not really many “what to take on the plane for everyone in the family, and every eventuality and every possible happening.” Maybe that’s because it’s a long title, but it’s where the planner in me starts to shine. I NEED to plan for everyone and everything… seriously, one a journey where I can’t “just buy it” I have a whole host of plans – hit me up if you see me in an airport, I probably have that shit you need… not in a drug smuggling way, obvs.

Short of valium there are a few things that I think can save my sanity and that I always carry on the plane with me and this is what makes it into my hand luggage on a plane:

Johnson’s top to toe washcloths – these little beauties are ingenious. You get 15 in a pack and clearly they were thought up by a festival goer because they are like wet towels for your whole bod. If you’re stranded in the airport for hours, you can have a wash, if you’re sticky and horrible on the plane, you can have a wash… baby’s bum, toddler’s face, child’s spillage… everything. I love em. They totally top trump wet wipes for a plane journey, though I would still chuck a packet of them in too.

Vaseline lip balm – dry, cracked lips are NOT fun when you are on holiday, but your skin is naturally dried out on a plane, so lip balm is a good thing to have on a long journey. Not only that, but if you have a scratch or scrape, it can help too – like layman’s germoline.

A power bank charger – yep, we will be travelling with 4 of these bad boys. I need my phone for work, the kids need their tablets for entertainment and Adam needs his for… the sports app. Anyhoo, we’ve come to accept that we are a techy family and as such, we need power (booming over voice moment there) so we carry power banks.

A miniature bottle of suncream – I have a bucket load of PR samples, so I tend to just grab one of those but you can buy the little bottles from the local supermarket – they make life so much easier. If you step off the plane in the middle of the day in a heatwave you really ought to have something but you can’t carry big bottles through security and you sure don’t want to buy it in there airport where it will cost you an arm and leg. It also doubles as a facial moisturiser if you are delayed.

Water – yeah, I know you can’t take it through the security but BUY IT in the duty free zone and keep it with you. Ask the staff on the plane to help you out and fill it up before you get off, nothing is worse than being thirsty. Actually, that is a lie – nothing is worse than thirsty kids.

Snacks – You can buy them on the plane, but I’d probably be tempted to get some before hand too – pretty much any meltdown in our family can be solved by a snack or chocolate – though go easy on the sugary or high energy stuff, no one (especially you) wants hyper kids on the plane.

Changes of bottoms for the kids – Just in case, I will be taking a very small/thin pair of shorts for the boys to change into if they need to. If there is a queue at the toilets and they “HAVE to go” then we may have an accident. I also tend to have “travelling clothes” that I really don’t mind lobbing in the bin in the eventuality of an accident.

Paracetamol – for every one. Calpol for the tiddlers (sachets are best I find), full out tablets for us. Headaches are a bitch, and at 30,000ft they suck even more.

Headphones – the boys have their own, and so do we.

A kindle or tablet filled with kids books – we have fire for kids, I never used to think there was a need for it, but I’ve found it to be SO much better than anything else. Toby has an iPad but I have things on my kindle for him via Reuben’s account. I thick having the kindle instead of physical books actually helps cut down on the “stuff” in the bag. Just be sure to load em up.

Beloved teddies – please don’t put them in luggage. Ever. If your luggage gets lost you won’t get them back, also if your luggage gets delayed, how will you get the kids to sleep? Nah, keep em with you.

Entertainment for the children – I will write a post about this because I think it warrant’s it’s own but sticker books, mini gifts to unwrap, tablets, colour books, drawing… there is so much to think of hear!

Sunglasses – for everyone, because squinting sucks and it gives you the holiday vibe.

Dry shampoo & roll on deodorant – I am LOVING dry shampoo, but especially my new Hairydust from Max & Nancy, which is a bloody fabulous dry shampoo for kids with all natural ingredients. I also rather love Green People’s organic roll on quinoa deodorant – it smells LUSH and I can take it on the plane, so no pongy me!

Prescription tablets – from pills to meds you have to take daily to “just in case I have the shits” meds, I am like a walking pharmacy.

Not so much in my bag but I always make every take a cardigan and I take a pashmina – doubles as a blanket, scarf and everything else. You can’t beat it.

What’s in your holiday on flight bag?

H x

Mamas and Papas Liberty range

Mamas and Papas Liberty range

Despite the heatwave that we have been treated to this week, I have started to look towards the cooler weather and the get organised with a few bits and bobs for when we arrive home from our holiday at the end of September. I don’t know if it is the return to school shopping that I have been doing or if it is just because I am a sucker for gorgeous clothes for babies, but the new collection over at Mamas & Papas has me swooning like a One Direction fan – before they tragically split up (sorry girls!).

I recently ordered a beautiful outfit for Edith from the new Liberty collection – it is super sweet and has already made an appearance into her wardrobe. Not only is it the height of cuteness, but knowing our unreliable September days – some hotter than the sun (for England), others resembling ice rink weather – the outfit is really adaptable. A sweet mustard coloured pinafore over a thick, super soft jersey cotton t-shirt, I have already put Edith in the pinafore without the t-shirt underneath to help her maintain those summer vibes, I’ve also used the t-shirt underneath a bargain pinafore I ordered from their sales range.

Mamas and Papas Liberty range

Speaking of sales, Edith now has a super cute hat to take on holiday with her for the cost of £4 – it will last for the remainder of our sunny days and well into next Spring/Summer along with the sweetest little peter pan collar t-shirt, with an adorable floral pattern. The best thing I find about this is that, though a super inexpensive item of clothing, its versatile enough that it will let right through the rest of Summer and Autumn because we will simply layer it up with a cardigan!

Winner!

Also, if you get in there quickly, Mamas & Papas have 20% off all clothes at the moment!

H x

seperationanxiety

It used to be worse.

You used to sit and scream, sobbing your heart out in a terrified panic every time I put you down. It was hell. Your little arms would cling to me, your fists pinching my skin as your sought out the permanent boob feed you seemed to need, and your anger was palpable every time I set you down. It got better. We got better together.

Still there are those days. Today was one of those days.

I suppose it’s my fault really, you were all smiles when you woke up, but then I made the mistake of letting you see me slip out of the door when I needed to get some kitchen out of the “big” freezer to defrost for tonight’s fajitas. I’m sorry darling. I know you were frightened when I closed the door behind me and thoughtlessly went to rummage around. I know that minute felt like an endless amount of time in your heart.

When I came back inside, your tear streaked face greeted me and gone was the happy smiley girl who woke up. I’d almost forgotten these days. It’s been a while since we had he last one.

Your little arms reached around my neck and you squeezed. Boy, did you squeeze. I carried you for a time, eventually setting you down to watch your favourite TV program, Sofia the first, which placated you for a time, while I tried to get organised for taking you and those crazy boys out for a fun day. Every so often you would toddle through to the kitchen to check I hadn’t wandered too far again. Just to check. Maybe for a cuddle. Or two.

Eventually we made it out, you cried when I put you in the car, but you got over it quickly because everyone piled in around you. How can you be afraid of being alone when you have those big brothers huh? We made it to the war museum, up into the carrier you went and nestled in tight. One of the blessings of being out is that you forget your separation anxiety, you slip back into being you. It’s beautiful and frustrating to watch you being so confident – beautiful to see you blossoming, frustrating to fear I might not be able to keep you safe. I guess we both have a touch of our old friend, don’t we?

Your tiredness once we returned made it worse. I could t leave the room, but again the paddling pool and those big brothers helped me make a late lunch, and once I was sat outside on my laptop, while you enjoyed the cool water and freedom of the garden, you were fine. You were happy and confident… You could see me, and I you. We were good.

Tiredness caught up with you again though, and as the bumps and knocks became more frequently as that babyish clumsiness got you in its grips, you became more and more clingy. More impatient with my requests to just wait. More panicked that the waiting would last too long. It is always too long when you need that closeness.

Bedtime was the worst, and that is why I’m dat underneath you now. You screamed and cried and wouldn’t even contemplate playing with your toys, the way that has become our norm. No. You were beside yourself… All because I went out of the door in the morning and your irrational fear reared its ugly head.

Darling girl, separation anxiety may be waning for you, it may come it fits and starts, but when it does, know I am here to hold you. To breath you in. To love you.

One day, it will be me who suffers with it more than you. One day too soon.

yoda7

yoda4

If you are a frequent visitor to the blog (thank you!) you will know that we have a certain someone who has recently joined our family. He is small, furry, wrinkly and a bundle of cuteness. He is, of course, our Shar Pei puppy Yoda.

Yoda has fast integrated himself into our hearts, becoming the epitome of a blogger’s dog with his very own Instagram account (which in less than a month has nearly 3500 followers with zero effort from moi! Proper Kardashian style in this house, but, you know… poorer) and is providing us with all the puppy love we could need.

The kids have developed a stead fast bond with Yoda, one that only children and puppies can have really – we also have a 10 year old chihuahua who is a really gentle soul, but bless her heart she is not terribly interested in playing… Unless it involves a stick, then she’s your gal. Anyhoo, the vertifitable pup-love fest that is rocking out in casa de la Shearsmith has taken a bit of a rocky turn over the last few days with the pup and the kids clashing somewhat. Yoda seems to have had enough of being relentlessly teased by his little buddies, and is viewing the kids as his littermates with whom he has to establish a pecking order.

Now, I am a dog lover however there is no way I will ever have a dog who thinks he or she is dominant over a human, be that a baby or a fully grown man. It doesn’t work and is essentially a recipe for disaster – dogs need to know their place in the pack and it is firmly at the bottom along with the husband (the cat resides at the top m, but that is a cat).

The last few days have seen an increase in Yoda nipping the children, only when they have broken the cardinal dog owner rules mind: 1.) Don’t touch a sleeping dog and 2.) Don’t touch a dog or his food when he’s eating. It came to a head for us last week when Reuben went to grab a packet of cat food out of Yoda’s slobbery jaws, something the pup shouldn’t have had and Roo bought her he was being helpful, only to get a growl and a snap in return. Though he wasn’t nipped hard, this was a step too far from our wrinkled companion who was promptly booted outside and given a jolly good rollocking while Roo sobbed about his injury (which was a very vague scratch from those sharp puppy teeth – not even enough to break skin!)

So, how do you set the foundations for a a happy family/dog lifestyle when your puppy is trying to assert himself? The answer is rather simple: it takes time.

yoda6

yoda2

I’ve jotted down a few tips to help out (and serve as a reminder to us over time):

1.) Train the kids, not just the dog.

Like I say, all of our growling, nipping and generally poor behaviour from Yoda incidents have happened at a time when the kids have broken a dog husbandry rule. When your kids are little it is so so important to train them to understand how to behave towards a dog and how to respect a dog. While Yoda is learning his boundaries, the boys are too – don’t touch him while he’s eating, never touch his food or try to take food from him, do not tease him, do not poke or pull at him, and do not try to cuddle him when he’s sleeping. To be fair, I want to bite the kids when they are rolling all over me in the night, so how a dog must feel isn’t too difficult to understand.

2.) Involve the kids in training the dog

The kids are humans. The dog is a dog. Very simply put, the human is above the dog. Always. So if this is the case, the dog must learn this – I’ve started encouraging Reuben to help me train Yoda, especially at meal times. We make him sit, paw and lie down. By doing this with the children, Yoda is learning that the children are not pups or his equal and we are giving him a hierarchy in the pack.

3.) Encourage the bond, but work on the “personal space” for both

A bit like I said before, what with training the children as well as the pooch, but more specifically related to SPACE. We all need it, as mothers we’re often found sharing a meme or two about how we don’t get enough of it, and the same is true for the dog. Personal space is a must, so we’ve got a section in our kitchen that has the dog bed and his toys, if he is there the rule is simple: leave him alone. If he is sat on his bed for any reason, be it eating, sleeping or just hiding from the mania that is our hizang, leave him alone.

4.) Establish a hierarchy

I know that over recent years this philosophy has been somewhat discredited but it’s never failed me yet and I’m a firm believer in establishing “this is your pack, you’re the Z lister in it” mentalities for everyone. Yoda and Bibi are fed last in the morning, and last in the evening, they go outside while we eat so they can’t steal food or beg (which he was doing a lot from the kids – who were feeding him and then crying because their food was gone. Ha.) and they are generally the bottom of the to-do list every time. They aren’t the bottom of the list for kisses and cuddles, they are given an abundance of love, but it has become apparent to Yoda quickly that he isn’t top dog in our home.

5.) Keep calm and carry on

You are going to have teething problems in the beginning for both the kids and the pup – a jump timed wrong, a playful nip that hurt and wasn’t done viciously, an attempt at dominance… you’re going to get it all, but just persevere. Reprimanding the party that is out of line is so important, however you choose to do it. I would recommend putting the dog outside if he steps out of line (this is what we do) but not into his bed or crate as that can colour their view of it and make them feel very insecure.

All in all, these are simples. They aren’t difficult tips to follow but they seem to work for us – I’d love to know you tips for introducing a new puppy to children!

H x

 

Last week a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook about an awful ordeal that she had witnessed at the local paddling pool and play area. Apparently a child, no older than 2-3 years old had managed to get their hands on a flask of boiling water, and threw it into the pool, scolding two small children in the process. Obviously an ambulance was called, the little ones were treated for shock and burns, and my friend was just an onlooker trying to help.

As is easily predicted, while my friend’s status was in no way judgemental, immediately everyone seemed to reach for their Lycra judgeypants (I imagine them to be Lyra, purely squish the extra judgement in) and an influx of “OMG where were the fucking parents!?” And “oh my gawdddd, what the hell were the parents thinking letting him get hold of that?” Flooded in like a tidal wave of judgement.

Now I get it, when a child is injured or harmed by another child, our initial reaction is to say “where were those parents?”… But have you ever stopped to think that not *everything* is the fault of the parent? What if the toddler had wandered off while mum was changing a nappy, grabbed an older man’s flask while he chilled out with a BBQ watching his older Grandkids play and thought he was playing when he threw it in while his mother ran around clutching her newborn and panicking that her first born had gone walkies (I’ve been here, it’s terrifying). What if the mum was running behind her toddler because in a moment of humanity she had (heaven forbid) looked away to talk to a friend and the child had grabbed her flask and made a run for it… So. Many. What. Ifs. Yet we’re all up in that parent blaming bullshit like flies on shit. And it is SHIT.

The truth in this scenario was actually that the parent had been a grade A douche bag, left her flask uncapped, and really wasn’t all that remorseful at the injury caused, toddling back to her perch miles away and allowing the toddler to wander free. I get that it makes the comments warranted, but why is this ALWAYS our first reaction. Why not a simple, oh god, what happened? My comment was, “Oh my god, what happened? I bet the parent’s of the child that threw the water were horrified”… Because I know I would be, and the horrible truth is that these mishaps could happen to any of us. No matter how vigilant, no matter how hard we try, we are just people. We make mistakes, we leave lids off things, we take our eyes off our kids to check our vital work email and we fuck up. It’s really that simple.

Another favourite of mine is people who complain about soft play areas and “other people’s kids”. You take your kids there to play and learn, unless you have 1 or multiples of the same age, you have to allow older kids to go off and play. You have to. I’m not suggesting you tap them on the back, waive tooda-loo and put your feet up with an issue of heat, but I am saying you have to let them go. Trust them to a degree. I let Reuben and Toby go off and play while I look after Edith, yet only a few weeks ago I read an article by another blogger (who has multiple children) about how she hated other people’s children at soft play areas because she didn’t want to have to look after them, tell them off and other parent’s were lazy… It just smacked of “my skills are better than yours” and it was mean. Mean girls mean. My reply would be maybe your older kids will grow up despising you and their younger sibling because they were never allowed to walk more than two foot away and you were always with the baby!

The last time we visited Dalby Forest, I went to the toilet while Reuben played with his friend’s and the other mums kept an eye on them all. When I came back, Reuben had been playing on his friend’s bike – which doesn’t have stabilisers – and I had previously told him not to. He’d fallen and bumped himself, so I told him, well that will teach you, don’t do it again… But he did. I was so focused on chasing Edith around like a neurotic dog chasing it’s very waggy tail, that I didn’t realise he was back on the fucking bike. It was a busy, hot day and he pelted straight into a couple and their dog as he lost control of the bike. Fortunately they moved out of the way, the dog did not. He didn’t hurt the dog, or himself (thankfully) but the very first thing the man shouted as he screamed at him was “Where are your parents?!”… then as I was stood less than 10ft away and immediately came running (forgetting Edith was going the opposite way) and I couldn’t stop spewing apologies like a teenager on freshers week spews up beer, he threw his arms up at me as if to say “where were YOU”.

I’m only one woman. With three children. I was with the child that I thought was most at risk and I trusted my older kids to do as I asked and stay within the perimeters I set. I trusted Roo not to make the decision to pick up the bike, after I told him not to. Yet he did. It happened. Ultimately, that doesn’t make it my FAULT, it makes it an unfortunate series of events that led to something that could have been SO much worse. It sucked. I was horrified.

In these circumstances, maybe before we shout and holla, threaten and berate, we should try to stop and think. How is the person reacting to the incident, how are they trying to help and could that have been ME? Because if the answer is yes, and it will almost always be YES, then think in how you would want to be treated.

Now if they just wander back to their picnic table and do fuck all… Bring out the mama rage and Lycra judgeypants all you like.

H x

Ahh. So it arrives.

That dreaded letter from the dentist. I hate going to the dentist. I think it comes from a mixture of things really – my mum has always hated the dentist though tried to “power through” and never admitted it until I was older and then there was my teeth as I grew up… I actually have two false teeth, I was born without two of my “big teeth” so had to have replacements bridged into my mouth which meant I had to have the gap between my teeth closed with a rather painful set of braces. Think Katy Perry in the TGIF music video… Without the fun.

One thing I don’t want to pass on to my kids is a fear of the dentist, it literally must not happen. It’s so important that we take care of our teeth – it is extortionate to fix an issue unless you have an NHS dentist, and they are becoming rarer than rocking horse shit. So how to impart this “love” of the dentist that I’m seeking and how to encourage the kids to look after their teeth better?

Well, there are billions of tips out there, these but this is what I have found works for us:

1.) Go to the dentist, not just when it’s ouch central.

Going to the dentist when you are in agony is often considered one of the reasons that so many people have a “fear” of the dentist. We associate it with negativity. As its recommended by the The Centre for Advanced Dentistry Yorkshire, a visit to the dentist once every 6 months is a must, just as a formal check up.

2.) Get fun with it

Stickers, mini toys and BIG smiles. Make it something the kids looks forward to – we have a small village dentist so after every visit we go to the local baker and let the kids pick out a cookie or cake. We don’t tell the dentist this. No sir. There is also a local pub, few toy shops and a bookstore. If the kids have been extra good, we let them have a little pocket money toy or something. It means they associate the dentist with FUN.

3.) Smile for me

Smile. Try to avoid phrases like “I hate the dentist” or “Oh god I hope he doesn’t hurt me this time”. That is not going to inspire confidence in your little tinkers. Instead, if your kids are anything like mine, they will love talking about the science behind dentistry. Encourage them to ask questions while you are in the chair, explain to them yourself about the teeth and in turn ask them questions about why teeth are so important. Kids are like puppies, they want to please you.

4.) Go for the whole experience

Get the in the chair. Every time we have a dental appointment, from birth onwards, the kids have had a seat in the patient’s chair. When they are feeling brave the dentist has had a little look in their mouth and Reuben’s favourite part has been swilling the pink mouth wash at the end! It takes the fear out of everything.

5.) That’s my toothbrush!

Invest in a good toothbrush. I have allowed the kids to choose their own heads for two electric toothbrushes – we have a Cars and Avengers head, which can be changed as they grow. Yes, I’m aware that £35 for a toothbrush for a 3 year old sounds painful, but it is a long term investment. You aren’t going to rebut the electric hand set but rather the little heads which are much less. Edith has a brilliant teething toothbrush from Nuby, that she is allowed to carry around as and when she wants. I would recommend something like a matchstick monkey teething gel applicator and training toothbrush from the age of 1-2 months if necessary, or 4 months if not. It acts as a teether, so naturally fits well with your child’s growth. Edith loved hers!

6.) Don’t harp on about sweets

I have found that a lot of the stuff I like to eat is actually a dentist’s worst nightmare. Sweets. Sugary cakes, juice, coffee, tea… Yeah. I think the only thing I have learnt here is that by reinforcing to the children that their favourite things are frowned upon by dentists makes them think of the dentist as the harbinger of doom and sucker of fun. I mean, would you like someone who dissed all your favourite stuff? Nah, didn’t think so. So, try not to focus on the fact the dentist disapproves, and rather talk about how it’s bad for your teeth and needs to be done in moderation.

There really is no reason to fear the dentist and if we focus on the fact that these are people and not ghouls who suck the sugary goodness out of our lives and prod our teeth and gums… Well, we’d all be much happier to attend! Also, never (and I mean never) inadvertently allow children to watch The Dentist.

Anything to add to these tips?

H x

grandmagifts

It’s my mum’s birthday this week and Grandparent’s day (which we don’t celebrate – you can read my thoughts on it in this blog post) so we’ve been thinking about great gifts for Grandmas.

As we now have three little bodies that are exclusively reliant on us for their upkeep, buying gifts for Grandparent’s has really gone on the back burner. We agreed when we had Toby that we wouldn’t spend a fortune, if anything, on our parent’s birthdays but rather that we would make things for them or just do cards. Same principal at Xmas really! That being said, every so often, a “big one” birthday comes along and really I feel that something more is in order.

So gifts for Grandmothers, Nanas, Nannies and the proverbial matriarch of the familia…

1.) Homemade smellies £

Never let it be said that something homemade doesn’t have joie de vive! We have made a range of smellies in the past from hand soap to hand cream/face masks. It’s something that comes from the children with their hard work put in and you genuinely have to be one huge asshat not to appreciate it. Using essential oils, food stuff that you know will smell great (coconut oil is the *best* base for face/hand creams). Buy some pre-made soap on eBay for pence and then melt it down, add colourant and scent. Done.

2.) Make up anyone? ££-£££

Does Mum/Grandma have a favourite make up? Why not grab her a nice gift set? My mum isn’t really one for make up gift sets, but I love them! You can get some really pretty ones and depending on the brand of choice, you can spend under £20 right up to £100+.

3.) Add a bit of sparkle & glitz with jewellery ££-£££

Jewellery isn’t just something for a partner to buy you know. If you are the type of person who loves a good bit o’ bling, then you seriously need to consider whether Grandma would to. Personally, I’m a total magpie (spirit animal here) so I love to gift pretty things. Necklaces and earrings are the best option, stay away from rings – they tend to be very personal and something more for a partner to buy (personal opinion there for you).

4.) Gulg, Gulg, bottoms up. £-£££

I really appreciate a bottle of something good, don’t you? Well, no reason that Grandmama won’t too. This can range from the mega bucks of Chrystal (she’s not a rapper guys) to something homemade and divine. My mum rarely drinks but we made her some apple brandy last year, and it was epic. Truly epic, and it didn’t last long. We were given the apples by my in laws after helping them pick them in their orchard and I bought a cheap brandy from Asda (yep, I had all the kids with me carting around 4 bottles of Asda smart price brandy… Stay classy.). Apparently the cheaper the brandy the better it will take on the flavour of the fruit so no fine stuff over here please.

5.) Pass the chocolate, darhhhhling. £-£££

Chocolate, sweets, cakes. Is there a person alive that this would be a wrong move for? It’s another one with EPIC range – you can buy her a £100 gift card for Harrods Godiva cafe (where she will probably only manage a couple of pieces of cake and a hot chocolate for that fee) or you can make your own. We have a billion (minor exaggeration) chocolate moulds and shapes. It really is so easy to do, just a few bits of chocolate broken up and melted, poured into the mound and suddenly Nigella Lawson is jealous of your skills… Sort of. Equally you can go all fancy and make some really cool sweet treats from any of the thousands of recipes out there that take under 5 minutes.

6.) Do take it personal…

I often find lists like these box women into a category of make up loving, alcohol drinking pamper princesses and, well, that’s not accurate is it? Think hard about your mum or mother in law, then make her gift personal. Does she love DIY? Maybe a power tool set with a feminine touch if she likes that, or if she hates florals and smellies but likes cars and motorbikes, why not get her something like a kindle/tablet/phone cover with motorbikes on. Let’s not box people in here, think about your mum specifically and work it to your advantage.

H x

edithpond

I mentioned yesterday on the blog that I had an epic parenting fail, and that Edie fell in the pond, and as I result I had a few messages across social asking me what had happened and to put the full story on the blog.

I apologise if you’ve seen it on Instagram, but for those of you that haven’t, I thought I’d share.

It was a few weeks ago now, the day after we’d been pond skipping in our garden pond, catching water beetles with our bug kit from RSPB. Obviously we had nets, everything was supervised etc but it gave Edith the illusion that the “don’t go past the pond barrier” rule the boys know so well, was optional. It’s not. I’m very strict with the pond – big advocate of garden ponds – and we have a rule that you can’t go past the mini wall line without an adult present. I’ve never had an issue with the boys and following this rule, but Edith… Well, Edith is a law unto herself. By which I mean she is a sod who rarely does ANYTHING she’s told to. I believe the fashionable mums call it “free spirited”. Yeah.

Anyhoo, the kids were in the garden and I had noticed Edie had started going to the pond, throwing stones in and generally being cheeky. She was told off multiple times, had her hands smacked and was made to come inside several times to no avail. Eventually I went with the principal that while she was playing on the climbing frame with her brothers I was safe to head inside and do the dishes while I watched them through the window.

Stupid, rookie mum move.

I afford my kids a lot of trust, I think it’s super important not to be hovered over as you grow and learn. How can you properly learn and enjoy life if you aren’t given the space to spread your wings?

While I still stick to that and I wouldn’t change the way I parent because of this little fuck up,  I do have to say this was a monumental cock up.

As I went inside Edith tottered over to the pond and reignited her passion for decorative stone destruction. Roo ran over, as I asked him to “keep an eye on her sister” (though, it’s not really keeping an eye on her when I can see her through the window) and shout me if she’s naughty, and picked her up to take her away. Unfortunately she screamed at him, hit him with her spade (ABH) and promptly ran back to the pond. Reuben bellowed “Mummmmm Edith’s being naughty, she won’t…” And then the screaming started. “Edith’s drownding! Edith’s drownding”!

Obviously I heard the scream before I really realise what had happened and the next thing I know I’m hip deep in our pond hauling Edith out by her romper and walloping her head on the decorative rocks she was so keen to demolish.

Two things; firstly Reuben was hysterical. He was shaking and almost convinced that Edith was dying and it was his fault because “mummy asked me to watch her and I couldn’t stop her… She just fell”. Shit. In this instance, the only thing to do was to explain to him that by shrieking that she had fallen in the pond, he saved her and was the hero of the day – which is technically true. The last thing I would want to do is give him to misconception that Edith wasn’t in any danger as he may think that bodies of water like ponds and lakes aren’t dangerous, and I didn’t want him to think that ANY responsibility for this lay on his shoulders – it didn’t, it rested it’s ugly body firmly on my shoulders, like a cloak of guilt.

Secondary to this, Edith actually SWAM. Not flailed around in the water, but swam from one side of the pond to the other and was about to perform her hold on when I got to her. The years of effort and money we have put into Water Babies swim classes (Edie started at 2 weeks) have paid off in dividends and, though I’m mortified that my child had to use her safety training, she had the skills to not only swim in a situation fraught with panic and shock, but to attempt to climb out or hold on to something until help arrived.

Has this whole experience put me off garden ponds? No. Has it made me more cautious of allowing Edith’s outside without my presence? Yes.

If nothing else, my phobia of being in the water of fish has officially been top trumped by mother’s instinct… Deadpool and Nemo are still, reluctantly, fishy members of the family.

Have you had a parenting fail recently?

H x

1 2 3 48