76 articles Articles posted in Kids

Ways to Fill the Summer Holidays When You Aren’t Going Abroad

pony schoolIt’s fair to say that Husband, the kids and I are all homebodies. We love the idea of going abroad on holiday but when we had Chuck is was impossible and Maureen is still a little bit too young for us to leave her for too long, so a jaunt abroad is off the cards for now. We do, however, like to fill the summer holidays with as many days out and activities as possible, so that the kids don’t get bored and do that annoying bickering thing that kids do when they spend too much time at home, with only each other to play with! This is just a few of the things we do each year:

Pony School

We’re lucky enough to live close to a few different riding schools and some of them run pony schools in the holidays where the kids spend one day a week riding, grooming and generally “horsing” about (HA!) with the friendlier ponies at the stables. It’s usually about £25 per session and the kids need over the knee boots from UK footwear specialists Uppersole, but it’s pretty good value when you think about how long they get to spend with the ponies.

Garden Beach

Last year, we bought a massive paddling pool, set up the slide, sun loungers, a Bluetooth speaker and some mocktails and had what we called “The Garden Beach”. It was like a very miniature version of lazing around the pool on holiday, the kids thought it was amazing and I loved the chance to sit in the sun and read my book! This year, we’re planning on elaborating and even having a tent by the pool which we may spend the night in, if the kids are brave enough!

Fruit Picking

One of the things we have planned this year is a bit of Pick Your Own – it’s something I did when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it, and as soon as I told the girls about it, they found the idea really exciting so it’s on the list of things to do this summer.

Get the Bus

The kids are lucky enough to have Mummy’s Taxi Service which means they get ferried everywhere in the comfort of our car, but neither of them has ever really experienced public transport much, so they’ve asked if we can take a trip into town on the bus! This may sound very run-of-the-mill, but when you consider that we live in the countryside with one bus stop a mile away and buses which run quite sporadically, I suspect it may be more of an adventure than your usual bus trip!

Cookery Classes

Our local supermarket has a test kitchen and every year they run kids cookery classes throughout the holidays. They’re about £7 per session and include all of the ingredients they need to make a different dish each week. It’s a really nice way for the kids to spend a morning, plus they learn new skills and have the thrill of bringing home and eating what they’ve made.

Bedroom Sharers with a Big Age Gap

As you’ll know if you read this blog regularly, there’s a five and a half year age gap between Sausage and BB, with Sausage turning ten this year. We live in a three bedroomed house, but the girls choose to share and we use the spare bedroom as an office/storage room where our wardrobes and other miscellaneous bits are stored.

Although the girls want to share a room, I’m always conscious of the fact that as they grow older, their tastes and preferences change and the age gap means that they want different things. At the moment, they have bunk beds and the room is fairly neutral with one pink wall and lots of cat wall stickers everywhere, which suits them both fine. However, I would like to update the room for them and need to find a happy medium so that they’re both still comfortable in there.

One thing that we want to do eventually is change the beds from bunks to two singles, as this would give the room two distinct areas, one belonging to each girl. We’ve been looking at kids themed beds from Children’s Bed Shop, and love the selection of beds that they have.

Another way to split the room would be to go for two distinct colour schemes – two separate feature walls in complimentary colours to reflect each of their personalities! They also love posters, so letting each of them choose posters for their own sections of the room would show their personalities and add to the overall impression of two rooms in one.

Both girls love to read, so ideally the area where their “sides” meet would be taken up by bookshelves, housing all of their books, along with some beanbags and scatter cushions to make a lovely communal reading area that they can enjoy, either together or on their own. Sausage is getting to an age where she’s in need of a little time to herself without her little sister in tow occasionally, so a little reading nook could serve this purpose for her.

Another thing that will change as they get older is the need for storage. At the moment, we’ve got several big toy boxes and storage units, mostly for BB’s Toot Toot stuff, which takes up a lot of room, but the older they get, the fewer proper toys they want to play with, so this will give them more room for other things, like a desk each where they can do their homework.

Ultimately, I think a kids bedroom should be their own little sanctuary and as long as the girls are happy to share, I’m happy too. However, we may have to eventually think about letting one of them move into a different room altogether – I’m thinking that might be around the time that BB is 12 and Sausage is 17…if I think the bickering is bad now, I can only IMAGINE what it will be like then!

Do you have age-gap sharers? Does it work for your family or are you desperate for more space? Leave me a comment below.

Essential Tips for Potty Training

I know that having two kids doesn’t make me an expert by any means but Husband and I managed to get the girls through the potty training phase with very little aggro and it’s something for which I’m hugely grateful. There are a few tricks and facts to bear in mind when it comes to getting babies out of nappies, so I thought I’d share a few with you here.

Being dry in the day doesn’t always equate to being dry at night

I know SO many people who get really frsutrated because their kids are totally potty trained during the day but still wet themselves at night, and the simple fact is that night time dryness can’t be trained. It only happens when the body produces a particular hormone and this happens much later for some kids than others. Keep your kids in pull-ups until their go for a whole week of dry wake-ups, and even then I’d recommend having an underpad on the bed (like these Incontinence products available from HARTMANN Direct) to catch any accidents and save your mattresses.

Be prepared

If you’re ready to start venturing out of the house, you need to be prepared for a few weeks to carry a whole load of stuff with you. Travel potty, spare clothes, wipes, tissues – all things that you’re going to need if you have a toilet emergency or accident and it’s MUCH better to have them and not need them – take it from someone who once had to go and buy a whole new outfit including shoes for a kid who just couldn’t hold it any longer!

Skip the potty…

This one may be a little controversial, but it’s something which has really worked for us. If you live in a flat, bungalow or house with a downstairs loo (i.e. somewhere where your child will always have a toilet on the same floor as them), I totally advocate skipping using a potty and going straight to using a proper toilet. Potties are bloody inconvenient and need disinfecting every single time you use them, and you’ll still need to train them to use a toilet once they get bigger anyway. Invest in a good toddler seat and step to help them.

Remember to remember!

If your kids are anything like mine, they’re able to wilfully ignore all the signals that their body is giving them that they need to pee RIGHT until the very last second and then it becomes a mad, and often messy, rush to the loo. Remember to ask them every now and again if they need the loo and often this is enough to spur them on to actually go for a tinkle.

Do you have any potty training tips? Leave me a comment below.

Family Fun: Every Child Deserves an Amazing Party

Getting everyone together for a party is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with family and friends while creating lasting memories. If it is your child’s birthday or other special occasion, planning the best party may be your top priority–something for everyone to talk about before and after the event. Unfortunately, the grand idea often falls short of those expectations. That’s okay. An amazing party doesn’t have to be a budget-busting experience. It is a time when your child, family, and guests have a great time in the company of each other.

A solid foundation to start your planning process will make the experience go much smoother. Here are some tips for planning an amazing party for your child:

Make the Invite List

Before making plans for the party’s theme and location, get an idea of who will attend. Younger children may be content with a family party, but those in school may want their friends along for the fun. Determine your potential guests as a starting point.

Create a Budget

Maybe you want to throw your child one of the best parties ever. That mindset could quickly empty your wallet. By setting a reasonable budget before making any plans, you know exactly what your finances allow. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spurge on the party, there are creative, inexpensive ways to play games, decorate, and feed your guests.

Pick a Theme

Talk with your child about the desired theme. What are his or her current interests? Does your child have a favorite book, toy, show, or movie? Once you agree on a theme, involve your child in the planning process. This could mean picking out party favors, decorations, or helping prepare food. Your child’s input helps build excitement and anticipation of the big day.

Select Your Location

Now that you know your budget and theme, it’s time to select a location. If you have the space and resources, you may pick your home as the best location. Some families enjoy cooking, decorating, and throwing a party at home. Other families like to take the party elsewhere like a local amusement center or bowling alley. They prefer professionals to take care of the party details and want to avoid the inevitable after-party clean up. There are pros and cons of each option. The choice of location is ultimately up to you.

Keep the Food Simple

Though you may think food at the party is a big deal, most of the kids will focus on the games and fun of the party. Save the elaborate dishes and desserts for the holidays. At a child’s party, finger foods and snacks are easy to put out and don’t require a lot of work. Try to include some healthy options, and make sure you know if any guests have food allergies. An allergic reaction in the middle of a party could really put a damper on the festivities.

Make it a Point to Enjoy Yourself

You may have high expectations for the party, but chances are your child just wants to have fun and see everyone around him or her happy. Don’t get stressed if the elaborate games you planned take the backseat to kids playing a game with the balloons you intended as decorations. Ease up on the expectations and enjoy the time together with family and friends. You don’t want to be remembered as the angry type-A parent grumbling in the corner of the party.

By following these tips, planning your child’s party will be easier and more focused. Just remember to relish all the smiles and laughter as everyone enjoys the party you planned.

Creating a Kid’s Wardrobe for Bad Weather

There’s nothing like a sudden-onset Snowmageddon to make me realise how woefully underprepared we are for cold weather. The girls both have decent winter coats, as do Husband and I, but in terms of proper cold weather gear, it’s only Husband who was sorted. Not only does he have water-resistant jeans and gaiters to protect his lower legs, he also has all-weather boots and merino layers for his top half. As you can tell, he spends a lot more time outdoors than the women of this household do!

We went out sledging on Wednesday, and it was so wonderful and fun, but we had to go home after an hour as the cold started to seep in and Sausage’s legs ended up damp after she decided to cheese-roll down a hill! I’ve been looking at kids winter clothes on the internet, in the spirit of being a bit more prepared if more snow turns up and thought I’d share some of my favourite items with you:

Didriksons 1913 Moarri Overall

Aside from the fact that this base layer is SUPER cute, I think both girls could really benefit from a proper thermal base layer to wear when it gets cold. We’ve been layering with wooly tights under their trousers but it’s not very comfortable or practical, so something like this would be properly fit for purpose.

Color Kids Tudo Pants

These fleecy pants would be so much better for outdoor fun, because they’re nice and loose fitting, unlike jeans which can be really restrictive and hard to run around in. These would make an excellent mid-layer over thermals and under a snow suit and the girls would find them super comfortable.

Isbjörn Panda Sweater

As well as being water-repellent, this fleece protects against sharp wind and is a brilliant mid-layer for wearing under waterproofs. Layering like this would give the girls the ability to still move around and either add more layers or take some off, depending on their environment.

Color Kids Klement Overall Children

This waterproof overall would be absolutely perfect for cheeserolling down hills in! The girls could play in the snow for as long as they want witout ever having to worry about getting wet, and the bright colours mean they’re really easy to see on a background of pure white. In fact, I love this overall so much that I wish they also made it in my size!

Sorel Whitney Short Boots

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my very outdoorsy Husband, it’s that good footwear is VERY important. Having the right pair of boots for your environment is basically the most essential part of any outdoor wardrobe, and these snow boots look as though they’d be perfect for the girls. They have a decent sole, are lined with microfleece and are waterproof – ideal for afternoons gadding about in the snow.

Are you regular outdoorsy people? Do you have a favourite selection of clothes that you wear when the temperature plummets? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

Alternative Christmas Gifts for Tweens

There are members of our family who are easier to buy for each year, and then there are some who are just flat-out difficult every bloody year! This year, much to my surprise, one of the toughest people to buy for has been Sausage. Every other year, she’s been a doddle, but every time someone asks me for ideas of what to get her I struggle, and asking her is usually met with “I’m not really sure”. I guess it’s good that she’s either not a covetous kid, or feels like she has everything she needs, but it doesn’t make it very easy for the whole family to buy for her, so I’ve been trying to think outside the box for gift ideas for her. Here’s some stuff I’ve come up with:

Experience Days

Obviously she’s a bit small for supercar track days or afternoon tea, but there’s been a pretty big surge in experience days for kids, with things like kids paintball taking off. Sausage loves doing crafts and art, so a voucher for a ceramics studio would be the perfect gift for her as it would give her an afternoon of doing something she loves, with something to show as a keepsake at the end of it.

Band T-Shirts

Sausage seems to be one of the only 9-year-old girls on the planet who isn’t obsessed with unicorns this year, but she is finding her identity through music at the moment (her David Meowie t-shirt is probably her most prized possession!) so indulging her self-discovery with some cool band t-shirts would be much appreciated by Sausage.  

Books

Sausage has always had books for Christmas (last year it was Pokemon graphic novels!) and she’s at an age where books are still a cool Christmas gift, as long as we opt for the right ones! I’m thinking of getting her a set of The Hunger Games trilogy as I reckon she’s at an age where she’d really enjoy them.

Stationery

Sausage is 100% my kid when it comes to her love of all things pen-and-paper related. Rarely a day goes by when she can’t be found either drawing pictures or writing stories, and I know she’d love a proper hard-back journal for all of her writing, so we’re planning to find her something really funky.

Jewellery

Last summer, Husband and I bought Sausage a Pandora bracelet for her birthday, which means that charms are always a good option for gifts. She also had her second lobe piercing done and has a bit of a reputation amongst her classmates for wearing some really individual and cool earrings (I think today’s earings were BMO from Adventure Time!), so jewellery is always a really good option for us, even if it’s cheaper stuff which can be used as stocking fillers.

What are you buying your tweens this year?

Taking the Horrid Out of Horrid Henry

There’s no denying that Sausage and BB are very different in their personalities; Sausage has always been one of those kids who’s almost too well behaved and Husband and I have wished in the past that she’d been a little more outspoken so that she doesn’t just go with the flow and have her opinion disregarded. BB, on the other hand, is NOT the sort of kid to ever let her opinion go unheard and largely her strong personality is something we cherished (albeit through slightly gritted teeth at times!). Just recently though, we’ve seen a bit of a change in her personality and we couldn’t work out where it was coming from. Her normal strident approach to life was turning into a downright stroppy one, and it’s something which was impacting all of us.

One of the phrases which had mysteriously entered her vocabulary was “IT’S NOT FAIR”, which was usually accompanied by some sort of pout and throwing herself bodily onto the nearest soft surface, and I just couldn’t work out where it was coming from…until Sausage mentioned one of BB’s recent televisual favourites…Horrid Henry.

It wasn’t until Sausage mentioned how often Henry utters this phrase that we realised the direct correlation between BB watching the show and this phrase becoming her go-to protest. With age-gap kids, there was no doubt we’d face a bit of attitude from BB purely because Sausage is given a little more leeway and responsibility than her little sis – it’s normal; Sausage is nine, BB is three. However, the push-back has been so much worse of late and I’m definitely laying some of the blame on Henry!

I must confess, I’ve always been hugely sceptical when people blame things like TV or video games for kid’s behaviour. I’m a child of the Eighties, Husband of the late Seventies, so video games feel like they belong to OUR generation and I’ve seen far more evidence-based studies which prove positive effects of TV and computer games than the negative ones. We’ve always been pretty chilled out with what we let them watch and how much screen time we let them have, and with Sausage it never seemed to be an issue, but sometimes we forget that with BB, we’re not parenting Sausage Mark II, we’re dealing with a totally different kid…that and the fact that Sausage never watched a TV show, the entire premise of which was of a bratty little shit who no one actually likes!

So, in a somewhat unprecedented move for Husband and I, we’ve put a temporary ban on all things Horrid Henry for now, and if it makes a difference it will probably become a permanent ban. Instead of allowing BB to watch it when she’s using Netflix, we’re guiding her to shows where the characters aren’t mean and nasty all the time, where there’s no cries of “IT’S NOT FAIR” in every episode and where the main plot lines don’t revolve around mean-spiritedness. I never thought I’d be THAT mum, but it seems I am. And, after just a cursory search, it seems that we’re not the only ones either – I’ve found DOZENS of tweets from other parents about how they’ve banned Horrid Henry from their houses, making me feel a little bit less like Mary Whitehouse.

Horrid Henry Banned Tweets Horrid Henry Banned Tweets 2

Have you ever banned your kids from watching a TV show because of the effect it had on their behaviour? Did it make a difference? (we’re only 24 hours in and it already seems to be making a difference to BB but that could be a fluke) Do you think that it’s all nonsense and that TV doesn’t really affect the way they behave? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions on this so please do leave me a comment below.

Keep Your Family Safe This Christmas

We’re quickly approaching the most festive time of the year, where most of us find ourselves swamped with requests for presents, party preparations and familial obligations. With so many arrangements driving tensions high, it’s easy to forget about the most crucial priority – the safety of your family.

While Christmas may be the time for open fires, mulled wine and an abundance of food, it’s also the time when we’re at our most vulnerable. According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, “more than two million children under the age of 15 experience accidents in and around the home every year, for which they are taken to accident and emergency units.

With so many hectic undertakings and rosy-cheeked family members to tend to, it’s no wonder we’re at an increased risk of injury in our own homes during this time. It’s the excitement and energy of the season that gives way to this outcome, but there are various countermeasures available.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust recommend that you buy toys only from trusted retailers, ensure any visitors refrain from leaving any medicines lying around, and be especially careful around candles, fairy lights and decorations – especially when hung near a light or heater.

The risk of trapped fingers in closing doors is also significant, with even the BBC stating that children’s door crushing finger injuries can be lifelong. As a result, hinge protectors are unsurprisingly on the rise.

You also need to stay vigilant where any sharp corners on furniture, countertops and appliances are concerned: the kitchen is a dangerous enough place for a child without adding even more hazards into the mix. For example, there are snooker tables for sale at Hamilton Billiards that can be sanded down to a smooth incline, and many other adjustments and customisations are readily available.

The increased risk of fire hazard is one of the primary safety concerns at this time of year, with so many bright lights and candles raising the possibility of a fire starting. Thankfully, there’s a simple, painless method of improving your defensive solutions: Ironmongery Experts sell Dorgard fire door retainers in a variety of colourations, and each battery-powered model is designed to wirelessly close the door it holds open upon the sound of the fire alarm, creating a synergy between your fire alarm and every door you apply a Dorgard to as they activate in tandem.

No matter how you choose to approach it, don’t put aside your family’s safety this Christmas – they’re worth more than any replaceable possession ever will be.

This article was written by David Newman, managing director of Ad Lab – Magento E-Commerce Growth Specialists. David is a regular contributor of lifestyle blogs, writing about a variety of topics such as health, sports, hobbies and everything in-between.

What To Put in Party Bags

Sausage is now in year 5 at school which means that we’ve been to, and thrown, more than our fair share of birthday parties in that time. Party bags are an issue of great debate, with some parents choosing to go down the sweetie cone/pre-packed bag route, making it as low-effort as possible and there’s no denying that the kids love this type of party bag. There are, however, a lot of parents who’d prefer their kid didn’t get sent home with ten different types of sweet and nothing else, so I thought I’d make a list of all the things we;ve included in our bags or have had in bags we’ve received which have gone down well with both kids and parents:

ONE bag of sweets!

Most parents resign themselves to the idea that at least some sweeties will be consumed on the day of a party, but we find that sending home just ONE bag or Haribo sweets or similar is much better received than a whole selection. It gives the kids a treat without upsetting parents and makes the whole thing more economical in the long-run.

Erasers

I don’t know if this was just a trend with Sausage’s friends but one thing that they absolutely love getting in party bags is erasers, which I’ve discovered come in not only a huge range of shapes and sizes but also SCENTS! Buying multipacks of novelty erasers means you can open them and put just one or two in each bag, making it a cheap gift which goes a long way.

Books

When they’re smaller, buying packs of books is another thing which seems to be loved by both parents and kids alike. Keep an eye out in catalogues for multi-packs of card books or miniature books – this works especially well if your party is themed with something like superheros and you can get books on the theme.

Friendship Bracelets

Something that Sausage and I love to do together is make friendship bracelets and they make a really nice inclusion in party bags. We buy embroidery thread in bulk and make them in all different colours, depending on what her friends might like and they always go down a treat. It’s another thing which works well if your party is themed as you can make bracelets in the party’s colour scheme which will help your friends to remember a great day.

Hot Chocolate Bags

This works especially well at Christmas or if your child has a winter birthday – get plastic cone bags and layer hot chocolate powder and mini marshmallows – add a paper tag or even some antlers for decoration and you’ve got a gorgeous party favour which everyone will love.

Should You Sell Your Kid’s Top Favourite Toy Car Collection?


Toys are not just playthings. Instead, they end up forming the building blocks for the future of your child. When I first got my kid his favorite RC drift car, I was a bit worried that it might affect school work. Instead, I noticed that he learned a lot about himself and the world. Toys can communicate value and send messages. Even so, as a wise parent, it’s important to think about the number of toys that your child should keep.

I found that my kid’s bedroom is filled with different toys, from the ceiling and all the way to the floor. At this point, it was clear that I had to do something! So, I put together his old but favorite toys and held a garage sale. I knew that fewer toys would improve his life and I was not wrong!

Enhanced Creativity!

It’s good to remember that too many toys prevent your child from completely developing his or her fantastic gift or imagination. Among the toys I sold was a speed McQueen remote control car, a favorite of RC Rank. The car was still good in performance, but it was now old. Of course, my son loved to drive it through the compound every time.

After I sold the toy, I noticed a significant change in his behavior and interaction with people. He could now invent his own games using his basic surroundings and great imagination. Don’t you think it worked in my favor?

Improved Attention Spans

Too many toys in your child’s life destroy their level of concentration. I discovered that letting my child keep many different toys is quite harmful. How so? Well, a child rarely learns how to appreciate the toy in front of their eyes if he or she knows that several options are remaining on the counter behind them!

Improved Social Skills

Children with fewer toys learn how to form strong relationships with kids and even other adults. What I loved most after selling most of my kid’s favorite toys is that it gave him the opportunity to learn the importance of a good conversation. Nowadays, we sit together and watch TV after supper, as we talk about different things. He is very curious to know what is happening around him, something which I might have never noticed if he always played with his toy cars or trucks.

Responsibility!

Selling many of his favorite toys meant that he had little to play with. So, he learned to take care of the small number of toys which remained. Of course, he wouldn’t have learned how to take care of his toys if he always had a replacement in case one broke or mysteriously disappeared.

Improvement in Writing, Reading, and Art!

With fewer toys, your kid can now read more books, play more tunes on his musical instrument or paint an attractive portrait. With my child, I noticed that he developed a surprising love for art. It has gone on to help him appreciate emotion, beauty and express his feelings!

I have nothing malicious against toys. In fact, I love playing with them too! But here, all I’m saying is that selling your kids favorite toys is not such a terrible idea. Hopefully, with these pointers, you can follow in my footsteps. It’s worked perfectly for me, and I’m sure it will do wonders for you too!