It’s really turned a lot colder here lately and winter is well on the way. My little toddler can be inclined to laziness and would probably be happy sat in front of the telly all day long (I say sat but she rarely actually sits still, she climbs and fidgets and wriggles and goes and potters and comes back again) but she likes the tv on and she likes to be inside. While that is all well and good some of the time, I don’t like that much TV time for her, and it does both of us good to get out and about.
Fresh air is good for her and there is so much to see and explore outside of these four walls… Plus I go a bit stir crazy indoors. A change of scene and some fresh air really refreshes me and makes me a better mummy the rest of the time, so I definitely need to get outside, whether madam likes it or not.
It can be tricky to persuade her though, especially now it is cold and wintry out, and the more she says no the harder it is to motivate myself when it is cold too, but still, it is necessary. So I have a few tricks to tempt madam out the door even on the cold days.
I’m yet to meet a child who doesn’t like bubbles and they are used regularly in our house to get us outside. A wand is my preferred tool as it is easy to get big bubbles, but I will use whatever we have.
Both kids enjoy a good chase of some bubbles and I must admit I think they are so pretty… I may have 1 or 2 (thousand) pictures of them!
Simple choice but again it works, both my kids like a good chase of a ball and giving it a good kick about. We have had some lovely sibling moments out with a ball too. (and some less lovely moments in truth, they are siblings after all!)
Thankfully LM loves a ride on the back of my bike and even seeing her little helmet will get her racing to get her shoes on. We are lucky to live very close to a country park with gorgeous views and lovely play parks. The other day LM didn’t want to get down and play, but she loved seeing the ducks on the lakes, shouting “choo choo” near the train tracks and neighing at a horse in a field, and I got a bit of exercise too.
One thing LM is, is sociable, and our girl loves seeing our friends and family. One sure way to get her out the door is the promise of seeing some of those. We have some very good friends who live close by. Their eldest is at school with Monkey and their youngest is a little older than LM. Add the promise of meeting them for a bike ride and well LM is literally running for the door (seriously she did this yesterday, I have never seen her move so fast as when I suggested we get on my bike and go out with them ha). The kids have a lot of fun together and LM adores their Mummy the most of all I think haha.
I don’t use this too much but there have been a couple of times recently where I have persuaded LM outside with the promise of a treat. Bribery I know but sometimes the end justifies the means and we ended up having a lovely time in the garden, away from the tv, all thanks to half a mini twix bite (I may have eaten the other half haha) !
Winter can absolutely be a time for snuggling up in the warn with a hot soup of a warm drink… But it’s even more fun to snuggle inside when you’ve had lots of fun outside first. You can see a few more simple ideas for playing outside in the Winter here.
Do you like getting outside in the Winter? What are your top tips for getting the kids outside?
How is it the last day of November? This year is flying and I nearly missed posting this in time. Just crazy. Monkey starting school this year really does seem to have changed the pace of our lives and every week seems to whizz by faster than ever before.
With Monkey being at school all week, weekends are now such important family and relaxing time. We have some really slow paced weekends now, which do us all good and Monkey especially needs after a tiring week at school. Last weekend was one such weekend. I had a horrible bug and Monkey was coming down from a cold too and we basically just pottered about on the Saturday. At one point Monkey hid in our bed then demanded we all got in with him for a family photo. That’s my boy! LM is less keen on sitting still but we did manage to get one good shot though I was ill so do look pretty rough!
Sunday we headed to a local farm we are members of for a potter about and a play. Don’t ask me why but when we stopped at the top of the soft play for a cuddle it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a family shot.
So this is us at the end of November. Vaguely healthy but a happy little bunch.
Ah toddlers, they really are funny aren’t they? And hard work, quite a lot of the time! Our little lady at just over 2 is now a fully-fledged toddler. I love watching her learn and find the funny ways she likes to do things generally very amusing… Though sometimes they can be really exasperating! The good thing with a 2nd (and presumably 3rd,4th etc) child is that you’ve seen much of it before and know they will grow out of their little quirks and obsessive habits, so I am more entertained by them this time.
So what do I mean? Well let’s start with some of her OCD style habits. Things have to be done in a certain way at the moment or all hell can break loose. Food in particular is easy to get wrong. Heaven forbid I split a chunk of cheese in half so her brother or I can share with her, no, it has to be the full chunk (I buy these little pre-cut chunks of cheese, yes pricey but oh so handy as an after school snack) or she screams and shouts ‘yuk’ and just won’t go near it.
I made the mistake of helping her break apart a peanut snack bar yesterday thinking it would be easier for her but wow was she not impressed by that! Drinks have to be in the right cup with the right lid (ones that meet her approval that is) and food has to be prepared and served in the right way. She’s basically a creature of habit and likes the repetition. It’s also about control, I know, as she gets to control so little in her life.
Food is very much an area of contention for us, with her refusing to try anything new and sometimes even refusing favourites. We went through this with Monkey and though still quite particular he is so much better now and eats almost anything we give him, even if it can take some persuasion at times. So we hope LM will do the same and it will get easier over time. In the meantime we do what we can, thankfully she eats a lot of our regular favourites, curry, thai curry, my homemade soup, the right pasta in the right sauce and the right type of tortellini, my homemade carbonara and a few others. The rest of the time we make it and she either eats or she doesn’t, which basically means that she doesn’t. It feels wrong at times making a meal that I know she won’t eat but while I obviously make sure she eats most of the time, I can’t run the rest of our lives around her fussiness and I absolutely refuse to make her something separate.
It’s all a variation of the same thing I think, being in control and liking repetition and the familiar. She’s the same with toys in that she likes to play with them in the same way over and over. We have a postbox colour matching game which she loves. When we started playing and she didn’t understand the concept of matching the colours, I would say no when she went to put a letter in the wrong postbox. Now even though she knows the colours and where they go, she will imitate me, putting it up to the wrong post box and saying ‘no.’ She’ll do this to each postbox before putting it in the right one. It is cute but a bit repetitive for me haha.
She also loves jigsaw puzzles at the moment. She loves making them then immediately breaking it up and starting over. Usually until I can’t take it anymore and we’ve done the same puzzle together at least 5 times, and try to distract her with something else! I am impressed with how good she is with them though and she is improving all the time. Her favourite is a big farmyard puzzle and we talk about all the animals as we make it. She like starting with the horse (she neighs rather than says horse) then it’s all about the moo and the baaa and the “buk buks” (chickens lol!) As soon as it is completed, with a shout of “I did it!”, and “ta laa” (her version of ta daa) with her hands thrown in the airâ€¦ then she immediately crouches down and breaks it up ready to start again haha.
Towers are something that I think all toddlers love to build, and LM is definitely no exception. The duplo is out a lot now and she even builds them out of her brother’s lego too. She is funny though as I’ve noticed a real trend lately where she has to match the colours. She’ll build an all red tower or an all green one. If she runs out of that block she may change to another colour and keep going with that one but she really doesn’t like a multi-coloured tower when she is in that mood!
When something isn’t going the way she wants then the frustration can lead to a major meltdown. I mean she really goes for it. Throwing herself on the floor face first and oh the screams! I try and not worry too much as I know it’s just what they do and when it is because I won’t do what she wants, well she has to learn that things won’t always work the way she wants them to. But her screams are so loud that she turns heads for miles. I try to be stoic and make a daft comment like ‘oh you are noisy’ or ‘I know, it’s the end of the world’ mainly for the people around me so they know nothing terrible has happened, as seriously her screams are bloodcurdling!!
Moving back to cuteness and another of her ways that is seriously cute is her love for teddies recently. Her brother was the same at this age and it is adorable. She just wants to be surrounded by her favourite cuddly things. They surround her in bed at night and when we come down in the morning she almost always demands that they come down too. I pick her up with her blanky and her favesâ€¦ then it’s “bear” for the polar bear “buh” for the blue bus, “wah wah” for the duck “baby” for the baby doll and some less decipherable noises and pointing for the others. It got to the point where we literally couldn’t carry them all so started using her blanky as a sack to carry them down in haha. She loves snuggling on the sofa surrounded by them all and it is adorable. Again I know she will grow out of it so this is one of the ones I’m making the most of while it lasts.
I’m also making the most of her learning to talk as it is such a cute phase. the things she comes out with! As I mentioned above she calls animals by the noise they make now, apart from cats, which is a chat haha. She loves naming body parts which is adorable and after calling every adult she knows “mama” for some time, she is now starting to call me mummy and daddy is daddy, which is lovely. She wanted Daddy’s attention in the bath the other day (he was dealing with her tired and grumpy older brother) and I just heard her shouting “daddy, daddy, daddy” till he said “yes LM” and she held her foot up and said “Daddy I got toe!” so sweet! She really likes to make her feelings known now that she can too, and can often be heard shouting ‘waht way’ from the buggy or car seat pointing in the direction she wants to go in (Often screaming when we go a different way lol). I’ve put together a quick video of her latest chattering mainly for my benefit tbh but you can have a look if you so fancy.
There are some things I can’t wait for her to grow out of, but some of her ways are just adorable and I want to enjoy them as much as I can. As hard work as she is sometimes I adore attaching her learn and explore and seeing her grow up right in front of our eyes.
I’m a bit late writing this post but a few weeks ago we met up with some lovely friends of ours, Sarah from Run, Jump, Scrap and family, at National Trust’s Canon’s Ashby. Living a fair distance from each other we often meet up somewhere like this in the middle, and I can’t believe that the last time we went to Canon’s Ashby was a little over a year ago! We’ve met up at other places since then but still hard to believe it was a year since the last time we were there, playing in the autumn leaves. We were particularly excited to meet up with them this time as it was to be the first time that we met the newest addition to their family, beautiful baby piglet.
We got there a little early, and it was absolutely freezing! Thankfully we were all wrapped up warm and while LM was fixated on seeing the chickens, Monkey and I ran around having a bit of a leaf fight,before we headed to the cafe for a hot chocolate while we waited for Sarah and Co.
After warming up and having a little snack it was time to head out and explore the grounds, after the kids had a game of hide and seek with hubs that is!
The gardens are great fun and the kids loved running about, though poor Gremlin took a tumble and twisted her ankle which stopped the fun a little.
To warm up we headed into the house itself, and headed straight to the nursery which is set up with toys for the kids to play with. They had loads of fun in there and the gorgeous piglet woke up so we got to enjoy some cuddles with her.
We headed for lunch not long after and after some yummy food headed back outside for a play, adults and kids alike haha
Then the rain started. We headed into the priory in the hope that it wouldn’t last too long. The kids had a whale of Â a time chasing each other round the pews and generally messing with each other while us grown ups got to have a good old natter.
With the rain getting worse rather than better we decided it was time to call it a day. We had so much fun though as always and look forward to our next meet up
Nope. No. No! No is LM’s favourite word at the moment. She says it all the time. Do you want to get out of the buggy? No. Shall we go outside? No. Anytime she isn’t happy with something, No! It’s such a satisfying and easy little word for her to use to assert her will until her language overall improves. But this isn’t really a post about her saying no, it’s about me saying no. And how hard saying that simple word can be, but how important it is that I do.
Let me start of by saying that in terms of being a ‘perfect’ parent, I know I am nowhere near. I get things wrong, I say the wrong thing. I can be lazy and irritable and I have apologised to my children more than once for being cross with them for no good reason (and I’m sure I will have to do so many more times). But on the whole I think we are doing an OK job of it. We have a very polite and friendly 4 year old who is well behaved at school and who people always compliment. We have a 2 yr old, who lets face it is 2 so kicks off and has tantrums but is also lovely and is learning. I know some of this is luck but some of it isn’t. Some of it is down us and to the hard work we’ve put in.
I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant as that’s not how I feel but I am proud of us and the way we are raising our kids. And I’m proud of me. I am a SAHM so this is what I do. I can’t get a promotion or a pay rise or be patted on the back by a boss and told ‘well done.’ But I hope I can acknowledge that I have had the strongest role in raising my kids and can take pride in the people they are turning out to be.
I hope I can do that as it is so hard sometimes to stick to my guns. To be the bad guy and tell them not to do things. I don’t do any of it for my benefit you see, I do it for theirs.
We know a family, and this may sound horrible and judgey, but their son’s behaviour is terrible sometimes. He runs over the back of sofas without being told not to. He is rude to old people who pass by, screams when he doesn’t get it own way and doesn’t do as his parents ask. He’s 7. Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for live and let live with parenting and how anyone does it is utterly their choice. Except that getting to know this family a little has made me feel a bit sorry for the child. He doesn’t have many friends at school or outside. I’ve spoken to other parents who don’t want their children playing with him and some children don’t like playing with him because of the way he behaves, and I can’t help feeling that it isn’t really his fault.
Like it or not we live as a small part in a big society and our society has cultural norms. Socially accepted behaviour. Our kids aren’t born knowing this. They don’t automatically know what to do in a given situation and it is our job as their parents to guide them through this. And sometimes this means being the bad guy so that we can be the good guy in the long run.
I don’t get it right every time. I’ve given in when I should have been firmer and I’ve been firmer than was absolutely necessary at times too. Sometimes I say no without thinking it through and then have to be very careful because if I seem to give in to their demands it can set a precedent and give them the wrong message. They have to know that I mean what I say and that no does mean no. So sometimes I have to stick to a no that I regret but I feel I have to stick to it. I try very hard to avoid this happening though as it is no fun for anyone.
Sometimes even when I know I am in the right about something it can be hard sticking to it. Hard to deal with the tantrum when the easy option would be to have let them do what they want. I hate seeing my children upset when I could be the one to fix it and especially when it feel like I’m the one who has caused the upset.
I could have an easier time in the short term but whenever I have made this mistake it only leads to worse tantrums or worst behaviour in the long run. Giving an extra biscuit may make them happy now but then leads to a tantrum at mealtime, refusing to eat their dinner then being tired and grumpy all evening or even the next day. So I may be a bit strict sometimes but my hope is that by giving them boundaries and expecting certain things of them, that it will help our children to be kind and polite, to be children others like and want to play with. To be children who are respectful of others and know the difference between right and wrong.
Maybe I am wrong though. I hope I’m not doing my children a disservice. I certainly don’t want to be too strict and shut down their own personality. I also don’t want them to grow up to be walked over. I want them to be strong but to be good and kind too. I guess all any of us can ever do is hope we are making the right choices for our kids!
I suppose I’m thinking about this a lot for a couple of reasons. 1 being LM reaching an age where she needs me to say no, to give her boundaries. 2 year olds do a lot of experimenting and they need to know what is ok. For example drinking out of my cup is ok, but then deliberately slowly dribbling it all out again is not. Taking a toy that is offered to you is ok, snatching is not. You get the gist.
I think Monkey starting school and socialising with different kids also plays a part though. That and his tiredness from school makes him act up sometimes.. and he has copied some behaviour he has seen other kids do. That’s always a tricky one as how to explain that it’s not OK when he sees other kids to get away with it?
Parenting is a never ending learning experience don’t you find? It’s also tricky to talk about these things as we obviously all have different experiences and think differently about things, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with what I write!
Ah my little pair of cuties. It’s been an interesting month for them and definitely with some ups and downs. In my last siblings post I mentioned how their relationship had altered as a result of Monkey starting school and how they seemed a little less close. Well their has been more changes this month with both of them learning a little more about what it is to be a sibling I think.
It was LM’s 2nd birthday at the end of October and it was a challenging time for Monkey. It was the first time he has had to properly cope with his sister getting so much attention. He was very excited by all of her toys and she didn’t mind her brother playing with them at times, but there were times when he wanted what she had, and we had to explain to him that they wereÂ herÂ toys and it wasÂ herÂ birthday. That he was allowed to play with her toys but that ifÂ sheÂ wanted them, that he had to let her have them.
It was the first occasion where she was old enough to really relish the attention. At her first birthday and last christmas she was much more along for the ride really, and Monkey was able to hold the lime light.. now though, she can hold her own and of course it was all about her that day. For the most part Monkey coped really well, though there were moments where it was hard for him bless him. They did also have some lvely sibling moments that day, especially on our bed in the morning sat playing together!
At her birthday, LM got some paw patrol toys and both kids adored them and yes squabbled over them. As they are her toys unfortunately Monkey was the one to lose out if LM wasn’t in the mood to share. Shortly after her birthday I found some cheap paw patrol toys on ebay and bought them for them. These toys were very much forÂ both of them but ooh LM did not want to share them. It was a lesson for her, and I have to admit the first of many similar lessons for her. At 2 she is no longer a baby and as I have mentioned previously I may have been a bit too soft with her at times and let her get away with a bit much, and she does need a little more discipline…
Anyway I digress. The point is that both kiddies have had to learn that they have to share with their sibling. There are squabbles most days and I try and let them resolve most issues themselves.. as I fear these squabbles will be around for many years to come and I don’t want to be their constant referee!
Despite the squabbles and learning to share however, their relationship hasn’t suffered. In fact it seems to have recovered from the changes of last month. There has been some seriously adorable moments between them that I have loved watching. From simply sitting together or playing alongside each other…
To messing with each other, clambering on each other and having lots of rough and tumble fun!
They really love each other and though their relationship will always have their ups and downs and they both have so much to learn, I love watching them grow and learn together.
With 2 children under 5 I have frequented most of the soft play places around our local area on more than one occasion. Love them or loathe them there’s no denying that kids like them and they can be a lifesaver on rainy days. So I thought I would share a little bit of info about the soft play in our local area to help other mums finding their way in the world of soft play.
A classic soft play this, a huge building with all sorts inside, big guns that shoot soft balls, a race track, tunnel slides, ball pits and a bouncy castle. They have recently redone the younger kids area which is now fantastic. The rest of the centre could do with some attention though as some of the aforementioned guns don’t work and the carpets are pretty filthy. Fairly expensive and I’m not a fan of having to pay for adults to come in when obviously adults are only there to accompany and supervise children. It’s not like a theme park after all. Food:
There is a canteen serving some pretty basic but acceptable food and I’ve also never had any problem taking my own food for the kids. Parking:
A fair bit of parking round the back however I would imagine it would be completely full at half terms and weekends (I’ve only been during term time). It is on the number 1 bus route though.
Similar to Big Sky in that is a purpose built soft play. Could definitely do with some attention though as some areas really are filthy. It is fairly pricy and also charges for adults like Big Sky does. They do however give you a discounted reentry if you return after 7 days with your receipt. It is also huge and the kids love it. Food:
There is a canteen which serves a limited amount of food. You cannot take your own food in and I have a friend who was even charged for tap water for her child. Parking:
There is a good amount of parking, I’ve never had trouble getting space even during half term though it does get extremely busy.
Much smaller than the likes of the above but still a decent sized soft play with a smaller area for babies. Only charges for children which is a plus and is in better condition than Big Sky or Activity World. Food:
You aren’t allowed to take your own for food in. The food they serve is yummy though and not too expensive. Parking:
The parking here is limited unfortunately and I have had to park on adjacent streets a few times as there are only a few spaces in the adjacent car park.
As with the above, a bit of a lose link to soft play. It is a play area in the cafe of Kiddicare. It has a soft floor and loads of toys for little ones to play with while you have a cuppa. Some weekday mornings childminders pay a visit so it can get a bit full. Free to use and not bad when your kids are little but not much good for older kids. Sort of a pre-soft play play area I guess! Food:
Being free to use and attached to the cafe it is frowned upon to bring your own food and the food there isn’t too bad. Parking:
Plenty of free parking
Slightly odd one but there is a soft play attached to the Brewers Fayre in Hampton. There is a fee to use but it is not very much. It’s a bit dingy and tired but the kids enjoy it and there is an area for little ones as well as older ones. The opening times are linked with the restaurant so are a bit unusual but I believe it opens earlier one morning a week for a coffee morning. Call them for more information. Food:
It is attached to the restaurant so I think that generally the assumption is that you will have eaten there first or will be eating there. But I have fed the kids snacks at the tables near the soft play without a problem. Parking:
Shared with the restaurant and Premier Inn so it can get quite full. Don’t park in the McDonald’s opposite as you could be fined if you haven’t bought anything in McDonald’s.
Quite a nice sized soft play that both my kids have always enjoyed. An area for younger ones with big soft bricks to stack, a ball pool and a decent slide. There’s also an outdoor play area and entry to the soft play is not at all expensive Food:
You can’t take your own food as it is part of the cafe. Some of the food is a bit pricy in my opinion, though if you order early (before 11.30) and can get breakfast beans on toast is quite reasonable. Parking:
Ample parking at the garden centre.
There is a fairly small soft play area in the garden centre cafe, in a families area that has its own counter. It is small and quite dark but the kids had fun in there. Ok for while you are waiting for food but not great for a long visit I wouldn’t say. Food:
You can’t take your own food as it is part of the cafe. They serve a few things from the counter in the family area or you can get things from the main cafe too. Parking:
So there you have it, a bit of a run down of I think most of the soft play and stay and play cafes in the area. Please let me know if Â you know of any I have missed, there is one in Whittlesey but I was unable to go in the one time I tried as it was busy and I haven’t gotten round to returning but it is supposed to be pretty good.
All of the above information is correct to the best of my knowledge and based on my most recent visit. I haven’t included entry prices as these are obviously subject to change. This is all based on my own personal experiences and I haven’t received any payment for sharing this post.
Monkey is loving school at the moment. Loving it. Some days he is tired and doesn’t want to go and there have been comments along the lines of “do I go to school every day?” as realisation sets in that this is every day now. I can’t always get much out of him in terms of what he has done that day but what is apparent is how much he is enjoying learning to read and write.
He adores singing all the letters and sounds songs and often pipes up if he hears a relevant word or sound, singing one of the songs and doing the actions he has learnt at school, “under the umbrella, u, u, u” or “munch on your meal, m, m, m” for example.
He constantly wants to write things, letters, lists, notes etc. He asks us how to spell the word and occasionally we have to draw a letter for him to copy but he knows almost all now I would say. Here’s a couple of his examples.
When spelling out words to him we do try and get him to sound it out and work out what the next letter will be and the school has said that him trying is more important than correct spelling at this stage. But it is hard to say “yes that’s right” when you know that’s not how it is spelt! It isn’t hard to be proud of him when he is trying so hard though and we are doing everything we can to help his learning even if it feels weird.
He is doing really well with his reading too. He desperately wants to be able to read any word he sees but obviously he has a way to go there. He was one of the first in his class (3rd or 4th I think though I could be wrong) to get a reading book which I was hugely hugely proud of. He tries really hard though does get muddled sometimes, partly down to a lack of concentration. It is hard to spend quiet time with him reading when LM is also desperate for attention or watching TV. When he can focus though and when he does really try he is doing so well.
Even though it can be tricky getting him to focus on his reading book, he is loving the new ability to read certain words. He is amazed when he can read a word on a leaflet or on a sign and it is wonderful to see this whole new world open up to him. In the car today he suddenly shouted “I can see ‘the'” which he saw on a pub. So sweet and lovely to see,
We had his first parents evening this week and I’m not sure you could get two prouder parents. He sailed through his phonics assessment and is meeting all of their behaviour code. They also commented on how he tries his best, even when doing something new or that he is unsure of.
We got to see his folder with some of his creations in and pictures of him busy at play. Some of the things they’ve noted he has come out with had us in stitches. For example when holding up a sort of number wheel and announced “it looks like I’m holding a steering wheel… Like I’m sailing a boat to South America!” love our boy!
We are massively proud of the way Monkey has taken to school and the way he is loving learning so far. I just hope it continues.
I’ve been struggling a little lately. It happens from time to time I find, being a Stay at Home Mum isn’t always easy and as our children are constantly growing and changing, nothing stays the same for very long and it is oh so easy to suddenly feel a little lost.
It’s hard to explain exactly how I feel but put simply, the house is a tip. I’m frustrated with LM a lot and the TV is almost constantly on. Now I’ve been criticised before for saying that using the tv to entertain your kids makes me feel like a bad mum as of course it doesn’t make you a bad mum. But the truth is that I haven’t been only using the tv while I clean up or do other important things. I’ve been sticking it on as I don’t know what else to do to make LM happy. Then instead of doing some jobs I sit and play on my phone.
That isn’t what being a SAHM is, not to me anyway. I’m not saying that it isn’t ok to do that occasionally but it’s when the balance tipped and that was happening more and more that I knew I was not OK with it. Continue reading →
Last week my lovely aunt celebrated her 70th birthday. I find it hard to believe she is 70 as that sounds old and she isn’t old but anyway. As a big celebration she hosted a party in Buxton in the Peak District. It’s a fair old way away so we broke our journey at Sudbury Hall.
We got to the hotel in Buxton in the late afternoon and settled into our room. The kids loved our big bed and watching TV while sprawled across it. So cute though! Continue reading →