I can’t quite believe it but our little Monkey starts school in just a couple of weeks time. He did well at his settling in sessions in July, bar a few tears when we dropped him off and I have no doubt he is ready for it…. But am I? In all honesty for so long I was so focused on whether or not he was ready that I didn’t even think about how I felt about it! I’m still not really sure how I feel so instead I am trying to concentrate on making sure everything is ready.
There is so much to buy, the list from school felt a bit endless, and expensive when I started adding it all up! So let’s just say I was pleased when Ocean Finance got in touch and offered £50 to help finance the back to school purchases as part of their “Get Set for September” scheme. Here’s what I managed to get with my £50.
7 pairs of socks
1 polo shirt with the school logo
1 sweatshirt with the school logo
1 pair of black trousers
1 all in one splash suit (they have a huge outdoor area for the foundation stage at Monkey’s school so a splashsuit and wellies are part of the uniform!)
Unfortunately £50 doesn’t buy everything you need but it definitely helped and I think we are almost all set for bits. We have some hand me down white polo shirts and I have bought a few bits with the school logo and a few cheaper bits without as it isn’t compulsory. We have his book bag, his splash suit and his socks. I just need shoes and wellies now but am waiting a bit longer for those. Monkey’s feet haven’t grown for about a year (he’s already a size 10) and I am convinced they will grow as soon as I buy his shoes haha.
We were recommended some stick in labels from the lovely Jocelyn at The Reading Residence and hubs and I sat and labelled everything the other night. I am so glad you don’t have to use iron on ones or even worse sew in ones as sticking them in was so quick and easy, especially with hubs’ help! Hope they do the job and last ok! Here is out gorgeous boy trying on a few of his bits in readiness, don’t you just love his little poses? Haha bless him
So we are just about set I think… And just in time really as the summer seems to be going so fast all of a sudden. I am trying to make the most of having him home with me as I know it will be very quiet without him come September… Which is only just round the corner now!
Are you all ready for the kids to go to back to school in September? Do you find it expensive?
Another couple of months have passed so it is time for another update on our little lady. She seems to have changed and grown so much lately as she really moves from being our baby to being a real little girl.
Where do I even start? Well I guess her speech is one of the biggest developments. She’s still not properly talking but she is jabbering on almost constantly these days and there are definitely more recognise able words amongst all the babble. “wandat” for I want that “ishweh” for it’s wet and lots of mama and dada. She likes counting and copies our tone for saying “one, two etc, even if the words aren’t right yet. There’s loads though and I’m sure in the swing earlier she said some form of “I want to get down” and was jabbering on about her boots too. Because it’s hard to describe written down, and I’ve wanted to record her jabbering for posterity, here is a little video of random clips of her chatting.
We don’t always understand her though which can lead to a heck of a lot of frustration and some serious tantrums. She is still so bossy and likes her own way a lot which also leads to tantrums when we say no. I wrote previously about some of the challenges of this age so won’t go on about that too much here. We have used the naughty spot for the first time recently though and it seemed to work quite well.
Another way she has so obviously grown up lately is the little routines she has developed. After playing the sand outside, for example, she will lead me into the house with her hands out in front of her, through into the downstairs loo and steps on the step so she can wash her hands. Another example is making sure stair gates are shut behind us when we enter/leave the living room etc. Very sweet. She’s also getting so lovely and following instructions and lives giving people things or “helping” with something. She will lay herself down when ready for a nappy change and another of her little routines is climbing into her brother’s chair once he has vacated after breakfast and hoovering up any porridge he left behind, even when that really isn’t very much!
Speaking of climbing she can now climb onto chairs pretty easily and in fact loves climbing on things, and I’ve even found her sat in her buggy having climbed in by herself. We really had to watch her on a recent holiday as she was climbing on all sorts of dangerous things! I loved it recently at soft play though when she climbed all the way up by herself to follow her brother and friends. She is doing so well and is so brave. I was of course keeping a very close eye on her!
She’s also getting good at showing how much she loves friends and family now. She will willingly and voluntarily give her relatives lovely big cuddles and often kisses which of course everyone loves.
She’s really good at waving hello and goodbye and screams with happiness when she sees someone she loves, especially her daddy! You may want to turn the volume down for this clip taken from my instagram feed haha.
A video posted by Caroline Elliott (@becomingasahm) on
So what else is she up to? Well she’s learned to ride her brother’s scooter, and we have bought her her own one… But she only ever rides it very briefly and isn’t interested beyond that. I still think she’s done phenomenally well though as Monkey only really got to grips riding his this year! She loves dressing up and often brings me a dress, a hat or her favourite dragon costume to put on her.
She has a lovely little imagination already. She loves playing with people and putting them in cars, feeding them or putting them into bed. She’s also learnt the cutest little habit of closing her eyes and pretending to be asleep. Makes me melt as it is so adorable!
I’m obviously biased and even though she drives me crazy I just think she is such a gorgeous little girl. She’s so cheeky and funny and doesn’t take herself seriously at all, pulling the funniest little faces. She’s a little gymnast and throws herself around and she loves to learn too. She loves having a good splash around outside, playing with her granny’s dolls and playing with her brother.
This age certainly has it’s challenges but it is also amazing to watch her grow and change so much all the time. Our little girl.
I’m not a natural runner. I was rubbish in PE and I like my food. I’ve openly laughed at runners in the past, thought they were potty and that that would never be me. But I’ve just run 20mins straight for the first time in my life, and no I wasn’t being chased! I chose to do this and I am actually enjoying it. Here’s the beginning of my story.
I’ve really struggled with my weight since LM was born. I’ve stopped writing about it because I haven’t managed to stick to anything. I’ve gone back and forth between dieting and convincing myself that this time I was going to do it, to saying I wasn’t going to diet because I don’t want my kids to see me obsessing about food so I was going to concentrate on exercise instead. But my swimming petered out, and I had to stop the Zumba dvd because it was giving me niggly pains in my hips and back (presumably left over from all those pelvis and back issues in pregnancy and generally just having no strength in my muscles). So what to do?
I still felt unhappy about my size but didn’t want to keep moaning on about it. Dieting wasn’t working as so much of our social life revolved around food and I am clearly weak willed. I thought about starting running, but I am really not a natural runner. I tried for a bit with a friend when Monkey was little but only half heartedly. I constantly came up with excuses not to go and then when I got pregnant with LM that was the end of it.
As the weather started warming up though I thought about trying again. For one thing, it is free. I have trainers already (that I’ve had for over 10 years and have only seen sporadic use, I’m ashamed to say) and I could just go. I don’t have to drive anywhere first as there are lots of places around that I can run. I mentioned the idea to one of my sister in laws, the lovely Fran, and we decided to go together. Fran works different shifts so we were a bit intermittent but we did it, we started. There was lots of walking interspersed with running but we were slowly improving. It was also nice to catch up, have a natter or a vent, and to encourage each other. It was great when we could do it together, the problem was when Fran was working and I tried to go on my own to my own. Then I just felt utterly useless.
I would still try but it was so hard to motivate myself. I felt horribly embarrassed if I had to go past someone and felt I must look so stupid, with my flab wobbling everywhere and being so out of breath after only a few seconds. I would try and keep running until they were out of sight then stop, gasping and panting and coughing and feeling useless. When no one was around I would run for such short distances as my legs felt like lead and the negative little voice in my head kept telling me to stop. I felt so deflated and negative and we on the verge of giving up, but I really didn’t want to. I thought about the couch to 5k type thing but didn’t know much about it. A friend then suggested I try it after I shared how useless I felt with my running and I decided it was worth giving it a try.
There are loads of apps and plans out there all called the couch to 5k but I decided to go with the NHS version. I downloaded the podcasts and went for it. It starts off so slowly and because of the bits of running I had done with Fran, I was able to do the first runs quite easily. I felt so positive after that first run, even on my own and I really enjoyed it. Hurrah!
I persuaded Fran to follow it with me for our run that week and also continued the plan on my own when she couldnt join me. Our holiday was coming up but I was determined not to stop, and to stick to the plan while I was away. I managed 5 runs across the couple of weeks I was away and was sending texts to Fran while I was away to motivate us both as she was running at home when she could too.
“just been for run no. 2 and actually pushed it a bit at the end and ran for over 2 mins solid, helped that it was downhill but still it felt good.”
“I did it! 5 min walk, 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk, 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk! It was hard work and my legs are sore now but I am so proud of myself. Could never have run for 3 mins when we started!! Yay :D”
“So I was supposed to run yesterday but didn’t fancy the downpour! Was really hard to motivate myself today as still chilly and damp but I did it and ran for over 3 1/2 mins solid on my last leg, wahoo!”
Running there was great and it was through such beautiful countryside, I absolutely loved it. Most of the start of my run was uphill but the way back was downhill which definitely helped. So much so that although I completed week 3 when we were down there I did another run of week 3 when we got home before moving on to week 4 to make sure I could hack it without a big downhill stretch. I managed it and so felt really good despite not losing any weight on holiday. In fact I put weight on which was a bit disappointing but figured that was due to the amount that we ate while we were away. Still, I wanted to keep going at home and try and eat a bit healthier too. I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I was looking forward to Fran being able to join me agai but while we were away she fell and sprained her ankle. She wasn’t going to be running anytime soon but I knew I just had to keep going. Excuse the language but here is another text I sent once we were home
“F**k me, just done the first run of week 4, 16 mins running in total. A 3 min, a 5 min, another 3 and another 5. Was really nervous but I did it! Bit knackered but after the warm down walk actually not feeling as bad as I thought I might! Xx”
I still had days where my legs felt like lead and I felt so tired. I realised that in my eagerness I was running every other day and had done so for over a week. The plan is to run 3 times a week with at least 1 days rest in between, but I was getting up to 4 runs a week, so I decided to have a couple of days off. It did me good as week 5 was a real step up.
Me on a run in my dodgy running gear!
I went from running for 3 mins to running 5 mins, to running for 8 mins, which I was so nervous about but then so proud when I managed it. Annoyingly though, the podcast cut off during the second 8 min run for some random reason and it really affected my rhythm. I tried to keep going and check the time on my phone but it was really hard. Those negative voices in my head came back, telling me my legs were tired and that I couldn’t do it… and I tailed off just after 6 minutes. It’s amazing how my fitness has come on and now my buggest hurdle is, as they say on the podcast, mental rather than physical.
Instead of focussing on the negative I reminded myself that a run is a run and it’s still good for me. It isn’t all about hitting the targets. They are a good motivation but not the reason I am doing it. I have come so so far since I started. I feel substantially fitter and I have had a few comments about looking a little slimmer which is nice. Unfortunately the scales aren’t showing this, but hopefully my muscles are growing as I burn fat and that is keeping my weight the same? No idea on the science of it but I am clinging to that as I am trying so hard to eat healthily and am running 3 times a week. I do feel slimmer too.
The last run in week 5 was the one I was most nervous about, running for 20 minutes straight. Surely not! Already? But I decided I just had to go for it, and actually, surprisingly, it was easier than I thought. I think with the shorter runs I am constantly thinking about when I am going to stop, but with this I knew I just had to keep going, so after the first few mins (I always find the first few mins the hardest) I just kept going. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but it also felt awesome that I was able to do it.
I actually felt like a real runner, for the first time. Not just some daft fatty making a fool of herself which is how I felt in the early days. I honestly never thought running would be the right exercise for me, but I think it just might be. I may also buy some better running clothes as so far I have been running predominantly in a pair of hubs old shorts that are covered in paint from decorating and whatever top I am wearing that day haha.
Are you a runner? Have you ever tried the couch to 5k programme?
I don’t know about you but since becoming a parent I worry all the time. Am I doing a good job? Is that the right decision? Am I doing something that will come back and bite me later? Swimming is something that has caused me a lot of worry over the past 4 years. I love swimming and I think it’s such an important life skill so I always thought I would get Monkey swimming early on.
But when Monkey was a baby I struggled so much with the day to day that swimming went to the back of my mind. With his colic and sleep troubles I couldn’t conceive it. Then we discovered that a routine worked so well for him and I didn’t want to do anything that mucked it up for him.
As he got older we checked out swimming lessons at a fabulous specialised pool near us, but they were so expensive! And I guess we were not convinced about the long term as it felt like once we started we would have to keep on going in order for him to keep the skills and that was looking like a phenomenal amount of money over the years. After our first holiday abroad where he loved the pool I was determined to start lessons. We found cheaper lessons at a local pool and hubs started taking him every Saturday… With varying degrees of success. To be honest sometimes it was a nightmare. The water in the pool wasn’t that warm and for the most part Monkey absolutely hated it and would scream for most of the session.
Loving swimming on our first holiday abroad
It was on a Saturday morning and it got to the point where every Saturday hubs would come home in such a foul frustrated mood with a tearful shattered Monkey and it was just not the way to start the weekend. So the lessons were shelved for a bit. On holiday last year I had hoped for a repeat of our previous holiday fun, but it was not to be as the pools there were so cold and Monkey absolutely refused to get in. LM loved it so at least that was something.
Very chilly Monkey after trying out the pool on holiday last year
It may sound crazy but as honestly felt like we were failing Monkey. He needs to learn to swim and I want him to enjoy it but it just felt like noyhijg we did worked. I looked again at the expensive lessons but he is now too old to go to that pool. It didn’t help that in checking it out I saw them so proud of children Monkey’s age who were swimming 5 metres unaided etc. I felt like we had missed a window of opportunity.
Earlier this year we started taking the kids to a local baby pool a bit irregularly but on Sunday mornings. It is a love warm pool and I wrote how we were having a bit of success. Monkey was happy to go there for one thing and didn’t spend the whole time screaming. LM loved it too so it was lovely for all of us.
We have still been going, fairly intermittently but I have still been nagged by doubt and feeling we should do more. I have gone round and round in circles with it and felt like I was making both kids miss out by not taking them to lessons but felt I couldn’t take LM to lessons while Monkey was still not swimming. It just highlighted how little he could do.
Anyway, I am writing this having just come home from probably the best experience swimming with Monkey ever. He was kicking his legs and arms while we held him, and then instead of insisting on walking like a spaceman the rest of the time, he independently learned that he could float with his armbands on, and spent ages floating and kicking his legs and just having so much fun with it.
I’d also taken our swimfin along with us. After reading loads of great reviews last year I bought one, but other than once at home I have never been able to persuade him to put it on. It took some doing and LM had to wear it for a bit first, but we did get Monkey wearing it… And he swam! With the swim fun and arm bands he swam all by himself, a good doggy paddle and he just did it. Everything we have been saying to him and doing with him has clearly paid off.
We were so proud! And relieved, as it feels like we are finally on our way. We will carry on with what we are doing and when he is much more confident in the water we will start normal swimming lessons. For now though it feels like we have overcome a major hurdle!
I love the relationship between my little two. It’s everything a sibling relationship should be, in my mind. They have so much fun playing together, they mess with each other, wind each other up, drive each other crazy and love each other fiercely.
The big change this month though is how protective our Monkey has gotten over his little sister. Such a good big brother but I do wish he would worry less sometimes, as that’s our job. She’s at an age where she falls over a lot and seems to have constantly grazed knees, this doesn’t bother her for more than a few seconds each time, but he hates seeing her get hurt and constantly tries to prevent it. “don’t run! Mummy stop her running. Mummy you have to carry her so she doesn’t fall over!” He’s also her little defender “Mummy, you took that away from LM and that’s not fair!” Never mind the fact that she just whacked me with it or threw it!
LM is talking a bit more now (I will write a separate post about this) and Monkey loves it. He can’t wait for her talk and gets so excited and proud of her when she says something. He has also started initiating little conversations with her.
Monkey: “Ooh look LM I’ve got longer legs than you”
Me: “Yes you do have longer legs than LM”
Monkey: “Excuse me, I was talking to LM”
They have so much fun together and I adore hearing the giggles as they play, and looking to see what they are up to and seeing their grins. But it also makes me chuckle when they wind each other up as actually for the most part they both find it funny when they do it to each other. But of course Monkey can annoy her by going too far, and vice versa.
Still, all part of the sibling fun eh? We are actually very fortunate with how well they get on though,and they sre cute with each other far far more than anything else. We shall see how that changes as they grow and when she can answer him back haha.
Well we are home from our holiday, are up to date on laundry and life is getting back to normal. It is nice to be back in our own bed and to have more space for the kids. The cottage we were staying in is gorgeous and quaint and we are so grateful to our friend letting us stay while he is out of the country… But it is also very cosy to contain 2 children and not that child safe for our crazy climbing LM.
We were lucky with the weather though and got out and about loads, as you may have seen on my previous posts, and we really did have a wonderful time as a family.
Of course it wasn’t without its challenges and ups and downs though. Hubs was reading an article about something business related and in it contained this great quote.
“Becoming a parent is a wonderful thing, but it robs you of a certain freedom. That is: the freedom to do nothing. To sit around, to lounge, to waste time, with no responsibilities or duties tugging at your sleeve, no endless mental to-do list to tick off.
Last week, my wife and I took our two-year-old son on holiday. We had a lovely time. But, as every parent knows, a holiday with a toddler isn’t a holiday. It’s a job.
That job, beginning at dawn each day or earlier, is to entertain, or at least contain, an insatiably restless two-foot whirlwind of wants and demands. It’s fun. But there isn’t a moment of silence or solitude.
You spend six months looking forward to your holiday, so that you can take a break from work; then you spend your holiday looking forward to your return to work, so that you can take a break from childcare.”
It’s so true as holidays before kids are so different to holidays after kids. I imagine they continue to change and as they grow that you can have relaxing times. But when they are little it is a full time job keeping them entertained, regardless of where you are!
For hubs this was a working holiday and we are hugely lucky that he can basically work from anywhere with an Internet connection and can do some work out of business hours, which meant he was able to spend a few hours each day with us exploring Dorset and having fun with us. This made my life much easier than it is at home as obviously I am normally on my own with the kids all day when he is at the office.
There were challenges though as there always are with kids, especially with kids at different ages with different ability levels. Sometimes I really struggle to do something that makes both of them happy at the same time. One afternoon I got out the paddling pool thinking they would love it. Monkey refused to get in and LM lasted about 30s with constant attention then got bored. Sometimes I wonder why I bother as they are happier plonked in front of peppa pig or paw patrol!
They did enjoy our days out though and the beach was a real winner this year. On our holiday last September LM hated the sand so the beach was a stressful trip. It is lovely now as she adores the sand! Monkey is still very nervous of the water but he did go in the sea, and LM hates the waves in the sea.. But they both love the sand and we were lucky with some lovely warm pools created by the tide going out which LM really loved. Its not a relaxing day as they do like us to be involved at all times but they were so happy so at least it wasn’t too stressful!
By completely random coincidence some very good friends of our happened to be on holiday in Dorset at the same as we were. Jo and I met travelling in Argentina of all places about 9 years ago and we have stayed good friends but with living 2 1/2 hours away we don’t see each other more than a couple of times a year. Especially now there are kids to think about. Its pretty amazing though as our eldest 2 are 6 mths apart in age and our youngest about 5 mths apart and they all get on so so well.
We saw them more in the last 2 weeks than in the previous few years and it was so so wonderful. We had a couple of beach days together which were fantastic and made it a bit more relaxing as at least we could take it in turns a bit to be with the kids and the kids entertained each other a lot more which was wonderful.
They also came for a play at our cottage one day, and brilliantly, when their relatives joined them for the second week and we’re able to babysit they came over one evening for a glass of wine and a natter without children interrupting us. It was so so lovely.
Some of our other very good friends from home were also down in Dorset for a weekend at the end of their family holiday to Devon so the kids adored meeting up with them too for a day out at Monkey World. Again it helped having other kids for our kids to play with, and other adults for us to natter with. It also helped having a bit of solidarity when our little madam threw an almighty tantrum at lunchtime… And vice versa when their son didn’t want to eat his dinner. Much less embarrassing when you can talk about it with your friends rather than just have everyone in the place staring at you while you try and deal with it. They still stare of course but it definitely helped having company.
Because our little lady really has tested us while we were away. If anything her behaviour has improved towards the end and now we are home but she was a nightmare at times and when she goes oh my goodness she is so loud. As one of the friends we met up with put it “she certainly has a voice!” and she most definitely does. She really struggled to settle for the first couple of days at the cottage and the tiredness from bad nights sleep and lack of naps really affected her so we were hugely relieved when she got used to her surroundings and started sleeping better.
Most of the other tantrums we had with her were around food… We had an absolutely disastrous meal at Prezzo one evening which was just a stressfest of her screaming and us scoffing as quickly as we could while paying £45 for the privilege. We had a couple of other lunches out which were better… mainly because they were places that served baked beans, and because I had a dairylea dunker ready as back up as I knew she’d at least eat some cheese if she decided they weren’t the right baked beans. (I never do this at home but sometimes avoiding the stress in a restaurant is so worth it). Hubs is adamant that we are having no more meals out until she is a bit older though as it just isn’t enjoyable!
On the whole Monkey was a really good boy while we’re away but he did get tired as the time went on “I’m so tired from all the days and days” which made him tired and fractious at times.
I’m not trying to paint a negative picture of our holiday, just a realistic one. Its easy with all the smiles and golden sunny images for it to appear perfect, which of course it wasn’t. We had so much fun on the beach, with friends and on days out. There was lovely times at the cottage and on the play area. But when you have 2 children under 5 nothing is without its challenges, and even holidays can be hard work. So much as I loved it and in many ways I am sad that it is over… I am glad to be home. The kids were so excited when they came back to all of their toys and everything that is familiar. I am not terrified every second that LM is climbing on something or reaching something that she shouldn’t. She can go outside without tripping on a step and scraping her legs (almost a daily occurance while we were away).. Oh and at home we have a dishwasher (yippee) and the ceilings are high enough for hubs to stand up straight without banging his head haha. So it is good to be home.
Do you find holidays with kids hard work or is it just us?
You may have seen that we have been having a rather lovely holiday in Dorset. I wrote a post about some of the many fun things you can do with little ones while you are here, but I also wanted to share a few of our other adventures while we’ve been away. You see I love the countryside and I like to get away from the beaten track sometimes. I like the peace and am always on the hunt for stunning views. This can take us to some slightly crazy places, and well, because we are a little bit loony, we’ve come up with a song about these adventures.
(to the tune of Andy’s prehistoric adventures)
“Mummy’s crazy countryside adventures, come join the crew!
Come into the countryside but watch out for that poo!
Yeah mind the poo!
Mummy’s crazy countryside adventures, Mummy’s crazy countryside adventures! ”
Cheesy but it amused us! Anyway sometimes these adventures are wonderful.. Other times a little less so.
Our first adventure on this holiday was to see the NT site of Eggardon Hill, the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort. Parking was a layby on a “roman road” opposite a footpath. We headed down the extremely overgrown, bumpy and long footpath and I know at times like these my hubs seriously doubts my sanity.
But it was worth it when we arrived. It was so windy but oh the views! We were up and down the terraces of the Fort like mountain goats (or something like that) and well the kids loved the adventure of it all.
I love seeing the kids run around and have fun amongst the long grass and wild flowers. We didn’t stay too long but we got some fresh air in our lungs to blast away the cobwebs and had a good run around.
Our next adventure was another NT site, to see the chalk giant of Cerne Abbas. Monkey was hugely excited at the prospect of seeing a giant and when we got to the viewpoint he loved pointing out his legs, his willy and his nipples haha as you can imagine any 4yr old would!
I wasn’t sure if you could actually get to the giant and I’m afraid we didn’t manage it. We did set off but on this occasion had the buggy with us. We got part way up the hillside tracks until the path considerably narrowed and became heavily overgrown and you had to start crossing stiles. Much to Monkey disappointment we gave up, then turned into the village itself for a lovely wander past a stream and found a play park! Always a good find with little ones so all was not lost .
Another adventure on our holiday, and by far the least successful one, was our trip to Maiden Castle, the largest Iron Age Fort in Europe apparently and an English heritage site. (All of these places are free to visit though). It was at the end of 2 horribly wet days, and we were all a bit stir crazy from being indoors. (The cottage we were housesitting in is lovely but very small to contain an adventurous LM who won’t sit still for 5 mins). The weather had dried and sun come out so we headed off. Unfortunately though as we arrived the clouds and misty rolled back in.
Unperturbed we put on our waterproofs and headed up the hill. To say it was windy was an understatement and LM hated it. She screamed her little head off and seemed terrified she was going to lose one of us as she kept going between the two of us and wasn’t happy in either of our arms for more than a few seconds at a time.
We reached the top and in a small bit of shelter had a drink and she did cheer up a little so we went for an explore.
Unfortunately though she just became more and more upset so we really didn’t stay long at all, which was a shame as Monkey was enjoying himself, and so were we, even though there was no chance of views. The screaming was awful though so we headed back down the hill, trying to avoid the sheep poo which was everywhere! This adventure definitely goes down as a fail as I have rarely heard LM quite so unhappy!
We got back and the kids had a great run around in the puddle by the cottage so at least the outing had a happy ending (until Monkey face planted the puddle and cut his hand, ouch!)
Mummy’s crazy countryside adventures may have there ups and downs but on the whole I love them just as much as I love the more traditional touristy days out, and look forward to many more adventures with my little ones as they grow. (At least for as long as they put up with them haha).
I think you’d have to be sleeping under a rock to not be aware if the recent release of Finding Dory, my Monkey is hugely excited about it! So I am thrilled to be able to share the following competition with you all thanks to Crocs.
Celebrate the long-awaited release of Finding Dory with Crocs!
#FindYourFun with Finding Dory prizes, courtesy of Crocs
To celebrate the launch of Disney’s Finding Dory film, Crocs are offering one lucky family the chance to win two pairs of children’s Crocs from the Finding Dory range, as well as a family ticket to see the film with all the family at a participating Vue Cinema. The winning family will also receive a Tsum Tsum soft toy of Dory herself as well as a variety of Crocs merchandise (including a duffel bag, notebook and pen).
The fantastic Crocs Finding Dory range, includes the fun and quirky Kids’ CrocsLights Finding Dory™ Clog, which light up with every step to ensure your little one makes a splash! The Crocs iconic Croslite™ foam construction offers little ones’ feet plenty of comfort and cushion too. Check out the entire collection of splashy Dory styles here.
To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize package – two pairs of Finding Dory Crocs, Crocs merchandise (including a duffel bag, notebook and pen), Finding Dory Tsum Tsum, as well as a family ticket to Finding Dory at any Vue Cinema – all you have to do is answer the following question:
Thanks to our lovely friend who lets us housesit for a couple of weeks in the summer while they are out of the country, we are getting to know Dorset pretty well and have had some wonderful days out with the kiddies. So I thought rather than loads of posts about each place, I would compile a list of where to go on holiday in Dorset with toddlers, based on our experience. Now of course this list isn’t exhaustive and there are probably lots of other wonderful places to visit too.. But these are our favourites so far.
Places to see Animals
Weymouth Sealife Centre
We do love a good aquarium or sea life centre, and the one in Weymouth is a particularly good one as there is so much to see and do. Animals wise, there are so many fish, sharks, rays, jelly fish and all sorts of different habitats to have a look at. There are rock pools where you can stroke starfish and try not to get nipped by some lovely big crabs. There are also some other wonderful animals there too, with seals, penguins, frogs, turtles and otters in addition to the more traditional aquarium animals. The kids adored looking at them all.
It’s not just about the animals though as there also some great fun rides to go on, including a log flume, and they have a fantastic splash zone. I recommend taking swimwear for the kiddies as the paddling pool with slide and water fountains are really great fun. There is also a normal play area which the kids loved too.
Before you go: It is definitely worth booking tickets online before you go as they are much cheaper than on the day. Everywhere is very accessible for pushchairs for little ones and there are loads of places to sit and enjoy a picnic. We ate from the cafe there and the kids enjoyed it but it was bit pricey and there wasn’t a huge amount of choice so if we went again i would definitely take food with us.
Monkey World, Wareham
Monkey world near Wareham is a really lovely place housing primates which have been rescued from less savoury zoos or from the pet trade. It is a lovely site, with nice big enclosures for the monkeys and lots of viewing points s you can see them swinging around happily or having a rest. There are all sorts there, with Lemurs, Orangutans, Chimps, Capuchin Monkeys and Spider Monkeys to name but a few and the kids loved looking around.
There are also some really great playparks for your little Monkeys to clamber about on, with some dotted around the park and a particularly brilliant big one at the end which the kids adored.
Before you go:Monkey World is really accessible with paths suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, they even have swings which can be used with wheelchairs. We ate there and while there wasn’t a huge amount of choice in the cafe we chose, the food was simple sandwiches and was all we really wanted anyway. There are a few cafes throughout the park, as well as snack stops and lots of places to sit if you would prefer to take a picnic. Toilets are also dotted about and easy to find and on the whole we were impressed, places were clean and food wasn’t too expensive.
Abbotsury is a small village to the west of Weymouth which houses a few great tourist attractions. A childs farm, tropical gardens and a swannery. You can buy access to all 3 for £17 for an adult which makes it very reasonable, however we have only seen the swannery so far. The swannery is such a beautiful place, very peaceful and we found it really lovely to go somewhere a bit different. The swans are all so well cared for and the kids adored seeing the signets. Monkey was also thrilled to be able to take part in the feeding of the hundreds of swans. They are well practiced at this to make sure that everyone who wants a go can have a go and it was great fun.
The kids loved exploring across the site and they particularly loved the giant maze in the shape of a swan. Monkey loves a maze and the great thing about this one was all the percussion instruments dotted about. There is also a quiz you can complete if you find all of the points throughout the maze which Monkey really enjoyed. I was glad to have the map they gave us at the entrance as it helped us get out quickly when LM got tired and hungry for her lunch!
Before you go: Everywhere is accessible for pushchairs or wheelchairs, and I would recommend taking a pushchair for little legs as it is quite a walk from the entrance to the swans. There is a playpark by the entrance and a lovely cafe with a great menu, but this is also by the entrance so we decided to take a picnic to avoid having to walk back at lunchtime. There are plenty of lovely spots for a picnic including a nice shady area for sunny days, or benches to sit and watch the swans. Feeding the swans is at 12:00 everyday and well worth joining in with.
Many of the beaches around the South and West of Dorset are shale, or stony, beaches, which can be lovely but lets face it, the best beach days out with toddlers are sandy ones where lots of sandcastles can be built. To that end, here are favourite sandy beaches in Dorset.
The area to the east of Weymouth, near the sea life centre, has a long and stony beach, however the beach at the centre of Weymouth itself is a very lovely sandy beach, perfect for taking the kids to.
Before you go: The beach was clean and the sea wasn’t too cold, even though we were there on an overcast day. There are public toilets, lots of places to buy ice creams and buckets and spades, and to hire deck chairs from. There are a couple of options for parking within easy walking distance, you could park near the pavilion and Jurassic Skyline, which is quite close to the beach, or as we did, park at the Swannery car park, which is very easy to get to and also only a short walk to the sea front.
Middle Beach, Studland
In East Dorset, in an area known as the Isle of Purbeck, we found a truly lovely, lovely beach at Studland bay. It’s just one of those lovely lovely places you don’t want to leave and can’t wait to get back to! The bay is huge so there is plenty of space and we opted for Middle Beach, so I’m not sure what the other areas are like. There is supposedly a naturist area on the beach but this is apparently well signposted and we didn’t come across it.
We loved this beach because the sand was clean and perfect for digging and building castles. We arrived when the tide was fairly high and it went out throughout the day. This is the perfect beach for paddling as the water is very shallow and you can walk out really far without it ever going over your knees. This also means the water is a lovely temperature and gets steadily warmer throughout the day, it is also incredibly clear so no nasty surprises. Our littlest lady isn’t a fan of the noise of waves but she loves exploring the pools created by the receding tide, and we even found som nature to explore in them.
There are gorgeous views from the beach, you can see over to Poole and Bournemouth to the north, or looking straight ahead you can even make out the Isle of Wight! To the south of the bay are Old Harry’s Rocks.
Before you go:Maintained by the National Trust, parking is free for NT members. Access from the car park to the beach isn’t too far but it is down a fairly steep and uneven path through and behind a lot of beach huts, so I wouldn’t recommend taking a pushchair down, though I did see someone manage it. There are toilet facilities and a cafe which were very nice though we took a picnic with us. The beach is dog friendly so be aware of that, dogs are supposed to be kept on the lead however many owners flouted this rule, though we only had one instance of dogs running through our things, as most were well behaved and looked after.
The Durdle Door
The Durdle Door tops many a “must see” list for places to visit while in Dorset, but it is not the most accessible place, especially if you have small children. You can read more information about how not to do it from my post last year, which includes a map of the route to get to the beach itself.
The Durdle Door is a stunning rock formation of an archway in a simply stunning spot on the south Dorset coastline, honestly you would think you were in the mediterranean or something with the clear blue waters and it is definitely worth a visit, though it is not without it’s challenges. It is the one beach I am mentioning here which is a stony beach, because the views are worth it but no sandcastles are being built here.
Before you go: The access from the car park to the Durdle Door and beach is incredibly long, steep and includes a lot of incredibly steep steps. I would definitely not recommend taking a pushchair and advise you to travel light. It is stoney beach so no point taking buckets and spades, and when we were there the waves were pretty rough so the kids would not go near the sea. There are no toilets and the only facilities are an ice cream van about halfway down so take plenty of drink and some snacks if not a picnic. For more information, read this post.
The beach at Swanage is also said to be very lovely and sandy however we are yet to visit so I can’t say more than that really!
South of Weymouth is the island of Portland which has places to visit too. We found out too late about a pirate graveyard which Monkey would have enjoyed, but we did manage to visit a couple of places on the island.
Portland Bill Lighthouse.
At the southern tip of the island there is a lovely lighthouse called portland bill. It is a stunning place to visit with the ocean all around and the remains of a quarry of Portland stone perfect for scrambling over. There is a visitors centre you can pay to look around and older children and adults can pay to go up the lighthouse however as we wouldn’t all have been able to go, we were content just exploring the outside.
Before you go: there is a great big car park there and a lovely little restaurant nearby, which was child friendly although the child meals were quite pricey in my opinion.
For the lighthouse itself it is approx. £3 to go in the visitor centre or £7 to also climb the lighthouse. But, be aware that babies and small children cannot be carried up. Children must be over I think 1.1m tall and able to get up under their own steam.
Portland Castle is run by English heritage and we found it to be a great little Fort, actually about the perfect size for a short trip with our little ones. Under 5s are free and it is just under £6 per adult to get in. The kids loved exploring the ramparts and seeing the cannons. They also really really enjoyed the dressing up area, as you can see below!
Before you go: we did take the buggy but had to abandon it a couple of times as it isn’t really accessible as tou would expect from such an old Castle. There is facilities and a nice cafe on site though sadly they didn’t seem to serve ice creams when we were there.
Other places to visit
Swanage railway and Corfe castle
One of our highlights from our holiday last year was our trip on the Swanage Steam Railway to visit Corfe Castle. The railway runs between Swanage and Norden, just to the north of Corfe Castle. You don’t have to visit the castle on your trip, and you can visit the castle without riding the railway but it does make for a nice day out to combine the two. We chose to drive to Swanage and take the train to the castle where we loved having a good explore (we do love a good castle) then return to Swanage to drive home. You could however park at the castle and take the train to swanage too.
Kids love trains so our two definitely enjoyed a ride on the train and the staff were great with stamping tickets etc. The Castle itself is simply stunning with the ruins perched atop a hill with amazing views of the surrounding countryside.
Before you go:There is no car park at the station in Swanage, just a co-op with a short stay, however there is a large car park just 5-10 minutes walk away. The journey between Swanage and the castle is about 20 minutes so we had a picnic on the train, however there are some cafes at Corfe Castle which are lovely too.
On arrival at the castle we were advised not to take our pushchair up as the ground was very uneven, however we did see others pushing buggies around so I think that is up to you really. the National Trust do have some baby carriers you can borrow. It is very hilly and steep so may be tricky to navigate for some little legs. LM wasn’t walking when we went last year so she was carried around by us.
Dorchester Dinosaur Museum
There are a few museums in Dorchester but we have only visited the Dinosaur Museum so far. We went on a particular wet and rainy day on our holiday last year. It is a lovely little museum with lots of Dinosaur information and some great model Dinosaurs.
It isn’t very big however so on a wet day it can get incredibly busy and quite warm as a result. There are stairs inside so we were asked to park our buggy near the entrance.
Before you go: Don’t plan to stay too long and be aware that you may not be able to take a pushchair with you and if you do it will make getting around quite tricky.
Munchkins Cafe Dorchester
A really great find for a rainy day is this stay and play cafe, possibly the best of its kind I have seen. With over half of the cafe, and much of the garden, dedicated to toys and play areas, the kids absolutely adored it. there is a slide which goes down the set of stairs in the cafe and just so much for the kids to play with. Outside is a sand pit and some water toys for hot days too.
Add to that the food we had was delicious and there is free wifi, perfect for blogging or surfing while the kids play.
Before you go: There is a charge for playing at the cafe, however this is discounted for siblings and one charge lasts for 7 days which makes it incredibly good value. They have fantastic facilities for baby changing, even providing nappy bags and hand sanitiser free of charge. There is a breastfeeding room should you wish for some privacy and just about anything you can think of that your little ones would like. Because it is great, weekends and rainy days can get busy, however on a dreary week day when the kids needed a quiet day we found it to be perfect and it wasn’t too busy. The nearest parking is on Trinity Street and is £1 for a couple of hours.
So there we have it. Some of our favourite places in this neck of the woods. No doubt there are lots of other wonderful places but hopefully I will have given you some ideas for where to go on holiday in Dorset with toddlers.
It’s that time of the month again where I share a few photos of us as a family, as a bit of a record of how we all grow and change. Most of this months shots were taken at the beautiful Abbotsbury Swannery on ur holiday to Dorset. Such a gorgeous place though t be honest as ever the shots didn’t quite turn out as I hoped in my head they would. Largely because of 2 children, as it is incredibly difficult to get them both to cooperate at the same time in the position you want them to be,
The first shot is probably the best of the day, a bit of an impromptu happy family selfie, not aiming for a particular backdrop and we are all actually smiling.
The next time I actually attempted to use my tripod with the hope of getting some swans in the background. Bless Monkey and his little pose though it looks rather like he needed a wee, and well LM was not in the mood to participate at all at this point. Still, you can see swans behind us haha.
Finally in front of a heck of a lot of swans, LM was smily, albeit with her sunnies on, looking very glam haha… but well as you can see, Monkey was having none of it! Grumpy Monkey eh! They did both enjoy the day though and I will share more about the swannery in a seperate post.
My final Me and Mine shot for the month is a lovely happy on th beach selfie. I had no selfie stick or tripod so just had Hubs’ long arms to utilise for this one, and it is by far my favourite of the bunch.
Though actuallly just one more, a little outtake of the shot prior to this one, where Monkey wouldn’t cooperate because “the water is too dirty for me” say what little man???
So that is our little family this month. The smiles hide the tantrums and troubles our little lady is giving us at the moment, but we have enjoyed our holiday so far regardless.