Thursday, 6 September 2018

Losing your identity and wanting to be more than just someone's Mummy. Finding some more 'me time'

I spend my days running around after the five children and don't make, or get, time for myself. Bedtimes get so late that by the time you get them all in bed you don't have time to sit down and chill out for a bit before it's your own bedtime. The nights fly by and suddenly it's morning again and you jump straight into the routine of uniforms, lunches, making breakfast, brushing hair, making sure they have washed and brushed their teeth.

You are dashing out of the door so fast that your head is all over the place. You're stressing as you left so fast you aren't sure if you have everything, inevitably with me it's the house keys! I rush to make sure they get to school on time, in nice clean uniform, hair brushed and faces clean yet I look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards. I'm sporting the scraped back pony tail and I'm lucky that I got out of my PJ's in time. I can't be a PJ's on the school run Mum but I sometimes wish I was. Although I wish I could just stay at home and not get out of my PJ's!



Stressful times followed by peaceful times.


 So the kids are at school, you run from the school playground shouting 'Freeedooooommmm' except you know your day isn't going to be filled with coffee dates, manicures and endless amounts of clothes shopping. The washing up needs doing, hoovering, three loads of clothes washing, picking up the discarded toys and clothes from the floor, mopping the kitchen floor and dinner prep ready for hungry Thing's after school plus much, much more. 

Then it's back to the afternoon school run and home for the usual evening routine of dinner, homework, bath time, reading books, learning words, a bit of arguing thrown in for good measure and some TV/iPod/Kindle time. As I run around cooking meals, running baths, reciting Biff and Chip books to the best of my ability I'm also the referee in a boxing match between some children.

Evening time soon turns into bedtime and  I then spend my evenings sorting out everyone else's bedtimes. No one goes to sleep nicely, they are up and down because they've finished their water, they need the toilet again, it's too dark, they have a headache, it's too cold, it's too hot or their leg has fallen off. Nothing major and all for the joy of making me get up and down 20 million times to sort them out. So that's my evening gone.



A hot chocolate of an evening always helps to relax you just a bit! 



           Thing 1 and Dadof5 getting some 'us time'. I think they enjoyed themselves! 

Each day seems to roll into one at the moment. I don't know where one ends and one begins. I want my me time back. I do go out on a Tuesday evening. It's nice whilst I am out but you can guarantee that I will return and there will still be children awake. So I don't relax, I don't enjoy my time out as much as I should because I know what I am going to face when I get home. I miss my Tuesday night that ended by me creeping back into the house and checking on sleeping children before slipping into bed and being asleep instantly. I want that night back.



The troublemakers! 


Rarely during the week will I go out, every now and again I meet a friend for lunch. In the school playground I don't even have a name. Oh here's Thing 3's Mummy they will say. I'm not a person, I'm my child's possession. I belong to that child so I have no identity of my own.



Don't be fooled by the innocent looking darling! 

Will I ever find a new me? Will things ever get easier? Am I destined to never find my name again and always be 'The Thing's Mummy'? Will I ever know what it's like to pee alone rather than being watched by a toddler? 

Who knows?! 





Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Term time family holidays versus holidays in the school breaks. The difference in costs.

TERM TIME HOLIDAYS VERSUS SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

 The fines for term time holidays have been in place for a while now but has that stopped people from requesting term time holidays? 

The Supreme Court in previous years gave it's verdict on the term time holiday case of Jon Platt. Mr Platt had previously won a High Court case after he refused to pay the fine for taking his daughter on holiday during the school term time. They ruled in favour of Isle of Wight council.

I think that schools/councils need to look at every child's individual attendance records when looking at request for term time holidays before they make their decisions and I certainly don't think that term time holidays should be frowned upon if rules are followed. 

If your child consistently misses school (and I am not including illness or doctors/hospital appointments in this) then I do think that this issue needs to be addressed before more school is missed and this is where the system of fining parents needs to be put in place. 
If your child attends school regularly and has a high level of attendance I do not see the issue of a term time holiday. Taking into account that in my view ONE holiday per academic year at a maximum of 10 school days is more than sufficient. 

What is pulling more and more parents towards term time holidays is also the price hike on holidays by holiday companies during the school holidays. I can most definitely say that us as a family could certainly not afford a holiday during the school holidays compared to the price of a term time holiday. 


So what do we do? We either take a term time holiday and add the fines to the overall cost or we don't ever go on holiday until the children have finished their school years. 


We as a family haven't had a holiday in over 6 years and Thing 5 has never been on holiday. We've had a few days away in Cornwall but not a proper week/2 week break away as a family to relax and recharge. I was looking at holidays again recently and found some great prices but as Thing 2 starts Year 11 it is impossible to find something that will fit in with her final year of school. 

I have found a few examples of holiday prices from various companies and compared the same length of stay at the same place between term time and school holidays. Here is what I found; 


CENTER PARCS; 


A wonderful example here from Center Parcs. A 5 day midweek break in October for our family. Week beginning October 9th is just £479 for 5 days whereas week beginning October 23rd is a whopping £1799. As you can see the difference between the Half Term week and the week of October 9th is £1320 and overall a half term holiday costs over 3 times the price of a term time break. 





A 4 bedroom Woodland lodge stay was compared but from the chart you can see the prices across all accommodation available.


DISNEYLAND PARIS; 

Again I looked at the week of Mon 9th October and Monday 23rd October (as above on the Center Parcs example) for a 5 day mid week break with Eurostar travel included and the same Disney hotel. The difference in cost for our family is just over £1100



Newport Bay hotel at Disneyland Paris plus Eurostar travel. 


HAVEN HOLIDAY PARKS; 




The same midweek break dates with Haven, 9th October 2017 and 23rd October and I chose Weymouth Bay park in Dorset. I had to choose the Deluxe caravan option to get a price of £208 on the week of October 9th and £468 in the week beginning October 23rd. The difference in cost being £240, over double the term time cost. 



MENORCA, SPAIN

I looked at the Son Bou Gardens hotel for a 5 day self catering break. On October 9th it was £1360 for our family of 3 adults and 4 children. On October 23rd 2017 it was  £1762 for the same hotel and same length of stay. A £402 difference between holidays. 




Son Bou Gardens hotel in Menorca, Spain. A 5 day self catering stay plus flights.


As you can see prices do go up in the school holidays and this prices a lot of families out of the holiday market during these peak times. The only solution being a term time holiday where holidays are much more reasonably priced in some places. 


However, I do feel that there are so many issues that need to be addressed and it isn't just the hike in prices that affects when people take holidays. I strongly believe that attendance also plays a huge part in whether parents can take a term time holiday and attendance follows a school and national average that needs to be observed. I also think a one holiday per academic year rule needs to apply regardless of whether you take 10 days or 3 days. 

What are your thoughts on term time holidays? Do you think if attendance is excellent then one holiday per academic year is fair? What do you think to the hike in prices placed on holidays during the school breaks? 











Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Our family day out at Marwell Wildlife Zoo with their new Tropical House.




A day out at Marwell Zoo

We were all so excited to be visiting Marwell Wildlife Zoo recently. The whole family loves a day out at the zoo and Marwell isn’t far from where we live in Hampshire. 





The Things as we arrived. 


We have visited Marwell Zoo before but it was a few years ago now and they’ve recently added the new Tropical House to the zoo. In the Tropical House you will find leaf cutting ants, fish, tortoises and butterflies flying above your head as well as birds. Meeting the sloth was the highlight of our day although we did of course enjoy the rest of the zoo too. 

When we arrived we followed the flow of the roads and pathways to make our way around the zoo. It is also very well signposted and their is a map that you can pick up too. 

On our way round we saw penguins, flamingoes, hippos, tigers, meerkats, cheetahs, and more. There were so many different animals to see. So many of the animals also had different places to stand and spot them. Some at ground level, some higher level view points and the penguins also have a place where you can stand and see them swim underwater. 




The giraffes were great. They were inside when we visited but had they been outside there are some great viewing points to go and see them. There wasn't any animals we didn't see at the zoo thanks to all of these different viewpoints. 






The weather wasn’t great the day we visited but it didn’t spoil the day and we spent plenty of time exploring and finding the different animals. Each child had a different animal that they wanted to see and so we planned a route around the Zoo to see all of the them and also pinpoint where the specific animals they wanted to see were going to be. 




Thing 5 was desperate to see the sloth but we didn't want them to rush looking at all of the animals in order to get to their favourite but I wasn't to worry. We spent plenty of time looking and also sometimes searching for the animals. 






The new Tropical House was amazing. It covers 2 different levels and you walk in on the top level. As soon as you get inside it is lovely and warm and you get to see the sloth first. We were all very excited and Thing 5 was super excited. We had to be very quiet around the sloth and we spent lots of time looking at him and watching him move slowly on his branch hanging from the tree. 





Thing 5 with his new sloth friend. His favourite part of the day. 

Also in the Tropical House there are tropical free-flying birds and butterflies, frogs, pygmy marmosets on an island above the aquarium that is home to 2,500 fish. As you venture down towards the forest floor level you will see Javan Chevrotain (mouse deer), mountain tortoises and insects such as beetle. You will also find a viewing window into the aquarium and as you continue outwards you will find the leaf cutting ants working hard and the crocodile monitor lizard.  

After we visited the Tropical House we were off to find the snow leopard which was on Thing 4's list of things to see. On our way we went past Life among the Trees and spotted all of the different monkeys including the Siamang and golden lion tamarin. The children loved watching them jump and move about and some of them were eating too which was fun to watch. 




The snow leopard which was standing right by the fence for everyone to see, Thing 4 was very pleased to see it. 


We had a fantastic day out at Marwell Zoo and would highly recommend it as a full, fun family day out. There are so many animals to see and lots of things to do and learn on your way round. The weather didn't put us off and there were plenty of undercover areas to see animals too. There was also a great indoor picnic area as well as plenty of outdoor space and also Cafe Graze for some great meal choices. 

We of course didn't forget to go into the gift shop before we left and Thing 5 couldn't leave without buying a 'pet sloth' to bring home which hasn't left his side since. 





What's your favourite animal to see at the zoo?



Disclaimer; We were given entry into Marwell Zoo for review purposes. All thoughts and comments are our own. 

















Slimming World mushy pea curry recipe. A very quick and easy meal that is filling too.

Slimming World mushy pea curry recipe


I was told to give this Slimming World mushy pea curry recipe a try but I was a bit dubious like others are when I tell them about it. I have never tried mushy peas before but it's one of those things that you say you don't like even though you've never eaten it! My Dad used to always have them when we had a fish and chip takeaway and I always thought they didn't look nice and I was never one to choose garden peas when it came to having vegetables with my tea anyway.

However, when mushy pea curry was mentioned to me I had to give it a try. I was struggling to cook Slimming World recipes that were quick and easy and I needed inspiration. The mushy pea curry had been mentioned by a few people and all had said it was lovely so I had to see if they were right. When I told the OH what we were having for dinner he turned his nose up too!

RECIPE;

2 small white onions

3 garlic cloves (optional)
Sliced mushrooms (optional)
2 cans of mushy peas
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of baked beans
1/2 to 1 tsp of chili powder depending on how you like it!
2 tbsp of curry powder

Spray a saucepan with frylight and add the 2 onions (diced), garlic cloves (crushed) and sliced mushrooms. Fry off those for around 10 minutes until they have browned and started cooking. Add in the curry powder and chili powder plus all of the tinned ingredients. Mix it all together well and let it simmer away for around 30 minutes. By the end of the cooking time it should be a lovely orangey colour. 


When adding all of the different tinned foods it doesn't look particularly appealing. Mushy peas come out of the can in one solid mass and I really wasn't convinced at the beginning when I was putting it all into the saucepan. However, the proof was in the eating and both myself and the OH were impressed which is how I ended up cooking it a second time and probably for many more meals to come.




This is with some chicken added, although it is a very filling meal even without the chicken in.

With my first batch of mushy pea curry I had browned off some diced chicken in a separate pan and added it to the curry to cook through for half an hour. It was a nice addition but not necessarily needed as the mushy pea curry is very filling. It also makes a decent batch so there was plenty left for the next day for lunch or dinner again!


With my second batch I used a can of chickpeas instead of the baked beans and this also worked well but I did prefer the baked beans over the chickpeas. 


I've also been told that if you take some of the curry and blend it down into a thick sauce it becomes like a chip shop curry sauce which sounds perfect to dip some Slimming World chips into! 


Have you tried the Slimming World mushy pea curry recipe yet? 

Monday, 3 September 2018

What seven seater cars are there on the market?. Vauxhall Zafira, Ford Galaxy & Land rover Discovery sport all tried but......... Dude where's my boot space?

As a family of seven we are always on the lookout for a seven seater car. 

Will our new car fit seven people comfortably?

 Will there be enough boot space too? 

Will the car seats we use for the younger children still fit as well? 


I don't drive so you will wonder why I am even writing this, however this dilemma is a well thought out process between myself and the OH. 

The poor OH would love a nice five seater car to drive around in for work but he has to get a seven seater for all of us to fit in. This limits him on style and street cred! 

Previously we have had a Vauxhall Zafira. A decent sized boot with just five seats. The 2 back seats fold up and down very easily and there were rare times when there was less of us in the car. However with 7 seats up there's enough boot space for a juice cup and one nappy if you are lucky. Forget doing a food shop for those seven people that the car occupies, don't expect to put a decent sized pram in the boot for one of the five children. Stacking anything you do decide to put in the boot is like playing a game of Tetris. 

So after owning 2 Vauxhall Zafiras in recent years we decided to look at something else for our next car. 



A typical journey out in the car with the Things! 


We chose the Ford Galaxy. It had seven seats although lots more space in the seating area than the Zafira it seemed. Boot space was bigger according to a lot of Google searches on the Internet and we were on to a winner. It arrived and we loved it, as I said the seating area and leg room was much more comfortable for all the children. There was ample cubby holes in the roof for hiding jam sandwiches, sweet wrappers, odd socks, nappies and the car keys when Daddy is looking for them but wait........ 

Dude, where's my boot space! 

Now, I don't mean to sound ungrateful but if a car is going to transport seven people I'm guessing some of those people buying that car aren't just going to use it as a people transporter and will need a boot too. Seven people and a weekly shop means keeping the local supermarket in business and needing a decent size boot to get it all home again. Going on holiday with those seven people involves a lot of luggage inc. 20 unnecessary teddies packed because they may all be needed, the blankie that gets dragged everywhere, suitcases, a pram, baby paraphernalia and a partridge in a pear tree. Sometimes the partridge in a pear tree won't fit, but I try! 




The Ford Galaxy looks and is a decent size car for 7 passengers but not if those 7 passengers have any luggage or food shopping requirements.


More recently we went for a Land Rover Discovery Sport. This is the last 7 seater car we will be having so we went for something we wanted rather than necessarily thinking about the space it gave us. It has 7 seats. Again a good size boot with only 5 seats but with 7 you lose most of your boot. We rarely use all 7 seats now. Thing 1 has his own car now and Thing 2 will hopefully be driving in a couple of years too. They are also too cool to be seen out with us olds anyway! 


Land Rover Discovery Sport


Interior 



Middle row of seats


Thing 4 and 5 checking out the seats in the boot



What I'm getting at, car manufacturers of the larger variety, is that we need boot space. If I've got seven people in the car it's likely there is seven lots of baggage to go alongside. I'm a mum of five, as well as transporting them around we also need to do food shops, fit a pushchair in and not have to balance a couple of kids on the roof to do this.

So please, please before you make a car, go to a local supermarket and do the weekly shop of a family of seven and try and fit it in the boot with all seven seats up. Mock up a holiday situation and add suitcases to the boot or consider the smaller children and test out pushchairs in the boot space. 





Thing 4 choosing a new car!

If we are buying a car with seven seats chances are we need to use those seven seats and have a decent boot space too. 

Do you drive a 7 seater car? Which car would you recommend for a larger family? 


Sunday, 2 September 2018

New baby gift guide inc. treats from Sophie la Giraffe, Gumigem, Twisted Twee, Olly & Belle and treats for the new parents from Honeywell Bakes

New baby gift guide



As a new parent there are so many things that need to be bought. I found with each baby I had that things changed and there were so any new products on the market. I decided to put together a new baby gift guide to showcase some products which have caught my eye on the baby product market recently.

With lots of friends and family expecting new babies in the coming months I wanted to see what there was on the market at the moment that could be included in a new baby gift basket. Our youngest is nearing 6 years old and as much as I try and keep in the loop on baby products it is sometimes hard to keep up with all of the newest baby items and products that there is to buy.





Our gift basket ready and waiting. The basket can be used afterwards for more baby items and storage around the home. The long sleeve baby vests were from the Tu collection at Sainburys.


 Whilst putting a new baby gift basket together recently I was sent some wonderful products from some great baby companies. As well as putting in the usual (and essential!) pack of nappies, Johnson's lavender bubble bath, some Child's Farm bubble bath, a long sleeved baby vest and some wooden baby toys I was also sent a wonderful selection of items too.

First up is the very popular Sophie la Girafe. Sophie la Girafe is a rubber squeaky teething toy that was created in 1961. Covering all 5 senses when it comes to baby play she is loved all over the world. We were also sent some milestone cards. These are also becoming very popular and are great for capturing every milestone as they happen. Each card has a different milestone or age printed on them in a colourful design and can be used in pictures to capture an event in babies growth and development. Both item were kindly sent by and can be purchased from Sophie la girafe.




Sophie la Girafe teething toy and milestone cards



Next I had a lovely pendant necklace sent from Gumigem. This is a company who I had heard of but didn't realise how many wonderful products they had to choose from on their website. From hearts pendants to cat pendants, beads, tubes, dad tags, toys and more there is something for everyone. We were sent the Raindrop Pendant in a vibrant orange colour. The pendant is BPA, lead, latex, phthalate free silicon jewellery. This pendant can be worn by Mum, Dad, grandparents etc... and then baby can interact and chew on the pendant. Prices vary across the extensive product range. The raindrop pendant is £12.95. Head to their website to check out the full range on offer.


Gumigem raindrop pendant


The fab people at Twisted Twee sent us a baby vest from their Film Buff Stuff range. Cute little baby vests with popular movie quotes on them. We were sent the 'The Force is Strong in this one' vest. With long or short sleeves its ideal to wear with a pair of trousers. The quotes are lovely and vibrant in colour and there are a few movie quotes to choose from. The vests are handprinted and made from soft organic cotton in white or cream . Priced at £16 they can be found in the kids section of the website. These are an ideal choice for baby clothing that's a bit different from the norm. Along with the matching Pint and Half Pint twin sets this is a must visit website for the perfect baby clothing gift.




Twisted Twee 'Movie Buff' long sleeved vest top



Muslin swaddles. For any expectant parent, grandparent, relative, friend these are a must have baby item. I had muslin squares packed in the change bag, in every room in the house, some at Nanny's house and more often than not one draped over my shoulder wherever I went!!! The lovely people at Olly and Belle sent me the lovely lollipop printed muslin swaddle. These would be the best baby gift you could buy as they are an essential piece of kit for a new baby. Their super soft 100% cotton baby comfort muslins squares measure 22" x 22" and are ideal for swaddling baby as well as a comforter plus the essential over the shoulder cover for burping baby too! You can find Olly & Belle at www.ollyandbelle.co.uk and you can order the muslins by emailing them via the contact tab on their website. The Extra Large muslin swaddles are £10 each.


At Olly & Belle they pride themselves on creating the perfect 100% cotton comfort muslins for parents and babies. They combined super-soft material with classic, unique British designs which babies grow to recognise and love. The comfort muslins are perfectly sized, durable for everyday use and a must have for new parents. Beautiful designs accessorise every outfit, whilst babies and toddlers adore the soft material and silky label.
Parents of newborns, babies and toddlers need muslins on a daily basis and Olly and Belle customers regularly praise the product for its super-soft material combined with beautiful prints.


Olly and Belle large muslin swaddle



Last, but by no means least, is a gift for the new parents. I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to meet the lovely ladies from Honeywell Bakes. Their handmade biscuits are so exquisitely hand crafted and decorated and can be bought for many, many occasions. The new baby/christening biscuits gift box is so sweet. With three each of the elephants and buttons and double the quantity if you go for the larger gift box. We were sent the grey/yellow elephants and there is also other colours to choose from. The biscuits taste lovely, I tried some at a recent press event. The vanilla biscuits are made using local and fairtrade ingredients where possible and the iced deisgns on top are so detailed and extremely cute. The gift boxes start at £20.25 for the Medium set and £26.25 for the Large set (double quantity). As each biscuit is hand made there may be slight variations in each biscuit but this only adds to the unique and wonderful gift for the new parents. They come well wrapped and with the choice of gift card with personalised message. Every new Mum needs some biscuits to keep her energy levels up!. So head to Honeywell Bakes for this lovely gift set and more designs plus other occasions can be found on there too.




Honeywell Bakes new baby biscuits gift set

Now that my youngest is growing up I still try and keep tabs on all of the lovely baby products on the market. I also love to buy for new babies for both friends and family so it's good to know what to buy when you are putting together a gift basket. 


Disclaimer; We were sent these items for the purposes of this gift guide. All thoughts and comments are my own.