Wednesday, 11 November 2015

How to Host a Successful Birthday Party in Five Easy Steps

While the message of the popular hit song, ‘it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’ resonates for its humour and truth, the fact of the matter is that most of us throwing a birthday party do not want to be putting on such displays of emotion in front of their closest friends and family. 

So, the question is, how do you go about throwing an awesome party that everyone gets a kick out of and talks about years down the road?

Step 1: Have friends

It is seriously hard to throw a good party if you have no one to invite. This does not mean you have to be the most popular kid in your school, or the funniest man in the workplace. You can put together a small, intimate gathering, or throw a massive pool party inviting everyone you know. Figure out what you want, and what you think would be make for a fun time.

Step 2: Invite them when they can come

If you figure out a perfect date that only works for you, and your friends and family cannot make it, then what kind of party will you have? An empty one, that’s what. You might as well spend your time alone playing new bingo sites 2016.

Step 3: Cater to their/your preferences

Chances are you and your friends and family have mutual interests, so get creative with fun activities that everyone can enjoy. This might simply mean getting wasted and dancing your booty off until the sun comes up, a fairly generic (but perfectly valid) way of partying. Alternatively, if you are into singing, why not host a karaoke-themed fiesta. Along the same lines, theatre buffs would probably get a kick out of a murder mystery event, a kind of live role-playing game ofCluedo.

Step 4: Find ways to introduce people if they don’t know each other

If you have a diverse group of friends who don’t necessarily know each other, finding activities to break the ice can help make things go smoother. This can be simply serving copious amounts of liquid courage aka alcohol, or it can mean playing group games where you ask questions about each other to get past the awkward stages.

Step 5: Find a killer spot to host it at

For the perfect party, you will need enough space and amenities. Consider asking a friend to use his house for the evening, or even shop around to rent out a healthy space. If you want to go old school and are on a budget, perhaps your parents’ basement will suffice, but make sure to dress it up nicely with colourful lights and decorations.



Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries Partnership!

When I was a child I was always on my bike. We lived on a "modern" estate which was very soulless, but was actually great for children to grow up on. There was hardly any traffic so we could easily play tennis and football in the road, and I rode around on my bike from a very young age all on my own. I discovered pathways and short cuts, raced my friends, explored and best of all, got a shed load of exercise. These days, I am ashamed to say I cannot remember the last time I got on a bike - I seem to be fearful of traffic, in a way I never used to be. Which is a shame, and something I am at pains to work on, as I would really like the boys to become more confident cyclists. 

I was quite excited then, to learn that     Yorkshire Bank has partnered with Cycle Yorkshire to launch the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries initiative across Yorkshire (where I live!).          Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries is a 3 year joint project (from December 2014) with Welcome to Yorkshire’s cycling initiative, Cycle Yorkshire.     The aim is to make cycling more accessible in Yorkshire by providing communities with bike libraries! What a cool idea! Very London/New York.          People are encouraged to amnesty their old bikes and drop them off at the designated donation stations, the donated bikes will make up the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries and be available to individuals, local enterprises and community groups to borrow, so more people, young and old, can enjoy the benefits of cycling! Genius!

So far Yorkshire's bike libraries are located at:-

o   Streetbikes CIC, Huddersfield
o   BeCycling, Bradford
o   Bradford Trident
o   Yorkshire Children’s Centre, Huddersfield
o   Get Cycling, York
o   Club Doncaster, Doncaster
o   ReVolution
o   Fearnville Centre, Leeds

However donation stations are located here and bike libraries can also be seen here.

Fore more information on the whole project, please click here.

Personally I think this is a really exciting idea and something I am behind 100%. The idea of borrowing a bike in a very similar way to borrowing a book is a wonderful idea, especially as new bikes can be really expensive. We actually bought a mountain bike for our 7 year old and it is WAY too heavy for him to ride, so we could just go along to a bike library and borrow something far more suitable. Win/Win!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Kids On A Train: What You Should Know

After the kids watched a Christmas movie about a young boy who travels to the North Pole on a 
train they decided that they wanted to go on a train journey during the following holidays. The fact 
that I’ve always sort of romanticized this type of transportation didn’t hurt either! I will never forget 
that journey nor will I forget the sometimes hard lessons about train travel that I learned either. I did 
a little research online and finally chose a cross country trip that lasted two nights and three days 
(although this actually worked out to two full days on the train).

Save With Coupons

Planning for the trip might involve a lot of different expenses, not only the price of the tickets. 
Rememer to be prepare yourself for all kinds of situations and get everything you need in advance, 
such as appropriate clothes or first aid items, which doesn't have to be expensive when you use a 
Discountrue coupon or take advantage of some of the amazing occasions available to you when 
shopping online.

Book In Advance

Long distance train travel is not as cheap as you might have believed. Depending on what train line 
you’re traveling on and how ‘luxurious’ the compratment is, it could cost as much if not more than 
a plane ticket. But by booking in advance as well as taking advantage of any applicable discounts, I 
was able to save a fair amount on the total price.

Arrive Early

Train travel is not like plane travel in that you have an hour reserved for boarding, then a bit of a 
wait before you’re finally taxing down the runway. Trains have a schedule to keep and they’re very 
often running behind so you have a maximum of about 15 minutes to board and get settled before 
you’re pulling out of the station. So, whatever you do – make sure you arrive early! At least 30 
minutes when you have kids with you, although if they’re very much into the whole experience you 
might just get away with arriving an hour beforehand. This will also give you time to make sure 
you’re on the right platform and find out anything you need to know from the info kiosk or 

Power Outage

Power points are becoming more common on trains but they’re still pretty hit and miss so don’t 
count on them. You may be able to make sure of this beforehand, we booked a sleeper that 
specifically stated there was an outlet available, but again – no guarantee! Some carriages will have 
power outlets at every seat, others will have just one in some weird location like the roof. The 
power outlets in the dining or ‘common room’ carriages will have queues waiting to use them so 
you may be considered a god if you happen to have a power strip in your luggage!

Small Space Entertainment

There is only a little more freedom to move around on a train than what there is on a plane so pull 
out your small space entertainment kit. Remember that power isn’t guaranteed so bring along items 
that don’t need to be charged, are not going to annoy you or fellow passengers and that don’t have 
small parts that can be misplaced. Coloring/puzzle books with triples of each color, matchbox cars, 
action figures and a couple of reading books are great ideas, but if you like child friendly tablet 
games then I would suggest investing in those ‘battery packs’. If you’re using a laptop for movies, 
games or anything else then maybe buy extra batteries – both of these are an investment that will 
never really go to waste!

Pack A Picnic

Pack your own food for the journey and make sure you have plenty of bottled water. The food on 
most trains is exorbitantly expensive and not always edible so you’ll be doing your pocket and your 
stomach a disservice if you don’t have your own snacks and meals. Keep an eye out for stops where 
you can hop out to refill water bottles but do not get out if the train is only stopping for a few 
minutes because they will not wait for you! You won’t have microwaves or anything like that so 
pack a cooler with ice bricks and choose picnic food that is best eaten cold and will keep for a 
while. Things like cold meats, bread rolls, chicken pieces, salads, cheese and crackers as well as a 
couple of soda pops and packets of crisps are good choices.

Final Tips

My last tips are to stock up on baby wipes even if you’re absolutely sure you’ll have shower/basin 
facilities and also your own toilet paper because running out is a highly unpleasant experience for 
everyone involved! But most of all have fun, play a few train games, take plenty of photos and 
watch the scenery rolling past while the clacking of the train lulls you to sleep!

This is a guest post.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Jamie's Italian Leeds

So it's no secret that we love eating out as a family. It's something we did regularly together well before we had children and as soon as Son 1 was born, we introduced him to the joys of eating out early on. All our children are used to sitting in restaurants - they are not always 100% perfectly well behaved but they know the score; they know they have to sit still and can't go running round, they know they have to use their manners and they know we expect them to eat what they choose. We always ensure they choose their own main course so that way they cannot complain! We love going into Leeds and trying the new restaurants that keep popping up all the time, and one of our favourites is Jamie's Italian on Park Row, Leeds. We've been a few times but to be honest never with the children before, so when we were invited along, it seemed like a good chance to try it out en famille!

We booked for midday but owing to an unexpected fun run in Bradford - we were stuck there for over an hour with a screaming baby which was fun - we were AN HOUR late. We rang Jamie's who were very accommodating and told us to not stress and just to get there when we could. I hate being late so this calmed me a little. When we got there I was impressed to see a sign outside that said, "kids eat free" - brilliant idea. But what would the Jamie's Italian Kid's Menu be like? The children were given a pack each full of goodies and fun stuff. Someone really knows their stuff as the contents were perfect for children of 4 and 7. We got stickers, crayons, a puzzle, a game and good colouring. Win!

Now for the really fun stuff and something I have NEVER seen before - the kid's menu could be viewed through this slide viewer (I cannot work out what they are called!) which you "click" to get to the next photo of food! The kids had never seen one before and we had a lot of fun flicking through and explaining to them how it worked. Genius! There is also a paper menu for those who do not like clicking.

Son 2 chose meatballs and pasta for his main course - the waiter was great and let them have as much parmasan as they wanted (they are obsessed with it!) the food tasted great and was perfect for someone his age. He was even given age appropriate cutlery which restaurants NEVER do - but really is quite obvious. Again, genius.

Our five month old baby (I could NOT get a picture of her keeping still so apologies for the blur!) tried out a brand new high chair which was probably one of the best I have seen - I hate those cheap wooden ones you usually see in restaurants - this one had obviously been chosen by someone who actually has experience of eating out with kids - maybe Jamie himself? Who knows? She damaged many serviettes but the waiter kindly replaced them and was not grossed out by the dribbling. Luckily.

Right behind us was this awesome looking servery with delicious breads and oils - sort of sums up Jamie's Italian really. The smell is intoxicating, makes you hungry as soon as you walk in...

Son 1 chose salmon in a bag which came with a "shake me" salad. I had to keep reminding myself that the kids meals were free - the quality was absolutely awesome. He wolfed down the salmon but was less keen on the green beans - maybe peas could have been an option?

I was really impressed by the kids salad - it had ribbons of carrot, grapes, lettuce and tomato. It was a really cute idea and the boys loved it. Anything in a mysterious jar is always a crowd pleaser with kids eh?

Both hubby and I ordered the porchetta which was amazing. It's the sauces and dressings that really set this place apart - the attention to detail is second to none. Yet it's informal and relaxed at the same time as being quite posh if that makes sense?

For pudding the boys chose ice cream which again, was divine. I thoroughly recommend the caramel flavour which was RIGHT on.

For child friendliness you really can't beat Jamies. There were actually loads of families in there - maybe we would have felt slightly more comfortable if the families had been sitting together, I think we would have felt less self conscious about the toilet related jokes that our sons are currently into...

I asked the boys a few questions about their experience...
1. What did you do until your food arrived, "we messed around with this red thing and I drew a lot of pictures of Angry Birds. Only they are secret so do not show ANYONE."
2. What did you eat and did you like it? "I had salmon which was very tasty and healthy at the same time. Salmon makes you live longer so I always order it. Plus it's my favourite. I liked the carrot ribbon I have never had one of those before".
3. Where do you think Italian food comes from? "Obviously it comes from Italy. My best friend is Italian so I know a lot about it. He makes his own pizzas, he didn't like our pizza when he came over to our house to play. He likes playing Fifa on our computer. I also like pasta, in fact salmon with pasta is my most favourite meal ever."
4. Do you like eating out in restaurants? "Yes I do, I like being altogether as a family and we spend time together and chat. Sometimes we play noughts and crosses or spot the difference which is fun. I like sitting next to my mummy. My favourite food is pizza and pasta so I like coming to Italian restaurants. I wish I could have coca cola but mummy said no."

So there you have it! A success! We will be back...

Monday, 26 October 2015

Roxy Lanes Leeds Review

As a family we love a bit of bowling. What's not to like? Family fun? Check! A bit of competitiveness? Check! Problem is that I really do NOT like most bowling alleys. They are kind of dated looking and I always leave feeling slightly grubby, not least because I do NOT like sharing shoes. But the kids like it, it's relatively inexpensive and I get to sit down for a few minutes.

However, now, my feelings about bowling have totally changed thanks to Roxy Lane Leeds. I'm not sure how long Roxy Lanes has been there, but I'm already a MASSIVE fan. They have nice beer, a well stocked bar, and it's in Leeds city centre which is great! I was just saying to my husband that now it's in Leeds, it actually gives us a reason to go into Leeds aside from eating - and it's something for the children to do that doesn't involve trailing around shops too.

Here is the interior - it's super cool, sort of a cross between a trendy New York bar and a beer hall. Throw in some bowling alleys and you've got a recipe for fun times.

There are four lanes, which means there won't be loads of people milling around - great for those trying to keep an eye on their children. The staff were really child friendly and found shoes for my picky children without so much as a quibble. Perfect. We were offered drinks straight away which were the brought over to our lane. I didn't see this myself, but my son claimed to have seen an Angry Birds bowling ball over on one of the other lanes - superb. They have a clever system for bowling whereby the computer knew who was playing and who needed the bars up on the side (though seeing my score at the end maybe I needed them too?!). There is also a rail for children (that you can see in the photo below) as the balls are quite heavy so this solved that problem.

In this photo below you can see hubby bowling with our baby in his arms. A first?!

As you can see it's super modern and sleek - such a refreshing change from most bowling alleys that are pretty grubby and unappealing. We were offered food but due to traffic in Bradford we had a very late lunch so actually didn't have anything to eat. We did see someone else have a burger though and it looked DIVINE. I was actually regretting my decision not to eat on the way home as I kept remembering the smell.

Sleek and trendy
Roxy Lanes is open to children Sunday to Friday 3 - 6pm, and Saturday 10 - 3pm and for £10 a head you get pizza, bowling and unlimited soft drinks. Bargain! A great way to spend a Saturday and Sunday in Leeds or even half term!

To book ring 0113 3221781 (option 2).
1st Floor, The Podium, Bond Street, Leeds, LS1 5BQ (it is above Tesco close to Pret a Manger/Park Row.

For the purpose of this review I was offered a free game of bowling with my family, but all thoughts are my own.

Be Cool Scooby Doo! Giveaway Time!

There's nothing more entertaining than rewatching retro cartoons from childhood - and of course singing the theme tunes. Lol.

One of my favs was Scooby Dooby Doo. I think there are few of us who didn't hide behind the sofa during the scary bits in Scooby Doo. Even hardened horror film watchers. My own children watch it now and are clearly, at times, absolutely terrified, despite watching Star Wars with absolutely no reaction whatsoever. What does that tell you! 

Now, you can watch your favorite team in an all new show,  Be Cool Scooby-Doo!  While one of our favorite cartoons continues to provide entertainment for the whole family, the way our kids watch cartoons is certainly not the same and they seem to expect more than we ever did as children. They want the whole package. Luckily now, they can watch videos, play games and download printable activities on

The Warner Bros Youtube Channel  makes it easy for our kids to watch their favorite mystery squad, on-demand, and from any device.

Scooby-Doo! is giving away a £100 gift card for Amazon, which makes it a great time to check it all out. Watch the video and enter for your chance today!


Friday, 23 October 2015

York's Cold War Bunker

Don't you just love it when your child's new obsession is something totally obscure - like the Cold War for instance? Yes this is an actual thing. I guess it sort of makes sense - for ages Son 1 has been preoccupied in a BIG way with WW2. It started when we went to Normandy a few years ago and has just gone on from there. He is absolutely fascinated with the details of the whole thing - the names of the landing beaches, the different fighter planes, the names of the tanks and various U Boats - I suspect he knows more about it than your average A Level History student! Anyhoo, now his interest has passed to the aftermath of the war - the Berlin Wall, communism and the Soviet Union. I guess it sort of makes sense - the only negative part to this is that is not a huge area of knowledge for me, and so it made sense to go somewhere that would enable him to find out more and have his questions answered! Therefore I jumped at the chance to go and visit York's Cold War Bunker which is looked after by English Heritage. A bit random but there you go!

Luckily it's not too far from our house, but when we get there I was surprised at it's location - it's sort of nestled in between some trendy flats just off a small high street outside of York. Random. We parked up and waited for our tour to begin at 1pm - you have to go on the tour at certain times (see bottom of the post) so make sure you look into that before you go. The other people on our tour seemed to mainly include students from York and other families. The students looked so pleased when they realised they were going to share their tour with small children. Not. The tour guide was a lovely guy - very friendly and knowledgeable. I explained that my son is a bit eccentric and into the details but he said it was fine and that's usually the case with quite a lot of the children who are interested in the bunker. The bunker itself is quite cramped and there is not room for a pushchair so we used a baby carrier. There are toilets but no cafe or anything like that although you can find places to eat on the high street. Going back to the tour guide - he was absolutely unflappable even when my younger son decided to spend quite a lot of time trying to velcro his coat to the tour guide's jumper. Thankfully after twenty or thirty attempts he succeeded - much to the relief of all.

Inside the control room!
I won't go into the contents of the tour as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who goes themselves, but suffice to say it was quite an eye opener as to how serious the threat of missiles during the Cold War actually was. The living conditions inside the bunker looked pretty horrendous - I honestly don't know how people could stand it. It was interesting seeing the locations on the map of all the bunkers across the UK - there are thousands of them all over the place. Who knew?

The only thing I would say is not recommended for children are parts of the video about the effects of nuclear weapons - some of it was very distressing especially as the aftermaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were shown, I covered my son's eyes but my older son got quite upset and left the room until it finished.

Some sort of army related jacket

Outside the bunker. Why wouldn't you take a baby in there?

It was a really interesting tour and something a bit different. I would really recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the post war era and who is keen to expand their knowledge of that area. It's also a part of our heritage so take advantage of it while you can!

Ticket prices are £17.60 for a family and remember you have to go at the following times - no need to book - Entrance by guided tour only, at the following times: 10:00, 11:15, 11:45, 13:00, 14:15, 15:30 and 17:00.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Chunky guacamole and home made tortillas...

Something fun, zesty, healthy and delicious to make on a Sunday afternoon or for a gathering. Total crowd pleaser and super quick to make as well. So here's what you need.
One ripe avocado
One salad tomato
One onion (red if you have one)
Bunch of coriander
Juice of half a lime
Bit of salt
Fresh chillies (use those "lazy chillies" you get in a jar
So, basically put all these things in a bowl like you see in this picture...

Then using your hand mixer thing (you know, the sort of thing you use to puree baby's food) turn it into this! That's it! Obviously you can make is as smooth or chunky as you like depending on taste.
100g of self raising flour
Pinch of salt
Olive oil
Warm water
Mix the flour, salt, a spoonful of olive oil and enough warm water to make this dough.

Break the dough into small balls and then roll them out individually onto a floured surface. They need to be quite thin. When done, heat some more olive oil in a pan and when hot put in your first tortilla. As you can see it doesn't have to be perfectly round. (good job).

It will need flipping when one of the sides is cooked. You will need to keep an eye on it or you may end up with slight burnage (see below).

Break up into strips and place in a bowl with some guacamole on top for a healthy snack. Serve with a Mojito. Standard.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Hot Slings Review

I suffer quite frequently from what's known as "baby stuff envy". I first became aware of this condition when I had my eldest son, and because obsessed with the idea that the pushchair I had chosen was rubbish and not at all trendy and cool. About five pushchairs later and I wish I had kept the original pushchair! All around me I see other mums with what I consider to be better pushchairs, cooler baby toys, more easily accessed changing bags etc etc. So a few months ago when I was on a train, and I saw a very calm looking mum with her Hot Sling baby carrier, I knew I had to have one. Luckily the kind people at Hot Slings sent me one of their beautiful carriers for the purpose of review, and here it is!
The idea is that rather than faffing around like some sort contortionist trying to attach your baby to your body with a complicated sling/carrier, you simply pop this over your head and baby slides right in. I have to say it is much quicker and simpler to use than any other sling I have tried.  There are also foolproof hints and tips on the sling itself so you literally CANNOT get it wrong. See below.
There are a few positions for holding baby which you can see ably demonstrated in this video.

For us, the best carrying position is definitely the hip carry. It's a very natural position to carry your baby in and also means that if you are at a playgroup or something, you can carry your baby around with you without the impact this usually has on your back and arms.

We chose the Overcast Design as I thought it's quite a neutral colour it will go with anything.

Times when I would choose to use this sling:-

  • on the school run
  • nipping out quickly into a shop
  • going from car to play group
  • whilst in a play group - walking around
  • sitting down
Times when I would probably not use it:-

  • on a long walk
  • if I had several heavy bags as I like to use one hand to hold baby girl in place
I think that's it! But then I would probably not use any sling or carrier in these situations.

I was very impressed with both the thoroughness of the instructions and the quality of the material for this sling - to me, along with the safety of course, these are the two most important factors. I also like the fact that it packs up really small in its pouch so I can easily put it in my changing bag. There are two sizes - regular and large. I think in hindsight I might have been slightly better with the large, mainly because baby girl is quite a big baby and I (ahem) am not as slim as I once was. Having said that the sling is totally adjustable so you can alter it to make it work for you.

I really recommend this sling - it's great quality, good value for money, safe, looks awesome, is comfortable (more so than those carriers with loads of clips and straps), and most of all baby girl loves it! In fact she seems to drift off to sleep as soon as she is in it, probably because of the warmth and closeness of our bodies.

I'm also pleased to announce that I have a 25% off offer code to share with my lovely leaders! Use code bargainmum to claim your offer and can be used across the whole Hot Slings website. Shipping is $5.95 even to the UK.

I was sent this Hot Sling for the purpose of review, but all thoughts are my own.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Top five gifts for children...

I can’t really speak for every child in the world, but I can speak for a few of them and for my own! If you are stuck for ideas for birthday presents for your child (after all who wants more plastic tat in their lives?) then here are a few of the best...

Give a child the an ability to learn new things! For instance, pay for a dance, music or art class and help to learn new stuff and improve skills as well. Also, classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy. So that is really the perfect gift for sure! With long term benefits too.

Gift Vouchers
Better than money as it won't get frittered away -  you can give children gift vouchers he or she can spend in special stores. There are loads of options for this, for instance overstock coupons from! Or you can create your own  like “I'll do one chore no questions asked” or “movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!” It will not only empower your child but also let them feel really appreciated.

I love to give books too since it lets children learn new stuff and is a nice quiet activity. Just know what books are appropriate and in keeping with your child's interests. Or maybe you have your own favorite book from childhood you loved a lot?! We've done that a few times and it's so much more meaningful if it's a book you've read yourself.

Subscriptions also work well as a present. My children are always hassling us to buy them comics and if there's a free gift, it's even more of a crowd pleaser. I also like the fact that it gives children an incentive to read. My 7 year old loves reading and I think he finds comics more manageable that a whole book.

Spending time together is obviously also a great gift to a child - the gift of time. Go to the theatre, a theme park, the cinema or out for a picnic, it doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  Local fairs and shows though mainly in the Summer, are a great way to spend time together and support local events at the same time. We always go to that kind of thing as there is something for everyone and it gets us out of the house.

What are your top tips for finding the perfect gift?

This is a guest post.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Scooby Doo Lego - Yes That's A Thing!

We went into Leeds on Sunday with the aim in mind of going to a super hero convention at the Marriott hotel. Unfortunately when we got there, we realised we had got the wrong day. To say the boys were disappointed would be a massive understatement! It was highly annoying especially as we had got up really early to go and it had taken an hour to get there. Argh! 

To make it up to them we took them to the Lego shop. Although it didn't open until 11am, so we had to wait around, have some delicious brunch, that sort of thing. When we did eventually get in we gave a £10 maximum spend per child (which severely limited our choice let me tell you) but in between tantrums I DID notice that Lego are now doing Scooby Doo sets! YIKES how awesome is that? Sadly my boys aren't into Scooby Doo at the moment, mainly because they find the cartoons rather terrifying. But I know plenty of kids are - I used to be one of them! If yours are also fans of Scoob, check out these amazing Scooby-Doo stop motion videos created using the brand new LEGO Scooby-Doo sets!  New videos will be uploaded weekly – so be sure to visit and subscribe to the WB Kids YouTube channel

Even more excitingly, you can complete the instructions on the widget below to be in with a chance to win £150 gift voucher from Smyths Toys so you can get a set yourself!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a guest post. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Top Tips for Moving House With Children...

Last April, a very heavily pregnant woman (me) with only four weeks to go before my due date, moved house along with my husband and two children. I was actually geared up for it to be MEGA stressful, and in the event it was actually ok. I think we were lucky in that the people who bought our house, and the people we bought from were nice people, so no-one tried any funny business at the last minute.

We accepted less on our house in the end than we wanted, but it was last chance saloon for us really to get moved before baby number 3. I'm really glad we did that now as it's impossible to do very much when you've got a small baby in tow, plus being woken up night after night is REALLY tiring, which makes things even more stressful. We were lucky that a suitable house just happened to come on the market after we accepted an offer on ours, and those people were happy to ship out and go into rented, even though their house sold a bit quicker than they were expecting. It can happen that way sometimes.

The legal process was quite straight forward, with the only minor hiccup being a tree preservation order in our old garden which we required some paperwork for. The hardest thing was definitely the packing, it seemed to take forever. Luckily we had a garage to store all the packed boxes in, so we just piled them up and up. We also sold and gave away a LOT of stuff, which was really important as there's nothing worse than paying to transport things you don't even need. Our kids naturally found the whole thing rather trying; having to stay out of the way when people came round for viewings, not being allowed to get their toys out until people had gone etc. My oldest son found it particularly hard as that house had been his home for seven years and he was very attached to his large bedroom. Incidentally our moving day was the same day he started a worrying head tic, but that's another story.

This infographic from Volition Removals is super helpful, I wish I had seen this before we moved, some really helpful tips...

Moving House With Children 
attribution to
Here are my top tips, including some of these:-
1) On moving day, DEFINITELY have someone else look after your children. It's downright dangerous having the kids wandering round with all the furniture being shifted etc. Have them stay overnight if possible so you can get some proper rest after you've moved.
2) Hire a local company to move you - steer clear of the national companies, they are much more expensive than going local.
3) Do not try and do any heavy lifting yourself. That' what you are paying for!
4) Get wardrobe boxes so you don't have to take all your clothes off their hangers - wardrobe boxes are big enough to just hang everything up, this saves a LOT of time.
5) Start packing about two weeks before your move, if possible pile up boxes in one place, preferably in a secure garage or near the front of your house.
6) Warn your neighbours! We didn't do this and by a bizarre twist of fate ended up moving on the same day as our next door neighbours. This involved me shouting a bit as they nabbed the space we were saving for our removal van.
7) Definitely arrange for the children to say goodbye. We didn't do this and even now the children yearn for the old house. For them there has been no closure.
8) Arrange a treat for the children for when they come to their new bedrooms, a little present or something. It's a big upheaval for them and it's worth remembering that.
9) Be prepared for them having trouble sleeping for the first few nights, or even weeks! You may have trouble sleeping yourself as you get used to your new environment.
10) Let your children have friends over to play as soon as you are settled in your new home. Let them explore the house together to make it seem more exciting! Play hide and seek together!

What are your top tips for moving with children?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Batman Unlimited Clip and Super Hero Giveaway!

What is it about little boys (and girls I'm sure) and super heroes? Batman especially is mega popular in our house at the moment. It's taken a while for my oldest son to get into that sort of thing, but now he's SUPER obsessed, which means by youngest son is obsessed too, naturally! I know they are going to be super excited when I show them the clip below for Batman Unlimited. Superheroes, villains, bad guys, robberies and a bit of mild violence, what's not to like?! If like me, your house is a super hero fun ground (!) you can create your own ultimate super hero with a fun name, look, powers and more by clicking here!  Also check out some of the amazing new videos from Warner Bros, including favorites such as Scooby Doo  & Batman Unlimited . There will be many more updates over the next year, so don't forget to subscribe to their channels! Yippee! 

Click here for DCKids Channel 
and here for WBKids Channel:


There is also an awesome giveaway to win an amazing gift set from Warner Bros. Including Teen Titans Go action figures & T-Tower set, A Batman Unlimited action figure, DC Super Friends gift set and Batmobile. ENTER HERE!

This is a guest post.  The giveaway is run by a separate organisation and has just been mentioned here for interest and is in no way connected with Pret A Mummy. Thanks!

Brogue Tan Chelsea Boots - How Much?!

So as is traditional at this time of year, I've been on the lookout for a new pair of boots. I wear boots so much in Winter that I pretty much wear out a pair every year. Last year though, I got wise to it and bought a better quality pair in the first place that can be repaired each year for further wearing. But I can't shake the habit! One thing I've been on the lookout for, for many years, is a really stunning pair of chelsea boots. Having size 8 (and the rest) feet, I have to be really careful with flat shoes as they can make my feet look even bigger (if that's possible). With that in mind, I thought it might work if I get some boots that are not a simple block colour to sort of, break my feet up a bit. Not literally of course.

So this year I've decided to go for it, I'm going to get some! Thing is, I've got in mind that I want tan, which makes my search that much harder. Maybe they will make my feet look bigger than black would, who knows?

After extensive googling I have narrowed it down to two pairs, only thing is, they don't come cheap.

Here is my first option from Moda in Pelle.

Moda in Pelle Calisee Boots £109
Now the thing is, although I love the colour and brogue design, I'm not so crazy about the rounded toe-ness of these boots. More to the point, I've already tried them on and they were a smidgin too tight. Thwarted! I also noticed that the spray that they've used to make them tan is a bit uneven around the buckles and you can clearly see the bits they've missed, not great for £109. Now I don't know if these still work, but there are two offer codes you can use to get money off Moda in Pelle - try GIFT4H9 or EVENT20 if you do fancy these.

Now back to business. Since these were clearly a no no  I've decided to go for these Slow Tan Chelsea Boots from Kurt Geiger, though at £165 they are seriously exxy. What do you think?
Kurt Geiger Slow Tan Chelsea Boots £165
They also have an offer code which gives 20% off - KGTWENTY.

From what I can see, I think I prefer these ones due to the better detailing and the more pointy toe. Whether I can get my mammoth feet into them is another matter.  I did spot cheaper deals than this in various places but alas not in my size. ASOS have some for £115 here, wish I was a 7. The reviews are great, feeling excited! I promise to look after these...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Little Bou Review!

I have a giant baby. Actually, all my babies have been giant babies. I don't know if it's genetic or a case of overfeeding/greed but there you have it! My baby girl is almost four months old already and has jumped up from the 75th to the 98th centile. Eek! Funnily enough she isn't feeding loads, though she does like to lie next to me at night time and have a feed pretty much whenever she feels like it. Tiring.  What this means though in practical terms is that my four month old baby is now in 9 - 12 clothes! I'm never sure about sizing anyway as it seems to vary so much from shop to shop .M&S are usually quite generous sizes for instance, whilst I think Next are quite small.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you a LOVELY online boutique called Little Bou, which was originally aimed at boys, but now has lots of girls clothes as well! It's actually quite refreshing for boys to be considered for a change, with my two older children, it was always a battle to find them really nice clothing, and my eye was always drawn wistfully to the girls section in shops.

Seems I'm not the only one;-

"Since its foundation in 2009 Little Bou was on a mission: offer a wide range of stylish, high quality, practical and playful clothes for boys. Spurred by the very limited choice of style and quality in boys’ clothing offered by major retailers we handpick from the best children’s brands across the world: Mini A Ture, FUB, Bonnie Baby, Yporque, Finger in the Nose, Ej Sikke Lej, Milibe, Boys & Girls to name just a few."

Anyway, I was lucky enough to be sent this beautiful romper suit from Little Bou, which can be found here. What really sets it apart is the quality of the fabric, the cotton is thick and soft and is totally different to the sort of thing you buy in high street shops. I showed it to my mum when it arrived and her first words were "ooooh!" I also love the design, a few years ago I wouldn't have even noticed this sort of thing, but my colleagues at twinkl have educated me about good design, and I think I have a much better eye for it now.

Anyway, here is the little lady in all her glory. This was as still as I could get her to stay so sorry for the blurring...

The sizing on this is great as the suit is 6 - 9 months which fits her perfectly. You really do notice the amazing quality, and as my friend Jemma says, you're better spending a bit more in the first place as then it lasts SO much longer. True words.

Beautiful outfit and I will definitely be looking for clothes for the boys at Little Bou in future.

For the purpose of this review I was gifted the romper suit mentioned in my blog post, but all thoughts are my own and I do really love Little Bou!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Free Your Mind!

Recently we took the decision to get rid of one of our cars, taking us down to a one car family. The decision to do this wasn't really financial, it was more us not being able to make a decision about what we wanted to do. I had a Fiesta on a lease deal and when the deal was up we either had to buy the car and hand it back. In the end we ran out of time and so simply handed the car back and haven't got around to getting another one yet! With three children it's difficult to know what's best to do, so we've just done nothing! The one car thing is actually fine and to be honest, I feel quite "free" not having to maintain and pay for two cars. It's sort of liberating not being "owned" by something that's actually quite demanding - I had to keep it clean and was continuously having to put petrol in (imagine that!). Funny how you think you own something, but actually it ends up owning you.

When we moved house a few months ago, in the same way, it felt really cathartic to get rid of so much JUNK. A lot of it I sold to people in the local area of gave to charity. But one thing we still have masses left of are our books and CDs. Now that we both have kindles, we rarely buy books anymore. Part of me is sad about that - I remember reading books of my parents as a teenager, books that I otherwise would never have heard of and it has stood me in good stead. Stuff like the Brontes and Jane Austin, who are still my favourite authors today. But the fact is that we just don't have the room for a load of books anymore, and I can't stand the smell! My husband has a LOT of sports related biographies and they all seem to be hard back, they are HUGE and take up so much room. At the moment all our books are still in boxes in the garage, which is where I think they will probably remain.

CDs as well, since we met in our late twenties and were both teenages in the 90s, we have many many CDs, a lot of which are duplicate. Back in those days, CDs were pretty expensive, often £15 each (hard to believe now) so I'm a bit loathe to just give these away. We have thousands of pounds worth of CDs, but once I've downloaded them all onto iTunes (which one day I WILL do), I'm not really sure what I will do with them all? I did see an advert on TV though for something that I may give a try, a website called Ziffit. The idea is that you scan all your unwanted books and CDs using an app to get an instant price, then put them all into one large box ready to be collected by a courier. Ziffit then transfer the money into your PayPal account - easy eh! As a busy mum I particularly like the idea of things being collected from my house = little effort on my part!

So get rid of your stuff, declutter, feel freer and earn money!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Feeding baby on holiday and BIG flood...

Holidaying with three young children certainly has its challenges! We've had a great week away in Cornwall, but I was pretty glad to be home yesterday. Well sort of, that is until I opened the front door and a huge stinky smell greeted me. Yes, our downstairs toilet had leaked - something as simple as  washer that needed replacing but OH the damage. The flooring has all started curling up already and the smell, well, it's indescribable. Worst of all our brand new carpet needs totally replacing. Weep!

The flood

Total nightmare. Back to Cornwall, it's definitely my favourite place to holiday in the UK. There's loads to do for young children and even things for grown ups too - especially if you are a bit of a foodie. We actually managed to fit in TWO visits to Camel Valley Vinyard this year for some tasting. The only thing that annoys me about that place is that you have to pay for a tasting, even if you buy a crate of wine. And the tastings are not cheap. Still, it's worth it for the beautiful views and "champagne".  Course we visited Padstow as well for Fish and Chips a la Rick Stein. I also highly recommend Tintagel - lots of things to do there especially for battle obsessed boys (or girls!).

Padstow, Cornwall
Being on holiday whilst breastfeeding pretty much sucks (pardon the pun). Breastfeeding at home is no biggie but when you're on the move it presents many challenges; the pillows are never the same as the ones you prop yourself up on at home, the sofa is too soft to sit comfortably, baby will never sleep in the cot, you are constantly forced to feed outdoors which means sitting in the cold and rain with your bits and bobs exposed. It was actually when we were on holiday with Son 1 that I gave up breastfeeding many years ago, and I can see how it happened.  Course my little girl did choose this week to start "fussing" whilst feeding which resulted in many innocent customers in various cafes being inadvertently squirted whilst she faffed about.  Now we're home it's much easier again, maybe because I'm more relaxed too, who knows.

All this sofa time means that I need plenty to entertain me whilst baby is feeding - which has resulted in me spending a lot of time on the internet. I know a lot of mums enjoy playing free bingo online whilst they are on maternity leave to help pass the time and as a bit of a hobby which makes total sense. I know the feeding won't be forever so I'm trying to stick with it and stay positive, and of course there are many many benefits both for baby and me. 

What do you do to help pass the time when you're feeding?

This post was written in collaboration with Bingo Extra.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Summer Holidays

Last May I was pretty much stuck in a rut. Despite having a job I love and working from home so I could theoretically spend time with my children, I was actually more exhausted than ever. I had become very tired and was unable to switch off. I don't think I realised how wound up with stress - all self imflicted - I was. I needed a break and so we took the family down to Cornwall for May half term. The different pace of life struck me immediately, and I started fantasizing about how life at that pace is so much more enjoyable. I realised that I hardly ever went outdoors and the exposure to the sun had an impact on me psychologically. I started enjoying food again and actively sought out my favourites like lobster and seafood. That holiday was a real awakening for me and reminded me to live my life, rather than just watch it pass me by

Wine Tasting in Cornwall, such a happy memory.
 We spent time as a family doing things we all enjoyed - eating, playing on the sand, exploring castles and caves. Having many many cream teas and just generally chilling out. I realised I had been living on caffeine to get me through the day, and waiting for a glass of wine in the evening to calm me down again. It's no way to live. The silly thing is though, that the stress was totally self imposed and I guess is one of the down sides to working on your own at home - I was forgetting to take breaks and was blurring the lines between work and home life. Even in the evenings I couldn't switch off from checking my emails and social media accounts. I was trapped in a prison of my own making.

Goat feeding in Cornwall
 The break also gave me a chance to reconnect with my children again, find out what makes them tick and I discovered my youngest son's love of animals - and my oldest son's fear of them!

Our swiss style chalet in Cornwall
When I came back from holiday I was determined to not slip back into my old habits. I started going for walks or runs at lunchtime. I finished work on time having achieved my objectives, and in the evenings I started leaving my iPhone on my desk rather than constantly picking it up in the lounge. I also ditched the caffeine and the alcohol for a while and started BREATHING deeply again. It was amazing how much better I felt in a short space of time.

I still harbour fantasies of moving to Cornwall someday. It's my favourite place to holiday - as long as the weather is good.

This Summer we are going back to the same place in Cornwall and I can't wait. There's something really special about the place and it will always be a place of retreat for me and my family. With my oldest son having major problems with change, holidays aren't always easy for us. But I'm hoping as it's somewhere we've been before it should make things easier for us all.

Post in collaboration with TheCircle


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