Wednesday, 7 October 2015


Fisher Price Car Bed


Space is something that I find myself searching for in every sense of the word since becoming a parent. In past years I have searched high and low for a space where I could have time just for me, space to let my hair down and remember that I am more than just Leo's Mother. Space where I can escape work, and mundane day to day life in dreams of something more exciting 

In times of muddle I have searched for space to store the accumulations of material objects that life likes to bring to your front door. Nick nacks, books, old clothes and DVDs, everyday items that need a home, but seem to take refuge in every nook. space and cranny. 

Leo's bedroom for instance is the absolute perfect example of this, that boy has toys coming out of his ears, that refuse to stay in the allocated toy boxes, he has clothes a plenty and more 'stuff' than you can shake a stick at. What he doesn't have is space. Space that can be used productively, space that can be used actively. Space that can be enjoyed, space where he can learn.

I have been thinking recently about giving his entire room an over haul now that he is at school, because the space is there to be made the most of, it just means that we need to make a few investments in order to harness the reigns and achieve what we want to achieve with what's available. 

With Leo being at school it means that really I need to take a look at a quiet space where he has the room to sit down at a desk, where he can keep his books, where he can practice his reading and where he can write out those very first shaky words so that they can grow and flourish into sentences, stories and experiences. 

I need to provide Leo with his very own room to grow. A space that is practical and clear of clutter for the time that he is learning. 

One of the storage solutions I have been considering over the last few months, is something that Leo has been very excited about. A brand new mid sleeper bed that boasts a pull out desk. This would provide my little man with the best of both worlds, he would gain more floor space thanks to the built in storage solutions. He would have that space I long to give him for his studies, space that is only going to become even more necessary as the years roll by and his studies continue.

Of course for Leo those benefits are nothing, what he is excited about is the ladder, the ladder going up to his bed in the sky. It's a conversation that we have had many times before, and now that he is 4 and at school, I think he might be ready for his very first full size bed. It might be time to bid farewell to his Car Bed that he has loved since he was 2 years old. 

Space is so many things to so many different people, 
What is it to you? 

Fisher Price Car Bed

Tips and Tricks for Getting Children to Tidy Their Room

Parents will likely be familiar with the weekly battle to get the kids to tidy their rooms. Sometimes the stress this causes doesn't feel worth the end result, so why bother? In short, as parents, teaching our children how to keep their space and possessions calm and tidy is about far more than ending the day with a clean house. It is about organisation, discipline, establishing routines and taking responsibility.

1.  Set an Example

It might seem obvious to adults, but unless children are taught to tidy up after themselves, it simply won’t cross their minds. One way to instil this from an early age is by example. If your children see you taking pride in your home, it will become the norm. That doesn't mean that we should place a huge emphasis on material things, but creating a peaceful, safe and comfortable haven is an important part of surviving the tougher times that might come.

2. Pride of Place

If children have their own space - whether it’s their own room, a corner of a room, or even just a shelf - they are likely to want to keep it looking nice. Encourage them to personalise the space and they will take pride in it. For example, let them choose a certain shade of paint, put up pictures or decorate storage boxes.

3. Expectations

Unless the have a clear definition of what a clean and tidy room means, most children will struggle with the concept. Sometimes it helps to provide them with a visual checklist they can follow. For younger children, using pictures is useful. Older children can usually cope with a list of simple steps to follow, such as:

1. Rubbish in bin.
2. Dirty washing in laundry basket.
3. Make bed.
4. Stack books.
5. Toys in toy box.

It really helps if you have agreed in advance where everything goes. The old saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” really rings true when it comes to making it easier for children to tidy up after themselves. Spend time with your child labelling boxes and choosing homes for each toy. Thuka cabin beds are great for storage.

4. Too much stuff for your closets?

The more your children have, the more difficult they will find it to keep things tidy. If you find that your children are collecting an unmanageable amount of possessions, why not implement a “one in, one out” rule? When a new toy is acquired, an old one should be given away to charity or recycled. This is also a great way to teach children about giving to those less fortunate than themselves.

5. Working Together

Initially, children might find the task of tidying a whole room overwhelming. Working together through the steps will enable them to become more confident about the process. It can also provide some much-needed quality time together.

6. Setting some standards

There are some areas where you can reach a compromise, but others where you just can’t. For example, leaving toys out on the floor overnight so a game can be continued the next day is completely acceptable, but leaving dirty mugs or festering laundry under the bed for weeks on end is clearly not okay.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Life and Times of the Working Mum: Firework Buying Guide

It's that time of year again, and if you haven't already seen those sparkles in the sky, then it won't be long before you hear the first explosions of fireworks as they light up the darkness. We have taken Leo along to a display multiple times a year since he was a baby, and he has grown up to adore them. Not once has he been worried of scared as they explode into the most beautiful of colours and shapes, and he has always looked forward to attending displays whether they are for Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas or New Year. 

As a nation we love fireworks but with this love comes great responsibility. This responsibility is something that we have tried to instill in Leo from a young age. No matter how fun and beautiful fireworks are, they aren't toys and should be treated accordingly. Fireworks are dangerous, they have the power to damage and destroy, but of course they are enjoyable and we want the occasions that fireworks are involved to be special, but we want them first and foremost, be safe.

As the start of the season is upon us, I thought now was a great time to run through some points on how to make the very most of firework displays and of course enjoy them in a safe environment. Especially if you are putting on your very own firework display from home.

The Life and Times of the Working Mum's Firework Buying Guide

First things first...
Choose which type of fireworks you want
Always sore fireworks safely, away from naked flames and water. Always read the instructions carefully before using them.

There are such a wide variety of different fireworks and it is important to be familiar with what you are purchasing:
- Sparklers: A firm favourite with the young and the young at heart. Supervision is required at all ties and really shouldn't be used by a child under the age of five, and even then gloves should be worn to protect their hands, as sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 2000°C.

Fountain: A ground-based firework, which emits showers of crackling, glittering sparks and light effects that can reach up to 6 metres (20ft).

- Mine: A spectacular explosion of colours and effects, starting with a ground level fountain, which builds up to a sudden, unexpected burst of aerial plumes and stars.

- Roman candle: Roman candle fireworks shoot out a brilliant array of stars, coloured balls, bangs and flashes.

- Rocket: An aerial firework, which is propelled into the sky by a rocket motor, leaving a trail of stars and finishing with a delightful burst.

- Shot tube: Single shot Roman candles that create big starbursts and crackles with a glittering tail.

- Cake: cake fireworks are essentially a group of multi-shot Roman Candles fused together, making them fire in rapid succession to create a vibrant aerial firework display by lighting a single fuse.

- Single Ignition: A very large cake, single ignition fireworks produce massive aerial bursts, a choreographed barrage of light and sound.

What to consider when buying your fireworks:
- Only buy from a licensed retailer. It's illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18.
- Only buy fireworks that comply with British Standard 7114 or its European equivalent. Instructions should be in English
- Only buy fireworks in full packs. Don't buy loose fireworks or packs with fireworks taken out of them.

Firework Code (As per the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework, using a torch (never a flame) if necessary.
- Light the firework at arm's length with a long taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
- Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
- Children and young people should stand at a distance from fireworks and only handle sparklers, when they should wear gloves and extinguish used sparklers in a bucket of sand or water. Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. Adults should also take care of the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.
Of course all of this is so that the experience can be an enjoyable one, and the back drop to create some fantastic memories that will be cherished for many years to come. Leo and I intend to enjoy as many shows as we can this year, and it all starts at the end of this month! 
Have you got any booked in the diary yet?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Fun Halloween Ideas To Keep Kids Busy All Month

Inclement weather and the turn of the seasons can be an incredibly expensive time for many parents. With outdoors activities limited – and spending too much time out in the wet and cold being as detrimental to your child’s health as not spending any time outside at all – the cost of keeping your children occupied can be expensive.

Tickets to the cinema, bowling, video games, DVDs etc. can soon mount up and are short-term solutions to boredom. Halloween is fast approaching and with it an opportunity to keep the children occupied and enjoying themselves.

If you are planning a Halloween party – or even if you’re not – these fun, crafty ideas will keep the children busy for weekends at a time and will help build the anticipation of what is fast becoming a family favourite UK festivity. Decorate your child’s bedroom, and the rest of the house, with these fun ‘spooky’ decorations that can be reused year after year.

Your recycling box is a treasure trove of materials for Halloween decorations so before you throw it out, think about what can be repurposed with a little bit of creative attention.

Egg boxes make wonderful bats that you can hang from pretty much anywhere. Three cups will make the body and two wings. Shape the outer two cups into wings by cutting a ‘w’ shape out of them. Paint the whole thing black and stick two googly eyes on them, or paint two eyes on, and two dots of paint or glued on triangles of paper to make the teeth. Thread them with string or ribbon and hand them around the house.

Create a ghostly wall mural in your child’s bedroom by painting dried fallen leaves white and using a black marker pen to draw two eyes and a spooky ‘oooh’ mouth and stick them to the wall with blu-tack.

Halloween Kids

Decorate your child’s bed with fake webbing, or cheese cloth, and use a dry paint or make-up brush to dab it with baby powder to give it an aged, haunted house look – the baby power will vacuum right off or lift when wiped with a damp cloth. You could visit Bedstar to get a playful novelty bed that would last beyond Halloween and become a feature of your child’s bedroom for years to come. A Princess carriage, fire engine, London bus or racing car will provide hours of make believe play when the rain is pouring down.

Make gruesome illusions of heads in jars with a little bit of food colouring, water and a photo. Get a headshot with a plain white background, place it inside a jar and fill it with water coloured with a few drops of green or yellow food colouring. Use smaller jam jars for a ‘shrunken head’ look.

Paint old glass jars or bottles to make them look like Halloween characters and use them as themed desk-tidies.

Use plain black bin bags to create dramatic and super cheap spider’s webs by following these instructions.

Value orange tissue-paper balls from a craft shop can easily be made into a variety of pumpkins with some black card, scissors and glue. Just cut out the eye, nose and mouth shapes and glue them to your paper balls. Hang them around the house or use drawing pins to suspend them from the ceiling in your child’s room.

Halloween Kids

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Marvel Kids UK: SPIDER-MAN Rescue Mission Review

Marvel Kids UK

Leo is growing up, and its apparent in every way shape and form these days. From starting school to the tv shows and characters that he is now taking a liking to. He is growing up. Very recently he has been fascinated by super heroes, Marvel and SPIDER-MAN being a very big hit with him, from the cartoons on the television to the toys in the supermarket. It was only a few weeks ago we walked a few pounds lighter with a Spiderman doll instead of a packet of sweets...

We recently discovered Marvel Kids UK over on Disney where they have a fun selection of games for children who like Leo, LOVE superheros. There are 8 different SPIDER-MAN games and 7 Avengers available to play, and obviously Leo has been swaying towards SPIDER-MAN. Thankfully with 8 different games to choose from it provides an element of choice. It has been a nice way to break up the afternoon after a long day at school, and I think he has been thankful for the downtime that he get's from it.

Marvel Kids UK

A firm favorite has become SPIDER-MAN Rescue Mission. It reminds me of the traditional computer games that I used to play as a young girl. The arrows move you left and right, the space bar makes you jump and the idea is to navigate through the digital world, taking out bad guys and collecting items that will help you on your journey. 

All of the controls are stipulated before you enter the game and tell you how to get SPIDER-MAN around the world safely. You can choose different levels of game play: EASY, MEDIUM and HARD, Leo and I have both been enjoying the easy setting, and I tell you what it is still catching us out!

Marvel Kids UK

Marvel Kids UK

Admittedly while Leo has been at school I have had a little play myself, and as much as I want to be able to say it's really easy... I struggle! There is a certain part of the game I just cannot get past, and because I am such a determined person, this does not sit well with me at all. This is exactly why I have been re-visiting the site and and trying time and time again. 

Leo thinks it's all rather hilarious because he's a little superstar at it, and because Mummy cannot do it for love nor money, he is having one big giggle at my expense. 

I have shown Leo how to use the controls and he seems really happy with it. Anything like this he just takes to like a duck to water, which may be super now that he is at school. 

Leo and I both really like the selection of games over on Marvel Kids UK and I am sure that Leo will now be making his way through the library of different games over the weeks ahead.

Christmas is Coming

It might seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas in September, but you only have to pop into your local super market and you will see that absolutely EVERYONE is already getting swept up into the Christmas spirit. Christmas just seems to come around earlier each and every year, and I believe that is because everyone starts to prepare for it earlier each year, if it's not the financial side of planning for the big day, then it's the organisation, because let's face it...Christmas requires a lot of organisation.

This year with Leo being 4, I am more excited than ever to start getting preparations underway. There is so much that I am looking forward to wowing him with, because the true magic of Christmas is all seeing and all knowing this year. Faeries, Santa Clause, Elves are already running around Leo's head, and the excitement is already brewing (Yup I know.. It's still September!'.

Santa has always brought Leo a new pair of Pajama's on Christmas Eve, but this year there is talk of a Christmas Eve box, that will be full to bursting with fun activities to enjoy, think hot chocolate, Christmas films, new slippers and new PJ's!

It may not surprise you that my thoughts have already turned to Christmas Stockings.., 

I have put together a stocking for Leo each year, it's a tradition that I love. I don't spend a fortune on them, they are just fun little bits and bobs, little trinkets that he enjoys opening as much as I did putting them together for him. This year I thought about what I actually spend on the stocking and the contents, and decided to have a look at the pre-filled stockings that you can get readily made up. 

They are a great idea if you have looked high and low for the perfect contents, already have a budget in mind, or cannot find a decent sized stocking to hold everything. Stocking Fillers have a number of different stockings for a wide range of people:

- Girl Stocking 3 Plus
- Girl Stocking 8 Plus
- Girl Stocking 14 Plus
- Boy Stocking 8 Plus
- Boy Stocking 14 Plus
- Male Stocking

We are now prepared with both a Boy Stocking for he ages of 3 and up, which is absolutely perfect for Leo, and a Female Stocking for myself. The clever aspect of buying a pre-packaged stocking is that you can actually make a saving (33% to be exact!) on the full price of the items that are within. The stockings are full of toys and games suitable for the ages you are ordering for, and I have to say that I have been very impressed with the over all quality of the stockings, 

The felt stockings are a great size at 56cm, and you only have to touch them to know that they are full of goodies! I have kept them hidden from Leo, so he has no idea right now. 

I may be pretty well prepared in some aspects of getting ready for Christmas, but I am yet to actually start Christmas shopping! Now Leo is in school though I am going to start strategically planning what it is we need to purchase, and start budgeting for the festive season.


Friday, 18 September 2015

How to make Cacao Hot Chocolate

It was earlier this year that I first heard about Cacao. You read right, I am not talking about conventional Cocoa, I scoured Tesco's, up and down each and every aisle trying to locate this mysterious ingredient. At first I thought that it was just a spelling mistake, and when I couldn't find the product in Tesco..I opted for just using Cocoa. Google had confirmed that Cacao was indeed a real substance, and I now know that cacao powder is a healthy alternative to conventional over-processed “cocoa” used for baking or hot chocolate! 

I use Cacao for so many different, and tasty treats. Just because I have really cleaned up how I eat, it doesn't mean that I don't have a sweet tooth or that I completely take chocolate out of the equation. One of the best discoveries I made was Cacao Hot Chocolate. It was just an idea that popped into my head and only required a few ingredients.

What you will need...

- A pan

-  1 teaspoon of Cacao Powder

-  1 mug of Coconut or Almond Milk 
(I usually opt for Coconut but both are equally as delicious!)

- Honey or Agave Syrup (until sweet enough)

- A mug (to enjoy your hot chocolate!)

How to prepare your warming (tasty!) treat...

- Take your pan and add a teaspoon of Cacao Powder. 

- Pour a mug of Almond or Coconut Milk into the pan and heat through (but don't boil!) stirring continuously. 

- Add your Honey or Agave Syrup until it's sweet enough for your personal taste.

- Before it boils, take it off the stove and pour it into your mug. Boiling Cacao kills off all of it's goodness!

Enjoy your Cacao Hot Chocolate have shared 15 other snacks to help boost your energy and productivity, which would you try!?