Category Archives: Blog

How Often Does Your Child Humiliate You In Public?

How Often Does Your Child Humiliate You In Public?

Children tend to save their most humiliating questions and comments for when in public – it’s one of the unwritten laws of parenting.

My daughter, Susie, has come out with some clangers in her seven years of life. By sharing her opinions and questions openly, she has embarrassed me more often than I care to remember.

The scenes of these occurrences can be grouped together into the following locations:

Churches

I don’t have anything against religion but we are not a religious family. We do, however, find ourselves in churches to celebrate weddings and christenings from time to time. And Susie understandably has many questions.

At one such christening, when she was three, Susie had an important question about the vicar. It went something like this:

Susie: (at the top of her voice, pointing to the vicar) ‘Mummy, why is that man angry?’

Me: (whispering) ‘He’s not angry. Shhhh’ Heads started turning.

Susie: (still at the top of her voice) ‘He is angry mummy! He keeps saying ‘Jesus Christ!’’

Oops. That’s all I have to say.

Shops and Supermarkets

I love the innocence of childhood, how children give their opinions with total honesty and without regard for social niceties. Unless, of course, my child is the one who is dishing out the honesty.

Once, when Susie was 4, a lady in a shop bent down to talk to her. Susie hid her face in my jumper.

‘What’s the matter?’ The lady asked, ‘don’t you want to talk to me?’

Susie turned her head back towards the lady, held her nose and said, ‘No, I do not. Your talking smells like a toilet’.

What can you say to that? Would you like a mint dear?

Susie has made a huge variety of comments over the years relating to the appearance, size and/or smell of innocent strangers. And she just doesn’t get why some men have long hair. She’s really not afraid to ponder this mystery at the top of her voice. I still haven’t worked out whether it’s better to apologise on her behalf or to just walk away (dragging Susie with me).

The Beach

For some reason, the beach is the scene of many of these embarrassing moments. Perhaps because there are so many people wearing bikinis and swimming trunks, bearing body parts that little eyes don’t normally see.

If you don’t want a child to make a very audible and candid comment about the state of your body, I would cover up on the beach. Especially if Susie happens to be there.

Friends have told me that when their children make embarrassing remarks in public, they simply ignore them. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky. My daughter simply will not accept silence or ignorance while she is in pursuit of an answer.

A few summers ago, a rather flat-chested woman with very short hair was sunbathing in close proximity to us.

Susie piped up. ‘Mummy, why is that man wearing a bikini?’

Why can’t she ever ask these things quietly? I bowed my head in silent embarrassment, turned pink and prayed the poor woman hadn’t heard.

‘Mummy, I asked you a question! Why is that man wearing a bikini?’ Susie carried on, now with pointing.

OK, the woman did hear that time.

‘She’s not a man,’ I whispered and then employed my best distraction tactics, ‘Susie, do you want a really big ice cream?’

Distraction tactics failed miserably. ‘It is a man! It is, Mummy!’

The woman diplomatically retreated into her sun tent. I wanted to die.

Public Toilets & Changing Rooms

When you take a child into a public toilet or changing room, you are asking for humiliation to follow. Susie once decided to ask, ‘Mummy, why do you have hair on your front bum?’ in a busy public toilet while I was having a wee. I heard a flicker of giggles rebounding around nearby cubicles.

When I dare take her clothes shopping (which she hates) she makes sure I pay with loud announcements such as ‘Mummy, I think your tummy is so very fat because it’s full of jelly’ while I try clothes on.

I also get comments about the varicose veins on my leg (which, ironically, appeared during my pregnancy with her). My face is critiqued on a regular basis – just in case strangers wish to know how many spots I have and their exact locations.

School

Luckily, I’m not around to hear what comes out of my daughter’s mouth when she’s at school. But I still shudder when I remember taking her to her first school visit. All my good intentions of making a great first impression were quashed in an instant when one of the teachers asked Susie what she was drawing a picture of.

‘It’s Stinky.’ Susie explained.

‘Who’s Stinky?’ asked the teacher.

Susie smiled sweetly at him. ‘You’.

When we found out which reception class she was going into, it was no surprise that Stinky wasn’t her teacher.

It can be tempting to reprimand your off-spring in these kinds of situations. However, I can’t see how you can tell off a child who is just giving her view or asking a genuine question. Susie and I do talk about what is socially acceptable to say and do in public (for example, opening the door of the toilet cubicle while I’m mid-wee is not acceptable). I also explain to her how her comments could hurt someone’s feelings. But it is so difficult for her to understand. In her mind, she simply wants to find an answer or express her opinion.

However, it does seem that finally, at the age of seven, something has clicked and she’s beginning to comprehend. Thankfully the humiliating public questions and remarks are beginning to decrease.

Perhaps it will be safe to go to the beach next year after all.


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, stationery addict and Diet Coke lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog New Forest Mum.

Low Cost Summer Activities

Jugs Of Fun

This post is part of our Low Cost Summer series

Here at Baby and Children’s Market we strongly believe that the summer can be fun without costing a fortune. It’s the spontaneous, simple activities that often provide kids with the most entertainment.

Creating a pouring station in your garden (or inside if you’re brave) is a quick, easy and cheap activity that will captivate little children for hours. Most kids love playing with water – so providing it in different colours with lots of jugs, scoops and bottles to pour it with will have them hooked.

I tried this activity with my children, aged 7 and 3. While my 7 year old was only entertained for about 10 minutes, my 3 year old spent over an hour pouring the coloured water in and out of different containers. He was mesmerised, while I sat and read a book. A win-win situation for us both!

Low Cost Summer Activities

Create your own Jugs of Fun Pouring Station

You will need:

1 under-bed storage container

An assortment of bottles, jugs, plastic containers and cups

A few drops of food colouring

Water

Low Cost Summer Activities

All you need to do is fill the various containers with water, add a couple of drops of food colouring to each and put them in the storage box.  Then let the kids pour away!

For a low cost, fun summer activity, you can’t do much better than this. All I needed to do was sit close by and make sure no-one drank the water.

Why not try it and see if your little ones are equally as captivated?


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, stationery addict and Diet Coke lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog New Forest Mum.

Baking With Kids Penny Sweet Cupcakes

Baking With Kids – Penny Sweet Cupcakes

Remember the days when you could go to the local shop and buy your weight’s worth in penny sweets? While each penny sweet may no longer cost just a penny, they certainly make a lovely topping for these delicious cupcakes. These cakes are great for birthday parties or to make just because. Kids will love decorating the cakes with the brightly coloured sweets and everyone will adore the soft, springy cakes with their lemon curd filling.

You will need:

175g unsalted butter, softened

175g caster sugar

3 medium eggs

175g self-raising flour, sifted

Zest of one lemon

½ tsp baking powder

125g lemon curd

Baking With Kids Penny Sweet Cupcakes

For the topping:

75g unsalted butter, softened

350g icing sugar, sifted,

50 ml milk

(or, if you’re feeling lazy, a can of ready-made buttercream such as Betty Crocker’s)

Lots of penny sweets (cola bottles, milk bottles, dolly mixture, bananas, jelly beans etc)

Cupcake cases

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190/170 fan/gas mark 5. Have your child line a 12 hole cupcake tray with the cases
  2. Whisk the butter and sugar together using a handheld whisk or beat with a wooden spoon, until pale and creamy. Gradually, whisk in the eggs. Then fold in the flour, lemon zest and baking powder until combined. Little hands can help with all the mixing.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cases in equal proportions (little people love this task).

Baking With Kids Penny Sweet Cupcakes

  1. Bake for 20 minutes or until risen, golden and firm. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.
  2. Cut a small cone shape out of the top of each cake. Put a teaspoonful of lemon curd into each hole and then replace the cone, pressing it down lightly. This proved slightly tricky for my daughter, so I let her play with the sweets.
  3. To make the buttercream, put the butter into a large bowl and whisk until creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar (about half) and whisk until well combined. Add the milk and remaining icing sugar and whisk until light and fluffy. Pipe onto the cakes. Or, crack open a can of ready-made buttercream and pipe it onto the cakes in the same way. Then let your child decorate each cake with sweets.

Baking With Kids Penny Sweet Cupcakes

We took these to a birthday party the same afternoon and they went down a storm (with children and adults alike). Alternatively, you can store them in an airtight container and they will keep for 2-3 days.

Baking With Kids Penny Sweet Cupcakes


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, stationery addict and Diet Coke lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog New Forest Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money Making Tips Just In Time For Summer

Money Making Tips…Just In Time For Summer

As part of our #LowCostSummer series, Jodie from Matched Betting Mum has contributed this post, packed full of money making ideas, to the blog:

The countdown to the summer holidays is well and truly underway! I do love this time of year when the sun is (hopefully!) shining and we can get out and about as a family. We have plenty of plans to visit theme parks, local attractions and, of course, our summer getaway abroad.

However, the hefty bills that can accompany the summer holidays do take the shine off somewhat. Aside from entertaining the kids, there’s everything else that comes with it, including paying off the balance for the holiday and airport parking etc. We’re also having family to stay this year so there’s added expense making sure we’ve got far too many sweets, biscuits and snacks in plentiful supply. There’ll be a few extra BBQs to prepare and don’t forget the booze we’ll need too! As much as I try to plan and spread out my spending, come September there will no doubt be a rather large credit card bill landing on the doormat.

Summer Money Making Tips

I’ve got a few tips on how you can soften the impact of all those extra costs.

MATCHED BETTING

If you haven’t heard of matched betting before, then this is the perfect way to boost your wallet. All you need is some spare time. I regularly make between £500 and £1000 a month for very little effort – a maximum of a couple of hours a few times a week. And if you start now, you too can easily make at least £1000 – if not more – before the summer holidays start. Don’t tell me that extra money wouldn’t come in handy?

Despite its name, matched betting doesn’t involve you betting or gambling in the traditional sense. It’s completely RISK FREE. Matched betting is where you take advantage of the free bets bookmakers give out as incentives for you to sign up with them. By following a set process – placing bets which cancel each other out – you can make at least 75% of the value of those free bets every time. There are more than 50 bookmakers in the UK with introductory offers worth well over £2000. This means there’s at least £1500 to be made simply by signing up to them. And as a bonus, all the money you make is also TAX FREE.

It is actually very simple to play the system and make money. But it does take time to get your head around how and why it works. That’s why my blog goes over the whole process in lots of detail and offers plenty of tips to help you get started. If you can spare a few hours per week then I’d urge you to check out my blog and get involved! You can find a more detailed explanation of how matched betting works, plus some top tips for getting started.

Summer Money Making Tips
CASHBACK SITES

Almost a third of us shop online.. If you aren’t already a member of a cashback site, why not? If you do only one thing as a result of reading this post, it should be to sign up to one of the main cashback sites, either Quidco or TopCashback. Both these sites often have excellent sign up offers, like free toys, clothing items or extra cashback! I always advertise these on my Twitter & Facebook feeds so do follow me if you want to get in on the best offers.

Most of the top high street retailers are listed with these sites. Simply by clicking through the links through to these retailers from either of these websites you will earn cashback on your purchases. The cashback percentages vary but they do add up very quickly. What’s more, there are often some fantastic bonus offers – last week I bagged myself a free eyebrow gel worth £18.50 (I only had to pay the postage and packing). And both sites have sections where you can make money without even having to make a purchase, simply by clicking through their links.

SURVEY SITES

Survey sites are a great way of making extra cash in the time it takes you to have a cuppa. If you do them regularly enough you can make £30-£40 a month in either cash or vouchers. If you’re new to online surveys I’d recommend you signing up to the following sites, which tend to pay more for the surveys you complete.

  • Prolific Academic – this site screens the surveys it offers you, which is good as you don’t need to spend time checking whether you’re eligible to complete them. Prolific Academic pays in cash, which you can withdraw as soon as you make at least £5. They do charge paypal fees for withdrawals under £20 but you can normally make this every month.
  • Valued Opinions – I like the fact that this site pays in gift vouchers, which can then easily be saved. Most surveys on this site will earn you between 50p and £1.50, but some do pay up to £5 per survey.
Summer Money Making Tips
SELLING UNWANTED ITEMS

Kids toys, clothes and equipment are always popular in the second hand market. Your first port of call should be to see whether there’s an upcoming Baby & Children’s Market near you!

If there’s not one near you then take a look for Facebook selling sites. You can do a search of all the selling groups that are local to you. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to sell your unwanted items as you won’t incur any selling fees and, invariably, the buyer will always collect the items from you. I’m a big fan of the specialist groups for popular or more exclusive items. For example, there is a preloved Boden group which is great for picking up fabulous quality items at a snippet of the retail price.

I also love eBay. If I’m selling lots of items I’ll list them all at the same time to ensure I make as few visits to the post office as possible. It’s amazing what sells on eBay – old brackets, tools, electric cables and, recently, my old garden shed (all I wanted was someone to take it down and get rid of it, and I managed to make £70 as well!) I always keep low value items which I’m happy to let go for 99p in storage until I’m ready to sell some higher value items alongside them or I have enough items to warrant the effort needed to wrap and send them to their new homes. Those 99p items often sell and, if you’re selling lots of cheaper items at the same time, those pennies really do add up to lots of pounds.

I hope these money making tips help you during the summer holidays. If you’re intrigued by matched betting then please do stop by my blog and say hello! Thanks once again to Baby & Children’s Market for having me.


Matched Betting Mum

A former career civil servant, Jodie took a break from Whitehall when her eldest daughter Lily was born just over 4 years ago. Since then, she’s had another baby – Oliver – and moved to the sticks. As a stay at home mum, her day to day life is very much dictated by the school run, toddler groups, clubs, feeding and the bed and bath routine.

Missing the freedom of earning her own money, she randomly stumbled across something called matched betting a few months ago. It offered an easy way to make money from home but it also seemed a bit too good to be true. Backed up by reviews in The Guardian, Telegraph and Huffington Post, though, she decided to give it a go. Five months later, she’s made nearly £4000 in her spare time, simply fitting it in when the kids allow.

Now she’s on a mission to tell other people all about it.

When I started, it was really difficult to find information which told me how matched betting worked. It’s actually very simple but just takes a little time to get your head around it. I’m sure there are other people out there who are interested in giving it a go but are overwhelmed by the betting world and its technical jargon! My aim is to explain how it all works as simply as possible and give people the confidence to try it out.

By sharing the experience of how she got started and manages to fit it in around her children, Jodie aims to help others who might be worried or nervous in taking that first step. Along the way, her blog also offers wider money saving tips and random musings about life with her two kiddies.

You can follow Jodie’s journey on her blog as well as over on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

 

 

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

With the summer holidays lurking dangerously close, is it just me who feels a surge of panic bubbling up inside? How the hell am I going to entertain my kids for seven weeks straight? How will I keep my shit together? How much is this all going to cost? Despite hearing Facebook cheers of ‘yay summer!’ from numerous other parents (they can’t all be genuine surely?) the mere thought of playing entertainer, teacher, diplomat and slave for the forthcoming weeks fills me with dread.

I start to wonder if my own mother had the same worries as June merged into July and the school gates came perilously close to closing for the entire summer.

I don’t think she did. Unfortunately, summer holiday survival tips are on the long list of things that I’ll never be able to ask her.

However, let me polish my rose tinted spectacles and tell you about the magical summers of my youth. I spent a lot of time alone or with the neighbourhood kids. I was never bored. We didn’t hang out at £100 per day theme parks but instead you’d find us in the garden. I watched far too much TV by today’s standards and was permanently attached to my Commodore 64 when rain interrupted outdoor play.

I don’t think the words, ‘I’m bored!’ ever passed my lips and even if they had, I doubt my mum would have cared too much. She never made lists of summer activities for us to trawl through (a summer holiday book? what the hell is that?!) and there was no schedule of educational and fulfilling pursuits to keep me entertained. Hers was a more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to summer.

And that’s what I want to recreate.

When I say I want to give my kids an 80s summer, I don’t mean scouring E-bay to find pogo balls, Etch-a-Sketches and Game Boys while serving plates of party rings to be washed down with Soda Stream creations. I’m talking about recreating the mentality of an 80s summer.

For me an 80s summer consisted of chilled out parents who weren’t bombarded from all sides with information about what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their kids. And kids who were never bored, despite the fact their parents weren’t helicoptering around them all day.

As far as I can see, this admirable feat can be achieved in four ‘simple’ steps:

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

Step One: Tune Out Of Social Media

My mum didn’t have to see all the amazing things her friends were doing with their kids via their highlight reels on Instagram. She wasn’t inundated with guilt-baiting articles such as ‘5 things you should NEVER say to your kids’ on Facebook and Twitter. She didn’t have Pinterest to make her feel lousy about all the beautiful and educational activities that she knew she wouldn’t be able to create.

If she wanted parenting advice, she asked for it. If she felt like knowing how her friends were entertaining their kids she picked up her telephone, found where the required number was taped to the wall and called to ask.

My mum wasn’t drowning in a sea of parenting information, ideas and advice on an hourly basis like I am. And I bet she was happier for it.

Step one for creating the perfect 80s summer is to give social media the finger.  I don’t need to be told what I should be doing to advance and nourish my kids. I don’t need to share our summer activities with everyone else. Our summer is going to be our summer.

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

Step Two: Ditch The Mummy Guilt

Step one will help enormously with this. It’s easy to feel guilty when your holidays linger in the shadows of everyone else’s Facebook-perfect summer.

My mum didn’t sit around feeling guilty because I’d exceeded my 15g daily allowance of sugar or get twitchy when I spent more than two hours in front of a screen. She had no idea that recommended allowances for such things even existed (they probably didn’t back then).

She didn’t feel the need to constantly be by my side, guiding and educating my every turn.  Like generations of women before her, my mum parented largely by instinct. If I was healthy and happy then so was she. If she sensed something was wrong then she would work to fix it.

These days it’s easy for instinct to be crushed under the weight of the parenting advice, information and opinion we receive hourly via the little computers resting in the palm of our hands. And the loss of instinct has but one consequence. Mummy guilt.

So let’s work to rid ourselves of all guilt this summer (and for good).

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

Step Three: Let Them Be

I spent my summer days running round with the neighbourhood kids and darting in and out of sprinklers.

My mum probably didn’t even know where I was half the time. While I don’t believe the world is a more dangerous place today (I just think mass media have made us more aware of the dangers), I won’t be recreating that particular facet of an 80s summer. I like to be able to see my kids or at least know where they are. However, just because I can see them doesn’t mean that I will feel the need to drip feed them with Pinterest-inspired activities all day long.

Sometimes my mum would, shock horror, sit and read a book. Or watch her soaps on TV. This ‘selfish’ behaviour didn’t leave me feeling bored and neglected. On the contrary, I was too busy having adventures courtesy of that wonderful invention over-used by all 80s kids… My imagination.

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

Yes I do want to spend time with my kids this summer and I certainly will play with them and take them on trips to exciting and magical places. But in true 80s fashion, I will balance all this with my need to nurture myself. If the mothership has a spring in her step then summer will be a peaceful and fun event for all concerned.

Step Four: Scrap Expectations

You know how it is when you meticulously plan an outing or activity with your kids. Your expectations far exceed the eventuality. Someone chucks paint all over the new sofa, someone vomits all over the back seat, nothing looks like it did on Pinterest and everyone has major tantrums because they’re hot, tired and, despite all your best efforts, bored. A schedule of planned summer activities is doomed to wind up in the ‘did not live up to expectations’ pile.

During my 80s summers, each new day was a blank canvas waiting to be painted with new adventures. We just woke up and saw where the day would take us. No lists. No schedules. No cries of ‘what are we doing today?’ We had off-the-cuff fun – the type that didn’t consume all of my mother’s time, patience, money and sanity. Taking expectations out of the equation will surely lead to more happiness and less disappointment all round.

How To Recreate The Ultimate Laid-Back 1980s Summer

Now, if it is possible to put all these steps in to place, can you imagine a more perfect summer for parent and child? I for one will be scooping up some 1980s brashness and giving it my best shot.


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, stationery addict and Diet Coke lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog New Forest Mum

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

With the summer holidays looming just around the corner, many parents will be worrying about the cost of keeping their little darlings entertained for seven weeks on the trot.

At Baby & Children’s Market our mission is to help parents bring down the cost of parenting. With this in mind, we’ve put together some ideas for a fun-packed, low-cost summer holiday break.

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

1. Explore Your Local Area

There are plenty of ways to use the resources in your local area to enjoy budget activities. Of course there are parks, playgrounds and splash parks but how about involving the kids in a game of Pokemon Go or GeoCaching?

Pokemon Go is free to play and the app can be downloaded onto mobile devices.  You use your mobile’s GPS to find Pokemon creatures at local Pokemon Stops. Once you find them, you can interact with them on screen as if they were really at your location. The kids will relish the challenge of trying to find them all.

Geocaching is another free and slightly addictive activity you can take part in through an app. Your task is to find the geocaches in your area, sign the log book and then re-hide the geocache for others to find. You can share your progress with others online.

Many museums have free entry and don’t forget to check out the programme of events at your local library. As well as the Summer Reading Challenge, many libraries put on free craft activities and story times throughout the summer.

Shopping centres also hold sporadic fun days and events for children. Stores such as Hobbycraft often host free craft activities at weekends. If you’re lucky enough to still have a Children’s Centre in your area, there will likely be activities to take part in there too.

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

Swimming is also free for under 5s at most leisure centres and this is a great rain busting activity. Many cinemas also have kids’ showings in the mornings at a fraction of the cost of a regular showing.

2. Staying In

If you have a back garden, it can form the backbone of your summer. You can arrange treasure hunts, mini golf courses and even organise a mini summer Olympics with other neighbourhood kids.  Or how about putting up a tent and letting the kids camp out?

Kids love gardening, so you could buy a few packets of seeds and let them experience the satisfaction of growing flowers and vegetables from scratch. Create a small space for them and they will delight in tending to it and flexing their green fingers.

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

When the weather thwarts outdoor play, there is plenty of fun to be had indoors.  Baking with little people may be messy, but it’s lots of fun and helps them with many skills such as coordination and numeracy.  You can find some child-friendly, fun recipes here.

Building an indoor den with cushions and blankets is always a winner, as in any kind of craft with boxes, cardboard and poster paints.

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

How about creating your own cinema? Kids can get involved by making the tickets and helping prefer cinema snacks. All you need is a darkened room and a family film.

Board games are not as popular as they used to be and this is a shame because they’re a brilliant way of having fun together as a family and helping children learn many skills (not least the art of losing gracefully!) If you’re running low on outdoor and indoor games, why not pop along to your local Baby & Children’s Market? You can pick up toys, games and many other children’s items at a fraction of high street prices. Charity shops are also an excellent source of toys and games.

3. Days Out

Theme parks and other attractions can be very expensive. You not only need to fork out for admission but also expensive food and gift shop items. However, you can use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers at many attractions as well as the vouchers on cereal boxes offering two-for-one entry. By taking your own food and drink and explaining to the kids that there will be no purchases from the gift shop, a day at a theme park needn’t cost the earth.

4. Let Them Be Bored

How To Have A Low-Cost, Fun-Filled Summer

Many of us are so busy trying to structure our kids’ days with fun and educational activities, we often forget the advantages of letting kids be bored. When kids are allowed to be bored, they develop the capacity to entertain themselves and use their imagination and creativity to find things to do.

Boredom is the place where children explore their interests and passions. They need a free reign to discover and develop their interests in their own, non-structured way. Those of us who grew up in the eighties and before, remember summers packed full of non-structured entertainment we devised from our efforts to alleviate boredom. Often our parents had little involvement in these activities as they didn’t feel the pressure to provide us with constant entertainment.

So next time you hear, ‘I’m bored!’ don’t take it as a reflection of your failure to entertain but rather an opportunity for your child to use their own resources, explore their imagination and find something to do.

While they’re on this journey of self-discovery, you can put your feet up for a well-deserved rest!

The summer holidays don’t have to cost a fortune and kids don’t need expensive toys, vacations and days out to be happy. Research shows experiences make us much happier than things. These experiences can be as simple as planting some flowers or going for an adventure in the woods and are the building blocks happy childhood memories are made from.


This is the first blog post in our #LowCostSummer Series. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

4 Reasons Why Teachers Are Super Heroes

4 Reasons Why Teachers Are Super Heroes

‘A Great teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches  a heart.’

You may have seen this quote doing the rounds on the internet, especially as the school year is coming to an end and we think about how we can show our appreciation to our children’s educators.

In my experience, my daughter’s Year One teacher does a whole host of other commendable things as well as opening minds, touching hearts and, you know, actually teaching.

Here are four reasons why I think she’s actually a superhero:

1. Her Ability To Show Enthusiasm About Some Truly Crap Things

Anyone with a small child will understand this. Stones, insects, bottle tops, pieces of string…there’s no end to the amount of crap stuff my daughter enthuses over.

One morning at school drop off, my daughter bounded into the classroom and stopped to show her teacher a dead insect she had lovingly taped to a piece of card. Her teacher managed to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over it, while at the same time encouraging her to put it away before class begun. Huge kudos to her for this as it was more than I had managed (my daughter had slept with said dead insect in her hand the night before).

I hung around after my daughter went in and noticed the dead-insect-taped-to-card was the first in a long line of crap things the poor woman was shown that morning. A procession of children followed, each with a suitably crap object proudly in their possession.

I knew and she knew that the items she was feigning interest over were crap. But as far as the children were concerned she was as genuinely enthralled as they were.

2. Her Ability To Make The Children Listen To Her

Is it just me who has to repeat everything 20 times before not being listened to anyway? Listening is not my daughter’s strong point. I like to tell myself this a trait common to all six year olds.

A few weeks ago, I accompanied my daughter’s class on a trip to the zoo. In the giraffe house, the group of six children in my charge (including my darling daughter) took it upon themselves to see how many leaflets they could cram into their pockets from a well-organised display stand.

After my third fruitless attempt of asking them to refrain from desecrating the display, the teacher appeared on the scene of destruction. Hardly raising her voice, she declared, ‘How sad!’ After two simple words spoken by this amazing woman, the children all wore expressions of utter dismay. The commotion stopped immediately and the children rearranged the display to near perfect condition. Without even having to be asked. How did she do that?

NB: I have tried the ‘How sad!’ method at home. It doesn’t work for me.

4 Reasons Why Teachers Are Super Heroes

3. Her Seemingly Limitless Patience

When you host a playdate for a small group of six year olds, you’ll no doubt come away from it feeling slightly browbeaten. In the space of a few hours you’ve had to play referee, nurse, diplomat, negotiator, counsellor, health and safety enforcer, cheerleader, nutritionist, liar and educator.

Imagine that multiplied by 30. All day. Every day. My daughter’s teacher never loses her rag. Need I say more?

4. She Does All This While Dealing With Society’s Misconceptions About Her Job

We’ve all heard the accusations levelled at teachers. How dare they complain about their jobs when they have long holidays, finish work at 3pm and earn mega-bucks? From my friends who work as teachers, I know the reality to be somewhat different.

60-70 hour weeks are the norm. Weekends, evenings and holiday times are spent marking, making classroom displays, lesson planning and writing reports as well as trying to keep up with an ever changing set of ridiculous, government-imposed targets. Not to mention increasing mounds of paperwork, risk assessments and safeguarding policies to keep on top of.

My child’s teacher carries around with her the stress, responsibility and burden of her vocation every day. I for one don’t think she’s paid enough for what she does. I certainly couldn’t do it.

4 Reasons Why Teachers Are Super Heroes

As the school year nears an end, I begin thinking about the kind of gift I can get my daughter’s teacher to really show my appreciation. Recognising she has become accustomed to receiving a whole host of crap stuff (from pupils and parents alike), I rack my brains to think of what I would appreciate if I were in her shoes.

A bottle of prosecco it is then.

Teachers of the world I salute you. Bra-bloody-vo!

7 Essential Apps For Parents

7 Essential Apps For Parents

When it comes to parenting, technology offers an equal mix of advantages and disadvantages. How much screen-time is too much for our kids? Do we pay too much attention to our digital devices? What are the effects of technology on our children’s development? As there first generation of parents to navigate our way through the digital age, many of the answers may, for the time being, remain ambiguous.

Yet one thing is certain – there are apps and websites available to make parenting easier. But with new apps coming out all the time, it’s easy to feel inundated. While they all claim to be indispensable to parents, which ones actually are?

Here is our pick of the best apps for parents:

1 Mi Local For Mums

Find events, activities and classes near you with Mi Local For Mums (and there’s no reason why dads can’t also use it). The app hosts over 7000 listings, which you can search by distance from your postcode. The listings include classes, toddler groups, nurseries and free activities and events.

You never need to be bored again with this handy app at your disposal.

Cost: Free

7 Essential Apps For Parents

2 Kicks Count

Brought to you by the charity of the same name, Kicks Count helps you to keep track of your baby’s movements. With the app, you can easily identify any changes, as well as read useful pregnancy information. If you’re worried about your baby’s movements you can even call your midwife or maternity unit from the app.

This app can save lives; it is essential downloading for all pregnant women.

Cost: Free

3 Mush Mums

Motherhood can be a lonely experience, but Mush Mums is challenging that. You can now find like-minded, local mums in the palm of your hand with this app. Simply fill out your profile and the clever matching tool will show you a list of mums nearby who you have similar interests, schedules and circumstances.  Let’s be honest, friendships are built on more than just having similar aged children and Mush Mums helps you find mums you are likely to have something in common with.

Once you have your matches, you can scroll through and message other mums and arrange to meet up.

Mush Mums aims to alleviate the isolation and loneliness faced by many mothers. If you long to find other women to share the highs and lows of your parenting journey, this app is a must.

Cost: Free

7 Essential Apps For Parents

4 Keepy

Are you drowning in lovingly-made pictures, cards and other artwork? As much as we love our kids, it’s simply impossible to keep all the fruits of their creativity…

Enter Keepy, with the perfect solution.

Advertised as ‘the new family album’, this innovative app allows you to store photos, artwork and other memories. You can even record yourself saying a few words about each memory, so you never forget the important details. The app also enables you to share your precious memories with family and friends.

So do away with boxes full of artwork, certificates and other bits of paper and replace them with this nifty app.

Cost: Free but contains in app purchases

7 Essential Apps For Parents

5 Kidloland

Many of us worry about how much screen time we allow our kids, but with this app you can make that screen-time really count. It is as educational as it is fun – the perfect combination.

If you take out the full subscription, your kids will have access to 500 nursery rhymes, songs, games and activities, which captivate toddlers and slightly older children alike. Most of the content is interactive, resulting in squeals of delight when little fingers are able to make the sun shine or animals laugh and sing. As well as educational activities, Kidloland teaches numbers, colours, letters, animals, days of the week and much more.

Cost: The basic version is free but it’s well worth paying for the full version. Children won’t tire of this app, as it offers so many interactive games, activities and songs. It really is the only entertainment app you’ll need.

6 Change4Life Smart Recipes

It can be a challenge to constantly create healthy meals the whole family will enjoy. Throw in a busy schedule and fussy eaters and mealtimes might just leave you tearing your hair out. If you’re struggling for mealtime inspiration, let the NHS’s Change4Life app help.

With 160 recipes covering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks, Smart Recipes offers a solution to the problem of what to feed your family. You can also keep track of ingredients with a shopping list and bookmark your favourite recipes.

Cost: Free

7 Essential Apps For Parents

7. Checkout Smart

Parenting is an expensive business. Checkout Smart enables you to earn cashback on your supermarket shopping. The rewards soon start to add up – what’s not to like?

All you need to do is browse the app to find offers and upload an image of your receipt once you have purchased the relevant items. Checkout Smart will then put cashback into your account. Wherever you shop, using Checkout Smart to claim cashback on your shopping makes perfect sense.

Cost: Free

To The Mum Who Almost Lost It At The Park

To The Mum Who Almost Lost It At The Park

I heard your quaking voice and felt your anxious energy before I saw you. I could tell you were having the worst of bad days. We sat at a nearby bench as I waited for my friend in the playground. You touched my heart instantly – a mum trying her best to hold it all together. Believe me, I know how that feels.

My 6 year old was playing nearby and my 2 year old son was at home with my husband (let’s face it, had he been with me I would never have had the space to really see anyone else). Straight away I wanted to approach you and wrap you up in a warm hug but I worried this wasn’t the most appropriate course of action for a total stranger.

You had two small boys, aged about 4 and 2, and it was obvious you were struggling. You first caught my attention as I heard you pleading with your eldest son. ‘Please stop this behaviour. All I want is for us to have a nice morning out.’ Your words were shaky; your desperate tone belied the superhuman effort it was taking you to hold it together.

You looked emotionally and physically exhausted as your eldest stood sulkily by and you wrestled your toddler in attempt to apply sun cream. He slipped out of your grasp, ran towards his brother and shoved him. His brother retaliated by snatching the small brown bunny he was clutching and taking off with it. Screaming and fighting ensued as you ran towards them and tried to break up the scuffle.

‘Please stop this.’ Your eyes were hidden by sunglasses but I could tell they were deeply ringed and threatening tears. As the fighting continued you sat on the bench and rested your head in your hands. I couldn’t hear your words but I felt them in my core.

‘I’m so fed up. I’ve had enough.’

That should have been the moment I approached you with my hug but I still felt awkward at the prospect of interrupting this deeply emotional moment. I may have been a total stranger but trust me I know how you felt.

I know that your day started at 5am with a clingy toddler and defiant child. I know how tired you were, how every step you took felt like wading through treacle. I know how you longed for just a few moments of calm without someone screaming, ‘Mummy!’ I know you were fuelled by coffee and good intentions to turn the day around – to just feel better about everything – but as every minute passed you felt worse.

I know that you said to yourself, ‘One more whinge and I’m out the door’ and instantly felt guilty for letting such a thought enter your mind. I’m sure you overlooked the fact there had been a thousand more whinges since then and yet you were still there. Still caring for your babies. Bet you hadn’t given yourself any credit for that.

You started frantically trying to ready your boys for the paddling pool, pulling on their swimsuits and blowing up inflatables. You were almost manic in your attempts to chivvy your boys and yourself along. As they resisted your every request, screaming and running away at every opportunity, a small noise escaped you. It was as if you choked on a sob you could no longer contain. You were clearly a master of deception and of putting on a brave face. But sometimes those hidden emotions found a way out, like steam escaping from a kettle, whether you liked it or not.

I decided to make my move; no longer caring if you thought I was a weirdo, so strong was my empathy for you. At the same time your friend arrived in a flurry of hugs and kisses. I could feel how relief washed over you like a brief summer storm. You returned the hug slightly too tightly.

‘My two are being a nightmare today,’ you smiled. I’m sure all you wanted to do was lean in for another hug and unload your weary mind but your toddler had other ideas. He wanted to push his trike over other people’s picnic blankets and bags. You had no choice but to accompany him to prevent further destruction. Resistance was futile. He had no intention of playing ball.

So your friend, your saving grace, sat alone with her baby while you followed your headstrong boys around the park. As is so often the way when mums meet, there is never a chance to actually have a real conversation. Unspoken words hung like a fine mist between you, ready to be channelled into a mammoth What’s App conversation later that evening.

Suddenly my friend and her daughter arrived and I lost sight of you in the crowded park. Though I’ll never see you again, I’ll never forget you. You are me. You are her. You are every single mother on the planet who has a gruelling parenting day from time to time.

Here’s what I wish I’d said to you. I know how scared you were of your thoughts and feelings that day. I know that your desire to run away and hide made you question your abilities as a mother. I know that you worried you were failing. I know you love your boys to the moon and back. Today you just didn’t love motherhood. Trust me, that’s ok.

I also know that tomorrow will be a better day. I know that after you have tucked your babies up in bed, you’ll watch their angelic, sleeping faces and your heart will thud with love and pride. Having a bad day is not the same thing as being a bad mum. We all have days when we feel pushed to the limit and wonder if we’ll crack.

Try not to dwell on it. You’ll probably love motherhood again tomorrow. You’re a great mum and you’re doing a fantastic job. Wherever you are, I hope you know that.

 

He Broke Me

He Broke Me

(This post was contributed to the blog by Jaki Jelley)

I did plan on writing today but it wasn’t going to be this post. This one has come completely out of the blue. Totally unplanned. They say it’s best to write when you feel the emotion so here I am. Because not only am I emotional, I’m broken. It’s not yet 2pm on a Saturday afternoon and my child has broken me. Well and truly broken me.

I don’t particularly enjoy writing these types of blogs because it’s never the kind of thing that any parent wants to admit to. No one really wants to admit that their child has pushed them beyond limits they didn’t even know they’d got. No one wants to admit that they were stood in the middle of a shopping centre feeling like they’re about to have a breakdown because their child has been whining and moaning and stamping and kicking for the last half an hour all because you wouldn’t buy them a £1.99 Lego Blind Bag from Argos. No one wants to be ‘that parent’. You know, the one that’s losing her shit in the middle of Boots because her child doesn’t understand why bad behaviour isn’t rewarded with a lollipop? No one wants to be ‘that parent’ that everyone is staring at because their child is apparently out of control and they can’t do anything to rectify the situation. No one wants to be ‘that parent’ that feels like a total bloody failure.

I know I’m not. But on days like this you can’t help but wonder to yourself ‘where did I go wrong?!’ It’s on days like this that there never seems to be any other child being a living nightmare. It’s only yours that you can hear screaming and it’s only you that everyone is staring at. Looks of disgust. Looks of pity and the occasional looks of sympathy.

I know I haven’t gone wrong anywhere. He is three. He is growing and learning everyday and everyday brings more frustrations for him. He is in the process of giving up daytime naps so by the weekend he is shattered. So he gets grumpy. He gets arsey. He gets shitty and he takes it out on me. Just like we do when we get tired. I can’t blame him for that.

So as I sit here in the car now calm has been restored and I’m looking at his long eyelashes and listening to his gentle sighs as he sleeps, I wonder how I can handle it better next time?

My answer? I probably won’t. There will be more times like this. Probably many more. I get that, I really do. And I probably won’t handle it any better next time. Who does really? Being a parent can be really bloody hard and today I’ve felt the worst I have in a very long time. But I’m ok. He broke me, yes. But I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and put myself back together again. And the reason? Because I’m his Mum and he needs me.

He needs me to help him get through his frustrations. He needs me to take it out on and he needs me to understand him. He needs me to be there for the cuddle when he realises he’s done wrong. He needs me to tell him it’s all okay and he needs me to love him unconditionally. And I do. Oh how I do. More than anything in the world. More than I ever thought possible. More than life itself. He can break me over and over again, but my love for him will never, ever change.

He broke me


Jaki is a mumma winging motherhood since 2012. She blogs at JakiJellz  and has a penchant for nice shoes & loud music .

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