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Month: July 2018

Celebrating Friendship with Baby Annabell

Celebrating Friendship with Baby Annabell

*This post was written in collaboration with Baby Annabell.

 

Ever since our eldest daughter started pre-school earlier on this year, I’ve noticed an incredible increase in her social skills. She loves playing with all of the other children in her class and she’s learnt so much from them, in such a short time. That’s why when we were asked to celebrate friendship with Baby Annabell, I knew our grown up girl would love to spend even more time with her little buddies!

Ever since both of our girls were tiny, hubs and I have taken them to baby and toddler groups. I think socialisation from a young age is so important. Learning how to develop healthy relationships sets them up for life. They learn how to conduct themselves around other people. They are thrown into situations where they have to share and they experience many different personalities and how to be around all different kinds of people.

 

 

The best of friends –

When our Baby Annabell arrived our eldest was so excited to look after her new doll and to show her friends! The doll arrived with two friendship bracelets and a friendship card too. It’s the first time our daughter has given friendship bracelets and she loved the idea of being able to give something so cute to her best bud!

 

 

This Baby Annabell set also comes with some super cute accessories, including a dummy, nappies, a bottle and a teether. The girls had so much fun looking after their new baby together, I think this set really did encourage the girls to work together!

 

 

As a parent, I loved seeing how the girls communicated as they sat playing together. They chatted about the best ways to look after Baby Annabell, they took turns to feed her and they even worked out how to change her nappy.

 

 

The importance of making friends from a young age –

I asked a few of my fellow bloggers what they thought about their children making friends from a young age, specifically related to their development. Here’s what they had to say;

Lyndsey from Me, Him, the Dog and a Baby:  ‘We put our daughter in nursery as soon as she was 2 because she wasn’t having any interaction with children her own age. I think having friends is so important as it helps develop behaviour such as kindness, sharing and respecting others early on.’

Lianne from Anklebiter’s Adventures: ‘Very important for social development and to learn how to care and love others my two have friends they have had since a few months old and love seeing them – they are like family.’

Terri from The Strawberry Fountain: ‘I think socialisation is hugely important from a young age. It teaches them various skills such as compassion, empathy, turn taking, sharing, and social queues. I also think that having friends they are familiar with helps them develop their speech as they want to communicate with them as well as their imaginations as they feed of each others ideas in role. I think that nurseries are an important part of development and would encourage parents to use them even once a week even if they don’t need the child care.’

Rebecca from Becca Blogs it Out: ‘My twins obviously have each other, which is lovely, but I think it’s really important for them to spend time with other children to help them develop their social skills. They’re very different when playing with friends, compared to when they’re just playing together.’

Care Johnson: ‘My son attended a different playgroup each day from the age of 2 weeks old. He loved the different vibes each playgroup offered and the different age groups he got to play with. On a Wednesday I used to attend a playgroup with children who were age 3-4 whilst he had only just gone 2. The difference I saw in him was massive! He played and interacted much more with the older children than the younger ones, his speech came on in leaps and bounds and since then has always played with older children. He’s such a loving child with younger ones but comes out of his shell when around slightly older children and he completely shocks me at how much he actually absorbs’

Jessica from Beauties and the Bibs: ‘I think it’s so important children learn so much from having friends . You can talk and talk to them about being kind and sharing . Unless they put it into practise in real life they won’t actually understand.’

Laura from Five Little Doves: ‘I think it is so important that our children forge friendships from a young age. Although my four all have each other, it’s important to have their own friendship groups and to learn how to build on those friendships as they grow.’

Leigh from Dad Geek: ‘ Socialisation is massively important from pre-school onwards. It teaches children how to interact with each other, how to respect each others boundaries and how to communicate. It also teaches them about sharing and working together.’

Jo from Miracle Max: ‘My 2 year old has come on leaps and bounds since starting nursery a few months ago. He had no interaction with children his own age before then really and he’s like a totally different boy. His speech has come on brilliantly, he’s learnt how to share, how to play alongside others his age. He used to ignore other children when we were out but he now actively tries to play with them.’

 

A huge thankyou to everyone who contributed to this post! 

 

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Five Reasons Why my Marriage is (Currently) Working so Well

Five Reasons Why my Marriage is (Currently) Working so Well

Recently we attended a friend’s wedding. The venue was an old barn purposely converted for these kinds of events. It was picturesque and its rooms were filled with loved up couples, all fighting to hold back tears of joy. There’s nothing more romantic than a wedding celebration. Even for the stone hearted among us, it’s hard not to soften even just a little.

As we sat down to the wedding breakfast, the father of the bride stood up to give his speech. The poor guy was finding it so hard to hold it together in front of his radiant daughter, but he managed to part with some good advice for a long and happy marriage. My better half and I have been married for a while now and so I couldn’t help but think about the advice I could give about staying happy in marriage. After some thought, I decided that the recipe for the perfect marriage is difficult to concoct.

What I do know, is that being married is a lot of hard work. It involves a lot of give and take, as well as being incredibly frustrating on occasion. There’s all the good stuff too; having someone to come home to every night, sharing your thoughts, worries, hopes and dreams with someone you love is never to be taken for granted. As much as I can’t give you the recipe for a perfect marriage, I can tell you how we’re currently nailing being wed:

I stay at home to look after the house and the kids –

I imagine this statement will resemble the equivalent of a red rag to a bull for some of you, but one of the reasons our marriage works so well is because I’m always here. Ever since having our first child, I’ve been at home. Granted I’ve managed to carve a career out of writing, but initially it was intended that my role should be ‘stay at home mum‘. This wasn’t forced upon me, it was a mutual decision and it works.

My husband has a very successful career. He works hard and he continues to climb the ladder. All of which would be made much more difficult if I decided that I was going to go back to work full-time, outside of the home. There would have to be a lot more give from his side and that could really affect his progression. That’s something neither of us want to happen. I might be a housewife 70% of the time but I’d rather that, than have my actions impact seriously on the goals of the person I love.

We’ve learnt to communicate adult to adult –

I want you to be aware that no couple is ever perfect, we all have our moments. What my husband and I have learnt over the past few years though, is that to make sure our marriage stays on an even keel we need to make sure we are communicating adult to adult. We don’t play games, we don’t purposely wind each other up out of the realms of jest and we work hard not to raise our voices. Turning disagreements into a rational discussion saves wasting a lot of time and energy.

We’re a team before all else –

Since having children especially, we’ve become a solid family unit. We are a team and we make important decisions together, before any outside factors are considered. Have you ever heard the saying ‘teamwork makes the dream work‘? It’s cheesy, but it’s one of my favourites! We bring up our family together, we graft together and we take time out together. Et voila, teamwork at its best!

We’ve learnt to accept each other’s bad habits and how to let the niggles slide –

We all have bad habits, yes even you. I for example, am a chronic over-thinker and I’m hard work because of it. My husband is a perfectionist and he’s hard work because of it. There have been times in the past where we have completely and utterly clashed as we can be so different, but frankly behaving that way has never gotten us anywhere. Accepting bad habits really is essential for a happy marriage, niggles will always be there – you’ve just got to let them go.

We do go to bed on arguments –

How many times have you been to a wedding and the best man advises never to go to bed on an argument? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this bandied around at every wedding we’ve been to. Well, I completely disagree! How many times have you woken up after having a total barney the night before and thought, what the hell was the point in that anyway? So often things seem brighter in the morning, which is why I think putting disagreements to one side and getting some kip is a far healthier approach to marriage.

I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to have a marriage that’s perfect, as we get older and wiser though I can’t help but think there are certain ways to go about making life as simple as possible. I can only recommend that you compromise, reassess how you communicate, work together, accept bad habits and don’t waste time on pointless arguments. Maybe I do have a good recipe for marriage after all?

 

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A Day Out with Kiddylicious – LEGOLAND Windsor

A Day Out with Kiddylicious – LEGOLAND Windsor

*We were provided with two Kiddylicious snack boxes and entry to LEGOLAND Windsor Resort for the purpose of this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

Ever since our girls were born, Kiddylicious meals and snacks have been a staple in our house. They make tasty, healthy and nutritious snacks that both of our kids still absolutely love. So when we were invited to LEGOLAND Windsor Resort for a day out with Kiddylicious, I knew they’d have an absolute blast with lots of yummy foods to keep fuelled up along the way!

 

 

I’ve heard such good reports about LEGOLAND, but until this trip we’d never had the chance to visit. Our girls have been into LEGO for some time now, so they knew straight away what the park is centred around. One of the attractions we were most looking forward to, was the digital LEGO Reef that’s been added new to the park for the 2018 season. It’s a floor to ceiling interactive reef, that allows the kids to create their own personalised virtual fish, which they can they see projected onto the big screen! Not only that, there are ‘feed me‘ buttons dotted around so they can feed their pet fish too! We were also looking forward to visiting Miniland, as there are new landmarks to see including; the USA, India, Russia, Australia and China.

 

 

Getting to LEGOLAND Windsor –

As we are Midlands based, LEGOLAND is a couple of hours drive away from us. Our girls usually travel quite well and thanks to Kiddylicious, they had a bowl of Little Bistro Oaty Porridge before we set of to keep them going on the journey. The porridge went down a storm! It’s full of flavour and really filling, as well as being suitable for children with or without a dairy allergy. Once they’d eaten up, they were mega excited to jump in the car and get going!

 

 

En route to LEGOLAND, I decided to download the official park app as I’d heard such great things about it. I like to plan our days out so that we can make the most of them and the LEGOLAND app is ideal to help you find your way around the park. It has a resort map as well as ride information and live queue times, so you know what rides are suitable for the kids to go on. The queue times were really accurate and super helpful when we planned where we were going next. We found it useful to join the longer lines when the kids were getting ready for a snack. That way they didn’t realise they were waiting, as they were so occupied with what Kiddylicious had sent them to munch on. Their favourite queue snacks were by far the Coconut Rolls, they’re dairy, gluten and nut free. They’re portion controlled and an easy ‘grab’ snack!

 

 

Picnic time –

LEGOLAND has many designated picnic areas where you can take time to rest and enjoy your lunch. As we went on one of the hottest days of the year, we found a nice shady spot and the girls delved into their Kiddylicious lunch boxes! They really enjoyed the Cheesy Stars and hubs and I were impressed when we read that 6 pence from every pack sold is donated to Make-A-Wish-UK. A charity that supports children and young people living with life threatening conditions. They were taken with the Biscotti too, in fact we’ve had to stock up on these since we arrived home!

 

 

After we’d enjoyed out picnic, the girls decided they wanted to go on the Fairy Tale Brook ride. They were completely in awe as the boats took us om a journey around all of their favourite fairy tale scenes. Fairy Tale Brook was a huge hit and I would highly recommend it if you have smaller children in tow!

 

 

Home time –

After a very tiring but very enjoyable day, it was time to head back to the car and drive home. As you can imagine, both girls were asleep withing 5 minutes of leaving the park, all of that fun had completed worn them out! Hubs and I were super tired too, so we were glad that Kiddylicious had sent some of their Little Bistro meals for the kids to have for their dinner. They really enjoyed them and it meant we didn’t have to start cooking when we got back. The Little Bistro meals are handy to have in the house for days like this. They’re microwave friendly, they have no added salt or sugar and they’re a great source of protein. They make super quick, guilt free meals!

 

 

We had such a great day out at LEGOLAND Windsor, thanks to Kiddylicous. There really is something for everyone to enjoy and it’s definitely somewhere we’ll be going back to in the future. We’ll remember to take out Kiddylicious snacks along too, they made the whole day so much easier with two toddlers in tow!

 

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Does Staying at Home with the Kids Mean I Lack Ambition?

Does Staying at Home with the Kids Mean I Lack Ambition?

My husband and I had a conversation recently, mainly about the family life of professionals. He told me that one of his colleagues had informed him that he does so well at work, because his wife ‘lacks ambition‘. What he meant was, his wife had given up her professional role to stay at home with the kids and that it was the right choice for their family. It would seem that he appreciated this ‘lack of ambition‘ though, as he felt it allowed him to progress swiftly in his own career. As you can imagine, I was a little taken aback by his admission.

I’ve previously written about my marriage and I’ve commented on the main reason it’s working so well. That reason was the fact that I stay at home to look after the kids. Yes this is so my husband can progress in his career and yes it meant I had to leave my first business behind. Does it mean I lack ambition though? Am I forever destined to be mother and housewife, with no desire to follow my dreams? I think not.

Ambition doesn’t always wear the same mask –

The thing about ambition is that it means different things to different people. From being a teenager, it was always my ambition to work for myself. I knew I wanted to be my own boss and a lot of hard work got me there. My husband always dreamt of working as a medical professional, he continues to work hard in this field and he will go far. This demonstrates ambition in two different ways, but both are ambition nonetheless.

Stronger than my ambition to build a business, was my desire to become the best mum I could be. It was my ambition to become a stay at home parent, that was and still is the environment in which I want to raise my children. How can that not be ambition? It’s a dream and it takes a lot of working towards, I believe I have succeeded. I have have fulfilled my ambition.

I do always put my husbands work needs before my own, but that’s because I want to, not because I have to. Just because I want him to achieve his goals and because I’m happy to work around his aspirations, doesn’t mean I’m faltering on the ambition front. Ambition doesn’t just have to be associated with career prospects, it covers life as a whole.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat –

The comment this guy made frustrated me most, because my ambition to be self employed will never disappear. That’s why I built up a blogging and freelance writing business from home. Just because people don’t always fulfil their ambition by taking the traditional route, doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. I know from my own experience that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Referring to your loved one as ‘lacking ambition’ is entirely unacceptable, given that there’s so much to be achieved without leaving the comfort of your own home.

So whatever your ambition may be, whether it’s to rise through the ranks of your company, to be a stay at home parent or to build a business of your own. Never, ever believe that you are lacking in ambition. Never let anyone tell you that you don’t aspire to do anything or be anyone. You are you for a reason and you’re already achieving so much.

 

 

 

 

 

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Smoking in Public Places and Why it Makes me so Mad

Smoking in Public Places and Why it Makes me so Mad

As you can probably tell by the title of this post, I’m a non-smoker, as are all of my immediate family. I do think smoking is a dirty habit and I do get annoyed when people think it’s OK to smoke around myself and my children. I do understand that smoking is an addiction. I’m aware that once you’ve started, it must be terribly hard to stop. However, I also think that just because you have an issue that you can label as an ‘addiction’, it doesn’t automatically give you the right to make other people suffer along with you. Especially when they don’t consent.

My inspiration for this post came from a recent visit to a children’s play area with both of my girls. On one the hottest days of the year, we donned our hats and sun cream and headed to the park. The perfect Sunday morning jaunt. After we’d been there a little while, we were joined by a toddler and her grandmother. The issue was though, that the grandmother thought it was entirely acceptable to smoke on the playground. She showed absolutely no concern for the health of anyone else’s children, never mind that of her own granddaughter.

Smoking and health –

This blatant act, of what I believe to be anti-social behaviour, made me so angry. If she really couldn’t wait until she was in the privacy of her own home to smoke, the least she could have done was taken herself away from the children’s play area. I will never think it’s acceptable to smoke around other people and their children, public area or not.

It’s a well know fact that smoking is a contributing factor to many serious health concerns. According to the NHS, smoking is responsible for a whopping 90% of lung cancers, as well cancers of the mouth and oesophagus. Smoking can also cause significant damage to the heart and blood circulation, increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Not to mention an array of respiratory diseases.

What about our children though? What are the effects of passive smoking? Well, children that are exposed to cigarette smoke are at far greater risk of developing health problems than those that don’t. Illnesses such as meningitis, persistent coughs and an increased risk of cot death are all associated with second-hand cigarette smoke. Asthma can also become worse if sufferers are exposed to smoke.

No excuses –

The thing is, in this day and age we have been so well-educated on the risks of smoking. Steps have been taken to protect the public to a certain extent, there really are no excuses for smoking. There are NO benefits to such a destructive habit. I’m absolutely sure that some people will disagree with my opinion, I’m sure there are people who believe that they can do as they please. To me this just shows ignorance, a lack of education and a lack of empathy.

 

How do you feel about smoking in public areas? 

 

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Bunny Jump from University Games – Review

Bunny Jump from University Games – Review

*We were gifted a Bunny Jump board game for the purpose of this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

 

This week we’ve been testing out the new Bunny Jump board game from University Games! I’ve always been a fan of board games, but up until recently our girls have been too young to grasp them. So I was very excited when this opportunity came up and with a game that is perfect for their age group!

 

 

The aim of the game –

Bunny Jump is a really fun game, one that had us all in fits of giggles! You spin the arrow, which tells you how many carrots you are allowed to pull from the rabbit hole, if any at all! Once you do manage to pull a few carrots, you have to be ready to catch the bunny if jumps up from its den! I’ve never seen my girls so engrossed in a game and for so long! We’ve played it every day since it arrived and they still can’t get enough of Bunny Jump!

Fun for all of the family –

Now that our eldest daughter has started nursery, we are always looking for ways to spend quality time together as a family. So when Hubs comes in from work of an evening, we’ve really enjoyed playing Bunny Jump together. I’m especially looking forward to breaking out the games during the winter months, when it isn’t as easy to head outdoors to make fun.

Overall, I’m super impressed with Bunny Jump from University Games. The girls love it and we love it. I know that this will be a firm favourite in our house and now that I know our girls have so much fun playing board games, I can’t wait until we get to add even more to our collection!

 

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Sports Day. I Just don’t Find Forced Competition Fun.

Sports Day. I Just don’t Find Forced Competition Fun.

Ok, I know this title will have readers turning their nose up before we even begin. I know this is an unpopular opinion, as each person I’ve had this conversation with has disagreed wholeheartedly. The thing is though, I just don’t like sports day. In fact, I hate it. No, it’s not because I’m rubbish at sport, I’m actually pretty good. It’s also not because I’m unfit, I’m really not. I’m not a stranger to exercise, I think it’s a very important part of life and I do think sports should be celebrated in schools. I just can’t stand the forced competition of sports day.

I know, I know. I’m a total party pooper. I’m the parent that’s spoiling the fun for her kids. Just bare with me a minute though and picture this; a sports hall packed full of of three and 4 years olds, each bringing with them about 3 generations of ‘support’. The immediate race for a school bench on the front row, parents giving each other the side eye and immediately disliking the person who got there first. A room full of knackered toddlers and tired out teachers ready to make them compete against against each other, for the amusement of the parents who are probably still falling out over seats. If you think this sounds fun, you’re a better person than me.

 

Life isn’t always about competition –

I’m told that sports day is so important because it sets the bar for life. Children need to learn how to thrive and how to come out on top. They also need to learn disappointment and the fact that life can be a bit rubbish sometimes. I do agree that they need to experience all of this, I just don’t believe that a room full of screaming adults is the best place to start dishing out life lessons.

The thing that bothered me most about sports day at my daughter’s school, was the sheer lack of self-awareness displayed by the majority of adults in the room. It went from being ‘fun’, to being forced competition in a matter of seconds. Parents were literally shouting at their children to run faster and amazingly, were unable to hide their disappointment when they lost. Oh but if they won, well you’ve never seen a celebration like it. In my opinion, setting a very poor example for their impressionable offspring.

Like I said, I do think sports are a good thing and I think there are ways to enjoy them together. I just can’t grasp why, in 2018, we still force our children to compete against each other from such a tender age. I don’t see how it benefits them and frankly I think it brings out the worst in many parents.

The trouble is, that the kids seem to love sports day. They absolutely lap it up and leave with huge smiles across their faces. Mine included. So it would seem that I need to settle myself in for the next decade of forced competition sports days. It appears that I’m among the minority.

 

 

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