Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Wow, the Easter holidays seem like a long time ago already don't they? We've all been back to work and school for a week now so this post is a little late. 

Part of the reason for starting our blog at Kids, Cuddles and Muddy Puddles was to keep a record of some of the things we do that make us happy. Life is just flying past at the moment, and I don't really keep a diary which is a shame as my memory is terrible, and I honestly forget some of the wonderful things we get up to. Some days I'm so busy, I forget to just stop for a moment to take it all in! 

I have photos from most days out or special events but they tend to live in my phone or some virtual space somewhere! I need to get my act together and print them out but there's not enough time in the world to sort through and print them all! So starting an online diary of sorts seemed like a great way to remember the fun family things we get up to. 

I wrote about our Bank Holiday weekend in our post, Easter holidays, part 1: Keeping it local! So, here are the highlights from the first week of our Easter holidays. Hubby was off work for the first week too so we tried to pack as much in as possible, staying close to home because of the new puppy! 


Tuesday

Hubby got on with some DIY and Dottie had her injections in the afternoon meaning we could take her out in public a week from then. We spent the rest of the day at home, and the kids had fun with the playdough. Then we had the in-laws over for a takeaway in the evening! A nice relaxed day after a busy Bank Holiday. 


Wednesday

We got up early, put on our wellies and took the kids to the Roaches in Staffordshire for a wet, muddy walk in the rain. 
It's so beautiful up there, and the view out across Tittesworth Reservoir is stunning. Hubby took me there in the snow once when we first got together 13 years ago...talk about dicing with death! At 2 and 4 years old though, the view was lost on the children! 
They were a bit annoyed at getting wet and muddy so early in the day, but we like to take them on character-building walks occasionally as you may have read about in our post about a trip to Rudyard Lake! A bit of fresh air did us all good though and somehow, no one fell over! 
As a reward for perseverance, we took them to soft play to warm up and play while Mummy and Daddy had breakfast. This was my bribe to get Hubby to agree to take them... he's not a fan of soft play! I think I won him over though because he said it was the best cooked breakfast in town...and he's tried most of them! High praise indeed! Well done Leaps and Bounds in Leek! 

We popped home to see to Dottie and the kids played with her until we decided last minute to go swimming! It was 4pm by the time we arrived at Dimensions, Stoke-on-Trent but that didn't bother the kids. With armbands on, they were ready to take on the splash pool, rapids and dragon water slide! I was ready to take on the hot tub personally, but that had to wait until daredevil Rosie had had her fix of the water flume! I've never known such a fearless 2 year old, she surprises me every day! 

I think this was my favourite family day of the holidays! We were all shattered on the way home so KFC provided tea and the kids were put straight to bed when we got in. We weren't too far behind ourselves! 


Thursday

We woke up to the first day of sunshine we'd had since last week, so decided to put our Merlin passes to good use before they run out in a few weeks. We set off for Alton Towers, but as we soon found out, so did everyone else! After queuing a while to get into the carpark, we finally made it in and headed to CBeebies Land

Rosie was so happy to finally be 90cm, so she could finally enjoy all the same rides as her brother instead of watching. What a nice way for her to end our year of Merlin fun! Hopefully we'll fit in one more visit before they run out. After a few hours in the sunshine, playing in the arcades, eating doughnuts, and queuing for rides, we came back home to our waiting pup and played in the garden until bedtime. 
The great thing about having the passes is that we don't feel bad for only spending 3 hours or so out, or skipping rides because of queues, because we can go back any time to visit the other attractions. This is perfect while the puppy is so young too, meaning she's not alone for too long.


Friday  

Friday was a chilled out day after a few days of fun. We took Dottie to the local pet shop to get her kitted out for her first walk. She was treated to a harness, lead and little jumper as it was still quite wet and cold. 
We spent the rest of the day in the garden playing with the puppy, testing out her harness and practising on the lead. Hubby painted the shed and mowed the lawn, and just generally pottered about doing jobs!


Saturday 

Hubby was out for the day working on a landscaping job for family, so I took the kids to Hanley Library to change their books. Since having kids, I've rediscovered the library... it's a fab, free place to take the children. They love choosing books and going to the events that they put on. Read our post on the kids' top 5 favourite picks for April to hear about the kind of books they love. 

We popped into the supermarket for a cheap and cheerful lunch and picked up a couple of gingerbread biscuits for later. The children enjoyed them back at home with a few episodes of their favourite programme at the moment... Waffle the Wonder Dog, and I caught up on some washing! There's always so much more when Stanley is off school and the Hubby is at home! 


Sunday

With Hubby working again, we went to one of our favourite local places, Jackson’s Nurseries and Tea Room in Bagnall. We had tea and homemade cake in the tea rooms and a play in their little park, taking advantage of the rare glimpse of sunshine! 
The peacocks were in full display today too! It was nice to break up the day for a couple of hours and let Stanley and Rosie run off some energy! 


So our week off together was lovely! A great mix of adventure, excitement and downtime, and all on our doorstep. Hubby was off to his usual job the next day, so our second week of the holidays would be just the three of us! You can read about what we got up to in our post, Easter holidays, part 3: Just the three of us.

Finding joy in the little things: Ah, so many little things brought me joy this week! But most of all, it was having Hubby home with us for a whole week! The children adore their dad and love spending proper, quality time with him. 

The other highlight was seeing how much fun the children had with new experiences like the water slide. I admired their bravery and stamina... I lost count of how many times I was dragged up the steps to the top! 

The kids really did find joy in the little things this week. This time last year we were in Majorca, but this week has proven that staying local can be just as much fun and just as rewarding.

What are your favourite local places to visit? Do you have any hidden gems? I'd love to hear about them!




I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs, because #itsok not to be the "perfect" parent! Your children don't need to "have it all" because having you is just enough. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

We love a good children's book in this house! Both my children, Stanley (almost 5) and Rosie (2 and a half), have always enjoyed listening to stories and looking at books. Our collection at home is growing rapidly, and each of the children have their favourites. However, since joining the library, they are finding it hard to pin down just one story book that they love the most! Inspired by the Bath, Book, Bed campaign run by BookStartI have decided to write a round-up of my children's favourites each month. Here are our April picks for children under 5.


A selection of books we chose for our April under 5s favourites

Shark in the Park (Author/Illustrator: Nick Sharratt)

We love this book! In fact, I think we may have borrowed it from the library about 5 times! (Probably about time I actually bought them a copy, right?!) 

It's a "boy who cried wolf" type story about Timothy Pope and what he sees (or maybe he doesn't?) through his telescope. We absolutely love the sing-song rhymes and the repetition which encourages the kids to join in. We also love the little cut-out spy hole which lets you glimpse a little of what Timothy is looking at. Is it really a shark fin...or is it Dad's hair?

The illustrations are fun, smiley, bold and captivating, with so much to look at on each page. My children particularly like the clever surprise at the end...but I won't spoil that for you! Go and borrow a copy (or better still, buy one) - you will love it!


Dinosaur Roar! (Author/ Illustrator: Henrietta and Paul Stickland)

What a lovely little surprise this was! This is a perfect picture book for reading aloud together, especially if you have a dinosaur fan! It's more of an introduction to all sorts of dinosaurs than a narrative, told through cheerful rhyme with vivid pictures to entertain even the youngest listeners. 


Young boy reading Dinosaur Roar! on the sofa.

The book has a beautiful simplicity in its writing; the detail comes from the author's use of adjectives and opposites, with charming and funny watercolor pictures of the dinosaurs. All three of us enjoyed this book so much, we read it cover-to-cover three times in a row! 


There's a Monster in your Book (Author: Tom Fletcher, Illustrator: Greg Abbott)

Well, I don't know about the children but I've found a new favourite! A little blue monster has found a home in this book and it's up to the reader to get him out! But where will he end up? 

This beautifully illustrated, interactive story had us shaking the book, spinning it round and even tickling the monster's feet to get him out of the book! Rosie loved joining in with all the instructions, especially when asked to make a loud noise to scare the monster away!

What starts as a mission to get the monster out of the book, becomes a more gentle quest to get the monster to sleep. It's a great, giggle-inducing book for bedtime and we really enjoyed it! 


The Everywhere Bear (Author: Julia Donaldson, Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb)

Julia Donaldson is such a brilliant author; she's a firm favourite in our house and this is another of her stories that will be on our shelf for years to come. This is such a lovely story, and one Stanley totally related to as his class also have a bear like the Everywhere Bear.  


Toddler lying on floor looking at pictures in The Everywhere Bear.

The story is about a class bear who goes home with a different child each weekend. You know the type, the one that gets sent home with a diary that every parent dreads?! Well, in this story the Everywhere Bear gets lost one day and goes on an adventure of his very own. Will he ever make it back to Class One?

In true Donaldson style, the story is told through joyful rhymes which captivate young readers. No detail is left out in the beautiful, crayon drawings, from facial expressions to pictures on the walls. My two particularly liked the detail in the Polaroid style photos of each character and had fun matching them up to the text as I read it. It's a gentle, engaging story which we all really enjoyed.


Spot Visits his Grandparents (Author/Illustrator: Eric Hill)

This one is one of Rosie's favourites! She loves the Spot the Dog books and all the bold, colourful lift-the -flap fun! 

Young girl reading a Spot the Dog book on the sofa.

In this story, Spot visits his Grandma and Grandpa. Rosie's favourite part is when Spot breaks Grandpa's shed window with his ball, and in true grandchild-grandparent style, the pair make it their little secret! 

Spot has a lovely time helping in the garden and reading stories with his Grandpa, much like my children do! This is one reason we like Spot books because even my 2 year old can relate to the events in the story. 


Check out BookTrust's list of best bedtime books for 2018 on their website. What are your children's favourite bedtime stories? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below. It might give us an idea of what to hunt out on our trip to the library next month!


Finding joy in the little things: Rosie has just started retelling her favourite stories! She often repeats the bits that tug at her heartstrings, showing me she is really starting to understand emotions and how the world works! When she talks about the Spot story, she keeps saying. "Oh no! Spot broke the window with the ball!" So we've talked about accidents and what they are and she seems to understand! I love how both children are becoming little book worms! Long may it continue...




I'm linking up this post with these great blogs:

 Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Well, we've had a really busy, fun-filled first week of the Easter holidays! As you may know, we welcomed Dottie the Dachshund puppy into our home a few weeks ago so we decided to stay local for our holidays this time. Hubby had a long awaited week off work so we looked forward to doing lots of things together. Here are some of the things we got up to over the long Easter weekend; maybe it will give you some ideas for what to look out for in your local area.


Good Friday 

I have been taking the kids to a local church playgroup on Tuesday mornings for a few years now, and although I don't follow a faith, they are such a welcoming group of people. So, we have started going along to their Messy Church events which are held once a month. This month was Easter themed, and full of great activities for the children to take part in. The whole event is free but we always make a donation, as so much effort and resources go into running it. 


Stanley constructed a cross made out of pegs and lollipop sticks then had fun knocking it over! Both kids made an Easter wreath out of paper plates and decorated a paper bag ready for the egg hunt later. Rosie was in her element when they were invited to make rocky road for everyone to share later. Hot cross buns, homemade shortbread, tea and juice were next! 

Everyone was invited to a short but very child-orientated Easter service in the church as the volunteers set up for the next activity. As I said, I'm not really religious but the stories are always full of morals and it's great for the children to learn about different faiths...and to practise sitting quietly! Afterwards, we all took part in the Easter egg hunt outside. 

The children had to find 3 laminated eggs numbered 1 to 3, in exchange for an Easter egg at the end of the hunt! They were well hidden, it took us ages to find two full sets! We were rewarded for our efforts with a soup and bread lunch (for a small donation) with more hot cross buns and the rocky road the children had helped to make earlier! We all had a great time! I'd fully recommend you search out your local Messy Church events, even if you are not religious. The events are such good value and all the people that go are so friendly and welcoming.


Easter Saturday 

Hubby surprised the children by booking tickets to see Peter Rabbit at the cinema in the morning. They were very excited, although I think Rosie was more excited about all the popcorn! A family ticket isn't really bad value, especially as a treat. We armed ourselves with the obligatory bucket of popcorn, a pick and mix (expensive from the cinema - you could keep costs down by stocking up on the 3 for a £1 bags of sweets from the supermarkets...we weren't that organised!) a drink for the kids and a coffee for me! Our cinema has booster seats which are great for the little ones, although I recommend you roll up a jacket or jumper and put it behind their backs, to fill in the gap between them and the back rest. We really enjoyed the film! It kept both the children engaged and I enjoyed it too! Rosie ate more than her own weight in popcorn I'm sure, and the sweets took a hammering too! 

Our local cinema is right next to the bowling alley, so we chanced there being a lane free... and surprisingly for a bank holiday, there was! We opted for just one game as Rosie had already sat through a whole film and I didn't think she had two games in her! At her age (2 1/2), one game is usually enough before she gets bored. We let the children use the little ball ramps; an unfair advantage for me I though as I came last! Good job the sides were up too as it could have been even more embarrassing... especially as Hubby seemed to have his A-Game on and scored about 8 strikes!! We finished off our afternoon with a sharing platter of burgers and wedges from the bowling alley, and a little play in the arcades. 

For a fun family day out, check out your local cinema and bowling alley. Lots of cinemas have the weekend saver sessions too, cheaper children's films for a fraction of the price. You can obviously save money by taking your own drinks and snacks. Our bowling alley offers half-price bowling on certain days, and great value eat-and-play deals too, so you can keep costs down if you do some research and forward planning. 


Easter Sunday 

We started Easter Sunday with a little Easter egg hunt in the living room. I just filled up some of those plastic eggs for the children to find, remembering to put them out of reach of the new puppy! Dogs must not eat chocolate as it can make them violently ill, so I'm having to learn important things like that now we have a puppy! After breakfast, the kids wanted to go outside to play with their Easter bubbles so we wrapped up and took Dottie into the back garden too. 

Stanley and Rosie had lots of fun chasing the puppy around the garden, and she loved chasing them back! One question though... How do you stop an inquisitive puppy from eating all the grass, mud and leaves? I'm not fully clued up on which plants in my garden are poisonous yet, so any advice would be appreciated! 

The bubbles were a hit with all three of them, but they didn't last long (once they'd both knocked over their bubble tubes!) so it was on to football! We spent a good 40 minutes enjoying being outdoors, and Dottie was really becoming part of the family. Shame she pooed on the floor as soon as the set foot (paw) inside! Oh well, I suppose toilet training a puppy isn't much different to potty-training a toddler!  

Later on we popped out for lunch at The Brindley Farm, our local Farmhouse Inn in Stoke-on-Trent. The children like it there because it has a large indoor play area; Hubby and I like it because we can enjoy a bit of peace while they play. It's cheap and cheerful and the carvery is great. Just what you need for a meal out with two youngsters with small appetites and ants in their pants! 

We ended the day back at home, with our second German lesson which had an Easter theme. You can read all about it in our post, German for Kids: Fünf Osterküken - Five Easter Chicks. I'm really impressed with Stanley and how his confidence is growing! Make sure you check out the little video clip of him at the end of that post. 

And of course, no Easter Sunday would be complete without eating lots of chocolate in front of a film on the sofa! The children fell asleep and we carried on watching the film we'd put on for them! Does anyone else do that? I often find myself engrossed in the latest episode of Waffle the Wonder Dog or Peppa Pig only to realise later on that the kids have gone off to play! 


Easter Monday

Well, this is a bit of a boring one but not every day in life is exciting is it? Especially if you're the one who's off to do the weekly shop whilst your Hubby paints the kitchen with the kids and puppy at home! The thing is, he never gets much time off and when he does we drag him out with us, so eventually he has to get round to doing these DIY things and today was the day! The kids were happy to play at home anyway (Secretly, I was excited to be able to browse the supermarket aisles by myself!) I love how the kids are becoming great friends, not just siblings and the imaginative play is always heart-warming to listen to! 

Stan: "Rosie, pretend you are the mummy and I am the dog. Pretend you told me we are going for a walk. Woof woof!" 
Rosie: "OK, come on doggy, let's go for a walk. We go shopping to buy bread and milk." (No points for guessing what I'm always going to the shops for!)

So that was a round-up of our Easter weekend. We didn't venture far but we did have fun! I hope you all had a nice Easter weekend making memories with your family and friends. 

Finding joy in the little things: If you're new to my posts, I'll explain the reasoning behind this final thought. My blog tagline is, "Find joy in the little things, every day..." In a world where everything often feels so rushed and manic, sometimes we forget to take a second and really appreciate the little things that bring you joy during the day. So I put this little paragraph at the end of each post to ensure I just take a moment to do this. These little things are often the things that get you through the darker or more mundane parts of the day, they keep you going and remind you to be grateful for what you have. 

On to this weekend: There are so many things I could mention! But I suppose the things that made me smile the most this weekend were seeing Stanley and Rosie enjoy each other's company. Stan is usually at school during the week, so Rosie has really enjoyed having a playmate at her beck and call! Just little things, like seeing them hold hands on the egg hunt without me asking them too, or Rosie imitating the things during playtime that she's heard at home, these are the little things that make me stop for a second and smile. What are the little things that have given you joy today? I'd love to hear about them! 





I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs:
Mummascribbles   The Pramshed
Confessions of a New Mummy

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Counting to 5: numbers in practice!

A little recap

The aim of today's lesson was to get the children to practise using German numbers 1 - 5 for a purpose - counting!



It is always important to recap any prior learning before introducing anything new; this promotes confidence and helps them to retain information. For our first lesson earlier this month, I decided to introduce the children to German through one of their favorite songs, Five Little Ducks. We used the song to learn numbers 1 to 5. To refresh the children's memories, we listened to the song again and we held up the correct amount of fingers everytime we heard a number. For ideas on how to introduce numbers 1 - 5, read our post called German for Kids: Fünf kleine Entchen - Five little ducks. We then counted up to 5 together and checked their pronunciation of each word. I encouraged Stanley to count back from five too, and he did it with a little help.


Die Osterküken

Next, I introduced the children to the multisensory tray. It was Easter Sunday so naturally I went with the Easter theme to engage them! I used shredded green tissue paper as the grass, yellow eggs with chick faces and those traditionally little fluffy chicks you glue (usually unsuccessfully!) to Easter bonnets.



I told the kids the Easter chicks (die Osterküken) were hiding in the eggs and they had to open each one in turn, and count out the chicks in German. They responded well to me giving some instructions in the target language, using the sandwiching technique to aid understanding. (Sandwiching is when you say the words in the target language, repeat them in English, then say them in target language again.) You can find the vocabulary I used at the end of this post.


Finde fünf Küken!

I wanted the children to use the number vocabulary for a purpose, not to just learn words by rote with no meaning to them. So I challenged them to find me eggs containing certain amounts of chicks! 


Again using sandwiching to begin with (you can eventually stop repeating the  phrase in the first language as they begin to understand the meaning), I said, "Finde ein Küken," "Finde zwei Küken," until we had found and counted each number of chicks to five. As with any learning, you can adapt the difficulty to suit the abilities of each of your children. I gave Rosie the lower numbers to find as she is only 2 and also learning to count in her own language! Stanley did really well and found and counted each number to 5, so we went a little further and counted to 10 together.


Chicks in the grass!

To push them a little further while they were still happy and engaged, I asked them to hide all the little chicks in the grass. They really enjoyed rustling the tissue paper and pulling it apart to hide the chicks! I told them I'd ask them to find a certain number of chicks and they could race to see who could find that many first. I used a simple phrase, "Kannst du zwei Osterküken finden?" I just changed the number each time. This became quite competitive and a few of the little chicks suffered unfortunate beheadings!! But they enjoyed it and really tried hard to count out loud in German! I helped Rosie a bit here as she naturally counted in English but with the speed of the activity and her age, that was totally fine and to be expected.



A picture to finish

To calm the kids down after the competitive activity, I gave them a colouring sheet to do. I adapted a picture I found here by adding the words Happy Easter, the Easter chick and the Easter bunny in German. I read them out and pointed to the pictures, and the children repeated them a few times. To increase shoulder stability and upper torso strength (great for helping with early handwriting), I encouraged the children to colour in whilst laying on their bellies and propping themselves up on their elbows. They thought that was fun! 


Finding joy in the little things: We are still very new to this language learning malarkey but I am so proud of how much the children are enjoying doing something new. Stanley is really soaking up the language and growing in confidence, as he frequently helped Rosie to count her chicks...even when she could do it by herself! This shows me how much he really wants to practise what he has learnt. I've never taught languages to anyone so young, but Rosie is amazing me too with her growing concentration span and memory for the vocabulary. I am proud of my kids every day, but having them join in so willingly with something I am teaching them makes me a very happy Mummy! Here's a little video of Stanley in action!




Vocabulary

Fünf Osterküken - Five Easter chicks
Die Osterküken (pl) - The Easter chicks
Das Osterküken (s) - The Easter chick


Eins - 1
Zwei - 2
Drei - 3
Vier - 4
Fünf - 5 

Finde ein/zwei/drei/vier/fünf Küken - Find 1/2/3/4/5 chicks

Kannst du ein/zwei/drei/vier/fünf Küken finden? - Can you find 1/2/3/4/5 chicks?

Frohe Ostern - Happy Easter

Der Osterhase - The Easter Bunny

** Please note: I am not a native German speaker! I try my best to be as accurate as possible, but mistakes do happen and my language skills are a bit "rusty!" If you do spot a grammatical error or spelling mistake, please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments. Danke! **



The Pramshed

Friday, 30 March 2018

The sun returns!

Last weekend the sunshine made a welcome return, so we decided to get up early for a walk and make the most of it before the weather turned on us yet again! As a family, we have been trying to get out more and appreciate the beautiful places on our doorstep and the Caldon Canal couldn't be much closer! The Caldon Branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal is 17 miles long from Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent, to Froghall Wharf in the Staffordshire Moorlands. 


Buggy friendly

Needless to say that with two children under 5, we didn't walk the full length of the canal! We joined it at Stockton Brook and headed towards Stoke. The Canal side is great for the kids as the path is wide enough to let them walk safely in front of us. I'd say it was pretty buggy friendly too, as long as you could manage the slightly muddy bank down to the path from the roadside! 


Wildlife watch!

This part of the Caldon is quite pretty with views of the countryside either side. It becomes even more picturesque if you walk in the other direction towards Froghall, as you enter the Churnet Valley. This is on our to-do list for next time, with a scheduled stop at The Hollybush Pub in Denford I think! The children enjoyed seeing all the ducks and listening out for other birds and wildlife as we continued our walk. 


Locks and Long Butts...

There are several locks and a manually lifted bridge called Long Butts Lift Bridge (a name the children found quite funny!) along the stretch at Stockton Brook. Last time we came for a walk here, we were lucky enough to see the locks in action as a lovely holidaying couple invited the kids aboard (and us...we didn't just throw them aboard with strangers!). People we've met along the canal here have always been really friendly, and let the kids watch or help with the locks which is always exciting for them. 


Inner Pepper Pig!

After a steady 20 minutes or so, we decided to turn back as Rosie can only walk so far (she's only 2). I didn't fancy picking her up with her muddy wellies on as I'd be covered too! This girl can not resist a puddle...the muddier the better! In fact most days I'm pretty sure she's channelling her inner Pepper Pig! Stanley was excited to point out the scary house on the way back, telling his sister to watch out for ghosts! I'm not sure what this derelict building had been, but it didn't look too out of place against the backdrop. There are other items of interest along the way, such as the two interesting monuments that celebrate the Spitfire and pottery heritage which is local to the area. You can see one of them in the background of this photo.


Time for a drink?

There are three pubs/restaurants located close to where we joined/exited the Caldon Canal (just off the main road, the A53) if you fancied a drink or lunch to recharge after; The Sportsman Pub and Ego Restaurant. Greenways Golf Club is also a short walk down Stanley Road, and they serve food to non-club members too. We had a play date with friends at soft play that afternoon, so I had a gourmet lunch of chicken nuggets, chips and beans to look forward to! 

More to explore...

There is so much more of this canal to explore. I'm looking forward to the springtime when we can take advantage of the beauty on our doorstep a bit more, and the canal will definitely be a good place to bring our newest family member, Dottie the Dachshund pup! I have also found a great little "Duck Guide" by the Canal and River Trust, with some fab ideas I'm going to try out with the kids next time we go. You can find the Waterside Quest download here, which contains 10 outdoor activity ideas for when you're at the waterside. I'm always after fun, free activities; let me know in the comments if you get involved too! Always remember to keep little ones safe by the water.



Finding joy in the little things: What better way to spend an hour of a sunny Sunday morning than down by the canal with my family! We are all totally over the snow and cold weather now, so to be outside without 10 layers on was fab! It's amazing how much a little warmth and brightness cheers up your soul and puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day... even if you are off to soft play afterwards! Try to get out when the sun shines, even if only to walk around the block. You'll feel so much better for it! Enjoy the sunshine, wherever you are! 






I've linked up this post with these fabulous blogs:

Mummascribbles  

Sunday, 18 March 2018

School run stress

A quick google or hashtag search of the school run and you’ll find lots of horror stories of fraught mornings ruined by missing uniform, unmade packed lunches and getting stuck in traffic! It’s a stressful time for many parents and it can set the mood for the day that follows. For even the most organised of mums and dads, the school run can leave you feeling frustrated and a bit deflated!

For the kids, it can be just as anxiety inducing, as they wonder why mum has asked them four times to put on their shoes when they're just trying to remember which foot each shoe goes on. Or dad has raised his voice again to speed up the whole breakfast choosing/making/eating process! It’s no wonder that some children rush off into school, forgetting to kiss mummy at the gate, excited to spend a fun-filled day with their friends!

Small miracles!

Last week however, a series of what I liken to small miracles occurred in our house! Firstly, Stan (4 1/2) made his bed without me reminding him. He even tucked up his Paw Patrol dogs safely so they could sleep while he was at school! This made me smile.

Next, Rosie (2) tidied up her room with a little help from her favourite clean up song! Since going to Messy Play where they play a tidy up song whilst everyone helps to put things away, she’s reacted really well to using a song at home! It gives her a sense of focus and a great feeling of achievement if she has finished by the end of the song! You can find the clean up song here.

Both children were amazed to find that after breakfast we had 10 minutes to spare, so they could watch a little bit of TV! This rarely happens during the pre-school scramble to get everyone up and out! And...here’s the absolute icing on the cake... I actually made myself a cuppa... and drank it sitting down!!! Not whilst rushing around with it in one hand, book bag, shoes and coat in the other! And it was HOT! I know you’ll appreciate just how wonderful that it!!

Three wheels or four? 

That morning, we walked to school. Stan scootered! That’s normally a treat we save for the way home, as he’s no pro and it certainly takes us longer on his wheels than in mine! We were super chilled, happy in each other’s company and actually enjoyed the slow walk to school! No missed kisses at the school gate for us; even Rosie was told by Stan to pucker up! What a difference these small things make to your day!

De-stress your morning!

So I’ve put together a list of things that may help you to take the stress out of those precious before school moments. For working families, this may be the only interaction you get until the tea-time chaos ensues! For others, school pick up can seem a long time to wait to ease the mummy/daddy guilt of the school morning rush. So wouldn’t it be rewarding if those before school moments could be golden? Hope it helps!

Plan ahead.

  • Uniform - Have it washed, ironed and ready to go each night. As Stan is still learning to dress independently, I lay his clothes out in the order he puts them on, even laying the polo shirt button side down so it’s the right way for him to pull it straight over his head. Same with his school jumper. It’s little things like this that make it just that bit easier for him. All I have to help him with now is tucking in his shirt and sorting his collar! I hope to crack this by July!
  • Toddler/baby clothes - Rosie’s clothes are also ready to go. She’s usually up first so as soon as she’s been to the loo, it’s off with the pjs and straight into simple clothes, like a jumper and leggings. Nothing with buttons or buckles when time is precious!
  • Your clothes - Have them ready the night before to grab and throw on before sorting the kids in the morning!
  • Lunches - I’m lucky enough that Stan has school dinners so I needn’t faff with lunches for him, but I work two days a week so I try to get mine ready the night before too. Usually at tea time while I’m waiting for something to cook, so I don’t have to spend additional time in the kitchen in the evenings! 
  • School admin - Have reading records signed the night before and put back into book bags. Sign any school letters and pop them in too.

Teach the children to take charge of something. This makes it easier on you.

  • Stanley has been taught to make his own bed; he may need a reminder but he does it now without argument. He just knows that making your bed is one of the things that needs doing before we all go downstairs.
  • Rosie knows she has to put away her toys before she comes down too. She has a little play whilst we get dressed as she’s always ready first. That’s just how it works in our house, and she’s learning that too. With a little help from her tidy up song!

Get the kids to pre-order breakfast!

  • I don’t always do this as my two are pretty good at picking in the morning. But if I know we are going to be short on time, I’ll get the kids to tell me what breakfast they want the night before. We choose bowls and spoons (we still have all the plastic character crockery here!) and lay them out on the table ready, before bed. It can save precious decision making minutes in the morning! Who knew choosing between the princess bowl and the Pepper Pig bowl could be such a dilemma when you’re 2?!

No TV/tablet before everything that needs doing is done! 

  • It surprising how well this little bribe works with mine! It’s a nice little reward for them for getting ready in time, and chills them out for those last few moments before we leave.

Plan your journey.

  • Set yourself a “time to leave the house” time and try your best to stick to it! I set mine 5 minutes before the time that I absolutely must leave by, which allows me a few extra minutes to be running late before all chaos ensues!
  • If you’re walking, have pushchairs/scooters/book bags/coats ready to go, by the door if it helps. 
  • If you’re driving, allow time to get the kids strapped into car seats/de-ice windscreens/warm the car, etc! Plan to leave 5 minutes ahead of time to try and avoid the scramble to get in the car and go!

And don’t forget - There’s always time for a cuddle and an “I love you.” 

I don’t profess to be an expert at any of this, we’re all human after all! But these are some of the things that help us to have a calm, purposeful and enjoyable morning together. I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments below if you do, or if you have any tips to share. I look forward to hearing from you.

Finding joy in the little things: The little “miracles” I mentioned earlier are the kinds of thing that make me smile in the morning! It makes me proud to know that the children are growing up to be helpful and independent. By creating a positive, calm, “working together” atmosphere, we can all enjoy the mornings in each other’s company. I hope you can too.

The Pramshed Confessions of a New Mummy