Tuesday, 16 November 2021

How to Master Working from Home with Young Children

Kids, Cuddles and Muddy Puddles understands that when you have young children, working from home can be a real challenge. It can take all of your energy just to ignore distractions and stay focused on a single task, let alone juggle your workload and endless parenting obligations. If you’re not careful, you can work yourself into a state of burnout. Thankfully, it’s possible to enjoy remote work while taking care of young kids. With smart scheduling, outsourcing, and plenty of self-care, you will thrive in this role!

Lighten Your Workload

Reducing the amount of work on your plate will help you stay sane as a work-from-home parent. One way to do this is to enrol your child in child care or bring in a nanny a couple of times per week. Another way to lighten your workload is to outsource some of your administrative work to freelancers. Hire a virtual assistant to handle all of those time-consuming tasks. For example, your assistant can help you with appointment scheduling, customer support, and email management. Look for virtual assistant services on freelance job boards like Upwork and compare costs and client reviews to find a professional who will meet your needs.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Get Kids Reading: A Literacy Campaign by Sooper Books

Kids, Cuddles and Muddy Puddles are proud to support a new Literacy campaign called Get Kids Reading, by Sooper Books. The driving force behind the campaign is husband and wife team Simon and Charlene, who are passionate about raising standards of reading in children.

The Get Kids Reading initiative was launched in January this year, due to research that showed young people's growing use of social media is negatively impacting levels of literacy, and increasing levels of depression, sleep-related problems and cyber-bullying.

The campaign aims to help parents bridge the gap between modern technology and the need to get kids reading. The Sooper Books mission is to provide free bookshop quality children's stories to families all over the world using an online platform.

Image Credit: Sooper Books
Traditional tales and well-loved children's stories are creatively retold by Simon (there's some Sooper Books originals in there too!), and beautifully illustrated by the talented Charlene. Together they have already produced an extensive online library of bedtime stories for 5-12 year olds! Perfect for busy, modern families who want access to quality reading resources anytime, anywhere!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Healthy Hair for Kids: Locks in Goodness Review and Giveaway


Locks in Goodness is a brand new natural hair care range aimed at children. All the products are free from impurities, natural in origin and completely safe to use on delicate, young hair. The ingredients used are minimally processed, meaning that they stay as close as possible to the natural plant.

"Every dollop is bursting with goodness." 

What I admire about this company is their dedication to the environment. The packaging is 100% recyclable and biodegradable, with the plastic-free tubes made from natural sugar cane, helping to protect the planet.

A big selling point for me is the "No Nasties" tagline. My son has very sensitive skin so we have to be careful what products we use. Harmful impurities and harsh chemicals which are found in most processed products can irritate his skin, so we were really excited to give these products a go!

Locks in Goodness Hair Gel and Hair Smoothie

Hair Gel

My son was keen to try the Hair Gel out! We applied a generous amount to damp, towel dried hair (even though it was almost bedtime... might as well go to sleep in style!) and spiked it up. The product doesn't feel sticky or synthetic, and is ultra light and easy to apply.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Frightful Fun at Ford Green Hall

Ford Green Hall is an impressive timber-framed farmhouse built originally in 1624 for the Ford family. It's now an award winning museum, steeped in 17th century history with an admirable collection of textiles, ceramics and furniture.

Throughout the year, many wonderful events are held at Ford Green Hall, one of which we enjoyed today, courtesy of Visit Stoke and the #MyStokeStory campaign.

Situated in Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent, Ford Green Hall and the adjacent nature reserve is easily accessible by car and public transport. The car park is free, and just a short walk via the main road to the path that leads to the museum entrance. My children were instantly invited by the carpet of orange leaves that greeted them outside, and we had to have a play before we went in! 

They just couldn't resist playing in the leaves!

Monday, 16 September 2019

Our Choc-tastic Visit to The Kandy Factory

Our chocolatey dreams came true a few weeks ago! During the summer holidays, we were lucky enough to be invited along to experience a chocolate making workshop at The Kandy Factory in Burton-on-Trent.

Situated upstairs in Burton's Victorian Market Hall, is an open-plan space where the magic is created! We were greeted on arrival by friendly staff and the children were kitted out in hair nets and aprons.

Look how clean they were at the start!
After choosing the creations they wanted to make from the display cases, the kids were given all the moulds they would need. My son chose to copy the beach scene, and my daughter decided upon a teddy bear world! They were each given a chocolate bar mould too.

A few minutes later, the children were brought 2 warm, melted bowls of milk chocolate and a little cupcake case full of decorations. They were allowed to have a little taste of the chocolate before spooning it into the chocolate bar mould, and personalising it with small sweets, chocolate buttons, cereals and sprinkles.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

A Rainbow After the Storm

Dear friends,

A lot has changed here since I last wrote. Little did I know that, one sunny day at the beginning of June, my whole life would take on a new direction.

After almost 15 years of being with my husband (7 of them married), he took the decision to end our relationship. The reasons are personal, but what followed would be the hardest, most devastating and emotional time of my life.

In that moment, I felt my entire world collapse around me. What would the future hold for me and my 2 young children? All my dreams and hopes for my family going forwards were shattered. Gone. My heart was broken, so much so that I felt I couldn't breath. The pain in my chest so immense, I couldn't even stand up straight. I cried so many tears I could taste the salt in the air.

In the weeks that followed, I fell apart inside... but kept it together on the outside. Many people never suspected a thing. For the first time though, I suffered from the effects of anxiety and ended up having to take time off work. There was no way I could concentrate on the education and welfare of others when I could barely look after myself.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

A Raving Good Time! Happyface Family Rave Review

On Sunday 9th June, my family and I went out for an afternoon with a difference! Imagine the scene - club classics from the 90s being played by a nightclub DJ, colourful flashing lights and glowsticks shining brightly, a dancefloor filled with revelers wearing UV facepaints and neon clubwear, everyone with their hands up in the air...

No, we didn't accidentally step back in time to our raving days, although it certainly felt like it! In fact, we introduced our two young children (almost 6 and 3 1/2) to the nostalgia of a family rave - Happyface Family Rave to be exact! This was a rave with a difference - a Sunday afternoon dance party for adults and children to enjoy together!

The event was imagined and brought to life by local man Nick Madeley and his team of dedicated organisers. You can read our preview post to find out about the background to this launch event, but don't forget to pop back here to find out how it went on the day!

In preparation for the family rave, we bought some themed T-Shirts to wear! My hubby is not one for dressing up so we kept them quite tame! The kids chose a skeleton and a unicorn doing the "Dab" - a popoular dance move bought to my son's attention by the game Fortnight! Hubby twinned with our son and I picked a slightly more nostalgic design (think, "big fish, little fish, cardboard box!")... but forgot to get a photo of me in it! (As is often the way for us mums/chief photo-takers, hey?!)

Monday, 27 May 2019

Phonics Fun with Mrs Mactivity: Phase Five Activity Pack

(Review / Gifted)

I can't believe the school year is almost over! My son is quickly coming to the end of Year One and will soon be taking his Phonics Screening Check. As I also teach Year One, revising all we have learnt in phonics is high on the agenda both at home and at school!

Phonics is the systematic approach to learning to read and spell, with the 44 phonemes (sounds) being taught in different phases throughout Reception and Year 1.

By the end of Year 1, children are given a Phonics Screening Check to assess whether they have mastered the basic phonics system, and identifies any areas they need help with as they go into Year 2. It checks that your child can:
  • Sound out and blend graphemes (the letter/letters that represent a sound) in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo (or alien) words.
When your child learns phonics, they will also be taught "tricky words." I wrote a post explaining why these words are classed as tricky, and how you can help your child learn tricky words in a fun, multisensory way, which is full of easy ideas.