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Family Money Saving Tips

As a mum to a larger than average brood, I’m often asked how I afford it. My kids don’t go without as they are in a bigger family. I just assess where I can cut costs on everyday living so that we can afford the bigger treats. So I thought I would share my family money saving tips with you all.

  1. Food shop wisely – the weekly food shop is often most families biggest expense after mortgage/rent repayments. Well, it’s essential we eat so we have to spend it. Over the last few years, things have crept up in price, plus my kid’s appetites have soared. So my food bills were often hitting £120 plus weekly plus top up shops between £20-£30. I made the change to Aldi and saw my food bills drop pretty drastically to around £70-£80 per week. Plus I now send one of the older kids into the local shop to get that loaf of bread we might need midweek. I find then I don’t get distracted by the end of the aisles deals. And leave the co-op with bags full instead of just the loaf needed.
  2. Annual Memberships – we love days out but they can be really expensive. So look into annual memberships. If it is a local attraction that you know you would be likely to visit 3 times plus (Easter, Summer Holidays and Christmas) then it is worth the investment. It can be a big initial outlay, so it might be worth giving it to your children as part of their Christmas or Birthday presents. Last year we had Merlin Annual Passes, which were a real treat. We used these loads. Gate prices for Chessington and Legoland are around £45 a day, but the passes cost just over £100.  So this was recouped in less than 3 trips. The passes also included Sealife Centres and Alton Towers. We made a holiday around Alton Towers by hiring a cottage over October half term to enjoy daily visits to the park. If you are looking for more low-key days out, we have had National Trust memberships for several years now. These are so reasonable, and within a couple of visits, they have also been covered. We often just pack a picnic and head out for an afternoon and the kids get to run off steam in the picturesque gardens. And learn lots of historical facts, whilst we explore the houses.
  3. Cashback on your shopping – we are a generation of online shoppers, I love the ease of shopping whilst I lounge on the sofa. I always shop through the Quidco gateway, which is great to earn cash back on my purchases. I let my cashback collect up through the year, to withdraw and use towards treats.
  4. Buy second hand – the kids grow quicker than I can keep up with. So I seem to forever have a shopping list of what is needed. Even though I have 4 girls the hand me downs don’t always last through all of them. Yes, the older girls get to an age that they know what they want, so I do buy new for them. But whilst the little ones aren’t overly demanding (with regards to their fashion anyway) I head to local nearly new sales, pop into charity shops and watch the Facebook selling sites for bargains.
  5. Have a goal – I find it harder to save and then decide what to spend the money on. So if I have an aim, we love holidays but often miss having one as I think yeah I’ll book that somewhen. But before I know it is July and I can’t spare the cash. But if I book it and calculate how much I’m going to pay towards it each week/month then I will pay for it and we get away.

I hope these few tips help, please share your money saving tips too.

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Precious Memories That Live Forever – Remembering Grandpa

This week it would have been my Daddy’s and my little tribes Grandpa’s 71st Birthday. On his heavenly birthday, we take time out of our busy schedule to reflect. On his life and all the happy memories, we have of him. Remembering Grandpa enables our precious memories to live forever with us.

As he died 5 and half years ago the youngest kids have very little real memories of Grandpa. Well, A the baby of the family never got to meet him as she was planned as the bright light at the dark tunnel of my grief for losing my beloved Daddy. She was born 14 months after his death and never got to have a real cuddle from him. But I know he is keeping a little eye on how they grow. All the lessons he taught me over the years has given me the kick up the butt I needed. To carry on when life has thrown my some pretty shit curveballs in the last 5 Years.

Anyway where was I going with this. As much as death is heartbreaking I have dealt with it in my own little way. After all, it’s called ‘The Circle of Life’ for a reason. We’re born, we grow, we live and we die. Everyone deals with grief differently but I felt the what ifs, why him, thoughts were too consuming and dragged my backwards rather than carrying on. Because ultimately however much I over thought things it is never going to change what is already done. What I would give for one more cuddle or conversation but it’s not ever going to happen. So I need not dwell on it. Oh god that makes me sound like I carried on regardless I didn’t for a long time I can assure you.

I want my children to know about their grandpa’s life, what he was like and what he didn’t too! We talk about him as often as we want. F my only son, has many characteristics of Grandpa, when he takes his shirt off in the house or takes way too many biscuits from the tin. I smile and thank the powers that Be I have a mini version living with me. We talk about Trinidad where Grandpa was born and dream of travelling to see extended family one day.

The kids ask Grandma questions and raid the photo albums. We have also been known to search YouTube and Spotify for Calypso song. Talking of music I also crank up Billy Ocean’s ‘When the going gets tough’ as I can remember us singing along to it when I was a child. When my eldest picked up her fantastic GCSE results this summer, I thought her Grandpa would have been so very proud of her.

Sometimes I wonder if the older children have dealt with the huge positive role model they lost but hope us all talking about it has helped.

The happy memories we hold certainly outweigh the sad times.

 

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My 4 Year Old Co-Sleeps with Me!

Parenting is a constant learning curve and I am not sure I will ever get it sussed. So this is a post I thought I would never be writing about why my 4-year-old co-sleeps with me.

Ok, when all my babies were small they didn’t co-sleep with me. A couple of reasons I fed completely on demand so never clock-watched. When they woke they had a little top up. Then dozed off and I transferred them to the cot. All of 5 of them were pretty settled accept my middle daughter. After pacing the floor with her for awhile while she woke the whole street up. She would give in and fell back to sleep and then settled down in her cot.

And as a teen mum with my first 16 years ago I had been advised not to and wanted to be the best possible mum I could be and stuck to the rules. Yes, you don’t hear that often but you did read that correctly I stuck to the rules!!! The more children I had the rules regarding co-sleeping seemed to change every time and it seemed like a minefield. So I stuck to what I knew and popped my little sleep depriving bundles back in their cot.

So fast forward many years and my youngest bundle is now a school goer at the ripe old age of 4. And she wants her Mum more than ever at bedtime. She goes to sleep absolutely fine, but more nights than not when I go up to bed she’s in my bed. Do I move her back no, would I have done so with the others, yes! Sorry kids that doesn’t mean I love you any less, in case you’re reading this. It just means I’ve caved and become a softy. But subconsciously I know I’m holding on to my final baby.

But the reality of it all is she now spends 5 days a week away from me, more than ever before. Her little brain has adjusted to some big changes, with starting school. So I’m not going to cause a fuss about it.

How long will it last, I have no idea but I’m sure she won’t still be creeping in when she’s a teenager. So as winter’s coming and the nights are getting colder. I’ll allow her to warm the bed up and save me to effort of filling up a hot water bottle!

You Baby Me Mummy

 

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Disneyland Paris at Christmas

Disneyland Paris at Christmas – A Memory to Last a Lifetime

Last Christmas after thinking of what to buy the kids for Christmas. Dreading the thought of just buying lots of toys just for the sake of buying toys. We certainly didn’t need more toys in our house as it was already bursting at the seams. I racked my brains, scrub that I quickly came up with the idea of creating a magical Christmas forever memory for the whole family. The obvious choice was Disneyland Paris, we had been several times before but not at Christmas. I thought that it would totally be out of my budget but still had a little online search. Once I saw that it wasn’t as expensive I dropped my trusty personal travel agent a message. She came up with a very reasonable price that couldn’t be missed. I made a snap decision and booked!!

The kids had absolutely no idea and as Christmas approached they gave me there lists. To which I replied with I’m not sure what I’m getting you yet. But whilst they were out of my hair at school and nursery, I head to Primark for the odd Disney clothes shop. And picked up thermals and warm clothes in the Aldi ski super buys.

The run-up to Christmas flew as it always does with endless school Christmas plays and activities. We were booked to go on the Monday before Christmas and return on Friday the day before Christmas Eve. On Saturday morning came the big reveal, the girls were dead excited. The boy or should I say Home Boy was less so as he makes out he would prefer to stay home and watch Ninjago on repeat.

Travelling with 5 children on my own can sometimes be a little full on but they are pretty good kids and realise when they need to help. My eldest, was fab being in-car entertainment when she wasn’t catching 40 winks! I opted to drive as I prefer that the kids are contained in the car rather than dealing with airports and hoping they behave on a flight or on the Eurostar.

We started our journey from Wiltshire at about 3am on the Monday, with the kids in their PJs. We arrived in Folkestone in good time and were on the train under the sea around 7am. The weather was good to us and we arrived as Davy Crockett mid-afternoon. We quickly decamped grabbed a snack and heading to the park.

Disneyland Paris at Christmas

The moment we entered those gates and the kids eyes lighted up, I knew that this certainly would live on in the minds forever. Disneyland Paris at Christmas was truly magical and everything that we had expected and more.

It was busy but we expected that so we didn’t go on some of the rides as there was no way we were queuing for anything an hour plus. We saw all the parades, some more than once as you spot things you didn’t the first time. One of our favourite things was to meet the characters and Aliza was no longer scared of large characters either.

Disneyland Paris Meet and Greet

We had a hectic busy, pretty exhausting 5 days but WOW we loved it. When we returned home we had a very low-key Christmas with minimal pressies. Not once was anything that wasn’t brought off of those long Christmas lists mentioned.

Now where are we off to this year, no pressure to top that then!!!!

Bridie By The Sea

 

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My First BlogOnXmas

BlogOnXmas

For the last couple of years, I have wondered what all of the hyper was about the BlogOn conferences. I have tried other conferences which I have enjoyed and met some fab fellow bloggers. Also listened to some inspiring talks and taken part in thought-provoking workshops too. But wanted to try BlogOn for myself, this is how I got on at my first BlogOnXmas

But when I have been to a couple of these people have always mentioned Blog On events. Which somehow I have always managed to miss, whether it was due to not being quick enough to get a ticket (they are like hot cakes) or not having childcare. When the date was announced for the Christmas one I jumped straight to it and booked, even though it is far too early to talk Christmas in September.

As the months passed and the date quickly approached, I doubted myself about driving all the way to Manchester to have a day at a conference where I didn’t really know anyone. The childcare was in hand, Manchester is a fair old trek so arranged to stay in Hotel Football where the event was being held.

Something crept up with work so I had to work on Saturday afternoon, so arrived late missing the Pre-Party, bummer a Southern Comfort or two would have calmed my nerves.

I arrived really really late as I decided on a last-minute surprise visit to my big sister in Cheshire on the way. There were roadworks all around Old Trafford but I found the car park. But wasn’t sure of the route from the car park to the hotel. So called the reception to ask and the receptionist came out to meet me and show me the way.  Once I checked and headed straight to my room. It was lush to chill for an hour or so what a treat. A complete night of unintterrupted sleep, bliss!

hotel football

The morning came with the usual worry of have I got the right outfit etc. I knew plenty of the bloggers attending were wearing Christmas jumpers. But as I have never owned one and live my life last minute, I didn’t get a chance to search the internet looking for one. Also, I thought I might not know anyone.

I braved it and headed down about 10am and got a drink and sausage bap for brekkie. I spotted the friendly face of The Cheshire Wife so it was lovely to catch up. Then we headed for the welcome and the comical keynote set the conference off to a light-hearted start.

The schedule of sessions was full of fellow bloggers that were very happy to share their expertise. Whether it be with newbies like me or established bloggers that wish to conquer their weaker area.

One of the things I had heard about BlogOn was the large range of brands that were there to meet face to face on the day. Well, what can I say but wow, the lower floor of the Hotel Football was transferred into a Marketplace. With representatives from many toy brands ready to chat to bloggers about potential Christmas collaborations. I braved it and spoke to plenty so hopefully, some work will flourish from that. There was also shoes and wine, win win! 

At lunch I got to chatting with a few new faces, it is always great to meet people and hear about their blog. Laura from Tired Mummy of Two and the rest of the team were very helpful and welcoming.

The day ended with the Toy Awards a first for BlogOn. There was a huge selection of toys to choose from, all delegates were asked to vote throughout the day. Then all of the toys were raffled off to raise funds for the BlogOn Community Fund. The community fund helps bloggers when unexpected things happen in life. Throughout the whole day, The Grinch was also milling around which made tied in well with the Christmas theme.

BlogOnXmas Goodies

The final part of the day was to collect our goody bags. They were bursting with a huge variety of things from candles to top trumps, shampoo to Lego tape, children’s magazines to crisps, the list goes on and on.

All in all I had a fantastic day. I have already pencilled the May date in my diary as I will definitely be returning to BlogOn in the Spring.

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Our Summer Holidays Highlights

What does the Summer Holidays mean to our family? Lazy days, adventures, sunshine, rainy days and most important of all no routine. The holidays seem to have been way too short and flown by. Looking back on my 10,000s of pictures I thought I would share our highlights of our summer holidays.

Camp Bestival –

The weather in early July was pretty glorious, So we were very much looking forward to our first ever festival and first ever camping trip. Then the weather decided to take a turn for the worst with heavy rain and wind forecast. To say it was making me slightly dreading the weekend, would be pretty spot on. When we arrived it was sunny and my positivity returned. We stayed in Pitch Village so our tents were already up and ready to go. The Pitch Village also had nice and clean facilities, with lovely friendly staff too, we will definitely choose this option again.

By the next morning the rain was pretty heavy and endless, so we got kitted out in our wellies and waterproofs and headed to the main site. Yes, we got absolutely soaked for the majority of the weekend but we made some truly magical memories watching and dancing to Mark Ronson was a once in a lifetime thing. The final day was sunny and we enjoyed lounging around in the sun enjoying the variety of acts. The kids are desperate to go again next year and I’m coming around to the idea too.

family-trip-camp-bestival

 

Avebury Manor –

If you follow me on Instagram you will see we love a good National Trust day out. So we returned to Avebury Manor for a family day out, the kids absolutely love it there, great for just a walk or for the kids to dress up and get hands-on in the house.

 

Our day 💖💖💙💖 but there was one smiley one missing looking forward to her coming home tomorrow 💖

A post shared by Jessamine (@mumunderpressure) on

Cracking GCSE Results  –

I was slightly worried about the new grading system for the GCSE’s. Plus it was a completely new thing for me to experience as a mum. T and I both lost sleep in the run-up to results day. But I am not sure what we were worried about as the blooming superstar did absolutely incredibly. I am one proud mama and T is now the proud owner of 9 A-C. Meaning she is now off to college to do her preferred course. We did celebrate with a family lunch at Frankie and Benny’s

Victorious Festival –

I wanted to end the holiday with a surprise day out. I spotted that Olly Murs was at The Victorious Festival in Portsmouth so thought that would be the perfect treat. The eldest 3 girls and I went to The O2 to see Olly Murs in the spring. But F was pretty annoyed he didn’t get to come too. On the morning of the festival, once F and A knew where we were going and that Olly was going to be there, they were beside themselves with excitement.

The weather was very hot, so we spent most of the day chilling out in the Children’s Arena. A’s complete highlight of the day was seeing the real Mr Bloom on the stage, singing and dancing. I went with all 5 of the kids on my own, but they were really well behaved, phew! Olly wasn’t on until 9.30pm, but my kids love a late night, so weren’t phased. They all sang and danced the night away. Even if T and I needed to keep swapping the little ones so they could see. When we got back to the car F said it ‘Was the Best Day of His Life’, so a definite parenting win.

The weather was very hot, so we spent most of the day chilling out in the Children’s Arena. A’s complete highlight of the day was seeing the real Mr Bloom on the stage, singing and dancing. I went with all 5 of the kids on my own, but they were really well behaved, phew! Olly wasn’t on until 9.30pm, but my kids love a late night, so weren’t phased. They all sang and danced the night away, even if T and I needed to keep swapping the little ones so they could see. When we got back to the car F said it ‘Was the Best Day of His Life’, so a definite parenting win.

Beach Days –

We love to be beside the seaside and me and the 4 youngest kids headed to Weymouth Sealife Park for a very sunny day out. We spent a long time in the Park and then once we had finished we headed over to the beach to have a little paddle and chill. 

Then later in August, I needed to head to Bournemouth to do a bit of work. So I and 4 of the kids tied it in with a visit to the beach. Firstly we visited Sandbanks, but it was a bit rainy so just stayed for a few hours. I hadn’t been for years and had totally forgotten what a beautiful beach it was. The kids built sand castles and did gymnastics on the sand. We then headed back to the main Bournemouth beach, wow was it busy, but we walked further up from the pier. It was quieter there and I treated the kids to an Ice Cream. We then headed for a paddle, but of course, F turned that into a full-on swim, that boy is water crazy.

family-beach-days

Wow, when I thought because we hadn’t been on a ‘proper’ holiday we hadn’t done much. But now I can see that we did tons and made some awesome memories along the way.

Hot Pink Wellingtons

 

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Time for a New Routine

Well, where did the summer holidays go? The start of the Autumn school term means it is time for a new routine in our family. Lots of changes happening throughout the family, only the boy, F, will remain at his school that he was at at the end of the summer term. Having 5 children and running my own business you might have guessed that I am a bit of routine rebel and it bores me. But we need to get back to it, with the start of the new school year.

 The Changes

If you follow my blog you will know that my eldest daughter, T has just received some pretty awesome GCSE results (seriously proud mum here). She has decided not to say at her secondary school sixth form and head off to college to do a vocational course instead of A levels. This means that she will need to to get her bum up ultra early and head into town to jump on the bus to Bath.

Daughter no. 2, L, is heading to secondary school. We decided that our local secondary school wasn’t the right fit for L so she is going to the next town. This means she will also be heading to school on the bus, so a very early start for her too. This is a pretty exciting but also very nerve-racking time for her and we will all need to adjust slightly.

Daughter no.3, J, is just going into year 4 and will be moving schools. The reason is that 2 years ago the local council made the decision that my son didn’t need to attend the same primary school as his older siblings. So I had been dropping off to 2 different primary schools. By Easter this year it had finally started to take its toll. I felt for him being schooled elsewhere, the different TD days, multiple letters, rushing between pickup was crazy. We had waited patiently for F’s name to come to the top of the waiting list for a place. But the opposite happened he was getting pushed further and further down the list. Then I was pretty certain my youngest, A, wouldn’t get in either, I was right. So I decided that J would need to move school, she was added to the waiting list, but her wait was much shorter. The day I found out she had a space, I was ecstatic. The thought of my 3 babies being at school together was like winning the lottery (ok a little exaggeration but you get the gist it would be much easier).  

It is a big deal with J obviously but as she does several extra curricular clubs, she already knows some children that will be in her class. She has also had a few summer play dates with a lovely girl she will be classmates with. We have talked about it lots. Plus J had a trial morning and she seems happy with the change now, So fingers crossed everything goes smoothly.

The baby of the family, A, is 4 so is starting school. She is excited and seems happy to be wearing the same uniform as her siblings. Which will include a shirt and tie (give me an ahh). She will have the same teacher as her brother, so I feel happy about that. But I am obviously pretty emotional about her being my last baby to start school.

Once A has had all her settling in sessions and starts full time, I will potentially have time to myself. Yeah I know that is never going to happen as work and the housework will get in the way I’m sure.

My school run will be done and dusted by 8.55am in the morning. Then I won’t need to pick anyone up until 3pm. I will be working 4 days a week and 1 day a week will be spent running the family aka doing the boring stuff like cleaning, form filling, food shopping etc.

We are hoping that this will all slot into place nicely and I won’t be as run ragged as before. I can dream I suppose.

You Baby Me Mummy

 

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Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park – Review

Even though we live about an hour and a half from Weymouth we love a day at the seaside. We often head to Weymouth as there are lots of other activities to do as well as just the beach. One of the must visit places in the town is definitely Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park.

Last week our family visited Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park, we have visited before and it has to be our favourite Sealife Centre. It has lots of other attractions as well as the aquariums. The outdoor space is fab to sit down and relax too. I thought that I would share with you what was new for 2017 and our favourite bits too.

New Attractions

During this month they have an Octonauts attraction to become an Octoglow Explorer, so definitely worth a visit, if you have an Octonauts fan in your family. The kids get a little time to play and solve the Octoglow tasks, then they got to meet Kwazii Kitten.

Octoglow at Weymouth Sealife Park

My favourite new addition was the Turtle Rescue attraction. It is an interactive task for the kids to rescue, weigh, feed, hydrate and get their turtle. Once it is back to good health they can release back into the sea. The kids talked about Turtle Rescue all the way home, so was definitely a hit with them.

turtle rescue sealife centre

Also this year they have opened the pretty fantastic Caribbean Cove Playground. It is bright spacious and very child-friendly. There are parts for children of all ages from the sandpit to the climbing up the tall towers and sliding down the wriggly green slide. The area has a coffee shop, so parents can grab a cuppa while they relax and watch their children play.
There are also toilets in the area, so you really can spend a large proportion of your day in this area if the weather is fine.

caribbean cove weymouth sealife

Good Old Favourites

Every time I mention to the kids that we are going to Weymouth Sealife Park, the first thing they say is I hope it’s sunny so we can go in the Splash Zone. And luckily on this visit, it was very sunny after all the summer rain we have had. So they got to get soaking wet and have loads of fun in the water. There is also the larger pool too but the littlest member of our family wasn’t that keen on getting in there, so the others stayed in the splash area to play with her.

On this visit, we caught the Seal’s talks and feeding time, heard about the otters during the talk. Plus we spent awhile observing the Penguins and comparing birthdays and names.

Walking through the ocean tunnel and spotting the turtles and sharks is always great fun too.

Once we had spent a good 6 hours in the Sealife Park we headed just across the road for a paddle, before we picked up so dinner and headed home. A great family day out, with some lovely memories made. Very much worth the trek.

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It’s almost GCSE results day

The summer has flown by and it’s almost GCSE results day. A first for our family and a new learning curve in my parenting journey. Check out my thoughts.

The last few nights I have had sleepless nights. Not because of restless toddlers or unsettled babies but because results day is less than a week away. When it comes to being a worrying mother that is just not my style. Yes I care and adore my children but I am a real believer that they need to find their own desired path in life. With a little bit of help and guidance from me. I’m really not sure what I’m worrying about what’s done is done and whatever the results on 24th August, I will be immensely proud of my 16 year old.

Daily I read (I mean skim) articles of how unbelievably hard the new style graded GCSE are this year. How they are having to adjust the grade boundaries accordingly to prevent a plummet in this year’s results.  T worked her little socks off for an unclear target that neither the school or education board could seem to clearly translate for their students. 

As a parent, I feel she has been in a year of trail Guinea pigs. I know sometimes things need to change but selfishly I just prefer if it hadn’t been this year. The old A-G system seemed to work with a clear indication of top marks. Bringing in a numbers system immediately suggests to people that 1 would be top. Well, we’ve all seen those No.1 mum/daughter/son cards. But no number one is in fact the lower grade with 9 being the highest a double A** I believe, oops see what I’ve done there converted the new grading back to the old workable one. As everyone is bound to ask what’s does that 7 mean then!

Oh dear, I seem to have gone off on a tangent. The reason for this post is just to say whatever the outcome on Thursday 24th August. The results are meant to be and will shape you for the future. Those grades you need for your preferred course were insight, but if something else gets in the way we will adjust accordingly. Life is all about twists and turns, I mean who really know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at 16?

GCSE Result quote

T you are a clever kid and will go far in life.

So as the day comes we will drop you off and await your results. Once you are home we will go celebrate you being you with tons loads of pizza. Well that’s not if you don’t ditch us to go and spend time with your friends.

You Baby Me Mummy

 

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Girl’s Day Out in London

Being a parent to big brood means that is can sometimes be tricky to spend time with the older girls. Without the younger ones fighting for my attention. But awhile ago, we managed to grab a ‘grown up’ day out in London, as Grandma offered to babysit. So check out what we did on our girl’s day out in London

We had an early start and headed to Chippenham station to hop on the train to Paddington. It always amazes me that we can be in London in an hour and 15 minutes from the Wiltshire countryside. We chatted and took in the scenery on route and as it had been a surprise for the girls we planned what we were going to see and do.

Once we arrived at Paddington, we headed down into the Tube to The London Eye. When we arrived at the Waterloo tube station we took a walk along The Thames to the Eye. I must admit I was slightly nervous as I am not one for heights. The queue was smaller than I expected on a Saturday, so we were on board within 30 minutes. It was a special thing to do the celebrate T’s 16th birthday. It lasted longer than I had thought but it was great to look out for all the landmarks across central London, definitely one for the memory jar.

London eye selfie
Girls on the London Eye

Right next-door to the London Eye is the London Dungeons, Shrek Adventure and Sealife Centre. We took a miss on the Dungeons as we are all pretty much scaredy cats. So nipped into Dreamworks Shrek Adventure as there was no queue and we walked straight in. Shrek wasn’t quite what we were expecting but we all laughed and enjoyed ourselves. There were bits that made us jump and I was glad we hadn’t brought the little ones along as they would have been pretty spooked.

shrek advernture london
Meeting Shrek at Dreamworks Shrek Adventure

As we left Shrek Adventure we went on into the Sealife Centre. As a family we have been to plenty of Sealife centres over the years, so have seen pretty much every fish imaginable. But it was cool (see what I have done there) to see Penguins. As we left Sealife, the world had descended on The Queen’s Walk, so the girls got to sense the real hustle and bustle of city life.

Then we decided to do our own little sightseeing tour. Hopping on Red Buses, to see The Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Green Park, Buckingham Palace and Oxford Street. We timed our visit to Buckingham Palace perfectly to see the Changing of The Guard. This meant that The Mall was closed to traffic too so could take a leisurely walk along it, grabbing a selfie or two.

girls day out london
Our Buckingham Palace Selfie

We finished our day off hitting a few shops. Of course, the girls wanted to go to Primark on Oxford Street and a Little visit to Hamley’s too. More for me than them as I fondly remember visiting it at Christmas as a child, but not sure I was ever allowed anything!!

All shopped, walked and explored out, we headed home on the train to find our little people. As even though we love a day away from them we miss them too.

Hot Pink Wellingtons

 

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5 Emotions – My Baby’s Starting School

This September my youngest of my 5 children starts Big School. So I thought I would share the 5 emotions I have been feeling lately about her starting in reception.

When she was born, I remember saying that 2017 would be a big year. My eldest has just taken her GCSEs, awaiting results and will be off to college. My second daughter is off to secondary school and then A starts primary school to join her 2 siblings.  So even though it is the start of something new for her it is the end of a long stage (16 years) of having at least one pre-schooler. I have felt every single emotion possible recently. 

emotions of starting school
Baby Aliza Aged 4 Months
  1. Sadness – Having 5 children it would be very obvious for anyone to guess that I love babies so much. The warm and fuzzy feeling when you bring a brand new baby home from hospital can’t be beaten. Knowing that a newborn is totally dependent on you for feeds, nappy changes and being rocked to sleep. When I decided to have A it was to bring light after the sadness of my Daddy’s (the kids Grandpa’s) death. But as time went on the sadness of him never meeting her was tough and days like her first day of school that he isn’t there for are difficult too. She has grown so fast and the last 4 years have seemed to go quicker than with her older siblings, so I get sad that I have blinked and missed it. Now she will be finding her own path without me to oversee what’s going on.
  2. Excitement – Once all my kids have started school they have changed from the word go, so I am very excited to see her flourish. And find her feet on her own at school, see the new friendships she builds.
  3. Regret – I didn’t spend enough time with her in the last 4 years. Having been the only one financially providing for the kids for the last 5 years, I have had no other option than to work. I had a little bit of cover for the first few months of A’s life. But being my own boss running my business, I was never able to turn off to what’s going on. So I have been guilty of feeding her whilst replying to emails. Plonking her in front of cbeebies whilst I market my next event. Not noting down when she got to milestones, as I was so busy dividing myself in 5 or 7 if you include the house and work!!!
  4. Proud – I am so proud that A is ready for school and become a confident little girl. I have solo parented the kids for the majority of A’s little life so a little pat on the back that I have managed this far.
  5. Happiness – As I am ready for a new chapter in my book too. I have been running my business around having a pre-schoolers at home for the last 7 years. So I will hopefully have more time to devote to building my business. As kids only get more expensive as they get older, so I need to fund them. Plus as selfish as it seems I am looking forward to having some time to myself. You might even find me at the gym, well when I have finished that chocolate bar!!!

Phew now that is off my chest, I feel kind of ready, but know that there will be some tears. Pop over to my Instagram account and prepare yourself for 1st Day at School Spam.

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Our Favourite National Trust Family Days Out

Our Favourite National Trust Family Days Out

Last year I decided that we needed to get out for more family days. So I spotted an offer in a magazine for a reduced rate National Trust membership. What was better was that with a 1 adult family member, I am able to take upto 10 children in for free with me. Not that I would be that nuts to take 10 kids out with me!!! We had lots of fun days out, last year and Jolie, my little historian learnt heaps. The other kids gained a real interest as well. I also learnt some new stuff too. The kids love running around the grounds of the different houses and pretending they are in the olden days.

We have renewed our passes for this year too now, so lots more adventure ahead of us. But for now, I thought we would share our favourite days out so far.

  • Lacock Abbey and Village – this has to be top of our list as it is only 5 minutes down the road. Our family has visited it numerous times through the year. We pop there for a quick walk, a spring picnic or a whole day catching up with friends. My little historian and Harry Potter geek will tell you how some of the Harry Potter filmings has taken place in the abbey. Plus many other period dramas have been filmed in the picturesque village.
  • Kingston Lacy HouseKingston Lacy – This is a bit of a drive for us, but as a birthday day out for Jolie, we ventured to Dorset. The house is grand and very pretty, I spend a good hour or so sat on the lawns in front of the house. Whilst the kids played tag. There is a trail through the woodland. Where we found bluebells and the kids were even quiet enough to hear the birds chorus. We explored the Japenese Garden and loved seeing all the Egyptian artefacts in the house. When we visited on Easter Sunday and as the Cadbury’s Egg Hunt was on it was pretty busy. We will look forward to visiting again when it is quieter.
  • Stourhead – every time we visit we find other areas we haven’t explored before. The scenery is beautiful (seriously how old do I sound) and so changeable with the seasons. On our last visit without a pushchair for the first time, the kids had great fun exploring the caves. We have yet to go into the house so we will look forward to that next time hopefully. 
  • Kynance CoveKynance Cove – Recently on our holiday to Cornwall, we found a little bit of paradise, they cover is stunning and the weather was beautiful, it was like being transported to another world. We now have some beautiful memories from that day and hopefully, we will be able to return when we go back to Cornwall one day.
  • Avebury – is also pretty local to us, so somewhere we can pop to for an afternoon adventure. Avebury is a huge stone circle, so makes for a fun walk. The kids love the Avebury Manor as it is more hands on that some of the National Trust houses. They can lie on a bed, dress up in costumes and even cook up a storm in the kitchen.

We have lots of other places to visit on this year’s to go list, so we will keep you up dated on those adventures too.

Real Mum Reviews

 

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10 tips for a stress-free day at Legoland

10 tips for a stress-free day out at Legoland

We love family days out and now we have Merlin Annual Passes we are forever darting off along the motorway for an adventurous day. Recently we visited Legoland and I must say it was a much more relaxed experience than in the past because we have got to know the park a bit better and learnt how to get the most out of our day. So, I thought I would share some of our tips with you.

  1. Arrive before opening – we left the house at 7.30 am as it is about 1.5 hours drive from our home. We arrived at around 9.20am after a loo stop, giving us time to head to the toilets before heading into the park and get down to Miniland ready for the gates to open. The stage in Miniland saw a little show from Emmett, Olly the Dragon, The Magician and Batman to officially open the gates at 10 am. We found it worked to head to the further side of the park and work our way back to the entrance through the day.                                                   Miniland Legoland
  2. Priority Parking – The Priority Parking is £12 but it was so handy to be parked so close to the entrance and not have to try and find our car in the massive main car park after a long day. Also if you need to pop back to the car for anything it isn’t too much of a trek.
  3. Head to your favourite ride first – before you go research the map and decided what your kids are desperate to do, then head straight there when the park opens to avoid the mega queues.
  4. Take a Picnic – Not only will taking a picnic save you a packet but it gives you the option to have snacks whilst waiting in the queues. Also when your kids are in need of food you don’t have to research and think where to go and then queue.
  5. Leave before the rush – In the past, we have wanted to get every minute of fun out of our day at Legoland by not leaving until the park closes but this has resulted in large queues and taking forever to get out of the car park, before even starting our trek home
  6. As the summer arrives and Duplo Valley Splash Area becomes popular on the sunny days, it is a good idea to pack the kids swimwear, so they can get water and change back into their clothes afterwards.
  7. Always take raincoats – hopefully, you will have a rain-free day, but some of the rides, The Viking River Splash, and Pirate Splash
  8. Get to shows early – The Pirate Bay is where the very popular for show time so get there early, so take you can get a seat, this also gives you the opportunity to tuck into your picnic if you time it right. Pirate Bay Legoland
  9. Check ride suitability – check your child’s height before you go or by the entrance, there is a display with which rides can be used over each high limit. Also as a larger than average family 1 adult to 5 children if I am visiting on my own the adult to child ratio is very important as there is no point in heading for a ride that we can’t all enjoy together. Now my eldest has turned 16 this has been eased a little but some rides have to be left for days out with Grandma.
  10. Take a Pushchair for as long as you can – the Legoland Winsor site has a steep hill, so little legs can get tired, plus it is always good to carry the picnic, coats and jumpers on.
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Pre-Teen Mobile Phone Agreement

So when I was ten I probably couldn’t even use a computer, now my 10 year old is a whizz online. The internet is a great resource but also a pretty dangerous place, so the request of a mobile phone is a pretty big deal. I have granted her request and she now has a smart phone which is going to be essential for me to get hold of her when she heads to secondary school in September. But as I handed over her new phone to her I also got her to sign a pre-teen mobile phone agreement, which gave her pointers on how to use the phone safely. 

I have chatted with her about what is wrongs and rights of how to use the internet. Also her teachers at school, have recently covered how to stay safe online during Safer Internet Day earlier this month. So hopefully she will use it in the right ways and a calls when she goes awol when she’s a little older!!!!

Pre-Teen Mobile Phone Agreement between Parent and Child.

Mobile Phone: Pre-Teen’s Responsibilities

  • I will not send threatening or mean texts to others
  • I will not text or place phone calls after 9 p.m.
  • I will give my phone to parent at bedtime every night
  • I will keep my phone charged at all times
  • Once I have used my monthly allowance of usage I understand Mum will not add any more credit
  • I understand that I am responsible for knowing where my phone is, and for keeping it in good condition
  • I understand that my mobile phone may be taken away if I behave badly, fail to do my chores.
  • I will obey rules of etiquette regarding mobile phones in public places. I will make sure my phone is turned off when requested.
  • I will obey any rules my school has regarding mobile phones, such as turning them off during class
  • I promise I will alert my parent when I receive suspicious or alarming phone calls or text messages from people I don’t know
  • I will also alert my mum if I am being harassed by someone via my mobile phone
  • I understand that having a mobile phone can be helpful in an emergency, but I know that I must still practice good judgment and make good choices that will keep me out of trouble or out of danger
  • I will not share embarrassing photos of my family or friends to others, without there permission
  • I understand that having a phone is a privilege, and that if I fail to adhere to this contract, my mobile phone privilege may be taken away
  • I will not join social media sites without ask my mum without permission
  • I will give my parent the login to my phone and all accounts setup on it eg. instagram, snapchat

Mobile Phone Contract: Parent’s Responsibilities

  • I understand that I will make myself available to answer any questions my child might have about owning a mobile phone and using it responsibly
  • I will support my child when he or she alerts me to an alarming message or text message that he or she has received
  • I will alert my child if our mobile phone plan changes and impacts the plan’s minutes
  • I will give my child _______ warning(s) before I take his or her mobile phone away

Signed ______________________________ (Pre-Teen)

Signed ______________________________ (Parent)

Date ______________________________

Download your copy of the agreement  HERE

 

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Our 2017 Plans and Wishes

New year always brings a refreshed hope and ignites all those dreams of a better life. So while the ideas are still at the forefront of my mind and seem achievable, I thought I would share our 2017 plans before the stress of everyday life dulls them and they fall by the wayside.

Here’s Our List

  • Firstly to make the most of the last 6 months of our Merlin Annual Passes. We brought them on a whim last June and have had fab days out in Weymouth, at Chessington, Blackpool and Alton Towers. But there is still so much to explore we will be visiting London a couple of times. Where we will visit all of the attractions included there especially The Shrek Adventure and The London Eye. The teen also wants a grown up day out to Thorpe Park to enjoy the rollercoasters, not sure how keen I am but heyho best keep the eldest happy.
  • A personal one for me would be to grow my blog following and regularly post weekly or more and also gain confidence in vlogging too
  • Our first and maybe one and only camping adventure. The eldest it 16 this year and asked to go to a festival for her birthday special treat, so we have booked for the whole family to go to Camp Bestival in July. I’m really not sure where to start, so any camping tips gratefully received. Some of the line up has been announced and looks like so much fun. Camp Bestival 2017 Line Up
  • It is GCSE year so a biggy, so we are all hoping that the pressure of exams doesn’t make the house a too dull place. She will shine I’m sure, good luck gorgeous.
  • My business goals have been set and they will be achieved (positive thinking at it’s best). I will keep to them this year and see some growth enabling (us) me as the only adult in the house to not worry so much about making ends meet each month.
  • We absolutely loved getting away to Disneyland Paris just before Christmas this year. A getaway was much needed after the long school term, but as completely amazing as it was it was bloody knackering too. So it got me thinking, dreaming and wishing for another holiday next Christmas, but I would love for us to chill in the sunshine and let the kids swim/splash about it a pool (as I would love to see the benefit in heavy investment into swimming lessons). So I will be in contacting my travel agent soon to pick her brains for ideas of where to go
  • Our house is busy and very well used by our big family. I’m first to admit it isn’t as tidy as I would like but seriously I can’t keep up with it and running a business and looking after the kids. So a cleaner would be a dream but until I can afford one, I think it’s time for a freshen up, so we plan to get the paint out!
  • I’m sure we will add tons more adventures along the way this year but this gives up a good start. What have you got planned?
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New President Trump – What The Actual F*#k

Trump – What the actual F*#k

So I had set aside some time this morning to blog about some great days out and experiences the children and I have had recently. But my head is not in the game as news broke this morning that Donald Trump has been elected as the New American President. Last night when I went to bed after a lovely evening with a group over exciting, unique and individual women, I was inspired to learn more about each and everyone, as everyone’s differences should be celebrated. This morning as I turned BBC news on my heart sank, the words plastered over the screen Donald Trump had won.

New President Trump - What the Actual F*#k
This picture was making the rounds on Facebook this morning generally sums up mine and many others feelings today I think.

My first thought as a mother was what kind of world have I brought my children into, I thought we lived in a generation that was accepting of differences, now I have to answer my children’s questions why has a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist has just won the presidential battle. My answer is quite simply I don’t know what to say to my darlings.

The USA has voted and maybe I should just hush up and accept it but I just can’t get my head around it. I have beautiful afro-caribbean family living in the US, who my heart breaks for, what is next for them?

Also I have 4 girls, so even though there was some floors with Hilary Clinton, it would have been groundbreaking and taught my girls that anything is possible as a woman. Now in complete contrast there is a man in charge that is an out and out sexual predator that belittles woman!

My eldest daughter is due to go to New York on a school trip in spring, she is beyond excited and I was for her too. But now more than before I fear for her safety as I feel there will be some very uncertain times ahead. But I needn’t worry about her getting in as she’s blonde and very beautiful just how Trump likes women to be!!!!

I do now fear for the general stability of peace across the world, what will happen next? I am just hoping that he is just all mouth with no trousers and the dust will settle and no walls will be built.

Donald Trump a disaster waiting to happen
On the same wavelength about Trump

Great to know my sister is on the same wavelength as me too, we just feel the world is going backwards.

Right rant over for today, off to do some work

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Choosing a Secondary School

Choosing a Secondary School for your Child

So the first day at Big School 6 or so years ago seems a distant memory, the primary years have flown by and all of a sudden it is time to look into secondary education. Choosing any school for your child is a massive decision, but when it comes to secondary that may well be the most important, as most of us will have some very vivid memories of secondary (senior in my day) school. Those years very much shape you into the person that you maybe today. So as a parent I want to know my child will be happy, every child is different in all kinds of ways, from the ability to make new friends to the interests in specific subjects.

Each parent will have their own thoughts about what they are looking for in a secondary school. Whether to follow your heart or head. I have shared a list of a few things that I have taken into consideration when choosing a secondary school for my second daughter, who will be moving up in September 2017.

  1. Check out the Stats – I am not hung up on facts and figures, but it is always good to take a look most school website will have their recent exam results available for you to view, if not then ask. You can also look of the Ofsted website for details
  2. Always take a look – You can get a feel from a school by visiting for an open evening, or some schools have working open days, where you can see lessons in action and the school alive with children not an empty shell as it maybe for an evening. On open day’s you will also get a feel for whether the students and polite and happy in their learning environment. Also take your child with you, they need to be comfortable in their new surrounds as they will be the ones spending what feels like the majority of their teenage years there!
  3. Check out the areas that a chosen school excels in – If you child has a particular passion or talent for a certain area of their education whether it’s languages or art, computers to writing make sure your chosen school is suited and able to engage your child’s strengths.
  4. Location, Location, Location – If you are looking at school in the next town or on the other side of your city, make sure that the trip is doable. Is there good transport links, regular buses, including later that the planned school bus if your child wants to stay after school. If you have other children, can the morning routine include an extra drop off at the bus stop or at the school gates. If it is walking distant for your child that is a bonus, if it’s a bike ride, be realistic about whether your teen will be willing to ride in all weathers. Also the school trip includes a ride on public transport, look into the costs, it maybe be a heavy investment throughout the year.
  5. Uniform – Cost is a huge factor for many families, so check out the cost of the full caboodle. Also will your child be comfortable and at ease in the uniform to wear it on a daily basis.
  6. Friends – Most of us have probably made lifelong friends at senior school, some of those you may well have never met in junior school. So even though many 10/11 year old children will want to stay with their friends the reality is that they will form many more friendship during their senior years even if they were with their primary school friend. So don’t be afraid they won’t know anyone if they choose somewhere different, kids are great at making new friends.
  7. What’s the local word – We all know parents will share experiences, so ask people who currently have or had children recently attend the schools you have been looking into. Don’t go by old stories of the parent’s experiences moons ago, as things change a lot in 20/30 years.

Most importantly remember every child and family is unique and will be looking for different things in a school, so what works for your best friend’s family might not be what works for yours. So make your own choice and I’m sure whatever the outcome it will all be good in the end.

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Warwick Castle – Knights and Castles not just for boys.

Warwick Castle – Knights and Castles not just for boys.

Our final Merlin trip out for the summer holidays was to Warwick Castle. I have to admit it wasn’t first on our list when we got our Merlin Annual Passes earlier in the year. But chatting to the tribe they all agreed that the boy of the family would love a day out full of Knights and Castles. It sure isn’t just for boys the girls were hooked and loved every second, well apart from the odd squabble and toddler meltdown, but no family day out would be complete without those!

It is just under a 2 hour drive from us so as we usually do we packed a picnic and set off early for a full on day out. We were at the castle just before they opened so bagged a space close by in the stables car park, definitely worth the extra pennies as it was right at the castle entrance so no trek across town.

Knights and Castles Not Just for Boys

As we arrived the kids spotted a Knight on horseback add were instantly buzzing, then we all saw the size of the castle and couldn’t wait to explore.

We checked out the maze and completed all of the stamps on our card before finally stepping inside the castle walls, then stopping for a snack on the lawn in the middle whilst planning where we were going to head next.

There was a full schedule of shows and events to fill the day.

Having researched Warwick Castle on Instagram, the jousting was definitely a firm favourite with many so we needed to take a look, we got down to the field in plenty of time to get our ringside or should that be arena side view pitch. We certainly weren’t disappointed, it was amazing balls as one of the kids said. High pace, energetic, audience engaging with an added bit of sense of humour.

We then headed into the castle, wow wow the kids loved it. Then it was picnic time followed by a visit to the Princess Tower to help her solve the mystery.

The kingmaker display was very interesting but a little too dark for the baby of the family so couldn’t explore as much as we would have liked because she was desperate to escape.

Birds aren’t my thing so missed that one out (selfish Mummy!), plus the thought of trekking (carrying little ones up) up the tower didn’t appeal either so will do that on another visit when the kids are a bit bigger.

We finished the day off watching the Horrible Histories show and the fire catapult. The horrible histories show was very funny from start to finish, I had heard of Horrible Histories but never watched a programme or shared one of their books with the tribe, so I was amazed how informative and educational it was whilst being so light hearted. We will definitely be looking out for more HH stuff. We sat on the hillside waiting for the real fire to be launched by the man powered catapult. A good end to a memorable day.

We will definitely be returning, have you visited Warwick Castle? What was your favourite thing.

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Back to School They Go!

Back to School they go!

I love the lack of routine and one of my aims as a Mum has always been to let the kids amuse themselves and enjoy spending time with each other. Plus getting out for lots of adventures, sometimes life doesn’t go quite to plan like that. So when it comes to the kids going back to school, a slight bit of me thinks yes, I can work in peace but more of me thinks oh no back to the boring routine.

If I didn’t have to earn a living I would home educated my primary aged children without a second thought as there is so much adventure and learning potential to be had outside the classroom. So as this will never be a reality, it’s back to school they go! The middle girls love their school and I’m very happy with the rounded education they receive and the boy seems to have settled well into school but now has come the realisation that it is forever, well until he is 18. He will continue into year 1 at a different school to his 2 older sisters, this is just the way it is now but still a bit of a pain in the arse, but as long as he is happy, settled and learning that’s all that matters.

We have a slight change with the baby of the family starting a new pre-school, so hopefully she will settle and flourish soon, as I seriously don’t have time and the emotional strength for a 3 year old to be peeled off me 4 mornings a week, so wish me luck.

It is a big year for the firstborn, GCSE year, man how did that happen? Until now I have taken the slightly softly softly approach to Tegan’s studies, but now realise she needs to knuckle down to achieve the results she needs to go on to the college she want’s to. Our home is very busy and hectic, so we will need to sort out some stress free study space for her to revise, whether that’s the dining room or maybe a couple of visits to Grandma’s each week, we will work it out.

The holiday’s has flown like they always do, you start off with a long list of what we wanted to do but don’t often get it all done. Also with the return to school in September means that Christmas is just around the corner and winter, I blooming hate being cold (off I wander to dream of emigrating somewhere hot, click click back in the room, it’s never going to happen anytime soon).

So this week they all return, no huge celebrations of freedom for me, but I will enjoy a massive bar of chocolate (ooh wait I’m desperately trying to lose the few pounds I gain, with too much picnic food lately) to celebrate surviving the holidays, we will forget about the boy’s broken wrists on the first day!

And I start my countdown to the October half term and we can make more memories. But for now bring on the routine, zzzzz!

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Rio Olympics – What Did They Teach The Kids

Once every 4 years, the world seems to come together to put on a great show of solidarity for just 2 weeks. So it got me thinking about what the Rio Olympics were teaching the kids.

We aren’t a hugely sporty family, we don’t take any notice of the football league tables. But when the Olympics are on we catch up with as many events as possible. From Gymnastics to Swimming and Athletics to Diving (yes that sure is Mummy’s favourite!) there’s always something good to watch.

When watching the kids get right into it shouting and cheering at the TV, their passion towards the varied games got me thinking, yes my brain is still just about functioning after entertaining little people for the last 4 weeks. And I wanted to share the 5 things that the Rio Olympics have taught the kids.

  1. Never Give Up – Watching those olympians that have waited for years to get the results they want, taught the kids that some things take longer than others and there is no instant success.
  2. It’s ok to show emotion – When an athlete gives their sport their all and and they get the result they want or they don’t you see tears of joy and woe.
  3. Some things don’t always go your way – Two words Tom Daley, we loved the Diving and Tom Daley looked certain for a medal after diving amazingly in the first round of the his diving category and then came the semi’s and he literally belly flopped it, so after years of training, the pressure got to him and he didn’t even qualify for the final.
  4. It’s great to be part of a team – Even those that competed individually were present cheering on their fellow Team GB team mates
  5. A sport for everyone – The kids said to me that they didn’t realise that there were so many sports, how true is this so whether you are a team player or like to do your own thing, there’s something to interest everyone.
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Summer Holiday’s – Week Four

After a fab third week I was looking forward to spending more time with the kids during week four of the summer holidays. It was a very different week and my patience have been tested to the max.

Monday friends popped over to continue sorting the garden, that is a never ending job.

Tuesday we headed back to Winchester to see an old friend, it is always good to go back and catch up with old friends, it is pretty unbelievable that we relocated to Wiltshire 5 years ago. Even though it was the best decision we made we still miss friends. The weather was lovely and warm so we chilled and chatted in the garden all afternoon prefect.

Wednesday was the start of a pretty rubbish few days, the kids were tired and grumpy and seriously uncooperative, so there isn’t much positive to say, but the babies and I did manage to enjoy half an hour of calm grabbing a Milkshake at a lovely local cafe whilst the 3 older girls swam with one of my friends. The milkshake was so off plan., but seriously struggling with keeping on the Slimming World plan with the kids home. Then the middle one ticked off one of her summer wishes by learning to ride her bike hurray, so proud to see her excited face as she achieved her goal.

Thursday was the day the boy got his arms back, hurrah. After just under 4 weeks he had his plaster removed and now is in splints for the next few weeks to ensure his wrists heal well. So the first thing we did once we got home was the bath him, as his hands were minging. The messiness in the house has reach a new high and I have an army of 5 undoing everything I try to do.

The baby of the family seems to have picked up a bug too, bring on the extra washing and clinginess, oh and don’t forget the sleeplessness. By this point in the week I was pretty tired and didn’t need any extra stress but someone had other plans for me. Friday I was clung to by the baby all day so nothing amazing happened. Both the middle girls picked up certificates at Gymnastics and Swimming this week, love to see my money isn’t going to waste!!!

At the weekend Grandma returned from holiday yay, that means I might get 10 minutes peace or at least a chance to try and catch up with my never ending to do list. So we just spent time catching up over the weekend.
Putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, it doesn’t seem like we did much but, the week seemed pretty hectic, but that’s our life hey!

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Summer Holiday’s – Week Three

Week three came around so quickly and we had plans to catch up with loads of friends we don’t get to see during term time much.

Monday was a funny day, I woke up raring to go, we had a workman due to come in and do a repair so couldn’t go out. So I decided to do that job I should have done a year ago when Aliza went into a bed, take down the cot. It is a funny one as we have had a cot in the house for the last 10 years, I get a little bit emotional knowing that I won’t have a baby again. Even though I have my hands and heart more than filled, there is nothing more adorable than a ickle newborn. But now it’s gone, I can actually move around my bedroom hurrah!

Then I headed to the dump clearing the pile of rubbish in the front garden including the firstborn’s bed dismantled last week plus all the broken garden toys, so the neighbours will be happy I’m no longer making the road look like a junk yard.

Then the food shop, yawn, same junk as last week purchased.

Tuesday we headed south to catch up with friends, the kids loved Moors Valley Country Park when we visited a while back so we’re happy to return. We were seriously late, how can I possible get the tribe to school for 8.30 in the mornings but in the holidays struggle to get out of the house before 10. All in the name of relaxing and de-stressing, can you use de-stressing in the same sentence as school holidays???? The weather was good and they walked miles, which meant a good night’s sleep and lay in, result! They girls played on the play trail whilst the boy caught Pokemon. Picnic lunch and ice cream too, perfect! Oh and no real meltdowns, I must be doing something right with this parenting malarkey, who am I trying to kid it will all be crashing down around me in a day or two. Our journey home took forever, after about a hundred toilet stops, thank heavens for My Carry Potty.

Wednesday and Thursday were all about friends too, we headed to Heaven’s Gate, near Longleat on Wednesday. Wow what a lovely place, not far from home and totally free. The view overlooking Longleat house is fab, the weather was clear so we could see for miles. I chilled and caught up with a friend whilst the kids found a rope swing and ran up and down the hill like loons and getting filthy, but that’s what childhood is all about, they say! Thursday we headed to a secret park, with another tribe of friends, there was only us there and the kids could run and roam around know they were safe, well apart from climbing the skateboard ramp, but we all survived without injury so that’s a result.

So far the week had been pretty calm and relax, I feel like I have this parenting malarkey under control, but no fear there’s weeks to go yet!

Friday a home day, blooming gardening, seriously I need to work harder so I can get someone in the sort my garden (my mind wanders off to that young good looking gardener on Desperate Housewives, click click back in the room and back to reality). We also just pottered around the garden and did some jobs in the house on Saturday.

Sunday was by far our highlight of week three, I set the alarm for the crack of dawn, got up made a pack lunch, lifted the smaller kids out of bed in their PJs and left the house just after 5am to head to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

But it was so worth it, we had a picnic breakfast as the balloon went up for their mass morning accent. It was definitely a morning that will last in the kids memories forever and that’s what parenting is about right! After a little wander around once the balloons had all taken flight we headed home via Dyrham Park and made use of our National Trust passes whilst I made sure the kids were totally exhausted.

Week Three done and half the holidays gone. The kids were stars this week and I have really enjoyed being Mum, good work kids.

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Chessington Adventure

A few weeks ago we headed to Chessington World of Adventures, check out the highlights of our Chessington Adventure.

As a child I have some fond memories of family days out at Chessington World of Adventures. So it is great to add to those memories by taking the pickles all too.
A few years ago I took the two eldest girls for a night’s break at the Azteca Hotel,  we had an amazing time and ever since I have wanted to return with the whole clan. Now we have our Merlin Annual passes, top of myself and most of the pickles theme parks to visit was Chessington.
After a rocky start to the holidays with the boy breaking both of his wrists, I wasn’t sure if we should still go as he wouldn’t be able to go on any rides and could be bored. But seriously what was I thinking, after taking a good look at the website, I saw there was shows for him to watch and tons of animals to see.
So we set off along the M4 on Wednesday, loaded up with a hearty picnic and waterproofs well it is British Summertime so rain was forecast.
After several toilet stops, we arrived just after 10, I thought being the first week of the school holidays it would be packed but I was wrong, the park was pretty quiet, with most ride queues only being between 5-10 minutes.
We downloaded the Chessington app, which was really helpful, to keep an eye on queue times, showtimes, closest toilets (essential when your taking a recently toilet trained toddler), a map of the park and where you were in the park, plus planner to help you keep track of all the things our family wanted to do on this visit.

What did we do and see?

So going back to those childhood memories of mine, a firm favourite has always been the Bubbleworks and as it is closing in September we hot footed it there, we will be returning later in the summer hopefully once Faryl’s plaster is off for him to ride it before it closes.

Then we had a rest and a snack watching the sea lion show, next to the sea lion bay is the Land of Kings featuring Tigers, Lions and Gorillas. The lions were pretty sleepy but always for the pickles to see the sheer size of them close up. As we got to the Tigers one came out had  a wander around and the pickles followed her to the top of her enclosure, where she stretched out to bathe in the sunshine. We could watch the cheeky gorillas for hours on end, seeing the silver back get a little bit irritated by the young gorillas and beat his chest, then Aliza, 3 was so excited and proud that one of the baby Gorillas came to the glass and high fives her, definitely the highlight of her day.

I have seen the adverts for Pandamonium and have to admit I wasn’t so sure but, the kids were captivated and loved the interactive, entertaining show. Plus the baby Panda was pretty cute.

We headed to the sealife centre, definitely more interesting for the older pickles than the Little Pickles that were more interested in just dashing through until they found Dory, which the did and briefly looked at before racing off again.

We stopped for a picnic, but then it obviously started to rain, so we had to decamp and shelter under a tree finishing our picnic before the rain passed and we continued with our day.

My favourite animals are Giraffes so I couldn’t miss Zufari, the bumpy truck ride to see, Zebra, Rhinos, Giraffes and Flamingos.

We donned our poundland ponchos and got soaked on the Dragon Fall, a complete must for a family day out at a theme park.

Then we did some other rides including Tomb Blaster, Scorpion Express (The Baby’s first roller coaster) and finally myself and the 3 oldest girls braved the Vampire ride which I remember from my childhood and it was just as heart racing as ever.

So what did we miss?

Things we missed the Penguins of Madagascar show,  Temple of Mayhem, Dragon’s playhouse, Canopy Capers and Jungle Bus plus several smaller rides. So plenty more to explore on our next trip plus you can never have enough goes on Zufari and of course the Bubbleworks before they close.

Plus all the rides Faryl missed out  whilst waiting with Grandma sporting his plaster cast duo!

What did we eat?

We took a bumper picnic like we always do on a day out, full of plenty of bottles of water and snacks as walking 16,000 steps (yes that’s what my iPhone told me) needs lots of energy.

We only brought the odd coffee and slushy from a kiosk on this visit but next time we will hopefully take advantage of our 20% Merlin Annual Passholders discount and fill up at one of the parks restaurants before our long drive home.

Kids verdict?
On the way home the kids actually said a huge Thank You off their own backs (no prompting, that is like a huge parenting win in itself). Then went on to say that Chessington was the best theme park they have ever been to and can’t wait to go back, so off to find my diary and schedule a date to return.

 

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Summer Holiday’s – Week Two

So the first week of the school summer holidays flew by, so it was full steam ahead into Summer holiday’s – week two. But where’s my energy gone? I was feeling shattered from the start so it was an exhausting week.

On Monday we returned from our trip to Wales, then I managed to dump (drop off) most of the tribe at Grandma’s so I could head to Aldi to restock my cupboards with triple the amount of food than we usually consume on the average term time week, because children like to constantly eat when they aren’t in routine. So cupboards stacked with more than the average amount of treats so that I can bribe my way through the week, the kids had a choice for dinner instead of the odd couple of fish fingers, a pizza, some pasta and cocktail sausages.

Kids fed I headed to SW as I skipped it last week due to the the boy’s wrist trauma, I was dreading it as I has well and truly fallen of the SW wagon. The result wasn’t good bloody 2.5lb on FFS, I was only 1lb away from target and now I’m now needing to shift 3.5lb to get my next shiny. The gain was totally deserved, so I will be on salad all week!

Tuesday and Wednesday I worked and the 4 smallest went to Grandma’s so I finally got to tick some tasks off my never ending work list.

They baked cakes and flapjacks, which they loved as we never bake at home.

Wednesday I had an ultra exciting meeting about the future and am still buzzing from that, all will be revealed very soon, eek!

As my meeting ran over I was later than expected to collect the kids, so swung by the golden arches to get tea, which instantly put me in the kids good books, because there is nothing better than a tea that comes with a toy and you can eat out of a cupboard box, sod the crap nutritional food content. Dish the kids boxes out for one of them to ask where are my chips and then realise none of them had chips, so I rang and they said they would have new meals ready with the added bonus of McFlurry’s that I was too tight to buy. So even though I had to drive all the way back across town, my brownie points had now doubled with the kids.

The day was then topped off with the lovely gesture from the boy, he picked me a beautiful rose from Grandma’s garden, it’s the small things hey!

Thursday was new cast day for Faryl and he was super excited to be getting coloured casts. I was early for the hospital, which is pretty rare for me to be early anywhere. But a good job I was as there is no parking at the hospital due to building works so we had to drive around and around!! The doctor was running 90 minutes late, thank god I took the iPad with us otherwise the boy would have been climbing the walls. Then once we had seen the doctor we had a 45 minute wait for him to be replastered, yawn!

So that was fair chunk of the day gone, Grandma had the other 3 little ones, so we met her in the local park where there were free kids activities. But it was like torture for Faryl who has recently developed no fear and still wants to scale the highest climbing frames even though he has both hands in casts, so moaned continuously that it wasn’t far, so we will be avoiding parks for the next 2 weeks until he has his arms back in full working order, hopefully! Then came the leaving the park fiasco, running away, wanting to stay longer, wanting to go home with one of the other mums we were out with, yes the usual parenting jazz. Which if similar ever happens to you, you will sympathise with my thoughts of why the hell did we ever come to the park and continuously give the kids an open threat that we will never go out for the day again!! But finally I bribed them into the car with chocolate brownies, so Monday’s food shop wasn’t all in vain.

Swimming lessons aka ‘Mum’s Weekly Sweat Session’ carries on so I headed to the pool with the two middle girls, even though it was as hot and sticky in there as ever. Today’s proud Mummy moment came with one of the girls doing the final task need to complete the level, so will soon be swimming in stage 2, not bad work when she only started lessons at the end of May. The other tried really hard and completed loads of tasks to rocket her from 29% to 78% of her way through the stage. Good work girlies xx

Friday, we had plans to head to Countryfile Live but hearing about the nightmare traffic stories from the day before we decided to give it a miss. The thought of being stuck for hours in traffic which a screechy, whiny load of kids in the car filled me with dread. And we were going to do something locally, but the firstborn had a reaction to a sting/bite so need to see the doc right in the middle of the day, so I was given no choice but to stay home and tidy the tip that is our house. Why o why during the holidays can they not all play with one thing and put it away then move onto the next, oops I forgot they are kids!!!

Grandma is now away for 2 weeks so I have no childcare and a little extra work so wish me luck.

Saturday we headed out with friends, the weather was lush, when it’s hot and sunny, it always make me want to emigrate somewhere sunny, as I always feel so much more positive and have energy when the sun shines. Oh well maybe one day hey!

Sunday I had grand plans to do some gardening, but it was raining when we got up, so that was enough of an excuse to not bother. So did a few bits around the house, but I was feeling pretty knackered, so lounge around a bit. The kids were expecting a visitor but they didn’t show and could see them clock watching, so as the weather brightened up I decided to get them ready and headed out after lunch. As National Trust members (not I’m not old before my time) we have some great houses and gardens locally, so chose to go to Avebury Stone Circle and Manor as t had been recommended to us by friends. The kids had a whirl and we blew away the cobwebs. It was a lush end to week two and we only finished the day with 2 major meltdowns, result!
School holidays are completely exhausting, but I do go to bed remembering the kids laughs and smiles through the day, call me mushy but that’s what parenting I all about right!

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Summer Holiday’s – Week One Done And I Survived

Week one of the summer holidays are now over and done with, I survived.

Our week started with the confirmation the The Boy had fractured both his wrists after a fall off a climbing frame at the weekend. So bring on the emotions, when they told me I burst into tears like some loony overprotective mum, jeezz that is so not my style. Why the tears, I think it was a mixture of how the hell am I going to manage to help Faryl eat, drink, go to the loo and just about everything else he can’t do for 6 weeks while still having to entertain the other 4. Then I think I was proud of how well Faryl had coped with the pain, he’s usually such a whinger but had just been wincing when anyone touched his arms.

The following day the kids had a visit from their father the first in months and he left just before bedtime, cheers for that, but exhausted as I was I mustered up the energy to get then to bed and plan for an exciting adventure the following day. Oh but there was a huge plus to the day me and the brainy one went to see The BFG at the cinema, she loved having some one to one time with Mummy, plus after being unprepared and not smuggling pound land drinks and popcorn in I forked out a fortune on a oversized fizzy pop and enormous bucket of popcorn. Yes I did enjoy it too, the diet wasn’t on the agenda, eek!

Wednesday we headed to Chessington World of Adventures, now we are lucky enough to be Merlin Annual Passholders we plan to make the most of them. The day started with me being a tad bit stressed, well I had experienced a roller coaster of emotions in the last few days, but after realising that it was going to ruin the day otherwise, I took myself away from the kids for a few minutes (no worries they were left with Grandma, I didn’t desert them in a public place!). And came back calm and ready to enjoy the day and that’s what we did, check out more about our day here.

chessington
Making Family Memories

Thursday, I had plans to sort the garden aka wild place and do some dump runs, yes my house is bursting with crap and during a normal week running around town like a blue arse fly I don’t get the chance to do these things. But the sodding weather decided to save me from that and peed down most of the day. So instead The firstborn decided she wanted to take her bed down and order a new one, I had been promising her forever and as she’s now 15 a high sleeper with desk and wardrobe underneath and no ladder to get up isn’t really suitable. So that is now also waiting at the side of the house to go to the dump, ah well maybe next week.

Thanks to Argos next day delivery, the firstborn’s bed arrived, so another box in the hallway to trip over. I had other things on my mind like the bloody root canal I was having Friday morning, it wasn’t actually as bad as I expected, but still made me feel ill. I came home to find the firstborn was halfway through putting her new bed together, what a star. She completed all by herself and it looks very grown up in the big girls room. A big tick off of her Summer wish list.

For the weekend we headed to Wales to stay with my sister and nieces. We visited The Big Chesse in Caerphilly, but not the best place to go with only 2 adults and 7 children, it was a constant headcount as it was really busy. They however loved a couple of fairground rides each, well at £2.50 each ride what do they expect, gone the days when you got 3 tokens for £1, yes that was years ago I know.

We finished our weekend off visiting Margam Park near Port Talbot, a great place to take the kids to run off steam, ok try to wear them out it never really works that way they are usually just grumpy and still resist bedtime.

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Our Family aka The Tribe

A Little bit about our Family

One Mum, One Business, One Home, One Car aka Bus, 5 Children, 2 Cats and anything else our busy lives through at us.

Me a Mum who never wanted to follow the rules, well I was the baby of the family afterall. So 33 years on I am a single Mum to 5 children and if I wasn’t busy enough I run my very own business too.

 

The Firstborn is now a teen and knows her own mind. She has fundamental made me the mother I am today. Growing and learning with her everyday.

The Smiley One is all ways there to check up the room, she easily makes friends and always sees the good in everyone.

The Brainy One can often be found reading a book quietly whilst chaos erupts around her, whilst she is busy trying to decide weather she will be an author or scientist when she grows up.

The Boy the one that taught me how to raise a boy after so many girls (who am I trying to kid, I’m still clueless about raising boys and generally blagging it through this parenting malarkey as I have done for the last 15 years)

The Baby the cute/naughty one that has the rest of the family wrapped around her little fingers.

Our Home is lived in, well seriously I would much rather be spending time with my tribe rather than spending all my time off cleaning. One day soon I will employ a cleaner but need to tidy up first!!!!

So having a larger family I have no choice but to drive a huge 7 seater car aka The Bus, no sports car her.

That’s a little bit about us, please hit like our Facebook page to keep up with our fun, stress, adventures, celebrations and the odd tear too.

Mum Under Pressure xx

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Our Alternative Family Holiday

Our Alternative Family Holiday

As a family we love a holiday, it’s something to work/save towards all year and a very welcome reward and break from the general pressures of life.
I had originally planned our holiday to Eurocamp in Brittany, France. Having had two fantastic holidays in the past two years in Vendee at Eurocamp site, we were very excited. But the difference this time it would be me flying (driving) solo with all 5 kids. I thought that as they’d aged the lengthy time in the car last year they would be better this year. But earlier this spring after some stressful not particularly long journeys in the car, I realised that it would be an enormous pressure to drive to France. This would lead to a stressful start to the holiday, and the kids or myself wouldn’t enjoy it.
So I CANCELLED!!!! A big decision and lost several hundreds of pounds but hopeful saved some of my sanity.
Next decision was what to do now, as much as the kids love holiday camps like Haven, I find I’m constantly saying no, no I can’t manage to take you all swimming alone, no your sisters doesn’t want to go and see Sid & Lizzie, let’s have an early night and not go to the disco tonight, no you can’t have that overpriced tacky merchandise from the shop, no you can’t have endless fizzy pop from the bar!
So I wanted to be able to say yes, so decided to try something new to us all, a quiet cottage in the country, so I spend a couple of evenings searching cottage websites and on Hoseasons found a suitable cottage near Glastonbury, Somerset.
It was close by just over an hour so no lengthy car journey ✔️
It had 4 bedrooms, a luxury as we only have 3 at home ✔️
It had a garden, to eat outside, one of the kids requests ✔️
It was in a new area we hadn’t explored before ✔️
So I was very excited about switching off from work and spending some quality time with the tribe.
Our online food shop arrived first thing Monday morning, we packed the car and set off.
On arrival we were impressed with the cottage, it was clean and very well equipped, they even left us chocolate biscuits (well that was the kids converted).
We had lots of fun days out and one day just exploring our surrounds, with a family random trek.
The holiday was fab and the kids were very well behave the majority of the time, only the odd meltdown. We made some precious memories which will stay with us all forever. The sun shone lots. I proved that you can take 5 kids on holiday with 1 parent, with not too much pressure.
So I’m so glad that we changed our plans to an alternative destination. We will be heading back to France again maybe next year or the year after but think we will be taking Grandma too.

Mum Under Pressure xx