Posted in Uncategorized

Travelling With Kids Guest Post By Ella Who Blogs At Ellamental Mama

Single mum travelling with Toddler

by Ella from Ellamental Mama

Before I had my son I used to travel lots – Africa, Asia, the Caribbean. The further away the better in my mind. I always thought I should do my crazy travels when I was young because people don’t travel like that with kids, right? Wrong. My family is pretty small – just me and my son (at the moment) – and it turns out that you can travel far and wide with a little one. Since my son was born he’s also been to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe – he’s already made it to over 10 countries. Admittedly the vast majority of those were in the first two years when he was still basically free to fly. Now I have to pay for his flight seat the travels have got closer to home and less regular but I still do as much as I can manage.

My most adventurous trip was last year, just before my son turned two. I threw a bunch of lightweight clothes into a backpack and off we went, backpacking around South East Asia. Everyone thought I was mad for doing it. The main thing I was nervous about was if one of us got really sick – especially me. What on earth would happen to my son? I had papers with all my emergency contacts listed on them and insurance details and in every place we stayed I would lay them out in the room, “just incase”. Bar a couple of nasty injuries which I managed to grin and bear, we were a picture of health throughout the month.

Single parenting is often a story of extremes, taking a toddler backpacking as a single mum is one of the more extreme examples of my life. One day we were strolling along the beach taking in the sights and enjoying the sun shine. The next day it took two hours to get my son down to nap, I snuck into the hammock to rest and promptly broke the thing. Have you ever tried to transport a toddler, buggy, backpack and other random bits along the beach to a small boat so that you can get dumped in the middle of the sea to climb aboard the passing ferry so you can make it back to the mainland with one arm out of action? It’s not an easy task I can tell you. But when you have no choice you somehow make it.

You might be thinking I’m rich considering all the travels we have done but my approach is to do it as cheap as possible so that we can go on as many trips as possible. My budget for one month for the two of us travelling around was £1000. That included £500 for my flight and £500 for everything else. Admittedly in the end I overspent (it was all those exciting boat trips round the islands) but not by that much. This strict budget did mean staying in the cheapest places in town though.

I remember late one afternoon arriving in Krabi in the South of Thailand, we arrived just outside the town centre and walked the mile or so to the area with the cheap guest houses. We were in luck, I found us a room that smelled like an overflowing ashtray. At 5am the sounds of the nearby market traders setting up took over from the sounds that had been blaring out of the neighbouring nightclub all night long. Let’s just say we didn’t get much sleep that night. The next day – the rainiest of the trip – we went to what was termed “the most beautiful beach in Thailand”. My son fell down a huge hole and lost a shoe before we had even made it there. Needless to say the toddler learnt some good swear words that day. When we did finally arrive at the beach and the clouds parted I ended up spending most of the time chasing my son up and down the beach as he ran off at top speed. On days like that my only reprieve was to return to the room, turn on the shower and let him stand under a small drip of cold water for as long as it would entertain him so I could catch my breathe. Invariably when I popped my head round the door to check on him he would be trying to climb into the toilet but still, he was quiet and not running away from me at high speed so I was happy and he had water so he was more than happy.

The days weren’t all like that though, well if I’m really honest I think everyday had at least one moment of total mayhem like that in it, and some were just chaos from start to finish. But there were days that had nice moments in between. And let’s be honest “nice” is an understatement. We went snorkelling with tropical fish, swam through underwater caves, explored night markets, rode on tuk-tuks and visited temples. You might think some of these things are not possible with a toddler but as a single mum I’ve got used to doing things with my toddler or not at all and I’ve never been one for sitting still. My son had one of those inflatable water seats and a pair of goggles; I would snorkel whilst holding onto his inflatable while he kicked back and relaxed, when a really good fish came along I’d get him to dunk his head under so he could have a good look. He loved it. Nearly as much as the day we went kayaking around the islands and through mangroves. That was a big hit, especially the little cave with the ‘inside’ beach. Or what about the day we went to the elephant hospital and he got to “feed” the elephants – he was too scared to actually feed them but he clung to my leg as I did it and he loved watching them walk around. Sometimes the fun turned to chaos as it tends to with a toddler, like when we were enjoying watching the monkeys playing on the beach until my son decided to throw a handful of sand at one of them – that didn’t go down too well – monkeys can be seriously vicious when they are angry.

Now I look back on the photos – the ones where he’s balancing on the palms of my hands in an aqua blue sea with the sun blazing down – the smiles on both of our faces telling of the joy in that moment. Or the one where we are both sat at a street stall eating the most delicious food in Thailand. And I’m so glad I did it. More than that, I’m so proud I managed to get through it. There were times in those weeks as we travelled around when I thought I was going to lose the plot (mainly at midnight in a mosquito infested shack, with my son repeatedly jumping on my head at midnight and the exhaustion and claustrophobia was more intense than anything I’ve felt before) but now that those memories have faded a little what I remember most are the fun moments. He still reguaraly talks about the elephant that ate bananas and the fishes that bit his bottom in the waterfall. That trip pushed me to my limit but it also gave us both lifelong memories.

Posted in Explore the world, family fun, Travel Guest Post, Travel tips with children, Uncategorized

Travelling with kids guest post by Zoe who blogs at Chummy Mummy!

So the day has finally arrived.  Packing day.  We booked this holiday over 12 months ago, I’ve had that long to prepare and yet I feel totally un-prepared for the task before me.

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My stomach is turning at the thought of a 7 hour car journey with 3 children aged 10 and under, not to mention the packing for 5 people, an over night stay on a ferry (which requires separate packing), a picnic and two rucksacks.  The list goes on and my mind feels terrifyingly numb to it all.  More tea and cake, lots and lots of cake.

I find myself scurrying from room to room as my glowing and pregnant sister lies draped across my bed, chuckling.  The extremes of my control issues are presenting themselves in new and previously un-seen ways.  I begin by rolling every item to achieve maximum surface area to volume capacity and at the same time mindlessly count, count and count again (and yet still manage to be short 3 pairs of socks!)  At least someones getting entertained in the process.

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The day ends without me crying over something ridiculous and I even managed to cope well with the realisation that the car needs 2 new rear tyres before we can even set off tomorrow but for now I’m happy with the score:

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Lets see what tomorrow brings.

DAY TWO

Today the journey to Northern Ireland begins.  The picnic’s packed and so are the bags.  The need to be compulsive about where specific items are packed has got up and left, along with my calm, happy, holiday face.  I’m frantically packing last minute “just in case” items, in the hold all that’s supposed to be for the ferry sleep over.  I hope they don’t search it there’s all sorts of crap in there!

It’s 9.30am.  The calm before the storm.  Everything’s packed – I think (apart from those bastard socks!)

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Two hours in and all’s going well.  Nieve’s had a massive sleep and I’m feeling like super woman, I’m chilled.  The crazy Zoe has re-treated and super-mum has arrived with uber amounts of patience and a zen like feel to her persona.  There’s a good possibility that the next 2 hours will be hell, now that Nieve has slept so well, but I’m cool with it.  I can totally rock this car journey.  I CAN DO THIS!

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One hour later – We’ve stopped at Blaise Castle, which has an amazing play area and free parking!  The boys are loving the play area.  We’ve not even reached the north of England, let along northern Ireland and I’m already freezing.  I’m sat writing in my note book with a blanket wrapped round my shoulders.  Clearly I’ve lived in the South too long and I’m turning nesh.  We’re still at a holiday score of 1-0 to me and I’m taking full advantage of the kids being occupied and chilling out before we get back into the confines of the car.  Hopefully Nieve and the boys will relax now they’ve had a run around and burnt off some steam.  The boys are playing ninja warrior on the adventure playground.  I’m purposely looking the other way, other wise I’ll have to shout and I’m still being zen.  The car journey competition is working a treat too.  Hats off to Brad for sorting that bad boy out.

30 minutes later – We’re back in the car.  We’ve read 5 stories, Nieves nicked Darrell’s sweets and I’ve finally given in and given her the dodo (Nieve code for Dummy).  Dylan and Darrell are still working their way through the car game and all we’re getting at the moment is the odd gasp from the back seats a they spot something the other hasn’t.

Only two hours and forty eight minutes to go until we arrive at the ferry according to the sat nav.  The tablets are amazing.  I’ve decided electronic parenting is my new ethos in Northern Ireland.  Brad strikes again.  He downloaded a couple of films each to keep them happy.  I love that man.

We’re an hour ahead of schedule with a brewers fayre in our sites for dinner (with a play area!) hello wine o’clock!

OK so far everything’s been going just a little too well.  I’m re-reading my notes as I’m typing this up and thinking to myself.  You fool.  How could you have written this down and thought that in doing so you were safe.  Surely, as a parent you must realise by now, that in writing such things down you are in fact mocking the parenting gods and angering them into action.

It’s the eleventh hour!  We broke down 2 hours ago.  After mild smoke inhalation we’re off the hard shoulder and safely in a McDonald/Toys R’ Us car park in Birmingham.  There’s a flock of travellers on the car park being escorted by the police and the chavs are looking about disgusted like they’re the model citizens.  My little country bumpkins are taking it all in their stride and certainly blend in.  Nieve’s rocking her bright pink Doc McStuffins tracksuit complete with glitter writing and crazy car hair.  The mucky tomato sauce face finishes the ensemble ensuring she fits right in.  I don’t even reach for a wet wipe.  I’ve lost all motivation.  The zen super mum, of 11.30 am, has well and truly deserted me.  In her place is a strung out mess.  I’ve seen druggies, on a come down looking more zen but then with only an hour to get us back on the road and the AA guy no where in sight, I feel this overall look is justified.  We’re never going to make this ferry.  The kids are happily playing, I’ve forced a big tasty down (oh the hardship!) and I’m currently inhaling an apple pie to keep my strength up, vitamin C and all that jazz. Nieves just done a massive poo.  The boys are being total angels.  Under the circumstances I’m still rocking this shit or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

The AA guys just arrived we’ve got exactly 54 minutes to get this show on the road or we’re getting a 2.30 am ferry instead and with 3 kids that is a no-go zone!  I’m watching as Brad nods both approving and thoughtful in equal measure.  He’s great with most things, cars do not fit this category and I know he has absolutely no idea what the guys saying.  Internally I’m screaming JUST FIX THE F**KING THING!  externally I coo at Nieve and play the choo choo chip game. God I feel like a psycho.

After what feels like a lifetime in McDonalds I decide a change of scenery’s in order. Toys R’ Us prepare yourselves we’re on our way.  The AA man is MIA having rushed off to get us a part.  35 minutes to go before we’re officially behind schedule and missing the ferry.  I hit Toys R’ Us and decide a parental update is in order and phone my mum.  Instead of the tears I expect I’m more terrified to discover that, on her answering the phone, my internal dialogue spills out and I hysterically sing “it’s the final countdown” to her down the phone.  She thinks it’s good news and shouts with happiness “are you on the road then?” (they’re supposed to be meeting us at the farmhouse in Ireland tomorrow)  “Don’t be ridiculous” I answer.  “I’ve hit hysteria and need you to talk me down.  I’m wandering round Toys R’ Us letting the kids play with all the display toys and hoping I don’t get asked to leave.”

It’s been 20 minutes, we’ve taken pictures of the kids with some of the toys like we’re visiting a local attraction and I’ve had multiple staff wander past me, supposedly on their way to do something, but giving me the eye all the same.  Time to leave.

I exit the shop to a blast of cleansing air.  The AA man’s still working on the car but I’ve accepted it.  Its the 2.30 am ferry.  It’s fine.  I CAN DO THIS!  I’m still not feeling zen but to hell with that.  I’m a strong, resourceful woman and we are going to enjoy this trip or so help me……………..The blessed AA man has done it!  They really are the 4th emergency service.  We’re back on the road and I can’t believe it.  We’re going to make it.  We’re actually going to get to sleep on the boat.  We’ve been on the road now for 9 hours but we’re actually going to do it!  The kids are quietly ecstatic and are still being amazing.  I can’t believe how lucky I am that they ‘re not being total shits.

Three Hours Later – We’ve made it!  We’re on board.  I’ve got a tea, Brads savouring a well earned cider.  Nieves slept a total of 4 hours today and is currently having a mad hour running round the play area.  The boys are also burning off some steam and are wrestling as they slide down the padded ramp of the play area.  I don’t care.  I’m sitting with my back to them so I can feign ignorance if anyone complains.  They’re happy and after being total legends in the car they totally deserve this time.  They’re so excited about sleeping on a boat especially as they both get to be on the top bunks (there’s no way me or Brad is trying to climb up there!) No ones mythering me or shouting mum.  It’s total bliss.  The cabin is basic and clean.  I’m so exhausted after 12 hours travelling it feels like a palace.

I’m not keeping score anymore the holiday can kiss my ultra zen ass.  It may have won the journey but I will win the WAR……………holiday I totally meant holiday.

 

Posted in Adventure, Explore the world, Family, Travel Guest Post, Travel tips with children, Uncategorized

Travelling with Kids Guest post by Amy who blogs at Eps and Amy!

Hi, I’m Amy from Eps and Amy blog (www.epsandamy.co.uk), which covered bargain sales, product reviews and lifestyle/family blogging.I have 2 children aged 5 and 8 (although the photos attached are from previous car journeys too) and we do lots of family holidays and travelling.

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Last year we headed to the south of France, if you do the journey all in one go it would take about 12 hours, so we decided to split the journey and stay at various euro camp sites on the way down.  We left home at 3am and got a 5am ferry across from Dover.

I always recommend this, the kids happily sleep until you get to the port and then have breakfast on the ferry to occupy the time.  We reached Disney in time for opening and although the adults were tired we had an amazing day. We stayed a few days in Disney, check out my post on Disney hints and tips (https://epsandamy.co.uk/2016/11/30/Disney-tips-guest-blog/) then moved on to a euro camp park a 3 hour drive away, we stayed 10 days at this park, then faced a 6 hour drive down to the south of France, stayed there 6 nights then had the journey home, 5 hours one day over night in Burgundy then 6 hours the next day.

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So lots of driving, but I have some good tips to make the journey a lot less painful: * if you can journey early or late so your kids sleep in the car

* pack lots of food, snack stuff like pretzels and fruit strings.

* avoid sweets or chocolate, they are very sticky when dropped and the kids will feel sick after a handful

* take colouring or puzzle books, and drip feed to the kids only when they are seriously cranky

* invest in kids headphones; they are volume limited so won’t deafen themselves and you won’t have to listen to the iPad

* fill the iPads with TV episodes, avoid films, kids get board of films so quickly

* I highly recommend these in car sets for kids: https://usborne.com/browse-books/catalogue/product/1/2944/100-things-for-little-children-to-do-on-a-journey suitable from aged 3-10 ish

* when the kids start getting fractious stop the car for a bit, especially if you can find somewhere with a play area! But if the kids are quiet or asleep keep driving, get as many miles done as possible when you can.

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I hope some of these tips can help you, we have had some very easy journeys with the children.

Amy’s holiday in the South of France sound’s amazing and she has some lovely tips to help during a long car journey! I will certainly be using some of these tips next time we go on a long car journey adventure! Thank You Amy!

Posted in Uncategorized

he manic few weeks!

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The last few weeks have been totally manic, I have worked full time for the last two weeks, I am still blogging, lots of half done posts.

The reason everything is half done is because my phone broke and I lost all my photos and videos.

I am also working on becoming a self employed child carer. I am currently a self employed Nanny/Babysitter. But as a mum to two I am now looking to spread my wings into offering advice and help mums and dad’s get routine to their lives, to help with all aspects of Weaning/sleeping/potty training.

I may not be every parents ideal child carer as I am a pretty laid back mum, but this would be my dream job. I am currently doing lots of free courses on open university and updating my knowledge.

There will be a added section in my blog soon full of parenting tips and tricks which I hope will help expand into my new business venture.

What do you find works with your own children?

By the way the feature photo is just to get your attention!

Posted in essentials, Home made, Kent, Life, Local life, pamper, review, reviews, Uncategorized

Teal Anchor All Over Body Scrub

I emailed Teal Anchor just before Christmas in 2016 to see if I would be able to review for them. I was very lucky as they said yes!

This caught my eye because I am trying to find products which are kinder to skin, less chemicals  and also kinder on the environment to make and not leave a lasting impact on the world.

Teal Anchor hand makes each product themselves, the scrubs are vegan friendly and also not tested on animals. Which is brilliant!

The ingredients are really simple to, which you can find over on their website.

So let’s get to the important what I think of the All over body scrub.

They sent me the Mint all over body scrub.

When I took it out the packaging I was pleased to see that it came in a lovely glass container and very few labels covering the jar too which is a bonus! You also get a small little wooden spoon to scoop the scrub out of the jar

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When I opened it the first thing I noticed was the smell, it smelt totally amazing! Not over powering but actually smelt like Mint, Some products I have used in the past hardly smell of what they are meant to smell like, so this was great!

My  skin is  dry and I find many products dry my skin out even more, which isn’t good as it causes my skin to become itchy and sometimes sore. . I used this body scrub on a tiny bit of my body (arms!) first just to check I wouldn’t come out in a rash, no idea why I thought that as the scrub is 100% home made and has all natural ingredients in.

I first noticed that the scrub wasn’t as gritty as previous scrubs I have used in the past and it had a really nice feel to it. The scrub went on really nicely and I felt it just glided onto my skin. It needed very little rubbing in to get nice smooth skin, which with two children sometimes having a shower needs to be quick!  The Mint fragrance also lasted a very long time and my skin felt really soft and minty  for 12 hours!

I would say this scrub is good for all skin types as it doesn’t dry out the skin.

I would actually use this every day if I could but the recommend usage is twice a week. they currently have 11 more scrubs on sale and they have some really pretty Unicorn make up brushes that you can pre-order.

The scrubs start from £9, which to me is great value for a product which looks and smell’s totally amazing!

I really liked this body scrub oh wait who am I kidding I totally LOVE  the body scrub!  I will certainly be recommending this product to everyone I know.  Now which body scrub shall I try next?  The black pepper, Lavender or the Grapefruit one?!

Oh and they also have a Blog! So why not take a peek, lots of handy tips and some helpful information! Click here to see their blog.

 

Posted in Family, Uncategorized

My Wishes for 2017

I was mentioned by the ever so Lovely  at Being Tilly’s Mum  about my wishes for 2017.

My 5 Family Wishes

There are so many wishes I would love for my family but here are the main 5. Happiness, Health, Freedom to travel, Protection and Love

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My 5 Blog Wishes

To be more organised

To increase my followers on social media links especially the website

To have lot’s of opportunities from companies

To improve my photo skills

To share my posts more on Social media

My 5 personal wishes

Happiness and health

A new car

Lot’s of Nanny or Babysitting work

Being more organised

To get the flat in order

my 5 hopes and wishes for 2017

I hope that everyone has a wonderful 2017 and is healthy. Money doesn’t make the world go round but it certainly helps. Also spending more time with friends and family.

Posted in Christmas, Drumond park, Uncategorized

Crazy Claw By Drumond Park

Entertaining little ones over the winter months can be very hard work, especially when it is pouring down with Rain! . We love baking, craft, playing games  and chilling in front of the TV. Bear and Bell have only just really started to get into table-top games. Which is a good thing especially in the darker and cold months.


When we went shopping just before Christmas to have a look for last minute ideas,  Bear choose the game Crazy Claw, We as a family were lucky enough to be able to review the game over the Christmas holidays

 

Crazy Claw is a game designed for children aged 4 years plus and is ideal for two -four players. It is based on a arcade style game and is  great fun for both the older and younger generation. The aim of the game is very simple but it’s also  very effective too. The aim of the game is to collect the matching tokens to the matching cards by pounding the paddles to get the coloured balls bouncing, the first one to match all the tokens wins the game. With Bell we changed the game slightly so she could join in and we tried to collect the same colour balls.


To get the balls each player as a go with the claw to get a ball which has a token inside, which is taken out if it matches your Card and then the empty ball goes back in. The game retails at £22.99, to be honest I personally would be happy to pay around £18 for this game if I bought it myself.

The setting up of the game is very simple to do and takes a couple of minutes, which is brilliant for parents and children who are egar to play and especially as it needs to be put up and taken down every time you wish to use it, but as I have said it takes a couple of minutes to do. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow.  We did find the balls a bit fiddly to open, but this could be that they are new or that I can’t even open a Kinder Egg toy tub so that could be the main reason!

You can find where to buy the game by visiting http://www.drumondpark.com/index/index.php

There are also some fab games on the website too!

We have a short video on how easy it is to set up the game over on the YouTube channel.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Project 365 Week 1 1st Jan-7th Jan

1st January babysitting until 2.45am (yawn)


2nd January Bear choose a star wars bear in Build A Bear


3rd January we make homemade mergiune


4th January a trip to the local garden center


5th January I have writters block


6th January! MY BIRTHDAY

7th January Birthday meal with a bestie!

 

Posted in Book's, Kent, Kent Family, parent blogger, pbloggeruk, Uncategorized

My Reads for January and February 2017

As you may know by following my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook I love a good book!

Here are my top four reads for January and February 2017

Girl Online  by  Zoe Sugg

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Why I choose this book?

I choose  this book as its about a Girl who Blogs. I thought it may be funny and a good read especially where I am so new to blogging. I also think it maybe a  light hearted read, just what I need after the hectic Christmas holidays!

This is her first book she has ever written, who knows after reading this I may have to track down a few more of her books.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Why did I choose this book?

I have already read “Gone Girl” by this brilliant author so I thought I would give this a go.

This is a book about siblings and how Libby try’s to undercover the truth.

This seems like a Wonderful, atmospheric book with full of suspense loaded in.

Baby Doll  By Hollie Overton

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Why did I choose this book?

To be honest I didn’t. Hubs went to Tesco to buy the paper and he came back with this. It would be a book I would choose though. Its a Psychological thriller and I really enjoy these types of books.

Pretty girls by Karen Slaughter

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Why did I choose this book?

This book was advertised in the local supermarket, the cover was eye catching and being described as Razor-Sharp plotting and detail. Really caught my eye.

This is also by a author who is The Sunday Times Number 1 Best selling Author.

What type of books do you like to read?