Category Archives: Children

How to plan an Easter egg hunt at home

One of my favourite things to do on Easter Sunday is to set up an Easter egg hunt for my son. He’s 6 now, but he still believes in the Easter bunny and I have no wish at all to shatter his illusions. Easter egg hunts are pretty easy to put together and lots of fun to take part in. Here are my top tips for setting up an Easter egg hunt.

Step 1:
Buy some Easter eggs. I like to get a selection of sizes and colours to hide in the garden. Make sure you buy enough to share fairly equally between the Easter egg hunters. I tend to get a couple of medium sized eggs and then some smaller ones for the hunters to seek out. You don’t have to stick to Easter eggs, you can also mix things up and add some Easter sweets too.

Step 2:
Count the eggs and sweets before you hide them and try to make a mental note of where you’ve hidden them.

Step 3:
On Easter Sunday I am usually tasked with distracting the boy whilst my other half scurries around the garden hiding the eggs in obvious and not so obvious places. If you can do this just before the hunt without anyone noticing you’ve got a better chance of finding everything and it’s less likely that the local wildlife will find your goodies and eat them for you.

Step 4:
Don’t forget your bucket or basket to put your Easter bounty in.

Step 5:
Go hunting! Have fun, don’t forget to take some photographs. See if you can find an egg and get away with keeping it all to yourself.

Since last Easter we’ve got a new puppy and she is into absolutely everything. If you’ve got a new puppy, or an older dog it’s worth remembering that chocolate is very bad for them. So sadly our puppy, Penny will not be able to join in with the Easter egg hunt. She will have to stay on her lead just to make sure she doesn’t snaffle any goodies she shouldn’t have.

Will you have Easter egg hunt at home? What are your top tips for a successful hunt?

 
How to plan an Easter egg hunt at home

This is a collaborative post

Why I don’t need fuss on Mother’s Day

I know I’m a rare specimen, but I can live without too much fuss on Mother’s Day. I’m very content with a homemade card and a cuddle. I have a great relationship with my son and I feel loved, admired and appreciated by him every day. Plus I don’t want him to grow up feeling obligated to make a fuss when no fuss needs to be made.

Why I don't need fuss on Mother's Day

Nevertheless, I know at school there will be some card and gift making going on in readiness for Mothering Sunday. No doubt instructions for fuss making will also be issued from my husband.

My husband is prone to bouts of extravagance, so I have very firmly put in a request to go to our local community farm to see the baby animals. This is something we can all enjoy together. Ben and I can see the animals and meet the newborn lambs and calves. Daddy can walk the dog and then we can all go to the playground and have an ice cream. Sounds like a pretty good day out to me and one I’m really looking forward to.

Last night after dinner, I asked Ben some questions about Mother’s Day and got some surprisingly adorable answers. We’d been talking about the zoo, so both the zoo and walking the dog feature heavily; but I reckon this is worth three minutes of your time any day. 
 

I am so proud of my boy. Every day he brings sunshine and light into my life. We laugh and giggle an awful lot. He’s wonderfully creative and determined. He’s stubborn and wilful and as bright as a button. He wakes me up every morning with a kiss (because that’s how you wake a princess). Ben goes to bed every night insisting that we have a big family cuddle. He is kind and caring and I love the very bones of him.

Having him in my life is the best present I could wish for on Mother’s Day. Being a mum isn’t easy, not by a long chalk, but for me at least there are endless rewards.

What are your plans this Mother’s Day?

 

Family things to do – Half Term Hygge

The February half term is upon us and despite a gloriously spring like weekend, day one has been wet and cold. We had a quick trip to the park with friends this morning, but the afternoon demanded a bit of warm cosiness and gentle fun. Thankfully Plusnet had sent us a box of Hygge style activities for such an occasion, so we got to work on creating a bit of Half Term Hygge at home.

Hygge is something which comes from Denmark. It means creating a nice, cosy atmosphere and enjoying the simple things in life with the good people around you.

Our Half Term Hygge box contained a lovely assortment of Hygge style goodies and inspiration including –

• Decorations including fairy lights and instructions for building a cosy fort
• Hot Chocolate & marshmallows
• A recipe card for Snobrod (Danish butter biscuits) 
• Family film night poster and popcorn

February Half Term Hygge activities

It’s got winter stamped all over it. For me that might mean a nice cup of coffee and a good book in front of the fire. For children that probably doesn’t cut it. Armed with our Plusnet Hygge box, we whipped up a batch of delicious Danish butter biscuits and while they were in the oven we made a cosy den.

February Half Term Hygge activities

This wasn’t any old den, it was filled with cushions, cosy blankets and finished with a string of fairy lights. So good was this den that he spent the afternoon in there reclining, colouring in and watching cartoons on his tablet. 

February Half Term Hygge activities

I was very impressed with the Danish butter biscuits too. It’s a really easy recipe. He loved helping out and we will be making these again very soon. Be warned though, they are too good and as a result they didn’t last very long!

February Half Term Hygge activities

The boy is very sold on Hygge. I can see us having a few more afternoons like this over half term. Who doesn’t love a blanket fort, a mug of hot chocolate and a cosy afternoon of loveliness? 

February Half Term Hygge activities

Thank you to Plusnet for our Half Term Hygge box. You can find out more about Half Term Hygge on Twitter by searching the #HalfTermHygge hashtag. You can find our more about creating some half term hygge of your own on the Plusnet website.

Are you planning any lovely half term hygge activities?

Giveaway & Review: ChewyMoon subscription snack box for children

After school the small boy likes to come home to a drink and a little snack. He’s very fond of both fresh and dried fruit, so he normally gets something like that to munch on. An afternoon snack for him is something of a sanity saver for me, if he goes without he’s often so hungry by 5pm he’s howling for his tea. A handful of dried fruit is just enough to tide him over till teatime. This week his afternoon snacks have been courtesy of ChewyMoon, and very nice they are too!

ChewyMoon subscription snack box for children

ChewyMoon is the UK’s first nutritionally-balanced subscription snack box for children between the ages of 4 and 10. Their snacks are made from natural ingredients, with no refined sugar or nasties. There are five snacks in a box, together with a ‘fun pack’ comprising comics, fact cards and totem toys, so the box just as much fun as it is healthy.

In our ChewyMoon box there were five little boxes of snacks – just the right size for a quick nibble. They’re in really fun, brightly coloured boxes (which we’ve saved, I’m sure they’ll be brilliant for using in a craft project). The snacks are all nutritionally balanced and healthy, full of fruit, nuts, seeds and other goodies. He loved eating them and enjoyed trying the different snack boxes.

ChewyMoon subscription snack box for children

The ChewyMoon box comes with some fun things too. Ours contained a card to help us identify different kinds of clouds – we’ve stuck that to the fridge for reference purposes. There was also a space monkey “totem” which you popped out of the card and made into a little stand alone figure and a little comic strip to read.

It’s colourful, fun, a little bit educational, healthy and the box arrives every week through your letterbox, addressed to your child. That alone is beyond exciting for my six year old!

ChewyMoon subscription snack box for children

The ChewyMoon website is fab, it’s got lots of nutritional advice and information for parents. You can also rate each snack, so you can get more of what you like and less of what you don’t.

Your ChewyMoon subscription box is delivered weekly and costs £4.95 per week, you can order a free trial box (just pay postage) to see if you like it. We did like it a lot. I felt that although my son generally enjoys healthy snacks, this was a great way to introduce him to some other kinds of snacks he might enjoy. There were a couple of things in our selection of snacks which challenged him, but with a little encouragement he tried them, enjoyed them and would have them again.

As a parent I try to encourage healthy eating and part of that is discovering new things to eat; exploring flavours and textures and encouraging him to be open to new experiences with food. I think ChewyMoon is a really fun box, but also a way to develop an interest in new things, which is never a bad thing.

For more information about ChewyMoon, visit their website.

Win a one month ChewyMoon subscription 

To be in with a chance to win a month’s subscription of ChewyMoon snack boxes for children, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will receive a month’s subscription of ChewyMoon snack boxes for children.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 15th February 2017.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
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12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

20 Questions to ask your children

Over the last few weeks on Facebook I’ve seen a lot of my friends asking their kids 20 questions. I’ve loved reading their answers, some of them are funny, some a bit weird, some a little bit sad, but all of them really interesting. 

Shepherds Friendly have produced a ‘20 questions to ask your children’ worksheet which you can find here. We sat down this morning and gave our son a gentle grilling, asking him each of the 20 questions. It was an interesting and quite funny little family task, and one which would be a good thing to do again each year.

Here’s a video of me questioning our boy wonder, he was a bit sleepy and a little bit grumpy to begin with, but he soon got into the swing of things…

20 questions: His answers…

Q1. What is your favourite colour?
Yellow.

Q2. Who is your best friend?
Joseph (his cousin of the same age).

Q3. What is your favourite TV programme?
Paw Patrol (naturally).

Q4. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A Power Ranger, when asked which one he said Black Ranger. 

Q5. What car do you want to have when you grow up?
Lots of thinking about this one, but he opted for a motorcycle – I think because the Power Rangers sometimes ride them.

Q6. If you could go anywhere in the world on holiday, where would you go?
He said Spain – we recently went there on holiday and had a really fabulous time.

20 questions Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Q7. Do you want to get married one day?
Yes…to Sophie.

Q8. How many children would you like?
Errr… one. he said eventually.

Q9. What age are you when you become an adult?
He said 17, which is a very good guess.

Q10. What are you good at?
He said painting, I reminded him that he was good at lots of things, which he is.

Q11. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Flyi…. running. He corrected himself. I would have accepted his first answer (flying). Running really, really, super, super fast. What a great superpower.

Q12. If you had one wish, what would it be?
He said loving, so I asked if he meant he would love and be loved right back, he said yes by you and pointed at me. This answer melted my heart a little bit.

20 questions

Q13. What do I do as a job?
He thought for a minute and said “writing” which pretty much sums it up.

Q14. What are you scared of?
The dark. Which is true, he hates the dark evenings now winter is here and he has to sleep with a light on. Hopefully he will grow out of it.

Q15. What is your favourite song?
Transformers Rescue Bots (theme tune).

Q16. What is your favourite class at school?
He said “eating” and when questioned he said eating fruit. I know he likes school and he enjoys learning. I did half expect him to say learning songs for the Nativity play, but clearly eating fruit is the highlight of his academic day.

Q17. What is something I always say to you?
I love you. 

Which is true. I never want him to feel like I don’t love him or have time for him.

Q18. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
He gave the slightly enigmatic answer of “be calm”. I’m not sure what he means by that, but I can only think it’s what someone at school says to the boys when they’re running around being giddy at school.

Q19. What makes you happy?
Smiling.

Q20. What makes you sad?
Scary things….like the dark.

I really loved some of his answers to these 20 questions. I think I know my son pretty well and I could have predicted most of these replies, but some of the others give an interesting insight into the mind of my six year old.

20 questions to ask your children

This post was in collaboration with the Shepherds Friendly Society who offer a range of savings plans including a Junior Isa

Now We Are Six: We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

Over the weekend the small boy (who is not so small these days) turned six. This year his birthday fell on a Saturday, so we decided to throw him a party on his actual birthday, and I’m so glad we did.

Over the years we’ve had a couple of Rhythm & Rhyme parties, a couple of soft play parties and a brilliant party on a Steam Train. We like to try and do things a bit differently if we can, so we defied his instructions and booked him a “We Are Adventurers Pirate Party”. This outdoor party in a forest school was a bit of a gamble for a boy with a November birthday, but it massively paid off.

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

For the uninitiated, We Are Adventurers is a forest school, they have them dotted about in various locations, but there’s one a few miles from our house. The basic premise is a birthday party (we had 20 kids) would spend a few hours with a couple of leaders in the woods, building a camp fire, going on a treasure hunt, running, screaming and chasing each other through the woods and then building a pirate ship out of sticks they collected from around the camp.

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

Parents didn’t have to be there, but a few stuck around and we all watched in awe as our kids had the time of their lives. It was brilliant. At the end of the party all the kids sat around the fire eating the picnic lunches I’d made for them, and they toasted marshmallows around the fire. There were lots of children being reluctantly dragged from the woods afterwards, and most of them were top to toe covered in mud, with the biggest smiles on their faces.

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

It was fantastic. Before we’d even got home, the not so small anymore boy was asking for the same kind of party again next year. I think that’s a birthday wish we can grant him!

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

We Are Adventurers have a number of different party options including Pirates & Princesses, Bear Hunt, Elves & Fairies, Robin Hood, Creepy Crawlies and Superhero Adventure. They also run holiday clubs and a range of other activities.

Prices for a We Are Adventurers party start from £12 per head and you can pay extra for picnic bags and goody bags (we did our own catering but they did the goody bags). For more information visit their website.

 

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

We paid for our party in full and have not been compensated for this post. We just had the best time, so I thought I’d share how brilliant it was.

Now we are Six – Happy Birthday Sunshine

The small boy is six today, I’ve written a little letter which I hope he will read when he’s a bit older. I’m so proud of him in every single way. Happy birthday Sunshine xx

When I picked you up from school yesterday we held hands and chatted on the way home. When we do that it’s always the highlight of my day. You’re turning into such a big boy now, I love that every day you have a handful of new and brilliant words. You used some of these words on our way home, when you told me about your day and you asked me questions about your family, the grandparents you’ve never met and never will, and your grandad who has just gone to heaven to live with the stars.

As we got close to home I told you about my day, about the birthday cakes I’d baked for your party and how I hoped you’d like them. You’ve variously asked for a Paw Patrol cake, a Power Rangers cake and a Lego cake. I hoped you wouldn’t be too disappointed, but when you saw the pirate cake I’d made for you, the only word you had was “wow” and that made my heart glad.

What a year we’ve had my son. A year of firsts and lasts, of smiles, laughter and heartbreak. The low point by far was your grandad dying. I love that every time you mention him you glance at me to check I’m ok and then you give me a hug. I asked you about your favourite things about the last year and you said school, which is nice, but then I reminded you about our first camping trip to the Just So Festival, your first foreign holiday and flight to Majorca, meeting Tim Peake and all of the lovely family times we’ve had.

You’ve grown sunshine, you’re growing up. You’re full of life and cheekiness. You’re funny and full of care for the people around you. You’re clever and you’ll go as far as you want to in life. You do things on your own terms, and I’m glad of that. Follow your own path, be true to yourself and you won’t go far wrong.

I don’t know what the next year holds in store for you, I’m hoping that it will be a good one for you and for our family. Keep being you my beautiful boy. Keep trying hard in everything you do, keep being the wonderfully loving boy you are and keep smiling that beautiful dimpled smile which lights up the world.

Six is a grand age to be and I hope you have the best birthday ever. I love you so much today. Happy birthday Sunshine.

Happy birthday sunshine

Ronald McDonald House – Keeping Families Close

This Saturday 22nd October, McDonald’s are organising a fundraising day for Ronald McDonald House Charities. The charity helps to keep families close to their children in hospital, by providing them with free accommodation and support.

Many families of poorly children have to travel long distances to get the specialist or intensive care they need. Families who are looked after by Ronald McDonald House Charities can stay in the houses completely free of charge, for as long as they need, which can be a real help for families supporting and caring for a sick child.

Ronald McDonald House

This Saturday 22nd October McDonald’s restaurants around the UK will be bringing the jungle theme to life, with four adorable new wild animal soft toys for customers to buy for just £2.50 each from the kiosk, front counter and Drive-thru window, with 100% of proceeds going to the charity. Last year McDonald’s managed to raise a whopping £3.9m to help the families of poorly children.

There are currently 14 Ronald McDonald Houses around the UK and they desperately need fundraising support to help to contribute towards the funds needed over the next few years. The charity plan to open four new Houses across the UK. The charity has been helping families for over 25 years; providing free family accommodation near NHS hospitals around the country.

Have you ever wondered where the money from McDonald’s Collection Boxes goes? McDonald’s have partnered with Jeff Brazier to show how every penny that’s donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities goes a long way to help families across the UK.

All you need to do to help support this much needed charity is pop to McDonald’s this Saturday and pick up a cuddly toy or two for just £2.50 each. I know I’ll be buying a few of these jungle buddies for myself.

Ronald McDonald House

For more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities and how you can get involved, visit their website.

 

This is a sponsored post.

An audience with Astronaut Tim Peake in Manchester

On Saturday we set off an an out of this world adventure at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (known locally as MSI). We were part of a small audience with astronaut Tim Peake – something the small boy was beside himself with excitement about. 

Tim was there for a very special event, a trailblazer for the Manchester Science Festival. He was there to talk about his adventures on board the International Space Station. 

Tim Peake

Aspiring astronauts hoping to follow in Tim’s footsteps were able to hear him speak about his experiences in orbit and quiz the spaceman on what life is really like on board a space station.

Tim returned from the six month long Principia mission in June this year. During the mission Tim carried out a spacewalk and ran the London Marathon in space. His mission has inspired thousands of British schoolchildren to learn more about space – the small boy and his class grew some “space seeds” at school which had been sent from the International Space Station, and for several months we keenly followed Tim’s adventures in space.

As you can imagine, the room was filled with school children excited to see their astro-hero, the interviewers did a fine job of asking him about his adventures in space, illustrated for the most part by photographs which Tim had taken.

Tim Peake

After the fascinating interview (which was live streamed if you want to watch it for yourself) the audience of children were given the chance to ask Tim questions. There were some really good questions, but the one about space toilets really stuck with me. Apparently 90% of the urine is recycled into drinking water, with the remaining 10% being bagged up and disposed of in the trash.

Tim Peake

As an adult I was incredibly excited to be in the same room as Tim Peake, but the small boy, who is just 5 years old has now met someone who is a real hero. He will remember this day for the rest of his life, and I hope he will be inspired, if not to go into space, but at least shoot for the stars. As Tim says, there’s no direct route to being an astronaut, but working hard and having fun are a big part of the journey.

The small boy had managed to bag himself a front row seat for this audience with British Astronaut Tim. You can watch a short video of our morning below –

Tim Peake’s appearance in Manchester was part of a seven-date UK tour organised by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency and was the trailblazer event for the Manchester Science Festival 2016.

Manchester Science Festival 2016 marks the end of the city’s year-long role as European City of Science, and runs throughout half-term from Monday 20 October – Sunday 30 October.

You can read my preview of the Manchester Science Festival here.

Tim Peake

For more information and full event listings for the Manchester Science Festival 2016 visit their website.

What do your children’s dreams mean? #DreamsExplained

If you asked my son what he dreamt about in the night he’d say nothing, if pushed maybe Paw Patrol. I find that really hard to believe, but maybe he is just one of those people who don’t dream vividly and just don’t remember them in the morning. I have the most vivid dreams, often quite terrifying night terrors. I remember as a child having a recurring dream, a dream which I still sometimes have, which still has me waking up feeling panicked.

The dream I had most often as a had me chased through the narrow and maze-like streets of a steep hilled harbour town, dashing through dark tunnels, skittering across slippy and steep cobbled streets and eventually hurling myself over the harbour wall to escape. I don’t know what I was running from, but it obviously terrified me. It was all so vivid and I used to have it almost weekly. 

Of course a quick internet search of that kind of dream can give me an idea of what it was all about, it was an anxiety dream putting me in a fight or flight situation. I think anxiety probably plays a part in a lot of my dreams. Looking back I’m surprised I was having anxiety dreams so young, I don’t remember being an anxious child.

dreams

A Dream Catcher – said to be able to trap the bad dreams and only let the good ones through.

I’m fascinated by the meanings of my dreams and often look up what I’ve been dreaming about and very often it does mirror what’s going on in my life. Often my dreams are very common, such as dreaming my teeth are falling out, or I’m naked in a maths exam. 

Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a window into our subconscious, so trying to interpret and find the meaning behind your dreams can give you an insight into what’s really going on inside your subconscious. Dreams are a snapshot of who you are, what you need and what you believe, and are also a way which your brain works to process difficult emotions such as loss or grief.

Adjustable Beds have teamed up with world-leading dream psychologist Ian Wallace to look at what’s going on within our minds when we dream. They have just launched a fascinating #DreamsExplained YouTube series where they are making sense of the wild world of children’s dreams.

Having watched the video a few times I’ve found it really interesting how their dreams are interpreted and how the meaning relates to their real life experiences. It’s hard for me to look back and try and put my dreams into context, because I don’t really remember what was going on in my life back then to give me that particular regularly recurring dream.

I would hate to think of my son having similar terrifying dreams like mine. I do ask him sometimes in the morning if he had a dream, maybe he will remember and tell me about one someday. Maybe he really is just dreaming of Paw Patrol. 

What do your children dream about?

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