Back To School Sleeping Woes

Well we are nearly back into the whole school routine thing and I am finally coming to terms with all my babies being in full time education! We have nailed the homework, have been leaving the house in the mornings with plenty of time to spare, there have been no phone calls for forgotten books and ‘touch wood’ everything seems to be running smoothy…well aside from bedtimes!

The summer holidays made way for long bright evenings and a much more relaxed routine when it came to bedtimes. This was perfect at the time and I loved those few extra hours it gave us all to be out and about or relaxing in the garden; but this has all backfired on me with a certain little boy now that the school term routine is here.

The problems start as soon as dinner is over and the realisation that bedtime isn’t to far away. The tummy aches and headaches appear, the bedtime drink takes an eternity to get finished and then once finally in bed the real issues start.

Frankie gets so worked up about going to bed that the minute I leave the room he got foots it out of bed and is right behind me, refusing to stay in his bed and pleading to come downstairs. At the moment we seem to have two options which is to continually lead him back to his bed until he his finally to worn out to fight it anymore or spent half the evening sitting in his room until he falls asleep.

Both of these options are time consuming and hugely stressful for all of us and its really something we need to get on top of as the lack of sleep is breaking us all.

Below are a few tips that I’m going to be trying out to see if we can finally crack this before I crack myself:

Routine, Routine, Routine – This is one of the things that was always a big priority but over the years and the more children I had the relaxed and calm bedtime routine I once inforced has stacked somewhat and it is all a little manic. A definite routine of bath, book and bed are certainly going to be put in place again.

Security – A know that a big problem from Frankie is the anxiety of being left on his own at bedtime so finding a toy or a blanket to snuggle up to may help to make him feel a little more secure.

Calming Environment – I know for me I get a much better nights sleep when my room is clean and tidy and free from the clutter of the day and I’m sure that for children this is the same. Making their room a calming and inviting place make for a good starting ground for a restful night. Making sure that all the toys are put away and there is a cosy and inviting bed for them to jump into is a must.

Turn Off Electrics – I definitly fall down when it come to limiting electronics before bedtime and it is actually advised that anything stimulating such as TV, computers and tablets should be turned off an hour before bed.

Choose The Right Foods – Try not to give children any sugary or caffeinated foods before bedtime. They work as a stimulant and can be a good reason as to why they are still bouncing off the walls when you are trying to get them to sleep.

I am really hoping that some of these tips are going to work for us and we all finally get some much needed rest. I would love to know if you have any other top tips to help me out.

*collaborated post

A Sleepover At Alton Towers

A few weeks ago now we took the long journey to Alton Towers. I had not visited this theme park since I was sixteen and I was eager to see the changes and introduce the children to all the fun.

After a five hour drive we were more than happy to arrive at the Splash Landings Hotel. Its bright and cheery decor made for a warm welcome and once inside our family room we were pleasantly surprised by how spacious it was.

There were facilities to make a much needed cup of tea and before long beds had been claimed and we rested our heads in anticipation for a big day ahead. The room offered everything we need from cosy beds, a good shower and entertainment packs to keep the little ones amused. The only problem we encountered were our nightmare neighbours that keep us awake for half the night!

We headed down for breakfast and had a little bit more time to explore the hotel in the light of day where the children stood amazing by the huge waterpark that was housed in the centre of the hotel. Sadly we just didn’t have the time to try it out but it really did look absolutely amazing.

Time to fuel for the day we made our way to the restaurant to have our breakfast where there was a huge variety of food to choose from. From cereal and fruit to a full english breakfast.

The children loved being able to go an help themselves to cereal from the special machine and chose from the vast selection at the hot buffet. It was also a really refreshing change to have so much choice for Frankie and all his allergies.

Full to the brim it was time to head off to the park for a day of fun. There is a shuttle bus that you can catch to take you directly to the park but we chose to take the short walk.

Once inside we spilt up with Archie and Izzy heading off to the thrill seeking rides whist we stayed with the younger two and headed off to CBeebies Land.

CBeebies Land had been on our list of places to visit for a while now and as soon as I saw the boys faces light up as soon as they saw the huge, rainbow coloured welcome sign I knew that they were going to love every minute. They dashed back and forth for sometime before they finally decided on their first ride which as the In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride that saw us winding through a little stream spotting all our favourite characters as we went, next up we took to the sky with the Go Jetters, played at being Postman Pat in the bright red van, took in the sights of the whole of Cbeebies Land with the ‘Get Set Go’ Tree Top Adventure.

We took a little break from the rides and took a walk around the much calmer Something Special Sensory Garden and found some familiar names in the walk of fame.

There was so much to see and do and so resfeshing to have such a huge area dedicated to preschoolers in a theme park as this is something that is so often missing.

A quick pitstop with our adrenaline junkies who came back buzzing from the excitement of the amazing Wicker Man and Oblivion. I think I was actually most exited that the two children they get on the least had spent some quality time together and enjoy each and every minute of it. Hot doughnuts are a must on a day out like this and we plotted up on the huge grassy area that was perfect to take in the pretty surrounds Alton Towers has to offer.

I was a little concerned that Frankie was going to be a bit left out when it came to the bigger rides but I needn’t have worried as there was a huge variety of family friendly rides that were a good middle ground for those that couldn’t enjoy the thrill seeking rides but still wanted something a little faster.

I loved that we could all take to the water in the River Rapids, Swing high and low in the Heave Ho and battle with our competitors on the Battle Galleons.

Fit to fall after a day full of fun and adventure we headed back on the monorail to the Crooked Spoon restaurant to fill our hungry bellies and rest our weary feet.

When we arrived I was really surprised at the laid-back, outdoorsy feel to it which was right up my street. The little play area directly outside meant that the children could happy play whist waiting on their food.

When in came to the food there was a great choose for both adults and children from juicy burgers and mouth water steaks to roasted summer vegetable carbonara and spicy Sri Lankan curry.

I opted for a classic prawn cocktail to start followed by a creamy chicken carbonara which came served with a beautifully crispy chuck of garlic bread. The larger men of the family dived into a huge bowl of loaded nachos that i couldn’t help but try followed by a mixed grill that definitely came with their seal of approval.

The little ones had a mixture of dishes such as soup and crusty rolls, fresh melon and delicious sausage and mash that they all devoured with not one complaint which is a rarity.

Im not sure how we managed but I couldn’t resist desert – especially cheesecake, and Izzy defintiy wasn’t going to turn down a gooey chocolate browniw with a side of ice-cream now was she!

The friendly, attentive staff who didn’t batter an eyelid when they had to clean up an entire glass of squash that was poured over the table minutes after we sat down and didn’t moan once about having to navigate the huge cuddly toys they had won earlier was a real bonus to a fantastic meal.

If I was to round up our experience of Alton Towers I would say it was a bundle of fun from beginning to end, thoroughly exausting and definitely worth a trip.

* We were invited to Alton Towers for the weekend for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Needing To Feel Needed

This week bought the day I had been dreading for so long and to most of you this may seem extreme, but after a long twenty one years of having a little ones at home with me this era of my life has almost come to an end.

I have spent hours upon hours craving a few hours on my own to grab a child free coffee and now the silence is strange, I have moaned so many times about my mornings being filled with hectic and noisy soft play visits and luke warm coffee being drunk at toddler groups which I’m now finding myself longing for.

My work over the past few years has been crammed into a few small hours during the day and leaving me having to put in hours way later into the evening that I liked. My new found freedom should be a blessing to finally get back to a proper working day but instead I’m craving the sound of Cbeebies in the background and requests for snacks every few minutes and I think this is where I really finding it hard… I’m no longer needed!

The care of my last little bundle has been handed over to someone else who as I know to well will become their font of knowledge, his independence will grow even greater and all those things that I have moaned about and tired of over the years such as wiping noses and buttoning shirts will soon be a thing of the past and in a strange way I’m really going to miss all of this.

Of course I know that nothing lasts forever and I want and encourage my children to be confident, strong willed and independent but this doesn’t help me feeling a little more redundant with each new step they reach. The person that I have been for over two decades is slowing changing and I am not sure I’m ready for that.

My job as a Mother is ever changing and evolving and I should be embracing this new chapter in both our lives rather than seeing it as something negative I should look at all the positives its brings and I’m sure that a few months in I will be reading this back and wondering what the hell I was getting so emotional over. But for now I’m going to make the most of these last few child filled afternoons and try and embrace the change it will bring for us both.

photo credit – Laura Shaw Photography

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty

This week on ‘celebrating the small things’ this week as me thinking back on lavender field photoshoots, special allergy treats and Pimms in the sun.

Lavender Field Photoshoot – For someone who at the begining of the year always shied away from the camera terribly, I feel that although I’m certainly not confident in front of the camera but have started to fear it a lot less!

I had been chatting to the lovely Rachel Thornhill for a while now and whence asked me if I would like a photoshoot in the beautiful Mayfield Lavender fields I jumped at the chance.

Not only did I get some fabulous images of the day but I got to meet the lady inside my phone and was pleasantly surprised that she was as lovely as I had invisidged.

Treats For My Allergy Boy – Life with Frankie’s allergies can be a real mental challenge sometimes as the ability to give him what he wants is completely taken out of my hands and the ‘mum guilt’ is immense!

Recently we were out to eat pretty late and the selection of food was pretty limited. The others were all grabbing tasty treat whilst Frankie looked on. After nearly exhausting every option we stumbled across a place that served fries covered in vegan cheese. His face lit up and my heart my full over something so simple.

It’s Pimms O’Clock – This is probably one of the silliest small things I’ve written about but I can honestly say that being out in the sunshine, watching the kids play and having a Pimms in my hand is certainly one of my guilty pleasures…it also helps when the playful children start to argue!

The Best Of British Summertime

This years summer has without a doubt been absolutely outstanding weatherise. We have had the opportunity to have so many outdoor adventures that have been blissfully sun drenched and have allowed us to to create some fabulous sun kissed memories.

Unfortunately though due to our perpetual bad luck the weather took more than a turn for the worst for our break at Camp Bestival when it brough us gale force winds and torrential rain. And then again when we had a week away in Chichester. Although it stayed warm…ish I could count on one hand how many times we saw the sun.

We filled our week with crabbing trips, cathedral visits, plenty of shopping, eating way to many fish and chips and spending hours at the penny slot machines. Paddling in the sea searching for fossils and cosying up to watch endless reruns of Mrs Doubtfire and Karate Kid.

But the day on Wittering beach really stuck in my mind. With my jacket tied up under my chin, makeshift barriers shielding us from the wind and towels on standby to ues as makeshift blankets I had a little giggle to myself at how typically British we all were.

Not one of those families on that beach was going to let the weather defeat them. They were going to see the day out with their sand filled sandwiches and flasks of hot tea, they were going to build sandcastles and search for sea shells and yes some of them were also going to face a dip in the sea.
And do you know what, they will all be talking about that day on the beach for years to come with fond memories and proudness of their grit and determination.

I myself look back fondly of trips to Devon as a child where we would be having car picnics to shelter from the rain and chattering teeth from the chill of the swimming pool, and do you know what I wouldn’t change those memories for the world and I hope my gang feel the same.

Behind The Scenes At Sea Life

For many years now my gang have loved visiting Sea Life. They love being able the ability to wander around freely discovering all kinds of weird and wondful creatures that live under the sea…well actually a fare few that live above it too!

The other week we headed to Southbank for a trip around our favourite Sea Life and the chance to take a look behind the scenes with their behind the scenes tour.

In our usual fashion we were running late and had to rush in and get over to the behind the scenes tour. So a quick dash over the shark walkway which the boys weren’t to impressed about and a zig zag past everything else we got their just in time to be greeted by our friendly and thankfully laid back tour guide.

The doors were opened and we headed behind all the exhibits to a small area that was home to some very special creatures. I was a little apprehensive about taking this tour with Oscar as he is only four but only being 30 mins long it was the perfect timing to keep him engaged and I was so pleased to see that all three of them listening intently as we were shown round.

We got the chance to see some of the fish being feed, meet a beautiful chinese snapper turtle that had sadly been discarded by his owner, meet some super cool sea dragons that fast became my favourite of the day due to the male getting pregnant and so much more.

The children loved being shown the huge variety of food the animals were feed, thoroughly enjoyed being able to get hands on and touch things from lobster shells to egg pods, and the highlight for me was how much information they were given and were able to retain as the tour was done in such a relaxed, interactive and informative way.

Full to the brim with a whole host of knowledge on marine life we headed back out to explore the rest of Sea Life. One tip is to get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds although to be honest even though we were there in the middle of the school holidays it was really easy to navigate still and didn’t feel like we struggled to see things in any of the tanks.

The aquarium is set out in sections which include Shark Walk, Atlantic Coasts, Ray Lagoon, Rock Pool, Open Ocens, Ship Wreck, Ocean Tunnel, Nemo’s Coral Reef, Seahorse Kingdom, Creatures Of The Rainforest, Thames Walk, Penguin Point, Conservation Cove, Shark Reef and Ocean Invaders.

Each area has its own uniqueness to it and being in distinct groups means its a lot easier to for the children to understand where each creature is from.

The sharks were certainly a huge hit with the boys and we sat for ages watching them glide around the tanks in their majestic manner, they all got to touch a star fish which I think is such a wonderful experience and something you certainly can’t do everyday! For me the highlight had to be the seahorses as I am always in awe of their delicate beauty.

As we moved around each section I loved the fact it wasn’t all about gazing into tanks, We thoroughly enjoyed getting a shock from the jelly fish wall, getting a nip from a parihna and climbing on board a distressed ship that was getting battered with thunder and lightening.

For us Sea Life gets better and better on each visit and there really is something for people all ages to enjoy. We will be back very soon!

*We were asked along to Sea Life for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Camp Bestival In Pictures 2018

The summer is drawing to a close now and I can honestly say it’s been an awesome one with so much fabulous weather and all kinds of adventures for us it a real shame that it has to end.

I am however really grateful to have captured so many of these moments on camera with some of my favourite times being at this years Camp Bestival.

A picture really does paint a thousand words and I hope this little collection gives to an insight into what an amazing place Camp Bestival is!

Super Start To School With PJ Masks

Over the past few weeks the reality of Oscar starting school has set in and I can safely say that it is me with the butterflies in my tummy and the waves of anxiety on a daily basis.

Oscar however seems pretty relaxed about the whole prospect and is eager to get started, make new friends and start his new and exciting journey into school life.

After five children I know all to well that even the most confident and self assured children can have trouble with coping this massive change and it is our job as parents to make this transition as easy as possible.

One thing I know that mine have all had trouble with is the more structured day they have compared to nursery. Although the majority of their learning is still done through play a lot of it is tailored to help them learn and this is something I have been helping Oscar to get used to with the help of PJ Masks.

Oscar has been a huge fan of the lovable charters Owlet, Catboy and Gekko for some time now and their inspirational super powers are the perfect way to motive children to learn and give them confidence to battle through their fears.

Oscar really needed some practice with his hand writing skills and the PJ Masks First Writing book has been a fantastic aid for him. the wipe clean pages allow him to try over and over again without wasting endless sheets of paper.

We have also been learning in a more interactive way with the PJ Masks Leaning Headquarters that has three different modes of play that allows Cat Car, Owl Slider and Gekko Mobile to complete different missions. The catchy theme tunes and familiar faces make challenges such as memory skills, problem solving and much more all the more fun.

A learning tool that is pretty familiar to our house is the Leap Frog range. Oscar was trilled with his Leap Start which is just like bringing a book to life. He didn’t even realise that through the touch and talk games he was building his reading, numerical and problem solving skills.

Lunch time at school can be a pretty daunting experience too with all the hustle and bustle of so many children and the noise levels going through the roof. With school encouraging independence having a lunch that is easy to get into is of great importance. Oscar will be able to get off to a great start with his PJ Mask lunch box filled with his easy to open…and leak proof drinks bottle and super cool snack pot that can be filled with different treats everyday.

All thats left now is for some of those PJ Mask super powers to rub off onto my little superhero and hope this will get him and me through those tricky first few weeks.

*collaborative post

Glaucoma:Everything You Need To Know

*Guest Post

Glaucoma is the number one cause of permanent blindness in the world, with 600,000 of those affected living in the UK. It’s expected to affect up to 76 million people worldwide by 2020, with only half of people in the UK being diagnosed before irreversible damage is caused.

Symptoms can often go unnoticed, which is why raising awareness of the condition and the importance of early diagnosis is key to preventing permanent blindness.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the collective term for a group of related eye diseases categorised by damage to the optic nerve (which connects the eye to the brain). The most common type of glaucoma being chronic open-angle glaucoma, which gradually gets worse over time. It usually occurs due to the build-up of pressure inside your eye.

All eyes should produce and drain a fluid called aqueous humour, but glaucoma sets in when not enough of this is drained away – or too much is produced – causing an increase in pressure. Most cases of glaucoma are symptom-free, making it difficult to be detected until later on in life, but without treatment, it can cause permanent blindness within just a few years of diagnosis.

It’s undetermined as to precisely what causes glaucoma, although there are certain things that can put you at a greater risk of developing the condition. Factors such as age, ethnicity, family history and other medical conditions such as diabetes can all contribute.

What symptoms should you be looking out for?

Glaucoma progresses slowly over time, not affecting your sight immediately, meaning that you may think you don’t need an eye test. However, it’s important to attend regular eye tests to ensure any changes or certain conditions can be spotted as early as possible and treated straight away, to avoid any permanent long-term damage.

There are no symptoms in the early stages of glaucoma, but by the time symptoms appear there has already been a certain degree of damage. The first symptom you are likely to notice is a loss of peripheral vision. This is likely to have an effect on both eyes, although one may be worse than the other. Blank spots may appear in your field of view and even at this stage, the damage to your eye could already be advanced. If you notice this happening to you, visit your optometrist or GP immediately. A less common form of glaucoma can have symptoms including:

– Sudden or intense eye pain

– Redness of the eye

– Headaches

– Tenderness around the eyes

– Seeing rings around lights

– Blurred vision

Again, if you experience any of the above symptoms make sure you book an appointment urgently, advising your GP or optometrist of the symptoms you’re having.

Can glaucoma be treated?

Glaucoma can be identified easily during an eye test – which is why routine eye examinations are vital.

At Leightons Opticians & Hearing Care, you can have an Ultimate Eye Exam, which is like an MOT for your eyes. It involves a number of checks, including checking the pressure inside your eyes, testing peripheral vision and an OCT scan (Optical Coherence Tomography scan). An OCT scan is like an ultrasound for your eyes, taking images of the tissue behind the eye and the many layers of the retina – producing 3D high-definition scans.

Once diagnosed, the treatment you have is dependent on the type of glaucoma you have. Treatments can consist of: eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. Regular eye tests are important after diagnosis so that your optometrists can continue to monitor the condition and check the treatment is working successfully or not.

Remember – early detection is key to early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Eight

Well I nearly catching my tail and I have made it to the end of the school term with my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series. I have to say that I’m dreading Oscar starting school but I will give me a chance to really get my working day in order and hopefully get more organised…well we will see!

This week I am taking about school awards, park trips and kids fashion.

Dot To Dot London – My blog covers such a variety of topics which I often think I should kerb to be a little more niche but then realise being a bit of everything opens up some great opportunities. One of which being kids fashion that I have a real passion for.

I have always loved kitting the kids out and to be honest their wardrobes are always way better than mine.

The other week I got the chance to go along to Dot London which is a press show for all kinds of fabulous children’s wear brands. There were some of my favourites there that I have worked with before such as Tootsa McGinty and some brand new companies that I can’t wait to see the Autumn/Winter.

Hours And Hours In The Park – One little thing I am certainly celebrating is the amazing weather we have been blessed with this year. We are huge fans of the great outdoors and it has been made so much more accessible with the sunshine on tap that we have had. I honestly don’t think we have had as many picnics and park trips as we have this year.

Feeling Proud – Izzy has just finished her first year at high school and I have to say I couldn’t be prouder of all she has achieved in her time there. She has never been naturally gifted when it comes to the academic side of life but she always gives her all and works to be best of her ability. This was recognised at the end of term when she received an award for all her efforts and I actually think I was happier than her about it!