Making Boredom Fun

Today I woke up to a miserable, grey day with no plans and no intentions to leave the house at all. This of course an absolute bombshell drop on my children!

With their eyes out on stalks they looked at me in sheer disbelief and repeatedly chanted, “what we’re doing nothing at all”.

I take full responsibility for this as I feel the need to continually occupy the children and fill their days as much as possible. A weekend rarely goes by where I haven’t tried to arrange something exciting and the times there is not much on I always feel the need to get out of the house and do something, no matter how small.

This has certainly had a detrimental effect on us and I feel I have taken away the children’s ability to amuse themselves and be happy in their own home with their own time and space.

I remember as a child making shops with my sister, playing fashion shows and thoroughly enjoying simple things such as colouring or dancing around my room; yes of course I remember those times where I moaned to my parents about being bored but there was never that expectation to be occupied every waking minute, it was down to me to make my own entertainment.

Being bored allows children to explore their own imaginations, to be creative and inventive and to find activities that they have a real passion for.

Society has made us feel that we should be continually stimulate our children, to make their weekends as jam packed as possible and to be enrolling them on every activity possible where their entertainment is already structured for them and limits the chance for them to use their own imaginations.

After the day from hell with the children continually craving my attention, demanding to be amused and begging to be taken out they finally found their own entertainment and settled down to word games and books that they wouldn’t ordinarily pick without being promoted, they made up their own workout routine and the youngest two baked a cake together with little intervention from me.

To them this has obviously become learnt behaviour and so I have come up with a list of things I am going to stick to the fridge to help then get started with enjoying their own free time:

Read a book
Do a puzzle
Dress up
Paint
Draw
Play with playdoh
Make a cake
Make a Lego creation
Have a puppet show
Have a teddy bear’s tea party
Play football
Skip
Bug hunt
Jump in puddles
Make an exercise circuit
Make up a dance
Make a show
Practice magic tricks
Climb a tree
Write a story
Build a cardboard car/house
Junk modeling
Make paper aeroplanes

I would love to add to this list and know how your little ones spend their free time.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Two

This time of year is never my friend! I get depressed by the weather, long for brighter and longer days and generally spend the whole of January and February wishing away the minutes until the start of spring.

I am however hoping that this new series of ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I started last week is going to bring a bit of joy to the next few gloomy months ahead.

This week I have picked a couple of my favourite moments that have involved things I don’t get time to enjoy as often as I would like.

One On One Time: With five children this is certainly something I don’t get the chance to do as often as I would like so I cherish them everytime I get the chance.
We took a trip to Southbank to an event where Frankie got to meet some of his favourite characters from the Cartoon Network show – We Bare Bears and we both sampled delicious coffee that had been expertly poured and topped with incredible latte art.
Aside from having to take some pics whilst I was there we spent the rest of the morning completely screen free, talking about all those radom things that run through the mind of a six year and and really just enjoying each other.

Healthy Changes On Track: For those of you that are followers of my blog you will know that the past few years have gained an ever expanding waistline with my change in career.
Its something I’ve been battling with for a long time now and this week I feel that I’ve finally broken the cycle and things have got back on track.
There have been no faddy diets, I’ve just cut out the rubbish and reduced my portion sizes, I have got back into all the exercises I love such as spinning and kickboxing and have been feeling and seeing the benefits both physically and mentally.

Getting An Insight Into School Life: When your children set off to school they spend over half their day in the care of somebody else and we have very little insight into what they get up to; and if your children are anything like mine they aren’t to free with letting you know what they do either.
At the beginning of the week I wasn’t to excited about the thought of having a meeting at the school, but was pleasantly surprised when we got the chance to join the children in the classroom to see what they get up to during their working day.
It was so lovely to see Frankie interacting with his peers, thumbing through textbooks and asking questions on things he was coming across and seeing how much he has come on during his short time at school.

Camp Bestival-The Best Christmas Present EVER

When it comes to Christmas presents I always have a bit of a dilemma with myself. The children compile lists of plastic toys that I know will be discarded before Boxing Day, and every part of me wants to fulfil their wishes…however the sensible side of me thinks all that money would be better spent on experiences that will last a lifetime rather than faddy toys that will last for minutes.

If we look back over our year then one of the experiences that sticks in all our minds the most is certainly Camp Bestival – the family festival that has to be seen to be believed.

This year sees fantastic musical acts taking to the stage such as Rick Astley, Clean Bandit an Simple Minds. Regulars to the festival are Mr Tumble and Dick and Dom will be returning to amuse the children…well and the adults too!

One of the shows that my little ones are most excited to see though is Dinosaur World Live that looks absolutely outstanding.

This really is the kind of gift that I would love to find nestled under the tree on Christmas Day and if it sounds like something your family would love to receive to then there is a great promotion running until 11th December.

If you book your tickets before this time you will receive a whole host of fantastic stocking fillers such as nautical tattoos to go with this years ‘Sets Sail’ theme, character stickers, a hand illustrated Christmas card and a limited edition sew on patch.

If you would like to spread the cost then you can still sign up to the 30 week payment plan and still receive all your goodies!

Take a little look at just a few of the reasons we love Camp Bestival so much:

Scree Free, Quality Time: This for me has to come top of my list as it is something that is so lacking when we are at home. Its a chance to put away those phones, leave the iPads alone and just enjoy spending time together talking, laughing, playing and having fun.
My lot spend a huge time arguing and fighting when we are at home, and don’t get me wrong it is never an argument free trip but we are certainly more drawn together as a family and that bond gets a little tighter.

Good Food: As a family we are often drawn to places with our bellies and I can assure you if you are a foodie like me then Camp Bestival won’t fail to stimulate your taste buds.
From ice cream covered waffles to juicy burgers, scucculent corn on the cob to crispy chips every palate will be catered for and every belly filled.
Th little ones can also get more hands on and prepare their own food which was a big hit for mine last year.

Enjoy The Great Outdoors: The whole trip involves being outside which can seem a little daunting but there is actually nothing better.
From enjoying the hustle and bustle of the main festival to simply chilling out round the tent or hiding away in our favourite place – The Dingly Dell there is a whole host of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Late Nights: As a Mum of five bedtimes are pretty strict in this house for the sake of everyones sanity to be honest. Camp Bestival allows us to kick these rules aside and just let them all stay up until they drop. They love being up until way after dark, huddled up in their trailer listening to music and watching Mum and Dad’s silly dancing.
The last night has to be the favourite though with is spectacular firework display that is simply not to be missed.

Learning New Skills And Using Their Imaginations: Camp Bestival isn’t just about the music and acts on stage, it holds so much more and really allows the children how to build skills by trying things they may not have come across before such a circus skills, woodwork and cooking and bundles of activities that allow them to use their imagination and just LET KIDS BE KIDS!

I hope this has given you a little snippet of just some of the fun Camp Bestival can bring and has you wanting to experience it for yourselves next year!

PlayStation Family Showcase

Gaming is something that has never really grabbed my attention for any length of time and aside from playing Packman and Tetris when I was younger I have never really given it a lot of thought.

This however is the complete opposite for my eldest son who is an avid gamer and in fact has been trying to convince me for the last two years that gaming is a viable career and a path that he really wants to follow.

With this in mind when I got the invitation to Playstation’s Family Showcase I was hoping that they would open my eyes to something I know very little about.

Walking into the event at the cool and quirky Perseverance Works in East London the boys eyes lit up and neither of them new where to start first.

The whole area was set out into different sections with a huge variety of games to try your hand at, plenty of refreshments to keep you refulled and if you fancied a bit of a break from the screen time then there were lots of crafts to keep you busy and some yummy cupcakes to decorate with lovely Cookie Girl.

The boys quickly found the NBA 2K17 basketball game and sat together playing whist I grabbed a coffee and chatted to the hilarious Ellie from ‘Scummy Mummies’ who was there to host the event.

Archie seemed to quickly find his favourite games FIFA17 and the super cool Gran Truismo and settled down to challenge the experts that were walking round to help out with any tech questions…there were more than a few from me!

Frankie however was overwhelmed with the choice and flitted backwards and forwards between games such a the fabulous new Lego Ninago Movie game that really bought one of his favourite movies alive in front of his eyes, Marvel Superheroes that went down a treat as he got to play some of his favourite superheroes and Crash Bandicoot which was in fact one of the first games I ever bought Archie.

There were even two fantastic games – That’s You and Knowledge Of Powergames that allow the whole family play together with the use your smart phones or tablets to answer questions and really interact together that would make the perfect alternative to the usual board games this christmas!

Watching the boys play together and make new friends by joining up and using the two player option on the games really made me see gaming in a different light. I had always seen it as a solitary pastime that kept them very isolated when in fact games can help team building skills, make healthy competition and create social skills. All of these things I had never really considered before.

I think the boys christmas lists have certainly grown since this event and I would definitely advise any of you to check out some of the games I’ve mentioned as they would make super gifts for any gamers out there.

My First Scalextric:Review

Scalextric tracks are something that I remember fondly from my youth, in fact the first one was bought out in 1957…my memories don’t go that far back.

I never had one of my own but loved going to my cousins to challenge them to a race and spent hours watching the cars speeding round the track.

My eldest son still has a set that he is keeping well out of reach from his destructive little brothers, much to their annoyance.

When I was asked to review the My First Scalextric I had high hope for what the boys were going to think.

Their eyes lit up as soon as they saw they saw the brightly coloured packaging and they couldn’t wait to get inside.

Once opened the figure of eight style track was super easy to assemble which was very pleasing as the boys were itching to get started.

It didn’t take them long to pick up what they had to do and the adjustable hand controllers allow you to use variable speeds depending on the ability of the child. They are also colour matching with the track so they can easily know which car they are racing.

One of my less fond memories of Scalextric is the moment the cars come flying from the track just as you were in the lead. Thankfully they now use magnatration which has a strong magnetic force allowing the cars to keep better traction.

As well as being heaps of fun My First Scalextric helps to improve fine motor skills, manual dexterity, hand eye coordination and give them great practice in playing well as a pair which is much needed in this house!

With Christmas not to far away this would be a very welcomed gift under any tree.

*collaborated post

Spiced Apple And Blackcurrant Cupcakes With Fruit Shoot

During the summer I was challenged by Fruit Shoot to get out and about andtake part in some foraging with the little ones.

It was a great way to get the kids active and let them see how readily available fresh food packed with goodness really is.

Fruit Shoot has really taken this on board when creating their juices which are packed with real fruit, no flavours, no colouring and plenty of added vitamins.

They are really passionate about getting kids to eat well and with this in mind they created a fantastic hamper full of goodies to grow, bake and create lots of tasty, fruity recipes at home which they kingly sent to me.

The recipe that really stood out for me was the spiced apple and blackcurrant cupcakes that was devised by recipe creator-Holly Bell.

The one minor problem that we had was that there was a distinct lack of blackcurrants here so we had a little change around and substituted them for blackberries instead which worked pretty well.

Oscar had a great time getting his hands dirty and cooking up a storm.

I love getting the little ones involved in the whole process of cooking and with the addition of the blackberries it was the perfect time to recall our foraging trip.

If you fancy having a go yourself then I have left the recipe for you below, I would love to see how you get on.

Spiced Apple And Berry Cupcakes

  • 175ml oil
  • 180g muscavado sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 160g grated apple
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 150g of backcurrants or blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180C/has mark 4 and line a 12 hope cupcake tin with large cupcake or muffin cases.

Once the oven has preheated mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until there aren’t any lumps or traces of egg yolk visible. Pay particular attention to the sugar as it can sit in lumps.

Stir through the berries carefully, spoon into cases evenly and bake for 20-25 mins until well risen and a toothpick comes out of the middle of the cupcake clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Anthony Gormley, Sea Shells And Bus Painting

Art, the sea and delectable food are one of life’s perfect combinations and for me Margate is a home to all of these.

In August the imposing cast iron sculpture from Anthony Gormley was erected on the chalk in front of the Turner Contemporary and I have been desperate to see it for myself for months.

It is one of one hundred sculptures from his ANOTHER TIME series and was as breathtaking as I imagined.

‘I wish to celebrate the still and silent nature of sculpture, ANOTHER TIME is necessarily isolated, and is an attempt to bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time’

As I looked out to sea I thought of the words that Anthony Gormley had used to describe land work whilst listening to Oscar’s opinion on the piece.

What really stood out to me was the compassion he was showing for the man being alone. He looked on asking why he was standing alone and as we left kept looking back and worrying that he was being left alone and lonely.

It really was a sight to behold and something I’m really pleased to have shared with Oscar.

Sadly the Tuner Contemporary didn’t have a lot work on display as they were preparing to showcase the world of Tracey Emin…I think I need a trip back to see this.

We still managed to make use of the gallery though by grabbing a late breakfast and taking in the view form the beautifully light and airy cafe, and have a through the beautiful neon installation to the side of the gallery.

For the middle of October we were lucky enough to have picked a very mild day to visit and spent a good while chasing the waves, jumping over rock pools and collecting shells.

The foodie inside me was out in force and on our last visit we had passed The Bus Cafe along the sea front and I was determined to see what they had to offer on this visit.

Oscar was thrilled to climb onboard and take to the top deck to find a table.

The converted bus is run by a super friendly couple that were extremely friendly and very welcoming of little ones which is always a huge bonus for us.

The menu comprised of a selection of wraps and salads that you can mix and match to your own taste.

Fillings were plentiful and jammed packed with flavour.

Not only did Oscar enjoy the novelty of eating his lunch on a bus, he was also handed a special pen so they he could create his own masterpiece on the side of it.

He was more than about this happy to say the least!

The months of having this little one to myself during the day are passing by way to quickly and I have plans for plenty more days like this before I have to let him move onto his school life journey.

He is way more ready for this than I am!