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.

London Bus Red Wooden Kids Theme Bunk Bed Frame - 3ft Single £364.99.jpg

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

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.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Six

I am miles behind with these posts as I predicted I would be at the beginning of the year, but I’m going to try and play catch up with them as I’m very good at this and these posts are something I’ve really enjoyed and had great feed back about.

Coaxing The Teen From His Den – For those of you that follow my blog I’m sure that you will have noticed a bit of a gap when its comes to posting about my eldest son. This is not by choice or because he doesn’t want to be featured, it is purely because the lure of the Xbox is to great most of the time and quality moments are pretty rare.

However we had a pretty good run lately as he been taking part…and dare I say enjoying the Disney 24 Hour Challenge that we have been set.

The challenge in short is a way to encourage families to get active together in any kind of way you want. It has been a real breath of fresh air for us and we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time together in an active way and hope to keep it up even after the challenge has been completed.

Strawberry Picking – This is definitely one of my favourite simple pleasures in life and as soon as the sun shows his face I am eager to get out their and pick all those juicy strawberries.

It gives the children chance to run free and get to know a little more about where food comes from. It was always something I loved to do as a child and adore doing with my own.

Afternoon Naps – Oscar to me seemed to skip the toddler phase completely and moved straight onto a pre schooler. He has always been wise beyond his years, tackled toilet training at really young age, dressed independently for a long time and as for those longed for afternoon naps well they were given up at just over a year.

Although I love his fierce independence and grown up attitude I kind of feel robbed of those precious toddler years that seemed to skip by to quickly with him. So walking in on him curled up and fast asleep on my bed the other was a lovely reminder that he is still my little one that I have for a few more months yet.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Five

This week has been a real mixture of sentimentality, celebrating new challenges and making new friends.

17 Years Of School Runs – It was only the other day when I was taking the obligatory video of my feet for Instastories on the school run that I realised my little toes had been doing the school run for the past 17 years! There have been different schools, we have taken different paths but ultimately I have wracked up a fair few miles over the years and still have plenty more to go and I love it!

Facebook Live – This was actually a pretty big one for me but wanted to celebrate it as it was a big step in my confidence journey.

I was lucky enough to go along to Mumsnet Head Quarters in Kentish Town to film a Facebook Live to let everyone know about the Disney 24 Hour Challenge that I am taking part in.

Not only did I face my fear of the camera I also had the added pressure of it all going live which aside from a massively dry mouth and sweaty palms I got through. I had some help and encouragement from the lovely Franca from A Moment With Franca and Amie from Mumnet and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Oscar’s New Friends – When my older children started school it pretty was just that. There were no meet the teacher days or picnics to welcome the children and their families, we were all just thrown in at the deep end and had to deal with it.

Over the years this transition has become much more of an event and our lovely local softplay organised a meet up for children starting reception at our school. It was a great chance for the children to meet their new friends and the parents to meet over a coffee and of course a big boy of cake!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty One

It has been a pretty quiet week which has made it perfect for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series.

My Little Personal Shopper – Over the years clothes shopping on the High Street has become somewhat of a distant memory for me.

With the rise and ease in internet shopping and the number of children I had increasing the lure of shoppers by centres became less and less and now nearly all of my clothing purchases are done online.

The other day I had to get some last minute bits before our camping trip which ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable trip with Oscar.

We chatted over a babychino, stocked up on goodies for our trip and my most memorable moment was Oscar picking out outfits for me and giving his expert opinion on what looks good and what not so!

Daisy Chains – Sometimes the simple things in life pass us by and one thing that I hadn’t done for such a long time was to make a daisy chain. It’s such a simple task and the kids absolutely loved it.

How We Eat – The other day was actually a pretty big one as we had Mumset come into our home to film the way we eat as a family.

This was a pretty nerve wrecking experience as my kids can be pretty unpredictable at times and goodness knows what little gems they could have come out with!

Although the day was a huge thing for all of us I came away from the day extremely thankful of the fact I get to share dinner time with all my crazy loons!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty

This week has been as manic as usual and we’ve all been rushing here there and everywhere but we have had had plenty of small things to celebrate.

When Children Never Cease To Amaze – My eldest son has always been the quiet one, the one that is the hardest to work out and the one that I wish I could shove a fire cracker up his backside most of the time.
It has been the same conversation for the past few years with his teaches – “he is an extremely talented boy who needs to apply himself”. I find this so frustrating as it is so hard to get him engaged and believe me I’ve tried. So when he walked through the door the other day and announced he was putting himself forward for head boy I nearly dropped to the floor. Im really hoping something has finally clicked and he’s going to make the most of his last few years of school.

My Regained Fitness Is Paying Off – Even at my fittest running has never been something I have enjoyed. I find it boring and after suffering with terrible shin splints over the years I pretty much always avoid any kind of distance running.
This weekend I challenged this by taking part in a 5km obstacle run with Izzy and some good friends.
Although running is not my thing my competitive edge took over and I found myself running ahead and trying to complete the course in a good time, I did feel a little bad for leaving Izzy behind!
I completed the course, faced my terrible fear of heights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Sushi In The Sun – After a trip to the shops with Oscar the other day I was quietly laughing to myself about his choice of sushi for lunch.
At the mere age of four it would have been a cheese sandwich and packet of crisps for me and I actually relish the fact that my children have a love of such a wide variety of different foods.

Bringing Back The Outdoors With Little Tikes

I am a big believer in the benefits of getting the kids outdoors. In this technology driven day and age a huge percentage of children have very little…if any time spent on outdoor play.

According to a government study more than one in nine children haven’t set foot in a park, woodland or beach in the past 12 months and a whopping 74% of children spend less than an hour outside in the fresh air.

The benefits to outdoor play are endless from increasing a child’s self confidence, building their fine and gross motor skills, boosting those all important serotonin levels to give them that feel good boost and so, so much more.

Little Tikes understand all to well the importance of this too and held an event at The Lookout in the centre of Hyde Park to show just how easy it is to get children excited and engaged about getting outside and having fun.

Luckily for us the sun was on our side for this event and I arrived with two super excited little boys who’s eyes lit up the moment they saw the huge array of brightly coloured, beautiful toys that Little tikes are so famous for.

For us Little Tikes have been a part of our family of the past twenty years. My eldest was bought a kitchen from them for her first birthday and since that moment we loved their hardy, eye catching toys that are certainly built to last and allow childrens imaginations to run wild through play which is so important.

The boys headed straight for the Cozy Coupes as they do whenever we come across one and were really pleased to see the truck version which is a little bigger than the original and has plenty of space in the back for them to carry around anything they wish.

From here they moved onto the playhouses and we were all really taken with the Build-A-House which allowed them to customise their own home with interchanging panels that can be attached with easy to use tools. Oscar was also pretty taken with the BBQ to and loved cooking up a storm for everyone.

After a break for lunch and a spot of face painting they got stuck into the water and sand play. I hadn’t realised that Little Tikes had such a extensive range when it came to this and the boys were literally spoilt for choice.

A big hit with both of them was the Turtle Sandbox that they happily sat in building sandcastles and creating forts with the Monster Dirt Digger. Frankie loved looking on at the Fun Zone Splash Face which was like a tug of war that ends with a splash of water in the face if you loose! Int believe that Mr confident – Frankie was to scared to give it a go.

I spent a good part of the day dodging the bucket full of water that fills and drops without warning in the Fun Zone Drop Zone. This great toy can actually be filled with balls instead of water and used for indoor play as well.

The boys love anything involving wheels and spent a good while winding round the beautiful pathways of The Lookout on the Fold’n Go 5 in 1 trike which has a a fabulous parent handle that allows you control of the steering for a super smooth ride and the Lean To Turn Scooters that give them a super easy ride allowing them to really build their confidence.

As the day drew to an end and I struggled to get the boys to leave it came to my attention that my boys who usually have the shortest concentration span ever had spent half a day through engaged, every muscle in their body used and their imaginations stretched to their limits; we certainly give the Little Tikes outdoor range a big huge thumbs up from us!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eleven

This weeks ‘Celebrating The small Things’ has been a seen us doing a lot of catch up with the things that got cancelled and postponed due to the horrible snow. Did the bad weather mess up any of your plans?

World Book Day – World book Day came a lot later than expected this year due to it being way to icy for the little ones to get into school in their flimsy outfits.
Frankie was super excited to get all kitted out as Willy Wonka and got completely immersed into the character; it was a different situation with Oscar though who flat out refused to join in.
He has gone from being a little boy who lived in fancy dress and couldn’t even take a trip to the shop without some form of dress up to not wanting anything to do with it at all!
I was still desperate for him to join in through the worry that he would fill singled out, but he waltzed into nursery without a care in the world it was in fact him who was the odd one out and I have to admire him for that.

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Weight Loss Goals Being Achieved – I am a few months into my membership at David Lloyd Health Clubs now and I have really been keeping the benefits in so many ways, with the biggest of those being my weight loss.
For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that my weight gain over the past few years has been a real problem for me and something I have been really struggling with.
Since joining David Lloyd at the beginning of the year I have seen a real change to my body shape and in turn a boost to my self confidence which I hoping will allow my to be a little braver in front of the camera soon!

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping – My lovely little sister is getting married this year and the bridesmaids dress have been a bit of a problem to say the least! None of us have been able to find anything we had all liked until the other day when we had a trip to Dig For Victory and found a whole shop of adorable dresses that can be made to measure and to your exact requirements.
In a few weeks time we will be getting measured up and ready for them and I literally cant wait.