I’ve certainly been asking myself that for a while now. I’m a mum of 2 boys but they are now 20 and 17 (almost18), finding their own independence, as one is at uni and the other is at 6th form and also working a part time job. I have been married for 24 years and my hubby is a shift worker so that means I now spend the majority of my time alone! Due to my illness and chronic pain I’m no longer able to work a conventional job (I was a driving instructor), but I’m lucky that blogging and running social media accounts can be done in pj’s even on a bad day if necessary.
Yet when the boys where younger my life was busy (illness or not) with after school clubs, kids parties, meeting up with friends in the holidays etc, and although I am still officially a taxi service, a cook and a bank, my life is much more subdued. That in itself gives you time…………………..LOTS of time! Time to ponder and think about your own role in life. Yes I am still a wife and a mum but I am also ME. So, with 48 looming very quickly (and my hubby turning 50 last year!) I am starting to think about my time. How do I want to spend my time now my kids are off doing their own thing most of the time? Read more
I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!
We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term, which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….
We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.
As my eldest was home from uni we decided to all go on and try it ( yes even me!) but unfortunately for us we were restricted on our time that week and so were there around 3pm, and obviously at those times it was full of young children from toddlers up to teens. Thankfully we are not a family to be put off and we went on anyway. I am sure the later you go the older the kids/teens would be ( it is open until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends -Fri and Sat) but like I said we were a little restricted that week working around my eldest.
The venue itself you could tell had not been open long, the walls were a clean crisp grey and everything had that newly painted/ decorated feel. Once you register and book in and pay, you are given your grip socks which you need if you are going on the trampolines. The sessions are one hour long at £12 inc your grip socks with a second hour available for £6 (prices for under 5’s are reduced ). So at £12 a child it could be kind of expensive with more than one child- however, I guarantee you they will come off totally knackered…………… so worth it if you think about it! We were also given a coloured wrist band as it was peak time in half term and very busy, but I imagine this is the only way to actually keep a restriction on how many people they are allowed on at any one time. Then we were sent into a holding room to view a 4 minute ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ video before entering the trampoline area itself.
There are small lockers available if you are all going on for you to pop your phones/ bags/ valuables etc into which you get your money back from each time.
As you walk through you are into the seating/ cafe area on the same level (think normal playcentre and you will get an idea of what to expect) and then if you are going on the trampoline area which is completely raised there is a ramp walkway to get on there. It is still easy to see your children from the cafe and there is a small walkway all along that you can go up to check on them if you want.
Like I say we all went on and had a ball. I lasted about 20-30 minutes before I was completely shattered and went for a coffee from the cafe ( ladies be warned Tena ladies would be very handy if you are jumping!! Just saying). Our 2 teens stayed on there the whole time! There was an area unfinished in the top corner which was bordered off from the rest of the park, it was set in lower and looked like it was going to be used for a dodge ball area ( I could be wrong on that but it did look like it). They also have a small 2 hoop basketball area which you queue for to go and have a try- using the trampolines to get the bounce and height to help you get the ball in the hoop- looked good fun. There is also an under 5’s small area bordered off near the cafe area. There is also an area at the top end where you have obstacles to get past over a pit filled with sponge blocks- string ladders to climb up and ‘gladiator’ style jousting on a slim walkway were you are given head gear to put on and bash your opponent with a large soft paddle to knock them off into the pit.
All in all we had a fun time, next time we would definitely book an evening slot so the age group would be older and more suitable for teens and adults alike without worrying that when you jump you are going to unknowingly fling a young child about 10ft in the air! They also run exercise classes which I imagine would be amazing fun and great exercise- my hubby and I can confirm our legs felt like lead the next day so this would be a great form of cardio exercise! It’s definitely something we all enjoyed and said e would do again……….and lets face it most teens don’t want to do anything with their parents so were pleased they said they would go back again.
Unlike normal playcentres though it is advisable to pre book your slot online before you go as once they reach their maximum amount of people at that time the slot will no longer be available for obvious health and safety reasons. You also get to keep your grip socks after the first time so a 1 hour slot reduces to £10 an hour when you bring those socks back to re use them each time.
If you fancy trying it then just check out their website here for more details on pricing/ times/ classes/ parties etc.
Last week I had the bizarre pleasure of visiting the opening of the Phobophobia , The Ventriloquist Nightmare show at the London Tombs. I hadn’t been at the tombs before and to be honest I wasn’t sure of what to expect, however, this show has been put together especially for the half term and in particular the run up to Halloween.
Now I love my ‘jump scare’ horror films and to be honest any sort of horror film, as does my teen son, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be scared. My husband does not ‘do’ horror in any way and looking back I cannot believe I actually got him to go first in our group when we entered!
The evening started with drinks ( which were definitely needed before entering the show) and socialising with large reptiles, so look away now if you do not like snakes……….
Everyone had been given a group number when they came in and we ended up in the last group of the night………………..possibly not the greatest thing as our anticipation grew seeing others coming out looking less than calm.
Anyway, when it was our turn we were ‘welcomed’ in by this rather interesting ‘doctor’….
Then after his little welcoming chat where he talked about ‘The Master’ a lot we were left to navigate the route on our own……………………yes that’s when I totally pushed my husband to the front and made him go through first! We only had six of us in total in the group which meant that whenever anything happened, or when someone jumped out or chased us ( I kid you not!) it actually meant we were all affected……………………………….. and take my word for it the fear is definitely contagious.
I could tell you everything that happened but I do think that would ruin the experience. It is all about the not knowing that creates the anticipation and fear. Needless to say, you may come out sweaty, dishevelled and weighing half a stone lighter than before and unable to talk because you have lost your voice by screaming ( or that could have just been me). It is not a 5 minute experience, we tried to work out how long it lasted and we reckoned around 20- 25 minutes in total, which may not sound long but believe me in the dark, with people scaring you and chasing you it is a VERY long time!
We also took our 16 year old son ( who also loves his jump scares) who went round with a young lady we didn’t know clinging to him for safety which he found hilarious. However, I will say now this show is strictly over 16’s and having done it I can see why. It’s intense to say the least and your teen will definitely need to be into this sort of thing before you decide to go.
We all loved it, like I said at the start the fear is contagious, you will definitely be kept on your toes, and it is best not to be claustrophobic either as there is also a short walk ‘squeeze through’ that could cause your already panicked self to freak the hell out………….just saying.
If this sounds right up your scary street then take a little look at this video they have put together to get a feel for the experience, you can also book tickets here but you will need to be quick as this particular show is only available this week and runs until 31st Oct 2016.
In all honesty I haven’t been to a Beefeater in a few years, therefore when I was invited to go along and review the newly refurbished The Long Reach Beefeater in Whitstable I jumped at the chance to see what they were like these days, I have seen lots of Beefeater restaurants pop up alongside Premier Inn’s as their resident eatery so unless I went in stayed there I probably wouldn’t think of going in to try it. Also Whitstable is one of my all time favourite places to have a day out so it was a good excuse for a little afternoon at the coast.
This particular Beefeater is attached to Premier Inn just outside the main town, but had undergone a huge refurbishment at the the end of Oct 2015 when it closed for just a week for the work to be done.
After a windswept and rainy afternoon in the town we pitched up a good bit earlier than our booked time as we thought at least we can have a little drink and keep warm until we eat, but the very lovely lady who met us as we came in (Sam) was brilliant and sorted us a table early anyway. On coming through the entrance hall we couldn’t help but get a little tactile with the fabulous grassy ‘Hello’ sign…..
The reception as you come inside properly is open, warm and inviting allowing you to instantly see the bar and see that there is a snug bar to the right and the restaurant seating to the left although you are open to sit in the bar area too. Just at the reception desk there is a fabulous set of buffalo plates which I was told that Beefeater had made a huge purchase for their restaurants getting these as they are the original plates that they served their well renowned steaks on many years ago! As a lover of vintage and retro I thought this was a fab idea and did look quirky but brilliant on the wall as you waited to be seated.
The restaurant seating area had been refurbished in muted yellow (more mustard) and grey with added raw wood for a more modern feel. Although they varied the colours in different areas ie: the area we sat in had grey on the walls with the seating taking on the yellow either in free standing chairs or leather boothed style seating, in other areas it was the exact opposite and yet I think both styles worked well together. It was bright but warm and comfortable with added touches such as these fabulous lights at a table near us where the shades where suspended along huge leather ‘belts’ from the setting on the ceiling which looked amazing actually and was a lovely throwback ‘old western’ feel.
Some areas apparently had been changed fully to make the running of the restaurant more practical for the staff there, such as opening the end of the bar into what would be the ‘breakfast’ serving area and taking away a serving station near to the same area which allowed a more open feel for customers but also allowed for a more fluid self service area for the breakfasts. As the Premier Inn and clientèle numbers increased there was need for an extension to the restaurant to cater for the customers. This area is towards the back of the restaurant and accessed via double doors although these are open most of the time unless the seating area is not required. There is unfortunately a drop in temperature in this area which I was assured was only due to the large family table just beside the doors that evening were they had to close one of the doors in order to accommodate the family seated there. This area although is decorated in the same manner just felt as though it had a little less character than the main original restaurant, but would make for an excellent area if you were having a family celebration where you could keep everyone together and feel as though you were in an exclusive area for the occasion.
The food itself on the day was amazing. We had our youngest teen with us who is 15 years old and can be very picky with his food. He opted for the burger and skinny chips ( which came as an unlimited option-perfect for hungry teens) and declared it was the best burger he had ever had as he doesn’t normally enjoy or finish the bun but cleared his plate that evening! Both my husband and I opted for the steaks ( when in Rome and all that, or should I say when in Beefeater eat beef!) although we have them cooked very differently. Again they came with unlimited chips which my husband took advantage of and the steaks came up cooked to our individual requests- perfect.
In fact in one area of the restaurant there are a set of pictures depicting how to test if a steak is cooked in relation to how you like it, for example, if you like it ‘rare’ you would press your forefinger and thumb together and ‘feel’ the puffy area of skin just under your thumb, then as you move towards well done you press each finger in turn and that should be the test that your steak has been cooked to how you like it if it feels the same ‘tension or softness’ of that area on your hand…………..make sense?
There are also fantastic pictures/ paintings on the wall showing all the different styles of knives used and what they are used for. So all the decor fits with ‘eating’ ambience that is created here.
Now, there is a varied range of food available on the menu from the good old steaks to sea bass. The main menu is priced more like a a ‘proper’ restaurant rather than other cheaper restaurant chains I could mention. However, there is a ‘value’ style menu available until 6.30pm which has a lot of the choices from the main menu available from it such as the burgers, steaks and chicken options. After having tasted the steaks and seen the portion sizes of the food itself I didn’t feel as though they had compromised any of the dishes we had ordered which came from the ‘early value’ menu.
We were served by a lovely waitress called Heather who kept our drinks filled without us having to ask, cleared our plates without hovering over us or rushing us and happily gave us plenty of time to choose from the menu when we weren’t quite ready. Although we were eating around 5-530 ish that evening the restaurant filled up from around 6pm giving it a lovely busy feel but without compromising on any service we received.
So without a doubt anytime I am down at the coast visiting Whitstable I will definitely be popping into the Long Reach Beefeater, even if it wasn’t for a full meal I would certainly feel comfortable popping in there for a drink or a coffee ( or another steak!) before heading back home.
** I would like to thanks Sam Stevenson who took the time to show me around the venue and explain the new refurbishment during what looked like a busy time there, she was extremely professional and friendly and made our Beefeater experience very enjoyable**
DISCLOSURE: I was invited to review this particular branch of Beefeater and my meal cost was covered for the purpose of the review. HOWEVER, all views written here, are independent and relate only to my experience on that day.
This year I vowed I would be super organised and to be honest I have been ‘more’ organised but still find myself sitting now a week away from the big day with a huge ‘to do’ list and the panic is starting to set in.
I know this year a lot of people seemed to be putting their Christmas trees and decorations up towards the end of November and although it was nice to see the pictures I am a true December girl and mine always go up in the first weekend or week in December. However, I did start present buying mid November in an attempt to get ahead.
At the end of November I was lucky enough to attend the Ideal Home Show at Christmas which was a first for me. My friend and I had a fab time, bought lots of Chrismassy bits and pieces and had our first mulled wine of the season. It really did get me into the Christmas spirit and gave me lots of ideas for pressies along the way. The place was beautifully decorated and we had groups of carol singers and performers helping with the Christmas spirit.
There were some gorgeous food stalls, a wide range of companies were represented there and there was even a Greg Wallace restaurant that you could book into.
In fact there was so much to get around I probably could have done with another afternoon there to get around them all. However, I have to say my friend and I certainly gave it a good go, so much so that we felt the need to pop into the bar there for our first mulled wine at the end of the day before our journey home.
I did buy a few new Christmas decorations and signs for this year from a fab stall that I could have spent a fortune at! Now I have to find just the right places for them. We weren’t lucky enough to see any of the celebrities as we attended on the Wednesday but there were different people there each day doing demonstrations throughout the few days.
I will definitely try and get back next year, but when I do I will start from upstairs in all the food stalls and work my way back down so I really do not miss anything……………………..mind you that may mean I spent a lot more. Although the bar is on the top floor so I may not see anything after a few mulled wine’s in there. Roll on next year.
This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?
I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.
There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice, a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).
The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult
Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:
Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm
Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm
Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm
Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm
Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm
I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the afternoon tea that is available at the Tudor Park Marriott Country Club near Bearsted.
To be perfectly honest I did have a pre conception of what a Marriott hotel would offer as there is one local to me in Bexleyheath, which seems business orientated and built for that purpose in that particular are. However, at the Tudor Park I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. The entrance alone did not look like a standard hotel front and was very welcoming.
This particular hotel and country club has a comforting feel to it even though the reception is open, spacious, minimalist and bright. It has several different bar areas, a swimming pool, a spa, a golf shop ( with golf professionals on hand for lessons) and an 18 hole golf course. Amazingly, you do feel like you are deep in the countryside even though in reality you are literally just off the M20.
We had our afternoon tea in the Zest bar overlooking the golf course and the beautiful wildlife pond.We were very lucky with the weather as it was a beautiful sunny day and we sat at the window with the door open enjoying the sunshine and the breeze while we scoffed.
The food itself was beautiful with smoked salmon, cooked ham or cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches, home made scones with clotted cream and preserves, and a great selection of fabulous bite sized cakes. It is very reasonably priced from £15 per person which I think you will agree is very competitive. They also offer several specially themed ones throughout the year, for example, a strawberry one in the summer and a chocolate one later in the year. They also pride themselves on using and promoting local produce, so in strawberry season they would use local producers, local jams, they have used local apple produce when in season for the restaurant and functions. There is amazing fruit, veg, meats and cheeses all available locally in Kent so I do think it’s a great way for the hotel to put something back to the area.
We never felt rushed throughout the tea, where approached a couple of times to check if everything was OK and also if we needed more tea ( where they replenished the tea and the cups just in case you were changing the flavour of your tea), but we didn’t feel as though we were being ‘watched’ if you like- it was a very relaxing area to enjoy an afternoon tea.
We tried our best but we just couldn’t finish the little cakes that were on offer ( although we gave it a good go!) so our leftovers where wrapped up to take home which was great as our teens got to scoff the rest after their dinner.
The cakes ranged from brownies , mini cheesecakes, banoffee pies to a mini trifle, so if you are watching your calories this is definitely not for you. However, as most people do not eat these every day then it truly is a treat to splash out an treat yourself.
It was well presented in the tradition ‘afternoon tea’ manner on a 3 tiered tray with teas separately. I think it would have been nice for something to ‘set’ the table off from all the others when having this, for example, a nice checked or vintage floral style tablecloth and napkins which I believe the staff are in talks with management about this and I think it certainly would add that certain something to the whole experience. Apart from that I found it difficult to find fault at all.
A few things that I think are bonuses from a client point of view is the excellent free WIFI available all around the premises. There is a ‘Guest’ option with gives free 24 hr use without a log in which as a blogger is something we all appreciate. Also, most of you will know I use a walking stick most days and therefore I was very quick to spot the wheelchair lift inside the reception, something that was blended into the surroundings but clearly visible for those of use who don’t want to have to ask all the time. I also noticed another inside the Mezzanine Bar which could allow easy access to the upper level of the bar.
The hotels restaurant is also in keeping with the comforting decor and is listed in the Kent’s Food and Drink’s magazine for official guides to eating out in Kent.
The Hotel is hosting a Murder Mystery Gala Dinner on Friday 25th September, with a drink on arrival, a 3 course meal with tea and coffee for £38 and obviously then you have the option to stay over and enjoy either golf or the spa!
This has been playing on my mind for some time but really only hit home yesterday when I received an impromptu invite to go ‘up north’ on an overnight road trip with a friend.
I have had M.E now for around 6 years (diagnosed) and slowly but surely it has taken control of my life. I am not able to be as mobile as before, or on the go as much, and I do spend a lot of time in my pj’s not because I’m lazy but because there are days where I will end up back in bed or I just haven’t the energy at all to get in the bath or shower. I do use a walking stick now when I go out as it gives me stability when walking due to the knife stabbing pain I have in my ankle joints 24 hours a day, and my calf muscle feels like it will rip with every step I take. Therefore, the stick is a helpful reassurance for me that I will not lose my balance or fall over which would just be the most embarassing thing for me! On longer days out I will choose to use a wheelchair due to the walking involved ( if we go to a theme park, or when we are on holiday as it saves me spending the next day in bed due to any walking I may do). I HATE having to use both and fought against them for a very long time before I realised that they were actually a benefit to me. When I have got something to get out for I will adjust my days and rest up beforehand and plan nothing for the day after so I can stay in bed if it’s necessary.
Over time I have seen so called friends fall by the wayside, and invites to nights out or weekends away or days up in London etc become non existent. These so called friends have taken it upon themselves to decide for me that I would not be able to go on these outings. Let’s face it who wants to be stuck with someone with a stick when they have gone out boogying for the night! I have become ‘a hindrance’, a problem, even a disadvantage for them.
What they have failed to consider is on a night out I would never expect someone to have the ‘issue’ of keeping me company at the table while everyone else is on the dance floor. I would actually be very happy to keep an eye on the drinks and handbags with the bonus of having a few minutes here and there boogying on the dance floor ( without my stick) over the evening out. I would still enjoy the night, get drunk as normal, and have fun with friends who are also out having fun. Yes I would be frustrated that I couldn’t be on the dance floor all night but those are my frustrations to deal with, not theirs.
Last night I had an invite from a friend who I do not see very often but am in contact via text and Whatsapp virtually everyday amongst a group of girls who are fundamentally mad as hatters but just brilliant, fun company. I was not left out of her 40th birthday celebrations a few years ago when we all met up in London for a great and fast river boat adventure on the Thames before a bit of a pub crawl and dinner as well. There was a fair bit of walking involved and I popped my pain medications all day long, had a brilliant time and then spend the next day or two in bed, but it was bloody worth it. This friend is organising a road trip up to help support another friend as she opens her own interior designs showroom. She is doing the driving and and she also offered me her bed if we crash on someone’s floor. At no point did she leave me out of the group ( she didn’t have to include me and I would not have been none the wiser), it was just an instant shout out to see who would be around for an overnight jaunt. I am excited to have something organised, sad as that may sound, but even more happy that she did not discount me by making the decision that I would not be able to manage it.
So, my question is why is everyone else making the decision on my behalf to leave me out? I am a sociable person, I love a good laugh, I have no problem making a fool of myself, I love to have a drink with company and can get rat arsed the same as everyone else ( there is no law yet about being drunk in charge of a walking stick!).
It makes me wonder then what people see when they look at me. What do you see?
I have definitely been thinking about this for a while now with regards to the blogging world.
It almost seems like companies and their PR’s are only interested in children under a certain age. Once they hit major the major teenage years it looks as though there are no need for reviews from any sort of company!
Yet I think this is an important part of the market. People are always talking online about their teens, how to engage them in activities with the family, how to occupy them over the school hols etc.
Gone are the days of walks in the woods, trips to the park and indoor craft days! Teenagers like technology, films, music, apps, online games, games for consoles all of which do not stop being interesting at the age of 12. So how do these products get reviewed, say games or films aimed at a 15 and above age group. Also, do companies then think that all teens do not want a day out with their family? Of course they do but they want a day out that is aimed at their age group, Theme parks, theatre shows, beauty and hair products, clothing, books, films , tourist attractions or even restaurants such as TGIF’s etc that are aimed at the teenage and above market.
Now I’m not doing this for freebies ( although the teens would certainly like anything for free- they are all leeches LOL) but the blogging world is flooded with reviews of everything and I mean everything to do with babies, toddlers and younger children- but surely the market does not stop there!
So, where are these companies or PR’s who are in charge of marketing these sorts of places? For it seems these are non existent in todays blogging world. Yet for all our complaining about our teenagers attitudes and know it all confidence, would they make the best reviewers? They would certainly be honest ( maybe that is too frightening for most companies)and would definitely tell you in no uncertain terms whether a product or place was worth the money, or even of any interest to that age group. But if a product, item or place was interesting, or worth the money or just simply a great product then they would certainly be telling their mates wouldn’t they?
Now when I say teens I don’t mean a 13 yr old with younger siblings, those teens are normally more than happy to engage in the family activities that their brothers or sisters like- a day at the park, walking in the woods, cooking/baking at home and Halloween crafts , bike rides and meeting up with friends while mums can grab a coffee and a natter and a bit of moral support!
But my eldest is 16 and has a younger 14yr old brother who is mature for his age and so thinks he is 16 himself. There are no younger siblings to occupy so we have moved on from planning every day to within an inch of it’s life and gone for a few planned things throughout the week with free time for the rest so they can either lounge in bed watching DVD’s or playing Xbox ( shoot me now for being a bad mother).
So as the net is saturated with activities for younger kids here is a few ideas that your older teens may enjoy (and you may earn some brownie points for).
* Offer them a taxi service to the nearest shopping centre, ours is Bluewater which offers them shopping, cinema and fast food places or restaurants. Offer them lifts for their friends so they don’t have the ‘effort’ of arranging how to get there- believe me this makes a difference!
* Book them and their friends into the local bowling alley. Ours is a Tenpin Bowling and offer a ‘Bowl and Bite’ offer over the half term which would cost less than £10 per child ( obviously only pay for your own and get your teen to round up what’s owed by the others)- we have done this loads of times and although it’s only 1 game of bowling if there are 4 or more this could take about an hour, then they could eat and then if they like spend some time in the games arcade area.
* Offer your eldest the use of your house ( if you trust them and their friends- which I do with mine having met them all, and know some of the parents). Now this may sound like trouble in the making but if arranged properly could earn you kudos as a parent and respect from your teen. After all we have to let them earn trust. I have before bought a few pizzas in and let them cook them themselves ( with a mixed group of boys and girls they loved doing it). As it’s Halloween get them to bring their horror DVD’s for a film fest maybe, or set the Wii up ( I kid you not they love to act like kids when they are all together- it’s the freedom they like). I either give them the afternoon or evening on their own with an agreed time to be back- then we can go and do something with the youngest on his own.
* Find your nearest fun pool, for us it’s Larkfield towards Maidstone which is about a 30 minute drive away, but it has a normal separate pool, a wave pool, a lazy river and 2 flumes all included in the price normally less than £6. Now this one is probably for the younger teen ( although my eldest still likes going there with mates), but get him to arrange what friends he wants to go with and offer them a lift there and back and each can pay for themselves ( believe me this works well) as you are providing transport and a parents beady eye over them. Then take your laptop with you and get a bit of blogging done using their free wifi!
* Film nights at home. Now I use the term ‘night’ loosely as on a lazy day they are still unwashed at 3pm! So really anytime of day will do. Let them watch a film older than their age group- now before you jump on me for being an irresponsible parent my youngest is a mature 14 so I have no problems with the 15 rated films and my eldest is a sensible 16 and loves horror films like me so I will allow him to watch horror films although they are 18! So go on shoot my now! I cook up some popcorn, we turn out all the lights and bring the duvets down. Your front room may then smell like something has died in there with all the teen testosterone but they will love you for not making them shower and wander round the shops with you.
* If they are into cooking/ baking allow them to cook a dinner on their own ( my youngest enjoys this). Get them to decide what they want to make and then take them up to a supermarket for them to go in and get all the ingredients- then give them freedom to make a mess and give you food poisoning offering to clear up afterwards ( again they will love you for that). I have had full blown cakes, stirfry’s and curry’s made for us so far.
* Ask them to sort out something technical for you. I find getting my youngest to sort out my MP3 player ( I don’t do Ipods- sorry), he always sorts out the CD’s I want put on there and I get him to put on some of his that he thinks I would like- he likes to think he’s educating me to the modern music world. Obviously this is a task rather than an activity but gives him something constructive to do for an hour.
* Another technical one for them to do for you is to make a CD of your photos, maybe from your hols or just general ones over the year and as long as you have saved them already allow them freedom to add music, text and special effects as they see fit. I now have several of these and lets face it they will get them done much quicker than we would probably! Then it can be given an airing after dinner and you can have a bit of a laugh as a family.
Now this is NOT a sponsored post I just wanted to point you in the direction of some places we use ourselves.
So by incorporating a few of these if they suit your teens combined with a few xbox days I think your half term may go quite nicely, and hopefully if you have done some of the taxi runs etc and booked cinema or bowling etc for them some of the other parents may also have things planned that they include your kids in too.
If you have any other ideas for older teens I would love to hear them