The inevitable Christmas overwhelm

As I sit here writing this I am still  feeling the affects of drinking way too many cocktails at a Christmas party last night, and I am watching White Christmas for the very first time!

 

It’s the ultimate Christmas cliche isn’t it? Christmas parties, festive hangovers and idyllic lazy afternoons watching Christmas films and feeling like its just ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. However, what you don’t see is the inevitable Christmas overwhelm that I have now come to expect every year. My husband loves Christmas and says it’s his favourite time (and day) of the year………………..well I mean you would wouldn’t  you if you if it literally landed on your lap with virtually no effort whatsoever! That’s how it is most years, I sort ALL the presents (even for all his side of the family), I sort everything we get for our boys, I organise all of the food and treats………Oh and then I obviously cook dinner most years ( although thankfully I am not this year as we are at the in laws on the day). That generally leads to an annual Christmas meltdown for me at some point, normally fairly close to the big day, when I realise I haven’t got everything I need, haven’t wrapped anything and realise I haven’t got something we need for the actual dinner. Anyway you get the general picture.

Yet on good ‘ol social media everyone is literally Christmassing the shit out of life, putting their decs up as early as possible, having all their pressies wrapped by December 1st and their food order slot booked, and so can sit smugly back and take time for themselves to get their Christmas nails done, order their party dresses enjoy the wonderful festive season in all it’s glory.

Me, on the other hand, am still ordering stuff of Amazon, hoping I’ve got enough wrapping paper and already panicking about the ridiculously early morning I have on Saturday morning to go and get the all important fresh food shop. You see Christmas is very different when you suffer with chronic pain. It impacts every single day of your life let alone at THE  busiest time of the year. Trying to pace all the things you need to do with enough rest time in between, slowly running out of time and realising that if it’s all going to get done then there is no rest time…………..and that leads to flare ups and meltdowns, in my case.

So, my Christmas night out with my sewing group was fabulous and much needed and I knew today would be a wasted day in regards to getting anything done whilst also feeling a bit crap! ( however, I wouldn’t change that for anything as I had a fab time and it was totally worth it). But the overwhelm game is strong today which means I start to panic about how much I still have to do. On top of that, because its a busy time, I worry that I will have a massive fibro crash that will inevitably eat into the precious time I have left and therefore Christmas will be ruined! I know, I know it seems a bit extreme but that’s just how it is with chronic illness and chronic pain combined with the added activity and stress that leads up to the day itself.

But even without the illness, I think I would still feel overwhelmed. I can’t be the only one who gets like this though, can I? I literally feel like a total Grinch because I’m not drowning in festive hot chocolates watching Christmas movies all day long, with everything wrapped and ready.

So help me out here folks……………….am I the only one?

 

School holidays with older teenagers means…………

…………………………….you no longer have every minute of everyday organised and planned to within an inch of it’s life, because even if you do bother to take the time to organise something for them not only would they not want to do it but they will probably have something ‘more important’ that they need to do- like gaming, sleeping or just generally ignoring you.

……………………………..you become even more fluent ( like a second language) in the grunting system they have in place for answering you, that is if they haven’t got their headphones on and cannot hear you anyway.

……………………………….you automatically turn into an ATM shelling out tenners like they are going out of fashion for the times they actually get out of bed and get dressed to go and see their mates to do something.

……………………………….you morph into a waitress in a cafe serving up bacon sarnies to ungrateful customers on a non ending rota working irregular hours for no pay.

……………………………….your normal weekly shop, which would still not last a week with teenage boys, now only lasts 3 days if you are really clever and hide most of the cereal, chocolate, crisps and cakes.

………………………………you have absolutely NO plates, cups, glasses or cutlery left in the cupboards as they will be all languishing in teenage boys rooms complete with rancid milk in bowls and fungus on the cutlery.

……………………………….you will still be equally amazed and appalled by the ‘teenage boy’ smell that you thought you had got used to but realise can actually get much worse when they spend a full week in there- I have NO WORDS for that smell!

……………………………….you become a 24hr taxi service on call, dropping off and picking up at a moments notice, yet they do not pay the going charges.

……………………………….you spend the week going to bed well before they do whilst asking them to keep the noise down when they are online with their mates shouting, laughing and joking whilst gaming.

I can only speak from experience of having boys, one of 15 and one 17 about to turn 18 very soon, I would like to think that girls would be different. The only good thing is that they actually sleep longer than me in the morning ( and that really is going some to beat me) so it means a week of no early mornings and a first coffee of the day in pure peace and quiet……………silver linings and all that!

A letter of apology to my teens

This has been on my mind the last few years but hit hard this year especially.

I would like to apologise to my teens for NEVER being able to take them away on a nice summer holiday like most parents, somewhere in the sunshine abroad.

They are now 17 and almost 15 years old, and I found the holidays much easier in a way when they were younger. We had days in the park with friends, beach days, garden days with friends and we have done a few years camping in the UK which we have all enjoyed.

Our only ‘proper’ family holidays were courtesy of my Mum who for 2 years running in ’07 and ’08 took us all away to Florida to do all the Disney parks and attractions and we all loved those holidays and still talk about them now, as they are normally a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday that a lot of people never get to do, so in that respect we were extremely fortunate that my Mum footed the bill both times.

Before I was diagnosed with long term illness 6 years ago , I was self employed as a Driving Instructor with a healthy part time business that I was hoping to expand when the boys went to secondary school. However, having to give up work obviously has taken it’s toll financially and so things like holidays etc are not even on our radar. For this I feel personally responsible, as my OH works hard and brings in a decent wage however, on top of a mortgage and normal bills teenagers can be expensive when they eat you out of house and home, outgrow clothes etc at an alarming rate and obviously keeping them entertained is a LOT more expensive than toddlers.

So here goes:

* I am sorry we have never been able to send you on one of the great secondary school holidays that your friends have gone on.

* I am sorry that we cannot afford to take you abroad even camping as everything adds up and obviously when you are in another country you actually want to have some money to eat out and go to the sights.

* I am sorry that days out at home can be few and far between and generally not over exciting for a teenager- especially as there is so much to do in London (on our doorstep) for your age group but is just too expensive.

* I am sorry you don’t get the opportunities that all your friends seem to have going away for weekends here and there during the year.

I can only apologise to them profusely and wish away a few years until my OH’s retirement were we have already said we WILL go abroad wherever they want to go with their partners, if they have one, and like my Mum did WE will foot the bill and hopefully have a great time- that’s if they even want to come away with us!

I can only imagine what it will be like for them as they return to school with all their mates talking about where they have been and what they have done, and for my two when they are asked to say very little probably.

It is not how I envisaged my life to be like when they were this age, I imagined being able to treat them, pay them decent pocket money and take them on a holiday each year like normal families do. Although they are extremely understanding about the money side of things and it has made them careful with their money too ( at Christmas and birthday’s) I hope they never get to the point where they resent us for them missing out.

 

Super Busy Mum

Ideas for a family holiday in 2014

I know we haven’t even had Christmas yet but I do know people who literally book their next years holiday very soon after returning from their last. I also have a friend who is so last minute dot com and still manages to get a great holiday arranged!

I have teens now and so camping is our affordable way to go and they love the enjoyment of the camping itself and all that it entails. But for many years when they were young we actually owned a static caravan which we shared with our best friends. My friend and I would pack up every weekend and ALL school holidays and bundle the kids all in together and have a great time. They totally loved the fact they were with their friends and near the seaside!

Even now they look back so fondly at those holidays remembering all the things we used to get up to while we stayed there, beach days, swimming etc. A close friend even now books a caravan holiday every year!

I also know friends who love to go away for New Years! This is actually the first year my in-laws have gone away on a short break over the Christmas/ New Year period ever! Yet some of my friends have a tradition of seeing in the New Year somewhere new. I can see the benefit of taking a trip away over this time though either with or without the kids.

When I do go away I love to have lots of things around to do, activities for the boys, entertainment, maybe a spa facility if I’m lucky (yeah right)……………I can dream. I like to have a plan and fill the days with as much as possible so I don’t feel as though I have wasted a minute of my holiday or short break.

If your similar to us then UK holiday parks could be an option for you. It is always nice when you have kids to know that when you go you have lots of activities and entertainment to suit all tastes- lets face it and I talk from experience, happy kids mean a great holiday for everyone.

So what has been your favourite family holiday so far?

 

 

 

Haven Holidays fun Guide to Halloween

It’s that creepy time of year again where ghosts and ghouls come out to play.

I obviously cannot talk for everyone but I have always loved celebrating Halloween since having the boys. I have a gorgeous picture of them as little wizards when they are only about 5 and 3 years old. We always had a party with friends and their children and then we went out en masse for a bit of Trick or Treating! We have always used the kids as an excuse to have a party anyway.

The boys are now at the awkward ages of 13 and 15 years old and so don’t really want to do the trick or treating/ dress up, however, they still love opening the door to all those that do to give out sweets.

I’m hoping that as they get older we will be able to start again with ‘proper’ parties where we all dress up as adults and have a disco going and they can all invite their friends! We think that by celebrating these events then the boys themselves will celebrate them when they are grown and have their own kids. I love the dressing up, the warming food and treats and the chance to decorate the house!!

This year we will be visiting family, however, I fully intend to bring us all pumpkins and still get involved that way and maybe have a competition to see who can do the best carving.

For some though it’s a time to get away or their tradition is to go away with friends or family to enjoys some spooky fun, so why not get ready for lots of spooktacular fun at Haven Holidays?

We’re already getting in the Halloween spirit and to get everyone else excited about the spookiest day of the year, we’ve created this spine-chillingly good infographic with everything you need to know about Halloween.

Check out our ‘Halloween by Numbers’ for some freakishly fascinating facts about trick or treating and let us wow you with some world record breaking facts about pumpkins!

And while you’re getting in the spirit, this is the perfect time to start looking for some creepy Halloween costume ideas. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular Halloween fancy dress outfits so use it for inspiration and get ready to scare your friends with your most frightening costume yet.

Let’s not forget that trick or treat would not be the same without some terrifyingly tasty treats so if all this excitement is making you peckish, check out our list of ingredients for the perfect pumpkin pie – the ultimate Halloween food.
And to truly give your kids a Halloween to remember, check out the fun family activities and Halloween games for kids going on at Haven holiday parks all around the UK. So dig out your spookiest decorations and tastiest Halloween recipes and indulge in some spookiness this October while you get ready for an unforgettable #HavenHalloween

Use the hashtag #HavenHalloween to share our infographic on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest.

Happy Halloween everyone!

DISCLOSURE- this is a Collaborative PR related article

Haven Holidays

When the boys were small, toddlers actually, my best friend and I had a mad idea of getting a static caravan as a joint adventure where we could spend the days taking our kids to the nearby beach and just have a bit of fun. Both our OH’s worked very long shifts so it made sense that we all spent the time together and let the kids be good buddies.

Now when we went looking we really didn’t know what we wanted or how much it was going to cost. What we did know was that we don’t want to travel any more than about an hour or so away- making it more accessible for impromptu weekends and last minute get togethers. We also knew that because money was an issue as neither of us were working, we didn’t want a caravan on a site with loads of entertainment facilities as we wanted to bring all the kids up showing them that they could have lots of fun without spending a fortune.

That meant we really only had the payout for the caravan itself and the yearly site fees to pay along with some insurance.

We had the caravan over on Sheppey which was only a 50minute drive away for us both. We went for an 8 berth ex Haven caravan with lots of communal room at the front and kitchen area.

Although we no longer have the caravan we used it for around 6-7 years and my boys who are now 15 and 12 remember it with a lot of fondness and great/fun times with friends.

However, now the boys are older I think my priorities would be different. A site with a clubhouse and some entertainment and maybe a swimming pool would suit the age group of our boys better. These sites inevitably cost more.

So if your contemplating something like this for next year ( and lets face it after this years summer you would be mad to go abroad) take a look at some advice below of what to look out for.

 

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN CHOOSING A PARK FOR YOUR STATIC CARAVAN
You’re not wrong if you think choosing a holiday park for your static caravan is a big decision. Not only will you want to pick a park that your whole family will love – you’ll also need a location that you’ll want to visit again and again. Not to mention the financial things you’ll need to take into account – this choosing a holiday park business is more complicated than it sounds, but don’t worry, here are a few tips to help you choose the right park for you with as little hassle as possible.
The closer the park, the more often you’ll visit
It’s common sense really – the closer the holiday park is to where you live, the more often you’ll go there. But how close you want your static caravan to be to home depends on a number of things.
For one thing, are you going to be using your static caravan for long or short getaways? If you live in London and you’re buying a holiday home for regular weekend trips away, somewhere like Sussex or Kent would be perfect for you. It’s under two hours from London so it’s close enough to pack up the car on a Friday night and go.
But if you’ll be spending your main two-week holiday in your static caravan, you’re probably willing to spend more time getting there. That opens up your options to regions like Devon, Cornwall and even those as far afield as the Lake District. If you’re only going to be visiting your park for longer holidays, the whole country is your oyster!
It’s not just about on-park activities
It’s true, holiday parks offer a whole range of on-park activities and facilities that you’d be mad to miss out on. From live evening entertainment to kids clubs and heated outdoor swimming pools, you could easily spend an entire week on the park with everything you need right there.
But since holiday parks tend to be located in Britain’s best holiday destinations, static caravans can be the perfect base for exploring a whole region. Buy a caravan at Devon Cliffs and you have the whole of the West Country at your fingertips. Not to mention some of the UK’s best beaches and best weather.
Other costs to consider
Remember that when you’re buying a holiday home, it’s not just the static caravan you’ll need to pay for. Static caravans for sale on holiday parks also include annual sites fees; this covers park maintenance, landscaping, security and the use of the park’s facilities. Site fees can cost anything from about £2,000 to £5,000 so you should make sure you can afford this before you put anything in writing. However, the site fees vary depending on park and pitch location so research the cheapest ones in advance to save yourself a good chunk of money.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Haven Holidays

Holidaying on the Isle of Wight

This is what we had decided to do this year. I know it doesn’t exactly push the excitement levels over the top, however, needs must and all that, I haven’t won the Lottery as yet so the Isle of Wight it was!

Now when I say holidaying I actually mean camping. That’s what we do and we love it.

However, it started like this:

This was not the start we wanted I can tell you!

I have to admit this is bloody typical when we go anyway.

But what’s not to like with a set up like this? The minute we got off the ferry onto the island the rain stopped.

That swingball brings out the competition in us and believe it when I say my OH and I take no prisoners when we play- you have been warned.

And we had a resident cheeky goose (no not my OH) patrolling the grounds and standing guard at our pitch! Although he was  bloody useless when it came to sorting out the wasp problem- but at least we had the camp fires for that and my OH becoming an expert swatter with a tea towel.

The boys had both had yr6 school trips to the Isle of Wight and both loved it there, so we really wanted to visit as a family before they lost interest. Therefore we had agreed beforehand that the holiday choices would be made by them. The list was drawn up from the tourist guides and there were loads to choose from.

So here’s the quick guide:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were blessed with a glorious week of sunny weather and none of us were ready to leave when it was over! There were also lots of places we didn’t get time to go and visit, so for us a return trip is a must.

Now considering we didn’t go abroad- THAT IS A SIGN OF A GOOD UK HOLIDAY!

PS- No comments on the bikini pic or I may just hunt you down!!

Schools out- Summer Bucket List!

I have read a few posts lately about the impending school holidays. Love them or hate them they just won’t organise themselves!

I have found it much easier and more fun to organise when the boys were a lot younger. I envy  all of you with the 5-10 age group as there are LOTS of things you can do that cost NOTHING but a bit of time and planning- park picnics with friends, days at the beach, walks in the woods/ forests, kite flying…….and the list goes on.

However as they get older I find it becomes far more costly and a trip to the park is literally like you want to end their lives as they know it- SOOOOOOOOO uncool!!! Being able to get away with a ‘special’ trip to the cinema over the hols is now one of the main things they want to do……………….and money just does not grow on trees, whatever anyone tells you.

So I now find myself with a 15 and 12yr old, both boys ( and both mine- I didn’t just kidnap them off a random street), and the thought of trying to organise and keep a budget of any kind over the summer is virtually non existent.

However I will not be outdone, I will sort summer the summer hols, it will not break me *cough*. So here are a few things that I definitely want to include over the holidays, both for the kids, as a family, and some ‘just for me’ selfish ones thrown in too.

* Cinema trips- 1st to see Worlds End with the eldest ( as he is 15!) and 2nd to see The Internship with the 12 yr old (not my choice)

* Fishing day- this is already arranged with friends so I can say with confidence that this will happen- next wednesday to be exact!! ( I’m a fishing addict and proud LOL)

* See the Brainiac Live show that is showing at Bluewater and also up London hoping at least one of them will accompany me.

* Organise a huge swim day at a fun pool for both boys and whatever friends they want to bring. I have a 7 seater car so the more the merrier LOl

* Try the ‘Up at The 02’ experience, requested by my youngest- at £25 a ticket I have emailed them from my blog to see if they want a reviewer!! Cheeky I know but if you don’t ask you don’t get LOL- If not I will bite the bullet and let OH and youngest go.

* Take a trip on the new Greenwich cable car- with kids would be good but if they turn their noses up at it then just me and the OH!!

* A mammoth game of Monopoly as a family- this tends to go for hours and I can keep the arguing to a minimum by providing fizzy drink and sweets and snacks.

* Camping- we have actually booked this and are going for a week in Aug to the Isle of Wight!! I cannot wait

* Have some girlie friends round on a sunny evening to drink copious amounts of pink wine, talk crap and eat rubbish! ( even better get a take away)

* I would love a PJ’s day! Just for the sake of it, a lazy, not going out past the door, watching dvd’s all day just because I can!!

* A trip to my Mum’s in Plymouth- on my own LOL like that will ever happen!!! But you never know stranger things have happened as they say! My eldest is getting to go next week for a week on his own- to say I’m jealous would be the understatement of the day.

* Have friends round for a chilled out BBQ, everyone chipping in, kids off playing football out in the park and jugs of Pimms to enjoy for the adults.

* Get the pool up for the boys- I am nagging the OH as I type- he hates putting it up as It is huge- but may encourage youngest to invite his cronies round for the day!

* Sit in a lovely beer garden on a sunny afternoon enjoying a mega cold beer or G+T- this one with no kids and don’t really mind if it’s with girly friends or OH!

* Would love a day down at Dymchurch beach- a bit of a trek for us but worth it if you get the weather and time the tides right LOL

* A poker night! Ok maybe it’s not great to teach your kids to gamble but we love a game of Texas Hold’em in this house. We invested in a poker table with drink and chip holders!!

* A HUGE water fight while the weather is still hot, with friends as much more fun the more people you have- and we are lucky to have a huge park outside our back gate!! I feel a panic buy of water bombs coming on!

* Get to watch through the series 2 of The Killing in peace! I know I am behind on this but lets face it with it being subtitled I cannot exactly sit on Twitter and FB  iron or knit while watching it LOL

 * Become an expert in beating the teenagers butts at Swingball! One of the less energetic sports I can do LOL Just bought a new retro metal ‘old style’ proper one- BRING IT ON KIDS!

At the moment that is about it but I’m sure I will add some or change some along the way. Still hoping to get the teens dragged along involved in someway in at least some of my list, but only time will tell.

So wish me luck and let me know what’s on your list.

 

What category of parent are you?

There are only two choices available here:

A) a parent that DOES or

B) a parent that doesn’t!

Now I only have to spend 15 minutes on Twitter to know that anyone from there that reads this will be an A, you just have to take a look at the links to blogs and pictures of what your kids (and you ) are up to.

However, I bet if you were completely honest you could name a few parents that you know that are a B, right?

My friend and I have had experience of this over many years, and after taking the kids down to the local park sledging on Sunday we started talking about it on the way home. Yes we had an extra with us then ( i would never begrudge the child ever) which is what started the chat.

That said parent had contacted my friend to say she would call when she needed him back!!!!! ER excuse me……..we will not be gone for the rest of the day, maybe an hour or two!!

So then we started thinking about all the stuff we do even though our eldest’s (who will be 15 this year)are probably getting way too old:

*Halloween, we still have a get together and do the Trick or Treat thing and want to progress on to an ‘older ‘style party to include the adults dressing up too.

*Easter, although family and friends drop the Easter eggs into the boys we keep them aside and still hide them around the house so they have to ‘hunt’ for them in the morning.

*Christmas, my two are old enough to know that ‘Santa’ is not real *cough* however, they do play the game even though they roll their eyes when I go onto the NORAD site LOL

*Pancake day, we still love to have home made pancakes for breakfast before they go to school and after our tea on the same day.

*Summer beach days, in the hols we still love a day at the beach and we still make our sand angels before the tide comes in to cover them.

*Snow, as this is often a very rare sight we make the most of it, they still make a snowman and love to go sledging AND even though they are both old enough to go on their own we like to go with them!! How else do you get those pictures???

*New Year, we had friends around and celebrated with fireworks and we all set off lanterns with our hopes for 2013 written on them ( we wont mention the fact that we almost set our neighbors fence alight! *cough*)

We came to the conclusion that if we don’t as adults make the effort to enjoy these events with the kids they will grow up and never pass on that enthusiasm to their children. I cannot believe there are parents who just cannot be bothered or for whatever reason just don’t do these things. Or is it that they are happy for the kids to go off with others to do it so they don’t have to?

What do you think?

So tell me, what do you do with your kids that you hope they will pass on?

Out with the old and in with the new?

Isn’t that the general feeling after Christmas and New Year?

Christmas this year seemed to fly past, was it the same for you?

Also as the boys get older Christmas changes slightly, we no longer go for our Santa visit ( apparantly at 12 and 14 they are too old!), however, we start new traditions that will hopefully keep a bit of fun in the celebrations for them.

This year we got some colour in placemates but bear in mind we are talking teenagers and so they had free reign to do as they wished with each of theirs…………………

Amazing they actually sat and did it.
However teenagers added their own additions to the scene!!!

This was also the first year their pressies have been put under the tree on masse, as normally they will have their own pile and then they have their family pressies seperate. But as things they are interested in get smaller but more expensive it looked much better overal to put everything under the tree.

We also went for silly bibs at the dinner table and thankfully the grandparents played along!

This year my OH has been off over Christmas and New Year so we have enjoyed jammy days in, meeting up with friends, getting out for fresh air at Shorne Park and also having friends over to celebrate the New Year.

 

Our motely crew letting off their lanterns with their wishes written on!

We had fireworks at the end of the garden and a VERY scary moment with the lanterns when one decided to drop onto our neighbors fence!!!

Thankfully a gust of wind came at the right time and we were spared a visit by the Fire Brigade, although admittedly our friends on their short walk home scoured the area for burned out bushes or sheds!!

Our decorations have all been packed away now and we are getting organised for the boys to return to school on Monday ( both of them are moaning about it already and I am dredding the early mornings again!)

Now for this year. What resolutions have you made? This year I plan to expand my home based craft business to try and earn some income and will be taking all the opportunities that come my way. So this time next year ( we’ll be millionaires- good ol’ delboy) it will be interesting to look back at what the year had in store for us.

What are your big plans for 2013?