I was invited recently to the Smiggle in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.
Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables. So I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after.
At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one).
However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually. So a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.
Now if you asked me this a few years ago my answer would have definitely have been yes, that would have been because I was then working as a qualified Driving Instructor as a job and obviously had a suitable car which had duel controls. In fact it was something I was really looking forward too. I no longer work as a driving instructor due to my long term illness and so I am now looking at it purely from a parent’s point of view.
Therefore,if you ask me that question today, the answer is a resounding NO! In fact, just today I have booked him to start his lessons with a reputable company and instructor. Many of you will think this is madness to throw all that money away on lessons even though I feel I could teach him no problem but I would only do so in a suitable car with duel controls, believe me I speak from experience that learner drivers try to kill you on a daily basis when they are only starting.
It feels like time is just spiralling out of control, there’s no brakes, no way of slowing it down to appreciate what is going on.
This week saw my youngest turn 15, now one of the oldest in his class. To be honest he’s like 15 going on 50 but that’s another story, however, his age now hits hard as he is my youngest, my baby so to speak. It seems like only last week we brought him home from the hospital and felt we had all the time in the world to appreciate him.
So what happens? We blink and they are teenagers, to old to be babied and not old enough to be an adult, yet they are like mini adults with their own personalities and strong views. I am now officially the smallest person in the house with the 2 boys towering over me, making me feel small and old!
Birthdays can make you nostalgic, look back with rose tinted glasses and feel as though you didn’t make the most of the time when they were young. Of course this is never true. They were hard work as babies, they took all of our time, we were up during the nights, nursed them when they were ill, praised every stage of their development and enjoyed all the different stages they have been through.
How to ensure your kids stay safe when they’re online
The internet is a very useful tool to help your kids develop. Whether they need help with homework, talk to their friends from school or just play, they can just log on to the computer or tablet, but steering clear of danger is something that doesn’t always enter their thoughts. A session of carefree browsing might seem fun, but clicking on the wrong page could do a lot of harm.
If you have young children, you might feel it’s necessary to watch their every click. While this can be useful in case they click on something by mistake that you won’t want them to see, it’s impossible to do this all the time, especially as they get older. To avert any problems such as clicking on a pop-up ad by mistake or talking to someone they shouldn’t, here are some handy tips:
Select a list of sites they can visit
As a mum to an 13 and 15 year old, I am extremely concerned about the things they view on the net, but I’m aware that I have to loosen the restrain as they mature into their own and trust that they’ll be safe even when unsupervised. If unlike me, you have younger kids then it’s best to limit them to only visiting a handful of sites in the ‘favourites’ column of your web browser. When mine were little our computer was downstairs in our kitchen at a workstation and so I did find it easier to monitor. However, now with Iphones, tablets and laptops I can see how easy it can become for them to have more ‘freedom’.
By slowly introducing them to the wonders of the web, you can show them more interesting sites as they get older. That way, you won’t have too much to worry about when you feel they’re ready to browse without you watching over them. We started with the CBeebies and Nickelodeon sites which were firm favourites. As my eldest got older it moved on to Club Penguin and Minecraft.
However, once they start secondary school and approach their teens, your kids might want to create a social media account. You should tell them about how it works, and if you’re on the same site as them, add them as friends or follow them to see what they’re up to, just to give you peace of mind. When they started on Facebook one of the rules was that they had to be friends with both myself and my OH. That way we could easily keep track of what they were doing on there. Our reasoning being, there is no need to be embarrassed about what was being said and therefore there would be less secrets. They know we occasionally check on their timeline just to make sure they are being ‘appropriate’. My OH is also a policeman and so has always made them aware of the possible dangers of chat sites and online gaming such as Xbox etc. We also have rules in place with the gaming and my youngest who has just turned a teenager yesterday has yet to be registered on his!
I think it’s all about being sensible as a parent, if you are able to build up trust with the older kids whilst allowing them to make some of the decisions you are at least on the right track. With younger kids it’s all about the security precautions you can impose without them being aware.
DISCLOSURE:This is a Collaborative PR related article
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.
With all the talk on Twitter and Facebook about kids returning to school this week I’m asking the question:
Do You Walk To School?
My 2 boys are at secondary school now and at age 15 and 12 (almost 13) they STILL walk to school! (well one goes on a bike)
For the whole of their time at nursery and primary school we walked to school- always. It is about a 15 minute walk away from where we live. Their secondary school is about a further 5 minutes away from there.
When it was raining we still walked as the roads would be far more busy and we would have to park about 5 minute walk away so we would have got wet anyway. I found that by the time we had walked to school we had beaten all the traffic and could get undercover ( let’s face it that’s why we have UMBRELLAS!). Also It was a quiet time to chat without too much distraction from telly’s. We began to meet friends on the way, the kids would maybe take scooters etc and in the summer we would go straight to the park on the way home.
I do appreciate that not everyone is in this position, maybe the school is further away, or the parents both work and therefore haven’t the time to walk there and back before work. But you and I know there are loads of parents who live close enough to walk and yet chose to get in their cars to drop their kids outside the school gates!! The operative word being ‘CHOOSE’. So from there their kids then are trained to expect to be driven everywhere.
Check out this video below by StartRite taken from a child’s point of view about walking to school.
Recently I have been reading and envying all the latest posts about keeping the kids entertained over the summer break. I used to do the same. List all the things we wanted to do and all the places we wanted to visit, arrange meeting up with friends for picnics in the park, swim afternoons, beach visits. But teenagers and summer holidays is a whole different ball game.
My boys are now 15 and 12 years old, and with ALL the will in the world I cannot get them enthused about anything. Bbviously Xbox is not included here. I’m aware that the age they are now they like to lay in occasionally, have lazy telly mornings and later nights. But really what the hell am I going to do over the holidays?
I cannot let them fester in their rooms all day. I know they prefer to manage themselves, even if it means just watching telly or playing on their phones or whatever they do whilst they lounge about in their bedrooms. The mere mention of going to a park or a walk somewhere sends them into meltdown mode. Things like cinema/ bowling/ Go Ape etc all cost lots so would only do occasionally.
So, I’m frantically looking for options.
We have booked a week away camping in the Isle of Wight in August.
Actually they are both looking forward to this as they went there with their primary school on their Yr6 trip. So, although we have booked the campsite, we are leaving the holiday up to them.
We have the guide books and they know pretty much the places they want to visit over there (inc the hotel that they stayed in ). So this week away should be great for all of us, even with their continuous bickering. To top it all off we are NOT, I repeat, NOT on a budget this time. After I had a little radio win in May I have purposely kept plenty of spending money!
Mr B will be working as normal on shifts throughout the summer so there will be days when he is here with us and others were he wont. The days he is not here are perfect lazy days or cinema days that will fit in with my chronic illness. However, when he is here I would like us to actually DO something rather than waste the 5-6 weeks.
So apart from the normal having friends over for xbox and a sleepover I’m manically trying to sort ideas that wont cost the earth. But also things that they actually want to do. There is absolutely no point forcing them to do stuff they don’t want to as no one ends up enjoying the day.
My list so far:
* Groupon have a great offer on for tickets to Horrible Histories Live in London ( still a pay out but def worth doing for a major treat)
* Thinking of possibly one of those Cineworld monthly tickets. Anyone tried these and are they worth it?
* Eldest has already arranged to go stay in Plymouth at my mums as my brother lives there and they spend days walking the moors!
* Fishing with the youngest while the eldest is away……youngest loves it and eldest detests it.
*If the weather holds out we will definitely get a day at the beach, complete with burgers cooked on the beach for tea. That we still like doing but cannot swamp them with doing it too often. Might offer them each to bring a friend which will separate them and contain the arguments.
*They still enjoy movie nights. So I will invest in a few new DVD’s or a pay per view off demand, with popcorn and fizzy drinks to keep them happy. Again I could get them to invite a mate or two as a change.
* Games nights as Monopoly is a favourite, as is Texas Hold’em. We invested in a proper poker table last year which they love
Other than that I’m pretty stumped. Neither are bothered about cooking or baking really and making things/ craft is absolutely not their thing at all.
All you with teen boys, help me out with ideas for teenagers and the summer holidays. What else would you suggest?
I came across Britmums Hungry2Happy Challenge and it isn’t something I would normally do but lets face it £200 Tesco vouchers or £700 Centre Parcs Vouchers is nothing to be sniffed at.
Normally when I see these food challenges a lot of them are aimed at getting younger children to eat and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to join in with this one. My boys are now 12 and 15 years old and seem to be always hungry. So this one is for the teens.
When I saw it was to use Richmond’s new mini meatballs I knew my boys would eat them, we already like Richmond’s Irish recipe sausages. So with that in mind I aimed the meal at something more teen friendly with an element of fast food.
There are days where we have after school clubs that are timed so that dinner would be too early but they wouldn’t feel like eating if it was too late!! So I decided that my meatball sub would be a great fast food alternative for teens.
This was very quick to make up and cook through and with ingredients that I would naturally have in my house. Nothing fancy needed, that’s a bonus!
1. Put the meatballs in the oven to cook for 8minutes, add the ciabbatta rolls, 1 for each person.
2. Dice the onion and the mushrooms, cook in a little olive oil while the meatballs are cooking.
3. Once the meatballs are done add to the pot with the onion and mushrooms and crumble on the Oxo cube.
4. Stir in the tomatoes and add a decent shake of the Italian spice and cook through for around 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
5. Cut the rolls open, butter if you prefer, and add a couple of spoonfuls of the meatball mixture and serve!
* you could add cheese on top
* you could serve open with salad or closed as a sub!
Time taken- 20 minutes in total and I would bet that it would be great kept in the fridge and reheated the next day for seconds.
This post is an entry for BritMums Hungry to Happy Challenge sponsored by Richmond Mini Meatballs. You will find more details of the challenge here
Today I have had coffee in bed while I opened a few cards and a little pressie or two. I know these times can become very commercial so we always agree not to go mad and that it is the thought that counts. So I had a bought card from my OH but homemade personal ‘printouts’ from the kids (which I prefer).
I was chuffed to bits to get the soundtrack to the new Les Miserables film which has already been played today!
However, my definite surprise pressie was a fab onesie!! No laughing please I have really wanted one for ages but it’s not something I would go and spend money on for myself when there are lots of other things to pay for.
I am now sitting on the laptop while they are all ‘secret squirrel’ in the kitchen making dinner………………..I will admit I am slightly scared at the idea as my OH is the worst cook ever, so it will be like the blind leading the blind. However, like I said earlier it’s the thought that counts ( that’s until the food poisoning kicks in and then I will be swearing).
We also popped into Costa earlier(as my youngest had a party to go to) and I was able to have my favourite vanilla latte and caramel shortbread as a quick treat!
AND to top it all off I have just seen that The Wizard of Oz is about to start on telly!!!
MY DAY IS COMPLETE.…………..if for some reason (possible impending food poisoning) I don’t make it to tomorrow, I can safely go knowing I had the BEST day today!!