A poem for my children: You’re always everywhere

 always everywhereYou’re my painted nail, sparkly and bright
With childish varnish that peels and curls
You’re the school bells ringing when I drop you at school
And you rush to the other blue-checked girls

You’re the plastic knife and fork and melamine plate
The chocolate buttons and hidden sweets
Which you sometimes remember, with a doe-eyed smile
And list the reasons you deserve some treats

And you, my youngest, you’re the tractor book
The plastic digger that sits on the chair
You’re the paddling pool, the bucket and spade
The tiny shoes, the panda bear

You’re the dried apricots, the strawberry jam
The crackers and the rice cakes (pleeease)
You’re the big chair, not high chair anymore
The plum tomatoes, the special cheese

You’re both the sofa without your shoes
The shared rainbow rug at the end of the day
The swings in tandem, the sprinkly hose
The squeals of laughter as you play

You’re the cartoon pen, the star-shaped rubber
You’re the family picture, neatly drawn
You’re both a part of me and us
You’ve been firmly there since the day you were born.

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Paddling-pool perfect toys: Splashlings review

Splashlings reviewMermaids are always in vogue in our house. Not to the point of obsession (Fidget Spinners and Lego cards anyone?) but The Little Mermaid and The Singing Mermaid are firm favourites, as is a toy mermaid that swims up and down in a jars using a little rubber tail.

Our Splashlings also came out to play at the start of the June heatwave, so these new little toys quickly found their way underwater in our paddling pool. Splashlings are part of a little plastic and rubber world made up of mermaids, the Splashling sea creatures and the small shells that they sleep in. These have been just as popular on dry land as pool-side with Scrip (now 5) and also a male friend of hers (H, 4 years old) being engrossed one day.

Splashlings 2

They’re a big hit in the US and now they’re swimming their way to our shores. We tried the Medical Centre which comes complete with moveable weighing scales and ‘working’ x-ray machine. All pretty fiddly for me when I joined in the game but perfect for small hands who seem to love the tiny characters and accessories.

There’s a handy chart so you can tick off which ones you have (and which are next on your wish list…) and some miniature accessories. Scrip also seemed to think they were like Shopkins which is another name that gets banded around the house although we don’t have any here.

Splashings even have their own Webisodes featuring all the characters in undersea adventures which I think Scrip would love but I’m still saving that premiere for a rainier day! At just over 2 minutes each the webisodes are actually a clever accompaniment to the toys.

The sets are relatively cheap and cheerful so would make good small gifts (prices start at £2.49 for the Splashlings 2 Piece Collector Shell). Although one of our shells sadly stopped closing pretty quickly so soon became a ‘daytime shell’ in Scrip’s words. So they’re not always the most robust, but are certainly a crowd pleaser.

Thanks to Splashlings for giving us a new set of watery toys! The Splashlings Medical Centre play set is £15.99rrp, and the Splashlings Coral Playground Set is £22.99rrp.

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Win a Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender with #weantogether

Baby Food Steamer BlenderLike learning to walk and potty training, weaning is an all-consuming stage (no pun intended). I think we probably left it too late with Scrip, as she devoured her first baby rice in front of us in a matter of seconds at 5 and a half months, and possibly started too early with D who instantly spat the spoon out.

I remember doing buggy fit in Holland Park in London (those hazy days!) and some of the class would take about all-in-one weaning solutions and I would listen enviously. It felt like something that might make my weaning world – filled with mushy butternut squash, pureed parsnip and sieved carrot – a lot easier. But I never went beyond my basic weaning kit.

I still keep an eye out for weaning recipes (here’s my weaning Pinterest board which was great inspiration for me and which I still add to) and I have friends who are going through all the messy stages of it at the moment.

Tommee Tippee has joined up with child nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed, for #WeanTogether which is encouraging parents to come up with simple and delicious new fruit and veg recipes. I like the tongue-in-cheek tone, which gives weaning recipes a twist with hipster foodie titles, such as Deconstructed Autumn Fruit Crumble (aka pear and blueberries).

But the best thing is that, through Tommee Tippee, I’m offering the chance to win a brand new Steamer Blender (worth £106.99). Just use the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Basically, the Steamer Blender does all the work for you. This is why I wish I’d had one of these:

  • It steams food to preserve nutrients and flavour
  • It blends easily to a range of textures for every weaning stage
  • There’s no transfer between steaming and blending
  • There’s an automatic timer so you can just set, leave, then simply serve or store
  • There are only a small number of parts for easy cleaning
  • It’s BPA Free for ultimate reassurance
  • It’s a Made for Mums GOLD Best Product for Weaning 2017

Good luck!

The Steamer Blender (RRP £106.99) is now available at Amazon, Mothercare and Toys R Us. For more information visit https://www.tommeetippee.co.uk/product/baby-food-steamer-blender

The rules

    • Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.
    • The prize includes a Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender.
    • Competition closes at 12.00am on 30th June 2017. Any entries submitted after this date will not be included.
    • The winner will be selected randomly through a prize draw and announced on newmumblings.com and through email.
    • There is no cash prize alternative.

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Remember what we teach our kids – a poem on election day

RememberWe teach our children from early on
That although they are our number one
There are others around – so share your toys
You’re one of many girls and boys
Be helpful and patient, gentle and kind
No matter what response you find
And if a child in front trips and falls
Don’t walk straight past and ignore the calls
Stop and help, check they’re OK
Even if others turn away
And if a new boy or girl joins the class that day
Find out their name, see if they want to play
And we hope these manners, this way to behave
Will stay with them always, make them good and brave

But it occurred to me this election day
That this doesn’t seem to be the way
That our country’s run – it’s not about sharing
It’s not about loving, supporting and caring
The current agenda doesn’t fit
With these kind of morals, not one little bit
I have no time for those that say
That investing in people isn’t the way
And that really to benefit you and me
We need five more years of austerity
It’s not only unjust, it hasn’t worked
Although that truth has been conveniently shirked

So let’s remember what we learnt when we were small
Not to think only of ourselves but of us all

It’s not strong or stable and it’s not at all funny
When morals are abandoned for the sake of making money

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Striking a balance: free-play Fridays

BalanceHow often do I talk about striking a balance? A balance between family and work; a balance between looking after the children and my own time (which is inevitably becoming work time), a balance between the children having structured activities and playing themselves; a balance between treat foods and healthy foods. The list goes on.

I made a decision recently to stop D’s swimming lessons. I was initially really keen to carry them on – particularly having seen all those older toddlers in the class above him happily splashing about and doggy paddling their way to their five metre badges. And because we could – it being on one of our two days off together a week – it felt like we should make the most of it.

The problem was, he wasn’t happily splashing around. In fact he was in tears before we left the house, sobbing when we arrived and clinging to me like a limpet when we were in the pool. He hadn’t always been like this but certainly had for a few months and it wasn’t getting any better. So when the swimming venue was due to change I decided to have bit of a pause.

Our first Friday felt strangely long and unstructured. We stopped off in the local tea shop and ambled our way back home. We had a snack, read some books, did some drawing…and it was still only 10.30am! I had a strange feeling – a feeling I hadn’t had since the baby months. What should we actually be doing together?

I don’t consider myself to be someone who fills their time with classes, play dates and activities but I wonder if that’s become my comfort zone over the last year. I work three days, Scrip has tennis on Tuesday evenings, I help run our local Toddler group every Wednesday and I suppose Friday was swimming. Naps are usually at home and at the same time.

Having a routine and sticking to it helps me a lot, I think. Particularly during busy times. But I was starting to rely on it and losing sight of why D and I were having time together in the first place.

Now Fridays are now free-play for the foreseeable future (with the odd post office trip thrown in). It’s actually nice to not be rushing off somewhere and limiting D’s playtime. We do puzzles and reading together when it’s not about filling a gap. It’s made me realise we don’t actually have that much time playing, just the two of us.

It’s definitely easier to just hang out in the summer with the garden to roam around but I’m not sure what winters will look like. I’d like to go back to swimming at some point but in the meantime I’ll be focusing on enjoying our time together – especially if it really is, as I’m intending it to be, just the two of us.

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Gentle bathtimes with Skinfix (and lots of bubbles included!)

Skinfix reviewBoth Scrip and Baby D had dry and easily irritated skin when they were very little. We used slippery emollient in their baths and banned bubblebath for a while. This has crept back in recently (along with bath foam, bath crayons, anything messy really!) but I do try and buy simple, sensitive-friendly bath products and definitely ban all parabens.

I hadn’t heard of Skinfix products when I was offered a trial but was quickly impressed with the list of pluses on their new Skinfix Baby Regimen, including the fact the products are free from steroids, tree nut and peanut ingredients, soy, sulphates, parabens and phthalates. In fact, they’re 98% natural. Designed for eczema-prone and sensitive skins, Skinfix is based on skin healing balm originally developed in Yorkshire.

I liked the natural smell (unperfumed but fresh-smelling and slightly oaty, I thought, which might well be the oatmeal on the ingredient list), the Gentle Hair and Body Wash made good bubbles and washed their hair well. The nappy cream was fine on D’s skin (although it wasn’t really irritated at the time) and my husband and I both used the creams on our dry hands as well as the children’s bodies, which worked well!

I was impressed. The only barrier for me would be the price, which is more than I’d usually spend at £12.99 for the Hair and Body Wash. But if I was looking for a really simple solution for very sensitive or allergic baby skin then I would definitely be tempted by Skinfix.

 

Skinfix is available to buy in Boots from 17th June. Thank you to Skinfix for sending us samples to try.

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Family-friendly, gender-neutral fabric – introducing Helen Baker

Helen Baker HomeWhen my work, my home life and my blog collide, it’s a happy day. Helen is an incredibly talented new fabric designer who I’m delighted to have gracing my blog page and she’s also one of my best friends from home in Cornwall. With my PR and comms business I’ve just been helping with the launch which was held one balmy evening at The Makery in Bath this week.

Helen Baker

When I stepped inside the room Helen was busy setting up it was the first time I’d seen her designs all spread out in one place, and they took my breath away. I love them because they are simple but beautifully crafted, use a pallet of complementary, soulful colours inspired by Cornwall and I could instantly imagine any of them in my own home.

As a mum of two boys and wife of a husband with a creative eye, Helen’s experienced in what works well for modern families. Here are a few more reasons to take a look at the ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall’ range on Helen Baker.

  • Everything’s gender-netural and stylishly family-friendly
  • She only uses eco-inks and 100% cotton
  • Designs are inspired by contemporary Cornwall – no more cliched anchors and fishing boats
  • I love the fabric colour names – like mizzle, saffron and lobster
  • Everything’s designed and made in the UK
  • Her eye for detail is impeccable including using actual surfboard dimensions for the Surfboard Scallop print
  • She’s a mumpreneur and works everything around family life

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking 🙂

ss in lobster lampshade cloud cushion in saffron room scene close up label copy lampshade stack raindrops cushion in mizzle fabricstack on chair ss with orange starfish multi fabric

Websitehelenbaker.com
Pinteresthelenbakerhome
Instagramhelenbakerhome
Twitter: helenbakerhome
Facebook: helenbakerhome

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Guest post: Keeping the magic alive? A grandparent’s dilemma

Children's MagicTwo birthdays and countless chocolate eggs meant Easter was packed full of fun. It was also full of magic – or was it?! My dad, aka Grandy, shares his dilemma on keeping the magic alive for his grandchildren versus trying to keep it real.

Grandchildren pose all sorts of problems and dilemmas, particularly to a simple soul like me. In the rosy glow of retrospect raising children seemed simpler years ago.  Should I tell my granddaughter she is pretty? That she is clever? Interestingly I have no difficulty in telling her she has been naughty!  Should I encourage my grandson in his boisterous games or should I be developing his gentler side?  Is ‘grandparent spoiling’ undermining parental authority?

However all these issues paled into insignificance recently when a truly moral dilemma emerged.  It all started innocently enough. Scrip was pretending to be two magical unicorns – one at a time obviously – as well as herself and each time she appeared I had to ask to whom I was speaking: Daisy Unicorn,  Ruby Unicorn or Scrip.  Scrip was given magical powers via a fairy wand by the unicorns and we ‘saw’ non-frightening mythical figures appear and disappear in a friendly fashion with every wave of the wand and  Scrip’s appropriate incantation.

Somehow this morphed into ‘reality’ as Scrip decided that her magical powers were such that she could make toast in the toaster and lo and behold she did – not realising that innocently a piece of bread was already gently browning there! She was so excited that I didn’t like to tell her what had really happened – a vivid imagination and suspension of disbelief is after all a blessing in my world.

Others then joined in and Scrip was able to make a flower in a vase in the kitchen disappear and re-appear by ‘recharging’ her wand in another room after each incantation. All this to her great excitement and delight. So far so good; although I did feel slightly shame-faced about playing on her youthful naivety but her delight and enjoyment allowed met put those feeling aside.

As mid-morning was approaching Scrip then went off and got dressed – ours is far from a formal house – although I hasten to add I was setting a good practical example as I was already fully dressed and showered! The moral dilemma first appeared when a thoughtful Scrip sat with her mid morning cocoa and said: ‘ Did I really magic those things or were you tricking me?’

I felt I had to tell the truth despite the fact that it would disappoint her, not just because she wasn’t really able to work magic but also because it revealed me as duplicitous and might undermine further trust in me and indeed the others who had  been part of the magic session.  I said that I hadn’t meant to be mean but admitted that I had ‘helped the magic tricks along’.  Her face fell and she made off without a word leaving me wondering what was the right answer to her question or indeed whether I should have allowed a situation to arise where she could ask such a question.

My confusion was made worse later when Scrip’s Mum and Aunt said, in front of Scrip, that they were really surprised that I had tried to fool Scrip by telling her that she hadn’t worked real magic! What was I thinking, of course the magic was real? Scrip looked on apparently relishing my being exposed as a fraud. What was I to say? Damned if I agreed with my daughters’ accusations; damned if I stuck by my assertion that the magic wasn’t real.

Feebly I argued that I had simply agreed with Scrip’s doubts since ‘honesty is the best policy’ but I am far from sure that in this instance it was. Is there an absolute set of rules to be followed when interacting with the young or are all rules relative?  Answers on a post card please…

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12 things we loved doing on the ss Great Britain

ss Great BritainIt’s one of those days out I’ve wanted to go on for a while – and it was worth the wait. We had a brilliant time at the ss Great Britain where there was so much to see and do Easter Trail aside. Although I have to say the Trail was definitely Scrip’s best bit (spotting the animals, sticking on the stickers and enjoying the chocolate egg at the end of it – the Easter Trail runs until 23rd April 2017).

We went with friends and there was one 5 year old (Scrip), one 4 year old boy and two toddlers – one two, one almost-two (D). Here were 12 of our ss Great Britain highlights:

  1. The excitement at seeing this magnificent ship for the first time. It’s been so beautifully restored and as my friend who came with me said, even nowdays when we’re used to massive aeroplanes and cruise ships the scale of this up close still takes your breath away.ss GB anchor
  2. Exploring the dockyard which is laid out as it would have been in Victorian times. The horse poo and the toilet were particular draws…ss GB toilet
  3. Steering the ship. The captain (in full costume) explained how it would have taken two crew members to do it they would have faced backwards to get their steering orders.ss GB steering ship
  4. Scrubbing the decks! The children did this for ages!ss GB scrubbing decks
  5. Walking around the many decks on board the ship – there’s so much to see on board and it feels like you get to look into every area. ss GB
  6. The fact the Easter Trail drew on integral parts of life on the ss Great Britain life and wasn’t just tacked on as they sometimes are.
  7. Dressing up. There were plenty of children’s and adults’ costumes beautifully made. Not a big dresser-upper, Scrip really enjoyed putting on her full dress and mop cap.ss GB dressing up
  8. The contrasts on board. First Class was beautifully grand with a lovely light banqueting hall versus the cramped conditions in Second Class and then the farm animals at the very bottom.
  9. The models were all well done – expressive and just the right amount to bring things to life. There was a doctor, Brunel himself and a newborn baby. Again younger children may be a little scared of some but you could avoid them if so.
  10. The sounds from the creaky toilet door! I’ll let you see what I mean for yourselves!ss GB climbing
  11. The rats in the kitchen! Very well done. Although the younger ones were a little scared in the darker rooms I found them fascinating with full sights and smells.
  12. Going ‘underwater’ to walk around the hull. On a sunny day there’s something magical about this. Just look at that propeller!ss GB propeller

There’s also a well stocked gift shop and cafe although we actually headed down to the quayside and got the little ferry (90p for adults, children go free) across to Spoke & Stringer opposite for some lunch in the sunshine.

Thanks to the ss Great Britain for letting us experience the fun this Easter. Family tickets (2 adults, 2 children) are £37 and you get unlimited re-visits for 12 months.

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11 reasons why I love babysitting as a grown-up

BabysittingI still remember the feel of my first £20 note which was payment for babysitting as a teenager – £20! We were ferried to our parents’ friends’ houses and back, we got to play with the children, stay up late legitimately and, if we were lucky, they’d even have a few good videos in their original plastic boxes for us to watch.

Now I’m part of a babysitting circle in the village I’ve been enjoying babysitting all over again – but for rather different reasons (and with no crisp £20s in sight). This is a great system, though. It’s all token-based and was set up by my rather clever friend. So now we can babysit and in turn get a sitter ourselves for free.

Here’s why I’ve been enjoying babysitting as a grown-up:

  1. Somehow it’s less stressful if someone else’s child wakes up rather than your own
  2. And generally they don’t – they’re usually tucked up in bed fast asleep and cosy
  3. You get to choose what you watch on TV, whether you’re in the mood for Friends re-runs or an ITV drama (just nothing too scary for me!)
  4. Other people’s recorded films are always so much better than yours
  5. And other people’s snacks are always superior – posher crisps and double chocolate cookies. Mmmm
  6. Not to mention fruit teas! I rarely drink them at home but I love a lemon, ginger and honey infusion at someone else’s house
  7. I can sit in front of the TV on my laptop and do a bit of work or blog or just Google random 80s children’s TV (my husband’s not a fan of me doing this which is probably fair enough)
  8. It’s nice to sit on someone else’s comfortable sofa for a change
  9. They might even have a magazine or two lying around and I might even have a chance to flick through the pages
  10. I’ve also met lots of new people through our babysitting circle and everyone’s local to us
  11. And best of all, you get the chance to earn tokens for your own night out – we’re even threatening a cinema trip one of these days…

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