Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Tomorrow You Are Six

The countdown began the day I told you that you were officially five and a half and you can't wait to be six.  You have had a huge growth spurt this year and I often forget that you aren't already.  For a boy who was diagnosed with failure to thrive, who didn't outgrow his newborn clothes for months and who was such a little baby, you are turning into a tall boy (122cm last time I measured you) and I think you are going to be more like your biggest brother with this.



Your year of being five has been characterised heavily by a global pandemic which has forced you to spend a lot more time in the house than is natural for you.  Mostly, you have taken it in your stride but I have seen recently just how fed up of it all you are, and I can't wait to send you back to school so you can have the social interaction you so desperately need. This year I have had so much bonus time with you and whilst you can be incredibly hard work to parent, you are also so full of love and affection, you make me laugh every day and I am so thankful that I get to be your Mummy.

Five was the year you really learned to read and every time we share a book I see how fast this skill is coming on.  Whilst you are reluctant to engage in the home learning that your school provides, I know how capable you are and I have no doubt that you are learning all the time and your love of learning will continue with the right environment.  


You know what you want and you won't accept anything else, you are head strong, stubborn, determined and focused.  You are going to go far . . . if you want to.  You eat only the foods you want and there is no persuading you otherwise, you learn only when you want to and you understand the power of an impromptu nap to get you out of things.  You love to dance and your moves involve every part of your body.  You love listening to music and I see how you feel it all.  You would spend all day either gaming or watching other people gaming on youtube and you struggled to think of what you wanted for your birthday other than 'two cakes'. With it still being lockdown, I am much more willing to go along with this.

You are so excited to have your birthday, even though it will be nothing like what we are used to.  I want it to be special for you, I want you to smile and laugh and feel birthday joy all day and my dream is that when you (finally) fall asleep tomorrow night, probably snuggled up in my arms, that you go to sleep content and happy.


Finn, you are a force of nature.  You are vibrant, confident, overflowing with personality and the world needs to be ready for you.  You frustrate me regularly but you make me proud just as often.  I hope you never stop being so unreservedly yourself.  You have come so far, you have proved everyone wrong and I will take a moment tomorrow to really remember what an amazing little person you are.

Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn.  You are loved more than I ever knew you could be







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Monday, 22 February 2021

The Ordinary Moment // Cliff Caves

The bigger boys are reluctant to go out now, I think they have got to the point in this pandemic where they would rather hibernate until we are allowed to see friends again.  The littler two are much easier to persuade out and I thought we would explore a different part of the beach this week.  Just a little further round the cliff from our main sands is this beautiful stretch of beach with natural caves eroded into the chalk.  The ground is not the soft sand we usually visit but it is covered in stones and rocks, seaweed and sea shells and anything else nature leaves.  

We went exploring, making adventure trails across the rocks, looking at the spaces the tide has created and of course jumping in and out of the waves. Welly boots didn't stay dry for long and they loved this change of scenery that we managed without actually leaving our home town.  It is getting harder to think of things to do that aren't just the same walk and going to the same place and I know once we can travel again even going 10 miles down the road is going to feel exciting (for me at least!)

We didn't last long before the rain really started, the welly boots were too full of water and we needed to get home, but at the moment getting them out at all feels like an achievement.  Hopefully the return to school and the chance to see friends will  lift their moods and give them more enthusiasm to get out!  If nothing else it will give them more exercise and fresh air with the school runs and playgrounds at lunchtime.









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Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Before You Turn Eight

It is a birthday unlike any other this year, something I have been trying to prepare you for, but when I confirmed that your birthday would definitely be spent in lockdown, I saw your face drop.  You have been so brave this past year, you have put up with so much, lost out on so many things and you were clinging on to this looming birthday.  I hope more than anything that I can bring some magic to you tomorrow despite everything.

As a seven year old you entered life in a pandemic and lost out on the ability to see your friends, go to school and live the life you had been, but still I have watched you grow and mature and change.  You lost a front tooth and it immediately changed how you look.  The new one is growing in so much bigger, giving me a tiny glimpse of the man you will one day be, with a smile so big that the tooth fits in perfectly.  Your hair is getting longer and out of control but you are still holding out for the day the barbers open again and not risking a Daddy haircut! You are growing taller so quickly and whilst next to your biggest brother you look quite small, you are actually not small at all.  




You still love computer games, the colour black, wearing blankets instead of clothes and cuddles, and after hating books and reading for so long, you now love being read to.  I had stopped at one point as you protested constantly but now you ask for extra chapters every night and I hope some time soon you will start wanting to read more of these stories yourself.  

I see how this pandemic has affected relationships and I see how much you miss your friendships but I want you to know that even if you don't get to see all the people you want to, you are loved by so many.  I have planned some 'online play dates' for you tomorrow so you can game with your friends and I am hoping that schools can reopen in three weeks and you can see them in person too.  Birthday parties are such an integral part of childhood and it breaks my heart to know how much you wanted one this year.  I offered you a summer birthday party if we are allowed and you have already made the guestlist. In the meantime we will throw a party just us, with the siblings who have had to become your best friends over the past year and I have a few sweet surprises too. You have asked for cinnamon bagels instead of a birthday cake and you don't really like chocolate but you can't get enough of sweeties!

There are so many things I want to remember about you at seven.  How kind you are, how you care so deeply about those you love.  The way you can't sit still, the way you cuddle in close, arms around me.  The way you don't want a bath until you get in, and then you would spend all day in there if I didn't make you get out.  The way you can always tell me what you don't like easier than what you do like, the silent way you appreciate things and the joy when you really process them later on.  You are funny and sweet and I couldn't love you more.

Before you turn eight, as I kiss you for the last time as a seven year old, I want you to know how truly loved you are.
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4 Tips For When your Kids Go Online

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Kids start using tech devices at a young age, which typically means they’re using the internet too. From watching kid’s TV shows on your tablet to playing games on your phone, there are endless ways your kids will explore technology as they grow up. 

However, monitoring your child’s online activities is essential. By doing so, you can protect them and keep them safe in a digital environment, as well as in the real world. To ensure you’ve got the right protocols in place, take a look at these top tips for when your kids go online:

1. Don’t Assume They Know Everything

Tech is one area where parents will often defer to kids, and it’s true that many children do know more about technology than their parents! (I am absolutely clueless when it comes to the XBox) However, it’s important to remember that kids don’t know everything about tech, particularly when it comes to communicating with other people or disclosing personal information. 

While your child might be able to set up a VPN, they may need help with the more nuanced aspects of using the internet, such as avoiding scams and blocking contact from people they don’t know. 




2. Use It to Keep Kids Safe

Many parents assume they have to dissuade their kids from using tech in order to keep them safe, but this isn’t the case. You simply need to teach them how to use it safely. Furthermore, you can actually use the internet to enhance your child’s safety, particularly when you combine it with real-life scenarios. 

If your child is yearning for more independence, for example, you may feel more comfortable letting them go out alone when you can monitor their location. To find out how to pinpoint your child’s location using just a mobile phone, browse this site now. With the right apps and features, you can actually enhance your family’s safety when you embrace the latest technology. 

3. Set Parental Controls

If you’re not familiar with how to set up parental controls or you don’t have much experience with tech in general, there is plenty of support available. Fortunately, developers have created parental controls that are user-friendly and easy to update, so keeping your kids safe online doesn’t have to be difficult. Alternatively, you could always opt for a child-friendly device that has parental controls pre-programmed and ready to go - Cora has the Amazon Kids tablet which does this well. 




4. Set Screen Limits

If allowed, many kids would use tech devices from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep at night but, of course, staring at a screen all day isn’t healthy for your family. When your child starts using tech, it’s vital to set screen limits from the outset. This will ensure your child gets used to limiting their tech usage and avoids arguments or disagreements further down the line. 

Integrating Tech into Your Home

Technology is a major part of our lives and it’s set to be even more pervasive as your child gets older. By teaching your child about online dangers and showing them how to use tech responsibly, you can ensure they reap the benefits that new technology can offer while avoiding the many pitfalls associated with the internet. 


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Friday, 12 February 2021

Learning Through Play - Primary Age Resources

This post includes PR Products

We have been learning from home on and off for nearly a year now and I am starting to see how hard the children are finding it.  The schools are setting the practical work but it is hard to bring it to life in the same way they do in a classroom.  I have been looking for practical ways to inspire a love of learning in my primary aged children and I want to share some products I have found that encourage them to learn without always realising that is what they are doing!


Dodo Puzzles

Not only are puzzles great for problem solving, they are a great way to build on a topic and open conversation.  As Cora has been learning about animals this term, this puzzle from Dodo (available from halilit) helps us talk about which animals are native to which countries.  As Finn has been learning about continents it is easy to look at locations and getting them to work together on it has been a great team building exercise.  There are a great range of Dodo puzzles and these 80 piece puzzles are aimed at 5 years+

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, dodo puzzles

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, dodo puzzles


Ultimate Gross Science

The boys aren't bothered about reading about science, they enjoy watching practical science but they engage completely when they get to do it themselves.  Ultimate Gross Science will appeal to any child that thinks a fart noise is the funniest thing ever and who has a curiosity about the world and how things work.  This box comes with 12 yucky experiments and is designed for children aged 8+

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, gross science experiments

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, gross science experiments


Got It Cards

Got it Cards are designed to make learning phonics fun and help improve reading and spelling.  There are different packs depending on the phonics level you are looking to build on, and 5 simple games for 2-4 players, all of which are explained in the box.  The games are designed to be short, much like young learner's attention levels and are designed by a teacher.  Neither of my younger two are enjoying phonics videos but when you make it into a game it is a different scenario completely!  We have played several rounds of this and they loved it.

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, phonics aids, got it cards


Build Your Own

Build Your Own have an amazing range of eco friendly sets including  a telescope and a plane launcher and an amazing marble run which we were sent.  Fun for ages 8 - 95, you get everything you need to make a marble run, including the marbles, and all the packaging is carboard and easily recyclable.  I don't think marble runs ever stop being fun to play and the art of following instructions and building this is both educational and highly rewarding!. I will update the post with our finished marble run soon!

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, eco learning, build your own marble run

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, eco learning, build your own marble run


Botanical World 

For budding scientists, ToysandBears.com have a kit to build a fully functioning mini greenhouse with an innovative watering system.  It comes with everything you need to start growing your own plants and we can't wait to see how our lettuce and rocket comes along!  Aimed at children 7-12 this is a lovely gift for junior school children and it makes learning about science and healthy eating a lot more fun! I think a lot of children had an introduction to gardening and growing during lockdown 1 and this is a great way for them to take control and works even in a small space.

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, botanical world

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, botanical world


Busy Things App

There are some great online resources for making learning fun and I was so impressed with how well the Busy Things website and app has encouraged my children to learn as they play.  Finn loved a digging for worms game so much that he kept trying harder levels and Cora really enjoyed the word game pictured below.  I can create up to 5 child profiles for children aged 3-11 and I have spotted some great games to work alongside what me older two are covering in their lessons as well. They are currently offering the first month for £1!

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, busy things, learning apps

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, busy things, learning apps



Splashlearn App

Splashlearn is an app that focuses on maths games and works alongside the primary school curriculum.  You can choose focus areas and a variety of games for each one.  Anything that makes my children think they are getting gaming time whilst they are actually learning is a plus and for my smallest and more reluctant home learners, these games have been a great way to keep their brains working during this lockdown.  Splashlearn is great to keep them learning whilst they are not able to be in school and I hope it will help them maintain a love of learning when they are able to return to school.

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, splashlearn, learning apps

Learn through play, primary aged home learning, splashlearn, learning apps


Geomag Mechanics

Geomag is a great resource to support STEM learning and this Mechanics Challenge Goal! set is perfect for children aged 7+.  Magnets are a key part of the science curriculum and an endless source of entertainment for lots of children and this toy combines building with play, learning with fun. If this is a hit then there are loads more sets in this range which look brilliant fun!







I am always looking for creative ways to encourage a love of learning so please share any products or websites that you love too.






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Thursday, 11 February 2021

Lockdown 3 - The Children's Opinions.

I have been talking to the children this week about Lockdown, Home Learning and their opinions on it all. I can see the toll it is taking on them all but it doesn't always present in the same ways it does for an adult and they don't all have the language and insight to express their frustrations. I thought I would ask them all a few questions and record their views (Dylan typed his own) on Lockdown three as we approach a year since this all began.



Dylan (age 9)


It is not as good as school learning because it’s like normal learning except you can not see your friends. And you can not go out to a soft play or friends houses. The best home learning is probably art because it’s just like normal art because you're still drawing, but for English you type instead of write so English is super poo. After lockdown I want to see all my friends and go to soft play. The best part of lockdown is having more time to play because you don't have to wait for your whole class to finish. On a scale from 1 to ten, home learning is a 5. 


Archie (age 7)


My work is quicker and I get set less work than at school but it is still school, that is the worst thing.  The best home learning subject is that we are doing money in maths and I like money but the worst is art. When lockdown ends I am looking forward to going to my friends’ houses and celebrating my birthday with other people as I have to have a lockdown birthday.  It is boring only having my siblings to play with. The best thing about lockdown has been more screen time.  I would rate lockdown 3 out of 10


Finn (age 5)


The worst thing about lockdown is having to do homework, when it ends I am looking forward to going to the shops.  It is good being at home with my brothers.  The best part of lockdown has been extra screen time. I rate home learning 1 out of five million.

Cora (age 4)


I love being with my mummy all the time, but I miss seeing my friends.  The best learning is when we play games but I don’t like the phonics videos.  When lockdown ends I can’t wait to see my friends.  I like being with my brothers. The best thing about lockdown has been making gingerbread men. I give it 5/10




I wasn't surprised that none of them particularly like home learning and they are all just desperate to see their friends again. Pretty much the same as me in that respect!




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Looking after the Environment as a Family

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In recent years, it has been difficult to go too far without hearing how our modern lifestyle is having negative effects on the world we live in. 

Not to mention how the choices that we, and generations before, will impact the future generations ahead of us. 

Another concerning factor is that with the outbreak of COVID-19, many of the efforts being made to help alleviate some of these issues are gradually being undone. The need to disinfect everything around us with wipes, wearing single use masks and maybe even disposable gloves to do the grocery shopping--all of which are adding to the problem of generating an awful lot of litter that goes to landfill or interferes with animals in their natural habitats. 


As parents, it is our responsibility to instil values in our children, such as being kind and considerate to others--and that expands to how they treat the world around them. From making some investments that will make a huge difference to what we end up throwing away to being conscious about the amount of water you use-here are some of the small things that you and your family can do to make a difference to the world we live in. 





Pack Your Bags 


Yes- since the supermarkets brought in the charge for single use grocery bags, we all swore that we’d use and reuse them again. We have been great at this but there have been a couple of times I have completely forgotten to pack enough!


When you realise that single use grocery bags often end up getting thrown out and end up in landfill, you might think twice to try to remember them. 


If not correctly disposed of,  these bags can harm animals who mistake them for food. These types of bags often take a long time to decompose, too.


Reusable bags are useful for other things as well as carrying the food shop in- such as carrying books or delivering food. Buy some reusable bags to keep in the back of your car or in your bag to tide you over in case you end up in an unexpected grocery shop-- because that happens sometimes. 


This one task will prevent tons of plastic causing unnecessary environmental damage. 


Go Cruelty Free


It’s worth remembering that some cosmetics are damaging to the environment due to their extensive animal testing. Thankfully, there are a huge amount of beauty products on the market that are labelled vegan, which not only means that they’re not tested on animals, but that they contain no nasty ingredients that come from animals. 


Plant based products are more natural and compatible with the skin, which is beneficial to most people, especially those who suffer with sensitive skin. Naturally derived ingredients are less likely to cause allergic reactions than those which are pumped full of factory made chemicals.  

It’s worth looking into how much plastic is produced for our products, too. While it is almost impossible to be able to eliminate the use of plastic when it comes to our beauty products, we can make a conscious effort to buy larger tubs and pans of things instead of lots of little ones, for example. 





That way you’ll likely get more product for your money, too! 


Use Water More Consciously 


It is incredibly important to use water more consciously. We’re lucky enough to live in a world where we have it at several points within our homes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be considerate of how much we use it. 


This means limiting baths and taking showers instead without leaving the water running too long before getting in. Turn off the tap  when brushing your teeth, and be mindful when washing dishes. Since water isn’t free, the more water you can realistically save, the better off you’ll be financially as your bills are likely to decrease, too! 


Think What You Drink

Buying coffee while out and about can be a massive contributor to the waste we produce every year. Thankfully with the use of reusable travel mugs you can have your hot drink of choice on the go without having to step into a coffee shop. 

Refillable bottles and cups are great for the kids, too. It means you get to help control how much sugar they’re drinking in place of the plastic premade drinks they usually enjoy drinking. 


There’s no planet-B, so it’s important to do what you can to take care of the one we have.


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