Wednesday 25 September 2019

It's All Change

It is a strange time after having small children at home for eight years to be finding myself with some free time.  Having them so close together meant there was always a new baby before the elder one started nursery but my final baby has just started nursery and a new chapter is unfurling.

Finn is still only part time at school but as of next Monday, he will be doing five school days a week and Cora will be doing two which means for two days between the hours of nine and three I will have no children at home.  It feels odd, but right at the same time.  I feel so ready to have some more time for me, to rediscover what I want to do and how I want to do it and the little taster sessions, those 2 hours when Finn is at school already and Cora at nursery have been wonderful.

I am so excited for this time to rediscover me, but of course it is strange giving away so much of these little people to their schools.  Suddenly there is a whole part of their life that I don't get to see, they make friendships without my influence and when they fall it is someone else offering the magic cuddles that fix it all.  I don't think letting go is ever easy, even if it is just in small doses but it feels like the right time.

Cora has always been clingy, she has always wanted to be close to me and I wondered whether she would ever be ready for this day, but attachment does seem to breed independence and she walked in on her first day without really looking back.  She looks forward to her nursery days and she is so happy and settled which assures me that I have made the right decision. 

Finn is so excited for next week when all his friends will be at school and he can play out on the playground like his brother.  He looks so small and smart in his school uniform and I want to remember this as I know how quickly they grow, how much older the year 2 children look from the reception ones and how much he will change once he is full time in school.

And I have decided for the first week of having all my babies out the house for 2 days that I am going to spend it doing nothing productive at all. There will be plenty of time for all that, but this time has been eight years coming and I deserve to spend a whole day lying in bed watching Netflix and eating chocolate buttons, surely?

These photos are from one of our last mornings with just these little two.  Maxomorra, one of my favourite organic kids brands sent them these outfits and I just love the bright autumnal colours.

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Wednesday 11 September 2019

A Day out at Chessington


The summer holidays can get expensive fast, especially if your children are like mine and feel the need to snack every 10 minutes from the moment they get up to the moment they go to sleep, so I am always looking for ways to save money and keep them entertained. I have a tiny thrill seeker and another child who had ‘visit an aquarium’ at the top of his summer holidays wish list, so we had been looking at taking a visit to Chessington World of Adventures Resort when we discovered the Coca-Cola Reverse vending machines.

You can take along an empty 500ml bottle and exchange it onsite for a 50% off voucher for entry into a Merlin Entertainments attraction. Plus, you can rest assured that your bottle will be recycled. Coca-Cola are working hard to make their packaging more sustainable and I usually opt for a glass bottle or can when available, but it is great to know when I do buy a plastic bottle I can make sure it is correctly recycled. They are planning on increasing the amount of recycled plastic used in their packaging by 2020 and are committed to continual improvement.

We visited in the middle of the summer holidays so I was expecting it to be busy (and it was) but we loved the variety there, which meant we could break up rides with the zoo, the SEA
LIFE centre and everything else there was to see and do. We loved the Julia Donaldson attractions which were perfect for mini adventurers like ours and generally found Chessington a great option for younger families. The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure was our favourite and the new Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey was pretty special as well as we walked through the story which is so familiar to us, watching the characters come to life. Even the queue was entertaining with little puzzles and games along the way (and a station to buy coffee!). Finn can’t wait to be big enough for Dragon’s Fury which is a twisty, turning rollercoaster that kept going over our heads – he couldn’t take his eyes off it! (This is definitely one I will be going on with him once he is a little taller!).

The SEA LIFE centre was set right in the middle of the Resort and we got to see stingrays swimming around as well as walking through a tunnel of fish. For all the children, their highlight was definitely being able to stroke a starfish though and they all got stuck in! Next door to SEA LIFE was a walkway with monkeys which Dylan came on with me whilst the other three acted like monkeys running through the playground high above the ground. There was lots of space for the children to run around and they loved being able to see the animals as they did!

Merlin Entertainments have plenty of attractions with reverse vending machines like Thorpe Park Resort, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort and SEA LIFE Blackpool, so there are plenty of options whether you have little ones or bigger.

Which Merlin Entertainments attraction are you thinking of visiting next and do you have your Coca-Cola bottle ready to recycle?

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Sunday 8 September 2019

Keeping Fit as a Family


It is important that I lead by example and as I train for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Run I am making sure my children learn about how important it is to keep fit, and how necessary it is to look after your body as you are doing it. My plan from Simplyhealth has made sure I have everything I need to look after myself, including physiotherapy and podiatry. We have been getting more creative with the ways we keep active as the summer holidays come to an end, so I wanted to share our five favourite ways to stay active together.

1) The children have had their scooters for ages and I have recently started getting out more on mine as they love it when we make it a family activity. They have so much more stamina on a scooter than they seem to on foot and there are some lovely areas locally where we can take them and race around. I haven’t yet braved the skate park with them but I am not ruling it out!

2) It is so easy to stay out of their games, but actually getting involved can be so much fun and many of their games are super active. We love playing different versions of tag where I am always the one chasing them and garden obstacle courses are another favourite. Both of them allow me to do something the children love whilst also being active together and encouraging each other further. It was actually some of the games that made me want to start running in the first place as I found I got tired so quickly and I wanted to be able to keep up with them!

3) We are lucky to have a park locally with some great activities including a table tennis table. We bought our own paddles and balls and it is a lovely after school activity if we need to get some fresh air and exercise. Many parks now have outdoor gyms or areas for sports so now is the time to go exploring and see what you can find!

4) Swimming is a family favourite for lots of people and we are no different. All four children have separate swimming lessons but they love it when we go for a ‘play swim’ and they still practice everything they have been learning as well as loving games of shark and catch. The water is one of the best places to exercise as it is more gentle on joints than impact sports too.

5) As the boys are getting bigger, I am able to take them out on shorter runs with me and there are lots of races that have children’s categories including the Simplyhealth Great Junior and Mini Runs. Running together is a great way to spend some quality time with them and to push each other and they have a unique way of running at the moment that involves lots of sprints alongside some very slow speeds which is great for preparing me for a sprint finish!

It is lovely to be able to prepare for my big event as a family and I have been making the most of my plan from Simplyhealth to ensure I am ready, from a new optical prescription check to ensure I can see everything clearly as I run around, to physiotherapy to make sure my weaker ankle is up for the challenge of 13.1 miles! You can find out more about my plan from Simplyhealth here and if you need inspiration on how to get your children involved, ask them what they want to play!

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