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Amazing memories of hazy days ( or what I would like to give my children )

Holidays are funny things… the best in a ‘ha ha’ way but almost always in a bit of a time warp way where the normal rhythms of life are interrupted and you have a slight out of life experience. Returning to normality can be startling and can leave you wondering if you ever went away. But there will be things that have changed, little victories that will act as proof that you did step outside the lines of your everyday existence and you are, however slightly, a different person.

As a child I had amazing holidays. I was very lucky to go to some fantastic places bit don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to go far from home to find fantastic. I love the UK and if only the weather were a tiny bit more predictable I would choose it over a foreign holiday every time.

I look forward to our children being a little older so I they can learn some of the things my parents taught me as well as adding their own. Among the things I am keen to cover are:
- catching crabs. Not that kind! Proper harbour dwelling crabs that you catch on an orange plastic rope with a bit of bacon on the end. Then you put them back only to repeat the exercise the following day.
- read a map. I only really ‘got’ map reading when we were out walking in open spaces with a map. Even in these days of sat nav, map reading is a great skill to have.
- writing postcards. The thrill of choosing and writing your own missive. Usually to adoring grandparents who kept them on the fridge forever.
- playing card games. All day. While the rain drums down for the third day in a row.
- buying precious tat souvenirs to keep forever. Holidays were one of the first times we had our own money in a proper purse and we could buy stuff for ourselves. We felt so grown up!
- that going home at the end is lovely too. However great the holiday is there is also something great about returning home to the familiar bed and comforts. Even if it’s only a few hours before you are browsing the web looking for your next adventure.

This competition has made me remember holidays in Wales and now I’m off to look for our next big adventure!

 

This post is an entry for the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge. Wales is the perfect place for a fun-filled family break. If you would like to find out more click here.  Find out more about how great Wales is as a family holiday destination either follow@visitwales on Twitter or Visit Wales on Facebook (www.facebook.com/visitwales).

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Once a week wonderful

There is no doubt that I am quite a busy person.  I have a step daughter and two children of my own, one of who is two and so with me on my days off, I work 3 days a week with an hour of commuting each way, I am trying to start my own small business which is part reseller and part designing and making toys and just before Christmas my husband and I decided that we were going to blitz the house and redecorate/replace pretty much all of it.  So I don’t have much time for either toefluff or tantrums. And it is starting to make me feel like a bit of a second rate mother.

I do spend time with Small but I realise it is not as much as she would like and it is not unheard of for me to be a little grumpy when the boy returns from school and the pair end up fighting pretty much constantly.  The temptation to switch on the TV is massive but I know I should do more than just that.  However, from things the kids say and the things they ask to do when they have free choice, I think a bit of targeted attention might be enough to keep everyone on track and make me feel like I am doing a better job as a mum.

So I have come up with a PLAN; Once A Week Wonderful. The plan is that each week we will have one super cool and generally amazing thing that we will do.  Preferably neither expensive or very tricky this will none the less something they will remember for years to come. Or at least for a few days.  I will prepare all the required items the day before so the first part won’t be me running round like the proverbial chicken looking for paperclips or sellotape or whatever is needed.  I will be ready to go and they will have my full attention. Fantastic. In between I will still do my utmost to give them the attention they need but I will feel less guilty when I don’t. They will get to do lots of cool stuff. Everyone’s a winner!

weekly

So let me know… are you guilty of not giving your children much undivided attention? Please say I am not the only one? I will be picking my activities in advance and keeping a log of the ones that go well and badly.  You could even join me and we could feel less guilty together.

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Dunelm dun good

With Christmas getting ever closer I felt the need to venture to the shops for a bit of present shopping.  I set off with my two year old daughter wondering what sort of a day we were going to have as she can be a tiny bit temperamental!

We went first to Home Sense which is a treasure trove of high quality home goods at really great prices. I think it may be related to TK Max but only selling the home bit and I picked up some great books, a few kitchen bits, a new sheet for my bed (which was an essential item!) and some lovely stationery for less than £50.

By this time the smallest was starting get a tiny bit fractious.  To be fair she had been really good, not touching the rows and rows of lovely china, she hadn’t quibbled when we had to leave the very interesting toys behind and had only had a small shout about it not being time to eat the vast amount of Christmas chocolates.

I remembered a coffee shop lurking in the corner of Dunelm, just a few shops down from where we were and with the lure of a biscuit and juice we made it to Dunelm. To be honest I didn’t have very high expectations of the cafe though I had noticed it was always quite busy on the occasions I had been in before. Well I have had to remind myself not to be so judgmental because it was really great.  And what I wanted to particularly mention was the kids meal.  I got smallest a lunch in a bag, the kind you see in lots of places, and at £2.99 it was a really bargain. A sandwich, a packet of crisps, carton of juice, packet of raisins and a cookie covered in mini smarties.  And that was not all. There was a packet of crayons and a really cool little book.  It has stickers and some colour it yourself 3D puzzle animals. Much more imaginative than most of the freebies that you get with a lunch and only £2.99.  Really great.

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Blogfest 2013; a cautionary tale

Wow, nearly 2 weeks since Blogfest.  I had exams last week so wasn’t able to put my thoughts down about it (being very disciplined and doing lots of revision!) but to be honest, even if I had nothing else to do I don’t think I would have been able to write any sooner.  I am still reeling from the day, from the amazingness of it, from ‘that feminist session’ and trying to collect my thoughts as not been easy.

Don’t get me wrong; I had an amazing day.  I have already confessed to being very new to blogging so I really had no idea what to expect but it was worth every penny of the ticket price. In the end what I mainly loved about Blogfest was that it made me think.  It made me challenge myself and the views I have about things and I love that.  And what did I think? If I had to summarise it in one word it would be ‘Beware’.  Not in a dramatic Shakespearean sense but in a quiet and contained way more aligned with the origin of the word. The derivation of the word Beware is Be Wary; the dictionary definition of wary is being watchful, alert, vigilant, guarded, circumspect, prudent and careful. Every session made me feel this in some way. To start off I was blown away by Stella Creasy and her stories of abuse on twitter.  Putting yourself out in the ether is opening yourself up to abuse that does not occur so easily in real life. The internet, blogging and social media give us huge power but we must also be cautious.  Alert to potential threats and ready to take action and protect ourselves and others.

We moved on to Think Bombs… Prof Tanya Byron talked about the dangers of being too careful. Our children are living a different life to ours and we must allow that and support them in it rather than being  terrified of a different future.  Perhaps their issues are not caused by the technology, as it can sometimes apper, but we are simply able to see them because of it.  We must beware over reactions, controlling behaviours and blaming technology instead of trying to understand the real issues.

Sue Black, a Dr of Computer Science, supported Tanya’s view in so much as she said that we must empower women to use technology or not only them but their children will suffer as a consequence. The amazing work she has done to show the power that technology gives women really inspired me to try and help out (and I have signed up!)

Ron Jonnson spoke of his anger when he was ‘cloned’ by an infobot created by academics. The video he showed was funny and terrifying at the same time and the whole experience had made him think about how people behave on social media sites. Public Humiliation, banned in the early 1800s has been brought back and with a vengeance.  We must beware of being part of something we would not want to own up to our friends, beware of behaving in ways that are not in line with our key values, just because of the anonymity a computer screen affords us.

The literary greats (and they were so great!) discussed how to write a good story. I was captivated. But the message that came across was that while the internet may offer more people the opportunity to get published it can also squash the creative spirit and trample creativity. We must beware of the instant criticism that the online world brings and only expose ourselves to it if we are sure we have the strength of character to ignore the bad in favour of the good.

Finally, the Feminisim debate.  This saddened me so much.  In the morning sessions you could feel the positive energy in the room.  It was amazeballs. In contrast, in that final session there was still the energy but the positivity had gone. There were women fighting each other because they felt threatened and surely we have enough threats to deal with without infighting.  We must beware of the how hard it can be to hear what people are trying to say when we are upset about something. Instead of us standing together and supporting our right to different choices, celebrating that, there was infighting and the kind of behaviour that gives Mumsnet a reputation in the wider world that I don’t want to be associated with. Listening is not just about not talking over each other, it is about really hearing the message that the person is giving out and accepting on face value when someone says they didn’t mean it the way you understood.  We must beware being our own worst enemy… there are far more worthy enemies to fight before we can truly say we have really have freedom of choice and opportunity.

Finally Jo Brand.  Beware of the lady with humour on her side for even a room full of fired up ladies can be tamed by the power of laughter.  Jo was a great addition to the day and a really lovely lady.

Blogfest gave me lots to think about and I had a fantastic time and from now on I will be a little more careful in how I use social media and perhaps a little braver about letting my children use technology. Thanks Mumsnet for an inspiring day!

One of the sponsors of Blogfest; Mark Warner, are offering an amazing prize to a lucky Mumsnetter who both blogs about Blogfest and includes a top tip for a family holiday.  This post is my entry and my top tip is in direct contrast to the content of my post… be Brave! When planning your holiday try something different and push the boundaries of comfort a little.  You will do things you never thought possible and make memories you and your children will cherish forever.

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Work vs Home the sequel!

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was going to try a new way of getting things done by, somewhat bizarrely, trying to do less.  So I had a list of just 6 things to achieve which were as follows:

  1. Take the dog to the vet
  2. Sort through one box of toys in the playroom with a view to evicting as much as possible pre-Christmas (I am planning to do 2 boxes a week).
  3. Prepare posters for the Christmas Fair on Friday
  4. Decide what I am going to wear to Blogfest.
  5. Write another blog post
  6. Review success of list and reward appropriately!

And you know what? I pretty much did all of them.  The dog left me £210 lighter in the pocket but seems about 5 years younger, the playroom is progressing towards some kind of order, I decided I didn’t need the posters so essentially that was done, I wore clothes to blogfest so there was a decision made, I posted another blog and I am here reviewing.  Not on time but hey… you can’t have everything.

In summary, it works.  Doing 6 things is somewhere near manageable. And it is still 36 things a week (everyone needs a day off!) 1872 things a year.  And if it makes you do only the important stuff then 1872 things a year could make a big difference.

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A big day out…

I am a very lucky lady. I am currently on a train to London to attend the mumsnet blogfest event. I am a very new blogger so really my attendance is totally unnecessary but my lovely husband encouraged me to come and now I have a whole day of child free, job free time.

While there are plenty of ladies with equally supportive husbands (one lady has come all the way from Australia after her husband bought her a ticket as a surprise) there are plenty who have to fight for any ‘me time’ and are then expected to be hugely grateful. Tomorrow I will be taking some time to remember those who died for their country and being grateful for their sacrifice but today, on a much smaller scale, I will be focusing my gratefulness on the fact that I was lucky enough to fall in love with a man who supports me in everything I do and encourages my endeavours even when they are clearly bonkers.

There are almost certainly people out there who didn’t even mention blogfest to their partners because they knew they wouldn’t be able to go. Or the fallout from going wouldn’t be worth it. I didn’t get it right first time and my amazingly supportive husband is my second attempt at marriage so I say this with some experience.

My train is nearly at its destination so I will be off on my big day out now, excited about the new experiences ahead, looking forward to meeting lots of new people and feeling very grateful.

P.S. In the battle of comfort over style I went for the lovely skirt.

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Comfort over style. Or what to wear to Blogfest!

In just under 48 hours I will be at my very first Blogfest. Exciting stuff. Apart from the terror of being discovered as a fraud (see my Introduction to Blogfest post) I am also spending a fair bit of time worrying about what to wear. I will be leaving the house at 6 am and won’t be back till very late. I will be on a train for ages, need to walk a fair way to get across London and will probably be on my feet a lot. So obviously I should wear my most comfy shoes. And some warm and comfy trousers. AKA jeans. And a nice warm jumper.
But I have a new and lovely skirt that really wants to be worn. It is lovely and bright and I haven’t worn it yet and I really, really want to wear it. This is the Loverly Skirt (photography improvement is on my to do list!)

Patterned pink/blue skirt

My loverly skirt

Will people think of me differently if I wear the skirt? Will they think ‘Clearly there is a very interesting and dynamic lady’ if I wear the amazing skirt? And ‘How very dull that lady must be just wearing comfy clothes. I shall ignore her!’ I very much doubt it.
Will I feel like I am interesting and dynamic (if a little sore of foot and chillly) in the amazing skirt and rather dull and ordinary in jeans? Probably. What is everyone else going for? Comfort or Style?