Ways to spend more time with the kids during school term time

I love the school holidays.  I love spending time with my little darlings (are you getting the sarcasm here?), no really I do love spending time with Mini and Maxi, they are actually becoming great company and are fun to be with and I miss them once school starts again.  So I try to make sure I spend quality time with them once the school term starts. Ways to spend more time with the kids during school term time Do not overschedule kids This is my biggest tip. The boys have two out of school activities a week, Cubs and Football and I am a huge believer in not filling up kids free time with activities.  Children need to have freedom and time to unwind after the regimented school day. Screen free time We have a rule that screens are turned off at 6pm until the boys bedtimes (apart from movie night).  This gives us quality time for reading, listening to music, gardening, walking, baking, playing games, jigsaws, arts and crafts or just chatting. Cook together One of the times that I love most is when me and the boys or one of the boys spend time in the kitchen together. I cook at least one meal a week with each of them, more and more they are taking charge and I am just directed by them as to what to do.  We menu plan together too. Eat together This is one of the most important parts of parenting in my opinion.  We eat together as a family as often as we can. At the moment that is five nights out of seven and we also have breakfast together too.  There are so many benefits to sitting at the table together without interruptions (we have a no electronics at meal times rule). We have conversations, debates, chats and tell stories. Even one night a week makes a big difference.  Make it special. Insist on family time This is easy for me as my boys are only eight and nine, but  when I was growing up at least one day at the weekend was designated family time.  We have continued this tradition and spend the weekend as a family.  We try and go out and have an experience one of those day. Family Game night One night a week is designated as family game night.  As soon as the dinner plates are tidied away the games come out and we have competitive fun until bedtime. Family Movie Night We also have family movie night one night a week, now this might not always be a movie, it could be a TV show that we all want to watch, but the thing is we watch it together.  We turn off electronics and grab snacks and cuddle up together. Family Dog Walks Since getting Alvin we have walked together more as a family.  We get outside together more, even if it is just for a ten minute walk. We aim for one short walk a day, this can either be all together or one adult with one child.  It gives us one on one time with the children and enables us to have a good chat. I have had this post in my drafts and then KC Edventures posted a fantastic post about how to spend more time with the kids during school and I have to share it too. 

 THe Mad House

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What was your favorite childhood toy?

John Lewis are running a campaign about childhood toys and this week are talking all about model trains and to celebrate this asked me to share with you my memories of my favorite childhood toy. My childhood is filled with the toy I had and the one I really wanted, but never got! My most loved toy would have had to be my multistory Sindy House. It was something that I never thought I would own.  I remember the joy at coming down on Christmas morning to find it under a candy striped sheet. I spent so many hours playing with it and all the accessories that my mum and dad got for me.  I knew that it was preloved, but that didn't matter.  It was the only thing I had out on my christmas list and I was overjoyed that Father Christmas has brought me what I wanted. SINDY HOUSE ONE The one that got away.  The year after I asked for a Petite Typewriter, it was the toy of the year.  All I wanted was a typewriter and some secretary glasses.

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Oh but it wasn't to be, there was no typewriter for me.  I learned a hard lesson that year as I sat sulking that I didn't get everything I wanted.  My Dad was very upset with me and he had every right to be, I was acting like a spoilt brat.  He said that Father Christmas did get my letter, but he didn't always say yes. The toy that has survived since my childhood though and is still played with my the boys is mine and my brothers LEGO.  It is mixed in with all the new pieces and you can not tell the 1970's stuff from the 2014 stuff.  It is a true ageless classic toy. So what was the toy of your childhood? This is a sponsored post which has been written in association with John Lewis Insurance 3.
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My experience with Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I have issues getting pregnant, staying pregnant and being pregnant.   When I was expecting Maxi people actually thought I had a terminal illness.  I was in fact suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  For me this meant that I vomited pretty much constantly and when I wasn't vomiting I felt nauseous. My experience with Hyperemesis
Imagine being so drunk that the room spins without having actually drunk anything. Imagine lying in bed and the room spinning so much you had to lay with one foot on the floor, just so you believed that the room wasn't actually moving. Imagine now being able to look at a book without the letters feeling as though they moved. Imagine that the smell of your husband, the man that you love more than anything in the world making you feel physically repused. Imagine waking up with a mouth full of vomit. Imagine wanting to hit the next person that told you ginger will help. Imagine the only time you get any relief is when you are asleep, but being so scared to fall asleep incase you vomit and choke. Imagine waiting ten years to have a child and then wishing that you weren't pregnant and the guilt that you have to live with this every day of your life. Imagine becoming so dehydrated that you do permanent damage to your liver. Imagine being sick so many times the acid rots the enamel on your teeth. Imagine the desperation of being in hospital on a drip and none of the anti-sickness drugs stop the sickness or the feeling of nausea for more than 45 minutes at a time. Imagine the desperation of doctors who prescribes and tried so many drugs that are contraindicated in pregnancy to stop me being sick. Imagine the husband that agrees to inject his wife in her butt three times a day just to ease the sickness. A husband that overcomes his own fears for the hope of a family. Imagine a 36 week pregnant woman who due to vomiting so much and the unbalance of vitamins and minerals starts to hallucinate and is made to see a physiatrist to ensure the safety of herself and her unborn child. Imagine being so desperate for some normality that you spend every penny you have looking for alternative treatments. Imagine going to acupuncture as often as you could as the only time the room didn't spin was when you had needles in you. Imagine agreeing to a cholecystectomy at 20 weeks pregnant as you were told you lifer and the life of your unborn child were hanging in the balance. Imagine sobbing but being to dehydrated no tears came. Imagine all this for week, after week, hour after hour for 38 weeks. Then imagine falling pregnant five months later only for it all to start again.
There are no pictures of me being pregnant, it was not a happy time in our lives.  MadDad had to resign from his position so that he could provide me with the care I needed. This has not being an easy memory to relive.  The only good things to come out of this were my two beautiful babies, but I live daily with the guilt that I felt during this time, the thoughts that went through my head. I wanted children so badly.  We had lost twins at 20 weeks and also a singleton previously and I had put all hope of children away and yes I suffered from HG in both of those pregnancies too. Me and Maxi This is one of the only pictures I can find of me when pregnant with Mini, I was 8 months here. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a condition I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy and I am sure that it played a large part in my postnatal depression too. But I was one of the lucky ones, my condition was discovered early and wasn't palmed off as morning sickness.  The treatment I received from medical professionals was second to none. If you know anyone going through this then please point them in the direction of the Pregnancy Sickness Support.
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Blackpool for kids, by kids

Did you see that we went to Blackpool as a family over the summer holidays? We had THE BEST time.  Blackpool has really changed since I went there last 20 years ago.   Blackpool is certainly back! blackpools back Blackpool certainly is a wonderful place for families to visit and they have just brought out their 'The Kids Resort Guide', an interactive guide, written by Blackpool's biggest critics... the kids.  It shows Blackpool's top attractions through the eyes of a child. blackpool resort guide Blackpool is full of family friendly activities and places to visit and we only managed to skim the surface during our weekend there and we did a LOT. We visited Madame Tussauds, The Sealife Center, The top of the Tower,  Blackpool Zoo and had an amazing time at the Pleasure Beach - take a look at the boys review of the top places to visit in Blackpool when you're eight and nine here. where to eat in blackpool Blackpool is full of great places to eat too and we had some amazing food including the obligatory fish and chips and icecreams. We took a trip on a tram and we had an amazing time watching Mamma Mia. It has been the place the boys have talked about the most since we visited and a place they are desperate to return to. We stayed just outside Blackpool at Ribby Hall and I am hoping that they invite us back to review their Winter Wonderland!  Ribby Hall really is the perfect place to stay with kids and makes a great base or place to stay and enjoy the activities they have to offer.  I so need to try out their spa!
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Helping your kids cope with the first week of school

Going back to school takes some acclimatisation.  Not only for you as a parent but for your children too.  I know that I need to cut them some slack and make sure that we are all a little gentler on each other. It is understandable that after six weeks off school with much more freedom and less routine that they are going to find the return to school a challenge, but the fact is that whilst they are at school they are good and make sure that they do their best, it is at home that it all starts to unravel! back to school acclimatisation

5 Tips for helping your kids to acclimatise to back to school

  Food is everything! No really, it is key to give your kids a good protein based breakfast as they can not snack as they can during the holidays.  So making sure they get the best start ot the day is essential.  I also find that the boys return home from school ravenous, so I ensure that they have a good balanced afterschool snack waiting for them which keeps them full till dinner time. Keep hydrated I am not around to remind and ensure that the boys have lots to drink whilst they are at school.  I make sure that they get a good drink once they come home and send them to school with their new water bottles filled with cold water. Don't overschedule Make sure that you don;t over schedule activities for the first couple of weeks back at school.  Kids will be tired after a day at school and it is essential that they unwind.  My boys don;t have many after school activities anyway, but for the first couple of weeks I make sure that they do not have to go. Plan quiet activities I know that my boys will be tired and this often means that they are tetchy with each other, so I make sure that I plan activities to keep then occupied, but not over stimulated.  I love invitations to create and I am also a little more relaxed with regards to TV time. Go outside After being in a classroom all day the boys need their exercise and to get outside.  It is essential to their wellbeing and to mine too.  I make sure we go to the park, beach and walk the dog so that they can get out some of their energy. Sleep is essential  Children need a good nights sleep and it is one of the things that I am really strict about.  The guidelines for the amount of sleep is:
  • 4 years 11.5 hours
  • 5 years 11 hours
  • 6 years 10.75 hours
  • 7 years 10.5 hours
  • 8 years 10.25 hours
  • 9 years 10 hours
  • 10 years 9.75 hours
  • 11 years  9.5 hours
  • 12 years 9.25 hours
  • 13 years 9.25 hours
  • 14 years 9 hours
  • 15 years 8.75 hours
  • 16 years 8.5 hours
How do you help your kids during this first couple of weeks?  
THe Mad House
 
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Technology Free family time – 10 screen free family activities #screenfree

Technology, it pervades all parts of our life at the moment and I am not saying that is a bad thing, but I feel that we all need some freedom from it and some quality family time.  Kids need quality time with you, yes you and for that I mean me in the picture! We have implemented a screen free day each weekend and have screen free family time at 6pm, but this wasn't easy to implement.  It took time, it took planning and it takes constant input from me.  I am not going to pretend that it is easy, so I am going to be sharing some screen free activities and ideas for family time together. Technology Free family time  10 screen free family activities #screenfree Board Games We are big fans of board games and as they boys are getting older we can move more to strategy games.  Yes they don't like to lose, but who does! Cards I want my boys to be able to have a pack of cards and be entertained.  So we have taught them solitaire and we are busy learning some new games together, such as twos and eights, go fish and rummy. I swear that Maxi is going to be a card shark and card counter! Go for a walk alvin Now we have Alvin, we do this much more often and we love going out for a family dog walk.  Now I know that I am very lucky and I live in North Yorkshire, (Gods own country)  with some fantastic walks, which we take advantage of.  If your kids don't want to get out for a walk turn it into an adventure by looking for things that begin with a certain letter or are a certain colour or go on a nature walk. Do a family art or craft project Making medals Now this doesn't have to be a big scary project or even a messy one, you could just do some colouring in together round the table or you could make some story stones. Make up a story Group storytelling is a great way to spend some screen free time.  Story stones are a great way of facilitating group storytelling, especially using ones you have made as a family featuring things that you like. Make a scrapbook together My boys love looking at pictures, so we resolved to do something with all the images that I take and make some scrapbooks of things we have done together.  The boys love doing this, I print off a batch of images and then we all sit round the table and reminisce about the things we did and our different memories.  I try top leave the actual scrapbooking to the boys by sitting on my hands! Do a science experiment How often do your kids want to do something and you just don't have the time to devote to them.  We use screen free family time to do longer term experiments and science projects.  Science Sparks is a great resource for science based activities.  We had great fun exploring our sense of smell and taste. Cook or bake together  Maxi chopping tomatoes   I am passionate about teaching my boys household skills and cooking and baking together is something that we all enjoy and even better it feeds our souls as well as our tummies.  Some nights we just get the cookbooks out and all browse through them and make a list of what we want to cook and make a shopping list.  Other nights we bake or cook together. 3.
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Cooking with Kids – Vegetable stuffed omelette

I am passionate about teaching my boys life skills and for me a big part of that is cooking.  I aim to give them the skills in the kitchen to read recipes, prepare food and cook and bake meals from scratch.  At eight and nine, they are pretty handy already and vegetable stuffed omelette is a great recipe for kids as they are do it all themselves. vegetable stuffed omelette
5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegetable stuffed Omelette
4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 100g Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • black pepper
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 60g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1tsp. paprika
Instructions
  1. Sizzle the veggies…
  2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the veggies till soft and golden. Season with black pepper then set to one whilst you sort the other bits.
  3. Get cracking with the omelettes …
  4. Crack 2 eggs in a bowl and give them a whisk up.
  5. Add a drizzle of oil to a medium sized frying pan and go in with the egg mix.
  6. Swirl it round the pan to get a nice even coating.
  7. As is cooks gently push the outside edges into the centre to let the still runny egg move out to the edges.
  8. When the omelette is just set sprinkle over some of the tomatoes and cheese.
  9. When the cheese is nice and oozy you’re good to go, pile in some of that sautéed veg, fold over and tip onto serving plate.
  10. Do exactly the same to knock up the remaining omelettes and serve topped with sliced avocado and a sprinkle of paprika.
Maxi chopping mushrooms It helps to think about the fact that children will be preparing the meal when buying the ingredients with them.  This recipe called for mushrooms and we picked large flat mushrooms as they are much easy for the boys to handle and cut, rather than small ones.
Tip: There is nothing wrong in using frozen vegetables.  We have frozen sliced peppers in the freezer and used them in this recipe.  Frozen onions are also great for kids too as they don't get sore eyes when chopping them 
We have moved on to real knives, but I drum in to the boys about knife safety.  Before this we used salad knives and childrens knives from The Pampered Chef. Maxi chopping tomatoes A quarter of UK parents admit they never cook with their children, and one in eight families never use the kitchen to cook a meal in the oven, so UNCLE BEN’S® is launching Ben’s Beginners™, an online family cooking channel at youtube.com/bensbeginners , just look at this fab video about what the house of the futre could look like. u When cracking eggs it helps for kids to crack them one at a time in to a small glass that way they can fish out any shell that might go in. Mini with his omlette The boys did a really good job with their vegetable stuffed omelette.  They were delicious and they will certainly be making them again. To find out more about the campaign, please follow @BensBeginnersUK on twitter 3.
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Bittersweet

its a trap I long to shout at the top of my voice as they scoot away down the road "Don't' grow up, its a trap"! I catch my breath as I measure their feet Adult size three's, only two shoes sizes under mine. I smile at the fact that they still want to go to the park to play and not just "hang out" Summer days are filled with friends, street cricket and scootering Scuffed knees still require a platter and a kiss from mummy to make them all better Summer mornings and we are all to be found snuggled together in Mum and Dad's big bed. I breath them in and inhale every part of them and my heart skips a beat. I made these boys. I am giving them roots so that they can grow wings. I am not raising boys, I am growing men. And I am not going to wish away a single day. Oh the first day of school is such a bittersweet time.  I LOVE spending the summer with my boys, they can be challenging, funny, argumentative, daft, silly, amazing and are great company and most definitely loud.  I know that they want to get back to school, to their friends and to an environment that they love, but I miss them, however, that first cup of tea in silence is heaven! The days are long, but the years are short. So make sure you make the most of this time by giving them an extra soft cuddle today and embracing the #PowerofSoft with Fairy. I would love to know how you let your kids show they individualism.
THe Mad House
3.
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Would you put a tracking app on a loved ones phone?

At eight and nine, my boys do not have mobile phones.  I want to hold off on them getting them for as long as possible.  But if they had mobile phones would I put a tracking app on them and use it as a parenting tool?  I have to admit my first reaction is hell yes!

What got me thinking about this, well Folr, is a location-tracking application which offers real-time information on the whereabouts of the device it is installed on from kids, elderly parents (with consent of course) or anyone who agrees to be tracked, quickly and easily.

Would you put a tracking app on a loved ones phone

You install it on any mobile device (smartphone or tablet) and it unobtrusively updates you on the locations of those devices.

Interestingly Folr unique in location-sharing as it gives user complete autonomy over when there are tracked or if they are tracked at all. Folr is available via itunes or Google Play This caused quite a discussion when I mentioned it on facebook:
Emma from Emma and 3 "No chance. trust and communication is what's needed not spying and secret stuff I wouldn't use a tracking app as hopefully I have children that I can talk to without resorting to this.   I think it's invading their personal space and privacy. Laura from Kneadwhine " I could see the benefit for a child but it really doesn't show all that much trust in a relationship." Kara from Chelsea Mamma We have the find my phone app on the iPhones which has been really handy for locating misplaced phones and teens that don't answer them and don't think about phoning mum to say they'll be late home from school! Emma from The Mini' Mes and Me "I have the 'Find My Phone' app and it's really useful when misplaced (quite regularly). I don't think it invades privacy as long as it is used as a last resort/emergencies or for lost/stolen handsets. I wouldn't use it to stalk the family as that is completely unnecessary! Anna from In the playroom  "I don't see anything wrong with it if the person knows it's on their phone and agrees to it. Me and my other half had it on each other's phones but it's not working since I changed phone and I've not got round to sorting it. It's nothing to do with trust but it was quite convenient eg if he's driving he won't answer the phone but the app would show me is he nearly home or not. Now because mine doesn't work he normally sends me the journey tracker from waze instead when he sets off, only when he's coming late and I would need to know the time etc" Kelly  from DomesticGoddesque  Absolutely, if I felt I needed to: when The Girls travel to school on their own for example. I have a friend who can track her husband and she often calls him out for going to the pub after work instead of coming home!" Polly from The Enchanted Pixie "I think it's better to have a relationship where you trust each other and can talk then have to use an app." Anthea from Blue Bear Wood "Absolutely yes! It wouldn't be done sneakily and I would explain why it was there. For me it would be about safety and not to do with invading their privacy especially in the young teenage years. Any small possibility of trying to track a missing child is better than nothing." Emma Bradley £But that's the thing Anthea I wouldn't let a young child have a phone so it's not a missing child thing for me. for example my 10 yr old goes off with his friends for a couple of hours but doesn't take iPod as I think that actually makes him a target" Marianne  from Mari's World "No, I wouldn't. I too believe in trust and communication. It sounds a bit too Big Brother" Annie from Maneskur "No, not I. Looking at the kids angle, having been a sneaky kid myself I would worry that apart from the possible lack of trust issues it may throw up it could also encourage a child to leave their phone at home to avoid being tracked - and that could cause more problems than it solved." Suzanne from 3 Children and It "No I don't think I would - certainly not a partner! And as for children, I do believe that if they're old enough to be trusted with a phone then we have to give them some rope and show them that we trust them enough to give some freedom. How will they learn to make good decisions for themselves unless they sometime suffer consequences of bad ones?" Emma from The Syders "I have never done it but my Friend has because her 14 yr old daughter kept sneaking off into London from Essex and was strolling home really late in the evenings. At first they didn't know where she was going but once the tracker was in her phone they would know what train station she was travelling to and they started turning up. It baffled the teen how her parents knew where she was. It was a very useful tool for them in establishing what was going on with their teenage daughter x"
Interestingly I decided to discuss it with my boys and they were pretty unphased by me having anything such as Folr on their ipods.  They said that they always tell me where they are going and they don't take them out with them anyway! GooglePlus After discussing it with the Husbeast we decided that we would rather put our trust in our children to keep us informed about where they are going and that they will come back when they were told too! He decided that it would be implying that the possibility of something really bad happening is very real. It also sends a message that we don't trust them. A tracker is no substitute for real parenting. Plus I live in a small village where tracking is already a "free service" done the neighbours! But, if I had a child with autism who was a wanderer then I might have a different opinion. Also as I said in the beginning my boys are only eight and nine and never say never! 3.
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Back to School 2014

Eek, the boys are back to school today.  The days are long, but the years are quick, never a truer statement for me.  I can not believe that they are going in to Y4 and Y5 this year. Maxi 2014 Mini 20142014 And now for the outtakes! Outtakes school Previous years back to school photo's 2013 2012 2011 Do come and add your back to school photo's and back to school blog posts:
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