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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August 2014 Small Stuff

August, it has been a funny month for me.  Thankful that the boys were off school, but hard due to health issues.  If I didn't have the small stuff then I think I would have spend most of it in tears! august small stuff There has been a lot of August spent in the kitchen with the boys baking, making and cooking.  It was great to supervise the boys (as I could do it sitting down).  Maxi learned to make pastry this month and we have made pies with foraged brambles, custard tarts, quiches, jam tarts.  Mini has been busy helping prepare dinners and making pancakes. Both the boys are becoming really proficient in the kitchen and Maxi has been chopping the carrots he has grown. We have also spent time in the garden and then cooked what we have grown.  We have eaten our way through all our beans, peas and potatoes.  The cauliflower and cabbages are all gone too.  The carrots have been a huge success this year. The boys are both becoming more independent and have spent the summer biking and scootering with their friends. They also went swimming by themselves with the Frugals for the first time. Mini's eyesight has improved, mainly due to a massive growth spurt and he picked out some new specs. Another new experience for me this month has been being on radio.  I spent the day on London being interviewed as a spokesperson for Anti Social Media day, both for live radio and for pre records.   It was a learning curve again, but I am loving pushing myself. We had a fab couple of days in London as a family, where the boys spent some quality time with MadDad at the British Museum and we all loved the South Bank Love exhibition. A Mum and boys trip to see Guardians of the Galaxy ended up with the boys buying themselves the soundtrack and the earworm from is is "Do you like Pina Colada" which the boy sing along too. I have really loved the more relaxed days and evenings and the boys have had fun with movie nights and snuggles on the sofa and Maxi has even been carried to bed a couple of times!

Craft wise we have been scrapbooking and personlising shoes and T Shirts.  I even made ombre shoe laces with Miss Frugal.

It hasn't been the month we planned, but being unable to walk and drive meant that we had to make changes and cancel some of our plans, but we have made the most of our time together.  
The Mad House
So now it is your turn.  Come and share with me your small stuff.  The little things that make a big difference.
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How to allow individualism when your kids wear school uniform

The school that the boys goes to have a school uniform policy and they are pretty strict with it.  Grey or black trousers, red or white shirts or polo shirts and a red jumper or cardigan.  They have to wear black shoes and PE kit is red shirts and a white T Shirt. I am a fan of school uniform for the following reasons:
  • Uniforms cost less overall
  • There is no worrying about what to wear each morning
  • Children are easily identified as belonging to that school
  • Encourages discipline
  • Uniforms can be recycled and passed down.
But I also feel that a uniform can detract from a kids unique identity,  So I do let the boys choose their own coats (within reason), school bags and their own trainers. Encourage Individualism

Ways you can encourage individualism

 
  • Allow your children to make choices when they can
  • Set acceptable boundaries
  • Allow them to choose their own stationery
  • Let them personalise items such as their bags and pencil cases
  • Encourage difference, my boys wear funky socks and as a household we believe in socks not to have to be a matching pair
The boys school shoes lasted less than six weeks last term, partly down to them playing football at playtime on the MUGA (multi use games area), so when JD Sports asked if the lads would like to receive something from their back to school range they chose a pair of all black trainers each. The trainers they choose are perfect for wearing to school as they follow the uniform guidelines as they are all black. craghopper This year the boys picked their coats from Get the Label. This was the first time I have used this site, but was really impressed.  Fantastic clothes at much lower than high street prices. Maxi got a fab Craghopper waterproof and a Bench coat and Mini a Sprayaway Jacket.  All were fantastic prices and  it allowed the boys to express their individualism. I might have mentioned before that Mini wears glasses and again I let him choose his own.  When he is due a new pair I take pictures on my phone of him in the frames he likes and then he looks at them and picks which ones he prefers. Another decision that I allow the boys to make is to choose their own haircuts.  Maxi still has longer hair and is more than happy with that, in fact his nickname is MOP and he embraces it.  Mini on the other hand likes his hair short and looks the current trend for hard partings. I would love to know how you let your kids show they individualism.
THe Mad House
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Asda saves the day with Click and Collect

Off days, we all have them. Well I think we all have them. I have had an off couple of weeks. The last couple of weeks of the school holidays have been something of a challenge for me. I contracted a virus which for some reason affected by joints and left me pretty much unable to walk. I am getting better slowly, but have walking sticks and a lot of pain. collection point Now you can imagine this has been hard on all of us. I am really lucky that my boys are eight and nine and pretty capable kids. They have lots of friends that live nearby and have had a couple of weeks playing on their bikes, playing football and street cricket and enjoying their summer off school. They are able to make their own sandwiches and get their own breakfast, but shopping is well too much for them and MadDad just cannot take any time off until next week, plus I am a control freak when it comes to my menu planning and food shopping and knowing him I would send him with a list and he would come back with half of it missing and loads of treats instead. IMG_0131 So when I was approached to try Click & Collect at Asda it was a real blessing. I could do an online shop and not have to wait in for delivery (not that we are going anywhere) or worry about bringing in in from the door and putting it away. Instead I could order online and arrange for MadDad to collect it to a store close to his clients on the way home, that way he can put it all away and do all the legwork for me! Me being me, I was super forgetful and forgot to add the light bulbs on that we needed, but I was able to add them on to my order without any issues.

So how was my Asda Click & Collect experience?

• Ordering was really easy and I was able to amend my order up until 1pm on the day of collection. • The ordering is the same as delivery right up until the last stage (but no need to pay for delivery or books a slot) • There was a store near where MadDad was working, so easy to collect from and the collection slops were 2 hourly • Collection is free
Click & Collect was a huge success for me. My shopping was collected by the hus-beast and he brought it home and put it away. It was less than 3 minutes out of his way to collect the shopping and he only brought home what I had ordered! Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration with ASDA and SheKnows. All my opinions are my own.  
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Wonderful Wooden Spoon Characters

Wonderful Wooden Spoon Characters Inspired by our Kids in the kitchen pack we received from Betta Living and the craft pack from the Tots100 Bostic Craft Club this month we decided to make our own wooden spoon characters to use as puppets. So let me introduce you to Alice, Jim and Sheena (the punk rocker)! We had great fun making our wooden spoon puppets. Materials
  1. Wooden Spoons
  2. Fabric Scraps
  3. Embroidery floss scraps
  4. pens
  5. Fabric Glue
  6. Pipe cleaners
  7. Sharpies
wooden spoon puppets We basically just had loads of fun making our wooden spoon characters by glueing on clothes which were just scraps of fabric and adding some embroidery floss hair.  We even added pipe cleaner arms. We then drew on faces and left them to dry before putting on a show, which of course Sheena was the star! bostic  
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Tips for preparing for going back to school after the holidays

For me and the boys the hardest part of going back to school is reestablishing a good bedtime routine and time after the more relaxed days and nights of the holidays, however, I find that with some planning and preparation I can ease the transition back to school with the ideas below.  This makes going back to school so much easier for the kids and therefore, me. Tips for preparing for going back to school after the holidays Re-establish routines A couple of weeks before the school day starts again, we make a schedule for our typical school day and record all the timings and what needs doing.  We work towards regulating bed time in the final week before school, which ensures that body clocks are in sync with our Autumn timetable.  I try and ensure that I plan activities on a morning for that week before school so we all get in to the habit of getting up, breakfasted and dressed to a timescale. back to school routine and bag checklist Set Expectations Even though my boys are eight and nine, I still find that a back to school chart is really helpful in establishing what they and I need to do each day, so we take some time to each make one which includes what we have to do each day, including the timings. For the first time ever this also means that Maxi will be doing homework (Year 5), so we will be working on a homework timetable. Back to school routine Have a timetable/calender central We use an Organised Mum planner at home and the boys have the days that they need PE kit, musical instruments etc on the calender.  it is their responsibility to keep me informed of changes and taking their things to school. I totally copied the fab backpack checklist from J Daniel4's Mom Bag checklist Nurture independence One thing that makes our back to school transition so much easier is that I expect the boys to be independent and to manage things on their own.  They are both expected to take control of things in their classrooms at school, so I take advantage of this at home. A place for everything We have a place for the boys to out their school bags and paperwork each day.  It is important that they follow this, so I can check their bags for paperwork and act on it.  They also came in and wash their water bottles before refilling them and putting them in the fridge for the following morning. Do as much as you can the night before This is one of the things that is key for out mornings running smoother.  I AM NOT a morning person, so will stay in bed as long as I can, by doing more the night before I take the strain out of what can be a moody morning.  This means getting clothes ready, bags ready, checking the calender, filling water bottles, paying for school lunches in advance and prpping breakfast. Have a trial run We do a dress rehearsal a couple of days before school starts, just to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  For us this means having the bike locks and keys ready (the boys cycle or scoot to school), setting alarms and also helps make sure we know what is expected for all of us. Mum's need to be prepared too Being prepared for the boys going back to school means that I am not stamping their names in uniform the night before they go back to school.  It also means that we have tried on all the school uniform and that they have everything they need.  It also means getting back in to a routine with breakfasts and dinners and more importantly making sure that they have an afternoon snack to come home too.
THe Mad House
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A weeks school lunch Bento Box ideas

Just because my kids eat school dinners doesn't mean that they don't need a packed lunch occasionally and I have been a fan of Grace at Easts Amazing for a long time.  Her lunches looks fantastic and really aspirational, however, as you can see from the fab post from Grace below they are easily achievable with some planning using what you have in your home. Allow me to introduce myself – I’m Grace, mum of two boys, and I usually blog over at Eats Amazing, where I share ideas and inspiration for presenting healthy children’s food in new and exciting ways. I’m probably most well-known for the creative bento-style lunches that I make daily for my older son, and that is why I am here today. Jen very kindly asked me to share a week’s worth of my packed lunches with you, and I was very happy to oblige back to school bento lunches Making a packed lunch day in, day out can quickly become a very boring task, and when my son first started school I wasn’t looking forward to the endless lunch packing I could see stretching ahead of me. I had already struggled to keep them interesting when I was only packing two lunches a week for pre-school, so when I stumbled across some photos of bento lunches online I was instantly attracted to the idea. As well as being eco-friendly, bento boxes are incredibly flexible – depending on the box that you choose to use you really can pack almost any food in them. Initially, I primarily concentrated on packing healthy foods, but I soon discovered that with a tiny bit of extra effort I could get creative with the lunches too, and have never looked back! I estimate that I have made close to 400 lunches to date, and I’m still enjoying the process! I’ve picked out five of my favourite packed lunches to share with you today. Eats Amazing UK - Frog themed bento lunch This frog themed lunch was packed in a fun lunchbox made by TUMTUM. I packed some roast beef sandwiches on wholemeal bread, a mini Babybel cheese, cucumber slices, a mandarin orange, a few raspberries and a strawberry, plus a portion of mixed cranberries and raisins. I made it extra fun by cutting the sandwiches into frog shapes (using a special cutter kit by CuteZcute, which comes with an outer cutter and several interchangeable animal faces), cutting triangles from the cucumber to make lily pads, peeling the orange and gently pulling apart the segments to make a flower, cutting a flower into the wax of the Babybel cheese using a mini cutter, and adding a grass shaped silicone divider and some food picks (frogs, a leaf and a bee) to decorate. I also created a few edible flies by adding sunflower seeds wings to some of the raisins. Eats Amazing UK - Simple Zoo themed lunch This zoo themed lunch was fun to make and simpler than it looks. It’s packed in the Yumbox (one of my favourite lunch boxes), which has in-built compartments that make packing bento lunches really easy. The food was made up of some home-made tortilla crisps (to make, cut shapes from a tortilla wrap, brush them with oil and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes), houmous, a Babybel cheese, a hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices and some strawberries and red grapes. I made it fun by using an elephant cutter on the tortilla crisps, popping the Babybel into a silicone cupcake case and adding alphabet food picks, shaping the egg into a panda using an egg mould (egg moulds are really easy to use and so effective!), cutting the cucumber slices into flowers and adding cute animal food picks and a few grass shaped silicone dividers. Eats Amazing UK - Tortoise pitta pocket bento lunch I made this tortoise themed lunch to celebrate world turtle day. The food was a wholemeal pitta bread, stuffed with mayo, lettuce and slices of roast beef, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, a couple of strawberries and a peeled and sliced kiwi fruit. I got creative with it by turning the pitta bread and carrot sticks into a tortoise (I drew the details on with an edible marker pen), cutting ‘bite marks’ from the cucumber using the edge of a mini hand shaped cutter and adding food picks (alphabet, clover and leaf picks) to decorate. Eats Amazing UK - Hairy Maclary book themed lunch for World Book Day This Hairy Maclary lunch was part of a series of special book themed lunches that I made for World Book Day earlier this year. It was a simple lunch – a quesadilla (tortilla wrap filled with cheddar cheese, chopped ham, finely chopped red pepper and chopped tomato before toasting in a dry frying pan), grapes and natural yoghurt. I turned it into a themed lunch by drawing Hairy Maclary on the tortilla with edible marker pens, adding dog picks to the grapes and freezing the yoghurt into bone shapes using a silicone mould. I often get asked about the frozen yoghurt shapes – to keep the lunch cool I pack the lunchbox in an insulated bag with a small ice pack above and below it. I’m told that the frozen yoghurt usually holds its shape but is soft enough to eat with a spoon by lunchtime. Eats Amazing UK - Star themed bento lunch This star themed lunch was packed in a tiered Japanese bento box. The food was a quick pasta salad – pasta, finely chopped yellow pepper and carrot with a simple dressing of olive oil and white wine vinegar. In the second tier I packed shredded ham, a mini Babybel cheese and some cucumber slices. I also added a reusable food pouch filled with yoghurt and an apple to his lunch bag (not shown). I made this lunch fun by using space-themed pasta shapes, cutting stars from the carrot and pepper with a mini cutter, adding rocket food picks to the ham, cutting a star from the wax of the Babybel and popping it into a star-shaped silicone cupcake case and cutting the cucumber into stars. I hope that you feel as inspired by Grace's lunches as I do.  If you have any back to school posts then do come back and add them to the link up below:
THe Mad House
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The benefits for your child from eating school meals

I am a huge believer in school meals.  My boys have both had school lunches since they started school and I firmly believe that there are huge benefits for kids from eating school dinners.

Free school meals for infant aged children in England

  As from this September all infant aged children in England (reception, year 1 and year 2) are entitled to free school lunches.  For me this would be a saving of over £900 (although my boys are older).  This was piloted in Durham and was a big success.  Children in the pilot areas quickly moved ahead of their peers elsewhere, by almost a term.  Hungry children can’t concentrate and it helped solved the problem of  feeding pupils who are “not quite poor enough”. These children come from low-income families who don't quite qualify for free school meals, but can't afford to pay for them – or to put together a good packed lunch.  Want to know more about the free school meals then do check out the Department for Education  and the Children's Food Trust. To help publicise this the Department of Education are asking people to share their #SchoolMealMemories.  I have to admit that I have pretty decent school meal memories and the boys school dinners are ace. SCHOOL DINNERS facebook  

The benefits of eating school dinners

  1. Eating a balanced meal at lunchtime is important for concentration.   Hungry children can not concentrate
  2. Peer pressure - My boys will often try a new food if they see their friends eat it.  This is a great way to introduce new foods.
  3. The UK now has the highest rate of obesity in Europe with one in three children overweight or obese by Year 6.  School lunches are a nutritionally balanced meal.
  4. School lunches provide the opportunity for pupils to sit down and enjoy their meal whilst developing social skills that will be very important later in life.
  5. The boys school dinners provide three of their five a day
  6. Research by the Children's Food Trust shows that school meals are now consistently more nutritious than packed lunches, giving the children who eat them a better foundation for good health.
  7. A Children's Food Trust study has shown that children in primary schools are 3 times more likely to concentrate in the classroom following improvements to the food and dining room 
  8. I believe that by eating a warm school lunch and being taught about making healthy food choices that we are giving our children a solid foundation in food and equipping them with the skills for years to come.
  9. Table manners and cutlery skills come from everyday use and seeing how other people eat.  You would be surprised at just how many children can not use a knife and fork or talk with their mouth full. For some children lunchtime will be the only time they eat at a table or in company.
  10. Don't just take my word for it, this survey on why Teachers think school meals are important is eye opening.
Just to show that I am not totally against school lunches, Cass my dear friend from Diary of a Frugal Family gives her kids pack lunches and this is her post on them.
THe Mad House
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#CapriSunSchool Twitter Party – Friday 29th August 2014, 1-2pm

CB-Twitter-Party-Post-Disclosure-June2014-TM Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know we do and we’re excited to host a party about your back to school lunchbox ideas.  On Friday 29th August at 1pm BST, please join us for the#CapriSunSchool Twitter Party where we'll be discussing juice drinks and how they can be incorporated into your back to school routine and healthy lunchboxes, and giving you a chance to win prizes! #CapriSunSchool-Twitter-Party08_29 Do your kids have packed lunch for school?  Mine don't regularly, but when they do I have to admit that we are fans of Capri Sun.  I love that I can freeze them and the pouches keep the rest of the food cold in the boys lunch box. We are big fans of Capri Sun fruit crush which is great for kids who like mine have adverse reactions to additives.  Oh and I also love that I can upcycle the pouches in to pencil cases.

Join me and RSVP for the #CapriSunSchool Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

   DATE: Friday 29th August 2014 TIME:  1:00 - 2:00 pm BST PRIZES: 5 - £60 Tesco Gift Cards EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 - £30 Tesco Gift Card HOSTS: @Jessies_kitchen, @keepupjonesfami@mum_themadhouse PARTY LEAD: @tsue1136 RULES: #CapriSunSchool Twitter Party Official Rules RSVP & PARTY GRID: #CapriSunSchool Twitter Party Page How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats! TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party - sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page! TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page! TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible! TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win! TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party! TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns - they are slower paced and easier to follow! TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendarto find more fun parties to attend! Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!
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