So you're about to embark on a family holiday abroad or maybe you're starting your journey as a full time nomadic family either way you'll be aware of the challenge you are about to be faced with upon boarding your flight...keeping the kids occupied (and relatively quiet)!
With that in mind I have compiled a list of 6 flight must haves for kids.
Whilst you can purchase these on most flights they are not the cheapest and chances are your littlun will want something that isn't available so take plenty of snacks and something to drink.
Sweets, treats, crisps and water (I allow fizzy if I'm feeling generous) are ideal. They keep them quiet and help with popping ears too. Ok, so this is far from a healthy option but hey you're on holiday!
So this seems an obvious one but it's something that shouldn't be forgotten. If your baby has a dummy or any other kind of pacifier make sure you take it...and spares!
The last thing you want is a tired baby screaming on a plane who has lost their dummy and can't get to sleep!
Dummies in particular are also good to help with babies and toddlers ears popping, so if your child does have a dummy make sure they have it for the take off and landing.
Activity books, colouring pages, dot-to-dot books and crayons can be a life saver. You can purchase books or simply print some before you go. Either way this is a definite must have for me.
Little travel craft sets that don't require any other materials or equipment such as scissors are great to take. Keeps the kids occupied, passes the time and they have something to show for it at the end 🙂
Kids love stories!
Whether you read a lot at home or only really get time to read while on holiday, taking story books you know your children will love is a great way to grab their full attention. As well as being fun they are a fab learning tool (and the kids don't even realise they are learning - MAGICAL)!
iPad, kindle, phones whatever it may be, and as much as I harp on about limiting screen time, they are a great source of entertainment for children. You can get many educational games, short films and stories that work wonders. Just don't forget headphones...I doubt the whole plane wants to listen to Peppa Pigs theme tune for the next few hours!
So there has it my top 6 tips. I hope these work for you, they certainly have done for me over the years.
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I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON and morning people annoy the hell out of me! My husband is a morning person and I often get the urge to trip him up as he bounces out of bed when the alarm goes off but hey mornings are a thing and we should embrace them.
Now, just to completely contradict myself, I love the mornings, getting up and getting stuff done is great and I hate feeling like I've wasted half the day but this is only once I'm awake and for me waking up is a mission.
Then to top it off I have to get multiple children ready as well as myself. One wants to get his own breakfast, the other is squeezing the toothpaste tube in the bathroom getting toothpaste everywhere, one is getting out a train set and the other demands my FULL attention!
Up until recently this wasn't too much of a hardship because the hubby was often home to help but now he works long hours. Sometimes leaving before the kids are awake. He stays away at times as well now so I have had to up my game and sort this morning malarkey out!
Well you know what?
I've sussed it! And here's how you can too...
Get up earlier
Hear me out!
I now set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than I was before. This gives me time to WAKE UP. I get up, have a brew and get myself sorted before the kids wake up.
Recently I embarked on a 30 day journaling course and 6 days in I have really noticed the difference. Journaling first thing in the morning has a better affect on your mindset, so I journal while still in bed...just after I shut my alarm up from making that god awful noise!
I fill it with goals, affirmations and gratitude leaving me feeling positive for the day ahead, ready to take serious action to move forward in the right direction.
Wake the kids gently
Wake the kids up gently. Give cuddles and think about your tone of voice, talk softly to them. No one likes to be startled in the morning so make sure you leave them plenty of time to get ready calmly before school.
Create a morning routine
Your children need routine as much as, if not more than, you do. Create a routine that works best for you and stick to it every single day. This helps massively in your bid to a smooth running morning.
LIMIT SCREEN TIME.
No TV until EVERYTHING is ready; until everyone has cleaned their teeth, had their hair done, got everything they need for school etc. Refrain from tablets and phone use - encourage book reading to set them up for the day ahead.
I limit my own screen time in the morning too i.e. checking of social media, emails etc. I do this before they wake up - model your children's routines and behaviours on you.
leave home early
Plan to leave the house a few minutes earlier than you have to. This gives you some leeway if you're running behind on your morning tasks.
Now of course this is absolutely KEY to getting any of the above done and done right. You can get packed lunches, school uniforms, book-bags, school letters, your handbag, pushchair, shoes, coats and whatever else you may need in the morning, ready the night before. Trust me, it will make your life in the morning so much easier!
Using the above tips has truly helped me to transform my mornings leaving me feel more organised and less stressed and I'm confident if you follow along you'll have similar results!
All images except the journaling image are from Google Images.
What does an arts and crafts day at home look like for you?
For me and mine crafts usually all for fun (and learning, but shhh don't tell them). It doesn't matter if a certain craft is considered 'girly ' or 'boyish' I just encourage my munchkins to do what they want to do and leave gender out of it.
For some craft work is therapeutic...
I'd like you to meet Jaycob.
Jaycob turns to craft when he is feeling down. He was severely bullied at school which started when he was just 6 years old, making him very depressed to the point he tried to hurt himself. He had a lot of time of school for various reasons but during his time with his mum he learnt to sew amongst other things. Crafts helped him to recover, it gave him something else to focus on and gave him purpose.
Jaycob is now back at school and is a happy young lad again but still likes to get crafty. In the picture above Jaycob is sewing his dad a fathers day cushion which he loved making.
Thank you to Chrissie Lowery for allowing me to share part of your story - it's fantastic to see his energy being channelled into something skillful.
As I mentioned previously I encourage learning when we decide to get crafty (not that the kids realise it) and nine times out of ten it involves getting out paints and brushes, coloured paper, scissors, sticky tape, PVA glue and 'stuff' to stick.
Normally speaking craft time at our house is adult-initiated but quickly becomes a child-led activity and I love it this way. I try not to influence them in their craft making decisions but offer them a safe and clean environment in which they can let their imaginations run free. Child-led activities help the children to grow and develop by allowing them to choose the resources they use, promoting independence and decision making skills, to name just two ways in which they learn from craft time. So whilst they are having fun they are learning too. Learning through first-hand experiences, not forced information.
Sometimes I like to shake things up for them and show them a new activity. For example we did potato printing a little while back.
For this activity they decided what shapes they wanted and I cut the potatoes. Here is an example...
We left the craft box in the cupboard for this and got out the paints instead! Woooo paints! Who doesn't love paints? *cue rolling of eyes and anxiety attacks about the mess* This is why I choose to use Crayola as it is washable. I always make sure the children wear aprons but, hey, they are kids and there is usually at least one spillage!
So there has it two very different takes but both with the same outcome - learning and happiness. Whatever your take is HAVE FUN with it!
Here are a few pictures of past arts and crafts activities from us...
Thank you for reading an thanks for using any of the links above, if you did. If you do we earn a few pennies which all help to keep this blog free at no extra cost to you. The products I have recommended are products I have used myself.
As a mum one of our daily struggles is ensuring that our growing munchkins have a healthy, balanced diet. But what with the busy lives we all lead; work commitments, different commutes and various after school activities, as well as the cost of food, it is a struggle that is hard to get on top of.
Today my son came home from school with a booklet from Change 4Life called Top Tips for Top Kids. I really rate Change 4 Life; I've had the the app on my phone for a while now and turn to it when I'm in need of some healthy food inspiration. It has some brilliant ideas as does this booklet.
The booklet has 8 top tips which give you fab ideas that make giving your child the healthy option that little bit easier.
Here I will summarise the tips but I fully recommend you find Change 4Life on the internet for more information.
Change 4Life Top Tips
1. Sugar Swaps
Swap sugary cereals for plain and serve them with fruit to add the sweetness.
Swap sugary drinks for diet options, sugar free, lower fat, or water.
And instead of sugary snacks swapto fresh fruit or plain rice cakes.
2. Regular meal times
Organise your day around theee regular meals
Eat together whenever you can
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - it gives kids the energy the need.
3. Me size meal
Give them a child size portion
Start with a little and wait for ten to ask for more. Don't pressure them to eat it all up if they are full
Watch packaging sizes. A pot of drinks & foods are designed for adult or for sharing.
4. Snack check
Keep a count of what snacks and how many ray are having. You may be surprised and might be able to cut down
Sometimes it's kinder to say no. Find different ways to reward them - a trip to the park or stickers for example.
5. 5 a day
Fresh, frozen, dried, juiced & tinned fruit and veg all count
A 150ml glass of fruit juice counts as one - limit to one glass though as more than this can increase the risk of tooth decay
6. Cut back fat
Grill or bake instead of frying
Cut off any fat you can see on meat before you cook it & skin chicken and turkey first.
Drain off fat after cooking
Cut back on snack foods - crisps, cakes, buns etc should be treats only.
7. 10 minute bursts of activity
Get off the bus & out the car. If it's walkable then walk it.
Clock up 60 mins of active play each day - before & after school and weekends.
Splash about in the pool - lengths, widths or even just playing in the shallow end.
Check out 10 minute shake ups! By searching Change 4Life
8. Get going everyday
2 hours max of screen time throughout the whole day. Including all tv, tablets phones etc. It all adds up.
Run around after school
Get them up and about after eating. Not sitting down on the sofa
So here it is, I hope you find these healthy tips as useful as I have.
It's nearly that time of year already, the summer holidays are almost upon us! Does it fill you with dread and fear? Or a sense of relief and excitement? For me I love the summer holidays. I wont lie I used to dread but since I have followed the same ritual for the last 2 - 3 years on every school holiday I have learnt to fully embrace, appreciate and love the time I have with them during the school holidays.
But a question I often get asked is "How do you get through the summer holidays with 4 kids"?
Well, my initial thought is an image of me sitting on the sofa, feet up, sipping a large vodka and coke in the evening once I've tucked them all into bed but the reality is somewhat different! Whilst I am not a single mum during the summer holidays and most other school holidays the husband has to work so I have to deal with this on my own. The key is ORGANISATION!
Here I am going to give you my THREE top tips but there is also a video over on my Facebook page Mummy's Munchkins where I go into more detail and it is broken down into 6 tips.
To make putting the following tips into action easier I create a chart, much like a calendar and I get the kids involved too. They love the craftiness of creating the chart and by having their input as to what we get up to gives them a real sense of responsibility and independence also.
Create a chart
Input into the chart;
Things you already have planned i.e. birthdays, appointments etc
Consider any annual memberships you have. These are more important than hunting out the freebies. They are already paid for, it makes sense to make sure you get your monies worth!
Freebies. Eg visit the library, forest walks, country walks, days at the beach, playdates at a friends house, parks, bike rides. Also check with your local authority as some put on free events as well as having free splash parks.
Then choose what you would like to spend your money on (EXTRA TIP - for themes parks, LEGOLAND, trips to the capital etc look out for 2 for 1 tickets on branded cereal packs).
Create a Rainy Day Activity List. After all this is the UK there will be a day or two that is less than ideal for getting out and about. On this list I include crafty activities, film days, cooking, den building etc
Once the chart is completed tack it to a wall somewhere everyone can see it. I have mine low down on the wall in our dining room. This way all the kids can see what's going on and when it's happening as well as you. They love it because their involvement gives them a sense of importance and leaves them feeling like grown ups!
So this is how I plan my summer holidays, I hope you have found this useful and should you choose to follow my advise I would LOVE to hear how you've got on so feel free to comment.
Mottisfont is a fantastic National Trust location for you and your kids, I definitely rate it for a family day out. The staff were friendly, polite, helpful and spoke with a smile on their face. Parking is free and whilst I have an annual membership, meaning I do not have to pay to get in, entry fees seem reasonable in my opinion, for how large the estate is and what is on offer, particularly for the children. There are stunning streams that run through the grounds and beautiful bridges to cross them; the main lawn at the front of the house is extremely well maintained, with no ball games being allowed making it the perfect spot to put your picnic blanket.
The Manor itself is remarkable – we did walk round it but with young children in tow and being the only adult with them, I wasn’t able to take in too much of its beauty.
Pushchairs are permitted around the grounds at Mottisfont but not in the house due to space restrictions. There is a place where you can leave the pushchairs and lock them to the railings, taking the key with you whilst you walk around the house. I took a stroller similar to the one seen here...
I only take a stroller as a 'just in case' precaution should my youngest decide her legs have given up and actually, it was perfectly fine around the grounds. The paths were very lightly gravelled with tiny stones so the pushing the stroller with its tiny wheels wasn't a struggle like I had imagined it would be. However, it goes without saying that if you have a pushchair such as an Out 'n' about that has wheels that are designed for rougher terrain, you will find it easier to get around.
I used to have an Out 'n' About pushchair until my youngest started walking and I have to say, with my hand on my heart, the Out 'n' About was the best pushchair I have ever owned (and I've owned a few what with four kids)!
The first thing I have too look for after a car journey is the toilets...not for me thank you but for my toddler who isn't long out of nappies. The toilets are to your right as soon you as go through the gates as well as being dotted around the grounds as well. Perfect for us as when a toddler has to go, well, they have to go!
For the ‘grown-ups’ there are art exhibitions displayed in the house, Rose gardens to walk around and you are able to take your dog, as long as it is kept on a short lead. As we were there having a family day out with my focus on the children upon arrival we set out to find the fun stuff.
We played pooh sticks from the first bridge we came to and we rolled down the hills, enabling us to tick things off our ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ list...an app for your phone or tablet, I’ll elaborate in a mo!
For children there are two main fantastic activities, the Climbing Bog and the Pump, Pool and Paddle area. The Climbing Bog is a muddy area with various climbing frames, balance beams and huge stepping stones that have been crafted from old trees. We were here for ages. The kids absolutely loved it. The Pump, Pool and Paddle area is where the children are free to play in the water. The streams are kept perfectly clean therefore visitors are asked to keep the playing in the water to this specific area. They can pump the water up from the stream and watch it run back down to the pool where it drains back to the stream. Children are able to use levers to stop the water running and allow it to collect then to let it all go again. I highly recommend taking spare clothes and a towel. Both my girls fell over in the water leaving us to find a sunny spot to dry off in!
On our way to these activities we followed the path and found a secret area where you could stop to take a pew. It was magical, like something from Harry Potter. There was a tiny gap in the bushes and you were unable to see what was beyond it, so as my children disappeared through I hurried behind them. We found a quaint little seating area, it was just big enough for the 5 of us – we could have gone back to this spot to have our picnic, it was a lovely little sun trap, but it was too hot I had to find the kids some shade to sit in.
After all the fun and frolics we went off in search for the perfect picnic spot. It wasn’t hard too find. There was a massive tree on the front lawn, where many a family had already laid out their picnic, so I placed the picnic blanket half in the shade made from the tree, and half in the sun. Those of us that were wet from the Pump, Pool and Paddle were able to dry off and the others could get out of the sun. We dried very quickly and were incredibly warm so we soon shimmied into the shade as well.
I try to do these visits without spending a penny (tight arse I know) but our bottle of water went within minutes of us being there. This was partly due to having to pour half of it over Daisy’s leg after she put her foot in the muddy bog when we were climbing (she had jelly shoes on, it wasn’t pretty)! So we ventured into the shop to buy a drink each. There was a good selection of food and drink and again very reasonably priced. I didn’t go into the seating area indoors as there was a lot of us and the indoor eating area isn’t huge – I didn’t want to take over – having already had our food I didn’t purchase any more or use the outside seating area but this was packed with people, always a good sign.
As the day went on the kids were getting tired, we had done the house, the Climbing Bog, Pump Pool and Paddle, had our picnic so it was almost time to go. I didn’t fancy dragging them round the Rose garden keeping on at them to behave after a long, fun filled, hot day so we went in search for a field where they were allowed to play ball. We took our phlat ball with us to play with. It was new toy the children had not long been given and as its so light it is very easy to transport so that was the must have toy that we took. The children had a good run around and let of the last of their steam before I decided we should make tracks.
We were at Mottisfont all day; well 10:30 ish until 4pm and we definitely didn’t see all that was on offer. As I say I was there for the children so focussed on keeping them entertained and I did so with no issues whatsoever. There is plenty to keep them busy. I whole heartedly recommend Mottisfont for a fun family day out.
Now, I haven’t forgotten, I mentioned the app for your phone or tablet – 50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾ …
It is an app by the National Trust with the most amazing list of outdoorsy activities. You set up an account and it gives you a list and you just tick them off when you’re done. Definitely worth getting, it’s great to open up when the kids start getting bored .
Where do you love to go when your after a fun family day out? Have been to Mottisfont or any other National Trust attraction? I'd love to hear from you, please comment below...
Thank you for reading an thanks for using any of the links above, if you did. If you do we earn a few pennies which all help to keep this blog free at no extra cost to you. The products I have recommended are products I have either used myself or would be happy to purchase for myself.