Back To School – Time To Get Into Routine Again

Routine is out the window, the kids have had enough of each other, I feel like my house has been taken over by squatters and for all that I love my children they are starting to grate on me; I'm summer holidayed out, I'm almost out of ideas to keep them entertained and I cannot stand the incessant bickering between them much longer!

Sound familiar? Thought so 😉

Well hang on in there mumma the end is near, oh and by the way the above mentioned doesn't make us bad mumma's, it just makes us human. The lack of routine and organisation can be incredibly stressful and that's the same for our little people too.

So with the summer holidays drawing to an end its time to think about getting your little munchkins back into a routine.

Startling them on their first day back with the early morning and the demand for them to eat their breakfast now, not in 3 hours time when they suddenly realise they actually need food, is NOT going to do you or them any favours. In fact I'm almost 100% certain it'll end in tears and they'll flake out by the end of their first week back. As will you and no mumma's got time to be flaking!

So here are my 5 top tips, my go to's, my must do's in the week or so leading up to their first day back at school...

1. Regular bed time

Start putting them to bed a little earlier each night until they are back to their regular bedtime. start introducing your usual bedtime routine again too - bath time / story time whatever it may be to help with them being able to go to sleep a bit earlier each night.

2. regular waking time

Start waking them up slightly earlier each day. Get them up, washed and dressed ready to face the day as you would on a school day. This combined with tip 1 will help to reset their body clock.

3. cut out grazing and snacking

When they go back to school they will no longer be able to eat when they say they are hungry and if they don't eat at the set times because they're not hungry they will be starving by the time they come home. This is not good for their energy levels or the concentration that is required during the school day. So at home start being a more strict with your meal times, go back to regular times and less grazing.

4. school uniform

Make sure you have everything ready for when they go back to school. Get them involved in the purchasing of uniform so they are fully aware their return is inevitably coming soon. Don't leave buying uniform, or washing it until the last minute. This will leave you feeling harassed which children quite often pick up on so they too won't be feeling relaxed or at their best.

5. start as you mean to go on

Get all their bags, lunches, shoes, uniform, water bottles and whatever else you need ready the night before (this includes your things too - keys, work clothes etc)

Don't set yourself up for failure...fail to prepare leaves you preparing to fail!

For those who have children already in school that are preparing to go into their next year, hold tight your sanity will soon be restored! And for those parents that are about to go through this for the first time, who are fretting and wondering how other parents are at their wits end during the summer break...you'll understand in time 😉

 

 

Header image source: google

Travel Tips For When You’re On The Move With Your Munchkins – Flight Must Haves!  

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!

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So there has it my top 6 tips. I hope these work for you, they certainly have done for me over the years.

Here is where you can purchase some of the above items. If you choose to buy through one of these links I will earn a small amount at no extra cost to you, helping to keep this page free for you. I don't recommend products I haven't tried myself or that I wouldn't use again.

If you have any other suggestions please feel free to comment with your ideas 🙂

I’ve Changed My Morning Rountine and You Can Too!

Urgh Mornings!

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.

Daily Journaling

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.

Screen time

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.

Organisation

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!

Good Luck!

All images except the journaling image are from Google Images.

How To Feed Your Kids That Little Bit More Healthy – Change 4Life Top Tips

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.

How To Plan The Summer Holidays – Keeping Your Kids Entertained

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.

This is as far as I go without involving the kids
TOP TIPS
  1. Create a chart
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

(Header Image from Google Images)

How To Keep You and Your Children Cool in the Summer Sun

Hoorah the sun is here!! If there is one thing us Brits' love it's the summer sun. Ahh, what a change from the gloomy mornings, grey days and cold, dark evenings. However, what us Brits' tend not to be so good at is coping with summer! And we seem to pass this inability down to our children while we worry about how to keep our little people cool during extreme heat.

 

 

Extreme heat? Ok well it’s extreme for us Brits' anyway...

 

All too often we make decisions that, unbeknown to us, are so dangerous and potentially fatal. With that in mind I have compiled a list of Do's & Don'ts, Fun Activities, Night Time Cooling Tips and Tips for Babies.

 

Do's & Don'ts

  1. Keep Hydrated

DO Make sure your children have plenty of fluids to stop them becoming dehydrated. Ice lollies, bought or homemade, diluted juice and flavoured ice cubes are a great way to do this as well as drinking water.

Diluted juice on tap. Perfect for older children as they can access this themselves. 

For breast fed babies you won’t need to give them water too but they may want feeding more often.

 

Bottled fed babies and babies whom are being weaned onto solids will be able to have cooled boiled water in their usual bottle.

 

Fruit and salad are also great for older children to help keep hydrated.

 

DO NOT wait until your child tells you they are thirsty. By this time they are already getting dehydrated. Keep their fluids topped up all day.

 

  1. Sun Cream and Sun Hat

 

DO apply sun cream. According to the NHS children should be wearing a MINIMUM of SPF 15 sun cream, that said many manufacturers have a children’s range of sun creams with much higher SPF with better protection from UV rays.

 

DO make sure your child is wearing a sun hat. Hats with a large brim or a long flap at the back are ideal as they provide cover for their neck.

 

It is NOT recommended that babies under 6 months old should be in the direct sun light. Ideally we SHOULD NOT be outside in the sun during the hours of 11am and 3pm as this is when the sun is at its hottest.

 

  1. Light Clothing

 

Keep shoes on. Flip flops, sandals, jelly shoes or similar are ideal. The floor will burn.

DO Dress your children appropriately.

 

They DO NOT need layers on in the hot weather.

 

Fitted, tight clothing can be stressful for us grown-ups when we are hot yet we are able to adjust ourselves and get comfortable. For children this is more difficult and for babies impossible. Light, loose and floaty clothing is perfect.

We all like to kick our shoes off in the heat but DO NOT let your children run around outside with no shoes on. Floor coverings such as tarmac, paving slaps, concrete and decking will be too hot for the delicate skin on their little feet.

Allow young children to have as much nappy free time as possible.

 

  1. Sun Parasol

 

For those with little ones in pushchairs or pram’s, investing in a parasol is invaluable. It’s more than your monies worth. They keep your littlun out of the sun and still allow a breeze to get to them. DO purchase one.

 

DO NOT put a blanket, muslin cloth or any other type of covering over the pram or pushchair. The heat that generates underneath it matches that of being left in a car in the sun with the windows shut. It is incredibly dangerous.

 

  1. Paddling Pool

 

DO allow water play in a paddling pool. Children can have hours of fun splashing around with the water keeping them cool the whole time.

 

DO NOT put the pool in the sun. The water will get too hot for the children to play in.

 

Fun Activities

Here are 5 water-and-ice play ideas

  • Paddling Pool
    • Add ball pit balls to the water
    • Buckets
    • Fishing or hook a duck games are also great fun (these can usually be purchased in pound shops)
  • Sprinkler
    • Turn the sprinkler on the kids will love running in and out of it
  • Homemade splash pad
    • Put the sprinkler on some tarpooline (do you see what I did there ;)) and they have their own splash pad to slide around on.
  • Surprise Frozen Eggs
    • Hide small dinosaur toys, some plastic jewellery (almost anything goes) and freeze them.
    • Once frozen, help the children peel the balloon off and leave them to work out how to get the toy out.
  • Water Balloon Piñata
    • As well as the old school water balloon fun try tying a few full balloons to a piece of string, give the children a stick and, well, let them whack the balloons till the pop!

 

Evening Tips

Sleeping in the heat is borderline impossible. Then just as we get to sleep a child strolls in crying because they too are sticky and hot and can’t sleep.

 

Here are my 3 tips to a little more comfort at night:

  1. Take the duvet out of the duvet cover. Leave you and your children with just the sheet.
  2. Keep windows open. I know this can be a worry in children’s rooms so if you are able to lock them open this is what I recommend. If this is not possible, leave their bedroom door open and invest in a fan. Whilst some can give off a bit of noise this is normally more bearable than being too hot. Let’s face it, when kids are tired they will sleep through most noise.
  3. NO pyjamas. No shorts, not vest tops, just pants or a nappy will suffice.

 

 

I hope you have found these tips and pointers useful. If you think of anything I have missed or you have your own special way of doing things please feel free to share in the comments. Your thoughts and responses are greatly appreciated.

How I feed my family of 6 on a budget…

Last week I managed to escape the mad house I call home to do the food shopping on my own – sounds wonderful right?

Wrong!

I decided to face the food shop after ‘one of those days’; the children were driving me mad, it was that week that comes around every month for us ladies, I was hungry and I hadn’t written a list… this was a recipe for disaster.

My budget went straight out the window leaving me with a shopping bill of £95 for that week. £95!!! I never spend that much and it certainly did not help the mood I was in! My usual bill is around £65 to £70 a week so this was a big blow for me.

Whereas today I blew myself right out the water…my shopping bill for the week came in at £60.22. A whole weeks shopping, for 6 people, including; breakfast, lunch, dinner, treats, toiletries and cat food! £60.22!

Now before I go on to tell you how I achieve this most weeks I would like to point out that I am no food expert, nutritionist or dietician, nor do I claim to feed my children the best food in the business, but we certainly don't live on cr*p, I am just a mum of 4 doing her best to feed her family a relatively good diet on a budget. We are not the healthiest but by no means are we unhealthy. To be fair my children eat pretty good, I mean, we all know how fussy kids can be right?

This is isn’t a ‘feed your kids a healthy, home-cooked, well balanced meal every-day after school’ blog but more of a ‘you can feed a big family, even a little family, on a budget without eating rubbish (all the time)’ kind of blog. I don’t put pressure on them to always choose the healthy option, nor do I put pressure on myself to always give them healthy options. Let’s face it who does that ALL the time especially when they are running a tight ship?

So let’s get to it, here are my tips…

1)      Meal Plan

I always make a meal plan. When I first started doing this it took me ages but now I have been doing it for around 4 years it is like second nature to me. In fact it throws me out when I don’t have a meal plan. You just need to persevere – it pays off trust me!

It takes a while at first because you have to really think about the week ahead. Will you need a meal every day or do you other plans that week? And, what do you already have in your cupboards?

If you’re stuck for ideas go online for some inspiration, especially if you’re board of the same old same old all time. The internet has a wealth of information and ideas that you can adapt to suit.

2)      Write a list

Once you have your meal plan write a list of what you need. Check your cupboards for the ingredients of your chosen meals and any other daily essentials then just write down what you don’t already have.

Your shopping list isn’t just for food – be sure to include toiletries and such like. Again, check your bathroom cabinets to be certain of what it is you need.

Then most importantly STICK to the list – don’t deviate!

3)      Portion control

I do my best to stick to recommended portion sizes for example I don’t throw the rest of the pasta in because there’s only a little bit left in the bag, or instead of adding the last chicken breast into your dish and forcing yourself (or encouraging the kids) to eat up, just cook it separately and use it for sandwiches for the next couple of days’ lunch.

This saves you over eating as well as over buying thus over spending.

4)      Fresh or Frozen

To buy fresh veg or frozen veg that is the question…

This is a tricky one. As there are 6 of us we could get through a lot of veg, for example we can use a whole broccoli in one meal so buying fresh isn’t always the cheapest option. For day to day, after school, in-a-hurry type meals I tend to use frozen. That said if we have a roast dinner on a Sunday frozen veg wouldn’t be sufficient enough therefore, we would buy fresh. Depending on our meal plans and what we having going on there are weeks when we only use frozen.

I was speaking to someone the other day that lives on her own with her young son – she said buying veg is a pain in the derriere for her as it tends to go off before they have had a chance to eat it all. In this case I recommend frozen veg. I’ll use broccoli again as an example; she can simply grab the exact amount she needs and not worry that what is left will go off nor will she need to buy it every time she does the shopping.

5)      Do not shop when you are hungry

Ok, so sometimes this can’t be avoided but if you end up shopping when hungry, without a list and no idea of what meals you want for the week ahead, well the chances are you will go over budget! Everything around you will appeal because you’re hungry and you’ll get suckered into buying it.

6)      Get the kids involved

Get the kids involved in the meal planning. I often ask mine what they fancy. Are there any little treats they would like this week? Do they fancy different snacks, different fruit, different cereal, different smelling hand-soap or bubble-bath? Getting them involved and giving them a little responsibility makes them feel more important and it gives them their place within the family.

You can extend their involvement to the cooking as well. Whether it’s a quick meal you’re chucking in the oven or a home-cooked gem you’re conjuring up, get the kids involved. They love to help…well mine do anyway. I have found they try more things when I get them involved in the prepping and cooking because, well, they cooked it!

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Tips 1 and 2 are my most important, never-do-the-food-shop-without-them, tips. Failure to do so results in a massive overspend on junk food and general stuff that you just don’t need, as I learnt last week!!

This week I stuck to ALL of my tips and as I mentioned just now, today’s bill came in nicely under budget at just £60.22. I really find the above helps me stick to my very low, £65 for a family of 6 budget, and I hope it helps you too.

I have sample meal plans, shopping lists & lunch box ideas for pre-schoolers (my school kids have school dinners) that give you an idea of what exactly I feed my brood, so if you would like more information on how I feed my family of 6 on a budget and how you could too, I would love to hear from you...Just comment below 🙂

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