Life with an eleven year old ‘gamer’

I really didn’t expect to have to deal with my children being influenced from an outside source as young as eleven years old.

We haven’t even started high school. Yet, here I am, trying to tackle my son, who, up until five moths ago was a polite, calm, laid back kid who’s biggest problem was finding matching sock in the morning and throwing the odd strop bcause I hadn’t stockedthe cupboards up with enough chocolate biscuits.
Then, like an unwelcome guest who moved in and took over our lounge (and wifi)…. Fortnitearrived!
Before then he would take or leave the computer. He would play ten minutes here, half an hour there and then lose interest.
H originally ‘sold’ Fortnite to me as a free game that he can play with his school friends, I agreed that he could download it.

Since then, parenting my Fortnite obsessed son has turned me into an skilled negotiator, lowered my mental age to 11 to try to understand/sympathise with him and brought out my inner ‘Mrs Trunchball’.

I get it. I remember being obsessed with Mario Kart and Sonic the hedgehog when I was his age. My brother and I would play for hours and hours if we were allowed (which we weren’t).
The big difference is that I wasn’t accessible to anyone online and once the game was purchased, no further expenses were incurred.

Fortnite is ingenious, they have created a game with an online community which creates a constant link to friends (and strangers) as well as offering a so called ‘free’ game but that you have to constantly buy bolt ons for.

I have moaned about the game, I have had screaming matches with my son, I have tried to reason with him, it has been an exhausting few months and I know I am not alone.
H would get back from school and put his headphones straight on.
He sulked when I ask him to switch it off.
He threw tantrums if the internet was slow because it made the game ‘lag’.
His general attitude was shameful and I was not ready for this ‘Kevin’ stage, (certainly not until he is at least 13!
Apart from the change in his attitude, I was concerned about the dangers. My husband has friends that play this game! Without realising it H has been playing in online groups that adults have been in.
It was Piers Morgan of all people who I felt gave me the kick up the arse I needed.
There was a section on Good Morning Britain about Fortnite and it’s effects on children.
We heard about children who were wetting themselves rather than stopping the game (you can not pause Fortnite). They also announced that Fortnite is the first game that has resulted with a child being referred for counseling on the NHS.
So Piers, rather than just object to the game, put the blame firmly at the parents feet.
My first reaction was anger. This game has been expressly designed to hook and addict my child and I was trying my hardest to keep my preen in line.
The family counsellor who was a guest on the show said ‘Parents are trying to hard to be liked by their children, they are too scared to upset them’
That sounded so familiar and then I realised, I had become the mum I never thought I would be…..the mum that puts being her child’s friend in front of discipline, safety and respect.
I made H watch the segment. He saw for himself what the majority of parents were thinking.

All the children are telling their parents,

‘Jonnys mum lets him play when he wants’

‘Billys mum lets him play longer than you let me’
When actually, that’s all rubbish! We are trying to enforce rules and the kids are (embarrassingly) manipulating us.
I asked him what he thought was a reasonable amount of screen time each day. We agreed on 45 minutes on a week day (after chores and homework is done) and 1.5 hours at the weekends.
So far this has been working brilliantly.
We have also sat down together and watched the story of Breck Brednar, a school boy that lived near to us.
He was groomed for over a year by a lad in his gaming community. Despite his parents concerns and warnings, he was tragically murdered at 14 years old by the 17 year old boy.
Watching the documentary was a big turning point.
Listening to Brecks mum recall how she tried so hard to reason, explain, sanction Breck because she knew the dangers there could be online, was heart breaking. To then watch Breck ignore his parents concerns, just like H had been doing to us, and to seewhat tragedy has resulted was a wake up call for me, my husband, H and his brothers.

So much so that my husband ran the London Marathon this year for The Breck Foundation.

http://www.breckfoundation.org

H has a new attitude to the computer now, and I still know it is an on going battle, but for now it is one we are winning!

I would love to know about your experience with your child and gaming.

I asked a few fellow bloggers how they deal with this and limit screen time with their children:
My son has an hour per day. And if he starts shouting at the screen, it gets turned off straight away.
My son had his first Xbox for his 9th birthday in December. Honestly? We just let him monitor his own screen time and after hammering it for a few months, he’s got bored of it. He will have the odd hour here and there but as a whole it’s fizzled out.
I allow our daughter some screen time on the iPad as some down time before dinner or on long car journeys. She knows she’s limited to 30minutes and is only allowed on certain apps. We make sure she’s not shut away in her room so we are aware of what she’s doing/watching.If she’s not behaved well then she doesn’t have it at all. It’s definitely a privilege.
We use an app that blocks the children’s devices after 2 hours of use. Its brilliant as I can set bed times, school hours, outdoor time etc and can also select which apps are blocked at different times. The kids can also earn more screentime by doing extrajobs and since the app manages it all, mum cant be blamed for it running out of time!
We allow an hour after school, it must go off before dinner time and they seem happy with that, it’s letting them know that you are in charge and your rules stand, my son doesn’t play fortnite but does play mine craft with his sister occasionally and I alwaysmake sure to time them and they seem pretty happy coming off when asked.
I allow our daughter some screen time on the iPad as some down time before dinner or on long car journeys. She knows she’s limited to 30minutes and is only allowed on certain apps. We make sure she’s not shut away in her room so we are aware of what she’s doing/watching.If she’s not behaved well then she doesn’t have it at all. It’s definitely a privilege.
I’ve been talking a lot about this today after posting a news article about another 9 yr old having issues.
Despite attempts to demonise one videogame or another, this is really an issue of parents being involved and setting limits. Make an effort to understand the games your children are playing and you’ll be better informed about their suitability.
Many games are rated for content but only parents will know if a child is emotionally mature enough to remain calm whilst playing a competitive game. Parents should set clear time limits and stick to them so that children learn what those boundaries are.
If a child is getting angry or upset while playing, it’s time to turn the game off and come back with a calmer state of mind. If the child can’t stay calm, they are not yet mature enough to be playing it at all.
Use it as a reward. We have daily tasks that she can work towards and if she does well she has an extra ten minutes. Giving them a time limit helps and if she starts to cry or grumpy when I take it away she doesn’t get it the next.
Our two have screen time but I limit them to 60mins maximum a day then they must turn it off and go do a activity away from the screens/ consoles
We don’t have any set times as such for games as such but we do have break rules. After playing a game for half an hour she will come off for a snack or a drink and then go back on if she wants and more often than not she chooses to do something else. We havenever had set restrictions and it works for us. She spends more time drawing and reading than playing games. I think gaming gets really bad stick when in most cases it’s down to parents not understanding the games their children are playing. If parents lookedinto the games their children are playing and supervised them then half of the news stories wouldn’t make the papers because they wouldn’t exist.
We don’t have set screen time they are allowed on when they like but having seven children they don’t get long anyway!! They all know they are not allowed to play any game over their age limit but most of them prefer going to the beach or playing in the paddlingpool at the moment.
Until about 6 weeks ago, we had screen times at set times during the day – 12-1:30 for my eldest (when youngest naps) and then 4pm-5pm while I cook dinner. The TV/screens simply don’t go on outside those times, so my kids are used to it. The last few weeks,however, I’ve also scrapped the late afternoon session because the weathers been so lush they’ve been playing outside anyway! We have a lot of music on during the day.
I don’t give my son limits although he has to come down for all meals and I do every now and then insist he does something else. He has special needs and struggles to go out much so his social life is playing online with his friends and chatting school andstuff at the same time.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Supporting other parents

**WARNING – I have wrote this post with a ten month old on my lap and my two year old bouncing on my legs playing horsey so please excuse any typos, bad grammar or spelling mistakes!******

I have only just started enjoying our lunch dates with the kids again.

As soon as George turned fifteen months my usual calm, civilized diners started to resemble a scene out of Jurassic Park.
The one where the T-Rex is flipping cars and tearing down fences while the humans watch on, horried, from behind a tree!

I would get flustered and embaressed while George flung himself out of the high chair (those wooden ones are beyond pointless!).
He would chew food up and then let it spill out of his mouth onto the table while telling me
‘Don’t like it’.
Instead of the pasta Arribiata infront of him, he would have his eyes on my moules mariniere (and happily eat every one!).

The floor around his seat would have a mixture of food, snapped crayons and napkins scattered everywhere. It was so messy that I would leave the servers a 40% tip out of embarrassment and guilt.

If I tried to discipline him at the table, he would scream louder and then would come the disapproving glances from around the restaurant.

Considering I took my first four children out all the time, and we would be complimented on how well behaved they were…this was new territory for me.

Add a new baby Arthur, who had a healthy set of lungs on him into the mix and eating out became nothing but an anxiety inducing stress-fest!

Since November, thankfully things have changed. For a start, George has developed a love for YouTube (yep…and I WILL give him his tablet if It means I can drink my coffee while it is hot!)
Also, now he can talk and communicate more his behaviour has taken a huge turn. I would even say eating out with him is enjoyable!
The most important thing I learnt about my number five is that ‘No one puts baby in the corner. ‘
He is happier sitting in an adults seat with the older kids rather than a high chair next to mum!

Last week we took the younger boys out to our local Italian for some lunch.
It is one of our favourites because it is no only child friendly but seriously delicious too.
It was a Friday lunchtime and the restaurant was full of mums with toddlers and older ladies and gents enjoying a retirement lunch.

We were sat between a couple in their 70’s (I am guessing) and a lady with a baby having lunch with her parents.

The baby next to us must have been about seven month and was crying…and crying…and crying.
Her mum was trying desperatly to sooth her but the baby wasnt having it and the mum looked tired and stressed.

Mike was trying to have a conversation with me but I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.
I was so distracted.

It wasn’t the baby that was bothering me…it was her mum.
She was flustered and panicking and I could feel every inch of her uncomfort.

I glanced around and realised the older couple had asked to be moved and the mothers with toddlers were rolling their eyes and tutting!

I felt like crying for her!

I walked over and knelt down to the mum with her baby.
‘Most the people in the room are parents and we have all been where you are. Don’t worry about anyone else, you are doing a great job.’
I offered to take the baby while she finished her lunch as ours hadnt arrived yet.

She burst into tears and gave me a big hug.

The mum felt instantly more relaxed and in turn, her little baby calmed down.

George and Arthur were a joy that day and unlike the mum next to me, we were getting nods of approval. Usually I would feel proud that out kids good behaviour is being aknowledged, but when the praise is coming from the same judgemental dicks that are rolling their eyes at a crying baby I just felt annoyed.
Rewind just a few weeks and it was me that was sitting their being talked about and feeling shamed.

George didnt let us down though. As the bill was placed on the table he kicked his shoes off and ran through the restaurant. He ran around tables, giggling and screaming as I chased him like a overweight hurdler after a bottle of prosecco.

As I passed the mums who had been rolling their eyes i laughed
‘It was all going so well! That will teach me for being smug!’ hoping they might find the hint and advice in my comment.
George ran behind the bar, hi-fiving the waiters and I finally rugby tackled him at kitchen door!

A couple of days after this I read in a paper that a lady with a crying baby was asked to leave a cafe because it was upsetting the customers.
I wonder how many of those people offered some help or advice to the mum, who may well have been struggling herself, before they complained to the owner?
Or whether the owner of the cafe thought to ask if there was anything he/she could do to help before they showed her to the pavement.

I do have sympathy for everyone who wants to have a quiet meal without ‘naughty’ children or screaming babies around them. My point is simply, before you roll your eyes, ask to be moved or tut at the parents, take a second to think.
Could this parent be struggling? Could that child throwing a tantrum have a disability that you can not see? Could this parent benifit from a gentle hand of reassurance? Or more to the point…..were your children always perfect?

Anyway, im off out for lunch with all the kids….wish me luck 😜

My Last Week of November

Its been a while since I wrote a totally self centred blog post with no point to it at all.  A post that is completly unhelpful, except to let me use it as a diary…so that when I look back one day will be able to remember that week in November 2017.

Lets start with George.  This kid is growing into the most charismatic, gorgeous  pain in the arse I have ever come across.

I dont call him a pain in the arse lightly.  I am a mum of six, i feel like i have a patience level to rival a reception class teacher. But George is a whole new type of toddler. 

He will scream to get what he wants, yet remember to thank you with total sincerity if you give in to him.

He will push and push and push me until I shout at him, and then will put his arm around me and ask if I am ok.

So, as a little xmas presie to myself…and George, I have booked him into nursery a couple of mornings a week.

I’m not going to lie, my intention was two FULL days.  But the nursery teacher suggested it might be a little much to start with so we agreed on the morings… until January!

If I doubted whether I was doing the right thing, the wink, high five and about-turn we both participated in when I left him on his first morning, made me certain he needed it as much as me.

He has loved it! I have loved it! and it has given me a chance to spend more time with Arthur and appriciate my time with George more.

The nursery teachers loved him. He had played nicely with the other children, joined in with the activities and was so polite. They even told me he is a credit to me….a credit! It felt amazing when she said that.

Then he went home and ripped my £100 roll of Sanderson wallpaper off the wall!

Charlie has started a new school two weeks ago.  I have been conscious of how i will cope with school run logistics when the twins start high school for a while.  I started some tentitive research last month and was surprised when our school of choice happened to have a space availible for Charlie to start straight away and Libby in January.

The new school is everything charlies old school is not.
It is a small village school with a one class intake and strong christian values.  So far, Charlie has settled in like a dream and it is as though he has always been there. 

The twins turned eleven!!! I honestly can not believe how quickly time passes by.  

Having children is like a constant reminder of this.  No huge celebrations this year.  I did offer them a big party as it will be their last year at primary school but they werent interested.  

I actually think they are worried I might show them up on the dance floor….which I would.  The problem is, I actually think I am the coolest mum ever and the kids are proud to show me off.  

The reality is that they think I am a total embarrassment and actually mc-ing to DJ Luck and MC Neat is not quite the crowd pleaser it used to be!? Note: @indenialmum!

Instead Harri had some friends over for a sleepover (I still tried to play cool mum….I even let the watch ‘Swearing Peppa Pig’). Mikey is off to Kidzania in a couple of week to continue his quest to become the next Richard Branson.

My Christmas decorations are up, they have been for two weeks…standard.  I am the biggest fool for Christmas that ever there was!  My ultimate aim is to recreate National Lampoons decore extravagance with Home Alones class….you see the look I am going for?!

My News: 

I turned to the dark side.  It is amazing what looks you can create when you trust your hairdresser!  When she suggested a dark balleage i wasn’t convinced…but i let her work her magic……..

I am so pleased with my new look.  If you are local to London, check out Laura at Lalo….she is even a stylist to the Stars!

https://www.lalohairandmakeup.com 

My Modern Mum Event went Live this week….there will be a blog about this over the weekend. 
In short, I have organised a night out for local-ish ladies to come and meet local businesses ran by hard working women and hear what they have to offer. It is a chance to network, socialise and have a great night There will be chances to meet lots of beauty industry pros who will be ready to pamper us aswell.

Today I am suppose to be out beating on a shoot with the kids and hounds. After my nightmare night with Arthur and a whole two hours of sleep….I bailed!

Instead, I put an xmas movie on for the kids, put George and Arthur down for a nap and I have a Blissful Bath waiting for me.

I also made a kick-ass pate this week.
I have a freezer full of offal from our pigs, lambs and cow.  We like liver and bacon, but not even a family my size can consume that much! This is the recipe I used.  I used pig liver instead (by accident) but it was lush with a crusty bread, chutney and a Baileys.

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/27125/beef-liver-pate.aspx

How has your week been…..are you ready for a Merry December?

Love Kate

Xxxx

As always, if you have enjoyed my self regarding post, please share

Leeds Castle

Rosie and I took the kids (all eight of them!) to Leeds Castle in Kent during half term.


It was our first proper visit (we went along one, cold evening four years ago to watch Frozen on the castle lawn).

I absolutely love a mooch around a Castle or historical house and I love taking in the beautiful grounds.
I always picture what It might have been like to live there during the various periods of history.

Who owns it now? How do they keep it looking so beautiful? How many bottles of wine could you store in that wine celler!? (And Leeds Castle definatly has the BEST wine celler!)

It was a stunning Autumn afternoon and we had such a fantastic day that words can not do it justice.  

I am going to let our photos explain……



Leeds Castle has lots to do for the children, not least climbing trees and finding secret dens.  

It was Halloween when we visited and they had lots of spooky activities to enjoy.  

There is a wonderful playground area, maze and lots of activities from archery to dressing up as a knight.

The children loved exploring the castle and filling in all the activity sheets they had been given.

They have been learning about British History at school so they loved reading about how Leeds Castle related to Henry V111 and the Second World War.

While they were reading about how King Henry VIII did a ‘changing rooms’ on the castle to impress and gift his wife Catherine of Aragon, I listened eagerly to the stewards who explained to me that in more recent years part of the castle was converted into a cinema and areas to entertain friends (jelous much!?). 

I have asked Mike to take me back for a romantic ‘date day’.  The strolls, the atmosphere and the stunning architecture would make a beautuful day out with a loved one (or first date?).

I have never seen such beautiful gardens and the wildlife is everywhere.  

I am looking forward to visiting again in December and enjoying the Christmas  festivities with Mike and the children.

Please share my post for anyone who might enjoy a beautiful day out at this Kent treasure.

For more information on Leeds Castle and its wonderful, seasonal treats, take a look at their website 

https://www.leeds-castle.com

Tulley Farm – Pumpkin and Spookfest

​If you live in the South East and have not heard of Tulleys Farm and their Shocktoberfest you must be living under a rock.

I last went three years ago and have heard through the grapevine it has only got better. 

I could not wait to take the kids this half term.

As usual, nothing in our house goes to plan and after getting the household ready, I ran into a small problem on departure….a flat tyre.

But, living on a farm has its perks and we usually have a back up vehicle of some description.

On this occasion it was our trusty Landrover Defender that came to our rescue.

So, an hour later than planned, we were on our way.

Tulleys Farm is a seasonal family event venue in Sussex, between London and Brighton, close to Crawley and East Grinstead.  So much is put into each event that it never fails to excite throughout each season.

Drawing inspiration from the huge halloween industry in America, the Pick Your Own Farm began developing Tulleys Halloween events in around 2002.  It has since grown from visitors of 3,500 to the mega 60,000 it is welcoming now, over the Halloween period .

As a result of its phenomenal success, they have attracted some of the best Scare Experts in the business.

By day they run a fantastic family spooky experience and by night it becomes a terrifying fright fest that, quite franky, my bladder can no longer handle!

Last time I visited at night I spent most of the evening with my face burried in Mikes back!

For a fiesty lad #georgethemenace (my two year old) is scared of everything…  Spiders, clowns, masks, people dressed up and anything small that  moves.  

As much as I enjoy the cuddles his terror brings, I knew this year it was best to leave him behind.

Also, as much as Tulleys has catered well for buggies, as us parents know, mud and prams make hard work.

Luckily my mum and dad were around and agreed to watch the two smaller boys for me.

Tulleys Farm is made up of a few different rides/experiences.

My kids favourite everytime we visit is the Horrid Hayride.

This is a tractor ride through a creepy woods where the aim of the game is to make the kids scream (and laugh).  

I’m going to be careful not to give to much away because the element of suprise and unknown is half the fun.

I will say, unlike the evening experience, the actors are much tamer during the day so that it doesnt traumatise the children……too much 😜

During the day we visited all the main attractions.

We visitied Dirty Gerty and The Witches in The Woods.

We tried to find all the ghosts in the Cornmaze.  Which, FYI, is a perfect opportunity to loose the kids for half an hour.

The Twisted Fun House, which even tripped me out slightly when I realised six little faces were relying on me to escape. 

The more I tried to find the exit, the more we were faced with psychedelic clowns!

The Creepy Cottage was the ride that my older children found the scariest. Negotiating your way around a derelict cottage scattered with terrifying props

Inbetween all the rides are food stalls serving donuts, jacket potatoes, burgers, chicken, hogroasts and coffee….plenty of coffee everywhere!

The Pumkin Patch is really something to behold and you can buy them aswell as other great Halloween merchandise at the Farm Store.

As you walk around Tulleys there is plenty more entertainment scattered around.

Spooky theatre, street theatre, puppet shows and a pertrifying play area, there is so much to do we nearly ran out of time!
There really is nothing like this around.  It is such a brilliant concept and the planning that goes into it and the volume of visitors speaks for itself.

There are a few days left…….take a visit.  

Tulleys Farm is a seasonal attraction and I am definatly visiting at Christmas. 

Tulleys Farm have also introduced an attraction called Escape Rooms. I’ve been checking it out online and it seems a team of you are locked in a room and the only way to escape is by solving a series of puzzles.  I can’t wait to give that a go

I would love to hear your opinions if you have visited.

For more information on prices and opening times, take a look at

www.tulleysfarm.com


Tulleys Farm gave me entrance tickets in return for this review. However, all my opinions are entirely honest and without influence.

Do kids see race?

Barack Obama tweeted recently

 

‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion……’

 

I am starting to wonder if, as well as pure ignorance, has political correctness contributed to Racism.

Obama is right, so at what age do you start noticing and worrying about racism?

My ten and eight year old sons were sitting in the back of the car with a friend of theirs who is mixed race.

Amongst the shouting and laughing coming from the back seat, I heard one of my sons say

‘you’re so black…..you….’

He couldn’t finish because I hit my brakes, pulled over and totally lost my head.  I started going into a rant about how I hadn’t brought him up to say things like that.

Before I could finish his friend stopped me.

‘Kate, we were just roasting each other! I just said to Harri, you’re so white, you must be invisible when its snows’

I laughed! and I was so relieved.

But It made me sit back and think,

Am I creating issues about colour that the kids don’t even see.

My kids aren’t racist, not even slightly, so why did I go so mad when I heard him say that?

Because, to make reference someone’s skin colour in a negative way is racist.  But,  Is it only racist if that person takes offence?

As their mum,  it’s my job to make sure they are brought knowing what is right and wrong.

I remember when Charlie was at nursery, he had the most wonderful teacher, Mrs Patel.  One day she pulled me to one side to say that another teacher had asked Charlie what he wanted to do.  He asked if the ‘chocolate’ lady could read him another story.

I WAS MORTIFIED.  I couldn’t apologise enough.

Mrs Patel hadn’t told me out of disappointment.  She thought it was the most wonderful thing she had ever heard! This little three year old was just describing her as best he could and she was nothing but flattered that he enjoyed her reading to him.

The Political Correctness that has been bashed into me over the years had almost convinced me that my little boy was showing racist traits at three years old!

Right now, my kids see past skin colour, and I’m not going to change that

Back to Obamas Tweet……..how cute is George and his fiend Si-si…..

 

What are your thoughts? X 

 

 

 

Our Day at Drusillas

We have been fortunate to visit a few special attractions around the South of England this Summer.

When I have asked the kids which one stands out, Drusilla’s Park won hands down.

It has been so long since I have been to Drusillas It is nothing more than a vague memory to me.  So when I was asked to give a review of the Park I jumped at the chance.

Anyone that I have spoken to about Drusillas has raved about it, so I was really excited to take the kids.

A friend of mine, Simin, lives in Eastbourne and has an Annual Membership for Drusillas.  She has been visiting the Park for over fifteen years.  So, apart from a great opportunity to meet up with her and her little girl, I thought it would be handy to go with someone who knows the zoo and can give me a guided tour!

Drusillas Park Is located just off the A27 at Ariston.

From where we live in Warlingham (just outside of Croydon) it took approximately an hour.

The kids usually hate long journeys, but I avoided the motorways and the route took us on a lovely drive through Ashdown Forest.

I had always thought Drusillas was a small zoo.  My kids adore animals and learning about different species so I knew I would be earning brownie points on this day out.  What we actually realised on arrival is that Drusillas is so much more than ‘just a small zoo’.

The variety of play areas and rides are probably the best I have ever seen!  But, I’ll tell you all about that later.

Lets start at the beginning of our day.

Car parking was simple and you don’t get charged to park in it.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, but a few of the attractions we have been to over the last six weeks have charged us for parking.

Like most of my days out, it started with a coffee.  Coffee is my ‘mama fuel’ to help me mentally cope with the day ahead.  Not only to make sure I don’t loose one of my six children, but to make sure I can keep an enthusiastic, ‘Balamory style’ attitude throughout the day.

Imagine my delight when I was greeted with a Starbucks sign!

After my caffeine fix, it was straight onto the animals.

The children had been given some activity booklets to complete on the way around the park.

I thought they were great because they were kept simple.  The kids had to spot animals listed in the booklet and stamp it accordingly.  This meant it was easy for my younger children to complete, whilst keeping the older ones entertained too.

They could also take part in the Zoolympics Challenge.  There were various points around the park where you could test your sporting skills against different animals.

Our first stop was Iguanas and Snakes.  The smell was reminiscent of the twins bedroom, so I was keen to move on fairly swiftly, but the kids took in every fact and bit of information available to them.

The Farmyard was lovely to mooch around, George loved it and It was so informative.  The older children have been to many farms and have books on most of our animals, yet we all learnt new facts at this section of the park.

-Did you know that dairy cows produce 21 litres of milk per day?

-Did you know that Donkeys are sometimes kept as pets to keep lawns short? (yea, I suggest swerving that informative can of worms!)

-I also learned that despite how I might feel sometimes, I am not built like a carthorse and, at a push, I just about have the strength of a Serval (a giant cat)….I know!? who knew!?

You don’t it about me, but I love monkeys!!! I could watch monkeys all day!! So Imagine my delight when our next stop was the capuchins (Marcel from Friends?) Marmosets, Colobus, Squirrel monkeys and Macaques.   There were even more species of Monkeys dotted around the park.


In all the years I have visited farms and zoos, I have never encountered Bats until I visited Drusillas.
The children and I were fascinated.  We could walk through an enclosed area where the bats were hanging (literally) all around us.  I grew up next to woodland and we would see the shadows of bats regularly during the summertime, but it was a completely different experience to see them up close.

New arrivals at Drusillas this year are the Giant Anteaters, and how amazing are they! (and, FYI, nothing like ALF!)

The park has over one hundred different animal species and I am not going to go through every one, but amongst some of our favourites were Beavers, Porcupines, Sloths, Camels and Penguins.  

I loved seeing the Flamingos, (and not just so that I could use that cute sticker on Insta Stories!)

They are so beautiful and pink…. I am working on mike to let me have a flock on the farm….what do you reckon my chances are!?

Another highlight of our day was our walk through Lemurland.  This is an enclosure where you can walk amongst the Lemurs and watch them jump across your path or if you are really lucky, they might even land on you!

The Go-Wild play area was exactly as it is described…Awesome Play.  It was every child’s dream and with a separate area for younger children, it had something for all ages.

The kids spent over an hour in this part of the park.  If they had their way they would have spent all day there! 

The photos don’t do Go-Wild justice.  I couldn’t possibly get a shot with everything included!

But, there was still so much to see so we had to drag them away from Go-Wild and head for the Get-Wet water park.

Simin had text me the night before to tell me to make sure I brought the kids swimming cosies and towels.  Now I don’t want to appear a whinge, but when you are getting ready to take six children out for the day something has to give.  On this occasion I forgot the swimsuits!

Luckily, it was such a hot day It didn’t stop Libby and George from having a great time jumping in and out of the fountains and water sprays.

Go Safari! is Drusillas new attraction which only opened this year. It is an area of the park made up of three rides.  They provide perfect thrills for younger children (my two and ten year olds enjoyed them).


The Hippopotobus, The Flying Cheetahs and The Safari Train which takes you on an adventure around the whole park.

Drusillas has a great Park Maze. We all had great fun getting lost and trying to find our way out.  I kept George safely on my shoulders the entire time we were in there.  Those of you who follow my blog and Instagram will understand why! #Georgethemenace

Hello Kitty Secret Garden is a lovely area with three more childrens rides.  The exciting 25ft hooper, a ride where you are bounced up and down.  The tea cups which, need no explanation and the Kitty car ride where you go on a magical journey through Hello Kittys Garden.

Stop at Hello Kittys House.  The girls met The Puss herself, Hello Kitty, and you can indulge with a pamper at her ‘Parlour’.  Children (or adults if you so wish!) can have their face painted, temporary tattoos and hair braids (at cost).

On this occasion I was organised and took a packed lunch with us. Therefore, I can not comment on Drusillas eateries but they all appeared clean and inviting (and the coffee was great😉)

The facilities were good and you were never too far from a toilet (which is always handy with six children!)

Harrison can not go anywhere without playing a shoot-me-up game so he was not dissapointed.

And, if we hadnt run out of time they would have liked a go on the climbing wall.
Drusillas have Keeper Talks and Animal feeding at regular times during the day and they have loads of events on throughout the year.  I would definitely recommend heading over to their website

www.drusillas.co.uk

We had such a great day!  The weather was glorious, but I can imagine we would have enjoyed it regardless.

On our way home from Drusillas, Mikey asked if he could go back and ‘be a keeper for the day’ for his birthday……I am certainly going to look into it.

If I have convinced you to take a trip to Alfriston to visit Drusillas, let me know what you think.

And, as always, Please share with your friends and followers 😘

I recieved free entry to Drusillas in return for this post. All of my opinions are completly honest and unbiased.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CampBestival 2017

Well, what an experience this was!!

On paper, this weekend was my idea of absolute hell.
Six children (two babies), a tent, rain….lots of rain, mud….lots of mud and not a tiled roof in sight!

Somehow, amongst the damp and filth, we dug deep into our British souls and managed to have a fantastic weekend (great friends and the Gin also helped).

Due to my total lack of organisation we didnt manage to secure a motorhome this year.
Instead, we opted for CB Boutique camping with a company called PodPads.

It was a six man bell tent that included a groundsheet, carpet and six campbeds with sheets.

There was enough room in our tent for our travel cot, double buggy and festival trolly.  Although, with all the paraphernalia that comes with two children under two, it was a squash in there and not much room to move around.
If the weather had been better and we could have left our bits outside it would have been much roomier.

There is a fab ‘reception tent’ where they provided us with free tea and coffee facilities and you can charge your phone free of charge.

One of the best things about Boutique camping (beside avoiding divorce while trying to errect a 6 man tent) is having the car park at a reasonable distance from your tent and being a short walk from the actual festival.

Last year, at the campervan field, it felt like a Marine assult course getting us, the five kids and a buggy from the motorhome to the festival.
Thats not meant to discourage anyone, but for us, and the ages of our children, we prefered to be closer to everything.

Next year we will head for Boutique again.  I am going to start doing my research now into what we will stay in and ill post about that over the next couple of weeks.

I would be lying if i said the weather did not affect our weekend. 
Although we all enjoyed ourselves, we didnt get to make the most of what Camp Bestival has to offer.

We tried to do as much as we could when the rain stopped, but there is so much to to do, we missed out on alot.

Having a couple of art-mad youngsters in our crowd, we headed to The Art Tent first.
The kids had a great time making dreamcatchers out of old vinyl records and cds.

Once the main acts started we headed over to Castle Field.
We rumaged for a spot like crazed fans to watch Justin Flethcher AKA Mr Tumble and then pitched up for my personal Camp Bestival highlight of the weekend…..Dick and Dom.  You’ve never know true exhilaration until you have screamed ‘BOGIES’ in the rain, like your eight year old self.

One thing that did help keep my spirits up while my Hunters were getting abused was The Alchemy Bar by Schweppes.

A Gin and Tonic cocktail bar where Special ingridiants mixed with the G&T’s added something a bit special to my already favourite drink.

So with a couple of bevvies inside us, we soldiered on.

We danced (in the rain) to All Saints, Mark Ronson, Madness, Louisa Johnson and the other amazing acts that made up the 2017 line up. 

The kids raved with Bflf in the Bollywood tent and threw some shapes at Sara Cox DJ set.

Now lets talk about the food…..oh the food!
Ive mentioned in previous posts about how much I love the Camp Bestival grub.

On the first night we had an obligitory crepe…one of the kids favourite things! Not cheap at £5 each, especially when you have as many mouths to feed as we do, but its becoming a tradition we cant resist.

The paad thai noodles are a huge hit with my little lot.  I can guarentee they will put away a portion each, no problem!!
And obvs, anything that does get left, Mike and I are ready and waiting to swoop in like seagulls on Brighton Pier!

The corn is another essential whilst at CB! I can guarentee, my instagram is always cluttered over CB weekend with gorgeous kiddies sinking their teeth into a golden, buttered corn on the cob in The Lower Kids Garden. 

Then you have Mikes playground, The Feast Collective.
This is a tent/section of the festival dedicated to different cuisines and dishes from all over the place.  Whether you fancy fish and chips or a lamb curry, The Feast Collective will sell it.
Mainly with a street food vibe, This is where i know ill find Mike if we get split up.

We tried DJBBQ pulled pork burger, which was everything i had hoped for after salivating over his Instagram over the last few months.
We tried chips, cheese and gravy which i am convinced would make the best hangover food and was another winner with the kids .
The dish of the weekend for me had to be the Indonesian Coconut Curry and dumplings…..it was the BEST curry I have ever had!

Another great thing about Camp Bestival is that you can bring your own food and drink into the grounds. 
So, as tempting as it is to just keep browsing the stalls, trying a dish ever hour, bringing your own bits will save your pennies.

The rain finally eased off on Sunday afternoon so thats when we headed to The Dingly Dell.

This is an area in the woods with a childrens park, farm animals and outdoor activities like zip wires, childrens building sites and Lizzies Way.
Now, im not going to lie, I haven’t made it to Lizzies Way.
I have been told by my other blogging friends that this is a highlight of Camp Bestival.
All i needed to hear was, in the middle of the woods, she has a mud cafe and you can make potions!!…this is enough to make sure it is our first stop on the list for next year!

Over the next couple of weeks I will publish more posts on Camp Bestival. 
I will cover more about the accomodation options, what to see, saving money and travelling there etc.

For now, the purpose of my post is to say, despite the weather, Camp Bestival 2017 was brilliant weekend, making more unforgettable memories with the kids, which, afterall, is what its all about.

The tickets for 2018 have just been released and ticketline offer a paymentplan.

You can book your tickets and pay them off weekly which I have done for last two years and it works so well.

Boutique options are not available yet but if you secure your weekend tickets, they include standard camping pitches. 

If I have managed to convince any of you to go, please let me know and we can keep in touch over the next few months and maybe even hook up over a G&T  in the Magic Meadow next year 😉

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it on your social media.

Love Kate x 

Rosies Coffee Lounge, Lingfield

Today I found what might be one of my favourite places as a mum of a toddler and a baby! 
I have to share this little gem with you because I have been waiting over 10 years to find somewhere like this!  

Rosies Coffee Lounge in Lingfield is every parents Haven.
The front of the shop is set out like a usual coffee lounge with a lovely vintage theme and on arrival you wouldn’t necessarily expect much more than a great breakfast and cup of tea. 

It is the back of the shop that left my speechless, I can only describe It like a mums ‘speak easy’ coffee shop. 

At the side of the coffee Lounge is a babygate that leads into a lovely ‘play room’ full of dressing up clothes and toy boxes. 

On the other side of this lovely room is a fantastic, covered, outdoor area with tables and chairs and a contained soft play area for babies and toddlers.
Perfect for a rainy day, you can sit and catch up with friends or just enjoy some time indulging a coffee and slice of cake while the little ones crack on and play. 

Rosies offers even more to us parents on a sunny day with a gorgeous outdoor garden. 
Completly covered in fake grass it feels a little like being in teletubby land.

They have ride on toys, benches, bouncy castle and lots more to keep the children entertained.
I honestly couldnt find fault in this wonderful place. 
The decor is quaint, cosy and vintage which makes chilling in their garden all the more relaxing. 
Baby gates and fencing everywhere means there is no way of children escaping which takes the anxiety out of enjoying your cuppa.
When i normally take George out for coffee with the girls i’m forever having to wrestle him into staying in a high chair, chasing him round like a lunatic before he starts stealing food from an unassuming diners plate or running out the front door. 

If I am lucky enough for him to sit still he is usually screaming like something out of the exorcist for a biscuit, that once I give him, he chews and spits back out 😣 
The toys, grass and equipment at Rosies are spotless which I am completly in awe of as I have never found a kids space that I am happy to walk around without my shoes on. 
If there was a coffee themed Masterchef, my friend Rosie and I would be the Greg and John and with our vast experience I can tell you Rosies Coffee Lounge capuchinno is one of the best we’ve had. 

The jackets potatoes and breakfasts were great too. 

On top of all this, the staff were so wonderful, welcoming and patient with the children (and parents) it made the whole atmosphere even more enjoyable. 
Rosies also offer children’s party packages and events.   Take a look at their website for more information. 

https://www.rosiescoffeelounge.com
I should add,  don’t be put off of you have no children.  As I mentioned earlier,  the font of the shop is a great area and when I was there,  not a child in sight! 
It’s important,  given my glowing review that you know I did not recieve anything in return for this review.   In fact, I went ‘secret shopper’ style and didn’t even mention Modern Mum to them. 
So, if you want to find me between the hours of 9-2 this is probably where I will be plotted up with Rosie, my laptop, a copy of OK or If I’m feeling like a particularly good mum,  I might even be playing with my children 😉
Let me know if you take a trip down there and what you think and tell them I said hi 🤗

Peace Out

My morning off

I think every mum can relate to the difficulties we face in getting out of the house and having some ‘ mum time ‘
I had my first ‘ child free’ morning since having Arthur last week.   Even though it was a brilliant morning it didn’t come without its stresses! 
I woke up on Friday to find my six year old daughter in my bed.   

When I asked her why, the poor mite told me she had been sick during the night.
I  went into her room to asses the situation.  

Yep, she had been sick, from the top of her cabin bed.  There was puke all over the floor and up the side of the bed.

Can you imagine the total carnage I was faced with!?  

To make matters worse she had eaten strawberries and raspberries before bed 🙈

So, at 7.30am I was on my knees,  scrubbing the carpet with Vanish power foam (a mothers best friend FYI!)

After I had cleaned the worst of it I started getting ready.  Typically, I was suffering a bad hair day on my first non-pregant day off.  

A morning with No toddler hanging off my leg or baby off my boob.

I managed to make the best of a bad situation and scraped it back with a grip.
I made the bottles,  got the babies dressed and put everything Mike might need from nappies to Calpol in a box next to the sofa. 

I dropped the boys to school and I was OUT! 

After breakfast, a yummy cocktail,  and a mooch around London Bridge with the girls, I was back to school for the 3pm pick up. 

By 4pm I was home, Arthur was back on my boob and I was attempting to make cakes with Libby.
All in a day of a mum.

Mike had a day out last week.  His day was a little different.
He got up, got dressed…..and went out!😒

Day 10 – Sink or Swim 

Today is that day. 
The day after you have a baby that is sent to test your true strength.  

Today, Arthur is ten days old and this Is the day that is throwing everything at me, goading me, trying to break me.
Well, its midday and I haven’t reached for the gin.  Instead I’m laying in bed with my beautiful daughter watching trolls, enjoying a (hot) coffee and writing my blog.  

So guess what!?  You didn’t beat me!! I’m made of stronger stuff than that!! 
It started at 2am this morning.  

I woke up and popped to the loo, only to be greeted by the sight of a mouse running across the bathroom floor. 
I screamed at Mike but he seemed to deem his sleep more important than dealing with little Jerry in the bathroom. 

The mouse had dissappeared anyway so that had to wait till the morning to sort out.
Then at 4am George (our 20 month old) wakes up.  

The poor mite had been been sick in his cot.
He came in and snuggled in between Mike and I, then continued to be sick every ten minutes until 9am. 

Obviously I made sure it was aimed on mikes side of the bed,  resulting in him crashing Charlies room.
At 4.15am Arthur woke up for a feed. 

Ninja style, I managed to catch sick with a towel whilst breastfeeding AJ and making sure at no point I cross contaminated.
At 6am I went downstairs to make a coffee and let the dogs out.

Through bleary eyes I saw one of the dogs had escaped and was high-tailing it across the field without a care in the world. 
I chucked on the nearest shoes (mikes size 11 work boots) and dragged my feet out, into the garden and across the field to chase the Bullmastiff, who I’m pretty sure would have been waving a middle finger at me if she had one!  

Once she was safely indoors I went upstairs with my coffee and settled back into bed to feed again. 
Arthur had just  latched on when libby ran into the bathroom chucking her guts up. 

This is when I had a word with myself.  
I had two choices.  
I could crumple into the bed, crying into my sick smelling sheets.  

Just give up, admit defeat, open a bottle of prosecco and after 10 years of being a non smoker….spark up.
Or 
Pull myself together and work out what needs to be done.  

Stay calm, realise I can only do what I can do and If I start the day like this there might be a glimmer of hope. 

So, I finished feeding Arthur, ran a warm bubble bath, stripped the beds and chucked the sheets in the washing machine. 

I explained to my three older boys that I really needed there help and asked them to make their breakfast, tidy the kitchen and fed the animals. 

Usually this would be met with a moan but because they saw George was unwell,  they jumped to attention and helped without any questions.

George is like a little celebrity in our house. The kids adore him and put him on a very high pedestal.  In fact,  if Mike or I tell him off we usually have to explain ourselves to the older kids. 

Libby and George jumped in the bath and I washed Libby’s hair and rinse the smell of sick off birth of them. 
I put George back in his cot for a nap / play / whatever he wanted to do to buy me an hour or so.   As it happens, the early start was staying to affect him and he went back to sleep for a couple of hours.
Libby sat on my bed watching Game Shakers (one of the most irritating programmes ever)  but if it keept her happy it would make my morning easier.
Then I managed to clear all my washing away,  bleech the bathroom,  vacuum and freshen up my bedroom and make poached eggs on toast!  WTF! Even I didn’t expect to get all that done!  

By now the sheets are ready and I took them out of the tumble anf make the bed. 

I had a shower and washed my hair. 

I cuddled up with Libby with another coffee and I sat back and watched Trolls!

By now Arthur is due another feed and George is just waking up. 
All this before midday!
Now I feel on top of the day,  nothing can bring me down. 
Now, I don’t like to show off,  parenting can be hard,  especially with a newborn.
But today I rocked motherhood, today didn’t beat me! Today,  I’m winning 🏆
If you enjoy reading my blog please share the love amongst your friends.  

Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email or word of mouth, sharing is caring 😘

Love Kate 

What do I need for Labour? Hospital or Homebirth

​A few mums,  particularly first time mums,  have asked me to do a blog on what you actually need when you go into labour. 

I am going to start packing my hospital bag/homebirth box this week (I am 34 weeks pregnant) although you can get it ready whenever it suits you.   

Bear in mind, women are classed full term at 37 weeks and it certainly isn’t unusual for babies to come early so don’t leave it to late to get your stuff ready. 
I have broken it down a bit, this is just my personal list.
For a hospital bag:
Pregnancy Notes– Midwives and doctors will not be impressed of you turn up without them and the chances are your birthing partner will be sent back home to pick them up. 
Tens Machine – everyone knows about my love for a tens machine, I am lucky enough that a tens machine helps me from early labour to transition with bearable pain.  

Your tens will probably be strapped to you before you even leave for hospital (it is more effective the earlier you use it) but pop it in your hospital bag so you know where it is when you need it.

Loose tracksuit – or trousers and a t shirt to travel home in, something that is not to tight (your tummy is still tender after baby is born).  
Knickers – pack a few pairs of maternity Knickers or a size bigger than you usually wear.   

Contrary to what posh spice would have you believe, you still have a   ‘Baby bump’ for a little while after birth. 


Lipsalve or Vaseline – labour is hardwork and with all the panting you do or gas and air, your lips can dry out quickly. 

 
Hair bands – When I’m sweating and mean business I can not tolerate my hair sweaping in front of my face. 

Make up– look, everyone will tell you you don’t care about how you look when you are in labour and I would completly agree.  

However,  if you are staying in hospital for a day or so and are expecting visitors you might want to pop a bit of blusher and mascara on.   

Honestly,  my last few births I couldn’t care less, but I have been at home and able to hide upstairs from guests if I want to. 

When I had the twins (my first)  the next morning I couldn’t wait to have a wash and put some slap on.   

Yep that’s right,  I wanted to give the impression of totally nailing this baby lark.  

If I could give myself some advice I would say, why did you bother!?  no visitors even noticed you.   

They were too busy cooing over the new babies,  but it made me feel better and if it makes you feel better, pack it!  

Wine gums – My midwives have always told me to have some wine gums or a similar sweets with you.   They give you a quick energy burst if you start to feel tired or weak during labour. 

Shampoo/bodywash/toothbrush and toothpaste – it always makes you feel better to have a good wash after delivery. 
Nipple pads – Obvs to prevent any leakages.  
Bikini top – Incase you fancy a water birth but don’t want to bear all in the tub 😉
Book/ magazines – Some labours can go on for a while so you might want to take something to occupy yourself.   

This is why I would try to stay at home as long as you can,  I find it easier to pass the time at home rather than in a hospital. 
Phone / Camera and charger – labour can take a while and let’s face it,  none of us can cope for too long without Facebook or Instagram! 

If you’re not as sad as me you will at least want your phone charged ready for pics of your gorgeous new bubba.
While on the subject of photos, may I give you a word of advice? 

Get someone to take photos straight after delivery.   

It is the last thing you think of when pushing baby out but I have no pics of my first cuddle with my first four children.

My photo with George I absolutly cherish, I look rough as anything and it is far from a glamorous selfie,but looking at it reminds me of that wonderful moment. 

It is a regret I have with my others, I was too concerned about how I looked to let anyone photo me!  

Newborn nappies –  4lb to 11lb usually covers all possibilities, whether you have a dinky dolly or a bigger beauty.
Cotton Wool – you aren’t suppose to use baby wipes on newborn babies.   

You are told to use warm water and cotton wool.   I’m not going to lie,  at the risk of being told off, I never used cotton wool with my last two babies.   It’s fiddly and really awkward,  I use fragrance free baby wipes. 


Clothes– three vests, three babygrows, a hat and a cardigan/coat.  

Anticipate that you might be in hospital for a couple of days after the birth.   

That is unlikely, and even if you do have to stay in I am sure someone could bring in some extra clothes for you. 

Having said that, babies can make a mess quite easily so I would pack at least three of each anyway. 

I have always been told, the rule of thumb is, a baby should always wear one more layer of clothing than you.   So depending on the time of year your baby is due you may need a couple of extra layers.


Blanket – to wrap your brand new bundle up in. 
Two bottles and formula – if you dont plan to breastfeed then take a couple of small bottles and carton / bottle of ready made formula.  my hospital provided both but just incase things are different at yours it’s best to be prepared. 
Car Seat – It’s easily forgotten when you are in a rush to get to hospital but don’t forget you will need a car seat to bring baby home in.  Some hospital won’t discharge you without one. 
Maternity pads– giving birth is a messy business!  my tip is to actually forget maternity pads and get incontinence pads from the supermarket,they are usually cheaper and….. The thicker the better.  

Imagine your heaviest period…the hours/days post birth is worse! 
Pjs– a nice clean set of maternity pajamas so that you are as comfortable as possible after baby is born. I love the Anita range, they are super comfortable but pretty with it. 

For a Homebirth:


For a homebirth you will still need everything listed above.  

It is still best to have everything packed in a hospital bag,  just incase,  like me,  you have to dash to the hospital at the last minute. 
Birthing Pool– I loved my water/homebirth.   It was more simple than you would think to set up.  I used an Eco Pool which came with everything, I highly recommend it.  

https://www.birthpoolinabox.co.uk/home
 Just make sure you set it up early and close to a toilet /bathroom so you don’t have to walk around the house soaking wet.

Four or Five Towels – preferably old towels so that you can just throw everything away afterwards but you can buy cheap towels from primark or tesco if not. 

Bin bags – to scoop everything up and throw away.
Incontinence Bed Pads – you can buy these of Amazon,  they are so cheap and I used them for a couple of weeks after the births.   They save your bedclothes/mattress/sofa and if you have some left over,  put them in the cupboard and they come in useful if your darlings go through a bed-wetting stage! 
Paracetamol – it might sound silly but make sure you have some handy as those early contractions can be controlled by paracetamol and it will help you get a bit of sleep before showtime.
Movies – Download a couple of good movies or box sets and have some music ready. 
Clean duvet covers and bed sheets – I always make sure I have a fresh bed set in my bedroom.   Whether I give birth in hospital or at home, there is nothing nicer than getting into a fresh bed with your new baby after you have showered and put your clean clothes on.  


This obviously isn’t essential,  just a good way of putting that ‘nesting’ energy you have a few days before birth to good use. 
For more natural pain relief options take a look at my other post

https://modernmum.net/2017/02/02/tips-to-help-your-labour/
If you have found this post useful or know someone who is expecting a baby please share this on your social media.

😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘