My Mumcation

Psychologists have suggested that mothers should take holidays with friends, not family – and this includes leaving the children behind.
Experts are urging tired mothers to go on “mum-cations”, holidays without their offspring, to take a proper break.

With this in mind, me and three of my closest girlfriends booked a ‘mumcation’ to Vilamoura for a few days in October.

A few people asked me if the weather was going to be any good in Portugal that time if year, as if we were crazy not to follow the blazing sun.
These people had totally missed the point of a mumcation.
Of corse good weather would be preferable, but honestly, if i could go to the toilet on my own, sleep without someones foot digging in my boobs and sit down by a pool without worrying who is going to drown/get abducted or piss off fellow vacationers, I would be a happy girl.

This weekend was more than a girls weekend, It was therapy and It gave me a chance to really relax and unwind.
When you become a mum your life revolves around these little people (rightly so), but we all need to keep our individual identity and take time out for ourselves, it is a huge factor to how I cope as a mum.

Whether it is a night out with Mike, drinks with the girls or a shopping trip entirely on my own, it is my time out.
It is my chance to clear my head of football training, horse riding, boxing, school pick up, kids parties, laundry, dinner etc and focus on me.

The morning we left I felt a complete mixture of emotions. I have been away on my own before, but not abroad since our two youngest have been born.
Let me picture the morning I left for Portugal for you…..

‘George, Arthur, come here, give me a kiss, I am going to miss you so much’

*GEORGE EMPTIES BUCKET OF LEGO ON MY BEDROOM CARPET*

‘FFS George!!! This is why i need a break’

‘George I am sorry, come here and give me a kiss’

*ARTHUR POURS THE CONTENTS OF MY COLD COFFEE OVER MY BED*

……..’Rosie, how long are you going to be? I know the flight is in 8 hours but we dont want to risk missing it’

From the moment Rosie picked me up to when she dropped me back to my door four days later, I did not stop laughing!

We talked about everything, nothing was off the table.
We talked about our kids, our partners and our friends, we discussed designer vaginas, sex and how to make a Wood pigeon call with your tounge.
We did eachothers make up and hair and shared eachothers clothes.

We people watched and ate great food (without a high chair or childrens menu in sight!)

We shared secrets and drank, we drank lots!

We danced every night until the early hours and the one day the weather was bit ‘meh’ we found a great shopping mall and we shopped. I picked up a couple of treats for the kids snd a little something for me…. (do you like my new boots?)

I managed to read a whole book! From start to finish, in one weekend. If you don’t have kids, this may seem ridiculous, if you do you kids, well, you know.

Guess what else I did? And I haven’t done this since I was about 21….. I had an afternoon nap! A siesta if you will.
Not because I had just given birth or because I dozed off breast feeding a baby, but because I consciously chose to!

Another thing. I have never enjoyed a hangover so much.

Knowing you can eat, drink and sleep your way through it without having to make food for little ones, read stories and change nappies makes a hangover so much easier to bear.

I can only describe the weekend as Bad Moms meets The Hangover with a drizzle of bridesmaids.

It was bliss…utter bliss and I owe my girls so much for being the perfect friends.

Their laid back natures ment there were no tantrums, no arguments and by the time we were due to come home I felt so ready to see Mike and the kids and be ‘mum’ again.

I urge you to try it! Book something up! It doesnt have to expensive, it doesnt have to be abroad.

A weekend in Portugal cost us £250 each (plus spending money). Easyjet flights were £150 return from Gatwick to Faro and our apartment at The Dom Pedro Portobelo was right on the marina where all the bars and restaurants are.

It comfortably accomodated the four of us and cost £100 each for the four nights.

I asked some fellow mum blogger what their opinionon ‘Mumcations’ is, here is what they had to say:

Rebecca at www.beccablogsitout.com

I haven’t had one and I’m.not sure I could. I’d love to, in theory. I could definitely use a break. But I think I’d feel too guilty if I went away for more than a day without the twins. I think I’d miss them.

Jenna at www.thentherewerethree.uk

‘I’ve had some! I met an amazing bunch of ladies on a birth group on Facebook and we arrange a couple of weekend breaks a year. We’ve booked a farmhouse in north wales, various city stays and are going to see the Spice Girls next year. I definitely think they’re needed.’

Francessca at https://frompenniestopounds.com

‘I’ve been on hen do’s and also my honeymoon without my daughter. With the honeymoon we went to Mexico which you can’t just pop over for, but I said I would not go for longer than 10 days.
I missed her but she had a great time with her grandparents. I was never close to my grandparents so I’m happy for her to spend time with them.
I think it’s healthy for both you and the kids.
I always take my daughter away every year now though since splitting up with my ex-husband.’

Gail at www.yammymommy.co.uk

‘Still can’t do more than a night away from my 4 year old. I think we would both struggle after 24 hours!’

Victoria at www.travelvixta.com

‘I haven’t yet, but I think in a couple of years once my youngest is at school then I’d love to go on a yoga retreat by myself! They look like bliss and even now with a 6 year old and 3 year old I feel like I could really do with some time to myself and a break for a few days to a retreat!’

Birthday at The Hawksmoor

The twins turn twelve next week and I still can’t quite believe that they are growing into young men.
I mean, they are still kids, still my little boys, but they are hitting that age where they are to grown up for parties or pass the parcel.

The same applies with eating out. They are starting to divert from the kids menus to the adult side.

It means our bills have increased, but I love watching them choose what they want to eat and trying different dishes.

I cant bear to think how much we will be spending when we are taking six ‘adults’ out gor dinner!
Mikey and Harri have also taken a serious liking to steak, thanks to a meal in Florida where they tried a porterhouse, medium/rare (melt in your mouth – perfection).

With this is mind, for there birthday we decided to take them to one of Londons top steakhouses, The Hawksmoor.

It is a first floor restaurant set between Regent Street and Picadilly. It has a lovely classy Art Deco feel along with a very relaxed atmosphere and is not pretentious at all.

I gained brownie points straight away because Mikey thought the restaurant was like a scene from the Kingsman movie.

When I told the lovely host at the front desk what Mikey had said, he played along brilliantly…..offering him his lighter (along with a wink) and told him to keep it safe as one twist and the taser is activated. The boys thought it was fantastic!

Lets start with my favourite…..the cocktails.

The cocktail menu is extensive but after a quick look I decided on the Hawksmoor Collins cocktail (£10.50) which is a gin based sour drink, and to die for!
Mike stuck with his favoirite, an Old Fashioned (a whisky cocktail), which he said was one of the best he has had.

I had the Dorset Crab starter and the boys shared the ribs. The obvious main for us was the fillet steak. We chose creamed spinish, beef dripping fries and mash with gravy.

The boys shared a fillet steak as after their rib starters they didn’t think they would manage a whole one and they were right.

The whole meal was spot on! Perfect, simple and delicious, the boys absolutly loved it.

I am afraid the food was so good that I made the rookie mistake of not taking many photos.

The menu has something for everyone, the fish dishes looked incredible (I eyed up a few as they were being taken to neighbouring tables) and will be trying one of those at my next visit.

The Hawksmoor is not cheap but it is no more expensive than what you would expect to pay at a London restaurant with a similar reputation.

They do have offers such as two courses for £27 and can provide an express menu if you have theatre deadlines.
We decided to stick with the A la carte menu on this occasion.

Whether it is a date night, family dinner, a lunch with the girls or taking your kids out for a special meal, I definatly recommend the Hawksmoore, Air Street and can not wait to go back.

For more information take a look at their website https://thehawksmoor.com

Have you eaten at The Hawksmoor? What did you think? What restaurant do you reccomend?

Love Kate

Xxx

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

Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning…..lets talk about this for a moment.

This is a new concept for me. All my children were fed straight from a bowl, to their mouths, on a spoon (or sometimes direct from a pouch) by me.

When Charlie was younger he choked on everything.  Sometimes he brought it up himself, sometimes he needed a firm pat on the backand, and on one occasion our good friends, (who happen to be a doctor and nurse) had to hang him upside down to help bring up the offending food.

That period of parenting left me mentally scared. 

After that, Mike and I chopped up his food into the tiniest pieces until he was about seven!!! 

I had to logically tell myself that if he copes ok at school then I should leave him to get on with it himself at home, but even then I struggled.
I carried this paranoia with me during Libby and Georges early years.

Even now my heart stops when i see a toddler eating a banana, sausage or a whole grape.
And now it is time to wean Arthur and I dont know what to do.
Arthur is quite independent and likes to grab the food/spoon himself which can make feeding him a little frustrsting.

Lets be honest, with an independent baby, a toddler and four older children, BLW is probably the more convenient and obvious option.

I can’t tell you I agree or am doing it to avoid having fussy children or children prone to allergies.  

All of my five who were weaned ‘traditionally’ are far from fussy.  They eat anything from roast diner (even the brussels) to jamaican hot curries to oysters, cockles, olives and even liver!

Food is a big part of our family. We socialise around food, We enjoy eating out, cooking and trying lots of different cuisines and I think that has had a bigger impact on their food choices than how they were weaned (but i am open to suggestion).

We have a rule in our house…..you can not say you do not like something or do not want something unless you try it first.

Back to BLW, From what I understand, you put a selection of food in front of them and let them feed themselves.  

I love the concept and it fits in with our family values of encouraging independence and choices.

The Problem is my anxiety levels go through the roof at just the thought of it.

So recently I compromised and I did let Arthur feed himself…..baby rice and pureed food.

I popped Arthur in his highchair and let him loose with the rice and a spoon.  

Well, i put the spoon in his hand but that was swiftly given to the dog who was waiting patiently by his highchair, then he dived in hands first.

The food was in his hair, over the highchair and even inbetween the plastic strap clickers (you know what I mean if you have ever had to clear the aftermath up!)

After a mammoth cleaning session and a bath in the kitchen sink I decided to re think my strategy.

I am going to try a mummy led dinner again tonight and see how that goes.  

But I would really like to try more BLW.

Does anyone have any tips on what foods are good for babies to eat on their own wihout risking heart failure (mine that is).

I feel like after having six babies you are expected to have all the answers, but things change so much and each baby is so different. 
HELP! 
I’ll update you with our progress over the next week.

Wish me luck!

World Mental Health Day 

Today is World Mental Health Day and, although it feels there is a ‘day’ for just about everything now and Twitter is always trending with one or another, I think this is a really important one to talk about.  

We are all aware we are suppose to be taking care of our bodies.   We take time to go to the dentist, opticians, chiropodist, yet if we are stressed, feeling down or unable to cope we just soldier on.

I am researching children and teen mental health and well being for a post I am writing with The Childrens Society.
I had never realised how many people suffer with mental health problems.
I started to think about friends, family and people I know who have or could be suffering from mental health issues. 

I thought back to a school friend who battled with his sexuality and felt so down that he tried to take his own life.
I thought of a friend whos dad was so depressed he felt he had no way out, leaving my friend fatherless.
I thought of a good friend of mine who suffered badly with PTS as a result of his time served in The Falklands.
I thought of my nan and how I watched her deteriorate from Alzheimer’s.
I thought of bloggers I know who suffer with such bad anxiety that they find it a near impossible to leave their house.

It was while thinking about different forms of mental health, from post traumatic stress to post natel depression, dementia to bi-polar to stress, depression and anxiety, that I realised I was overlooking my own experiences with mental health problems, albeit not as serious or obvious as some.

I think it would suprise alot of people to know I suffer with anxiety.

I know what you are thinking…. Thats no suprise with sic children.  But it started way before the kids came along.

It first started at Primary school.

I started  suffering with terrible shortness of breath. 
I always found it really hard to explain to my mum and dad, but it was like I was breathing in, but no air was getting into my lungs. 
Once it started, it felt like it would get worse and worse. It could last anywhere from a few minutes to days.
I would have to sit outside the headmasters office with a brown paper bag and practice slow, deep breathing into it.

Mum took me to the doctor and I was tested for asthma but all the tests came back normal.

I never really talked about it again for years, I would just try to get through it by trying to take my mind off it.  Sometimes that worked and sometimes I would end up in a panic and crying.
Then, towards the end of primary school I developed a twitch.
My nose would screw quickly like Samantha  from bewitched…..only I wasnt casting a spell!

We put it down to my fringe being too long and tickling my nose, so I grew it out.
But the twitch didnt go, so we put it down to habbit as a result of the twitch from my fringe.  It sounds crazy now but It never occured to me that it could be anything more.

So, here I was, going through my teens, suffering with shortness of breath and a nervous twitch (as we called it)…. I was a right sort 😉

The shortness of breath was never constant.  I could go months without suffering from it, then, out of the blue it would hit me.
I would go into a panic and have practice my ‘mind over matter’ technique. 

Things finally got to a point in 2009 when I went back to the doctors, desperate for help.

I was staying in France with the Mikey, Harri and Charlie (who was about 10 months).

Mike had gone to portugal with some friends and was going to fly from Faro to France to meet up with us.

The whole time I was in France on my own my shortness of breath was unbearable.  I couldnt concentrate on anything and I felt like I was in a constant state of panic.

As a young mum (25) all sorts of things went through my head.
Maybe I have lung cancer…..
What if its my heart…..

Once Mike arrived at the cottage to spend the rest of the holiday together the shortness of breath dissapeared and I felt ‘normal’ again.
He would wind me up (and still does) that I just cant bare to be apart from him – trust me, thats not true!

With the fear it might return as badly as it had in France I booked an appointment with my Doctor.

I sat and explained everything to him.  I told him all about the asthma tests when I was a kid to the horrible feelings in France.

He said with no uncertainty
‘You are suffering with stress and anxiety’

I laughed it off and explained to him that I was not stressed! In fact, I was completely laid back and never got stressed, thats what I was known for! Laid back, easy going Kate- always smiling and never stressed.

Apparently I was the perfect candidate for anxiety.  He told me that because I am never outwardly stressed, my body deals with it in different ways. 
In my case, through shortness of breath, my rabbit-like twitch and small panic attacks.

I left his office feeling relieved but also confused.

I was relieved that i wasnt dying! But confused as to how I didn’t know myself that I had been suffering with anxiety all these years.

As time has gone on it has become more obvious to me. 
I can almost predict when the episode will start.
Flights and holidays…..a month or so before I will start feeling jittery.
My breathing gets deeper as my shortness of breath kicks in and Mike and friends will comment on my twitch getting worse.
My close friends will even ask me whats on my mind as they will know from my twitch how high my anxiety is.
Sometimes my twitch gets so bad it gives me a headache as my whole face contorts.

Big events, weddings, parties and nights out will start me off.
My dad was very poorly a couple of years ago and that sent my anxiety to a whole new level.

The last two months have been a challange aswell.  Mike has been working away and we have been trying to choose a high school for the boys.
In fact, writing this has made me very aware at how anxious I am feeling right now.

There is no cure or immidiate fix that I know of and I count my blessings that my anxiety is not as debilitating as some people. 
I have learned how to cope in my own way.  I still practice mind over matter, a little like meditation and sometimes i will try to busy myself with something else.
If it is really bad I will run a bath with a few drops of lavender and ylang-ylang oil and soak for a while…. that usually calms me down a bit.
Sometimes nothing works and I just have to ride it out.

So, mental health can come in all sorts of forms and you never know who might be suffering.  That is why tolerance and understanding is a great quality to practice.
Mental health problems are certainly not something we can control or just ‘get over’.

Everyone who knows me will probably be suprised that I suffer with this,  It is not something I tend to talk openly about, maybe I should.
I certainly do not feel crazy or ill, but I have learned to try and listen to my body and when it tells me to chill out I try to do just that.

And luckily Mike has always found my twitch cute thank god!

Thanks for reading guys…..that was as good as a therapy session!

I would love to hear your experiences with mental health and anything you can suggest to keep anxiety at bay.

Please share awareness for World Mental Health Day

Love ya

Kate

Xxxx

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our day at Godstone Farm

I have been visiting Godstone farm since I was Georges age.

Over the years it has just got better and better, whilst keeping hold of it orginal charm that makes me so nostalgic.

So last week, I made the brave decision to take ALL my children for a visit.

Even though we live on a farm, there is nothing like a day out at Godstone Farm.  We are so fortunate that it is just fifteen minutes from us.

Considering it was the middle of the summer holidays, it was relatively quiet, which helped me stay sane.

The farm is divided into areas that makes it easy to explore.

They have all the animals you would hope to see on a farm.  Horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, llama and cows. 

They have a wonderful selection of birds and smaller animals. Chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs aswell as a few reptiles.

Activities are ran throughout the day such as animal talks and feedings.

Have you ever watched Pig and feret racing? 

The kids loved it!

I had to giggle when the boys announced, on seeing the piglets…

‘Look mum, this pig has more babies than you!’

-yep, she looks in better shape to!

Always a magical part of the day is the barn where you can hold the babies and small animals.  

They have baby chicks of different ages, rabbits and tortoises.

 Aswell as making sure no little darlings throw the chicks across the barn, Godstone farm employees are on hand to answer any questions the kids have.

My kids loved this area, particularly George.  

Lets talk about the outdoor play area that gets even the adult visitors excited.

The playground alone is worth the enterance fee.  

(How amazing is this swing!?)

It has everything from zip wires and large slides for the older kids (and adults), to a sand pit, climbing frames and ride-ons for the younger ones.

It is perfect to plot up and have a picnic, but, if like me you are not that organised, they have a sandwhich hut serving coffee, tea, cold drinks and ice cream.

We spent about two hours here, and I still had to drag the kids away kicking and screaming!

If the weather is bad, There are also two covered play areas.  

One is a huge soft play area set up in one of the large barns. 

The other area is smaller with a climbing area and slide, set up for younger children


After wearing George out in the play area we headed to the Dino Trail.

Dotted around a path, and looking over the llamas, at the bottom of the farm are large model dinosaurs.  Each one is accompanied with facts on the animal.

With a toddler and an eight year old obsessed with dinosaurs, this was a great suprise!

Who knew that a baby T-Rex could have been born with feathers?

We ended our day in the large sandpit for younger children with a portion of chips and an ice cream.

I spent most of my time here wrestling George as he tried to take every tractor toy in the sandpit away from the other tots. 

Always making time for a trip to the shop, the boys bought some water toys to play in the sun.

Apart from all the activities, I was impressed with the general appearence of the farm.

The landscaping is beautiful, the facilities were clean and there were plenty of hand washing points.

We had a great day at Godstone Farm.  As always, it provided a fun and educational day outdoors, enjoying the great British summer.

For more information, please visit

http://godstonefarm.co.uk/

*I recieved free tickets in return for this review.

However, as always, all my opinions are entirely honest and without biased.

Our Day Out at Thorpe Park

If you are at a loose end with the kids this summer and want something that will suit all ages, from babies to older teenagers (and you) try Thorpe Park.

Thorpe Park is a large theme park set between Chertsey and Staines-Upon-Thames, at juction 11 on the M25.

Despite being just a forty five minute drive from me I haven’t been there since I was a kid.  Mike was supposed to join me, but because of his work commitments I took the kids on my own.  

Two children under two, four over six and just one adult meant I wouldnt be able to make the most of the day.  So, I dropped George and Arthur to my Mum and Dad’s and headed off with Mikey (10), Harri (10), Charlie (8) and Libby (6).

When we arrived the kids checked the map and all the many rides and gave me a summary of the ones they definitely wanted to go on. 

My slight disapointment, being a huge rollercoaster fan, (bigger the better) was because I was on my own, I had to swerve some of the biggest and best rides in the park.

Mikey was also disappointed, as he seems to have inherited my need for thrills! 

Saw, Stealth, Colossus, Rush and Nemiesis Inferno were all no-gos for us this time round. 

So lets talk about the rides we did go on.

Like other theme parks, Thorpe Park is separated into different areas, each with its own theme.

We started our day at Amity, a section of the park based around the seaside town that the movie Jaws is based on.

The first ride we went on was Flying Fish, a family rollercoaster.

After dragging Mikey and Harri on some of Universal Studios scariest rides last year, they were both up for this ‘tamer’ ride.

Libby and Charlie however, were rollercoaster novices and both tried get out of it.  

Thinking they would enjoy it once they were on it, I managed to convince them with some gentle persuasion.

They loved it!

Mikey didnt feel it quite satisfied his adrenaline need, but enjoyed it nevertheless.

Whilst in Amity, we also went on the obligatory log flume Tidle Wave and the more gentle water ride, Storm Surge.

One of my most memorable rides with the kids was ‘Storm in a Teacup’.  Maybe because I remember this ride and the Tetley men from when I was the boys age.  

While the kids were spinning the cup, faster and faster, I was watching their faces, they were ecstatic, their laughing and screaming with excitement will stay with me forever.   It is what #makingmemories is all about.

From Amity, we headed to ‘The Jungle’.  

This is where we rode on Mr Monkeys Banana Ride (a tame thrill ride for younger children) and the Rhumba Rapids, riding through the jungle river on a raft.

Whilst in The Jungle I spied a ‘Ghost Train’ sign.

Ghost Trains are my favourite kind of ride so I dragged the kids kicking and screaming towards it.

They breathed a sigh of relief when it stated at the entrance that you had to be 13 or over.  I was gutted! 

It looked fantastic, promoted as Darren Brown’s Ghost Train, I am heading straight for that on my kid-free visit!

Harri’s ride of choice was Angry Birds 4D Experience.

It was very similar to the Shrek ride at Universal Studios.   I dont want to spoil it for anyone, but it is a great ride for all the family. 

At Old Town the kids jumped on The Rocky Express, which they all commented that George (2) would have loved.  

Then, the kids hurried Mikey and I passed Samuri and Saw whilst we sulked like teenagers.

We stopped for a well deserved Whoppa at Burger King, just because it was the closest Eatery.  However, there are plenty of places to eat at the park.  They have everything from a Bar and Grill to Fish and Chips, Mexican, Kebabs, Pulled Meat and BBQ, they even have Burger King and KFC.

If you want treats they offer Donuts, Ice Cream, Slushies and lots of yummies dotted around the park.
The Lost City was the home of Mikeys favourite ride of the day….Quantum.  Judging by Thorpe Park standards it was one of the smaller rides but given that Mikey hadnt managed to ride any of the monsters, this satisfied his thrill level for the day.

Charlie and Harri however, were not so keen! Mikey ran off begging to ride again, whilst the others threatened to report me to social services for making them go on such a scary ride (I bolted out of the queue with Libby at the last minute as I knew she would be petrified).

Zodiac was a great ride, I actually managed to ride that one with Mikey as the queue was less than five minutes.

We spent the last hour of our day at Thorpe Park at Amity Beach, A large, man-made beach with shallow pools and water features.  

The weather was beautiful and It was so reminiscent of the Lidos my mum used to take us to when we were kids (none of which are open any more).

I sat and watched the four kids mess about, splash each other and have a great time.

Depth Charge is next to the beach.  It is a multi slide where you sit on a raft and ride down the slide.  The kids would have gone on this again and again and again but time was running away.

Being the unorganized mum that I am, i hadnt packed swimsuits or towels so it is just lucky we made that the last stop of the day.

I say last stop, but as every parent knows, no trip to a theme park is complete without a visit to the park store!

Loaded with badges, sweets and souvenirs, we were ready to say goodbye to Thorpe Park.

All I needed to do was remember where I parked the car!!!

For more information on Thorpe Park, their prices and admissions, head over to their website.

https://www.thorpepark.com
If you have been or do plan a day in Thorpe Park I’d love to hear your feedback.

Love Kate

Xxxx

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