20th May 2019

A review of Little Scribblers Busy Bags (plus 15% off everything)!

If you follow me over on social media, you will have heard me talk about Little Scribblers last week; the genius zip-up bags that each contain an activity to keep little people busy at home, while travelling, dining out, or simply when you have a spare moment to fill. And today, I wanted to tell you a little more…

Little Scribblers busy bags are designed to tie in with the National Curriculum Early Years (with support from both teachers and occupational therapists) – and each zip-up pouch contains an activity to educate, develop, and entertain little ones.

A fair few of packs focus on writing – and for those aimed at the youngest children, it’s about developing a pincer grip by working the small muscles in their hands so they can hold a pencil. This is achieved with fun, achievable tasks, such as threading a length of cord through the card, using tweezers, or by sorting pom poms into different containers.

When they are ready to hold a pen, they can move onto the pre-writing packs such as this fun ‘Ready, Set, GO’ road set. Mabel loved this set particularly – and seriously impressed me when she picked up the pen and managed to draw lines down the roads at the age of 2.5 years!

And when they have a strong enough foundation with these sets, they can move onto actual letter writing – but still with lots of fun! The glossy surface of the cards and wipe-off pen included in the pack means that the cards can be used over and over again and shared between siblings – just use the eraser on the lid to rub the pen away when you’ve finished.

But it isn’t just about writing… There are packs that focus on space recognition, sequencing, early numeracy skills and mathematics too. Whether it’s through creating patterns by linking together a chain, or by counting the number of holes in a giant button, or by filling in shapes with colourful tangrams, every pack is both educational, but very fun.

We took a selection of the packs to London on the train with us last week – and there was something to entertain all my children from aged 2 to aged 7. If you are heading away this summer, they’d be fantastic for keeping them busy on flights, trains, and long car journeys.

The instructions are brilliant too, taking both the parent and child through the cards, its different ways to play, and its benefits. This isn’t something I’ve seen frequently before in activities for children and I really appreciated the option of reading through before or during the children playing.

They are wonderful quality and affordable too – as an example, the pre-writing set with roads that Mabel draws on in the pictures above is just £8.50, which will be just £7.22 with your 15% discount!

 

Little Scribblers really does come very highly recommended by me. We’ve taken them everywhere since we received them a few weeks ago and I can already see the benefits, especially in the way Mabel is using and controlling a pen. I love the company, the ethos, and the price – and I’m very happy to pass on an exclusive 15% discount below.

To shop, head over to https://www.littlescribblers.world/shop/ and use the code Mabel15 for 15% off!

 

 

 



3rd May 2019

I review: BookBildr

Have you ever wished you could make your own book, adding your own text and illustrations? Whether it’s a story book for your children, a picture book for your parents, or a book for use in your business, there is a new website that allows us to do just that.

BookBildr is a new web service that makes it very easy for anyone to create picture books using drag and drop technology online. You can either order printed copies or download the book in PDF – and if you order the printed books, they will be bookshop quality.

With BookBildr you can choose whether to make hardback or softcover illustrated books, with hundreds of ready-made illustrations for your book (or simply upload your own). You can choose from the full set of Google fonts for your text, customise the background with colour or stretch out an illustration to use it as a background, and you can save the book design for later use if you are pushed for time.

After hearing about BookBildr, I went online to have a little play – and it is so easy to drag pictures, place text and choose colours. It’s really self-explanatory too, with clearly labelled options on the sidebar, so you can teach yourself how to use it in a matter of seconds.

I love the idea of writing down stories that grandparents always tell, as a gift for them. Or collating recipes that your mother cooks and you want to preserve. Or writing the story of a special holiday, the first few months of a baby’s life, or the love story of a couple celebrating a milestone anniversary. There are so many options – and knowing that will receive a book that is bookstore quality at the end is a real incentive to start building.

You can print any number of books from 1 upwards – and you only pay when you decide to print or download your copy. So why not have a go and see where it takes you?

Head over to http://www.bookbildr.com/ to give it a go!

 

 

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2nd May 2019

5 Reasons Why I love Vertbaudet’s New Summer Collection

Have you discovered the brand Vertbaudet yet? The brand has been a favourite in France for over 40 years, but launched over here in the UK in 1997 – and now it’s available online, it’s easy to browse the online catalogue and pick out a few favourites for your little ones.

I logged on a few weeks ago and chose Mabel a few items for her wardrobe and bedroom – and when it arrived, I was so impressed I thought I’d share with you all. So without further ado, here’s why I love Vertbaudet’s New Summer Collection…

  1. The clothes are very stylish

I’m quite fussy when it comes to Mabel’s wardrobe – but there were so many pieces in the Vertbaudet summer collection that I wanted. From nautical stripes, to rainbow print, to zingy brights for summer days, to stylish denim (and lots more!)

 

 

 

 

This probably isn’t hugely surprising when it comes to French fashion, as it’s definitely the kind of thing I like to dress her in – and if you have the same taste in quite neutral pieces with splashes of bright colours, you’ll love the collection too.

 

  1. Affordability

Children grow so quickly and I don’t want to spend a lot on their clothes, only for them to be too short or too small when they next wear them. This is why I appreciate the price tags on Vertbaudet’s clothing, such as £7.50 for this dress and £6.50 for these T-Shirts.

 

  1. Beautiful furniture

But it isn’t just clothes for sale at Vertbaudet. The furniture for sale on the website is just as stylish and affordbale. Mabel has a sweet little table, complete with matching chairs – and I love the fact it’s very practical, but also neutral and stylish too.

I’d buy this furniture for their bedrooms and playrooms, but also for areas I’d usually want to keep a bit more adult in design, such as the living room.

  1. High Quality

I’ve been really impressed with the quality of both clothes and furniture. Everything wears well, is soft against skin, and washes well too. Sometimes more affordable options for children come with a drop in quality, but this definitely isn’t the case with Vertbaudet. The summer pyjamas in the picture below are so soft; perfect for warm summer evenings!

 

  1. Clever designs

The baby, children and maternity ranges offer clever details and practical solutions such as, clothing to help your little one’s dress themselves, 3-in-1 parka’s, reversible dresses, perfect fit trousers (with different hip sizes), and nursing tops (for discreet feeding).

I was so impressed when Mabel’s mac arrived and it had a zip-in padded lining, which will take it from being a warm coat in winter, to a thin waterproof for use in summer when the heavens open.

All in all, I’m very impressed with everything at Vertbaudet – and I’d definitely recommend a quick browse.

Link > www.vertbaudet.co.uk/  

 

Items were gifted for the purpose of this review



5 Ways to Get Back into Exercise as a Mum

Prior to having kids, you may have been a total gym-bunny, or perhaps a swimming fanatic. Whatever your chosen form of exercise was, it’s likely that you stayed active in some way.

However, there’s something about having children that makes exercise an unappealing prospect. The big question is, how can you get back into exercising again?

Why it matters

Most people know the physical benefits that exercise offers. But often, the mental advantages are overlooked. Keeping fit can boost your mood, and can also help to tackle anxiety and depression (something us mums are prone to). It can also be a social activity, and a chance to connect with others. In short, it might be just the pick-me up you need right now.

Getting back into it

  1. Get your partner’s support. Sometimes, relationships get tricky when you’ve had kids. Hopefully your partner will be in full support of you taking greater care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Work out a time you can head to the fitness class, swimming pool or gym, that works with his diary too. Better still, encourage him to get active again – then you can engage in a bit of friendly competition!

 

  1. Look what’s on in your area. There are plenty of exercise groups across the country; from local basketball teams (desperately seeking a new member) to aerobics classes run by fellow mums. Browse online and see if any events take your fancy. For example, the Vitality Parkruns take place across the country, and they’re a good way to get back into running.

 

  1. Motivate yourself with a treat. Set yourself an achievable milestone. This might be walking for 10 kilometres with the dog, or swimming forty laps in the pool. Once you’ve achieved it, award yourself a point. Three points, and you’re officially allowed to treat yourself to something, like a new top from H&M or a perfume like Neroli Portofino. It’s a powerful motivational tool!

 

  1. Get the kids involved. Sometimes, you’ll want to exercise alone. In fact, this is an important thing – it provides you with a bit of a break from being a mummy, and the chance to ‘reconnect’ with yourself. However, on other occasions, you might like to get the kids on board. For example, kicking a football around in your local park is a great way to get moving, and your children will love that you’re spending time playing with them.

 

  1. Stay committed (and be reliable!). When it comes to fitness, reliability and commitment are vital. Adopt as many tactics as possible to ensure that you don’t give up your new exercise regime. The following may help:

 

  1. Remember why you’re doing it in the first place. What’s your motivation? It helps to keep this in mind at all times.
  2. Write it down. Set yourself a rough ‘schedule’ for exercising. It doesn’t matter if you don’t stick to it rigorously; it’s just there as a useful guideline.
  3. Don’t be too brutal on yourself. If it’s too hard / not very fun, you won’t stick to it. Identify activities that you enjoy doing, then go for it.

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28th April 2019

Life is better when it’s reliable

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There are lots of things that need to be reliable to keep life ticking on smoothly, especially in our house. My husband remembering our anniversary… The washing machine not giving up half-way through a load… The car starting on frosty mornings… The babysitter turning up at the time she promises… I could go on!

And the internet. Honestly, that one is probably right up there at the top of the list of things that need to be reliable for me. If it goes down, or slows down, or buffers frequently, or fails to connect, or is even just a bit hit and miss, I can’t get my work done. Or my workouts done. Or my messages sent. Or my phone calls connected. Or my kids entertained while I try and cook the dinner! And if my husband can’t connect to the office when he gets home from work, that won’t be good news.

That is exactly why we are trialling TalkTalk’s Fibre Broadband – and I wanted to tell you about what reliability means to me.

TalkTalk’s new Wi-Fi Hub offers customers its most reliable Wi-Fi signal yet– and believe me, we’ve been through a few.

In fact, it’s smart enough that it can tell which phones or laptops need more signal and will send the internet that way. The kids love playing with this – my eldest has been studying black holes at school, so they’ve been running around the house trying to find a ‘black hole’ where the internet can’t find them. So far, they’ve had absolutely no luck!

Clever stuff. And reliable stuff. And that is exactly why I trust TalkTalk.

To find out more about TalkTalk’s reliable Fibre Broadband, visit www.talktalk.co.uk/shop/broadband/fibre



25th April 2019

Currently Loving – April 2019

Somebody asked me what my favourite time of year was recently and I instinctively replied ‘summer’ – but I think I got it wrong. On reflection, spring is my favourite time of year. I love the candyfloss-pink blossom, the milder temperatures, the lighter mornings and evenings, and (most importantly) the fact that the kids are at school and we still have some kind of structure to our lives… Summer is lovely, but that long stretch of school holiday does push my parenting skills and my patience, so I am going to make the most of these lovely spring days and the routine that comes with it, so I have the energy to take on three kids 24/7 when the time arrives 😉 And in the meantime, here are a few things I have have been loving or coveting over recent weeks.

 

  1. Fy Print. I love this print for a little girl’s room – and I am sure that Mabel would concur! It costs from £19 in various different sizes here.

 

  1. Alex Monroe. I’ve fallen in love with the floral alphabet collection at Alex Monroe. Each necklace is available in either silver or gold, with prices starting at £105 here.

 

  1. GAP. These coral daisy-shaped sunglasses are high up my wish list for Mabel for summer. And they’re just £6 here.

 

  1. Mothercare. I love this T-Shirt and will definitely be snapping it up for Wilfred’s wardrobe. It’s available in sizes 3 months to 6 years – and starts at just £5.50 here.

 

  1. Mothercare. These rainbow sandals are so popular they’re flying off the shelves – and it’s no wonder with such a stylish design and £14.50 price tag. There are a few sizes left online here – or find them in store.

 

  1. The Alex Edit. I’m in love with this scarf with its soft grey hue and pop of neon coral for spring and I’m wearing it every day! It’s £18 and available here.

 

  1. Chilly’s. The compact, double-walled coffee cups by Chilly’s keep coffee warm for hours – no exaggeration, mine is often still too hot to drink after half an hour (I am not a fan of steaming coffee!) I’m coveting this 240ml baby pink version for £20 at Amazon here.

 

  1. The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary. The best thing I’ve read in ages! Available in paperback for £7.03, Kindle for £6.49, or via Audible as an audiobook here

 

  1. La Redoute. Just looking at these sweet star-print baby joggers is making me broody… Available from 1 month to 3 years for just £12 here.

 

  1. Cath Kidston. I’m loving the new floral initial keyrings by Cath Kidston – both for car keys and for hanging on school bags. They are £10 each here.

 

  1. H&M. If you haven’t yet discovered it, the online exclusive baby range at H&M is well worth a browse. Such simple, lovely pieces, in the gentlest fabrics and most delicate prints. This romper is my favourite at just £12.99. It also comes in a nearly-sold-out ditsy floral yellow – and both are here

 

  1. Boden. These woven bonnets are perfect for baby girls for the summer. I would’ve snapped one up in an instant if Mabel was still small. They’re £16 here

 

  1. Baby Annabel. Baby Annabell My First is a great starter doll for little people, with its soft body. The brand kindly sent one to Mabel and she’s enjoying carrying him around the house and cooking for him at her play kitchen. Available here.

 

  1. Yeti in my Spaghetti. Lay the yeti on top of the spaghetti – and then pull out a strand carefully in the hope he doesn’t fall through. Wilfred loves this game and it fills the house with laughter when the Yeti falls. Available here.

 

Some of these links are affiliate links

With thanks to Smyth Toys for sending Mabel a ‘Baby Annabel’ and Wilfred ‘Yeti in my Spaghetti’ 

With thanks to The Alex Edit for sending me the beautiful scarf to wear this sping



21st April 2019

What does ‘Fairness’ mean to you?

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We all try to do our bit to make the world a little fairer for everyone, but some things are easier than others.

To my children, ‘fairness’ is ensuring that they are each given the same amount of pocket money every week, have exactly the same number of grapes in their bowl when it comes to snack time or are given the same amount of time playing on their consoles as their sibling.

To my husband, it means that the price we find for our summer holiday on the internet will be the price we have to pay when we rock up to Normandy – without suddenly finding out that the electricity, the water, and in fact the air that we breathe will cost extra. It just means that those ice creams on the beach and a few fizzy drinks won’t put us over budget.

To me, it means that my husband will get back at the time he promises after I’ve had a long day with the kids – and if he doesn’t, he picks up his phone to let me know.

And when it comes to signing up to an internet provider, fairness means that the terms won’t change before the ink is even dry. Best of all, TalkTalk guarantees no mid-contract broadband price rises across all its plans.

Not only is the price fixed and guaranteed for the terms of our contract, but TalkTalk’s ‘Great Connection Guarantee’ allows 30 days to make sure its Fibre Broadband package is right for us – and if it isn’t, we can simply leave or move to a different plan.

And, just like my children expect life to be fair when it comes to equal pocket money distribution, I expect fairness from the utility providers I choose for my home – and that is exactly why I value TalkTalk.

To find out more about TalkTalk’s fairer Fibre Broadband,  visit www.talktalk.co.uk/shop/broadband/fibre

 



14th April 2019

Why we are loving our TalkTalk Fibre Broadband

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Like most families, we use the internet all the time at home, so before swapping to TalkTalk’s Fibre Broadband, I did a lot of research about whether it was the right provider for us. I need to be sure that if we’re going to make a change to our family’s lifestyle, it’s got to be right for everyone…

Firstly – and probably most importantly (although the kids wouldn’t agree) – I need the internet because I work from home. From sending emails, to uploading social media posts and managing my accounts, to researching which book I want to read next – even putting in a last-minute school uniform order – it’s imperative that I have ongoing access to the internet.

My husband needs the internet for work too – because when he’s not in the office, the nature of his job means he still needs to be able to get online at any moment. Wherever he goes, his laptop comes too. It’s like our fourth child.

The children use the internet both for fun – and to help them do research for their homework on ancient Greece or how exactly Black Holes were created in space (even if they don’t always find the answers!)

 

And we all use the internet to stay in touch with the people we love, via video calls, emails, and text conversations all the time. Just the other day I video-called my Mum and the whole family piled in to say hi.

So why does TalkTalk Fibre Broadband tick all these boxes for us?

In a nutshell, we have chosen TalkTalk Fibre Broadband because it’s fair for all of us.

‘The Great Connection Guarantee’ gives us 30 days to try out TalkTalk Fibre Broadband to make sure it is the right package for us.

It is also reliable. Very reliable. TalkTalk’s new Wi-Fi Hub offers customers its fastest, strongest and most reliable Wi-Fi signal yet. We’ve tested the signal from every corner of the house (my husband even used his laptop from the attic to see if it would work) and we didn’t lose connection once.

And finally, it is affordable. In fact, TalkTalk is the first provider to guarantee no broadband price rises for the entire length of our contract – and that is reassuring to know. Especially when there are so many broadband providers out there that know that even if they get someone to sign up on a cheaper plan, they can sap more money from their customers by sneaky price rises!

To find out more about TalkTalk’s award-winning, faster, and fairer Fibre Broadband, visit www.talktalk.co.uk/shop/broadband/fibre

 



11th April 2019

Why my family takes Fultium Vitamin D

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I didn’t know how important it was to take daily Vitamin D supplements until I had a blood test a couple of years ago. I had a six-month old baby at the time (my third) and had been quite unwell for a while – and one of the things the blood test showed up was a severe deficiency in Vitamin D.

This was a big surprise to me, as I lived in Dubai – and believed the sunny climate would help me absorb it. What I didn’t realise is that the sun cream I regularly slathered onto my skin was preventing it from absorbing the rays – and hence the deficiency.

From that moment, the kids and I started taking Vitamin D supplements to make sure our levels were topped up. We are currently taking Fultium – and I’ve teamed up with them to tell you a little bit more about Vitamin D and why we need it…

 

Fast Facts (from Dr Sarah Jarvis, who has over 30 years’ experience in the NHS and over 26 years as a GP):

 

  • Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, it also supports the normal function of the immune system in children and adults.

 

  • Everyone in the UK, aged 1 and over requires 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D a day and 8.5-10 micrograms a day for infants under 1 year- particularly during the winter months when it’s harder to absorb it naturally. People who are housebound or living in care homes, pregnant and breastfeeding women are being advised to take 10mcg all year round.

 

  • Depression, breast and colorectal cancer have all been linked to low levels of vitamin D. There is also an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, predisposition to bone fractures, and the risk of a weakened immune system leading to other diseases such as respiratory infections.

 

  • The colour of your skin makes a big difference to how easily you can absorb vitamin D from sunlight. Pale skins make vitamin D more quickly than darker skins (but may avoid the sun for fear of burning, so may also be low in vitamin D deficiency).

 

  • A lack of outdoor space and a reduction in children spending time outdoors can also be a contributing factor to the increase of vitamin D deficiency in this country.

 

Fultium Daily D3 is one of the few vitamin D tablet supplements specially formulated in a high-quality oil, which, unlike dry powdered tablets, is easily and effectively absorbed by the body. This is the way I prefer to take my Vitamin D every day, whilst I use the Fultium Daily D3 Drops for the boys (Mabel still drinks two bottles of formula a day, so gets her dose already). My boys are generally quite fussy about supplements, but they honestly don’t mind these drops. It’s going to be easy to keep up the habit.

It’s reassuring to know we’re all getting the Vitamin D we need on a daily basis, especially while the weather is cooler and overcast and we aren’t getting a dose of sunshine outdoors. These drops bring the sunshine in.

 

For more information, visit http://www.fultiumdailyd3.co.uk

 



8th April 2019

Are you a more nervous driver since you had children?

As a mum, I’m wired to be safety conscious of my kids every minute and every hour of the day. Most of the time I’m in situations where I have control over this – however one of my main areas of concern is being out on the road. As with most parents, the majority of our driving consists of taking the kids to school, visiting family or doing the weekly shop. I was reading a recent survey conducted by All Car Leasinga contract hire and leasing firm based here in the UK which looked into the habits and priorities of parents when driving with their babies. Thinking about the results, I realised just how frequent accidents can happen along with how fortunate I’ve been to never experience something quite as significant when it comes to driving. A key aspect to the study was how long it would take parents to feel comfortable driving with their child alone following the birth. For me personally, when I first had Stanley, I was nervous about taking him in my car or any car for that matter just in case anything were to happen, but you find that you must embrace it to be able to go and do your everyday things. By the time I had Wilfred, it was second nature to pop the kids in the car anyway and the same with Mabel. However, I can agree with the study because It took me a few weeks to feel comfortable driving with a new born, as with most parents who answered the study.

According to the data, one in four parents have experienced some form of car accident and those parents’ biggest concern when driving is other drivers, which is quite scary really… I share the same opinion – though half the time I’m in slower moving traffic- so thankfully it’s rare that I experience driving I’d consider reckless; if I do it’s normally when I’m on the motorway. The statistics are even more worrying for 25 – 34 year olds, as apparently 37% of those young parents had experienced an accident whilst their baby was in the car! Before my kids were born, I’d always been confident on the road, but something changed when it wasn’t just me and my husband in the car. Kids can be a bit irritable in their earlier years and don’t always feel comfortable in their seats or will start screaming which can be really distracting, it could put me at further risk of having an accident.

One of the more interesting elements of the study is that two thirds of first-time parents will buy a new car when their baby is on the way. I suppose in the same way I spent time researching and choosing which pram or carrier to buy, cars could also almost be treated as a baby product. I agree with the three main reasons these parents bought their cars – safety aside, reliability and fuel economy are important to me as it helps keep our monthly spends under control.

Baby Driver - Parents and their driving habits

Baby Driverby All Car Leasing

 

Written in collaboration with All Car Leasing