UK Holiday How-To: What’s The Best Kind of Break To Take With Your Kids? (sponsored guest post)

Image © A Mummy Too

Whether it’s a half-term week or a seemingly endless seasonal break, the school holidays can be a tricky and tiring time. With the Easter holidays not far off, pressure to organise activities with the kids is undoubtedly mounting. Families remaining in the UK may be wondering which stay-cation is the best kind for those travelling with children, so we’ve taken a little time to weigh up the pros and cons of a few popular options.

Visit The Seaside

Ice cream, donkey rides and paddling by the seashore – breaks by the seaside are a truly classic kind of British holiday.  Head to Brighton for the pebble beaches and head spinning rides on the pier, or to Bournemouth, famed for its warm microclimate and many miles of golden sand. Beaches are a great place for lively activities and relaxed ones alike: hunt for fossils or fly a kite, or (if you’re lucky) do some sunbathing and gently play in the sand.

That said, keep an eye on the weather. An entire day at the beach in unfavourable or chilly conditions is fun for no one, so contingency plans are a must. Another issue to contend with is the crowds. Driving in circles in search of a parking space – only to then discover that there’s no room on the beach – isn’t the best way to spend quality time with the family. Try to find secluded coves or go on cliff-side walks if you’re keen to avoid the masses.

Visit The Countryside

A holiday in the country can be a real breath of fresh air, particularly for city-dwellers who can look forward to life at an entirely different pace during their break. As well as giving the whole family a welcome break from TV and console screens, you can use the opportunity to get back to nature and enjoy the refreshing sights and sounds of the great British outdoors.

However, the change from a faster-paced lifestyle can often mean boredom for kids, so while you might be looking forward to relaxing, it’s important to have things to do scheduled, too. Be wary of camping – it’s all very well planning outdoor rambles, but if the weather isn’t on your side you may end up with grumpy and fun-starved little ones. Extra difficulties can be raised if you set up camp miles away from the nearest amenities. Instead, try combining countryside with convenience and staying at a holiday cottage, farm or Center Parcs village. Center Parcs is a particularly good choice for those looking for activities to keep them busy, with a wide selection of outdoor and indoor pursuits on offer and many of these suitable for all ages.

Visit The City

There’s a huge advantage for those holidaying with kids in taking a city break – namely, just how many attractions there are. Shopping centres, museums, cinemas, playgrounds and restaurants abound. UK breaks in smaller cities such as York or Oxford make great choices for those visiting as a family, as they offer enough to see and do to keep everyone entertained, but are just small and quaint enough to not feel intimidating. York is great for educational activities, such as following the beautiful ancient city walls or visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre. Oxford is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, or hire a boat and do some lazy punting down the river. (Harry Potter fans will be enthused to learn that they can also join in with Potter-themed tours, and explore local areas where film scenes were shot.)

Nonetheless, city breaks can cause problems for families. While there may be many family-friendly attractions to amuse yourselves with, these will undoubtedly be very busy, and particularly so during holiday seasons. Always remember to think about your movements in advance (and take into account the extra time you might need to travel here and there, as the cities themselves will be more crowded). Always be careful of ‘overdoing it’; little legs can get tired, and trying to cram too many activities into a single day, including the time it takes to travel between them, will mean none of them are enjoyed at all.

What are your favourite destinations for a family holiday, and how do you overcome the challenges of travelling with kids?

This is a sponsored guest post

Tweet #AllBabiesCount & Sudocrem will donate up to £25k to NSPCC

#allbabiescount

Sudocrem, the UK’s leading nappy rash treatment, has pledged to donate up to £25,000 to support the NSPCC’s ‘All babies count’ online campaign to prevent the abuse and neglect of babies.

Here’s how you can help:

Visit www.facebook.com/sudocrem or tweet about the campaign.  Sudocrem will donate 50p for each ‘like’ on Sudocrem’s Facebook page and 25p for every tweet using the #allbabiescount hashtag. Sudocrem will also donate 50p for every comment on the NSPCC Facebook campaign page: www.nspcc.org.uk/allbabiescount

Ray Stafford CEO of Forest Europe said:

“We are proud to support the NSPCC and their work with vulnerable babies and children”.

Svetlana Kirov, NSPCC Head of Corporate Partnerships, said:

“Sudocrem has pledged to donate £25,000 to the NSPCC. We’re urging bloggers to support the All babies count campaign; Sudocrem will make a donation to the NSPCC for every tweet using the

hashtag and for every blogger who ‘likes’ their Facebook page  and posts a comment on the NSPCC Facebook Campaign page.”

Help make sure All babies count:

  • www.nspcc.org.uk/allbabiescount
  • https://twitter.com/nspcc
  • http://www.facebook.com/nspcc

9 Ideas For Keeping Your Kids Busy While You Work

Strike action this week for parents of school age kids and then there are the holidays. When you work at home, you sometimes have to work with kids underfoot. Here are some ideas to keep them busy:

• Ask them to create a play in secret that they can perform for you when done.

Image credit OneTwo (http://www.sxc.hu/profile/onetwo)

My daughters love this one, the secret rehearsals can take a few hours. Props, toys, Wii all form part of the great play they will put on. Sometimes if they get loud with their arguing, I mean stage direction… I call out and say I can hear the secret play :) Good for school age kids.

• Have them sit beside you with a computer and toy phone and “play” work.

This was my favourite one when my 16 year old was little, it’s perfect for toddlers and kids in the first years at school, they love playing work :)

• Have special toys that they only get to play with while you’re working. Give one at a time, not all at once.

Ok, I’ll admit this one never worked for me but a friend of mine swears by it. She has a tub under her desk and a timer, the kids get to spend 15 mins playing and when the buzzer goes she lets them choose another one, lucky dip style. It works for her, it might work for you :)
• Older  kids- have them write out ideas of activities they can do without your help on scraps of paper and put them in a jar to pull out when needed.

Again the lucky dip idea, I like to through in a few icky ones like sweep the porch or tidy the car just to add a bit of extra excitement when we are doing the draw. Cake making and icing is never added to the jar, why should the kids have all the fun on their own???

• Set up a craft station near you.

This one is great for when you just have to finish something, it buys you precisely one hour of peace and quiet. Glue, glitter, coloured paper, pipe cleaners, fuzzy balls and paint… and if I am daring I’ll ask them to create something for me like a Christmas card or decoration for the tree. The downside? I’ll be hoovering glitter up for ages afterwards.

• Have special coloring books or activity books on hand only for this time.

Both my girls are dot to dot mavens. We have a special dot to dot session where we see who can complete the most, the neatest and the best coloured ones in just 30 minutes. We then put them up on the wall to make a gallery of all their hard work. Nothing makes them happier than seeing their creative outpourings praised :)
• Give them “homework” to do.

Over the summer holidays we had an hour of sums everyday and writing. It was a struggle but after the third day they got used to it and really enjoyed counting things around the house and garden adding three flowers to four flowers, counting how many bounces they can do on the trampoline in 30 seconds, writing practice. It soon becomes fun rather than homework.
• Ask them to wrap their toys up as presents and hold a birthday party for their favourite cuddly toy animal.

Originally this started out as a tea party for the dog. Whilst huddled over my laptop the dog climbed on the table and ate all the birthday party trimmings… so we progressed to cuddly toys and dolls. This works best when you make cupcakes and party food with them, then the treat is they get to have the party by themselves, just like grown ups do. This give you a good thirty minutes to get some work done.

• Have an older neighborhood child come over and play with them.

You can’t do this one too often, it has to be the icing on the cake. If the other parent is also a working mum she’ll be happy for the couple of hours quiet time and you will be happy for the time that you get. If you have the money then dropping them all off to the cinema works well (usually this works well for us as my eldest is 8 years older than her sisters and can happily be bribed to take them to the Pictures).

Working at home with kids can be rewarding, yet a challenge. Take a proactive stance and be ready with ideas to keep them busy.

Share with us in the comments what tips you have for working and keeping the kids occupied.

Sarah

Win Trunkisaurus Travel Chum goodies!

This week, we’ve been testing out the new Trunkisaurus suitcase for children. We’ve also got some lovely Trunki goodies to give away.

The Trunkisaurus

The Trunkisaurus is the latest addition to the ever-growing Trunki range. In case you’re not familiar with Trunkis, they’re ride-on suitcases for 3-6 year olds.

Here’s what Emily (editor) and her chief tester, JD (3), made of it:

Trunkisaurus

JD on the Trunkisaurus

  • The look: Green with a marbly effect, the Trunkisaurus has painted on teeth and plastic horns so that it looks like a little monster. JD loved it from the moment it came out the box and can’t wait to take it on holiday.
  • The ride: JD gave it some rigorous testing by riding it enthusiastically around the house with me close behind in case it tipped – it didn’t. It’s really well balanced and seems about as safe as any other ride along toy, but with the added benefit of being a suitcase too.
  • The storage: It’s really quite spacious in there. I can’t imagine many little ones would need to bring more on holiday than it can hold. With straps on one side to keep clothes in place, and a little pouch for smalls, it’s a fully functional suitcase in miniature. It’s also designed to fit in hand luggage – so your little ones can keep it with them.
  • The closing mechanism: Attractive clips adorn either side but they did attract the interest of little hands. JD kept playing with them, and I’m concerned he wouldn’t break them if allowed to test them to their limits. On the plus side, it’s possible to lock them using an attachment on the handle, which should stop that happening.
  • The verdict: If you travel a lot with restless little ones, the Trunkisauraus is a good value purchase at £37.99. Thumbs up!

Win a Trunkisaurus Travel Chum

We have three sets of Trunkisaurus Travel Chums to give away.

The Trunk Travel Chum set

The Trunkisaurus Travel Chum set

The chums set includes a wash bag, pencil case and purse. Each has felt teeth and print detail so it looks like a little trail of dinosaurs – lots of fun.

To enter:

1) Leave a comment with your Twitter ID telling us why you’d like to win a Travel Chum.

2) Tweet the following message: “I want to win a Trunkisaurus Travel Chum from @MumsOnTheBlog. Leave a comment here http://bit.ly/ntb41R & RT to enter.”

We’ll close the competition at 23.59 on 16th October 2011 (one entry per person) and select three winners at random from all those who have done the above.

Good luck!

(Disclosure: The Trunkisaurus and Trunkisaurus Travel Chums have been given to us free of charge by Trunki for the purposes of this review and giveaway. Mums On The Blog reviews are written with total honesty and integrity at all times.)

Got kids at high school? Is it really like that? Guest post from Ces Loftus

I hated my first two years at high school, I was bullied constantly to the extent I started playing truent to escape it and considered ways to end my life. I was different and didn’t fit in with the “it” crowd so it made me a target. I had no friends and spent all my time at home studying and was very academic. After my parents complained to the school numerous times the head teachers answer was to put me out of the top work level class and put me into the ‘special needs group’ to get me away from the bullies. The school would never have gone against the bullies who were the ‘good looking, popular, parents own local businesses and run the PTA’ type. My studying was all I had so that just made me feel worse and the bullies taunted me even more at every break and home time. In the end my parents put themselves under financial strain and got loans out to put me into private school where I made friends, flourished academically and enjoyed life once more.

at least i'm not a bully
Image by Miss Blackflag via Flickr

I have sat watching films with my kids over the past years, films like ‘Drillbit Taylor’ and ‘Seventeen Again’ which are set in American High Schools and depict aggressive and constant bullying taking place in schools were the teachers do nothing to stop or even take sides with the bullies. My kids say “Is high school really like that?” and well, for me, it was…

My eldest is at high school age now. As we have moved to another area mid term we chose to put him into a middle school here rather than put him at a disadvantage by starting high school having missed the first half term. The junior to high school step is a big enough one at the best of times.

He has some reservations about what it will be like at high school next September. We had to apply for a high school place a few days after moving here because of the cut off date for applications so we didn’t even get to go and view the local schools. I’d be really interested to hear from anyone with kids in high school now. Perhaps you can answer the “Is high school really like that?” question better than me.

Ces xx

on twitter @Ces_Creatively

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