Whoever would have thought children’s pillows could get dirty, right? They’re on beds and in pillowslips and have clean little faces laid upon them.
Except when your children get older, pillows stop just being for lying on. They become weapons, they end up on the floor in the living room, or in the back garden. They get used for making dens and thrown on the floor. They get sweated on, make up’d on. They get muddy rugby faces too tired to wash, laid down on them.
They get dirty believe you me!
And so we’ve always just kept buying new pillows. Having to put up with the ‘this pillow’s nowhere near as good as the last one’ moans while I roll my eyes and pray that this time it manages to last more than a couple of months.
But no more. Now we have washable pillows.
As part of being a Slumberdown Ambassador I (along with fellow creatives Lucy and Katie) were charged with making an entertaining video about washable pillows.
Yawn, right? Personally I agonised for ages on how to make pillows just a little bit exciting.
So I roped in the kids and Mia’s best friend and even the dog. I hope you agree I sort of did it. And if you don’t, well keep it to yourself
We’ve all done it.
Looked down our metaphorical nose and thought ‘I’D never do that with my kids’.
The early years are the worst. You make all these promises to yourself about the type of parent you will be.
You certainly won’t be the harassed looking parents in a restaurant who try to ‘manage’ their screaming toddler as he’s yelling till his face turns violet that HE WANTS AN ICE CREAM and he wants it RIGHT NOW?
Did you tsk at them too? Of course you did.
It’s OK, I’ve been there. And now I feel a great need to apologize out loud to all the mothers I ever gave dirty looks to for having screaming, unmanageable kids.
Because you swear to yourself don’t you, that you will never ever let your child become a walking advert for Barney/Dora/Pokemon or spit on a hanky while in public to wipe the chocolate from around their mouth (them having eaten said chocolate just an hour before dinner time too).
And it sounds so great in your head. You’ll be this tolerant, calm, earth mother whose yogic breathing practices will help her through the difficult waters and make sure she rises above the scraggy looking women with baby puke on their shoulder and a fistful of food in the back of her hair who are screaming at their tots with spittle flying out of their mouths.
I will NEVER be that woman you promise yourself.
Then reality hits you right between the eyes in the form of a child and you’ve got more chance of meeting George Clooney in the supermarket than having any time for yogic breathing – or any breathing for that matter – and you will do anything ANYTHING for a moment’s peace or to stop the cheek-burning embarassment in the middle of a packed supermarket as your angelic babe yells at the top of their lungs that they want the biggest bar of chocolate on the shelf.
So yes, I bribed my kids with treats. Their little bodies are a temple right? Well not when I’m half way round Tesco with a full trolley and Mia decides that she kinda fancies throwing the shopping out as fast as I’m putting in followed by shouting “oi lady” to other shoppers when she can’t get her own way.
And I STILL do it. Even now they’re grown up. I am still THAT mother.
1. I talk about my children ALL THE TIME.
Have you noticed how parents do that? Every little event in their child’s life is replayed in graphic detail and if you sit next to a parent at work you know so much about their ‘milestones’ that you actually want to behave like a child yourself and throw a tantrum of your own.
And if ever you ever get two mums sitting together at work . . .
Now I’m a mum I have to gag myself. “It was so funny this morning . . .” I start, then think actually, unless you were there it’s actually not that funny at all.
Save it for the blog, I tell myself.
2. I use the TV/iPad as a babysitter.
Still. I still do this. Picture the scene. You’ve just got in from work after picking the children up from school/sport/Brownies. You need to make them something to eat, make yourself a medicinal cup of tea and juggle making their packed lunch for tomorrow while also thinking what to make yourself and hubby for tea.
While you’re trying to do all this you have one child practising his hockey skills around your feet while the other begging you to play Frustration with them (SUCH an apt name for a game) and it’s pouring with rain outside so if they do go out and play you have at least an hours clearing up to do after.
Who you gonna call? The Simpsons of course. Or Modern Family, Tracy Beaker, Great British Bake Off, hell anything just so that you have 25 minutes to race around the house like someone pressed the fast forward button and get all of those jobs done.
3. TV dinners.
Oh sure, I can hear you tutting. I always plan for us to sit down together as a family but it never happens. Boy did I tut at people that didn’t do this. Seriously, how hard is it to put aside half an hour to sit down together? They’re just not trying.
Then I had kids and the chances of us all being in the same house, let alone the same room every night is minimal. To be honest, I’m just glad they get to eat something I’ve cooked so I’ll turn a blind eye to the fact that they’re sat watching Doctor Who as they spoon peas into their mouths.
4. I will be a tolerant parent
Do you even know how hard this is? You think the toddler years are a challenge with all the tantrums, biting and strops. But boy oh boy does the pre-teens bring a whole new set of rules to the table.
I am a fairly laid-back mother. It takes a lot to make me snap. I have little chats with myself, little pep talks to calm me down.
But when your daughter has cut the label out of the expensive new top you’ve bought her and left a gaping hole in the material DESPITE you telling her not to do it, your tolerance reaches its elastic limit.
What else do you promise yourself?
That you will not allow chocolate or sweets before a meal?
That you will not let your children dictate your lifestyle?
That you will be cool about the girl/boyfriends they bring around?
That you will never scream like a banshee and remain calm and impartial at all times . . .
Sure. So what are the promises you made yourself before becoming a parent?
If there is one tip I can give you from all my years of travelling with children it is this: keep them happy, keep them occupied, get them involved.
Ok so that’s three tips really, but they are all aimed at one thing; your children are coming away with you, don’t pretend they’re not or they are something to be ‘managed’. They are travellers too and you will find they are a whole lot more fun when you get them in on the planning.
And what better way to start that than with their own suitcase. Get them to take ownership of it; make them write out a list, pack their belongings and unpack when you get home.
You can go even further than this once they are older and get them involved with the actual trip; it’s their holiday too after all. Plan the holiday together; what do you all want from it, what don’t you want from it, how far do you want to travel, is there somewhere you’ve never been that you fancy trying or do you want to head back and rediscover somewhere you’ve been before and loved?
I personally think travel is an amazing thing to share with your kids. Whether that’s travelling within your own country and discovering the different regions, coastlines, mountains, cities. Or travelling abroad and trying out new cultures, using different money, interacting with different people.
But how do you make it stress free? How do you make travelling with kids fun?
As in any of these situations I turned to Twitter and Facebook asked for everyone’s tips and advice there.
So here you go, parenting travel advice from parents who’ve been there and done that!
@tara_cain pack lots of little surprises to be given out at ‘I’m bored’ moments throughout the journey: colouring books, card games, etc
@tara_cain usborne sticker books. Great for 4-12 year olds. Varying difficulty. Great for restaurants, planes and long waits. #travelling — Sarah Linsell Moore (@SJLinsell) August 24, 2015
This post is written in collaboration with KLM UK as part of their campaign to show how families can benefit from travelling from a regional airport, instead of journeying long distances to get to major airports in London or Manchester, which always has me rolling my eyes and planning how to keep two whinging kids happy for the journey JUST to get to the airport.
And as a family who love to travel, this is a pretty big deal. Because KLM’s main hub is at the fabulous Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, it means you can fly to somewhere like Hong Kong from an airport much closer to home – a HUGE bonus when you’re travelling with the family and you want your holiday to start off with the minimum number of arguments! Plus, there’s the added bonus of knowing once you land on the return journey, you’re just a short journey away from your front door. And your own bed
Let’s be honest, we haven’t had much sunshine this ‘summer’.
A promising start has given way to the cold or rain or, at times, howling thunder storms.
And as a family who spend a huge part of their time outdoors or in the garden, it’s not been the best.
BUT we did manage to have our own mini festival in the back garden, complete with burgers from the BBQ, buttery corn on the cob and our own very Sticky Fingers (see what I did there) S’mores. They’re not quite the same when it’s not over an open fire, but marshmallows toasted from the open door of the chimnea is almost there!
One thing my children are very much into now they’re older is their music. I’m forced to tune the radio in my car to some station which plays the same 15 tunes over and over and over and over on a loop (I’m told that makes me sound really old) and I’ll often switch the TV on to find it on one of the endless number of music stations playing inappropriate videos very very loudly.
Listen, I’m a child of the eighties. Duran Duran, Human League and Visage were my playlist. I moved on to Depeche Mode (the Violator years), Simple Minds, REM (don’t judge me).
So I asked my kids to come up with a playlist for our garden festival. I threw out the truly awful because that is my right as a mother. And this is what we came up with.
1. Years & Years – Shine
This is one of those tunes that you hear once and think ‘mmm that was OK’ and by the time you hear it again you’re totally addicted and have to listen to it at full volume while inventing your own dance to it. Apparently
If this sun isn’t out this song will make you feel like it is. It’s like that holiday tune that gets stuck in your head then totally reminds you of your holiday. A bit like Club Tropicana back in the day #showingmyage
5. Taylor Swift – Shake it Off
In the middle you have to have a song which EVERYONE likes and makes them smile and want to dance. So here is our happy, smiley song. And they are spot on. If you put this song on in the car and I’m in a bad mood it instantly lifts me. Could be because of the Facebook post I remember of the American cop singing along to it in his car, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually because it’s an awesome song.
Ah ha, my kids do have good taste! This song really reminds us of our holiday in America when we listened to it all the time while driving down the coast in our monster-sized car. A real play it loud in your garden and wait for the neighbours to roll their eyes.
Another holiday favourite. Stand opposite your brother/sister, learn all the words and sing them with attitude to one another. Apparently this is a bit of a chill out tune before you crank it all back up to end the party on a high!
Tinie can do no wrong in my kids eyes it seems. What’s most alarming is how they know all the words to this fast-paced rap – HOW can they learn that but can’t remember what homework needs to be in on Monday, eh?
It’s my blog so I’m picking the last song. My husband is a big fan of the Peppers and I have such fond memories of the kids when they were little singing along to his favourite tunes and it making him very happy. It’s the little things!
So put your festival hat in your hand, raise it in the air and swaaaaaaaay.
Many thanks to Tesco for supplying us with our festival essentials kit: A lovely tepee, Chinese lantern solar lights, wellies, a straw hat, a flower garland headband and the must have sunglasses.
I won’t ask what your choice of festival tune would be because obviously we’ve picked all the best ones
Obviously you’re going to need chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
And for it to be ever so slightly weird and wonderful and quirky.
So that’s exactly what we did for my husband’s birthday!
With a great deal of help from Sky Movies who charged us with staging said Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shin dig, we invited friends around and opened the trunk of goodies Sky sent us to get our party started.
And BOY what goodies they sent. A chocolate fountain, popcorn machines, gobstoppers, Willy Wonka glasses, decorations, a candy floss machine, a sweet maker, chocolate moulds – basically everything needed to push the boat out.
Just go mad. Throw colour and sweets at the problem. It was actually a glorious day when we sent the invites out, so we decided to have our party al fresco. Streamers, bunting, paper lanterns, blow up lollipops and liberal amounts of sweets and bubbles dotted around the place.
It actually elicited a gasp from our guests as they walked through the back door, so we did good!
Invite everyone to be Willy
The best parties are always the ones where you invite people to be silly.
We were sent these funky Willy Wonka goggle glasses and everyone didn’t need much encouragement to put them on. The acting daft but was all down to them! Funnily enough, none of the adults wanted their photo taken with them on . . .
Chocolate with everything
We set up our chocolate fountain with popcorn, marshmallows, strawberries, gobstoppers, carrot sticks, grapes to dip in. Come on, you’ve got to be a bit silly.
We also had chocolate melting pots, moulds, sprinkles, popping candy and coloured sugar for guests to try their hands at making actual chocolates. And they weren’t half bad. If you closed your eyes while you ate them *ahem*.
Get the kids involved
In fact, get them to stage the whole thing! Mia made signs to put on the tables, just incase the sight of it collapsing under the weight of sweet things didn’t yell ‘goodies’ to them (see photo above). And this sign? Translation: You WILL have fun and play games in this area.
They also took charge of the candy floss machine and chocolate fountain. It was like the end of a 1970s seaside pier!
Watch the film when everyone has gone
Here’s the thing. We love movies. Love them. It’s out thing. So we don’t really want other people chatting and giggling and talking over any of it.
So, you give them a great time at the party, wave them off, then snuggle down as a family on the sofa and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in blissful peace!
Thanks so much to Sky Movies for supplying everything to make your Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party a blast. Now I just need to go and have a lie down, I feel sick as a pig
I staged a chocolate party a couple of weeks ago. Yes you heard me right, a chocolate party!
The BEST kind of party surely?
But in preparation for it we did a lot of research around chocolate. Not that I needed much research because, you know, I’m an expert with years and years of taste testing behind me
Also I’ve been taught how to taste chocolate properly by Green & Black’s so I take it all very seriously. Ahem.
In my research I was looking for chocolate recipes to try with the children; decadent recipes, beautiful recipes, ones that make you go oooooooooo.
As part of our party (we were running it in connection with Sky Movies and our movie of choice was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) we had a chocolate fountain and we may have dipped quite a bit of popcorn and marshmallows in there.
But back to the cakes. I think every chocolate party needs a centrepiece; something which shouts chocolate. Or maybe a ‘party bag’; something people can take home and scoff in the car (come on now, it can’t just be me that does that).
So, here are 5 recipes I found browsing around the blogs I read, all using chocolate and all perfect for making with the kids for your very own Chocolate Party.
Oh my Mummy Mishaps, you are really spoiling us . . .
Maybe this is one for the adults, but I think it looks fabulous and she promises it tastes the business too. I love her idea of using the leftover (leftover?) Ferrero Rocher at Christmas and making it as an alternative to Christmas pudding.
Plus, given that there are large Ferrero Rocher perched on the top of the cake just LOOK at the size of the slice you are going to get given!
This stunning looking cake is from Super Golden Bakes who wanted to make a Jaffa Cake in, well, cake form!
The result is this super light sponge, tangy orange and glossy chocolate to top it off. I have very fond memories of Jaffa Cakes, but this just takes the biscuit. Would make for a truly stunning centrepiece.
Each of these muffins has a cheeky little surprise in the centre when you take that first big bite. Paul Hollywood know his stuff when it comes to baking given that he’s the King to Mary Berry’s Queen on the Great British Bake Off.
These are really easy to make and are absolutely delicious.
This super easy recipe from Cornish blogger Choclette looks fabulous; and white chocolate and raspberries is a marriage made in heaven!
Slightly sticky, slightly tart, a pile of these in the middle of your table will make everyone’s eyes bulge.
I can’t write a post about chocolate without including brownies! Maison Cupcake’s Dulce de Leche Brownies (or caramel brownies) look a million dollars; all gooey and fudgey with the promise of caramel oozing out.
There’s also a tip on how to melt your chocolate in the microwave. EVERYONE should have a good brownie recipe in their baking arsenal!
It doesn’t matter where we’ve travelled in the world, if you ask my kids what one of their favourite holidays was they will cite one where we went camping.
As a family we have been lucky enough to travel to America, France, Spain, Italy, Lapland. We’ve visited amazing theme parks and stayed in the UK at Centreparcs, lovely holiday cottages and quaint little bed and breakfasts.
But the holidays my kids talk about, constantly, excitedly and with animation are our camping holidays. The cheapest and shortest holidays we have!
They absolutely love it. They love the freedom, being able to run wild and well, pretty much the freedom.
There are benefits for you as parents too; your kids are being kids. You don’t really need to know any more than that.
It means they will play outside for hours on end, climb trees, get mucky, explore, chill out, make new friends, not be tied to any schedule.
And the biggest bonus we’ve discovered over our years of camping is it helps you bond as a family.
Sure you’ll row and squabble and put the tent up wrong and forget to heat up the barbecue coals and forget to pack a change of pants and forget your toothbrush.
But in the grand scheme of things these matter not. What matters is you’re giving your kids an amazing adventure and you’re getting them outside.
I know camping isn’t for everyone. There’s the weather. And if it rains, the mud. But it’s been a joy for us. I wrote a post last year 10 Tips for Camping with Kids on how to survive.
But this post is the WHY . . . Why you should just suck it up and go with the flow. I can give you four reasons straight off:
1. The views can be truly stunning
2. Everyone has the time to just hang out together
3. The kids have the opportunity to invent their own games
4. You get to wake up to scenes like this. And go to bed to scenes like this
And, finally, as a bonus point, you get to take photos like this
Still don’t fancy it? How about trying it out in your back garden first?
This weekend, all things being well and the weather not dumping ten tons of rainwater on us as it has been doing of late, we shall be camping out in our back garden this weekend!
For that can be JUST as much fun, but with all the comforts of being able to nip into the house to go to the loo.
We’re joining up with the Big Little Tent Festival on the Bank Holiday weekend (August 30th). The event is a collaboration between The Woodland Trust and The Caravan Club who basically want as many people as possible to enjoy the great outdoors for a one-night tent festival – all from the comfort of your own garden!
The event is support by TV travel show presenter Simon Reeve who will also be bedding down for the night in his back garden!
Fellow bloggers Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy and OneDad3Girls will also be joining in the fun!
Earlier this month I was invited to throw a party. A chocolate party. Two words that quite frankly belong together.
The invite was from Sky Movies who are running a #MoveParty campaign to get us all into the party spirit.
Did you hear what I said: Movies AND chocolate. I am IN.
Movies play a big part in this house. We are movie geeks. Geeks with a capital G.
We have a ridiculous number of DVDs and we’re the family that actually do watch them over and over.
Superheroes feature highly, as does Disney, Pixar, Indiana Jones, films from the 80s and anything with Jim Carrey in (my kids have just discovered him!)
So a chocolate-themed party isn’t going to be any problem for us at all. More on that to follow.
However this here is about you and getting you into movies. I’ve teamed up with Sky Movies to give one Sticky Fingers reader a Now TV box with 3-month Sky Movies subscription thrown in. Just in time for autumn and weekends snuggled up on the sofa en family.
But what is Now TV you ask?
Well, it’s a non-contract video on demand service from Sky TV which means you can take advantage of Sky Movies without having to sign up.
And what is a Sky Movies subscription?
Sky Movies has an amazing catalogue of films – more than 1,000 movies including recent box office hits, all-time classics and Disney favourites.
And, Sky Movies premieres up to five new movies every week, and at least a year before they appear on any other movie subscription services.
A pretty easy way to watch your movies – especially if you have fussy kids who can’t decide on what to watch. This way you can choose to watch movies whenever and wherever you want, either on live TV from one of the 11 dedicated genre channels, or on demand across different devices.
The Sky Movies app means choosing a movie is really easy as you can browse films currently available on the service, by genre or search for a specific title.
And you can watch them on Now TV.
How to enter
All you have to do for a chance of winning is fill in the widget below and cross your fingers!
You don’t need to be a Sky customer to enter, it’s open to everyone.
Best of luck.
The rules bit The competition is open to residents of the UK, ROI, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only (sorry rest of the world) and those aged 18 and over. Proof of age may be required. The competition is not open to employees and relatives of Sticky Fingers and any British Sky Broadcasting Group company (Sky), companies associated with the p promotion and all affiliates of such companies. The prize is for 1 Now TV box and 1 x 3 month Sky Movies pass. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered. Entry is via Rafflecopter. Make sure your contact details are easily available. Now TV will contact the winner to arrange installation of the prize. The competition closes on September 1, 2015. One winners will be chosen at random from all the entries after the closing date. A winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen. The winner must redeem their prize within one year. Failure by the winner to make an installation application within this time could result in loss of prize. If the winner has a previous uncleared debt with Sky the winner will not be able to take up the Prize until this debt has been fully cleared. The winners’ name will be announced on the widget. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address. This is a joint promotion between Sticky Fingers and Sky Movies. Sky/Now TV reserves the right to refuse or withdraw the prize if a winner or a party authorised by the winner to act on their behalf, threatens or abuses a staff employee or otherwise conducts themselves in a manner that Sky reasonably regards as inappropriate, offensive or unlawful. We reserve the right to substitute the prize (or an element thereof) for an equivalent or greater monetary value if this is necessary for reasons beyond reasonable control.
Back to school is an emotional time. Understatement of the year alert!
I’ve been doing it for eight years now and I still feel that crushing weight on my chest as I send my kids off for another year, not knowing what it holds, what friendships they will make, what life lessons they will learn, what hardships they will face.
Of COURSE it’s emotional. But they never tell you just how emotional it can be. Just seeing your four year old wearing a uniform for the first time can floor you.
When they first go to school you worry they’re too little, too innocent, that no one knows them like you do.
Then they move into Year 8 and you worry that they’re too distracted by social media, or sport or friendship worries.
The point is you never stop worrying. BUT that heart-soaring moment you get when they put on their new uniform, sling their rucksack over their shoulder and run off into the playground without even turning to glance at you is worth it. Every single time.
I’m writing this post in collaboration with Cath Kidston who have made THE most gorgeous back to school video. And what makes it even better is it features three fabulous parenting bloggers and their kids.
The video perfectly captures those Back to School mornings and is utterly beautiful.
Well done to Housewife Confidential,Mummy Daddy Me and Kat Got the Cream for being part of something so lovely.
If there is one thing my children love about holidays it’s packing their own suitcase!
The responsibility, the chance to pack one pair of pants and 52 books . . . *ahem*
I’ve found it’s best to get your children to take ownership of their packing from the very start; make them write out a list of what to take, get them to pack their belongings and then also get them to unpack when you get home.
Trunki have somehow managed to make travelling with kids fun with their range of fab and funky suitcases aimed directly at the younger traveller.
So, to help you with your travels, I have these fabulous blue and white Trunkis to be won.
I’ve teamed up with the lovely people at KLM UK to give away three KLM-themed Trunkis featuring their mascot Bluey.
KLM are currently running a #BlueybyKLM campaign to promote stress-free travel for families – the holy grail for ALL parents travelling with kids surely?!
Thanks to KLM’s main hub at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, it is possible to fly from 17 regional UK airports to destinations all over the world – think Cardiff to Bangkok, Norwich to Hong Kong.
Which basically means, when travelling with kids you can depart from an airport much closer to home rather than traipsing across the UK to somewhere like London or Manchester.
You can follow this campaign and find out about other great deals and competitions with KLM by following them on Twitter at @KLM_UK.
How to enter
So what do you have to do to get your hands on a special KLM Bluey Trunki? All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is fill in the widget below and cross your fingers! Best of luck x
Rules: The competition is open to residents of the UK only (sorry rest of the world) and those aged 18 and over. The competition excludes employees and relatives of Sticky Fingers and KLM. The prize is for 1 KLM Bluey Trunki. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered. Entry is via Rafflecopter. Make sure your contact details are easily available. The competition closes on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at midnight. Three winners will be chosen at random from all the entries after the closing date. The winner will be asked to provide their full name and address for the prize to be sent to.
A winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen. The winners’ name will be announced on the widget. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address. This is a joint promotion between Sticky Fingers and KLM UK. Entry to this competition confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.