Tweenagers are basically toddlers…

 If you are reading this, and you are in the throws of the toddler years and are wondering when it will get easier and saner, this post is not meant to make you despair, but I can tell you, and I tell the parents and families that I work with that, toddler hood is NOT the most challenging part of parenting your kids. All the stages have their ups and downs. but each one comes with challenges and triumphs and we are into the tween years and rolling into the teen years faster than we would like to admit (the parents that is, the tween thinks it’s all good, she gets her own bus pass, a bank card, a phone and I have finally allowed her to wear lipgloss when she leaves the house!!)

The tweens is a fun stage. I mean fun in both the negative and the positive.

You can talk to them, and they have adult conversations, they have ideas and thoughts, and want to know about the world in a way that’s interesting and almost reasonable. They have started to form opinions and a vague idea of what life is like and they are looking at the world and their future with fresh eyes. For me, it’s a lot of fun, we go shopping, we watch tv together, we cook together, we have started running together, we advise each other on clothes (ok, she tells me what to wear and won’t let me buy things she deems not cool, and she steals all my nice clothes and can now fit into my fancy shoes I can’t wear any more thanks to knee surgery) and we have a very open and honest relationship when it comes to talking about sex, her body, and the changes she’s facing as she hits puberty. She also is sarcastic and has my sense of humour, which means we get along well, most of the time. She’s growing up and wants to do things and exert her independence and she likes to do things for herself, and hates it when she thinks we might be checking up on her.  

She’s fierce and funny, and growing up and it’s amazing to watch. 

But, there is a down side. 

I commented to a friend the other day that  tweenagers are basically toddler in semi adult body form. She looked horrified. (she has a toddler and four year old) and then had to explain.

Tweenagers seem to be far needier and more emotional at the age we are at (11 going on 15!!) and they can be very irrational and also quite demanding. It feels to me like my daughter sometimes has gone from being quite calm, and easy going at aged 8/9 to suddenly reverting back to the toddler years when there was a lot of tears and drama (usually because I wouldn’t allow her to wear just her swimming costume and wellies to nursery, now it’s because I won’t let her have an iPhone with WhatsApp!) and no matter how calm and rational, you the adult try to be, there is sometimes just no reasoning with them. They also seem to loose their self care abilities and revert to needing to be babied. 


Tween – “my head is sore”

Me – “go and get the medicine from my room, I will give you some”

Tween disappears, and returns twenty minutes later, still complaining of a headache. I ask if they have brought me the medicine. Much pouting and mumbling. Apparently this is too much to ask and mum must go get it and dispense it. She also often needs a lot of comfort and reassurance and consoling for matters which seem very trivial to me, but that at her tender tween age, are very serious. 

Oh, and the door slamming, foot stamping, irrational outbreaks of tears and cries of “it’s not fair!” are still there. She doesn’t hurl herself on the floor in public, any more, but she does do a fairly dramatic exit of a room and retreat loudly to her bedroom to have a good cry. 

I have spoken to other parents of kids at this age and who are also past this stage and it seems this is normal. We swing from being delightful and fun to be around to needy toddler in an adolescent body, and sometimes it’s bewildering and confusing (for the parents as well as the tween!!) 

Basically tweenagers are giant toddlers. You get more vocabulary and they can string a whole sentence together and they don’t wet themselves any more, but the tantrums and irrationality are just the same…

This doesn’t reassure you if you are still just parenting a toddler, I know. 

Sorry about that… 😉


After The Playground
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Preventing dehydration in your cat…

As a pet owner, there are things I have to do, to look after the health and well being of the pets in my care. This is mostly day to day health, making sure they are eating a healthy diet, that they see the vet regularly, and that they are generally being looked after and don’t have any health issues and are happy. This isn’t usually too hard, for me, even though both my cats are pretty demanding little personalities. They eat well, they see a vet regularly, we have pet insurance to cover emergencies and although the younger cat gets himself into trouble, and has needed a few trips to the vet for eating things he shouldn’t and for wounds to be checked after he’s been in a fight, we seem to have kept most of our cat nine lives in tact, for now…

However, recently our older cat, Layla, whom most of you will know, had a bit of a stomach upset. We weren’t sure what caused it, but she wasn’t a well cat for a day or two, and there were frequent visits to her litter tray, and a few messes to clean up on the carpet. Our vet is always helpful, and gave me some advice on how to look after her, and what to look out for and when she would need to be seen by him, if she didn’t show signs of getting better. 

One thing he did say, and I also knew was that she needed to be kept hydrated and would need to be able to drink freely, with access to clean, fresh water whenever she needed it. 

You would think this would be easy, right? Pop a few bowls of water around the place where she can access them? 


You see, Layla is picky. She won’t drink out of a bowl. She never has. She will sometimes drink out of a bowl, if it’s REALLY hot weather and she’s very thirsty, but she rarely will do this normally. 

So what and how does she drink?

She likes to either drink out of the sink, in the kitchen, or the bathroom, from a running tap, or she will find cups or glasses of water left lying around by humans and drink out of those. 

We have tried to get her to drink out of a bowl, but she won’t have any of it. She’s stubborn. 

I do my best to accommodate her fussiness and whenever she goes in the bathroom or the kitchen and to the sink, I will turn on the tap for her. When I am at home and able to do this, this works but long term, it’s not ideal of course and it means that when we are away, the person cat sitting her, has to remember to let her have access to water too. When she is ill, it means I have to really make sure she gets as much to drink as she needs to keep her from getting dehydrated. 

A simple solution is a water fountain especially designed for cats, to allow them to drink fresh water, when they need and want to.

It seems a bit weird to have to have something especially for cats to drink from, but when you have a picky cat, that wants their water fresh, cold and from the tap, and not from a bowl, you have to do what you have to do. 

It’s a clever idea really, and means your cat, and mine can have access to fresh water when they need it. Perfect for hot weather, if you are out for the day, or away on holiday and the pet sitter can’t be water waiter on call. You can find one that suits your budget and your cat’s needs and set it up, to work for them. 

I figure, we humans get to drink from a tap, when we want, and can access clean and fresh water as we need it, and I wouldn’t want to drink from a bowl of water that has been sitting around, so if my cat doesn’t want to, either, I can’t really make her. A water fountain she can use, easily, sounds like a brilliant idea to me. I am sure she would approve. It certainly would be useful for when she wasn’t well, that’s for sure!

Do you have a picky cat that won’t drink from a water bowl? What do you do, do make sure your pets have access to clean and fresh water? 

*this is a collaborative post*


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Yes, I’ve gone meat free…

So I hadn’t planned to share this news. I’ve kind of hinted and mentioned it in passing on social media and over on my instagram feed I’ve been sharing as I stopped eating certain things but it’s slowly becoming more obvious and I’ve had to start to explain to people so I figured I may as well blog it.

Here goes…

I’ve stopped eating meat. I’m not eating red meat, white meat, processed meat.

It’s not for any smug or earth shattering reason. I simply don’t like it, so I’ve stopped eating it.

I used to enjoy steak, a roast leg of lamb, and a sausage roll like many people but in the past few months I’ve slowly gone off a lot of meat and meat products. So I’ve reduced what I eat meat wise and for the past month I’ve been meat free.

It’s hard to explain. It’s not a case of making me a good roast dinner and I’ll suddenly change my mind. I don’t need a trip to an expensive steak house to convert me back.

I do miss certain things. Bacon, pate and chicken nuggets, oddly enough are the only things I occasionally feel like I’d like to eat.

I’m not going to be shouty about it, or post patronising anti meat posts on social media. I’m not vegan nor do I plan to be.

I have sought medical and dietary advice and I’m still currently eating fish, in small quantities and I still eat eggs and some dairy products (although we are technically a cows milk free house with the allegories my big and small boy deal with so at home it’s different) So technically I’m pescatarian, for now. 

What does this mean for me?

I’m eating a lot more fruit, vegetables and salad. I’m eating less processed food. I feel a lot better for it. It does mean I have to juggle a bit because I’m already cooking partly gluten free and all cows milk free for my family, and I have to make sure I’m getting a mixed and healthy diet, for myself but it’s working out ok and I’m trying a lot of new foods and having fun finding things I like.

What does it mean for my family?

Not much. Sometimes they will eat vegetarian because that’s what I cook and sometimes they will eat meat and I will eat something vegetarian. I’m not making them change their diet. This is my choice for me.

What does it mean if you invite me for a meal or we go out to eat or we invite you to eat at our home?

Not much. I will still cook and feed people who eat a meat based diet. I enjoy cooking and feeding people and I’m not forcing anyone to eat what I eat or go meatless. I do make a pretty damn good vegetarian lasagne and curry, though, which I may make if you happen to come to dinner but I’m not trying to convert anyone to eat how I eat.

If I come to your house or we eat out I will try and fit in, I can bring my own things to eat, and I’m so used to catering for a dairy free diet and gluten free that being vegetarian isn’t that hard for me. I don’t expect you to go out of your way to cater to my food needs if it’s easier for me to help you. I won’t make a fuss, and if I can eat salads, sides and bread, I will.

So there it is. I’m not doing this to prove a point or make life difficult. I just don’t like or want to eat meat so I’m not. It’s not personal or to put anyone out, it’s working for me, and I feel better for my choice. It may be permanent or it may be for a period of time.

But yes, I do miss bacon, I will say that… 😉

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Exploring Shopkins fun with their Happy Places app

Shopkins? What’s that?

If you don’t know, they are a range of tiny collectible toy characters based on household items, with little faces, from Moose Toys. They are tremendously popular and a firm favourite amongst kids and provide endless hours of fun and imaginative play and are within pocket money purchase range. 

They now have a fab new app available on iOS to further the fun.

Moose Enterprises and Kuato Studios have recently announced the first official game for the hugely successful Shopkins Happy Places brand.  The app is aimed at children age 5+.

Easy and free to download, and designed for kids (and big kids, like me) it’s a lot of fun and encourages imaginative play. You can make in app purchases to add to the game, as well, with parental permission and approval.


So how does it work?

Create a new home and have fun playing with and nurturing the Shoppies in their new home and town and have fun decorating their living spaces and collecting items you need or want. Share your creations with friends and family and get to know the little characters known and loved so well, all within an app designed for kids to have fun and use their imaginations.

The app is colourful and fun, easy to use and I have to warn you, a bit addictive even if you are an adult. It’s safe to use and adds to the enjoyment of someone who is a big fan of the characters and collecting them and even if you aren’t familiar with them, you can play along and get involved.

So if your kids are big fans of Shopkins this is a great app to compliment their play and if you’ve never heard of them, it’s still a great and safe game to download for them to enjoy.

If I told you I enjoyed playing and having fun creating with the app, just as much as the kids did, I wouldn’t be lying… it might be just a teeny bit addictive. You have been warned! 😉

*This is a FREE app. We will receive payment for the purposes of writing this review, however, all thoughts and opinions remain our own. Images used with permission*
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Mother’s Day, always bittersweet…

When my mother died, for the longest time afterwards I was angry at her. I felt she had abandoned us, left us, not tried hard enough to stay. It took me a long time to come to a place where I wasn’t angry and I forgave her.

Then I had children, and I realised beyond a shadow of a doubt that she didn’t leave us deliberately and that she wouldn’t have gone if she’d had a choice. Having my own children made me realise this, being a mum myself, I now know she gave everything and it wasn’t anything we did that made her want to go, and I know now I would do everything myself to be here for my children.

Mother’s Day is always bittersweet for me. I have the love of my own children to make it special. I realise how blessed I am (cheesy blogger speak there) but I’m still allowed to miss my mum and wish she was here to see her grandchildren.

Motherhood makes you see life differently.

Happy Mother’s Day to those celebrating today.

If you are missing your mum or don’t have your mum, know you aren’t alone.


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My Mother’s Day plans…

If you live in the UK, you may know it’s Mother’s Day this weekend. If you have forgotten this is your reminder, go get a card! 😉

We generally keep Mother’s Day low key. There are no extravagant gifts and I am not a fan of lots of fuss, but apparently my children have been conspiring to plan some nice things for me, and we have a nice weekend to look forward to. If you are looking for a gift guide, you can check my something for all tastes post which might help for last minute ideas.

My small son has already planned his version of Mother’s Day

And the children and I are being treated to a session where they will be making beautiful Mother’s Day bouquets, at our local shopping centre, in Kingston, which I am very much looking forward to, and they are too.

and I have requested breakfast in bed, and extra coffee and maybe a lovely family walk around Kew Gardens if the weather cooperates. 

I don’t really want “things” any more, for these special days. Time with my family, relaxing and making memories is much more important to me. 

So that’s my Mother’s Day weekend? If you are a mum, or are treating your mum, what does your weekend look like? I hope it’s a lovely one…


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Four tips for helping your child to recover from an illness

One of the biggest struggles to face as a parent are the times when your little ones get sick. Instead of spiraling into a panic and assuming the worst, it is vital that you take control of the situation. Firstly, you will need to ensure your child receives an accurate diagnosis. Then, you will need to put a suitable treatment plan in place. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before your little one returns to full health. Below are four tips that will help you to make this happen.

Manage their medication

If your child has been prescribed medication, it is important that you stay on top of their daily dosage. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult for your youngster to recover. In fact, not completing a course of medication can lead to unsettling side effects. Don’t worry, managing your household’s medicine doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Simply go online to make use of the Canadian pharmacy as this is a great way for you to compare drug prices and make informed decisions. Once the medication has arrived, you should also consider purchasing a pill box, as this will keep your little one on the right track.

Create a relaxing environment

The next step is to create a relaxing environment for your child to spend their time. If you are determined to put the work in, you should think about redecorating their room. Perhaps you could paint it in relaxing colors such as pale green or warm amber. Or, if you don’t have a chance to get this done, you could start by changing the bedding, buying a few plants, and purchasing a couple of soft toys. You could also invest in noise-canceling headphones or a white noise machine. These purchases will come in handy if you are trying to let your child rest during the day, but there are other members of your household making noise.

Encourage them to get plenty of rest

Encouraging your child to get plenty of rest is essential if they are going to enjoy a speedy recovery. That is why you should implement a strict bedtime regime. Try to set a good example by following suit. Ideally, you should encourage your entire family to be asleep by a certain point. It will keep your property quiet and will save your child from feeling like they are missing out. If your little one is really struggling for energy, you should also encourage them to take power naps throughout the day. Just make sure that you help them to unwind with soothing activities such as listening to an audiobook, drawing them a bubble bath, or reading them a bedtime story.

Evaluate their diet and intake of fluids

Another way to increase your child’s energy levels is by evaluating their diet and intake of fluids. If they have a sensitive stomach, you might find it difficult to put together meals that they will enjoy. However, it is important that you persevere until you find ingredients that increase your youngster’s strength, without upsetting their delicate palate. You should also encourage your loved one to drink plenty of fluids, as this is another brilliant way for them to return to good health.

*this is a collaborative post*

Beautiful window boxes with Bay and Box

I am not a big gardener, I struggle to find the time to concentrate on anything more than the basics of keeping our garden looking clean and tidy, although I do love being in the garden. I do however, love window boxes and find those easy to look after and maintain, and to me there is nothing nicer than walking past a house that has pretty window boxes. We are currently mid a bit of a garden revamp, so despite the spring coming, I can’t do much to our front garden, to make it look lovely, but I do have wide enough front windows to put some window boxes on, to plant some spring bulbs in. 

My children had a project in mind, for Mother’s Day, to plant some lovely bulbs for me but rather dramatically we had some winter weather sprung upon us, so spring was slightly postponed and they couldn’t carry out their plans. The snow has gone, thankfully, now, so we have been able to start out project. 

Planting window boxes is a pretty easy and fun task, because there is no weeding or prep to be done and you can fill your boxes with plants and flowers you want to display and enjoy. 

Bay and Box make some really stylish and practical window boxes and they are perfect for making a window area both inside and outside your home look beautiful and for us, just in time for spring.  They are well made, solid and look really lovely on bay windows and window sills. Some window boxes always strike me as flimsy and flyaway but these are worth budgeting for and will last a long time, enhancing your windows and even if you don’t have a garden you can create a mini garden with some nice plants and a window box or two.


We have had some fun choosing what plants we wanted to plant in our boxes and getting the soil into the boxes and we have got them all planted and next week the painter is coming to paint our windowsills. He was meant to come last week, yet another fail of the weather. 

They are going to look so lovely when they are full of blooms and we are waiting not so patiently and hoping the weather cooperates. They may not be fully ready for Mother’s Day, but they are at least planted out and will look stunning once our windows are painted too. 

Bay and Box have a delightful range of boxes and containers to choose from and you can even opt for them to contain artificial plants, if you are really not green fingered but still want a box full of beautiful looking blooms. They make a lovely addition to a garden or windowsill and a perfect gift for someone who likes stylish garden things. 

You can’t really go wrong with a pretty window box, I don’t think… come back in a few weeks and see how ours are doing?

*this is a collaborative post*

Should you send your children to the same school

You might think that sending your children to the same school is what everyone does and is the simplest and easiest way to get your children through school.

The choice of school might be driven by a number of factors. For example, you might send your children to somewhere like Rossall School due to the ability to board your children there, giving you more flexibility for returning to work. Or you might simply opt to send your children to the nearest local school.

The choice people make usually involves several stages. Researching a school, finding one that they like, their child enjoys, and they have a relationship with. Then any siblings the oldest child has can go to the same school. In fact, having a child already at a school tends to make admissions easier and also helps with keeping everyone in the same place and in a familiar setting.

This works for a lot of people, but, there are situations that might call for you to send your children to different schools.

Different educational needs

You might have a child with a disability, or special educational needs that require additional help and care throughout the day. Most main stream schools are set up to provide an education while still meeting these needs and helping your child’s development.

However, in some cases it might be worth looking for a school which specialises in helping pupils who might need additional help and support as well as being able to work a curriculum around the need for potential medical treatments or appointments.

Choosing to send your child to a more specialised school can ensure that they get more of the care and support they need at school and they are under the supervision of people with expertise and experience in working with children that require additional help.


Your oldest child might be a boy, and he might attend an all-boys school. Having a little girl means based purely on biology you’d need to find somewhere else for them to go to school.

This means returning to the research and investigation that you will have done when you first chose a school. However, the benefit here is you can look at schools that are better suited to your child’s individual needs and the impression they have of each school based on open days and meeting with teachers.

You might have to attempt to juggle two different school schedules, such as differences in start and finish times, different holidays, inset days and after school activities. However, schools sometimes provide options such as breakfast and after school clubs that can be a massive help with managing a school run that covers several stops.

Nurture a specific talent     

You might have a child who has the aspiration to be a star or stage and screen. Sometimes a regular school might not be the best place to help nurture this talent. The alternative is to look for a specialised stage school which can help not only provide your child with an education but also give them a better starting point to take advantage of a specific talent.

This might involve an audition process or an entrance exam but passing this can help give your child a head start on developing a skillset they otherwise might have struggled to do.

Keep in mind that skills that have a specialised skill set such as a stage school might have additional fees that need to be paid. So, there might be a cost consideration to keep in mind.

There’s many reasons why you might decide to send your children to different skills, some are a matter of choice and some might be born from necessity.

Whatever the reason it is important that you take the time to properly research and consider your options so that you find the best possible place for your child to grow, learn and develop.

*this is collaborative post, images used with permission*




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Maintaining Your Family Home So It’s Safe And Secure For The Little Ones


All parents will need to perform some maintenance from time to time to ensure their family homes are safe and secure for the little ones. That is a top priority, and it’s something many people forget or overlook. Considering that, this article will draw your attention towards some of the straightforward jobs that should ensure your home never becomes compromised. If you take the advice from this page and put it into action this year, there is a reasonable chance your entire family will be able to go about their lives without issue. Failure to take heed could mean someone becomes injured unnecessarily. However, it’s guaranteed to result in you spending vast quantities of cash further down the line, and nobody wants that to happen, right?

Checking and replacing all window and door locks

The first, and the least expensive thing you need to do related to your windows and doors according to specialists like those from Household Quotes. Most windows in modern homes have locks these days, and you need to make sure they are working correctly. Over time, it is common for the locks to become loose, and that makes it easy for burglars to gain access to your home. So, you need to head out to your local DIY store and purchase some new locks. You should also do the same thing for your front and back doors if you’ve had the same keys since you moved into the property. There are no guarantees the previous tenants and other people might still have copies. That entire process should cost less than £20 if you try not to overspend.

Paying for professional air conditioning and heating system checks

Most homes in the UK and Northern European countries don’t have air conditioning units because the climate is not hot enough to warrant such an expense. However, homes in other parts of the world use those systems, and they need to undergo maintenance checks every twelve months. The last thing you want is for your children to struggle to get to sleep at night because the air conditioner breaks and the temperature becomes too high. The same goes for heating systems like hot water boilers. If you don’t arrange regular professional checks, there is a decent chance you won’t spot any issues before they become severe. So, do your family a favour and make sure you keep the number for a specialist handy.

Cleaning your drains and guttering

Nobody wants their home to flood or suffer issues related to damp. For that reason, it’s sensible to pay experts to clean your drains and guttering from time to time. A blocked drain could cause thousands of pounds worth of damage if it’s left untreated according to specialists like those from AMS Drains and their competitors. So, if you notice a pool of water forming outside of your house after a torrential downpour of rain, it’s sensible to make a phone call as soon as possible. Blocked drains could also prevent the toilet in your home from working correctly, and you don’t need anyone else to tell you how many problems that could cause for yourself and the children.

Installing a home alarm system with motion sensors

All parents will want their kids to feel as safe and secure at home as possible. For that reason, you need to take steps towards protecting your house from criminals. In most instances, burglars will never target a property that has CCTV and alarm systems. Those criminals know there is a decent chance they will get caught, and so they will move onto a house that doesn’t have those things. An upmarket alarm system is probably going to cost somewhere between £200 and £500. However, that should come with motion sensors you can place inside your house. If any burglars manage to gain access while you’re in bed, the alarm will sound and you will become aware of the situation. CCTV could also provide evidence the police can use to secure a conviction.


Adding stair gates to dangerous areas

If you have small children on the property, it’s vital that you take action to prevent them from entering dangerous areas or falling down the stairs. Thankfully, you can solve that problem without breaking the bank because stair gates are not expensive these days. However, those items will stop your loved ones from causing problems and injuring themselves. Some parents also use stair gates to keep pets like dogs away from their babies. So, do yourself a favour and search online for the most affordable products available today. Be sure to shop around because different retailers will run sales at various points throughout the year. So, you could grab a bargain!

Checking pipework for leaks after cold weather

Lastly, if your town goes through a patch of cold weather where there is ice on the pavements and roads, it’s sensible to check all your water pipes. That is because liquid can freeze and expand in those pipes, and that can result in cracks and leaks. The last thing you want is for your home to flood this year, and so you need to take action straight away. The easiest way to spot leaks is to run your hands over the pipes. If you feel any moisture, there is a decent chance you need to call the professionals before it’s too late. You can buy specialist tape in the meantime that should provide a quick fix and ensure your home doesn’t become flooded with water before the experts arrive.

Parents who take the steps mentioned in this article should manage to create a safe and secure family home where their children can learn and grow into mature adults. The goal is to create stability and ensure nothing gets in the way of your family life. Thinking ahead and performing some of the maintenance checks mentioned here today will not require hard work. However, it could prevent you from spending thousands on repair work further down the line. As the old saying goes, life is what you make of it, and parents who ensure they have a safe home for their little ones are going to win the race.

*this is a collaborative post*
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