4 Great Indoor Games To Play With The Kids

Some days it will be raining, or snowing, or you’ll just not particularly want to leave the house. However, your children will still want to have some fun. If you want to stop them from getting bored, there are dozens of different games you can think up to keep everyone occupied. Here are some examples of the kind of thing you can do and play. Who says wet weather days have to be boring ones?

Make Your Own Stamps

There is something about ink stamps that children just adore, so it makes sense to make some of your own. That way, not only do they get to make some wonderful art, but they can even make the tools to do it too. All you need to do is glue some old buttons to the end of some corks, and there you have it, your own homemade ink stamps. If you don’t have any ink to use, you can dip them in some paint. The patterns can be very beautiful.

Make String Art

String art is great for ensuring your child uses their fine motor skills. The string can be replaced by wool or ribbon if that’s easier and other than that all you need is some glue and some paper. Cut the string into pieces of different lengths; then your children simply need to stick that string onto the paper. If they dot and squirt the glue into different shapes, the string can be bent to fit. Once the glue is dry, the string can be painted different colors.

Play Never Have I Ever

Although Never Have I Ever is often associated with being a drinking game, it can be a lot of fun to play with the kids. All you have to do is make a statement such as ‘Never have I ever eaten chips,’ and then everyone who has done that gains a point. The first person to 10, 20, 50 (or whatever number you choose) is out and so on. If you don’t know what questions to ask examples can be found on funattic.com.

Make Bookmarks

Making bookmarks has many benefits; they can be given away as gifts to friends and family (people love receiving homemade gifts from children), or they can encourage more reading to happen in the home. Plus, they’re easy, but fun, to make. You’ll need a paperclip, craft glue, a needle and thread, and some ribbon. Cut the ribbon so that it’s long enough that it will hang out of the bottom of a book. Thread the ribbon through the paperclip, folding it over at the top, then glue the ribbon tab down so that it’s secure. You can add a few stitches here too if you want it to be extra safe. Weigh it down and wait until it dries. That’s it! The paperclip attaches to the page you’ve stopped reading on, and the ribbon sits neatly in the book. Alternatively, if your children have small hands and clip might tear the pages as they take it on and off, attach it instead to the front cover of the book – the ribbon will still go where you left off reading.

In a pinch, a few of these ideas will hopefully stave off rainy day, stuck in doors boredom…

*this is a collaborative post*

Layla’s mid life crisis…

Something is up with the cat. 

Mostly, she’s normal. Well, normal for her, if you call being taciturn, grumpy, hating everyone, demanding human food, abusing the other cat, and regularly depositing hair balls in delightfully unexpected places, normal. 

But she has started featuring a regular behavior that we have been calling “mental kitty” or rather jokingly because of course we don’t really understand what the word means “Layla’s daily existential crisis”.

It goes like this. 

Jasper comes home from his nightly jaunt of the neighbourhood (you are aware that Jasper is our other cat, and not the husband, of course!) at about 6am and will announce his arrival home via the cat flap, noisily, and waits less than patiently to be fed. We humans will grumble and groan and usually there is a small child waking up. 

Layla will go downstairs and eat breakfast, when it is presented to her, usually with some complaints about the speed of it’s arrival, the cleanliness of her dish, the fact that she has to eat in the presence of another cat, and whatever else is annoying her at that very moment. 

She will then come up the stairs and use her litter tray. I could tell you this makes the house smell disgusting, but that’s another story. 

She then goes as the husband puts it “absolutely berko” and does this thing where she belts around the top floor of the house, across any humans in their beds that may be still trying (ahem, trying) to sleep, up and down the stairs, whilst miaowing. She does this for about five minutes. She then stops, leaps onto our bed, sits on my face for a few minutes, then she will move to her chair, have a thorough wash, and curl up and go to sleep…

We have no idea why she does this. She doesn’t appear unwell, or in pain, or unhappy. Given she has a touch of arthritis in her hips, this daily sprint and leap around the house, first thing in the morning, seems a little adventurous and out of the blue for her. 

I plan to ask the vet when she has her next check up, if he has any clues, but putting it out there to the internet also seems like a good plan, maybe you have a cat that does this too, and know why?

Or maybe it’s just her way of having a mid life crisis. 

Googles “cat therapist”…

ANIMALTALES

If you would like to keep up with Layla, otherwise known affectionately as “grumpycat”, she has her own Twitter and Instagram….

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Daily Snippet 15/02/18 – gone off sausages!

Rather weirdly of late, I’ve noticed I’ve gone off certain foods (nope, not pregnant, just for the record) and the thought of eating them, makes me feel nauseous.

I’m not a big meat eater. I like a good steak every now and then, and enjoy a roast lamb lunch, but I can go without meat and if I didn’t have to cook it for my family (being married to a South African that would not give up his meat) I wouldn’t bother with it often.

Recently I’ve realised I’ve totally gone off processed meat.

Sausages, ham, minced meat, meatballs, burgers, even good quality ones, just turn my stomach, and I’m not sure why…

I’ve even gone off chicken.

The husband cooked me a steak last night and I enjoyed that, but tonight the kids and husband are having sausages and vegetable rice, I’m making myself an omelette.

It’s really weird, right?

Maybe I’m a “plainmeatarian” or something?

Helping A Friend In Need That Doesn’t Want Help

Your friend is in need, but they keep stubbornly refusing to be helped – what do you do? You may feel powerless and feel as if you’re failing them as a friend. However, the very fact that you’re eager to help them shows that you are a brilliant friend. You just need to re-evaluate your way of getting through to them. Here are some tips for helping a friend in need that doesn’t want your help.

Understand why they don’t want help

Pride can often get in the way of people accepting help. For many people, accepting help feels like a form of weakness – some people may refuse to admit that there’s even a problem. Others may be aware of the problem, but may not want to be a burden on their friends. Try to see it from their view as this might allow you to approach the matter more delicately.

Do your research

Understanding your friend’s problem can help you to decide the best remedy. If your friend has a drinking problem, it’s worth researching into how to help an alcoholic by understanding the symptoms and the effect the addiction has on their body. If your friend is bereaved and depressed, it could be worth researching bereavement stages. The more you know, the easier it will be to engage with them.

Know the boundaries

Some people may be looking for space. Whilst you should keep trying to help, you don’t want to come across as too full-on. Alternatively, some people may need a close watch if you feel they’re going to do harm to themselves. It can sometimes be difficult knowing the boundaries. Tell them you understand if they want space, but equally tell them you’re always there if they need to talk.

Apply group pressure

Getting nagged by you alone might not be enough to convince them they need help. If multiple friends and family members are also applying pressure, your friend might be more inclined to accept help. Rather than confronting your friend as a group, it might be more effective if everyone does it individually on a one-to-one basis.

Stay calm

If your friend gets angry at you, the temptation may be to get angry back, but this may push them away. If they get angry at you, try to react calmly. They may be more inclined to put their guard down and trust you if you’re not get agitated.

Get support yourself

Having to care for a friend may be having a toll on your mental health. Don’t think that just because you’re not in as bad a situation that you can’t also consider services like counselling.

What I really want for Valentines Day…

It’s the 14th of February and around the world many people are celebrating Valentine’s Day. It’s a day of fun, joy, romance and love for some, and for others it can be a disapointing and painful day. 

For us, in reality it’s just another day. Both of us are working, and the children are home for the school break. There isn’t really time or capacity for a romantic meal, a fancy night out and our budget doesn’t stretch to expensive and extravegant gifts. We will get each other a little gift each, and we will have dinner together (if the children will cooperate and go to bed and leave us in peace, they don’t really do romance!) and that will be that, really. 

We have been married for nearly 17 years, together for almost 19, and have known each other for almost 22 years. We know each other well, and we have been through a lot together. I don’t really have any burning lists of things he needs to get for me. I wouldn’t say no to an expensive bunch of flowers, or a fancy jewellary. Whilst the idea of a meal out in a glamorous restaurant sounds nice in principal, the reality is dressing up on a week night, going out, sorting a babysitter, and getting the kids in bed on time, is more stress than I can really face. 

I don’t need proclamations of love, or cards, although I know he’s got me one, and I know the children have made me something (not much escapes me, round here) and there will be chocolate in there somewhere. 

I am very lucky that in our day to day life, I have a partner in life who loves and supports me all the time. I don’t need one day in the year for him to express that. The man gets up every day and makes me coffee. He puts up with me in what is almost a permanently sleep deprived grumpy state, and he lives with the two cats I have brought home to add to our chaos, without much complaint. 

I truly don’t want anything for Valentines Day, I don’t need anything. I need what I already have and that’s just what I need. 

Ok, that’a a lie. I would love a holiday to a beach resort, I would love a house that cleans itself, and doesn’t need me to be constantly running around after it, I would love to look ten years younger and at least a size thinner but sadly none of those are likely to manifest today.

In all seriousness. I am content. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything. 

I am not sharing this to sound smug and annoying. I just am the type of person that thinks if you can’t see love in your life in the ordinary days and moments, then a day where fuss is made isn’t really worth the effort. I think it’s nice to have fuss, but my point is that if the people in your life who love you can’t make you feel that way when it’s not Valentine’s Day, then what is the point?

I am not anti Valentine’s Day, but behind all the expense, and fuss, what is the real meaning behind it? For me, it’s mostly just another day, and I will be lucky to have my dinner cooked for me, and maybe a child free dinner, and really, I wouldn’t want anything else…

 

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Betty Box – helping tweens and teens with periods

*In the interests of personal disclosure, my tween has agreed to let me write this piece, and she is happy for me to be sharing this information. I would never discuss personal topics concerning her without her consent. She is happy to share and we have agreed what we can and can’t share. She also took all the photographs for this article and will contribute her own words as well*

We are starting to hit the parenting stage with our tween where we face that she is growing up and hitting puberty. The way I parent her as a mother, dealing with body changes, and everything she faces as she grows up are different from the way I was parented. The female influences in my teenage life were much more conservative and to be frank we didn’t talk about periods, sex, or body changes much. I had a book (anyone my age remember Have You Started Yet? Yup, I am showing my age, aren’t I?) So I spent a lot of my early teen years and into young adulthood figuring most of what was happening to my body, on my own, with some info from my peers. 

I am determined that my own daughter won’t have to deal with the body and emotional changes she will be facing alone, and that I will support her and be open and honest about periods, sex and all the other things that are coming her way. We have always operated on the basis that we are honest with our kids about what our bodies do, and she has known about periods and why they happen for a while, and we have slowly and gently explained sex and relationships as she has asked questions or situations have arrived where she would need to know. We don’t lie, we don’t use silly names for body parts, and we keep things basic and we involve her in looking for answers if needed. (I have an excellent book about body changes into puberty and adulthood that we have read together, and she is allowed to ask to look at whenever she wants, and we have used the internet to research things when I have felt we needed more information) We operate on an open door policy in that I want her to always come to me for help and advice no matter what she is facing and that I will be there for her to help and support her. It’s a tough job being a mum to a tween growing into a teen but I am hoping I can rise to the challenge.

So, we are facing periods and body changes. She is growing up (and whilst I would love to live in denial that she is still my cute little toddler who’s only worry in life is what dressing up outfit she wants to wear today, I can’t, sadly) and we are freely talking about periods and what will happen. 

I don’t think periods are “FUN”, but we can make an effort to help make them as easy as possible. 

Betty Box is something we plan to use to make the transition a little easier. 

Starting puberty is often overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. bettybox is the UK’s first monthly period subscription service designed specifically to make that time of the month more comfortable and less scary for teens, brought to you by betty – a lead educator in teen periods.

The colourful box contains everything you need for a positive experience – including the period essentials tailored to meet every girl’s sanitary and wellbeing needs and treats to make every girl feel better during their time of the month. Packed into funky pouches and boxes, bettybox and its contents wouldn’t look out of place in any teenager’s bedroom. The pouches are even separated into handy ‘now’, ‘nighttime’ and ‘later’ boxes so they have what they need, when they need it.

What’s more, each bettybox contains lovely surprises and premium treats to look forward to each month. Products include teenage-friendly cosmetics, bath and body items as well as cool keyrings, sweets and chocolate from popular brands such as Candy Kittens and MUA Cosmetics.

You can choose your preference of tampons or towels, or both, as well as absorbency and size, and select a date for delivery. It’s as simple as that.

With a mission to bust taboos and encourage honest, open dialogue around periods – think of betty as a big sister, full of advice. From the betty online platform, easy-to-navigate website and social channels, to information within each bettybox, betty offers a hub of advice, useful facts and tips to ensure teens equipped with the ‘knowledge’ and ‘know-how’ around periods.

Mums and dads can also feel assured that each bettybox is jam-packed full of information and guidance taking the what, why and when out of periods, preparing young girls for the transition into adulthood and making it a more positive experience. The hormones, the cramps, the spots? It’s all normal and natural.

The boxes are amazing and fun. We opened it together, and I will admit to very wistfully wishing I had had access to something like this when I was my daughter’s age. 

The contents are well thought out, and really appeal to someone facing starting her periods or already dealing with them. It’s a mix of serious and fun. Emily was delighted and I can really see how these would be super helpful. 

A little bit of everything you might need from pads (and you can choose what type and what size, or tampons if you prefer) to some treats and nice things to help. Also some useful info to read. 

You can subscribe to their monthly boxes, for a delivery of treats and useful items for that time of the month, or a once off box, depending on their needs. Budget wise, it works out, and they really do put some thoughtful items into the box to help cheer up and encourage a girl going through her period. 

Periods and body changes can be really challenging and Betty have a great website full of chat and info all in language that appeals to tweens and teens, to help them understand what’s happening with their bodies and also some fun things to read. It also has a really useful section for parents, too, which is handy, because even though I am a nurse and a woman, there are things I like to make sure I am doing right too, parenting this girl tween of mine…

Emily says:

I like the Betty box because it gives a girl everything she needs to get ready for her period. It also gives her a chance to get used to them and understand how they work before she gets her period. I also like it because it doesn’t just have pads and liners in it, it also has little treats to keep you going like a pen, some chocolate, some lip gloss etc.

My favourite thing from the box is the peppermint tea bag as that is a really soothing and warm drink for your stomach when you get your period.

I would definitely recommend this Betty box to someone else as it is important to make sure all girls have the supplies, (no matter what country you live in) understand it and don’t feel scared when they get their period. I think it would be great if all girls had access to something like this, and my mum says she will make sure I get a box every month when I need it, which makes me happy. 

How to order your box?

Step one: Visit www.betty.me and select ‘subscribe’

Step two: Choose your favourite femcare product from a host of trusted brands

Step three: Select the absorbency you require, because we want it to be just right for you

Step four: Choose a delivery date to coincide with your cycle

Step five: Put it to the back of your mind and enjoy the surprise each month

All bettybox packaging is FSC accredited.

 

Monthly subscriptions cost £12.99 including P&P and are available from www.betty.me.

So, mum and daughter approved (and if you are a mum of a tween you will know how rare it is for mum and tween to approve of the same thing) and we would definitely say it’s worth looking into getting a Betty Box for your tween/teen too…

*this is a collaborative post , we were kindly sent an item to review, but all opinions are our own*

     

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A quick and easy pancake recipe and a giveaway…

It’s Shrove Tuesday, or as many people know it, pancake day. If like me, you totally forgot about it until the last minute, and you are craving pancakes or your children are demanding them (I was woken at 6am this morning to be reminded of my promise to make my kids pancakes this morning) then don’t panic….

We have handy little video for you, from the lovely Theo Michaels (from This Morning and Masterchef) to show you how you can make some super quick and tasty pancakes in minutes…

He makes it look so easy, doesn’t he?

We also have a little giveaway to celebrate pancake day, for our readers!

One winner can win a copy of his fab book Microwave Mug Meals

which is a great recipe book full of ideas for meals you can make in miunutes, in a mug, in your microwave… 

All you need to do is tell us what you like to have with your pancakes when you make them and then enter via the Rafflecopter linky.

Good luck and happy pancake making and eating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions

One winner will be chosen at random by rafflecopter.

Winner has 28 days to respond then a new winner will be chosen.
UK entrants only
No cash prize alternative
Ends 20th Feb 2018
Spam entrants will be deleted and all entry requirements must be completed.

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Daily Snippet 12/02/2018 tv medical drama is my therapy…

I’m an emotional person, I’m short tempered, feisty, I speak then I think. I’m compassionate and moved to tears for people’s circumstances very easily. I can’t watch animal movies without crying and watching anything on tv or movies where a child is being hurt upsets me tremendously, be it factual or fiction.

I’m not very good at grief or letting my emotions loose when something is going on and I am hurting. Or if I’ve got a lot on my mind and can’t express myself, and even writing words doesn’t help.

I have a way of letting those emotions out. I watch medical programmes. Either documentary types or medical drama. I find them incredibly cathartic and therapeutic. The emotions and drama, fear and pain projected through the screen allows me to let loose my own feelings. I find myself crying and clearing out my soul.

Here goes…

We thought we were pregnant. It was a blissful two days of planning and hoping, and then it wasn’t.

It wasn’t planned or meant to be.

It’s been just another thing in the last 5-6 weeks that have made me say “2018 has sucked so far, it has to get better, right?”.

I wasn’t going to share, it seems stupid to. Why share something so intimate and so fleeting?

Where do we go from here?

I don’t know. I do know I’m going to be watching a lot of medical drama in the next week or two, til til the tears I can’t find myself to express otherwise have been and gone and I can forgive myself and my body, again…

I guess medical drama on Amazon Prime is cheaper than therapy, right?

Doing school holidays differently because of Sensory Processing Disorder

It’s half term week for us. Some families have already had their half term break, some families are still waiting for theirs to start. We are facing ours. 

When I say facing, it sounds negative. School holidays, for us and me are a mix of pleasure, and frankly pain. We have a little boy who struggles to adjust to the change from the more strict routine of the school day to the more relaxed holiday time. It’s taken me a long time to realize and process that my ideas of what school holidays should be, are actually not working. 

Other people get excited about “no school run”, “no early wake ups”, “chilling at home”, “days out”, “relaxing at home”, “letting the kids just play”. I don’t anymore…

Some of that does happen for us and we do enjoy it, but to be honest, my small son doesn’t cope with dramatic changes in routine, and whilst he loves being at home, and I love having  my kids at home, switching off into “holiday mode” that other people relish doesn’t work for us. 

He likes routine, and familiarity. He likes knowing what the plan is, and for the day to follow a pattern. He needs a lot of stimulation physically, so we can’t sit around all day just watching TV and playing games. He thrives when we stick to a day that is planned and carried out in a way he knows will work for him. 

I have pretty much been in denial about this, because for me, the holidays need to be about relaxing and breaking from routine. My tween also needs to be able to relax and it’s hard to juggle her needs, my needs and the needs of her brother, which are all very different. A lot of our holidays have been hard and emotional and we haven’t really coped very well. I have faced them with dread. 

But we have a lot of school holidays left to face, until my children leave school and need less of me to manage their time and capacity so we are trying to do things differently. 

Whilst other people are sharing about their kids having sleep ins, and sleep overs, late nights because they don’t have to get up early for school, and relaxing, we are sticking to routine. 

If we don’t stick to routines we end up with sensory meltdowns, a small boy who gets frustrated, bored and anxious because he isn’t able to manage the transition from school term time to holidays. When you look in from the outside, you may not get what we deal with. If you don’t have a child with sensory or other needs, you certainly won’t get it. 

We don’t have to get up for school, but we get up and get dressed and eat breakfast like we normally do. As much as I would love to lie in bed and let my kids have hours of screen time so I can relax, it doesn’t work for my small boy. He needs to stick to his routine. We won’t be doing late nights, or messing up the bedtime routine we have to fight so hard to keep smooth. We won’t be spending all day in our pj’s watching movies. He needs exercise and time outside. 

We will plan our days. They will be a little like school, in that he will know what is coming and what we will be doing, and we will stick to that. We will be up and about and keeping busy. Not much relaxing for me (we have made plans for the tween, so she can relax and not be tied to the routine we plan for her brother all the time) but as a parent, it’s my job to manage life for my kids, so that we all thrive as a family. The husband and I have had to have frank conversations, about managing work (we both work) and life. I am very fortunate in that he also has my back and is prepared to help me with the holidays so that it’s not all on me, because I do work less in the holidays, and am at home more. He understands how stressful it can be. We don’t have a lot of family support, and I don’t expect our friends to pick up the slack. We pay for some childcare to help me to be able to juggle the holidays too. We sacrifice to make it work, for him, and for all of us. 

So whilst we are on holiday, it requires a lot of careful planning. Days out with friends who know us well, to places we know our boy loves or will enjoy. A pretty strict routine at home, and whilst we do factor in relaxing time, it’s not the major feature. Lots of crafts and activities he likes to keep him busy. Lots of exercise and fresh air, whatever the weather. Minimal screen time. 

We have to make the holidays work. I hate sending my kids back to school feeling like it’s been awful to have them at home. The revelation that once again we need to do things differently from other families because what works for them really isn’t working for us, is hard to face but like most things, once I accept it, I get on with it and try to make the best of it. 

So, no chilled lie in time, lazy mornings or relaxed days for me, but I hopefully get a happier and more relaxed son out of it. He feels happier and more relaxed when we work around what makes him tick and cope. Part of being a parent of a child with sensory issues is helping them to blossom and manage life. If facing the school holidays differently is how we need to do that, then that is what we will do…

 

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My Sunday Photo

The things we do as parents to try and get a lie in… 

Will it work? I’ll let you know… 

Photalife
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