Family Picnics with Bibetta Lunch Bags

Izzy and Clara love a picnic, no matter where we are or whatever the weather, so they were happy to review a new lunch bag from Bibetta. Of course it was the perfect excuse to go for a picnic (or three) while we had some nice weather over the Summer holidays.IMG_20160814_190313

In the past week we have visited a farm park, aquarium and the beach. Taking a picnic with us definitely saved money, as buying food when you are out and about can really add up and make a day trip quite costly. So we packed up some sandwiches, fruit and cookies and headed off to enjoy some family time.

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We went to a local marina to enjoy our lunch before going to see the fish at the aquarium. Clara insisted on carrying “my new lunch bag”, probably so that Izzy couldn’t sneak out any snacks, while they hunted for the perfect picnic spot. Eventually they settled on a bench looking out at the sea. However, while they were having a great time, I was slightly on edge due to the seagulls that were slowly surrounding us and trying to stare me out. Not exactly the relaxing picnic I imagined but the girls didn’t let it put them off their food!

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The trip to the farm park and beach were more successful, as we didn’t encounter any hungry wildlife, although at the beach the kids discarded their picnic food in favour of ice cream, but who can blame them!

The Bibetta lunch bags are made of neoprene, which is insulating and keeps food and drinks at the right temperature. They are also soft and stretchy, which really helps when you are trying to fit in awkward shaped sandwich boxes! Whether you are packing a lunch for school or snacks for the whole family, there’s plenty of space.

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The bags come in different colours and fun patterns – including blue fish, pink butterflies and green owls. The patterns are quite subtle though and I used the bag to take my lunch to work for a few days and it didn’t feel like I was using a child’s lunch bag.

The best thing about the lunch bag has to be that it can be cleaned in the washing machine. I find that even when washing lunch bags by hand it’s hard to get them completely clean and after a while they start to smell a bit funky and need to be replaced.

The lunch bags are currently half price until the end of August on the Bibetta website. Bibetta also produce a range of other family products including bibs, changing mats and picnic rugs.

*We were kindly sent this lunch bag in return for an honest review.* 

 

Keeping your child’s favourite toy safe on holiday, with tips from Mothercare

New research from Mothercare has revealed that 69% of parents say their kid’s favourite cuddly toy is a must-pack holiday item.

For us, we can’t go anywhere overnight without taking Seahorse. He is Izzy’s favourite toy; she’s had him since she was 1 day old. He smells a bit funky, the pink fur has turned grey in places and the light up tummy isn’t as bright as it once was but she loves him regardless.

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He’s accompanied her on many a sleepover, weekend away and of course on our family holidays. He’s been to Portugal, Majorca and Disneyland, as well as many places in the UK.

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Having a favourite toy, something familiar, can provide such comfort when visiting new places. Holidays can often mean a disruption in routine, an unfamiliar environment and new experiences – which can be unsettling for young children.

It’s so important that Seahorse comes with us to provide that reassurance and comfort. It’s even more important to bring him safely back home!

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That’s why I’m sharing some top tips from Mothercare parenting expert Liz Day, to help parents keep their kids’ fluffy friends safe this summer.

Mothercare identifies parents’ bear-necessities for holiday packing

Liz Day, Parenting Consultant for Mothercare, comments: “As well as keeping children calm and entertained during the journey, home comforts such as a favourite cuddly toy can often help little ones settle better into new locations as parents unpack and start to relax. Here’s my advice on how to keep their favourite friend safe and make sure the bear makes the return journey home with you:”

1.      Tag your cuddly toy using the same safety ID bracelet or wristband as you use to keep your child safe – matching their favourite bear will encourage your little one to keep the tag on at all times. Include a return address and your phone number so your invaluable bear finds its way back to its little owner if it gets lost.

2.      Buy two of your child’s favourite cuddly toy and secretly pack one in your suitcase when you go away. If your tot’s toy does manage to escape, it’s really useful if it can miraculously reappear when you get back to your holiday accommodation.

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3.      When on the beach, tie a brightly coloured ribbon to your tot’s favourite fluffy friend so they don’t go missing in the sand.

4.      When travelling, keep bear safely in your hand luggage or pop them in an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

As well as you child’s favourite cuddly toy, the other top four items parents say are essential to pack for family holidays are:

o   Sunhat (84%)

o   Sunshade (66%)

o   Armbands/ pool floats (55%)

o   Travel cot (53%)

What are your holiday essentials? Do you have any tips on keeping those favourite toys safe?

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Our Weekly Roundup #20

It’s been another couple of busy weeks. We’ve packed quite a lot in with a trip to Manchester, visits to the aquarium and farm, swimming and a show.

2016-08-14 21.44.25We went to see In the Night Garden Live at Manchester. Clara was amazed from the very start, she barely took her eyes off the stage and was dancing and singing along. Izzy was one of the oldest children there, as most were pre-school age, but she loved it too. The show was a mix of puppets and life sized characters, and it followed the same format as the television show, making it very familiar for the children. Afterwards we waited to meet Upsy Daisy, although Clara wasn’t too keen on meeting her in person!

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We returned home from Manchester minus a child. Izzy stayed with her grandparents for a few days and enjoyed a trip to Cadbury’s World. She had a nice time and was well and truly spoilt but she was pleased to come home. I think she missed Clara most! It was nice for her to spend time with her grandparents but  it did feel quite strange without her in the house!

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Clara, however, probably enjoyed the peace and quiet. On the Thursday we went to pick Izzy up and there was a lot of hugging and tales of how late she stayed up and how many ice creams she had (there are no secrets!). There wasn’t much chance for her to relax though as the next day we went swimming. Her big cousin came with us too and they swam off playing mermaids while Clara doggy – paddled her way round the pool playing with her little friends.

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Saturday called for some fresh air so we headed up to a farm park. It succeeded in tiring the girls out as both fell asleep in the car on the way home! Izzy fed a goat and Clara was really brave and stroked a pony – a big step for a toddler who is scared of dogs and most other animals.

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On Sunday the Hubby was off playing cricket and eldest was giving it some attitude. She’s obsessed with Annie at the moment to the point where she’s started talking in an American accent and pretending she’s an orphan. The singing was cute to begin with. I learned to make it work to my advantage by issuing both girls with dusters and having them clean the skirting boards while singing it’s a hard knock life. But after a few hours of the constant fake accent and millions of questions about orphanages (plus the announcement that she wants to live in an orphanage) tensions were running high. So we packed up a picnic and headed to the local aquarium. Which aleviated matters for a couple of hours until I made the mistake of going to Asda and it descended into madness once again.

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However, Clara managed to ensure we ended the day on a high by doing a wee in her potty for the first time. It was super cute – mid nappy change she just took herself off to the bathroom, sat on her potty then announced “I did it”. Completely unexpected as while we have had a potty in the bathroom for a while and mention it now and again, we haven’t started trying to potty train.

We made a big fuss of her and gave her a little present as a reward – a Doc Mcstuffins watch that plays music. She’s so proud of herself and really pleased with her watch. Izzy even made her a certificate for being an awesome little sister. It’s amazing the things you get so proud of when you are a parent – bodily fluids being one of them!

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Little Passports Review #3: Animals

Little Passports is a monthly subscription package which delivers adventure right to your door. We have been trying out the Early Explorers subscription for children aged 3-5, which we have kindly been gifted in return for an honest review.

We are also taking part in the Little Passports Affiliate programme, so if you click on any of the links in this post or on the advert on the sidebar, and go on to purchase a subscription, we will receive a small commission.

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Izzy always gets really excited when one of the Little Passports packages arrives in the post. She loves learning and is really interested in the world and different countries. This is a nice introduction to learning about the world, with each monthly package focusing on a different element. So far we have explored famous landmarks and music from different countries; this month it was time to learn about animals that are native to different parts of the world.

Each pack includes an activity passport, luggage tag, trading cards, stickers, a flash light adventure and a postcard all around the same theme. In addition, they each include a different souvenir or toy. In this pack, we received a set of animal finger puppets to make. This has been Izzy’s favourite one so far – she did love the music CD she received last month but she loves any kind of art and crafts, so she had loads of fun making up the puppets. She also enjoyed making different animal noises as she played with them, and trying to match up the animals with their home countries on the huge world map that arrived with the very first package.

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The activity passport includes colouring, spot the difference, simple quizzes and more – most activities were quite easy for Izzy and as we went though the content of the pack we talked about the different animals, which ones she already knew and which ones were new to her, and which ones she has seen in real life.

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The flash light adventure is a simple idea where you hold a piece of white card behind a piece of film so that you can see the different images that are printed on the film. Each month you get to ‘find’ different things on the film – so this month it was animals from around the world – and it also includes a clue to the next month’s package.

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Little Passports is a unique idea which can help introduce children to learning about the world, while having fun at the same time. You don’t get lots of information with each pack, but in a way that’s good as it’s bite-size bits of knowledge that young kids can take in, rather than overwhelming them with too much info.  There are also bonus activities sent by email – including extra facts and printable activities. Check out the Little Passports Facebook page too for fun facts, photos and lots of competitions!

Little Passports offer 3 different packages – the Early Explorers for children aged 3-5, World Edition for 6-12 year olds and the USA Edition. Find out more here: Give the gift of Adventure!

 

 

Friday night: Before and after kids

“Thank God its Friday” is an often uttered phrase, but now I have kids it has a completely different meaning from when I was in my child-free early twenties.

Then I used to desperately wish the week away and rush out of work on a Friday to spend a couple of hours getting ready, before heading out with my friends. Friday night out was usually followed by Saturday night out… and the weekend would be a blur of blue wkd and apple sourz. Then Monday would come and I’d start the countdown again.

Now when Friday rolls round, I’m thankful for very different reasons. Like no more school run for 2 days.

I’m thankful that my Hubby will be off work for the next couple of days. Then I might be able to wee in peace as there is another grown up to entertain the kids for a few minutes. If I’m really lucky, I might even get a lie in and a cup of tea in bed.

I’m thankful that I’m off work and we get to do stuff together as a family, even if it’s just going shopping or watching a family film, or chauffeuring the kids to various soft play parties.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to spend ages applying eyeliner or picking the perfect outfit, only to end up sweating and drenched in other people’s drinks with only a hangover to look forward to the next day.

Instead I’ll slip into some comfy pyjamas and watch a film. Maybe I’ll even have a glass of wine. Of course I’ll fall asleep on the sofa before I’ve finished it. That’s like the Mum law.

I’m thankful that now in my (early) thirties and as a mum to 2 young kids it’s perfectly acceptable to chose an uneventful evening in over a sticky dance floor and ridiculously impractical shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good night out with friends, but it generally involves cocktails at a nice restaurant rather than shots and a takeaway kebab. When I do go ‘out’ out, with my mum tum tucked into a pair of trusty skinny jeans and my ‘sensible’ heels on, I usually end up feeling ancient and boring next to all the fashion – conscious inebriated teens.

And it’s not because I’m grown up, or in anyway too good for all of that. It’s simply because by the time the weekend rolls around I’m just too tired. Too tired to spend more than 20 minutes prepping to leave the house. Too tired to queue at packed bars or to dance for hours. Too tired to contemplate having to deal with being woken up at 6am after a 3am bed time – especially if the kids haven’t been sleeping well the rest of the week. And – thanks to my lack of practice over the past few years – I know that even a mild hangover will render me too tired to do anything of value for the next week.

Maybe I am just getting old. But tonight I’ll be quite content watching TV and maybe enjoying a glass of wine. Until I fall asleep on the sofa.

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