The Siblings Project | October 2019

14.10.19

I'm not quite sure where those weeks went between my last Siblings Project post and now... the year is absolutely flying! We took these pictures while out of a little woodland walk Sunday afternoon (when the rain eventually stopped for longer than 5 minutes), and they instantly reminded me of these ones from a few years ago. It's crazy to see how much Indiana and Parker have grown since then.. and that they now have an almost 2 year old little sister!



We've had another relatively quiet month, with the weeks being taken up by school and clubs still. But it's just a week until half term, and I'm not sure who is more excited? I can really tell Parker is ready for the end of term now. He is learning so much at the moment, so he's absolutely exhausted by the time 3pm comes around. Indie has had a really busy term with more structured learning and work to do, so I think she'll really enjoy a little break (although she loves school, so I'm sure she'll be raring to go back!).

Jack is off for half term week, so we have lots of exciting halloween themed activities and days out planned. I just have everything crossed that the rain stays away for at least a few days, as it's really dampening our spirits at the moment!



Top 5 Favourite Rides for Under 5s at Disneyland Paris

11.10.19

I am always asked what the best age to take children to Disneyland Paris is, and my honest answer is... whenever YOU want! We have visited twice now - in March 2018 when the littles were 4, 2 and 8 weeks, and in June 2019 when they were 5, 3 and 16 months - and both times we have had the most magical time.


There is so much for little ones under 5 to do at Disneyland Paris; with the characters to meet, parades and shows to watch, and just simply exploring the parks (and eating all the food!). But actually, there are SO many rides that under 5s can enjoy too! Even at just 8 weeks old Lilah went on 11 rides, so don't worry about them not enjoying the trip.

We of course have our favourites though, so I thought in this post I would share our top 5 favourite rides for under 5s at Disneyland Paris. And hopefully this will help you if you are planning a trip with young children - you can book your Disney Paris tickets here if you haven't already!

It's A Small World
You either love it or you hate it... and we absolutely love it! We rode it at least once a day during our visits as all three littles are mesmerised by the ride. It's perfect for all ages as you simply sit in a slow-moving boat, while enjoying the characters and incredibly catchy tune. We have never found the wait time to be too long either, so that is a bit of a bonus.

Photo Credit: Kerry Norris
Photo Credit: Jade

Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a trackless ride in the Disney Studio's Park. You wear 3D glasses and hop aboard a car shaped like rat, following Remy and his friends around a kitchen. There's lots to see, smells and fun movement that the whole family can enjoy. Parker isn't so keen on this one (there are a couple of scenes that can make you jump), but it is suitable for everyone. Definitely one to grab a Fastpass for!



Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Storybook Boats)
Very similar to It's A Small World, Le Pays des Contes de Fées (or the Storybook Boats as we call it) is a gentle boat ride in the Disneyland Park. There's lots to see during the ride as there are miniature scenes from classic Disney tales to spot, as well as a tunnel you do through just like the one in Aladdin. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Casey Jr Train as you go around too, as the ride is just next door.




Le Carrousel de Lancelot
Everyone loves a Carousel, and this one at Disneyland Paris is beautiful and definitely extra magical. The horses are perfect for any princess or knight, and you get some amazing views of Sleeping Beauty's Castle and the whole of Fantasyland as you go around. Again we've never found the queue to be too long, so it's perfect to hop on during any time of day (although you may have to wait if you want to sit in the seat with a very young baby, as they can't sit on the horses).

Photo Credit: Jade

Mad Hatter's Tea Cups
Another Fantasyland favourite, the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups is a must do! You can make the ride as gentle or as wild as you want, as you control how much you spin with the wheel in the middle of your cup (although even if you don't spin you will still move naturally with the platform). The whole ride area feels straight out of the movie, and the big two loved picking which colour cup we were going to have.



I've also shared my top 5 must dos at Disneyland Paris to help with your planning, and make sure to check out my trip reports and vlogs from our visits, for lots of tips and advice too!

What are your favourite rides at Disneyland Paris?



This is a collaborative post.

Three Steps to a Happy Family Home

8.10.19

Day to day life can be stressful and all consuming - especially if you have a high power job or lots of tasks to do each day. So having somewhere that's your safe haven to come home to each day each is incredibly important! Did you know that studies also show that children who see pictures of themselves hanging in there home, have greater confidence and self-esteem than those who don’t? So not only are you creating a happy place for you to live, but also for the whole family to benefit from.


But where to start? In this post I'm going to share three ways to create a happy and enjoyable environment in your home, most of which incorporate the whole family too. I hope you find this helpful!

Hang your Child/ren’s Art
When your children start creating their first little masterpieces it can be tempting to keep every single piece of art. And that's completely understandable! But how can we display this without looking like you have just shared it on the wall without care? One idea is to buy a collage photo frame to create a collage from all of those different creations. You could also decide on a few favourites, and then laminate them and display them on your walls (filing away the other pieces that don't make the cut). Both ideas make it easy for you to update the displays as and when you want / need to as well.

Take Family Portraits
Investing in some professional portraits is a beautiful way to celebrate your family. You can then either purchase the prints from your photographer to display, or even get them put onto a canvas or a photo collage. You don't even need to pay a professional either! If you have a camera (or even a smartphone) and a tripod you can save money and just take your own. Plenty of websites, and even stores such as Boots, offer photo printing services that could be a lot cheaper than using a professional.

Affirmations
Another way to brighten up your home and also spread some key messages, is to have some printed affirmations on your walls. These can range from "you are loved" to "as far as anyone knows we're a normal family". The beauty of these is that they can be completely personalised to your family (some companies will even personalise them with your family names / quotes for you), and you can decide where to hang them.

This is a collaborative post.

How to Make Moving House Less Stressful

7.10.19

As parents our priority is making sure that our families are well taken care of, fulfilled, and happy. But from time to time, we need to take the time to make sure that our dreams and goals come true too. An example of this is when we’re moving house; it’s a stressful operation, one filled with many trivial and time-consuming tasks that can take a very long time. But hopefully with these tips I'm going to share in this post, you can make a house move run smoothly, without letting your family down!


Get the Timing Right
Some times of the year just aren’t suitable for a big change such as moving house. You won't want to ruin Christmas, or stress your children out during exams with a big move. You can help yourself though (and make sure you fulfil your family obligations), by moving home at a quiet time for your family. Avoid birthdays, significant events, and any other major life events - and try to remember that these things take time, so don't focus too much attention on a set date too early on.

Remove Some Pressure
There are a lot of small details that need to be taken care of when you’re moving home. However, it doesn’t have to be you that takes care of every last detail personally! By recruiting professional help for some of the tasks, you can take the pressure off yourself and free up some of your time all at once. Don’t spend days transporting all your belongings; hire movers and let the experts do all the leg work - you can click here to learn more about removal firms in your area. Also make sure to hire a decent property solicitor to ensure all the paperwork is in order. Just taking a few of the tasks out of your hands will make hopefully you feel more relaxed too.

Get Family Involved
If you are moving to a different part of the country, away from family and friends, then you might find they aren't as excited about the move as you are. There are fun aspects to moving house though, such as exploring an empty home, digging through a new garden, and meeting new neighbours. By getting your family involved though, you can help them adjust to the idea a bit more, and they may even find some hidden treasures at your new house that you haven't found yet!

Hire an Assistant
You’ll have a million and one things to do when you’re moving home - and that’s on top of the million and one family responsibilities that you already have. If you have a friend or family member who you’re particularly close with, why not ask for help with admin tasks? As it's someone you know you are more likely to trust their decisions and ideas, and would probably help for a smaller fee as well. If there is a lot of work to do though, maybe look into hiring some professionals instead.

When moving house of course you won’t get everything right straight away, and there will be stressful moments too. But if you take things slow, and follow my advice above, you can make sure none the move goes as smoothly as possible. Good luck!
This is a collaborative post.

Planning Our Summer Holiday to Turkey

4.10.19

We were lucky enough to have a number of lovely holidays and trips this year, including Disneyland Paris, Somerset and of course Alton Towers. But the itch to sort a visa, jump on a plane and fly somewhere hot and sunny has been there the whole time - especially as we haven't been on this type of holiday since our holiday to Ibiza in 2017! So a few weeks ago, we decided to just bite the bullet and book a trip for next year, deciding on Turkey as our destination.


Jack and I last went to Turkey back in 2011 on a group '18-30s' style holiday with friends, so we already know this holiday is going to be completely different. We didn't see much of the country at all back then, so cannot wait to explore with the children and experience the beautiful country. Of course we are already thinking of getting our Turkey Visa before we travel too, as we know this is important.

Our Holiday Plans
We have booked to stay at a TUI Family Life hotel, in the Izmir area of Turkey. There seems to be lots of things we can see and do while we're there, and I know both Jack and I will want to make the most of the week. We're definitely not 'sit around the pool all day' types of people - especially as we'll have the littles with us, so booking excursions and venturing out will definitely be something we want to do. So once we have our e-visa Turkey sorted (did you know this is the cheapest way to meet the visa obligation?), I've had a look into some of the excursions and trips out that we could book and do.

Beach Day
The area we're staying in has 8 beaches to choose from, so we won't struggle for choice! Ladies Beach is a big stretch of golden sand that’s backed by a smart promenade, Long Beach is know for being good for water sports and snorkelling, and then Kustur Beach is a quieter less busy beach, which might be a good choice with the children. 


A Trip to the Waterpark
There's actually a waterpark on the property of our hotel which is so exciting, so I'm sure we'll spend at least one day here enjoying the slides and pools. There are two other waterparks in the area too, if we fancy venturing out of our hotel complex though. I know the littles would absolutely LOVE this, and although it still involves a pool, there's so much more to do at a proper waterpark. There will hopefully be a dedicated baby area, so that Lilah can get involved too.

Pirate Day
One excursion that I know the littles would absolutely love is the Pirate day which is run by TUI. You board a boat in search of treasure with Pirate Tim and Calypso the Parrot, learning pirate skills and enjoying lots of fun activities while on board. There's also face painting, swimming and lots of fun for both children and adults during the excursion too. I'm not too sure Jack will be keen yet, but it definitely looks like something we could all enjoy as a family! 

Visit Ephesus
If we fancy a real day of exploring, then an excursion to Ephesus would be perfect! You can explore the monuments of the ancient city, reliving the glory days of the Roman Empire and how life used to be. The archaeological site is so well preserved, with temples, relics and religious statues to marvel at and explore. The tour ends with a visit to a ceramics shop to see how traditional pottery is made, and the chance to buy a few souvenirs. It might be a little trickier with how young the children are, but I would love to explore the history.


Of course we are planning on having lots of down time over the week too.. it is our summer holiday after all! Plus there's a fantastic kid's club at the hotel, so Jack and I can actually relax if the littles want to go there. But I have always loved planning and being prepared (it's essential when you have children), so I know I'm going to be researching even more before we go next year. And I cannot wait already!

Have you been to Turkey before? Do you have any advice or tips for travelling to Turkey, other than getting our Visa?

This is a collaborative post.

How to Have the Perfect School Morning Routine

3.10.19

To say most mums hate school mornings would be an understatement. For many of us there really is nothing worse than the manic mayhem of a morning routine - especially when you have 3 little ones like me. But it doesn't always have to be something you dread.. it can actually be enjoyable too! So I'm hoping these few tips I'm going to share will help make your mornings that little bit less stressful.


Wake Up Earlier
A lot of morning stress can come from rushing around due to lack of time, so setting your alarm earlier can make a big difference. Waking up at least half an hour before everyone else is guaranteed to serve you better. You can get ready in peace and at a slower pace, and then take your time prepping breakfast for everyone. You can even nurture your morning coffee through the production process from bean to cup. And then when it is finally time for everyone else to wake up, you’ll be in a much better position for sorting them out without having to multitask.

Make a To-Do List
If you’ve never done it before, to-do lists for your morning routine can seem odd. But trust me when I say that they can also simplify your school mornings! Half the time the reason you are rushing around in the mornings, is because of things you’ve remembered at the last minute. By prepping a basic to-do list the night before, you can make sure you don't forget anything when you need it (because you always need something as a school parent it seems)!

Play Music
For over-stressed mums, the idea of adding more noise to the morning fire makes things seem even more manic. But actually upbeat music is also a vital morning aspect, and something you could be potentially missing. Positive songs have an amazing ability to put everyone in a good mood first thing, and you could also start keeping your morning routine timings to the radio shows schedule - if the news is on at 8.30am and you're still brushing your teeth, then you'll know you're late, etc.

I've shared my school morning routine below, hopefully it will give you some ideas to work into your own routine. And here's to being less stressed in the mornings!


This is a collaborative post.

Raising Children in the Digital Age - 3 Top Tips

The children of today are commonly referred to as “digital natives”, growing up having been exposed to screens and technology for much of their lives and, in fact, probably a time where they cannot life without internet access at all!


In contrast, the current generation of parents are often known as “digital immigrants” - those who may not have grown up using technology, but who have been part of the first generation to see tech move from a novelty to a fundamental part of how the world works. Digital immigrants are often comfortable with technology, but not quite to the point that their children may be. So in this post I'm going to be sharing three pieces of advice, to hopefully bridge that gap between the two.

#1 - Provide full online safety advice

The fact that modern children grow up around technology, does not mean that they instinctively know how to stay safe online. It’s always worth discussing safe measures such as being cautious about potential fraud, and similar 'stay safe' advice, such as installing parental controls on any device they use. Fab apps such as the Sky Kids app or Youtube Kids are designed especially with little ones in mind (and should be much safer places than other apps).

#2 - Be willing to ask for assistance

Conventionally, the bestowal of knowledge in a parent-child relationship is one-way, from parent to child - but when it comes to anything related to technology, your children's input can be hugely helpful. If you find yourself having issues setting up a smart speaker, then they actually may be able to help you out; and if you’re making the transition from PC to Mac and need to pull up the task manager, they can direct you to resources such as https://setapp.com/how-to/in-depth-guide-to-the-task-manager-for-mac and help to familiarise you with the new setup. Not only does this help you on a practical level, but being able to assist a parent can also be a nice self-esteem boost for your child.

#3 - Find a 'screen time' balance that works for your family

The potential impact of 'screen time' on children is an ongoing issue, as there are numerous arguments about whether the screen time itself is inherently harmful, or whether the connection is more related to associated behaviours - for example, children who use screens more tend to be more sedentary and prone to snacking, and these behaviours are the problem rather than the screens. Finding a way through this confusion can be difficult, so it can be helpful to use a multi-pronged approach: read through the existing guidelines here and keep these in mind when deciding how much screen time is appropriate for your children, but also monitor the news for further research in this important area.

This is a collaborative post.

An Interview with my Four Year Old | Parker at 4!

2.10.19

This is my second year of asking parker these questions (you can see his answers at age 3 here), and it's amazing to see just how much his answers have changed already! He's just turned 4 and started school, so a lot of his answers are not related to that. It's so sweet!

What’s the best thing about being 4?

Being a grown up!


What makes you laugh? 

When other people do funny things!

Who do you love, and why?

Ewan, Max and Alfie and Poppy, and Mummy and Daddy and Indie and Lilah. 'Cos they're the best!

What’s your favourite book?

Dinosaur books!

What's your favourite food?

Jacket potatoes!

What's your favourite song?

The old town road song (Lil Nas X)


What's your favourite outfit?

I like to wear my Spiderman outfit!

What's your favourite TV programme? 

Nick Jr! Ryan's Mystery Playdate on it!

What's your favourite toy? 

My new lego!

What's your favourite thing to do?

Play at school, and play with the computer there!

An Interview with my Five Year Old | Indiana at 5 and 3/4!

1.10.19

This is my third year asking Indiana these questions (you can read her interview at age 3 and age 4 here), and you can just see how grown up and mature she is becoming now. Why do children have to grown up so faaaaaast?!


What’s the best thing about being 5?

I get to play with my friends!

What makes you laugh? 

Being doing funny things!

Who do you love, and why?

Amelie, mummy, daddy, Lilah, Belle and Parker! Because they play with me.

What’s your favourite book?

Books about Winnie the Witch!

What's your favourite food?

Chilli!


What's your favourite song?

Greatest Showman songs!

What's your favourite outfit?

Clothes and dressing up!

What's your favourite TV programme? 

Wallace and Gromit!

What's your favourite toy? 

I like colouring!

What's your favourite thing to do?

Go to school!