Barracudas Activity Day Camps / Holiday Clubs | Review

28.2.20

This is a collaborative post.

The stress of finding suitable childcare for your little ones during the holidays can be huge, especially when you want to make sure it's not only fun and exciting for them, but also of great quality and affordable too. Barracudas Activity Day Camps want to take away that stress though, with the help of their holiday camps.


What is Barracudas?

Barracudas Activity Day Camps offer quality childcare at their holiday camps over the Easter break, Summer holidays and half terms, for children in England aged 4.5 to 14 years. Starting off 27 years ago with just two camps (in London and Surrey), they have since expanded to include 48 summer camps, 35 Easter camps and 3 half term camps in a whole range of locations in England - see below for full list of locations.


What sets Barracudas apart from other camps is that they really care about the children they look after. They want them to have an amazing experiences and learn new skills, but ultimately they want them to have fun! They also think about the full package - everything from the camp venues and available activities, to the staff is considered to make sure you get the best service possible. All staff are experienced and hold the correct qualifications, and correct child/staff ratios are a top priority too

What to Expect During a Day at Barracudas?

Barracudas Activity Day Camps aim to provide flexible hours for working parents. Regular days are from 8.30am to 5.30pm, however you can add on early and late club, to extend the day from 8am to 6pm. Do keep in mind that Barracudas do not supply any food, so you need to provide lunch and snacks for your child while attending a camp.



The Ofsted registered camps aim to provide fun and exciting experiences, all catered to the age of the child as well as their own interests and personalities. There are 30 sessions each week where children will have a choice of activities, plus larger pieces of camp kit, such as a giant inflatable assault course and rodeo bull that travels between the camps. Examples of activities include team building, foam fencing, go-karts, crafts, swimming, sports and a whole lot more. Of course there is plenty of down time too where the children and given the chance to relax and hang out with their friends, as well as plenty of snack breaks!

Every Friday Barracudas also run a special 'theme day', where children are encouraged to dress up and join in with themed activities. Of course they are completely optional to join in with, but they do add that extra level of fun that most children absolutely love.

Booking and Prices

Booking onto one of the Barracudas holiday clubs is really easy thanks to their well laid-out website. You can either book full weeks or pick individual days depending on your needs. This makes them perfect for all needs; if you need childcare while you work or you're simply looking for some fun activities for your children to enjoy over the holidays.



The more sessions you book the more money you save, which is another benefit of booking with Barracudas. They also offer a sibling discount if you have more than one child attending a camp. For my local camp the day rate is £40 which I think is great value for money, especially when you consider the length of the day and all of the activities included. 

If you have a child care account (including Tax-Free Childcare) you can use this to pay for your booked sessions - part of full payment accepted. And if you think you might find it difficult to pay for session in one go, you can opt for the easy payment plan which allows you to pay a deposit, and then spread the remaining cost over monthly payments.

Booking is open now for most Easter and Summer camps, click here to find your local camp!

What to Consider Before Buying a Family Home

27.2.20

Before having children my priorities for a home were understandably much different to what they are now. I wanted all the pretty knick knacks and decorative items, and flowers in beautiful vases dotted about. But if you have children then you'll know that actually, these things aren't really as important (or practical) anymore! In this post, I'm going to share 4 things I think you should consider before buying a home - especially if you have plans to have a family in the future.


Location
The location of your home is definitely something you need to consider when looking at properties. Check public transport links if you need to travel for work (or rely on these to get about like me). A local shop and pub can make an area feel much more of a community, and can come in handy when you run out of something and don't want to drive to the supermarket. Also take into consideration whether you want to stay in a location close to family and friends. Moving away can mean a fresh start and new adventure, but could also mean leaving family and friends behind. Finally if you are planning on having children definitely check the location for schools - this can be a deal breaker for some!

Space / Size
A house may feel large and roomy when you first look around, but add in all of your furniture (and yourselves) and it can soon feel much smaller. It's a good idea to take detailed measurements and then try and picture the space with your furniture in place. Also consider the number of rooms you require too, especially if you're planning on having children. They take up a lot more space than you think (and so do their toys)!

Layout
Personally, I love open plan style kitchen / diners. But I know for some they much prefer to defined separate spaces and a door that they can close at the end of the day. As a family, we spend a lot of time in these rooms eating, reading books and doing homework, and of course, playing too. So this is area is definitely a priority with a family. The number of bathrooms in a property is important if you have a growing family too. There's nothing worse than someone needing to use the toilet when another is having a shower! Walk in showers for the home would be an amazing feature in an en-suite.

Outside Space
Probably not so essential during these horrible winter months, but having some kind of outside space is definitely crucial when buying a family home. Somewhere to dry washing in the warmer months, and a space for children or potential pets to run around and let off steam. Even if you don't plan on having children for a long time, a garden is great for social gatherings and relaxing in general.

Are you looking at buying a family home? What's most important to you?
This is a collaborative post.

How to Create More Space in your Home

24.2.20

It's no secret that the longer you live in a property the more clutter and knick knacks you accumulate. Especially if you are like us with a growing family, where it's also toys, clothes and an overload of arts and crafts that fill your house too. Over time this can make your home feel smaller and more cramped, however this doesn't have to be the case. There are a number of things we can do to create more space in our home, so I thought I'd share a few examples in this post to hopefully give you some ideas and inspiration.


Have a Good Declutter
We’ve all been the victim of late-night online browsing that turns into multiple deliveries (I was especially guilty during the night feeds!). All of this extra buying is bad for your home as well as your bank balance, as you are just filling your space with items you don't necessarily need. Having a good declutter can instantly create more space in your home - make a list of your necessities (try starting with the everyday) and then start removing the things you don’t need. Donate or sell unwanted items, put unessential items you do want to keep in the loft (or storage if you don't have one), and make sure to go through cupboards for unused / out of date items too!

Update Lighting
Change the lighting and you can change the mood of a room completely. Consider what you want the room to feel like when you’re in it - bright and light, warm and cosy, etc - and then make the necessary changes. Mirrors positioned on the opposite wall to the window will stretch the light coming in naturally around the room, helping to brighten even the darkest corners. 

Change the Flooring
The 3 main criteria you should be thinking about when it comes to flooring in your home are: the style theme, the defence it has against damage and finally, your budget. Lighter shades of oak or stone will help to give the feeling of space and freedom in your home (great for busy areas such as the kitchen and bathroom). Amtico have a fantastic range of vinyl flooring that covers all types of textures and effects. Patterns will make a room a bit more exciting, but it could potentially make the space look smaller. Therefore it might be wise to stick to simpler designs or textures if you want to enlarge a small space. Luvanto also offer luxurious vinyl flooring which will enhance the aesthetic of any room.

This is a collaborative post.

The Benefits of Renting as a Family

10.2.20

Some people might think that renting when you have a family is an odd concept, but the reality is that it's the norm for many families in the UK today. Getting on the housing ladder feels near enough impossible as most families don't have the large deposits needed, and with house prices and the cost of living rising (and let’s not even mention how expensive raising a family can be), home ownership is out of reach for many people. For us we had no choice but to rent, so now find it extra difficult to save any money with high rent prices and three young children to care for.


I think that it’s time to change the way we see this lifestyle choice though, and instead think of the positives of renting! Of course many families (like mine) will still aspire to eventually buy a house, but until that day I think it's important to stop thinking about renting as a ‘dead money’ pit stop before the good stuff. There are many benefits of renting that get overlooked in favour of the benefits of homeownership. I’m working with CIA Landlord Insurance to make more people see that renting as a family - whether it’s long-term or not - can actually be a good thing.

Long Term Contracts
A lot of people think of renting as being temporary and constantly changing. But actually this doesn't have to be the case! A lot of rental properties offer long term contracts, meaning you can make it feel like your home. Of course it’s important to plan for the future, but make sure you appreciate the ‘now’ in your rented house and make it really feel like home too.

If you find yourself looking around your rental property and thinking about all the things you’d do differently if you owned it, why not ask your landlord if you can make some changes. The worst that they can do is say no! Swap out those curtains for your favourite colour, paint the walls white or see if your landlord will let you grow your own vegetable patch in the garden. Whatever it takes to make you feel more settled, try and do it.

A house is just bricks and mortar - it’s who and what is inside that counts. Put your children’s pictures on the fridge, scatter family holiday photos in every corner, and make your space reflect your family. That’s what makes a house a home at the end of the day isn't it?

Less Responsibility
Buying a house is a very expensive process. Not only must you find the money for your deposit, but there’s also the stamp duty tax and solicitors fees to think about (and none of those come cheap). Not only that, but running a house is also expensive. You’re responsible for all of the bills, mortgage repayments, repairs, council tax, maintenance and the costs involved with selling up and moving!


These costs are an accepted part of home ownership, but when you compare that to the price of renting, the difference is significant. You pay a deposit when you move in and your rent each month, perhaps also a couple of bills, but maintenance costs and repairs are usually your landlords problems. If a boiler breaks or you encounter a bad leak, it’s not you that has to go without money for a few months to pay for the repairs (unless the damage was your fault of course). One of the biggest benefits of renting is that all the big responsibilities and financial ties sit with your landlord - not you. This alleviates some of the stress of being a home owner, and means you can save that money towards a house deposit in the future.

Flexibility
Another reason why some families prefer to rent, is because it's a much more flexible way to live. If you or your partner work in a job that means they regularly move around the country (or even to another), it's probably easier to not be tied down to a property. Renting gives you the freedom to move to different locations and properties - especially if you only sign a short lease contract.

Do you rent as a family? Would you add any other benefits?

This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - January 2020

3.2.20

This year I've made myself a goal to share more personal, 'back to basics' posts on my blog. I feel like over the last few months my blog has lost it's way, and I do really miss sharing posts that I can look back on in the future! So I thought a great way to start would be to share a monthly round up style post, sharing some of my favourite things that we've got up to, or I've enjoyed over the month.


January felt like the longest month, especially as the weather really wasn't on our side for most of it. But we did manage to have some lovely days out and celebrated some special birthdays too. We saw in the new year with a trip to Brighton - exploring the pier, penny arcades, playing on the beach, and of course ending the day with yummy sugary doughnuts. There's something about the beach that makes me feel so much more relaxed and happy, so it really was the perfect start to the year.



The first of three birthdays in January, we went ice skating for my nephew's 6th birthday at the beginning of the month. Lilah turned two on the 14th, and we celebrated with a trip to soft play, lots of gifts (and cake!), and a lovely meal out as a family. I also had a rare night out for my sister's birthday at the end of the month too. We went out for tapas and ice creams and although we weren't out late it was such a fun evening!




Something I've really enjoyed this month is taking Lilah to new playgroups. I was never really a fan when the big two were little, but now they play a big part in my weekly routine. Lilah absolutely loves them, and I enjoy watching her play and interact with other little ones her age. We started a new one this month and it's quickly become a favourite. Jack's managed to come along with us a few times this month too which has been extra special (although I did feel a bit like a third wheel those weeks!).


A definite highlight of this month for me has been getting back on track with Slimming World. I took a bit of a break over Christmas - because hello all the food - but getting back to plan and healthier meals has made me feel so much better. Fitting into some of my old clothes again has been a huge confidence booster, so I'm extra determined to get to target before our holiday in May now!


I'm so excited to see what February brings for us as family already, I just hope it includes sunshine and nothing else breaking down!