Before she starts school…

Before she starts school…

Yesterday I bought Jasmine’s school uniform and as I watched the cashier zap each item of clothing across the till and fold them up neatly in front of me, the realisation that my baby is starting school, very soon, hit me hard. More than it did when we got the letter through, telling us which school she was going to. And more than when we went to visit the school itself for J’s ‘taster days’. It was buying the white polo tops and little grey pinafore dresses that really gave me a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye (and not just because of the expense of it all!)

I feel like I’m trying to strike a balance between cramming as much into these last few weeks of summer as possible (whilst she’s still mine, all mine) and giving her time to rest and prepare for the changes that are coming our way.

We decided to keep J in preschool (x 3 mornings a week) right up until the end of August to keep her in the routine that she’s used to. Also, being 100% honest here, I’m not sure how I’d cope with both girls by myself full-time as they fight almost constantly and it truly wears me down.

Getting out of the house is usually the best thing for us. It’s stops the girls squabbling (as much) and I generally find it easier to parent when we’re out and about (just don’t ask me about our disastrous swimming trip earlier this week).

With all of that in mind, and the fact, that J will not be doing full-time school hours until the first week of October. I’ve been thinking about some of the things we’d like to do over the coming few weeks – a sort of ‘before school to-do list’ if you will.

Go to the beach

We’re very lucky to have a massive, free to use, sandpit in our local town centre during the summer holidays. We spend several hours there a week and the girls love it. But nothing quite beats the real thing – the beach! I’d love to cram in a couple of beach days before the end of the summer – probably Brean or Weston-super-mare (which are our local-ish beaches) or perhaps a trip across the bridge to Wales and Barry Island!

Visit Monkey World (Poole)

Monkey World has been on our to-do list for ages. Stephen and I visited there quite a few times pre-kids (and even considered getting married there at one point!) but we’ve yet to take the girls. If we get up and go early enough, the trip is totally do-able in a day so we’re hoping to go later this month when Stephen has booked off some of his annual leave.

Join in with Clifton College’s ‘forest discovery day’

On Saturday 8th September, Clifton College are running a free forest discovery day for toddlers/preschoolers and their parents. There will be den building, marshmallow toasting and mudpie making – oh my! I booked my two littles onto it as soon as I heard about it as I just know it’ll be right up their street (or should I say, tree?!) We’ll be there in our wellies and waterproofs and if you’re local to Bristol and would like to be there too, head here: https://www.cliftoncollege.com/events/2018/september/free-forest-discovery-day/ to find out more!

A family bike-ride

J’s had her bike for a while now, and other than the occasional jaunt around the block with it, she never much rides it anywhere else other than in the back garden. I’d love to dust off mine and Stephen’s bikes (which have been sat in the garage since we moved here over a year ago) and go for a family bike ride. I bought a toddler seat, from a friend, to attach to my bike for E to ride in, I just haven’t gotten around to attaching it yet! Our local cycle path goes all the way to Bath and whilst I can’t see us getting that far, it’ll still be fun to ride together as a family and see how far we do get!

Visit Grimsbury Farm

There’s a fair few community farms in and around Bristol but I hadn’t heard of Grimsbury Farm until recently when my Childminder friend, Sarah, told me about it (she knows all the good local places to take kids!) I only passed my driving test last month and I’m slowly growing in confidence enough to take the girls out for day trips, driving a little further each time. Grimsbury farm is about 20 minutes away by car and I’m planning to pack a picnic and take the girls for a visit in the next week or two. Watch this space!

Is there anything in particular you’re planning with your pre-schooler before they start school?

Jenna xx

This is a collaborative post.

 

5 things for kids to do in Bristol this summer

5 things for kids to do in Bristol this summer

The summer holidays are nigh! And whether the prospect of 6 weeks with the kids at home fills you with dread or excitement (or a strange mix of both), I’m sharing a few suggestions of things for the kiddos to do over the summer, in and around the Bristol area.

1 – Gromit Unleashed 2 Trail

It’s back – the ever-popular Gromit trail! This time with over 60 giant sculptures, designed by high-profile artists, featuring 3 of Nick Park’s characters; Gromit, Wallace and Feathers McGraw.  You’ll explore some of the city’s most iconic locations whilst you seek them all out!

To find out the locations of the sculptures, download the Detect-O-Gromit 2 app or, if you’d prefer, pick up a good ol’ fashioned paper map from the following locations:

The Mall at Cribbs Causeway (in the GU store), Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, M Shed, Tourist Information Centre, Aerospace Bristol and the Gromit Unleashed HQ on Upper Maudlin Street.

Happy searching!

Visit https://www.grandappeal.org.uk/trails-exhibitions/gromit-unleashed/ for more info.

2 – Kids’ Club at Clifton College (for 3-13 Years Old)

This summer, Clifton College in Bristol are hosting their popular kids’ clubs, with a group suitable for all ages between 3-13 years of age. Each club includes a wide variety of activities all with the aim that your children enjoy themselves and learn different skills on the way. The Mini’s Kids’ Club (3-4) focuses on personal development and interaction with others, while the Junior Club (5-7) focuses on encouraging children to pursue their interests and develop their skills through their own choice of activity. The oldest club, the Kids’ Club (8-13) promotes self-expression, confidence building, offering complete flexibility and choice of involvement. Of course, all three groups offer FUN, with activities such as arts and crafts, outdoor play and even afternoon swim sessions (Kids’ Club and Junior’s Club). 

Price for all clubs start from £22 for half a day and £44 for a full day. The Mini’s Club starts from 6 July 2018 while the Kids’ Club and the Junior’s Club starts from 9 July 2018. For more information, please visit www.cliftoncollege.com

3 – Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2018 

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 130 Hot Air Balloons from across the globe. Made possible last year by Bristol Energy, the Fiesta truly is a sight that can only be seen in Bristol. Held over four days in August at Ashton Court Estate, the event is completely free with charges made for parking on the event site. Alongside the fantastic site of hot air balloons filling the skies, there will be a large number of trade stands, fairground rides and entertainment.

For more information about the Fiesta visit: http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/

4 – Visit Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The cost of days out during the school holidays can soon add up, so why not check out some of Bristol’s free family attractions. Let your littles explore the collections of art, nature and history on display in a beautiful building. Find out about the last billion years of Earth’s history, explore the region’s natural wonders and discover more about peoples’ lives, past and present. You’ll not be disappointed!

For opening times visit: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery/opening-times/

5 – Visit Bristol Zoo… at Twilight!

This summer you can experience Bristol Zoo as the sun sets with their Friday Twilights ticket entry (£5 per ticket or £4 for members).

You’ll be able to enjoy the following…

• Live music throughout the evening.

• Exclusive Friday Twilight animal talks.

• Explore the award-winning gardens.

• Enjoy a delicious treat at the immersive restaurant.

• Transform into an animal with our fantastic face painting!

Buy tickets online here: https://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/whats-on/friday-twilights (hurry – they’re selling out fast!)

Jenna xxx

This is a collaborative post.

You don’t need to go far for your first family holiday…

You don’t need to go far for your first family holiday…

Working out the logistics of one family holiday seriously is hard. The more you try and plan it, the more you realise that the list of things that you have to consider just grows and grows. How long will the flight time be? Does the hotel have kids facilities? It’s going to be too hot? Is it going to be too cold? These are all things that you’ll now have to consider, which if we carried on listing, would seem like one big ball of stress. So, how do you think you would go about your first family holiday then? Well, we know you wouldn’t have to go far. In fact, you can have some great family holidays, right from the comfort of our beautiful country. All you need to do is pack a bag, pack the car, and go on a little adventure not too far from where you live. If you want a cracking first family holiday, here are some of the ways that you can make the most of it, without having the leave the country.

 

The Perfect Location

The perfect location does exist in the UK. In fact, there are so many different locations that we would class as perfect, it just depends on what you’re looking for. If we’re talking a family holiday, you need to go somewhere with plenty to do. So your first option is to go to a beach destination, such as the likes of Devon. Devon attracts so many tourists, and not just families either! There are plenty of holiday parks in Devon for you and your family to go, that will cater for a range of different ages in terms of activities. If you want a real family adventure, then you should go for a caravan or camping holiday, rather than sticking to a hotel. Plus, you’ll save a hell of a lot of money doing it this way! If you’re looking for something a bit more lively, you might want a city break. However, it’ll still have to be somewhere with plenty to do for children of all ages, so somewhere like London might be the place for you.

 

Relaxation & Fun

Just because you’re staying in the UK, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a taste of relaxation in the sun, especially with the weather we’re having at the minute! If you want to relax with your family, the best way to do this is to go to the local nature reserve, wherever you may be staying, and go for a picnic. Your children can play, and you can relax in the sun with some lovely food. If you’re looking for fun, you’re definitely going to have to hit a family attraction such as the zoo, or a theme park.

 

Trying Something New

Having a holiday is all about trying something new, and the UK has plenty of that for you. There are destinations in Wales where you can go into caves and do fun underground assault courses, or you might have a go at one of the Go Ape centers. It’s all about giving your children new experiences, without having to pay the prices of a holiday abroad.

So, we hope the destination that you choose is the UK. Besides, with the amazing weather we’re having at the minute, it’ll feel like you’re in the Costa Del Sol anyway!

This is a collaborative post.

Is your home ready for your new arrival?

Is your home ready for your new arrival?

Having a baby is one of the most incredible, exciting and terrifying things you can do in your life. Your world changes forever, and you change forever- you truly get to understand love in its purest form. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s difficult at times too.

As well as making sure everything is OK with yours and your baby’s health, you have the practical things to consider. For example, are your finances in order? You certainly don’t need to be rich to give your child a good life, but there are significant costs to cover and so getting yourself in the best position with money that you can makes sense. Is your car up to scratch? If you currently only have a two-seater car for example then you won’t have space for your partner as well as the car seat. Maybe you only have a two door model which would make getting a car seat in and out a bit of a pain. Perhaps the safety features aren’t as modern as you want- either way, a new car might be on the cards. Your home is another thing to get right, and before you get pregnant (or before your baby arrives) here are a few things to consider.

Location

If you moved into your home before thinking about having children, then things like how good the local schools or parks are probably didn’t cross your mind. You might live in a place that has a high crime rate, but decided to take the risk because as a couple it was close to work or generally made sense at the time. However when a baby comes along that can change, and you will probably want somewhere safe and family friendly. If you decide to move home, be sure to look into the amenities you might need nearby- soft play centres, nurseries, schools and parks. Check out the crime rates and make sure you’re not in a dangerous location such as on a very busy road.

Practicality

You might have a good house in the right area, but perhaps you don’t have enough bedrooms? Maybe the layout feels cramped and doesn’t make sense? You could get around this by having an extension built, a loft conversion or re-jigging some of the walls. You could even have a company like County the home improvers come in and refit everything for you. Spacious rooms with hard wearing and easy to clean flooring is no bad thing when you have little ones.

Accessibility

If you live in an apartment block which can only be accessed via stairs, or if your home has lots of steps outside then think if this would be practical with a pram. Life with a young baby is already difficult enough, not being easily able to get in and out of your home is only going to make things worse. If you can’t make the changes that you need to, then it could be worth looking for something new.

This is a collaborative post.

Get The Whole Family Involved To Make Your Garden Summer-Ready

Get The Whole Family Involved To Make Your Garden Summer-Ready

With all the great weather we’ve been having lately, dare we say that summer is here – and earlier than expected! While you’ve probably been ready for it for a while since the infamous ‘Beast from the East’, can you say the same about your garden?

Gardening can feel like a chore, especially if it’s not your favourite household job. However, when you get the whole family involved – it can become a much more enjoyable task.

Here’s how you can get the whole family involved in making your garden summer-ready.

Many hands make light clearing work

Clearing the garden of debris can make a big difference to the overall look of your garden. Stray rubbish, leaves, and other things that have made their way into your garden can spoil the look during the summer months. Getting everyone involved in clearing up will make it much quicker to restore your garden. Make sure everyone wears gloves to prevent injuries and keep young children away from glass and sharp objects.

Build something together

A home improvement project can be a fun way to bring the family together and is a great way to help get everyone out of the house and get some fresh air. You could build some garden furniture from railway sleepers, add some decking or a patio – something that you can all enjoy during the summer months. Take a look at Pinterest or YouTube for some fun garden DIY projects that you can all do together. Even small children can help with painting and watering, so there are different ways you can help them feel involved.

Get planting

By getting your kids involved in planting, you can help to teach them some useful skills that will benefit them in the future. Some of the easiest vegetables and herbs to plant now include beans, carrots, chives and lettuce – which all make excellent ingredients for many summer dishes. Teach your kids the value of growing fresh fruit and vegetable and the importance of healthy eating – it’ll be extremely satisfying getting to eat produce you know you’ve grown yourself.

Add some garden tasks to the chores list

Having chores to do around the home is important for the whole family. It teaches kids responsibility, stops them spending all their time in front of a screen and it helps keeps your home in order. Add some garden tasks to your family chores list to help keep it looking fresh throughout the summer months. There are several health benefits of having a family garden, including helping to ease stress and can form a part of your recommended daily physical activity.

Getting your garden ready for the warmer months is one way to get your home ready for summer. From simple garden maintenance to a complete renovation, there are some great things you can do as a family to make your garden great. Make the most of the good weather when it’s here and get gardening with the family this summer.

 

This is a collaborative post.