Monday, August 27, 2018

Top Ten Tips for Back to School

We are now on the home straight for back to school *sobs* and as much as I love the holidays and all the new memories that we make and fun we have I know it has to come to an end and after a pretty chilled Summer I know getting back into a routine is going to be a bit of a nightmare so here are my top ten tips to make the back to school transition just that bit easier.

1. Start your/their bedtime routine NOW! Undoubtedly you've had more late nights and lie-ins(I know I have) than normal so get yourself and your kiddos off to bed at their normal time and set that alarm for your usual wake up time. It will make life so much easier when next week it's no longer a choice!

2. Lay uniform and anything else needed for the next day out the night before. This is something I try to drum into my teenagers. There's no point shouting in the morning 'Mum, I can't find a polo' like they expect me to magic one up from out of my arse, when had you looked for one last night, I would've known and could actually do something about it then.



3. If you are planning on re-using some of last years uniform, make sure it still fits. There's nothing worse than thinking that you are all sorted then having to make a last minute/early morning dash to the supermarket because your little darling's trousers are now 2 inches too short.

4. Talk to your children about their routine. In our house, my eldest will be starting college, my second starting Yr9, my third going into Yr5 and my baby starting Nursery so our morning routine will change and as a result of our youngest starting nursery so will our evening one so it's important for them to know what they need to be doing and when to help everything run smoothly.

5. Sort yourself out with a meal plan. The first few wees of school can be a bit exhausting so trying to think on your feet about what you are going to feed your kids for tea is the last thing you need so save yourself the stress and have this sorted in advance.

6. HAVE LOADS OF FRUIT AND SNACKS IN!!! I cannot stress this point enough. As soon as I pick my kids u or they get in from school they head straight to the fridge and kitchen cupboards. You'd think they haven't eaten all day the way they feast when they get in. I always try and take a piece of fruit, packet of crisps or sandwich to school for pick up to solve this but for teenagers who make their own way home, have snacks available that they know they're allowed to have freely.



7. Replenish your craft supplies. Our primary school operate a 'Brainbuilder Bingo' homework policy. Basically homework books are called brainbuilders and every half term a sheet is stuck in with lots of homework options and the children choose which ones they want to do as long as they do at least one a week. Being a hands on, crafty type of mum, we tend to go for the more artsy fartsy ones which require lots of craft supplies so avoid an expensive trip to the local art shop and stock up now.

8. If you know that your child will be continuing with an extra curricular club or starting one, make sure you have the necessary kit. I have been caught out so many times because they need something for a club or class and I don't have everything needed so either end up paying top dollar buying it on site or spend forever feeling mum guilt for 'not being organised like other Mums'

9. Schedule time in for a catch up and cuddle. Once the kids go back to school we seem to get so caught up in the school run, activity clubs, work, shopping, life etc that we can sometimes overlook each others emotional needs. I've found that my kids can start acting up a bit if we don't have a little sit down and catch up with life followed by a cuddle so try to make sure you have that special time. 

(I wasn't naked, I had a Summer dress on, remember, when not 2 weeks ago we didn't have to wear jumpers?!)

10. Indulge in a little self care. It's so easy to forget about ourselves whilst we're running around like loonies trying to get our kids ready for school, handing homework in on time and being Supermum or Superdad so make sure you take a little time to yourself because at the end of the day if you are not looking after yourself, you can't be the best version of yourself!

What are your back to school top tips?

Emma xoxo


Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Letter to My Daughter on Results Day

Mikhayla-Jae

THOSE NUMBERS DO NOT DEFINE YOU

Whatever numbers are printed on that piece of paper that is sealed within that envelope on results day, do not define you.
By the time that this letter is published we will have discovered the results of your GCSE exams. You were in a year of young people that were the first to sit exams of this kind. Gone are the days of A, B, C etc grades and with new ways of studying, assessing and marking there was a lot of pressure placed on your not too huge shoulders but despite it all you have come out the other side a stronger person. 



You are the oldest of 4 and although you have never said it, I know you feel that you HAVE to do well to set a good example to your brothers and sister. You worked so hard, studied all hours and kept going even when you wanted to give up and I know because of that you will get the results that you deserve.

We really don't always see eye to eye, in fact more often than not we are arguing or disagreeing on one thing or another(as I write this you are not talking to me because I have said your favourite word 'NO') but the one thing that we will ALWAYS have in common is our mutual desire for you to succeed in everything that you do and to live a happy life.



What I do want you to remember though today and forever is that those numbers on that piece of paper do not define you.
What does define you is your strength of character, the good manners that have been instilled in you since you could talk, the respect that you have brought up to have for yourself and those around you, compassion, understanding and empathy, drive and desire to succeed, integrity, patience when all you want to do is speed through, kindness in a world of unkindness and the ability to laugh in the face of adversity.

You are now a young woman starting to carve out a future for yourself in this big wide world but as we have always told you money(another number) and your grades will only take you so far in this world. What will carry you even further are the personality traits that do define you.




So go forward and make mistakes BUT learn from them, stay up late BUT do it to watch the beauty of a sunrise, blow your first ever months wages BUT let it teach you how to budget. Do all the things you want to do but do them with purpose, pride and dignity because THAT is what defines you. 



Whatever the results in that envelope we will be celebrating your hard work, determination and persistence.

Love Always
Mum xoxo

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dear Sam... A Letter To My Husband

This is just a little note to say THANK YOU. I know I don't say it enough and I know that looking after 4 children we often just get swept along with being Mum and Dad.



When I'm losing my shit and shouting at pretty much anything that moves in the house, you somehow manage to keep everything else calm.

For all the times that you walk in from work and I'm tired, cross or trying to resolve an argument between kids...Thank you for diving straight into conflict resolution mode despite still having your keys in your hand, cap on and bag on your back.



For all the times that we've forgotten to pick something up, run out of something or I say I fancy a little treat...Thank you for always being happy and willing to go out at anytime of the day or night to get it.

For all the times that I want to catch up on my soaps and programmes that you really aren't into...Thank you for offering to sit and rub my feet while we watch them together.



For all the times that I get a great idea, whether its redecorating, going on a road trip or something else...Thank you for just being supportive, for trying to work out how we will do it rather than why we should.

For being an amazing Dad to all four of our children...Thank you for taking on the role of Dad many many years ago to 2 children that you didn't have to and continuing to be a great role model to all four of our monsters children.



For being the man I never thought I would meet...Thank you for showing me real love, showing our children what a real man is, despite what life throws at you, you still manage to remain your calm, funny, charming and loving self.

We often get caught up in all of the everyday stuff and neglect each other but despite all of that I know that you are my number one cheerleader and I hope you know that I am yours.

All my love, now and always
Emma xoxo

Friday, August 17, 2018

Are You Surviving The Holidays?

Down in our neck of the woods the fourth week of the Summer holidays is coming to an end and I have to say it hasn’t been what I had imagined.
We got the kids involved in picking activities and days out for the holidays, creating a Summer Bucket List and put it all on our ‘Summer Holiday Post It Note Calendar’ so that everybody knew what we would be doing and when we would be doing it BUT the reality has been very different.
We have so far stuck to our plans and completed all of the days out and activities from our list keeping the kids occupied but my goodness, it hasn’t stopped the constant bickering, the “Mum I’m bored and hungry”, the steady flow of mess that keeps appearing no matter how many times I clean it up and the  arguments over what should be on the tv. 



I started to secretly think that my kids may actually be demonic robots who were sent to just see how far they can push me before they see steam coming out of my ears but the more people I speak to, the more I realise that I’m not alone and maybe the world is being taken over demonic robots.



I’ve always been that parent who doesn’t look forward to the kids going back to school, I love having them around me, I love the slightly less rigid routine and I love the memories that we make and despite my kids driving me slightly bonkers these last 4 weeks have gone by way to quickly. If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll see what we’ve been up to so far and what’s still to come.




So whilst I’m hollering and hooting at my kids to be nice to each other, clean up their mess and  just be more grateful, I’m also secretly gutted deep down that the holidays are swiftly coming to an end and soon all four of my demonic angels will be back to school.


Emma xoxo

Monday, August 13, 2018

10 Signs Your On Holiday On A UK Holiday Park

When we are at home I’m usually THAT mum that tries to run a tight ship, with bedtimes, schedules, meal plans and any other kind of routine that keeps things running smoothly BUT when we go on a staycation to a UK holiday park all of that goes out of the window.

1. The bedtime routines go completely out of the window.



2. It’s totally acceptable for your kids to run around barefoot 99% of the time that you are away.

3. Healthy eating options are just not a choice at the full board buffet.

4. You find sand in places that you didn’t even knew you had and it will be a THING for weeks even after you return home.



5. The preplanned outfit choices that you packed before you left are a thing of the past. Your kids are wearing any random items together whilst they happily dig holes in the dirt with a stick.

6. You WILL be forced to get up on the dance floor every evening to do some dodgy holiday club dance routine that involves you looking like a complete an utter twat.

7. You end up creating your very own little community with your new neighbours.

8. Kids that you’ve never seen before descend upon your accommodation. You end up feeding and playing with all of them because these are your own kids ‘new best friends’.



9. You pack way too much because the British weather is so unpredictable and you want to be prepared so your car ends up looking like the Amazon delivery van.

10. You’re almost tearful as your packing up to leave because despite screaming at your kids at some stage, being shattered by the late nights and early mornings and the dodgy weather, you’ve actually had an amazing time, you’ve watched your children live their best lives and made more magical memories with them during their childhood.

What things go out of the window when you’re on a UK break?

Emma xoxo



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Easy Sprinkle Cake Recipe

One of the things that was on our Summer Bucket list was baking a sprinkle cake. As my 9 year old wanted to make it by himself I wanted the easiest possible recipe so that he was confident. We started out by making a shopping list of all of the ingredients needed and popped into our local Asda. Armed with his list and some money, I dutifully followed him around the store watching him check things off his list.
Shopping completed, we headed home and the baking began...



Ingredients

For the sponge
8oz butter
8oz caster sugar
8oz self raising flour
4 eggs
1 pot of sprinkles
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

For the buttercream
20oz icing sugar
10oz butter
A few drops of vanilla essence
1 pot of sprinkles
Colouring if desired


Method

1) Preheat oven to 180C/160fan/gas mark 4 and grease and line 4 20cm sandwich tins(if you only have 2, halve the mixture and bake in 2 batches)

2) Cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy

3) Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla essence and the sprinkles

4) Sift in the flour and fold into the mixture using a metal spoon

5) Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and bake for 20 mins or until a skewer comes out   clear



6) Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and leave until cool

7) In a clean, dry bowl beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy and add the vanilla essence and mix through( we put ours in the fridge for a bit because it was boiling hot and everything was melting)

8) Stack the cakes, spreading some of the buttercream between each layer(you can level the cakes by cutting across the tops but as my son was doing it himself we didn’t.

9) Once all of the 4 tiers are stacked, spread the sides and top of the cake with buttercream so that you can’t see any of the sponge.

10) Now the fun part, sprinkle away all over the buttercream until your hearts content.

I must admit, the finished product looked and tasted amazing and other than me putting the mixture in the oven and taking the cooked cakes out, he did the entire thing all by himself.

#proudmum

Monday, August 6, 2018

Are Screens Evil?

How many times have you just needed five minutes peace and quiet so stuck your kid in front of Cbeebies or given them the iPad? I'll be completely honest, I've done it quite a few times in my 16 years of being a parent and up until recently I've not seen any issue in it at all, but as my kids have got older I have found it increasingly difficult to control how much screen time they actually have. With a new social media app launched every few months, homework being set via the Internet, games consoles, Netflix and what not, how are we supposed to keep on top of it?



My three older children are in education so are out from around 8am until 4pm every day but when they get in they just want to chill either on the Playstation, watching TV or watching Youtube but when I ask them to switch off there is ALWAYS an excuse as to why they can't just yet - "I need to finish my match on Fortnite" or "Oh but the show is nearly finished anyway Mum can I just watch it" or some other reason as to why they just need a few more minutes. When I get fed up and turn things off they get miserable, angry, cry, whinge and anything else they can muster up but why?? Why is the detachment from screens such a trigger?

Don't get me wrong, we are an active family, we're always out exploring or on a day trip somewhere so I don't begrudge my kids screen time but I feel that slowly, they are choosing screen time more and more over the park, board games, painting and the simple activities that I loved as a child.



So what is the solution? We've sat down together, as a family and discussed the amount of time spent on phones or watching some other form of screen and come up with a daily limit of screen time for each child. Be it the PS4, mobile, TV, iPad or handheld console, unless otherwise stated each child knows just how much leisure time they are allowed on an electrical device. It's not that I'm anti technology but I feel that these pixelated boxes are stealing my children away from me and THAT is evil!

How do you manage screen time in your house?


Emma xoxo

Friday, August 3, 2018

Body Confidence and Me

For years I’ve struggled with my weight and by struggled I mean I’ve not been happy with how big I am but not doing enough about it. Before I had my eldest(now 16) the average size of ‘the perfect woman’ was a size 10 so my 5’9” size 14 body was seen as fat....if only I could go back to that size 14 body.


Over the years I’ve crash dieted, yo-yo dieted, joined gyms, eaten out more, drunk more fizz and guess what....gained weight.
During the height of summer I wouldn’t leave the house without a cardigan or something covering my arms because of my ‘upside down biceps’ and I definitely couldn’t buy t-shirts because they would be too short and show off my Santa like tummy but the truth of the matter is, nobody cared. I was the only one bothered by my wobbly arms and round tum. Everyone else is too busy worrying about their own wobbly bits to have time to bother themselves with mine!



What I came to realise over the years was that it wasn’t so much what I wore it was always more about how I wore it. You see, those upside down biceps look amazing on a woman with confidence and that round tum is beautiful when worn with a smile. Confidence is beautiful!

I’m not saying that as long as you are happy then to hell with your health but what I am saying is that whilst you’re working on that journey to being the person you want to be, be happy with the person you are today.



So the next time you’re out and about and see an equally amazing woman, give her the nod and a smile. Let’s lift each other up because let’s face it, we all have our own hang ups.

Once you’ve found your groove the rest will fall into place.

Emma xoxo