Well, well. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Here we are once more, the big TV Christmas ads are OUT, Christmas carols from Germany are merrily playing throughout Lidl, and we have the hotly anticipated ‘Soz, your kid’s not Mary, so please bring in a tea-towel and long sleeve tunic, a la Inn-Keeper’ nativity request form.
This is by far my favourite time of year, but it is also a time when I reach peak anxiety level.
What if he doesn’t pick me out those Cath Kidston slippers…
It is becoming abundantly clear how this whole Father Christmas belief thing works:
There is a window of about 3, maybe 4 years if we are lucky, where our children both understand who Father Christmas is, before a
total arsehole non-believer takes it upon themselves to spread their poisonous ‘He’s not real’ yarda yarda through Mrs White’s class.
I am in the eye of the magic right now. Our girls are nearly 3 and 5. They are fully committed to the Father Christmas movement. They write* to him almost daily, and have an unwavering belief which is actually infectious. I am absolutely expecting a man in a red suit to come down my chimney (so to speak), baring every gift upon my wish list.
It’s truly magical to see their faces when a festive buzzword is mentioned: Father Christmas, North Pole, Head Elf, Naughty n Nice list (-single best bit, thanks FC), Rudolph’s band of merry reindeer, I could go on…
I don’t want this belief to end, and that panics me because I know it will. I must appreciate this year and make the most of it because it might be the last Christmas that Darcie possesses this unquestioning precious belief.
I want to embrace every tradition I hear of, for the FOMO (fear of missing out) is too much to bear;
The pressure to make the most of it is all consuming.
Take that creepy looking ‘Elf on the
sodding Shelf’ for example. Last year I laughed and mocked those parents who tirelessly thought up all sorts of frankly bonkers positions for their Elf to be found in each morning. The X-rated versions took the biscuit and had me in stitches, I confess. But on the whole I just thought, what a load of tosh.
Guess what? This year we are having an Elf on the Shelf. My panic that I’ll regret doing it for our girls once it’s too late was just too much. So I caved. I’ll be posting wan*y ‘Elf dangling from the ceiling in a bid to rescue Barbie from her arranged marriage to Ken.’ and other must see footage…
Do we give in and pour flour all over the floorboards to mimic Santa boot prints? What about those Christmas Eve boxes or treats? (Who the F came up with that one.) How do we decide on The Santa Visit ? Have we made arrangements for the family to see the kids? Have we got any school holiday trips or treats planned? Hang on, what about Christmas crafting?! It’s a minefield.
Then there’s the gifts.
And this is my plea:
Please parents, don’t be a Festive-Douche.
Please don’t post photos of your Christmas tree groaning with gifts at 9pm Christmas Eve. It’s too frigging late by then for me to nip out to Poundland and purchase more tat to pad ours out with. I don’t want to read that you struggled to get in the lounge door because of all the gifts in the way. I don’t want to see that the Christmas eve boxes went down a storm with homemade PJ’s and personalised hot chocolate mugs. That’s great for you, but please don’t put the panic surges and gut wrenching guilts on the rest of us who didn’t get the jazz hands memo.
I can’t be the only one who has Inst-Panic and Facebook-fu*k moments over Christmas time can I? Is there anyone else out there sharing these feels?
I guess it all boils down to this, the big question, ‘Am I making the most of it?’
My gorgeous, switched on friend, Ursula, who blogs at Mumbelivable wisely said to me “Pick the traditions you want to do, don’t try and do it all and don’t compare yourself to others, your kids are lucky that you are their Mummy”.
I’m going to try and remember that.
Right then, I’m just off to stage the family Christmas card, and send off for personalised snowglobes, right before adopting a reindeer for a month… just kidding.
Keep it real Mumas, we got this.
I don’t know about you, but since having our girls I have this crazed obsession with making each Christmas better than the last. I put huge pressure on myself to ensure that we have squeezed the most out of every memory maker going. I am painfully conscious of the fact that there are only a handful years when our children will truly believe in The Big Man. The thought of wasting one of those precious years visiting a tin-pot Santa makes me shudder- in all the wrong ways.
This year there are only 6 weekend days in December to cram in as much tinseltastic memories as possible; ergo- planning is everything. Knowledge is power.
So without further ado, I would like to present to you the top 5 places to visit with your families in the greater Brighton area this December:
*Win a family ticket to Drusillas!*
Location: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS
This is one of my families favourite places to visit. We have annual passes and so you could say we know Drusillas inside out! Widely regarded as one of the countries best small zoos, not only can you enjoy seeing a wide variety of animals but the adventure park is something to behold! There is a large indoor play area, cafes, and my girls favourite: Hello Kitty world which has 3 brilliant rides – all included in your ticket price.
Festive Sparkle: A huge winter wonderland display comes to life after dark with an impressive animal themed Christmas light show all synchronised to music. There will also be an opportunity to meet 2 of Santa’s reindeer and husky dogs on selected dates.
Meeting Santa: The star attraction is Santa’s cosy cottage. It does look beautiful and has the winter wonderland laid out in front of it, making it all very magical. – With elves, and a big sleigh to ride too! The early Christmas gifts are really good quality – our girls still love their cuddly polar bears a year on.
Dates: Join the festive fun from Saturday 19th November until Monday 2nd Jan.
Meet Santa from Saturday 19th November (weekends only) and from Thursday 15th December – Friday 23rd December (daily).
Price: Normal entry price, plus £11 to meet Santa.
Location: The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL
Festive Sparkle: The ‘Santa Special’ trains depart from the Sheffield Park station (East Grinstead on the 23rd) for a ten mile round trip to the beautifully restored Horsted Keynes station with special Dickensian themed activities for you to enjoy.
Santa will be on the train to meet you and give a gift and treat to each child. Once at the station you can have your photo taken with Santa in his special cabin, and enjoy a range of Christmas activities, from Victorian street entertainers, to fairground stalls (20p a go – not bad). A right olde ye Christmas shindig then; lovely!
Dates: Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.55am, 1.45pm and 2.40pm
on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 23rd and 24th December
Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.45am, 12.30pm, 1.15pm, 2.00pm and 2.45pm on 17th and 18th December
Departure from East Grinstead at: 12.45pm and 3.30pm on 23rd December
Price: First Class: Adult £26.00 Child £14.00 Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) Third Class: Adult £21.00 Child £14.00 Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) -Not sure what happened to 2nd class?!
Please call 01825720806 for 1st class ticket bookings – these are very popular, so don’t be disappointed if you have to travel coach, it’s all fabulous.
Location: Tulley’s Farm, Turners Hill Road, Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 4PE
This farm has an outstanding reputation for its Spookfest, and puts the same incredible effort and detail into it’s Christmas experience. This is a whole day of specially crafted Christmas activities and delights for the whole family to enjoy.
Festive Sparkle: Christmas really did land at Tulley’s. You will journey on Santa’s sleigh, through a forest to reach Santa’s log cabin where you will be read a story by the man himself and the children will receive a gift star.
These activities are included in the main child ticket 1-13 years, and slight variations occur for Tiddler tickets and adults which are classed from age 14:
- Gingerbread Decorating
- Elves Magical Forest
- Story time with Father Christmas
- Build a Bear or Toy shop
- Real live Reindeer
- Sleigh Ride
- Post House
- Elf Hunt
- Puppet shows
- Christmas Shop
Dates: Daytime dates: 10am-5pm. Every weekend from Saturday 26th November – Saturday 24th December as well as these additional dates: Friday 9th December, Thursday 15th, Friday 16th, and then everyday Monday 19th – Saturday 24th.
Twilight dates: 4.30pm – 7.30pm 10th &11th December and then everyday from Saturday 17th – Friday 23rd.
Price: It’s complicated…
Daytime 10am-5pm: 26th & 27th November: Adult (14+) £8, Child £14, Tiddler (1-) £4
3rd & 4th December, 9th, 15th &16th: Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5
10th & 11th, 17th – 24th: Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6
Twilight 4.30pm-7.30pm: Friday 16th December, Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5
10th &11th and 17th – 23rd December, Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6
Location: Preston Manor, Preston Drove, Hove, Brighton BN1 6SD
Preston Manor is an impressive Edwardian house, which is the perfect setting for hosting a Victorian themed Christmas. There are very few dates available, but this really is a gem of a place and a slightly calmer way to celebrate than my other suggestions. I would say it would be of more interest to children who are school age and above, and ideal for anyone who doesn’t deal well in crowded places.
Festive Sparkle: A beautifully decorated manor house will transport you back in time, with special festive activities like dressing up and listening to stories which will all be going on throughout the house for the children. Father Christmas greets every child with a gift, at allotted time slots which are all pre-booked.
After you’ve met the man himself take a look around the rest of this delightful Edwardian Manor House. The Dining Room table is set as if a grand family of the period are about to take tea and Lady Ellen’s little Morning Room is covered in Victorian and Edwardian Christmas cards, holly and ivy and traditional decorations.
Dates: Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th Dec, and, 20th-23rd December.
Price: £8.50 to visit Santa, plus admission charges – Adult £6.60 Child £3.50
*Brighton & Hove residents will benefit from half price adult admission. Each half price adult can take up to 4 children for free. Please note that ‘visiting Santa’ charges still apply. ID and proof of address needed at time of booking to qualify.
To book call 03000 290902 or visit the Brighton Pavilion, or Preston Manor.
5) Spring Barn Farm
Location: Spring Barn Farm, Kingston Road, Lewes BN7 3ND
I adore this farm, it has a real family feel to it. It is small enough that it keeps a local vibe but big enough to warrant a full on day out. There is a large indoor play area housed in a barn along with an undercover small animal petting area, so rain needn’t spoil your day out. The shop is worth a mention here – it’s to die for with fresh local produce and gorgeous gifts.
Festive Sparkle: A large area of the huge barn turns into a winter wonderland for the season. The head elf will meet you at the entrance and take you through to make reindeer food, before writing to Santa. A special Santa-Mail letter box is waiting for your children’s letters amongst the twinkle lights and festive displays. Santa awaits you in his log cabin where children meet with him in family groups. You are then whisked off to the Elves workshop to choose a gift.
Dates: Nov: Booking slots available from 9.45am – 3.45pm on 26th & 27th
Dec: Booking slots available at 9.45am – 3.45pm on 3rd & 4th, 10th &11th, Friday 16th- Saturday 24th (last booking 3.15pm)
Cost: Child £13.50, Tiddlers 2 & under £7.50, Adult £7.50, Senior £6.50 plus admission price.
Have a brilliant time visiting Santa and getting all festived-up.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win tickets for a family of 4 to the fabulous Drusillas Park:
We are living in an age where we can run our entire lives from our phone, listen to music via headphones sans wires, and enjoy processco literally on tap in some of our favourite bars.
But until last week we were still living in a world where grown ups doing adulting, grown ups doing parenting and kids doing the kid thing were all mixed up like a badly organised wash pile every time you dare to board a plane.
Well not anymore, not if you travel in India! IndiGo has adopted a ‘quiet zone’ policy which basically means if you are 12 or under you aint getting in.
HURRAH! It’s 2016, but we got there in the end! We have been enjoying air travel for over 80 years, but finally, FINALLY an airline has engaged brain and realised that Little Tarquinn, age 3, doesn’t like to fly. It makes his ears pop and there isn’t room for him to stand on his head while he sings the theme tune to Paw Patrol at levels that only dogs should be able to hear. This makes Tarquinn cry, he dissolved into full blownn Sh*tbag mode. This makes Tarquinn stamp his feet and kick the seat in front. It makes Tarquinn throw his crisps into the lap of the tight lipped passenger next to him -not Muma… she’s swigging Gin on his other side. Tight lipped passenger begins to tut, gradually the tutting turns to the intake of breath followed by loud breathaliser sounding sighs.
Mumas no longer need to mutter “I hate my life” or “I’m so sorry” and “send me the dry clean bill” on a flight anymore! Because guess what – the passengers that really minded being sat next to the little Tarquinns of this world have paid a few quid extra to escape this particular endurance test. So long, huffers and puffers. So long, Muma-guilt. IndiGo, I salute you.
It seems it’s not just me that feels this way either. The concept of the Quiet Zones has been praised by both Adulating Adults and Parenting Adults. I asked a few of my fellow bloggers their thoughts on the subject (I was concerned I might be having a very unmumsey moment rejoicing at this idea!). Surprisingly it was almost unanimously positive feedback. There were some suggestions for other zones which I thought might have legs too. Kate Tunstall of Refined Prose suggested an area reserved for inconsiderate adults, after all, it’s not only children that can be irritating! I see where she’s coming from! While Alana Perrin of Baby Holiday did make a good point, and one that will probably have the air stewardesses drawing straws to man bucket class over at IndiGo; Imagine how noisy it will be when all the babies and toddlers kick off, because of their proximity it will be like a chain reaction… Ear defenders for the long suffering parents?! Frankly, the mind boggles. But that still wouldn’t put me off casting a vote for this genius division.
I wonder if IndiGo might be interested in a little ‘idea development’? Children’s entertainment packs? Disney channel on a big screen? Hell, how about a kids entertainer (Mark Warner are you listening?!) And while we are at it, a loo facility which actually allows the task of nappy changing to take place. One last life changer please airlines, could the Mumas have reserved seating in said Quiet Zone for the duration of the flight, along with several large bottles of Processco. Pretty please.
I am sending a plea to UK airlines to adopt this genius and absolutely nessesery Quiet Zone initiative. Please don’t let tourist space travel happen faster than this, the most basic of travel needs. Come on Branson – lead the way!
What are your thoughts? Would you be offended if an airline offered the option of a ‘Quiet Zone’ for 13+? Or would you breathe a sigh of relief?
I was reminded today by Grimmy off of Radio 1 DJ ledgeness, that it is Fresher time. So, there I am driving toddlermonster to her swim lesson, my arm contorted in eye watering angles whilst I pass her various lunch offerings, I cast my mind back to 13 whole Septembers ago and vaguely recollected a ‘Month of Blur’ (not the band). My mind then jumped to the only other time that I have endured a Month of Blur: The newborn days.
I thought I might demonstrate how actually, being a Fresher is the exact same as being a new Muma… Just you wait, Girls, you’ll be amazed:
1.Being awake in the early hours, to the thud of the base, or the squeal of a non-latching newborn. Exact same thing.
2. Surviving on nothing but a packet of biscuits and a Twix ALL.DAY.
3.The suggestion that you left the house before lunchtime is met with hysterical laughter.
4. Jeremy Kyle is beginning to feel like an old friend, his gambling past, tragic ‘my brother used to…’ stories, and lie detector suspense has kept you faithful at 9.25am.
5. You make frequent trips to the Dr’s for complaints you never knew existed, in areas you really rather wish had been left alone.
6. Cheesy pasta is a treat; Hot food, cooked in a saucepan.
7. Awkward ‘making new friends’ moments. Eye contact, going in for the kill: the SU or baby massage class. Exact same thing.
8. Surviving on minimal casheesh, student loan v’s mat leave allowance. Its a close call. Toppers should definitely offer a maternity leave 10% discount, students are spoilt.
9. Learning a whole load of new stuff. Text books / baby manuals coming out of your ears.
10. New timetable. Except the one major difference here is that ‘FREE PERIOD’ does not feature in the Newborn version. Almost, the-exact-same-thing.
So there we have it, those Freshers aren’t going to feel so darn rocking cocking now are they…
Mumas, as always, nailing life.
Drum roll please…
Something extremely exciting, and not at all life changing has happened today: Two of my favourite brands have collaborated: Cath Kidston does Winnie. So to speak.
I thought I should give you the low down of the collection, and of course, the highlights- according to moi! There are clicks throughs if you can manage to get your hands on this gorgeous collection before stocks sell out!
First up, something for squidgy newborn baby bundles:
How about a few delights from the clothing range for the kids.
Hot bags… always wipe clean, always gorgeous.
Hands up Mumas who love a good set of PJ’S, bottom right….
So there you have it – a little taster of Miss Kidston’s genius new line. I’m in love…
Happy browsing y’all.
I wanted to share something with you, possibly it’s a little bit controversial- I know: Me, controversial, surely not..?!
This is the story of why we are not potty training our nearly 3 year old.
Lila is potty training herself; you’ve heard of baby led weaning? Well this is the toilet version. I’m not sure if this is an actual thing or if I am just breaking out of the Muma- society mould here, I’m sure you’ll let me know…
She stood in a puddle of wee, in the middle of the park, sobbing; Wet knickers, wet leggings and wet shoes…
It had been 1 week since we declared ‘potty training’ had began. this is back in 2013, and I am talking about our eldest daughter Darcie. She was exactly 2.5 years old, and numerous ‘experts’ (Butty-in elders and judgemental Gina-ford types ) had been surprised that Darcie wasn’t potty trained-
“What with the baby on the way…”
I was panicing that the world would stop spinning as I knew it with ‘the coming of baby No.2’, and decided that we should of course get cracking with this potty training lark.
We lasted 1 week before I couldn’t bare to see her wet herself and struggle anymore.
I had listened to other parents tell me of their potty training antics – us Mumas have great chat, right?! MONTHS some of them had spent watching their toddlers wet and poo themselves. In public, in the car, at home: you name it.
I just couldn’t do it. It just strikes me as a bit demeaning really. I would HATE to Wee myself in morrisons, so why would I think it ok to have my child do this? Why would I make my daughter wear knickers day after day standing by while she poos herself, looking helpless, telling her “she’s almost there”. Nah, that’s not my style. So we made the decision to avoid putting pants on our kids, until they ask.
I know using that word demeaning in association with potty training is probably going to get some backs up. I know that it’s all about personal choice and we all want what’s best for our children. Of course we do- that’s a Muma’s mantra. I also realise that using the loo and making that leap of faith from nappies needs to be taught, and learnt. But do we really need to force a round peg into a square hole here?
So we waited. We waited months, and months, our new baby arrived, and we celebrated Darcie’s 3rd birthday. STILL IN NAPPIES.
And then it happened; one spring afternoon, down the stairs she came with her Peppa Pig knick-knocks on.
Darcie never put a nappy back on again. From that moment she used the toilet, not the potty. She was old enough to tell me when she wanted to go, she was old enough to sit on the toilet without having to lug a potty EVERYWHERE with us.
Darcie is now 5 years old, and we have never had to remind her to use the loo before we go out. Nor do we check if she needs it when we are out and about. I leave it up to her.
Her accident record is Zero.
I’m not saying that’s purely down to the approach we used, that, we’ll never know. But I am sure that never making a big deal out of all of this toilet related stuff has helped her.
So now it’s Lila’s turn. When she wants to wear knickers she does. When she wants to wear a pull up, guess what: she does! Sometimes she likes to use the loo, and other times she doesn’t. But you know what, more and more she is opting to use to use it. I have checked that nursery aren’t pushing her with toilet training and they have been very supportive of our choice to let Lila decide when she is ready to ditch the nappies- and start saving us a fortune.
I suppose the point of telling you all of this toilet related goodness is because I wish I had read that you don’t have to potty train like its a military operation, and you don’t need to label it:
“WE ARE POTTY TRAINING” *like a declaration of battle*
Just introducing the potty n knickers combo and offering those things, rather than pushing them is enough.
They will get there eventually. It’s not a race.
I felt a huge pressure to succeed at potty training. And for what?! To gloat like a Gloatey McKnob that my daughter is wearing knickers before she’s learnt to pick her nose?
Our nearly 3 year old has enough on her plate- she is learning to speak, to form opinions, deal with frustrations, realising that book cases make great ladders, and all the while, brewing her next UberTantrum.
She doesn’t need this kind of shit in her life right now: literally.
I’ll keep you posted on how the Toddler-led toilet training is going- I know you’ll all be on the edge of your seats awaiting this update…
Until then, I’d love to know if anyone else has had a similar experience to me and has used, or is using this method?
AUTUMN HAS LANDED! *Cartwheels around the room*
So my secrets out, as much as I love the Summer – and I really do, I have a secret love burning deep inside for Autumn. Do you know why? I have an addiction to coats, boots, and bags. Basically outerwear! So I am eyeing up my old faithful boots, my beloved coats and big wintry hard core leather bags while it rains for the first time in like, a gazillion days.
With this obsession now at the forefront of my mind I thought it might be fun to trawl the internet and share one of my favourite pass times with you:
Behold the autumnal essentials ‘Add to Cart’ game. (Rightmove & fantasy holiday shopping being a close 2nd / 3rd)
First up is…
(I included the links, y’know for just in case…££ )
- The school run, cover ya bum, no harm done jobby and laugh in the face of a full on deluge, January style.
- The oh-my-god I need this in my life NOW coat. Ok, so it doesn’t look particularly warm, it doesn’t have more than 2 buttons on it for goodness sake. But my word, leopard conquers all for me right now.
3. Are you ready for some coat candy. Yeh?! Ok then, here goes… (I mean, we could just cancel Christmas and let the kids stroke the coat right?!)
This is where my fantasy ‘Add to Cart’ game is a wonder because let’s face it – boot shopping can be hell; Especially with my pint sized assistants in tow. In one tantrum they can zap all of the fun out of my favourite sport. Life can be cruel.
- I have been searching for the perfect Chelsea boot (like y’do) for an age. I think I may have finally found it this season… sigh.
2. Now, my husband would utter that this next beauty is the same as the Chelsea above – Good grief how wrong could he be!
Well, an elegant western, who knew!
3. Who doesn’t love a black knee high. A staple… ok I don’t actually own a pair YET. But I have been a good girl this year Santa…
And lastly, can we all have a good laugh at these please?! Think of the rain, how would we jump in muddy puddles?!! Topshop, how could you? *Shakes head, folds arms*
I can not forget my favourite of all the outerwear garments: THE BAG. Here are my 3 faves for Autumnal-bliss. I’ll go in price order here…
- A throw it all in delight – Mmmmm with those black knee highs… I might add that it also has a long strap. Totally dressing it down: 2 bags in 1, so actually only about £44.50 per look. BARGAIN.
2. Swoon* Grey, my one true love. and isn’t she pretty…
3. You know how I mentioned that this was a FANTASY cart, well here’s the fantasy:
See, I wasn’t going to let you down. This right here is a proper bit of bag porn Mumas. We like? We likey a lot? And how practical is it I hear you ask… wipe clean, check. Room for wet wipes & nappies? Check! This is totally Muma proof. There’s just the teensy tiny question of the price tag. ” Cha ching cha ching… ”
So there you have it: my Autumnal round up.
Now I’m off to get back into my Primark jeans before I hit the nursery run. Keeping it real chicks, keeping this shizzle real.
Let me know what you think…