There’s a new Witching Hour in town: it’s called Mornings.

I once saw a comedy sketch based in a nursing home. (I know, I know, this is a bit dark, but stick with me)

The old folk sat in front of the telly whilst yelling demands at the over worked wreck of a carer.

Buzz words were being shouted from the chairs, you know – the ones with those ridiculously high backs:

“Tea”

“Too Hot!”

“Corrie”

“Whiskey”

***

By some cruel twist fate I am now living out this comedy sketch in the real. Except it doesn’t give me all the lols. I am that haggard nurse running from task to task which is spat out by a ToddlerMonster and her 5 year old partner in Crime.

To be quite honest with you I am one tantrum away from fleeing this asylum and opting for a quieter life with the gypsy circus.  Not a day goes by where I don’t loose my sh*t trying to get a toddler ready for nursery and an unwilling 5 year old to school.

This is now how our mornings shape up these days: (And if anyone dare comment with “it will all be over in the blink of an eye”, I will not be responsible for my actions!)

There’s a new Witching Hour in town, and I loathe it more than the original…

“My Blankey, WAAAAAAAA MY BLANKEY NOW” More crying. More urgency.

ToddlerMonster has selected her desired seating arrangement to view ‘A Little Princess’. She is very cross that her blankey has fallen to the floor. But, Oh no! I am currently pouring out hot chocolates for their royal highnesses as instructed by the older of the leaders. I dutifully halt stirring  the lumps in and spring to action: operation, ‘Where the eff is blankey’ is launched.

As it was RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER the task was executed swiftly so that I could answer the 5 year old’s burning question:

“But WHERE is our hot chocolates?”

“Yes, yes darling they are just coming!”

By this point in the morning my patience is still running at a positive 80%. The use of the word ‘darling’ is around 10 minutes and 6 commands off being hissed through gritted teeth.

I catch a glimpse of myself as I load up the tray with toast and their drinks. It’s still dark outside so the kitchen window is currently a mirror. My god. I make a mental note to consider washing my hair and using some eye cream.

“Mum, Mum, Murray wants to go out. Mum Mum MUM MUM MUMUMUMUMUMUMUMUM. MUM. Murray wants to go out.”

Obviously remembering one does have the use of their legs is tricky to recollect at such an early hour and so I forgive the 5 year old for this oversight whilst rushing to let out our lump of a probably-not-a-cavapoo. Phew, made it.

I turn around. Oh shit the bed…

“Why is your toast on the floor? Please NO! Stop rubbing your tongue on Mummy’s new cushion!”

(Mentally I scold myself for buying a cushion; I knew it would struggle to survive it’s first week in the field).

“I SAID TCHOKLIT. WAAAAAAWAAAAAAA” ToddlerMonster has blown her top. Christ, her body is beginning to convulse as I quickly (everything requires ‘Quickly’) cast my mind back to her breakfast order.

Hang on, why is water dripping off of the sofa?? Jesus that’s not water: Nappy overfill. I neglected to remove the night time pull up and now she is punishing me for poor service with a dry cleaning bill.

“I want toast With NO CUT. I wanna big one”.

“What do you say?”

“NOW!”

Wow, so it really is possible to be this much of an arsehole when you are 3.

I decline her demands of another slice. Time is of the essence and I’m now running at 30% patience, which isn’t a good sign because I still need to prepare myself for the Battle of the Uniform. Or more specifically the Battle of the Tights.

I dig deep for my happy face.

“OK girls, time to get dressed now! Yey for the new day” I muster a fist pump in proper MUM style. Only to be met by blank faces. Their eyes are fixated on which talent Peppa will show her class now that all of them have been taken!

I try again

“Yey come on, it’s a new day – it’s going to be a cold one… let’s go get ready!”

Still no response.

Alarms have gone off in my head. Patience level is now at ZERO. I have no back up reserves – they were all consumed 3 years ago during the Battle of the Dummy.

To the backdrop of a repetitive whine, which is not unlike some sort of rare animal mating call.

I loose it. The Trunchball is now hollering out of my mouth, and I am merciless to stop it.

My own buzz words begin to get fired at the two wide eye suddenly innocent looking dictators.

“UPSTAIRS”

“DRESSED”

“TEETH”

And finally, the killer question that hangs in the air:

“Why do you hate Mummy so much?”

Of course this is a rhetorical.  They’ve already pegged it upstairs to wake darling Daddy. Daddy who can do no wrong. Daddy who will cuddle them and tell them in a non-shouty voice that everything is OK and Mummy is just loosing the will to live tired. Daddy who will take them by the hand and calmly persuade Darcie that tights are not the enemy. That her preferred choice of black leggings are not school uniform and she just needs to accept this.

How the blazes…

I take my shiny fu*ked off face and dark root combo to the shower, silently repeating:

“I hate my life, I hate my kids. Why do my kids hate me? Why did I do this?”

I know how that sounds.  I know that makes me a bad person for even thinking those thoughts. But at that moment – for that fraction of about…2 hours (!): it’s how I feel. I can’t even douse my spirits with a mug of Sav Blanc. Apparently it’s not socially acceptable at 7.42am…

We make it to school on time. Somehow we make it to school everyday on time.

As I wave them both off to no doubt be angels for other people, little fireworks explode in my head. I know that for the next few hours I will be exactly the mother I always thought I would be…!

 

#MumaWin No.1

Welcome to my new weekly series (actually it’s not just new, it’s my FIRST ever series..! I’m feeling a little bit commitment phobe about the whole thing to be honest). I felt it was about time we showed parenting who’s boss: and started to shout about how we nailed the hardest job on earth each week. This is entirely new territory for me, finding faults is much easier and far more plentiful in my day to day life!

It’s a dog eat dog world out there, it’s Mum V Kids, and for the most part they are scoring all of the points. Well, the tables are going to turn: I shall be seeking out a #MumaWin each week. A glorious moment where I reign supreme over my kids who seem to be sponsored by Duracell.

I am constantly chasing my tail and seem to always arrive in the wake of disaster just seconds short of foiling the shitstorm, despite the girls being surgically attached to my hip. How does that work?!

Muttering “{BIG SWEAR}, another parenting fail” under my breath is a constant. It does seem to be my daily chant actually. How did  Vicks become smeared all over the carpet? And in which millisecond that my back was turned did ToddlerMonster manage to go nuclear, thanks to a slight glow stick mayday… in her mouth?

I don’t want the corner stone of my week to be blighted by organic-less food guilt, and loosing my shit in the playground in front of ‘Sorted Muma’ because I am decidedly Unsorted.

So here we have it: #MumaWins is born.

Every week I’ll share mine if you share yours… leave your Mum Boss #MumaWins in the comments or on the facebook Instagram or Twitter thread. I need your inspiration, let’s show these tinkers that Mumas got it all goin’ on.

To the end of Parenting Fails!!

***

I’ll keep this as brief as I can:

I’ll be honest, I want to tell you about how I managed to clean out ALL of my kitchen cupboards at a rate of 1 a night last week. Now this might not sound that exciting, but to me this is proper Muma Porn. My cupboards are now neat little pintrest worthy joys.

But I felt that if I named this as my #MumaWin then I would have to also confess that this resulted in 10 bin bags full of out of date food (FYI flour has a use by date?! Who knew!), some by 2 years, which leads to further embarrassment as our new kitchen is only a year old. Yes: I moved and stored out of date food, and then put it back into my brand new shiny kitchen!! There was also the little issue of unearthing the sweet potato which had taken on a more hummus like consistency at the bottom of my ‘anything goes’ cupboard.

Some of those bin bags were full of plastic sippy cups with no lids, and lids with no sippy cups. Tuppleware bottoms and Tuppleware tops, but not pairs. Rusty baking trays, which are health hazards. Which leads me on nicely to confess that I’m pretty sure the food standards bods would shut me down. Never again will I turn my nose up at those eateries with just 1* on their hygiene certificates. For that is 1* more than I would have been awarded…

So my first #MumaWin goes to my beautifully clean – even bleached kitchen cupboards. No more out of date roulette for us, no more ducking out of the way each time the cupboard of plastic doom is opened. Oh no. This is a #MumaWin and a half, not least because I did it with the assistance of my 2 & 5 year olds! (Please don’t report me for child labour- they thought it was fun! Honest…)

So it’s over to you – what’s your #MumaWin of the week?

Mummuddlingthrough
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Christmas unwrapped

I’m currently drowning in this week of Sundays. I have no idea what day of the week it is, what time of day it is (although it’s dark again – did today even happen?!) I’m assuming the kids don’t have to be back to school yet as my husband is still hanging about.

I feel all out of sync and disconnected from the rest of the world, so thought I’d tell you a little bit about how Christmas went down. All hopes are pinned on feeling all Guns a Blazing for 2017 by the time I finish writing this post…

Sunday 25th December 2016

We were up at 5.30am on Christmas dawning. I mean, you wouldn’t want to waste a single minute of this glorious day would? Not if you are 2 & 5. This is the day you live for. This is it, The Big One.

“PRESENTS!” they screamed. and screamed as we desperately tried to sshhhhh them as we crept downstairs, one eye open, to save the whole household waking up at this ungodly hour.

(We tried to remind our greedy little treasures of the true meaning of Christmas, it wasn’t washing. So we stuck the entire 2 & a half ft long Nativity scene that nanny had knocked up the evening before, right in front of the Turkey; Nazareth vibes.)

This was our 6th Christmas as parents, but each time I become more gobsmacked at the months of planning, spending and wrapping which are literally ripped apart within seconds. Toys and trinkets that I’d trawled the likes of highbrow Tiger and Claire’s for, were disregarded in favour of the next shiny package.

I felt like I was directing traffic (and yes hand signals were used):

“STOP!”

“What was that gift?”

“Who gave that to you?”

“STOP!”

“Unwrap!”

“Not you, you. Lila, YOU unwrap”

“WAIT!”

I wanted to tape my mouth up and shove myself in a cupboard by the end of our 3rd Christmas. These were not the dulcet tones of the hip cool Muma I’d like to think I was…!

Once they had finished their gift massacre, came the cries for help with mission impossible packaging. Actual screwdrivers were needed to free Percy the Train from his cardboard prison. Why do toy companies hate parents so much?

If it needs batteries, please Mattel n friends, just provide them. Where’s your festive spirit? I’ve just spent hundreds of pounds on half a ton of plastic, the least you could do is help me over the finish line here.

In other news, the whole giving thing was a bit hit and miss this year.

We had one very unimpressed nearly-teen exclaim:

“This wasn’t what I wanted. This wasn’t on my list!”

Okey dokey then. I cringed.

and one,

“It doesn’t suit us, do you have the receipt?”

{insert pissed off emoji}

It doesnt seem to make a difference how much effort you put into the gift selection process.

***

The wrapping paper had been cleared narrowly avoiding the need for an excavator. The bird had stuffed us, and yuletide arguments could be heard between the girls as they fought  over the ride-on fire truckthat  ToddlerMonster had been given.

Everything was on point. Christmas Day was as it should be. 

We were all weary from being all jazz hands ‘Christmas And On It’ for the past 14 hours: At last it was time for The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special. We are massive GBBO fans in our house and this was set to be a little personal highlight. 

It turned out to be a bit tragic though didn’t it. I thought past winners would be queuing up to go back for the last ever, ever show and have a bit of a festive knees up chez Hollywood & Berry. It seems they weren’t. We got Norman and his shortbread instead, it was more like the GBBO rejects. Damn you BBC. Damn you.

And then in the blink of an eye it’s all over – unless you are like us and have 3 Christmas with each side of your family. In which case it’s several blinks and many many glasses of bubbles.

I know a lot of people will be glad to see the back of 2016, but I am thankful for it. I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I am no longer pondering what I am going to do with my life. I have a direction, I have a passion and I have ambition. I am going to write.

2017 will see me having a 3 and 6 year old. That’s like, proper Motherhood ages isn’t it? I’m in the midst of it then. I can no longer be the newbie Muma seeking Rookie as my excuse, ‘Opps I forgot the wipes’. It will just be me, being disorganised…or worse – lazy.

Happy New Year Mumas – have a goodie, let’s go kick 2017’s butt.

 

 

 

 

ASBO Toddler does Christmas

Welcome to The Lila Show. Starring Lila: Diva extraordinaire, ASBO deserved. 

I’ll be honest here, when people have allured to the wrath of a threenager in the past I may have raised my need-to-be-did eyebrows and wallowed in self pity for the gruesome twos I was being forced to endure. Thinking that surely Toddlerhood couldn’t possibly exceed the floor licking tantrums of age 2 (which peaked at Lego land incidentally- I’m sure it was a very clean floor).

We are staring Lila’s 3rd birthday in the face and I do not feel the end is neigh with this ASBO behaviour. In fact, I fear it could just be the beginning…

It is no secret that sub-4 kids don’t do sharing. (To be honest I’m not a massive fan of sharing even now, but that’s another story.)

Lila is very blunt about this hate of sharing. It’s more than a little off putting to her friends who look blankly at me as Lila snatches whatever plastic tat they might have dared to touch, upon a rare play date.

Lila has fast worked out that she cannot snatch n grab every toy at once, evolution is still one step behind with that 3rd hand that she requires. One of her favourite solutions when facing this predicament is to select one of the 456,000 buggys we have and simply pile it all in.

She will happily wheel about shopping tills, random candles, a naked sylvanian, the odd shoe, her beloved inflatable mic, the cat… you name it. Lila will stack it high to ensure that no one else can touch this sacred stash. I like to call it her tramp trolley, I mean no disrespect, but it is bares an uncanny resemblance.

Theft is becoming a real problem in our house. Crucial items tend to go missing, often for days on end. I have now found a Grinch like cupboard in her toy kitchen which has basically got trophies from her bin raids. I discovered old milk bottles, yogurt tops, coffee pods, the crucial sellotape wheel thing, a fitbit, even the garage keys. I offered to clean this revolting collection up, and retrieve our stuff.  That didn’t go down well. Who knew it was possible to have such an attachment to junk? One girl’s trash is another girl’s stash…

The latest victim of Lila’s venomous tongue is ELFred. This has at least given Darcie the week off from hearing her sister shouting,

“Darcie is a poo and a worm, I hate you Daadaa”

It’s fair to say that ASBO-toddler has not taken kindly to this invasion of her privacy. This morning when ELFred was found straddling Lila’s train, she could take no more.

“ELFred need to go home now Mummy.”

“Bye bye ELFred, don’t forget your Hat”

– Oh yes, don’t let him forget that, it cost more than mine!

My annoyance has reached boiling point. There are a whole bunch of parents out there that hate the elf, who don’t have the time or inclination to deal with elf-shit. But their little treasures love Chippy, dingbat and Zaton so much that they begrudgingly move him between Christmas tree branches for 24 nights.

The thing is, try as I might to loath this additional ball ache at the busiest time of the year, I don’t. I was loving this damned tradition. I love moving him about – albeit not very imaginatively, but I’m just warming up! I was just getting started! I loved those first 4 days of them discovering what Elfred had been up too. But I’ve been halted by my child, the only child that seems to hate him.

Oh the irony is not lost.

I had imagined that ELFred would have been a pretty useful bribery tool,

“Don’t spit on the carpet, Elf is always watching”…

“But he’s in the Woooooooooownge Muma!” Followed by deafening cries.

Well that went down like a shit sandwich. I did not see those screams of protest coming: Rookie, rookie, Mistake.

“No, no he’s not watching you all of the time, he just watches you in a nice way… ”

I don’t think I was helping. And to be fair it did all sound a bit pervy.

So Elfred is in the fireplace, with a farewell card – at least she remembered her manners.

Here is the conundrum: If I send ELFred away, Darcie shall be devastated. If he stays, Lila will be terrified.

You know what, sod you elf. You have just succeeded in turning your No.1 (and quite possible ONLY) adult fan against you.

***

Lila has just given me the perfect ending for this post. She has just returned from  bossing the nursery room. Actually she looked quite sweet as she snuggled up to her bunny on the sofa just now. I began to feel bad that I was mid sentence on a post that brands her a total A-hole. Then she took something from her pocket…

She looked at me with her devilish eyes but at least had the good grace to add a nervous giggle. She’s only gone and stolen baby Jesus from the nursery nativity scene.

I rest my case.

Is anyone else living under the duress of a crazed ASBO-deserving nearly threenager?!

 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

 

Drusillas Winter Wonderland Review

Drusillas has kicked off our festive celebrations in spectacular fashion!

This award-winning zoo has always been a fixture on our December calender since our little girls were babies. Drusillas seems to up the ante on its renowned Winter Wonderland year on year. Adding to its huge collection of impressive illuminations is a whole host of Christmas goodness. Drusillas is bound to leave the you feeling so festive that even your pile of Christmas cards waiting to be written shall no longer seem like such a chore (although a substantial glass of mulled wine is still  advisable!)


Meeting Father Christmas

The girls and I took our friends Amy, who writes at Bean Musing , and her daughter along on Saturday to join in the fun. We  headed straight for Father Christmas’ cosy cottage, why wait?! We were met by Mrs Christmas and her elves before being taken into meet the man of the moment. I think at this point I was probably more excited than the girls. Each time we have taken them to meet Father Christmas I always get embarrassingly emotional! I probably need to get a grip, but I can’t help but wonder at their little faces. They are totally in awe of this movie star figure, sitting right in front of them. Despite of course, my toddler repeating that she didn’t want to go anywhere near Father Christmas and that in fact, she would be perfectly fine standing right next to the door thank you very much. The elf and FC made a great team and looked like the real deal. There were no fake beards and cheap suits here: right before our eyes was a miracle on 34th Street Santa. I just managed to stop myself muttering “I believe”.

“Is he real?” whispered Darcie.

“Oh yes, he is most definitely real”

img_0528

Did I mention that the gift is gorgeous?! The girls were thrilled to reveal a cuddly Husky dog, just like the ones they were about to meet in the real. They didn’t let go of them for the rest of the day. It makes a nice change to have a decent, good quality Santa gift. I don’t mean that in an ungrateful way, but we have paid through the roof for some SuperTat in the past.

Fabulous festivities

The Husky dogs and reindeer had taken up residence  right next to the huge sleigh scene in the beautifully decorated festive square. We were able to go straight in and cuddle up with these gorgeous Husky dogs before looking in on Donner and Dasher who seemed right at home being the center of attention.

img_0529
You won’t believe what happened next…

We had some time before the illuminations show began, so headed over to the Zoo. The girls love the stamper book activity and ran around searching for animals. The meer cats are usually my high point, however today that high was handed to the penguins…

We had coincidentally just arrived as the penguins were being fed. Despite my frozen toes we decided to stay and watch, and I’m glad we did. Not only because the Penguin keeper was lovely and very knowledgable about her water babies, but because of what came next. A silence came over the enclosure as the keeper invited one of us 8 in the audience to, “Ask the question”. before we had a chance to exchange confused glances, the man standing next to us proposed to his girlfriend! Thankfully she said yes, their 2 children clapped, so we all clapped, with open mouths, min you, the penguins couldn’t have given a monkeys!

What a moment to share, huge congratulations to them. Could there be a Drusillas wedding on the cards?!

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Back to the order of the day, and laden down with chips and hot chocolate we really got into the festive swing of things as the square came to life. Some of the best known christmas classics, filled the square, whilst the lights dazzled. Polar bears shone, ice caps sparkled and reindeer twinkled brightly. We couldn’t help but smile, sing and bop along with our little girls. It really did look beautiful, and yes, I may have welled up a little bit more – I can’t help it!

img_0435
Hurrah for Drusillas

Drusillas is a truly great day out at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. They have pulled out all of the stops this year to get you in the festive spirit.

Don’t forget the Zoo, Hello kitty rides, the vast adventure playgrounds, indoor play, Thomas train ride, and the Maze are open for you to explore as usual!

Drusillas doesn’t do bored

img_0382

Visit the Drusillas website

Book tickets 

Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS

 

 

 

 

Muma: The Unsung Christmas Hero

Cheers Mumas.

Here’s to you, the puppeteers’ of Christmas.

The makers of the magic.

Without you, there would be no tinsel-tastic hollabaloo.

Cheers to the Mumas who come up with a new trick for that creepy little elf each evening.

And cheers to those that have chosen not too.

Cheers to the Mumas who are busy needle and threading nativity costumes.

And cheers to those Mumas who Amazon Primed theirs.

Here’s to the Mumas who boss the sparkle all on their own.

And here’s to the Mumas who navigate the web of family celebrations.

To the Mumas that no longer have their own Muma here, to help and to encourage.

To the Mumas that light a candle for their sleeping babies.

Here’s to the Mumas that are frantically trying to make ends meet,

and to those Mumas who have plenty, but worry about spoilt brat syndrome.

Cheers to those Mumas that proudly plaster Jimmy & Jane’s every December waking hour over facebook,

and to those who don’t.

 A bottle of Bolly to the Mumas who trudge the freezing high street, in search of the perfect gifts.

Hats off to those that are trawling websites, waiting in for parcels and single handedly keeping Paypal afloat.

Bravo those Muma’s who credit Santa and his Elves for everything. Just to keep the magic alive.

And to those Mumas who’s teens no longer believe, enjoy the ‘thank yous’.

Here’s to the Mumas that decorate their Christmas tree daily, thanks to a Bauble-loving Toddlermonster,

and here’s to the Mumas that have sacrificed a catalogue tree in favour of displaying homemade one-of-a-kind loo roll angels and pipe cleaner snowmen.

Here’s to my Muma that still displays that loo roll angel 30 years later…

Cheers to you, the unsung Christmas heroes; Battling to win a Tesco delivery slot, attend the carol concerts, plays and recitals, with a highly flammable hot flush inducing Primark Christmas Jumper which has become your reluctant December uniform.

All the while, you keep that smile, and remember to savour those bright believing eyes, before the magic dies.

Here’s to our forever babies, and the copious Prosecco deals, which somehow make this manic month entirely worthwhile.

 

 

 

Rainforest Cafe: Review

This weekend my Mum and I treated my eldest daughter to a big girls day in London. Darcie is 5 going on 15, so a show and lunch seemed fitting. I love London at this time of year and try and make a trip every Christmas time. The festive buzz, the lights, the window displays, random Christmas fairs- as an interloper from the sticks, what’s not to love?!


Rainforest Cafe

20 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7EU, Piccadilly Circus tube –  on the dark blue line!

I remember being taken here when I was little, and I have never forgotten it. So, off we toddled to see if the magic still existed 25 years later…

Rainforest Cafe has a great position right on on Sharftesbury Avenue, a stones throw from Piccadilly Circus. Leicester Square sits right behind it, and the famous Trocadero money pit is right next door: handy…!

What’s right with it:

  • The atmosphere. This place is jaw droppingly impressive. I have never been to a rainforest, but if I ever did, I’m pretty sure it would look just like this place. The walls and ceilings are alive with foliage and wildlife.

  • The animals. Meet the gang of actual sized Gorillas who come to life at random intervals, admire the huge elephants who twitch their ears, marvel at the massive Butterflies and Parrots suspended from the vines overhead, and if you really have your eyes peeled, you will spot a Cheetah catching some zzzz’s on a branch of a tree.

  • The waiting staff. This place runs like a well oiled machine, every member of staff seemed to know exactly what they are doing. We were asked if we had any allergies or if we were celebrating a birthday at the time of arrival. You are given a ‘passport’ with this info on it to pass over to your waiter. Our’s asked Darcie her name, and used it when speaking to her which was a really nice touch. It’s the first restaurant I have reviewed which has taken the trouble to do this. They were all super friendly and even the toddler projectile voming over his Dad and the floor didn’t phase them…
  • The Food. The children’s menu was a big thumbs up. There was plenty of choice, from pastas, burgers, and chicken, mostly with chips. Nothing ground breaking here, BUT it’s all stuff that kids tend to love. Rainforest’s Rascal Menu – £12.90 a main, desert & drink. OR upgrade to Total Kids Adventure Menu – £15.90. for an additional side and a super duper activity pack. We did this (I must have been feeling generous) But I must say the better activity pack was worth it. It came with stickers, a wallet, mask, puzzle book, pencil rubber ruler set and probably a few things I’ve forgotten about, all in a handy carry case.

img_9874

  • Adults Food: There was a wide rang of options, from Chinese noodles, to a huge rack of ribs, pastas, and burgers. It’s all clearly marked with allergy information. The food was pretty good, but its not the reason I would go back.
  • Entertainment. Apart from the obvious sights and sounds of the Rainforest, you are given a child menu with an activity sheet on the reverse. You can upgrade your child’s meal and have the Total Kids Adventure pack – as above.

  • Changing facilities & loos were spacious and I would have been happy to change my baby in there.
  • It’s FULL of kids. Every table has children, babies or toddlers on it.There were tantrums, squeals, laughter, stern “one more mouthful” and other go-to parenting phrases being banded about all over the place. Rest assured you can feel totally at ease here should your Treasure break into the mother of all tantrums. We are all in the club. We all understand.

What’s not so right

  • It’s FULL of kids. Tinder users take note: DO NOT go here on a first date. Or any date actually. Unless of course you want to be put off having a 2nd or 3rd date in fear of morphing into the 2.4 lifestyle sprawled out around you.
  • It’s pricey. I say this with slight trepidation; Considering it is London, and there is a real theatrical element attached to this dining experience I thought it was justifiable, as a one off. Our lunch for 3 was £75 without any booze.
  • You cannot book a table in advance from now until after Christmas without booking a trip to Santa’s Grotto as well, which is £45. It does include the standard 2 course children’s menu! As we didn’t visit I couldn’t say if this is good value for money or not.

Top tips!

  • Arrive early! If like us you haven’t booked in advance then arrive early. W arrived at 11.45, it doesn’t open until 12 noon, and were in a queue to be seated.
  • Watch out for the thunderstorm! It’s loud, and very realistic. Babies faces were a picture…
  • If it’s your birthday you will be given the royal treatment and invited to stand up on your chair while the restaurant serenade you!

Verdict

This is Child Friendly Dining at it’s peak. This place will capture even the biggest kid’s imagination and run a mile with it. It’s a must do – if you can. A definite treat, and if I’m anything to go by, the memory of your visit should last until your children have children. Now there’s a thought…

(Oh and here’s what went down later on that afternoon: Beverly Knight was on form, she is one fierce performer. Her standing ovation said it all.)

Top 5 places to visit Santa near Brighton & Win tickets!

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:

1) Drusillas Park

*Win a family ticket to Drusillas!*

Location: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS

Drusillas Park: family ticket givaway


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.

More information on the Christmas festivities

Book your tickets in advance to bag a better deal

2) Bluebell Railway

Location: The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL


Think, Thomas the Tank Engine – with class!! My toddler is train mad, and I think this is where we are going to go this year.

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?!

More information on meeting Santa on the Bluebell Railway

Book tickets 

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.

3) Tulley’s Farm 

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

More information on Christmas at Tulleys Farm 

Book your tickets and celebrate Christmas, Tulleys style!

4) Preston Manor, Brighton.

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.

More information on Preston Manor

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.

More information on Christmas at Spring Barn Farm

Book Tickets

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:

Drusillas Park: family ticket givaway

Witching hour: The Script

My sister rang me today.

She rang during witching hour.

I shouldnt have answered, I should have known better. But I momentarily forgot that I am an owner of 2 batshit crazy anti-humans come 6pm.

I thought I might share with you a snippet of the transcript from that call.

Me: *hurried voice* “Hello, hello”

Sister, “Oh hello dearest, how are you?”

Me, “Terrible, we’ve had The Nits. Darcie stop chasing her, you are NOT hunting.”

Sister, *laughs* “Is this a bad time?”

Darcie, “Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy Mummy”

Me, “God no, well yes. But there hasn’t been a good time in 5 years. Girls up the stairs now… go. Hang on. No, not you, you go up the stairs, keep going. All the way. Right, tell me about your promotion, I’m dying to hear.”

Sister, *hesitant* “Okaaaay, if you’re sure?”

Me, “I’m sure, quick. Tell me. Wow you did it in the potty! That’s amazing!

Sister “What?”

Me, “Sorry, Lila wee’d in the potty. We haven’t been promoting the potty at all! Well done. Yey. Mummy loves you. What a clever girl.”

Me to my sister – “It’s an effing miracle.”

Darcie, “what’s effing?”

Me, “oh shit”

*Holds phone between shoulder and ear, takes potty full of wee and disposes*

Sister, “Are you sure I shouldn’t call you back?”

Me, “No, tell me, tell me about the promotion now… Girls get into this bath”

Sister, “It was so unexpected, I’m now a Senior…”

*Deafening screams*

Me, “Stop the screaming, give her back her Guitar now. No? Not a guitar? Ummm (tries to pacify blood curdling screams, AND decipher a 2 yr olds diction) guitar… guitar… Car? CAR! Ok, give her back her car. It’s her car and she wants it now Darcie.”

Lila, “My pecial Gui-tar” (She has never seen this car before. Possible kinder toy reject from 1999 or shameful cracker ‘gift’, suddenly this pint sized piece of plastic crap gets the promotion of its life to Favourite-Toy status.)

Lila, “I hate you Dar”

*Dar sobs, not quietly.*

Sister, “Is X still in the hospital? Is everything resolved with the school-run police situation? Have the nits gone?”

Me, *Gulps wine* “Yes, yes and yes. I’m going to have to call you back before one of them drowns.”

Lila “Ha ha ha me do a poo poo”

Me, *head in hands*

This is actually my life. This perfectly sums up my life right now.

No swanky job for me. I am a toilet attendant, who specialises in high level negotiations. Occasionally I am promoted to launderette owner and chef, but let’s not get too carried away.

*Mutters, “I hate my life”*

*Realises I don’t hate my life. Feel instantly guilty for uttering those words*

*Turns on some calming music.*

“Mum, mum, MUM, what’s a Gansgta’s Paradise?”

 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 reasons why your child should join an after school club

I’ve linked up with a company called Izully  this week to raise awareness about keeping our kiddliwinks fit, healthy and active. Izully are an online platform where you can search after school clubs in your local neighbourhood, in the London area. Go and check them out if you live in the Capital!

After school clubs along with sports in general are a popular talking point in our house. My husband is a sports obsessive and also runs a tennis club, teaching lots of children for a living. However, our 5 year old is very anti after school activities. The roller disco on a Saturday evening is the only ‘sport’ that she has stuck too. Swimming, gymnastics, tennis, and dancing have all come and gone, money for classes and uniforms have slipped through our fingers.

However, I WILL NOT GIVE UP promoting different sports and clubs to Darcie. I will continue to offer and introduce her to every activity I can think of, and club I find. Because I think it’s important, so important to have the opportunity when you are young to discover another dimension to yourself. School is such a strict machine, curriculum is so tight, there is limited opportunity for our children to really spread their wings. It falls on us, the Mumas n Papas to open their eyes to the world of extra-curricular.

Here are my top 10 reasons why children should join an after school club:

  • Exercise. This is obvious I guess, but I was surprised to read that the recommended daily exercise for a child is an hour a day. Whilst the majority of schools can only manage to fit in 2 hours a week of physical activity.
  • Making friends! You can never have too many friends can you? Widening your child’s circle of friends can only be a positive, mixing with children who share the same interest in that chosen after school club, means finding common ground should be easy!
  • Discover new talents. Did you know your could do the splits? Did you know you could do a cart wheel? Paint an elephant? Sing a song on a stage? You won’t know until you try. Get them to try.
  • Improving a child’s ABC’s: Ability, balance and co-ordination. Never a bad thing.
  • Keeping them occupied for that ratty bit of the day; The part of the day where they are often irritable and whingy. Get them to that club and avoid an hours whinge-a-thon.
  • Release those endorphins. Exercise makes you feel good, it’s a fact.
  • Shake of excess energy. If school wasn’t enough to ware them out, then an hour of rugby or dancing will surely do the trick! Sweet dreams kiddos.
  • Maintaining a good level of fitness will help your child function better on a day to day basis. Keeping alert and ready to learn at school.
  • Another dimension. As a family you could begin to play this sport at the weekends together. It could be the start of a whole new way of life!
  • Achieving badges, grades and certificates. Taking part in recitals, matches and shows, all add to a child’s confidence. You CAN do it, you have done it. A big fat CONGRATULATIONS and a clap will bring the biggest of smiles to our munchkins. And a new found confidence in themselves.

 

So there you have it, 10 whole reasons to get researching on after school clubs today!Izully have written a great article asking ‘Are you are a pushy parent?’ Do have a read. They raise some really interesting points. (and yes, before you ask, I am guilty of this label!)

Mummuddlingthrough

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com