Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Why im taking my child on a term time holiday.

Not many of you will have missed the whole term time holiday saga that has been plastered across the press lately, what with the Jon Platt case coming to a conclusion recently. However amongst a lot of parents, teachers and non parents this is still a huge debate.

Is it right to take your child out school for a holiday during term time?

For me there are a number of factors to consider, and there should be no cut and paste rule for all. Previous attendance should be a big part of that decision and how each child is coping at school and whether they are reaching expected levels at the time another.
I feel that head teachers should be given back some of that power to be able to assess each child as a individual and then decide themselves as to whether holiday should be granted. Not a government or council systems with fining parents at the front of their minds making the decisions.

This year I will be taking James out of school for a term time holiday and do I feel guilty... nope not one bit. I'm prepared for a fine if that does happen (and quite frankly a £60 fine doesn't seem half as bad as some of the holiday company price hikes for school holiday breaks!) but that's another rant all together!.

We will be going on a holiday that quite frankly I couldn't afford to do in school holidays, we will be doing it as a family and spending some quality family time together away from work, school and everything else that comes with our hectic daily routines. We will be exploring, learning and going on adventures. We will see things we can't see in our home town and learn things he can't find sat behind a desk. James will spend time learning about nature, climbing, swimming and being in a new environment where the opportunity to learn about things not taught in school will be plenty. At the end of our holiday I will be the parent there to help him catch up and I have already asked for work sheets which the school have happily provided so he won't be behind when he gets back!

Learning comes in all different forms any teacher can tell you that, some children thrive working in a  notebook whilst others need a more hands on experience. Of course I don't expect my child's teacher to be able to offer so many experiences and cater to ever childs individual needs. She works her very best to keep a class of 30 (very different) children happy, learning and educated within the school setting. However I also don't expect to be told no when I am able to offer these things for my own child!

James has a perfect attendance record, he is learning above the expected standard for all subjects and a super confident reader. Of course I have school to thank for that but (without blowing my own trumpet) I would like to think that some of that also came from me, his parent. The person who reads with him every night, the person who practises his spelling with him every week, the person who helps him complete homework sheets and times tables. The person who makes decisions based on the well being and the best choices for my son since the day he was born!

I'm the parent who taught him to count, to draw, to speak and even walk before he even bag school. I would like to think the government might want to give me a little credit that I am able to make the best choices for my child when it comes to taking him on holiday. This system in my mind is flawed it is stopping families from going on holiday, spending time together to bond away from day to day worries. It is forcing families in to a situation where they have to stress over a decision that should ultimately be theirs to make anyway.

I would just like to point out that in no way am I saying that we should just be able to pull our children out of school when we fancy all year round. I can see how disruptive this would be and how this could begin to effect a child's work. As I mentioned above there are several factors that need to be considered but the power definitely need to be shifted back to teachers, head teachers and parents the people who are teaching these children, parenting these children and want the best for them!

How do you feel about term time holidays? Would you ever take your child out of school for a holiday during term time?


Monday, 27 March 2017

Sleep Tight All Night sleeping aid **REVIEW**

Did you know that March is National Bed Month? Sounds great right but as parents most of us will agree that at some point or another bed times have been hard with out little ones!

Evelyn has never really slept well, in fact we thought to ourselves that things would get better as she older we couldn't have been more wrong! Evelyn likes to fight bedtime and still at almost 3 wakes in the night which can be difficult and tiring for us all.

When we were recently asked if we would like to try out the Sleep Tight All Night sleep aid and I knew it had to be worth a try.

The sleep tight all night is a 4 in 1 sleep aid concealed within a super cute cuddly companion. It uses soothing music and a light system to not only help your child drift off to sleep but to stay in bed until morning time. It offers a unique sleep aid system that has been based on scientific studies relating to the colours associated with inhibiting and encouraging sleep. That's not all though as this cuddly companion can be switched in to day time mode, complete with chirpy upbeat phrases to engage with your child in the day time.

You set the timings for these lights yourself with the easy to use buttons attached to the light module. You simply select how long you would like your child to sleep (anywhere between 30 minutes and 12 hours) and what sounds you would like if any. You can then push the button to the lock symbol and this will lock all your choices in place meaning they can't be moved or changed regardless of how wriggly your child is in bed!

Evelyn was delighted when she realised her new bedtime companion was a cuddly unicorn and I have to admit even I was taken by just how soft it was. For the first couple of uses it was more of a novelty and it did take a few nights for her to realise what the red and green lights meant but once she had the hang of it she was even telling her big brother when it was time to get up.

This  hasn't really stopped her night waking's but it has helped her settle back much quicker when she has woken which really is the purpose of this sleep aid. The music you can set is really soothing (falling raindrops, soothing surf, gentle heartbeat, whispering waterfall and comforting crickets) and having the soft glowing light as she settled back off definitely helped for her. She has also started saying "its morning my unicorn is green, can I get up?" in the mornings which is pretty cute and means she has started to gather what the lights mean which is great and has stopped her climbing of bed at 5am!

I also really like the fact you can set the timings on this in 30 minute increments as it makes it perfect for not only bedtime but nap time too!

These are aimed at children aged 12 months +, Evelyn is 2 (almost 3) and it has been perfect for her. Its definitely something I can see her using for some years to come too. If you have slightly older children then watch out for the new sleep tight all night characters coming in Autumn time which include Batman and a Dinosaur!

You can find the full range of sleep tight all night bedtime companions via the Golden Bear website. Be sure to let me know which is your favourite!


**We received the sleep tight all night unicorn free to enable us to write this review. All opinions, thoughts and photos are my own.**

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Whatever your choices parenting is hard!

Every day there seems to be a new debate when it comes to pregnancy, new mums and babies. The formula/breast, cloth/disposable nappies and even vaginal/ caesarean births seem to be up for debate but why as parents do we want to judge other parents for their choices?. After all we are all parents and all fully aware of just how hard parenting is regardless of our choices.

There are pro's and con's to all choices we are given to make when it comes to our babies and raising them. Some are medical, some are personal and some choices are taken out of our hands for various reasons. So why when it comes to making our choices do we fear being judged and by the people we hope would understand.. other parents!

When we make choices for our children we all think them through, we choose them because we genuinely feel this will be the best option for us. Its not like we just flip a coin and hope for the best, pushing through even if something isn't working. Of course not we all want the best for our children and what works for some may not work for others, that doesn't mean its wrong.

There have been so many times as a parent where I have felt the need to justify my choices only to kick myself later in the day for feeling this way. I am the parent and my children are happy (mostly aside from tantrums!), healthy and active. Yes my youngest doesn't sleep through the night, it would appear she is some sort of nocturnal creature who enjoys keeping us awake lol! But I don't think that changes any of my choices would have made the slightest bit of difference.

We see pictures just like the one above over social media and we are quick to assume that these other parents have it "easy" or that there children couldn't possibly misbehave. Of course deep down we all know that's not true! In fact in the picture above this was a moment captured from a hard day. There had been tantrums, screaming, refusing to walk and both of them ate way too much sand that day. But in this photo we are smiling, we are happy and we are family just like you who have our ups, our downs and most definitely out fair share of tantrums and wrong decisions but ultimately it doesn't matter because we have each other and we get by.

In 20 years time when our children are all grown, becoming adults and maybe even thinking about a family themselves. They won't look back and remember what milk they drank or what nappies they wore. They will remember the love we gave, the hugs they had and hopefully the support we as parents can offer in supporting their choices. No judgement, no criticism and no doubt that they will do their best just like you did with them.

So come on mums, dads, parents, carers new mums or mums who's children are grown lets stop judging each other and be proud of the choices we made for our children what ever they may be. We don't need slogans or riddles to tell us what way is best to feed our children or how to raise them we just need to support each other, parenting is hard enough without doubting ourselves too.


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Diono HIP highback booster seat **REVIEW**

You may have heard lots of news about the new car seat laws coming in to force on 1st March 2017, if not then here is what you need to know -

As of 1st March 2017 the new regulations will mean manufacturers will no longer be able to make booster seats for smaller children, only the backless boosters for kids over 125cm tall. This however only applies to new purchases of car seats and booster seats and if you are already using a backless booster you are able to continue to use this.

However it has been proven time and time again just how much safer a highback booster can be for your child and for us its really not worth the risk. As a mum of 2 I am fully aware just how expensive car seats are and so today I wanted to show you a car seat that complies with all the new regulations and is really reasonably priced too!

Here is the new car seat from Diono the HIP highback booster seat suitable for children aged 4-12 years with a weight range of 15-36kg and up to 160cm in height (classed as a Group 2/3 car seat).

We love this seat and James and remarked on just how much comfier it is compared to his last high back booster, which no doubt is down to the extra padding in the HIP seat.

The new HIP highback booster from Diono incorporates full body side impact protection and reinforced head support with 6 height positions that can be easily adjusted with one hand making the seat so safe meaning you can drive safe in the knowledge your little ones are suitably protected.
The deep side wings and double wall head support make the HIP highback not only really comfortable but durable, strong and safe too. 

One of the first things I noticed about the HIP was how lightweight it was, a big bonus if you will be using the seat between more than one car or need to travel with it. But just because the seat is light weight doesn't meant style has been compromised. The seat looks stylish with a black colour scheme with grey feautres including not 1 but 2 handy cup/snack holders on either side of the seat. The headrest on the HIP is also adjustable with 6 positions meaning safety and comfort whatever your child's height!

If there was one little thing I had to pick out about this seat it would be that the seat cover seems to have started bobbling quite quickly. James has been using the seat for just over a week for the school runs and general wear and some areas of the fabric have begun bobbling. This of course does not effect the use of the car seat and is purely a cosmetic observation.

The covers on the HIP high back booster are completely removable which anyone with kids will know is super important! The covers are easy to remove and reapply making it a really quick and easy job.

The Diono HIP Highback booster seat is priced at £40 which in my opinion is a fantastic price and if you are currently using a backless booster or are just about to move up to this size/group car seat it really is worth a look. If you want to take a closer look at this seat check out the Diono website.


Monday, 27 February 2017

Fred's Box **REVIEW**

Just like lots of kids his age James is obsessed with LEGO. Honestly his bedroom looks like it could slot nicely alongside a display at LEGOLAND and not look out of place! Of course of all the LEGO James has his favourite bit and that has to be the characters and mini figures! He spends ages arranging them on his bedside table and its this first thing he builds when he gets a new set! So when I recently came across Fred's box I just knew he would love it!

Fred's Box is a subscription service that sends a set of mini figures that are compatible with lots of other brick brands through your letter box each month depending on your subscription. Each month your Fed's Box will have a theme, this month was Minecraft for our box! You can even add a greetings card to your Fred's Box for an extra £2 which is great if you are choosing this as a one off gift.

We received the Medium box which contains 6 mini figures and this months theme was Minecraft. As you can see there is so much detail that has gone in to each and every mini figure. Each figure also came with an accessory too which was a lovely added touch.

All mini figures are compatible with LEGO and other brick building brands so you be rest assured they can be added to your existing collecting if you wish.

Ordering your box couldn't be easier! You simply select the box size you want, select whether the box will be for a boy, girl or if you would like it to be unisex. At this point you also choose your subscription length and are given the option to add a greetings card. That's it, one you have ordered and paid for your Fred's Box just sit back and wait for it to land or your doorstep.

Boxes will arrive between the 20th and 25th of every month (or within a week of ordering if you have ordered a one off box) and all box prices include free postage. A big bonus for us is that the Fred's Box fits easily through the letter box so you don't need to worry about waiting in for it or missing it (great when you seem to be in and out of the house for school runs!!).

With so many characters available and more new ones being added all the time, its very unlikely you would be receiving the same characters over again so its always a fun exciting surprise when your Freds Box lands of your doorstep.

Is Fred's Box something you think your child would like? Or perhaps you know a grown up who would love a subscription to maybe collect these great figures? If so why not pop over the the Fred's Box website and check out all the subscriptions available and order your very own Fred's Box.


**We received a Freds box for free for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.**

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Itty Bittys **REVIEW**

They started by sweeping across America and Canada, and since being introduced in the UK last year Ittys Bittys have been a bit hit with kids and adults alike, filling homes, toys boxes and mantle pieces. But just what are Itty Bittys you may be asking, well read on.

Itty Bittys were first created by Hallmark in 2015 and having being a huge success in America and Canada they came over to the UK in October 2016, causing a stir from the moment they hit the shelves and its clear to see why.

The cute and loveable characters are just like their life size counterparts but in miniature cuddly form. There are no lights, voices, batteries or parts to worry about and no gimmicks or fiddly instructions just great quality collectables that are oh so cute!

These mini cuddly companions stand at 5 inches tall and come in a whole range of recognisable characters. Itty Bittys come in a range of collections, the collections currently available here in the UK are - Star Wars, Marvel, Wizard of OZ, DC Comics, Scooby Doo and even Snoopy and Peanuts.

James chose The Hulk, Iron Man, The Flash and Captain America and I know these won't be the last of his collection as he is already talking about what other characters he would like.

Ittys Bittys make great pocket money toys too, especially if your child likes collecting things. Priced at just £6 each they are, I think a reasonable price and something a child could quite easily save up pocket money for.

If there was one thing I would like to have seen would be a little loop or hook on the back to maybe attach a keyring or clip. James would have loved to have attached one to his school book bag or backpack but as there is nothing to do this with he was unable to do so. This however doesn't effect his love for his new Itty Bittys and they take pride of place on his pillow.

If you want to check out the full range of Itty Bittys you can check them out via the Itty Bittys website.

Which character would you or your little one love to own?


**We received 4 Itty Bittys (pictured above) for free for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.**

Monday, 13 February 2017

Learning at home with Reading Eggs **REVIEW**

When we were recently offered the opportunity to try out Reading Eggs I was thrilled and knew it would be something that I though could really help James.

James adores reading and learning and I knew that combining this with a program he could use from the laptop or his tablet was sure winner and I wasn't wrong!

Reading eggs is a multi-award winning early learning resource that supports your child’s learn to read journey with carefully designed online reading games and activities that are easy to follow, self-paced, and highly engaging for young children.

"Children love the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivate children to keep exploring and learning."

At the beginning of your Reading Eggs journey you child will have the opportunity to take a "test". I say test but it really is light hearted and a simple choose and click series of questions that James had lots of fun doing. This enables reading eggs program to start your child at the correct level dependant on their previous knowledge. I love this aspect and I was so pleased to know that James was starting at the right level rather than wasting his time on lower levels he may have already covered at school.

Reading Eggs has lots of different activities such as the one above. There are also lessons where they children can listen to sounds/words and answer questions and even a section where your child can choose books to read. This bit has been a favourite for James as he can opt to either read the books himself or have the program read them to him! Throughout all lessons and activities children can earn "reading eggs" which they can save up to use on their profile and for various things throughout.

As well as the Reading Eggs program you can also choose to sign up for a membership to Mathseeds which I found a lovely addition that worked great alongside Reading Eggs! Mathseed's is aimed at teaching children aged 3-8 the core maths and problem solving skills needed for school with fun, highly interactive and rewarding lessons. Again on the there is a quiz/test your child can take at the beginning, ensuring they start at the correct level.

As a parent I am a huge fan of Reading Eggs and wish I had found it sooner! I love the concept and set up of the website making it easy for both parents and children to navigate. I really like that Reading Eggs allows me to keep track of how James is getting on too with a screen which shows me what he has been doing and how he has got on.

From a child's perspective James has said that he loves using Reading Eggs (I can confirm he is always asking to go on it!). Its interactive and fun enough to keep him entertained and engaged but is still teaching him in a way he can understand and take on board. James has always been pretty good at reading but using reading eggs has really boosted his confidence. Mathseeds has also been amazing for James as maths is something he has struggled with at school. Even his teacher commented on how much more confident putting his hand up to answer recently so this has to be a good sign!

So you may be wondering how much its going to cost to have all this at your fingertips? Its actually so reasonably priced I couldn't believe it either! A yearly subscription to reading eggs (including Mathseeds) is just £47.95 a month, that's less than £4 a month! You can also purchase Reading eggs and Mathseeds separately if you wish to (Reading eggs £39.95 a year and Mathseeds £29.95 a year) but it definitely works out much better value to purchase the combined membership.

Have you tried reading eggs or do you think this could be something your child could benefit from? Well if you head over the Reading Eggs website you can actually start a 4 week free trial so you can see just how great Reading Eggs is for yourself before committing to a subscription! You can find the website here - readingeggs.co.uk.


**I was not paid for this post. I received a yearly subscription to reading eggs to enable me to write this review. All words and opinions are my own.**