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10 Tips For Surviving Soft Play.

You either love them or you hate them. Soft play is a necessity for parents sometimes. However you can leave feeling even more stressed than when you went in. Here are 10 Tips for surviving soft play.

Picture it if you will…….

We are at grandmas for breakfast.

A cold and wet Saturday.  It’s rained on and off for a few days. The garden is wet and muddy and the kids have their cousin over.

Soft play

The men are doing some work in the garden so there are tools everywhere.

There’s Mud Everywhere

Mud is being trampled in and out and I don’t know how many times a child has come in hurt.

I suggest taking the big kids to soft play for a couple of hours to run off some energy.

So There I am. Sat with my cuppa. Watching all the kids gate crash the bouncy castle. The Bouncy Castle that has been paid for by the birthday party in the corner.

The birthday parade starts and the kids inevitably ask me if they can join in.

I need a plan.

A plan to survive this couple of hours of soft play chaos.

Tips for Surviving Soft Play

1. Take another grown up.

 Although the noise of 50 + kids may break the recommended noise levels that humans should endure taking another adult means at least you can try to catch up with some important gossip. Also they will be on hand if you need to nip one child to the toilet or change a baby.

2. Find a soft play with comfy corner.

 One of our local soft plays has a couple of sofas I try and get the sofa before anyone else. Then you can …

3. Enjoy a cuppa.

 While sat on your comfy sofa, drinking your hot cuppa you can at least pretend your at home. (I mean don’t go picking your nose or scratching your bum your still in public)

4. Take advantage of the fact someone else is going to cook dinner and clean up the mess.

 Some soft play food can be half decent, so let someone else do the hard work.

5. Juice jug.

 The best way to keep the kids hydrated is with a jug of juice. They are normally the same price as one of the bottles of juice yet they normally last 2 kids 3 top ups. Plus your being kinder to the environment by not having disposable bottles.

6. Take a magazine or a book

The kids will probably just go off and play so long as bellies are full and they have been watered. So take the opportunity to catch up on your important reading.

7. Go out of peak time

. Generally we only use soft play as a last resort. (Like most parents) Like when the weather is bad and there are no other plans. That said I sometimes use it as a treat. In that case I pick the quietest time usually after school hours when some soft plays will have a meal time deal. These are normally quieter times.

8. General hygiene & Antibacterial gel

 Kids carry germs fact! Make them wash their hands and use your antibac gel too. Especially before they have food along with before and after using the toilet

9. Don’t get into the “can I have just one penny”cycle

. Some soft plays. Ok most soft plays take advantage of stressed out parents by adding more ways to part them of their cash. They add dreaded grabber machines or those machines or toy vending machines. Those little suckers will be dotted around soft play with their bright lights. Enticing children promising them their dreams will come true and they will win some amazing prize for just £1. We got caught in the habit of letting the kids have just one “penny” too many times now we are trying to break the habit. Try not to get into the cycle. Stand your ground you can do it!

10. If you can’t beat them join them

Sometimes you just have to squeeze yourself into their world for a while.

I hope these tips help you survive your trip to soft play. If all else fails instead find a pub with a playground inside. Then at least there is gin to take the edge off!!

Nina x

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Autumn Half Term Bucket List

It’s that time again, The run up to another School Holiday. This year our Autumn half term has two weeks instead of just one so there are even more days to collect memories. As always in order to keep the weeks running smoothly I like to have some ideas of activities for our days together. That’s why writing an Autumn Half Term Bucket list is a must.

Autumn Half term Bucket List

So here goes for our 2019 Autumn bucket list

Go

Where will we venture out to this holiday? We don’t have any plans as such but I always like to add the seaside to my bucket list no matter what time of year. Its my favorite place to be is by the sea!

  • Seaside – A must on every bucket list
  • Pumpkin Picking Farm
  • Rufford Abbey & Park – There is a light show happening that looks really magical for all the kids.
  • Library- See read at the bottom of the post!

Watch

A trip to the cinema with the biggest twins is a must. We love these little trips its a chance for them to get a bit more time with me without the demands of the little twins. Though sometimes we also like to snuggle in the front room all together or head out to our very own cinema room for a movie afternoon.

  • Shaun The Sheep Farmageddon – Cinema Trip
  • Hotel Transylvania trilogy – We still haven’t seen the full set despite them being on our bucket list for years
  • Harry Potter – I really want to get the books for the kids for christmas but I think they are more likely to read them and follow them after seeing the films. Besides who doesn’t love Harry potter

Make

I was such a creative person in the past but I get so frustrated with myself when the things I try and create don’t turn out perfect. However with that in mind I do try to be a little creative during the half term with the big twins.

  • I’m Sure there will be some kind of creative homework challenge for the half term so this will be at the top of our list.
  • Mini Concrete Pumpkins – I’ve seen some made using tights and really thick concrete mix so thought I might give it a go!
  • Pinterest Is full of halloween crafts that will keep us going forever but I’m going to let the kids decide what they want to make.

Do

As a family with four kids having activities to do is a must some days. Don’t get me wrong simple family days are great too but if every day had no activities the “I’m bored” whines would soon get on your nerves.

  • Geocaching – Always on our activities list
  • Movie Afternoons – This is a given, October half term is when we start ticking off films on our christmas movie list
  • Trick Or Treating – Obviously I’m not going to get away with not going am I? I mean there is sweets to be had!
  • Mini Party – I like to give the kids a bit of a treat usually at the end of term but this year I think I’ll leave it until closer to halloween. I dont go over the top just a little buffet tea and a few decorations.

Read

I have been very lazy of late and i’ve not really read anything other than instagram posts and blogs. I’ve listened to the kids reading their school books but no where near often enough. So this half term I aim to sit and listen to them a little more as well as reading to them. I’d love to get them into some bigger books like Harry Potter and things. I’m thinking a trip to the library is in order.

I hope this gives you a little bit of inspiration for keeping everyone amoused during the half term break.

I’d love you to recommend me some halloween days out and some books to read with the kids that will keep them engaged.

Nina x

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10 Ways to improve my mental wellbeing – World mental health day. 2019

Its world mental health day once again. This time of year can be a huge trigger for my mental health to start taking a dip. I have in the past suffered with anxiety and depression and had a few more diagnoses thrown in to boot.

Mental health can affect anyone. From the young to the old! It can come in many different forms, anxiety, postnatal depression, post-traumatic stress, bipolar, schizophrenia and more.

Sometimes symptoms can be helped by doing little things each day to boost your mood. Sometime you may need a little more help from therapy or medication.

If you or anyone you know seems to be suffering from mental illness please contact your health provider. Do not sit in silence. Seek help!

10 ways To help when your mood drops or anxiety creeps in.

  1. Eating healthy. Eating a healthy diet gives you essential nutrients that can, in turn, make your body produce chemicals that improve mood.
  2. Art. It has been proved that art & craft has beneficial impacts on your mental health. Activities such as painting, knitting, pottery where you can immerse yourself in the activity is a bit like being in a meditative state.
  3. Exercise. We all know by now that exercise is an essential part of everyday life that we should be participating in. However, still, not enough people are doing the recommended amount per week. However, even just a 10 min brisk walk outside can improve your mood. The vitamin D from the sun even in a winter, the fresh air into your lungs and the fact that you are moving creates chemicals that boost mood.
  4. Yoga. I’ve put this separate to exercise just because it encompasses more than just exercise. The stretching, the controlled breathing and the movement all help with getting you on the right track to a positive wellbeing.
  5. Gratitude lists.  we did start writing 3 things we were grateful for each day and share it between myself hubby and stepson, lately though we haven’t been doing it. You could put them in a journal, or write each one on a piece of paper and put it in a jar.
  6. Declutter – A cluttered home creates a cluttered mind. If there are things piling up around you it doesn’t create a calm space for your mind to relax!
  7. Be in the moment – Take a moment to be here and now. use your senses to really feel present. smell the coffee your drinking, taste your lunch rather than just gulping it down out of necessity, get down and play with your kids the way they do!
  8. Let it out – If you need to cry, cry – stick on a weepy movie grab some tissues and have a good sob!
  9. Talk – Grab a cuppa with a friend and tell them how your feeling, or seek out a counsellor who will not pass judgement and tell them whats bothering you. Sometimes when you talk about things they don’t seem as bad as they did in your head.
  10. Get enough sleep – Sleep is so important for our mental state of mind! We should aim for 7 -8 hours a night. Sleep gives our brains time to process information that it has been given through the day. sleeping can help aid recovery of traumatic events.

 

It’s so important to seek help if low mood turns into something more. Please reach out to someone your trust. A Dr, a friend or a family member.

Remember it is ok not to feel ok.

Nina

If you need help.

Urgent help always ring 999

Samaritans

Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.samaritans.org

Confidential emotional support for anyone who may be feeling distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write, or in most cases talk to someone face to face.

Mind Infoline

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday) or text 86463
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines

Mind provides confidential mental health information services.

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Summer Road Trip – Motorhome Hire From Just Go – Review #AD

We are always on the look out for a new adventure. This summer was no different. That’s why we took a road trip to explore Devon and Cornwall in a motorhome. Find out more about Our motorhome hire from Just Go.

Just Go Motorhome Hire review

Motorhome Hire From Just Go.

The process of booking was so easy using the online search. Just simply fill in the dates you want and how many adults and children you have. There are two pick up points one is Luton and one is Edinburgh. You can then add optional extras to your booking. We didn’t really chose any extras.

Once you get to the payment page you can just pay a deposit for you holiday. Ideal if you are booking for Summer 2020 like we will be doing with our loyalty discount. The discount is given to you when you drop off your motorhome after your hire.

Communication

Prior to our hire I realised that I had double booked for the first few days of our booking. I emailed customer services and they were happy to postpone our collection date for a couple of days later and adjust the balance owing accordingly.

Getting On The Road

Before the trip you are asked to check in and add your driving licence and passport details as well as anything else you need like eu driving permits etc. Once this is done the picking up of your hire vehicle is so much quicker on the day.

You are given a tour of you holiday home on wheels and once the refundable damage deposit is paid you are off.

We got ourselves on the road to our first stop off.

Driving the Motorhome was a little scary at first but once you get used to the size it’s really nice to drive.

Chris actually took over all of the driving as he used to drive large vans as a teen.

The drive itself was really comfortable up front there are arm rests and plenty of leg room and in the back the kids all sat around the table. There are 6 belted seats in the model we chose. Which is rare in a motorhome that can be driven on a normal licence.

Wide Load Coming Through

We had already booked sites for most of our motorhome hire and I had done lots of planning of day trips however there were still a few changes we made along the way. Driving and more to the point parking a vehicle the size we had can be a challenge. Low bridges, narrow roads and carparks that only open to motorhomes during set times have to be taken into consideration.

Google Street view can be your friend on a trip like this as well as using common sense. We did have a few moments where we would shout at our satnav (even the one specifically for motorhomes.) It tried to send us down roads that to be honest a bigger than average car would struggle with.

You also need to be prepared to use public transport and or do a lot of walking. We found that most town or village centres in Cornwall were a little on the narrow side. However most had large out of town car parks that more than accommodated for motorhomes.

Time For Bed!

The layout of our Motorhome meant that the big twins shared the double bed above the cab while the little twins shared the bunk in the rear. This left the top bunk for me and chris or the table. The top bunk was ample big enough for myself and Chirs. We would be moving each day so it made sense to not use the table. It meant we didn’t have to dismantle the bed every morning.

Bedding isn’t included in the price of hire but can be added as an extra. The big twins took their sleeping bags. The little two took their own little duvets and pillows and we opted to add extra double set for us. When you do this you also get a couple of towels too.

Mum I’m hungry

We decided on simple meals as with limited space cooking a roast dinner for 6 wasn’t really an option. Even cooking a pizza was a challenge I had to cut them in half to get them on the baking tray. There is a toaster, stovetop kettle oven and Three Rings though. So cooking bacon buttues or beans on toast is ideal. Though there is limited storage for food there is a massive fridge with freezer box for storing those all important icecreams for the kids.

Would We DO It Again?

There were times that we (I) felt a little overwhelmed by being in each other pockets so to speak. Kids that dont know whisper or “forget” to pick up toys can be challenging in a confined space. On the other hand “Camp’ life gave us some amazing memories.

Pulling up to beach side car parks letting the kids have a splash around the rock pools before heading back to a hot chocolate or a warming pie and gravy. Right there at the beach.

Sticking up a portable screen on the side of the motorhome and watching a movie. Which did make us a couple of friends on occasions.

Making friends on camp and being able to let the kids go off to the park on their own.

You dont have the worry of towing and I wouldn’t be able to tow a caravan big enough for us all anyway as I dont have a licence for it. You can drive this motorhome on a normal Category B Licence.

Being in the Motorhome meant we could go out for the day yet didn’t have to buy expensive meals out or have to drive anywhere for lunch, and nap time. We could simply make lunch in the motorhome and then they could nap in bed. The big twins would use this time as they do at home to play minecraft together while me and Chris had a cuppa and did a little work or some reading.

I would so love to do this again. The freedom of booking into a different site every couple of nights or so is great for exploring a large area like Devon and Cornwall. Infact I’m already planning our next road trip already. Where to next year? Scotland or Wales?

Just Go Anywhere

We booked our Motorhome hire from the lovely people at Just Go. We paid for our hire ourselves however in return for a few posts and review they kindly gifted us our second driver for free. Which means both myself and Chris got the pleasure of driving our home on wheels through the stunning Cornwall countryside. 

There is often offers on their website and securing your hire is so easy with a small deposit. So your next adventure could also be a road trip similar to ours. There are Motorhomes from 2 berths right up to 6 berth like ours.

I hope this is helpful if you are looking at booking your next adventure if you need to know anymore head over to the Just Go Website or send me a message and I will try and answer the best I can.

Nina, Chris & The Kids

All thoughts are our own and we only work with brands and companies that are a fit with our family and lifestyle.

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Happy new (School) Year Goals & Plans for Autumn/ Winter 2019

As more and more children head back to school for the new school year it becomes apparent to me that for most parents or teachers September and the start of a new school year is actually more of a new start than the actual new year in January. I feel exactly the same way.

So what does this new start New school year hold for the The Spencers?

During the Summer I love to sit down on a naptime (or quite time for the big twins) with a notepad and plan the rest of the year. This year most of the planning was done while quiet time happened on our road trip.

Holidays & Outings

Holidays

One big adventure we have planned is mine and chris’s 10th wedding anniversary trip. I’m excited and anxious to be leaving the kids at home for a week in December. They will be staying with the grandparents during our trip while we head to New York. I have wanted to go to New York for most of my adult life I really want to see the famous Rockefeller christmas tree and witness winter in the city.

Every year at new year we usually head off to Lanzarote to celebrate there and I hoping to take this trip again but we will need to see if we can get some cheap flights as at the moment they are just so expensive.

Theatre

Chris and I also have a few lone theatre trips booked in. This month is Brydon, Mack and Mitchell at Sheffield which I hope will be a hilarious date night out. Later in the year is The Entertainer which stars Shane Richie. I have no Idea what this is going to be like but as a fan of Shane I think it will be a hit. I also have a trip with girlfriends to see the emotional rollercoaster that is The Girls. It will be my 4th time seeing this musical. Each time there has been slight changes and updates to the performances. With Gary Barlow being the co writer and producer though I’m sure it will still tell the amazing story of those brave Women’s Institute girls the best it can.

Memory Making

After our road trip we made a plan to spend as much time as we can outdoors and doing the things that fill our memory banks. Both for me and Chris and the kids. One of the things that we really loved on our trip was pulling up at the beach and jumping in the rock pools then heading back to the motorhome for a hot chocolate. So we are now on a mission to find a beachside carpark that we can pull into thats not too far from home.

During the colder months our van side cinema nights will be replaced by movie nights in our cinema room. Toasting marshmallows and BBQ’s will turn into Hot chocolates and Autumn snack platters in the living room surrounded by blankets and cushions.

Fitness

I have decided that I need to do something a little more than just trying to eat healthy. So as of this week I will be joining Slimming World in the hope that it will support me to eat better and lose a bit of weight. Alongside this I hope to get back into my 20 min walk a day and swimming 3 times a week. When the summer holidays descend I struggle to find the time to head out and never feel motivated enough to exercise at home. That said we did lots of walking while we were on our trip which I really enjoyed When i didn’t have a toddler to carry!

Simplify and Organization

These dont necessarily go hand in hand however I believe from simplifying routines and belongings you can feel more organised.

I have talked and talked about decluttering spaces within our house but nothing ever seems to stay that way. Drastic change within the house needs to happen for it to start making an impact.

Pantry

There are three main areas that I want to declutter and organise The first being the Pantry. The big twins are now in year three which means that school dinners now have to be paid for. Luckily they have asked for packed lunches. By creating a better organised pantry I am hoping the kids will be able to help with making their own lunches.

Office

Next up is My office / Workshop space. I really want to get this up and running this winter. At the moment this space is used for storing rubbish and garden items again there are things in there that need to be decluttered , Old paperwork that can be shredded, toys that can be given to charity, garden equipment that needs a better home. This project is quite a big one really involving replastering, rewiring and a patio door fitting in the long term. For now though I just want to concentrate on getting it empty and usable for the short term.

Toys

Finally Toys. We have an abundance of toys that rarely get played with. There are four children in the house and often that means four or at least two of most things. While we were away the kids made things from stones to play with. They actually played with their toys, They played together most of the time too. I believe the more toys they have the less they play as they feel overwhelmed by choice. There is more I want to talk about on this so at a later date I will post a seperate post about my great Toy Cull.

Work

At the moment and for the foreseeable future there is no way I could go out and get a job. The child care would be astronomical.

Blogging

So blogging is what I have been focusing on to try and make me a bit of an income. I have recently been think about other forms of income too Something I can do from home.

Social Media Management

One thing is to offer out my social media management skills to local businesses. This is something I need to work on and I would like to take a couple of courses to ensure I can offer the best service.

Public Speaking

To accompany my “Online Life” I have started on a public speaking journey too. I have only given the one talk so far but I have another written up for a keynote at a blogging event in November. I also Need to write up something for the Nottinghamshire Women’s Institute to offer my Social media talk out.

Creating

Another thing I wouldn’t mind doing is creating. Before we had kids we made concrete garden ornaments. I loved painting them up for customers. I need to look into what I could make to sell. My dad has a retail yard so could easily sell a few bits through his yard. which I why I need to declutter the office/ Workshop.

Who else thinks back to school feels like a new start? What’s on your to do list for Autumn Winter?

Nina x

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