Casdon Kenwood Mixer

My boys have always loved imaginary play, especially baking and cafes. We have wooden food you can dice, plastic veg, wooden pull-apart meats, teapots, coffee machines, tea sets, a cash register, pretty much anything you can imagine would be needed for role-play we have it! We even have a little wooden macaron and fresh cream cake set, which my 5yo loves to pretend to make and then sell at his cafe.

We used to have a plastic mixer which was well loved, so much so that it only lasted about 10 weeks until it broke at the hands of my 5yo, so we were so excited to find this new Casdon Kenwood Mixer!

The mixer is so realistic, and promotes imaginary play as well as hand-eye co-ordination, social skills, and also problem solving. It’s been a big hit here in our hoouse. This mixer features  two speed settings, a whisk beater, a spatula, and a recipe book. The mixer can also be either hand or battery operated, which adds another dimension to the mixer.

The mixer is £22.99, and in my opinion is very worth it. It’s easy to use and is easy for the kids to change the whisk over too. It’s very robust, and also looks so realistic. Both of my boys love it, and I think they will for quite a long time too.

Happy (fake) baking kiddies!

Disney Crossy Road Review

We are huge fans of Disney in our house both online, in movies, on TV, on our tablets, and also for toys, so we always get excited about new additions; and Disney Crossy Road is one of them! They have just released pixelated minifigures and pixelated plushes to coincide with their very popular app Crossy Road.

Each character comes with a unique rarity status; rare, epic, secret, legendary, limited edition! There are over 40 characters to collect which include Mickey, Toy Story, Big Hero 6 and Lion King. They are great collecting-fun for all of the family, not just the children!

My five year old loves his new Buzz plush! Buzz is £9.99 and makes the perfect bedtime companion or travel partner.

We’ve also loved the Crossy Road pixelated minifigures. You can buy them in either small mystery boxes for £2.99, or in packs of 4 for £9.99.

My boys had lots of fun with their minifigures.

The Disney Crossy Road collection is available online, and also from Tesco, Asda, Toyrs R Us, Smyths, and Argos.

And if your kids love watching other people open toys and surpise eggs etc, then there are also some great unboxing videos over on Moose Toys, which my boys also enjoyed too!

Happy collecting!

 

 

 

Schleich Wildlife New Forest Playsets

My five year old is a big lover of animals, and animal toys, so it goes without saying that he is a huge fan of Schleich products. I must admit, so am I, their quality always astounds me. Last week we discovered that Schleich had bought out a new range of play sets, so we thought we would road test one of them; The European Forest Dweller Play Set.

It consisted of a wild boar, a red deer, and a fox. They all live in the forests of Europe. My five year old loved them, and of course the animals ended up having a fight! Of course!

These animals have been subjected to an awful lot so far here with us; Show & Tell at school, Scooby Doo adventures, sandpit adventures, and have travelled a lot of places with us. They are definitely a big hit. These animals are aimed at 3-6 years and cost £13.99.

If the forest play set isn’t your kind of thing don’t fret, there are many more sets to choose from. They have three categories of play sets; Wild Life, Farm World, and Eldrador. The first two are pretty self explanatory really, but Eldrador…it’s dragons! (This set is aimed a little higher in age range at 5-8 year olds). Prices range from £9.99 through to £14.99.

If you haven’t given Schleich a try yet you most definitely should, you won’t be disappointed!

Scooby Doo Mystery Minis Range

We are huge fans of Scooby Doo here! Both of my boys love it. We watch it, we read it, we play it! We’ve even had a Scooby Doo themed party which I’m sure you saw in October last year over on my Instagram! We have a lot of Scooby Doo toys, one of our favourites is the Scooby Doo Mystery Of The Frighthouse Playset. It’s fab!

My boys love creating their own adventures, and the Scooby Doo Mystery Minis range has further added to their Scooby fun! There are some really cool monster-catching vehicles in this range, which come with a 2.5″ action figure included. There are three different ones to choose from; Monster Trawler, Monster Catcher, and Monster Motorbike (all including a figure). We have the Monster Catcher with Fred. These are £9.99 and well worth the purchase!

We had a lot of fun using it with the Fright House set we have!

We have lots of the 5″ figures, probably more than we should have, but we have a whole lot of love for Scooby Doo and friends (& villains),  so we were really excited when Scooby Doo Mystery Minis Figures came out. They sell them in packs of two for £4.99. My boys loved them! There are six different packs to collect and they include the Mystery Crew and a selection of villains.

We paired our Minis with our playset again, it kept them occupied for hours, and they actually shared!

There are so many great items within the Scooby Doo range from Character; stackable soft toys, goo pod figures, playsets, and so many more.  Go and have a look!

Scooby FTW here!

 

 

Rubbish Advice For Parents

When you become a parent you, unwillingly, attract the opinion of everybody you meet. Some people mean well, and others most definitely do not. You get advice during pregnancy, during the newborn weeks, during the terrible two’s, potty training advice, sleep advice, diet advice, school advice, advice about absolutely everything, and it drives you absolutely out of your mind!

Here is some of that advice I received during the first two years and what I thought about it…

“Get all the sleep you can before they arrive!”

Sleep?!? What is sleep? You lie down you have heart burn. You stand up you need a wee. You lie down and baby wakes up, with hiccups. You can’t lie on your side because it makes your hips hurt, you can’t lie on your back because you’ve heard it’s bad for the baby, you obviously can’t lie on your front because it is physically impossible 8 months pregnant. A pillow in between your legs is good, for 5 minutes, and then it’s back to aggravation about not being tired anymore, yet you’re exhausted. You take another swig of indigestion liquid and try again. Repeat all night long, every night. You try and nap in the day but the postman always knocks the door, or somebody visits, or you need to do the housework, or the thought of the ironing pile is making you have palpitations, and before you know it the day has gone and you didn’t catch up on any of this sleep you’re supposed to take advantage of when your baby is still in your belly.

Don’t let them them sleep in your bed, you’ll make a rod for your own back!”

What is this rod? Would it make a good pole to hang off and get some sleep because if it would then chances are a rod on my own back is just what I need. We all have different children, my first needed to sleep with momma, and my second needed his own space, and I obliged to both! Why you may ask? Because what it all boiled down to was I NEEDED SLEEP, and I didnt care how it came, I just needed it. So, unless you’re in my house babysitting at midnight and 1am and 2amm and 3am and 4am mind your own business about that rod on my back!

“Breastfeeding is better for your baby”

Breast is great, bottle is great, both ere food for my baby, and I’ll decide which is better for us both. I can’t even look at my nipples right now let alone imagine something using them to get their grub four hundred times a day, so don’t booby judge me!

“Let them cry it out!”

I tried this once, for 30 minutes, and I ended up crying worse than my baby, and I have never to this day done it again, I just cannot condition my child into knowing that if they cry it is useless because I wont come back until it’s morning. This is my choice, you have your own choices.

“Sleep when baby sleeps!”

Here’s a joke for you – Sleep…you don’t get it? Neither do I!

Six years on and I am still exhausted. Sleep when baby sleeps, say what?! So we better clean when baby cleans, and iron when baby irons, and food shop when baby food shops, and dust when baby dusts, and empty the trash when the baby empties the trash right? Just forget about sleep, at least for the first few years anyway! Sorry to rain on your parade, but it is normal.

Don’t keep picking him up you’ll spoil him!”

I’ll spoil him? With cuddles and love? Good! I want to, a baby never got spoilt by too much love. You cannot have too much love. My baby, my heart, my rules.

“Only give them homemade organic food.”

So, we tried this for a while, and it nearly made us bankrupt this organic stuff, joking, but you get my drift! Those pouches of freshly prepared food are amazing and convenient, and a momma needs convenience. There is hardly time to pee let alone whip up homemade cuisine daily. Don’t pouch judge me!

They should be potty trained by now (aged 2)!”

No way should they! They are all different, and until they are ready no amount of persuasion or anger or determination from you will potty train them, there are no rules, you have to follow their lead. I tried to listen to somebody’s advice once, and my floor was covered in pee on the hour every hour for 48 hours! And did Mrs Advice come help clean it up? Did she heck!

“Is he not walking yet? My child walked at 8 months!”

This backhanded advice really grates me! It’s like we have to have uniform children who reach each milestone at the same rate. No, my child walked at 13 months and my other child was too lazy to walk until they were 20 months, and both are doing just fine. Maybe your 8 month old has had enough of your comparing and needed to learn to walk to get away quicker! Oops, did I type that?

Don’t give your child a pacifier / dummy, it will ruin their teeth and slow down their speech development!”

Well both of mine had one, and they’re just fine, in fact they don’t ever stop talking, and I mean ever! I loved that pacifier like it was a child, it gave me a few minutes of peace when they were upset about teething, or they were tired and I couldn’t hold them both at the same time, or I just simply needed 2 minutes peace to buy a new jumper to replace the maternity one I was still wearing 18 months into being a mum!

Don’t ever let your children have candy!”

Have you seen the power of bribery a lollipop holds? It speaks for itself! Who’s with me?

 

Have you had any unwanted advice that was a load of rubbish? I’d love to hear it!

 

In-A-Minute Parenting

Life is busy, add children into the equation and it is crazy busy. Careers, house keeping, families, health issues, errands, chores, appointments, school, courses; there is just SO much going on! As a momma I know there is always something that needs doing, always.

There is always a grazed knee that needs kissing, a spillage that needs mopping, a letter that needs opening, a bill that needs paying, a snack that needs preparing, a call that needs making, a coffee that needs drinking, a pee that needs taking, a diaper that needs changing, clothes that need ironing, a lawn that needs mowing, hair that needs washing, a floor that needs sweeping, a car that needs cleaning, a meal that needs preparing, a job that needs attending, a list that needs completing, shopping that needs fetching, laundry that needs washing, laundry that needs drying, a fight that needs refereeing, and a poop that needs scooping (out the bath)!

Life as a parent is a whirlwind of fleeing from one thing to the next. Our time becomes so consumed with ‘doing’ that we rarely just ‘do’. I am a nightmare for this. I will start one job, and then see something else that needs doing so will start that job, and then will see something else that needs doing so will start that job too. This then leaves a trail of half-started jobs, and leaves me feeling more unaccomplished than when I started the very first job. It’s a viscous circle I visit hourly! Anybody else?

Often during the day I will try and catchup on a few chores whilst the children play, they’ll often say “Mummy I want you to play with me!”, and I will say “In a minute, I’m just cleaning first”. They often go away with a sad glint in their eye and I feel like a bad momma. Obviously sometimes there are certain things that I have to do, but there are a lot of other times when my kids matter more.

If I counted how many times I said ‘In a minute’ during one day I think I would be ashamed of myself.

Today my 3yo fetched an interactive puzzle from his toy shelf and asked if I would help him. I had literally just sat down with a cup of tea, so naturally I said “I will do it with you in a minute!”. He didn’t even question me, he just looked sad and went to put the puzzle back on his shelf. An instant wave of guilt and regret surged through my momma bear heart, and I thought ‘Hell no have I just hurt my babies feelings just so I can drink a cup of tea, the tea will be there tomorrow, this moment with my baby boy will not!’ I called my 3yo back and said “Actually no, we will do the puzzle now like you wanted!”. His face lit up. He felt worthwhile. I added another drop of self-esteem to his confidence bucket. I would give up all the tea in the world, infact I’d give up anything in the world to spend time with my boys.

In that moment, seeing my little boy walk away and not even attempt the puzzle alone because he wanted to do something with his momma, I had a big fat slap in the face. How many times did my children hear ‘in a minute’? Too many was the answer. The puzzle took ten minutes, and after we had finished it he happily played with his cooking set alone for thirty minutes, win-win situation there. My tea can be reheated, his little spirit is not so easily fixed, that’s why I had to change my mind.

When my 4yo asks me to read him a story when I am half way through an important email I will no longer say ‘in a minute’. The email recipient will not remember the hour I sent them an email reply, but my 4yo will remember the moment momma was too busy to read him a story. I am busy being a momma, not too busy to be a momma.

From now on I vow to be present, and vow to play.

Dishes can wait, emails can wait, social media can wait, everything can wait, everything but time. Time is precious, and I intend to make our time count. I will be the ever-ready momma, the ever-present momma. No more in-a-minute parenting!

Anybody with me?

Being A Depressed Mother

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, a cause very close to my heart.

I have suffered with depression for a very long time, but have only broken my silence about it over the last few years despite suffering since I was around nine years old, and have only received medical help for it in the last seven months. The struggle has been horrific and nothing could have changed that, but it didn’t have to be so long. Shame held me back from speaking out, I felt weak, and often like I was just being stupid. I thought nobody could possibly understand me and my messed up thoughts, but I was wrong, and I only wish I had known this when I became a mother. I didn’t want to be a depressed mother.

I’ve suffered with depression secretly for a long time, although the odd red flag has maybe caused suspicion with my close ones, but I like to be the strong one, the confident one, the one who has it all together, the one who can manage on her own, when in reality none of those things are true. I’m not confident, I fake it, I’m not strong, I don’t have it all together, and I hate doing things alone. But I became accustomed to hiding my deep, dark secret, I was ashamed. And these feelings escalated once I had my first child, I had a constant voice telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I was going to ruin his life and upbringing, that he deserved so much more than me. I didn’t take care of myself, and put him first in everything, even to my own detriment, he came before everything because anything less than that meant I had let him down. I plodded on through and then ten months into being a first time mother my little surprise came along, and then after nine months I was left with a 17 month old and a newborn. It was hard. I had some real crazy thoughts and emotions, and I never told anybody, I kept it all inside for fear of losing my babies. If only I had reached out for help, it would have been so much easier. I won’t go into all of the symptoms and details this time, but I’d say it was pretty on par with post-natal psychosis, which is very scary now I look back, how I managed to come through it amazes me. I don’t know where the strength came from, or perhaps I was that good at faking a sane state of mind?

I really wish my midwife or health visitor would have made an appointment with me, a mental health appointment, and maybe I would have opened up. If they could have reassured me it was ok to suffer with mental health issues when you’re a mother. I wish I would have spoken out, reached out, cried out. I was so scared that my children would be taken off their “crazy mother”, but now I know that’s a lie. I wish I knew back then. I wish I knew it was ok to sometimes lock myself in the bathroom and wish for a different life. I wish somebody else would have told me that they too were close to running away, or that they wished their eyes would never open again. I wish somebody else would have told me they yelled too, and dreaded what the day held.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have bad days as parents, but if that cloud is not shifting, and odd thoughts creep in, or you feel overwhelmed and unable to get through the day, then please reach out and get some support before it escalates, it will be ok. It happens to lots of people and it is nothing to be ashamed of, not at all, in fact it takes tremendous courage to ask for help, so be brave, you deserve to be happy too.

It took me until September last year to seek medical help and try some medication, and i have to say i was petrified, I made and cancelled so many appointments, and then one day I went. I knew I had to, I was gripped daily by a black cloud and anxiety had became my best friend and worst enemy, I’d reached rock bottom and there was no way out on my own. I was worried I didn’t have any more fight left in me and my children would become motherless. I had to go for them. I was a sobbing mess, but it was the start of a band new way of life, six weeks into an antidepressant and my life radically changed, that chemical imbalance in my brain had been sorted, mostly. I’ve gone from 95% bad days, to 95% good days. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a miracle cure, and some days I’m left scared to death the tablets will never work again because the back cloud has consumed me, but to me it has been life changing, and to my children and husband no doubt too!

If you are reading this and anything resonates with you then please, please, please, go and see your doctor. Your life matters, and your children need a happy, alive mother, you matter so very much. Be brave and speak out, you’re not a failure admitting you need support, you are a warrior! Don’t fight your monsters alone.