5 tips to nail the school run

5 Tips to Nail the School Run

Ah the school run…

So we’re back into ‘school’ mode now (or at least we are in the UK).  And how are you coping? 

Love it or hate it, it’s a necessity with young children.  And whether it’s going well or not, there will inevitably be a time when it all comes apart at the seams.  So here are my top 5 tips for a smoother school run!  I say ‘smoother’ because no school run is perfect… unless you know the secret, the holy grail.  In which case, do share!  For now, here are those tips:

5 Tips to Nail the School Run

The List

Write out a list and order each step the night before each school day.  Or keep the same one if your routine never changes.  In that list have things like: take bread out of freezer for sandwiches (It’s very hard to fold/cut frozen bread neatly – I’ve tried!); Trust me, if you’ve got your bread out of the freezer for packed lunches, your pre-breakfast routine will go so much better!

Freshen up

Try to have a shower before everyone gets up (or at least the kids).  It’ll make you feel ahead of the game and therefore make you feel more organised!  And if you feel it, you’re half way there…

Make a note

Note down extras to be taken the next day (violin, P.E kit, reading book, reading record, and the list goes on!) and put the list somewhere obvious like the front of the fridge.  Definitely nowhere that curious toddlers or cheeky dogs can get it!  For older children, ask them to write the list. Even better, ask them to refer to it the next day so they get used to the responsibility.  Although I totally get that it’s sometimes just easier and quicker to do it yourself…   Of course, you could be ultra organised and get everything ready the night before so that you don’t need a list.

Breakfast at night time

Get the breakfast things ready the night before.  Whether that means physically laying the table or simply putting the cereal boxes on the kitchen side with bowls and spoons.  It all helps!

The rogue sock

Lay uniform out the night before.  Okay so they know what they’re wearing but you leave in 10 minutes, there’s a sock missing and the one in the linen basket has been nestled up to a wet towel all night.  For the sake of everyone’s sanity (mainly your own), laying uniform out the night before is a sure fire way of checking that all uniform is present and correct!

If it all goes to chaos, just remember to breathe and remind yourself you’re not the only one and you’re only human…

 

Have you got any tips to add?  Or even funnies about the school run that wasn’t fun?!  (see what I did there?…) I’d love to know. Tell me by commenting below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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5 ways the Summer makes you more productive

5 ways the Summer makes you More Productive

5 ways the Summer makes you more productive

 

So it’s the Summer.  School’s out for how many weeks?!  You’ve got all the usual daily stuff to do (except the school run, hurray!)  and children to entertain or at the very least keep alive and stop from getting bored.  It sounds like a mess but here are 5 ways that Summer makes you more productive.  Yes, really!

5 ways the Summer makes you More Productive

Firstly the days are longer which means there’s more light

Sarah from Digital Motherhood says “The sun motivates me! I find it much easier to get up earlier when the mornings are lovely and bright, and if it’s sunny I’m much happier and less lethargic and lazy. Sometimes I think I’m solar powered”

And more light generally makes us more awake and that means more energy

(at least for a little while. Maybe.)

Victoria at Lylia Rose says “Early light mornings mean I’m super productive in the morning, before the kids get up and thanks to the light. I’d definitely struggle getting up at 6am or earlier in the winter, but in the summer it’s not so hard. I find I’m at my most motivated first thing and get a lot more done than in the day time or evening.

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Another advantage of more daylight, says Lyndsey from Me him the dog and a baby is “There is more daylight later in the evening so I actually feel like working until later in the day.

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Juggling means that I’m much more focussed with my blog and everything really. 

When I sit at my desk, I zone in, get stuff done and then I can zone out again for a little while.

“Being a mummy of 5, a childminder and a blogger I know my time is more limited during the summer holidays.” says Claire from thismummyrocks.  “I seem to plan out my time more efficiently so I get more free time to spend with my family or self care. Plus the days are longer so I can fit in an extra hour here and there.

 

In between the focussed moments, I spend time outside

Time with our 8yo playing games, reading a book and just zoning out.  I find this brilliant for getting the creative juices flowing and brainstorming.

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Jen from Just Average Jen says “I have more of a day to day plan without having to fit in the school run. Mummy friends aren’t as free for coffee so I have more time at home too!”

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Jen from MyMummysPennies says she feels more motivated “during the summer holidays I get to spend more time with my children so what I’m working so hard for is really tangible.

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And Becky from A Beautiful Space says “Sunshine makes me happy and feels more energised and this is why I am more productive in the summer ( plus I’m not constantly driving kids to activities!)

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The long Summer break makes me reflective and I find myself reassessing my goals which, you guessed it!  Makes me more productive!

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What makes you more productive in the Summer?  I’d love to know.  Please comment or tweet me @AllSortsHere. Thanks.

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5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays

 5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays parenting school holidays boredom buster activities

5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays

So the school holidays are fast approaching and you’re asking yourself how to keep the kids’ brains active and keep them learning over the hols.

Here are 5 tried and tested ways to do just that:

Let them get bored!

Yes, ditch the structure and don’t plan anything.  Let them get bored occasionally and I’ll bet that their imaginations will start doing the work to keep their brains active the scenes!  While we certainly son’t be banning electronics, turning them off and letting our 8yo ‘be’ will be quite a regular occurrence this Summer.

 

That said, boredom busters definitely have their place…

We all know those days when bedtime can’t come fast enough (ours not necessarily theirs!).  So keep a few easy ideas up your sleeve for the “I’m boooored” moments.  Check the local activities for the summer.  Many school children receive a kind of activites directory and many of the sessions are drop-ins.  Meaning happy kids and peace and quiet for you… for now.

 

Give them a challenge

From riding a bike to swimming, from reading to tying their shoe laces; being active doesn’t have to mean be physical activity all the time.  Maybe they could learn to do some of these challenges, giving them a sense of achievement, building confidence and keeping their brain switched on.

 

Get them up!

I’m all for lazy mornings in the hols (trust me!) but there are times that the sleeping until lunchtime habit needs to be broken for older children.  So give the older children jobs to do with the condition that they’re done in the morning, and maybe even pay them or give them a non-monetary incentive.  It’s a really good idea to do this in the last week or so before ‘back to school’ because it gets them used to the idea of getting up and getting going after a long break, and also gets them tired if they’re up ‘early’!

 

Have a tidy up

This works well for younger children.  A good tidy up reveals long-forgotten toys that refresh the imagination and gives you some breathing space in a less cluttered living space.  And what do you do with all those toys, you all get out of the 4 walls and take them to the charity shop!

5 ways to keep the kids learning over the holidays parenting school holidays boredom buster activities

 

I asked some other bloggers for their thoughts and here are some of their fantastic suggestions:

Jen from Just Average Jen says: My son has always loved to make his own newspaper or guidebook full of things he has found out or enjoyed. He then sells it to people like Grandma and gets extra money to spend!

 

I love this idea and will definitely be using it, from Victoria at Lylia Rose: My daughter loves the learning workbooks they sell in our local office supplies store. They are for each key state and they have spelling and maths books. She has a word search one at the moment which she finds fun, but it’s aimed at helping with spellings. They’re only a couple of pounds each and she thinks they’re something fun rather than ‘work’!

 

Rebecca from You Me Raising 3 suggests: Limit screen time as I find this can reduce their motivation to get outside and explore. My kids love experimenting and making things so anything science based is a hit! Ice eggs with dinosaurs in for them to dig out is one activity we will try. wipe clean books to practice letters and numbers are also great (preschool age), taking them out on walks to explore nature and recording what we find.

 

Finally, Kelly from School Run Shop says let them be: Let them explore – nature, their surroundings, new places. There’s no better learning than letting them just ‘be’.

What would you add?  I’d love to know!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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Meet the new kids on the veggie plot

Meet the new kids on the Veggie Plot Vegetarian Family Clean Living Diet Food

Meet the new kids on the veggie plot

 

Our 8 year old has asked about being a vegetarian a few times over the past few months (and beyond) and she’s decided she would like to try being a veggie.  Hubby and I have been toying with the idea of introducing a ‘cleaner’ diet into our house too so it’s the perfect opportunity to embrace it.

Meet the new kids on the Veggie Plot Vegetarian Family Clean Living Diet Food

But what constitutes veggie food these days?  And what do we do with it?  I asked some bloggers to point me in the right direction:

Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof has a little treasure trove of ideas and inspiration.   I love the sound of the lasagna with the layered veg and it got my mouth watering!

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Eva from Captain Bobcat suggests a yummy sounding pudding.  Mmmm I love avodaco and chocolate’s always a winner!

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Here’s a recipe that we’ll be trying out from Sophie at Life as Mrs D ~ peanut sauce.  Perfect with pasta!  Yum 🙂

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I love the look of this feta and spinach puff pastry dish from Gee Gardner.

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Ben at Wood Create thinks pizza is a great idea: We decided to go vegan 6 months ago and the kids have really taken to it. We love to make home made pizza with vegan cheese and veg. (Sweet corn, spinach, chopped tomato, red pepper and mushroom) we sometimes even add a little vegan pesto. It’s quick and easy and the kids can help out putting their own topping on! Just 15 minutes prep and 7 minutes in the oven. Tasty meal in under 1/2 hour.

Sounds good to me!

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I’ll report back soon and let you know how we’re doing!  Until then, tell me about your veggie journey.  I’d love to know!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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A new chapter in our reading journey

A

A new chapter in our reading journey

Just last week, we returned some books to the local library (mine and our 8yos).  I love visiting the library with her.  I always have.  It literally opens up a whole world of imagination.

On this visit though, she said she was running out of books to read.  She’s read all the Rainbow Magic books, all the Harry Potter books and various other series.  So, we asked the nice man behind the desk what level would be suitable for a fluent nearly 9 year old to read.  And we were shown the Teenage Junior (TJ) shelf while being told to leave the Teenage Advanced (TA) section for now.  I could almost feel our daughter’s disappointment as she looked at the 4 shelves of the TJ section.  Not many books there when you’re used to browsing through what seems like a whole world of imagination.  Still, we can order books in from other branches and I’m sure they’ll have some sort of reading challenge to keep her going through the summer.

A New Chapter in our Reading Journey

Magical memories as we enter a new phase

While she browsed, I sat on the little toddler seat next to the board books and had a little think to myself.  The days of reading out loud to her, the same books over and over and over again came to me.  The days of her sounding out her first school books, learning phonics and learning to blend the sounds.  Magical memories.

We still have a bedtime story and I’ve recently got the reading bug again and started reading actual books again – partly for my own relaxation but partly to encourage her to continue.  With all the distractions in our childrens’ lives, reading can easily be put on the back-burner.  So at bedtime, because she now reads chapter books with few (if any) pictures or drawings, we only read a couple of pages.  Her school has a 20 minutes a day reading challenge.  She easily manages this because she reads at breakfast too but we incorporate into her bedtime routine, which I love and so does she.  So after I’ve read 2 pages and kissed her goodnight (on her still oh-so-soft cheek) and showered her with a hundred kisses all over her beautiful face, I give her 20 minutes.  She often uses this time to read to her teddies and role play.  She clearly needs this little bit of time to process the day.  Long may it continue.

Times to cherish

Then we often have the panic of her losing her unicorn bookmark among her duvet and the handful mountain of teddies.  It’s the one she cut out from a template in a magazine.  There are 2 others but it has to be the unicorn one.  Eventually, all is still and I often pop up to our room for something and can hear her little voice being narrator.  It’s these times, after a busy day, that I cherish and I never want to end.  But I know they will.

Until they end, I’ll continue to indulge us both in a quick read and then let her enter her own world with her teddies, the characters from the book and feed her imagination as she slowly drifts off to her dreams for the night, wherever they may take her.

Has your child run out of reading material?  Do you use your local library?  I’d love to kmow!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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Ideas to keep your kids reading over Summer

Ideas To Keep Kids Reading Over Summer Parenting Boredom Buster Activity

Ideas to keep your kids reading over Summer

When I was at school (all that time ago!), I remember when I went back after the long Summer holidays and it felt really odd to write again!  And this was waaay before we all had phones glued to ourselves and were texting all the time.  We generally had no need to write.  It’s the same with reading isn’t it?  It’s easy for our children to get out of the habit of reading over the summer break – no ‘carpet time’, no reading buddy to read to, no guided reading, no excitement of choosing a book from the library, no reading record to update…

oh wait!

We can do all of these things out of the school environment and maybe, just maybe make it even more fun than it is in school!  You should know that I’m passionate about literacy in our children and firmly believe in the building blocks it gives them in all areas of their learning.  But I’m always open to suggestions and I asked some fellow bloggers for their ideas on keeping kids reading over Summer.  Some of them I had already thought of (great minds think alike eh?):

Ideas To Keep Kids Reading Over Summer Parenting Boredom Buster Activity

Make your own books

Karen from The Mini Malpi says: How about making their own books?  My son has always enjoyed doing this and, now he’s started to learn to read and write, he could add his own words.

I’ve got fond memories of our now 8yo doing just that and I’ve still got them tucked away in ‘memory corner’!

 

Engagement is key

Claire from This Mummy Rocks suggests getting your child to choose their favourite book:  Use Pinterest to find engaging activities to link with the book or relating topics. Keep referring back to the book and re-read. Bring the book to life.

And let’s face it, there are so many ways to do this.  We just need a little extra inspiration by way of Pinterest as Claire says!

 

Make it personal

Emma at The Family Hub says that personalised books can be great for engaging little ones so much fun to be part of the story!

 

Make it fun!

Carla-Marie from Bump2Baby suggests making the book buying process fun: let them choose and have an hour no electrics – reading time only!!

 

Contact the author

This is one of my favourites and something I’d never have thought of.  Adam from You’ve Got All This To Come says: Get in touch with the authors on Twitter- ask a question or leave a comment, they’re usually willing to reply!

 

If all else fails…

And THIS from Jess at Tantrums to Smiles says: A reading den! Both my kids love a good den so sometimes I will set up a reading den in a shady bit of the garden. It can be as simple as a sheet over two chairs with a few books inside a jug of cool icy squash and a few biscuits. We have a lovely time reading together, enjoying a cold drink and getting out of the sun for a bit!

Our daughter has a little den in her bedroom which she chooses a book from for bedtime reading but i’m going to do this in the garden too.  Book, biscuits and bonding time.  Bliss!

It’s similar to Sarah’s idea from Digital Motherhood: Go to the library and let them pick as many books as they like. When you get home sit down with a drink and a snack and look at the books together.

Have you got any more ideas?  I’d love to hear!  Comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere .

Thanks.

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How to have a wonder-filled family adventure

How to Have a Wonder-filled Family Adventure

How to have a wonder-filled family adventure

What is wonder?  Is it being amazed at something?  Is it being in awe?  Is it experiencing something for the first time?  Is it doing something or going somewhere you’ve been before?

The answer is, surely all of the above?

How to Have a Wonder-filled Family Adventure

To have our wonder-filled family adventure, we chose to visit one of our favourite places.  Why is Ferry Meadows one of our favourite places?

 

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The benefits to children of learning music ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

The Benefits of Children Learning Music

The benefits to children of learning music

When I was a child, I learnt the guitar and violin.  And I remember that I enjoyed them both.  Nowadays, my guitar sometimes gets an ‘airing’.  I’d like for it be more often but at least it’s not collecting dust.

Since our 8 year old took up the violin, I’ve been tempted to learn again – with her.  It’s so nice to see her with the violin – she suits it very well and has taken to it very well too.  Quite apart from the fact that she enjoys playing, it’s good to know the benefits of learning music too, particularly for our children.

 

The Benefits of Children Learning Music

From an early age, our daughter has been stimulated; she’s creative and is thriving at school.  But hubby and I were keen to get her on to learning an instrument.  The first time she took the bow to the strings, I stopped in my tracks and it took my breath away.  Yes, I’m her Mum and biased by default but she really does suit it: her composure when she holds it, her control of the bow, how she gets right into ‘the zone’.  And what a lovely zone to get into.

When we find a second hand violin at the right price, I see no reason not to join her on her musical journey.

We’ve got a violin, a guitar and a piano in our home.  Out of al of these, my personal preference is the violin and it seems that’s our daughter’s too.  That’s fine by me because…

#IfShesHappyImHappy

Does your child play an instrument?  Please tell us in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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The benefits of school clubs vs the potential for overwhelm

How to get the School Club Balance right for Your Child Positive Parenting Wellbeing

The benefits of school clubs vs the potential for overwhelm

After months of encouraging our now 8 year old to join in with some school clubs, we found ourselves with an uber-enthuastic daughter on our hands!

Due to after-school childminding because of work commitments, she was limited to what she could do.  But come year 3, she wanted to try every club going – gymnastics, dance, science club, cheerleading, music, youth club… which was great but we had to fit homework in somewhere too.  How inconvenient!

We didn’t want our weekends taken over with homework.

When she asked if she could do this club and that club, we told her that if it fits around work and homework, no problem (so long as she got in!)

How to get the School Club Balance right for Your Child Positive Parenting Wellbeing

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Why we let our young daughter use makeup ~ #IfShesHappyImHappy

How To Make A Father's Day Card With A Difference Create Make Do

Why we let our young daughter use makeup

As our daughter grows up (and up and up!), I’m most definitely realising that her baby days are long gone, and her toddler days too.  But I often find it really hard to let go and her her find her way, let her independence grow and let her discover the world around her in her way.

But it’s vital for their development isn’t it?

One area that we give her absolute free-rein is make-up.  She loves to experiment and I adore to see her ‘apply it’, seeing the end result of invariably blue or pink eyeshadow smudged all around her eyelids.  It’s an adorable part of a little girl being no-so-little and growing her make-believe fairy wings out.  Though it makes me sad and even pine for my beautiful newborn, I can equally see my beautiful, wonderful daughter blossoming and growing, expressing herself and becoming her.  To me, that’s just as important as remembering her baby and toddler days.

Why We Let Our Young Daughter Use Makeup With Printable

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