Monday 29 September 2014

Tanith's tips for succcessful and stress free parenting

Last week I published a review of Tanith Carey's new book - Taming the Tiger Parent and I promised that I'd share my lists of tactics that I'm taking away with me to ensure that I stay focused on my children becoming who they are supposed to be rather than who I push or mould them into being.

  1. Labels are never helpful, all they do is pigeon hole a child and then they feel they have to live up to that label. All children have good and bad behaviour and they exhibit it at different times, it does not make them good or bad as a whole.
  2. To remember that play boosts intellectual development, When I don't fill their days and I make them go outside and break through the boredom barrier they will have had a successful days learning in terms of risk-taking, decision making and developing their inner strength.
  3. Be mindful of how I speak to my children. My body language, tone and facial expressions are just as important as the words I'm saying, more so.
  4. Start noticing how many times a day I smile at my kids. I need to do it more, just because.
  5. Help my children find their spark, this is their special skill, talent or interest that they are naturally good at and really enjoy. When I find that spark I need to encourage it.
  6. Teach my children optimism. I'm an optimist, I regularly look for the joy in life and express my gratitude, I need to help my children do this more, as in doing so I will be offering them powerful protection from depression and anxiety in later life.
  7. Listen more and actively. Stop what I'm dong and just focus on them and demonstrate they are the most important thing in that moment.
  8. Let them solve their own problems. When they have a dilemma or issue that they want to be solved, I must stop myself from being a fixer. I need to listen and reflect back to them and facilitate them coming up with their best solution and then support them whilst they give it a go.
  9. Praise the children regularly and have positive interactions in the main. A ratio of 1negative (or critical) interaction to every 4 positive ones is a good ratio to aim for, this will help the child to feel confident.
  10. Teach them to value their own opinion. When they show me something and ask what I think, I need to throw the question back and ask what they think and remind them their is value in their opinion. It is their own opinion on their work that matters most and then of course I need to encourage them too.
  11. Train the kids to be organised. JJ starts secondary school next year and already he is feeling the pressure of being self-sufficient.I need to do what I can to help him be ready for this, give him responsibility, let him make his own arrangements and get things ready for scouts, camps etc.
  12. To stay mindful that mental equilibrium not exam certificates is the true measure of my success as a parent.  Not all children will go on to have professional and well paid jobs but with the right support from their parents they can all go on to do a job they love and excel at and be well balanced and content.

There are actually loads more I could take but you have to be realistic and this is well enough to focus on for now.  I'll come back in a few months and review how I'm doing.

Have you got any other good tips for me, or are any of the above ones working for you?

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Sunday 28 September 2014

A year in photos - Weeks 37 - 39

Hello all, I hope you are well as you read this post. Life is good here, I'm feeling immensely grateful for time with my parents and aunt a couple of weeks ago, the kids settling back in at school and new volunteering projects. Oh yes and it is under a month until I head off to America, that is of course very exciting and I've bagged a few bargain clothes to take with me!

I've been surprised just how much has gone on over the last couple of weeks as I looked back at my photos.

Apple picking here and now the apples are off being made into Ashburnham apple juice.

I know you must be bored of it by now,but I never tire of living here and I'm so grateful for the joy that Gods precious creation brings me.

Some friends had their children dedicated here and the kids all played afterwards. All of mine love the large hula hoop!

Bexhill beach on one of the amazing days we have had recently, I was feeling all patriotic with the flag!

The sunsets have been just wonderful recently. This is the view from my door and it looks this good most days.

We took a trip to Scotney Castle, which is a National Trust site and had a good few hours there. I really liked this simple white flower that I captured.

And a great photo of my mum with my kids.

Each month we have a special get together for all the kids to enjoy Jesus and each other. This picture captured Miss M's more nurturing side, which is not always evident.

A good iPhone snap taken on Birling Gap beach when we took some volunteers there last weekend.

Another sunset but this one was captured in Bexhill, when about 70 of us descended onto the beach for a fish and chip supper. Of course the girls had a dip in the sea too.

And that's it for another week. This is such a great linky for making you stop and look at what you have done and reflect on just how lucky you are. 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Friday 26 September 2014

Holidaying in Jersey with the Family

Image Credit

October is going to be a very busy month for me, it starts with JJ's eleventh birthday and we are taking him and a friend away for a weekend, just some good old fashioned fun at a holiday park in Camber Sands.

Then mid-month of course I head off to America on my own for a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C to attend the ONE AYA Summit where I expect to be inspired and amazed.

Practically as soon as I return to the UK I'll then be Jersey bound in half-term with all my family. We first drive down to Weymouth and stay overnight there to be ready for an early morning ferry crossing with Condor Ferries. It has been years since I've been on a ferry, I think perhaps the last one was back in the early 1990's when I went to Jersey for a day trip with some uni mates. That trip was pretty different to this one though as our main aim was to buy duty free and drink a lot of alcohol.

The kids don't know we are taking this trip yet and I'm sure they will be excited to find out they will be travelling Club Class on this huge ferry. I can imagine it will all be very exciting - from driving the car onto the ferry, to finding our seats, to being on the viewing deck and watching the ferry pull away and just generally enjoying the four hour journey.

I suspect the girls will seek out the special children's area where they can watch films and dress up in Condor uniforms and I bet JJ will badger me to buy him one of the activity packs that has a chance of a golden ticket inside and with it a trip to meet the captain. Dh and I will probably just be happy for a nice relax in the private club class area; the seats recline, there are large tables for us to play games with the kids (we can even hire board games on the ferry) and there is complimentary tea, coffee and muffins. It all sounds good to me.

Then once we are in Jersey we have a short drive from the port to the Mayfair Hotel for our three night stay there. It looks like a great base, we have well equipped inter-connecting rooms and I see there is small pool, I suspect the children will pester me into that each day as well as a trip to the free soft play at the sister hotel. It was reassuring to see the Mayfair Hotel has won a TripAdvisor award of excellence in 2013 too.

The Jersey tourist board found our accommodation for us and I have been having a good look through their site checking out some of the attractions we should go and visit during our short stay on the island. There are many things I like the look of - Mont Orgeil Castle, walking the lush north coast, duty free shopping in St Helier and a cruise around the bay, but it is hard to know what it best to fit into our short stay so I asked some fellow bloggers for their recommendations and this is what they suggested -

Donna at Mummy Central lived in Jersey for three years so she knows the place pretty well and has suggested St Brelade's Bay, the Durrell Zoo and the Amazing Maize.

Amanda at the Ana Mum Diary has said she really enjoyed the Jersey War Tunnels when she visited three years ago and it does look interesting, I know JJ would love it, he is very into learning about the 2nd world war.

Being Mrs C didn't specifically recommend a particular place for me to visit but did point me to a post about her visit to Jersey back in 2008 and said it was a wonderful break.

Globalmouse Travels has a whole host of posts about the channel islands on her blog and I've had lots of fun reading through and discovering some great finds.

My friend Anya visited Jersey  in the summer and she travelled with Condor Ferries too. She was visiting friends on the Island and had also previously lived there for a bit so her post is a great insight to both Condor Ferries and to Jersey as a tourist destination.

It's only about a month until we take this trip now and I pray this beautiful weather continues so we can go on the beaches and really get to explore Jersey. It feels amazing to be going somewhere further afield but be able to take our car and not have the expense of buying the kids passports. Check back in early November to find out what we thought of our holiday in Jersey.

Disclosure: We are being offered complimentary ferry crossings and 3 nights B&B at the Mayfair hotel for the purpose of reviewing both. We have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Sometimes I bury my head in the sand...

There is so much going on in the world and truthfully my brain can only deal with so much. Each day we are bombarded with news about what is happening in our world and so much of it scares the living daylights out of me and do you know what I do sometimes?  I put my fingers in my ears and sing la, la, la because I just can't process it all.

I'm ashamed to say that Ebola has been a bit like that for me, I see news flashes, I read tweets, I receive emails and I feel helpless and I wonder what this small person can do to make a difference to such a damaging and fast spreading disease. Realistically what I can do is very limited but I have realised that what I must do to honour all those people who are dying from Ebola is to find out more and to at least seek to make change and help them.

I thank the Lord that organisations like ONE do not stick their fingers in their ears or bury their head in the sand. As soon as an issue makes itself known they start work campaigning and lobbying for change which can make a difference.

At the moment ONE have a petition that they are asking us all to sign, there are 101.030 signatures on it as I type and they hope to reach at least 125,000 by tomorrow. Yes you read that right - tomorrow.

On Thursday 24th September world leaders are meeting in New York to discuss Ebola but of course they need to do more than talk, action needs to be taken to stop the death toll. Over 2,500 have already died and hundreds of others arrive at make-shift treatment centres to find there is no space and they sit outside and wait to die. That is so wrong and it needs to change but an awful lot of money is needed to make that change. I was pleased to read that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has ear-marked $50 million to go towards the fight against Ebola but so much more is needed. Now I'm not asking for your money, just a bit of your mental energy and a little time.

Please check out and sign the ONE petition HERE.

Then share the petition, use the social buttons on that page and do your bit to get the message out, it is really easy and takes just seconds.  Thanks for caring, Mich x

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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Being your child's champion or maybe a tiger parent?

My three having a great time pretending to be Harry Potter

As a parent, isn't it our job to be the champion of our child, the one who holds the banner high, encouraging them to be the best they can be and keeping them out of harms way?  Sure it is, but when does it go too far? When does it become harmful and the gentle encouragement changes to pressure and then intense stress put upon them?

It's a very fine line and one that I'm passionate I must not cross as a parent. Personally I think it is so important that my children grow into the person God destined them to be, we are each created with our own set of attributes and abilities. Just because I'm good at organisation, administration and management does not mean that I will turn out three little managers of the future and thus it is important that I don't try to push them in that direction or inadvertently make them feel as if that is the career choice that will win my approval.

The truth is they will have my approval whatever job they choose to do in the future. All I ask is that they try hard, find something they are passionate about, care about others and be a good citizen.

I'm pleased to say that I really do not consider myself to be a pushy or tiger parent. I believe in setting the boundaries and then stepping back a bit and letting the kids explore, make mistakes and learn who they are and what matters to them. It isn't always easy and yes at times it is incredibly frustrating. I would like things to be neat and tidy, easy even. I'm not looking for a hard life, I don't want to have to struggle and constantly dish out consequences when one of the kids does not listen but I do it as I know it will be worth it. I see it already with JJ, my older child, he went through the tricky stage and tested all the boundaries and pushed my buttons and he has come out the other side. Of course there will be more testing times with him, the hormones will be surging soon but that is OK as I know it is all transitional and in time my job will be complete and each of my children will be an adult. Gutsy, fun and friendly adults I pray.

A few weeks back I was sent a copy of 'Taming the Tiger Parent' by Tanith Carey and I've hardly been able to put the book down. For a non-fiction book it really is very gripping and the 190 pages pass in a flash. Apart from my Uni text books I'm not sure I've ever had a book with so many annotations in the margins. There are stars everywhere, literally as I turned each page I'd find something else that resonated with me.

I did wonder at first if the book would be right for me, was it just aimed at those who are tiger parents and need to learn how to calm down but no I imagine the book suits all parents. It does have parts that tackle the pushy parent and suggest ways to let go and loosen up but equally I found it strengthening me and reminding me that I'm in charge of my child's education, not their school and not our government. It has felt so poignant to be reading this book now as JJ starts in year 6 and gets ready for his SATS and transition to secondary school, and also my twins have moved into KS2 and one of them is not at all ready for the pressure that comes with this move.

I felt empowered to go into school and tell Miss E's teacher that she would not be doing all the homework she was set, she cannot cope and I refuse to put her under that kind of pressure and make her unhappy. Luckily enough he was fine with this and understood what I was saying, the challenge has been to help the children understand that we are in charge of their learning and not school.

Even in the introduction to the book I started to underline, make notes and be impacted by this book. It is shocking to think we are creating a nation of anxious children. Depressed children in primary school, it just shouldn't be happening. I need to share with you the ending from the introduction to the book as it gives such a good indication of Tanith's no-nonsense writing style -
This book asks you to examine what you mean by being successful parent. Should we judge ourselves on our ability to turn our offspring into high-achievers who gain entry to the top universities and get the best jobs in order to buy nice houses, holidays and expensive cars? 
Or should we judge ourselves on our ability to guide our children towards becoming happy, ethical, compassionate people who like themselves and value the world around them? 
Of course, put like this, its a no-brainer. My question is why are we still raising children as if we don't know the answer?
Do you see what I mean? Tanith has the ability to challenge your thinking without it being judgemental or preachy. She shares lots of real life case studies and draws on her own experience as a parent and combines this with solid research to make a really readable book.

The book is split into three sections. The first looks at how we ended up where we are today, what created the rise of the tiger parent? It was interesting to read the examples of the education systems in China and Japan and to see how apparently high and successful grades correlate with unhappy children and high suicide rates. There have been so many factors contributing in the UK too though and we are reminded that 'our children have not had time to work out their own strengths, before they get judged in contests they didn't ask to compete in'.

Part two explores how competition affects our children and that is competition in all ways, self enforced, put-upon by parents, teachers, peers and other well meaning people and it is horrifying to read about the rise in teenage suicides and self harm. This part of the books closes by asking us to recognise that competition sucks the joy out of parenting and diminishes our appreciation of our child as a unique being.

The last part of the book focuses on helping you shed your tiger parenting stripes and it would be easy to think this does not apply to you if you are not a pushy parent but actually I found this part really helpful and it gave me a list of tactics that I want to ensure I employ to help each of my children flourish and really be themselves. I'll publish another post with those later this week.

I suspect you can tell that I really enjoyed this book and I'm happy to recommend it. Taming the Tiger Parent by Tanith Carey went on sale this week and I see it is currently £6.29 on Amazon.

Disclosure: I was sent this book free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Monday 22 September 2014

Pondering adult baptism... Has the time come?

I always tend to think of the Holy Spirit as wind, whenever I feel the spirit moving then it is cool air I feel. Whilst I know that many people associate fire with the Holy Spirit I never really have. Not until the other night when I saw this amazing sky outside my front door. For the last couple of weeks the sky has been getting better and better at sunset and tonight when the kids said 'oh Mum, you have to see this sky' I grabbed my camera and captured this.

Today this sky really made me think about the above scripture. Here is the full verse -
"I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am--so much greater that I'm not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Matthew 3:11 (NLT)
I was Christened as a young child (probably because it was the thing that British people did at that time) and then I did go to a Sunday school most weeks until I was about 14 but really I was not a Christian, I did not understand what it meant or feel the commitment I now know I would feel. When I became a Christian in 2002 I was attending an Anglican church and thus got confirmed, which meant I was asserting my faith and belief in Jesus Christ as my saviour when I was old enough to make that decision for myself.

However for about the last four years I've been wondering if confirmation is enough and I have been pondering baptism, just as Jesus was, by full immersion. We are supposed to imitate Jesus and He choose to be baptised by John even though He was sin free. I really feel I need to recommit and publicly declare that I'm living my life for Jesus. Time to cast off my last chains and sins and to walk in His way.

I suppose I ought to make some enquiries and make this baptism a reality.  Thankfully it should not be too difficult we have a lake and a baptismal pool where I live.  Watch this space....
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Sunday 21 September 2014

In case of emergency in America...

In just over a month I'm off to America to a summit with the ONECampaign in Washington D.C to hear from some inspirational speakers about many of the advancements and success stories that have been seen in recent years in Sub-Saharan Africa and of course I'll also hear of the challenges that this amazing continent still faces.

I know from my trip to Ethiopia in 2012 that things are really changing. I went out there with an outdated opinion that I would be going to a baron land with no hope and what I found was a beautiful land full of people with massive hearts and immense generosity.  Then as for the progress that has been made in regards to schooling, healthcare, sanitation, agriculture and transportation I was literally in awe of their entrepreneurial spirit and determination to change things for the better.

Some of the amazing women I hope to see again when I am in Washington D.C

Of course I'm super excited about my trip and the summit will be the pinnacle but I don't deny that travelling to America is also a little daunting. I think it is trepidation of what us unknown, I keep hearing stories from acquaintances and also in the news about how hard it is to gain entry into America nowadays, their security is really tight. Of course I have absolutely nothing to hide but that won't stop me worrying that customs will want to rummage through my case and throw about my undies!

I'm not normally a panic merchant but I think it is good to think through all eventualities when taking a big trip abroad, this thinking process allows me to work through and alleviate my fears and know that I'm covered for whatever might happen. Of course I have my trusty credit cards to use in an emergency and that could be anything from being starving hungry at the airport if the plane food is terrible on the 10 hour trip over or a real emergency like being stranded in a big city and having no idea where I am.

I think I'm less worried in general as I've got older, when I remember back to the first abroad holidays I took as a teenager I never took any cards with me in case they were stolen, I used to take travellers cheques and now it wouldn't even occur to me to do that. Then as I got a little older and more confident I did take my credit card when I travelled abroad but I would have it separate to my handbag, so that if my bag was stolen I could still use my credit card and sort out whatever I need to.

Nowadays I use an over the body bag and keep it close and pray it won't get stolen, for if it does then everything will be gone but thankfully I have a husband at home who will be ready to help me and with modern technology as it is now things can be solved so much quicker than they could twenty years back.

Luckily this post has made me remember I need to arrange travel insurance and of course get some currency but I won't bother with too much as I'll use my credit card mostly. I do then need to call my bank and advise them I'll be abroad so they know it is me when they start to see random purchases in US dollars. As I'm not a frequent traveller I don't want to get a temporary stop on my card whilst I'm abroad as that would end up being very inconvenient.

In all, I feel really good about this trip and I'm on countdown for a bit of time alone to reflect and ponder the future. I find when I go away it gives me a chance to miss my husband and children and then when I come back I'm so grateful for what I have. Let's just pray I have no emergencies whilst I am away.

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Saturday 20 September 2014

A year in photos - Macro flowers (week 37)

A real love I have developed over the last few months is using my macro filters to take flower photos and it makes me smile to think that these photoes will act as memories for me of the places I have visited.

This first one is at the Bournemouth holiday house we stay in each year with my parents -

Then these next three were all taken at Kingston Lacy National Trust site in Dorset.

This one was spotted at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London

Then lastly a couple taken at my home -

It has been a really wonderful summer and thankfullyt he sun is still shining. I must get back outside with my camera more.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday 18 September 2014

Finding joy in the moment

It's one of those days, the type where I wake up and just feel a bit off kilter. Nothing is wrong, life is good but I'm feeling anxious and unsure. I can't make effective decisions and I don't know what to do with myself. I tend to put these days down to hormones, being a woman has it's downside.

It would be really easy to allow myself to wallow in it for the day and to be unhappy but that's not productive and can lead me into a downward spiral, so I always find the best thing to do is to choose joy and look for the good (or grace) in the small things.

You can be joyful without feeling externally happy. Joy is much deeper and writing from prison Paul said "I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds" 2 Corinthians 7:4. and what a great example that is, nothing in my life is as bad as Paul experienced and yet he still speaks of joy at least 16 times in his letters.

Today I choose to be grateful and I have found grace in the following small things - 

  • I woke at a good time and didn't have to rush to get the kids ready for school.
  • The school run went well, no arguments with 6 kids in the car.
  • I enjoyed my porridge and a well earned sit down.
  • I am caught up with my social media work.
  • All the ironing & washing is done and put away.
  • The kids have nearly finished the weeks homework.
  • I have a nice new Next top on which is super comfy.
  • I picked up JJ on his own from school and we got to have a good chat.
  • I just had the best cup of tea.
  • Tonight I will go to bed in fresh sheets and that always makes me smile.
  • My parents are still here and it is nice to dip in and out spending time with them.
  • I get to spend snuggle time with both girls tonight as the boys will go out to scouts.

I'm linking this post up with Becky over at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful. Click the link and head over to see what it is about....

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Hunger - it shouldn't be happening!

Next Friday I'm going along to one of the local Food Bank projects to see how it operates and investigate if I can help out on a regular basis. I know that hunger and poverty is rife in the world, I saw it firsthand when I travelled to Ethiopia with ONE in 2012. I also saw it far closer to my own home when I lived in Hertfordshire and befriended a lady who through a set of crappy circumstances had ended up without enough money to feed herself and her kids.

Since moving to East Sussex I've realised that Hastings is probably an area with a high level of poverty but I never realised how much of a problem it is. Tonight I've been investigating and according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty the level of children living in poverty (and thus hungry) in Hastings across all areas is 31%. When you look at some individual areas the figure is as high as 47% and I kid you not when I say I have a massive lump in my throat as I read that and type this.

I needed to read it too, it is so easy to live a comfortable life and think that everyone else is OK, but they are not and it is up to all of us to make a difference and do something about it and yes that is big and scary and feels like a massive weight but you only have to look at the progress being made in the battle to end world extreme poverty (defined as a person living on less than $1.25 per day for all their needs). In the last 20 years is has been halved and if we continue at the same pace it could be virtually wiped out by 2030 and that is surely something to whoop for joy about.

Taken in Ethiopia. Image Credit - Karen Walrond/ONE
So I choose not to get bogged down and to fall into the doldrums because the problem feels too big but I pledge to help with the Hastings food bank and to chat to people who are using the service and to help them feel valued and heard. But it is not enough for me to just help out locally I also have to keep playing my part in the bigger plan and I'll do that by working with the charities and NGOs that I believe in, like ONE, Compassion, Plan, Save the Children and Tearfund.

I'm trying to stay more up to date with what is going on at the moment, which campaigns are happening, who needs support and what with and also I'm heading to Washington, USA in October for the AYA Summit with ONE. At this meeting I will get to meet a whole host of inspirational women, and just like I was when I went to Ethiopia I expect to be fully humbled and inspired to do more, fight harder and be better. I feel more privileged than I can ever express to have this opportunity, in fact when the email came through inviting me I asked if they really wanted me, surely there were better advocates to spend the cost of the airfare on but it seems ONE believe in me and the people reading my blog and being influenced by my writing and travels. I sincerely thank you readers (friends) for taking the time to take small steps which help us change the world and change perceptions too.

I've never been to America before and I've not been on a plane since my amazing blogger journeys in 2012 but these are not the things that are really exciting me. What is really blowing my mind is the chance to meet some change makers. African women who with the necessary education and tools are making a massive difference within their families and communities. These are the real champions who are slicing the figures for those living in extreme poverty and I pray they impact me and inspire me to keep taking small steps or maybe even to return to the UK and to take a really bold and scary step. Who knows what lays ahead for me...

Can you add your voice and help ONE to campaign for an end to extreme poverty?

If you are not familiar with who ONE are, then please take a look at earlier posts of mine - here, here and here or Liska from New Mum Online interviewed me about ONE and you can read that post. Or go and check out the website. They will never ask you for money, they are an NGO (non-governmental organisation) not a charity, what they require is your support and voice. Can you sign a petition, tweet a message, talk to friends, share on FB or speak to your MP - all those things make a difference when a massive collective of people do them.

I'll leave you with this very short video, I've shared it before but I love it.  It is a bunch of kids talking about why poverty is not our problem!

Disclosure: ONE have invited me to be their guest at the AYA summit in October and they will be paying my expenses to be there. I fully believe in the work they do and I have not been instructed what I must write, I am free to be honest and always am.

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Monday 15 September 2014

Bexhill on Sea - my favourite seaside in the UK

We moved to East Sussex just over a year ago now and there is one place that we go to time and time again. The seaside has always been a place that my husband and I love to visit together, we met by the sea and whenever we needed to get away, it is the sea we always headed to. Even when the whether is bad the cobwebs get blown away and our souls feel refreshed.

It is for this reason that I jumped for joy when I realised we were only about 8 miles from our nearest seaside town. At first I wondered what Bexhill-on-Sea would have to offer us as it is pretty old-fashioned and parts look a little run-down but actually I have grown to love it so much.  I visit here alone, with all my family and with friends too.

As I said before it is quite old-fashioned but in a quaint, times-gone-by sort of way rather than being out of date. It does not have lots of neon signs, nightclubs or arcades like many UK seaside resorts and I think more people that come here are locals rather than holidaymakers and I like that. I can wonder round the town and check out the many charity shops and grab a bargain and then go to the Sovereign Light Cafe for a good cooked breakfast.

In the last few years the promenade has been made over and it is a super flat concrete prom great for walking, running, scooting, dog-walking or bike riding. Unless there is a special event going on it is never that busy and you can walk for miles and miles without any issue. The parking along the sea front is plentiful and free too.

You'll see that the beach is a stony one but when the sea goes out you do get areas of sand and also wonderful rock pools, so lots of beach fun can be had here. You often see people wind surfing, fising or boating.

When it was refurbished some fabulous play equipment was put all along the prom and the kids adore running along and stopping to use the equipment.

One of our favourite places to visit with the kids in Bexhill is Egerton Park, this is just a few moments walk from the seafront and is full of fantastic play equipment. It is one of the best play parks I've seen and great for all ages with toddler equipment, sand play, zip wire and loads of equipment for the older kids. As well as an Adidas gym area, football field, bowls, boating lake and cafe. Also next to it is the Bexhill Museum which has some good children activities during the holidays.

On the seafront is the De La Warr pavilion that hosts loads of local cultural events and has a great art gallery too. You can go on the roof and enjoy the fabulous views and take in the Art Deco architecture. Underneath the theatre are some nice shops, a big tea room with beach front outdoor space and also some dancing fountains that the kids love to play in.

Often for the price of a donation your children can join in with arty activities. Last week Miss E spent an enjoyable hour making a collage and then she added it to the artwork on the wall, as one day she wants to be exhibited there.

Probably our favourite activity as a family in Bexhill is eating and we can highly recommend the homemade gelato on sale at Di Paolos opposite the De La Warr or fish and chips from Marinos or Mini Berthas and of course they need to be eaten with the sea in View. There is some lovely grass space next to the De La Warr which is our eating area of choice.

I used to think the sandy beach at Bournemouth was my favourite UK seaside but Bexhill has stolen that place in my heart and I'm very glad to live here and be able to sit and watch all the sailing boats out at sea as well as my kids having a ball.

Have you ever visited before? What did you think?

And while I love the beaches in the UK Liz at Cambridge Mummy has been off enjoying snorkelling with her family at the Mark Warner Levante resort.

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Sunday 14 September 2014

Five Outdoor Activities for some Good Old Family Fun

Does it take some coaxing to separate everyone from the television? Do your children flinch away from sunlight like age-old vampires? If you’re on a mission to banish the couch potato blues, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five fantastic outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy together. Warning – resulting fun may be overwhelming.

1. Camp Out in the Back Yard

You don’t have to pack the car to the gills and brave the hazards of communal toilets to enjoy a night under the stars. Pitch a tent right in the backyard, roast some marshmallows over a portable heater and listen to the sounds of nature, as you step away from the comforts of your home. This is an awesome way to introduce the uninitiated to the wonders of camping and a great way to spend some quality time with the family.

2. Scavenger Hunt

With a little preparation, you can create a scavenger hunt that promises to be just as exciting as a treasure hunt led by Jack Sparrow and the other Pirates of the Caribbean. You can confine the scope of your hunt to the back yard, tailor it for a nearby park or use the whole neighbourhood as your playground. A scavenger hunt is a good way for the kids to keep their minds and bodies active as they learn about their surroundings and run about gathering clues.

3. Have Dinner Outside

This time of year is wonderful for bringing the family’s dinner ritual outside. Fire up the grill and toss the footy around while the scent of delicious barbeque fills the air. Set the table as you would inside, light a few lanterns and voila, you have an outdoor bistro fit for a king. If you don't have a large backyard or if you’re a city dweller with only a balcony, a full-sized grill may not be practical. Don’t fret, you can always pick up a disposable BBQ tray.

4. Plant a Garden

Nothing beats the smell of freshly picked herbs from the garden or the taste of organically grown fruits and vegetables from the backyard. Planting a garden is a wonderful season long project that can involve the whole family. If you were struggling to find a way to make your kids interested in vegetables, nothing instils a sense of wonder and excitement in children like watching seeds they planted grow into mature plants. Again, if you don’t have much space or just have a patio or balcony, you don’t have to be left out. Have a look into container gardening; it's a practical alternative for people who don’t have much space.

5. Turn the Driveway into A Work of Art

With a few pieces of sidewalk chalk, your kids (or your inner child) can turn your driveway into a work of art. Or you can create a veritable wonderland of chalk games like London Calling or Hopscotch. It not only gets the kids playing outside, but it also provides them with a canvas other than the hallway walls for their art.

So there you have it, five easy ways to get your family out of the house and soaking in some much-needed vitamin D. What are some of your family’s favourite outdoor activities?

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday 13 September 2014

Trying out my Karcher MV3P Vac

This week as part of my position as a Karcher Clean Ambassador I had a new MV3P vac delivered to me and I've been putting it through it paces to see how it performs.

The MV3P is a dry and wet vacuum cleaner that can also be used as a blower and will attach to hand tools as well to automatically collect the dust and debris as you work. This makes the MV3P perfect for DIY users as well as being a generally good vac for around the home. The cheapest I found this model from reputable sellers was £119 from Tesco Direct and I think this is a good price.

The vac comes with a 4 metre cable and 17 litre capacity. It has the power of 1400 watts but is only actually 1000 watts. You need to use a bag inside when dry vacuuming but nothing is needed for wet vacuuming and thankfully the filter is multi-function and can be used for both and then just taken out and washed though when need be. The vacuum head comes with a brush and squidgy blade end for use in both circumstances and it is really easy to switch them over. There is also a crevice attachment that can go on the end for use in tight spaces and when you really can't get into a space (like behind a radiator) you can change the hose to the back hole and use the blow function and get the dust out that way and then vacuum it up.

I found the vac very easy to put together, first you need to push the four wheels in the bottom and this was super easy and then you plug in the hose and build the vacuum handle, which is just a case of pushing them together. The bag inside just clipped on and was completely intuitive which is very good as I never find Karcher instructions that easy to follow if I'm honest. Thankfully their website is good and normally has instructional videos. I also found this great review video from DIY Doctor and whilst it says it is reviewing a different model, having watched it I can see it is the same machine with the same capabilities.

I've only tried out dry vacuuming so far as that is basically what I will use it for. We do not have any hand tools and thankfully there have not been any water leaks but I fully expect the water vacuum function to be very good as even my handy Karcher window cleaner is great at sucking up water spills.

I first vacuumed the girls little playroom/ spare room and it is only small as you can see in the picture. It gets vacuumed fairly regularly but with kids of course it gets messy too but I was astounded to see the amount of hair and fluff that came off that small carpet and was caught in the brush end as well as what went into the bag - just look -

I was super impressed with its cleaning power on hard wood floors particularly, it is an easy and efficient vac to use. On carpets it has excellent suction but is harder work as it feels as if it sticks to the carpet a bit (because of the good suction I assume) and this means you have to work harder and I did not feel as if the plastic long arm would stand up to years of me pushing too hard.

What I love -
  • Multi function, wet and dry vacuuming as well as blower function
  • Easy to set up
  • Light weight for carrying around
  • Nice long cable
  • Excellent suction power, especially for hairs
  • Good value price
  • Excellent storage for all pipes and accessories/ lead
What I didn't find so great -
  • A fair amount of effort needed on carpeted floors
  • The look of it, who wants a bright yellow plastic vacuum?

In all I think it is a great vacuum cleaner, probably better than my Sebo which cost far more. I would happily recommend it, especially if you have hardwood, laminate or lino floors.

Disclosure: As part of the Karcher Clean Ambassador program I have given products to trial and review. I'm not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin