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Half term – what’s on guide

Not sure where to take the kids this half term. Check out some local activities without breaking the bank.

Free activities
Library – local libraries have lots of free or low cost activities during the school holidays.
Discover events at your local library
http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/Events
Museums
There are many free museums. We’ll be checking out Rainbow stories 20-21st Feb at Birmingham museum – interactive story telling
http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/rainbow-stories.
Local parks
It’s cold but once wrapped up kids love it outside.
Check out Cannon Hill Park also home to MAC and birmingham_wildlife_conservation_park
http://www.cannonhillpark.co.uk

Low budget
Movies for juniors from just £2.50
https://www.cineworld.co.uk/movies-for-juniors#/

Conkers is a great fun outdoor activity for children of all ages.
Family day ticket under £33
http://www.visitconkers.coShrek the musical

WED 14 FEB 2018 – SUN 25 FEB 2018
NEW ALEXANDRA THEATRE, BIRMINGHAM
http://m.atgtickets.com/shows/shrek/new-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/

Snow dome
From swimming to skiing. A great day out for all ages
https://www.snowdome.co.uk

Drayton manor
Selected rides in Thomas land and Zoo
https://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/february-half-term

Check out some of the things we are up to this week too, with reviews from us and the kids.
Happy half term 😊

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E-Safety · Education · Parenting

Is Roblox Safe?

There has been a lot of focus on e-safety this past week, being that e-safety day was on the 6th February.

Naively e-safety to me meant not talking to strangers online but there is to it. Who knew? I will tell you who. My 7 year old. Here are her tips.

1. Don’t give out personal details online use a pretend name, not your real name.

2. Protect your accounts so don’t share passwords etc.

3. Report and block people who have inappropriate names. E.g (swear words)

4. If you see something you don’t like on your computer or ipad don’t turn it off. Tell an adult so that they block it or it may appear again.

I love her advice. She is more clued up than I could have hoped for.

She was given advice at school which was to not talk to strangers within the chat facilities on games such as Roblox. I asked her if she did, she said “yes I do”.

I asked why.

She said “Say Hi to me.”

So I did and she turned her back and ignored me. I repeated this a few more times she continued to ignore me.

She then said. “Mum, can you see why I can’t ignore people. It’s rude!, I won’t do that. If someone says hi. I will say hi back”.

I couldn’t argue with that.

We then had a discussion about what could be deemed as inappropriate and she told me she had already reported people with swear words as their user name and if someone said anything bad to her directly she’d show me. On occasion she has brought things to my attention but it’s things like “Mum, someone said I look ugly”

Bear in mind they don’t know what she looks like they were refering to her avatar. That’s about as serious as it’s got so far.

No environment is 100% safe but it’s how you act in the situation that determines whether it becomes a danger or not.

Roblox is most popular for 5-10 year olds. My daughter isn’t going to have the opportunity to meet anyone she speaks to online. She’s 7 she can’t go anywhere. I get that as she gets older the risks change and that’s when we will have a different conversation. After a conversation with a friend today. If it wasn’t for her intervention her grandfather’s bank account was moments away from being cleaned out by fraudsters on the phone. It’s really isn’t just young people who need to be educated on the risks and being safe online.

2 broke mums top 5 tips

1. Educate. Trust your children to make the right choices. This comes from educating them first in how to operate safely online.

2. Ask! You may well be surprised. Find out what they already know and what online safety means to them.

3. Check up on them. Let them use their gadgets freely within set boundaries and check they are adhereing to this by looking what they are doing online.

5. Speak to other parents. Educate yourself find out what their friends are doing. Get their peers user names and add them as friends that way you know that their online friends are people they know in the real world.

5. Say No! As a parent you know your children better than anyone. You know weather or not they have the maturity to be online unsupervised or not. If they really aren’t mature enough just ensure you supervise all online activities.

There are some great links below in regards to e-safety for young people of all ages.

ee onlinesafety

www.thinkyouknow.co.uk

Parenting

No labels, just mom!

imageI love being a mom, it’s challenging rewarding and fabulous all at the same time. As women I feel we are labelled in so many ways, why add labels to ourselves. I’m confident that I parent to high standard and my co parenting/ lack of a father in the home doesn’t warrant me any extra medals, praise or pity.

How do I know this? I’m surrounding by memes, quotes proclaiming how amazing single moms are. Whilst researching a little deeper I realise there is different criteria to what constitutes as a ‘real single mother’ Oh wait, you’re not a single mom…your children see their father.

So I despise people putting my boys and I into any kind of box. Settling in a mediocre relationship with someone you can’t stand the sight of just so you fit comfortably into society? Yeah that sounds sensible.

I could rant on for a while but I won’t.

I’ve never liked the label ‘single mom’. As a child I was labelled as a child from a single mother.
Yes – grew up with just my mother in the home. Was she any better a mother because she was a single women? Would she have been a better mother with a husband or partner?
My mother is amazing regardless.

Are society’s expectations of children from ‘single mothers’ lower? Well I think so yes from my own personal experience.
There is a perception of ‘single mothers’ in society and they are rarely portrayed positively in the media/TV.

After the break up of my 10 year relationship with my children’s father, I was suddenly labelled a ‘single mother’. Wow – friends and total strangers had suddenly put me in box.
I can honestly say my parenting has not changed now I’m not in a relationship with their father. Do I deserve a medal, sympathy and extra recognition? Absolutely not!
I’m a mother, whether I’m dating, cohabiting, coparenting or married my role does not change.
I’m absolutely certain that my priority has always been and will always remain my children.
Do they miss out or are disadvantaged in some way – absolutely not!
Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and parenting is never straightforward regardless of your situation.
Motherhood is hard. End of story.
Newsflash! I’m extremely happy with my life. When I do get married my parenting will remain the same, fact!
We mothers without partners don’t deserve a prize for ‘having it harder than anyone else’. The challenges of motherhood do not
discriminate. The feeling of being stretched and challenged constantly is something all mothers can identify with.
Single also conveys the sense of being alone. I don’t feel alone at all! I am very close to my siblings and to friends,
in fact I feel more connected now than I ever did during the last year of my relationship with my ex and sadly there are many mothers that are more ‘alone’ than us unmarried mothers.
I am so incredibly tired of the stereotypes women are placed into relating to the type of mother they are. You are not HER so stop judging her.

Education · Parenting

Picking a school

Thought I’d do a quick run down of what to consider when picking your child’s school.
I saw someone post on a local Facebook group asking opinions on two different schools. It got me thinking. Wow! the opinons of total strangers via Facebook probably isn’t the best way to determine whether a school is good for your child. It’s not like you’re asking for the best chippy in the area.

First and foremost know your child, each child is different. Find a school that caters to your child’s individual needs. Not just because it’s the nearest or has the best results. It still may not be right for your child. School may not be an option at all. You may want to look at homeshcooling and how that would work for your family.

Give yourself plenty if time. Research the schools you are interested in. Look at their ofsted report. Read their websites, ask for a prospectus. Ask to visit the school whilst it’s open both within the school day not just on open evenings.

Find out what the catchment area is or the requirements to get into the school. Some schools may require an entrance exam. Give your child plenty of time to prepare for such things. Will your child cope with the pressure? Always be very aware that if it’s right for your child and not just your own vanity or ego.

Once you have decided on the school for you, do the school run with your child. Is is feasible how long does it take? Can you imagine your child travelling alone after band practice on a wet Tuesday in December?

Do you know anyone who’s children attend the school if so ask their opinion. To get a further understanding on the school. Asking trusted friends who kbow you and your child is a much better way to go about things than asking opinions of strangers on Facebook.

Below are some links to websites thst may be useful.

Ofstead:

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk

Homeshcooling:

https://www.gov.uk/home-education

BBC school rankings:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42366024

Uncategorized

Saving is the new spending

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year…it hasn’t always been a barrel of laughs though. I used to leave so much to the last minute and strive for absolute perfection. The Christmas season meant sleeping and catching up with life and January playing catch up financially.
A few years ago I started Park hamper savings….I didn’t think about it much throughout the year as it just felt like another much smaller outgoing so I didn’t really miss it.  I saved a small amount each month which didn’t break the bank.  When those vouchers came it was the most magical Christmas ever. I set a small budget for everyone and shopped and wrapped before December even came. This was the beginning of planning and having a lot less stress at this time of year. It meant I could relax and enjoy Christmas with family and friends. Now December is not about rushing around, its about attending Christmas activities with the children and catching up with friends and family.
That’s when I knew saving was definitely the new spending, I know it’s not always that easy but there are many ways different ways to save.

After challenging ourselves last October to a month of not eating out – we haven’t looked back.
Eating out used to cost us a small fortune. Whether it was a meal at a nice restaurant or a Friday night take away it all adds up.
Two broke moms are now able to enjoy lovely experiences with our children…..by just changing a few habits. No one is saying you can’t enjoy some of these luxuries from time to time but changing a few habits will help save for something else that perhaps you thought was unaffordable.

A few saving tips

1. Savings tins – coffees/bottles of wine and frequent nights out have been swapped with, just weekend drinking (other than the festive season of course) dining in meals such as Gousto and Hello Fresh cooking. Our ‘Come Dine With Me’ evenings (we have fortnightly) are much more fun than an over priced meal out.
Swap that take away coffee from Costa for a coffee in a flask.
2. Pockit savings – set a target and save, save, save. Set up a dd to a savings account for special events, birthday funds & trips/holidays.
3. Save for Xmas or other events using Park, or supermarket saving schemes to spread the cost of Christmas.
4. Swap nights out for nights in. Invite friends and family round – to lighten the load ask them to bring a dish/drink.
5. Monitor your spend each month – go through your accounts – look at what have you spent, you’ll be surprised where you can cut back even if it’s by a little.
6. Check out local churches, libraries & schools for free events for the kids over Christmas.

Parenting

Santa Stress

Why do parents force their kids to see Santa?

I find it so weird.

They say it’s for the kids but the kid is crying so what are you doing? What the hell are you doing?

You know Santa isn’t real right? He isn’t some good guy that you need to appease. He’s just a bloke dressed up in a suit.

You probably spend your time telling you children about stranger danger but come December you find yourself willing your reluctant child to go sit on some strange blokes knee. What is that all about?
My theory is that we get so caught up  the festive period.  We can lose our minds. We overeat, over spend and over enthusiastically try to get our children to enjoy all aspects of what we believe Christmas to be, even if quite clearly they aren’t.

Seeing miserable kids on social media posts is not my idea of ‘tis the season to be jolly’ It all seems so unnecessary? As soon as you realise  Olivia or Jack aren’t having it and get the hell out of there. Example, you go to the park for the first time and your little person bawls her eyes out on the swing.  You don’t say what the heck we are here now and push her higher.  You stop and find something else for her too enjoy. 

I’ve seen comments such as “ he hated visiting Santa last year will go again, hopefully he likes it” Leave it hun! Go to the cinema instead or Wacky Warehouse. Visiting Father Christmas is what I would class as non essential.

I don’t for one moment think people are purposefully doing it it distress their children. I’m not referring to the children that are having a good time. I’m not calling for a Santa Claus ban.  As a Christmas lover I may be missing the point so would really love to hear your views. 

parenting

My kids having to see their dad every weekend just isn’t fair! 

My break up journey

Almost 3 years on, it’s been a roller coaster journey of emotions, change and learning. Without writing and discussing everything I think I may have gone crazy (no exaggeration) It’s been an emotional drain at times but also a huge learning process.

Things a not perfect now but it’s useful to reflect and see where the journey began and how far you’ve come.

I hope the documentation I can help others dealing with a messy break up, co-parenting, separating emotions and all other areas of co-parenting with someone you once loved but now can’t stand the sight of (just being honest).
A women’s journey break up, court and shared care.
Part 1 The Initial Break up!

The lead up to the break up
9 years into our relationship and life just wasn’t the same. We’d had a great positive relationship and partnership and this was fading away. We’d always had a mostly great relationship. We did things as a couple and as a family we have many fond memories. Looking back the change began when I returned to work after maternity leave with my second son (possibly before on reflection). We just weren’t on the same page. I went back to work and was given extra responsibility. I soon realised this was not what I wanted…I’d become a teacher to have a better lifestyle for my children. I wasn’t, I was tired, felt restricted and lived for weekends and school holidays. I wanted more, I wanted freedom, this was not the life I wanted to continue to live.
Everything began to dwindle, our home, our family time and our relationship. Things didn’t improve, I made the decision that I did not want to continue. We both deserved to be happy and we weren’t. My children deserved their parents to be happy…after all happy people make happy parents.
After a 10 year relationship and sharing the responsibility and care of our children it was now time decide how much time we should have.
I’ll be honest, separating my feelings towards him and my boys was the hardest thing initially. The thought of not seeing them for a day (or even more was heartbreaking)
Naively I thought we’d be able to amicably sort arrangements for the children between us. Why wouldn’t we? We’d had a great positive relationship and always put our boys first.   After a break up though things change you see a different side to them and yourself.
Unfortunately we were unable to agree.

Parenting · Uncategorized

Things to do…..October half term

Are the kids bored yet? Nearly half way through the half term holidays…and sometimes it’s hard to keep them busy.
If you’re home with the kids this half term and have run out of things to keep the little ones entertained….check out our list below
1. Check out you local library they often have free events throughout the holidays.
2. Movie day – (really a day you can lounge about and do nothing…eat junk food and it’s Free and you don’t have to leave the house.
Or visit you local Odeon, Vue or Reel cinema for an early morning, cheaper than usual kids club cinema. £2.50 or less for selected films.
3. Go for a walk…..whether it’s sunny or rainy embrace the weather and go for a walk it’s a great way to unwind and wear the kids out.
4. Make a cake….great rainy day activity.
5. Visit a local farm…it’s pumpkin season and almost Halloween…why not go pumpkin picking.
Fancy treating the kids to lunch or dinner this week. Find your local Toby carvery, Giraffe, Prezzo, Frankie and bennys, La Tasca and Hungry Horse. Kids eat FREE or for £1 with a full paying adult.
Visiting London this week?
Kids go absolutely free to The Shard in London.
Check out these useful websites
Andrea x

 

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Ear Piercing-What is the right age? 

My 7 yr old asked to have her ears pierced last week.

I always said she could have them done when she asked. She initially asked when she was almost 5 so we got them done then. Trying to be responsible I took them out after 6 weeks when she went back to school after the summer holidays and then I forgot to put them in that evening. They closed up and she didn’t want to get them done again. I asked her several times in between whether she would like it done again she point blank refused. Then out of the blue she asked and we got it done with minimal fuss. Her ears her choice.

She will have to go to school with big plasters on her ears due to health and safety and  it got me thinking. Had I done the right thing? What is the right age?

I must admit I think it’s abhorrent to get a baby’s ears pierced. I don’t think a parent/guardian or anyone has the right to poke holes in a child without consent. If it was medical I’d have a different opinion but it’s purely vanity.  On the flip side If a child chooses to have them pierced what age is too young? Personally my issue is solely about consent so as soon as a child can communicate the fact they would like it done then fine.

If an adult was to pierce another adult without their consent it would be classed as assault so why can we do it to a nonconsensual child?   I have made it very clear to my daughter from a very young age that her body is hers  and hers alone. No one touches her or makes decisions about her body. Not even me! I don’t want to be a hypocrite.


Disclaimer: I will go all out Incredible Hulk mode if she tried to tattoo or pierce her face. The face belongs to ME!


I hear arguments that it hurts less if you pierce a baby ears than an older child.

“How the **** would you know?” is my reply ( in my head). 


I had my ears pierced several times in several parts of my ear  from the age of 10- 16. It stings a bit it’s hardly root canal surgery. So that is not a good enough reason at all. On the flip side lots of the mums in my daughters school would not let their child get their ears pierced at all, after a few discussions I know they would think I was being irresponsible. Which I don’t have an issue with.

In England and Wales there are actually no age restrictions on any piercing and many piercers have imposed their own rules and guidelines. Until something concrete is put in place the debate will rumble on as no one is breaking any laws. So each to their own.

I would love to hear your opinions and comments.

Uncategorized

Christmas the not so broke way 

I used to despise Christmas before I had my daughter. I didn’t want to join in. I could have quite happily deleted the whole month of December. I would ignore the fact it was happening then guilt would get me and I’d run around on Christmas eve buying presents for people with January’s pay then be broke from 1st of Jan until the 31st. Oh how things have changed.


Now I love it! One year the tree was up at Halloween! (Don’t judge me it was my baby’s first Christmas). I don’t go ott with gifts. I have a plan of who I’m buying for and stick to it. When you come from a massive family like mine you have to make choices. I can’t buy for everyone. I’d need the GDP of a small nation. I do buy some contingency gifts too because you always forget someone and then the pressure is off. I don’t have that guilt, I don’t overspend and there is no rushing about. It’s just chilled and relaxed. I then drink mulled wine in peace throughout the whole festive period (October- January).

How do I do it?

Well a few years ago the other broke mum Andrea had these vouchers come through the post for various different shops. Christmas, down to the food was a paid for just like that. She was able to shop freely and not have to worry about it. She was saving through Park. I’d heard of them but never really paid much interest. I immediately had a look and signed up. The first year I did it was a lifesaver I began to struggling financially as my business wasn’t doing very well. Had I not saved, Christmas would have been miserable. I had been putting aside around £40 per month. Come the end of September the vouchers arrived all £450 worth. All my shopping was done on the one day and then the presents were put away safely until December. It was great. After a truly crappy year that was the best thing I did. I even had enough to treat myself to a Fitbit.

The following year I revised how much I was saving and realised I was saving way too much. I’d end up with vouchers just for the sake of it so revised the amount in the June and realised I’d already hit my new target. The website is easy to use and very flexible. You can change you budget at any time up until around August.

This year we’ve planned to have a Christmas day in September where we do our whole shopping have a Prosecco lunch then wrap all the gifts with Xmas songs and mulled wine and put them away until it’s time to get the tree down.

We can’t wait x

www.getpark.co.uk