Reasons To Love January

Poor old January – doesn’t it get a tough press? Middle of winter, bleak, grey, cold, financially troubling, nothing to celebrate, long, sometimes ‘dry’ etc etc…

While all that sounds very convincing I am here to shine a light on the more attractive elements of this here first month.

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A Day Out With Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine…the stuff that obsessions are made of. Well, actually not in our household. We have never been struck with the Thomas bug. It’s not that we don’t like him, there’s a certain fondness certainly – it’s just that he has never inspired the sort of all-consuming passion in my son that windmills, fire engines and bin lorries have. Adding to this slight ambivalence is a mild to moderate fear of very loud noises – station platforms have been known to send him into quite the frightened tailspin.

So you may think that it was with a certain sadism that I gleefully accepted the Watercress Line’s invitation to A Day Out With Thomas

Man and boy walking through train station onto platform
What horror looms ahead my boy!?

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My Snap Happy Son

My three year old has discovered (and therefore I have just discovered) that one can take photos on one’s iPad without unlocking said iPad.

My son thinks this is amazing. I am indifferent and will always unlock my iPad to take a picture because I am essentially a technological relic.

Anyway scrolling through my gallery the other day led me to some shots that are cronkier, wonkier and more blurry than my usual ones…

Yet somehow these little gems are sweeter than any of my attempts – they are infused with a childish simplicity that makes me smile.

My son chooses to take pictures of things he loves in the house; the kitchen clock, the kitchen bin, his toys, his parents, his sister. His small world is getting bigger by the minute but for now this is his world – this is his happy.

And so, in what could be the most ill-conceived photo-blog post of all time, allow me to present the photographic gallery of my three year old:

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An Ode to Garden Centres & Wyevale Christmas Event Review

I love a good garden centre…I don’t even care if that makes me sound 84….I really do. I’ve spent the last three years culminating special relationships with my local garden centres – they are my ‘go to’ destination with my son. I wonder sometimes if they know what a glorious gift they’ve given to the parent attempting to entertain a small being all week…

Need fresh air but it’s pouring and your child, like mine, has a rain aversion? What’s that…? A covered outside area with trees to boot? Yes please.

Are you considering remortgaging and taking a trip to the zoo? May I interest you instead in a selection of miniature (and quite lifelike) animal statues?

Imaginative ‘real world’ play? Let the display sheds step up to the plate…

Educational resource? Hello clock aisle.

Throw in a cafe, a play area and hours of entertainment watching the water features and you’ve got yourself a whole day’s worth of activity. You’re welcome. Some even have small soft play areas if that’s your bag. It’s not mine. We tried it once and my son turned feral in the ball pit so we beat a swift retreat. Continue reading

What’s Your Parenting Style?

What is my parenting style? What type of parent am I? It’s a question I have asked myself from time to time in the three years I’ve been a parent and I don’t really know. Labels don’t hold much sway with me and I don’t think I can definitively put myself in any one parenting box.

My husband and I are alert but laid back, impatient but patient: we follow some routines, we discipline, have rules, use a lot of the theories of gentle parenting and are awed at the sometimes sanity-saving techniques of playful parenting.

What I am coming to realise, however, is that this doesn’t make us parents without labels – instead we are covering ourselves with labels in an exuberant and scattergun fashion, like a toddler let loose with a sticker sheet…

So let me give you a flavour of just some of the ‘techniques’ that we use in what is actually a veritable pick and mix of parenting boxes:

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Ten Rules of London Etiquette

I used to make frequent visits to London pre-son – I worked there for a time so commuted daily to our fair capital and, following that, made regular trips to see friends, have jaunts and attend events.

Admittedly I’m a little out of practice, but overall I thought I had the whole ‘big city’ thing pretty well sorted. That is until this week – we took our son (nearly three) on his first proper trip to London to visit Big Ben and my eyes have been well and truly opened – I have been ‘doing’ London all wrong.

To save you from the same embarrassing mid-trip realisation I urge you to take heed readers – leave your quiet done-this-before nonchalance on the platform and take not another step in the Big Smoke without first complying with the following guidelines of London Etiquette:

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Southampton Swing Watch

I’m launching a new mini-series! An incredibly niche, of little interest to most of my readers, mini-series! Hurray!

International readers can click away now. National readers can probably click away, although I will be going ‘on tour’ round the country… But local readers? Well local readers with small children stay right where you are (please, thank you) and let’s talk playgrounds together…
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Pregnancy Etiquette Guide

I’ve written before about unhelpful things people shouldn’t say to parents and now I’m moving on to the pre-stage. We all know pregnant people and so, in the manner of a public service information fact sheet, I thought I’d share with you a few little phrases (and the responses they may elicit if the person you’re talking to is unfiltered, grumpy and sarcastic) that you might like to avoid if faced with a ginormous, sallow-faced hulk of woman, ie. a pregnant woman who is clearly not blooming. Or, perhaps more accurately, a woman who already has young children who is now pregnant. Me.
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11 Tunes From My Parenting Soundtrack

You know when you, your friends or perhaps your children say something that just has to have a song lyric attached? Who, for example, hasn’t shouted ‘STOP’…then followed it up with ‘in the name of love’ or the slightly more bouncy ‘right now, thank you very much…’!?

Well, since having a child (now a 2 year old) my husband and I do this A LOT. This means that our parenting soundtrack is currently a heady mix of nursery rhymes, Bob the Builder/Little Red Tractor/Timmy Time and completely random snatches of random songs.
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