secretes to travelling with toddlers

I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers


The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.

 

I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers

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how do you make sure you're teenagers are safe when they're online?
One of the biggest leap of faith I have to take while raising teenagers is having the courage to trust them when using the internet. While I can keep an eye on where they go when out and about and for how long (the advantage of living in a village) when it comes to letting them loose online, it’s one place I’m all to aware that they’re one step ahead of me.
Gone are the days where we had rules about only being online when I’m in the same room and choosing / vetting any websites they go on. These days, it’s a fine line between giving them the privacy that all teenagers crave while reminding them of the rules of keeping away from the deep dark web.
As a mum (or dad ) so many scenarios haunt you; from cyber bullying, violence, using and learning bad language and pornography. You here the stats all the time, one study by Kaspersky, the global cyber security company, of 5040 children age 10-15 found that over 2/3’s  had heard bad language, a 1/3 had witnessed violence online and 1/4 seen pornography. Not happy reading for any parent is it?

So that’s my wake up call, I need to up my game and find that balance as those are pretty scary statistics and I’m pretty sure my boys would know how to find anything I’d find worrying! So what am I going to do about it?
First things first, I’m going to have THE CHAT (again) I’m pencilling in a nice, tea time slot or maybe a car journey, yeah, a car journey would be better. Side ways conversations always work well with boys, minimum eye contact and all that. And then, once said chat has been executed and received, I’m going to look at ways to make sure I’m back holding the protective reins once again.
All be it a little slacker, and maybe sneakier than before.
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This is a collaborative post with Kaspersky and a reminder to check your parental controls! 
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creating extraordinary moments with Cow and Gate

*This is an advertorial post in collaboration with Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk.*

 

Our bedtime routine is pretty run of the mill; bath, brush teeth and a story.  Sounds easy right? You’d think so, but what tends to happen  is that he gets more lively in the last 30 minutes before lights out, almost like he’s letting off the last bit of steam before he can truly relax and pack in some zzzzz’s (how he has any left is beyond me) he’s pretty good and once he’s asleep, he’s out for the count until morning.

This week we’ve been trying something a little different. We’ve been creating some extraordinary moments with the Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk website.

This week we’ve been on a mission to the moon!

Thanks to Cow and Gate Growing Up Milk our story times have gone all interactive and technological with a personal story book created on their website. After much consideration choosing which adventure he’d like to go on, my rocket loving boy thought it’d be fun to go visit the moon which we look out the window for most nights. So after gathering up the right equipment; a space helmet, some moon rocks and making a discovery bottle full of glitter and sequins we were ready to go!

creating extraordinary moments with an online interactive story book

 

Then at bedtime we swapped our usual collection of books (I say collection, but really mean library, he literally wants to me to read everything he has in his bookcase!) for a personalised story  on the laptop which I’d made earlier. Popping some details (who the story was about, Mummy and Ronnie in our case) adding a landscape photo with some space around the sides and pressing create.

Toddlers love nothing better than seeing themselves on the screen so as we re-lived our mission to the moon, armed once again with his space helmet and moon rocks in hand, he was ready to hear the story about the time Mummy and Ronnie went to the moon. And for a rare moment, my boy was calm and engaged instead of listening to me read while practicing somersaults and headstands.

greating extraodanary moments with cow & gate with your toddler and this really cute online book

Toddlers love nothing better than seeing themselves on the screen so as well relived our mission to the moon, armed once again with his space helmet and moon rocks, he was ready to hear all about the time Mummy and Ronnie went to the moon. And for a rare moment, my boy was calm and engaged instead of listening to me read while practicing somersaults and headstands.

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This is a sponsored post 

 

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I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself to keep check on the parental controls on all the devices my kids have. It’s been really easy to let things slip as they get a little older but compared to how I was with my older son, the tween has a lot more freedom. While I’m fully aware that this whole parenting game is pretty much trial and error (should profusely apologise to my teenager at this point, he has been a total learning curve) now I’ve settled into the role and am a lot more confident that I’m doing ok, I’ve been free wheeling with the tween.

But he’s the quiet one, the one which won’t make a fuss and just go about his day playing his xbox, checking his phone and watching TV when we’re home, while my lively toddler takes up a lot of my time. We always used to joke that my sister, the middle child, only ever appeared so well behaved (compared to me) because she was so quiet and in hindsight, she wasn’t the total squeaky clean teen we all thought she was. Silence was her virtue, where as open and nonchalant me got away with nothing!

So I’m using that gift of hindsight to take a reality check on my quiet little 12 year old and setting up parental controls on his iPhone, sorry son! He’s at such a vulnerable and impressionable age and the internet can be a dark, dark place. I had been using a Home Halo device to filter unsuitable websites to their devices. The peace of mind it gave me was invaluable but since that packed in, I’m relying on the BT broadband parental controls as well as setting up the correct ages on all their apple devices and keeping check on browsing histories that they’re not access anything they shouldn’t which has slipped the net.

KidzInMind is an ‘app of apps’, unlocking over £50 worth of educational games and apps that can be played by children on smartphones & tablets

Social networking is a big scare factor for any parent theses days but I do feel it’s something which we have to allow. I regularly check my tween’s followers and at 12 I think it’s not unreasonable to know his passcodes, making sure we have that conversation about staying safe online  and for him to know that I’ll be doing it so he can exercise a little self control.

My real concerns, however, are when he’s searching the web and the possibility of him stumbling on things by mistake.  knowing where to start when your kids get new devices is a total mine field though. Even a technology loving mum like myself is finding it harder to stay ahead of the game. Initiatives like those offered by the NSPCC and  O2 provide parents with the free advice and technical support they need to keep children safe online.

For example, they run workshops with parents across the country, and offer a free dedicated helpline service – 0808 800 5002 – for any internet safety questions (i.e. setting parental controls). Additionally parents can get hands-on free assistance in-store with O2 Gurus. (you can book an appointment here)

With the statistics showing that;

  • Childline has seen a 60% year on year increase in counselling sessions with children left worried after seeing porn online.
  • ·      NSPCC research found that children were as likely to find pornography accidentally, as to deliberately search for it.
  • ·      Web traffic to the NSPCC’s parent advice on protecting young people from the impact of porn has increased by 58% during 2016.

Setting parental controls is something to be taken very seriously.

making sure your kids don't loose their momentum when it comes to their education is easy with these fun homework ideas

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This is a collaborative post 

 

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If I’m honest, this whole single parent title still doesn’t feel real. I know  that I am one, but I try hard to not to let it define me or what I do. I just get on with being me, mum to three amazing boys. It is tough at times; you can’t make plans at the drop of a hat knowing you’ve got a partner or husband around to hold the fort. Far from it tbh, any occasion which requires childcare takes careful consideration and planning.

On the plus side, you know you do have certain times where you do have a day or night sans kiddos and this is where you really get a taste of a valuable life skill;

I time manage like a pro

I know that for the next month at least, I have definite days where I’m child free and I use those days wisely. These are the snippets of my week where I schedule the pants out of every hour to get as much as I can done. On the flip side, my weekend day with my boys are precious. Week days are spent running errands, working my butt off to keep the wolf from the door, keeping on top the housework, making sure the kids are doing homework and carring out their chores while I get the sole pleasure of any house maintenance which doesn’t require a professional.

In a nutshell, my week is chuffing, great, supersized busy with sparkles on . My planner in my co pilot and  off days just aint happening.

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

I roll with the punches

From the outside, I probably look like I’m occasionally lacking in emotions. (aka Cold-Hearted-Bitch) taking situations at face value, assessing the damage & rocking on. My close friends and family will tell you otherwise. But what I do have to do is be very careful not to let stress define my parenting. I compartmentalise those tricky situations and deal with them in my own time, putting them aside while I do mum stuff. If a drama doesn’t seem worth the effort I don’t give it the time of day. I’ve been through immense emotional stress, hit rock bottom and that’s my gauge. I know I can roll with the little punches as I’ve hardened up to the little stresses and as sole carer I can’t afford to give in and crumble.

I don’t feel guilty taking my mum hat off

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always a mum and even on my child free days I’m thinking about my kids. But I’ve learnt not to feel guilty when I’m not with them. That one took a lot of soul searching and long phone calls from my go-to family and friends, but I got there. Tough love (from them) wise words, hugs, tea and sympathy got me to a position where I know I need a me-time recharge for the week ahead and fun times to ease the responsibility.  I make use of every minute I’m away from them and when it’s pick up time, I;m straight back into my mum role. It’s also given me the confidence to let go little, my kids are safe and happy with their dad, and I that’s all that matters.

I’m a budget queen

Being good with your money is a must whatever your relationship status, but when you’re on your own and you have mouths to feed, children to clothe and entertain as well as a house to run, every penny counts.
Not having 2 wages coming in is completely pants but in some ways it’s actually easier managing your finances as a single parent. I have complete control of the finances. I know exactly what’s going in and out. Every silver lining and all that jazz.
I’ve learnt to rein in the impulsive spending sessions, and when I do splurge. I budget the rest of the month. And I’ve had to learn to say no. It kills me when the kids ask for things I know I can’t afford, I’ve had to drag out that tough love again and again and bargain with alternatives.
When I first took on this whole new adventure I sat down and went through all my outgoings with a fine tooth comb. I changed electricity suppliers, got rid of insurances I didn’t need. Switched to a water meter and set up a buffer account to handle emergencies. I also listened to the advice of other single parents.

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

I am stronger, braver, smarter than I think

Wise words from Mr Pooh. Sometimes that chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff knows his stuff when he utters those little words of wisdom. Being a single parent has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was. The thought of running the helm single handed once terrified me.

How will I cope at the end of the day, when my energy is at its lowest, my patience is waning and I have no one coming through the door to share the load?

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s tough. There are days when the sofa has a magnetic pull so strong I have to fight every urge to curl up and hide from my duties. But that’s simply not an option. When those times hit, I dust myself down, push through the wall of ‘I can’t do this’ and get on with it.

I’m stronger than I think.

On the really tough days I pop a pizza in the oven, justify the lack of fresh, nutrition with a few slices of cucumber & chopped pepper on the side and we eat.

I ask for help, something which I was never very good at before. But I got brave to admitting I need help for the simple reason that I can’t let things slip, especially my health.  Sick days are not an option, I’ve just got to get on with it and look after my body and mind in the best possible way; I eat healthy, I keep fit and I practice mindfulness.

I’ve braver than I think!

And I stop beating myself up that I’m failing at this single parenting lark.

My house is clean, the bailiffs aren’t knocking on the door, my boys are happy, healthy and I haven’t hit the social services radar. I’m not doing too bad in the grand scheme of things, time to have few words with my self and see the glass as half full.

Seriously lady, you’re wiser than you think!

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

 

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