Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Joy Of Sleep: Simple Tips For Sleep-Deprived Parents

For many parents, nothing is more of a challenge than trying to muddle through the day on a serious lack of sleep. Even if you’re blessed with children who sleep through from an early age, it can be rare to get through a week without at least a few disruptions. It can also be all too easy to get used to a lack of sleep, which makes adapting to a ‘normal’ routine tricky. If you’re a parent craving a good night’s sleep, here are simple tips to try.





Adopt your own routine
As a parent, you’re probably used to routines, but they usually involve your kids. You probably focus all your attention on trying to get your little ones into a regime and don’t think twice about your own. The truth is that sleep routines aren’t just for kids. Your body has a clock, and if you can get used to a pattern that suits you, this will be hugely beneficial for your health and wellbeing. If you’re one of those parents who finds themselves drifting off on the sofa in front of the TV, start going to bed earlier, and be as regimented with your regime as you are with your children’s. You can use a sleep tracking app or simply just work out how much sleep you need, and adapt your timetable accordingly. Try and stick to these times, even if you do get a rare opportunity to enjoy a lie-in.

Make your bedroom inviting and relaxing
Has your bedroom become a second playroom? Is it more of a noisy meeting place than a serene retreat? Many kids like to hang out in their parent’s bedrooms, but try and make this a tranquil place, where you can get some respite after a long day. Socialise with your children in their bedrooms or play together in the kitchen. By all means, have the kids in with you in the morning for cuddles, but try to keep this a relaxing space, especially in the evenings. If you’re fed up of perching on the edge of the bed while the kids sprawl out or you find it hard to get comfortable at night, have a look at some mattresses on websites like John Ryan by Design or take a trip to a showroom and try some different options for size. Make the room more cosy with lamps, cushions, and throws, and try and avoid bringing tablets and phones into your room. Ideally, you want to feel relaxed and calm the moment you walk through the door.

Switch off
This is easier said than done when you’re a parent, but it’s so important. Once the children have gone to bed, do something you find relaxing and enjoyable for an hour or so before you head up to your room. Run a bath, read a magazine or put some music on. Do some sewing, call a friend for a catch-up and chill out in front of the TV.




Parenting presents many challenges, including trying to power through the day on limited sleep. If you’re a tired parent, hopefully, you’ll find these tips handy.




**This is a collaborative post.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Go, Go Power Rangers // Fisher-Price Imaginext Power Rangers Morphin Megazord

The twins are massive Power Ranger fans, and often dress up as their favourite Red Ranger.
I remember watching it as a child and always wanting to be the Pink Ranger, so its quite nice to see them enjoying something I used to enjoy.
We all enjoy watching some of the old school episodes on Netflix's.

When asked if we wanted to review the brand new imagined Morphin Megazord playset, I knew they would think Christmas had come early!


They play-set comes with the Red Ranger and the Black Ranger, I had a dreaded feeling they're would be massive arguments who got the red one, but that hasn't happened and they're both pretty happy to take it in turns being the red ranger.


Key Features;

    4 activation Power Pads let little ones control the action
·         Turn Power Pad on left shoulder for awesome transformation: chest opens, eyes light up, and cannon pops out!
·         Turn another Power Pad in chest to fire Power Coins
·         Turn 3rd Power Pad above left knee to raise projectile launcher and push button to fire
·         Turn 4th Power Pad above right knee to activate chomping action
·         Back of playset features jail, meeting area, elevator and more  with multiple levels and platforms for added play
·         Figure fits in back of Megazords head
·         Includes Morphin Megazord, Red and Black Power Rangers figures, 6 Power Coins and 7 Power Missiles


The boys have endless fun playing with the Megazord, I've lost count of the times I've been shot by a missile.
They bring him down to watch Power Rangers with them and then try to act out the scenes with the play set.

I have been told, that this is the best toy ever!


I love all the detail on the Megazord, and I can that tell this toy won't break easily, It's been twin tested!.
It's totally worth the higher price tag, as this is a toy that will be played with daily for a long time to come.
I can't see the twins getting bored of it anytime soon.


Available from Argos for £49.99*
suitable for ages 3 and up.
**Price correct at the time of posting.

This Is The Book Thats Replaced The iPad. This Is The Book Thats Helped Bring Back Sleep


I was in two minds about writing this post, as I really really don't want to jinx it....but I'm so thrilled that I kinda have to share it!

We seem to have cracked Ru's sleep issues!


We were hoping for a miracle from the specialist health visitor, but she didn't really have any tips and tricks I hadn't really tried.

So I decided I had to re try one that I tried a while back but completely failed at.
Taking away the screen time.
Rupert has a big love for the iPad and when I took it away before it only resulted in him head banging and just getting completely out of control.

I tried a new way to combat this....whilst Ru was in the bath at 6, the TV turns off and we hide the iPad whilst he's not looking.
After the bath he'll ask for it but we then tell him its broken and we'll get a new one tomorrow.

This little white lie has worked and you can see him thinking about it, he'll then re tell us its broken and that he wants a blue one tomorrow.

I will then take him into his room at 7 and read 'This Is The Bear' and then he will re-tell it to me and then we'll turn off his moon light and sing incy wincy spider about 20 times and then by 8pm he is
ASLEEP!

He will wake around 11/12ish but he'll come and get into our bed and go straight back to sleep.
I am no longer laying on his floor and stupid hours of the night willing him to fall to sleep.
The iPad no longer rules our life, we're no longer afraid of it running out of battery.

We can relax a little.

This has been going on for a whole week now.
We've got our evenings back, he's in a better routine and the meltdowns aren't as crazy.

I don't mind co-sleeping with him, a kick in the leg/face/tummy is far better than laying on his floor wanting to cry my eyes out.

It's opened my eyes to the power screen time has over a child.
I swore till I was blue in the face that I had control over it, but I don't think I really did.

I'm hoping this stays like this and I know for sure that I won't be changing the no TV or iPad after 6pm rule, as even the other boys are doing well without it.

To be honest, the last few days the tv has rarely been on and its so enjoyable not having the constant noise in the background.



Monday, 20 March 2017

Nintendo Plush // Mario

We are all massive Nintendo fans and both Jon and I grew up playing the SNES and NES, which we still play on and we also are both pretty addicted to our DS's.

Noah is our new Nintendo geek and is dropping daily hints that he wants to get the new Nintendo Switch!
Jon is also pretty eager to add it to his Nintendo collection.

So when I was asked if I wanted to do a mini review on the brand new Nintendo plushes from Jakks  I jumped at the chance.


Jakks do a whole range of the Nintendo plushes including Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Princess Peach.
They are all rather cute and great for kids and collectors alike.
Super soft and would make ideal presents.

Noah was over the moon with his Mario, and as soon as he was out the packaging he ran into his room to hide it from the others!

I managed to sneak him away for Mario to have a little photoshoot / a trip down memory lane with all our old school consoles.


The plushes cost £9.99 and you can find them over on amazon.

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The release of these brand new plushes ties in very nicely with the launch of the Nintendo Switch, which is out now!




Low Maintenance Pets for the Kids

“Mum, I want a dog!”

“Mum, why don’t we have a cat?!”

Sound like something your kids say?
If only they realised that it wasn’t as easy as simply buying a cat or a dog and letting it loose in the house. From a child’s point of view having a pet is simple; you feed it, pet it and play with it, but we know it’s a much bigger deal than that. Owning one of those furry friends costs money and takes time and effort to maintain and care for. Keeping them clean, making sure they’re healthy—the list goes on. That’s why you should consider getting a low maintenance pet for your kids instead.

Hermit Crab

These little guys are one of the cheapest pets you could get and also an easy way to introduce your child to the idea of responsibility and pet ownership. Most of the things they require are self-explanatory. 
A plastic aquarium makes for a sufficient living space, be sure to place some gravel on the bottom, with larger rocks, wood, and plants as decoration. Apart from water and food, which can easily and cheaply be bought from a regular pet store, they require a new shell every so often once they outgrow their old one, but that’s also easily bought from a pet store.


Gecko

Much like the hermit crab, a gecko is a very simple and inexpensive pet to own. You can find geckos for sale for no more than $20, or if you feel like spending more, up to $75. The requirements for living space are also very similar; a terrarium, plastic or glass, with some sand at the bottom, rocks and a lamp to heat the terrarium. Geckos eat mealworms, which can be bought at a pet store for just a few cents per serving.

Fish

Another pet that lives inside a glass container, although this one’s filled with water. Fish make great first pets and are one of the cheapest to maintain and care for. 
Of course, there’s different types of fish, each with their own requirements, some more expensive than others. 
A betta fish is the least costly, only requiring a simple glass bowl and food that costs no more than $20 per year. If you feel like owning something different and you have a pond in your backyard, you could consider looking into a koi carp; a slightly larger, exotic fish that looks absolutely beautiful. Costs vary depending on the size, so for more information check out a Koi Carp website
It’s as low maintenance as any other fish, but with the added benefit of looking absolutely amazing.


Rat

Excuse me? Yes, you read that correctly. Even though people might not like the idea of owning one, they’re very inexpensive and make great pets. Contrary to popular belief, rats are actually very affectionate and loving creatures as well as very intelligent. It would typically cost around $300 a year for a rat, including the cost of food, bedding, and toys. Their cage needs weekly cleaning and about an hour of time outside the cage each day.

**This is a collaborative post

VR Insane Pop 360

A new British brand, VR Insane™, have developed an amazing new virtual reality (VR) headset designed for kids and adults alike.

The POP360 VR headset is ultra-comfortable, lightweight (only 200g) and highly portable.  Made from a soft silicon rubber (similar to the feel of a snorkel mask), it collapses down to only 40mm, enabling compact storage inside the included hard-shell travel case.

VR Insane™ also offer 2 free apps with the POP360.  Available for iOS (Apple) and Android devices, POP360 owners can download the VR Insane™ app and VR Insane™ Kids app by scanning the QR code supplied with the headset.


Richard , Director at VR Insane™ commented “We’ve spent a lot of time and effort developing the right headset and app bundle for the market; we see our product as an easy, family-friendly introduction to the world of virtual reality.  
Our apps offer a library of what we believe to be the best VR videos out there and provide users with quick and immersive light entertainment.”
Regarding the recent release of the VR Insane™ Kids app, added “We have seen the enthusiasm kids have for VR.  

They love jumping into the Jungle Book or surrounding themselves in a world of virtual dinosaurs. 
It was natural for us to develop a dedicated app for kids to enjoy.”




Suitable for smartphones with a 4.5”-6” screen size, the POP360 has a top-mounted touchscreen button (Google Cardboard II compatible) for interacting with your content. This means you have control (play/pause etc) over your videos and interactivity (shoot/move) with your games, without the need to take off your headset. 
With a wide 96 field-of-view and suitable for use with glasses, the POP360 is available now from a variety of global retailers and www.vrinsane.com for £19.99.


Noah has been begging me to get him a VR headset, and I have always said no as I thought they were over priced and on occasion I'm pretty mean lol.

When I heard about VRinsane's new POP360 headset I asked them very nicely if we could try out a headset, the guys were awesome and said of course.

The headset is very reasonably priced at £19.99 and would make the perfect present for any boy whose into his gadgets.

Noah pretty much flipped out when he saw the box on the table!
After we installed all the right apps on my phone, he popped it into the headset and sat their shouting OMG THIS IS AMAZING!

I had to see what all the fuss was about, and actually it was pretty amazing!
Noah had to fight me off it, as I was enjoying trying out all the different videos that the app had to offer.

The headset can be adjusted to fit most head sizes, and I can ever wear it with my glasses, though I felt better wearing it without them on.

Both the adult and kid app are great and have a good range of different videos, which update constantly. So you'll never run short of watching something different!

Noah gives the POP360 headset 10/10.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunday Morning Vibes

Sunday morning lay ins are still non existence in this house.
Instead we're all up by 7 (at the latest) and greeted by an array of superheroes / animals.
As the boys pretty much fall out of bed and into a costume.

These boys would live in costumes 24/7 if they had it there way!

Breakfast is always finished by 8 and I'm left with the aftermath to clean up.
Which always resembles a bomb site, how they can make so much mess just from four bowls of cereal is beyond me.

But before the bomb squad sets up, a big cup of coffee always comes first.


What are your Sunday mornings like?


Photalife

Friday, 17 March 2017

Mummy Time // Mulberry Retreat Heacham

Back before February half term my mum was coming up to spend some time with us and she decided to book us two into the local spa.
unfortunately due to Oscar being admitted to hospital we were unable to attend.

So my mother being the lovely lady that she is, left a nice deposit behind the desk and told me to book in when everything had calmed down and I had a spare day to go and be pampered.

Wednesday was that day.
A few weeks of terrible meltdowns and next to no sleep, I think I was over due being pampered.


I booked myself in for an Aroma Blend, Refine & Firm Massage.

A completely new approach to massage and body sculpting. This highly effective body shaping ritual is completely bespoke to you and your needs. Your body will feel recharged and your emotions balanced.

I also booked to have my eyebrows shaped and tidied.

But before I had any treatments I took full advantage of my child free day and spent an hour in their thermal spa.
Where I enjoyed the hot tub, sauna and steam room!



The thermal spa was lovely, I was the only one in there so I could fully relax and enjoy the silence!
I did take my book with me, but I actually preferred just sitting with my eye closed and having my mind completely blank.

It was pure bliss!
I was worried I was going to feel a bit like billy no mates, but I can see myself going along again.


My massage was something else, it was relaxing yet vigorous.
I dont think I've been pulled and push like that ever before during a massage, but I felt 10,000 x better afterwards that I did before.


I finished my trip with an eyebrow tidy, which was very much needed.
They were starting to resemble a very hairy caterpillar.


I'm starting to thinking that a mini spa days are going to be essential!
Because after all looking after 4 very wild and crazy boys certainly does wear you out.

How do you treat yourself?


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Reaping The Benefits Of Outdoor Play.

When it comes to outdoor play I pretty much enforce it (in a nice way) on the boys.
They all have so much energy, that there really isn't a better way than getting rid of it by being in the great outdoors.
Wether that be out in the garden, on a woodland walk, down by the beach or at the local park!



My most wild child is Ru, and every time he goes out the benefits of outdoor play are so clear to see.
He's happier, he's speaks more, he's confident and he takes a keen interest in what the other boys are doing around him.

Compared to when he's stuck indoors all day.
Where meltdowns are more likely to happen and less play is done.

Even his nursery teachers tell me the difference in him once he's been outside is amazing.
He is lucky enough to go to a little nursery right in the middle of the woods, just down from Sandringham.
When they aren't out in the woods, they are encouraged to go into the garden and play on the outdoor play equipment.



The twins have always been outdoor boys and love nothing more than playing at in the park.
Running around and throwing themselves down the slide.

After their first day at their new school, they came running out with huge grins on their faces to tell me all about the cool playground equipment they had.

The equipment is was built like a castle and has all these different walls to climb over and under.
The fun they can have whilst playing on it is endless!

At their previous school there was nothing like that, so for them to be so pleased over something that should be common in most schools, made me think why do some schools not promote being active?

 independent research commissioned by ESP and carried out by Liverpool John Moores University, we discovered that the average amount of physical activity taking place during PE lessons was remarkably low. The report demonstrated that “68% of a child’s PE lesson is spent stationary”

That to me is unacceptable and makes me think no wonder 1 in 3 children are overweight!

The schools should play a part in keeping children active as well as the parents!



When the boys aren't in the garden wrestling each other or playing football, I love taking them up to the woods for a bear hunt and tree climbing.
They usually return home covered in mud but they are always smiling!

Not only does it do them the world of good, it helps me clear my head specially if they've been bickering most of the morning.



Outdoor play is also great for encouraging children’s creativity
Away from the constraints and confinement of indoor play, being outside children’s imaginations are often stimulated by the objects around them and they quickly tap into their creativity.

I certainly see a lot more creative play when the boys are outside.
There are less boundaries and that gives them the freedom they need to really challenge their imaginations!



**In collaboration with ESP Play.

Are You Making Enough Memories With Your Kids?

One thing you really notice as soon as you have children is that time starts to fly by. And, given the busy lifestyles we lead and the pressures we are all under to ‘raise our kids right,’ there are often things that we miss due to those time constraints.

Many households have both parents working, for example, and it often means that one - or both - will end up missing important events because of work. And there is the constant pressure to get the kids to bed at the right time, develop a healthy routine, and equip them with the life skills they need to progress. In short, it’s a minefield, which many parents struggle with.

However, while work and bringing up your children in the right manner is important, so is having the time to spend with to create memories. In the future, your child won’t remember that awesome day they spent playing on Daddy’s iPad. But they will remember the sights, smells, and feelings of an excellent day out at the beach or a fantastic holiday.

It’s experiences they will cherish, and it’s up to you to create an environment where their memories of childhood are happy. With this in mind, here are some simple suggestions to help you and your family create fantastic memories you can all cherish long into the future.


Night time stories

Regardless of how busy you are as parents, never neglect the bedtime story - and always read books with your kids whenever you have a spare five minutes. Storytelling is one of the most powerful and memorable things we do as humans, and it’s vital for your child’s development.

Conversations

Be honest - how much do you actually converse with your kids? It can be tough when you are a busy parent. And, if you are anything like the average mum or dad, most of your communication will involve giving orders rather than having a chat. But conversation helps kids develop their cognitive and memory-making skills, and gives them a chance to remember awesome things they have been doing that day. Not only that, but it gives them a voice and a sense of independence - so, chat more; instruct less!


Photographs

I have vivid memories of poring through photo albums as a child. Even now when I look at them, I can remember vividly about the occasion when many shots were taken. And it’s struck me recently how things have changed nowadays. Your photos are on Facebook or Instagram now, or in a folder on your home PC - not in the traditional family album. So, don’t just take photos - print them. Arrange a few family photo shoots for special occasions, and keep them safe for the future. While the digital realm has its advantages, I think the traditional family photo album deserves to make a comeback.

Adventures



As I mentioned above, the biggest and best memories we have from our childhoods are all based on experiences rather than physical products or general entertainment. Holidays, exciting days out, exploring the countryside - they are all great ways of giving your kids fantastic memories they will live with for a long time. Adventure doesn’t have to cost you money, too - so there are no excuses for not finding the time!



**This is a collaborative post.