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Guest Posts Parenting Advice

Winning the Mealtime Battle

Written by Sarah Alder of Kitchen Titbits

As a couple, food is probably what binds us the most. When we welcomed H into the world, we were excited for him to share food with us, to sit at the table and eat together and to see the joy on his face when experiencing new and interesting flavours or the pleasure of visiting a restaurant.

For a couple of years after weaning, he’d tuck into anything and everything. He’d declare his favourite meal as ‘paella’ to anyone who asked and would request I cook him squid when his peers might not venture further than a fish finger. He would cook with me, tasting as we went and chatting about the ingredients. He was a sponge, soaking up everything I had to teach him. It felt wonderful!

Then, something changed. This little boy who’d try anything turned into a food refuser. A wholesome and varied diet restricted to a few acceptable foods –raw red pepper and carrot, cucumber and sweetcorn, cheese and ham, bread and crackers, cheese and tomato pizza, fish fingers and not much more.

Suddenly, I knew just how so many parents feel at mealtimes. Dread, anger, stress, bewilderment. I just wanted the dining room to open up and swallow me.

We tried to follow our instincts and the advice for coping with the ordeal; not getting angry or upset was easier said than done and there was so much conflicting information that I didn’t know where to start. I needed tried and tested methods.

So, I read and read and read and determined what would be the most sensible things to try first; persisting with offering the food we wanted him to eat in small amounts, not offering an alternative, praising when he tried something and trying to remind ourselves that he’d eat if he was really hungry (turned out he was so stubborn that he wouldn’t!).

It was OK knowing some simple approaches to employ but it was slow going and so I started reading about the psychological and social aspects of eating, about child behaviour, even delving into the area of autism,where there are known sensitivities around textures of foods and trying new things.

I was able to start piecing things together and forming a plan of action. Two years later,we weren’t free of the battle with food, but the situation was hugely improved. The acceptable food pool had widened and the call to the table was no longer met with a complete meltdown.

Now, almost four years on, I would say we’ve definitely cracked it and I no longer consider H a fussy eater (we’re just going through it all again with our daughter!). Yes, there are foods he doesn’t enjoy. Yes, there are foods he’s yet to try or has tried but needs to keep trying. Yes, there are mealtimes where he’ll start to make a fuss. But, that’s just like any other child!

So, how did we cope with the challenge? I realised that his life is managed for him in so many ways and that he’s constantly being told what to do and when. What goes in his mouth is the only thing he can dictate and we needed to get around this. We found ways for him to assert some control over what he eats, within the boundaries that we set.

Each weekday he chooses what to have for breakfast from a small selection. At the weekends, we often have a more leisurely breakfast and he has the opportunity to request something he likes; fruit pancakes, sausage bagels, omelette and toast, sweetcorn fritters.

At the weekend, he picks what to have for lunch, but we all eat the same thing together at teatime. He also contributes to our weekly meal plans. It’s another way for him to feel in control.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to make mealtimes less stressful and more varied,whilst ensuring I am only preparing one dinner is to serve meals family-style. All that means is that, instead of serving a meal plated up for everyone, all the food goes in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.

We’re made food fun again instead of it being a battleground and it worked – I think the fact that he now wants to ‘style’ his meal and take a photo of it just like daddy is a positive sign!

Family mealtimes should be sociable affairs, full of laughter and a way to reconnect after a busy day or week. Instead they are all too often a stressful and upsetting time. But they don’t have to be this way.

My ‘How to feed your fussy eater’ four-week interactive online programme will equip you with an armoury of techniques, words and activities so that you can turn mealtimes around. Food will no longer be scary, the dinner table will no longer be a battleground, you will be able to remain calm, you’ll have an endless supply of meal ideas, food will be served which everyone will enjoy and the vegetables will get eaten (eventually!).

I’ve got bonus appearances from Laura Clark Nutrition and Heather Keats Health and Fitness lined up as well to support you with any nutrition concerns and techniques to help you reduce your stress and remain calm. Once the course is finished, you’ll also have the option to join a community of supportive mums (dads are welcome too!) who have attended my courses and workshops and who know just what it’s like. You’ll receive ongoing support and encouragement from us all.

So, if you’re ready to help your family enjoy healthier, happier and stress-free mealtimes, join me for the course starting on 27 April! It will be running termly so if now isn’t the right time for you, join me for the next one after the May half term.

If the course isn’t for you but you know a mum (or dad) who is at their wits end come mealtimes, please tell them about my course. They don’t need to face this alone and they don’t need to continue to suffer.

Why not also take a look at my other posts –

Lisa Norman shares her story on the premature birth of her son Neil

Interview with Jo Coombs and Robert Papworth of the new selling site Made by Mums

Book review of Jo Middleton’s fabulous book Playgroups and Prosecco

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Please stop worrying about homeschooling your children

Almost overnight parents across the world have now become teachers and are trying to do the very best they can to home school their children in a very challenging environment. 

Most parents don’t have experience of homeschooling and due to how suddenly it all happened didn’t have time to prepare. 

Well this post is my plea to all parents to stop worrying and stressing over homeschooling your children. They will be alright.

You have to remember that schools and teachers have months of preparation and years of experience to provide our children with structured learning at school so trying to replicate this structure at home is going to be near impossible. Not to mention that we as home school teachers now have the added stress that we can’t go outside and the fear of the CoronaVirus causing everyone anxiety.  

Most primary schools have around 30 children per class all with different abilities, likes and interests so structure is key in a school environment to ensure classes and learning run efficiently and everyone gets to do a bit of everything. 

However in a home setting you will only have your own children to teach so why not take this time to let them focus on the subjects they enjoy the most whether it be Art, cooking, creative writing, geography ect. Ask them what they would like to learn each day or which subject they would like to focus on. Even if your children, like mine, spend nearly all day drawing and baking they are still learning and developing their skills. 

Making Bread
One of my eldest daughter’s drawing
Making Flapjacks

These are tough times that we are all going through and I think most adults are feeling worried and anxious so our children must be feeling a bit of it too. Anything you can get them to do that will keep them occupied and enjoying themselves will help to ease their stress and worry. 

Even if you have high school children instead of trying to get them to do a bit of every lesson and fit it all, spend a bit of time on the core subjects Maths, English, Science and then spend most of the time on the subject that they enjoy the most. This is going to be a hard time for them too especially that they are not able to go out with their friends so keeping them happy is going to be the main priority and probably a tough one with teenagers.  

There are lots of online educational games and learning tools available now that are brilliant for teaching children especially when homeschooling but if your children really don’t take to it or don’t want to do it then don’t feel pressured to make them. Just keep trying different things until you find something that works.    

This is a very difficult time for everyone and a lot of people are suffering at the moment but if we try to find a positive in all of this it is that we have been given this extra time with our children so just try to take the time to enjoy it. 

Why not also read my other posts –

Indoor crafts and activities for children

Ways to help with mental health and anxiety during the corona virus

The Pointless Book by Alfie Deyes book review in association with Books2door

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes and how it can help children that struggle to read


Categories
Children's Books

The Pointless Book by Alfie Deyes in association with Books2door

We were so lucky to be able to use and review Books2door amazing online bookstore that has so many wonderful children and young adult books at great prices. 

Books2door’s website is easy to use, has a wide range of children’s and young adult books that are arranged into helpful categories so you can find age appropriate books with ease. 

I have used their website and receive books from them before and both times their customer service has been brilliant, both times I was kept up to date on my order and received notifications from them until it was delivered. 

From Books2door we received The Pointless Book 1 & 2 by Alfie Deyes which are just brilliant. Alfie Dyers is a Youtuber over at the Pointlessblog and he has created this fun book for children. These books are just great for keeping the children entertained although they are more for older children than younger ones. There is just so much to do in them, every page is a different activity to do or try out and there are a few silly pages in there too.

My 9 year old and 12 year old are really enjoying them and have spent ages going through the pages and filling them in or following what they say to make something. The Pointless Books honestly contain hours of fun and activities to keep your children busy. 

One of the pages which my daughter loved in The Pointless Book 2 was where you had to season the page with salt and pepper. She thought it was so funny that she could glue salt and pepper in a book. Although if you do this ensure to shake off the excess salt afterwards when it dries. I didn’t do this and she then took it to bed and ended up with bits of salt in her bed.

Some of the activities for The Pointless Book 1 include – 

Some of the activities from The Pointless Book 2 include –  

All round these are great books and will encourage your children to be creative and think outside the box. My girls have given these books a huge thumbs up and are keeping busy filling them in. There is also a free app that you can download that goes with the book with exclusive digital content. 

The Pointless Book collection is currently £9.99 on Books2door which contains both books.

I was given a gift code by Book2door to use on their website to review them and the books I choose.

Why not take a look at my other children’s book reviews –

A Pirate Song by Justin Davis

Oscar the Orgo by R J Furness

Escape From Nettle Farm

Spy Danger

Why I wrote The Book of Silly Rhymes


Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing

Ways to help with mental health and anxiety during the Corona Virus

This is a very difficult time that we are all facing and as well as looking after our physical health we need to also think about our mental health. A lot of us are going to be put into situations we are not used to being in and will find isolation a challenging time. I wanted to share a few tips / ideas to help anyone that is feeling overwhelmed by the current situation to find some calm. 

Read a book

By taking time out to read a book this can really help your mind relax and for a period of time forget about your worries. As the saying goes ‘ lose yourself in a good book’. I always find reading takes my mind off things and helps me relax. Reading is especially good before bed as it will help you to sleep better. 

If you have run out of books and are unable to go out to get a new one then why not look at kindle books. You can download the kindle app for free on phones and tablets and then using the kindle store you can have access to purchase thousands of books to read instantly. There are also so many indie authors with great kindle books at amazing prices.

Take a break from the news

I think we have all got caught up in the media storm around the Corona Virus and are constantly checking the news to see what the latest updates are. I am not normally one for the news but even I have found myself checking over and over again for updates and it can be so overwhelming. 

If you find it is getting too much then taking a break from the news and social media can help. I don’t mean cut yourself off completely but have a good few hours a day where you completely blank out the news and anything to do with the Corona virus.

Listen to Music

Music is a great way to relax and try and take your mind off things for a bit. Although try and stay away from the radio as this will have lots of news and updates and you want to get away from listening to these if you want to relax. Even putting the music on and having a dance around will be a great benefit especially if you have little ones at home they can join in to.

Exercise

I think exercise is going to be a key part in us all being able to stay sane during this tough time. 

While you are able to get out and enjoy walks or runs in the fresh air as much as possible, please do make sure you stick to the current health guidelines and stay safe when out. 

If you are self-isolating then setting a regular exercise routine is going to be crucial. It is so easy especially when at home to brush off exercising and finding the energy to exercise can be hard. However if you do manage to be motivated and keep exercising then you will find you have a lot more energy not to mention feel happier. When we exercise our bodies release endorphins which can trigger a positive feeling in the body.

A few ways you can exercise when self-isolating – 

  • Exercise from online videos. Youtube has lots of great workout videos including the Body Coach. If you want to sign up to more of a class where you have someone helping you stay motivated try signing up to an online exercise platform.  A lady I follow Laura Bland runs a online health and fitness business and with the way things are at the moment you will find a lot of your usual exercise clubs are going online like a local one to me FitClub has done.
  • Indoor walking. Being indoors it is easy to sit for long periods of time without moving so to combat this why not set yourself an hourly alarm to get up and walk around your house a set number of times. 
  • If you have stairs in your home and are able to walk up and down the stairs a few times. You can see how many times you can do it and then increase it by 1 extra time everyday.
  • Dancing is a great way to exercise and is fun too. Just put on your favourite tunes and dance away until your heart’s content. 

Be Creative

Being creative and taking part in any kind of art can really help with mental health and can be a great distraction when times are tough. This could be in the form of colouring, drawing, painting, knitting, story writing and even photography and if you are finding yourself homeschooling children then these are activities you can all do together. Being creative is my go to activity when I am feeling stressed, my favourites are photography, writing and painting. 

Connect with people

Self-isolation doesn’t mean you have to shut yourself off from the world just away physically from it. You can still connect with people over the phone, txt, social media or by video calling, so make it a priority to speak with at least one person a day that is not in quarantine with you. This could be family members or friends and speaking with them will not only benefit you but will help them too. Social media is a great way to connect you with like minded people from all over the world and can help you feel that you are not alone. However do remember if you do start to feel overwhelmed again ensure you take a break from it.

Self-care

In these tough times it is more important now to ensure you are regularly practising self-care. Just by setting a side a bit of time everyday to carry out some self-care can really have a positive effect on your mental health. Some of the ways you can do this include –

  • have a bath
  • take a tea break
  • meditate
  • exercise

Take a look at my post self care tips for busy parents for some more ways to practice self-care.

Just remember that you are not alone we are all in this together.

Why not also take a look at my other posts –

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Indoor crafts and activities for children

How to make a pompom rug

How to make decoupage hearts

Self Care tips for busy parents

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Categories
Children's Crafts and Activities

Easy Indoor Craft & Activities for Children & Toddlers

With the resent events and schools having to close and families self-isolating I thought I would share a post filled with indoor craft and activities for children and toddlers. This are all simple, easy and cheap activities for children.

Fork Easter Chick painting 

This is an easy and fun craft idea for children. They can make lovely textured chick pictures that can also be turned into Easter cards. 

What you need – 

  • Yellow paint
  • A fork
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue
  • Coloured paper paper
  • Felt tips
  1. Cut an egg shape out of coloured paper and stick on to your white paper. You can either stick your egg on whole or cut in half with zig zags and stick on.
  2. Set out the yellow paint and let the children dip the forks in the paint and use it to paint their chick on the paper.
  3. Use the glue and stick on the googly eyes and beak to the chick
  4. Use the felt tips to add on grass or background.

Den Making 

Den Making is another great rainy day activity. What child doesn’t love a good den and the sense of pride once they have created it. Whether you go all out to create a masterpiece of a den or just throw a spare cover over a couple of chairs, den making will keep them entertained and once built it will keep them occupied for hours as they will happily sit inside and play. 

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Paper Dolls 

These paper dolls are brilliant and can keep the kids entertained for a while. Not only does making the dolls keep them occupied but they can then use their dolls to make a puppet show or just to play with afterwards.

What you will need – 

  1. There really is only one step to this activity and that is take the felt tips and draw on the paper doll. Let your children be as creative as they want. To add to the activities you can get the glue and let them stick on googly eyes, string, buttons or whatever else you have.

Children’s Yoga

Yoga is a great indoor activity for children, It will keep them active and can help channel some of their energy. There are lots of great videos on YouTube my girls enjoy Cosmic Kids Yoga.

Cork caterpillar painting 

This is a great activity for children and gives parents an excuse to open that bottle of wine for the cork. 

What you need – 

  • Paint
  • A cork
  • Paper
  • Felt tip pens
  1. Dip the cork in the paint
  2. Then dab the cork on to the paper one next to the other to make a caterpillar shape
  3. Use the felt tip pens to make a background and draw on the caterpillar’s face once dry

Crazy Dancing

Crazy Dancing can be a really fun activity and can burn off a lot of energy. You can do this from just playing some music and all dancing away or put up a Youtube video and copy the dancing. I guarantee if everyone gets involved including parents then you will be happy and laughing together in minutes not to mention everyone will be worn out afterwards allowing for some chill time.

Paper Fairy Gardens

These are cute little crafts to keep the children busy and inspire their creative side. You can really use anything that you have available to make it. 

What you need – 

  • Green paper
  • Glue
  • Toilet Roll
  • Paint
  • Felt Tips
  • Paper cake case
  • Extras – buttons, sequins, lolly sticks, pipe cleaners and anything else you want to add.

Step 1. Decorate your toilet roll 

Step 2. Add the paper cup cake case to the top of your toilet roll

Step 3. Lay out your green paper add on your toilet roll house and then add and decorate the paper however you want. 

Children’s Workouts

If you are looking for a way to keep children active whilst staying in doors then why not get them doing a children’s HITT workout. This will wear them out without having to go out the house. Youtube has children’s workout videos and fitness expert The Body Coach has a collection of children’s workout videos. 

Rainbow Finger Painting

This is a super easy craft and great for children of all ages. You can also turn this into a St Patrick’s day craft by adding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

What you need – 

  • Paint in rainbow colours
  • White or blue Paper
  • Extra – scissors and black paper

Step 1 – let the children dip their fingers in the paint and dap them on the paper to make a rainbow

Step 2 – add in any background you like

Step 3 – you can then cut up a put using black paper and stick this at the bottom of the rainbow to make a bot of gold.

Salt Dough Creations 

Salt dough is brilliant it is so simple and easy to make and you can use it to create so many things with it. 

 What you will need – 

  • Plain flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Acrylic paint (this paint is best to use but if you don’t have any just use whatever paint you have.
  • Extra  – Cookie Cutters, Mod Podge

Step 1 – Make your Salt dough by mixing one cup of plain flour with half a cup of salt and half a cup of water. Mix together until this becomes a dough then take out a knead a bit. Try not to knead too much as I found the salt made my hands a little sore afterwards. 

Step 2 – Get creating! You can use cookie cutters to make shapes or go freestyle to make whatever you like. If you want to stick bits of dough together i.e some eyes you made, then dab a little bit of water over the area before putting on this will help them to stick better.

Step 3 – leave overnight to dry or put in the oven on a very low heat for 1-2 hours

Step 4 – Once dry use the paint to decorate your creations.

Step 5 – You can use Mod Podge once dry to seal your salt dough creations

Hama Beads

Hama beads are a perfect rainy day craft for both children and adults. I enjoy crafting with them just as much as they do and we can all enjoy hours of creating our masterpieces. You can use Hama beads to make fridge magnets, key rings, earrings and even bowls. For more info check out my blog on Hama Beads.

Amos Glass Deco Pens

Amos Glass deco pens are filled with liquid gel that you squeeze out onto a plastic sheet in the design that you want and once dried you can peel them off and use as decorative window stickers, which can be peeled off without any mess. 

They are easy to use, you just need to make sure that you don’t smudge them before they are dried. For more information on these check out my post on Amos Glass Deco Pens.

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Sketching

 Sketching can be a fun activity for everyone to join in. I am no artist but there is something calming and peaceful about drawing. A good way for everyone to join in is to all pick the same thing to draw or use a how to draw guide and then see how they all turn out together. The best thing about drawing the same thing is that you will all learn together and can help each other along the way. Youtube has some good videos with step by step drawing guides.

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Lolly Stick Super Men/Women

These are super cute little craft ideas and your children can use them to play with after they have made them

What you will need – 

  • A lolly stick
  • Coloured and white paper
  • Glue
  • Felt tip

Step 1 – Cut a triangle shape out of the paper and stick on the back of the lolly stick.

Step 2 – cut a small rectangle of the same coloured paper to go across the front of the lolly stick as an eye mask.

Step 3 – either draw on your eyes or cut and stick some small white circles on top of the eye mask.

Step 4 – use your felt tips to make the face and hair

Boats

This is a lovely activity for children and once they have made their boats they can play with them whilst having a bath if not able to get outside.

What you will need – 

  •  A plastic take away tub
  • A straw 
  • Felt pen or sharpie
  • Sello tape
  • Paper

Step 1 – make sure your tub and straw are washed out and clean 

Step 2 – use the paper to make a flag and then sellotape this to the top of the straw

Step 3 – attach the straw to the inside of the boat using the sellotape

Step 4 – with the pens draw on the boat or use the paper to make and stick things on to the boat.

DragonFly lolly stick craft

These are a fun and easy indoor craft for children.

What you will need – 

  • Lolly stick
  • Felt tip pen
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Sellotape

Step 1 – decorate your lolly stick

Step 2 – Get 2 pipe cleaners and make them into 8 shapes then stick to the back of the lolly sticks.

Make a Doctors Surgery with Toys

If you have any spare bandages or plasters around let your children make a pretend doctors surgery and use the toys or you as their patients.

If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –

How to make a pompom rug

Window Sticker Activity for Children

Children’s Halloween Craft Ideas

Rainy Day Children’s Crafts and Activities

Children’s Christmas Decoration Craft Ideas

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Categories
Inspirational Interviews

Interview with Jo Coombs & Robert Papworth from the New Selling Platform Made By Mums

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jo Coombs & Robert Papworth the owners and founders of ‘Made By Mums’ which is a new marketplace for mums, dads and carers. It is a platform that was made by parents for parents. It is set up to help parents sell their creations and support their families while doing so. 

I am a big supporter of small business so was excited to do this interview and find out more about Jo & Robert and how Made By Mums can help small business owners sell their products. 

Made By Mums is filled full of amazing, unique gifts and the mantra for the site is ‘handmade for every occasion’ which it certainly provides.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourselves?

Jo: We’re Jo and Robert, co-founders of Made By Mums, living on the currently-not-so sunny island of Jersey with our two daughters aged 6 and 3. We also have Penny, our little tortoise shell cat, who likes to photobomb when we’re trying to photograph my finished crochet projects! You may have seen her pop up on various posts.

Made By Mums is a handmade platform for mums and carers to sell their creations online, and for everyone else to find perfect and unique gifts for every occasion. I might have said that a few times, can you tell?

Robert: I spent about 2 minutes explaining what we’re doing to someone the other day, and after all that they just said “oh, Etsy for mums?”. So yeah, Etsy for mums…

Jo: But with lower costs!

Robert: Yeah there’s a bit more to it than I think. We’re a selling platform, but we want to do a lot more than that.

What inspired you to start up your selling platform Made By Mums?

Robert: It was a bit of an evolution, really. If you told us this is where we’d be today back when we originally started talking about it, I’m not sure we’d believe you to be honest!

Jo: It was me learning to crochet that started it all (laughs). I was having a few issues with my pregnancy and needed something to help me with my mental health. I wanted to make something for the baby, and learning a new skill was both challenging and rewarding. Just what I needed at the time. Then I discovered that there were so many different techniques, and I kept hooking things and discovering that there are so many gorgeous yarns and patterns…. And well..

Robert: Yes and that seems to justify the ‘yarn room’ we now have upstairs…

Jo: Oh totally! The idea started when I was looking to see if I could sell the items I was creating. I looked at various places but the costs were all too high, and things seemed needlessly complicated, so I just left it at that for a while. But Robert’s a web developer in his day job and mentioned that he could build me a website shop of my own.

So it started as an idea for a shop for me, and ended up being this massive project that’s taken on a life of its own. I love how just simple ideas can bloom like that!

What is your favourite part of your business?

Robert: Tough question! Well when our makers make a sale, on the email they get, it tells them part of the process is to do a happy order dance.

Jo: We *might* have done the odd dance ourselves when a sale comes through (embarrassing!). I love being able to help our makers – they put so much love and work into what they do – it’s just such an honour to help support it all. Especially because we know that the sales they make through us can help raise a little extra money for the day to day, always helpful.

Robert: It never gets old to be fair, it probably never will! We love all the positive comments we get on social media too. People can be so kind and it makes all the work ‘worth it’ when we know how much it’s appreciated. So thanks everybody!

What sort of things can we expect to find on ‘Made By Mums’?

Jo: Oooh, everything really. As long as it’s handmade, or the maker has put their own embellishment or spin on it, we’re happy for them to list it.

Even though we’ve probably got like 200 categories or something by now, every week someone seems to have something that doesn’t fit anywhere. So we’re always tinkering and adding more categories. It keeps us on our toes!

Robert: As well as the categories, we’ve got collections for everything we can think of. Easter gifts, birthdays, weddings… baby showers. There’s an amazing range of items on there, well over 1,500 I think. Whatever it’s for, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it on the website somewhere!

How do you help other small business owners?

Robert: We really wanted to offer fellow parents and carers a fun, friendly and inclusive way to sell their creations, and help support their families.

Jo: Emotionally as much as financially. I found adapting to life with our first little pickle a struggle, like many people do. So us being able to add to the emotional support and network available to new mums is definitely a big part of it.

Robert: Our reach is growing all the time and it’s amazing how much interaction we have now on a daily basis. On our Facebook page and elsewhere. Jo’s great at being able to hold multiple conversations at the same time. Rather her than me, I’d just get confused!

Over 200 makers have signed up since we started back in 2018, it definitely seems to be picking up fast this year as well. We’re pleased so many people are choosing to get involved, we used to like doing a little post on social media when a new person joined, now we have a separate ‘welcome Wednesday’ post to make sure everybody still gets a ‘hi’.

What plans do you have for the future?

Robert: Well there’s a list somewhere with about 10 billion things on it that we’d love to do. But with it being just the two of us, we always have to prioritise. I’ve recently been able to change my work to dedicate one full day a week to it, but it still feels like I have two full time jobs at the moment!

Jo: I’m a stay at home mum and our youngest started nursery this year. So I get a couple of hours to myself to catch up on website admin and chat to our makers on the issues of the day over on Facebook! Maybe do a little bit of hoovering before the monsters come back and mess it all up again.

Robert: We’re really trying to highlight our makers as much as possible, I think we’ll definitely try and do more of this if we can. We’re very proud of our ‘Maker Stories’ series, where each week we feature a different maker, who gives us a little bit of background on the inspirations behind their own small business.

Jo: They’re always such fab reads, it’s amazing how many new mummies seem to turn to crafting or pick it up again from their own childhood. It is very therapeutic! I also plan to catch up on sewing in all the ends on various blankets, and typing up some patterns that are currently scribbled down in my notebooks. We have lots of ideas for Made By Mums, but we’ll do one thing at a time, and do it well. We’re proud of what we’ve done so far and want to continue helping support other parents and carers through such a big life change. Oh, and have another cup of tea. There’s always time for another cuppa!

You can find Made By Mums on the following –

Made By Mums website – https://madebymums.co/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/madebymumsgifts/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/madebymumsgifts/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/madebymumsgifts

Why not take a look at my other posts with more inspirational people –

Interview with Best Selling Author and owner of Memory Zoo Katie Silverthorn

Interview with Cat at Cat Creation

Interview with children’s publisher Justin Davis

Lisa Norman shares her story of the premature birth of her son Neil

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.


Categories
Product Reviews

Mother’s day gift guide with Etsy UK

Here is my Mother’s Day gift guide filled with lovely unique gifts to make your mum feel special this Mother’s Day in association with Esty UK.

This post contains affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Personalised Mother’s Day Glass Vase

How beautiful is this Mother’s Day flower glass vase. Team this with a small bunch of daffodils or tulips and your mum will have a lovely gift this Mother’s Day.
£17.99

Personalised Make-Up Bag

I love this big floral make-up bag at 26cm x 15cm x 5cm, it is the perfect size to fit in all your make-up. You can also change the ‘Mum’ and have it personalised to say what you want. 
£20.00

Personalised Wooden Mother’s Day Keyring

What a beautiful and unique little gift this would make for your mother this Mother’s Day. From £3.99

Personalised Printed Tea and Cake Board

This personalised wooden tea and cake board is super cute and would look lovely in any kitchen. It would make a great gift for any baking loving Mum or Nan.
£14.99

Silver Leaf Dangle Earrings

I think these silver leaf dangle earrings are just beautiful and would make a great gift for Mothers Day. I know I would appreciate them for my Mother’s Day gift. £4.75 +

Mother’s Day Warmer and Wax Melt Gift Set

I am a big fan of the warmers and wax melts that is why I have added this cute wax melt gift set on my Mother’s Day gift guide. They are great for making your house feel cosy and smelling nice.
£12.00

Mother’s Day Hygge Gift Box Set

This looks like a wonderful gift set of vegan and handmade products. This Mother’s day gift set contains A Hygge 4oz Botanical Candle (wooden wick), A Hygge Jumbo Bath Shot, Hygge Soy Wax Melts and A Hygge Aromatherapy Spray. £32.95

Personalised Mother’s Day Family Tree

This beautiful personalised family tree would make a lovely gift for Mother’s Day and would look wonderful hanging on a wall at home.
£20.00

Grandma/Mother’s Day Personalised Key Rings

This unique little keyring would make a lovely gift for a Mother or Grandma this Mother’s Day.  £9.00 +

Personalised Mother’s Day Bookmark

If your Mum is anything like me and loves to get lost in a good book then this beautiful and unique bookmark would make a perfect gift. Every time she goes to read a book she will be reminded of you.
£7.50 +

Why not also take a look at the Etsy Editors Picks Mother’s Day Gift Guide for more fabulous, unique gifts to make your Mother smile this Mother’s Day.

Please take a look at some of my other posts –

Playgroup and Prosecco Book Review

Review of the Stylish Laptop Rucksack Bag from Estarer

Categories
Recipes

Halloumi wrap with roasted peppers and sweet chilli sauce

This is a great quick, simple dinner idea that is super tasty and the whole family will love. We are all big Halloumi fans in our house so this quick dinner combination is a really winner. You can make it on its own for a small meal or lunch or combine it with a side salad or chips to make into a main meal.

Ingredients

Peppers

Halloumi

Wraps

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C

Cut up the peppers into thin slices 

Place on a oiled baking tray or dish (we use fry light to grease up the tray). If using a baking tray you will want to put foil down over the tray or a baking sheet to protect it..

Next cut up your Halloumi into slices around a cm thick and place on a second greased baking tray. Again I would advise using foil.

Put these in the oven for 15 – 20 mins making sure you turn the halloumi and peppers half way through.

Once they are ready take out the oven and leave to cool while you make your wrap.

Put the wrap in the microwave for 20 seconds (or however long it advises on the back of the packet of wraps) to warm it and make it easier to wrap.

Cover your wrap with a layer of sweet chili sauce then load it up with the halloumi and peppers. 

Leave a little space at either end of the wrap and put the filling in the middle.

Once done fold up both the small ends then with them up start to roll the wrap together sideways. 

Once you have wrapped it up completely up get a sharp knife and slice it in half. 

Enjoy

You can also add chips or salad to this to make it more of a meal or if you have a bit more time add in some more roasted veg like red onions and courgettes. 

Why not also take a look at my other recipes –

Homemade pizza recipe

Homemade Potato and Leek Soup

Healthy Chocolate Bounty Bars

Categories
Business and Marketing Mental health & Wellbeing

We all need to stop and look back sometimes

Life moves at a million miles an hour and more often than not we are always rushing around and looking to the future planning our next moves and making lists and goals of tasks we want to complete. We are usually so wrapped up striving to achieve that we often forget to remind ourselves of what we have accomplished so far.

I recently got so caught up worrying about the future and the goals that I am still yet to achieve I started to feel really stressed and was putting myself under unnecessary pressure.

That was when I realised enough was enough I had to stop and take a few minutes to focus on all the amazing things that I have achieved so far in both my personal life and business.

I got my notebook and sat down and wrote a couple of things that I should be proud of myself for achieving. I am always so hard on myself and I am my biggest critic so this reflective exercise was so beneficial to me. It helped me to realise just how far I had come and to not be so hard on myself.

From reflective thinking it helped me realise what I had done well and what hadn’t gone so well before and from this I was then able to come up with a few realistic goals that I want to achieve in 2020.

Reflection is an important process that I myself have overlooked too often and I am sure many others to do. Reflection allows us to gain a better perspective of ourselves and can also help us to move forward. It can be a hard process to look back at ourselves and who we once were but a short reminder of this will help put our future in perspective.

Why not also take a look at my other posts –

New Years Health & Fitness Routines – Why they don’t work and what we should be doing.

Body Image / Body Confidence photo shoot

Love the Skin you’re in

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Categories
Inspirational Interviews

Interview with award winning comedian Jarred Christmas and all about The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show

I had the opportunity to interview the brilliantly funny Jarred Christmas who is an award-winning comedian & star of CBBC’s ‘The Joke Machine’ and ‘The dog ate my homework’. 

New Zealand born star Jarred is a sought after headliner famed for his quick-witted spontaneity and improvisation skills, he is a regular at the Edinburgh festival and at comedy clubs around the globe. He was named ‘Best Compere’ at the 2016 Chortle awards scoping this award for the second time.

As well as children’s TV he has also featured on shows such as Never Mind the Buzcocks, Mock the week, Russel Howard’s good news, 8 out of 10 cats and has also taken part in Lets Dance for comic relief and Celebrity mastermind.

Jarrred has now teamed up with champion beatboxer Hobbit and together they have created The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show that they are performing together at theatres around the UK. 

The Interview

How did you first get into Comedy and at what age did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
I first started doing stand up comedy when I was 18 way back in 1998, but I guess my passion for getting people to laugh at me started when I was about 10 years old, when I started doing Theatre sports. Which is improv comedy like ‘who’s line is it anyway’. Where I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand they had school competitions that I started doing comedy improvisation through my school years. 

What has been your career highlight so far?
Oh my gosh there has been so many. Just the other day myself and Hobbit did The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show at the Southbank centre and we sold out 2 shows in one day. That was incredible to perform in such an incredible and iconic building.

I also done stand up at Sydney Opera house, which was amazing and I did a televised gig with Steve Martin.

Those 3 things have been pretty incredible. 

Let’s talk about the Pot noodle Ads, as they look like they were a lot of fun. How did that come about?

Yeah they were heaps of fun. I just auditioned for them, I remember having to go in and perform material about my relationship with food. I had a routine about full English breakfast and I did that and they loved it. I got cast in the advert and amazingly the director was Taika Waititi who has just one an Oscar for the film JoJo Rabbit. I knew him from back in New Zealand as he started out as a comedian. Yeah we had a lot of fun on a lot of those pot noddle ads, I did it for 3 years, It was great. 

Which is your favourite of the Pot noddle ad that you stared in?
Oh I can’t choose they are all so good. I guess the high school musical one was a lot of fun. It was just fun learning dance routines and being paid for it I guess. 

The little black dress the Beyonce one that was a good one, Oh yes how could we forget. 

Do you enjoy playing the mean joke master in BBC’s ‘The Joke Machine’?

That came about because I did Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs panto at the New Wimbledon Theatre with Priscilla Presley and Warwick Davis and the producer of the Joke Machine was in the audience and really liked what I had done and knew that I was a stand up as well so got in contact with me. He asked me if I would be up for doing this creative show we have got and I thought it sounded like a huge amount of fun and it was. 

They filmed the kids telling the jokes then I sat in the studio for 5 days watching kids telling jokes ranging from awful ones to quite sublime and brilliant ones. Every now and then a joke would come up where I thought I have got to remember that one that was brilliant. 

Then other jokes came up where I was like not this joke again.

What advice would you give to people wanting to get into comedy?

Just get out and do it. It is the only way you are going to know if you are any good at it. I think a lot of people say it is something they really want to do but then they get to the end of their lives and they never did it. It is just a matter of finding out where you can perform and getting out and do it If you don’t like it at least you can say you tried. 

So you have kicked off your new tour The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy Show. I understand that you started this show off for adults. What made you decide to change it into a kids show?

When I first worked with Hobbit we were hosting a hiphop comedy night in central London. Where I got booked to host the show and he got booked as the house band and we didn’t know each other. We found that we were on stage for the whole time together and we had a laugh backstage so we thought let’s just mess around on stage. We ended up hosting that show together for a year and a half and when it finished we just thought let’s take what we have been doing here and make a late night mess around adult show of beatboxing and comedy and that went great.

We then both realised if we stopped swearing and being rude this could be a great family show. Also it coincided that my kids were a bit older and interested in what I was doing and wanted to go to comedy shows. So part of it was a desire to develop a show that my kids could go along to as well. 

I run ideas past my children and if they just stare at me blankly I know I need to go back to the drawing board. I think now they are so used to me running ideas past them they now go ‘yeah that’s a good one’ instead of laughing. 

Who is a tougher crowd Adults or Children and why? 

Well they are both tough for their own reasons and they are both brilliant for their own reasons too. I mean you are never going to get drunk heckles at a kids show, well I hope not. 

What you do get is absolute randomness and chaos you have no idea what they are going to come out with, no idea what they are going to do and that is hugely enjoyable. You are never going to get a straight answer out of a kid, they are going to throw constant curve balls at you. I love that aspect of kids shows and just the sheer enjoyment they have, adults can be a bit cynical at some times. 

We do still every now and then do an adult version of the show and it tends to break through cynicalism as it is just such a positive and enjoyable show that even the adults embrace the silliness of it. 

What can we expect to see in your new kids show The Mighty Kids beatbox comedy show?

What you can expect is a whole heap of fun, it is hugely interactive for kids and for parents. The beatboxing is insane, Hobbit is just amazingly talented. It is fascinating watching just how the kids are just enthralled by what he is doing. I bring the silliness and buffoonery and host the show and get the kids up and interacting and hobbit wows them with the beatboxing skills. On top of that he is funny as well. 

Is it a show that parents will enjoy as well? 

Parents love the show as well as the kids, because it started as an adult show we are aware of what is funny for the adults. Being a dad myself and going to shows with my kids I hate it when I walk out a bit bored so something that engages me to I am well up for it. It is more of a Ben & Holly than a Peppa Pig.

What have you got coming up next?

We are doing the tour and at the same time we are developing our new show to take up to the Edinburgh festival this year. We have also got a tour of New Zealand in May that we will be doing Auckland and Wellington and other smaller places around New Zealand so it will be a pretty busy six months for The Might Kids Beatbox comedy show. We are in talks to see if we can develop it into a TV show. 

I have got a podcast called Three Foreigners Walk into a Bar which is on Union Jack radio and then I am doing stand up all over the palace. Hobbit is doing beatbox shows all over the world with his group the Beatbox collective. 

To see The Mighty Kids Beatbox Comedy show you can order your tickets via the website www.mightykidsbeatboxcomedy.com

Why not take a look at my other posts with more inspirational people –

Interview with Best Selling Author and owner of Memory Zoo Katie Silverthorn

Interview with Cat at Cat Creation

Interview with children’s publisher Justin Davis

Lisa Norman shares her story of the premature birth of her son Neil

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.