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Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

New Years Health & Fitness Routines – Why They Do Not Work and What We Should Be Doing

Why! Why do we do it to ourselves. With the beginning of every new year we all make these health and fitness goals that just are not sustainable. It is like we are stuck in a broken record making the same mistakes every year.

I mean, what is it about January that makes us all focus about our health and fitness anyway?

Is it that we have all over indulged too much at Christmas and start to feel guilty so once January hits we go on diets but surely calories don’t count in December, right.

Or it could be that come the 1st January everywhere you go they are selling gym equipment, food supplements and gym clothes, even Aldi best buys are taken over by the January get fit quick idea. Everywhere you look there is adverts for gym membership trying to pressures us to make the change and newspapers and magazines are packed full of articles on how to be super fit and healthy. 

I mean how many times have you bought a piece of equipment or gym membership with the best intentions and once January has ended it has gone to waist never to be used again? 

Well I can tell you now that you are not the only one! 

It turns out that the second Saturday of February is statistically known as ‘fall of the wagon day’ as identified by Citylab and Foursquare research. 

To be honest even that is good going we are only on the 4th January and I have already given in on eating healthy and finished a box of Lindt chocolates to myself.

Now I am all for getting healthy and sustaining a fitness routine and I do actively promote these but I feel that every January there is so much pressure put on us to change literally overnight from eating chocolates for breakfast still on 31st December to then be eating avocados and rye bread from the 1st January. 

I do want to be healthier and fitter and I do encourage everyone to else as well to take the steps towards living a healthier life. However it needs to be done slowly and over the course of the year so it is more sustainable. 

If we ease into it and implement small changes then it will be so much easier to keep. If you are going from doing no exercise at all and then all of a sudden you are doing 5 days a week of exercise I doubt you will be able to keep this going. It is better to start off with one day a week of exercise then as the weeks/months go on slowly increase to 2-3 days. 

The same with diet don’t go jumping in on the newest fad diet that you just won’t be able to keep up. Start by making small healthy changes like maybe eating a healthier breakfast, drinking more water and then slowly build on this. 

If we can all slowly build on small sustainable health & fitness steps then by next New Year we won’t need to make these radical New Years health resolutions as we will already be at are prime health and fitness levels.

My January small steps that I have made is to start ordering weekly fruit and veg boxes from our local green grocer to ensure we are all getting more in our diet and instead of signing up for gym membership I have signed the whole family back up to National Trust membership to get us back out visiting these beautiful places and going out for walks again around the grounds.  

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What small steps are you going to make to work on your long term health goals?

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Why not take a look at my other posts –

Why I turned Vegetarian and my journey on cutting out meat

Being a writer with Dyslexia

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

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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Product Reviews

Photography and well-being walk with Claire Victoria Photography!

When Claire from Clarie Victoria Photography asked me along to her well-being photography walk I just couldn’t say no. Photography, mindfulness and nature are some of my favourite things and to have them all in one event sounded perfect.

The event was held in the beautiful Old Church Farm in Rudgeway which is over 40 miles away from where I live down the M5 so no matter how hard I tried not to be I was anxious, I couldn’t stop my anxiety over getting there, going on my own and meeting people I have never meet before.

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When I arrived anxiety still had a bit of a grip on me but Claire was amazing and soon had me feeling relaxed and engaged in the moment focusing on where we were and our surroundings.

Before we even got to taking photos Claire worked with us to help us relax and connect us to the environment that we were in. We started to take in the sounds, smells and feel of where we were and the beauty that surrounded us.

Claire helped us notice the detail within our surroundings looking at the colour contrasts and textures that were all around us. When we went off to take our photos Claire gave us some basic themes to help us concentrate on and capture images that showcased this. She got us to really think about what we were capturing and how that image felt to us.

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Once we had taken our photos we then regrouped to show them and talk about why we had taken those shots and what we liked about them. Everyone was so supportive and I found this exercise very beneficial as it got me to really think about what drew me to capturing that image in the first place.

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After the event not only did I have some beautiful photos, with some new photography tips  to take back with me I also felt so relaxed, my mind was cleared and any worries I had were gone. Even thinking about the drive back home afterwards didn’t faze me this time.

I enjoyed attending Claire’s wellness walk and saw the amazing benefits of attending. They are not just photography focused so you don’t need to be an expert or even have a fancy camera to take part. I look forward to going to another one soon.

To attend one of Claire’s Wellbeing events take a look at her website for more details and to book https://www.clairevictoria.co/wellbeingevents

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Children's Crafts and Activities Mental health & Wellbeing

The benefits of nature and ways to get out and enjoy it.

This Summer lets go wild, get outside and enjoy nature at its best. Nature can really help improve our health and the more we embrace it, the more we will benefit.

Why not get the whole family together to enjoy the great outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and don’t be afraid to get dirty.

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There has been so many studies showing how beneficial spending time in nature can be for both adults and children. An article I found by the BBC reported that spending time in nature can improve vitality, mood and also help anxiety.

I also found on Askthescientist.com a list of 10 interesting health benefits of being in nature these include strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.

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With mental health problems on the rise in today’s society and more and more children suffering from stress and anxiety we owe it to ourselves and families to use the healing powers of nature. We need to all take time out from our stressful lives and enjoy some relaxation in our natural surroundings.

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Here is a list of ways you can get out with the kids and enjoy nature this summer  –

Bug Hunts

Get the kids digging around in the dirt, looking under stones and in the plant pots to see what bugs they can find. This will help children understand about habitats and they get to see bugs up close. Playing in the dirt has health benefits and there have also been links to it helping fight depression.

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Grow your own Vegetables

This is a lovely way to enjoy the outside world as a family you can spend a day together planting your favourite fruit and vegetables and once planted everyone can watch them grow and tend to them. The best reason to grow your own fruit and vegetables is that you are rewarded with delicious home grown produce which always tastes so much better than anything food you buy in shops.

Even if you don’t have a garden you can grow produce in pots and grow bags or go all out and get an allotment.

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Wild swimming/paddling

Wild swimming is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in nature it is both invigorating and refreshing. This can be done in rivers, natural pools or even the sea. Here is a website with a list of places you go wild swimming. Wild swimming can also help boost your immune system and can decrease inflammation and pain. Please do check that it is a safe place to swim beforehand especially in a river.

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Nature walks

Just getting out for a walk with the family is a great way to really enjoy nature and there is always so much to see. There are lots of set walks throughout the UK and with the wonder of the internet you can find routes and walking trails before you leave. The National Trust has a list of UK walks and also the Forestry Commission has a list of woodland walks around the country.

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The beach

I love the beach and always find it a relaxing environment. There is always something for everyone to enjoy at the beach and it is perfect way to get out and enjoy the natural environment. We do tend to avoid the highly commercialised beaches and stick to the quieter more natural beaches.   

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Build a Den

Den building is a great activity that everyone can join in with it brings out the inner child in you. Whether you hunt for and collect your own materials to build a den or you go to a wood  where materials have already been provided for you it will be an enjoyable activity for all.

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My girls found all these materials left in the bush by the builders and built themselves a den out of them.

Pond Dipping

Pond dipping is a lot of fun and can teach you a lot about what lies below our rivers/ponds and is a very relaxing activity. Just listening to the trickling of the water can help calm any mood.

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Why not also read my other posts –

The Wonders of Wookey Hole

The Fun that can be had in open spaces

10 Cheap Activities to do with the Children this summer

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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Children's Crafts and Activities

Rainy Day Fun!

We all moan when we see that the rain has been forecasted for the day, especially when we have little ones to keep amused and stop from going stir crazy indoors.

However there is so much fun to be had when the rains come and the kids can enjoy getting out in the rain, even if only for a short while. Most of us have welly boots just lying around so why not dust them off and put them to the test.

In my household the girls get excited by the rain and if they are playing out when it starts to rain they never want to come in.

Their favourite thing to do in the rain is strip down to their underwear and dance around in the rain. Obviously we only do this in the garden and not down the street, although given the chance they probably would dance naked down the street.

I have the towels ready for them at the back door and watch as they run in and out seeing who can stay dancing in the rain the longest. They are always in fits of laughter and really enjoy themselves. My brother and I used to do this when we were kids so it brings back fond memories watching my girls do it too.

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Once they have had enough I wrap them in a towel and put them in a warm bath and sometimes they even get a hot chocolate too.

My children can never resist a puddle as soon as it rains they are wanting to go out and find the biggest puddle they can splash in. I am happy for them to go out and get soaking wet and muddy as clothes can be washed and they can warm up in the bath afterwards however if we are on our way to school or on our way out somewhere then you hear me begging them to stay away from puddles. Any other time though I am encouraging them to go in and splash around.

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They all have welly boots which keeps their feet dry, unless they find a puddle deep enough for the water to come in over the top and that has happened a few times. 

They have been in puddles that have come up to their knees before and both Bella and Lia have fallen over and ended up sitting in the puddle but it is all part of the fun and they still laugh about these times now.

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A great activity when you have little ones, which I have done in the past, is when the rain stops and the ground is still damp to go on a worm walk. This is where you go out and see how many worms, snails and slugs you can find. To add some numeracy and literacy to the activity you can take a pen and paper and get them to tally up how many you can find (you can tell I used to be a childminder, always thinking about the learning outcomes).

So next time the rain starts to fall don’t despair grab your Welly’s and rain jacket and set off on a rainy day adventure. If you are worried about your children getting wet you can get the all in one rain suits which means your child will have no excuse not to jump around in those puddles.

If you enjoyed reading this post why not also read my post –

The Benefits of Nature and Ways to get out and Enjoy it

The Fun that can be had in open spaces

The Benefits of Pond Dipping

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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Children's Crafts and Activities

The Simplicity of Chalk Pens

When I was childminding I was always on the lookout for new activities for the children to do. My pens, paper and glue were a permanent fixture on my table and every day after school the children headed straight to the table, asking me what they would be making today. I would try to introduce something different and would spend a lot of time searching the internet looking for new ideas to keep the children amused. Then one evening when I was scrolling for new ideas I came across Chalk Pens.

Chalk Pens as the name suggests are pens that contain brightly coloured liquid chalk. They are very easy to use and great fun and are great for introducing motor skills and mark making, for the younger children.

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The Chalk Pens went down a huge hit with all the children, I think they enjoyed the fact that they were allowed to draw all over my path and I allowed the children to run wild with pens when normally they are restricted to paper. One other benefit is chalk pens are brilliant for making a temporary hopscotch, and what child doesn’t like hopscotch. 

Once all the children have finished out comes the hose pipe or more often than not in the UK the rain and the path is all clean and ready for them to start again the next day. 

Saving you money and wastage on paper, however as I found you will need to have a camera as they children what photographic evidence of their art work before their masterpieces are washed away.

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The pens contain a fair amount of chalk and will last a long time, making sure you get your monies worth.

Even today, which is long after I have finished childminding, we got them out and they still had some chalk left.

I find chalk pens are great for getting your children outside and getting their creativity to flow.

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To use with the chalk pens I also have a black Tuff Tray so even when the weather is not good enough to be outside the children can all sit round the tray on the kitchen floor and draw away.

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There are lots of Chalk Pens around but these are the ones that I have Popart Chalk Pens from Amazon and they were so worth the money I would recommend then.

Why not also read –

Window sticker activity

For the love of Hama Beads

Rock Painting

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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Parenting Advice Places to visit

The fun that can be had in open spaces

Nowadays there are so many different activity places available to take children to. You have soft plays, parks, farms (most are more play centres now than animals) and theme parks. 

Do we really need to take children to these places to have a good time?

Today my girls and I had one of the best days so far of the summer holidays and we achieved this by visiting Epsom Downs which is a wide open field in between the famous race course. 

We arrived at midday and the place was near enough empty. We started off by having a lovely picnic. 

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My girls had brought with them a frisbee and some tennis rackets to play with.  They were all so happy with the freedom to run about and hit the ball as hard as they liked without it going over a fence or landing in the road.

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We ended up staying there playing for over 3 hours. We played frisbee, tennis, I.T, stuck in the mud, handstand and cartwheel competitions, granny’s footsteps (the girl’s taught me this game it is a bit like what’s the time Mr wolf) and running races. 

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It was amazing how much fun we had from an empty field and the best thing it cost nothing! We already had the frisbee and tennis rackets and we just bought the sandwiches that we would have eaten at home anyway.

It was so great to see the kids making their own fun and I got to join in, unlike when we visit places especially designed for children where it is normally me sitting on the side watching them play. We received loads of fresh air and exercise and had a great enjoyable day. We would have stayed a lot longer but ran out of water and it was a very hot day.

Our open spaces are slowly disappearing and as we saw for ourselves not that many people use them which is such a shame as there is so much fun that can be had when using them. As a parent you can let your children run free without worrying as much as you would in a busy place.

*Edit* We still to this day enjoy visiting open spaces the only thing that has changed is instead of a frisbee and tennis racket we now have a football that is always in the back of the car and I have just bought a rounders set.

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Why not also read my other posts –

The Wonders of Wookey Hole

Giant Bubble Fun

10 Cheap Activities to do with the Children this summer

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

Categories
Children's Crafts and Activities

The Benefits of Pond Dipping with Children

I think it is so important for kids to be kids, to explore, get messy, discover nature and what is around them. I am always on the lookout for new exciting ways to get the children into nature and the great outdoors.

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A great inexpensive way for this is pond dipping. We are lucky to have a beautiful river running through are local park that is teaming with pond life. The nets themselves are very cheap, I got two of them from Amazon and the other we picked up last year at the beach.

This time that we went  pond dipping we couldn’t even find our bucket so I used an old takeaway tub that I had cleaned out but if you do have a bucket it would be better. We normally use a crab bucket as they are clear so children can easily peer through and see what is inside the bucket.

My girls had an amazing time, we were fishing for ages and found all sorts of creatures. The excitement on their faces every time they pulled the net up from the river and found something inside of it. After about 30 mins we had caught two fish, a few caddis fly larvae, a great pond snail, a slug and a pond skater.

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We also fished out two bees that fell into the water, my girls were please that they had saved their lives. It was great for the girls to get so close to the bees and have a real good look at them.

They could see that as long as the bees are left alone they are harmless to us. The bees were actually mid mating which is probably the reason they landed in the water in the first place, but to the eyes of the innocent child it was a mother bee and her baby.

It was amazing to get so close to them and one of the bees was the biggest bee I had ever seen. As you can see from the picture the bee at the back is an average size bee but looks small in comparison. 

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The girls also fished out a butterfly that fell in but unfortunately it wasn’t so lucky. Alexa also pointed out a really big dragonfly she had spotted and as we were all watching it fly around it swooped above our heads and caught a butterfly and flew off with it.

It’s amazing what you can see just from being by the river and taking a good look around. The fun didn’t stop there as on the way back to the car the girls were chasing the butterflies with the fishing nets trying to catch them. We only managed to catch one but the girls had great fun trying. Not to mention the exercise they got from running backwards and forwards chasing after them.  

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The girls then decided to use the nets to go on a bug hunt. They heard the grasshoppers in the long grass and discovered if they used the nets they could catch them. It was the first time they had actually seen a grasshopper and enjoyed watching how far they can jump and listening to the noise they make.

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Pond dipping is a great day out that is inexpensive and provides so many learning opportunities for children and adults. It kept my girls amused and interested for hours and gave them a hands on learning experience that they will remember a lot longer than seeing pictures in a book. 

Me and the girls all gave pond dipping a big thumbs up and will definitely be returning again during the holidays and I recommend to any parent looking for activities to do with children over the summer to give pond dipping a try.

If you enjoyed reading this post why not also read my post –

The Benefits of Nature and Ways to get out and Enjoy it

10 cheap activities to do with children this summer

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