I know, I know…the kids have only just broken up for their school holidays and already I’m sat here writing a post about going back!  I write this from a place of experience; having left getting all the school supplies together until the last minute I can honestly say that it is worth being prepared to save yourself a real headache come the start of September.

The only area in which I think it pays to leave it as long as possible is school shoes.  You just know that if you buy school shoes at the start of the holidays, they will no longer fit by the time the new term rolls around so I always leave those as late as possible.  The rest however, I would definitely recommend sorting as soon as you can.

1. Stationery
Is there anything better than buying a load of new stationery?  It used to be my favourite part in the run-up to the new school term.  Even if your children don’t need to take their own pencil cases or equipment into school they will almost certainly need supplies to complete their homework so why not buy some cool stuff to make up a homework box?  We love Smiggle for fun and exciting stationery items.


2. Uniform
If you want to be thrifty then try to buy uniform which kids can grow into as the year progresses.  They won’t be the only one with sleeves slightly too long on the first day!  There is honestly nothing worse than buying a whole wardrobe full of new uniform only to find that it doesn’t fit when the first term ends.  Obviously you don’t want little Joe to be tripping on his trouser legs as he walks into school but the roomier you can get away with, the better.  It also gives you plenty of time to get labelling up to make sure that you don’t lose all that shiny new uniform within the first week.


3. Essentials
Water bottles, lunch boxes etc – these are items which tend to be whipped off the shelves pretty quickly so make sure you snap them up as soon as possible to give you more choice when you come to buy.  You might also use the opportunity to invest in a new watch for you and the kids to ensure that you aren’t late on the first day back!

4. Nerves
If you are a school first-timer or perhaps you are moving schools (like we are this year!) then nerves are a rite of passage you will face either throughout the holidays or on the first day.  Both times Meg and Eli started school we spent time talking to them about what it would be like, the type of thing they would have to do and the names of their teachers.  If you’ve done a walk-round of the school beforehand then this should help as you can go through what the school looks like too.  Honestly, kids adjust so quickly that after a few weeks it’ll be like they’ve always been there so try not to let the nerves get the better of either child or parent.

5. In The Last Week…
Although it is nice to breathe a sigh of relief when the holidays roll around and you don’t have to be up and out on the school run first thing, it can also pay off to start getting back into the swing of things in the final week. Don’t wait until the first morning of school to get everyone up and dressed and out as it will hit you like a ton of bricks.  Likewise, make sure that in the week before you go back to school you check all uniform, shoes and any other essentials you need to take to make sure there is nothing you’ve forgotten about.

*This is a collaborative post

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It wouldn’t be a school holiday if we didn’t jump on the train and head into Liverpool and this summer turned out to be no different when we were invited to come along to the British Music Experience and check out their new summer programme.


The British Music Experience is housed in the Cunard Building, right on the docks and is a fantastic location for this interesting and diverse attraction.  The Experience tells the story of music from the last 70 years through memorabilia, costumes and instruments.


We were given a guided tour through the different decades which was a lot of fun and there was a quiz to keep the kids interested.  As a musical family we really enjoyed getting to discover the roots of some of our favourite bands and Meg in particular was excited to learn more about The Beatles (her current preferred choice alongside Little Mix!)


For me, the most fascinating section was definitely the early 90’s and then moving into the BritPop era as this was a huge part of my childhood.  It was a little cringe-worthy to remember the mania which used to surround bands like Boyzone and Take That but a lot of fun too and trying to explain to Meg and Eli about the bands we used to like along with our tour guide was amusing as she just looked at us like we’d never been young enough to enjoy bands like the Spice Girls!


We also attended a story-telling workshop complete with percussion instruments in which the kids had to help complete the adventure by playing along.  At 8 years old, Meg was probably slightly too old but Eli was very keen to get involved and I think for younger children it would be fab.

Just outside of the room where the storytelling workshop was held there is also a craft table set up although we didn’t stop to have a go at this.


Without a doubt though, the best part of the experience for us was the Gibson Interactive Studio where there was a whole host of instruments available for the kids (and the adults) to have a go at playing along with a recording studio and a dance studio.


Both Meg and Eli loved that they were able to get hands-on and have a go and we could easily have spent a couple of hours just in this section alone.  I practically had to drag them away and remind them that we needed to go and eat lunch at some point!

There is also a cafe on-site; the Star Cafe is open to visitors and members of the public (you don’t have to be going through the Experience) and serves a selection of hot and cold drinks  and food as well.  We kicked our tour around the Experience off with a croissant and juice and it went down very well.

We love Liverpool anyway but I would definitely say that a visit to the British Music Experience would be a fantastic addition to any trip down to the Docks or just when exploring the city.

*We were offered entry into the BME in return for a blog post.  All thoughts and opinions are, of course, our own.

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If, like us, you are a family who love to be outdoors then you will no doubt know that there is nothing better than having a garden which can be used and enjoyed by both children and adults alike.  This is especially relevant during the school holidays when you might not have the time or money to go on day trips but still want the kids to be able to burn off their energy.

The best way to approach a child-friendly garden is to split it into zones.  It doesn’t matter whether you have a large space to fill or a small garden, there should be a way of effectively splitting it into different parts.

Firstly, the adults section.  If you want to use your garden to entertain then you’ll need an area which can be used to set up garden furniture and perhaps a BBQ.  You might not have the space to leave outdoor living furniture out all summer but having space for this where it won’t be in the way of children playing is key.  Even if you just want somewhere to set up a deckchair to enjoy the sun and fresh air yourself, create a small kid-free section of the garden in which to do this.

For children, ideally try to give them an area which can house all of their items be it a swing set, a trampoline, a sand pit and all their other bits and bobs.  If you have young children and you want to be able to keep an eye on them then you should have this area closest to the house.  If you have older children then it makes sense to have this area at the very rear of the garden to keep any balls away from breakable windows and to allow them their own space to tear around.


A dedicated playing area for children can ensure that you can keep any flowers or plants clear of being trampled on, that children know where to play and that you can create a surface which works and can handle wear and tear.  You might decide to lay bark chipping down or astroturf or just stick with a plain expanse of lawn.  Something soft for landing on which is easy to maintain is going to be the name of the game here.

You could also invest in a large storage unit which can be used solely by the kids to throw all of their outdoor games and toys in after a long day spent playing.  It should have a secure lid but be easily accessible so that the kids can just help themselves whenever they want something rather than having to disturb you.  You also won’t need to worry about them having to navigate the shed or garage trying to get something out either.


Garden toys can be expensive if you invest in everything going.  In our personal experience if you are going to invest in anything then a trampoline is a excellent option; you can get them in various sizes to fit most gardens and we have had one for the last three years with it being used all year round when the weather is clear.  It is a great energy burner and one which never seems to get old.  Just be sure your children are old enough to use the trampoline and make sure you include a net to stop any accidents should they fall when bouncing.

It is also important to ensure that your garden is secure and that any gates are locked (with the locks out of reach of smaller people) so that children can’t let themselves in and out.  Check that any hedging or borders you have are also secure and have no gaps which a child could squeeze through.  This will just help to give you peace of mind when the kids are playing in the garden.

Although it might seem obvious it’s always worth pointing out that any water, be it pond or paddling pool should be kept covered and/or drained if there are no adults present in the garden.  No matter what age your kids it only takes a minute for an accident to occur.

If your children are keen to get involved with cultivating their own plants, flowers or vegetables then you might want to give them over a section of garden for this as well.  Wildflowers tend to be very hardy and colourful which usually goes down well with younger kids and can be more easily maintained.

Now kick back and enjoy your garden over the summer!

Do you have any garden tips for a child-friendly space?

*This is a collaborative post

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As sad as it makes me that we have reached the end of the first week of the summer holidays, I’m also pretty stoked at it means we have also survived!  This week has been a real balancing act of trying to spend time with Meg and Eli, keeping them entertained and getting a shed load of freelance work done.  It’s one of those strange scenarios where I’m really glad I’ve had a lot of work to do and incredibly I will be having my most successful month to date and yet also wishing I didn’t have so much to do so I could spend more time with the kids.

Next week will be even stranger as the kids are going to stay with my parents so it will just be little old me rattling around at home during the day!

But onto the other things I have loved this week:-

Read

I am about halfway through When Dimple Met Rishi and really, really enjoying it.  As a YA contemporary romance it had me feeling a little dubious as it isn’t the type of thing I would usually read but culturally it is fascinating and the story itself is just so sweet.  I haven’t even finished it yet and I suspect it’s going to be a book I keep on recommending to people.


Watched
We were in the mood for a new box set to binge-watch so this week we began StartUp.  It’s taken a little getting used to as it features some big names including Martin Freeman rocking an American accent but all the reviews advised to stick with it and that it would really pick up so we have high hopes.  The basic premise is that you have a whole bunch of characters from different walks of life who are all influenced and shaped by one event: when a banker steals some money.  At least…that’s what I’ve taken from it so far!  I will let you know how it goes as the season develops.

Made

I don’t really have anything for this category as we’ve not been so creative this week.  The kids have had lots of fun making their summer bucket lists but that’s about as far as we got.

Wore

Some Minnie Ears!  On Thursday we headed into Manchester for a Disney-themed quiz with Paladone and it was a lot of fun.  We didn’t win but we didn’t cause ourselves any embarrassment either so I was pretty pleased.  It was a great evening with good food, good people and a good atmosphere.


Heard

I have been absolutely loving Despacito at the moment, as have the kids and it’s our most requested song when we are in the car.  It just has such good summer vibes and is perfect for when the sun is shining.  We haven’t had too much of that this week but we’ve been trying to make the most of that elusive sunshine when it appears.

And Lastly…

I know it’s almost like tempting fate to say it but this week has been a really nice balance of everything.  Meg and Eli haven’t fallen out too much and have played well allowing me to get my work done which in turn has meant that we’ve been able to do some nice things, such as going into Liverpool for the day.  I want to say that I hope the rest of the summer holiday is as good as that would be incredible…we will have to see!!

Have a great week all!


*This post contains an affiliate link


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I know I have said several times before that I’m not your typical ‘beauty’ blogger.  If I find a product which works then I tend to stick faithfully by the brand and I’m unlikely to try anything new for fear it will upset the delicate balance of my skin.  Unfortunately I’m not getting any younger though and I have begun to notice the appearance of fine lines around my eyes so when I was offered the chance to review the eye brightening serum from Oyster skincare, I’ll admit to being intrigued.


At first glance I was impressed with the packaging.  It costs £14.99 for the serum but the packaging gives the illusion of a product which costs much more than that.  Oyster skincare are a new premium skincare brand which aims to blend skin-enhancing actives with essential oils.

The packaging was clear, simple and the box contained clear details about how to apply the product and what the expected results could be.

Oyster skincare claim that this eye serum:-

* Lessens dark circles under the eyes
* Reduces wrinkles and crows feet
* Is light and non-greasy
* Contains only natural ingredients and is paraben and alcohol free.

The serum packaging itself says:-

‘A wonderfully unique formulation packed full of actives each with their own special reputations.  Super-smoothing Hyaluronic Acid, wrinkle-reducing Pentapeptides, anti-ageing COQ10, Cafeisilane for puffiness and Niacinamide for dark circles; refreshingly blended with antioxidant Green Tea & Raspberry Extracts and gently soothing Cornflower.  The result is a super-enriched soothing eye gel that will help reduce puffiness, refresh weary eyes, and tone and brighten the skin around them.’

In all honesty that sounded like a whole lot of scientific jibber-jabber which was designed to make the product sound like a wonder gel so I really wanted to test how it stood up to this high claim.  Would it really work?  


You only need to apply the tiniest drop of the serum under your eyes so I get the impression that it will last a fair while; I’ve been using it for the last couple of weeks so haven’t been able to try out exactly how long it will last for but I’ll come and update the post when I know!  Its shelf life is around 6 months so I will be intrigued to see how long it lasts compared to that.

One of the things that I really liked about the serum on first use was the smell.  It has been created with an essential oil blend of lavender, grapefruit, and mandarin oils and this definitely comes across.  It doesn’t smell chemical in any way but the mandarin definitely comes through.

Initially I didn’t notice much of a difference when using the serum; my eyes weren’t too bad to begin with so I wasn’t expecting a huge turnaround but it seemed to be fairly normal.  However, after a week and a half I was out for a coffee with a friend and she commented that I looked a lot fresher than I had (erm…thanks?!) so perhaps the difference was more noticeable than I had thought.  I think we have the tendency to judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else; after two weeks I think that the dark circles under my eyes are still pretty visible but even James said he thought there was a difference!

The serum is definitely non-greasy and is very easy to apply.  I also have quite sensitive skin and didn’t notice any adverse results.  I like that it is paraben-free and alcohol-free and I will continue to use it over the coming weeks and hopefully the dark circles under my eyes will gradually recede.

If you are interested in trying the serum out for yourself then I have a little giveaway which you are welcome to enter:-

Win A Bottle Of Brightening Eye Serum By Oyster #5


*I was sent this product for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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