I’m fairly certain we will all have memories from parents, guardians or loved ones in which they commented about the passing of time. How it seemed to go in the blink of an eye and ‘weren’t you just 6 years old and sweetly pottering around my garden just a moment ago?’, usually said to a not very pleased 16 year old who just wants to roll their eyes and escape the conversation!

But it’s crazy how, now that I am on the precipice of being mother to a 9 and 7 year old, how true those remarks have started to seem. For one thing, I simply don’t feel old enough to have children of that age, never mind anything else. But that isn’t really what this post is about!

I wanted to write something, to put my thoughts down somewhere, for all those parents who are perhaps going through a difficult time. Whether it’s children not sleeping (come and talk to me about that any day of the week, as I am still the owner of a 6 soon to be 7 year old who wakes at the crack of dawn no matter what time he goes to bed…), difficulty in potty training, trouble with weaning, listening to children with a bad attitude…whatever the parenting troubles, I wanted to write a post to say that this season too shall end.

Just like the fug of the newborn days slowly lifted and you emerged at the other side to realise that you were still alive and able to function as a semi-normal human being (let’s face it, nothing ever really goes back to being quite the same afterwards) so whatever issue you are currently working your way through will come to an end. The trick is to not let it defeat you but to hold on, make plans and know that it will be alright in the end!

We went away over the weekend and I was struck by how much Meg and Eli have changed in such a short period of time.  I don’t know why it constantly catches me off guard, and yet it does.  They will be 7 and 9 in a few months and although the thought blows my mind, in some small corner of my logic, I can see it.  They are ready for the next year.  I just hope that James and I are too!

Not too long ago I filmed a vlog which was quite tricky for me to do; I sat down and talked about the difficulty we were having with Meg’s attitude.  How I was finding it hard to know how to deal with her and we were getting increasingly frustrated and concerned that our loving little girl was being swallowed whole by a fiesty and sassy tweenager.  I received floods of comments and direct messages telling me to hold on, to keep my head up, that Meg was still Meg just going through some changes and you know what?  All those people were right.  A couple of months later and things seemed to have returned to normal.

Or the new normal.

Because let’s face it, parenting is a constant learning journey.

Not only are you entering into new territories with your oldest child but even if you have more than one, no two children are the same.  What works for one won’t necessarily work for another, and so you have to continually adapt and shift your mind-set to accommodate the newness of everything.  As a person who solidly dislikes change, this has been a HUGE journey for me and continues to be so.  Just when we think we have everything figured out…you realise that actually it’s all up and altered again.

The great thing is that you don’t have to do it alone.  Whether you have friends and family close by who can listen with a sympathetic ear or you reach out to the many communities online…and I would highly recommend that you do so…there will be someone who has been through a similar situation before.  Who can listen, offer advice, hold your hand, and reassure you that this season too shall end.  If you don’t have that person, find them!  The internet is such a vast and varied place and although I was terrified to initially post my video about Meg, thinking it would make me seem like a bad parent, I am so pleased that I popped my head up and admitted we needed help.  Help is what I got and when we came out of the other side it was perhaps as slightly less frazzled parents then we might have otherwise been.

We are never going to have all the answers but if you are going through a tough time and need to hear today that you have got this then MAMA YOU HAVE GOT THIS.

It might not seem like it, and you might feel as though you are stuck on a never-ending cycle but I promise you, one day you will wake up and slowly realise that things aren’t quite as they have been.  And you soak up that respite time and allow that knowledge to sit with you so that when the next wave comes, you will be ready for it.

Mamas (Daddys, Grandmas, Nanas, Grandads…) YOU GOT THIS.

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There’s a funny thing about living in the north west of the UK; it’s a lot colder than down south and it’s quite often pretty wet.  Until we moved up here I hadn’t quite appreciated how much rain one place could get!  Of course I say it’s ‘funny’ but it isn’t.  Not when you have kids dying to get out and burn off some energy and you are watching the rain pelting the windows and wondering whether you can cope with fishing your six year old out of the mud for the 100th time…am I right?!

Perhaps just me then.

We are a family who love to get outdoors; it is certainly the space in which Eli comes the most alive (see comment above) but sometimes it just isn’t ideal so I thought I would throw together some ideas for great indoor activities which we have tried, tested, and given the thumbs up.

1. Imagine That!, Liverpool
Officially known as Imagine That! Underwater Street, this is a fun and creative day out for younger children.  I think you can best see what sort of things are on offer in the vlog I made back in March but in short there are a number of different themed zones where children can play act, dress up, enjoy craft, complete science experiments and really get hands-on with the things around them.  I think this is best aimed at children aged 8 years and under although I’m sure older children would also have a lot of fun in the science zone.  Meg was perhaps just on the cusp of being too old for the dressing up areas but interested in the more creative and hands-on sections.  There are different activities which take place throughout the day as well, led by the staff, and we found these to be engaging and well thought out with both Meg and Eli really enjoying themselves.

In peak times prices are £12.95 per child with one free adult per paying child.  Children aged one year are £7.95 and babies under one are free.  It’s worth noting that there are no picnic facilities but there is a cafe on-site.

2. Trampoline Park, Various
Trampoline Parks for children are a phenomenon which seem to have taken over the last couple of years but they are lots of fun and there seems to be one in almost every town and city which means you shouldn’t have to travel too far to get to one!  They are probably one of the more expensive options as you only generally get an hour’s bouncing but kids can get really worn out in that time and it’s always worth seeing if there are any special discount vouchers available before you go.

Head to Google if you want to find your nearest one, although some worth mentioning include Energi Trampoline Park in Preston, Spring City in Liverpool and Jump Ninja in Manchester which is slightly smaller than your average trampoline park but has a fun ninja course to enjoy.

3. Chill Factore, Manchester
We only recently discovered the delights of Chill Factore in Manchester, having driven past it a number of times but never knowing whether the entry price would be worth it.  When we spotted a handy voucher come up on Groupon in the autumn, we decided to give it a go and I’m really pleased that we did.  I will say straight off that I am not a fan of being cold but I found the ski suits and boots we were given were more than adequate to keep us warm (check that the use of these is included with your entry price) and although there isn’t masses to do, and our session was limited to an hour, the kids really enjoyed themselves.

As a family of four, paying full price, it would have cost us £90 for an hour’s play plus £8 each for jacket and trouser hire (helmet and boots are supplied free of charge).  With our discount voucher we paid around £70 for an hour with clothing hire included so it’s always worth keeping an eye out to see what is available.  I’d say that an hour’s play was more than sufficient however, and seeing the kids faces when they entered, more than made up for the cost!

4. National Museums, Liverpool
If you fancy a free day out in a former city of culture, then you can’t go wrong with a trip to one (or more!) of the National Museums in Liverpool. We have so far explored five of the seven museums and have not been disappointed by any of them.  There are usually lots of ways to get children involved in the exhibitions and displays, with the chance to be interactive and hands-on along the way and you have the rest of the city to explore, should you want to brave the elements and head outside.  The Albert Docks in particular is a great space to enjoy on a brighter day.

I think our personal favourite was the Museum of Liverpool but I think any one of the National Museums makes for a great, family-friendly, free day out.

5. Legoland Discovery Centre and the SEA LIFE, Manchester
I have put these two attractions together simply because they are located right next door to one another and it made it easier!  We’ve never done the two at once but we have visited both the Discovery Centre and the SEA LIFE Centre a number of times.  We were quite lucky when we visited the Discovery Centre the first time, as our school holiday fell at a different point to the Manchester schools so we pretty much had the run of the place; the second time we went it was far busier and this definitely coloured our experience.  If you have a child who loves Lego then they are really going to enjoy themselves here, from the minute you enter to the second you leave there are lots of opportunities to play and build with Lego bricks, a number of rides and a soft play area to enjoy too.

Likewise with SEA LIFE, there is plenty to see and do, and an opportunity to be interactive with some of the sea creatures housed here and if your little one is a fan of all things under the sea then you can’t go wrong.

It is possible to purchase a combi-ticket for both the Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE and I think this is a good call if you are looking for a full day out as a trip to just one is a half day at best, unless it’s very busy and you find yourself waiting a lot once inside.  We’ve never found it that bad and have usually managed to do all we wanted to within two or three hours.  Single tickets for children start at £9.50 with combi-ticket prices starting at £14.50.

6. Laser Quest, Bowling and/or Cinema Trips, Various
You might think I am being lazy bundling all these in together but the truth is that any one of them would be a great diversion on a rainy day.  There are nearly always offers on at chain cinemas for children’s movies (Kids AM etc) which offer good value providing there isn’t a specific movie you want to see and bowling is a pretty standard hour’s activity.  We only recently discovered laser quest as a family; James and I obviously played as kids and Meg and Eli have been to birthday parties but we’ve never before done it as a family activity.  As a competitive family it was….intense…and I did feel sorry for the family playing with us but it was a lot of fun and something we would definitely repeat.

 

So there you have it, just six ideas of how to spend the day when you have to stay indoors.  I hope you found this useful and if you have any of your own suggestions, feel free to let me know.

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I feel like it’s as good as giving something the kiss of death to say that I am starting a new, regular post on my blog but that is certainly what I intend with A Little Bit Of Us…

I have enjoyed dipping in and out of Morgana’s Little Loves linky each Friday but find that I join consistently for a period of time and then lose my rhythm and this has certainly been true since I began working three days a week in October. For that reason, I can’t promise that these posts will be weekly but that is my aim. My true purpose though is to give you an update on where we are at, and the things we have been up to which don’t warrant their own individual post.

This week, James and I returned back to work (boo!) and the kids went into a holiday club. It was a bit of a shock to the system for all of us following the Christmas break. I don’t know whether it’s because Christmas fell on a week day this year but it just didn’t feel like we had that much time to spend together. Once we had visited my family and James’, we only had a couple of days before it was back to the grind.

It was no fun for anyone come Tuesday morning when we had to leave the snug warmth of the house and head out first thing in the morning; I’ve been drinking far too many cups of tea this week and the kids looked completely bewildered when we headed outside and it was still dark, although I think they have enjoyed being at the holiday club, simply for the opportunity to do something slightly more exciting and with different faces. We were perhaps heading towards that level of cabin fever which sees them bouncing off the walls and falling out over every teeny, tiny thing.

Going back to the weekend, we did manage (James and I) to get out for New Year’s Eve which felt like a major achievement; being the first time in 8 years that we haven’t sat at home, watching the clock and wondering whether we are even going to make it until 12am! We were invited to three different gatherings which we popped into and it was lovely to spend the evening with friends, knowing the kids were being well looked after by their Nana and Grandad.  It’s a terrible picture, I know, but the only one I captured of the whole evening!

The biggest news this week for me was the announcement of a new book club I am helping to run: Bookish Mamas. You can see the full story here, but we have picked The Power by Naomi Alderman as our first book and I am currently racing through it. It isn’t such a long book to begin with but the premise is very interesting, if a little dark! I’ll let you have my full thoughts in due course, naturally.
This weekend we are away on a review trip in Dorset which I am very excited to share about with you; I’ve been invited to vlog it so there will be a video following once I’ve had time to wade through and edit the mammoth amount of footage I am sure to come home with. Fingers crossed that Storm Eleanor doesn’t rear her head and ruin the plans we have for our time there.
I am also making the solemn promise that I will share some house updates here next week; we are putting some final touches to Meg and Eli’s rooms and then they will be completely ticked off and done and we can move onto other rooms in the house. I’ll also sort out full room tours both here and on Youtube in the coming weeks although I’m sure there will always be bits and pieces I want to add in. The trick is going to be in stopping myself long enough to sort out the other parts of the house which are crying out for redecoration!
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I have to admit to being a little gobsmacked to realise that my last Little Loves post was on the 20th October.  I know I sound like something of a broken record but I honestly don’t know where this half of the year is disappearing to.  I think between house renovations, new jobs and just trying to keep trucking away until Christmas, I have blinked and lost entire weeks!

This week, as it goes, has been a pretty darn good one.  Although we’ve struggled with getting up and out in the morning after the half term break (doesn’t it suck to be getting ready in the dark?!) we’ve been really on top of things and the kids bedrooms have finally started to come together.  I am feeling very confident that this weekend we will be fully unpacked and have them in their own spaces which will just feel miraculous.

But anyway, more of what I’ve been loving this week:-

Read

I finished Dark Matter this week and picked up Peace Like A RiverDark Matter is a soft science fiction book about quantum physics which has been doing the rounds over the last year and I thought I’d give it a go as it’s meant to be a good read for people who don’t get all the ‘sciencey’ parts of normal sci-fi books.  I’ll admit, there were still entire paragraphs which had me scratching my head but overall it was a good read.


Watched

I caught up with the latest episodes of The Good Place on Netflix this week as well as the new series of Modern Family.  I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when Modern Family closes its doors as it’s just one of those staple programs which we know we will love when the each series airs.

Made

I know I mentioned it above but I’m going to tout it here too; REAL – LIFE – HOUSE – PROGRESS.  I don’t think you can understand how stressful it is to live out of boxes for months on end unless you’ve actually done it.  It’s a great lesson in living with what you actually need but it’s also a whole lot of chaos and brain-ache.  To actually be able to finish unpacking boxes is going to feel like a small miracle indeed.  It doesn’t look like much from the photo but believe me, it’s a real step forward.

I’m also really thrilled that we are giving Meg and Eli their own unique spaces.  We’ve never really been able to do that before as we were living in rented houses and there’s only so much you can do.  So it has felt like something really special to be able to design and create a space that they will love.  Now onto finishing the kitchen and starting on the play room (and ignoring the other 5 or so rooms we haven’t touched yet…)


Wore

I don’t know whether it arrived with the beginning of November but up here in the North West the weather has turned.  I’ve had to scrape ice off my windscreen for the school run more times than I’d like but it has been the perfect opportunity to bring out my favourite tartan scarves.  Scarves are my absolute favourite and I love that I’ve got the excuse to wear them out now.

Heard

I popped into school for an open morning this week and got to hear how the kids have been doing over the last half term.  It’s always nice to hear that your children are doing well; obviously there are area in which they need to work (Eli and good, quiet behaviour is just something which doesn’t go hand in hand!) but overall they got a pretty good report.

And Lastly…

I shared this week about our trip to Scotland over half term and I’d love it if you could hop over and take a read.  I’m currently wading through hours of footage but I will have a vlog up shortly too so if you’re interested to see it then do keep your eyes peeled for that.


Have a great week all.


*This post contains affiliate links.

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I swear I blinked and it had gone from the middle of October to nudging towards the middle of November; the last time I wrote a blog post was on the 21st, which just about shows how time has managed to slip through my fingers!

I mentioned in my last Life Lately post that I was on the precipice of starting a new job.  That is now in full flow and it has taken some real adjustment to find our feet in this new stage.  We haven’t quite managed to get there yet and there have definitely been some major teething issues but I think it is finally starting to feel like our new normal.

It’s tiring though, having to work three full days and balance housework, children, renovation of the house, blogging and filming for Youtube on the two days I have off.  Meg and Eli are exhausted from after school club three times a week as well; I have to admit that I feel a little mum guilt on that front but knowing that me working is paying for the work which needs to be done on the house is what keeps me motivated.

In terms of the house we are now *this* close to having Meg and Eli’s bedrooms finished.  I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing for the longest time but I might actually stop being a broken record soon.  Every time we felt like we were at the stage when we could start to build furniture, something would crop up which needed to be fixed but I am fairly confident that all the issues have been dealt with now.  James built Eli’s bed over the weekend and there is just his wardrobe to go and then we can start to unpack the boxes which have been living in our garage since August!  I feel awful that we’ve been in ‘make do’ mode for so many months but there is a small portion of light at the end of the tunnel and we are racing towards it.

Meg, poor thing, still has no furniture but it is on my list to get things ordered this week and then we can start to build her room and hopefully get her in there before the end of the month (I almost said before Christmas but gave myself a quick slap on the wrist…it’s not THAT close.  Not yet.)


We managed to have a lot of fun this month with some really good, quality family time.  We kicked the month off with a visit to the Chill Factore in Manchester, which is somewhere the kids have wanted to go since forever and they were made up with the surprise and then the end of October was also half term for the kids and I had a couple of days off which we truly made the most of.


We headed up to the Scottish Highlands for a short break and I will hopefully get a post written and shared with you soon.  I am really looking forward to going back over my photos from the break as we just had the most amazing time.  It was one of those trips where everything just conspires to work together from the weather to the kids behaving and it equaled some fantastic family time which was definitely something we needed after the craziness of the last few months.

It also gave me some much needed time to reflect; I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of comparison again recently, pitting myself against other bloggers and vloggers and wondering whether I match up.  Just before we went away I was giving myself a hard time that I wasn’t putting in enough hours, that I wasn’t pushing myself enough and that I needed to carve some more hours out of my day (with that magic wishing dust I have…) to make sure my blog and my Youtube were the best they could be.  It’s such a tough one because I obviously want this space to be the best it can be but that doesn’t mean comparing myself to other people and wondering what I’m doing wrong.  I was given the space and time to reflect whilst we were away and ultimately (as I always do in the end…) concluded that as long as I love what I am doing, then that is enough for me right now.


And so we come to the end of another monthly update.  We have had a great start to November and I hope that the month continues the way it has started; for now I will sign off and write again soon.

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