When my eldest turned four it was such an exciting time. He was super excited to be starting school just a few months later, he was so ready and he couldn’t wait. My twins at the time of his 4th birthday were newborns, less than six months old, so Joshua starting school eased a little pressure of having three at home all day. Mum guilt makes me feel bad saying this, but Joshua starting school when the twins came along made mum life so much more manageable.
Joshua is now nearly 8 and for the last 8 years my weekdays have been a mixture of part-time working whilst children are at school or nursery and spending my other days at playgroups. Apart from my part-time job (and more recently my blog), my life has revolved around playgroups, mums and tots classes and play dates with my mummy friends. And I love it! And I’ve realised how much I’m going to miss it!
This month (this week actually), my twins turn four-years-old and it’s such a different feeling than the first time round. The twins are probably (most definitely) my last children, so I’ve come to realise how bittersweet this birthday is for me as their mum.
In September they will be starting reception at school. No more playgroups, no more lazy mornings in our pjs just because, no more playing in the park when everyone else is at school or work……
Oscar and Isla turning 4 seems such a big deal to me. It’s like the end of a massive parenting chapter for me and our family. It’s the end of toddlers, babies, nappies, bottles, playgroups, weaning, prams, highchairs and everything in-between! Those things have been my life for the past 8 years.
It’s an end of an era, I’ve realised just how many ‘lasts’ we will have over the next few months. Time really does fly by so fast. It really is a bittersweet time, there’s so much to celebrate but I feel sad too.
My two are extremely excited about their upcoming birthday and I can’t wait to celebrate with them also, but I’m not ready for them to grow up just yet. I’m going to enjoy the next few months and make as many memories as possible, then I’ll definitely be counting down for the half term holidays.
Here’s to the next chapter! All three in primary school, assemblies, parents evenings, half term, growing up, leaning to read and write, and so much more!
I don’t know about you, but I seem to have boxes and boxes in the loft that are filled and overflowing with photographs, old cards from birthdays and special occasions and tones and tones of my children’s art work. It’s all just sitting there waiting for me to do something with, but what? From the first handmade card or the first painted handprint, these boxes contain a lifetime of memories, my families memories and as the years roll on I will enjoy looking at all the lovely things. But at the moment it’s all just stuffed into boxes collecting dust.
That’s how I recently came across Scrapbooking and loved the idea. I was looking for why to create and arrange these special items and I think I’ve found the answer. To a lot of people making scrapbooks is a hobby and it looks like so much fun. I love the idea of preserving items that have special meaning in such a personal and crafty way. I decided to give it a go myself and seeing as Mother’s Day isn’t so far away I thought I’d start here. Yes, make a scrapbook of memories for myself!
I had a rummage in the loft and found lots of lovely items for my scrapbook including some homemade Mother’s Day cards from my children from other the years and some of their lovely art work from school and nursery. I also found a few photographs, stripy Washi tape (which I love), some ribbons and other bits and pieces.
I also used some digital graphics (SVG files) which I downloaded and printed from a website called Design Bundles, which is jam packed with over 150,000 marketplace products all at really affordable prices, certainly perfect for all your ‘scrapbook ideas’. I used a few different ‘Mother’s Day’ cutting files and templates. I even turned these graphics into labels and ribbons using my husbands fancy label printer!
There was so many files to browse related to Mother’s Day, Design Bundles has a huge range of graphics, templates, mock-ups, patterns, illustrations and craft files, it was easy to find some inspiration for my scrapbook! I was really impressed. Once downloaded and printed, I was able to start making my book and putting all my things together.
On the front cover, I used colourful Washi tape as a border and I even made a frame with some printed labels. The label was created using an image I downloaded, there was some lovely quotes and phrases in the Mother’s Day bundle and this one was the fit perfect for my ‘Mummy Scrapbook’. I asked my eldest to write on the front for me and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
On the other pages, I stuck old cards and the children’s art work. Using Washi tape I made an envelope for one of my favourite Mother’s Day cards that my eldest made me last year. Each page I added a lovely quote or some design downloaded from Design Bundles which I certainly think finishes each page off very well.
Have a look at the photos below of my lovely finished scrapbook! I’d love to know what you all think! I’m planning on sorting out all the baby photos and cards I have in the loft, I’ve accumulated quite a lot over the years! I can’t wait to get started on my next scrapbook.
My eldest loves to read, he always has. He enjoys to read his school books with me or his dad in the evenings, he enjoys reading to himself in bed. Some of his favourites include the David Walliams’ books, the first few books of Harry Potter and all the Captain Underpants series. He reads for pleasure and it’s wonderful to see. He gets excited when receiving a book token as a gift and loves (maybe as much as I do) wandering around a book shop searching for his new book!
But will it all change as he gets older? He’s seven years-old. As well as reading he also loves playing with his toy cars with his younger brother, playing on his scooter outside, watching the TV and occasionally playing on his new Nintendo Switch. As his exposure to more technology and in the future, social media, will his love of reading start to fade? I certainly hope not!
Reading and enjoying books from an early age is so important for a child’s brain development, that’s why I was so keen to get involved with this campaign.
Get Kids Reading is a literacy campaign helping modern parents understand the importance of reading for a child’s brain development and attainment in the modern world. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness around the dangers of social media for our children’s literacy (something I had never thought about) and to give parents access to high quality self – help resources.
The campaign, from Sooper Books has looked at recent studies and the suggestion of ‘how heavy social media use is impacting on the literacy of our children and the definitive link between ‘the amount of time young people spend on social media and their levels of literacy’. Also increased use of social media has been linked to increased levels of depression, lack of sleep, increased risk of cyber-bullying and low-self esteem!
As a mum of three young children (as I said my eldest is 7) I find this very worrying. On the flip side, research into developing a passion for reading early can help steer our children away from the mental health challenges of excessive social media consumption towards a happier, more fulfilled childhood. Reading has a direct impact on our child’s ability to learn effectively!
Social media is here to stay and technology is always changing, improving. We as parents need a smart and simple way to help spark and maintain our children’s interest in reading. This is where Sooper Books and the Get Kids Reading campaign comes in!
Sooper Books have created a free online children’s library of award-winning short stories in order to bridge the gap between other children’s fascination with technology and our need for them to read. These stories are perfect for busy modern families as they can be enjoyed and read anywhere, anytime and of course free of charge.
I think it’s a brilliant idea. Lots of children of all ages have tablets these days for games, TV shows and even social media app but this online library allows them access to some fantastic stories at a touch of a button.
To get involved yourself and to access these fantastic books, click the We Support Get Kids Reading below and Get Kids Reading!
I’m not talking about being school ready academically! Whether your child can write their name or not when they start reception isn’t that important, well I don’t think so anyway. You hear the term ‘school readiness’ a lot these days, but i’m talking about what things us parents can do to help the transition into school. To make the move as easy as possible for our children. There’s plenty of things we can do as a family to enable a happier transition to school.
Talk Positively About School
We talk a lot about how my youngest (twins Oscar and Isla) will be starting school in September. We call it ‘big school’ but they are just so excited to be going to the same school as their big brother. The more you talk about school, playtime, the classroom etc, the more they will know what to expect. I try to always be positive about school life, saying how much fun it would be. If you have older children in school already, perhaps ask them to talk about what they like about school.
Visit The School/Classroom
When possible, attend any taster days. I remember with my youngest before he started, we were invited to come into the classroom for the afternoon. First we had lunch together in the hall, it was lovely to walk him and watch up pick up a tray and queue for his dinner! He looked so small, but it was a lovely experience to share with him. Plus he was so excited he talked about it for weeks, making it easier to talk about school life as he knew what to expect.
Get To Know The School
If it’s a brand new school to you all, then get to know it. As well as taster days, perhaps find out when any events are on before your child starts school such as a summer fair. At the weekend you could maybe walk or drive past the school, point and encourage your child to say ‘look, it’s my school.’
Encourage More Independance
It’s so easy to see your own children as babies (mine aren’t four years old yet) but encouraging them to be more independent will definitely help them when transitioning into school. Get them to take their own shoes off and put them away, ask them to bring their own plates and cups into the kitchen. Practise putting any difficult shoes on or zipping their coats. These are all things that they may do at school and already knowing how to do things themselves will be less stressful for them. Let them take some control.
Fully Bathroom Ready
Parents all hope that their children will be fully toilet trained before they start school. I’m also meaning basic hygiene. Making sure your child can go to the toilet alone and wash their hands is essential for starting school.
Whenever you can, read together. Reading is essential to a child’s development. Even before your child can read independently, reading helps your child get to know words, sounds and language. It also can help children learn to look after books, stimulate curiosity and imagination plus develop so many skills. Studies have shown that reading for pleasure makes a big difference to your child’s educational performance. Just 5 minutes before bed perhaps, enhancing good habits now will make it easier as they get older. My eldest is 7 years old and he loves to read.
For us, the countdown until big school has begun. I plan on making the most of the next few months before I’m dropping off all three children at school!
Taking a trip to the beach during the Christmas holidays isn’t probably on everyone’s to do list. When you think of the beach, you think sun, sand and ice cream! But we love being by the sea, whatever the weather, a trip to the beach with children can be a perfect cheap, if not free day out!
We decided on Southport beach as it wasn’t one we’d been to before as a family. We spend lots of weekends on Morecambe seafront due to our families having caravans there and we visit Blackpool several times a year so we wanted to try somewhere new.
During the Spring and Summer seasons, you are able to park right on the beach at Southport, so no long walks to the seafront with all your buckets and spades. Due to it being Winter that car park was closed, although there was plenty of other alternatives. As we drove into Southport we passed a large pay and display car park but we decided to park in a large retail park instead as everyone needed the toilet so we all nipped in McDonalds. This car park is free for 3 hours.
The seafront was very clean and the area tidy which was great to see. From the retail car park, we got onto the Pier and walked towards the sea right to one end. Southport Pier is the second longest in the country with a cafe, toilets and arcades at the end (which was open out of season). During the summer months you are able to take the pier tram one end to the other. After checking out the views, we decided to walk the other way into the town.
At the piers entrance we had a go on the 2p slot machines in Silcocks Funland, a favourite thing to do when visiting the seaside! After losing all out 2p’s, we headed to the traditional fish and chip shop. To keep costs down, we had brought a picnic including a flask of tea. We picked up two portions of chips and headed towards the park. We sat at a bench and enjoyed a feast of sandwiches and chippy chips! Delicious.
There’s a great wooden playground close to the arcades and the lake. We crossed over the lake and walked along the lakeside which was very idyllic. It was a lovely sunny (but cold) day, there was plenty of people around and the lake was full of swans.
We got back on the pier and this time headed onto the beach. My three thought it was brilliant that they were wearing wellies or walking boots and headed straight for the water. The sea was miles out, but there was still plenty of water for paddling. We spent ages walking through the water, searching for giant shells and throwing stones. Throwing stones into water is a favourite past-time of one of my twins especially, Oscar could literally do this all day.
There’s something about being by the sea! I love the sea air, the views that go on for miles, the freedom of the beach for the kids to run. We have so many happy memories of spending days by the sea, I’m hoping my children will cherish these memories when they’re older, perhaps enjoy the same with their own children maybe.
If your looking for a trip to the beach this winter, I recommend Southport beach and pier, we’ll definitely be back soon the explore a little more.
Do you make New Years Resolutions? I’m no good at keeping them! Plus there usually the same every year that I make just because I feel like I should. Making unattainable resolutions can put a lot of stress on ourselves!
But does a New Year have to mean a New You? This year I have decided to look at what I can IMPROVE rather than CHANGE. Take what makes me happy and focus on that.
Last year I rejoined Slimming World since my twins were born almost 4 years old. 3 weeks before Christmas I reached my target and I was actually happy with how I looked! Clothes fit me nicer and I enjoyed buying a few new items of clothes. I suppose naturally over Christmas, I gained a few (7!) pounds so over the next few weeks/months I plan on getting those extra pounds gone. I’m not overly bothered what I actually weigh, I just want to feel happy in myself like I did just before Christmas!
Last September I joined my sisters book club. At first I said there was absolutely no way I could fit in reading one book a month! Not on top of my part time job, being a mum, life admin, my blog, a social life etc etc etc! But I made time and I’m loving it! Before children I used to read everyday so I’m so glad to be back doing it. After not reading in years, I’ve now read 4 books in 4 months and just about to start the next book ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson. It’s also nice as we meet once a month to discuss the book, but also even a glass of Prosecco and her homemade cakes! A couple of hours away from mum duties, bliss!
Last year I fell in love with Yoga and this year I plan on getting back into it. I loved how it made me feel during the session but also after it and for the rest of the week. Even the sessions where I took the kids along, I managed to clear my mind and focus on my body.
This year I have so many goals for my blog, most of them are just rushing around my head. I’m struggling to get them into any order but I’m excited for the future. I haven’t even bought a 2020 diary or calendar yet so that’s my first job. Then I’m going to sit down, plan and focus on my goals for the coming year.
Don’t change YOU and don’t make resolutions if you don’t wanna make them! Start with what makes you happy and take it from there…
We love where we live. Here’s our top 28 things to do in the Oldham area with the family!
1. Visit Oldham Library, there’s always plenty to do
I love visiting Oldham Library, me and the kids usually visit once a week. Oldham has several small libraries in the villages with the main large library in the centre of Oldham. There is always something going on and lots of activities and events are free. There’s weekly stories and rhyme classes, plus specialist baby yoga classes, weekend events such a Comic Con to fantastic shows in their performance space, such as my recent trip to see The Secret of Christmas Eve. Check out what’s going on at Oldham Library and visit now.
2. Take a Trip to Gallery Oldham
There’s plenty to see and do at Gallery Oldham, plus it’s free to enter. Not only do they offer a wide range of exhibitions, there’s lots for families at the weekend and during the half term break including arts and crafts sessions, The Small Cinema and much more. Here’s our review of a recent trip.
3. Enjoy the newly refurbished Old Town Hall
Oldham’s iconic Old Town Hall has been transformed and redeveloped only a year or two ago and it looks fantastic. The Grade II listed building has lovingly been brought back to life and now houses ODEON cinema, Nando’s, Costa Coffee and the family friendly Molino Lounge. It’s the first cinema in the town for more than 30 years! Local families can now enjoy an evening out close to home.
4. Check out Tommyfield Markets
Right in the heart of Oldham, take a trip to Tommyfield Markets, the indoor market hall is open Monday – Saturday 9am-5.15pm. You may be surprised at what you find, check out their traditional markets and material market as well as the Sunday car boot! See here for more information.
5. Have a great day out at Stonerigg as you whizz around the track
Experience racing like no other with 9 themed Scalextric tracks to race on right here in Oldham! My eldest loves a trip to Stonerigg in Lees, it’s the UK’s largest themed Scalextric attraction.
6. Wander around the villages of Saddleworth
Whether it’s Diggle or Delph, Dobcross or Greenfield why not have a wander around the villages of Saddleworth? We are so lucky to have such beautiful places on our doorstep! Take a stroll, perhaps enjoy a pub lunch, find a local park and make it your hidden gem.
7. Enjoy a family day out in Uppermill park and along the canal
A family favourite of ours! We love nothing more than a walk along the canal, past Brownhill and into Diggle. The kids love to go across the stepping stones and there’s always time to play in the playground. There’s plenty of choice for a refreshment whether its hot drinks, cakes or even a glass of wine, there’s something for everyone in Uppermill.
8. Have a day out at Cockfields Farm
Enjoy a fabulous family day out down on the farm right here in Oldham! Open 7 days a week, you can expect to have a jam-packed day! There’s animal activities running every half an hour including pig washing and lamb feeding. Over the years we have visited many times, check out our review here. Also read about our recent trip when we went to their Christmas Experience.
9. Yanks Are Back In Saddleworth!
Enjoy the annual military show and vehicle parade that return to the villages of Saddleworth every summer. It’s an unforgettable event of fantastic 1940’s entertainment and historical displays. Keep up to date via their website.
10. Come along to the ‘greatest free show on earth’ – Whit Friday Brass Band Contests
Known locally as the ‘greatest free show on earth’, the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests are certainly not to be missed. Whether your in it for the music or the atmosphere, there’s something for everyone. The villages of Saddleworth come alive each year as hundreds of bands come from all over the world!
11. See a show or concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall
Whether it’s to see a stand up comedian, a tea dance or the darts, the Queen Elizabeth Hall is Oldham’s premier large event venue with three bars and the accommodation for up to 1,500 people for a stand up concert.
12.Visit one ofOldham’s fantastic parks
There are plenty of beautiful parks and green spaces in Oldham including Alexandra Park, Chadderton Hall Park, Dovestones Resevoir, Tandle Hill, Fox Denton Park to name a few! Head outdoors and find your perfect spot now, check out some of my favourite local parks. See here for more information about local parks and green spaces.
13. Indulge in a gorgeous ice cream at Grandpa Greene’s
Based beside the canal, Grandpa Greene’s is the perfect place to relax and enjoy an award-winning ice cream (there’s so many flavours to choose from) surrounded by breathtaking views. Whether you park in their large free car park or walk along the canal to get there, no trip into Saddleworth is complete without a trip here!
14.Nosy round a craft fair or food market at Uppermill Civic Hall
As well as a community venue for shows and concerts, Uppermill Civic Hall is also host to craft fairs and food markets from time to time. We have been to some lovely Christmas craft fairs. Keep up to date via the website.
15. Visit the Saddleworth Museum
Saddleworth Musuem galleries and shop in Uppermill is open every afternoon, tickets are £3 per adults, £2 per children. The museum galleries tell the story if the people who have created Saddleworth’s lansdscape and character. Worth a visit next time your in Uppermill. The museum is also perfect for families, there’s usually a trail for children to take part in whilst visiting, there’s also family bags, dressing up stations and interactive galleries.
16. Spend the day atDaisy Nook Country Park
Put on your walking boots and head outdoors, why not check out Daisy Nook Country Park? On the border of Oldham near Ashton Under Lyne, there’s a free car park at the Daisy Nook Vistors Centre and cafe. my family and I love walking through Daisy Nook, in winter we stop for a hot chocolate, ion summer an ice cream. There’s a boat themed sand pit for the kids to enjoy, plus swings and a slide as you explore. More information can be found here.
17. Take part in the Oldham Parkrun
Oldham’s Parkrun takes place every Saturday in Alexandra Park at 9am. It’s a 5km run where you race yourself against the clock. It costs nothing to join in but you need to register before your first Parkrun which you can do here. You don’t need to be a pro, you run for your own enjoyment!
18.Make a splash at one of Oldham’s leisure centres
There’s 6 Oldham Active Leisure Centres throughout Oldham all with a public swimming time tables. There’s also a wide range of public and family swim sessions plus weekly parent and baby sessions too! Great for getting the whole family excited about swimming.
19.Put on those walking boots and hike up to Pots and Pans
For some truly remarkable views, hike up to see the Pots and Pans monument (the Obelisk on Alderman’s Hill) that overlooks Saddleworth. The obelisk commemorates Saddleworth’s losses in the two world wars. Enjoy these breathtaking views, see here for a circular walk.
20.Enjoy the views around Dove Stone Reservoir
Certainly a picturesque spot, Dove Stone Reservoir is situated on the edge of Oldham and the Peak District National Park. There’s a networks of footpaths that makes the area accessible to all, including easy an easy route for walkers, wheelchair users and prams. There’s picnic benches along the way plus toilets at the pay and display car park. At weekends (nice days and bank holidays) there is usually an ice cream van and a burger van too. There’s no better place to spend a day outdoors!
21.Take advantage of the free parking and shop till you drop!
Every Saturday and Sunday you can park for absolutely free for up to 3 hours on all council owned town centre car parks! Perfect for doing a spot of shopping. Take the whole family with you, head into Spindles Shopping Centre for Shopping Susie’s Kids Club. The kids club is on most Saturday’s where your little one could find free face painting, crafts and balloon modelling! Keep up to date of the next kids club via their website.
22.Visit The Little Owl Farm
Enjoy the fabulous views, a delcious breakfast and some fun with the animals at the Little Owl Farm in Grains Bar close to the village of Denshaw. Your little ones will love to feed the farm animals and get up close with the owls. From time to time enjoy some music and stalls with their markets and special events. Make sure you visit Cindy’s Cafe for some delicious fresh food!
23.Tire the kids out at Play! and Play!2
Our favourite soft play centre to visit is Play 2 in Diggle (they even offer a twin discount!), Play is in Royton. Tire the kids out seven 7 days a week, parents can relax with a coffee whilst the kids have fun.
24.Feel festive and go along to the annual Christmas Tree Festival every December
A firm favourite of ours, visit Oldham’s Parish Church each December for their annual Christmas Tree Festival. Enjoy over 50 Christmas tress decorated by local businesses and communities. Have a go at the tombola, stop for a brew and homemade cake and you may even hear a brass band or two.
25. Have a fun day out atHousing Units
Over 7 days a week, Housing Units is the home department store right here in Oldham. As well as offering a friendly shopping experience, housing units has a cafe and a restaurant. Enjoy a quick bite or a special afternoon tea. There’s plenty of events on throughout the year to keep the family happy too including Storytime at Kids World and even Santa’s Grotto. The Christmas department which opens every September is definitely worth visiting.
26. Take the family to Elk Mill for shopping and food
If shopping is your families thing then Elk Mill is the place to be! From fashion to homeware, you’ll find everything at Elk Mill. There’s plenty of free parking, toilets, a fab play area there’s even free WiFi so everyone’s happy! After a day of shopping why not treat the kids and head to Nandos, Pizza Hut or McDonalds?
27. Zoom around Coalshaw Park and their skate park
If your kids love their skate board then head to Coalshaw Park as they have their very own Skate Park. They will be able to practise their moves and whizz up and down the ramps. There is also a children’s play area, playing fields, ornamental gardens and toilet facilities.
28. Get some culture at Oldham Coliseum and see a show.
In the heart of Oldham, see one of the finest shows that the world has to offer at Oldham Coliseum. There’s something for everyone, plenty for the whole family. The panto is certainly a personal highlight plus I seen lots of different shows including work from Oldham Theatre Workshop and much more. For whats on in 2020, see here.
Cover photo Credit : Oldham photographer Inspired By Joseph.