How to get into the Christmas spirit

If you’re like me and you turn into a little bit of a Christmas fairy at this time of the year, you’re someone who loves to go all out on everything every year, the food, the decorations, the gifts, ect, someone who just loves Christmas and everything about it then you may find it hard to understand or relate to but there are some people out there that don’t look forward to Christmas, they don’t enjoy the season, in fact they dread it every year and they struggle to get into the Christmas spirit.

I love Christmas, I really do but I can understand why some people aren’t exactly jumping for joy when Christmas comes around… Let’s be honest, Christmas puts us all under a lot stress and pressure. For some people who don’t have family, Christmas can be a lonely time of the year. For some people who have money struggles, Christmas expectations can be a big worry. So to try and help those feel fun and festive in the run up to the big day, I have compiled a list of heart-warming things that always get me in the Christmas spirit for you to navigate your way through.

Here goes:

  • Christmas movies. Curling up on the couch under a blanket with a bowl of popcorn just watching Christmas movies always gets me feeling all Christmassy! Why not watch a different Christmas movie for every night of December? Here are a few of my favourites:
  • Home alone
  • Jingle all the way
  • Elf
  • The grinch
  • Jack Frost
  • Miracle on 34th street
  • A Christmas carol
  • I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
  • Scrooged
  • Love actually
  • Christmas music. Listening to Christmas music while decorating the Christmas tree or baking some Christmas cookies makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Can’t go wrong with a bit of Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey!
  • The Christmas tree. Putting up and decorating the christmas tree is an early Christmas activity you can do with your whole family. I love putting my Christmas tree up, once it’s up it becomes a daily reminder of Father Christmas’ long awaited arrival! Don’t forget to listen to that Christmas music I mentioned earlier while you decorate your tree for the ultimate Christmas feels.
  • Write your letter to Father Christmas. It’s a great way to get the little ones even more excited about Christmas as you wait for his reply. No one experiences the magic of Christmas more than children do, so seeing this holiday through their eyes will make it more special for you too.
  • Elf on the shelf. If you have little ones (or even if you don’t!) Elf on the Shelf is a great way to count down to Christmas Day while having fun coming up with different ideas daily for your elf.
  • Christmas shopping. Okay, Christmas shopping can be a lovely experience but it can also be daunting. If you’re gift giving, have a look around online first see what deals you can find before you head to the shops. Also to save yourself the stress of Christmas shopping, plan what you want to buy and start buying small gifts early.
  • Read. Read a classic Christmas book to your child. I read a different Christmas book each night to Kory starting on the first night of December leading up to Christmas Eve. Reading is the best way to get into the world of Christmas for us both, Kory loves being read to and really gets sucked in by the stories.
  • Baking. I love baking but there’s something about baking festive recipes that I just love that bit more. I love the smells and all the different decorations. Why not try decorating a gingerbread house or making some Christmas cookies? This is a delicious way for you to get into the spirit of things.
  • Events. Check your local area for any events that might be taking place nearby. Some of them might even be free and don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg! Here are some to look out for:
  • Christmas lights. Whether that be attending a Christmas light switch on near you or even just driving around at night to admire the Christmas lights and decorations.
  • Meet Santa. Take the little ones to meet the big man himself!
  • Christmas fairs, Christmas markets, public movies and carols.
  • Treat yo’ self. And last but not least, just try to enjoy Christmas, don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t put yourself under any unnecessary stress. Instead of worrying about all of the things that you have to do, like those 20+ gifts that you still have to buy, try and remember that Christmas isn’t just about presents. It’s about helping others, celebrating with loved ones and feeling joyful. So don’t worry about those gifts you still have to buy, instead think of it this way. I am so lucky to have so many loved ones in my life! Christmas is a time to be enjoyed and everyone should be able to enjoy this time of the year.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas on a budget

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year… But it can also be the most expensive and stressful time of the year for some people too. I will be honest, I myself have been one of those people. I have been plagued with anxiety worrying about the cost of Christmas, stressing over buying christmas presents and whether I’ve spent enough money and worrying whether people will be satisfied with what I’ve bought them or not.

But I realised that by stressing so much about all of that stuff, i wasn’t enjoying the run up to Christmas like I should have been. I was taking the enjoyment of Christmas away from myself and was forgetting what it is that Christmas is all about. It isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about how much money you spend or what gift you buy someone. It’s the thought that went into buying someone that present that matters. If someone spent £500 on me, I’d be flattered and massively grateful but if someone bought me a £2 pair of slipper socks because they know I love them I would be just as grateful and I can tell you which present would mean more to me and it would be the socks because of the thought that went into buying them. So this year, don’t feel like you have to go skinting yourself to please others.

If you too are feeling the pressures of Christmas this year, here’s some tips I have for you that I hope will make you feel better:

  • Start Christmas planning in the following January. That is when I hit the shops to buy all of my wrapping paper, cards, decorations and small gift sets for the next Christmas because they’re all reduced and in the sales. I bought 10 rolls of wrapping paper for £1!
  • I start to buy small presents in September when stores start to reduce some of their stuff, I then put them away for Christmas to avoid last minute panic buying in December which is often expensive.
  • Set yourself a practical budget and stick to it. Don’t feel pressured to buy certain presents if you simply can’t afford them.
  • Buy a jar and save any change you have throughout the year. Use this money at Christmas to help towards your Christmas food shop, ect.
  • There are lots of free activities that you can take part in with your children over the Christmas period. Just research free Christmas activities in your area.
  • If you don’t already, try out budget supermarkets. They are a lot cheaper than some of the others. Some supermarkets offer a loyalty points scheme, save them throughout the year and use them all towards your Christmas shopping.

Thank you for reading my tips on ‘Christmas on a budget’, if you are feeling under pressure about Christmas, I hope you found them to be helpful and I hope they made you feel better.

Just remember that above all else, the thing that really matters at Christmas is family. I know it might sound like a cliche but it isn’t essential to spend a lot of money at Christmas time especially if you can’t afford to. Your family and friends appreciate you, not just how much money you spend on them.

Christmas traditions

The other night me, my mum, my sister (and Kory) all helped to decorate my nan’s Christmas tree. This is something I’ve always done from being a small girl, it’s something that we’ve all always done every year together and it’s a tradition that Kory is beginning to take part in and enjoy now that he’s a little older too.

He’s really excited for Christmas this year!

We all go round to my Nan’s house and we all help to decorate the Christmas tree whilst listening to Christmas music with a takeaway. This Christmas tradition always gets me so excited for Christmas, it really kicks off the festive period for me and it’s when I really start looking forward to Christmas. I can’t wait to put all of our own Christmas decorations up now!

For me, Christmas is all about family and family traditions. Now that I’m a mum myself with a little family of my own, we have some of our own Christmas family traditions. Heres some of them:

  • Decorate our Christmas tree whilst listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate
  • Put up all the Christmas decorations around the house
  • Visit the Christmas markets
  • Write a Christmas list and a letter and send them to Father Christmas
  • Go and see Father Christmas
  • Watch Christmas movies (we have a list of must watch Christmas movies)
  • Elf on the shelf
  • Decorate a gingerbread house
  • New pyjamas ready for Christmas
  • Christmas Eve box

Over the festive period I am going to try my very best to write a blog post for each one of our Christmas traditions and share a little more detail about each of them with you.

I am so excited! It really is the most wonderful time of the year…

Do you and your family have any Christmas traditions of your own?

My REAL sister

If I had £1 for every time someone said to me ‘ohhh, so she’s not your REAL sister?’ or ‘Oh, so she’s your half sister then?’ I’d be a very rich lady!

I don’t quite understand what is it that people are asking when they say that? She’s real alright… She exists if that’s what you want to know?

Are you asking if we share the same mum? Because yes, we do. Are you asking if we have the same dad? Because no, we don’t. But she’s always been my sister from the day she was born, she’s never been anything but. I’ve never called her half or referred to her as ‘step’ and I think we would both be offended if I did.

We might not look anything alike, we might have two totally opposite personalities and completely different traits from one another but we’ve grown up together. We’ve been on family holidays. We’ve shared memories and good times together. Despite a 10 year age gap, we’ve also argued and fought like cat and dog but we’ve stuck up for each other and had each other’s backs too. She drives me mad, sometimes I could kill her! We’ve been through so much together, I watched my baby sister grow up into a young lady and become my best friend. We’ve ate together, watched movies together, been shopping together, laughed together and even cried together.

She is Kory’s auntie. She isn’t his half auntie or his step auntie. She’s his real auntie (as they would say) and she’s his only ‘real’ auntie too and one day when she has kids of her own, I will love them with every bone in my body as if they were my own kids because they will be my niece or nephew and Kory’s cousin.

So if you’re asking if we have the same mum then the answer is simple;

Yes we do.

And if you’re asking if my sister is my REAL sister…

Yes she is. We’re just like any other sisters, we grew in the same womb, we grew up together, we’re not half sisters, we’re not step sisters. We’re sisters. She’s my sister.

She’s my REAL sister.

Preschool Watch review

What I really like about the Preschool Watch is that it doesn’t have numbers, the animals that go around the face of the watch represent minutes and the different colours shown represent hours. So as soon as your toddler can recognise animals and colours, they can start using the Preschool Watch and learn to tell the time which meant Kory could start using the watch right away!

The idea of the watch is not to tell the time as such but to help toddlers understand the notion of time. For example; ‘When the big hand reaches the rabbit, it’s play time.’ The Preschool Watch also helps with helping your toddler to be more patient and helps your child to establish daily routines.

Here are some simple and effective methods using the watch that can help teach your child the concept of time:

  • First, start by just using the big hand (minutes) to discuss time and when your child feels comfortable, then introduce the small hand (hours)
  • Use the small hand (hours) and the corresponding colours for events happening beyond an hour, for example, ‘we are going to the park in 2 hours’ becomes ‘we are going to the park when the small hand reaches the purple.’
  • Combine the big and small hands together for events happening beyond, but not directly on – an hour. Such as, ‘ your friend is coming to play at 4:30pm’ becomes ‘your friend is coming to play when the small hand is touching the pink and the big hand is on the frog.’

Here are some more helpful ideas on how to use the watch ^^^

The watch states that it’s suitable from ages 3+ Kory is only 2 years of age and obviously can’t tell the time like most other 2-3 year olds and even older kids but he still loves knowing things like that when the big hand reaches the horse, it’s tea time and what all of the other animals represent too. Kory couldn’t wait to try his new watch on and was so excited to show me all of the different animals! For even more fun, we named the dog icon ‘Harley’ after our own dog!

The watch is available in lots of different designs that you can choose from that your child will love! Lauren from the Preschool Collection very kindly sent me one of the blue ‘truck’ Preschool Watches to try with Kory. The watch itself is a hypoallergenic silicone strap, it is certified safe for kids, it is lead and BPA free, it is water resistant (splash proof) and the animal icons even glow up in the dark!

The watches retail at $24.95 and if you’re in the US comes with free shipping. If you’re from the UK like me, the Preschool Watch would cost £19.39 plus shipping and can be purchased from the Preschool Collection website;

http://www.preschoolcollection.com

You can use promo code CYBERWEEK25 to get an extra 25% off everything until Monday the 26th November!

Your Preschool Watch also comes with one year limited guarantee and if you’re unhappy with the watch, can be returned within 30 days of purchase for a full refund. 5% of all profit from each watch sold is donated to organisations improving children’s health and education.

What I love even more about the watch is that the founder and CEO of the Preschool Collection, Lauren, is a mum just like you and I. She was always trying to find a way to explain to her kids when to expect things (aren’t we all!) for example; bath time and when to take a turn but wanted to do so without having to have an argument. (Difficult, right?!) Then one day she had the idea to replace minutes on an analogue watch with animals – something her son already knew and recognised to help him understand time better and to give him a better understanding of when to expect things to happen and it worked! Understanding time suddenly turned from a chore to something fun! Thus, the Preschool Watch was born!

To read more about Lauren’s story and the Preschool Collection, here is the link:

https://preschoolcollection.com/pages/our-story

Preschool Collection can be also contacted on the following platforms:

Email: contact@preschoolcollection.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/preschoolcollection

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/preschoolcollection

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/preschoolcollection

Thanks for reading my review on the Preschool Watch, Kory had a lot of fun trying the watch out and I had a lot of fun teaching him the time! I always thought helping Kory understand time would be a long and difficult process and a bit of a challenge but the Preschool Watch has definitely helped with that and now I’m excited to see him learn more and more about the time with his new watch! I hope you enjoyed reading our thoughts on this brilliant product. Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments…

* Please note, I recieved this product in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own. *

National Prematurity Day

Today is National Prematurity Day. Millions of babies are born prematurely each year. Did you know that 1 in 10 babies will be born premature?

Kory was that 1 in 10.

Kory George,

Even though you decided to make an appearance 6 weeks before your due date, the day you were born took us all by surprise but it was the best day of our lives. Weighing just 4lb 7oz, you were so small, i couldn’t believe how beautiful and tiny you were. After spending two days in the hospital with you, i was discharged and had to come home but you had to stay longer, you just wasn’t ready to come home yet. It upset me to see you with all these wires and tubes on your little body. Coming home to an empty moses basket every night broke our hearts. I dreaded leaving you in the hospital after a day of visiting, it was horrible and i hated it. I hated it all. It should have been me looking after you. It’s me you should have been waking in the middle of the night for a feed. I didn’t want other people informing me about how you were doing or making decisions on my behalf. I even started to feel resentment towards those taking care of you, thinking to myself that they were trying to take you away from me, for thinking that they could do a better job of taking you of than I ever could and thinking that you may even prefer them to me. Going through that whole experience is the hardest thing i’ve ever had to go through – much harder than the childbirth.

But look at you now…

I am so proud of you, I am so proud of how far you’ve come, what you’ve achieved and the person that you’ve become. You are a true fighter, you’re fire and you are so resilient. Maybe it’s because you’ve had to fight from the minute you were born.

Despite everything we all went through as a family, I will always be eternally grateful to the nurses and all of the staff that looked after you and took care of you like you were their own during your time spent in the nicu. If it wasn’t for them and their hard work, who knows where we would be now.

Poorly toddler

I ended up taking Kory to see the doctor yesterday. Luckily I had managed to get him a last minute appointment.

The day before that, Kory had started with a dry cough, he was coughing for most of the day but was absolutely fine in himself. He was still running, still jumping around, still playing and eating like he normally would – nothing different there, just that he had a cough. That night I thought I’d have been up with Kory coughing all night but I wasn’t. I noticed he had started to get a temperature when I was putting him to bed so I gave him some calpol, that helped to bring his temperature down and then surprisingly he slept all night.

But the next morning I was woken by the sound of Kory choking, he started to heave and then he spat up a load of this yellow flem type stuff. (Sorry for tmi!!) He had me very worried. Despite this, Kory still went on to eat all of his breakfast, the only thing was he just looked a little paler than usual but I knew something wasn’t right. I phoned the doctors that morning and managed to make him an appointment for the same day and then I phoned nursery to let them know that Kory wouldn’t be coming in.

I took Kory to the doctors and on our way there, he fell asleep in his pram and never woke once during his appointment. It is so unlike Kory to sleep like that, especially during the day. It did make letting the doctor listen to his chest a lot easier though! Have you ever asked a squirming toddler to sit still why he sees the doctor? Yeah, it’s not much fun… After speaking to the doctor, it turns out that Kory has got a chest infection so the doctor prescribed him with some antibiotics and some cough medicine.

Other than that, Kory appears to be okay in himself, he’s still bouncing from the walls and driving me a little nuts. He just looks a little pale and he’s a bit more whiney than usual. I suppose that can be expected though, I’d feel pretty lousy too if I had a chest infection. I hate it when Kory is ill… Not just because he’s like a miniature Sheldon Cooper when he’s ill – difficult to live with and awkward (just kidding!) but because I know he isn’t well and it makes me sad. I wish I could just click my fingers and make him better.

I’m going to be keeping Kory at home for a few days just to keep my eye on him and continue giving him his medicine. I’m unsure whether or not to send him in nursery this week but hopefully he’s feeling better soon!

Stay at home mum

As a stay at home mum, I feel privileged that I am able to stay home and raise my child but sometimes being a stay at home mum also makes me feel like a bit of a failure.

As a stay at home mum, sometimes I feel like all I do is be a mum, my only achievement is being a mum, all I have to show for myself is being a mum and all that I am is just a mum. I do the same thing day in and day out, to most people taking care of your child, looking after your family and your home are not things worthy enough to be called achievements, I’ve been a stay at home mum for so long now that I don’t have anything else to show for myself, everything about me, everything I do and am revolves around my child and sometimes that makes me feel like a failure.

Do any of you ever feel this way?

Well if you do, I just want you to know that you are NOT a failure. As a stay at home mum myself, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve thought the same thoughts as you and I’ve felt the same way. I know what it’s like to be trapped in your own mind and to believe that you’re worthless because you’re just a mum. Other people or even yourself may not realise or believe this but what we do as mums is the most hardest and most rewarding job in the world, to some what we do may not seem like that much of a big deal but it is. We spend every waking minute taking care of our kids, learning them new things, loving and nurturing them and playing with them and it’s because of this that everything our kids know and have learned is because we have taught them. Our kids are polite, funny, clever and caring because of us. That is what we as mums have to show for ourselves and that is something to be proud of. To outsiders it might seem silly for me to class being a mum an achievement of mine but for me, being a mum is my greatest achievement and it’s what I’m most proud of in my life. Yes I would love a career. Doing what exactly? I’m not quite sure. I feel like the only thing I know how to do is look after my child and I even question my ability at doing that sometimes! But right now, I’m happy with being a full time stay at home mum.

On a bad day when I’m feeling down and in the dumps about the way my life is, I make myself feel better by telling myself that yes a career and all that other stuff would be amazing but all that stuff can wait. That can all be put on pause. But being a mum can’t and everything that we do as mums is so important. When our kids have grown up and left us and have lives of their own, we’ll have all the time in the world to do all of that stuff that we wanted to do and only then will we realise that when we thought we was ‘just’ being stay at home mums, that was the most important thing we’ll probably ever accomplish in our lives. Looking after our family and raising decent human beings is what truly matters above anything else. When we’re old and gray are kids at what we will look back at and be most proud of, not a job. None of that other stuff will even matter so why worry so much about it now!

Just remember that you are not a failure. From one stay at home mum to another.

Terrible twos

Do you ever look at your child and suddenly panic about how you’ll survive their threenage stage if this is how they behave at just 2 years of age? I did just that. It was only 8:30am this morning and we were already on tantrum number 3 in our house.

Kory woke up in a bad mood. I knew from the get go that we were going to have a bad day. It started with the light switch. Yes you read that right. A light switch triggered the first tantrum. Kory couldn’t reach the light switch to flick the bedroom light on and off and started shouting at me to pick him up whilst I was mid wee on the toilet, eyes half open because I’d only just rolled out of bed.

The next tantrum was over his breakfast. Basically, I’d put his toast in the toaster and it wasn’t cooking it quick enough for him. He was stamping his feet and shouting ‘toast! Toast! Toast!’ Over and over again. And then when it was ready and I handed it to him, he didn’t even bluddy eat it!

The last tantrum (up to now anyway!) just came out of nowhere and took us both by surprise I think. One minute we’re playing nicely together with his toys and just because one of them falls over, the next thing to happen was Kory began to scream, he was throwing things, hitting me, hitting himself and basically just losing his sh!t. Out of nowhere he was throwing this huge temper tantrum and I was just trying to ‘tell him off’ as nicely as I could, trying to remain calm and explain to him that it isn’t nice to smack rather than to have a ‘who can shout the loudest’ contest with him but it was like trying to calm down a wild animal! He got that worked up that in the end he climbed up onto my knee, cried whilst I tried my best to comfort him and then fell asleep.

I feel like disciplining Kory is something that I’ve had to do quite a lot, more than ever recently, it’s tiring and I don’t even know if I’m doing the right thing?! This is new to me, Kory is no angel but I’ve never really had to deal with this sort of behaviour before. I know we all have bad days when it comes to parenting, it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows and it’s important that we accept that but I’m going to be honest here, there are sometimes moments of parenting that I don’t enjoy and I don’t think I’m going to enjoy this stage at all.

The terrible twos are currently in full swing in our house.

I haven’t wrote this blog post just to complain about my son even if it does seem that way. I wrote this blog post to point out that even though I love Kory and he’s my pride and joy, there are times when he frustrates me and upsets me. Sometimes I find parenting a stubborn, strong minded 2 year old to be a struggle. I’m not ashamed to admit that the terrible twos stage has been my biggest struggle yet as a parent. I don’t enjoy every day, some days are harder than others and it’s okay to admit that. I don’t enjoy disciplining Kory, after a day like today you can guarantee I will go to bed feeling like a complete failure tonight, worrying about how I handled today’s challenges.

Did I handle the situation properly? Am I being firm enough? Am I being too firm? Is his behaviour a reflection of my parenting? Am I doing something wrong?

But the very fact that I worry about this sort of stuff, means that it matters to me and that I care. I don’t know how to be perfect and neither does Kory, all I know is to wake up every day and to try my best.

Kory, if you’re reading this when you’re older. Yes you could be a massive pain in the arse when you wanted to be but I never stopped loving you when you were being a ‘naughty’ toddler. Just because I couldn’t wait to get you out of the door quick enough some mornings when I was taking you to nursery does not mean that I didn’t love you. It just meant that after being screamed and shouted at, having toy cars rammed in my face, being told ‘play!’ 16 hundred times and after being pulled here, there and everywhere, I just wanted five minutes peace and even after a morning with you as hectic as that, I always missed you when you wasn’t home and couldn’t wait to pick you back up.

And when I brought you home, couldn’t wait to drop you straight back off at nursery. Just kidding!!

One day, when you have children of your own, you’ll understand. It would be impossible for me to ever stop loving you.

So today was a bad day, we all have them and it’s important that we acknowledge that. I have to try and keep reminding myself that like me, Kory doesn’t know how to be ‘perfect.’ We’re currently going through the terrible twos but that doesn’t make him a terrible toddler or the way that I choose to handle it, a terrible mum.

November

November, the last month of Autumn… And I have decided to set myself some goals for the upcoming month. In my head, I had a lot I wanted to accomplish in October but I feel like I didn’t get round to doing much of it. Writing down goals that I want to achieve helps to keep me motivated and productive. And I hope that by sharing my goals with you, you as my reader feel like you can connect with me better.

  • Goal for myself: Stop stressing! Lately I’ve felt swamped, just with everything. Home life, life in general, being a mum, a partner and just trying to make a real go of working from home. I didn’t realise how stressed I was until one day I woke and just felt drained, dizzy, sick, banging headache and didn’t want to get out of bed which is so unlike me. I wasn’t ill, I felt run down. I’d just let everything get on top of me. So this month, I want and have to try to reduce the stress in my life.

Here is my plan:

  • Start the day right and get as much as I can done the night before when Kory is in bed.
  • No working from my phone/checking emails when Kory is awake or when i’m getting ready for bed.
  • Goals as mum: Kory is usually well behaved, he has his moments like any other 2 year old does but lately he’s been really testing me. Shouting, throwing tantrums over the slightest thing, pushing boundaries and just trying to see how much he can get away with. I’ve stuck to my guns and been quite stern with him but it’s taken quite a lot of my energy. Mentally, emotionally and physically. I know that what I’m doing is the right thing because I can see him listening more now, when I used to say no he’d argue with me over it but now he accepts it. But what I think I need to do is to choose my battles carefully. Not everything has to be a lesson.

Here is my plan:

  • Stick to a routine.
  • Have a reward system.
  • Blog goals: When I first started blogging, I soon realised that balancing blogging with family life is a challenge. I’m still struggling to find the perfect balance now! I really want my blog to be a success but I also don’t want to jeopardise family time or be working from my phone or laptop when Kory wants me to play. I think what I need to do is assign blog time to weekdays and evenings when Kory is in bed. Weekends are for family time. I also need to be more consistent with posts and write more regularly.

Here is my plan:

  • Schedule work.
  • Set weekly goals.
  • Write drafts that are ready to be published.
  • Focus on managing blog work better.

I think that’s all for now. Have you set yourself any goals for the upcoming month? I would love to know!