The Last Day of Pre School – learning to embrace a new chapter

quote alice in wonderland

To say today is an emotional day would be an understatement. It’s a day I’ve been dreading for quite some time because I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to this chapter in our lives.

Over the last two years Miller has been attending an early years school. I decided to start him there when he turned two and, after the initial wobbles, we haven’t looked back.

My feelings towards education has always been mixed. I struggle to comply with a Government who sets such high demands on our children at such a young age, with such little support for our teachers. And I’ve often wondered whether the education system was going to be right for us. Toying with the idea of home educating our son. However, since enrolling him into this pre school I have no doubt that, with the right school and teachers, it can be a wonderful experience. And it’s certainly the right way for us.

I have watched my baby grow from a two year old, struggling with his emotions, finding it difficult to concentrate, join in with group activities or focus on one activity, to a boy of four, who loves writing, asks questions about our world and teaches me a thing a two. A baby who never wanted to do anything without Mama to a kid who has grown into a kind, sociable and popular member of a group. Someone who went from not wanting to mix with other children at all, to developing strong friendships with children he talks about with great passion and love. All thanks to the support we’ve had from the fantastic team of carers at his pre school, who have guided him and worked with us to ensure all his needs have been met.

The sadness comes from a good place. It’s a happy sadness that comes from a journey of love. And, although we’re excited about the next chapter in his life, having to say goodbye to the people we have grown so fond of is a hard thing to do.

We are looking forward to a summer of fun with many of them, but come September, we start a fresh with new children, teachers and parents.

With change comes uncertainty but thanks to the strong foundations we have been able to give him over the years, I now know he’s ready for this change.

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Miller I am so proud of everything you have achieved. You have bravely gone into the unknown and built relationships on your own and developed friendships that you will treasure forever. You work so hard to learn about the world and your surroundings, you take on challenges with great gusto and you’re so caring and considerate of your friends. (Most of the time!)

I know you are thinking lots about starting big school and making new friends. I know it can all seem a little bit scary, but I know that you are going to be just fine, because you are you. Your smile, your enthusiasm, kindness and comedic prowess fills a room with joy and I have no doubt that you are going to thrive in the next chapter of your life.

Mummy and Daddy will be there for you at every step of the way. Whether it’s a cuddle and a reassuring kiss, answers to the questions you have or a wrestle with Daddy to blow off some steam. You got it kid. We got you.

For all the Mama’s (and Daddies) out there feeling emotional about the last day of pre school. I’m with you. And if you’re holding back the tears know you are not alone today. I am a blubbering wreck who can no longer hold back the tears. They will not stop and I’ve still got an afternoon concert to go through. (I’m sure the teachers choose the songs with the biggest tear jerker factor!) We got this Mama’s. xx

Mission2Mum Loves: PennyClareMakes – 10% off for you

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I love finding new independent shops and it’s even better when the Mama behind it has a model as cute as this one.

Clare is a Mama friend, met through another Mama friend, she’s a dance teacher at DanceFest, has three beautiful children and now runs PennyClareMakes with her own Mama. Which makes this venture all the more exciting in my opinion.

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I first discovered PennyClareMakes last year and snapped up one of their Easy Tiger banners, which has filled a very blank space in my living room. And now, I’m super excited (with baby on the way!) that they’re doing beautiful blankets and the cutest clothing line. I asked Clare to come and tell us a bit about the line. But first another photo of her beautiful little lady modelling the gorgeous dungarees and panda blanket…

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Clare – Penny Clare Makes: 

‘Our inspiration comes from my kids and the things that I like for them. I love putting them in unisex clothes and I also love matching them. I always choose comfortable clothes so pick a lot of jersey. I really like my kids to wear something a bit different and love choosing clothes for them- clothes shopping for them is a bit of a hobby. Totally living through their wardrobes!

‘A  while ago mum bought an amazing Serger machine and we really wanted to put it to good use. Originally we wanted to make clothes from fabric printed with our own designs – this is really expensive though and also it’s very hard to get custom prints onto 100% cotton jersey. It was important to us to use cotton and not synthetic fabrics as I only buy cotton for my kids.

‘We are still looking into this though and are hoping to soon be able to make a small limited edition amount of the cotton (not jersey) dungarees in our tiger and panda design- this is expensive but exciting!

‘We decided that we would begin the clothing range with bought fabric and found a supplier with fabrics we love. All items are made to order.

‘We are so teeny tiny at the moment but would love to build the business a bit- lots of work to do then.’

Here’s a selection of the clothes you can find in the collection:

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Clare and Penny are very kindly giving Mission2Mum readers 10% of your order. Just use code MISSION2MUM at checkout. And don’t forget to share pics of your cuties in their PennyClareMakes outfits on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – search Mission2Mum – don’t forget to use hashtag #M2Mloves so we can see you. I will definitely be making the most of this offer.

Shop PennyClareMakes ‘here‘ and keep up to date with the latest products on their Facebook page and Instagram – just click on the links or search ‘PennyClareMakes’

20 Summer Holiday Activity Ideas

20 summer holiday activity ideas

Until now school holidays haven’t been a big deal in our house. But with school looming – wail – and baby’s upcoming arrival, I want to make sure Mills and I have a special Summer.

I’ve started making lists of all the events and activities that are local to us as well as general stuff to do and I thought I’d share with you our – 20 Summer Holiday Activity Ideas – for some summer holiday inspiration, come rain or shine.

  1. Swim Swim Swim – always a winner in our house. Get yourself off to your local lido or splash pad on hot days and head to an indoor pool on rainy days. Either way, splashing about is always fun (for the kids!) and it totally wipes them out for a good nights sleep (which makes it fun for us!) If you’re considering gym membership, we specifically joined our local David Lloyd because of their swimming pools. Heated indoor pools for babies and toddlers, a heated outdoor pool for summer months. Ideal – find your nearest location ‘here’.
  2. Nature Walks – I love a forest walk and we are literally surrounded by beautiful places to visit around us. We have Arley Arboretum, Worcester Woods and Country Side Centre, Wyre Forest, Tiddsley Woods,  Bodenham Arboretum, Westonbirt and so many more. We’re spoilt for choice. Most have organised activities or trails on throughout the school holidays, but even if they haven’t it’s a great day out. Picnic, bug hunting and you could make your own trail with a bit of research before hand. Find trees, colours, animals, etc.
  3. Garden Water Party – invite all your friends round with their little ones (on a hot day) get the pool, water table and sandpit out, set up some water games or a slip slide and let them go wild. Have a chill with an afternoon picnic in the shade and plenty of lollies on hand. (you could even arrange with a group of friends do take it in turns hosting a garden playdate.)
  4. Get yo craft on – I’m no artsy Mama, in fact when I hear the words ‘Mummy can I paint.’ it fills me with dread. But it’s something I’ve had to get over because low and behold, he likes to craft. (something that’s only recently come about – thanks school!) He loves it, so I’ve started saving egg boxes, bottles, boxes, etc for him to paint, cut, stick and craft. I usually give him an idea to get started with – space, olympics, under the sea, etc – and leave him to it. He’s old enough not to make too much mess and it leaves me to get on with stuff while he’s busy crafting me something fabulous. Sometimes we’ll sit and do it together, but most of the time it’s his ‘me time’. Which works well for us both. And if you’re not one for messy time at home, there are plenty of organised groups across the UK. There are two groups in Worcester that organise crafty play sessions for kids ‘Little Makers‘ which we’ve been to and Mills loved and ‘Creation Station‘ which appears to have classes throughout the country. Saves you having to clear up the mess!
  5. Visit your local garden centre – seems like a strange one maybe, but hear me out. For a free morning or afternoon you’ve got fish tanks, coffee shops and the outdoor plants always make for a fun track to walk up and down. Some have fab soft play areas and the larger ones have seasonal activities. One of our locals is Webbs of Wychbold they’ve got a ‘Webbs by the Beach’ throughout summer, which I’ll get us signed up for. Very reasonably priced – all of their seasonal activities are great so it’s bound to be a good one. Here’s the link to Webbs info ‘here‘. Oh and after you’ve been to the garden centre, head over to your local pet shop. Free fun!
  6. Road Trip – take a day trip to a local seaside resort, eat fish and chips and build sandcastles on the beach. Summer perfection!
  7. Get in the kitchen – this is another one that makes me cringe. But Mills loves it so I deal with it by making it as uncomplicated as I can. Cupcakes, muffins, brownies are about as far as I get with baking. (I still get those wrong!) But I also get him involved in making our meals – from stirring and pouring, cutting up veggies to making his own sandwiches. It’s all fun to him. Pizza making is also great. You can buy a pizza base from the supermarket to make it even easier. (that’s obviously what I do!) Make pizza faces.
  8. Picnics – whether it’s in front of your TV, in the back of your car, at a park or a friends, picnics will always go down well. We love a good picnic and often sit on a blanket in our front room or garden to eat our breakfast/lunch or dinner. I love picnics so much I have a Pinterest board dedicated to it – ideas for adult picnics and some fun for the kids too. Click ‘here‘ to go straight through to it.
  9. Cinema outing – perfect rainy day or even a scorching afternoon activity. (particularly if you’ve got tiny babies or you’re a preggo like me!) Most cinemas have summer clubs where they put on showing of the latest movies in the morning or afternoon for a cheaper rate. Check out the link to Vue ‘here‘. We still haven’t seen the Jungle Book, Angry Birds or The Life of Pets, so we’ll save those for summer.
  10. Library visit – another great rainy day activity. Our library in Worcester is absolutely brilliant. The children’s section is vibrant and exciting to visit. With walls of books, organised activities, comfy booths, and lots to see and do, as well as a coffee shop, we love visiting and will be spending lots of time there over the summer.
  11. Get in the garden – Miller loves playing in the garden. He has a sand pit and a water table and he’ll spend hours transferring water and sand, rescuing figures and playing games by himself. Check out this post I wrote on ‘The £1 bargain that’s keeping my kid entertained for hours‘.
  12. Family time – 6 weeks (or 9 weeks as some have) is a long time to fill with activities. Make the most of the free time by getting in some family time. Pop into local relatives for a cuppa or arrange a visit to see family members further away. The kids will love seeing each other and older family members always love the thought. Or maybe an elderly neighbour might benefit from a visit?
  13. Chores – Mills loves helping out around the house, so we can kill a good hour or so doing some cleaning. He’ll dust, tidy up his toys, clean the work tops. Never very well, but hey I’m all about encouraging. On a rainy day you could task the kids with cleaning up toys in the bath and do it outside with a bucket of water on a sunny day. We like sorting toys, making room for new ones mainly, and giving things to charity. It’s something we do regularly to keep the growing collection going out of control.
  14. Farm Parks – a lovely day out with loads going on. There are hundreds around the Country worth checking out. They often have summer activities and animal feedings arranged for the school holidays and you can usually make a whole day of it at the good ones. Another one is theme parks. So many to choose from – Drayton Manor, Alton Towers, Peppa Pig World, the list goes on and most have lots of options for younger children. Look out for deals or use your Tesco points to get some free tickets. (just remember to order them early so they arrive on time!)
  15. Den Building – get all the sheets out and turn a room into a giant den, fill with cushions and spend the day as explorers on an adventure. Mills likes to play the magnet game. We hide metal things around the house and he has to find them with his metal detector or giant magnet. He likes it even better when it’s done in the dark with a torch.
  16. Take full advantage of the Olympics – themed crafts, sports days, challenges, food, days out. With the Olympics taking place in August there’s no end to the themes you can create around this one. And being in Brazil gives you even more inspiration. Rainforest themed play date? Oh go on then.
  17. Puzzles and Games – Orchard toys do a fab range of board games and Mills absolutely loves them. We spend hours playing games in our house. As well as the Orchard collection he has just got into Guess Who? Perfect for this pregnant Mama!
  18. Movies – there’s always a place for TV in our home. We have Netflix and regularly download the latest movies to iTunes. Get out the popcorn, invite friends round and make it into an event or a family treat. Or give yourself a break and have a movie marathon on a rainy afternoon.
  19. Dinner dates – we love going out for food. We’re spoilt for choice in Worcester. There’s our all time favourite, The Old Rectifying House that serves the most delicious selection of food and cocktails (even their virgin variety is good!), we’ve also got Bills, Zizzi’s, Pizza Express, and a GBK, as well as plenty of others. We’re working our way through the GBK menu at the moment. Sometimes we end our dinner date with a disco in our living room. Disco lights, music, blow up instruments. It’s always a fun way to end the day.
  20. Park Trips – obviously! We have loads around us that could easily keep us entertained throughout the whole of the summer (if the weather plays ball!) Get online and find out about new parks in surrounding areas. You’ll often find ‘secret parks’ where big developments have gone up and these ones are the quietest.

I’ve got a ‘Summer Fun’ board on Pinterest, where there’s loads more ideas like these and examples of these too. All ready to give me some motivation for a Summer of fun! Click here to go straight to it.

If you’ve got a fail safe activity to help out other Mama’s in the Summer holidays, I’d love to hear about it. My Facebook page is the best place for chatting. Click ‘here‘ to go straight to it or search ‘Mission2Mum’ on Facebook. You can also find me on Instagram ‘Mission2Mum’ drooling over the lovely images on there. Please come say Hi it makes my day when I hear from you. xx

Bump Bonding – getting to know baby before it arrives

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How do you feel watching your bump grow, feeling your baby move inside your tummy? For me, this is my most favourite part of being pregnant. Without question. But I was talking to a friend the other day who didn’t get that natural bump bond. She found it strange to feel her baby wriggling around inside her and struggled to enjoy being pregnant.

Bump bonding doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But it started me thinking about how I bond with my growing baby and I thought I’d share with you some of the ways I connect with my bump during pregnancy.

Chitter Chatter

I talk a lot. I’m pretty sure I talk to myself when I’m not pregnant so talking to my baby doesn’t feel strange at all to me. I sit on my own, hold my tummy and talk to the baby. I ask it how it is and tell it how much I’m looking forward to meeting it. When you write it down, it does sound a bit odd. But for me, it’s part of being pregnant and what I love. A secret connection that only baby and I have for 9 months. And also a rare moment of not having someone answer me back.

Touchy Feely

I take good care of my bump and my night time routine is part of bump bonding. Massaging in coconut oil, stroking and giving a little prod to a kick, it’s all part of the communication with my unborn baby.

Breathe Deeply

I’m doing a Yoga class and Hypnobirthing class – both of which pay particular attention to bonding with baby. Giving visualisations and breathing techniques to help you bond with baby. I’m listening to affirmations and visualisations that help me to get into a deep relaxation, all the while thinking about my growing baby, birthing my baby and holding my baby in my arms. Visualising your baby’s arrival can really help you to picture that real baby inside your tummy.

Share The Love

Don’t keep those special movements to yourself. Get your partner and kids involved too. Miller is a bit bored of feeling baby kicks – unless it’s kicking his head of course – but I think it’s a really important part of bonding and helps the important people around you to bond with the baby. Other than the movement they don’t get to experience any other part of the pregnancy process, so let them in. I’m all up for sharing the love. I love feeling other people’s baby’s kicking inside their tummy so it’s all hands on tum for those special moments. However, I draw the line at strangers!

Take A Snap

With Mills I took photos every week from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Oh wasn’t it lovely to have that much time on my hands and I brain that actually worked. This time, I haven’t done that, but I’ve been taking plenty of snaps and capturing kicks on video too. I still love looking back at Miller’s bump. The thing I didn’t do when I was pregnant with Mills was to have pics of me, it was just bump. I regret that so this time I’m snapping myself too. In all my puffy pregnancy loveliness.

These might be a daily part of your pregnancy, but if you haven’t thought about talking to your baby yet, give it a go. It doesn’t mean you won’t bond with your baby when it arrives, but for me it makes the pregnancy journey so much more enjoyable.

How did you bond with your bump? Come on over to my Facebook page and share your pregnancy journey. I’d love to hear from you.

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