50 Outdoor Activities to do Before You’re 11 & 3/4

The National Trust are encouraging us to bring up our children outdoors – have you seen their brilliant campaign; 50 Outdoor Activities to do before you’re 11 and 3/4? Lots of free resources available here

Joss is nearly two and has done eight things on the list:

  1. Visit a farm
  2. Find some frog spawn
  3. Play pooh sticks
  4. Have a look in a pond
  5. Run around in the rain
  6. Make a daisy chain
  7. Pick wild blackberries
  8. Look inside a tree

I love this resource, whether the weather is good or bad the list grows with them, in time she will be ticking off making an outdoor den and making a home for a wild animal, bird watching and eating an apple straight from the tree.

We have the 50 Things… book with I’ve Done That stickers, its a brilliant read with loads of inspiration!

Which activity will you try next?

This was not a sponsored post but just a campaign we are interested in and thought others might like the free resources too!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Carpet picnics and dens

“Do a den”

Joss asked to build a den last week, how could we refuse?

We are always outside exploring but occasionally the intrepid explorers in us want to have a PJ day and what better way to bring the outdoors indoors than with a den and a carpet picnic?


Armed with a drying rack and plenty of blankets, a sharing platter and snacks a dull grey day starts to look altogether more interesting! Deserving of an Outtakes mention for odd socks and the fact that this could be anyone’s child given the cut off the lunch looks canny anyway!





Nature’s Path Gluten Free Cereals Review

As you know I am big on ethical and sustainable products; Nature’s Path are a family-run, independent organic food company that believes in “leaving the earth better than we found it”. I like that.
Nature’s Path cereals are gluten free, I wanted to test them because A) I consider myself to be a cereal afficionado (oh yes!) and B) I have been interested to know more about gluten-free.

We were sent a lovely pack of products to try from the range:


My favourites were the Trail Mix Granola Bars, lots of lovely textures and a big hit of cinnamon which I love! I love cereal bars and reach for them when I’m dashing around, they are a really generous size and great for an on the go breakfast for my work days.

The Maple Sunrise breakfast cereal was AMAZING, sweet but not too sweet I really liked the blend of quinoa, corn and flaxseed and this was a big hit with hubby too. Again lots of different textures gave a great long lasting crunch, remembering that these are a Free-From gluten free product this would be a real treat, I have a friend with coeliac disease who says many gluten free cereals are boring, this is not one of them!


Mesa Sunrise was a surprise, I expected malted flakes but these are just honest to goodness flakes, the corn/flax blend is really tasty, these were my faves for an everyday cereal.

Our household fave, porridge! Another work fave, the quick porridge is so handy. I loved the apple variety, more lovely cinnamon!

And finally the Nice and Nobbly Granola, chunky, tasty and fruity this was a great cereal but would make a brilliant fast gluten-free crumble topping too!


These definitely passed our taste test, the Nature’s Path range is varied, tasty and brings a different take on gluten free, available in most supermarkets and the website has some great recipe ideas too.


Disclaimer – we reviewed these cereals and were sent the products to try, all views are my own

Wooden Lolly Stick Washi Tape Plant Markers

Quick and easy why use plain sticks when you can add a flash of colour?

We’ve been daisy picking today and my mind wandered onto some of the new varieties of plants we bought this year, clearly the herbs are easier to identify but geranium ringo rose looked great so it’s worth remembering the name for next year and marking them up now.

Take a handful of lolly sticks, apply washi tape in a straight line top to bottom, cut and then trim any excess and round the corners, then take a perma-marker and write your plant names directly onto the tape.

Gardening Fun with a Toddler in Tow

What beautiful weather for a spot of yardening! Joss planted some seeds ages ago, basil, oregano and salad leaves, they were in the kitchen window and she’d ask to be lifted up to see her ‘planties’


They sprouted, then they sprouted some more and before long they were lovely leggy herbs ready for planting outside.

What fun to be nearly two and have your own yarden patch!

With a small trowel and a children’s watering can, a packet of seeds, some sun and good luck we’re starting to create a space we can all enjoy!

And toddler friendly tips?

  • You could start small with some ‘quick wins’ like sunflower seeds, they grow really fast to keep little one’s interested!
  • Wild seed mixes are lovely, you can just sprinkle them and let the birds and the bees do their work and be surprised by what you get
  • Tell them about bees, worms, spiders and ants as you go! Did you know that three quarters of the foods we eat — fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs — need pollinators to reproduce? I think we’re going to read up on encouraging bees and chat about why they’re so important
  • You don’t need to buy a lot but having some child sized tools will be handy, Joss couldn’t lift our watering can when full!
  • Make spot just for them, we painted a pot plate with a few outdoor paints and wrote her name on it :) a few windmills and ornaments add to the feel that it’s just for them


Maternal mental health and moving on mumslist

Real Life

Spring is here and isn’t it grand!?

This week has seen a lot of sling action, getting out and about and enjoying the sun. It was a different sort of work week for me, two days of media training but the chance to pick the brains of the experts about blogging and tweeting too, this has given me a new strategy that I’ll talk about in a bit. I also finished my two week wardrobe challenge, and now have a capsule wardrobe of just 30 items, scary but freeing too!

So maternal mental health, this week I blogged about two big issues, bottle nursing, which I think doesn’t get the coverage it deserves and was probably my toughest blog post yet, and I also wrote a piece trying to unpack and ask some questions about mother’s guilt, working and the media.

All this is building up to a big piece of news and some more posts around maternal mental health. This week I became affiliated with PANDAS Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support.


In short I am setting up their first North East group, the Newcastle Upon Tyne PANDAS Support Group. I feel really well of late, I have enjoyed several months anxiety free and have been feeling strong for a while now. I want to bridge a big gap between formal mental health services and community services, there is very little available to new mums anyway following the cuts and being lonely and frightened with dependents can be a very dark place. I approached a group of friends some of which I’ve met some I have yet to meet looking for others who can help me get set up, I was blown away by their honesty and sadly by their numbers, but we all want to offer our support to other parents and that makes me feel so proud of them, and of how far we have come on our own journeys. I look forward to sharing experiences, offering support and maybe making some friends along the way too.


Blog life

Two new things, 1) to devote an evening a week to building up content on a range of ideas and 2) to blog daily where possible about topical issues in the media linking into twitter and facebook feeds on ‘big issues’ around parenthood, politics and media. I did this with my post on maternal guilt, it came out of Mumsnet stats that were released that day and I tweeted my response and linked into discussions on Facebook which drove more traffic. I would also like to see my Tots100 score continue to increase, currently at 549 I have worked hard to get to this position and would love to understand more behind the metrics too.



We’ve been yardening again so I’m about to blog another How Does Your Garden Grow but also found inspiration here:



- See more at: http://www.mumsdays.com/#sthash.661xQpg0.dpuf

Working Mums, an Expectation of Guilt?

mother's guilt_thumb[4]

A recent Mumsnet survey found that only 13% of working mothers (of 900 surveyed) said they felt guilty about spending time away from their children and almost half (48%) said that having a paid job made them happier. A third of stay-at-home mothers admitted they would prefer to work and 52% said staying at home was tougher than going out to work.

Only 13% felt guilty, did we expect that to be higher? When the press reported on these stats they said ‘only 13%’ so clearly they expected it to be higher.

What is mother’s guilt?

It sounds pretty universal, not working mother’s guilt, but something all mothers feel, I reckon that should be parent’s guilt though, it’s no less easy for Dad to leave a poorly tot. The idea that it can be assuaged by working less or spending every waking moment with our children seems unlikely, I have found that my mother’s guilt can’t be assuaged by putting in more hours at home, it’s bigger than that, it’s part of me. Is guilt the right word? Is it not more about a natural and instinctual responsibility which can feel like a burden, it’s always there, hard to shrug off, whether I am looking at my phone and hearing Mam, Mam, Mammy, or at work knowing she might be having a tough day the feeling is the same. Can I be available 100% of the time, should I want to be?

Why should we feel guilty about working?

Maybe we don’t feel guilty because we’ve realised that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side? I am honest enough to say that on whingy whining days I am relieved to get a break and sometimes see work as an opportunity to get that breathing space.

How often does a mother say she feels guilty and follow that statement up with ‘I’m a bad mum.’ So when we look at reasons for feeling guilty, maybe not being able to breastfeed, leaving them with someone else, letting them watch TV, feeding them junk food are we really saying we think we’re being a ‘bad’ parent? I list off the reasons I think I’m a good parent and they start to pale into insignificance, I am fun (I am!) we get out every day for a walk, I plan activities, I cook good food, we read books together, I make her laugh, she is a hoot so sees me smiling a lot, I am there for her in the night when she needs me – I also work, should that in some way negate all of those great things?

Who’s judging who?

I looked up a definition of guilt –

“Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.” (“Guilt.” Encyclopedia of Psychology. 2nd ed. Ed. Bonnie R. Strickland. Gale Group, Inc., 2001. eNotes.com. 2006. 31 December 2007)

So it’s an emotional and cognitive state, which means I can have some choice or control about feeling it, right? There’s some strong language here, moral standards and violations of them, whose moral standard? It seems to suggest they’re my own.

Is there really a working mum vs stay at home mum divide? I don’t know that we are really comparing, you know, my guilt is greater than your guilt.

My recent blog post highlighted that I don’t think there is, we’re all working parents regardless of where we put the hours in.

There’s still this whole nebulous mix of media, business, politics and science, all of these voices that tell us that various choices damage our children, which of those should I listen to?

I’d say I feel most judged by myself and I can choose to tune out those voices

Earlier this year stats were released that show mothers feel a double guilt when they work, one towards their children and one about their ability in the workplace.

I can spot a working mum in an office environment at 100 paces, she comes in early, eats at her desk and ten minutes before she has to leave she looks pretty antsy, she has to get away on time to collect her brood and can’t afford for the telephone to ring and hold her up. She’s organised, well rounded and sees work as a way of providing, of broadening her horizons. She will get her work done on time and has realised that she has more mental capacity than she thought possible, forget baby brain, those planning skills and time management that see her get a meal on the table, clothes in the wash and the next day’s lunches prepared before others have taken their coats off serve their purpose in the workplace too.

There are tough days, days when I have struggled to see whether J is teething or it’s something I’m missing – am I doing the right thing sending her to the childminders? Should I stay home?

Negotiating with Dad over who needs to be at work and who has a meeting that could maybe wait. Guilt? Maybe, but we’re only human, we’re predisposed to want to care for our children when they’re sick, sadly there isn’t an answer to that one, sometimes we have to go and as we are usually leaving them with someone who loves them then maybe we could loosen up on the guilt?

If those figures are to be believed then I think it’s brilliant, it shows we’re starting to question the role of mothers and challenge the ‘ought to feels’. If guilt is in the gap between our ideal self and our actual self then maybe we need to be less tough on ourselves, we make many decisions along the way but choosing to be a parent wracked with guilt doesn’t sound like a terrible progressive step to me, and I suspect no child wants to grow up feeling like it has in some way ‘bound’ its parents.

Misheard lyrics

I love when people totally mishear lyrics, this list by Clash Music is brilliant, of course at number one is Hendrix’s Purple Haze, “scuse me while I kiss the sky” often heard as “scuse me while I kiss this guy”

It seems we have our own little mishearer of lyrics, thinking about it, some of the words in songs are so complex that children must pick up the rhyme and rhythm way before they understand the words, hence this beauty of Joss’ that I’ve tried to write word for word – ladies and gents, I give you, the Grand Old Dupalork!


This cracked me up as I had been having a rough day and needed a good chuckle but I was so proud to hear her have a bash, it took place whilst she was wearing these excellent pipecleaner glasses Daddy made, couldn’t get a good pic though as she was marching up and down again!


What about your little ones, any good misheard lyrics from nursery rhymes?

Wot So Funee?