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Top 7 for 2020

8 January 2021

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I usually like to do a round up post of the year highlighting the ups and downs but then I spotted this on We're Going On An Adventure blog. It's a Top 7 for 2020 including 7 of my favourite posts, 7 things I have loved about this year and 7 things I am looking forward to in 2021. I'm a little late sharing but here it goes...

3 people looking over a bridge



boys walking

Firstly here are my top 7 posts of 2020

We are regular visitors to Alton Towers throughout the year but we have never actually visited and appreciated the gardens. Alton opened the gardens only just after lockdown eased and this was our first day out and it was just what we needed. A change of scenery and some normality. 

Boy on a bike


Little J's birthday was right at the beginning of lockdown and he decided he wanted a bike with birthday money he received. He has had a bike in the past but has always preferred a scooter so we were shocked when he asked for a bike. Teaching him to ride became a project for John to focus on over the lockdown and they got there and he is now a whizz and loves going on bike rides with his Dad. 

Boys walking through woods


This post is one of my favourites for many reasons. It brings back lots of good and some bad memories of our walk and how much we laughed and cried (me) but mainly it is one of my favourites as it opened up a new passion in us all we didn't realise we had. We loved the walk, figuring out how to get to the top and pushing ourselves when we didn't think we could go any further. The walk we took was supposed to be an easy one however it took us twice as long and it wasn't easy, not for me anyway but the sense of achievement when we got to the top and then back to the start was amazing, I will never forget it. 

Mum and Son on a ride


Another Alton Towers post. We were obviously a little anxious about visiting the theme park when Covid-19 was still very much present and we hadn't been anywhere like that since before lockdown. We were really impressed with the rides and how they operated queues to allow social distancing although it was still a little busier than we had expected but we used our common sense and if an area or ride was busy we moved along to the next one. 

Dad and son standing on a large rock


For the past few years we have booked a Summer weekend break with all the family, so 14 of us in total. We booked Snowdonia in 2019 so had no idea whether we could make it or not but we did and we all had an amazing time. It was our first visit to Wales as a family and we would definitely return again. 
 
boy standing up a mountain


I mentioned before that our walk from the Grizedale Visitor Centre was one of my favourite memories as it made us realise we love going for walks. Our walk at Rivington Pike was just the three of us but we enjoyed it so much. Again we didn't find it easy and we managed to go off the path and ended up adding some steep climbs to our route but we loved it. 

Disneyland Paris Castle


This post was so hard to write as it reminded me of how much I love Disneyland Paris and how we hadn't stepped inside a Disney Park in 2020. However I also enjoyed writing it as it brought back so many happy memories and I loved browsing through old photos and videos of our trips from the past 15 years. 

Next here are 7 Things I Have Loved In 2020. 

mum and son playing a game on the grass


Unexpected Family Time
No one could have ever expected what was thrown at us in 2020. When we went in to lockdown I was placed on furlough and the boys were at home from school. John and I did everything we could to make the boys time at home fun and educational. I will never forget all the extra time we got together and even though we were at home we created so many memories that I will cherish forever. 

Turning 40
I had so many plans for my 40th but as my birthday was during lockdown none of my plans happened but I actually had a lovely birthday and spent it with my favourite people in the whole world. As I didn't get to celebrate it the way you should celebrate a 'big' birthday it means we have an excuse to celebrate on my next. 

Our Walks
I have loved our walks this year and I love that we have all enjoyed them too. It's a great way to challenge yourself physically and mentally and I enjoy browsing online finding new ones to explore.

playing football in the garden


Our Garden
We spent so much of this year in the garden. We went outside first thing in the morning, ate breakfast, lunch and dinner out there and stayed out until it went dark. Having the astro turf meant we could be outside no matter what and we did most of our playing and learning outside and it was amazing. 

A Level Results
John and I are so proud of big J and how he handled leaving school early. The last few months of school would have been hard taking his A Levels but he missed the experience and I am sad for him but he did amazing and is now in university beginning his journey to become a primary school teacher.

boy splashing in the pool


Pool Time
The weather was very kind to us this year and some days it felt like we were abroad on holiday, it was that hot. Very early in to lockdown John bought us a pool so little J could have a splash. When it arrived it was huge and could actually fit all four of us in with room to spare. Each morning we would fill it up and spend most of the day in there. It really was like we were on holiday. 

Christmas
Our favourite time of year. Christmas was quieter than usual and we didn't go on as many Christmas days out as we would have liked, but we had a lovely Christmas and we got to see our families which made it even better. 

Last but not least here are 7 things I am most looking forward to.

Spending Time Together
I think it will be a long time before we will back to normal and I think tier restrictions and possible lockdowns will dominate especially the first half of 2021. I am looking forward to spending time together.

Using Our National Trust Passes
Just before Christmas we purchased National Trust passes after visiting a few of the sites over November and December. We are really looking forward to using our passes over the year and exploring more of the UK (hopefully)

Travelling
We love travelling and it doesn't always have to be abroad. We love visiting cities and places in the UK too. Travelling was something we all missed in 2020 and it felt so good when we finally were able to go on days out. 

Visiting A Disney Park
I am hopeful that by Christmas 2021 we will be able to head to Disneyland Paris to celebrate Christmas time in our favourite place. 2020 was the first time in a very long time that we hadn't visited a Disney park so I really do hope we get to go. 

Seeing Family and Friends
Spending time with our family and friends is something we really missed this year. We love having people over even if just for a cup of tea and a catch up. The boys also love having their friends over and it was definitely a lot quieter than usual last year having no visitors.

Getting Fit
Both John and I want to be fitter in 2021 and hopefully our walking will help us achieve that. We say it every year and we do so well for the first few months but I am hoping this year we will make it happen. 

Watching The Boys Grow
I made myself a photo slideshow of 2020 and it was amazing to see how much the boys had grown over the past twelve months. It's not just their appearance that has changed. They adapted so well and so quickly to the changes 2020 threw at us and they were both so mature about the whole situation. 

Now that I have looked back 2020 wasn't as bad as I remembered. We tried to make it as normal as possible for the boys and I think we managed .... just about. 

My list of things to look forward to is quite big but I will just take every day as it comes and hope for the best. 

What are you looking forward to most in 2021?

Michelle
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Mighty Cards Review

19 October 2020

5 comments
Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. We were gifted a set of Mighty Cards for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

We are finally coming up to the home stretch of the first half term back at school since lockdown in March. I had no idea what this half term had in store for us and whether we would all make it to the end in one piece but we did, just about. There have been a few isolation days for us all while we waited for test results but on a whole we made it however we now have the uncertainty about when the boys will return and whether a 'circuit break' lockdown will be imposed over half term. Everyone has been through so much this year and although children are resilient and most have returned to school with smiles on their faces, the unknown is still hanging over us all and I have been trying to look for ways to help us as a family to deal with what this year has thrown at us at so far.

Mighty Cards

When we were recently sent a set of Mighty Cards, I knew that these may be what I had been looking for. The cards which are designed for ages 4-11, provide effective and engaging strategies to help children manage their feelings and emotions. The pack consists of 36 cards which are divided in to 3 types of activities.

There are a wide range of emotions that we experience every day including happy, sad, excited, worried, embarrassed and anxious. Sometimes these may be difficult to deal with so having some simple strategies to follow can really help deal with those tricky feelings. 

The cards are really simple to use and understand, and for us we have been taking the time to choose a card just before dinner to help us enjoy our evening a little better and then before bed to help us feel rested and content. 

Mighty Cards


Breathe 
Breathing strategies to calm your body and focus on your mind.

A sample of a Breathe Card is Finger Breathing.

Use a finger from your right hand to gently trace up and down the fingers on your left hand.

Each time you trace up a finger, take a slow deep breath in through your nose. Each time you trace down a finger, slowly release your breath through your mouth. 

Once you have traced the fingers on one hand, swap hands and repeat. 

Mighty Cards


Move
Physical exercises to help relieve tension in your body.

A sample of a Move Card is Wall Push.

Stand in front of a wall and place your arms out in front of you so your hands are touching the wall. 

When you are ready, try with all your strength to push the wall over. Count for 10 seconds, pushing hard. Then shake your arms and legs gently to release the tension in your body. 

Repeat 3 times. 

Mighty Cards


Create
Creative activities to build a sense of calm and control. 

A sample of a Create Card is Calm Poster.

Write the word CALM on paper in big writing. Colour and decorate the page using your favourite colours and stickers. 

As you are colouring and decorating, imagine that you are filling yourself with calmness and joy.

Place your CALM poster somewhere where you can see it often. 

How you use the cards is down to your own personal choice however even though they are designed with children in mind we have all been using the cards and after just a few days we have already felt the benefit. 

Mighty Cards


Dr Gail Sinitsky is a child psychologist and founder of Young & Mighty and has been working with children and families for over 15 years, providing assessment and therapy, in schools and NHS clinics. As part of her work, she specialises in designing and delivering highly successful workshops and groups for children experiencing 'tricky emotions', low self-esteem, trauma, and relational difficulties. I have teamed up with Dr Gail Sinitsky from Young and Mighty to offer one lucky Playdays and Runways reader and follower the chance to win  their own pack of cards.

All you need to do is complete the entry form below and pop back every day at 9pm for bonus chances to win. 

If you would like to know more about Dr Gail and Young and Mighty you can visit the website.

Good Luck.

Michelle



Terms

Competition closes on Sunday 1st November 2020

Entrants must have a valid UK address. 

Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified. 

All entrants and entries are checked and verified. 

1 lucky winner will be chosen at random by the Gleam application. 

Playdays and Runways will contact the lucky winners within 7 days of the competition closing. 

The winners will be emailed to the email address given at the time of entering. 

The winners must respond within 28 days, if no response a new winner will be chosen. 

This prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative 

The Prize : A set of Mighty Cards

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How to Raise An Optimistic Child | AD

10 August 2020

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Disclosure - This is a paid post

boy holding two trophies

Optimism is key for a confident and happy life. It gives us the power to be positive and take on challenges with an assured sense of self, even if there are hurdles in the way. Parents should help their children become more optimistic so that they are better equipped to manage any of the inevitable setbacks throughout their education and personal life. Without an optimistic approach, your child will be more likely to struggle in school, especially when it comes to exams. I have teamed up with an independent school near Wellingborough to offer parents the following advice when it comes to raising an optimistic child.

The best thing you can do when helping your child develop a particular mindset or skill is to lead by example. In other words, if you want your child to have a positive and optimistic approach to life, be optimistic and positive yourself. For instance, if you say things like “I hated school when I was your age”, your child will probably start to develop a similar outlook. Alternatively, if you talk about all of the valuable benefits of school, such as the talents that are explored and the relationships that are formed, your child will feel the same. When things go wrong for your child, like they don’t get the grades they were hoping for, don’t be too hard on them. Instead, remind them that they can learn from their mistakes and that you a proud of them for trying their best.

Essentially, the idea is to teach your child that life is full of ups and downs but we shouldn’t let them hold us back. Everyone makes mistakes and if they can learn that from a young age, they will be able to overcome obstacles with confidence. Encourage your child to talk about what they’re grateful for on a regular basis, even if it’s something that seems minor, like hugging a relative or having food on the table. The aim here is to help your child see life from a positive standpoint so that they can feel excited about the future.

Remember that your child won’t be optimistic all the time; there will be points in their life when they’re feeling anxious or disappointed. It’s up to you, as a parent, to remind them that they have your full support no matter what and that the way they’re feeling is only temporary.

Michelle
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Ways To Make An Adults Birthday Special

29 July 2020

6 comments
Disclosure - We received gifts from Moonpig to help us celebrate John's birthday. The idea for this post, thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own.

Moonpig Happy Birthday Balloon

This month we celebrated the last of our four birthdays, the rest of our birthdays were in lockdown with little J's being right at the beginning and mine and big J's a few months ago. We had huge plans to celebrate this year with an 18th, 40th and 10 years married but unfortunately there were no huge celebrations as we were in lockdown. As John's birthday is in July we are usually on holiday however this year is the first year we haven't celebrated it abroad so we wanted to make John's birthday as special as possible. Birthdays are not just for kids, there are lots of ways to make an adult birthday special.

personalised birthday card


Decorate The House
No matter how old you are it's nice to see birthday banners and balloons around the house on your birthday.

Start The Day With Their Favourite Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and on your birthday it's even more important. Give the birthday boy or girl their favourite breakfast to help kick off their birthday celebrations.

Personalised Cards
I am a huge fan of personalised and unique cards. You can create a card for the birthday boy or girl with a unique message or you can even upload photographs to make the card more personalised. As we celebrated 3 of our birthdays during lockdown we had to order cards online and I was so happy with how much choice was available on Moonpig we used them again for Johns birthday.



Choose The Perfect Gifts
Find out what your birthday boy or girl likes or enjoys and find the perfect gift for them. It's not about giving the most expensive or biggest gift it's the most thoughtful gift that is usually the most appreciated. We found so many suitable gifts on Moonpig. They have lots to choose from and can be personalised too.

Hunt The Presents
Treasure hunts are not just for the kids, adults love them too. Hide all the birthday presents and give clues to help the birthday boy or girl hunt down their presents. It's also fun for the kids to join in too and help find the presents.

Party Time
Parties come in all sizes. Some people like huge parties with their family and friends whilst others prefer to spend their birthdays at home with just their immediate family. Plan a party to help celebrate their special day whether its a party for 40 or just for 4 it can still be as special as the other.

Plan A Special Day
If a party isn't on the menu then plan a special day just for them. Think about what they enjoy and how you think they would like to spend their day. Maybe a trip to the spa, a round of golf or afternoon tea.

Give Them The Gift Of Time
Spending time with the birthday boy or girl shows you care. Maybe sit down together and watch that movie that they are desperate to see, cook them their favourite meal and enjoy it together or spend time doing something they really enjoy but you wouldn't usually be interested in such as gaming.

There are so many ways to make a birthday special for adults and these are just a few of our favourites.

If you would like to receive a free card from Moonpig all you need to do is download the app, purchase any gift and enter the code APPFREEWGIFT.

John had a lovely birthday at home and even though we were not in Greece as planned he had a very special day.

Michelle
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Teaching Your Child How To Ride A Bike

8 July 2020

9 comments
boy riding a bike

You may have seen in our earlier post that Little J has learnt to ride his bike during lockdown. During the time teaching him I have noted down the most useful things  I learnt while teaching him. Here are my nine tips to help teach your child
how to ride a bike.

Start As Early As You Can
The younger you start teaching, the better.  We started quite late with little J and he was scared of falling off.  If we had have started earlier then the fear of injury isn't there as much and can help progress quicker.

Be Prepared To Be Patient
You need to set time aside every day to practice, practice and practice some more.  Praise after every try, even if no progress was made that day as this will make the next days practice easier.

Set Small Goals
Make use of safe spaces to start with. We started in the garden, on artificial grass. Although its harder to pedal on than road, Little J felt safer knowing he would land on the soft floor if he fell.

Start With Balance and Basic Control
We started with stabilisers on to get used to getting on and off the bike,  and general control, steering and pedal movement.  Even stabilisers can be hard to balance so make sure you explain this and don't expect too much on the first go!

Continue With Balance
Take the stabilisers off as soon as they have mastered the basics.  Then focus on helping them get the balance of the bike.  No need to use pedals (and maybe take them off - we did this to help Little J) Make sure they can push themselves off and then glide along with feet off the floor as much as possible.

Re - Attach The Pedals
Begin by holding your child, not the handlebars, or the bike. Hold onto then from the side and help them start off. Keep hold of them while they get used to the pedals and combining with balance.  This is the part that took the longest for us, maybe as the space we used wasn't big.  Keep going forward and back, and start to let go of them for seconds at a time so they start to get used to riding alone.

Move outside
We moved to the road outside next.  Here there is much more space, the road is easier to ride on than the grass, and here is where you will make the most progress. Continue to hold on to your child to get them started and then follow the same pattern as before. Stay alongside them, not in front or behind and when you hold on, hold on to the child only.

Let Go
As you repeat this, let go for longer periods of time, encourage turning, be prepared to start running alongside if your child is still scared of falling.

On Their Own
As confidence grows you will be able to stop running alongside and let them go. Well done - they have now learned a skill they will never forget.

I hope this short guide will help you with the challenge fo helping your child learn to ride their bike. Remember to be patient, as not all children will learn at the same pace, and it times you will think they will never get it, but they will and they will be over the moon when they do.

John
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The View From The Shard

6 June 2016

13 comments

A few months ago we received a Buyagift Smartbox. If you have heard of Buyagift you will know that they offer 100's of experiences throughout the UK. The Smartbox which is perfect for couples had over 500 experiences to choose from but after a lot of thought we decided to use our voucher on our recent visit to London.
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Our Morning At Mattel Play Liverpool

17 May 2016

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A few weeks ago we popped along to Mattel Play Liverpool for the first time. I'm not sure who was more excited about visiting, Little J or Me. I had read lots about the new interactive play centre and it was all positive. I was a little unsure about visiting at the weekend as I was worried it would be overcrowded so we headed down to the Albert Dock quite early on a Saturday morning.

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Geronimo Festival Giveaway

7 April 2016

15 comments
Geronimo is back and this year it’s going to be bigger and better. Seeing a return to Tatton Park in 2016 from May 29th – 30th and a new venue at Harewood House from May 1st – 2nd, expect a line-up jam packed with some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment, including TV favourites Justin Fletcher*, Mr Bloom, Andy Day, Alex Winters and Cook & Line from Swashbuckles. 
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We Took The Frankie And Benny's Challenge

23 March 2016

6 comments
We love a good challenge and last week when we were asked to take part in one involving Frankie and Benny's we happily accepted. We love Frankie and Benny's, it's a place we go to for a special treat or to celebrate a special occasion. The reason for this is I have always thought of it to be quite expensive so it's somewhere we wouldn't visit often. When we were asked to dine at Frankie and Benny's for breakfast, lunch and dinner (not all on the same day) on a budget I honestly didn't think it would be possible but I was wrong.

Frankie and Benny's
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Drumond Park LOGO Prize Bundle Giveaway

22 February 2016

61 comments
 You all know that I am a big fan of board games. It's a great way to spend time together and have lots of fun. We have a huge collection of games and I am always on the lookout for new ones. You can never have too many. 

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Disney On Ice Silver Anniversary Celebration

26 November 2015

10 comments
A few months ago we were lucky enough to see Disney On Ice. As soon as the show started we were all mesmerised and I knew then that we would have to see another show soon. I am so excited to reveal that Disney On Ice Silver Anniversary is touring next year and its making a stop in Liverpool.

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