Centre Parcs Elveden Forest with 6 kids 

Centre Parcs Elveden Forest with 6 kids 

Recently my family of 5 and my buddy and HER family of 5 all went to Centre Parcs for a jolly week.

Jolly it WAS. Also busy and tiring. The kids LOVED it as did we. It was our third time at Centre Parcs and we cannot wait to go back.

We had 6 kids with us, aged 2, 3, 5, 6, 6 and 8.

I’ve listed below some tips / points that may help you if you are considering a Centre Parcs trip and have never been – or just general tips for going with young kids.

  • Take with you little bits and bobs from home for use in the lodge: dishwasher tabs, some washing up liquid, couple of bin liners, few toilet rolls, condiments, ANTIBACTERIAL HAND WASH, and any little bits and bobs you may need to be comfy whilst you are there.
  • Take a few kids DVDs, as the basic lodges have a dvd player in the lounge. You can hire them there for £3.99 a night, but easier to take some yourself!
  • TAKE TEA BAGS MAN. If tea is a necessity like it is for me! Oh and Sugar if you are that way inclined.
  • If you have young kids like us, the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is MORE THAN ENOUGH entertainment for them. You can easily spend 3 hours in here without them getting bored. Don’t feel you have to book activities as well, these are quite pricey. 

  • You gotta go swimming in the evening at least once! We preferred evening swimming as it was less busy, the rapids in the dark are AMAZING and generally it was just a fab way to tire the kiddies out before bed time. There’s so much to do it’s not just a big pool, there is Adventure Cove which is a splash park with lots of tunnel slides and a little shallow area for babies and young toddlers. Also a lazy river, the main pool which has waves every half an hour, the ‘cave pool’ as we call it, which is like a big Jacuzzi and is shallow enough that my tall 2 year old could stand up comfortably in it. Oh and it’s WARM! There’s also the rapids (which are for older kids / kids who can swim and adults. SO MUCH FUN!) and the Tropical Cyclone – for older kids and adults. Along with lots of whirlpools, the outdoor pool and cold pool. It’s bloody pool-tastic. 
  • Take your own swimming towels, you can hire them there but at £2 a pop it saves money to just take your own.
  • CP have life vests for kids which are free to borrow in the pool.
  • Be prepared for squirrels, birds, ducks etc to come and say hello on your patio – the kids loved this! We also saw deer and what I believe to be a heron, but don’t quote me on that. Kids said it was a pelican 🙂

  • We also had a spider the size of a small dog in the lodge. Be prepared for this as you are living in a forest, init. It is vital to take someone on holiday with you that isn’t scared of spiders. 
  • There are hairdryers in each room, and an iron and ironing board, so if you wish to pack by throwing your clothes into a bag, then you will be able to iron your stuff there! Win.
  • There is a big chalkboard in the lodge which the kids will be delighted with and should keep them amused drawing for a bit.
  • We did a food shop prior to going and took it with us – this saved lots of money as the supermarket on site is well stocked but quite expensive imo.
  • We ate out at Hucks diner – it has been refurbished since we last visited in 2015 and I have to say we were really impressed. The play area was fab – a small baby area with soft padded ‘soft play’ toys. Then a larger area with a slide, lots of climbing nets and was suitable for I’d say age 3 and up. There is also a computer area with about 8 computers, with games on that kept the kids entertained after they’d eaten so we had a nice meal and the kids were happy. They do a children’s buffet for £8.25 with lots of kiddy type choices – hot dogs, nuggets, burgers, fruit/salad cups, chips, the usual! For an extra pound they get a drink and a dessert.  It was clean, service was good and food was nice.
  • Our kids did the indoor wall climbing activity which they loved – there are a variety of walls to climb and at the end they get to climb up these tall tubes. I believe the cost was £21 for an hour. But don’t quote me on that.

  • We also did a boat ride – the kids loved this and the daddies took them out on the boats so me and my buddy sat and watched and had a full 30 mins of silence which was amaze balls.
  • The kids disco is really good – starts at 7pm til 8.30pm and has the usual cheesy kids tunes, along with games etc. All our kids loved this – but as we were a fan of the late swim we only went once.
  • We paid a little extra to stay in the MAPLE area of the site – the closest lodges to the centre. I’ve also stayed in the very outer areas before and would definitely again pay a little extra to be closer, it’s well worth it with small kids.

  • Take scooters/bikes with you if you have space, you can hire bikes if you don’t have space though. 
  • They now use a wrist band method – upon check in all the adults in the party get a bright green electronic wrist band that opens your lodge door as well as the lockers in the swimming pool changing room, meaning you don’t need to worry about having a key for the lodge and change for the lockers.
  • If you have a baby in a cot, Take all cot bedding as this isn’t supplied. (All other bedding and towels are supplied)
  • There are plenty of free things to do if you’re on a budget. There are 3 good sized different play parks for kids of all ages. During the day (in the area where the evening disco is) there’s soft play stuff for under 5s. There’s plenty of woodland to explore. Also the little beach which the kids all enjoyed playing on. There’s football pool which our younger ones loved playing whilst the big ones did their climbing activity. 
  • For those with babies, everywhere is pram friendly or has a pram park nearby. We found CP to be very child friendly (and rightly so!) When we went with a newborn I used my stretchy wrap a lot to keep baby warm and mean I was hands free. 

I hope this was somewhat helpful! It’s worth mentioning we paid for our trip and Centre Parcs haven’t paid me to write this (wish they had! Hahaha) but I just LOVE waking up in the forest every morning, I love having lack of phone signal, and I love the ease of chucking stuff in the car and driving the short distance to Elvedon. We will most definitely be going back again!

Do you love Centre Parcs? Leave any tips you have in the comments below! 🙂

Advertisements
How to be a more relaxed parent…

How to be a more relaxed parent…

If you’re after ways to help be a more calm, relaxed and chilled parent, you’re in the right place. The school holidays have prompted me to have to find my inner Zen to be able to get through the bickering, arguing, fighting, and loudness of my three kiddos.

kids bridge

So I’ve asked my tribe of mums what helps them, and here are some popular suggestions to help you be a more calm and relaxed Mumma or Daddy. Enjoy!

  1. Take time out for yourself
    This is a universally agreed way to help you relax. Being a parent is stressful even when it’s not and the constant putting someone else’s needs before your own can increase your stress levels. Some regular time out for yourself, even if it’s just a 20 minute bath or read a book for an hour in silence, can help you feel recharged and connected back to yourself. If you can have time outside your home to yourself too, then great, but if not then grab those important quiet times where you can. Housework will still be there after your time out but you’ll feel better for it.
  2. A wise woman told me not to intervene in sibling fights unless there’s blood or broken limbs/items
    I VERY much need to implement this, as my older 2 argue a lot at the moment. I don’t blame them, they are 15 months apart in age and have been together pretty much non-stop for the 6 weeks they’ve been off school. They’ve had I think a total of 2 days in the 6 weeks away from each other. I always end up getting sucked into trying to help them deal with their arguments but from now on, my policy is for them to sort it themselves. BOOM! Also I need to remember I am here to help them figure out a solution, not give them a solution.
  3. Stop comparing!
    Social media lives aren’t real and a snapshot of your friend’s lives don’t always tell the full story. Do not compare, everyone’s different and your life is yours and yours alone. Motherhood and childhood is not a race or competition.
  4. Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken! 
    With my first baby I remember being so caught up in what I was supposed to be doing. He co-slept unintentionally and I spent many months trying to get him to settle in his cot. Looking back I wish I’d just gone with it and thought – it works for us so why change it?! Instead I remember thinking everyone else’s baby is asleep in their cot so mine should be too! If it works for you – go with it! I’m glad that in the last 8 years things are changing and there is more out there to help support parents in whatever choices they make.
  5. Fresh Air! 
    One of the most underrated ways to relax for me is to just GET OUT. Go for a walk with the kids, I personally love the beach, it makes me feel so happy inside. Also country parks, and anywhere that you can breathe in a big lungful of fresh air and clear your head. Also the kids can run riot and burn some energy. Win/win.
  6. Tell people that you’re meeting up with that you’ll be late.
    I’ve just implemented this in life. I’m always late, someone is always needing the loo, time flies, and it’s just life with 3 kids. I’m not stressing about it. I’ll get there (In the end!) Tell your friends and family that you WILL be late. Or, tell them to tell you a time half an hour earlier than the actual meeting time! 🙂
  7. Mum friends
    It’s important to have others that you can talk to who are going through the same things you are at the same time – it makes you feel less alone and reassured that your crazy days are happening to others too! Reach out to other mums and dads, even if it’s a chat in the park or a parenting forum online.
  8. Pick your battles
    You can’t win every battle, and you don’t need to make everything a battle. Kids are unreasonable and fickle and changeable and sometimes you gotta let it wash over you. I struggle with this!
  9. Running (or any exercise!)
    Similar to fresh air – exercise increases the endorphin flow to your brain and helps with your mental health. Anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you feel good is a winner!
  10. Lower your expectations
    Life with children is crazy, messy, loud, hard, frustrating, rewarding, emotional, draining, tiring. Expect it to be like this and you won’t feel so frustrated! But it’s also fun, wonderful, loving, exciting, fulfilling and downright amazing. Embrace the crazy, because before you know it you will long for those crazy days again. I already miss my older 2 being babies but I remember when I was living in that time, and the mayhem of them being 15 months apart, it felt HARD. I’d give anything to go back now, it was so amazing!
  11. Breathe and evaluate before reacting / interacting
    It’s so easy to react to something on a whim and afterwards think that you over reacted or handled it wrongly. I am the QUEEN of this. But if you can remember to just take a few seconds to really think and breathe before reacting, it can completely change a situation for the better. I read once that if you’re feeling like you are losing your patience, say to yourself “THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY” or similar “NO NEED TO PANIC” to just remind yourself to take a breather.
  12. You control your own actions
    Similarly, for those mums who feel like they lose their temper quickly, remember that you cannot change or control your child’s actions – but you CAN control and change your own reaction to it. Your reaction is what’s important, not the child’s actions.

Now I know if I can implement some of these my own life would be much less stressful and I’d be a better mum for it. But it’s easier said than done!

And if the above fails, some mumma’s have also said….

1. Wine! Gin! Alcohol
Highly rated in the list of ways to relax is alcohol! I think many parents find it helps to relax after a long day. Personally I’m more of a cup of tea kinda girl but whatever helps you relax, wine, chocolate, tea!

2. iPads/Tablets
Everyone has differing views on tablet/gadgets, but many parents agree that they have their uses. Long car journeys, to solve TV disagreements, YouTube (Obvs) plane rides, and general need for some quiet! Also you can download so many learning apps that they can be so useful at times, and help educate your kids too!

3.  Get a full time job!
The less time spent with your kid the less stressful life is right? RIGHT?
WRONG! I used to be a working mum and actually you cannot win. Working mums have guilt for being away from their kids, they have massive commitments to work and have the added stresses of work deadlines, commutes, being switched on at work when they may have had little sleep etc! There are massive pros and cons to being a mum who doesn’t work outside the home or one who does, and actually, both are hard, and sometimes a parent doesn’t have a choice in the matter, but one of the other might be the ONLY option for them.

Found this helpful? Please do share this post with your friends, and tell me what tips/tricks help YOU to relax/be more calm….

 

CHRISTMAS REALITY WITH KIDS!

CHRISTMAS REALITY WITH KIDS!

So, it’s allllmost December. Up til now you would have been in one of 2 camps:

Camp 1: It’s not Christmas yet. Calm the f*ck down.
Camp 2: It’s the season to be jolly, ding a ling a long long, *vomits tinsel*

Anyway, even those in Camp 1 cannot deny that December is almost upon us and therefore it is ALMOST BLOODY CHRISTMAS YOU ABSOLUTE GRINCH!

For parents, Christmas is joyous, it’s the time of year when you get to see your darling children’s little faces light up at the magic and wonder. You get to feel the anticipation of the day and all the excitement over again from when you was a child yourself.

Sometimes, the reality of Christmas isn’t quite what we imagine when we plan it out in our heads. Especially when involving Toddlers. Please see list below. I write this to prepare you for the reality. You are not alone!

christmas

Expectation: Excited Christmas countdown
Reality: Hearing “How many more sleeps til Christmas?” every day for what seems like 87 days

Expectation: Old school advent calendar
Reality: Nowadays its Elf on the Fricking Shelf. Exciting for first few days, annoying after that. Especially when you forget to move the Elf and have to get out of bed to do it.

Expectation: Christmas wish list wrote by child
Reality: Christmas list wrote by child amounting to over £5,000 worth of gadgets. Erm, what happened to wanting a hula hoop and a board game?  Having to prepare child that Santa can’t get you a Playstation 4 for every single room in the house, sorry about that dear.

Expectation: Watching your child in the Christmas play at school. How magical.
Reality: Watching the top of your child’s forehead in the school play because they’re at the back and you can’t see their face because TALL STAN in the other class is in front of them.

Expectation: Yummy food to be shared by family – boxes of Christmas choccies, drinks, nibbles…. joy
Reality: Toddler doesn’t care if it’s Christmas and WILL eat all the celebrations before you get to even smell them. Lucky if any Christmas treats make it to mid-December.

Expectation: Buying all your gifts in the January Sales or throughout the year thus being very prepared for this yearly festive period.
Reality: Did I mention panic buying? Buying crap that they don’t need just for stuff to open, of course your child needs more marbles for their stocking!!!!!!!!!!!! BUY BUY BUY

Expectation: Buying perhaps a Festive Jumper for the kids to wear on the day
Reality: Child needs a costume for the school play, a jumper for jumper day, to wear red green, and a special shade of brown on another day, money for the Christmas party, snacks, and a heap of other crap that you could do without

Expectation: Happy days visiting friends and relatives
Reality: Tired kids, enduring Uncle Ian telling you a story that you’ve heard 34 times already, downing alcohol to make it all bearable

Expectation: SNOW… children frolicking and squealing in delight at the white wonder before them on Christmas day
Reality: Cold, soggy if you’re lucky. They want to go and play on their new bike/scooter/skates in the pissing rain. Beautiful!

Expectation: Buying gifts for loved ones and wrapping them with care
Reality: Panic buying in mass and wrapping in haste when you realise it’s the day before Christmas Eve and you still haven’t got your shit together!

Expectation: Taking kids to visit Santa in his grotto. A nice picture as a keepsake.
Reality: Standing in a queue for 158 minutes to see a man who doesn’t even resemble Santa… Kids are scared shitless and cry. Picture is laughable.

Expectation: A beautiful Christmas Tree and house decorated beautifully to fill you all with the season of goodwill
Reality: A tree that looks like a child decorated it BECAUSE THEY BLOODY DID and decorations that are all REALLY high up otherwise the Toddler eats them. Tree ends up on side quite a lot and you wonder if maybe it looks better that way?

Expectation: Waking the kids at 8am on the big day because you’re so excited and want to see them opening their presents already!
Reality: Kids wake you at 3:06am and you wonder how you’ll make it through the day

Expectation: Kids playing with new toys all day, happy, laughing and full of wonder and joy
Reality: Kids are over tired, excited, full of sugar, and ungrateful. Especially Toddlers.

Expectation: A fantastic dinner
Reality: Squeezed around a table, hard to eat without hitting people with your elbows. Kids would rather have a Happy Meal

Expectation: Children have lovely new toys / gifts
Reality: Where on God’s Green Earth am I going to put all this stuff????????

So from me to you on this chilly November day. Merry Christmas parents. Hang on in there 🙂 x x

 

www.theunsungmum.com

Generate your button code
 

 

 

 

The best things in life are free!

The best things in life are free!

I am the first one to moan about the downsides to being a mum. It’s bloody hard work and it can downright stink sometimes. However, I also realise that sometimes, when things are good, my kids are very easily pleased.  The simple, easy, and free of cost things really do make them happy – and help keep me somewhat sane.

At the grand ages of (almost) 2, 6 and 7 years old, they still enjoy the simple things in life….

  1. Bubbles, chasing, blowing you know the drill
  2. Walking in the woods, collecting sticks/leaves etc
  3. Painting and drawing
  4. Watching a film together under a big blanket
  5. Chasing each other around the park
  6. Singing, dancing and acting silly
  7. Having a ‘sleepover’ together (sleeping on the floor!)
  8. Feeding ducks
  9. Playing ball games
  10. Reading books
  11. Hide a small item in the house and all hunt for it…
  12. Being ‘animals’ – get on all fours and do your best roar/growl/meow!

Playing in leaves.jpg

I feel like kids these days are so bothered about their gadgets and an iPad serves more interest than anything else, but actually, they do love all the above and more. I need to remember that when they are older, it will be a lot harder to entertain them with the simple things, and I will long for the days when they were this age. Time goes so fast, in the blink of an eye your baby develops into a child. I need to stop and slow down every day to watch them and embrace their innocence and everything that makes them brilliant.

Fresh air is the best medicine for feeling low, having a bad day, or just the usual crap that comes with being a mum. Getting outside, letting them run around a burn off some energy and take in the beautiful colours of this lovely season… it really does help.*

*Just mind the dog poo. Oh and brace yourself for the toddler face planting the floor over and over.

**When you return home, a nice hot cuppa tea is always in order. Or wine. Up to you 🙂

”chasingnature”/

Shouty Mum loses her shit & her voice

Shouty Mum loses her shit & her voice

Everyone hates the sound of their own voice…. right? I’ve yet to meet anyone who enjoys listening to themselves. Well one of the utterly shit things about being a mum is you have to listen to your own voice. ALL BLOODY DAY LONG. It’s gross. I feel like I want to rip out my voicebox and put it in the blender.

I hate that I am a shouty mum. If you had asked me before having kids would I ever shout at them, I would have laughed at you and thought you were mad. Shout at your darling children, the people who mean more to you than anything in the world????! Of course not.

Then, the little honey’s grow up. They ignore you, they test you, they push your buttons, they don’t get dressed when asked, or do much when asked at all. So you end up raising your voice just a little, to be heard. Add 2 more kids into the mix, and the next thing you know, you’re barking at them like Miss Trunchbull. Shit, I’m a shouty mum. I hate it.

I try every day to not shout, or to shout less. But the little fuckers people don’t listen every day. It drives me insane.

Then, a couple of days ago, I called to one of the kids and felt a funny pain in my neck/throat. Like a sharp pain.  All of a sudden, every time I spoke, moved my head etc, I got a searing pain in my neck. Lovely. After consulting Dr Google I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve strained my vocal chords from mis-using my voice. No shit, Sherlock.  As much as this is painful, and embarrassing, I realise just how much I bloody shout, even my vocal chords have had enough. So from here on in, I’m going to stop myself raising my voice even more than usual, and hopefully they will listen because they feel sorry for me and my sore neck.  What will actually happen is, they will take the piss because woopiedoo, mummy can’t shout at us.

If anyone has any tips on remaining calm and not shouting to be heard, I would seriously LOVE to hear them. I’ve tried lowering my voice to get across my seriousness, but they can’t hear me over the racket. I want to be calm, cool mum. Please help me!

Friday Nights, mum style!

Friday Nights, mum style!

It’s the weekend! Friday night… oh this used to be my favourite night of the week. Before children, of course.  When I used to go out and socialise and spend the weekend throwing as much alcohol down my neck as I could and laying in bed. Not at the same time…Obvs.

Now it’s the night I realise I have no school to bring light relief for TWO WHOLE DAYS…. and two whole days of trying to entertain them and remain sane.  But it’s also the end of half term so right now we’re in the middle of a whole lotta entertaining them.

As I type right now, I sit in bed with The Toddler whilst he drinks his milk (in a bottle… no f*cks given!) and watch The Gruffalo. I do this every night now. It’s his new favourite thing to do. He screams “WATCH SNAKE!” at me around 30 times a day.  He doesn’t speak too well so he actually says “WAH NAKE!” but I know what he means.

It’s quite nice actually. Coz The Gruffalo goes on for hours (or like, 25 minutes) so it gives me some time to snooze/gaze at my phone or generally be in darkness and quietness. Sometimes the big kids join me, sometimes they don’t. But everyone’s quiet whilst we watch the bloody mouse walking through the woods again.

Anyway, I hope your Friday night is as cool as mine. Here’s some interesting things I’ll be doing:

1. Clearing up food off the floor, muttering swear words to myself about why I’m the only f*cker who clears up around here.

2. Finding socks stuffed down the side of the sofa/behind the curtains/under the rug/anywhere The Big Boy thinks I won’t see them. He has a sock aversion. Takes them off and hides them.

3. Wondering how it’s already the end of the half term week and all that washing I was going to catch up on hasn’t yet been done. Poop.

4. Refereeing an argument between the Big Two kids over some inane subject like who smiled at who in a funny way or who was the last one to feed the fish.

5. Putting everyone to bed more than once and threatening something I probably won’t follow through with, like no iPad for 2 years…..

I’ll also have a nice hot cuppa and hopefully watch some educational TV like TOWIE or Eastenders. Rock n Roll!

Have a lovely evening anyone who reads this. Remember when the kids are older we’ll all be doing vodka shots in the eyeball again.

Family Film Night… expectation vs reality!

Family Film Night… expectation vs reality!

Family Film Night… expectation vs reality! 

How should Family Film Night go down?

1. Children agree on a wonderful film to watch together “This film looks great, let’s watch this one!”  “Yay!”

2. Parents and children prepare comfy area of blankets and pillows to rest upon whist watching said film

3. Wholesome snacks and drinks are provided to lovingly share and consume during film “Mum, this fruit medley is delicious, please may I have some more?”

4. Family relaxes upon comfy area, gazing at television, enjoying each other’s company and a good film. Happy and contented sighs all round.

5. Toddler falls asleep in loving arms of siblings/parents.

How DOES a Family Film Night go down?

1. Children argue over what film to watch “you picked last time!” “I hate that film its babyish!!!!” “I hate you!”

2. Children argue over where to sit during film “I want to sit next to dad, he loves me more!” “You always sit there!” “He’s touching my foot!” etc…

3. Kids want to eat every chocolate/biscuit/sugary snack in the house. Noisily. Whilst rustling the packet for an hour before opening the wrapper. Toddler runs around screaming.

4. Toddler thrashes about, kicks mum in the face, gets up and down to play a thousand times. Children bicker during the film over who ate who’s KitKat and who isn’t sharing their pillow and who likes this film the most. Mum huffs and wonders who thought Family Film Night would be a good idea. Isn’t it past their bedtime????  Children pick this time to ask mum and dad important questions like “what happens when we die?” and “why are you so old?”

5. No-one watches the film. Everyone is in a bad mood. Film lasts 4 hours. Or it seems that way. Mum wishes she had put the little angels to bed at their normal time and watched Sex and the City on her own!

Is is just my kiddos that do this? I’d love to know if normal families can sit and watch a film together in peace! 🙂