Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad, when he is not relaxing in one of our best recliners, or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. So, the six-week holidays are upon us and, as if right on the cue, the heavens have opened. Yes, The Great British Summer has sprawled itself over August once again, complete with dull grey skies, pounding rainfall, and spectacular thunderstorms. What’s more, that rain has wiped out your entire school holiday entertainment itinerary. 

    LLP - 10 ways to keep the kids amused when the weathers wet

    Playing in the park, picnics, long family walks, when the weather’s on your side, the list of summer activities is endless. Yet, thanks to the UK’s clime, us parents must prepare for the worst. We need a bag of tricks for keeping the kids entertained when we’re three-weeks deep into the summer break, and the rain just won’t quit.

    1. Perfect the Pinterest crafts
      You’ve had them pinned for months on end. Now is the time to brave the storm – bring out the coloured pencils, the paint, the PVA, and get stuck in!
    2. Rustle up a culinary sensation Have a flick through some cookbooks for inspiration and spend an afternoon making a luscious family dinner. Alternatively, children go wild for baked treats, you know, biscuits, cake and buns. Organised well, you can scatter such activities out across the remaining weeks, filling up mornings with quality ‘together time’.
    3. Tap into the autumn term
      If your school lets you in on your child’s topic for the upcoming term, use those rainy days to explore the subject. Perhaps there’s a book you can enjoy together, a film, a related local attraction. Google is your friend and learning can be fun.
    4. Look out for library events
      Meet the author, comic book creations, character-inspired crafts, check out your nearest library for some surprising summer fun.
    5. Swot up at local museums and exhibitions
      From Halifax’s Eureka! Museum to London’s Natural History Museum, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and all that’s in-between. Inject a bit of culture into their break at museums and exhibitions.
    6. Head for the pool
      Swimming! It’s such a simple solution, you may have even overlooked it. Forever a crowd pleaser, pack up your swim stuff and take a dip with the kids.
    7. Bring out the board games
      Prepare some snacks, set the table, put a family movie on the tele, and you’re set for an afternoon of board games.MonopolyTrivial Pursuit, and Jenga are just a few timeworn family favourites, but why not try something new, too. Check out QwirkleArticulate, and Beat the Parents.
    8. Make the most of kids’ cinema
      New cinema releases often make the family calendar over the summer holidays. Yet, when the brood gets bored, early morning kids’ cinema can be a lifesaver. Showing films that have recently left the big screen, it is a cheap and cheerful way to pass a few hours, especially when it’s miserable outside
    9. Create a cinema at home
      I am usually one for letting light into the rooms and have taken every opportunity to create more light in the house with roofwindows (and because they are so easy to install too) but why not shut all the curtains and blinds and create your own cinema at home? Get some movies and popcorn, snuggle up on the sofa and enjoy some family favourites. 
    10. Just get wet!
      We all seem to have such an aversion to rain! For guaranteed ultimate family fun, brave the weather and just get wet! Kids love mud! Mud fights, mud pies, mud slides, whatever! Dress them in old clothes and let them loose. It is sure to be the day they remember from the entire summer break.

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  2. I had to wait until I was 17 until I could get behind the wheel of a car and it was the first thing I did when I celebrated my birthday. I asked for driving lessons for my birthday and had weekly lessons until I passed (first time of course) but what if you could get driving experience behind the wheel before you are 17? Research shows that it is a lack of driving experience - not a lack of years on the planet - that causes 1 in 5 newly qualified drivers to crash within 6 months of passing their test. That was the theory behind Young Driver and so when we met them at the BlogOn conference earlier this year, I was excited to give both girls the chance to get behind the wheel.

    LLP - Driving before you are 17

    Young Driver operate their lessons at locations all over the UK and the closest to us was Birmingham NEC, so we booked for both girls on a (hopefully) bright Saturday morning in August. Unfortunately our optimism about the weather was a little ill fated but it didn't stop the fun! 

    You have to arrive around 15-20 minutes before your lesson and all new drivers get a Driving Diary which keeps track of your lessons and what you have learnt. This is great if you want to use the lessons regularly and build confidence and knowledge behind the wheel rather than just a one off experience. 

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    When you arrive at the lessons, they also give you the chance to get a video from inside the car and after a little convincing, my eldest agreed to it (although am not allowed to share it on the blog) but it is a great keepsake of the day.

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    The instructor wasn't just there to make sure she didn't crash, he was giving her clear instruction and guidance on how to safely manouveure the car and drive effectively. Apparently she needs to work on steering a little more but if it was really easy on the first attempt, she would get complacent and that's not the idea! Young Driver state that they have taken the country's best driving instructors and trained them specifically to teach under 17s.

    A 30 minute lesson is £34.95 with a 60 minute lesson at £64.95.

     

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    For little drivers aged 5-10 there is the Firefly experience in a little electric car, unfortunately it has no roof so when the heavens opened we got more than a little bit wet and hadn't dressed appropriately. This didn't stop the 5 year old from being beyond excited to drive a car!

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    The instructor goes round the track with them a couple of times and then you get the opportunity to be driven around the track. The novelty of being driven round by my 5 year old was not lost on me, although I did have to take control of the steering a few times! Despite the rain she laughed and chatted the whole way round the track and as soon as she was out of the car, she was asking when she could come back again.

    A 20 minute lesson in a Firefly electric car is £19.95 and is available across a number of venues in the UK. For more information on Young Driver take a look at youngdriver.eu.

    Both lessons were perfectly tailored to the ages of each child and the instructors were patient and not patronising in any way. Driving in a big open space with cones for a road layout is a little different to being on the main roads however is really is a fantastic way to get the children used to driving a vehicle and becoming confident behind the wheel. 

    So in answer to the question posed at the top ..... yes you absolutely can drive a real car before you are 17, safely AND legally!

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    Let’s be honest; adulthood is a myth. None of us ever feel ready to take on those big life events. Instead, we float along and hope the hard decisions will go away. But, when you become a parent, it’s important that you step up to the responsibility. You’re not only letting yourself down now; there’s a little one along for the ride. Is it any wonder there are so many overwhelmed parents out there? All that responsibility at once is a big ask. That’s why we’re going to look at a few things you need to get right now there are children in your life! 

    THE CAREER

    Have you failed to settle on a career? You aren’t alone. A lot of us end up in jobs which are far from what we imagined. These are make-do jobs, rather than lifetime careers. But, there are bills to pay, and before you know it, you’ve been there for five years.

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    Once you become a parent, it’s that bit more important that you find a career you can settle in. The chances are, you’re going to wish you had done this sooner. But, hindsight won’t do you any good. Instead, take proactive steps to achieve your dream. Return to studying part time, or jump straight in and apply for careers which suit. 


    Why is a career so important? Because you need to offer a secure lifestyle to a little person. A  make-do job isn’t going to provide that. For one, the chances are that your wages don’t offer the best lifestyle. For another, you need a career you can feel secure in. Convenient options are rarely the most stable. How are you meant to build a life for your kid when you don’t know what you’re working from one week to the next?

    FACE THE FUTURE

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    You’ve been putting it off, but now is the time to face the future. If your security down the line isn’t enough incentive, consider your child. The money you put into pensions and life insurance policies will form the basis for their inheritance. So, it’s time to get round to it. The good news is, there’s plenty of help available to make this an easy and painless life choice. Talk to your workplace about a pension, or look online at private options. The net can help you with life insurance, too. Sites like my Insurance Hero can compare various options to ensure you get the best deal. As horrible as these things may be to contemplate, finally taking care of them will be a huge relief. And, your child will thank you later on!

    TIME TO BUY A HOUSE

    Homeownership is becoming less and less common. Houses are expensive, and private rentals seem like a safer bet. But, your child needs a secure home life. With rentals, there is no security. You stand to lose your home whenever the landlord deems fit. So, it’s time to finally get around to booking that chat with a mortgage advisor

  4. Kids grow up so fast! One minute you are cradling a newborn in your arms and the next you have a hormone-laden teen rampaging around your house and eating all your food. Just when you think you have their room perfectly set up, they grow and their needs change. You have to start all over again and this can cost you a fortune on new furniture and paint! Becoming a parent is overwhelming enough without stressing about paint and curtains.

    The solution is to set up your kid’s room in a way that will last them. It can evolve with them as they go through the various stages of childhood. Then you can turn it into a spare room when they leave home!

    Set a budget and stick to it

    Start by trawling the web and the high street for bargains. You do not have to buy everything brand new. You can literally cut your budget in half by looking for used items of furniture. Many items have barely been used and are in perfect condition.

    It is easy to organise getting the items to your own home. You will be surprised at what you can fit into a family car with back seats folded down. For really large items you can use https://www.shiply.com/ to get a quote and compare services. You don’t have to spend hours on the phone and you simply have to fill in one simple form.

    Buying ‘out of season’ is a top tip. Look out for fluffy blankets in the early summer and light throws in the autumn. All you have to do is store them safely until you need them.

    There are plenty of places to pick up used furniture at a mere fraction of their cost new. Try sites such as http://www.ebay.co.uk/ or Gumtree where you can select sellers who live near you.

    It is a mistake to limit yourself to an online search. Why not take a peek on your high street and try to spot some bargains in charity shops. The British Heart Foundation https://www.bhf.org.uk/shop/our-local-shops/furniture-and-electrical-shops has dedicated stores where they only sell furniture and electrical items.

    Recycling is a very cost-effective method. You can adapt chests of drawers and bureaus by giving them a new coat of varnish. If you want to be very artistic, try out a stencil. The kids will love helping you!

    Choose a design that can be adapted

    It is easy to be tempted by cute, miniature baby furniture. Who wouldn’t? However, this is going to last you for a couple of years at the most and so it is not a great investment. Swap it for some larger items that will grow with your kid.

    If you choose the right changing station you can easily convert it into shelves or a desk for homework when your child starts school. A bed can be somewhere to sleep plus storage so that toys and books can be packed away.

    Be careful with colour schemes. Choose neutral floor coverings and ceiling paint because they are hard and expensive to change.