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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Category: School Days

  1. Is it the end of the classic birthday party?

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    We’ve an important matter to discuss today. I’m having trouble with a genuine pondering. Perhaps you can help me out?

    Yesterday we went to a birthday party that had party games. Proper pass the parcel and general craziness. I loved it. It led me to wonder whatever happened to old-school birthday parties, and why am I arranging extravagant birthfest fiestas year in year out? Why are children receiving favours of organic, freshly-spun unicorn sourced candy floss? Whatever happened to plastic party bags filled with penny sweets, a trashy yellow yo-yo, and a birthday blower?

    Whatever happened?

    Birthday parties of times gone by

    Cast your mind back. Not that far. Just, say, 15 to 20 years. When birthday parties came around, the venue was almost always the birthday girl or boy’s home, save a soft play or two. The living room would be adorned with foil bunting, homemade banners, and corner-shop latex balloons.

    Entertainment took the form of pass the parcel (wrapped nothing but the very best weekend supplement), musical chairs, musical statues, and Bongo the clown – if you were mega lucky. And I mean mega lucky. Your party would be the talk of the class for years to come.

    Party food? Well, it was carbelicious. This was pre-noughties. No one cared about good carbs and bad carbs. Starch? Pah! We partied in the face of starch. Our buffet tables were a glorious shade of beige. We ate every form of corn crisps on the market. Jam sarnies. Cocktail sausage and cheese cocktail sticks. Yes, cocktail sticks; if a child choked, they’d learn and sit down the next time they picked a prick out of the hedgehog.

    Those were the days. But where did they go?

    Parties of the contemporary era

    Fast forward to the 2000’s and birthday celebrations became a different beast altogether.

    Today, the game is on to throw the most creative, extraordinary parties. While soft play is always a favourite for young ones, farms, kiddy museums, and pottery painting have also entered the ranks. Parents with older offspring are shelling out exorbitant amounts for quad biking, trampolining, 4DX cinema experiences, and more.

    And that’s not all! Colin the Caterpillar will no longer suffice. Personalised cakes are in vogue, and this doesn’t equate to a printed icing sheet. The bigger, the more original, the better. It is the centrepiece of the party, and woe betides those who don’t know. Cake is everything. Cake is life.

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    Final ponderings of a perplexed mother

    Are our children missing out on good old fashioned British party traditions? Are we absolutely going overboard? Or are there other underlying parental wins here?

    After all, these places take your child and his or her friends, keep them entertained, and feed them, while you sit back with a brew.

    Forget tradition… shut up and take my money. Every time.

  2. The challenges of being a dad to girls

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    We’re all well aware of those parent-child relationship clichés. For as long as we’ve known, families have always, supposedly, been made up of ‘mummy’s boys’ and ‘daddy’s girls’. Yet, while dads do seem to take a shine to their little bundle of sugar and spice, for the blokes, their bond certainly isn’t an easy walk in the park.

    My husband has openly admitted that he is struggling with the girls growing up, not with the day to day stuff but the realisation that they are influenced by so many other things than us and it made me consider the challenges that Dad's face.

    Dads and their lads

    Let’s flip this on its head a little. The father and son thing seems to be founded on quite uncomplicated dynamics. Dad relives his childhood through his little lad, and gets to be a kid again. It’s all good.

    Whether it’s football, fishing, WWE, LEGO… whatever. Dad’s got this. He knows because, really, he’s just a big kid himself. Of course, not for all, but for many, fathers and sons are almost automatically mates. While there’s an element of discipline in the air, friendship is the predominant theme here.

    Stepping into the unknown

    But what is a dad to do when he holds a baby girl in his arms? When she opens his eyes to new worlds of adventure and unthinkable enjoyment? When she grows into a young girl, with newfound independence? Just what is a dad to do? And that is the challenge.

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    Girls kick dads right where it hurts. As much as most fathers do everything and anything to protect all of their children, there’s something special about his little girl. Even the sassiest of madams are delicate to dad. They will take him into the unknown, making him vulnerable, as he treads unfamiliar ground and lives completely new experiences with his daughter.

    Protecting something precious

    That innocence, that wonder, must be protected. But how? Wrapping little ones up in cotton wool may well work for the first few years, at a push. But being the shoulder to cry on, the big bear arms, the safe warm chest to lean against, will never grow old. Dad must be reliable, comforting… dad must be the man that never hurts her, never lets her down. The hero.

    The struggle is this, at every stage of his little girl’s life, dad needs to explore emotions, listen to heartaches, offer advice. This is something society just hasn’t encouraged our men to do. Yet, the love they feel for their little girl means it is essential.

    As they grow older, into their tweens, their teens, Dads must fight with their own need to protect their daughter from harm, from hurt. Dad must be there when she falls, allowing his own feelings to take the hit. The journey they’ve had together, that unique bond, makes this all the harder.

    After all, when was letting go of something so precious ever easy?

  3. The Best Educational Days Out

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    Trying to find things to do with the kids that are educational as well as fun can be tricky, but fear not! There are plenty of days out to be had across the UK that your family will never forget. Whether you choose to visit a zoo, museum or go to an outdoor adventure park, there are always new things to discover.

    Safari

    • Knowsley Safari is a great day out for the entire family. Get up close and personal with your favourite animals and watch on as they roam freely. Enjoy a wild day out whilst learning about all the conservation work that Knowsley Safari take part in, including their breeding programmes!
    • Get involved with loads of activities at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, from creating your very own Wonka Bar to storytelling. Your little ones will have the opportunity to develop their creative skills, learning how to create a story of their own - and then perform it!
    • Step back in time with The Beamish Museum. This town-turned-historical-treat shows what life was like in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s in North East England. You can explore the old town on foot, catch the tram, or travel around by horse and carriage! Learn how to make sweets in the old sweet shop or go to school and learn some of the oldest playground games.
    • The Royal Air Force museum offers lots of fun activities including exhibitions and displays about the history of the RAF and a flight simulator. The museum has free admission which makes the day a cheap trip out for those who wish to save money! The Royal Air Force Museum is a great day for birthday parties offering trails to complete and a goody bag each.
    • Situated in the North West of England, the Blue Planet Aquarium is a popular attraction for adventurous families. Come eye to eye with sharks, crocs and many more sea creatures! Whilst visiting, why not check out their conservation work and discover how you can help protect the planet?

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    • Experience life as an Anglo Saxon in the West Stow Anglo Saxon village. Take part in an archaeological mini-dig, perform ancient battles, and enjoy some bush craft activities!
    • See the UK’s largest domed planetarium at the National Space Centre in Leicester. You can explore the universe and learn everything there is to know about planets. Discover the famous rocket tower up and see if you can spot some astronauts - that’s something for your kids to tell their friends about!

    Where’s your favourite place to go to as a family? 

     

  4. The challenges of being a mum to a pre-teen

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    Ahh, our little darlings. Our tweens. Let’s sit for a moment, with a cup of tea, and remember the days when they brought nothing but joy to our lives. Remember just last autumn, as you strolled through the woods, collecting a million conkers or lazy weekend mornings larking around in bed. Oh, those were the days. The pre tween-trauma days. Sigh.

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    What’s a tween? Allow me to clarify. You’ll have seen the species slouching around school gates, with masterfully untucked school shirts, makeup unmatched to skin tone, and smartphone arm extensions. They are an animal unlike any other. Their indecisiveness rivalled by none. Bewildering, and difficult to anticipate, the tween must always be approached with caution.

    Parents who have lived out these days, I salute you. Those who have it to come, I wish you well. Those who are on the journey with me, let’s tackle this head on. Here are five common challenges that each and every pre-teen owner mum, must face. United, we stand.

    5 ways the tween years test every mother

    1. Mum who?

    We’ll keep this short and sweet. If you’re a dad, you’re likely not cool. If you’re a mum, you’re definitely not cool. Yes, you gave birth to them. No, it doesn’t matter. Your days are done. Step aside, you’re officially old and you know nothing

    2. Independence day

    …weeks, years! Will it ever end?! They’ve found their voice and they’re running with it. They say ‘no’. Why? For no other reason than, Just. Because. They. Can. Family days out are now a bore, dinner conversations obsolete. The bedroom is the place to be. Be prepared for ever changing looks and styles from their clothes to the decor. One minute they want plush comfortable carpet, the next it is laminate flooring so its fine if they spill their make up on it, This is the time when our little people become their own person. They develop opinions, test ground, and rebel to settle into their own personality. And oh boy, that does NOT involve the parents.

    3. The intrigue of the unknown

    It’s time to let go a little bit. Allow some freedom. You know it’s right, but to pre-teens, freedom is addictive. It’s the Walker’s Chicken and Thyme Sensations of the tween world. Once they get a taste of it, they want it all. For mums, that’s pretty terrifying. Letting go is one thing, but finding the balance is another. After all, what tween likes to hear ‘no’? Especially when it means being kept nothing short of captive in their own double-glazed, semi-detached home, with central heating and every gadget and gizmo you can imagine. Captive, I tell you.

    4. Identity crisis, or should that be crises

    As your little person comes into their own, image is everything. And for someone who’s always had their clothes selected, their shoes shined, and their hair styled for them, figuring out their own look is quite the challenge. Get ready for serial switch-ups across tonnes of trends.

    5. Hormone hell

    The pre-teen years are hormone hell for tweens and parents alike. Sure, they probably have a rougher time of it than you, overall. Still, get ready for one almighty adolescent adventure. Just watch out for those swinging moods. Duck, dive, do what you need to do. That’s not all though, being a mum means being there when the dust settles and your tween needs your support. Take those hits on the chin.

    And once it is over, we have the teenage years to look forward to. I can't wait!