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. Low-cost ways to keep the kids entertained over summer

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    While we’d all love to have limitless bank accounts over the summer holidays, sadly, family fun is often capped. We have already had some brilliant days out but no matter how much we prepare, none of us are Mr or Mrs Moneybags.

    As such, for a successful streamlined summer, parents have to get creative about how to entertain the brood. Low-cost family fun is the key to keeping little minds stimulated, and ensuring boredom is at bay.

    15 virtually cost-free fun for the family

    1. Magic a lunch into a picnic

    You were making those sarnies anyway, were you not? Rather than popping them on a plate, wrap them in a sandwich bag alongside a carton and a packet of crisps, and make your way to the field. Lay out an old blanket, and magic that lunch into an impromptu picnic.

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    2. Coupled-up colouring

    Youngsters can pair up with a sibling or a parent and work together on some intricate colouring sheets – calming, quality together time.

    3. Create a family book club

    Bookworms are never bored. Reading is such a pleasurable pastime and with the potential to fill hours upon hours of free time. The rules are simple. Let your child(ren) choose the books for your summer book club. Everyone in the family reads a book over each given week. Put aside a certain day and time each week for biscuits and book talk.

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    4. National Summer Reading Challenge

    Alternatively, register your child for the National Summer Reading Challenge at your local library. After reading six books over the six-week break, they will receive a certificate and a medal for their efforts.

    5. Discover local wildlife

    Whether you live in the city or the countryside, there’s nature near to you. Have a look online for what to expect in your neighbourhood, and go outdoors together on a homemade nature trail. Don’t forget the camera!

    6. Garden games

    From football and catch to swing ball and tig, keep the lawn cut and kids can keep themselves entertained for hours with sports and garden games.

    7. Movie night with treats and sweets

    The cinema may be expensive, but a family movie night at home can cost next to nothing. Head to Wilko’s for a pick-a-mix, put a pizza in the oven, tip some crisps into a bowl, and get snuggled up on the sofa.

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    8. Get wet!

    Paddling pools, water balloons, hose pipes, water pistols… as soon as the sun shines, get outside and get wet!

    9. Berry picking in the wilderness

    Sure, berry picking can cost a fortune, but not if you know where to go. Many fields, canals, and other public pathways, are lined with blackberries and other edible fruits. Pick away.

    10. (Don’t) Make a meal of it

    With a basketful of berries, be sure to create a culinary masterpiece once you’re back at home. From fresh fruit ice-lollies to homemade summer berry pie, kids love cooking.

    11. Find out what’s free

    Have a browse online for free local attractions. You may be pleasantly surprised. Some farms are free, so long as you buy animal feed, and many museums offer free entry too. If you live in a bustling borough, you may find that you can fill a day a week with free attractions nearby.

    12. Adventuring outdoors

    Biking, hiking, dog walking. Scooters, roller skates, skateboards. Summer is the time to get active outdoors.

    13. Pond dipping and crab catching

    If you live near the coast, crabbing is a favourite low-cost pastime for children of all ages. Yet, those who live inland can also put their own spin on it with a similar activity. With just a cheap little net, see what creatures are revealed when pond dipping.

    14. Parks and playgrounds

    It’s always OK to do the norm. Stop giving yourself such a hard time! Take a ball for a kick about, or take the young ones to the playground. If you’ve been a few times already, mix it up maybe, and go a little further afield than your nearest park.

    15. Get all green-fingered

    Sunflower seeds cost pennies. An old potato in some soil doesn’t cost much, either. Why not plant some flowers and some fruit and vegetables? Children will love watching them grow and eventually reaping the tasty rewards of their efforts.

    What is your favourite "free" activity?

  2. 10 ways to keep the kids amused when the weather's wet

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    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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  3. Setting Up A Child's Budget Bedroom That Will Last

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    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.



  4. 5 Ways to Buy Childrens Birthday Party Gifts That Won't Break The Bank

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    I have a daughter in reception at school, which utlimately means a seemingly endless round of parties. Every. Single. Weekend. 

    There is a running joke amongst our friends that I go to every event I am invited to because I love to socialise and I have the feeling that I have passed this onto my daughters too. As a result there is never any question as to whether or not they will be going to the superhero / swimming / farm / soft play *delete as applicable* party each weekend. On a personal level, I love that they are socialising with their friends and not watching other children playing on Youtube but weekly birthday parties can get expensive, so here are my top tips on not letting it get out of control.

    5 Ways to Buy Childrens Birthday Party Gifts That Wont Break Your Budget

    1. Be organised. Yes I know this is an age old piece of advice but it is true. There is nothing more stressful (and usually expensive) than trying to find the "right" present the day before a birthday party.

    2. Don't spend money on expensive character based wrapping paper. Get a gift bag from the poundshop (they usually have the more popular characters on anyway) and cover with tissue paper. Kids do not care how much the wrapping paper cost. AND THEY RIP IT UP ANYWAY!! Cheap paper is definitely the way to go as it is easier to rip up!

    3. Buy in the sales. I do this ALOT! When there are sales on, I tend to stock up on age appropriate gifts or buy presents that would normally be more than my budget but it means that the recipiant gets a more expensive gift and I have stayed within the budget. Only this week I have ordered some gorgeous baby gifts in the Joules sale because I am quite sure that the new born babies are not going to care whether the design was last seasons and mum gets great quality bibs and clothes.

    4. Use delivery passes or click and collect. Being able to shop online means that you can check which stores have the best prices but sometimes the delivery charges can offset the savings. It is worth checking which stores have delivery pass options if it is somewhere you shop often or seeing if there is a free click and collect option. 

    5. Sign up to newsletters for your favourite stores. I know that this is the equivalent of junk mail circa 1995 but many outlets send out discount codes, free delivery passes or first notifications of the sale to their subscribers. Well worth it when you are buying for half the class!

    Do you have any other top tips?

     

    As always on a Friday I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky  in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky