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: Views & Ramblings

  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. How to choose a great hotel for your next trip with your family

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    When thinking about accommodation for your trip, starting the research can be the most difficult step. If you are at a loss and need some advice, then follow our dos and don’ts guide to help you choose the right hotel for your family trip.

    How to choose a great hotel for your next trip with your family (1) 

    Do:

    Establish a budget

    The first, and perhaps most important, thing to do when searching for the right hotel is to set yourself a budget. It is important to set a budget when you are on holiday but also when booking your hotel, so you know exactly what you are looking for. This will take some research, so you don’t set your expectations too high and to ensure you are paying the right price for the area.

    Think about location

    Next, be sure to consider exactly where you want to go on holiday but also what you want to be located in your chosen destination. A hotel out of the centre and away from attractions will be cheaper, but if you have smaller children the commute every day might not be worth it for you.

    Consider everyone’s needs

    When considering a hotel, make sure to take into account the whole family’s needs. Do you want to be near nightlife or do you want a quieter area with a good kids club? Be sure the hotel is family friendly, to ensure you feel comfortable and can meet other families. Choose a hotel that offers the right atmosphere for the whole family.

    Think about room type

    Are you looking for a hotel that can it offer a child’s camp bed? Or if within your budget, do you want a hotel that offers adjoining rooms?

    Consider the food options

    Make sure you decide if you want half board or full board. Full board can be easier with smaller children and means you don’t have to worry about finding a restaurant. However, half board allows you to explore the area and embrace local culture.

    Book well in advance

    Once you’ve considered all these options, make sure to book as early as you can to make sure there are still lots of places for you to choose from. Prices will increase nearer the time, and many hotels will be booked up.

    Don’t:

    Be disheartened

    Make sure you are aware how much research you need to do to find the perfect hotel and don’t be discouraged if you can’t find the right one straight away. Using a site like Toprooms allows you to compare a range of different staycation locations, helping you find the best hotel at the best price.

    Think expensive is best

    The most expensive hotels don’t always offer you the most for your money. Look at exactly what each hotel is offering you and avoid being drawn in.

    Most importantly, don’t stress! It won’t be long before you have found the perfect hotel if you follow our dos and don’ts guide and before you know it you will be jetting off to enjoy quality family time together.

  4. 5 ways for mums to unwind

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    As we’ve already established, the end of the summer term throws up some pretty spectacular stresses for the modern-day mother. Amidst the constant stream of school engagements, from the end-of-year play to the school fayre and all that falls in between, it is absolutely essential that us mum’s take time out for ourselves.
     
    I know, I know, cue a chorus of laughter. But, is it actually that unobtainable?
     
    5 ways for mums to unwind
     
    Finding time for you
     
    Of course, an evening at a silent spa is what your wildest dreams are made of. A weekend away on a cultured city break would definitely be more than ideal. An impromptu dinner reservation at that award-winning restaurant would tick all the boxes too. Nevertheless, calm down a little, reign those desires in a bit. Let’s be realistic. The chances are, if you are both working parents, you need to find time for yourself at home. Create a little sanctuary in your living space, just for you.
     
    When was the last time you really relaxed at home? This doesn’t take wads of cash or even tonnes of time. It’s simply about putting you first.
     
    1.    Get stuck into a good book

    A pleasure that is often dropped for the telebox, but is there anything as soothing as curling up with a good book. Pop the kettle on, buy in some biscuits, and make that lost luxury happen. To get you started, how about trying one of these titles:
    • Me Before You, JoJo Moyes
    • Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
    • Perfect People, Peter James
    • Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane
    • One Day, David Nicholls

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    Oh, but if you love a classic, Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Dickens’ Great Expectations, should be top of your list.

    2.    Take a relaxing bath

    Seriously. LUSH IT UP. Other brands of bath products are, of course, available. But, buy that bubble bar, those bath oils, those body scrubs. Light a scented candle, dim the lights, and just relax. 

    What’s more, studies have just revealed that having a bath burns mega calories. So… pour a flute of Prosecco for yourself while you’re at it.
     
    3.  Find a game that you enjoy
        
    I don't mean Monopoly because, let's face it, no one ever found that stress free but there are lots of games to play online. 
     
    As busy mums, sometimes we just want to sit on our sofas of an evening, so a site like Lottoz is all about is eliminating geographical boundaries and leveling the playing field, giving access to amazing jackpots (and the possibility of winning), no matter where they are in the world (and you don't have to fall out with half of your family if you are just participating in a new Euromillions experience online)  
     
    4.    Take pleasure in a furry friend

    All dog owners will tell you that dogs make the most fantastic friends. They’re always happy to see you. They’re always delighted with the dinner you serve. They’re forever grateful for even the smallest of treats. 

    While it is technically frowned upon to ditch your family to run away with your canine companion, you should definitely invest more time into that bond. 

    Enjoy daily walks together, out in the fresh air. Absorb the natural beauty of the nearby British countryside. Just stroking your pet can reduce stress, regulating breathing and slowing heightened heart rates
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    5.    Try a little mindfulness
     
    Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in schools across the country. That’s right, while we rush about prepping for all those enforced calendar events, our youngsters are enjoying guided meditation and mindfulness sessions on school time.
    Wonderful. Let’s take a leaf out of their book.
     
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    Set aside just five to ten minutes of your day. Download a mindfulness app. Get comfortable and simply let go of those consistent, everyday pressures. It can work wonders.
     
     
    What do you do to unwind?