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 very entertaining) daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or my gorgeous sister in law as part of our baby blog 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) and baby swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. We have seen lots of back to school guides detailing where you should buy your uniform or how you can prepare your child for school but what about Mum? How do you prepare yourself for your child starting school?

    I see many of my friends with their children starting school this September and them never having experienced the school run, the playground politics, the missing cardigan(s), the endless birthday parties and the emotional separation. So here is my guide, from a mum who has been there, for preparing yourself for the first year of reception.

    How to prepare for the start of school

    Uniform can be expensive but children wear it every single day.

    The Schoolwear Association states that, on average, schoolchildren wear their uniform for ten hours a day, nearly 2,000 hours a year, but parents spend more on clothing that their children wear less – only during school holidays, weekends and in the evenings. On average, families shell out £63 per child on outfits for the six-week summer holidays. The research puts the average price of a full primary school uniform in the UK at £33.48 with secondary school uniform at £88.05. Adding PE kit put the figures up to £42.32 for primary and £127.32 for secondary. It is worth getting the best quality that you can afford .

    Tip : "Easy iron" clothes are not always "non iron", choose wisely.

    Label, label, label.

    Uniform gets lost, alot. 

    It is much easier to lay claim to your childs jumper or cardigan if it has a name label inside it. 

    Tip: Don't automatically put the label on the inner label as these can be cut out by unscrupulous people. Not suggesting this has happened but it *could* do!

    Be prepared for their social calendar to become busier than yours.

    During reception, while friendship groups are forming, it seems common practice for every child in the class to be invited to every single birthday party. Depending on your class size, this can mean a lot of weekends taken up in a variety of soft play, activity, entertainment or disco parties. Don't book yourself anything for a Saturday afternoon for the next 12 months.

    Tip: Buying presents for 30 children can become expensive, so buy GREAT presents in the sales. Check out the department stores too, such as House of Fraser Toy Department have some great sales on, which means that you can stock pile presents and not have to rush out on the morning of a party and spend much more than you want to. This *may* have happened to me once, trust me you don't want that panic buying frenzy on your bank statement.


    You will get a new circle of friends too.

    There will be cliques form in the school playground because that is what happens but you may also find some great friendships along the way too. Of course any new social situation can be intimidating but it's worth remembering that if you're worried about making friends lots of other mums will be feeling exactly the same way! There is nothing like sharing important life moments with someone who is going through the exact same things as you, at the exact same time. I have really good friends that I met in the playground some 6 years ago and the bonus is, our girls are still friends too.

    Tip : It is useful to get the phone numbers from a couple of mums. This is handy when your child comes home with a strange request, such as "bring in white clothes on Friday" or "wear your own clothes tomorrow", validating this with another mum always gives me peace of mind!

    It is okay to cry.

    You know this is the time you become that embarressing mum? The one that kisses your child in front of their friends, tells them that she loves them for all to hear and after you have waved them off into class with a big smile, it is okay to turn around and have a little cry. It is a big day for you too! 

    Tip: Having tissues to hand will score you brownie points with your new mum friends in the playground.


    The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) conducted research in 2014 to help understand parents’ anxiety around the start of school. It found that over two-thirds of parents feel anxious about their child starting school with half believing that they are, in fact, more anxious than their child.

    Starting school is a new chapter for both the child and Mum (or Dad of course) and the school day is much shorter than you think. 3.15pm comes around really quickly when you are not looking!


  2. Style a secret shed? I know, I know, it sounds like I have gone off in search of the Enid Blyton Magic Faraway Tree and although I could do with some magic to come and deal with my shed, I am conscious that I may need a little more than magic. So when I saw that the lovely Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary was hosting a competition to encourage us to create a perfect hideaway; hidden in the depths of your garden away from the daily drama and noise of the house, I knew that I wanted to indulge my imagination.

    I consider myself quite house proud and the garden is an extension of this so I am not entirely sure why the shed is the one thing that is neglected. I am so ashamed of it that I am not even sure I can share a picture. A shed (or summer house) would be a perfect work space for me, I would be able to create a totally girlie shabby chic space to inspire and create within. So I went mooching around the Tiger Sheds website and decided that a corner summerhouse would be perfect to help me meet my aspirations. The Tiger Corner Summerhouse looks to be the epitome of garden living, just imagine it whitewashed with soft chair and drapes and no toys (!!).

     Tiger Corner Summerhouse

    I have to admit that as my husband is the only man in our abode, I very often give in to more masuline design in the house so he doesn't feel completely overwhelmed by the feminine influence, which means that our bedroom is not particularly girly so my summerhouse would allow me to indulge in a perfectly personal girlie space. I managed to lose myself in Pinterest with cool, calm colours perfect for a clear head and a long to do list. 


    I did mention that I wasn't going to share a picture of our current shed with you but my husband suggests that it is full of character ...... whereas I am convinced it is more full of spiders and a possible wasps nest. It needs to be gone so I can get the girlie work space my heart craves.

     Shed - old

    There is no Pinterest board that is going to help that now is there?

  3. We are half way in to the school holidays and whilst I love having the children at home, keeping the endless craft or activities tidy is no mean feat, so here are our top tips on keeping the house tidy this summer.

    Stop buying things you don't need

    This is one that personally I struggle with, as I am a self confessed shopaholic but more "stuff" means more clutter. Get rid of what you don't use and stop buying things you don't need. And the next time the children want that cheap toy, get them an experience instead, go and feed the ducks rather than buy more rubber ducks for the bath. Give them memories not things.

    Rotate the toys

    If you can't bear to part with your little ones toys, put some away in a box in the loft and then do the same again in a months time. Bring down the old box and your little one will have renewed interest in the toy that they haven't seen for some time - failing that, if they had completely forgotten about it, maybe it is time to give it away.

    Floor free zone

    Nothing actually belongs on the floor. Make this a general rule, especially if you have luxury flooring and furnishings the last thing you want is someone scraping a piece of lego across it! Everyone in the family should be responsible for putting their ‘stuff’ away.

    Toys on the floor

    Clear tubs / bins

    These are the best type of containers for kids stuff, in general. Bins or baskets. The key is to make it easy for the kids (or you) to toss their stuff into the bins, making cleanup simple. If you can, label each bin with the type of stuff that goes there (building blocks, barbie dolls, stuffed animals, painful lego pieces). If your child can’t read, use picture labels or photos taped to the side.

    Allow them to be messy.

    No child is perfect and as a parent you have to concede that they will inevitably make a mess. You have to allow them to do this. Then, when they’re done, ask them to clean it up. It is a good life lesson!

    Eat outside

    Children are notoriously messy eaters and while there is warm weather, eating outside saves a lot of floor clean up later. Plus if the mess gets really bad you can at least just hose down the area, something I wish I could do in my house (and children) sometimes.

    Finally, any life that includes children is never going to be clean and clutter free, at least to some degree. I don't believe that you will ever get an absolute minimalist lifestyle with children and I’ve learned to accept that. Would you disagree?

    Tips on keeping the house tidy

  4. There is no question that I love shopping and the bargain hunter in me loves sale shopping even more. In my mind, if something is half price I can buy twice as much! I am terrible when my favourite shops email me with sale notifications but I am not so much a fan of standing queuing in shops, so when Vertbaudet emailed to tell me about their BIG sale with up to 60% off, I had to go and check it out online. Surprisingly for me, I was not all about the clothes (which is most unusual) and was quite taken with their home collection, which is perfect for children's bedrooms and fantastic prices in the sale.

    Vertbaudet Sale Shopping

    Sale shopping can give you a thrill like no other, especially when you find that dress you have been coveting or a pair of shoes at a price that you simply can't resist. There are obvious pitfalls too, so here are our top tips for sale shopping!

    Do you really need it?

    Do go with a VERY level head. Yes, your eyes will be on stalks at all those reduced tickets – but with everything you pick up, consider whether you really like it. Would you have considered saving up for it if it hadn't been reduced?

    Buy bigger sizes for next year

    Children don't stop growing but that doesn't mean that you can't be savvy about their clothes. Buy bigger sizes this year in the sale and put them away for next year.

    Check the returns policy

    Clearance buys are often a great deal, but it’s important to read the fine print. Finding a top for £2 is great, but not if you can’t return it if it doesn’t fit.

    Shop online to save more

    Shopping online can sometimes means even more savings – websites like KidStart offer members money back for their children on online shopping from loads of major stores, so it is worth checking out prior to clicking buy now!

    And finally ....

    Set a budget

    It is worth making a list of the things you actually need and want to look for and decide in your mind how many more you’re prepared to buy so you have something to aim for. Getting a bargain is great but not if you can't actually afford it in the first place so set a budget and decide how much are you prepared to spend in advance.


    With sales popping up everywhere this summer, it is a great time to grab a bargain. Now I really must go and look at that Vertbaudet sale again ......