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. Last year we didn't have a big family holiday (I am obviously excluding my hen weekend and mini moon as the children didn't come on those), so we are all getting excited about booking holidays for this year. We have a summer holiday booked, the girls are already talking about the plane and swimming pool whereas I am just grateful that someone else is cooking and cleaning for a week, but we have booked a short break to Hoburne in the Cotswolds too, which means the inevitable family road trip will ensue.

    Here are my top tips for a safe, entertaining and stress free family road trip!

    1. PLAN AHEAD

    The Sat Nav is my friend but it is also a good plan to have a vague idea of where you are actually going just in case the Sat Nav decides to go into meltdown and send you the wrong way down the motorway as *may* have happened in the past. *disclaimer : I am quite sure this was the Sat Nav's fault and not my own.

    2. HAVE GAMES AT THE READY

    I love the driving and taking in the scenery, I can also sing a whole catalogue of songs, play every car game known to man and whilst I am quite sure I whined, "Are we there yet?" often enough to drive my parents nuts, I refuse to answer that question from the girls until we are 10 minutes away from our destination. Car games are great fun for getting everyone into the holiday spirit, unless of course you have an extremely competitive husband who you may have to disqualify from playing to give everyone else a chance of winning.

    3. CHECK YOUR VEHICLE

    Make sure your vehicle is reliable and ready to go, paying particular attention to the tyres, coolant and engine oil. (not forgetting the fuel). I am a little guilt of ignoring the warning signals on my dashboard so making sure you know what all the lights mean is a bonus. You can check your knowledge here.

    4. SET A REALISTIC TIMELINE

    It is a family road trip, not a race and trying to drive the length of the country is just going to tire kids and adults alike. It is recommended that you spend a maximum of five to six hours on the road, plus multiple breaks (although if it takes me that long to get to the Cotswolds I may be a little concerned).

    5. TRAVEL DURING NAPTIME OR DURING EARLY EVENING. 

    If your schedule permits—and your child is known to sleep in the car—consider trying to travel at nap time or early evening. Not only will it make the drive a little quieter for you, it will also cut the chances your child will get car sick or experience a tiredness induced meltdown. Bring along their favourite toy or blanket and a child-friendly travel pillow to make the car seat more suitable for sleep too.

    6. BRING SNACKS - LOTS OF THEM

    I have to say that snacks are probably the number one way to keep our kids (and my husband) happy on a family road trip. So, pack a coolbag full of snacks. Include a mix of healthy choices, like raisins, carrot sticks and grapes, as well as treats, like a few biscuits and a bit of chocolate. (this is where I advocate leather seats in the car). Don’t forget bottles of water too (anything else is far too sticky if it spills).

    7. KEEP THE KIDS BUSY

    This can be just as much a challenge with the tween as with the toddler. The tween is happy on her tablet, whereas the little one gets car sick, so we are big fans of the portable DVD players ..... especially those that can play two different films as the tween isn't too keen on Frozen on repeat. (Individual headphones are a GREAT idea at this point also).

    8. KEEP AN EMERGENCY KIT TO HAND

    Keep an emergency kit easily accessible in the boot, to include a torch and extra batteries, jump leads, leather gloves, roadside flares or reflective warning triangles, duct tape, a roll of paper towels, a first aid kit, sunscreen and the ever so versatile baby wipes.

    9. TOILET BREAKS

    When you are on a road trip and someone inevitably needs a bathroom break, keep a lookout for a budget chain hotel that are often located on the motorways. They tend to have toilets in the lobby area and, in my experience, they are usually much cleaner than those in service stations.

    10. HAVE FUN

    My mum always said if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail and with all this preparation nothing can surely go wrong? But let's be honest, things happen, there are traffic jams and diversions that seem intent on ruining our journeys but at the end of the day, what is a road trip without a little detour??

    Now go and enjoy .....

     Family Road Trip

     

     

  2. I have to admit something. I am not a natural outdoorsy kind of person. There I said it!

    BUT .... I do love going to Hatton Adventure World with the children and that is a whole heap of outdoors for me, so when we were invited to see what was new for their Easter Eggstravaganza, I knew that is what we would be doing this half term.

    Easter 2015 sees the launch of a new feature at Hatton Adventure World, their Outdoor Laser Combat.  It is suitable for over 8's only (and the grown ups too) and it is great to see that there is something for older children now as I do worry about the tween getting bored. There is all the usual Easter fun for the whole family, from Easter Bunny Hunts to the Easter Garden where children can search for eggs to exchange for chocolate treats.

    My girls insist on going to see the animals before we do anything else and we had to feed the greedy goats first.

    Hatton - Feeding the goats

    Then check out how much the pigs had grown since our last visit.

    Hatton - piglets

    Not forgetting checking the baby chicks.

    Hatton - baby chicks

    Then with the weather turning a bit chilly, the girls decided it was time to warm up on the bouncy castle.

    Hatton - bouncy castle

    There is a full programme on over Easter including the new Tractor Safari, the Code Crackers Challenge (which was great fun) and the usual favourite of panning for gold and pony rides.

    Hatton - pony rides

    The tween wanted to go on the Laser Combat (so did my husband) but the temperature had dropped significantly by this point and the rain started to fall, so we all wanted a bit of shelter, unfortunately Laser Combat wasn't it. The tween just about managed to get on the tube slide at the entrance but that was as far as we got. The layout of the Laser Combat looks brilliant and really well organised and the tween was gutted to miss out, although in her eyes it is just another reason to go back!

    Hatton - Laser Combat slide

     All the Easter activities are on until the 12th April, so there is still time to go and enjoy. The weather forecast is better for next week too!

    Hatton - Easter Eggstravaganza

     

    Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

  3. Reading is as much part of our daily routine as teeth brushing and baths before bedtime and it is a fun part of our day. We never see it as a chore (unless you are the tween who would prefer to play on her tablet) but the toddler soaks up every descriptive word and beautifully illustrated image. Reading is fun but it is so important for children too as it expands their vocabulary and early reading skills have been directly linked to a childs academic success. 

    Reading to and with your children can be one of the most rewarding bonding times you can have as a family and so we are delighted to share details of the Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour (organised by Scottish Book Trust) which takes the very best UK and international authors directly into schools across Scotland and the UK to inspire a love of reading, writing and illustration. In February this year the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour visited schools in Birmingham with the wonderful author, illustrator, playwright and poet Vivian French!

    Vivian has published over 200 books for children of all ages including the hugely successful series The Tales from the Five Kingdoms, the first of which, The Robe of Skulls, won the 2008 Stockton Children’s Book of the Year Award. Vivian is a great storyteller, you can see her here ....

    In support of the tour, we are delighted to be able to offer you Vivian French’s ‘The Snarling of Wolves’ book in our latest giveaway.

    Snarling of Wolves

    All you need to do is enter the simple question in the Rafflecopter widget below and tell us in the comments below whether the answer is:

    A - 200

    B - 2,000

    C - 20,000

    Here is a little clue 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The more you read, the better you are at it and best of all ...... it is free! I only wish I could enter this competition but you can. What are you waiting for?

    UK Entrants Only.
    The winner will be chosen at random by the random winner generator on Rafflecopter and notified within 5 working days by email
    Scottish Friendly will be responsible for the despatch of the prize.
    Scottish Friends will make every effort to provide the gift set requested but this cannot be guaranteed
    There is no monetary equivalent.
    Little Lilypad Co take no /responsibility for loss or damage in the despatch of prizes
    If the prize is unclaimed within 7 days we reserve the right to redraw the winner.
    End Date 13/04/2015 at 12am

  4. My eldest daughter sat on my bed last night, flicking through a promotional clothing magazine that had dropped through our letterbox and within half an hour, she had circled 40 items of clothing that she would like! 40 items of clothing in half an hour, that is good going, even by my standards. Raising girls with a shopping habit to rival my own is looking expensive!

    I might be laughing now but I am conscious that as the girls get older, their clothing habits will be the least of my worries if they want to go to University or get a car. I know that there are lots of families consciously save for the future, whereas others believe in living for today by spending what they earn and I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle. My love of shopping for myself and the girls is no secret but I am always aware of the need for a "college" fund at some point in the future and it is scary how quickly that future will arrive.

    Experian published research last year claiming that about one in five parents of students have faced financial pressures to support their children. This includes paying for accommodation, travel and utility bills. "University can be an extremely expensive time for parents and students alike," said Experian's Julie Doleman ....... I really had better start saving now and keeping an eye on the piggy bank!

    Piggy Bank

    Having a seperate account to keep savings in makes a big difference because you can keep an eye on your savings targets and with something like an ISA, gives you the freedom of saving but with easy access in case you need it!

    I was recently introduced to Nutmeg and were impressed with their no nonsense approach. They have got rid of all the aspects that made the wealth management industry unpopular. They don’t try and baffle you with jargon or lump all your money together and they don’t keep you in the dark over where you’re invested – or how your funds are performing.

    try-it-out-isa

    Nutmeg

    They look to give you complete transparency – and, they say, complete peace of mind. We like the fact that they can help you set up your portfolio in under 10 minutes and you can create as many funds as you like. But I think my favourite part is that you can get in touch with us by telephone, email or live webchat, whichever you prefer, no sitting on hold forever and a day to a call centre on the other side of the world!

    I remember investing money many many years ago and then being massively frustrated when I found that it was locked away and I couldn't get hold of it when I needed it, so fast forward a few years and I am a little more savvy about where we put our money (although the tween seems to think that it should all go on a new wardrobe for her apparently!).

    Finding the right place to save for your future is something we all need to think about now and I know I need to be more cost conscious .... especially where the clothes shopping is concerned.

    How much do you worry about saving for the future?