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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  1. 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

     

  2. 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

    AdobeStock_130983679


    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
    .
    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.
     
    AdobeStock_140136341
     
    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?
     
  3. The summer holidays are nearly upon us. We know not because of the warmer weather or crosses on the kitchen calendar. No. We know end of term is nigh as the days merge into one and descend into chaos.

    Typical classroom teaching winds down, making way for school trips, sports days, and outdoor lessons. And so, as soon as our children step through our front door, they bounce off the walls in free-spirited unison, as we battle the bake for tomorrow’s school fund cake sale. Beyond the endless non-uniform days that are begging to be forgotten, what else can we expect from the end of summer term?

    LLP - 5 things all parents should expect before the end of term

    1. Summer fayre fiascos

    It’s school fayre time! Oh yes. You know it is, because every week for the last month you have been asked to donate an item for each of the featuring stalls. You’ve sent bottles, brick-a-brac, toys, chocolate… your soul.

    And the best bit is, after so willingly donating out of the goodness of your heart, you then make an appearance at the event, solely to win or buy back every item you sent in. The joy.

    2. Shrinking school shoes

    You bought a sturdy set of school shoes in January, and your child is a hero. They haven’t grown out of them all year, or so you thought. Of course, the first week of July hits, with three weeks left to go, and your child comes home with crippled arches and heel blisters. 

    Do you go all out and hope your Big Foot keeps things under control until September, or do you resolve the issue with a cheap pair that will likely fall to pieces before the three weeks are through? Decisions, decisions.

    3. Not-so-sunny school trips

    What glorious weather we have had. Beautiful weekends filled with barbeques, paddling pools, outdoor day trips. It’s fantastic. We’ve experienced a British heatwave, in fact. Temperatures soared up to 30 degrees. Balmy.

    Oh, you’re too hot? Don’t worry because my child has a seaside school trip planned for Tuesday next week, so torrential downpours and gale-force winds are guaranteed across the country. It’s the way it goes.

    4. Crammed school bags

    The teachers are clearing out their classrooms, and it is just a delight. Be prepared for book bags brimming with extraordinary pieces of art, workbooks, and display-worthy crafts, all created by your dear offspring.

    All ten months’ worth of work. You are truly blessed. And so is your fridge.

    5. Manic school play prep

    You thought you’d done your bit at Christmas. Well, be prepared. It’s the summer school play, and these costumes can’t be found in the fancy dress aisle in Asda. So long trusty tea towel, there are no shepherds this term.

    Yes, things are about to get really fantastical. Summer plays are creative, vibrant, colourful. And wow, get ready to throw all that into a last minute costume because it’s on tomorrow. You forgot. You forgot like the rest of us.

    Who else is ready for the end of term?

     

  4. End of term teachers gifts. Do you think of it as an obligatory thank you or a way to express your gratitude to the person that has helped and nutured your child over the past school year? Some parents love to spend time helping their children create a personal handcrafted present while others contemplate how much should you spend on an end of term teachers gift.

    LLP - How much should you spend on an end of term teachers gift-

    So if you think that your childs teacher has enough mugs and boxes of chocolates and want to buy something, what do you buy that isn't going to break the bank.

    *Disclaimer* if you are my daughters teacher, stop reading now (please).

    1. Earrings - Now I know that not every teacher has their ears pierced but with kind words such as "it takes a big heart to shape a little mind", that make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, whilst still providing a practical gift, this gets a thumbs up from me. The best part, they are currently reduced from £15 to £10 on the Little Keepsake Company website. 

    it-takes-a-big-heart-to-shape-a-little-mind

    2. Candles - Everyone loves a candle and it is perfect for regifting if the person is really averse to the scent you choose. I adore candles and so was beyond excited to find the copy of the Jo Malone candles were back in at Aldi. £4 instead of £44 - that is a saving which is too good to miss!

    3. Pencil Case - Who says that pencil cases are just for the children? Teachers need to keep their pens in order too and we fell in love with this personalised one from Hope House Press this week. Top tip - if you sign up to the Hope House Press website, you get offers sent to you like we did this week. We used the "SALE" code at the checkout and got this pencil case, personalised and delivered to us for just over £10.

    Hope House Press pencil case

    4. Practical Gifts - Hope House Press introduced me to We Are Scamp and their fabulous tote bag which purely states "I am a teacher, what is your superpower". I love this and at £14 it is reasonably priced, practical and perfect to use as a gift bag if you were so inclined!

    5. Wine - After a year of looking after 30 or so "little darlings" I would say that most teachers are due a well deserved drink. Tesco have some online wine exclusives, saving up to £15 if you buy a case (you can always keep a bottle or two for yourself). If you use your clubcard vouchers, this will save even more! 

    At my daughters school some parents like to get individual gifts, whereas some prefer to add to a collection to get the teachers a larger, or more expensive gift. At the end of the day, there is not a right or wrong way or indeed a value than  can be placed on the perfect present but I have loved my daughters teachers this year and hope that they love the gifts we have bought, as much as I have loved finding them (and saving money too).

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

    What have you done to save this week?