I was asked to review the KidloLand app just before we went to Disneyworld which was perfect timing. It was our first time flying long haul so I wanted to make sure all bases were covered! Evan doesn’t really play with the tablets yet, he prefers just to watch Peppa Pig but I thought I’d give it a go with him. I knew Annie would love it, she’s always happy to get extra playing time on the iPad.

I couldn’t get Evans attention with this on the way there – he’s a very active toddler who does not like being made to sit down especially for such a long time. The flight was pretty awful, we couldn’t find much that he wanted to sit down and do! The way home was better because it was a night flight so he was already tired. He sat in his pram and watched some of the dinosaur nursery rhymes with Annie while we were in the queue. When we were on the flight I used the KidloLand lullabies to send him to sleep. It was so sweet, he was watching for about 10 minutes before he gave in.

It worked on Annie too but she only stayed asleep for an hour so she played the games and listened to stories for the rest of the flight. She figured out that when you press on the picture while the story is playing, the scene changes slightly, those little details help to hold her attention. Annie’s favourite is Meow Meow Farmer, a game with lots of little puzzles that she can easily do.

If you’re looking for a new children’s app I would recommend this one, especially if you have more than one child – there’s a lot of variety so it’d suit most children. My almost 5 year old and almost 2 year old both enjoyed using it and I’m sure it’ll be used on many more journeys. Click the links to download the app for your device: iOS, Google Play Store, Amazon Appstore. The apps are free to install but there are in app purchases. Let me know if you try it out with your kids and if they like it as much as mine do.

You start school in a few days time and it feels like we’re both starting something huge so I’m writing you a letter to document how our lives are right now, the preschool years.

You’ve been excited for school since your cousin started last year. You’re going to be one of the oldest in your class and when you did the taster session you were one of the bigger children. There were some that looked so much tinier than you. Daddy stayed home late to walk you to school and you chatted to us both the whole way, only clamming up when you got to the school gates. I could feel that the nerves had set in, you held my hand a bit tighter and walked a bit slower.

Once you saw Mrs Lewis and Miss Craig you were happy, you remembered them from the home visit and ran off inside without a second look. You’ve done that since you were tiny, you had 2 mornings at nursery from when you were around 18 months and you were always happy to go. I’m glad we’ve rarely had tears when leaving you but I’m also glad that you always seem happier at pick up time than you were at drop off. Even though you no longer do the ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!!’ that you would do at 18 months, you still run happily towards me and grab my hand to walk home. I’m not sure when that will become uncool but I’m sure it’s coming soon, it’ll probably break my heart but I won’t let on.

I know I should be excited to now have you in free childcare for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week but I can’t help dwelling on the fact that we’re losing our afternoons together. We’ve had such good fun together while Evan’s been napping or on our girl’s days, I’ve documented a lot of it here and on my instagram page, I know it doesn’t come to an end now that you’ve started school but it’ll change. We’ll just have to make the most of our evenings – you love stargazing and can’t wait for it to be dark earlier so you can see them. We’ll also have our weekends. Daddy likes to relax at home but we like to go on our adventures, so we can have our girls days at the weekend instead, I promise.

I already know from your time at preschool that the mornings will be rushed, the paperwork will be endless and the end of term tiredness that you get will kick in long before the end of term. Walking with you is always so nice though, I’m looking forward to our conversations on the school run. Even if we are actually running!

If it’s the end of an era for us, it’s the start of one for you. You are going to gain so much from being at school that I can’t give to you – like navigating friendships, school dinners and to learning things I’d never think to teach you. While I don’t really remember the details, I remember primary school being a happy time and I know you’re going to love it. You’re going to the same school I went to and it still has that welcoming, community feeling that I remember from being little.

Right now you are best friends with Rory, you are planning to marry him and pronounced Friday a ‘kissing day’ because you spent the morning with him at a soft play. You found him the first week of preschool and apart from the time you hated him for going on holiday, you’ve been friends ever since. I’m sorry that you’re not going to the same school as him but I promise to do everything I can to help you two stay in touch.

Your other best friend is Lily, she lives next door and also went to preschool with you for two terms. You are so similar it’s unreal, you both dress in your (no longer needed) flower girl dresses as often as is allowed and spend the rest of your time in princess dresses. You spend every moment you can in each others houses and act like sisters, sharing clothes and toys, fighting and making up. I know she’s going to miss spending afternoons with you too, she’ll be so excited to see you once you get home from school.

This summer I’ve been teaching you french because you showed an interest when Evan was watching Peppa Pig. You have now learned more than I know, so if you want to carry on we’ll learn together. You’ve also spent your time teaching Evan how to talk, Annie was one of his first words (after him calling you Daddy for months, this made you very happy). Our walls are covered in your drawings, they’re normally portraits and the bin is full of pictures where you didn’t get the arms right – you seem to make one really long arm every time and you’re very critical about it. I know when you start school I’m going to get even more artwork and you’ll be teaching Evan and I all the new things you’ve learned.

I’ve loved having the opportunity to spend so much time with you while you’ve been little and as much as I’m going to miss that, this isn’t about me. This is your big adventure and I know you’re going to thrive. Enjoy it baby girl!

Chores were something I was expected to do as a child, I remember feeling proud when I was old enough to stand on a chair to do the washing up, being allowed to walk the dog by myself and then as we got older swapping scheduled chores with my sisters, learning the important skill of negotiation as well.

Part of the job we have as parents is to create self-sufficient humans and to do that I think we have to start them young so that they know firstly how to look after their things and secondly how to live in a shared space. Starting chores at an early age, around 3-4 years old, can provide academic, emotional and professional benefits. Chores are so satisfying once they’re done and if it’s a team effort that feeling multiplies so I think it’s a really good idea to set chores for children.

Recently we entered new territory with Annie, she’s started to enjoy tidying up. This is pretty much life-changing and of course I’ve been embracing it to the fullest. Don’t get me wrong, Evan’s still behind her trashing the place but having one child helping out is amazing. She loves showing how grown up she is and will show Stu everything she’s done when he gets home from work. Here’s what chores she’s been doing (aged 4, almost 5):

Tidying toys away

This is something we’ve tried to instil in Annie since an early age, as soon as she started understanding what we meant really, she’d have to help tidy something away before getting something new out. Evan is almost 2 and doesn’t do this yet but Annie will, so long as she’s reminded. Like I said, she’s actually enjoying it at the moment but it’s still something we have to do together to make sure everything goes back in the right places.

Dusting

The feather duster is perfect for a 4 year old, it’s something she can do on her own and it’s something she can use to tickle anyone she passes, turning it into a game.

Cleaning the windows, kitchen cupboards and worktops

We were recently sent some Shadazzle by Ideal World which is perfect to use with children because it’s made from natural ingredients. It’s really easy to use, you just sponge it all on and then wash it off, drying with a cloth afterwards. Annie and I cleaned the whole kitchen with it – windows, worktops, cupboards and the floor and I was really pleased with it, it has a bit of a lemon scent so the whole place smells beautiful. It was something nice and productive to do on a rainy day while Evan naps and it was lovely to see how proud she was of herself, I’m hoping it’s something she’ll help me out with regularly now!

 chores for children 4 year old chores

shadazzle review

Keeping her bedroom tidy

This is a work-in-progress, she keeps her lego in her room and will play happily by herself but when it’s time to put it all away she’d rather close the door and come downstairs. When I notice that it’s a mess she will clear it up so long as I help, trying to get her to do it by herself would take too long and would mean I’d have to be more strict than I want to be. I’d rather show her that it’s nice to be helpful than make her do it alone. Her dollshouse is also in her bedroom and she loves to keep that tody – organising it is one of her favourite things to do.

Watering the plants and picking flowers

Not exactly a chore but there’s something lovely about having fresh flowers in a clean house, she’ll water the plants inside and out and we’ll pick flowers from the garden together to put in the house. We grow sweetpeas every year so that there’s something all summer long for her to pick.

picking-flowers-with-children

Walking the dog

I’ve mentioned before how much she loves Bob and it’s good to be in the routine of walking a dog, although she only takes the dog lead in quiet areas because she wouldn’t yet be strong enough to stop him pulling if he decided to chase a cat or something. This is something she can’t wait to do by herself but it’ll be a few years yet before she can walk him on her own!

Hoovering

She’s not quite strong enough for the real hoover yet but we do it together (if I’ve got time!) or she will use the toy Dyson and copy what I’m doing. Evan likes doing this too but when he’s about I’m still using my cleaning cheats, such as not bothering to tidy up the living room until he’s in bed!

playing-with-toy-dyson

Putting things in the bin

Annie’s been doing this for a while – it’s probably the first ‘chore’ she ever did, putting a yoghurt pot in the bin and a spoon in the sink (yes we lost a lot of spoons this way!) – but I wanted to mention it here because this is what Evan’s just started doing. He got very emotional earlier when I wouldn’t let him take his half-eaten apple back out of the bin, so be prepared for toddler tantrums when you start encouraging this!

Let me know in the comments what chores your little ones are doing.

It’s official, school is over, Annie is no longer a preschooler. She will start a new school in September and will be attending full days, I can’t quite believe I’m going to have a school aged child. She’s ready for it though and I know I’ll enjoy the extra time to myself. If I can keep Evan in his afternoon nap routine, I’ll get two child-free hours every afternoon. That may not sound like much to most people but I only have 9 child-free hours at the moment to run my business so my quiet time will be more than doubled. Very exciting. I might start sleeping when the baby sleeps or something wild like that, if I can still get away with it when he’s nearly 2.

Last day of preschool

Last day of preschool

But first we’ve got the summer holidays to enjoy – this is what we’ve got planned:

Rest

She needs a break – she always gets cranky towards the end of a term and this term has been no different. I’m looking forward to a few slow mornings with her so she can recharge a bit. And not having to do the school run will be a bonus for me!

Playing with Evan

He is at such a cute age at the moment, he’s talking all the time and following instructions a bit more (apart from ‘get down’) and even though there is still a lot of fighting, there’s been a lot more playing together lately. She loves that he can say her name and he will copy what she does or says, so this summer will be good for a bit of sibling bonding (between fights, obviously).

Playdates

We’ve got playdates planned each week with her cousin so that my sister and I have a bit of regular childcare (I’ll mind my nephew one day, my sister will mind Annie another). They hardly see each other during term time so they’ll both love seeing more of each other.

Daytrips

We live by the Lake District so we’ve got plans to visit a few of out favourite places – Fell Foot and Wray Castle will both feature I’m sure. We’ve also got plans to meet up with friends who live a bit further away too. I’m excited to have the freedom of being able to go out somewhere for a full day rather than having to fit it in after preschool. She’s completely different away from school and I love seeing her enjoying nature so we’ll be outside a lot.

Work

I can’t turn down work during the summer holidays, it’s wedding season and as I make wedding gifts I can’t really get around having to work too. I have added a notice on my Etsy page that I may take longer to reply to messages and that my waiting list may increase but I’m hoping to still fit in work a few days a week. I’m still paying for Evan to go to nursery for two mornings a week so there might just be a bit of iPad or TV time for Annie while I work. Her best friend is also our neighbour so when she’s around they’ll happily play together while I work – and when Annie goes next door that’s a huge bonus!

Me time

This year I’ve been trying to cut myself some slack and give myself the time to do things that I enjoy, so I’ve been running regularly, reading more and working in the garden lots. Most of this happens when Stu comes home from work so the summer holidays shouldn’t affect my hobbies. I will need them to keep me sane trying to juggle the kids and work! I’m running a 10k in September so my main goal is that by the end of the summer holidays I’ll be able to run 6 miles – my furthest so far has been just under 5 miles so I’m almost there.

Let me know in the comments what you’ve got planned or what your goals are for the summer.

Finding bright and vibrant baby clothes or childrens toys by colourful brands can be hard in a world of pastel pinks and blues but they are out there. I love bright colours because they instantly look more fun and they’re unisex, even if it’s a pop of bright pink! When it came to having children I was always going to put them in bright colours, playing with colourful things and enjoying the variety of it all! Although when the children were first born I went through the struggle between keeping my ideals of all natural, wooden toys that look amazing or giving in to the brightly coloured plastic toys that kids love and now we have a mix of both.

That’s what raising little humans is all about isn’t it, compromising between your parental ideals and what actually works. What’s great though is when you don’t have to compromise. Like with clothes, I love seeing them dressed in bright colours even if that sometimes means they’re wearing a fancy dress outfit to do the weekly food shop! So here are a couple of brands I love that are brightly coloured and fun but stylish too.

Clothing

Florrie and Max are an online retailer of beautiful childrens clothing, it’s all funky prints and soft fabrics – made for children who want to play. The cat print leggings and flamingo shorts that Evan’s wearing above are so fun and would look great on Annie too. Boden are always good for bright prints too – Annie’s wearing their new Florasaurus print dress below which combines flowers and dinosaurs to make a cute dress. I also love Little Bird by Jools Oliver with their retro vibe, unisex style and bright colours.

Travel

We’ve also always been big fans of Cosatto prints – again, the brightly coloured designs are stylish enough for parents and fun enough for children. Annie has both the Hello Dolly carseat and the Bloom because she needed one for the van and when Evan was born we got him the C Rex. I almost got him the Ooba travel system when he was born but went with the mountain buggy because I needed something I could use for running. Their designs are regularly updated and at the moment I love the Fox Tale and Magic Unicorns prints – gorgeous!

Toys and Books

For toys, as I said we started off with wooden things – a Moova rocking horse and pram were early presents for Annie and Evan loves them too now, they’re natural wood with pops of red. Their radio flyer wagon is also bright red, it’s a classic too. We also had a fisher price jumperoo (like most people!) which was a nice bright fixture in our house for 6 months each time.  I also found the ethical toyshop Oskar & Catie who do the most beautiful toys in a range of bright colours, perfect for baby gifts – one of the most adorable things I found was a wooden rocking boat.

My favourite childrens books are the Babylit Board books, not only have they got gorgeous bright designs but they’re all based on classics. Perfect for a book nerd like me. A lot of times of course you do just come across gorgeous brightly coloured things when you’re doing the weekly shop or out shopping. I love this paddling pool we picked up from Argos and the swimming costume Annie’s wearing was a £4 bargain from George at Asda. This picture has to be one of my all time favourites and the bright colours add to it!

Paddling Pool

You might also like Baby Must Haves: What you’ll need for the first year where I mentioned a few other brands I liked – along with explaining what worked for us.