Guest Post – The Pros and Cons of a Night Out

A night on the tiles – it’s a tradition that’s been around for decades. Friday and Saturday nights are made for letting our hair down, something I’ve done quite a few times! However, as I’m getting a little older and have all the responsibilities of being a mother to handle, I wonder whether going out is quite as fun as it used to be.

Pros

  • Nights out are great if you want a change of scenery
  • They allow you to meet new people, especially friends of friends
  • A night out could be anything you want it to be – a film, a few drinks at a pub/nightclub or even a football match

Cons

  • They can be expensive – taxis, drinks and takeaway food can cost over £50 a night!
  • They don’t always go to plan
  • They can be exhausting

The cons of nights out got me thinking – should I have nights in at home instead? I want to be closer to the kids, but I still want to have fun with my friends and a night in gives me the best of both worlds.

The perfect night in

Food – always have snacks prepared. Whether they’re simple like chips or something fancy like vol-au-vents, it’s important to have food prepared for a night in. I would like to see a platter or buffet that we can pick and choose from.

Drink – cocktails are fun, and they’re not that difficult to make if you find the right recipes online. However, I think wine’s better as you can just pick some up from the nearest corner shop and my friends can bring some with them too!

Games – again, head to the internet for ideas. I found online bingo to be a lot of fun, and everyone else can play at the same time, but puzzles are fun too. Board games are just as exciting, as they’re good for groups of friends.

Staying in for a change

It seems that I’m not alone in thinking a night in sounds like a great idea. A survey for Ladbrokes Bingo showed just over 66% of women would rather have a night in than a night out. I didn’t expect to read that, but it’s true!

The same survey also had some more bizarre pieces of data. I didn’t think, for example, that 30.8% of women worried about their tights falling down during a night out, but that’s part of what makes staying in so appealing.

Disclosure: This is a Guest Post on behalf of Ladbrokes Bingo

Telesales, Cold Calling and Sleeping Babies!

When Pumpkin was born, we would spend hours every day working through a list of tricks to get her to go to sleep. She wasn’t a fan of sleeping, and would fight the urge to close her eyes for as long as possible. We had a routine of rocking, dim lights, a musical mobile, and early on, a white noise app on our phones. A sleeping baby was our aim and once she had finally closed her eyes we would back away silently, congratulating ourselves on a battle won!

But why is it that is always the exact moment that the doorbell rings, or the phone, or some other loud noise? Perfectly timed to wake the sleeping baby.

I wouldn’t mind so much, but more often than not the phone call was a cold call, of no interest to me at all. So one baby awake and crying, one frazzled Mummy and one telesales person who gets told where to go!!

My problem with unsolicited phone calls is that they are never ever going to work with me. I have never changes energy supplier, or upgraded my TV subscription, or ordered a new conservatory based on being cold called. In fact, the companies who do this go way down in my estimations just by calling. I guess it must work on some people though or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

Another pet hate is charity cold calling. Now I support a number of charities in various ways. I’m not going to list them here as I don’t feel the need to justify them. But phoning people up and trying to pressure them into setting up a Direct Debit is a really lazy way to fundraise in my opinion, and it really harms a charity’s image in my mind. I know there are lots of fantastic causes out there. I wish I could support more, I really do. But ultimately I have to choose who I want to support and how I want to do it. And I have never done it off the back of an unsolicited phone call or visit on my doorstep!

So how do they get our phone numbers? Well one way is that other companies will sell on their mailing lists and contacts to these companies for telesales. This makes me really annoyed and I always make sure I remember to tick the little box to say I don’t want my details passed on, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to stop it.

We have just moved house, and have a new phone number now. I’ve hardly given it out to anyone (mainly as I can’t remember it yet!) and still the phone calls have started. I know the people that make the calls are just doing a (pretty thankless) job but its hard not to get annoyed. Especially as they are often trained to get chatting with you and avoid telling you the purpose of the phone call until they have warmed you up! I used to make an excuse that I couldn’t talk now (changing a nappy or in the middle of breastfeeding were favourites!) but then they would ring back again so now I’m a grumpy woman who tells them they are wasting their time.

I guess I must be missing out of lots of ‘special deals’ and exclusive offers by this approach, but I’ll live with that if I could get to a point where my first reaction when the phone rings is a sigh!!

Disclosure: I was asked to talk about telesales on the blog by Bounty. As a thank you they sent me a funky Trimphone. Thanks Bounty :)

Getting the Hang of Motherhood, Research by Munchkin

It’s hard to believe that Pumpkin will be 2 in just 5 weeks time. Yes I know it’s a cliche but the time has flown! That means I’ve been a Mummy for almost 2 years. So shouldn’t I be pretty good at it by now?

When I was pregnant, I went to NCT antenatal classes, read countless books and magazines on pregnancy and parenting. I tried to prepare myself for the arrival of my little bundle and thought that I knew what being a Mummy would be about.

But then she arrived. And she didn’t play by the rules! I rapidly learnt that I couldn’t rely on books and magazines to tell me how to raise her. I felt alone and overwhelmed by the responsibility I had for this little person. It was a steep learning curve, and one I’m still climbing!

I question my decisions as a mum every day. So I wasn’t surprised to hear the results of a new survey from Munchkin which found that it takes up to two years
to get the hang of motherhood. Here is what they say;

Feeling overwhelmed, nervous and scared are the overriding emotions today’s parents feel when they’ve had a baby. In a new survey of 2,000 UK parents by Munchkin to celebrate the launch of the new Click Lock™ range of cups, the international baby brand polled parents and confirmed it can take them up to two years s to get to grips with parenthood, with 58% of mothers fearing they would never get to grips with it. It’s not just mum worrying about herself either, with two thirds stating it takes dad a long time to adjust to their new role.

Even before the birth over half of respondents said they felt scared and just under half felt nervous about the impending arrival showing that this worry for parents starts long before baby is born.

The report showed that nearly two thirds of mums said that they didn’t feel they could confide in anyone if they didn’t feel it had all clicked into place with the most popular response stating that they thought it was something that everyone felt and they didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. If mums did turn to someone it was more than likely their own mum, with 5% asking their mother-in-law.

Top Ten things that mums felt had to be mastered before things clicked in to place
Being in a good routine
Knowing what to do when baby is crying
Not worried about dealing with baby in public
Not panicking when baby is poorly
Leaving the house with a spare change of clothes
Being able to change a nappy quickly
Having baby sleeping through the night
Leaving the house with milk/food and snacks
Always having a toy to entertain baby with
Being able to leave the house on time

But many parents admitted that their worry was a regret and that they should have enjoyed the experience more. Two thirds admitted they wished they has been more calm and relaxed and less worried.

Claire Rayner, Munchkin spokeswoman says “It’s expected that all new parents will feel emotional and overwhelmed after the birth of their child but it’s surprising that it takes up to 2 years for mums to feel that everything had clicked into place.

“It seems that mums feel that they need to have a number of tools in place before they feel fully confident in their role as a parent.”

“At Munchkin we develop products to make life easier for parents and our new range of Click Lock™ cups have a clear audible click when the cup is sealed so that on top of everything else mums have to worry about, spillages and leakage from our cups isn’t one of them.”

Sometimes things in life just click and this is never more true than with the brand new Click Lock™ Cup range from Munchkin! With over 20 years experience, Munchkin, the award-winning international baby brand , is thrilled to launch the brand new Click Lock™ cup range, one of the most innovative and exciting range of cups parents will find on the market today.

The Click Lock™ range features ‘ click’ to lock technology providing a leak proof guarantee, , so drop, throw or tip upside down, no liquid will come out. The cups could not be simpler to use, simply turn the lid until it ‘clicks’ in to place providing parents with an auditory reassurance that the cup is completely sealed. What’s more, the range, just like all Munchkin products, is fun, vibrant and practical, making parents lives that little bit easier .The Click Lock™ cup range starts at £3.99 and for more information log on to www.munchkin.eu.com.

Parents worldwide are choosing Munchkin products because they really do excite and delight, making life easier for today’s busy parents, and having sold over 55 million cups worldwide to date Munchkin know what makes a good cup!

Each item from Munchkin has been designed to excite and delight children whilst making parents lives easier and more enjoyable. The full collection includes a range of colourful and clever bathing, feeding and hygiene products. To see more of the fantastic range and for full stockist details log on to: www.munchkin.eu.com

WIN tickets to The Baby Show Manchester

This competition is now closed and the winners have been notified.

The UK’s leading baby and parenting show is coming to Manchester this August and to celebrate, The Baby Show is teaming up with Devon Mummy to offer you the chance to win tickets to this essential event on 31st August – 2nd September at EventCity, Manchester.

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The Baby Show in association with Made for Mums and sponsored by Fisher-Price is the perfect place to visit for all parents and parents-to-be who want to find the latest maternity and nursery products on the market – all from the very best UK and international brands! The show will feature 200 must-have brands including Fisher-Price, Babies R Us, Mamas & Papas, and Mothercare, as well as niche and designer products. Visitors will be able to enjoy special offers, great entertainment and hear from baby care experts all in one place. What’s more, EventCity, Manchester offers first class first facilities and has over 3000 FREE car parking spaces.

The Baby Show also boasts expert speakers on hand to give support, guidance and advice to all visitors, including midwives from Channel 4’s award-winning show ‘One Born Every Minute’ and baby food and nutrition expert Annabel Karmel. The Baby Show has become an essential event in all parents’ calendars and has also attracted a celebrity following with stars including Una Healy, Stacey Solomon and Chantelle Houghton spotted searching for the best products at earlier shows this year!

With everything in one place and with the added bonus of exclusive offers and expert advice, you’ll find everything you need without the stress of the high street! For more information, visit www.thebabyshow.co.uk

For the chance to get your hands on FREE tickets for The Baby Show in Manchester, simply enter by following these simple instructions.

To Enter:

There are three pairs of tickets to give away. The competition closes at 6pm on Thursday 9th August. You may enter in one or all of the following ways. PLEASE leave a separate comment for each entry.

1) Answer the following question in the comments. How many must-have brands will be on show at The Baby Show Manchester?

2) Tweet the following ‘I’ve entered to win tickets to @TheBabyShow with @devon_mummy http://wp.me/p2i9i5-6X’

3) Like Devon Mummy on Facebook here and share my post about this competition on your wall

The Pickling Hour

Pickle [in singular] British informaldated used as an affectionate form of address to a mischievous child (source: Oxford Dictionaries).

Each evening, just after tea but before bath time, our house falls under the spell of the Pickling Hour. No matter what mood Pumpkin has been in all day, or how tired or not she may be, around 6.30 each evening she becomes a Pickle.

That’s our description of the mood she finds herself in. She is mischievous, cheeky, sometimes naughty. But all with a massive smile on her face and a glint in her eye!

Can I let you into a little secret? Its my favourite time of day! I love watching her look around the room for the next thing to entertain her. Its the point in the day when she doesn’t want to play with blocks any more, but emptying them all on the floor sounds fun. Books are no longer for reading, but for spreading across the lounge. Drawers and cupboards that she shows no interest in all day get opened and she looks at us from the corner of her eye to see what our reaction is!

In fact, in this mood, its quite difficult to upset her. A stern “No” just gets a grin and she moves onto the next thing. Pickling away until bath time.

In fact, the pickling hour lasts until the second she gets in the bath. Maybe the water is an antidote to it somehow! Running the bath is a messy affair as it is apparently the most fun to stick your hand under the running (cold) bath tap so that water sprays across the room!

I think that the reason I love this time of day the best is that its our last chance to have some fun before bed. Its a great chance to forget how busy our day has been, and any stresses that might have happened, and to make sure our day ends on a happy note.

This post was inspired by the Britmums Blogging Prompt ‘Your Favourite Time of Day

Easter Gift Guide – No Chocolate In Sight!

Easter is well on its way now and the shops are full of chocolate in all shapes and sizes! But there are lots of non chocolate ideas for Easter gifts for those of us that want something a little bit different! Take a look at these ideas…

For the Kids!

Bunny, Chick & Egg crayons (set of 7 crayons) £3.99 + P&P


I just love these Bunny, Chick and Egg crayons from Colour Me Fun! A set of 7 cute crayons in red, blue, yellow, black, purple, orange and green. All Colour Me Fun crayons are hand poured using non-toxic, high quality melted Crayola® crayons.

Each crayon measures approximately 4cm x 2.5cm x 1.5cm deep (1 1/2″ x 1″ x 1/2″ deep), with the bunnies and chicks being the largest, which means they are great size for children’s little hands! Each set will be sent in their own small drawstring bag free of charge (normally 99p). This makes them easily transportable, would make great gifts and would also be fun party favours. Please supervise all children under 3 when colouring.

Last orders need to be placed by April 5th to guarantee delivery in time for Easter.

Munchkin Bath Toys

I love Munchkin bath toys and Pumpkin quite a collection now! Why not consider some fun bathtime products for an Easter gift? They will provide lots of entertainment and bathtime is great quality family time for us!  Munchkin’s range includes both fun and practical bath products. From interactive brightly coloured Dolphin Squirters to a handy bath scoop, you’ll find something perfect for your child. The range starts from £5.99 – great value!

New products in the Munchkin bathing range include

  • Snail Stacker: RRP £9.99
  • Dolphin Divers: RRP £5.99
  • Lazy Buoys: RRP £5.99
  • Baby Bath Ball: RRP £5.99
  • Daredevil Dolphin: RRP £5.99
  • Bath Toy Scoop: RRP: £12.99

Each item from Munchkin has been designed to excite and delight children whilst making parents lives easier and more enjoyable.

I have a fab Munchkin review coming up soon, so watch this space!

When I Was a Kid

Whatever the occasion, have a look at When I Was a Kid for great gift ideas for kids. Their range of wooden toys is fantastic and the customer service from Paul is second to none! One of my favourite brands stocked by Paul is John Crane, and our Easter gift suggestion is this fab John Crane Sorting and Teaching Clock.

This teaching clock features clear numerals with the number written out in words as well as letters which will help them to recognise the numbers.  The face of the clock is marked out with every minute as well as the colourful inner of the clock marking out quarters of an hour.

The sorting and teaching clock also has 12 shaped blocks in different colours which slot into shaped holes so you can do a different activity with the clock each time making the whole learning experience much more fun!

The clock is just £13.50 from When I Was a Kid and the last order date for Easter is Tuesday 3rd April.

Happy Feet Two

Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray just in time for Easter is Happy Feet Two. If you have the technology you can even watch it in 3D! This follow up to the successful Happy Feet movie is bound to be a hit with the kids.

Mumble, The Master of Tap, has a problem. His tiny son, Erik, is choreo-phobic and lacks the talent of all the other penguins. Reluctant to dance, Erik runs away and encounters The Mighty Sven – a penguin who can fly! Mumble has no hope of competing with this charismatic new role model.

Things go from bad to worse for Mumble when the world  is shaken by powerful forces. Erik learns of his father’s guts and grit as Mumble brings together the penguin nations and all manner of fabulous creatures – from tiny Krills to giant Elephant Seals – to put things right. 

The film features an all-star cast including Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. Knowing how much fun the first film was I have high hopes for this one! Look out for our review of Happy Feet Two coming soon.

Pillow Pets 

Mookie Toys are bringing the original Pillow Pets to the UK this spring. Pillow Pets are a premium quality plush toy made of ultra-soft and cuddly chenille but with a clever twist.  When a hidden strap is released underneath, the cuddly creature transforms from a toy into a soft pillow, making the Pillow Pet a perfect travelling pal, naptime buddy and all round snuggly friend.

The range includes Silly Monkey, Playful Penguin, Comfy Panda, Snuggly Puppy, Magical Unicorn and Wiggly Pig, not forgetting Ms Ladybug and Bumbly Bee!   And especially for Easter, Cuddly Bunny, Thumpy Bunny, Puffy Duck and Fluffy Bunny.

Pillow Pets will become a must-have for all ages; from toddlers to teens and expectant mothers to grandmothers.  Snuggle up with your very own Pillow Pet, catching forty winks has never been more fun!

Priced £19.99 RRP and available from Toys ‘R’ Us, Amazon and other major retailers.

Pumpkin is reviewing a Puffy Duck Pillow Pet and we’ll be back with a review later in the week!

For Mum!

Well now I’ve given you some ideas on presents for your kids, here are a couple of ideas for Mum! (Devon Daddy, if you are reading these are definitely hints!).

Poppy Sparkles

I don’t think there is anything on the Poppy Sparkles website that I wouldn’t like to receive as a gift, but for Easter, how fab are these Friendship Bracelets? I love the bright cord colours and these would look fab with my sorry, your spring and summer wardrobe!

There are ten cotton colours available . The picture shows the freshwater pearl friendship bracelets, but they can also come with birthstone crystals. They’re priced at £10 each which is great value. The pearl or gem is on a large silver ring that will fit on most pandora type bracelets or it can be popped on a chain to create a simple pendant necklace too so its a really versatile gift!

Boots

This Easter, Boots have a collection of chocolate-themed beauty treats. As a confirmed chocoholic, these chocolate treats would be a welcome gift!

 

So that rounds up my Easter Gift Guide with only a little chocolate thrown in at the end there! I’ll be back to show you what I’m putting together for Pumpkin nearer to Easter! Let me know what you think of these products in the comments!

 

Monday Munchies 26/03/12

I’m just back from my first weigh in at Weight Watchers. Last week was a week of two halves to use the football cliche! Monday to Friday I did really well, sticking to my meal plan and eating sensibly and within my Pro Points. Saturday and Sunday I didn’t!

I blame the weather, long days out and lack of planning! On Saturday we were lucky enough to be invited to the press launch of Magma, the new ride at Paulton’s Park.

Paulton’s Park is also home to Peppa Pig World and we had a fab but long day in the park (much more on this to come later in the week!). We left home at 8.30 in the morning and stopped for breakfast at Morrisons half way into our 2.5 hour journey. Lunch at the park was chips, and tea was at a Little Chef on the way home (more chips – oops!!). Plus there was icecream and cake through the day!

On Sunday we had a quieter family day but still found time for a cooked breakfast out, icecream and cake. Hmm I see a pattern forming! :)

At weigh in this morning I was really pleased to still see a loss despite all this – 1.5lbs off! Ok its not great for a first week but after realising what I’d eaten at the weekend it seemed like a lucky escape. Lesson learned for this week – planning is key :)

This week I want to focus on planning my weekends better, and upping my water intake, especially with the warmer weather.

My meal plan for this week is another simple one, I hope!

Monday – Chicken Caesar Salad

Tuesday – Fishcakes, potato wedges and veg

Wednesday – Breakfast for tea (sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, beans, tomato and mushrooms!)

Thursday – Meatballs, pasta, tomato sauce

Friday – Chicken curry

Saturday – Maybe homemade pizza?

Sunday – Possibly a roast depending on the weather.

Fingers crossed for a good week! I always find it easier to eat well when the sun is shining so hopefully the lovely weather will last!

Want to join in Meal Planning Monday?  Pop over to At Home with Mrs M.

What Motherhood Means to Me

So yesterday was of course Mother’s Day and I had a lovely day with Pumpkin, Daddy and my in-laws. Pumpkin and Daddy bought me a lovely mug with Pumpkin’s hand print on, chocolates and flowers. I felt very special and loved by them both.

I was tagged by @zooarchaeologis to take answer some questions about what Motherhood means to me, so how could I resist?

Describe motherhood in three words
Challenging, rewarding and surprising

Does your experience differ from your mother’s? How?
That’s a great question! I was roughly the same age when I had Pumpkin as my mum was when she had me. The first child for both of us was a girl (she went onto have a second girl, we plan a second but not just yet!). I think that the biggest differences I can see are down to the modern world. I remember that we would only go out for meals for special occasions, and almost always to the Beefeater for steak. Pumpkin goes out for a meal probably once per week. We have coffee out a couple of times a week. Pumpkin has more days out than I would have at that age and at the tender age of 16 months has already had about 4 holidays!

What’s the hardest thing about being a mum?
It truly is a 24/7 job. I often struggle to balance Pumpkin’s needs with doing what needs to be done! And the lack of a manual for raising children means I spend a lot of time questioning my decisions!

What’s the best thing?
Watching a person develop from a small baby. At 16 months, she is changing every day and watching her learn and begin to speak is just magical.

How has it changed you?
I think of myself as a recovering control freak! Children are great at showing you that you can’t be in control of everything and sometimes you have to let things happen and just roll with it. That makes me a more relaxed and happier person (well that’s the plan anyway!).

What do you hope for your children?
To be happy, healthy and confident individuals. I want her to have the courage to follow her dreams and I hope she remembers her childhood fondly.

What do you fear for them?
I try not to think about the bad stuff. Obviously I fear illness. Sometimes I stop and think what the world will be like when my children are adults and that is quite scary.

What makes it all worthwhile?
Giggles, cuddles and kisses.

If you want to do your own Motherhood post, consider yourself tagged :)

Highlights from The Baby Show

Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit the first day of The Baby Show at the ExCel in London. I was invited to be a VIP Blogger for the day which was fab. I met lots of other lovely bloggers and had a day filled with great experiences. I want to share with you some of the highlights of the day and hopefully persuade anyone who has the chance to go tomorrow (Sunday 26th) that its worth visiting!

I have loads to share from the day and some fab products for review. But for now I’ll just check in with my highlights and a few tips for visiting! (I have just realised that despite carrying a heavy camera and my phone around all day I failed to get any pictures of the stands I visited – Bad Blogger, sorry :( ).

I would suggest taking a free Show Guide when you enter the show and then grabbing a cuppa at the Central Cafe while you have a good read. Mark all your must see stands as its amazing how easy it is to miss something fantastic as you walk through!

First of all I would head over to the Superdrug stand where you can treat yourself to a manicure at the nail bar or get your eyebrows threaded. Several of my fellow bloggers tried this out (while I had a massage) and they thoroughly recommended it! The stand is also a Superdrug store with 25% off all Superdrug own branded products. Once you are fully pampered, its time to shop!

Make sure you head to the Mamas and Papas stand where you can get a demo of the fab Mylo Pushchair. Its so easy to use and looks great (love the one handed fold – so handy when you are out with little one on your own). You should also enter their competition to win one of 3 Mylo pushchairs each day. While you are there pick up your free voucher booklet for over £400 off your favourite baby brands.

The Gro Company was the friendliest stand I visited. Say hi and take a look at their range of baby sleep products. As well as beautifully designed baby and toddler sleeping bags (the original and the best!) check out the fab travel sleeping bags (compatible with a 5 point harness) and the Gro Clock which helps littleuns understand when its time to sleep or to get up! I had a fab time talking to the lovely ladies at the Gro Company, and am looking forward to working with them more in the future!

I saw lots of gorgeous clothes at the show but the stand that stood out was Me & I. These Swedish designed clothes are well worth a look. The bright colours, clever designs and great quality really made them stand out from the crowd. Find out more about their party plan opportunities too. I couldn’t resist treating Pumpkin to a lovely dress from their range.

You can’t go wrong by buying one of the Prima Baby magazine goody bags, For just £2 you get two issues of the magazine, and a bag full of fab freebies. In my bag were several full size products and the magazines made good reading on my train ride home! Why not subscribe to the magazine while you are there for just £20 (a great saving on the cover price of the magazine) plus you get a choice of Tommee Tippee products for free!

Special mentions also for these companies who are all worth a visit!

  • Mia Tui Fabulously stylish and practical bags for mums which looked even better in the flesh than on the website!
  • Cheeky Wipes – a fab system of reusable baby wipes.
  • Cuddledry – The award winning apron towel. It was great to finally see the product in the flesh and the girls on the stand were lovely.

This is just a small selection of the fab products and companies I saw at the show. Stay tuned for more news from my time at the show.

Check out these posts from the other VIP Bloggers :)

We have a walker!

A new phase has entered the Spend Less household – Pumpkin is no longer a baby, she’s a toddler!

After her first steps on her Birthday In November, she didn’t seem too interested in walking until Thursday evening when she just decided to walk off across the lounge! Since then she has spent pretty much very waking hour practising her new skill!

I can’t wait to see where this adventure will take us!

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