Month: February 2018

Things to Pack for a Caravan Holiday

We have been on a few camping holidays now and there are some things I have learnt along the way, especially things to pack for a family caravan holiday.

I am writing this post from our beautiful caravan in Cornwall so I can look around to remind myself of all the important things that you need.

Staying in a caravan in the UK means preparing for a range of weather possibilities, but you can pack a lot of things into your car.

I am a list writer and always write down things I plan to take and then tick them off as I pack. This time, I decided to skip the list and managed to forget a load of clothing items for the kids, so I won’t be doing that again – lesson learnt.

Comfort and Warmth

I always pack bed socks, slippers and dressing gowns for comfort and warmth. Caravans usually have hard floors, which can feel a bit cold and we’re used to the comfort of carpet at home. Extra blankets and pillows can also be handy for a bit of extra comfort or for a cosy afternoon in front of the television.

Weather Protection

It is a good idea to pack jackets and waterproofs whatever time of year you are going away. Wellies for the kids and walking boots for the adults are also useful if you’re planning to walk or go to the beach in cooler weather.

Basics

Most caravans will have basic items, but I think it’s better to be safe than sorry so there are a few items I always pack for a caravan holiday. Key things are scissors, tin opener, corkscrew/bottle opener, tea towel, hand towel and washing up sponge, hand wash and matches.

Extra Items

I always bring a torch, bin bags, food bags, toilet rolls, kitchen roll, cleaning wipes, picnic bag, drink bottles, cutlery, plastic plates and cups for the kids.

I brought a potty and step for my youngest this time, which has been really useful as she can go to the toilet with minimal help.

Online Shopping Delivery

I would certainly recommend getting an online delivery to your caravan if possible. We saved a lot of space and managed to get a range of frozen and chilled items delivered to our caravan as well as things that would have got squashed if we’d brought them all the way from home. Key items included butter, milk, bread, fruit, cereals, pizza, ice cream and beer.

This is a checklist of things to pack when going on a family caravan holiday based on our own experience. It is best to check what is included with your caravan as you may or may not have a dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, freezer and this will determine what you need to pack. Hopefully this list of tips will be useful for other people planning a caravan holiday and wondering what to bring.

We had a long drive to our holiday in Cornwall, but it was not as stressful as I feared. We played games and had a few stops along the way. You can check out my other blog posts about surviving long car journeys if you click on Long Car Journey With Kids and Games to Top 10 Car Games to Play .

Lunch Ideas Beyond Beans on Toast

beans on toast with melted cheeseI want to share some ideas for lunch at home beyond beans on toast.

I love beans on toast. I really love beans on toast with melted cheese and chunky Branston – yum. It is quick, cheap and easy to make. It is one of the plus points of being at home with my two year old daughter, who also loves beans on toast, thankfully. However you can only eat beans on toast so many times!

I often struggle to think beyond the most obvious lunches and forget about lots of quick and simple alternatives. Quick and simple is key when at home with kids. So this post is dedicated to thinking beyond beans on toast and giving some inspiration for alternative lunches at home.

Quick Lunches

Sandwiches are an obvious choice, but I like to go beyond ham and cheese when I can. How about egg mayonnaise with some rocket leaves, smoked salmon and cream cheese with rocket and a little lemon and pepper (ideally on a toasted bagel).

Eggs are so versatile, but I hardly ever make eggs for lunch. I love scrambled eggs on toast with a little brown sauce. Boiled egg and soldiers is great. Poached eggs are great if cooked to your preference, rubbish if not.

Cheese on toast is a nice lunch for a toddler. Stilton and lightly fried mushrooms on toast is amazing for me. I lightly fry mushrooms in some butter and add stilton until it just starts to melt then pour over toast. Alternatively you can add a little milk to the mushrooms in the pan, warm up and pour over toast.

Bit More Time

Pasta offers so many options for quick and easy lunches. The following are my favourites for a simple lunch. Simply cook some pasta and add a little olive oil and crushed chilli flakes. If I have left over bacon I will often fry up some of that and have it with pasta and passata (optional addition of onions and mushrooms or olives). I have done the same with left over sausages. I have added some cream cheese to pasta before, along with some pepper, which is ok for a quick lunch.

Omelettes are a filling option. I hardly ever make an omelette, but whenever I do, I think I must do this more often and then leave it another six months. My favourite fillings are cheese, onion and ham, pepper and mushroom.

Jacket potatoes are great when you fancy something filling and hot. I like a crispy skin so I cook mine in the microwave first then cover the skin in oil and salt and put them in the oven for at least 20 minutes. My favourite toppings are cheese, tuna mayonnaise, mushroom and stilton works well.

I hope this provides a little inspiration for lunches at home.

Like many Stay At Home Mums, I get digs from others about my life of afternoon teas and coffee mornings with the other Mums. I know that I am lucky to go out for lunch with my daughter fairly often, although lunch out with a toddler is far from a relaxing event. The reality is that my daughter and I spend a lot of time having lunch at home, normally eating beans on toast or ham sandwiches. Sometimes we have something a little more adventurous for lunch.

Any more suggestions for lunch at home would be much appreciated if you’d like to leave a comment.

Long Car Journey With Kids

Lego man family car journeyI have just booked two family breaks away in the UK, which will involve some serious driving to get there and back. We have been on many family holidays abroad with young kids and UK breaks within a couple of hours of home, but we don’t have much experience of long car journeys with kids.

My daughters are 6 and 2 so I am hoping to bring lots of things to keep them entertained during the journey and we will play lots of games on the way down. I will also create a playlist of songs for the car so that everyone has some music that they like (99% of the music will be chosen by the kids, obviously).

Breaks

I guess we will need to stop for a break every 2 – 3 hours. We will probably eat somewhere on the way as that feels like a treat and a proper break for everyone. We’ll need to break up the long journey for the kids. Ideally we can stop somewhere with a play area – I’d best get Googling that one.

Toys and Stuff

I am planning to bring a load of kids stuff for the journey, such as colouring books, sticker books, iPads, blankets and pillows, Barbie dolls, Peppa Pig figures. I may also make some I-Spy packs for the girls which I have done for holidays before with things to look out for and tick off.

Food and Drinks

I will also bring drinks and snacks, including breadsticks, carrot sticks, some sweets and dried apricots. We’ll probably buy some lunch when we stop, but I may pack some jam sandwiches for snacks whilst in the car.

Avoid

I will avoid chocolate and anything sticky for in the car, as well as PlayDoh or messy toys and anything that the girls are likely to argue over.

I have put together a list of car games that we regularly play in the car, so we will probably do lots of these too.

Do you have any tips for a long journey with kids? Please add a comment if you do.

Top 10 Car Journey Games for Kids

Lego family long car journeyWhen we’re travelling in the car there are various games we play with our kids. Some are popular well known ones and others we adapt and make up as we go along.

My daughters are 6 and 2 so our 6 year old gets very involved and our 2 year old likes to pipe up now and again. We always try and involve them both and encourage our youngest to have a guess, even though she tends to say “Seven” in answer to anything.

When not playing games, I am generally forced to play music from Trolls or Little Mix, so it can help to break up a long journey to play a game or two. I also try to avoid reaching straight for the iPads too early on in a journey so we find that games in the car can help prolong that.

The following list is our top ten games for playing with kids in the car:

  1. Rainbow Cars – spots cars in the colours of the rainbow, starting with Red then Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Depending how long it takes and how bored the kids are getting, we can include lorries or bits of lorries.
  2. My Car Colour – this one is best for quieter roads rather than motorways. You each pick a colour and count the number of cars you see that are your colour. You can either do this within a set time or just shout out each time you see your colour.
  3. I-Spy – good old favourite. Younger ones can play I Spy Colours, where they have to spot something blue for example. We also play I-Spy Numbers which involves spotting 4 things for example 4 people in the car.
  4. ABC Game – in this game, we work through the alphabet naming things in a category, such as Animals – ant, bee, cat etc or Sweets – aniseed balls, bubble gum, candy canes etc. We have done this for things you might get in a classroom or things you might get at a party. You can take it in turns or just work through it together depending on the age and ability of your child.
  5. I Went to the Shops – here you take it in turns to add an item to a shopping list remembering the ones that have already been said, eg I went to the shop and bought an orange, I went to the shop and bought an orange and a toilet roll, I went to the shop and bought an orange, a toilet roll and a pen etc. You can work through the alphabet or just think of items randomly.
  6. 20 Questions – somebody thinks of a person or character that everyone in the car knows. You take it in turns to ask questions about the person to work out who it is.
  7. Guess the Time Left – this is a good one to answer the dreaded question “Are we nearly there yet?” Each time someone asks that question, you can say, let’s guess and see who is closest. How many minutes do you think Sat Nav says it is until we get there? You can do this every 20 minutes or so if you want, but probably best to leave it until you’re fairly close. An answer of 5 and a half hours may be a little depressing for everyone otherwise!
  8. Odd One Out – we quite often play this with our school aged daughter, so for example you may say Orange, Apple, Carrot and Pear, where carrot is the odd one out because it is a vegetable and not a fruit. We have progressed to things like Grass, Giraffe, Glass and Cup, where cup is the odd one out as all the others begin with a G.
  9. Name that Tune – a great one to adapt for different aged kids, our youngest loves to guess nursery rhymes and our eldest can hum along tunes from Little Mix or from the Trolls soundtrack.
  10. Eddie Stowbart Names – whenever we see an Eddie Stowbart lorry, we always guess two girls names and see whether anybody got one of the names on the front of the vehicle.

These are the games we tend to play when out and about in the car with kids and they do help to pass a bit of time. If you have any other ideas, please share by leaving a comment.

Is Yogurt Healthy?

My kids love yogurt. They both always have. It is one of the few things that I have always been happy for them to eat as I’ve always assumed it is a healthy food and something to be encouraged. I think of the calcium, vitamins and protein, as well as the probiotics that I read are good for your gut.

More recently, however, I have noticed that lots of yogurts, many of them aimed at kids, are full of sugar. Now I’m not obsessive about nutrition and I’m fairly relaxed about my kids eating treats, as long as they are eaten alongside some balanced meals. However I am irritated that there are a number of food products, including yogurts, that are pretending to be a healthy choice, when really the kids might as well be eating ice cream covered in strawberry sauce.

My youngest daughter will happily polish off two of those small fromage frais yogurts from Petite Filous, plus a Danone Actimel Kids yogurt drink before tucking into her porridge for breakfast and she will frequently ask for another two yogurts for a snack later. She never eats just one, it always has to be two!

I was intending this to be a lighthearted post, but now I am starting to look at labels and get concerned about sugar levels so this is going to get a bit more technical. If you are easily offended by meddling guidelines on nutrition, then stop reading now, but if you have similar concerns to me, then you may wish to keep reading and find out more.

I have just had a look at the packaging and discovered that two mini Petite Filous yogurts contain 9.3g of sugar (recommended serving is two pots). The Yoplait Wildlife fromage frais pots are very similar in terms of calories and sugar. The Actimel Kids yogurt drinks each contain 11.2g of sugar so that’s 20.5g of sugar before my daughter has even started on her porridge, which normally has a little honey on. Eek – alarm bells are starting to ring.

NHS Guidelines on Sugar

NHS guidelines describe ‘free sugars’ as sugars that are added to food or drinks and sugars found naturally in honey, syrups, unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and purees. The guidelines suggest that the average adult should have no more than 30g of free sugar a day. Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugar per day. Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars in a day and there is no guideline limit for kids under 4 as they should avoid sugar sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it. One teaspoon of sugar is 4g.

See full article here – NHS Guidelines on Sugar

The packaging on the yogurt products is not really showing the full picture as you can only see the carbohydrate of which sugars figure, so there is no differentiation of the naturally occurring sugars (lactose milk sugars) and the added sugars. It is suggested that in a 100g of yogurt, the first 5g of carbohydrate of which sugars is typically natural lactose and the rest is added sugars.

So, the Kids yoghurts are not as bad as I first thought, in moderation, but it still seems a lot of sugar. I feel I need to start limiting the amount my daughter has and keep a closer eye on the sugar levels.

Off the Scale Sugar Levels

I used to buy Muller Corners, which are clearly not a healthy choice, but I didn’t realise how bad they were. Initially I bought them as a treat, but increasingly became expected from my eldest and my other half so I looked at the label and was quite shocked. The Muller corner strawberry shortcake flavour contains 17g of added sugar. That is on top of the natural sugar from the milk. This represents almost 60% of an adult’s recommended daily amount of sugar and 90% for a young child. One of these yoghurts contains almost the full daily amount of sugar that my 6 year old should be eating. I find that quite disturbing and these products should not be promoted and sold to children. Maybe they should even feature an over 18’s label or these manufacturers need to look at reducing the sugar levels.

Low Fat Yogurts

I steer clear of low fat yogurts as I have been warned these typically contain loads of sugar and whilst not always the case, I found that to be true of the ones I was buying. Some low fat yogurts have over 20g of added sugar per pot, which equates to three scoops of ice cream. I know which I’d rather choose!

My parents buy the Weight Watchers fromage frais and these are very low in sugar and in fat, but I personally find these very sweet. My girls like them. There are wide debates on the issues of sweeteners – save that debate for another day, but I don’t like something that tastes overly sweet and I don’t see how that can be a healthy option.

Natural Yogurt is a Healthy Food

There seems to be overwhelming acceptance of unsweetened natural yogurt as a healthy option. Many people feel that natural yoghurt can seem a bit sour and difficult to enjoy. Maybe because we’re so used to the sugar loaded versions. My girls and I do enjoy natural Greek yoghurt with raspberries and a little honey. Maybe that is a better alternative to the Kids yoghurt products that I have been buying and I will try to reduce the honey.

Shocking Sugar Statements

There are some very questionable statements about yogurts from the shocking tales of Mums on chat websites to the health claims of certain brands. No, there are not 8 teaspoons of sugar in a 47g pot of Petite Filous. Also, the people who are selling these yogurts to us are probably not the most reliable source for whether a yogurt is healthy or not. As always, it is a question of being informed and having things in moderation, but my view of yogurts has changed and I won’t be so proud to see my girls wolfing down yogurts.

I have tried to get some reliable facts while writing this and checked the labels of products for myself. I have no agenda other than trying to find out more about what my family are eating and drinking. Please do advise if you disagree with anything I’ve written or comment if you have something helpful to add.

A Note On Fruit Smoothies

I recently wrote an article about making fruit smoothies for my daughters and I’m now wondering why smoothies are on the naughty list. Is it possible that fruit smoothies are more harmful than the fruit ingredients that go into it.

I shall quote the NHS website as I wouldn’t trust anyone else on this one:

“The sugars found naturally in fruit and vegetables are less likely to cause tooth decay, because they are contained within the structure. But when fruit and vegetables are juiced or blended into a smoothie, the sugars are released. Once released, these sugars can damage teeth.

Limit the amount of fruit juice and smoothies you drink to a maximum of 150ml (a small glass) in total per day, and drink it with meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay.”

See full article at the following link – NHS Guidelines on Sugar

I thought I had found a good solution with fruit smoothies, but again I’ll have to watch the amount we have and try to have fruit smoothies alongside meals.

Mummy Moment

Mummy moment - sewing a bunny's leg after drinking wineThere are certain times where you look at your situation and think, yes, this is one of those ‘Mummy Moments’. Prior to kids, you can imagine certain inevitable Mummy Moments, such as the cuddles after a fall or playing in a park or walking your child to school. Others are less obvious and sometimes less natural.

Tonight’s Mummy Moment involved me sewing up a fluffy bunny after drinking wine. I promised my daughter that I would do it before I went to bed. She had questioned whether I would be able to do it. I said “Of course” as I walked away wondering whether, in fact, I could do it! I settled to watch a film and drank some wine, then remembered I promised, therefore, I must sew up the bunny as best I can.

So here I am. It is a Saturday night and my daughter is sleeping like an angel in her bed and I am sitting on the couch sewing up a stuffed toy while watching a film.

I can remember my Mum sewing items of clothing and making me dresses when I was a child and she seemed like she knew what she was doing. I just thread a needle back and forth and hope that it will suffice. Sewing isn’t something I’m very good at. However, it is quicker and easier than expected.

Before I went to bed, I placed the bunny in my daughter’s arms. She was fast asleep and I kiss her goodnight on her forehead whispering “night, night”.

The next morning, she rushed into my bedroom at an early hour and threw her arms around me, saying thank you for fixing her favourite bunny.

It wasn’t such a big deal after all and it is nice to be appreciated now and again!

W Sitting Alarm Bells

W Sitting position in childrenI have stumbled across various threatening articles about the dangers of W Sitting and the great risks to health and development of my toddler.

My daughter is 2 and she often sits in this W sitting position with her feet either side of her bottom. It does look a bit unnatural, but she seems happy enough to sit like this and can reach for things and play happily while in this position.

I have asked around for advice on this as I have struggled to find any medical advice from the NHS resources. I have asked a couple of health visitors and childminders and a physiotherapist, but none have been able to concur with the strong fears of the articles that I have read. My eldest daughter and I are a bit double jointed so I wonder if this is just a form of flexibility.

The only NHS article that I can find that makes reference to this issue is the Leg Posture In Children leaflet. Here there is a brief mention of W Sitting with the following advice:

“Children who intoe should sit cross-legged or side sit and avoid sitting with their bottom between their heels i.e. ‘W’ sitting.”

This is a specific issue for children who walk with their toes pointing in, but not a general issue.

There was an article in the Daily Mail last year with conflicting views one from an American Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon and one from a London based Osteopath. The article also said that sitting crossed legged was a danger and both positions could lead to pain throughout their lives.

My daughter manages to reach for things and does not show any signs of problems with her legs or posture so I am reluctant to stop her sitting in this position. It is difficult to change her position as she tends to revert back to W-sitting. It does look a bit unusual and I couldn’t sit like that, but until I see some clear advice from a credible medical professional, I don’t feel I should keep moving her out of this position.