Tag Archives: children
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#silentsunday

23 Jun

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ITS TIME THAT OFSTED PUT A STOP TO ILLEGAL EXCLUSIONS AGAINST CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

20 Feb

Yesterday was a rather productive day.

Its a day that two years ago, I longed to see.

Yesterday was all about reaching out, creating awareness and getting heard.

It was those important factors above, and a few more besides that encouraged me on the given tasks I had been set. Tasks I thought would never happen but was now about to suddenly surface.

The task was that of sharing our story with the world.

Two years ago I felt as if no one would listen. I was able to successfully bring every aspect of our story to light and people would take notice… Every aspect but this one! Now I’d been given an opportunity to change this.

It all began when the charity “Contact A Family” sent me an email with an attached survey surrounding the topic of “Illegal exclusions from school” Of course I had a lot to say on the given subject. I hoped that others affected would have too. The results could finally prove the extent of the problem and finally a campaign set in motion.

Thankfully this is what happened! The results have lead to the charity “Contact A Family” launching a national campaign highlighting the results of the survey entitled “Falling Through The Net”…

The charity’s Falling Through The Net survey, collected the opinions off over 400 families of children with disabilities or additional needs.

The results indicated that more than half (53%) of families have been asked to collect their child during the school day because there are not enough staff available to support them.

• More than half (56%) of families have• been told by the school that their child can’t take part in a class activity or trips because it is unsuitable for them.

• Almost a quarter (22%) are illegally excluded every week and 15% every day.

• More than half (53%) of affected disabled children are falling behind with school work and 43% feel depressed because of illegal exclusions.

• Half of parents (50%) are unable to work due to being called to school frequently.

The charity is making the following recommendations to improve the situation:

• Where exclusion is necessary, schools must follow statutory procedure to ensure decisions are lawful, reasonable and fair.

• The most frequently illegally excluded pupils with a disability or additional needs are those who have conditions which affect behaviour. Schools should take early action to tackle the underlying cause, and to put in support before a crisis occurs.

• Schools and teachers should work closely with parents to understand a child’s condition or disability and their extra support needs and ensure the child gets the help they need.

• Ofsted has an important role in identifying unlawful practice in the course of an inspection. School should be offered additional support to help them improve their practice. A grading of “inadequate” should be considered if schools continue to illegally exclude children with a disability, SEN or additional need.

Looking back through some of my blog post that I had written back when Little man was being regularly excluded from school (both officially and unofficially) I am reminded of the sheer frustration and anger this situation was causing for both myself and my child.

I’m reminded of them painful days full of tears and disbelief as we struggled to get of a never ending rollercoster of emotional terror.

My post remind me that I am in fact a much stronger person than I myself give credit too. Despite the forming of depression and a certain degree of hopelessness, I never once give up… even though I often found myself close to the edge I remained there by a thread… A very thin one.

It wasn’t just our family feeling the pressure, although at that specific moment in time I felt like the only one and that felling was a somewhat lonely one! There was many more like me and it was during those months that followed that I discovered many others like myself living in fear of the daily phone calls from their child’s school demanding they collect their child for whatever reason.

The Boy With Aspergers Facebook page which is an addition to this very blog has some 5,800 + members, many looking for the same answers, huge numbers struggling to work together with their child’s school in a productive manner. Instead these parents found themselves on our page asking the same question… “Are they allowed to continually request I collect my child from school and bring him home?”

Yes, they are…. But only if the statutory procedures are carried out by the school. Its when they fail to put these procedures into action to ensure such decisions are lawful, that they then become unlawful.

What happens to the schools who chose the latter? In most cases if not all… Nothing!

You see the Education Act states that it is a parents responsibility to ensure their child is educated once they have reached compulsory school age. If parents fail to ensure regular attendances AWOs (Attendance and Welfare Officers) likely step in and local authorities proceed to take parents to court if they fail to fulfil this parental requirement (for whatever reason). This can leave parents with a hefty fine to pay or even in some cases a prison sentence to serve. The thing is parents can be found guilty of an offence under section 441 or 441(a) regardless of the reasons behind the absences. Its simple if you are (a) the parent of the child and (b) they never attended school everyday regardless of the reasons, then that parent is automatically found guilty of 441 (the lesser charge of failing to secure school attendance) and will end up with a fine or find themselves on some type of parenting order. Its the law, plain and simple!

My point?

Your child’s school phones you up, sometimes on a daily basis and requests you collect your child as they are unable to contend with their challenging behaviour. You take your child home as the school requests you do, only the official routes are not put into motion… There is no exclusion letter setting out the reasons for your child’s exclusion. This therefore means that the local authority have not been notified and your child’s school have broken the law. Maybe you don’t know this at the time but when you eventually discover this to be the case you take action. Written complaints to governing bodies, LEA officials and ofsted! Yet nothing at all happens… Instead the school seem completely disregard it all and continue to operate in such a manner! How is this allowed to continue? If parents are taken to court and hit with hefty fines then why ain’t schools? After all laws are laws.

When I was called at the ridiculous hour of 8.30pm and asked that I keep my child away from school on the same day as a planned Ofsted visit I had finally been pushed enough. I took myself and child to the school and as he throw himself around the reception area in sheer anger and frustration I just stood demanding I speak with the visiting ofsted officer.

Next thing I knew she was stood behind me, placing her arm around my shoulder as she lead me to an empty class room for a chat. I remember it all becoming to much and I sat telling her through sobs and tears, the extent of the schools treatment towards myself and my child, paying particular attention to the ongoing illegal exclusions (including the one he was currently meant to be serving). I passed her evidence I’d collected, diary notes and some written thoughts from the little man himself. She agreed that the schools activity was illegal and promised to investigated. I tried making contact with the officer as the weeks turned to months but never had any luck. I was horrors with the schools final report and grade of a “Good” school. There was absolutely no mention on the subject. It even stated the schools understanding of children with SEN and certain disabilities. To say I was horrified is an understatement! I then lost every bit of faith I had left in a failing system.

Yesterday morning I gave a live radio interview to Paul Ross on the BBC LONDON 94.9 Breakfast show.

That same afternoon I found myself agreeing to a LIVE TV interview with SKY NEWS. Now I’ve done TV interviews before and have appeared on the news as well as sharing stories in national and local newspapers, but a LIVE interview was something new to me and admittedly as I stood waiting to enter the news room my stomach did an array of huge summersaults making me feel a tad sick!

I had to constantly remind myself of the pain we suffered… How awful life was for little man during those dark days attending mainstream school. I then collaborated a huge mass of messages in my mind, all surrounding the questions parents of excluded children would leave on our Facebook page messages I’d read on the Facebook page all searching for answers and support.

I just had to remember that by doing this I could help contribute somehow to making a difference for children like my little man and their family’s too! This combined with the great encouragement given to me from some great supportive people across social networks such as twitter and Facebook, was the virtual kick in the butt I needed to get in that news room and go for it.

Thankfully I was joined by Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family and the whole thing went pretty well.

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So… Here’s hoping together we can bring much needed changes to the way schools deal with the challenging behaviour of children with additional needs.

Would be interested in hearing from others who like myself and many others have had fight this battle. If your interested in featuring in a post I’m planing on this subject please email me via the address on my contact page.

Links to media articles on this subject…

An article on the guardian blog from a teacher who says illegal exclusion needs to stop! Click Here

An Article in the guardian newspaper (I myself contributed too under a different name) plus it features the wonderful Mama Owl (aka Juile Sheppard) and her beautiful boy Logan. Click Here

Enable – The official Contact A Family Report featuring mine and little mans experiences Click Here

Contact A Family Article on their findings Click Here

I’m afraid I haven’t been given the permission to broadcast the Sky News Clip as yet. It was showed at 1:50pm on the 19th Feb 2013 live on Sky news (Sky and freeview). If you are a Sky account holder You maybe able to view this on Sky Go today if you would like to see it. I will share on the blog as soon as I have permission to realise the clip.

DON’T GIVE UP

7 Nov

I sit here today and I write you this post, a post that shares a very important message!

Don’t Give Up!

Too many parents tell me about the fight they currently face to obtain a diagnosis for their child. They tell me how others see them as uncaring because they are so eagerly chasing a label, one so many, wrongly claim to be unnecessary.

They tell me they just feel like giving up. They state the professionals have suggested they just wait a couple more years, see how things go!

They tell me they are tired, worn and lost.

I tell them it was the same for me… I state how I experienced the doubt, self judgement and sleepless nights! Then I tell them where we are at today!

Yes, I was tired… I don’t think I realised just how much till things had settled. I remember feeling that my concerns were looked upon as nothing but parental paranoia.

I remember wanting to scream out loud “Just shut up and listen” No, correction, I remember shouting this statement more times than I care to remember.

I questioned my own concerns. I felt that maybe I was going mad or worse that it was just me being a mother who was unable to do the job of parenting correctly.

I remember watching the months turn into years as I continued my battle, one that was just to get my foot in the Child Psychologist door.

In between there was issues, ones that turned into significant difficulties. More importantly, difficulties that could have been avoided or at least decreased in scale, if someone had just listened.

I did all I could do, yet it never felt enough.

School attendance fell, school phobia developed, but again, no one listened. Court cases and school attendance officers made my life more difficult and the fact I was found guilty and fined… Well, that just lead to my depression, lack of trust in the British justice system and great weariness in the operations of the LEA and everybody in it.

You sit there and think “Oh God, there really is no answer, no solution, no way to make them listen!” and as I started therapy I remember the endless tears that required my therapist to fetch more tissues. I remember the relief I felt, just to have someone… Sit… Just sit and listen.

Over the course of the battle, I saw my child become a target form both children and adults. I watched him change in personality as he tried to become someone he wasn’t… Someone who he thought he needed to be in order to be excepted.

Life is better now… I didn’t give up!

Little man has a diagnosis and this later lead to appropriate schooling and a much happier child!

You are the parent, you know your child. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Don’t give up!

#innocentinspires When I grow up I want to be…

7 Nov

The world can be a pretty inspirational place, full of inspirational people. When the guys at innocent asked what inspired me to do what I’m doing today I made myself a cuppa and got writing.

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I’m not yet a budding Entrepreneur (Yes, do note my wording!) However, I am in the process of making big decisions in my life ones that will change things significantly.

I currently volunteer and I’m a full time carer for little man but this has given me time to be at home and really work on where I’m intending on going.

A lot of what I’m doing is inspired by my love of writing and I’m currently writing a book that despite its planed completion date having been and gone I’m still hard at it and very determine.

My passion for raising awareness for autism and sen is also something that has really contributed to the decisions I make today in terms of where I’ll be going from here.

I may not have fully achieved what it is I’m wanting to achieve just yet but I’m a firm believer that things only work once your 100% ready to make them happen.

I have however been working incredible hard these past 3 months so that I am able to finally share my ideas and hopefully make my business a raving success. My first product line should be introduced on line early next year and I can’t wait.

My attention was then turned to the children. I asked them “What do you want to be once your older?” my daughters answer surprised me where little mans was really expected.

Alice drew me a rather fabulous picture of her desire to become…. Wait for it… A successful blogger/writer inspired by mummy.

Alice draws herself blogging

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I explained that regardless of how great blogging is in most cases it doesn’t really lead to a sustainable income. That’s when she pointed out that she would write in other areas too… Maybe for Monsters High magazine. Well, I should have seen that one coming!

Little man has stuck by his plans for his big successful future for as long as I can remember. He tells me he will never work for someone, will own hotels and transport, he will be a well known businessmen a top Entrepreneur.

He may only be 12 years old but would it shock you if I told you his expressed such desires to take over the world since he was 7. I remember him telling me he inspired Richard Branson (yes, he did get that the wrong way round but its funny all the same).

Little man also shares a very adult opinion, one that many adults on the autism spectrum can likely relate too. He states that being someone with Aspergers Syndrome is likely to affect job opportunities and he would therefore rather avoid such knock backs all together. I think he ideas and opinions based on the world of work comes from a lot of what he reads. However, Little man felt he was rejected while in mainstream school… After all can you imagine your own head teacher stating you cannot be involved in school activities because your a health and safety risk?

I think my children have some amazing ideas and as their mother I’d do anything to help them achieve their goals and dreams regardless if they change from now till then.

I’ve always told my children you can be absolutely anything that you want as long as you want it enough, work hard and believe in yourself! My first job is to prove this to them by showing them just how its done.

My innocent biscuit… Yummy

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Money Saving And Financial Support Resources For Those Parenting A Child With A Disability

22 Oct

We all know that parenting children with disabilities or SEN is more costly for whatever reason!

That’s why I wanted to share some great resources designed to help such families save money and lessen the burden.

Help with the everyday cost of living

If your child is entitled to any benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) be sure to claim them as your child’s appropriate adult.

Filling out DLA forms can seem a daunting process but there is help out there. Many online sites have developed detailed guides to help you fill in the form to the best of your ability.

Once your child’s DLA application has been approved, fill out a Carers Allowance form (better still do it at the same time as the DLA form) This isn’t a great deal of money but does help to lessen the burden especially if you are caring full time and are not in the position to work.

Save Money On Days Out

Most major theme parks and attractions do offer special rates for those with a disability and their carer. I would suggest visiting your planed attraction online. All will need to have easy access to their policies relating to disability, access and pricing. Most of the large parks also provide special access passes so those who find it difficult to queue can use the rides exist. Note… Each park has its own policies but most will require you to bring a certain amount of identification as well as proof of disability.

Financial Support Towards Days Out & Holiday’s

The Happy Days Charity funds and organises holidays, residential trips, days out and theatre trips for children and young people aged 3 to 17 years with learning difficulties, physical or mental disabilities.

Individuals can apply for help with the cost of days out and theatre trips, while families can apply for funding towards a one week UK family holiday (though a supporting letter from a professional is needed).

Another charity that can provide assistance to families in need of a break are the “Family Holiday Association” who helps disadvantaged children and their families with family UK breaks. Applications must be made by a welfare agent exp… Social worker etc.

Below is a charity who have helped us fund days out to their attractions, such as Lego Land and Chessington. They have done this by providing us with complementary family tickets. Note… there was some talk last year of pending changes to the way the charity processed applications form families of autistic children so you should refer to their website for full details….

Merlin’s Magic Wand is a worldwide charity for children, aiming to provide magical experiences for those who are seriously ill, disabled or disadvantaged.

The charity has been created by the Merlin Entertainments Group, Merlin’s Magic Wand is a UK charitable trust, run by a Board of Trustees. The board manages the funds and makes awards to good causes in the countries in which Merlin operates. Find out who is eligible and how to apply by visiting their website.

Its also worth noting that Scope have a special inclusion service designed to help children and young people with disabilities access leisure activities and facilities within their own communities.

Save Money On Travel Costs.

Earlier in the week I spoke about the disabled persons railcard which enables the card holder and carer upto 30% each of their travel. There is a yearly fee of around £20 but its worth it as you can save a fortune. I also highlighted how those claiming DLA who receive the high care rate and live in london can normally apply for a disabled persons pass (which enables the card holder free travel in london) You should check with the local authority or DWP about accessing this service. Those who receive the mobility part at the higher rate are also entitled to a blue badge which could make parking at hospitals etc a whole lot cheaper and easier. If the person in receipt of the benefit is a minor the child’s carer is able to use the badge on the family car.

Those in receipt of mobility may also be given the option of a car provided for their use by a car dealer on behalf of the DLA. This means a brand new car is provided to the family but the cost is taken from the mobility part of their DLA and they will receive no or very little cash payment (but will have the car for as long as they are in receipt of the benefit with the option of upgrades).

Financial assistance for home improvements and mobility aids.

That Act Foundation gives grants to individuals and charities based in the UK. These grants are designed to enhance the quality of life specifically for those with physical and/or learning disabilities.

Grants can be provided for building (modifications to the home)
Equipment (mobility aids etc…)
Financial assistance towards respite registered breaks.

The local authority/council can provide help and assistance in way of a disabled facilities grant. This is designed to provide financial assistance to enable families to make adaptions to the home as to allow the child with a disability to continue living there. Note: for those under the age of 19 years this is not means tested.

The Variety Club is a really great charity who provide grants and assistance to provide families with vital daily items that often go unconsidered yet cost thousands of pounds every year. These include things like bath mats, toilet seats, car seats and more.

Family Fund Is another fabulous charity that provide families of disabled children grants and vouchers for essential items such as appliances and more. They can even supply families with vouchers towards holidays within the UK and aboard, as well as some of the cost towards driving lessons to make live that little bit more easier.

There are some fantastic charities out there, set up to provide families parenting a child with a disability advice and in some cases financial support. Its just finding them that seems to be the problem for some. Those listed above are just a handful, there are many others available to help and you may be able to find the right service for you by visiting the one of these online directories…
Funder Finder
Living Made Easy For Children

A Sweet Smelling Home

25 Aug

When being contacted by the guys at Zoflora I wasn’t at all surprised by their findings

Freshly cut grass’ and ‘flowers’ are the most loved smells by us Brits.

Brits spend £7.7 billion each year maintaining the outside space around their homes.

Ensuring our home smells fresh and clean is also a top priority for us Brits according to a survey commissioned by Zoflora. Half of all Brit’s agree that smell is the first thing they notice when they walk into someone’s home.

More than three quarters of us admit that they would judge someone with a bad smell in their home or look at them in a negative light.

The smell of garden flowers are known to be the source of many pleasant recollections and the way that your home smells is just as important.

I’m already a big fan of Zoflora. Their range of concentrated antibacterial disinfectants are small but mighty when it comes to killing gems. The small bottle surprisingly goes much further than one would expect. The formula can be diluted 1 part Zoflora to 40 parts water to make full strength disinfectant for large areas, such as floors and bathrooms, making them hygienically clean and welcoming

With a child in the house who experiences numerous sensory sensitivities the smell of disinfectant can be one that is quite over powering. For this reason I will always try to use it while his at school but with such long holidays that luxury is taken away.

This is why I choose to use Zoflora! It floral fragrance amongst others is one that doesn’t upset Little man in the same way as other disinfectants. Bouquet, is a rich scent of warm wood and musk notes creating a heady seductive fragrance. We were sent a bottle to try and we found that it gave our home a really present scent.

I want my children to be able to get involved in chores, its a really important life lesson and for this reason I want the products we use to be pleasantly fragranced and safe for the children to use.

Zoflora’s has two new fragrances I can’t wait to try and these have been formulated inline with the above findings.

The two new scents will recreate the smells of British Country Gardens and Summer Bouquets. So, we can experiences some of our favourite smells all year round regardless of the weather.

Zoflora’s two new scents are that of Country Garden and Summer Bouquet.

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The new fragrances are now available as 56ml concentrated antibacterial disinfectants at Wilkinsons, independent local stores and pharmacy visit www.zoflora.co.uk or www.facebook.com/LoveZoflora

Fun in the Sandpit – A Review

11 Jun

When asked to review a beautiful wooden sandpit from Climbing Frames UK, I knew the children would be overcome with joy especially that of the youngest member of the family.

If anything I was hoping it would stop the little guy trying to sit and play in the cat litter… I know, not nice!

The sandpit we were sent is of the wooden type and Is from the
Fabulous Selwood range. It comes flat packed all within the one box and included with the sandpit is a waterproof cover and a canvas groundsheet to stop weeds and grass growing trough.

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I found the sandpit quite easy to put together, my 9 year old daughter even gave a helping hand.

What I found really great is that there is no maintenance required with this sandpit. It’s constructed from treated wood and there is no need for vanishing or painting.

The sandpit is designed as a standalone model, however our garden is so uneven that we inserted it into a small prepared dip which actually worked really well.

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All three children loved it and my niece Amy who is 2, the same age as the toddler couldn’t wait to come round with her bucket and spade and play with her cousin in the sunshine.

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It’s made a lovely addition to the garden and is a real sensory haven for Little man who is 11 and has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. Little man is very tactile defensive and I’ve been using the sandpit to hide different objects then giving him the opportunity to dig around and find them. This really helps him to get used to varying textures and is a great idea as part of a sensory integration plan.

Sadly when the sandpit was delivered the best of the british sunshine had been replaced with grey skies and lashings of rain. Thankfully the sun did return and the children have therefore been making the most of it!

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For me the included cover is a godsend. We have cats from all over visiting the garden on a daily basis. The sandpit looks most inviting and my own Tom was very tempted to use it as a Giant litter box (till I ran out like a mad woman yelling him out). For this reason I’d recommend that anyone thinking of getting a sandpit ensures it comes with a protective cover or orders one at the time of purchase. This is not only for weather proofing but avoiding the odd fluffy visitor trying to bury his toilet!

Climbing frames UK stock a huge range of good quality garden products from climbing frames, playhouses, trampolines, sandpits and more. The range is really extensive and reasonably priced. What’s more Climbing Frames UK offer a price match guarantee service, insuring you get the best price available.

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I do love watching the children having fun in the sun, the sandpit will do well to keep my children fully entertained. This is perfect for those summer months when relaxing in the garden or maybe having friends and their children over for a barbecue.

The Selwood Sandpit measures 1 square meter and is currently on special offer for £29 instead of £50 which makes it amazing value money.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I was not paid to write this review. However I did receive a sample of the product in-order to share my honest opinion with my readers

Bags of style

5 May

My 9 year old daughter “Alice-Sara” reminds me a little of myself at her age. She loves nothing more than a creative project. Whether its customising something new or old, she loves to put her stamp on it!

That’s why I knew she’d really enjoy the creative challenge of designing and creating her very own handbag!

Note: Alice-Sara is also your typical fashion loving pre-teen, she’s very individual when it comes to style, which is something I really love.

This is why the My Clippy Bag kit was perfectly suited to my daughters needs.

My Clippy allows children to release some inner creative flare and create bags with style that are 100% unique to them. The great thing about designing and putting together your very own bag is that no two bags are ever the same and you can change your bags design whenever you like.

With the ‘My Clippy’ bag Alice-Sara was able to create a funky bold bag that was perfectly suited to her personality. It provided her with hours of fun and she was so proud of her finished bag it accompanied her to school on Friday for show and tell.

The My Clippy create your own bag kit consists of
Cool Art Papers
Lots of Templates (that double up as stencils)
Embossing Tool
My Clippy Cards
Design Station
Clear Silver Trim Clippy Bag (With 3 Clear Pockets)
Silver Bag Strap (clips on to bag)

Note: additional items are required! These are…
Scissors
Glue

Optional extras are
Glitter
Photographs
And anything else you may like to add.

How it works…

Place a Clippy card on the design station, now use the papers, embossing tool, templates and any optional extras to customise your card.

Templates can also be used to draw around, then you can cut out the shapes and layer these on your card with glue as to create a 3D effect.Templates can also be used as a stencil once removed.

Use the Embossing tool on the funky papers then cut out and stick to your card.

Add photos and customise with a paper boarder. The possibilities are endless… Raid your craft box for additional touches such as sticky gems or glitter glue to add some extra sparkle and some added WOW factor!

Once you have designed a total of three cards and these are fully dry, pop each in one of the three pockets of your Clippy Bag. Add the strap which is easily connected to the poppy buttons to wear the bag under your arm, or leave it off as to create the perfect clutch bag, makeup make or funky pencil case that is bound to impress the kids at school.

Make more cards and pick and choose different sets of Clippy cards for different occasions or as a fashion accessory for different outfits, making your Clippy Bag even more unique.

Alice-Sara really does love getting creative with her my Clippy Bag Kit and she’s already designed all her cards leaving us no choice but to create some more cards with the use of different coloured card cut to size (we just used one of the original Clippy cards as a template to draw around).

I’m a very crafty person meaning I have a cupboard full of glue and loads more additional craft bits and bobs. However, for the price I do feel a glue stick would be a good addition to this kit as I’m sure there are many parents who don’t have some at home sitting about (unlike scissors) which could prove disappointing to children, especially on occasions such as birthdays or Christmas (just like the all-too-familiar battery scenario)!

The My Clippy Bag Kit is priced at £14.99 and you can check out the My Clippy site to buy this direct. You can also visit the site to sign your child up to the My Clippy page for lots of creative fun and inspirational ideas.

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This is a review post, all opinions are that of my own. I was not paid to write the review but was sent a sample of the product as to give my honest opinion

Guest Post – How to keep children occupied during a long car journey

12 Apr

How to keep children occupied during a long car journey

Modern in-car multimedia entertainment systems give children access to the same sorts of backseat delights that you’d expect on a long haul flight.  However, while plugging kids into a drip-feed of movies and games might keep them quiet, there can be more to be gained from the experience of going on a long car journey.

Every parent knows that a long car journey can be miserable for all concerned if youngsters are not kept happy. Wailing, arguing and fighting from the back of the car can drive you to distraction. But there are many things you can do to make your journey not only bearable, but fun as well.

Joining in

Kids like to be involved in what is going on around them and that applies to car journeys too. Discovering new things is what childhood is all about, so why not use play as a way to make kids feel like they’re part of an exciting expedition?

Forget ‘I spy’ – car bingo is far more fun. Before you leave home, spend some time with the children designing and making bingo cards. Instead of numbers, draw pictures and write the names of things that you’ll see on the way. The first to spot every item on their card shouts, ‘Bingo!’

Make a stop

The longer the children spend in the car, the more likely they are to get bored and grumpy. So be sure to schedule in stops along the route and let the kids know when you’ll be taking a break.

The UK is full of interesting things to see and do. A little bit of research before setting off could make all the difference to a long car trip. A short detour to visit a castle, for example, will give young ones something to look forward to.

Treats

Be careful when it comes to handing out sweet treats during the journey. Sugary snacks may buy you temporary respite from complaining children but you could pay a heavy price later. Sweets and fizzy drinks are soon guzzled, and the rush of calories can make kids restless and bad-tempered.

Try freezing bottles of fruit juice before you leave. Children will enjoy sipping at the melted juice, which will help to keep them topped up with fluids.

Packing lots of healthy fruit is also a good idea. Treat kids to a taste of the tropics by including unusual items like star fruit to tantalise their taste buds.

Stories

Audio books are widely available either as downloads or on CD, but nothing soothes like the sound of mum or dad reading a story. Why not record yourselves reading some of your children’s favourite tales so you can play them in the car?

Alternatively, encourage children to come up with their own fairy-tales. Just start a story off and let children take turns to add the next part of the fable.

Contented children can help towards a hassle-free trip. Adequate car insurance can also give you peace of mind, so you that if there’s a problem, you’re covered.

Author Bio:

Liam Williams writes for the Sainsbury’s Finance Money Matters blog. In his spare time he enjoys motoring and organic gardening.

 

Sponsored Guest Post

Frankie & Benny’s – A Review

10 Apr

When I was asked if I’d like to review the new Frankie and Benny’s menu I jumped at the opportunity especially since the new Greenwich restaurant which overlooks the river and the cutty sark had just opened. 

I was set to take all three children but right at the last-minute Little man went to stay at his cousins, given this is something he doesn’t do often I decided to take my mum along instead.

Frankie and Benny’s is an Italian restaurant with a 1950 New York American dinning experience. 

This is a restaurant that offers everything from breakfast to dinner and the deserts are rumoured to be out of this world.

We arrived at the New Frankie and Benny’s Greenwich, a little after 8.30 pm, we were shown to a table straight away and the children were handed some activities packs which kept them entertained. 

The service was excellent and the menu packed with all sorts of treats from New Yorker burgers to an array of pasta dishes.

The children get their own menu which is amazingly priced a just £3.99 (this includes the main, dessert and a soft drink) I was shocked at how well sized the children’s potions were for the price.

The chefs prepare the food right there in front of you, the smells that were oozing out of the kitchen area were delightful. 

As for drinks… WOW! Myself and Mother were unable to resist the temptation of the cocktail menu with Pina Colada being our drink of choice. At almost a fiver these were no more expensive than anywhere else. 

For such a lovely dinning experience I was surprised at how well priced Frankie and Benny’s is. There is a special’s menu available which consists of some of its finest mains and desserts. The menu is priced at £10.95 and your able to add an additional course for a tiny 2.25.

Mum choose something from the special, the New Yorker Burger with Salad instead of Chips, she loved the salad stating she could eat it all day.

I however didn’t choose anything from the special’s but opted for Spaghetti & Meatballs which was huge but tasted amazing.

Mum also ordered some warm dough sticks with garlic butter which the toddler went crazy for.

My daughter opted for  sausage and mash where’s the toddler had Spaghetti Bolognese.

No complaints with the desserts, these were incredible. The children both had ice cream sundaes which came with a packet of Cadbury’s buttons to decorate. Of course this went down a treat.

Myself and mother both opted for Mamma’s crumble with a scope of ice-cream… seriously yummy.

As the restaurant is fairly new it wasn’t overly busy at the time we visited which was nice, through I can just imagine what a hit this will be in the summer.

All came to around £45.00 which in my opinion was fantastic value for what we ordered.

The staff were lovely and really fantastic with the children! At one point the toddler decided to dash his remaining Apple juice across the table, we were moved to a clean area to eat why staff set about cleaning up, which was awesome. 

Check out our review video below… trust me the food does taste as good as it looks.

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