Category Archives: Features

Dad Diaries: Winter Wonderland Hyde Park

SM Dad writer: “The last time I went to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland was four years ago. It was a bit much TBH; I was a new Dad with a baby in the buggy, there was genuine London grey snow melting on the ground and seemingly everything that could have been festive was adorned with Minions. It was so packed that I could hardly move, let alone get to the front of the queue to get a beer. 

I was amazed – on returning last weekend – this time with three kids (one in the Ergobaby, one walking, one blagging a lift on my shoulders) by how much it had changed since my last visit. Maybe it was the pleasant hazy Winter sun or the fact that (at 10.30am) the crowds weren’t at capacity. Maybe it was that (apart from signage everywhere warning of pickpockets) the spirit of Xmas was represented by gingerbread houses, polar bears and elves (rather than those yellow chaps). 

My kids and I watched the Zippos Circus show in the Mega Dome on site. Eldest child’s eyes light up with delight when he spotted the Slush Puppies, middle child spent the first ten minutes of the show shovelling the popcorn into his mouth double-fisted. But both of them were giving the performers standing ovations once it got going; the quality really was faultless (unlike the local circus they had seen a few months back) and (spoiler alert) the dancing bears were AWESOME. 

The problem we often have at funfairs is that the kids are too small to go on most of the rides and we struggle to find anything to actually spend the tokens on. At Hyde Park Winter Wonderland I was impressed that there actually were a couple of rides for tots that are free; plus plenty that 5-year-olds can go on alone (whilst Daddy has a gluhwein!)

My tips would be: take a rucksack style changing bag (damn those pickpockets!), pre-empt the tantrums by suggesting you walk ’round the funfair first and choose which rides to go on (then stick to your guns), get involved with the hot dogs (one whole one fed three kids) and finally wrap up really warm (it does get really cold).”

Entry is free but click here to book tickets for the shows or ice skating.

5 signs about your engagement ring that suggest your fiance might not be the one

This guest post made us chuckle…

Your fiancé’s choice of engagement ring says a lot about their feelings for you and the relationship.Jeweller DAVID LAW, reveals 5 signs that your fiancé might not be the one for you.

1. TOO CHUNKY – an engagement ring is supposed to be pretty, sparkly and dainty – the things he thinks about you. Think Cinderella and Prince Charming. Been given a chunky ring? You’ve got yourself a Shrek.
2. SMALL GEMSTONE – an engagement ring is a promise for forever and the size of the gem should reflect that commitment. A small gemstone screams of frugality (and tightness) and doesn’t bode well for a happy, long-lasting life together.
3. DULL GEMSTONE – engagement rings are made to be shown off – to friends, family, your social media followers (naturally) and even to strangers on public transport. A man who presents a dull gemstone probably isn’t as excited about the engagement as you are. You deserve better.
4. EX-GIRLFRIENDS’ BIRTHSTONE – excited to be presented with your long-awaited engagement ring – complete with quirky, unusual gemstone – only to find out it’s his ex’s birthstone? He has his ex on his mind.
5. NOT TO YOUR TASTE – are you a big jewellery person and your love has presented you with a small, discreet, neutral ring? Or do you have a stockpile of golden jewellery pieces yet your new engagement ring is silver? If your ring doesn’t reflect your tastes you have to ask yourself – does this guy even know me?

DAVID LAW is a bespoke London-based jewellery designer who offers a variety of bespoke jewellery including a wedding collection, eternity rings, pendants, cufflinks, earrings and cocktail rings for any other special occasion.

The SM guide to Surviving September

If back to school means colds, tired and grumpy kids, a return to washing PE kits and remembering after school clubs (hands up who has had a ‘late’ from school or a parking ticket already?) – here’s our guide to making it through til half term…

Champagne

Whilst this might sound like something out of the Edina school of parenting, enjoying a wonderful bottle of fizz in the bracing outdoors is the grown-up equivalent of jumping in muddy puddles. We love the rich and robust Champagne Gremillet Blanc de Noirs NV (£32, All About Wine, Tiny’s Tipple, Christopher Piper etc) – which would pair wonderfully with Venison if you were at home – but is delicious alfresco after a dog walk or pony ride with a pulled pork roll (and toffee apples!)

Outpacking

Rainy Day Kids Adventure Book is the sequel to ‘Let’s Go Outside’ and packed with inspiration for getting little ones enthusiastic about drizzle. Their tips: fill a backpack with essentials like string and tape, invest in a good puddle suit (Frugi or Wet Wednesdays do some great ones) and never use the word ‘gloomy’ to refer to the weather.

Even without a book of ideas, what kid wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of hunting for shiny conkers right now – and displayed in a bowl they’ll keep spiders away too…

Comfort bars

No, not hotel lounges with leather chesterfields (although, let’s not rule those out!) baking these comfort bars involves firstly cleansing your cupboards by emptying every half used pack of pumpkin seeds, raisins, organic oats and almonds clogging up shelf space into a mixing bowl, adding a scoop of protein powder (we love Nature’s Plus Paleo one) and a spoonful of coconut oil. If the mix isn’t mushy enough, add that old banana that you’ve had in your changing bag – or a few blueberries. Press into a lined tin and bake on a low heat for about the length of an episode of ‘Ben and Holly’. Then be comforted by a) the fact that you’ll be snacking on superfood flapjacks all week and b) you won’t be showered with hazelnuts the next time you try to find a tin of tomatoes … #Win.

Thistles

If Autumn flower arrangements make you think of those orange-overload far-too-cheery Thanksgiving style table centrepieces then keep it moody blue with the humble thistle. They look really elegant with antique roses or even just alone tied with string (if you’re feeling extra ‘spiky’). Grab a dried bunch for a tenner and it will last til Spring.

Investment Beanies

The bastion of fashion bloggers, a good beanie hat keeps one’s head warm, helps calm frizzy hair, hides most of your face when you don’t want to make eye contact at the school gate and forms an impromptu shopping bag when you don’t want to be hit with the 5p charge in Tesco. Celtic & Co’s lambswool pom pom beanie in claret is the colour pop equivalent of red lippy (or go all out for their cashmere version.)

Labels

Why brand your child’s uniform in Century Schoolbook when you can brand it with unicorns (or pandas, pirates and ponies?) Petit-Fernand’s stick on clothing labels make stitching nametapes into blazers a thing of the past – and the colours, fonts and designs can all be customised.

Say ‘I love you’ like a parent…

Granted, those little love gestures tend to fall by the wayside once sleep deprivation, endless piles of laundry and PTA meetings take over one’s life, but Dads (if you’re looking for inspiration) here are a few tokens we’ve found to tell your partner that they’re still number one (even with yoghurt in their hair…)

 

School Run Newbie Prince William could have taken a better route…

Following Prince William’s comment that he had a ‘stressful school run’ on Prince George’s first day at school, real-time, crowd-sourced, navigation app, Waze have analysed his daily journey to see if they can save him some time in traffic in the morning.

Finlay Clark, head of Waze UK comments:

“It’s only a 3 mile, 20-25 min trip, but traffic is significantly congested. The routes most sat navs will take you is down Gloucestershire Road, followed by a right on Fulham Road then left on Beaufort Street and continue over Battersea Bridge. But the quickest route will depend on live traffic data, which this morning would mean going down the adjacent Queen’s Gate, then cutting down Old Church Street, along Elm Park Road, down the Vale and then joining Beaufort Street from King’s Road.

With Fulham Road partially closed, only operating one way for gas main repairs, the route is heavily congested, so best to try and use Waze to get the best route for any given moment.”

The Duke of Cambridge isn’t alone when it comes to school run stress. Research by the free app, reveals one in eight parents (13%) said that the school run is the most stressful time of the day with over half (53%) getting stuck in traffic up to three times a week. This equates to eight minutes a day which adds up to over one day (26 hours) sitting traffic over a school year*. With the average school run timed at almost 20 minutes, sitting in traffic represents over 40% of the daily journey.

As the school commutes kick back in, the sat nav app will see weekly registrations grow by 100% month on month from August to September as people seek ways to avoid the traffic.

Finlay Clark adds:

“The Prince has experienced what millions of people experience every day as we see the relative quiet on summer roads instantly revert to the usual snarl of school run traffic. The good news is that we know from millions of users’ live updates how to avoid the worst of the queues – for both parents on the school run and commuters alike. We recommend the Prince downloads the UK’s fastest growing navigation app to find the quickest route on the school run. Given time, if he accumulates enough points, he can become Waze royalty”.

(guest post)

Kate’s pregnancy essentials…

Based on former pregnancies, we’re guessing The Duchess of Cambridge might be stocking up on the following…

 

Back To School Season: 22 things your child’s teacher would like you to know

Advice from Stacey Turner, author of ‘I’m Going To Nursery’ (part of the My Tiny Books series), parent, teacher and childhood/separation anxiety expert.

Is your child starting primary school in September?


As a teacher, we can help settle, support and teach other children, but as a parent, when it comes to your own child, it’s a whole different ball game! Here, Stacey Turner offers a wish list of points that teachers would love to share with new parents, including important tips to aid a smooth transition for you and your child as they start school after the long summer break that are particularly useful for those parents who are new to the whole ‘school’ thing!

  1. Remember your teacher is human too and doesn’t have magical powers, but he/she is an incredible person with a lot of patience and ready to start settling the class.
  2. Never underestimate the value in a nutritionally balanced breakfast and a good night’s sleep for a successful day ahead.
  3. The school uniform promotes a feeling of inclusiveness, so please ensure your child turns up on the first day with all appropriate uniform.
  4. PE kits are just as important as the uniform, so having this ready from the first day places an importance on PE and propagates responsibility. When buying trainers, if your child can’t do laces, please buy good Velcro ones you know your child can easily put on and off.
  5. Ensure everything of your child’s is labelled clearly.
  6. Be as organised as you can! It helps if your child turns up ready with everything they need for the day. Many parents choose to organise most things the night before.
  7. Ensure your teacher and teaching assistants are aware of any medical needs. Please don’t assume they know, your teachers want to hear the details from you to ensure correct care is provided.
  8. While transitional objects are important for settling and soothing, please do not send your child in with treasured possessions. Teachers can’t be held responsible for returning them at the end of each day.
  9. If you need to discuss your child, please ask to have a couple of minutes’ one-to-one as morning drop-off or pick-up times are not ideal for a private conversation.
  10. If you have an anxious child or a child known to suffer from separation anxiety, let your teachers know so they can work with you to help at drop-off, especially if it’s causing you to get upset too. There are lots of techniques to put in place to offer support for a softer start.
  11. Remember your teacher/s want your child to settle as much as you do!
  12. It’s a nice idea to practice eating in a dining room scenario with a little tray, plate, cup and cutlery. Leave a little space for the pudding! Show them how to clear away, throw leftovers in the bin, place cutlery away to be washed etc. If your child is taking a packed lunch, please ensure you’re sending in containers that can be opened by your child and packing that is easily opened.
  13. Soon your child will be given a reading journal and will be bringing home books. You need to sign this to show your child’s teacher/s they’re being read and can be changed. Get used to reading with your child as much as possible and from the world around them, such as road signs and menus, tracing and creating letters in any way you can through art and creative play.
  14. Reading is an important part of every day; if your child is irritable, read to them to distract them.
  15. Check your child’s bag daily, teachers often have a communication diary and pop any notes and even party invitations in the bag.
  16. We beg you not to compare your child to others, every child learns at their own pace, so be guided by your own child. School readiness is NOT just about being able to read phonetically and count.
  17. Keep your child at home if he or she is poorly!
  18. We must mention nits! It’s a good idea to wash your child’s hair with an appropriate nit deterrent shampoo and please check your child’s hair regularly.
  19. Be prepared at pick-up with snacks to tide them over on the journey home or to their after-school activity. They will be hungry and quite often irritable! Having a snack helps to not only settle hunger, but hopefully calm and soothe any pent-up tension from having to behave all day!
  20. Prepare for after-school meltdowns by understanding how hard it is for a 4/5-year-old to hold it together all day. Don’t overload your child with lots of after-school activities or play dates, give them time to settle in and give them the space to wind down, relax and get used to the school routine.
  21. With starting school comes forming friendships and learning about relationships. If your child comes home and is sad about another child/other children, please speak to your teacher/s, while you’re urged not to take things too literally, your child’s emotional and social skills are emerging and we want to ensure your child is nurtured through this.
  22. Trust us! If you have any problems, go and talk to your child’s teacher/school immediately. Any teething issues can be resolved, so don’t hesitate! Any teacher worth their weight knows the importance of effective communication and teaming up with the parents.

#BreastfeedingWeek: we discuss public breast action

We really felt for Binky Felstead this week saying she felt uncomfortable getting her boobs out in public. A ‘regular’ new mother doesn’t need to contend with a bunch of papz trying to poke their lens as far into the nipple action as poss – but it’s still not easy.

A few comments from some of our writers:

“We were in a seaside town (which I shan’t name, but it was super provincial) and having lunch in a pub. I honestly felt like every dirty old man was staring at my chest, and held off so long on a feed that both of my boobs blew and I had to rush and feed my son on the loo…Looking back I wished I’d had a poncho – but it was like, 100 degrees. Dria Cover’s ones are super light and really beachy…”

“I might sound like something out of the 50s, but when I was out with my husband I felt like every other man in the room shouldn’t get a free peek of my boobs. So, if we went out for dinner I’d just pump beforehand (or – in the car park). I started out with a Philips Avent Manual Pump (really efficient but my god it squeaks!). If I had my first again (ie the golden moments when we could go out for dinner and express in the car park) I’d get Medela’s ‘Pump in Style’ pump, in the chic black tote.”

“I honestly don’t have a problem with having a glass of wine as a mum – and most guidelines would recommend having the wine at the same time as feeding rather than afterwards because it won’t enter your system (ie milk) for 20 mins or so… But wow – the looks – boob out and a glass of prosecco? The FMLY store have the right idea (free booze and you can breastfeed) but not sure anywhere else is as switched on to ‘what mama wants’. But, don’t judge a gal for having a wine’o’clock moment, til you’ve walked a mile pushing her stroller…”

 

The Best of Bubble London

Stuff we Loved. Thank you to Bubble London and Fuse Communications – always a great show.