My Perfect Family Holiday (And A Little Game Of Holiday Bingo!)

girl-with-sea-shell

This week, my family and I are on a short break in Cornwall. Right now, as I type, I’m sitting on a plush red sofa, drinking tea, log burning stove roaring next to me, and I’m looking out onto the choppy English Channel. The sea and sky have a purpley hazy glow to them and Mr P and the four-year-old are off swimming in the hotel pool while I’m catching up on a bit of blogging. If it wasn’t for Status Quo music playing in the background, it would feel pretty perfect.

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Our break has got me thinking a bit about what makes the perfect holiday – for me, it’s about going somewhere that has something for everyone. So a hotel that offers swimming for the little ones, a kick-ass crèche, and fun outdoor play areas alongside a spa for me, gorgeous chill out areas, ooh and nice wine please – is pretty much the dream.

That way, you ALL get to have fun and relax – aren’t those the two magical ingredients to a holiday? Time to switch off from deadlines and housework and – well, basically everything a bit boring and rubbish in life. Time to just sit and do a puzzle with your child. Or splash around in the pool. Or eat ice cream every day. Time to recharge the batteries and get some perspective on life. Make memories to store away and recall when you’re back home… cleaning the cooker. These are some of my favourite family memories from the past year…

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somerset-house-ice-rink

deckchairs-brighton-beach

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But for me, a dream holiday should also have an air of predictability to it – there’s something special about having holiday traditions as a family (when I grew up, it wasn’t a holiday if we didn’t take a pack of cards for endless games of Rummy.)

So with this in mind, I’ve created a game – Family Holiday Bingo.

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Life Before Frozen…

Anna and Elsa dolls

Let me just freak you out with a fact. A year ago, NONE of us had seen Frozen. It was released in early December 2013 here in the UK (and I believe on Thanksgiving weekend in the US) so this time last year, only a handful of people in the whole world had seen it … I’m guessing people who work for Disney, preview audiences, perhaps some press.

Can you even remember what life was like pre-Frozen? Let me remind you…

  1. Your child’s favourite movie was probably Tangled. Or Toy Story. Crazy times!
  2. If someone asked if you wanna build a snowman, your reply would probably be “yeah OK…” rather than singing: “Come on, let’s go and play!”
  3. If you heard someone say: “Take me up the North Mountain” you might think it was a saucy request. Not now, now you know that the North Mountain is where Elsa’s ice palace is.
  4. The most famous Elsa you’d heard of was a lion cub (disclaimer: this may be a reference only people over 35 may get. Watch the 1966 movie Born Free…)
  5. When someone you knew was having a little rant about something, you might have rolled your eyes and said: “Let it go!” Now? You can’t possibly say it without the other person bursting into song…
  6. You could say the name “Anna” without any small child in earshot, correcting you, saying: “No. It’s Auuuunna.”
  7. Toddlers and pre-schoolers had no idea what a fractal is. Now they know all about frozen fractals. And how they spiral all around.
  8. Your naive little mind assumed if you wanted to buy a Disney doll or dress, all you’d have to do is pop to the Disney Store. Ha! (You’d never experienced the frenzy of trying to get hold of Frozen merchandise…)
  9. You couldn’t imagine singing a Disney duet with your other half in the car. Now, every time Love Is An Open Door comes on (because you obviously have the soundtrack CD) you try to emulate the wonder that is this couple.
  10. You’d never plaited your child’s hair. These days, the request for “An Elsa plait please!” comes almost weekly.

Have I forgotten anything about LBF (Life Before Frozen)? Remind me!

Is Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Harrods Worth The Money?

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This conversation has happened at least four times in the last year….

Me: “I could just buy everything in the Disney Store. There’s something so magical about going in there.”

Other mum: “Me too! And have you seen there’s a boutique in Harrods where they turn little girls into Disney Princesses?”

Me: “YES! The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. It looks AMAZING. But have you seen how much it costs?”

Other mum: “Yes…. do you think it’s worth the money?”

This, dear readers, is a question I have pondered lots recently. Is it sheer INSANITY to pay between £100 and £1000 for an hour of fun or is it impossible to put a price on ACTUAL MAGIC?

In case you haven’t heard of it (where have you been etc) the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transforms little people into a Disney princess (or a knight if you prefer) with a hairstyle, nail polish, face paint and a brand new princess outfit. The transformation is done by a Fairy Godmother In Training and you leave with a regal sash and a large photo of your little one, sitting on a large throne (plus other stuff like princess make up, shoes and toys if you choose a more expensive package).

I took my four year old along to try out the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in order to find out if it’s worth the money (the things I do for you guys….) and here’s what happened.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Harrods

When you arrive at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reception on the fourth floor of Harrods,  the staff greet you with the warmth and humour you would expect from a Disney experience – one lady knelt down to the four-year-old’s level and called her a princess, which got big smiles from all of us. She was given a lanyard with her name on it and an electronic tag which we were told would buzz when they were ready for us. “It’s magic!” said the lady and the four-year-old totally believed her. Five minutes (and a lot of “When will it buzz?” questions) later, it buzzed and we headed back.

There, we met our Fairy Godmother In Training, Heather. She was just BRILLIANT, kneeling down to chat to the four-year-old, calling her Princess and asking her if she was ready for her magical transformation. She led us through some doors and we were faced with a magical mirror. The four-year-old had to say a magic word to make the Fairy Godmother appear in the mirror and then again to make the doors open into the Boutique. All the time, the Fairy Godmother In Training was fantastic at chatting to the four-year-old, and making her really believe that actual magic was taking place and that she was making it all happen with her magic words!

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You Know You’re The Parent Of A Modern Child When…

Cappuccino

 

Life whizzes along quite merrily, without us really noticing big changes, and then WHAM we have kids and suddenly we are forced to remember what life was like for us, compared to what life is like for them. We were sat on the train the other day with our four-year-old and she said, “When we get home, can I watch Team UmiZoomi please?” (she is very good with her pleases and thank yous, you know *mum point in the bag*). Anyway, this prompted a conversation about how lucky she is that she can watch pretty much any TV she likes, at any time. In a slightly giddy, reminiscent way, Mr P and I tried to explain to her that when we were little, there were only four TV channels and unless we recorded something we couldn’t watch it (record on a creaking VHS tape that is – ooh which reminds me, our first ever video recorder had a remote control that connected to the VHS player by a long lead. It was THE FUTURE.)

The four-year-old looked puzzled and giggled, as if Mummy and Daddy were teasing her with crazy unfathomable tales. “What did you watch when you were little?” she asked. I tried to explain the concept of Rainbow to her. She looked confused. Later that day, she asked to watch Rainbow. I found it on YouTube and do you know what? It just felt a bit empty, a bit wooden and a bit creepy. MEMORY RUINED.

So anyway – despite my rambling, the point of this post is this: Aren’t there so many things that are different now, compared to when we were kids? You know you’re the parent of a modern child when…

  • Aged 18 months, they can unlock your iPhone, pass code and all.
  • They try to press your computer screen to select something, rather than knowing how a mouse works.
  • They know more French words at four than you did at fourteen.
  • You’re out shopping and they say “Can we stop for a coffee, please Mum?”
  • You hand the phone over for them to speak to the grandparents and they can’t work out why they can’t actually see Grandad on the screen. (When we were kids, ‘video calls’ were the stuff of sci-fi comics.)
  • They say “Thanks for watching!” after playing with their Play Doh. Clearly been watching too many YouTube videos.
  • When considering primary schools, you look into how many computers the school has for the kids to use. My Primary School only had one TV (on caster wheels, in the TV room) and I’m pretty sure even the headmaster used a typewriter.
  • You hear yourself saying “If you don’t at least try the broccoli, you can’t use the iPad tomorrow.”
  • They have a ‘reading nook’ somewhere in the house. In our day, we were happy with a chair.
  • When they’re bored on a bus, they ask “Can I play a game on your phone?” – we didn’t even HAVE mobile phones 30 years ago, never mind ones that played GAMES! *mind blown*

Have I missed any? What other signs are there that you’re parenting a modern child?

Image: DTTSP

Rocking A Pink Lining Bag With No Baby In Sight!

 

Alison Perry's mum kit in a Pink Lining tote

Back when I was pregnant, and choosing kit for my impending journey into motherhood, I probably focused too much on being a mum to a BABY, rather than thinking about then becoming a mum to a child. What I mean by that is that I bought products that I knew would suit me well for the first year or so. When actually, looking back, I could have (and should have) been buying stuff that I could use for longer.

We bought a sturdy looking pram that eventually turned into a sturdy pushchair – I wish we’d bought a lightweight nippy little pushchair that had a sturdy pram attachment. After all, we used the buggy part of it for far longer than the pram, and we ended up with quite a bulky thing to push around.

When we decorated our then-unborn daughter’s bedroom, we decorated it with a baby in mind, but fast forward four years and it feels like she has outgrown it. I wish I’d thought about this back then and decorated it in a way she could grow into.

And with the change bag I bought, I went for a plastic coated practical and floral number that had a gazillion pockets. It was SO handy when my daughter was a baby, but has long been chucked to the back of the loft where it’s gathering dust. I wish I’d bought a change bag that would have served my needs back then, but could still be used now.

To prove that this is possible, Pink Lining sent me one of their Bramley totes. Now THIS is a bag I wish I’d bought back when I had a baby. It has all the pockets and handy elements you need when you’re heading out with a small baby and need to have ten nappies, four muslins, a bottle of formula, dummies, three changes of clothes, a Sophie La Giraffe toy and your purse, phone and that all important pocket where you can pop your sanity, to ensure you don’t lose it.

But it’s also a super lovely tote bag that can be used for non-baby stuff. Ideal for either popping all the things I need for a day out with my four-year-old (jumper, water bottle, snacks, book) or even for taking on a night away. Tonight, I’m meeting some friends for dinner and then staying overnight in a hotel, and the Bramley tote (£69) is perfect – I can rock it with my red lippy, jeans, sweatshirt and heels at dinner, but still fit in my PJs, toothbrush and change of clothes for tomorrow.

Now that’s a stylish, multi-tasking and future-proof change bag.

Comfortable, stylish outfit with Pink Lining Bramley Tote

 
Thanks to Pink Lining for commissioning this post and sending me the tote!