Goodbye Party Bags, You’re No Friend Of Mine

rainbow-birthday-cake

Parties are one of my four-year-old’s FAVOURITE things. Getting dressed up (or you know, choosing which Disney costume to wear), writing the birthday card, wrapping the present, running around with friends, eating cake, playing games, bringing home a bag of plastic tat…

Oh.

Yes.

The bag of plastic tat. This is where my daughter and I have differing opinions. She loves a party bag. I hate them. Does that make me a massive killjoy?

But seriously, 99% of party bags are filled with toys that give five minutes of fun and then get dumped in a drawer and forgotten about, perhaps blowing bubbles which get spilled all over a party frock or the kitchen floor, and often a variety of sugary sweets from Haribo to popping candy.

I have no real issue with the sweets – aside from the fact that after a birthday party, the last thing any kid usually needs is more sugar. It’s the plastic. The tat! My house is drowning in tat. We have clever IKEA drawers which we bought to store toys, but they’re just filled with party bag contents. Played with for five minutes, forgotten about for five months.

I know what you’re thinking. I just need to get a black bin bag and do a clear out, while the four-year-old isn’t around.

But did I mention I’m also a hoarder?

I have a real issue throwing stuff away. My thought process goes something like this: “Right, I’m doing a clear out. Everything that hasn’t been played with in six months is OUT. Here goes. Oh, but what if this is the one toy she really wants to play with, this weekend? And she asks for it. And I have to admit I’ve chucked it. Maybe I could lie and say I don’t know where it is. Oh, maybe I’ll just leave all this stuff for her to play with. The minimal look in homes is so overrated.”

I think what upsets me the most about party bags is knowing how much money and effort goes into them. The four-year-old is soon to become the five-year-old and I’m in the throes of planning her party. The church hall is booked, the paper plates are on order and I’m trying to decide whether to bother doing cheese sarnies or just go for Nutella to ensure all kids actually eat one.

Then I get to the party bag organisation. Plastic tat ain’t cheap, you know. Even shopping wisely and going to Tesco or Wilko’s means spending 25p per piece of plastic tat. Times that by five, add in the cost of the party bag itself, buy enough for 30 kids and you’re already £40 down. £40 on tat that will probably get chucked as soon as the child gets home.

So I’m stopping the madness.

This is where it ends.

I’ve decided that each child that comes to this party will leave with a slice of cake and a book. A book bought in a ten for £9.99 deal from The Book People. Yes, there’s a risk I might give a child a book they already own, but as a parent would you rather be given a book you already have (options: keep one at the grandparents’ house, or regift it) or be given a bag of plastic tat?

Am I a huge killjoy who misses the point of party bags or the instigator of a revolution that will sweep the nation? Vote now.

Image: Shutterstock

Planning My Dream Kitchen

main

I seem to have a never-ending list of things I want to tackle in my house – from repainting the living room and putting up pictures we’ve bought to clearing out the loft and re-organising wardrobes and doing a charity shop clear out. One room we’re pretty happy with is the kitchen – it’s large and bright, and opens out onto our (admittedly postage stamp sized) garden.

Our current kitchen is definitely the hub of our home – we spend the majority of our time there, eating, chatting, drinking tea. Even though I have a desk, I usually work in the kitchen. In the summer, I have the patio doors flung open and the radio on, tapping away at my laptop with a cuppa by my side. It’s at the heart of our little family – the four year old’s best paintings are up on the wall and we have framed family photos up there too.

But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about my ideal kitchen, of course, which would be bright, airy, white with pops of colour and detail. In fact, I think it’s all about the detail when you’re planning a new kitchen – buying those accessories that will add some personality to the room. Popping up some shelving and choosing carefully what to put on them.

I love mid-century decor, so my dream kitchen would have plenty of 1950s shapes, vintage touches but also sleek and colourful. If we were to redesign the whole room and if money was no object, or if we decided to get a personal loan to cover it,  I’d go for a Smeg fridge freezer – they come in so many gorgeous colours and instantly add the wow-factor to a kitchen. Wooden or metal dining furniture would be softened with bright patterned cushions and there would be lots of plants on shelves and perhaps even a terrarium or two. Side note: there is no way I’d be able to make a terrarium looks as pretty as the one below, and I’d invariably kill everything off in a couple of months.

my-dream-kitchen

What do you think? And what does your dream kitchen look like? Please tell me I’m not the only one who fantasises about this kind of thing!

Thanks to TSB for commissioning this post – for details of how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page. Kitchen image: Shutterstock.

Thoughts On Bed-Wetting, Embarrassment and Confidence

This post brought to you by DryNites®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Not Another Mummy Blog.

DSC_9696

There are certain things, when it comes to being a parent, that we find a bit embarrassing or uncomfortable, even though we know we shouldn’t. I think it’s that fear of being judged by other parents.

I clearly remember feeling a bit embarrassed about the fact that my two-year-old was still using a dummy for naps and bedtime. Isn’t that daft? If my daughter needed a nap while we were out and about, and I handed her a dummy, I’d say something to the people we were with like “Oh! The dummy fairy will be coming soon!” as if to explain it away and justify the decision to give it to her.

Similarly, there have been times recently when we have been at a friend or relative’s house until quite late in the day – in that kind of circumstance, we often take the four-year-old’s PJs with us and get her changed into them before we leave, so that if she falls asleep in the car, we can transfer get straight into bed. On those times, we’ve put DryNites® Pyjama Pants on her, and I can feel myself prickle with slight embarrassment in case anyone is judging me for having a four-year-old who wets the bed. I mean, how crazy is that? Especially when it’s important that we help our kids feel confident about everything in life, whether it’s riding a scooter, writing their name or wetting the bed.

DSC_9076

The four-year-old been totally toilet-trained (I always think that makes kids sound a bit like a puppy) for over two years and is at the stage now where she will happily take herself off to the bathroom, go to the loo, wipe, flush, wash and dry her hands – all without any help. She’s a little star! But come night time, she can’t get through a whole night without wetting the bed. I’m not sure if it’s because she goes into such a deep sleep, she doesn’t notice that she needs to wee (we regularly cut her finger and toenails while she’s sleeping – that’s how deep a sleeper she is!) or whether her brain just isn’t ready to tell her bladder how to hold it in, while she’s asleep….

Read More »

Because I’m Happy #3

It’s two months since my last Happy post…. but don’t worry, it’s not because I’ve been wallowing in unhappiness during that time. Kind of the opposite actually! So, here’s what’s been making me feel happy, of late…

M&S trainers

Bagging some bargain trainers. I spotted these lovely Marks & Spencer trainers on Kat Got The Cream – they were £29.95 and are reduced to £8 in the sale. £8! For real. I love them. Granted, it’s too hot to wear them at the moment but I will…

Midweek BBQs. Something it’s not too hot for! There’s something so BRILLIANT about a midweek barbie, isn’t there? It feels a bit naughty to sling some burgers and bangers on the grill and eat outside. On a Wednesday! Plus, the four-year-old loves any excuse to eat sausages, so she’s happy too.

Junior Design Awards

Being a judge in the Junior Magazine Design Awards 2015. This is something I’m hugely thrilled about – Junior Magazine have asked me to be a judge in their prestigious Design Awards. During its 15 year history, Junior has celebrated the best designer and high street children’s fashion labels, the luxurious hotels and fine restaurants that can cater to a family’s every whim while retaining high standards, the coolest and most child-friendly interiors, and the top classic and modern toys and books. Every year, they call upon parenting and family brands, products and experiences to enter the awards, to be judged against each other in order to bring their readers the cream of the crop.

I’ll be judging the lifestyle categories including travel, books, toys, dining, buggies and cots. Other judges on the Junior Design Awards include my fellow blogger and journo Erica Davies from the Edited, TV presenter Kirsty McCabe, singer Rachel Stevens, designer Olivia Rubin and Cass Chapman from Kodomo. If you run or look after a brand, you can register to enter here.

martin-millers-gin

Discovering I like drinking gin! I’ve never been a fan of gin…. until now. I think I must be a proper grown up or something, because when I was in Mallorca last month with Scott Dunn Travel (full post on that coming shortly) I drank gin. Twice. And I liked it. It’s like a whole new world of drinks have just opened up to me. First up, I’m trying out this amazing looking gin that Martin Miller’s sent me – it’s distilled in England using water from an Icelandic spring. Gin and tonic on ice, anyone?…

Read More »

23 Thoughts That Parents Have During A Heatwave

oscillating-fan

1. Ooh YAY it’s going to get warm!

2. Oh crap. It’s going to get HOT. 33C? We’re going to melt.

3. Where’s the paddling pool? Why don’t I have a set place to store things like paddling pools? I’m totally going to create a ‘Seasonal items’ box in the cupboard under the stairs for this kind of thing.

4. I’ll just buy a new paddling pool.

5. Oh crap. Why has everywhere sold out of paddling pools? Wonder if I can buy this toddler ball pit and fill that up with water? If I buy three super soakers and spray my child with them, will that be the same as having a paddling pool?

6. I found a paddling pool! I officially win at life. This is as good as getting a half price turkey on Christmas Eve.

7. Totally going to sit with my feet in this paddling pool, while my little one splashes around in it.

8. Why does my child refuse to put on sunscreen and wear a hat? How can I make this happen without a full on tantrum? Maybe I can creep up on her and slather the cream on her before she notices.

9. Didn’t work. Neighbours now hate me because I’ve ruined their chilled ambience by shouting “I’m going to count to three!” and my child screaming and wailing.

10. Shall we have an impromptu BBQ tonight?

11. Oh crap. Why has everywhere sold out of burgers? All that’s left are korma-flavoured beef kebabs.

12. Mmmm I can smell next door’s BBQ. They have burgers. Dammit – they must have planned ahead.

13. Does opening the windows make the house cooler, or just let warm air in?

14. Will my neighbours think we’re weird if we keep the curtains closed all day, to keep the sunshine out?

15. Whyyyy is there no air in my upstairs rooms?

16. My child is never going to get to sleep in this heat.

17. Ooh, I’ll get the oscillating fan and put it on in her bedroom. Now where did we put the fan? See, told you we needed a seasonal items box. The fan would be in that box, if we had one.

18. Found it. In the airing cupboard. Obviously.

19. Do oscillating fans even do anything apart from push warm air around the room?

20. Oscillating is such a funny word. Oscillating. Oscillating. Oscillating.

21. I’m just going to have this cold glass of wine. Just to cool myself down, you understand.

22. Ooh I’ve caught the sun today.

23. Oh crap, now I can’t get to sleep. My pillow feels so warm. It’s too hot for my duvet but it just feels weird to lie here without anything over me. When I create my seasonal items box, I should put some thin bed sheets in there.

Image: DTTSP