Monday, 18 September 2017

The Unconventional Guide to Sharing a Hotel Room with Young Kids

Next up in my unconventional travel guide series is the horror or sharing a hotel room with young kids. I'm not gonna lie, we've had some good overnight stays and we've had some super shitty ones. 

When you're all in the same room there is no downtime, no escape, you are all in together. I would personally recommend booking two interconnecting rooms but let's face it, that can be very pricey and it's very rare that we are able to do it. The majority of the time it's the 4 of us piled into one room which can feel like a jail. Think of it as a 24 hour prison sentence. You'll probably leave wondering what you'd done to deserve such an experience. 

Anyway, it's not all doom and gloom and if you accept the following things then you may (just may) get a good night's sleep and a happy experience after all.

Here is my unconventional guide to sharing a hotel room with young kids:

1) Become an Expert at Escape Room Games
If your children are anything like mine then they love to explore. Every cupboard, door, drawer etc gets opened. Nothing is left untouched. 
In order to prevent any tearaway kiddies running out of the door, anything getting broken or anyone getting injured then I strongly suggest you treat your hotel room like one of those Escape Room games. You know the ones that have become popular and you get locked in a room and it is impossible to get out without solving millions of ridiculously hard tasks, well that's what you need to make the room like. Block cupboards, latch the locks, put barriers in-front of exits. Make that room child proof and impossible to escape. 

2) Leave Your Usual Routines at Home
Travel comes with inevitable chaos, you just have to embrace it. Don't even try and attempt any usual routines because they won't happen. The kids are far too interested in exploring their new surroundings. Sleeping is for losers after all. Leave usual bedtime routines at home and go with the flow.

3) Don't Book a Box Room
Have you ever tried to share a hotel room with kids when there is literally the beds, furniture and no floor space at all? It is hell. You will suddenly become incredibly claustrophobic. 
Try and book the biggest room you can afford. You will be eternally grateful for the extra space. 
Also engage in some feng shui. By that I mean, make yourselves at home and move the furniture. Make the room suitable for your family's needs and get enough floor space for the kids to run around in as possible.

4) Embrace Mary Poppins and get Singing 'A spoonful of Sugar"
By this I mean make sure you embark on tidying that room before you attempt bedtime. All of those toys and busy bags etc you've packed will no doubt be in every empty space of the room. There is nothing worse than standing on some lego (come on we've all done it), in the pitch black in the middle of the night and you cannot let out a squeal for fear of waking up not just your kids but the whole hotel up. 

5) The Bathtub will be your New Best Friend
You might think i'm joking here but if you're all sleeping in a room together then you'll know that it takes what seems like a lifetime to get the kiddies to fall asleep. The last thing you want to happen is for them to wake up. Find yourself a space (aka the bathtub) where you can relax and have some adult time. 
Take a pillow in there, sit in it and get comfortable. You may be in there a while as I strongly suggest hibernating there until you know the kids are in a deep sleep.
P.S make your partner take the toilet. Believe you and me the tub is way more comfortable. 

Image credit: What the Redhead Said

6) Take Wine
This is a running theme with all my unconventional travel guides. Take wine with you and drink it. You will inevitably become stressed at some point. You will need the drink! In fact you'll probably be sat in the bathtub drinking the wine.

7) Be Prepared to Share Your Bed
You know that lovely big, comfy bed you were planning on sharing with daddy (or having to yourself) well guess what. The kids are eyeing it up too. Not content with their own bed (which is exactly the same), they've got their sights set on yours. If you're children are anything like mine then you'll find yourself playing an unwanted game of 'Ten in the Bed'. Come on repeat after me...there were 3 in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over. 

8) Throw the Pillows Around
Doesn't that bed look so pretty with all those lovely cushions? You've been dreaming about this hotel bed for so long and it's everything you imagined. By the time the kids have jumped on it and thrown said cushions on the floor you'll have forgotten what it ever originally looked like.
It's inevitable that the kids will trash it so you might as-well join in the fun. Get throwing those cushions on the floor. The kids will either look at you gone off and think you're nuts or they'll either be in awe of you and your spontaneous outburst. Either way they will love it.

9) Be Prepared for Deep Conversation
Now I don't know what it is but whenever we go away, our eldest decides that 10pm is the perfect time to talk about life, the universe and everything. Quick chats are a forgotten form of communication and she engages in what can only be described as a deep, meaningful conversation. Be prepared for the Spanish inquisition as they will ask you a million and one questions about anything and everything.

10) Eat Lots of Carrots
Make sure you eat lots of carrots before you stay. Why I hear you ask? To see in the dark of course. Once the kids are asleep you will have all of the lights off for fear of waking them up,  making it impossible to see anything.
If you're not into carrots then take a nightlight or some sort of blackout shade for cots etc.

11) Ring Ring - Toddler Calling
The hotel phone can provide hours of entertainment. Ok i'm exaggerating slightly but it is like a homing beacon to kids so use it to your advantage. Instead of getting stressed out at the thought of them dialling reception 2000 times, simply unplug it and let them dial as many  numbers as they like.

12) Throw Adult Time Out of the Window
If you're anything like us then you'll have imagined this wonderful time away when you and your partner will be able to have some quality adult time once the kids are in bed. You'll chat, laugh, have a drink, maybe watch a film. Wrong!! Unless you book a room with a balcony then any alone time is going out the window. Refer back to point 5 - say hello to the bathroom.

13) Avoid Getting the Credit Card Out
Where did that empty can of coke come from? Nuts? I didn't drink that gin?! The mini bar my seem like your saviour at some awful hour when you're still awake entertaining the kids but it can also be the stuff of nightmares and cost you more than your hotel stay. As previously mentioned, kids love exploring and believe you and me they will find the mini bar faster than you can. Be very wary of the ones that have automatic billing as soon as something is moved or you'll pay for it! Literally. Put something unmovable or very heavy in-front of the mini bar and pray the kids don't turn into the hulk whilst you're there.

14) Be Prepared to be Starving
So it's 10:30pm you've given up going to the hotel restaurant for dinner with the kids as they're far too excited/tired. They finally drift off in your bed. Time to check out the room service options and enjoy that club sandwich and glass of well deserved wine. 
However, it arrives only to wake the kids up who devour half of it before returning to their comatose state. Is that thunder? Nope it's the rumbly in your tummy from sheer hunger.

15) Never Ever Forget the Poo Bags
Nappies full of poo that have been left for hours have that smell that reaches the back of your mouth and makes you want to gag. Remember point 3 about staying in a box room?Well imagine being trapped in a small room with the stench of those poonami nappies. Unless you want to spend the night retching, make sure you've packed a supply of scented poo bags.

So there you have it. What tips do you have? If all else fails book interconnecting rooms, such life savers.

If you've missed my previous unconventional travel guides then catch up with them here:
The Unconventional Guide to Flying Long Haul with Young Kids
The Unconventional Guide to Packing a Suitcase with Young Kids


Monday, 4 September 2017

On the Eve of your First Day in Reception

I've just been labelling your clothes, making sure your uniform is ready on your chair. I've got your bag and lunchbox ready and it has just dawned on me, How am I doing this already? Didn't you just get here?

I remember the day you arrived so vividly. You didn't come into the world easily but when you eventually came, you took my breath away. You were the most beautiful thing i'd ever seen. Those big eyes and button nose. You looked like a doll. So precious and so tiny. You were as light as a feather. I'm left thinking, When did you get so big?

You seem to have just grown over night! One minute you were crawling and now you're running. When did you decide you didn't want to hold my hand on walks anymore? When did you decide you didn't want to sit on my lap for story time? When did you decide that you didn't need help being fed? When did you decide you didn't want me to sing to you before bedtime? All those little things I took for granted and now they've disappeared from my life without me even realising. 

I've obviously known this day was coming for the last 4.5 years. There were days when I thought it couldn't come quick enough. Those days when I declared to people that you were so ready for full time education because I found you hard to keep entertained. The days when I was desperate for a break. I felt like you were always wanting more but looking back you were just learning.  You wanted to be busy, you asked lots of questions and you were always enthusiastic and inquisitive. What an idiot I was for thinking you were hard work. What I wouldn't give for another week of those days.

Tomorrow is such a huge milestone in your life. It's funny as every milestone we desperately wanted you to hit, it hadn't occurred to us that would be the last time you did something. We became so wrapped up in firsts, we forgot about lasts.

I wish I could remember the last time I breast fed you. I would have savoured it, photographed it. Mesmerised the way you looked at me as you were doing it. I wish I could remember the last time I carried you in a sling. I wish I could remember the last journey you took in your rear facing car seat. I wish I could remember the last time I helped you to get dressed. I just wish I could remember every little detail of the last 4.5 years. 

All we've done for the last 6 weeks is prepare you for this day. We've talked about it so much that you are so excited to start. You can't wait. What hadn't occurred to me, was to prepare myself. 

I will miss our mummy and Eva days when it was just the 2 of us on our adventures big and small. 

I may be sad and generally down in the dumps this week but that's not because I am not happy for you starting school, I'm just sad that the last 4.5 years have flown by. Just bare with me tomorrow as I have a tear in my eye when you dress yourself in your uniform, as I take a million pictures of you, as I hold your hand on the way to school and as I cling to it before you run in, not wanting to let go. You see it's hard for daddy and I as we've been the ones to teach you everything since you were born, we've guided you and educated you and now we are handing that over to someone else. Our lives are changing as much as yours. 

Just know that we love you and we are so proud of the little girl you have become. To our eldest girl, our first baby, you are confident, feisty, independent, chatty, funny and sociable. We know you will have the best time. Enjoy every minute. We sure have.


Back to School with Samsonite

I honestly can't believe my eldest child is starting school tomorrow. You always here parents saying time flies by and it really does. It only feels like yesterday that she was born and now here we are getting her school bag and uniform ready for her first day in reception.

We've had so much to buy. School uniform, coat, shoes, lunch box, P.E kit, lunch food etc but luckily we were sent a school bag for Eva from Samsonite

If you're a regular reader of my blog then you'll know how much of a Disney obsessed family we are. If Eva isn't pretending she's a princess then she's whizzing around the house in her Lightening McQueen race outfit. I think he is in joint position with Elsa as Eva's all time favourite Disney character. You can imagine her delight when the latest Cars film was released this summer. She loved it (well we all loved it).

When her new school backpack arrived she squealed with delight. It was of course a Lightening McQueen Samsonite Rucksack. She wanted to use it straight away. It's great because she actually has a Cars lunchbox so they match pretty well.

The first thing I noticed about the bag was the size. Initially, I thought it was a bit small but actually it is the perfect size for Eva. She can wear/carry it easily. A lot of backpacks aimed at her age are usually massive but this is ideal. She can easily fit her PE kit and a spare pair of clothes in it for school.

The inside of the bag has a cool patterned lining which is different to what is on the outside of the bag. It also has a handy tag for you to write your child's name etc on it. 

I also love the fact that the bag has a sternum strap. This makes it easier for Eva to carry as it stays on her back rather than falling off her arms like her other bags. It also aids support for her back and shoulders.

There are reflective parts to the bag which will be super handy for when the days become longer and darker during the winter.

Overall, we are both very happy with her new school bag. I think it'll probably only last her this year due to the size. Next year she will probably have to carry more things to and from school and i'm sure she'll have shot up in height. She's catching me up very quickly.

*We were kindly sent the Samsonite bag in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are our own and are honest*


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Paw Patrol Live - Race To The Rescue Review

Both my girls love watching Paw Patrol especially littlest who dances at the theme tune. We were lucky enough to be invited to see the live show at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena last weekend and as you can imagine they couldn't wait.

The show began with Ryder introducing all of the much loved pups onto the stage. The set was fantastic. It was colourful, vibrant and made you feel like you had jumped into the TV screen. The girls were delighted.

Race to the Rescue is about the great race between Mayor Goodway of Adventure Bay and Mayor Humdinger of Foggy Bottom. However, early on in the show Mayor Goodway injures her foot and can no longer race. Cue the Paw Patrol pups to the rescue. 

The teams race to find clues all around the island and each pup gets to use their their skills to help uncover the clues.

Eva was super excited to see new pup Everest make an appearance too.

The show is very lively with plenty of songs and dancing. There is a lot of audience interaction which the kids enjoyed. The cast are enthusiastic and energetic which kept the kids hooked all the way through.

The show lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes with a short 15 minute interval in the middle. I think this is the perfect amount of time for young children's attention span. 

The show is still touring the country so have a look to see if it's coming to a venue near you, Paw Patrol Live Tickets.

Do your children like Paw Patrol? What shows do they enjoy?

*We were gifted a family ticket to the show in exchange for a review. All opinions are our own*


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Me and Mine Project - August 2017

We've had such a busy August doing plenty of fun family things. We've been on days out, a weekend away in London and a 2 week holiday to Turkey. Shamefully, out of all the fab things we've done we have only taken 2 family shots! I'm gutted! I've taken plenty of other pictures, but only 2 measly photos of us altogether. I honestly can't believe it.

My last Me and Mine Project post was May which had much more exciting pictures than this one as it had our Disney holiday pics and our Disney wedding vow renewal pics so if you didn't catch those, pop over to see them, Me and Mine May 2017.

Our summer holiday was in Turkey. We went with my dad and Arwyn's dad and partner, so it was a real family holiday. The weather did not disappoint. We bought a second hand Go Pro to take away with us and I must say it has taken a while to work out how to use it. If i'm honest, I still don't know how to use it properly. However, we've got some awesome video of the kids in the pool etc and we managed to get this family selfie which I love.

I've been coming to Turkey since I was around 12 years old and i'm so sad to see that with recent world events etc that the tourism has gone down. It's a beautiful country and we've never had a bad holiday there.
This picture was taken at a water park that mainly the locals use and we spotted the Turkish flag at the entrance so we grabbed a picture in-front of it. It felt poignant to have one there.

We also had a 2 night stay in London which was honestly so relaxing. We normally only visit for 1 night and it's usually very busy and rushed. We visited Hamleys, the Disney Store, had meals out, went swimming, had the Genie's afternoon tea and went to the Rooftop Gardens. It was the best weekend we've ever had in London. I'll be writing about it on my blog soon.

Together this month we've loved:
Jumping in the pool
Reading Three Little Monkey's
Lazy mornings 
PJ days
Playing in the Park
The Sunshine

I say this all the time but i'm really going to make an effort to get a decent family shot each month. This is why I join in with this project so that I can create memories from moments. I just need to remember to get that camera out. 
After such a busy August, we don't currently have any big plans for September. Eva starts reception in school so our days and routines will all be different.

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

Thursday, 31 August 2017

A Versatile Dress for a City Getaway

If there's one thing I lack in my wardrobe then it's smart, casual clothing. I seem to have plenty of casual items or dressy outfits but nothing in-between. I knew we had a trip to London coming up where I would need an outfit that I could wear all day but would also be suitable for afternoon tea and dinner in a nice hotel.

When it comes to getting clothes for myself, i've always preferred a visit to our town centre rather than shopping online. I hate the task of sending clothes back when they don't fit etc and then i'm left panicking when I haven't found anything. I much prefer wandering around the shops and trying things on there and then. I must have trawled every shop in Cardiff and I couldn't find anything suitable. I decided to pop into Marks and Spencer to grab some food but I found myself distracted by the clothes.

It's not a store that I shop in for myself. If i'm completely honest i've always thought it was a place my nan would buy her clothes. I buy clothes for my girls there as they have a fab children's range but I very rarely browse the women's section. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of things that caught my eye.

There was a section that really stood out for me. It reminded me of holiday's and I felt transported to France. It was full of nautical style with a palette of blue, white and red. A mix of casual and smart clothing but plenty of options for what I was looking for.

I can't even begin to tell you how many things I tried on and how many of those things I wanted to buy but this shirt style dress really stood out for me. I completely fell in love with it. Stripes are such a staple trend and never seem to go out of fashion. They are something that you can keep in your wardrobe and pull out year after year. 

The dress is a loose fit which is perfect for me as i'm not in the shape I would like to be at the minute. It has buttoned detailing at the front and a tie waist which you can wear loosely or tightly to alter the shape of the dress. The fabric is cool so it's ideal for a summer city break. For a more relaxed look you could pair it with trainers and then for an evening out evening you could simply add heels. 

It's a very recent purchase but unfortunately I can't seem to find it online so you'll have to pop in your local store to see if they stock it there.

I recently wore it to afternoon tea at Cardiff's newest luxury venue, The Exchange Hotel which is where all of the photographs in this post were taken
. The venue is stunning. The outside reminds me of being in a European city. It's beautiful. I am officially declaring it as the most instagrammable place in Cardiff at the moment so if you follow me over on instagram, i'm sure you'll be seeing more of the venue on my feed.

I'll definitely be packing the dress in my bag for our London trip. It's such a versatile piece that is perfect for a city getaway. It's something you can wear casually all day and also something to show off at dinner. 


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tips for travelling light with children - Guest post by Cup of Toast

One thing I can't manage to do is pack less so i'm pleased to show you this guest post by Jo who writes at Cup of Toast which is tips for travelling light with children.

I am certainly not a seasoned traveller, but I do love a good holiday. Home or abroad, I feel that packing is now down to a fine art in our family, and, with six out of seven seats in our car being filled when we go on holiday courtesy of our family of five plus our dog, travelling light is a necessity. 

My top tips for achieving this are fairly straight forward, and I’m a big believer that whatever the size of your family you can go away without looking like a university student heading off for their first year. So, here are my tips for travelling light with children:

1. Give each child a small bag.This can be a small child’s suitcase or a small backpack. Ask them to fill it with whichever toys, books or games they would like to take away, and stick to only taking those. Add some pens and paper to your own packing and mobile entertainment will be complete. Remember that once away you will find all sorts of things to keep you all occupied!

2. Choose the right bag for you.If you set out your largest bag or suitcase you will most likely fill it up. Instead, choose a small to medium sized bag and slim down the pile of items that you want to take.

3. Roll clothes up.Rolling clothes up makes it much easier to pack them than folding them. It can also help to reduce wrinkles.

4. Count the days.Count the days that you will be away for and only take enough clothes for one outfit per day. Take tops and trousers that are interchangeable, and a small pot of washing powder which you can either use where you’re staying, or at a launderette. Aim to do one wash during each week that you’re away so that emergency spares are available if needed.

5. Use pockets and zipped compartments wisely.Tuck wallets and valuables into zipped compartments to keep them safe and separate, but also to free up space in your main luggage. You can also slip sunhats, scarfs or smaller items of clothing into side pockets or even coat pockets.

6. Online delivery.If you’re going on holiday in the UK, organise an online delivery to arrive on your first full day. Don’t just order food, also consider any other household items like toilet paper or kitchen towel that might be required.

7. Pack food wisely.For food that you are taking with you, choose wisely. You might well love soft fruit, but it won’t travel well. Consider where you’re going, and if an online delivery isn’t an option then look up local convenience stores or supermarkets in advance. Only take enough food to tide you over for the first 24 hours then stock up on fresh produce after you’ve arrived.

8. Consider toiletries.Whilst you may use a multitude of products at home, are these absolutely necessary when away? Try to find options that double up – shower and bath gel combined for example; 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner. Moisturiser can work wonders as a hair serum, which saves packing two different bottles. Think through what you might need and how much you might need.

9. Use your technology.Load up your kindle or kindle app with books before you leave. Download playlists or albums on Spotify. If you have Netflix or a similar online streaming service you can even download films and television programmes. All this will help to free up precious space that books, CDs and DVDs take up in your luggage.

10. Check ahead.Whilst you would most likely expect a hotel to provide linen, the majority of holiday cottages also provide towels and bedding. Check ahead to see what is included so that you pack wisely and don’t duplicate what is already there.

You can keep up to date with Jo and her blog on the following social media:
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