The beach is definitely my happy place.

No matter what time of year it is I love to go to the beach, to listen to the waves and breathe in the salty sea air.  This summer especially we’ve spent a lot of time there, building sand castles and paddling in the sea.

The not so fun part comes when it’s time to head home and you need to try and put shoes back on when your feet are absolutely covered in sand.  If you’ve ever tried it you’ll know how horrible and uncomfortable it feels to put shoes back on when there’s still sand all over your feet.

The only thing that’s worse is trying to put shoes back onto your child when their feet are covered in sand.

So what’s the best way to clean sandy feet after a day at the beach?

Here’s the little trick I’ve been using for a few years now that works like a charm.

Try this one little trick to clean sandy feet at the beach

 

Take a little bottle of baby powder or talcum powder to the beach with you.

When it’s time to get the children’s shoes back on to head home, grab the baby powder and sprinkle some on their sandy feet.

Wait a minute and then gently rub the powder and sand off.  You can do this with a towel if you have one or you can just use your hands.

Use baby powder to get sand off feet at the beach

Basically the powder removes enough moisture from the sand and your skin to make it easier for the sand to be simply brushed away.  You might need to add a second helping of powder to get the last of the sand out from between the toes, but before you know it your children’s feet (and yours) will be sand-free and shoe-ready.

As an added bonus they’ll feel pretty soft and smell quite nice too!

If the nice smell isn’t enough to sway you to use baby powder or talcum powder then you can use cornflour instead, it works in exactly the same way.

So there you have it, a quick and easy way to get sand off your feet after a day at the beach.

Now if someone could just come up with a way to keep the sand out of sandwiches at beach picnics that would be perfect.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

If the idea of hosting a children’s party brings you out in a cold sweat, don’t panic.  Here are some great tips that could help you survive your next kid-friendly event.

Children's parties - a parents survival guide

 

Pick a suitable location

Picking the right location is an important aspect of the party planning process – and if you choose wisely, you could save yourself a whole lot of stress.

For example, while you might be tempted to host your shindig in your own home, think carefully before you send out the invites. Although this could be a convenient, affordable place for your party, you may not love the idea of having little ones running wild around your property – especially if you’re particularly house proud.

Instead, you might be more suited to celebrating somewhere else, such as a local function room.

 

Make sure you’re prepared

There’s a lot that goes into organising the perfect kid’s party, so it definitely pays to be as prepared as you possibly can be. Leaving things to the very last minute could mean that you forget something vitally important.

For instance, make sure that you have all the party essentials you’ll need. We’re talking everything from paper plates and cups to balloons and banners. The good news is, it’s easy to pick up these items. For example, you can purchase these accessories online from retailers like HiHouse and have your order shipped straight to your doorstep, leaving you to put the finishing touches to your party setup.

 

Get your entertainment spot on

The truth is, you’re not going to survive the party unless you get your entertainment just right. You can’t expect the day to go smoothly if your smaller guests aren’t amused, so it’s important that you suss out how you’ll keep them from getting bored.

Fortunately, there are a whole host of fun and exciting activities for you to choose from, such as bouncy castles, discos and magicians. You could even arrange to host your party at a bowling alley or the zoo.

 

Try to keep your cool

It might be easier said than done, but try to keep your cool.

If you let yourself get into a fluster, you’ll find it hard to enjoy the festivities going on around you, so do your best to remain calm and collected. After all, once the party is in full swing, you’ve pretty much accomplished what you set out to do, so there’s no reason why you can’t take a moment to enjoy the event for yourself.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

We all know how busy life is, especially when you have children, and how hard it can be to make time for ourselves.

It’s so important though to put ourselves first now and then, to take care of ourselves and have a bit of me-time.  The whole family benefits when we look after ourselves, it gives us the energy we need to then look after everyone else.

I’ve recently discovered a great new way to take some time for me and get a bit of self care, with ParkLives.

Self care and time for me with ParkLives

 

I’ve been along to quite a few family-friendly Coca-Cola ParkLives sessions with the children this summer.

We’ve been to a family fun day, a football session and a family yoga class, amongst other things, and it’s all been absolutely brilliant.  What has been the cherry on the cake is discovering that ParkLives also offer activities that I can go along to on my own.

I found out that Delyth from Free Self Yoga doesn’t just run the family yoga sessions in Brynmill Park, she also does a yoga session on the beach on a Saturday morning.

The session takes place on the beach in front of 360 cafe, so I was able to walk there and back and feel like I had a really lovely morning of exercise.

Beach yoga Swansea ParkLives

The class itself is brilliant.

Delyth is a great teacher, she’s really welcoming and explains everything perfectly as the class goes along.  The session I went to was nice and gentle with a fair bit of relaxation work which was just perfect for me.

Swansea beach yoga ParkLives

The setting couldn’t be more perfect either.

Lying in the sun, on the sand, listening to the waves as you focus on your body and your breathing and let all other thoughts and worries go.  It was a perfect hour of ‘me time’ and I came home afterwards feeling like I’d had a real break from everything.

I’d hoped to go again last weekend but the weather didn’t cooperate and the session was rained off.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for dryer weather this weekend though so that I can have a few hours to myself for a lovely spot of yoga and self care.

Swansea bay beach yoga ParkLives

It’s not just yoga on offer from Coca-Cola ParkLives either.

I’ve had a look through the activities available on their website and found a few different options in the area that would be lovely for a bit of me-time.

Along the same relaxing theme as yoga, there are Tai Chi sessions available in a few locations around Swansea.  These focus on gentle, flowing movements that improve both physical and mental well-being.

There are also some lovely walks in Margam Park that last about an hour and would be a great way to get some gentle exercise and fresh air.  And for anyone looking for a more intense workout there is a circuits session every week in Victoria Park that would be great.

We all know that exercise and fresh air are important for our physical, emotional and mental health and with ParkLives offering this variety of exercise sessions for free there’s really no excuse not to pop along and give one of them a go.


You can find out what activities are available in your area and sign up for sessions on the Coca-Cola ParkLives website – www.ParkLives.com


 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post, however all photos, words and opinions are my own.

As I watch my children start to find their feet at school one thing that I’m finding I’m paying quite a bit of attention to is the friendships they’re forming.

They both have little friendship groups which for the most part is brilliant, but I do worry a bit to be honest about how they’ll cope with the inevitable arguments and falling outs that will come at some point.

I want my children to learn how to be good friends, and in turn spend time with people who are good friends to them.  It doesn’t stop in childhood though, there are things we can do throughout our lives to be better friends.

5 ways to be a great friend

 

1. Remember it’s a 2-way street

A great friendship needs both friends to give and take equally.  If one person is always the one giving, always the one reaching out and making the effort, then the balance is all wrong.  To be a great friend you need to give as much as you take.

Be the one to suggest getting together one weekend, text them randomly with something that will make them smile.

The other side of this though is that you have to be able to take as much as you give too, so accept your friend’s offers of help when you need it, take their advice on board when they give it and welcome love and compliments that they give you.

 

2. Don’t keep score

Following on from the first point, while you try to keep a balance in the friendship you should also try not to keep score too much.

Don’t keep a running record of how many times you initiate getting together vs how many times your friend does.  There might be a number of reasons why she’s not as organised or proactive as you in arranging getting together.

If they’re a good friend in other ways and support you and are there for you, then don’t keep score over the other things.

 

3. Reminisce over past memories, then make some new ones together

Let them know you’re thinking of them now and texting them private jokes, or quotes from TV programs you loved to watch together.  Post old photos of the two of you together on Facebook and write a caption about the day it was taken.

The key though is to not let your friendship live completely in the past.

Make plans to do something new and fun together, to keep making new memories.  Maybe start taking a class together, if there’s something you’ve both always wanted to learn to do.  Or if you have the time and money available, think about booking a weekend break in a new city and go exploring together.

 

4. Cheer them on

Be there as much as you can to support your friend, to encourage them and let them know how much you believe in them and their dreams

The author of ‘The art of friendship’, Sally Horchow, has said “being generous in spirit is said to stimulate the same part of your brain as simple pleasure.  So, put yourself aside and try simply cheering them on”.

If your friend is trying something new, or working towards a goal, it can sometimes be a bit unnerving and we might worry about things shifting in the friendship.  But it’s really important to not let those feelings stop you from being supporting and encouraging.

 

5. Be you

Let your guard down and be as open as you can with your friends.

Let them really get to know the real you.  Sally Horchow wrote, “It’s better to be open, realistic and expressive with your friends, in good times and bad.  This will reinforce your bond”.

While it can be really scary to open up and let your friends get to know the real you, flaws and all, it’s the only way you can properly get close to people.

 

These are all things I’ll be talking to my children about as they get older and hopefully it’ll help them to be great friends and to form close relationships with people who’ll be amazing friends to them too.

Becoming a parent is such a wonderful experience, but it can also be overwhelming, scary and downright lonely.

Whether you’re the first in your group of friends to have a baby or you’ve recently moved to a new area and don’t really know anyone at all, it can be really hard not having other mums to talk to.

If you’re ready to go for it, here are 5 ways you can get out there and meet some new mum friends.

5 ways to meet new mum friends

1. Get online

Putting yourself out there and trying to make new friends can feel quite scary to start with.

You can ease yourself in though by starting off online.

Websites like netmums are a good place to start.  Netmums has local pages where you can find out about classes and events in your area, and you can normally find a chat group there too to start talking to other local parents.

Another option is to head to Facebook and look for local parenting groups there.  Then it’s just a case of taking a deep breath and joining in with conversations or reaching out and introducing yourself.

 

2. Make the most of waiting rooms

When you’re pregnant you’ll spend a fair bit of time sitting in waiting rooms to see the midwife or to go for blood tests.  And it doesn’t stop after the baby is born.  You’ll probably head to the surgery quite regularly to see your health visitor and for baby’s jabs.

Make the most of this time spent sitting and waiting and get chatting to other mums there who look like they’re open to talking.  These kind of situations give you a great opening as you can just ask how old their baby is, what their name is and so on.  Nice simple conversation starters!

 

3. Brave babygroup

Venturing into the world of babygroups can be quite scary, but they are a wonderful way to make new mum friends.

I’ve written a post about going to baby group for the first time, so head over and give it a read, especially if you’re shy and really feeling nervous about it.

A lot of places will have organisers who’ll be happy to introduce you to parents with babies the same age as yours.  If not then have a wander round and look for another mum who seems to be on her own to go and start a conversation with her.

 

4. Try a class instead

If simple babygroups aren’t really your thing then try a baby-related class instead.

There are so many options these days, from baby signing and yoga to swimming and gymnastics, there’s bound to be something that you and your baby would enjoy.

These classes are all great opportunities to meet other mums, and again you have the common ground of having babies so it’s a bit easier to get talking.  If you’d rather do something for you than your baby, then things like buggy fit exercise sessions are another great option.  And you can always suggest going for a coffee after the session as a reward for your hard work, and to carry on chatting.

Meet new mum friends at the park

5. Visit child-friendly places

Sometimes you can meet new mum friends just by heading out to child-friendly places.

So take your little one to the play park and to feed the ducks.  Go along to the local library, lots of them have rhyme time sessions that are really popular and you can foster a love of books at the same time.  See if there is a community centre near you that you could visit.

 

I know how isolating it can feel when you first have a child and don’t really have any friends who are experiencing the same things as you.  If you head to the right kinds of places though you can meet so many potential new friends who will understand everything you’re going through.

Once you’ve taken those first steps of getting chatting to people you can take your new friendship one step further and ask them if they want to meet in the park one day, or come to your house for a playdate.

Just remember that pretty much every mum you meet will be feeling the same way as you and will be happy to have someone else to chat to.

One last thing though.

When you do get chatting, make sure to introduce yourself.  And I mean, give them your name and make sure you get their name too.

I have spent far too long calling people ‘so and so’s mum’, and after a while it’s almost too awkward to ask them what their name actually is!

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

I’ve been a mum for several years now and while it is quite possibly the best thing I have ever done, it’s also possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I really don’t know how I would have managed these last few years without the amazing support system I have in my life.  And a big part of that is the mum friends I’ve made along the way.

Most of my friendships have been formed at babygroups and at the school gates, although there are all sorts of other places you can meet other mums if you’re feeling a bit lonely.  The thing is though, it can be really hard to know how to take a new friendship to the next level.

How do you go from general small talk at baby group to arranging playdates and actual nights out together?

I’m naturally quite an introvert and if I’m honest I’m still working on some of these things myself, but here are my essential tips for asking out a new mum friend.

Essential tips for asking out a new mum friend

Keep it casual at the start

When you first try to make the leap from acquaintance to friend it can be hard to know if the other person wants the same thing.  So it can be a good idea to keep things casual and quite open-ended to start with.

Next time you’re at playgroup together (or wherever you normally see each other) try asking if they’d like to get a coffee together sometime, or meet at the park at some point for a play and a chat.

Keeping it open with the ‘sometime’ line rather than offering a set date or time lets you gauge their reaction and takes the pressure off both of you a bit.  If they don’t seem interested you can just leave it and maintain the friendship as it is.  If they say yes though then you can follow up with a firmer plan to get together.

 

Choose your moment and watch your body language

Things are always a bit manic with babies and young children around, but try and find a calmer moment to ask your new friend out.  Don’t do it when they’re trying to calm down their screaming baby or juggle school bags and lunch boxes at the end of the school day.

If you’re at playgroup you can use a little psychological trick to your advantage and ask them when they’ve got a nice cup of tea in their hand.  Studies have shown that when we hold a warm drink in our hands we think more warmly about the person we’re interacting with at the time.

Try to act confident when you’re talking to them too, and don’t fidget too much or cross your arms which can come across as really defensive.

Instead try gently touching their arm as you’re talking to them.  Diana Mather, author of Secrets of confident communicators says;

“People who are tactile are often more popular than people who never touch others.  Touch enables us to voluntarily and involuntarily get closer to each other”

If the thought of doing this makes you feel uncomfortable though, try to find something else to do with your hands while you’re talking, like holding a cup of tea or one of your baby’s toys.

Tips to help ask out a new mum friend

 

Focus on what you have in common

If you want to start with getting together with your new mum friend and your children then this is pretty easy.

You can use the fact that you both have children to your advantage and ask them on a play date or child-focused activity.  So see if they want to check out a new baby signing class with you, or meet up at the local pool for the baby swimming session.

If you actually fancy trying to do something with your new friend without your children, then it might help to find out what else you have in common.

It might be that you both love films but never get to see the new releases any more.  In this case it could be really easy to suggest a trip to the cinema together once you know what sort of films they like most.  Maybe you’ve chatted about the fact that you both want to get back in shape, and so you could ask if she wants to for a walk/run sometime or to check out a new class at the gym.

 

Make it easy for them to say yes

We all lead such busy lives that we don’t always want to add more things to the chaos.

So don’t make the first move with your new friend too complicated, think about making it something that’s really easy for them to say yes to.  Ask them if they fancy a coffee at the cafe by school after you’ve dropped the children off.  See if they fancy joining you and your little one at the park round the corner from babygroup.  If you can find something that’s nice and convenient and doesn’t really put anyone out they may well be more likely to say yes.

 

Assuming everything goes well and your new friend says yes to getting together, try not to put too much pressure on yourself for it to go well. 

Just relax, be yourself and try to have fun.  And remember that she’s probably feeling the exact same way and is just happy to have another mum to chat to about life with babies and children.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The summer holidays are a great time to encourage our children to get up and get active.

There are so many benefits to spending more time outside as a family, and it’s so important to keep our children active rather than spending all summer sat in front of a computer.  But it can be hard to think of enough different things to do to fill the whole six week break from school.

If you’re in need of a bit of inspiration, here are some ideas for fun things you can do to keep your children active this summer.

Fun ideas to keep the children active this summer

 

Get some wheels

Learning to ride a bike is a bit of a rite of passage and the summer holidays are a great time to help your child master it.  And riding a bike is a great way to get them active once they’re feeling confident.

Younger children can have just as much fun on a balance bike, which also helps them gain the basic skills they’ll need to ride a proper bike later.

If bikes aren’t your children’s thing then roller skates or scooters might grab their interest a bit more.  And for older children you could branch out to roller blades, stunt scooters or skateboards.

 

Try out parkour

Parkour, or free running, is a great way to get children active and build their confidence in what their bodies can do.

It’s basically about moving quickly around an area and getting around obstacles by running, jumping or climbing up and over them.  The best way to start is to look for a local class where your children can learn how to do parkour as safely at possible.

 

Keeping children active this summer

 

Find a fitness trail

These are basically pieces of exercise equipment set up along a trail, so you can have a good walk or run and stop off along the way to try out some different exercises.

It’s a great way to keep children interested who might otherwise get a bit bored of just going for a walk, as well as being a fun way to use their bodies in all sorts of different ways.

 

Go swimming

Swimming is a great full body workout and something that most children tend to really enjoy.

Take a look at your local pool and see what sessions they have on that might be suitable for your family.

Or if you’re lucky enough to live by the coast then head to the beach on a warm day and brave swimming in the sea.  You could even go on a cooler day and just splash around in the shallow water, jumping in the waves as they come in will still burn off a fair bit of energy!

 

Visit the park to keep children active this summer

 

Visit the park

Another childhood classic, but for a good reason.  Parks are a great place to go to get children active, no matter how old they are.   Younger children love playing on see-saws and slides in the play park, while older children can take along a football or cricket set and have a little game.

Another option that’s great fun when the park is a bit quieter is to get your children to use the play park as an obstacle course and challenge them to get round it as quickly as possible.  Nerys and I do this sometimes on our way home from school and she loves it.  They can climb up the climbing frame and down the fireman’s pole, run around the see saw and weave in and out between the swings.

 

Let them try out a new sport

You can go the DIY route with this one, by teaching your child some beginner sports skills yourself.  It might be tennis, cricket, football or rounders, depending on what bats and balls you can get your hands on.

The great thing with these kinds of sports is that even if you can’t get together enough people for a proper game you can have fun working on the basic skills needed to play.

So get a pop up goal and get your child to practice kicking a football on target.  Or find a nice open space to teach them to bowl and bat for cricket.

If you’re not much of a sporty person yourself then look out for classes and one-off sessions that might be running in your local area to give your children a taste of different sports.  They might just discover something they love and want to continue in the new school year.

 

So there you have it, plenty of ideas for fun ways to keep the children active this summer.  Are there any other activities that your children particularly enjoy getting involved in?

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post