High Lodge, Thetford Forest

If you’re looking for somewhere cheap and fun to take the children then I can highly recommend High Lodge, Thetford Forest. You only have to pay to park and then you’re off.

We spent an absolutely great day there. There’s a wonderful Gruffalo trail for younger children where you can find characters from the story (you need to download the app before you go) it magically makes them appear on your photos!

Along the way you’ll find parks and play apparatus everywhere, suitable for young and older children. Think Bewilderwood type parks and you wouldn’t be far off and it’s all free!

There are benches and places to have a picnic scattered all over the forest and the boys found a great space for kicking a football around! There’s a cafe for a hot food and drink and toilets at the entrance.

There are, of course, things to do if you wanted to spend money. There are bike trails if you wanted to either hire a bike or take your own to explore. Older children can use Go Ape and Tree Trek or hire Segways. For our 3 girls it was £54 for 1 hour, they got to go around as many times as they wanted (compared to others we’ve used when it’s just once around the course).

I cannot rate this place highly enough, everyone had fun and have gone to bed exhausted – now that’s a good day!

Forestry commission

I blinked….

We’ve all said “how time flies” and how the weeks turn into months, suddenly we are nearly into August!  But today I was completely smacked in the face by how fast time has passed.  I was asked by my oldest daughter whether she could get her eyebrows tinted and then by my middle daughter if she could shave her legs!  When did that happen

At times it seems that day to day life is endless and things are never ending but before you know it here you are with children old enough to want to colour their hair and make their own plans with friends and you just being the taxi!

I will never forget when I was out shopping not long after the arrival of my first child.  I was exhausted, the nights were endless and I’d just been hit with the new mum train.  I was in a lift and a lady said to me “enjoy him, it will be gone in a flash”.  I remember thinking she has got to be joking, the days are so long and it felt like it was always going to be like that.  This year my “baby” turns 15!

Moments like today force me to remember that in fact the lady was right, and that I need to get another razor!

Parent Bingo In The Park

While the children were playing in the park and I sat with Milo, I got to spend time doing one of my favourite things, people watching! There were lots of parents all over the park, obviously as it’s the holidays, and I found myself playing spot the parent!

The Hands on parent, dressed in walking shoes and a waterproof jacket – Right in there with their child climbing and having fun.  Very organised with their coffee in a thermos cup!

Parenting from the bench – shouting to get their child’s attention, on their phone glancing up occasionally to check that their child is still in the park.

The one that would be your friend – The one that you’d have a cuppa and a gossip with.  They have things under control and look good doing it.  Oh and “where did you get your dress from?”.

The Over protector – Shadowing their child, not letting them out of their sight and cautious about their every move because they might get mud on their hands.

The one that’s not dressed at all for the park – ready for date night!  There’s absolutely no way they could chase after their child if they needed to, but I would love to see them try!

The “I have no control over my child and have given up” parent.  Chasing around after their child who is running rings around them, looking like they may burst into tears at any moment.  We’ve all been there, haven’t we?!?

Just the free sprit parent and the loud talker and I would have had a full house! We all parent differently and no way is right or wrong, it’s whatever works for you and yours.  I’m pretty sure that at some point I’ve been all of these types of parents, depending on what day it is!

Scan As You Shop

Just a quick trip to the supermarket, we only needed a few essentials, we’d be in and out (who was I kidding!) I’ve used scan as you shop before and loved it, not only did you get to play shops scanning everything, you pack it as you go so no touching the same item 10 times – win:win.

I’d already said to the children that we were only getting the things on our list, no toys, books or other “tat” that we didn’t need. We got our scanning gun and off we went, they would scan one item each and take it in turns – genius! (I only had 3 children with me).

It was working a treat and we were actually getting around the supermarket really quickly, This was the new way to shop with children. They were so happy beeping items they didn’t have time to complain or run off. I was feeling quietly smug that we could do the supermarket during the summer holidays.

But in the blink of an eye it blew up, a complete meltdown because it was “my turn to scan”. They then got very possessive over the gun and food because “that’s my cheese”. That was it, I knew time was up, no more shopping it was time to pay and leave. When I’m distracted by children I do the most random shopping and get nothing useful but luckily we had just about finished.

No one needs unnecessary stress do they? I can confirm I will be shopping online or when the children are in bed and I get the gun to myself!

What’s For Dinner?

This has to be the most time consuming and challenging parts of my day – what to cook for dinner?  By the time everyone is home from school they are absolutely ravenous.  It can be hectic trying to prepare a half decent and healthy meal, and not just for my lot as normally we have at least one extra child round.  There’s only a very small window between getting in and chaos breaking out because of hunger.

I tried a meal planner for a few weeks and felt really organised knowing exactly what we were going to eat for the week and what I needed to buy.  Somehow though when it came to cooking it I never seemed to have the ingredients that I needed so I’d have a mad dash to the supermarket or I didn’t really fancy Tuesday’s spag bol!

I’m not a bad cook but I seem to be stuck in a rut of cooking the same things.  Now with Mr H previously being a chef, you’d think some of his culinary magic would have rubbed off on me.  I seem to look in the fridge, see what we have and then still have no idea what to cook, whereas he can rustle up something delicious from nothing!  I love the nights that he cooks.  I’ve become bored with food, well the food I cook.

I’m being inspired, so once a week I’m going to cook something new (a main and a pudding). There are thousands and thousands of recipes and so many exciting things to make and eat.  So armed with a new cookery book, I’m going to be organised, a least for one night of the week and I bet the children will refuse to eat it!

Please, Stop Talking! 

From the day our children are born we are talking to them, making eye contact and bombarding them with sounds just waiting for them to speak.  I spend a large part of my day saying “mumma” and “dadda” encouraging my 8 month old to mimick me and say my name, just once.  I can’t wait to hear my name spoken in his soft baby voice!

Now fast forward a few years (in the form of my other children) and some days I would just love, for just 5 minutes, not to hear my name on a continuous loop.  Not just in a normal voice either, it gets higher and more whingy and high pitched the more it’s said especially when you don’t answer.  The thing is, there’s no time to answer between each “mum!”.  As annoying as this is, you’re the provider and protector so of course it’s your name they call (I must remember this next time I want to scream, “stop saying my name”).

One thing we’re not short of in our house is noise! With 8 people bumbling around the only time you’ll get some peace is when people are eating.  I quite often watch the tv not being able to hear a single word as someone is chatting alongside it!

But it got me thinking, once children can speak we’re telling them to “sssshhh” or “be quiet” which seems slightly ironic. School is great for many things but children have to sit still and be quiet a lot of the time. Rightly so, but they’ve not long learnt to walk/run and now they have to sit still?… and there’s so much to talk about.

It good to talk, who doesn’t love a good gossip with a friend and there are many health benefits too.  I must remember this the next time I can’t hear myself think because of the the children’s “noise”!  And lets not forget the time will come when there is no more noise.

What To Buy?

So it’s nearly the end of term, present time for teachers!  Are you one of those parents that buys your child’s teacher and even Teaching Assistant a present?  With 5 children at school it can be an expensive time for us.  Admittedly it’s only the 3 younger children that will want to give presents but what do you get?

Over the years I think I have given a variety of things from handmade gifts to chocolate and gift vouchers.  I always try to give something that I would like to receive but after reading an article recently from the perspective of a teacher about gifts I am at a bit of a loss about what to get.

With a class of 30 children teachers must have hundreds of “Best Teacher” mugs and do they really want a drawing from your child? Although it can be fun to make things with your children, really it’s only family that want that kind of thing isn’t it?  So then there’s the edible things like chocolate, a homemade cake or some biscuits, but we’re not all Mary Berry are we.  Every teacher surely needs pens and notebooks, don’t they?!?

We must remember that it’s just a small gesture, to say “thank you!” for encouraging and teaching my child and it doesn’t need to be expensive.  So this year I think I’m going to be practical and hope that I get something which won’t go straight in the bin or be re-gifted – I’m going with alcohol!!!