The Hamlet - Melon Holidays

A diary of a single parent holiday – melon holdays

A diary of a single parent holiday.

As a parent, I feel holidays make up an important part of childhood. I have so many fond memories of family holidays as a child. When I became a single parent the thought of holidaying with the children seemed a bit daunting. Just one adult to 5 kids in a place you don’t know can for some seem like a too bigger challenge.

However, this challenge has become a lot less daunting with the help of a fantastic new company called Melon holidays. They specialise in holidays for single-parent families in the UK and abroad.

During the Easter holidays, we were invited to try out a Glamping holiday in Lancashire.

The Hamlet - Melon Holidays

Sunday 1st April

We headed north up the M6 to Lancashire for our adventure on Easter Sunday. On arrival at Salmesbury Hall, we were greeted with friendly reception staff who informed us about everything going on in the hall during our visit.

We headed through the grounds to find our Shepherds Hut and pod. Being a larger than average family the normal family (sleeps 4) wouldn’t give us all a bed so the pod close by enabled the older children to sleep comfortably. The Shepherds Hut was well equipped with a shower room and central heating. There were double bunk beds which comfortably slept 4. Plus electricity and USB points to charger phones or similar.

Once settled in we headed to the hall for a tour with Betsy Bumblebee, it was a very light-hearted but informative. The older kids loved hearing more about the history of the property.  We then headed off-site to get dinner. The weather wasn’t too kind to us so we didn’t really have a chance to set up a BBQ. Plus I wanted something quick and easy after travelling.

Single Parent Holiday
Melon Holiday’s – Glamping Accommodation

Monday 2nd April

After a settled nights sleep, we headed to the Hall for a pre-booked delicious cooked breakfast with some other single parent families that were also booked on this holiday. It was lovely to have a relaxed breakfast with other families not having to worry what others may think of you as you are all in the same boat so to speak.

The weather still wasn’t on our side, we even got snowed on during our walk to breakfast. Once we had had breakfast we headed into in Samlesbury Hall for a Storytime, Treasure Hunt and Craft Morning with Betsy Bumblebee. The kids giggled along to the story before we headed around the hall in search of the picture clues to complete the treasure hunt. Whilst the kids searched and explored the hall, it was lovely to have a grown-up conversation with other adults. Once the hunt was completed, it was time for a craft activity for the kids to cut, stick and create to their heart’s content. Then Betsy Bumblebee herself checked the kids treasure hunt answers and gave them a little Easter treat.

single parent holiday
Activities at Samlesbury Hall

During the afternoon we decided to head off sight, to visit my sister who lives locally for tea. If you are staying in the Hamlet at Samlesbury Hall, they give you a key to the outer gates so you don’t have a curfew and come in once the Hall is closed to the general public.

Tuesday 3rd April

We started off taking our time and chilling in the Shepherds Hut, plus making the most of the power shower (this and the toilet alone has me hooked on Glamping rather than trudging to the shower block on normal camping holidays). Once we were sorted and ready to take on the day, we explored the adventure playground and let the kids be kids and get muddy.

This day was definitely the best day weather-wise on our trip. Meaning we had could explore every inch of the grounds including the Bee Centre and other animals on site.

Then in the evening, we lit a fire as the sun went down and created the most special memories of the holiday.

As the kids told me they loved this holiday and were enjoying time with Mum being switched off of technology. Yes, I am that business mum that spends too much time on her phone! Our last night left me feeling calm and relax, just what a holiday is all about.

single parent holiday
Fire Pit and Hot Chocolate Time

 

Wednesday 4th April

Our final day and time to head home, we took our time to pack. The kids played hide and seek in the grounds and then we headed on our way home.

Before we arrived at The Hamlet, Melon Holidays sent us full details of local places of interest to visit. Plus a full list of things going on a Samlesbury Hall. This means that parents can plan activities ahead. I like to take one day at a time when we’re away but it was lovely to know what was going on locally too.

 

Melon Holidays have Glamping Trips to Samlesbury Hall, The Hamlet: 27th May29th July26th August21st October

Plus trips to Malta: 26th July20th October
Majorca: 25th May12th August19th October
Tenerife: 26th May15th July20th October

Disclaimer – We were offered a holiday in return for an honest review, all thoughts and photos are my own.

Read More

Money Saving Family

5 Family Money Saving Tips

Here at Little Pickles HQ we love to bag a bargain. Why else do you think we created a business to save families money through the year. We don’t only love saving money on kitting our Little Pickles. But we also love to find deals and look for ways to save money raising our families on a daily basis. So we thought we would share 5 family money saving tips with you all.

  1. Budget – Make a budget and keep to it. If you have a budget when you go out shopping you are much more likely to keep within this. Even more so if you withdraw cash to pay as when the money has gone it’s gone. It is so easy to hand over your card and lose track of your spending.
  2. Meal Plan – Many people was so much food, therefore money too, as food goes out of date. So at the beginning of each week plan the week’s meals out. It can be useful to use a white/chalkboard in the kitchen to do this. Adding use by dates for meat and veg is helpful too, in case something comes up and you have to rejig meals. Also, meal planning is great to keep you organised and not panicking at 5pm trying to think what to cook.
  3. Free Family Days Out – We all love a family day out but some of these can break the bank. However, there are so many free days out all around us. Museums, Parks and Seaside, Scavenger Hunt.
  4. Childcare Vouchers – Childcare vouchers can save many parents with kids aged up to 15 over £1,000 per year on childcare. However you can only claim them via employers, you will need to check if your employer takes part. Check gov.uk for full details.
  5. Claim cashback – if you are an online shopper, then it is no brainer to claim cashback on your spending. From car insurance to nappies. A new pair of trainers to run around after your Little Pickle to a new TV. A holiday to upgrading your smartphone. There are plenty of sites around but Quidco and Top Cashback are two popular ones.

I hope you find these 5 tips useful, if you have one that saves you a packet and you want to share please feel free to comment below.

Read More

Kids apps

Apps for your Little Pickles

A round up of our favourite pre-school apps for your Little Pickles

 

Sometimes parenting our little pickles is tough and when you just want to get on and get things done, what do we reach for? If you’re like me, it’ll be a twenty minute go on the iPad/tablet. I feel guilty doing it but then the peace and quiet quickly outweighs that twinge of guilt!

This post rounds up a selection of our favourite (free and paid-for) apps for pre-schoolers, so now they can learn through play and you can enjoy that rare peace and quiet…completely guilt free!

  • Teach your monster to read – this is an award winning phonics and reading app which takes children on a magical journey where they will meet colourful characters and collect rewards along the way.  Using synthetic phonic programmes that are used in schools, this is an ideal game to play at home and school. They can bring their ‘work’ home and you can enjoy interactively teaching them as they play! As their understanding gets greater, you can teach them other skills such as matching letters to sounds, more difficult words and reading full sentences.

    Download for £4.99 on Android or Apple or you can play for free on PC.

lego duplo app

  • Lego Duplo Train – specifically aimed at little ones from 1-5 years old, this Duplo train app enters your little one into a haven of role-play scenarios. Watch as your pickle builds on their creativity through play, learning about shapes and colours as they go – first they can be the train driver, then hopping off to load cargo and build bridges, fuel up the train and steer the train safely around the various colourful obstacles.

    Download free on Android or Apple

 

  • Little Digits – this is a really fun, interactive app which teaches children about numbers and counting from 0-10 by using the touchscreen of the tablet. Placing your fingers on the tablet screen will then display a number dependent on how many fingers are down – a real modern take on counting on your fingers!

    Only available for Apple users, you can download for £2.99 on App Store

    writing wizard app

  • Writing Wizard for Kids – this is a great app to aid your little one at the start of their journey to writing. You can choose font, difficulty, uppercase and lowercase, numbers or words – so the app really grows with your child and their learnings.  Once you have selected the number or word, a hand appears to show you how to write it, then you’re up! You follow arrows and targets appear to show the direction in which to trace – animated pics jump around to hold their attention to finish the word!

The download costs £3.89 and is available on Apple or Android.

 

  • Dora ABCs, Letters & Letter Sounds – Hola, hola, hola! This one is a must for fans of the little Spanish lady and her sidekick Boots. The idea of this game is to help Dora’s friend fly his plane to write letters. Using the airplane to follow the arrows and trace the letters, Dora aids by saying the phonetic letter sounds of the one being spelt out.  This is the ideal app for pre-readers whilst a brief curriculum overview is included for parents.

    Buy for £2.89 on Android

 

  • BBC Iplayer for Kids – designed for kids, security and safety are top of the ‘tick list’. From the app, let them discover their favourite CBeebies and CBBC programmes that they’re used to watching on the big screen. Because it’s aimed specifically at little pickles you won’t find any adverts or in-app purchases so not only are shows uninterrupted keeping their attention for longer but there’s no risk of running up surprise bills! Once downloaded, the app does ask for your child’s name and age so suitable content can be selected.

    Download free on  Apple or Android.

  • Interactive Alphabet  – a great app to help toddlers and pre-schoolers begin to learn the sights and sounds of letters. From the opening page, your little pickles can choose whether to play with specific letters of the alphabet or listen and watch the alphabet song. Think of this like the interactive version of the traditional flashcard –  text such as ‘D is for Dinosaur’ is shown with an image of a dino, ‘X is for Xylophone’ and your little one can play a xylophone by tapping the screen; associating pictures, words and objects with the chosen letter. This is the definition of learning through play!

    This app costs £2.99 and is only available for Apple users.



If you’re looking for more child-friendly apps for your little ones, or are looking to check an app is suitable, then take a look at Common Sense Media who provide independent reviews, age ratings and other information about all types of media.

Written by Jess from Prosecco Mum, you can follow her on all the socials below

www.proseccomum.com

www.facebook.com/proseccomum

www.twitter.com/proseccomum

www.instagram.com/the_prosecco_mum

Read More

Returning to work after maternity leave

Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

Returning to work after maternity leave

For some it’s a daunting time, the prospect of going back to your ‘old’ job – the one before your Little Pickle turned your brain to mush, whereas others relish the thought of getting their feet under the desk for adult conversation and hot cups of coffee.

You probably had days when you thought work was tough before you went on maternity leave, but now you’re about to become a working mum and believe me – that’s a whole new ball game! 

We’ve put together some handy tips to ensure your transition and return to work has you ace’ing your new work and parenting routine.  

 

  • KIT Days – take advantage of your KIT day allowance (you’re allowed ten during your maternity leave), not only do they earn you a day’s wages to top up your SMP but it also keeps you in touch with your colleagues and the business – so you’re not completely in the dark when you return
    • Choose and agree days/hours to suit–speak with your manager or HR to ascertain the days that you would like to go back – maybe you are in a situation where you can go back part-time or reduced hours, it’s well worth getting it all agreed in advance so you can work out your childcare options
    •Research and feel happy with your nursery/childcare choice. Finding it all a bit of a minefield? Check out our handy childcare choices checklist here
    • Enjoy being you again  – at work, your role doesn’t define your personality like it can when you’re on maternity leave, you can enjoy just being a person again as opposed to just being known as ‘Henry’s mummy’at a baby group
    • An excuse to update your wardrobe – even if it is your work one! You want to feel good when you return to work, the last visions of you were probably a waddling pregnant lady not able to see her feet so it’s nice to feel good on your return
    • Be prepared! Get everything out the night before; your clothes, pickles clothes, your packed lunch, the pickles bag (complete with plenty of changes of clothes!). Being prepared the night before ensures you don’t forget anything and helps you not run around in the morning in a complete tizz
    • Leave yourself more time than necessary; strapping flailing babies into car seats always add on extra precious minutes to your previously relaxing drive to work
    • Enjoy your lunch break! Ooh, hot drinks and hot food, or even just cold drinks and simple sandwiches. Either way – enjoy them without a small person pulling at your legs wanting to ‘try some’ or needing a poo just as you sit your bum down on the chair
    • Don’t worry about the housework –don’t worry about trying to schedule the household chores in for the first few weeks back. Getting into the swing of things at work is tiring initially and throw into that the new evening routine for your little one too – the housework can wait
    • After your first week back, celebrate! You made it, crack open the wine and give yourself a humongous pat on the back 
    • Above all, make your biggest goal to achieve a happy work/life balance. 

 

Remember – it does get easier.

I speak from experience with doing this twice over. Having the heavy pit of doom in your tummy, the sobbing as you leave your little pickle at their nursery settling sessions and the dreaded night before ‘D-Day’ where you wake numerous times thinking you have overslept your alarm and you’re going to be late on your first day back. [I had this and I was the one who was looking forward to going back to work!]

What at the time seems like the biggest separation you’ll ever face. Soon becomes just another milestone ticked off on the parenting journey. The getting ready/drop off and getting yourself to work on time (with matching shoes on and no sick on your shoulder) soon becomes a normal part of your everyday routine and just another offshoot of the branch we call family life. It may take you a week, it may take you a month but try to think of the positives – your little pickle is being cared for and enjoying spending time with other people, widening their social circle and skills, whilst allowing you a bit of ‘adult’ time and with the money that you’re earning you can splash out on treats for them!

Written by Jess from Prosecco Mum, you can follow her on all the socials below

www.proseccomum.com

www.facebook.com/proseccomum

www.twitter.com/proseccomum

www.instagram.com/the_prosecco_mum

Read More

Parents Apps

Apps for Parents

Apps for Parents

When you’re a busy parent running around after your Little Pickle/s, time is precious – so we’ve put together our ten tried and tested free apps to give you a bit more of an easier life…and maybe even allow you a bit of time for yourself – provided you can get the pickles to nap on schedule.
Parents Apps

  • Mush – described as ‘tinder for mums’, is a site that enables mums to meet with other local mums in the area. Motherhood can be extremely lonely so if you’re looking for playgroups to attend with your little pickle or other likeminded mums to hang out with then have a look around this fab mum directory! You can download the app here – App Store or Google Play
  • Doodle –when there’s a group of you, no one can ever make the same date.  Doodle saves a huge amount of time going back and forth. Set up a poll with the date range, select the dates you can do and then send the link out to your friends. Once all participants have completed the poll, the most popular days are flagged up and ta-da that’s the date sorted – and you don’t have to be the one to pick one friend’s availability over another. Win! Get it from the App Store here and Google Play here
  • Just Eat – when you’ve had a busy day and the thought of slaving over the oven is not that appealing, reach for your phone and order in your dinner instead. Everyone deserves a treat night once in a while! App Store user? Get it here. Google Play user? Get it here
  • YouTube – whether baby is a few days old or you’ve got a wayward toddler then Youtube will be your saviour. Load up white noise for those times you’ve forgotten to pack Ewan or your myHummy sleep aids, pop on ten minutes of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly for those days when you can’t face anymore ‘But, why mummy?’ questions or search out some educational games for when you need to get the dinner cooking! YouTube comes as standard on most smartphones but if you need a reminder, download here.
  • First Year – this app makes tracking daily activities a piece of cake! It’s ideal if you’re trying to keep, or establish, a routine with easy to input feeds/naptimes/nappy data logs. You can even track developmental milestones as well as growth charting. It also comes with a handy ‘notes’ section which is ideal for making notes to chat to Health Visitors about – or simply to remind yourself to do something later in the day! Get organised by downloading on App StoreLP~M Apps NHS
  • Healthier Together – as a parent, there are so many worries through pregnancy, birth and beyond. The Healthier Together app allows parents to symptom check or receive advice from healthcare professionals. No more scare searching on Google! You can download Healthier Together on the App Store here or Google Play here
  • Baby Buddy – what better endorsement is there than one from everyone’s favourite doctor?! Dr Ranj says ‘this app really is what I call the future of healthcare’. Designed to guide mums-to-be through their pregnancy and the first six month of baby’s life, boasts a virtual expert who you can ask a question to at any time of the day or night, daily chunks of information tailored to your stage of pregnancy or age of baby, input your upcoming appointments with reminders and there’s even a ‘What does that mean?’ section where you can find out what a word means.  Download on App Store or Google PlayLPM Buddy App
  • Canva – ever wondered how people get lovely fonts and motifs over images without paying a designer? They’re more than likely using Canva! This app has pre-set templates that are editable or you can start from scratch with a photo upload and drag and drop your chosen font over. So whether you want a fancy Instagram post, a new facebook cover photo or maybe a blog post heading then this is the app for you, download here.
  • Life cake – there’s no doubt your phone camera is stuffed full of pictures and videos from pregnancy, early baby days through to toddler and beyond, so wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share all of those photos with your selected friends and family from all over the world – in complete privacy? Introducing Lifecake! And what’s even better is that it puts all photos into date order, so even if you’re not organised – it will organise it for you. Share your link with people you want to be able to view it; no more forgetting to get photos developed for auntie Mavis, she can view them all at her leisure. App Store it here or Google Play here
  • NCT Babychange – we all quickly get to know our local town’s facilities and can quite easily navigate one-handed to the nearest baby change or mother and baby rooms, but what happens when you experience a poonami in a new area? This is where NCT Babychange comes in! It not only shows you where the nearest place is to your current location but it also features honest ratings from mums who’ve been in the same situation as you previously – so you can pick and choose which one you clear up the explosion in. There’s got to be some silver linings! App Store download here and Google Play here

LPM Apps NCT Babychange

Written by Jess from Prosecco Mum, you can follow her on all the socials below

www.proseccomum.com

www.facebook.com/proseccomum

www.twitter.com/proseccomum

www.instagram.com/the_prosecco_mum

Read More