Lose the guilt… 

Today, I went shopping.

No, not food shopping.

Clothes shopping. You know, for me.

How many times have you been shopping with your little one, only to get hot, get frustrated, throw an internal tantrum and come home empty-handed?

Because no matter what you try on, it looks shit, nothing fits, your stomach has swollen to six-months-pregnant size, and your toddler is squirming and whining and shouting ‘I hungreeeeee!’, or ‘I wanna waaaalk!’, so you thrust the clothes back on the changing room rack, do a 360 with the pushchair, and storm out of the shop feeling totally deflated and demoralised. You justify your lack of clothing with the following reasons:

1. You’re not totally without clothes (despite the fact most of them have holes in, are out of shape, or barely fit you anymore) and don’t really NEED anything (apart from bras – but, well, you have bras and it’s not life and death);

2. You can’t really afford it (Not to mention the hassle of trying all those clothes on with a restless toddler in tow).

So you visit the children’s section and buy your kids something (you can afford that – they need clothes more than you do).

This is me.

Pretty much every time I go shopping.

Apart from today, where I took great pleasure in a THREE-HOUR shopping trip with my littlest shopping assistant.

It was one of those rare days, where she sat as good as gold in her pushchair (Minnie Mouse and Upsy-Daisy can take some credit for this), joining in with the changing-room selfies. There were a few cries of ‘I want to get OUT!’, which were met with firm replies of ‘No,’ and promises of going to get a little treat when we’d finished.

Of course, once I’d tried on 7 dresses in two different shops, the infamous call of ‘I need a weeeeeee!’ came from inside the pushchair (I realise this makes her sound like a tiny thumbelina-type child. Actually, she is a little dot, but she’s not THAT small), and so we left the shop (minus any dress), and circled round in search of the toilets.

If you don’t have kids, you can stop reading now (because, quite frankly, you might think me sad for gushing about this).

But, if you’re a mum with young children, read on.

The new toilets in the Centre:MK are amazing!  

There’s facilities, and then there’s facilities – with kids in mind.

There is actually a dedicated child/toddler/baby change/general hangout-area within the huge, purpose-built conveniences.

Really, the American term ‘rest-room’ has to be the best way to describe it.

In addition to the main toilets, there are toilets for little ones in two dedicated unisex rooms, with a full-sized loo and a miniature one for the miniature people.

Then there’s the baby-changing area; the food-heating facilities, the private breast-feeding cubicles, and the AWESOME touch-screen TV and other play-points for the older children to entertain themselves while you feed your baby. I breastfed my own children, and I recall the struggle of desperately trying to relieve their hunger while stressing about whether anyone was watching; could they see me, would they judge me? I could never relax, and the experience of attempting to be a normal person out shopping with her baby was stressful enough to make me avoid going out.


Truly, I was impressed, and just had to share this on the Wiki Places For Kids site. Mums NEED to know about this place if they don’t already. It’s what we’ve been crying out for, for years.

We finally got out of there (by bribery of sweets from Mr Simms’ sweet shop for being such a good girl and getting back in her buggy), and continued our search for the perfect dress.

Three hours and some stress-less shopping later, I left the shopping centre with a luxurious dress from Coast (oh, how I have missed that shop Pre-Motherhood), and a shiny new notebook and pen. In reality, I would feel guilty. But it was such a successful shopping trip – I needed a dress for some upcoming events, I never spend money on myself, and my sweet little button was so good, we walked out of that shopping centre with smiles on our faces.

So no, I’m not going to feel guilty about indulging on my recent shopping trip. And neither should you.

Lose the guilt.

When’s the next shopping trip…? 😘



Low-cost AND child-friendly – there’s plenty to do in and around Dumfries, Scotland

Low-cost and child-friendly; things to do in and around Dumfries

Sometimes, we all need time to rest and recharge our batteries, without the children.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend the weekend with my own mum, and it was wonderful to be able to put my feet up without calls of “Mu-u-um…?” and “I need a drink”, or “I’m hungry”, and “I need a weeeeeeeee!” as soon as I’d sat down. Despite that, I missed my girls terribly and as they were never far from my thoughts, I frequently swept my analytical eye over the attractions I was lucky enough to visit without the crazy brood in tow.

Of course – these are just a snapshot of some of the things you can do in this curious part of Scotland. I’m intrigued to learn more about the area – I have strong family connections to the area as it’s where my mother’s family hail from. I’ve reached an age where I feel I need to know more about my own heritage and history (and this of course has nothing whatsoever to do with a certain fictional character named Jamie Fraser – ahem), and intend to revisit as soon as I can with my husband and children. Continue reading

7 Reasons Why IKEA Is Perfect For YOU And Your Toddler

AmbassadorI make no secret of the fact I am a huge IKEA fan. If I had my way, my entire house would be kitted out like an IKEA showroom. I love everything about it; from the displays, to the little kiddie play areas, to the huge inspiration from the hacks and online brochure.

I know many people who have IKEA furniture, but I also know a few people who aren’t as enthused as I am.

But I think on the right day, at the right time, IKEA can be a perfect place for you to kill two birds with one stone; entertain your child and have some time for yourself. Here’s how: Continue reading

It’s the best kind of holiday.

Have you ever sat outside on a mild, still summer’s eve, gazing up at the blackest sky, peppered with bright twinkling stars and watched a meteor shower? Wrapped up in a fleece or a blanket because it’s grown chilly, but you don’t want to leave the beauty of the night sky, away from the light pollution and noise of everyday living? Have you ever woken from a blissful sleep, breathing the freshest air throughout the previous day and opened your ears to the sounds of sheep bleating in the distance, and magpies tittering over your head? These are just some of the fond memories I have when I think back to my childhood – of summers spent camping on a secluded site, surrounded by pine-trees and secret paths into the woods throughout. Squirrels would announce the arrival of morning by pelting acorns onto our caravan roof, and crows would caw out to each other as the sun came up. Anyone who has ever been camping will be familiar with these endearing examples of the experience of camping. Admittedly, it’s a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it – but I’m of the opinion that if you have the right gear and the right company (and the right frame of mind – luxury lovers look away now), camping can be an unforgettable experience for a fraction of the cost of a package holiday. The thing with this type of break, whether it be a weekend, a few days/week away or a fortnight’s pitching over in Europe, camping actually forces you to slow down. There’s something about being surrounded by nature that puts less emphasis on the clock, and more focus on feeling everything around you. The breeze in your hair, the birdsong reminding the world that it’s time to snuggle down for sleep. The smell of sausages cooking on the barbecue, and the sound of children’s laughter as they spin in the grass before landing in a tangled, giggling heap.

I wouldn’t call us ‘seasoned campers’ but we’ve been a few times to know that we love it. As it’s all about the Staycation this year, we decided to upgrade to a larger tent to accommodate our 2.4 children family (The 0.4 being the hubby, obviously). Having found a lovely looking campsite in St. Neots, we took the plunge and joined the Caravan and Camping Club for access to certified and listed sites, as well as club sites.

Enjoying a spot of lunch at the Weeping Ash, St Neots
For a two-night stay in a beautiful place closer to the Home Counties, St Neots Camping and Caravanning Club site lives up to its 4 and 5 star reviews. A river runs along the back of the campsite, perfect for fishing enthusiasts (although fishing is only available during the season). It’s also a great site for walkers – a short (buggy-friendly) walk through a path that runs alongside the river takes you into the town of St Neots and The Green Corridor. We took the walk into town and enjoyed a lovely stroll by the water and through parkland – very popular with dog owners (and dogs of course) and children, and our own youngsters were delighted to spot three play areas on the way into town. On the campsite itself, the toilets and showers are cleaned daily to a high standard, and they also have a family room for parents with younger children – including a changing unit and a baby bath. On our arrival, one of the site managers walked us to our pitch after checking with us whether we would require the use of the parent and child room, and subsequently led us to a pitch that was close enough (without being too close) to the facilities to make our life easier. Not only this, but he made a conscious point of placing us at the furthest point away from the river (although I think Mr C would have preferred a spot a bit closer to the water – and I’d have been forever chasing our youngest away from the edge) for the safety of the children.  The staff were more than accommodating, and as their slogan suggests (The Friendly Club), extremely welcoming and friendly, having plenty of time to engage in conversation with our chattiest child whilst trying to supply us with the site information. The site is open to members and non-members, with electric hook-up and shop (although the opening hours are limited), and everything else you might need is only a stroll away.

Despite the fact we have so many other sites to visit (a whole country to explore, and more!) and intend to make the most of our club membership and new tent, we’ve already decided we’ll return to St Neots Camping and Caravanning Club Site.

If you’ve never tried camping, give it a go. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Part of this blog post was written as a review for WikiPlacesForKids.com – the site to go to for parents and kids who need some inspiration – or just that much-needed hour out of the house! 

Three Toddler-Friendly Walks in South Cornwall

When you’re visiting the west-country with small children in tow, and you’re on a limited budget, it can be a little challenging trying to find suitable activities to keep the whole family busy – especially when the weather is on the cooler side of warm and not quite beachy enough to spend hours playing in the sand and sea.

Continue reading

Days out with kids: Milton Keynes Museum Review


A.E. and S.H. Chapman Wheelwrights – hubby’s great-grandfather

We visited the MK Museum for A Victorian Family Christmas at the beginning of December, and were pleasantly surprised at the vast amount of artefacts, displays and historical re-enactments available for the whole family. A ticket into the museum grants you repeated access for 12 months from the date of purchase.

Stepping back in time as we entered the house, we found ourselves transported to the Victorian era where crackling fires, carols and parlour games greeted us in one room, while gramophones and organ grinders entertained us in another. The rooms were small so pushchairs are not advisable, and I would recommend keeping your little ones close by to avoid small fingers grabbing at valuable relics! If you have toddlers you may want to visit the museum at a quieter time when the organisers aren’t running one of the many exciting events presented throughout the year, as space is quite tight in places. Having said that, all of the staff are incredibly welcoming and helpful. We were welcomed through with a warming glass of mulled wine, which we enjoyed while the kids did some colouring and created their own Christmas crafts in the old recreated school room, giving us a chance to peruse some of the material on display.

Toy General Store

From here, there were classic toys – ancient rocking horses (not to be climbed on!), Victorian dolls and many, many more that your children will love to see – and probably want to touch. Some items can be handled, however others will have obvious signs if they’re out of bounds.

There was a wheelwright’s workshop (below), an old laundry room, a fire grate in the ‘kitchen’, where the youngsters could have a go at making some toast, and beyond here we marvelled at the old-fashioned shops, including a replica of a local chemist, a pub, a Post Office (selling sweeties in a jar), and a cobblers, to name a few. There is so much there to see and do, you simply can’t see it all at once.

Wheelwright’s workshop

Older children will be fascinated by the history found in this museum, while younger children will love role play with the endless number of telephones on display here. As mentioned before, it’s perhaps not a great place for unruly toddlers, but generally speaking (if you’re not of a nervous disposition or have very well-behaved small people), this is a great way to keep the whole family entertained, especially if you’re looking for an unconventional few hours away from home.

This review was written for Wiki Places For Kids – for parents who are looking for a stress-free time out.