Top 10 things to do in the Black Country this half term!

7 days is a lifetime in the eyes of a kid (and a parent!) so if you are looking for things to keep your little one occupied this May half term, check out my handy guide below detailing my top picks of things to do in the Black Country next week.

Some of these attractions we have been regular visitors too, so I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

1 – Arley Arboretum

Where? Upper Arley, Near Bewdley, DY12 1SQ

Price? £5.50 per adult. Kids go free during half term.

Join in the fun on the dragons and princesses trail round stunning gardens with views of the Severn Valley Railway.  Explore the maze, play area and refuel in the cafe which also has an extensive outside seating area. Great if we get some sun!

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2 – Birmingham Museum Dippy The Dinosaur

Where? Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH.

Price? Free – but pre booking is recommended.

As well as being able to visit the iconic Dippy The Dinosaur, the museum is also hosting a range of craft activities, dressing up, jigsaws and colouring in.

3 – Black Country Living Museum

Where? Tipton Road, Dudley, DY1 4SQ.

Price? £17.95 per adult, £8.95 per child, under 3’s go free.

This half term visit their ‘Made In The Black Country’ event, and learn all about how the Black Country manufactured goods that were shipped all around the globe. What’s more, your entry cost will allow you to visit unlimited times over the next 12 months.

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4 – Dudley Canal Trust

Where? Birmingham Road, Tipton, DY1 4SB.

Price? £5 per adult, £5 per child

On the 30th and the 31st May, Dudley Canal trust will be running 45 minute boat trips along with running Black Country themed activities. Included in your entry cost is a hot drink and a range of craft activities.

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5 – Himley Hall

Where? Dudley, DY3 4DF.

Price? Free, however car parking charges will apply

Find Twit, the very silly owl, who has lost his way in Himley Hall! Collect your map from the arrival tent and and guide your way round the gorgeous grounds to help him find his way home!

6 – Red House Glass Cone 

Where? High Street, Stourbridge, DY8 4AZ

Price? Sessions start at £3

There is a whole week’s worth of activities running next week, including a treasure trail, an animal fun day and glass crafts. Check the website for more details.

7 – Severn Valley Railway

Where? Departures from Severn Valley Railway, Comberton Hill, DY10 1QX.

Price? £21 per adults, £14 per child, under 3’s go free.

There are a host of activities next week at the Highley Pump House. including Dippy The Clown, face painting, music and dancing and the chance to meet a greyhound. Kids eat free in the cafe too!

8 – Dudley Libraries ‘crafting with Elmer’

Where? Various Dudley Libraries through the week

Price? Free

Dudley libraries are running Elmer crafts at various Dudley libraries throughout the week. check the website for specific time slots.

Saturday 26th May – Coseley, Halesowen, Long Lane, Lye, Stourbridge

Tuesday 29th May – Brierley Hill, Sedgley

Wednesday 30th May- Wordsley

Thursday 31st May  – Coseley, Lye

Friday 1st June – Dudley

9 – Creation Station at Mary Stevens Park

Where? Stourbridge, DY8 2DA

Price? Free. A contribution to the park is welcomed.

Have a great afternoon of crafting with your baby or toddler in the sun without the hassle of cleaning up afterwards! The event runs on Thursday 31st May outside The Hub.

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10 – Rainbow Street

Where? 130 Colley Gate, Halesowen, B63 2BX.

Price? £4.95 for a child and accompanying adult, sibling discounts apply

An absolutely fantastic place, particularly if the weather isn’t great! There are 4 sessions daily, and its such a great play area allowing your child to role play in the cafe, doctors surgery and shop, as well as playing dress up in the costume corner! Amazing range of cakes, snacks and milkshakes too along with sandwiches and a kids menu.

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Are there any other great places I need on my radar?  Let me know – I am always on the look out for things to do!

* Details correct at time of writing – please check before you visit anywhere . I won’t be held responsible!

 

Becoming a vegetarian-ish!

We are pretty big meat eaters in our house. Most days includes at least 1 course of meat, usually chicken. I am not sure what’s shifted recently. I have never considered becoming a vegetarian and I guess, until quite recently, I probably (wrongly) thought it was a little bit hippy!

A while back the story of the 2 Sisters chicken factory did turn my belly a little. I wrongly assumed that food standards everywhere were highly regulated and the things that were reported, such as chicken being wrongly labelled to adjust the production date and dropping meat that was eventually packaged on the floor, just wouldn’t happen.

We have been chatting quite a lot in our house recently about carbon footprints, I guess now we have Finley we have become a bit more aware of the planet we will leave behind for him and our grandchildren. I must issue a disclaimer on calculating yours – it’s not the easiest thing to do! However, I had a go and based against the target of 2 metric tonnes per person (to combat climate change) mine was estimated at 3.46 metric tonnes. The average for a person living in the UK at present is 7.13 metric tonnes per person. So needless to say, there is work to be done!

I have noticed the cost of meat rising recently. On average we spend around £100 a week on groceries and I am always looking at ways to cut this down! For example at Asda I usually buy the meats as 3 for £10. For a weeks worth of meals this is £20 before you have even thought about buying anything else! I am sure going to a butchers may work out a little cheaper, but I just don’t have the time at weekends to visit local high streets.

The health element also interested me – would I feel any differently cutting down my meat consumption? I have heard different people say different things when cutting meat out from their diet – better skin, higher energy levels, sleeping better to name a few. All of these sound highly appealing to me, so I am waiting with baited breath for these changes to take affect!

I have noticed such a difference when eating out and shopping in the range of vegetarian and vegan food available. Stuart has got me into eating falafels which at the moment I can’t get enough of. We tried some of Asda’s Sweet Potato and Red Pepper burgers this weekend and they were really nice.

So while I am not going to turn 100% vegetarian, I guess I can class myself as a part time one?! Stuart is definitely more committed when it comes to making drastic changes to his diet and lifestyle and as he has decided he wants to cut down it’s a good time too make the change. Hopefully me doing it alongside him (most of the time!) will assist him.

So my next challenge is to find some yummy, easy, meat free meals! We are eating a lot of fish at the moment and yesterday I did a rather good vegetable curry which I will be doing again soon as it was so easy.

Has anyone else cut down on meat? Any great meal idea I can try? Leave in the comments below!

 

Bloggers Breakfast at The Baby Show!

I was a little (a lot!) excited on Friday as I was invited along to the Natural Birthing Company Bloggers Breakfast hosted by the NCT Breastfeeding Cafe at The Baby Show at the NEC. Being still fairly new to the blogging game, it’s really lovely to be asked along to these things and a real treat to be able to try out products and chat to other parenting bloggers.

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I wasn’t familiar with the Natural Birthing Company beforehand, probably as they were launched just after Finley was born back in 2014 they hadn’t come on to my radar, so being a health and beauty product of any kind fantatic, I was really excited to learn more about the range and see the range of products on offer.

The press pack boasted of the numerous awards the range has received in the short time it has been on the market. Mother and Baby Awards shortlist 2018, The Green Parent Awards 2017 and Prima Baby and Pregnancy Awards 2016 to name but a few. The range is 100% vegan and British made. There are so many products aimed at Babies and Children on the market, so it was really refreshing to learn that the Natural Birthing range is made specifically for mums to be.

It was also really lovely to chat to Jane, the founder of the range and a qualified and practicing Midwife. If anyone knows the needs and challenges of a pregnant woman, it has to be a Midwife right?!

Not presently being a mum to be, there were a few products I couldn’t do a full review on, namely ‘Down Below’ (Perineal Massage Oil) and Bosom Buddies (Breastfeeding Oil) But trying the products out on my hand you could feel how lovely the products are to use and how yummy they smelt! The products contain essential oils such as Evening Primrose Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Peppermint and Lavender. And having being developed specifically for use in pregnancy, you can be assured they are safe to use.

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My favourite product is the ‘Best Wishes’ Uplifting Body Wash. Although the recommended use is to help with morning sickness, I immediately thought how lovely it would be to use when your little one had a bunged up nose! It’s so lovely and mentholly and I would also love to use it perhaps for aching joints and if you yourself are under the weather. We tried it out over the weekend and it produces lovely foamy bubbles. Our upstairs smelt amazing afterwards too!

Also available is the ‘Cool It Mama’ Cooling Body Spritz to help with pregnancy sweats and hot flushes. Including ingredients such as Neroli and Ylang Ylang, it can also help with headaches and tiredness. I will be passing this on to my Mom, as it can also help with menopausal hot flushes too! ‘Bump Envy’ Stretch Mark Oil contains olive oil and shea butter to help combat stretch marks and can be used throughout pregnancy. ‘Pure Bliss’ Postnatal Compress Solution would be an absolutely fantastic product to pack in your hospital bag. It can be used on stitches, C section wounds and haemorrhoids. I would have LOVED to have this to hand after I had given birth, along with ‘Bottoms Up’ Soothing Bottom Spray, which can also help with general soreness down below. This would be great to take out and about in your changing bag,

The final product demonstrated was the ‘Relax and Breathe’ Calming Massage Oil which is designed to be used on your bump to aid bonding with your baby and throughout labour. Again, one I would have loved to have had!

The products are available in Boots, Amazon and Holland and Barratt as well as the Natural Birthing Company website.

 

 

 

 

What a hoot!

I really enjoy live productions so I’m really pleased that Finley seems to be becoming a fan too. We’ve been to quite a few now at the bigger theatre houses in Birmingham and it’s always been a great day out. So when I saw that a smaller, more local venue- Stourbridge Town Hall was hosting a production of ‘Hoot Owl -Master Of Disguise’ I was really keen to go and check it out.

We haven’t read the book so the narrative was completely new to us. This can sometimes be a challenge with Finley. He likes to be familiar with a story before he will sit and watch it in film or at a theatre. Very pleased to say that today this wasn’t an issue! The set was so colourful, almost cartoon like, and there was a screen with visuals on to keep little ones entertained whilst we were waiting for the show to start.

It always amazes me how such a story and so many props can be seen together so seamlessly with such a small cast. Hoot Owl was compromised of a cast of just two. The chemistry was great, jokes for the parents as well as the children and loads of audience participation which we loved. Great songs to sing along to. The Elvis pigeon song was my personal favourite- it was hilarious!

Hoot Owl was hosted by Proon Productions and starred Ellis Creez and Rebecca Hallworth. Can’t wait to see them back in the Black Country with their next production!

Help!! I have no idea what I am doing! ‘We Parent’ review

I don’t know about you, but the sudden rush of panic around children’s mental health is, well, making me panic a bit. Not a day goes by where there isn’t a report about the rise of psychological issues in our young people. Being a modern parent to a modern child, in our ‘InstaParent Age’ has many advantages, but it seems, a host of disadvantages too.

One huge advantage, I find, is the access to a host of information to help us on our weird and wonderful parenting journey.  I am a bit of a child development geek, so when I was offered the opportunity to access ‘We Parent’ – a site promising me the tools to allow me to be the best parent I can be – I jumped at the chance.

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We Parent was founded by Nick Tustin and Dr Don Tustin. In a bid to help parents navigate their way through the most challenging aspects of parenting, the site offers 5 key areas of learning – Emotions, Friendship and Social Skills, Independence, Positive Sense of Self and Sibling Rivalry. We Parent suggests an age of 4 – 8 being the key period of these strategies being implemented, however, Finley is 3 and I felt that many of the suggestions are, and have been relevant to him for quite a while.

Each learning area is broken down in to modules. I jumped straight into the ‘Emotions’ category (yes we had another ‘challenging’ bedtime!) Each module gives you a short introduction of it’s aims and objectives, some fun facts followed by strategies to implement into your routine.

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What I particularly liked about the advice given throughout the whole of the site, was it’s sensible, firm but fair approach, which really sits well with our style of parenting. We aren’t a fan of naughty steps and harsh discipline, so I really liked the whole approach of Nick and Dr Tustin.

The site is designed to be able to jump in and out of any area you feel you might need help with, or if you have more time, you can sit and go through the modules one by one. It’s really easy to navigate around and to jump back and forward through the pages very easily if you wanted to re-read any points. I personally feel some videos would be great, as well as perhaps some sort of online forum within the site to chat with other parents?

We Parent has given us some fantastic advice and tips of things to try out with Finley. We are really trying to work on the ‘vocalising emotions’ with him so this section was particularly helpful.

We Parent membership normally cost £6 per month, but We Parent have kindly given me 10 free annual subscriptions to give away. The first 10 ‘I need help!’ emails I get to gail@yammymommy.co.uk will be sent log in details to www.weparent.co.uk giving them a fantastic 12 month subscription!

*This was a collaborative post with www.weparent.co.uk.

 

Storytime with Nikki at Bensons for Beds

Bedtime is such a fabulous opportunity to take some time out with your child to engross both of you in a great book! We have been really fortunate with Finley. He has always had a love of books and we don’t have much of an issue at bedtime to get him to settle down and listen to one us reading to him. The introduction of tablets to all of our lives, the reliance on them and the amount of screen time our children are having (not judging, we have one for ’emergencies’!) is a concern to many health officials.

I was really excited when we were invited along to the Bensons for Beds event at their Wednesbury store. Storytime Nikki (best known for her role as Laa Laa in Teletubbies) dropped in to tell her magical stories – complete with her gigantic storytelling skirt and captivating tales. The aim of the event was to encourage children to turn off their screens before bedtime and explore their imagination, whilst viewing the huge selection of children’s beds and relaxing in their designated coffee zone.

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We were greeted with a sight of beautiful green scenery, rather like a mermaid in a huge sea. Nikki, with her soothing and inspiring voice, captivated Finley immediately! Reciting tales about ‘The Monster Tree’ (Finley’s favourite) ‘Incapability Brown’ ‘Space Girl’ (my favourite) and ‘Crikey Eyes.’

Nikki was fantastic at getting all of the children involved, making a treasure hunt around her sea green skirt and involving the children in acting and dancing out the tales she told.

It was such a lovely morning and Finley was chatting all about ‘The Monster Tree’ all the way home! It definitely encouraged us to take more time before bedtime to make up stories and explore our minds a little more.

*This was a collaborative post with Bensons for Beds. All opinions however, are my own!

6 things I wish I had known…

I co-organised a baby shower last weekend for a family member (i love a baby shower!) and I must admit feeling a little envious of that pre-baby innocence. When you’re excited, nervous and you have no idea what lies ahead! It led me to wonder what I could tell myself about Motherhood if I could go back to that wonderful stage. Would I run for the hills?! Or would I tell myself to slow down and savour every single second – or a bit of both?! I always feel an overwhelming urge to share snippets of information (do you know THIS really happens?!) when I chat to a first time pregnant lady, whilst knowing that every Mom To Be has to learn their own way and make their own mistakes.

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We have an ongoing joke in our house. When Finley does something crazy we whisper to each other ‘they never told us about this bit in NCT!’

However, if I could go back in time, here’s 6 things I would say to my pregnant self –

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

I did NCT and a short course at the hospital that covered breastfeeding and I still had absolutely no idea what I was doing when Finley arrived. I had no idea about the golden hour after birth, no clue on cluster feeding or latch (I honestly thought feeds would last 20 minutes and would be every few hours!) and I remember freaking out slightly when after I had had him, someone tried to explain pumping and storing milk to me. In my post birth – shattered haze it just seemed like such hard work. And it really really hurts. Really really hurts. Agony. This apparently is normal when you first start!

I think if someone would have been honest with me about all of these things, I think I may have been more successful!

But the moto fed is best is so true! You just do what is best at the time for you both! Finley was formula fed and he is perfect, happy and healthy!

It’s ok to be human

You will make mistakes. You will make tonnes of mistakes. I dropped a shampoo bottle on a newborn Finley’s head a few days after he came home. He cried. He survived.

Some days you will adore your child and want to soak up every inch of them. Some days you will just want to be by yourself curled up on the sofa with a boxset.

Even though some days you will feel like superwoman, some days you won’t.

It’s ok to feel like this. You are human!

You won’t be the Mother you thought you would be

I thought I’d be pretty firm, conventional, perfect (whatever that is!) but when Finley arrived, I was a bit more ‘hippy’ than I had envisaged! We started bed sharing, I really got into attachment parenting and it’s principles and I think if I did have another I would probably go ‘a bit more hippy!’ and do things like babywearing and give breastfeeding another shot. Having said that, you do things that, before Motherhood, you would probably judge ever so slightly. At the moment I’m in bribe mode. ‘Finley if you get dressed we can get a nice snack afterwards!’ ‘If you keep your pants dry this week we will see if we can get a nice treat at the weekend!’ You groan internally at yourself, but when you are trying to get out the door to get to nursery and work, believe me, you’ll try anything!

You don’t care anymore

Becoming a Mommy changes you. Everything in your life now becomes secondary to this tiny human you have created. Any anxiety you have about yourself, your abilities, your looks, fade in to the background. All your anxieties however, are now transferred on to your child! Are they sick? Are they safe? Are they normal? Are you doing your best for them? The list goes on….!

Your marriage becomes unrecognisable

The days of lazing in bed at the weekends, of impromtu cinema and pub trips are gone. Instead you watch your husband making up silly songs, have debates about best practice parenting styles and play tag team for night feeds and early get up’s. Date nights are filled with conversation about what your child did that day.

But it’s just simply amazing. If you think marriage is fun pre baby, wait until you’re parents! The bond is just indescribable. Lying in bed, swapping stories about your crazy toddler is the best feeling in the world. Seeing your Husband or Partner being a Daddy makes you melt.

Love hurts

You will look at your baby and feel such love for them you feel like your heart might swell right out of your chest. You would literally lay down your life for them a million times over.

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What would you tell yourself if you could go back to your pregnant self?