Holidays with toddlers & babies – top tips from a survivor!

We’re just back from a week away with our little family, our first holiday with both boys, and despite my fears of being cooped up in a mobile home with a rampaging three year old and a teething newborn while it rained apocalyptic rains outside, we had a really fantastic time!


I thought I’d share some top tips for UK based holidays with little ones. These are things we adopted last week and tips that, I think, make holidays more fun for everyone and a whole lot less stressful.

1 – Pack toys that they’re familiar with, and some new ones
We got a new Thomas sticker book which went down well, and filled in the time waiting for everyone to get up in the morning, or when we were packing up the car to go out. We also indulged Elliot with some new books to make bedtimes fun.


2 – Save time by planning dinners before you go
I spent a few minutes photographing recipes on my iPad and packing little pots of any spices etc we needed in little tubs so we didn’t have to spend time and money buying five spice, soy sauce or tomato paste while we were away. I also made a huge shopping list of everything else which meant we just had to do one huge shop on day one and didn’t have the repetitive conversations of “what shall we eat today?” throughout the holiday. We chose recipes that were fairly quick and easy – a Jamie Oliver chicken tray bake, some lamb koftes from the Organix website, a salad, and a speedy chicken noodle recipe (also from Jamie)
These were all things we knew Elliot would eat too, so it made it really easy to have yummy family dinners all cooked from scratch.

3 – Holiday baking
One of Elliot’s favourite thing to do is to make biscuits, and i thought they’d make a great treat addition to the daily picnics we had planned. I found the simplest recipe ever online which basically is a simple shortbread (flour, butter, sugar). We didn’t want to buy bags of flour and only use part of it, so again I got out my trusty Tupperware and weighed out everything we needed before we set off, and packed a couple of cookie cutters from home.


4 – Sandwich cutters make picnics fun!
Daily picnics (or car-nics, in the rain…) can get a bit boring so I tucked out little dinosaur sandwich cutter in when packing and the sandwiches disappeared quicker than quick, accompanied by the occasional “RRRRROAR!”

5 – Plan activities to match child’s age & interests, but don’t be afraid to throw a curveball in there too
We went at Elliot’s pace mostly, and ensured that we spent time driving when the baby didn’t need a feed, which lowered our potential stress levels! We spent time on beaches and in swimming pools (bring a noodle float, baby float/ring thing as appropriate!) and we also spent time chilling out back at the ranch and doing short walks. BUT we weren’t afraid to push boundaries, and it really paid off – Elliot screamed blue murder being strapped into a bike seat, but absolutely LOVED it “Mummy, I love this bike!”


6 – Have “best thing about today” conversations at the end of each day
If your child is anything like mine, if you ask them what they’ve done at the end of the day, or return home from nursery/school, the answer you’ll normally get is “I don’t know” or “nothing”
I read a tip some weeks ago that I’ve been using on and off with Elliot, and we did this each and every day while on holiday, asking him what his best bit of the day was, and then sharing ours. It allows them to search through their day and find a moment that made them happy. We got some surprise answers and it really helped us plan for the next day – for example one day his favourite thing was the short walk in the woods near the mobile home that we did while dinner was cooking. Literally 15 minutes, but that was his best thing, so it helped us decide to do a longer walk later in the week.
Elliot loved these conversations and was very good at reminding us to do it as we tucked him up in bed.

7 – Keep notes of what you do each day
In a similar vein to number 6 above, I think it’s a great idea to keep a little note of what you’ve done each day. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just notes on your phone or on the back of an envelope will do. Remember holidays with little ones are all about making memories, for you as well as for them!


Elliot – 41 months (& 3 days!)


My biggest boy Elliot,

I haven’t done an update on here for you for a little while. What can I say about you at the moment? You are an absolute delight and so very funny!

You have in the past month completely cracked potty training, which had up until then been a bit of a worrying area for you. We are so proud that you’ve made this big step and I really think mastering that has given you much more confidence in other areas.

You are a huge fan of swings, slides, and see saws at the moment – daring us to push you higher and higher. You have also recently taken to your scooter really well and love nothing more than scooting down the lane to the farm near our house.

We are constantly amazed by your reading – it’s true you can actually read pretty much anything now – and since your little till came along (thank you Grandmum!) you have become really fascinated with numbers and working out addition and subtraction sums on your till. I have to say I think we’re going to have to start swotting up on our rusty maths skills to keep up with you at this rate.

You moved up to the Pre School room at Nursery in January and have been getting on famously there also, despite some initial hesitance.

We’re so proud of our little man, even if there are some things you’d rather put off until “tomorrow” or “when I’m nine, Mummy!”

Lots of love and hugs for my biggest one,

Mummy xxxx

Alexander – 5 months


Dear Alexander,

You’re five months old today! In some ways I can’t believe it’s only five months since your arrival, as I can’t imagine life without you, but in other ways that time seems to have zipped by in a flash.

We are starting to see more bits of your little personality coming through. You like exploring new things – toys, textures, people – and you have a smile ready for everyone you meet. The biggest and best smiles are reserved for Elliot who I can already foresee becoming a bit of an idol for you.

In the past week you’ve really learnt to roll, which is amazing but equally frustrating for you as at the moment it’s only really from back to front which then means you’re stuck until someone rescues you (ok during the day but somewhat annoying during the night!)

Everything you can lay your hands on is currently going into your mouth – your skills at reaching and grasping are really developing well and it won’t be long until we start exploring the world of food with you. Think we’ll wait a little longer though as I’m really not ready for the mess!

We’ve been going to some baby music classes recently and you’ve loved exploring the instruments and watching bubbles from a bubble machine.

Next week sees our first little family holiday to the seaside. I’m really excited about spending lots of time all together and I think you’ll love the swimming pools and beaches we’ll take you to.

Big hugs little one.

Mummy xxx

Book Review: Mothers Ruined by Aimee Horton

You may remember last year I reviewed Survival of the Ginnest for a lovely Twitter friend Aimee Horton. Well, I’m excited to say that Aimee has been beavering away and has now written a full length novel featuring the same character, the inimitable Dottie (who quite frankly I really do think would be one of my besties if she actually were…well…real!)

Anyway, Aimee sent me a manuscript of Mothers Ruined a couple of weeks ago for review and I have to say I was quickly hooked, as I had been with the first Dottie story. This book continues her story – she’s moved to a new area and is on maternity leave after baby #3 makes a surprise appearance three weeks early and isn’t quite what they were preparing for.


As I’m on maternity leave at the moment, the story line really grabbed me – the trials of trying to make new “mum” friends whilst trying to make time to shower every day, keep the kids presentable (and not green…), find topics of conversation with other mums who you don’t know from Adam (or Eve I guess!) and such like.

The main plot line in the novel starts when Dottie starts overhearing the goings on in her neighbours’ houses through her baby monitor. I’ve always puzzled about whether this could actually happen. Luckily we live next door to a retired couple who I don’t think would own such a thing so I think we’re pretty safe! Anyway, I love the way this story line develops and how Dottie uses the conversations she’s overhearing to make new friends in her neighbourhood. She also uncovers the secrets of the street, which eventually get exposed rather publicly – I particularly loved the comeuppance at the end for an especially nosy neighbour!

Aimee has paid much attention to the reader journey in this book, and I really like the touches like the naming of the chapters which I always thinks shows skill and commitment on the part of the author – so much more involved than just numbering them! We also have regular insights into Dottie’s deepest thoughts, these are presented like asides spoken directly to the reader Miranda-style. Of these I especially chuckled at “I spend my entire life rotating crap throughout this house” (I feel like this most of the time!)

So yet again I’d highly recommend a read to all fellow mums, and I think anyone who likes the sound of a Cecilia Ahern style, fun and enjoyable read. I’m left hoping that Aimee continues to write as I for one will be waiting with baited breath to see what comes next!

Mothers Ruined by Aimee Horton published this weekend and is available for download on Amazon for the fab introductory price of £1.82.

If you love it, and want to know the backstory to Dottie, do check out Survival of the Ginnest. This is also available for download on Amazon for just 77p.

Aimee Horton blogs at <em>Pass the Gin</em> (which in itself is a fab read, I’d recommend a follow!)
Note- I was sent a manuscript for review and have received no payment for this post. All comments are my own.

Siblings – May

Is it me or was it only two minutes since the last Siblings post?


This month I’ve been struck by how our decision to have a second child has made significant changes to our first child’s life, and in our case I think these have been largely positive.

Elliot has always been fairly good around other children and as he has a cousin close in age he is quite good at sharing and very kind and considerate towards others. He’s really starting to show this in his relationships with Alexander now, always ready to give him a toy and checking that he’s ok. It’s just so cute to watch!


dear beautiful

See my other Siblings posts below, and check out this months linky on Dear Beautiful: