Features

Marks & Spencer Back to school picks

Its so hard to believe it is nearly time for the kids to go back to school. If any of you are like me and leave everything to the last minute hopefully this post will help you get the last few bits and pieces sorted!

The basics

basicsI really think the key with school uniforms is good quality basics.  When you think about it, these clothes are in almost daily use and will no doubt take plenty of hard wearing. The M&S trousers come with a range of different options including adjustable wait, crease-resistant and with the stormwear technology which helps to repeal the dirt and mud stains as well as keeping dry in the rain.  They come in a range of colours and combinations of the above options.  For example see  here.  Similarly  with the skirts. They also come with the stormwear technology, adjustable waistband and variants of the different types of pleats.  Link here. 

Whether its shirts or polos you are after M&S have a great unisex range in a wide range of sizes – see here for the range of non-iron shirts!! I’m all about non-iron!! Again all the M&S school stock come in a range of colours.

Coats

mscoatsWhile most definitely a basic, this deserves a whole category to itself.  My mother always said, a good coat was crucial and I follow that advice with my own boys.  I have picked out my own favourites below.  Most of the coats come with Stormwear to keep the rain out and to repeal the mud and dirt.  Links for each are underneath. Starting from left to right.

 

  1. Padded Jacket – see here
  2. Pink coat – see here
  3. Black padded coat (comes in other colours) – see here
  4.  Cars print jacket  – see here (this one is currently reduced to €15 for €24, we have this one, its fab, go a size up as its quite small fitting.)

School bags

bagsSee opposite for some of my own picks. I attended the M&S press day back in June and as soon as I saw the Spiderman backpack I knew it would be a big hit in our house. The big man is superhero mad.  There are other avengers ones in the range.  For the whole range see here.  The sale is currently on and some of the Frozen ones are on sale, good value reduced from €19 to €11.

 

Hope this post is of some help for those last minutes bits.

Note: This post in in collaboration with Shopping Links and  M&S. 

 

 

Features, Mamma Reviews

Smoothie loving with the Nutribaby

Since the Nutribaby arrived in the Mamma Fairy house, we have become smoothie addicts! It is such a handy way to get the little people in our house to eat vegetables.  Surprisingly one of the big hits is a beetroot smoothie.

Beetroot-berry-kale-and-banana-smoothieIm not particular about the quanites so roughly to make two childrens portions of the Mamma Fairy beetroot smoothies I use:

  • 2 cooked beets
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 3 small celery stalk
  • cup of water to give it a lighter consistency
  • some ice

There are so many variants of this smoothie based around beetroots for example substitute the apple and carrot for banana and kale. For us that’s half the fun trying out what works.

The nutribaby itself is a genius multi use product, it has five key functions including warming bottles/food, blending, steaming and sterilising.  nutribabyFor me the large capacity is a big selling point as I like to batch cook for both the boys.

Uniquely there is also an associated app which is full of tonnes of recipes broken down into age ranges. We have also taken some smoothie inspiration from the app and have tried the Melon, banana and melon smoothie – seriously good! ( see here for receipe).

For anybody interested in downloading the app, it can be downloaded from the google play store.

Other smoothie receipes which have got the thumbs up from the little men are:

greensmoothieThe Hulk – the big man named this because of its vivid green colour.  Simply spinach, celery, green apple and cucumber.

The One Mamma Likes – self explanatory! My own personal favourite, carrott, banana, apple, lemon juice and a small bit of ginger.

If anybody has any tasty smoothie suggestions send them our way!

 

 

(pic credit: Pixabay)

Note: I am a blog ambassador for Babymoov and am part of the #stresslessweaning campaign, for which i received some products to try.  All opinions are my own or the boys where appropriate.

 

Features

The Mamma Fairy is 1

Well…. this month marks the 1 year anniversary of The Mamma Fairy Blog. Never in a million years did I think id still be here a year later and enjoying it as much if not more than the first few weeks. This blog started on maternity leave with my second and grew from there.  I never believed anybody would really be interested in my random ramblings……

TBS-Top-Mommy-Blogger-Badge-2016The last few days have been full of great news for The Mamma Fairy Blog.  I’m delighted to share that my little blog has been chosen as one of the Top 100 Mommy Bloggers of 2016 by The Baby Spot Magazine.  This is a huge honour. The Baby Spot is a highly regarded Canadian based worldwide online parenting magazine and to be recognised firstly by such a respected publication and along side some great names is really so overwhelming.

Secondly and hot off the press is the news that The Mamma Fairy blog has been short listed in The Parenting Blog category for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards.Littlewoods-Blog-Awards-2016-Website-MPU_Shortlist Again to be named alongside blogs that I would have followed and read before my own blogging journey is really exciting.  I never set out to earn accolades as a blogger however to be recognised is so flattering.  Thanks to everybody who reads and follows the blog, it is very much appreciated.

To finish I thought id mention some of my own person highlights over the last year. Without doubt meeting and forming new friendships has been my highlight. I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of events over the last year where I  can honestly say I could not have been made feel more welcome.  One particular event stands out and thats the Netflix London lunch. I had the fear big time heading off to London with two fellow bloggers I had never met.  My fears were totally unfounded – Kellie of My Little Babog and Sinead of Bumbles of Rice were so nice and welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed my time.

Im going to enjoy a nice cold glass of white wine to celebrate the year the was.  Here’s to another blogging year. Again a huge thanks to everybody who reads the blog and do keep any feedback or suggestions coming.

party

 

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

 

Features

Brilliant Buys To Keep The Kids Happy This Summer

The summer holidays are heading into the last few weeks and if you’ve managed to keep boredom at bay so far, you deserve a medal! If you’ve heard rumblings or you’re looking for new ideas, here are a few brilliant buys to keep the kids happy for the last few weeks.

Embracing Pokemon Go

pokemon_go_logoIf you’ve got older kids, the likelihood is that they’re tearing around searching for Pokemon. The new version of the retro classic has captivated kids all over the world. The good news is that there’s some great merchandise around. If you’re embracing the trend as a family, search online for Pokemon Go gear. You’ll find everything from caps to backpacks.

(Image source www.pokemongo.com)

Getting out and aboutairfield

It’s been a mixed summer so far in terms of the weather. But we’ve been lucky to enjoy a few days of sunshine and some warm evenings. The summer holidays offer a perfect excuse to get out into the garden and spend time together as a family. The range of outdoor toys is increasing year on year.  Invest in a modular climbing frame, which you can add to in the future. Buy some garden games like cricket, tennis or badminton. Have a look at sandpits and water trays for little ones. Go for aqua slides or water guns for older children, if your kids are like men water play provides hours of entertainment.

Finding Dory

The latest Pixar release has got everybody talking. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably already been pestered to book cinema tickets. If your kids are fans of Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, use this to encourage creativity. You can buy all kinds of crafts and art supplies adorned with their favourite characters. Look out for complete sets if you’re in need of an art cupboard clear out.

Paw Patrol

Paw Patrolpawpatrol is one of the most popular children’s TV programmes at the moment. If it’s a big hit in your home, try and channel your kids’ enthusiasm and create role play scenarios. You can buy fire engines, helicopters, and trucks. Encourage your kids to take on the roles of their favourite characters and have fun as a family. There are also lots of associated games you buy.  The big man got a brillant Paw Patrol board game for his 4th birthday.

 

Small world toys

Miniatures are big business in the toy industry this year. This type of toy is all about giving children a chance to act out real life scenarios. Small world toys give kids an appreciation of the world around them and encourage them to be imaginative. Playing together can improve their social and communication skills. Popular buys include Lego and miniature Disney Princesses and their pets. The beauty of ranges like Lego is that you can add to your collection over the course of time. There are also themes, which appeal to kids with a broad range of interests. You can buy everything from princesses in castles to mad scientists and dinosaur hunters.

The summer holidays are long (for parents maybe not so much for kids!), and even the most inventive parents may struggle to keep their brood entertained throughout. If you’re looking for inspiration for new toys, games, or treats, look no further. Hopefully, you’ve got weeks of family fun ahead!

 

 

 

Features

Changing #BoardroomEtiquette over time

I was asked to get involved in a campaign with Calibre Office Furniture  to discuss changes in #boardroometiquette over time. I jumped at the chance. I have been an Accountant for the past 12 years therefore have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of board room behaviour!

officeboarThe boardroom can be a scary place, many a deal is won and lost there, key decisions, multi million decisions are made there, decisions that can have huge ramifications. I still remember my first ever experience of being in a boardroom. It was 2003, I was in college going into my final year and the Partner in the Accounting firm suggested I come with her for the “experience”. I had and still have huge admiration for this woman, she was the only female partner in a firm with 20 other males. She was the ultimate #girlboss in my eyes.  

This was a time when boardrooms were getting a lot of media attention in the wake of Enron and the introduction of the Sarbanes Oxley Act.  I remember walking into the comany offices and the secretary in this particular firm was sitting directly outside the board room in an open plan office of about 100 people smoking!! It just wouldn’t happen now.

Female representation

The first thing that struck me that day was the fact the Partner I was there to support was the only female.  workstationThe gender diversity agenda is something that is coming to the fore in most organisations now but we still have a long way to go.  Improvement is good and its come a long way since 2003,  According to the Gender Diversity Index, in 2015, women held 17.9% of the board seats on Fortune 1000 companies. As of August 2015, only 2% of S&P 500 companies had all male boards of directors.[source] This is a huge and welcome improvement from 2005, when only 12% of S&P companies had at least one female director on their board.

Tips

Following the meeting, we walked back to the office and she gave me some advice that 13 years later is still ingrained in my brain. Simple but oh so effective.

  • KISS – Keep it Simple, stupid. As she pointed out, the board room generally isn’t the place for minutia, it’s the big picture, the final decision so don’t get bogged down in the detail.
  • Fix your chair! I may have laughed at this at the time but I most definitely do this. She told me to always fix your chair especially in a board room and there are lots of taller people (men maybe!!) that to rise up my chair so as not to look like the kid, be on the same level.  I love this advice and to this day always do this.
  • Don’t rise to it and never throw the toys of the pram……not much explanation needed here. Cool, calm and measured, if only it was that simple!
  • Have empathy for each other, despite differences of opinion, having empathy is so important.  

Thanks Calibre  for the opportunity. Have you any office/ boardroom stories to share? Would love to hear them.

 

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

Note: This is a collaborative post

Mamma Reviews

Childs Farm Nappy Cream Review

childsfarmAs you might have seen from Facebook and Twitter, I am  delighted to join the team of brand ambassadors at Childs Farm. This means over the next couple of months ill be reviewing products from the range on my wee men.

First up is the Childs Farm Nappy Cream. The first thing that struck me about this is the packaging – I love the squeezy tube and size wise its perfect for throwing in the changing bag.  The texture of this is really lovely and in my opinion its super hydrating.  I’m in the prevention is better than cure camp and I understand this product works by keeping the cells plump to form a barrier against bacteria. As an aside I actually used this on my legs pre-tanning and it really hydrated them, I have really (really!) dry skin on my legs!

nappycreakThe product is suitable for newborns and upwards, dermatologist approved for sensitive and eczema-prone skin and  also listed as ‘cloth safe’ by the UK Cloth Nappy Library Network.

Childs Farm Brand

The brand itself uses natural ‘free-from’ ingredients and essential oils to produce mild and seriously good smelling products from newborns right up. The products are paraben, SLS free and are made with 98% naturally derived ingredients. A big plus for me.

Mamma Fairy Verdict

Overall thumbs up for us for Mamma and baba use. Lovely texture, really hydrating and it works for even the most sensitive skin. The big man has skin like leather but the little man is a lot more sensitive and no issues whatsoever with this product.

 

Note: I am a member the Childs Farm Brand Ambassador Team for which I review products to trial on the wee men.  All opinion are my own as always.

 

Mamma Musings

Raising Healthy, Happy Kids: Essential Tips For Parents

Every parent dreams of raising healthy, happy kids. Sometimes, it’s impossible to prevent illness, but there are steps you can take to promote good health and wellbeing. Here are some essential tips for parents to take on board. 

Health checks and immunisationshappychild

Children have underdeveloped immune systems. This is why immunisations and regular health checks  are so important. Take care to keep up to date with appointments. Keep a calendar or diary to hand so that you can jot down dates and times. If you’re unsure about immunisations, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or practice nurse for more information. It’s understandable to have questions, especially if you’re a first-time parent. 

Healthy eating

We all know that getting kids to eat healthy food can be a struggle. kidshealthyBut persist, and don’t give up. It’s really important to provide your children with nutritious food to boost their immunity. Try and introduce them to fruit and vegetables from an early age. Be creative and try and make meals look visually appealing. Check out sites like Pinterest for ideas. You can create stick men made from celery, raisins and carrots, for example. It’s also a good idea to hide vegetables in soups, pasta sauces and casseroles.

Exercise

Many kids love to run around and burn off steam. But we live in an age when children live a more sedentary lifestyle than ever before. Try and combine indoor activities with playing in the garden or going for walks. Kids can also learn a lot from joining local teams or getting involved with activities such as gymnastics or swimming classes. If your children would rather watch TV or play computer games, limit the time they spend in front of a screen. Make exercise fun by trying new games, getting friends and family involved and enjoying a change of scenery.

Use your intuition

As a parent, you’ll often know there’s something not quite right long before test results come through. If you feel like there’s something wrong, trust your intuition. All kids get coughs and colds. But if you think your child may have a more serious illness, seek advice. Your family doctor may be your first of call for minor illnesses. But if you suspect there is a serious problem, don’t hesitate to call for urgent help. If there is a problem, early intervention is often the best course of action, according to experts. Dr Jill Orford is a paediatric surgeon who provides treatment for babies, toddlers, and older children. Your child may be referred to a specialist if they require further tests or treatment. If you have any questions at all, your child’s specialist surgeon will be happy to help.

 

No parent wants to think about their child suffering from illness. But, sadly, this is part and parcel of parenting. Take these tips on board to try and boost your children’s health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of illness and infections. It’s normal for children to be poorly now and again, but if you’re worried, don’t be afraid to seek urgent help. You know your children best, and sometimes, your intuition can be incredibly valuable.

 

Mamma Reviews

Our bank holiday Netflix picks

For those travelling this bank holiday safe motoring. For those staying put like ourselves, below are some Netflix picks to keep the kids entertained over the long weekend.

For the Kids

  • The old reliables Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and Fireman Sam are all now streaming. The return of Fireman Sam was big hit in The Mamma Fairy house! streamteambadge-11
  • New to Netflix is a seried called Word Party. Word Party is a vocabulary building show from The Jim Henson Company that follows four  baby animals as they sing, dance and play. See link here  for a peak. Its very catchey and keeps both my litte men entertained.
  •  My little niece loves both The Magical School Bus, for which Seasons 1-4 are now streaming as well as Masha and the Bear which will have Season 2 from 1 August.

So lots of variety to keep the little ones entertained.  See some of our previous Netflix posts here and here to see what else has been keeping my little men entertained on Netlfix over the last couple of months.

For the Family

Netflix also has plenty family shows and films, some of our favourites include the Fireman Sam movie, Charlottes Web, Shark Tale, Chicken Run and the Shrek films.  Keep an eye out for Beat Bugs which launches on 3 August. Im looking forward to this myself!

beat bugBeat Bugs is a new animated TV show inspired by music from The Beatles, incorporating songs from the Lennon/McCartney ‘Northern Songs’ catalogue sung by musicians including P!nk, James Corden, Aloe Blacc, Sia and Eddie Vedder.   See the show’s theme song here

 

The Grown ups

Im looking forward to starting to watch Strager Things. Have heard so much about this series so cant wait to get stuck in! Its a Netflix-original drama staring Winona Ryder.

There is plenty to keep kids and adults alike entertained this long weekend.

 

Take Care

~Mamma F

Mamma Reviews

Our Current Favourite Mobile Apps

Team Umizoomi App – “zoom into numbers”

teamumizoomiThe big man loves this show. Its a firm Favourite on Netflix therefore I was delighted to see there was fun educational app to go with it.  This App has passed many long cross country car journeys for us.  Its really user friendly and continues the theme of the show – Milly, Gio and Bot use their Math powers to solve games around Umi city. As you solve the games,  new games unlock. The app teaches basic number concepts from addition, subtraction to number ordering.  The blurb states its for ages 5+ however my nearly 4 year old seems to be managing ok. From memory this App cost around €5. Money well spent in my book, it has got lots of use in our house plus its educational value cant be faulted for pre-schoolers.

Aquafresh – Make brushing fun

I received some press information about this one and thought i’d have a look. Its a free to download app.  In our house no matter what I do, the big man thinks brushing his teeth is such a core! I showed him the app, more specifically Captain Aquafresh dancing and he roared laughing.  The song (and the dancing!) is very catchy.

It’s a brilliant idea to get the kids interested in brushing. You can unlock more features the more you use it, this part has my son hooked! Tonight we unlocked a new dance which he was pretty impressed with. In our house its been surprisingly difficult to keep the kids brushing for the recommended two minutes however since Captain Aquafresh has joined the routine this isn’t the case.  They are enjoying the catchy tune and love unlocking the new features. This App gets a big thumbs up from the Mamma Fairy house.

Kidloland

This is a jam packed app, with over 200 songs, over 300 games all including tonnes of interactive features.  kidlolandThis is THE holiday app. You don’t need Wifi or parental controls like you would do with YouTube. From nursery rhymes to puzzles there really is something to entertain your toddler. We have been trialling it for the last number of weeks and we have barely made a dent in the huge variety that comes with it. We were lucky enough to receive a years subscription (approx €30)  and I can tell already this well be one of those “well loved” apps.  Both the 1 year old and the 3 year old have enjoyed playing with different parts of it.  The one year old loves the songs, the great thing is they are also interactive which keeps him interested. The 3 year old loves the games and the colouring. Both are educational, teaching a variety of skills such as fine motor skills and problem solving. Its well worth the yearly subscription in my view.  I understand the App itself will be continuously updated with new content.

 

Note: Of the above Apps I received a subscription to Kidloland, however all opinion are my own or the boys where relevant.

Mamma Musings

Banish Sleepless Nights in Your House with These Tips

Do you feel like your family is awake all the time? If the kids aren’t refusing to go to bed, then you’re lying in bed, unable to sleep. Trouble sleeping or even refusing to go to bed isn’t just for children. Adults can find themselves struggling to sleep or perhaps not wanting to go to bed because they dread getting up the next day. Perhaps you’re not getting enough sleep because you have so much to do and end up staying awake too late. If your house has big sleep problems, it’s never too late to fix it. Try some of these solutions if anyone is having trouble sleeping.

Sleep_woman

In the summer months, it’s often the heat that stops people from sleeping. It can be difficult to relax when you’re hot and flustered. The first thing you should do is ensure that everyone has the right bedding. Cool cotton sheets will help to keep everyone cool, and you don’t need a duvet. However, even when it’s hot, many people like to have something light covering them. Don’t forget to consider pyjamas too. Either light PJs or none at all will be much more comfortable. Opening the windows to let air flow if there is a breeze can help, but air conditioning or fans might be preferable.

Blocking Out Noise

Many people are sensitive to noise when they’re trying to sleep. It can be especially difficult when you move house or perhaps sleep in a hotel. You might be used to the noises you had before, but unfamiliar ones are more noticeable. One of the best ways to block out any sounds is to use a white noise machine. A sleep machine is excellent for both adults and children, including babies. It can be very soothing and help you drop off to sleep. However, other people might not like it and prefer the natural noises around them.

Light Levels

Light can also have an effect on how well you can sleep. Some people like it to be pitch black, while others need a little bit of light. Many children want to have a night light or perhaps some light coming in from the hallway. It can be frightening if it’s too dark but might be hard to sleep if it’s too light. For most people, a little bit of light helps to create the perfect conditions, without keeping them awake.

Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines can affect sleep for children and adults. Winding down before bed is important for everyone. newborn-220142_960_720Your kids will find it hard to fall asleep if they go straight from running around to getting into bed. You could find the same if you switch quickly between doing your bills to going to sleep. Make sure the whole family gets a chance to relax before it’s time for bed, whether that means a bath and a story or a glass of wine and a romance novel.

Don’t let your house be disturbed by sleepless nights. Whether it’s adults or babies struggling to sleep, you can find a solution.