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Mamma Musings

Top Tips for Leaving Your Tweens Home Alone

teenager

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Leaving your youngster home alone for the time is enough to make any parent a little apprehensive, but it’s something we all have to do eventually. In fact, it’s important that our kids experience being left alone from time to time (once they’ve reached an appropriate age and maturity level) so that they learn to become more independent. Here are some tips for worried parents from an independent college in London.

First of all, you need to evaluate if your child is actually ready to be left alone. Just because they’ve reached a certain age, it doesn’t mean they’re emotionally mature enough to stay at home without you. Only you can decide if your child is mature enough to take care of themselves, avoid trouble and solve problems. Their feelings on the matter are also important; don’t leave them alone of they express an obvious aversion to the plan.

It’s a great idea to trial leaving your child home alone in short bursts, like a quick trip to the shop for some milk. This will help them get used to the idea of being without you in the house. Talk to them after about how they felt while you were gone and if they experienced any challenges. Ask them what they got up to whilst you were gone and make sure they know what types of activities are off limits without your supervision.

It’s also important to make sure your child knows how to safely use all of the appliances in your home, like the microwave and kettle. If you are worried that they won’t manage, then make sure you have prepared them some meals or snacks in advance so that they don’t feel the need to operate the appliances. 

Discuss any potential emergencies with your child in advance so that they are prepared for the worst should it happen. For instance, explain to them what they should do if there’s a fire or a stranger knocking at the door. Make sure they have both your contact details and the details of another responsible adult who can help them in an emergency. When you do eventually leave your tween home alone, give them a call every so often to check in and see how they’re getting on without you. 

Mamma Musings

4 Favourite Activities for Outdoor Learning

It’s important for young children to explore different learning environments; they should get out of the classroom every once in a while and explore the outside world. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done for many children who don’t have the privilege of a safe outdoor space to play in and explore freely. With that said, it’s important for schools and parents to ensure every child receives their fair share of outdoor learning where possible. Here are five ideas from an independent school in Surrey.

A Walk through Nature

boys playing outdoor

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Find a local forest or nature reserve and take a family stroll. Talk about what trees, plants, bugs and animals you can see and hear and how they all survive together as one whole. Discuss how the forest might look during the different seasons and what you can do to help the forest continue to survive and grow. 

Building a Bird Feeder

Invite some feathery friends into your garden by building a bird feeder. This encourages an element of creativity as well as an interest in nature. Your child will learn what different types of birds like to eat.

Growing Your Own

Growing a vegetable patch is a great way to give your child a sense of responsibility and achievement. What’s more, it gives them an opportunity to learn about different fruits and vegetables and add some healthy foods to their diet. When they have successfully grown something, they will feel proud of themselves. 

Reading a Map

Despite the introduction of satellite navigation, it’s still important that kids learn how to read a map. Next time you head out and about, encourage your child to find the way by showing off their map reading skills. Understanding co-ordinations and symbols will help your child in their maths and geography lessons going forward.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

How Can a Healthy Lifestyle Lead to a Good Education?

All parents want their children to succeed in school and they often find themselves searching for ways they can help. Some hire a tutor and others learn maths equations and foreign languages so that they’re able to pass on some of their knowledge to their kids. However, one of the simplest ways you can help your child, which you might not have even thought of, is by encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips from an independent school in Spain.

A healthy lifestyle essentially refers to a good diet, exercise and plenty of rest. Your child needs to eat a hearty, healthy breakfast each morning. If they go to school on an empty stomach or something sugary and unhealthy, they will have poor attention span throughout the day and they’ll probably feel quite sleepy. The same rule applies to snacks; sugary treats will affect their energy levels and general concentration. 

Staying hydrated is also extremely important. Our brains are predominantly water, so your child needs to drink a lot throughout the day in order for their brains to function properly. Water is not just important for physical health but also for mental wellbeing. 

Believe it or not, exercise is excellent for improving memory and attention span. It’s also great for reducing stress and nerves, which many students suffer with, particularly during exam period. If you don’t think your child gets enough exercise, you should introduce an extra-curricular club for them to join, like football, tennis, gymnastics etc. This will also be great for them from a social perspective.

If your child is getting less than 8 hours of sleep each night, it is likely that they will find it difficult to focus in class and learn new things. Lack of sleep can also temporarily interfere with the part of the brain that deals with organisation, problem solving and other important skills that a required to do well in lessons.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

How Can Parents & Teachers Work Together?

Parents and teachers have a common objective: to help children succeed both academically and in their personal endeavours. With that said, it’s important that they communicate with one another and work together to achieve their shared goal. If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to building a relationship with your child’s teacher, here are some tips from a private school in Spain.

child reading book

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Modern technology has made communication between school and home that much easier, so there really is no excuse. It won’t take long for you to drop your child’s teacher an email once in a while to check in on how everything’s going. It’s likely that the teacher will actually appreciate you reaching out and showing that you’d like to form and maintain a partnership to help your child perform well in school. 

If any big changes are happening at home, like a new baby, moving house, a death or divorce etc. be sure to let the teacher know. They will appreciate being kept in the loop and it also ensures that there are another set of eyes watching over your child and monitoring them for any signs of distress. 

Why not ask the teacher to send you a copy of the curriculum outline so that you can understand, in basic terms, what your child is going to be learning about throughout the academic year. This will allow you to explore such topics during home life to help prepare your child for the lessons. Arrange regular meetings, particularly if you have any concerns; you don’t have to wait until parents evening to talk about your child’s progress.

At the end of the academic year, or even at Christmas and other appropriate moments throughout the year, be sure to get your child’s teacher a thank you card and/or a gift. It’s important that you and your child let the teacher know that they are appreciated. This will encourage them to continue to do their best for their students whilst strengthening their relationship with you and your child.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

What Are Some Energy-Burning Indoor Activities for Kids

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most fabulous places to enjoy year-round activities with the family. Many native Oregonians remain here and just as many move here to experience everything the wonderful state of Oregon has to offer. From weekend day-trips to the coast or Mount Hood and longer excursions to Crater Lake or the Wallowa Mountains, there are countless family activities to encounter.

And while we want to explore every naturally magnificent nook and cranny, sometimes you’re just looking for a more relaxing weekend with a mix of local family activities and spare time to snuggle together on the couch.

And what are you going to do with those energetic kids when it starts raining this fall? Here are five ideas to keep them (and you) entertained for hours.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

If you want a place where kids are encouraged to be rambunctious and curious, where they can run around touching things with abandon, all the while engaging in activities that are fun and educational, then your next energy-burning indoor activity must be a trip to OMSI.

If you have kids that range in age from 0 to 6 years old, then consider becoming a member, and you can visit the Science Playground for free as often as your heart desires.

Or explore each section of the museum during your visit. In the infant area, you’ll find soft carpet and toys that encourage motor skill development. Those a little bit bigger will have fun crawling through the roots of a giant tree, exploring a hollow log, or venturing into a cave as they learn about animals. And all kids will enjoy the sandpit. Then, as they get bigger, explore the literacy and hands-on discovery areas.

Are your kids older than 6? Then head to the Kendall Planetarium, Life Lab, Paleontology Lab, Science on a Sphere, and various rotating exhibits that emerge throughout the year.

Playdate PDX

Do you remember climbing on nets, scooting through tubes, and navigating twists and turns in tunnels, all to find the best slide on a playground? Well, this might be a thing of the past for you, but your kids will have an absolute blast when you visit Playdate PDX.

This place offers three levels of fun for the kids, and parents are welcome visitors too. In fact, this truly is a favourite indoor family activity, as you can sip on your favourite local beer or glass of wine, or a hot coffee or tea, while your children run around having the time of their lives—a true win-win!

In addition to the playground, make sure to come when you can catch the Dragon Theatre Puppet Show, which features a diverse lineup, including Rapunzel Redeems Rumpelstiltskin, Arcade Universe, and Little Bugs Big World.

Looking for a deal? Kids are welcome for free after 5:00 p.m. every Monday. Or visit on the last Wednesday of every month and receive free entry for each kid when you donate two canned good items.

Pump It Up

If your kids are 12 and under, then a must-visit location to burn off their excess energy is Pump It Up in Beaverton. Known as a top destination for birthday and big group parties, it also hosts open jumps where kids are welcome to run around and be a little wild.

This is the place for them to release that pent-up energy and hop, skip, jump, flop, and plop their way around the inflatable arena.

Want to take it up a notch? Attend a special event like the Glow Open Jump. Your kids will be able to climb, bounce, and slide around with the disco and laser lights on and lights out. This all-ages event comes with a glow necklace with every admission.

Pump It Up also hosts Sensory Jump Night where it caters to kids with disabilities so that everyone can find time to have fun in a safe and controlled environment.

Roller Skating at Oaks Park

Do you remember going roller-skating after school or maybe on the weekends with your friends growing up? Remember when it was all the rage to wear rollerblades? Recall the slow dance song when you hoped to buddy up with your grade-school crush?

You can create new skating memories with your little (or maybe not-so-little-anymore) tykes. Get out on that roller rink and show your kids how it’s done—and that you have some talents they don’t even know about yet—during an open-skate session, Tuesday through Sunday, all year long.

Worried your kids are too young for the open skate? Try out the Preschool Play & Skate or Kids’ Morning Skate instead, and then head back on date night for Adult Rhythm Skate or Gay Skate.

Langer’s Entertainment Center

Want to try something totally new with your family this fall? Something with a little bit of everything for everyone? Then have we got the energy-burning activity for you at Langer’s! Yes, the farm has been around Sherwood for more than a century, but fall 2019 represents a new chapter in our family history as we’ve just opened our brand-new, family-friendly Langer’s Entertainment Center.

All are welcome here, where the youngest will enjoy the soft play area and the bigger kids will want to try out the high ropes courses, rock-climbing wall, and laser tag. And don’t forget the arcade—with over 50 games and fun for all! The older kids-at-heart can enjoy a cold one in the Tack Room or a delicious hot chocolate or speciality coffee from the Thunder Mountain Cabin. Then reconvene for an epic family face-off in bowling.

Once it’s time to start settling down for the day, head over to the restaurant and choose from diverse menu options where everyone will find something they crave. And then settle in for a little relaxing around the indoor campfire.

Visit  Sherwood just off Pacific Highway West, a quick 30 minutes from Portland or Beaverton for the top family activities indoors and out. 

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

How Parents Can Help Teenagers Manage Their Money

Caring for teenagers can be a challenging experience. As your youngster gets older, they’ll start to learn more about the world around them. This includes learning about money, debts, and saving.

As a parent or care provider, you can play a crucial role in shaping the way that your child behaves with money. After all, the chances are that your child won’t get much of an education on managing their cash at school. Whether your teenager has recently started asking for more cash to go out with their friends, or they’re just starting their first job, there are various steps you can take to help set them up for success.

Here are our top tips on helping teenagers and students to manage their money.

Give Teenagers Responsibility Early

To help children understand the value and importance of money, it’s crucial to introduce them to how cash works, and how important it is to spend only what they can afford. Providing your teenager with regular pocket money so that they can learn the basics of spending and saving cash is a great way to get started. A regular dose of pocket money acts like a kind of wage – you can even ask your child to complete certain tasks like cleaning their room to get their pocket money each week.

Once your child has their pocket money, avoid giving them extra cash for the things that they can’t afford. Though it might be hard to say no at first, being strict will show your child that if they want to make bigger purchases, they need to save.

Set the Right Example

money bank

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Most teenagers and children will mimic their parents’ behaviour when it comes to learning about saving and spending. That doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect with your spending habits – we all make mistakes at times – but it does mean thinking carefully about the example you set. For instance, while you might need to take out a personal loan from time to time, you shouldn’t be getting a loan or using a credit card for every expense. Show your child that you know how to save and deal with delayed gratification too.

Setting the right example could even be as simple as inviting your child to join you as you search for the best deal on your car insurance or compare your options for a new broadband provider. As your child gets older and starts to learn more about money, you can even get them involved in your budgeting efforts.

Help Your Teenager to Develop a Savings Habit

Learning about living within your means, and saving is one of the most crucial lessons that a teenager can get. With that in mind, take advantage of every opportunity you get to show your child the value of saving. For instance, the next time your child asks you for a new game, don’t just give them the cash they want, sit down with them and figure out how many weekly pocket monies they’re going to need to be able to afford the item they want.

If your teenager comes to you and tells you that they want a car, work with them to figure out how much owning that car is going to cost and help them to find a job that will allow them to pay for the expenses.

Get Used to Talking about Money

piggybank

Pic Credit: Pixbay

One of the worst things you can do is a parent is keeping your teenager out of your financial conversations. As your child begins to ask for more money, or show any interest in cash, get them involved in the monthly budgeting process. Show them how you afford the monthly bills by carefully organising your cash into different segments each month.

If you take out loans to pay for certain items, make sure that your child understands that those loans come at a price. Although they allow you to pay for things over time, they also require you to pay a certain level of interest each month. Talking transparently about money will pave the way for a better relationship with finances for your child.

Help Them Manage Their First Wage

Finally, when your teenager does take on their first job, make sure that they understand the value of the money that they’re earning. Encourage them to think about their purchases not just in terms of how much an item costs, but also in the context of how many hours they would have to work to replenish what they spend.

When your child gets their first job, this is also a great time to sit down with them and think about their long-term goals, like buying a car, or going on holiday with their friends, and how they can save for those things.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

Norton Virgien, Director & Co-Executive Producer; VAMPIRINA FANG-TASTIC – An Interview

I am very excited about today’s feature. This week we have had the opportunity to ask Norton Virgien, Supervising Director and Co-Executive Producer of VAMPIRINA FANG-TASTIC some questions on his career and his new latest work VAMPIRINA: FANG-TASTIC PARTY, which is a very special interactive event in cinemas nationwide this weekend only – Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th

A little bit about Norton

Norton began his directing career in 1990 as part of the original team for Nickelodeon’s Rugrats.  A two time Emmy winner for Rugrats, Norton also directed episodes of the critically  acclaimed Duckman series and the CBS series Santo Bugito, before co-directing 1998’s The Rugrats Movie,  which became the first non-Disney animated release to gross more than $100 million dollars.   Subsequently Norton was a Co-Producer on the Klasky Csupo features Rugrats in Paris and The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and a Co-Director of the 2004 release Rugrats Go Wild.  In early 2005, he directed a thirteen episode season of the Discovery Channel series Tutenstein, winning a third Emmy.  In 2009, for Universal Animation, he directed a DVD sequel to the Curious George Movie, Follow That Monkey!   He has since worked as Director on Doc McStuffins and Henry Hugglemonster, both for Disney and is currently Supervising Director and Co-Executive Producer on Vampirina.

Interview

Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, it is very much appreciated. As someone of the 80/90s, I was a massive Rugrats fan. Angelica was really the character we all really wanted to be! Even my kids love the Rugrats, a whole generation apart.

  •   I told my kids who I was interviewing and my 7 year old is very excited, enthusiastically professing that he will be doing your job in the future! So first up, courtesy of my oldest son, how did you end up directing? Was it something that always interested you?

Great question! I had always loved drawing as a child, and doodled incessantly! And I also loved storytelling, and did a bit of creative writing in school. I loved comic books as they combined drawing and storytelling in such a strong way – but then I discovered animation, which is perhaps the art form that brings so many others – design, music, acting, drama together at once! It took me a while working as an animator to work my up to drawing storyboards (which is really fun) and finally directing. And Rugrats was indeed one of the most fun shows to get a chance to direct – great writing and voices and a really fresh concept at the time!

  •   He is also curious about the difference between a Director and a Producer, and which one do you like best?

The roles of Director and Producer can overlap quite a bit – as a good producer has the creative needs of a project in mind along with their practical concerns of budget and schedule, and a good director thinks about the practical things at the same time he/she is pushing for the most creative and effective result.

  •   He also wants to know do you have a favourite show/film that you directed? I did turn this question on him and he said it’s between the Curious George Movie and Doc McStuffins! My favourite has to be Rugrats. So nostalgic.

It’s as hard to pick a favorite project as it is to choose one’s favourite child – if we’re lucky they are ALL special in their way! Right now my favourite is Vampirina – since she’s the one we’re working with at the moment, and she’s such and unusual and constantly surprising young girl!

  •   You have such an impressive career with so many hugely popular shows to your name. Do you still get a thrill when you see the final production?

I’m pleased to say the thrill of seeing an audience enjoy your project hasn’t worn off for me at all! And I still get a little tear in the eye at the sweet moments, and laugh at the best jokes, even after seeing them over and over and over…! It makes the hard work totally worthwhile.

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Home & Interiors

10 Signs That Indicate the Presence of Mold in Your Home

The presence of mold in your home is bad news whichever way you look at it especially if you happen to have one of the species that produces a substance known as mycotoxin, which is linked to breathing problems.

For an overview of treatment options view Helitech online for more details, in the meantime, here is a look at some of the clues to look for that could suggest you have a mold problem in your home that needs your attention.

Use your nose

One of the best methods of detection of mold in your home is to use your nose.

There is an odour associated with the presence of mold and one potential sign to look out for is if you notice an odd smell emanating from your air conditioning unit or heating system.

HVAC units are particularly prone to encouraging mold growth in damp or dark conditions.

Is your grout looking grotty?

If your shower tiles are displaying dark lines where white grout used to be it could be mold.

This type of mold is often harmless, although you should be aware that if the mold appears after you have had a leak in the room it could lead to a more toxic mold developing which needs a professional assessment and safe removal.

How’s your health?

We all get ill from time to time but if you have flu symptoms that seem to persist for longer than a typical cold you might want to check whether it is the cause of your health issues.

It doesn’t have to be black

You probably associate mold with black or grey spots developing but it can actually take on many different forms.  If you notice an unusual texture on your walls, even a bit of green slime, it could also be a mold problem.

Check the state of your wallpaper

Wallpaper doesn’t last forever and a bit of peeling and discoloration is to be expected over time, however, if the wallpaper seems to be bubbling or cracking that could be an indication that you have moisture in your wall.  That moisture normally serves as a warning that mold is developing.

Breathing problems

As well as looking for physical clues around your home you should note any physical changes you experience when it comes to your overall health.  If you already have asthma or some other pre-existing breathing problems your health profile could worsen if mold is developing in your home.  Keep an eye on your health and investigate the possibility of mold if you experience increased breathing problems.

Problems with allergies

Another health clue to watch out for is when seasonal allergies seem to continue beyond their normal timeframe.  Mold exposure can emulate seasonal allergies and cause them to persist, or even worsen over time.

When you can’t get rid of that musty smell

If you vacuum regularly and even steam clean your furniture but still can’t shift that musty odor around your home it would be worth investigating whether the problem is mold.

Mold can irritate your skin

Mold is quite keen on damp clothing and if mold infiltrates the fibers of your towels or any other item that is reasonably wet it could start to irritate your skin.

Don’t encourage mold

Finally, as well as getting any signs of mold checked out immediately by a qualified professional you might want to think about your humidifier use.  Constant use of a humidifier could encourage mold growth by introducing extra moisture into your home.   Check out these classic signs and warnings and take action immediately if you suspect that mold is present in your home.

Fairy Travels

Grand Opening of Christmas 2019 – Lapland

snow on cabins lapland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

When I was a child I dreamed of going to Lapland, as an adult I always assumed such a trip would be so far out of reach so I pushed it to the back of my head. Fast froward 2018 when my childhood dream came true, we visited the stunning city of Rovaniemi, Lapland  it was everything we hoped and more. I learned so much from our first visit and really only scratched the surface of this beautiful place that we have decided to go back for 2019. We are all super excited and going for longer this time to experience all that Rovaniemi has to offer.

I recently saw on Visit Rovaniemi that the Grand Opening and start of the Christmas season is scheduled for 10 November at 4pm.  Per their website,

Santa Park entraceLapland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

the Grand Opening of the Christmas Season is an annual and traditional event  that starts the Christmas season in Rovaniemi. The event begins at 4 pm at the central square of Santa Claus Village. The elves and local artists put on a festive concert that culminates in Santa Claus’ speech which officials opens the Christmas Season.

The event is free of charge. The celebration is organized by Visit Rovaniemi. Its also live streamed on their Facebook page so whether your going, planning a trip or even just a Christmas lover its well worth checking it out.

 

For anybody thinking of going ive pulled all my post below and im always happy to answer questions via comments below, DM or across social.

  • Lapland on a budget – our how to guide – here
  • Dressing for Lapland – here
Fairy Travels

Planning a holiday? Here are some money saving tips and tricks I use

Tips and tricks when booking holdiays 

Since I published this post I have been asked lots of times for any money saving tips and tricks I have for taking the family to Lapland on a budget.  I thought I’d set out some of those which helped us  anyway!

Source: Pixabay

Money, Money, Money

I know this is old fashioned but what we tend to do when we book a holiday  is keep a jar of our loose change and convert it the week before we head away.  For example, we had 8 months of saving for Toronto and had a nice sum of coins saved which converted into CAD$225. Along the same vein and I know this sounds a bit crazy myself and my husband put aside a small amount each month and covert it that month to the currency of our destination this meant another CAD$470  to add to the pot.  While we try not to a couple there are short term loan options like cashlady.com

Deals, Deals Deals

I am the queen of the deal! I just love a good deal. I scour the internet for good deals in our chosen destination.  Groupon is your friend. For example we had pancakes for lunch one of the days at Krepesz, that was pancakes for 4 and drinks for CAD$50.  While in Niagara Falls I booked the Captain Jacks Fun Zone  tickets which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and I saved 70% off the normal price.  There are so many options in these places so by buying in advance (the kids and the adults) know what included and we have a set amount of tokens each. There are also lots of hotel options on Groupon too with great saving or added extras.  A couple we spoke to at breakfast had got a great deal at the Sheraton on the Falls via Groupon with a Falls view room.

Shop around especially for accommodation

There are a myriad of hotel booking options with varying rates of discounts.

Source: Pixabay

One of my personal favourites is booking.com.   Also check out Expedia or hotels.com or as mentioned above Groupon hotel deals. Sign up for alerts for these site to keep up to date on the latest deals and offerings.   It can also be a good option to call the hotel direct as I have found that some will match the rates found elsewhere.

Another great option is booking via Airbnb. One of the key things to remember about Airbnb is to read the reviews of the property and look for hosts with good feedback. Secondly good Airbnb etiquette will help ensure good feedback is left for you in return as that’s the cornerstone of the community.

Flights

Source: Pixabay

This one is bit more tricky and sometime can just be down to the fact that the stars align and sales and timing of your trip work out. But failing that some things you can do include:

  • Settting up Sky Scanner alerts – im a big fan of this. You get emails relating to prices changes for the flight you are considering.
  • Timing – some times of the year are simply cheaper than others so do your research and look for the off peak times in the destinations you plan on visiting
  • Avios, this is currency of a number of airlines and you can collect point by purchasing flights or with the airline or any of its partners. For example you can convert you SuperValu real rewards to Avios points.  I had a quick look and its around 8,000 points for a return European flight. Not too bad!

Has anybody any other good holiday saving tips they have feel free to add them in the comments.

 

Note: Contains affliate/ spon links