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Mamma Fairy

Mamma Reviews

What to look for in a good after-school club

After-school clubs were once few and far between. They were primarily somewhere for a child to stay for a couple of hours until a parent could pick them up after finishing their working day. Now, a whole range of schools, both community and private schools, provide after-school clubs with a whole lot to offer.
 
So what should you look for in an after-school club to know it will be good for your child? These tips and suggestions aim to help.
 

Where is the club?

 This isn’t just for your convenience, such as the club being a good distance from your work, but to benefit your child too. For instance, if it’s local, the club will probably be attended by some of their friends from school or other children they know. A club out of town, on the other hand, might have access to fields, rivers and forests, where they can enjoy some exciting activities – see below.
 
After-school clubs, both near and far from your home, bring different benefits. Deciding what’s best depends on your child and what kind of experience you want to give them. For instance, a club close to home might be best if your child is shy, while one further afield could be the right choice if they’re confident and like the outdoors.
 

What activities will your child be doing?

 After-school clubs are commonly known as places for children to play games and have fun. While having fun is important, it’s wise to check that they will be learning too. You should look for activities that will allow your child to learn new skills, as well as build up their social skills and confidence, and help them stay active.
 
Activities can include things like arts and crafts, sports, cookery, and learning about nature. Clubs should have a plan of different activities they’ll cover from season to season. So it’s a good idea to find out what your child will be doing, not just day-to-day, but throughout the year too.

What is the quality of facilities?

 It’s important that the club provides facilities of a high standard in a clean and safe environment. All indoor and outdoor facilities and equipment should be well maintained, child-friendly and safe to use.
 
It’s also worth checking to see that there are a range of club facilities, which will allow your child to do different things, in addition to the group activities on offer. This could include a sizeable play area and a quiet space for them to draw, read a book, or do their school homework.
 
There can be a lot to take into consideration when finding a good after-school club. So it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can about a club, attend an open day, or try and arrange a visit, before making a decision. But, with these suggestions and tips in mind, you should be able to find a club that brings out the very best in your child.
Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

International Woman’s Day 2017

So yes we have our own day. A day to celebrate woman rights. But we shouldn’t have to have a day.

Gender equality and inclusion should be a given, not something we need to fight for.  As some of you already know, as well as being a mother and blogger, I work full time as an accountant.  The issue of gender equality is a hot topic around boardroom tables.  I have seen a marked improvement in efforts made by corporates to close the gender gap, however I am under no illusion……. there is still a long way and in some case a very very long way to go.

There have been lots of studies conducted in this area. One very recent one was by Content marketing agency Axonn Media who surveyed 108 parents on their working life and found that being a mum still presents greater professional challenges than being a Dad, even in 2017.

Research from its Gender in Marketing 2017 report reveals that 62% of Mums said that parenthood hampered their career, compared to just to 24% of Dads.

However, despite the obstacles working mums face, parents on both sides of the gender divide have challenges to overcome.

The top 3 complicating work factors for working parents are traveling and meetings (55%), working hours (48%) and lack of flexibility (34%) from their employer. I can see the lack of flexibility issues as being a key topic for discussion these days.  With significant technology advances working from home is so much easier, logging on from home, dialing into calls, emails at your fingertips.  Your precise working location is being much less significant. In fact I know of some companies who actually promote a day a week at home due to office space constraints.

It does seem however that companies are failing to capitalise on flexibility despite parents valuing it more than ever before when it comes to approaching their work. For me in any work contract negotiations it would be one of the items top of the agenda.

Another interesting finding of the study is the differences between men and women when asked “Which aspects of working life are the most important”. What I thought interesting was the breakdown of why  men and women said they work! Salary topped the list for men while doing something they love topped the list for women. See top 5 opposite. For me personally id agree with findings, for me enjoying what I do is key, getting paid well is a bonus. Lets face it if you leave your kids behind for 8-9 hours a day you want to me doing something you love.  I’d find it very hard to leave them all week and hate the job also.

 

So as we celebrate International Womans Day I am grateful for the advances made in closing the gender gap, I am optimistic for the future that this will continue albeit slowly.

I am humbled and proud of the hundreds of thousands of women who marched in Dublin today to #strike4repeal.

As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said: “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water”.

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

 

 

 

Baba Reviews

2 months on where are the Christmas toys?!

  1. Now that the dust has quite literally settled on the  Christmas toys,  two months on im always curious has the must requested item been cast aside or is it as much loved and wanted as it was when it featured on the infamous list. First up are those that are still very much played with.

1 – Irish Fairy Door Worry Plaque

Once the oldest saw this on the Late Late Toy show it was a done deal, Santa HAD to bring him one. Santa being the great man that he is duly obliged. Oldest is a real worrier about everything. The worry plaque for anybody who doesnt know is a genuis idea by the Irish Fairy Door Company. You put your hand on the plaque and it turns from red to green meaning your worry has gone.  Simple but very effective.  Our resident fairy JoJo (cuddly teddy by the Irish Fairy Door Company) brought the worry plaque and he sits a the end of the oldests bed to look out for him.  The magic and wonder is so beautiful. I am a firm believer in letting kids be kids and the magic that the Irish Fairy Door products brings is just magical.  Our worry plaque is ably guarded by Batman and Robin!!! The worry plaque is available from Irish Fairy Door Company and in my opinion well worth it.

 

2 – Melissa and Doug Horse trailer

This was a last minute addition as I dashed around TK Maxx on Christmas eve. The youngest absolutley loves this toy.  The trailer carts Peppa, Ryder and all sorts of wierd and wonderful characters around.  It cost €9.00 and it was so worth it.  I have seen it in a couple of places since albeit slighlty more expensive. Melissa and Doug toys in my experience are really well made and last the test of time.

3 – Furry Friends Watch

Despite the fact that he can’t tell the time he insists on wearing his watch everytime he leaves the house! We were sent these before Christmas and I kept one as a stocking filler which turned out to be a great idea! Big hit here, they are well made and an ideal size for my 4 year old. They come in a range of colours and a reasonable price tag of £12. Available here

So what didn’t  make the 2 month test!

Soggy Doggy

The main item on the Christmas list was the board game Soggy Doggy.  It was played with for approximately 10 mintues and that was it nothing….. it barely made out of the box after that.  There is nothing wrong with the game I think he just expected more from it.  Board games can be a bit hit and miss anyway unfortunately this one was a miss for us.

Fairy Travels

24 hours in Belfast with kids!

We ended up making a flying visit to Belfast last November and while we set off with little expectations of seeing much of this lovely city in 24 hours we ended up thoroughly enjoying our stay. The dada Fairy was on business so we were tagging along to keep him company.

Way back before kids I worked in Belfast for a time so know the city pretty well, always enjoy my visits there, this one being the first with kids in tow!

Where we stayed

We booked last minute on booking.com.  There was very little choice so last minute so we took the only suitable place we could find! The Clayton Hotel it was.

Pros:

  • Location was central
  • Child friendly
  • Good breakfast included in rate

Cons

  • Could have been how late in the day we booked but the room was tiny for the 4 of us.
  • The parking situation – appreciate you are in a city but the parking is a huge public multi story behind the hotel which I wouldn’t fancy having to go back to my car in the dark to get something its quite eerie!

Overall, stay was fine, would stay there again, kids also enjoyed and location as very convenient for us.

Where we ate

This was absolute highlight of the trip! We ate at a restaurant called Fratellis across from the Europa hotel.  The kids are still talking about this place.  Its is quite possibly the most kid friendly place we have ever eaten.  The kids menu was set price Stg£7.99 and included a starter – Garlic bread or dough balls and mains was either pasta or make your own pizza. There was no contest! It was make your own pizza.  The little men were given aprons and chefs hat and their selection of topping to make their own pizza at the table.  Following this they were served ice cream and a babycinno! The adults had an equally enjoyable dinner, with the kids so excited and preoccupied, there might have been wine and cocktails and 3 courses for us too. No mean feat with 2 busy kids in tow! If you are ever in Belfast with the kids a visit is a must, do bear in mind it does get very very busy.  We were there on a Saturday and had a bit of a wait for a dinner not a issue for us as it gave us time to sample some of the delicious cocktails on offer!

What we did

No trip to Belfast is complete with a trip to the Titanic museum.  The boys are probably a little young to fully appreciate this fabulous attraction. The tour itself was an hour long taking you on a journey to follow in the footsteps of those who took the fateful trip.  The experience itself really draws you in from the moment you begin.

It is really interactive and engaging. You do it as your own pace which is ideal with kids, its also very buggy friendly. Price wise its pricey enough for adults at Stg£17.50 however kids under 5 are free.  They have lots of different events on like afternoon tea for Mothers Day or Valentines which I can imagine would be very enjoyable in this setting.  We didn’t get to sample the on site eateries this time, maybe next time!

 

 

 

Mamma Musings

Its what I wish for…..

This post was prompted by a discussion on a parenting discussion board, when somebody asked what is that we want for our kids.  For me the answer was easy the doing not so much.

Just over a year ago our family lost an incredible person – Granda by name but so much more in reality. I’m the oldest grandchild – he was my best friend, my confidant, the person I asked for advice, the person I trusted unquestionably, the person I loved more than I express in words.  In some ways I was incredibly lucky to have had him for 34 years, but on the flip side having had him so long meant the good bye was incredibly painful and a pain this still strikes me out of the blue on the bus to work, doing the shopping often when I least expect it.  We had an unbreakable bond.

At 88 healthy years old, he knew his time was up and in his own words he was ready to go. He told me not to be sad that he was ready to go because he lived his life, he saw the world, he had a family who loved him, he was happy.

He used to brag about seeing every country in the world during his navy days, something many of us can only aspire to have done. He had many different jobs, he loved his family and everybody who knew him knew just how much. He loved life, he really did. I was sent a poem the evening he passed away entitled “Miss me but let me go”, the words were exactly what he would have said to me.  I have a chain engraved with these words and his initials, it means the world to me.

From that day I have vowed for mine and my boys sake to live our lives.   Sometimes that means just ignoring the pile of washing on the floor while I play with the boys, saying no to that work event, giving the kids the requested fish fingers and waffles rather than stressing about their greens. It means being present, ignoring my phone, the work emails, the calls when its our time in the evening after work.  Its easy to get caught up in the cycle of work and bills etc.  That’s always going to be there but its how I deal with it thats changed.

Its all about perspective and I can honestly say I have a lot more of that now.  So in honour of a great man, what I really wish for  my kids is that they too can say they lived their lives. Life is after all for living.

 

Mamma Reviews

Neebo- the next generation in baby monitor

As a blogger my inbox gets flooded with press releases, products updates etc.  While I do genuinely read all that comes through my inbox only a handful generally spark an interest that leads me to do further research myself. One such product is Neebo.

Neebo is an infant care system which purports to provide parents with the most accurate infant data stream on the market including monitoring of baby’s heart rate, oxygen saturation, thermal state and audio environment, as well as a smart alert system. The graphic below gives a great summary of its key features.

My youngest little man was sick quite a lot as a baby and I worried (and still do) so much about him.  We travel a lot and going anywhere meant tonnes of different products however something like Neebo for us at the time would have been amazing, rather than having to take the mat for the cot, the thermometer, the monitor one device would have done.

Background

Neebo is the first product of technology start up Daatrics.  Its founder and CEO Andrey Khayrullaev was inspired to start Daatrics when he became a father two-and-a-half years ago. Nothing like practical experience to inspire a new product.

The product itself is a cool sleek wearable system for baby, an app for parents and a minimalist charging station. The uniqueness of this product is that is it one product which covers the full spectrum of functions any parent needs to give them peace of mind.

In summary it can:

  • Check temperature
  • Monitor sound
  • Enable listening remotely via the app
  • Check oxygen saturation levels
  • Check heart rate

 

The associated app will be available on both iOS and Android and the device itself will be available in a number of matte colours including Green, Blue, Pink, Grey and Yellow.  I love the cool matte colours it comes in, fun for baba too.

 

The device will also be waterproof so no fussing with taking it on and off during bath or playtime. This will be a huge benefit save forgetting to put it back on or leaving it behind somewhere after swimming etc.

 

The Product itself – the technical bit!

According to manufacturers specifications the product itself is safe with encapsulated electronics, delivered in a durable and heat resistant case.

The materials used in Neebo’s enclosure are soft, breathable, eco-friendly and BPA free, meeting the highest standards of child-safety. Neebo’s wearable unit is built from a medical grade plastic (the same as Lego™), a medical Silicon band and includes no paint. The logo is engraved in a matte finish. Unlike most Wi-Fi/Bluetooth alternatives, Neebo’s autonomous operation and use of propitiatory algorithms prevents it from emitting high or chronic electromagnetic radiation. The specially designed childproof clasp prevents the band being unlocked by a baby without adult supervision. Ideal for my youngest or Houdini as we call him he can literally escape anything!

 

The verdict

I am really excited to see this product when it is officially releases in 2017, in my view this will be a game changer for me, being able to incorporate so many functions in one small device is a huge benefit.  Particularly for those early days when you are home from hospital with a new baby.  What is even more exciting is that I really think the above is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of functionality.  The ability of the manufacturers to update the devices firmware remotely mean you will have a product that continues to evolve and be market leading in terms of functionality.

For my youngest who was sick so much as a baby this product would have been the ultimate game changer for me, essentially one product versus the 3 or 4 that I would have carried with me when travelling is huge plus.  The ability to use it through an app on your phone is a brilliant feature, as lets face it most of us carry the phone/ tablet with us for most of the day anyway.

Pricing and availability

Neebo is now available for pre-order from here at a special preorder price of $199, with an estimated shipping date of Q2 2017. The companion Neebo app (iOS and Android) will be free to download when the baby care system ships.

Note: This is a collaborative post

( Image Sources: Daatrics)

 

 

Baba Reviews

The kids current Netflix picks

We have finally escaped from a never ending cycle of Peppa Pig and Team Umizoomi! The boys have found some new Netflix favourites! Finally!!!

Tayo

Tayo is a popular pre school cartoon which follows a playful blue bus on its adventures around the city with his pals. I believe it originated in South Korea and has now become popular all over the world. We used to watch it on You Tube however it must be a recent addition to Netflix and a popular one at that in this house anyway!

Lego

The boys love their Lego and have recently become interested in the Lego programmes on Netflix. They are ideal for kids in that they are short and colourful and hold the boys attention. Favourites are the Lego Superheroes and Lego City.

Monster v Aliens

The four year old has taken a shine to this one! Its a Dreamworks offerings about a woman who is struck by a meteorite on her wedding day and subsequenlty becomes part of a team of monsters sent to defeat an alien mastermind trying to take over the planet.  He has been on the hunt for meteorites since!!! It contains the names of lots of big named voices. I hadnt heard of it the film before this but its actully not bad at all.

 

Note: We are part of Netflix Streamteam, for which we receive a montly subscrption to Netflix. However all views are the boys (or mine) as lets face it they dont really care who pays the montly subscription!!
Mamma Musings

Uniforms – do you love or loath them?

My friends give me a hard time about this, I most definitely have a uniform.  I spend 37.5 hours a week (and sometimes more!) in an large corporate office for my work as an accountant so day to day I usually wear some combination of suit, smart trousers top or skirt/ top/ jacket combo. This has spilled into my personal life and I more often than not find myself reaching for the work trousers or work tops when going places. I am drawn to these types of clothes spending so much of my time in an office no doubt has done this!

Interestingly I went to both primary and secondary school in uniform wearing schools and I am sending the boys to a uniform wearing school.  I know not everybody does but I like uniforms in school. I like the way the kids are dressed the same, there is no pressure on kids to be in branded gear, there is no pressure to be in different clothes every day, it promotes a more equal social environment in my view anyway.

The Research

I was sent an info graphic by 4imprint which contains some interesting statistics on wearing a uniform see opposite for more information and findings.

I did have a little chuckle about red colour in uniforms reducing performance.  My secondary school uniform had an all red tracksuit for P.E but blue school jerseys for hockey and soccer, obviously this was the main contributing factor to my less than brilliant PE performance over the years!!

Having been a uniform wearer I would definitely subscribe to the claim that it helps contribute to a sense of community and shared values, in some ways it reinforces why we were all there – while we all may have wanted different things at the end, we shared a journey to get to our own goals.

Quite interestingly is the very last part of the inforgraphic which shows how the colour of uniforms affects perceptions. In reality what this shows to me is how social norms have developed over time as they were the colours historically used by certain professions. For example if the police arrived at the scene of a crime a pale pink uniform it would create quite the stir. We expect them in blue, same as we expect the consultant in white coat. Some interesting findings above and it reinforces my own positive view on the use of uniforms in schools.  Our kids wear what their school tells them. In time, a few of us will have jobs that require certain clothes while some wear printed t-shirts as a uniform.

Do you have a subconscious uniform like me? Do you favour the schools with uniforms or are you the total opposite like the individuality the non uniform displays?

Would love to hear your thought.

Take Care

~Mamma F

Note: This is a collaborative post

 

 

 

Fairy Travels

Donegal 3 nights – 3 hotels – Our thoughts

As I have shared previously on the blog having family in Donegal means we travel up that part of the world quite a bit for family events etc. Over the last 3 months we stayed a night in three different hotels in Donegal. As the stay was quite short I though the easiest thing to do would be some short snippet reviews of our key thoughts as really one night isn’t enough to write a comprehensive review therefore below you will find our initial thoughts and observations. Two of the below trips we had the kids, the third it was the grown ups only.

 

Clanree Hotel – Letterkenny

First up is the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny, we stayed here the October bank holiday as the Dada Fairy was attending an event in Letterkenny. We arrived quite late thanks to bank holiday traffic and we were greeted so warmly by the incredibly friendly staff.

Pros:

  • Staff were excellent couldn’t do enough to help
  • Child friendly
  • Great breakfast
  • Great food in the pub on site and very welcoming for kids
  • Rooms were spotlessly clean
  • Lots of parking on site

Cons:

  • It is a little out of the town, you could walk but it’s a bit far if like me you have kids in tow!

We booked last minute via booking.com see here for hotel website.

 

Mill Park Hotel – Donegal Town

I have stayed many times in the Mill Park Hotel and it never disappoints. This time we were here for a family function. We arrived midday on a Friday and were able to avail of early check in.

Pros:

  • Location – easy walk to the town
  • Rooms were fab – the one we had was newly renovated and had the most amazing shower
  • Great breakfast
  • Lots of parking
  • Apparently a great pool and leisure centre on site however we didn’t get a chance to use it

Cons:

  • No food available at the bar when we arrived only sandwiches which was only minor inconvenience being so close to the town

 

We booked quite a bit in advance  via  booking.com see here for hotel website.

 

Ballyliffin Lodge & Spa – Ballyliffin

We wrapped up 2016 with a stay (minus the kids) in Ballyliffin Lodge & Spa, its only when we drove up did we realise the vastness of the county of Donegal, the drive up with so beautiful, the scenery along the way really must be seen.  We arrived on a cold Saturday afternoon to a really warm welcome.  The hotel was decorated beautifully for Christmas.

Pros:

  • Lovely room
  • Spotlessly clean
  • Breakfast was amazing – best pancakes I have ever tasted!
  • Lovely setting
  • Very friendly and helpful staff

Cons:

  • Our room must have been over the wedding room which meant we could hear hum of the music, the hotel do supply earplugs not that we needed them. Not a problem for us however if you were travelling with young kids who went to bed early this might  be worth considering if you are staying a night where there is a wedding on.

We booked this stay direct with the hotel on their website.

 

Note: This isn’t a sponsored post all trips were paid for by ourselves
Mamma Reviews

Crafty Post! – Kitty in Boots Snow Globe

I have to say at the outset im hopeless at crafts, I don’t think that side of my brain works! I’m an accountant – im a numbers girl!  However I did accept a challenge of creating a Kitty in Boots snow globe!

The Tale of Kitty in Boots is a book written by well known author Beatrix Potter and illustrated by equally well known illustrator Quentin  Blake. The book chronicles the tales of a well behaved young black cat who leads a double life defeating the evil villains.

See link here for super simple easy to follow instructions including a handy video tutorial.

 

In summary you need:

  • A jam jar
  • Some fake snow or glitter
  • A little Christmas tree decoration
  • Glycerine
  • Water resistant glue or a glue gun
  • The cutout image of Kitty
  • Cardboard
  • A laminator with laminating pouches, or clear packing tape as an alternative
  • Scissors

Tips from somebody who is totally non crafty!

  • We used glitter but the snow would make it much more festive
  • We didn’t have a laminator so used some waterproof clear tape my husband had in the shed (!)
  • Its honestly super simple so give it a go and I would love to see some pics if you do try it, you never know I might even pop a copy of the book in the post for the best ones!!!

The Tale of Kitty in Boots is available from Ladybird Books

Note: This is a collaborative post