going to school


3.10pm Mrs H let’s the class out.

Bessie comes bounding towards me, a huge smile on her face carrying her lunch bag, her book bag, a half empty water bottle and a plastic bag with what looks like her school summer dress.

‘Oh dear. What happened?’ I ask relieving her and her sister from their bags and the days works of art. I note she is wearing an enormous school dress that isn’t ours.

‘Molly tried to help me open my fruit juice today at lunchtime and it squirted all over my dress!’ replies Bessie with peals of laughter at such hilarity.

She continues, ‘and then Mrs C (dinner lady) took me to find a clean dress and gave me an age 8 one!’ more laughter and a can you believe it mummy expression on her face.


This is not a one off. Sometimes there will be slips in the playground ending in wet trousers/tights/skirts. In reception there is the odd toilet oops requiring a complete change, so how much uniform should one stock up on and what are the tips to look out for when buying?

I’ve noticed the shops are stocking uniform ready for us to buy so what should we be keeping in mind when buying for the coming year?

Tips for buying school uniform

Make a list of everything you need. Your child’s school should give you a uniform checklist. Buy 3-4 of the key items such as  shirts so that you aren’t having to wash them every day. Buy lots of socks, for some reason I’m always hunting down pairs of school socks!

Shop early, avoid that stressful last minute rush and you most likely won’t be able to get it all in one go.

Be conservative, if you need more you can buy later. I made sure I had one change. (1 on, 1 in the wash)

Easy changing children will have to dress and undress themselves for PE and do up their own shoes, last summer I did a lot of practising with my two to get them ready but they still have come out of class with shirts inside out and shoes on the wrong feet. Choose velcro fastenings on shoes and polo shirts rather than long sleeved shirts if they are allowed.

Make life easy Make sure it’s all machine washable and look for easy or non-iron items. Some shorts and trousers have special stain repellant teflon-coating and you will also find that coloured polo shirts look cleaner for longer than white ones.

Growing room It’s amazing how much they shoot up over the course of a year I have found skirts, trousers with elasticated waists are good. Coats are worth buying with room to grow but make sure shoes are fitted properly. I wouldn’t buy these too much in advance, I bought the girls the week before school.

Label everything, I mean everything, by Christmas we were three gloves (different kinds) and two hats down but luckily as it was all named we retrieved them. You’d be amazed at the amount of uniform I saw in Lost Property, all un-named.  Use fabric pens, sew-in or iron-on labels.

school uniform

Marks and Spencer School Uniform Innovations

At the recent M&S Autumn Winter 2013 preview I spoke to the innovations team. They have spent a lot of time working on their School uniform products and I was so impressed I asked them to send me the details to pass on to you. They’ve been listening to mums and the problems that arise with uniform, then they go back to their desks and devise ways of putting the world right, take a look at what they’ve come up with.

Crease-Resistant – Crease resistant Trousers, Shorts, Skirts, Blazers, Pinafores and Summer Dresses.  Creases fall out more easily.

Stormwear+ – A finish that repels water and oil, M&S Stormwear+ lasts longer than any other stain defence technology on the high street.  Stormwear keeps you dry in rain showers and helps to repel mud and stains…  Available on Trousers, Shorts, Skirts, Blazers, Pinafores.

Sealed Hems – Thread that melts so the hems don’t fall down. All boys’ trousers have sealed hems and selected girls’ trousers too

Stain Away – A finish that helps stains wash away more easily, available on polo shirts and selected shirts/blouses

Supercrease – Supercrease –  ensures the crease is completely permanent on our classic school trouser. This is achieved by a special resin which is applied into the crease and ironed

Stay NEW – Stay NEW technology keeps clothes looking newer and brighter for longer, it also helps to reduce bobbling and colour loss

Ultimate Non Iron – Our ultimate non iron shirts are the best on the High Street. They have special taped seams and superior fabrics which allows mum to tumble dry then hang up with no need to iron!

Expandi Cuff – Special elasticated construction which means that cuffs on long sleeved shirts stretch, so that the button does not need to be undone.

Easy Close – Found up to age 8 on 2pk ultimate non iron shirts/blouses necks which close easily using Velcro

Fresh freet – Fresh Feet school socks – with Freshfeet antibacterial finish to keep feet fresh and odour free

Body sensor School tights – Body sensor tights – actively regulates your body temperature, keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer

Fresh Feet Finish Shoes – Freshfeet antibacterial finish to keep feet shoes and odour free for the lifetime of the shoe

Permanent Pleats – Permanent pleat stays neat and tidy to save time  – no need to iron them back in after washing

Scuff Resistant Shoes – Scuff resistant shoes

Ink Resistant Pockets – Special ink resist lining has been developed for use on the inside chest pockets on our classic blazers. This means that leaking pens won’t spoil your shirts!

Heat-sealed Button Security – The unique elastomeric gripping force and the heat sealing are the key to button loss prevention as the thread permanently squeezes the attaching threads.

Thermal – Keep toes toasty warm with these snug thermal socks

Engineered seams – Taped reinforced seams for a smooth neat look  on ultimate Non Iron

Adjust-a-hem (NEW for 2013) – Keep kids in their clothes for longer with our clever adjustable hem technology – simply….. 1. cut along the blind stitching, 2. remove the thread and 3. let down the extar 11/4″ of fabric and press

My Fit – Wider range of fits – plus, slim, short, long and extra long on slected styles online including skirts, trousers, pinafore, blazer, shirt and blouses

Heatgen – made from a special fibre blend that keeps you warm and comfortable.

Thinsulate™ inside quilted Blazers – With a warm thermal lining and Thinsulate™ technology,  ideal for cooler months. trapping air molecules between you and the outside, Thinsulate™ lining keeps you extra warm while remaining breathable, for great comfort and warmth.

Skin Kind – Special finish developed to help soothe sensitive skine eg eczema. Seams are as flat as possible, no sharp edged labels, latex-free elastics and any trims have been chosen to be super-soft. Also endorsed by the British Skin Foundation

Ultimate Non Iron on pure cotton – Our ultimate non iron shirts are the best on the High Street. They have special taped seams and superior fabrics which allows mum to tumble dry then hang up with no need to iron!

Starting primary school in September? Check out my post  Top tips for starting Primary school

Britax Kidfix SICT in carAs a Britax Mum ambassador I am very happy to post these important updates they send me through as vital to keeping our children safe on the roads and pass on their top tips for choosing car seats for children. Having used the Britax car seat for over 6 months now I can honestly say it is way easier to use than the model I had previously, it’s easier to remove to clean the car and to keep clean.

Keep your child safe on the move

Choosing a car seat is one of the most important product decisions you’ll ever have to make for your child. In the UK, there are strict regulations on car seat fitting and installation, so to help you get it right, we’ve compiled a list of things to look out for when buying a new car seat with our child safety experts, Britax.

1. Is your car seat the right fit for your child and your car?

Car seats are grouped by the child’s weight. Age is an indicator, but for maximum safety you need to know how much your child weighs to choose the right seat. You also need to ensure that the seat you have chosen is approved for your vehicle. Take your car with you when buying a seat and ask a trained staff member to demonstrate the fitting procedure.
To ensure parents choose the right seat for their child, Britax has created an online ‘Fit Finder’, which has approved vehicle lists, step-by-step user guides and installation videos to help you make the correct choice for you and your child.

2. Check whether your car has ISOFIX

Britax developed ISOFIX back in 1997 in conjunction with VW. It is now an international installation standard for child seats in vehicles. Because ISOFIX connects child seats rigidly to the vehicle chassis rather than just using adult seat belts, it reduces installation errors and increases child safety enormously. Only 30% of child car seats are installed correctly when using an adult seat belt compared to 96% when using the ISOFIX system*.
Look for this symbol – it will tell you where the ISOFIX anchorage points are in your car.

ISOFIX anchorage points are the most secure way to install a car seat. However, if your car does not have ISOFIX, there are some great belted seat alternatives, which use your car’s seat belt to their best possible effects.

Isofix logo

What is ISOFIX +?

ISOFIX + is a brand new category in the car seat market introduced by Britax in April earlier this year.  ISOFIX + seats use the standard ISOFIX installation system with the addition of the V-Tether (top tether), which adds a third anchorage point’ behind the rear seat in one of the most common locations shown below:

isofix in the back of the vehicle seat

isofixin the boot

isofixin the roof

The first ever seat to launch with the unrivalled ISOFIX + installation system is the Group 1 forward facing TRIFIX which works to bring the seat to a gentle stop in an accident reducing forward and rotational movement, better protecting your child’s head, neck and pelvis.

isofix 4 isofix

3.  What are the key safety features to look out for?

Every family and child has different needs when it comes to car seats.  BUT the features to look out for to ensure the utmost safety include;

  1. Five-point safety harness -When buying a seat for a child aged from birth to four years check if there is a five-point safety harness.  This system fully restrains your child over the pelvic and shoulder areas keeping them firmly secured in every direction.  In the event of a crash, the harness evenly distributes the impact forces over the five points of contact minimising injury.
  2. Easy headrest and harness adjustment – Enables you to alter the headrest and harness height with an easy single-handed adjustment without having to remove the shoulder straps this preventing re-thread errors.
  3. Deeply padded side wings – Does the seat offer side impact protection for full head containment and body protection?  1 in 4 accidents is a side collision*1.  Furthermore, side collisions account for 20% of child car seat crash fatalities*2.  It is important to note that side impact collisions are yet to be recognized by EU regulations as a standard safety measure for car seats, so if the seat has the ECE R44/04 certification it does not necessarily mean the seat offers side impact protection in the event of a crash.

4.  What other features should I consider?

  1. Look for quick remove covers that are machine washable.  Ideally look for a cover you put on and take off without re-fitting the harness to eliminate re-threading errors and save you valuable time.
  2. Look for multi-recline positions that allow you to adjust the seat without disturbing your child.
  3. Look for comfort for your child with energy absorbing shoulder pads, pelvis pads and great fabrics.

5.  What does the law say?

Child seats are compulsory for children up to 1.35m(UK) or 1.5m(Ireland) tall – depending on where you are travelling in the EU.  Child restraint systems with the ECE R44/04 certification comply with this law.

Note:  Side impact collisions are yet to be recognised by EU regulations as a standard safety measure for car seats.

Alma Thomas Snoopy 1970 recreated It’s been an awful long time coming that I wanted to join in Red Ted Art’s Kid’s Get Crafty but simply never got round to it, so as another New Year’s resolution I decided to do it this month. It’s a bi-monthly project where you take a painting, famous or not and it inspires you to get arty with the children.

I have a few ideas on what I’d like to do but I wanted to include a few things this month: glittery chocolate wrappers from the Christmas stash that I have been saving for a project, scissor practise for the girls and to reflect something they are studying at school to take it one step further.

So I decided on shapes and looked through my massive World Art book for a few ideas. The Modern Era is full of squares and arcs and abstract art that children looking at it can find shapes in but the one that took our eye was an Alma Thomas; Snoopy – Early Sun Display on Earth 1970.

Alma thomas Snoopy 1970

It’s perfect for our work, a beautiful circle that depicts the sun that has been coloured in with bright rainbow colours and we do love a rainbow in this house.

I found the largest pizza plate I possess and the girls drew round it for the circle shape.

Alma thomas Snoopy 1970

We then took the brightly coloured chocolate wrappers and cut them into smaller pieces keeping the colours separated.

alma thomas snoopy making 2

We then stuck the small squares over in straight lines up and down to reflect Alma Thomas’ design

alma thomas snoopy making 3

And to finish we coloured the surrounding square frame with green crayons

It now is hanging on the girl’s bedroom wall

Alma thomas Snoopy 1970

For more Kids Get Crafty post nip over to Red Ted Art


swimming certificatesWow, didn’t that first term of school go quickly?

There I was waiting for school to start and complaining of the long induction process and boom – it’s Christmas, the girls can read and recognise letters and have even started the add one concept.

They have weekly PE lessons, weekly trips to the library and they have school dinners on a Friday otherwise packed lunches.

They love school and have a good set of friends, it seems the class has bonded well and they all get on which is really nice. We’re already invited to 4 different birthday parties and that’s January alone.

We’ve had 4 number puppies home this term 5,6,7 and 8 which are good fun but can be quite time consuming.

We’ve been sent home an exercise book to write up ‘What we did during the holidays’ we shall be starting this today and finishing off our thank you notes too.

number puppy

Each day I pick the girls up with their scooters which have proven to be invaluable; at the end of the day they are very tired and often irritable, by scooting home tears are avoided and it’s a quick run home.

What needs more practise?

Dressing and undressing – I will take the blame for them being less independent as it’s quicker when I do it so most days I resort to taking over and I must stop doing this.

alice princess

Scissor practise – They have got better at managing a pair of scissors but practise makes perfect and will help them in so many projects they do at school

Organising themselves – At school the teacher cannot focus on each child individually so everyone is expected to be able ‘to look after themselves’. Bessie has lost two pairs of gloves this term thanks to her forgetfulness and Alice didn’t return with her wellington boots at the end of term which again is partly my fault as I was late taking them in and forgot to name them *sigh* I need to get better at this!

bessie and daddy christmas 12

Reading and writing – you can’t get enough practise at this early stage and luckily for me both girls like to sit and ‘write’ they will practise their letters and copy various words. I found Magnetic reception year words on Amazon and they like reading them on the fridge and moving them around.

They both wrote their own Christmas cards out even though Bessie did get a bit creative towards the end of her pack and started to write Happy or Christmas rather than her name.

writing cards

Numbers – they count well to 20 and they can also write them. They have started the concept of add one and thanks to the advent calendar are beginning to understand the numbers over ten asking me each morning in December ‘Which numbers make 21 mummy?’

After school activities

Gymnastics – Monday after school at 4pm for an hour. They have passed level 1 back at half term and we’re still waiting for the medals to come through, there were tests for level 2 just before the end of term but neither made it through which is fine because they are really enjoying the class. They can now do roly polies and try to stand on their heads or do crabs but can’t quite make it yet :)

Swimming – Saturday at 8am for half an hour, which is my only gripe. I’d happily move this to an after school activity as getting out of bed on a Saturday morning at 6.30am to get to the lesson on time is hard work but Daddy is happy to take them along and it’s his special time with them, they all enjoy it. The girls got their level 2 certificates earlier this month and are really confident in the water.

I’m keeping the activities down to two for now as any more and they get too tired.

General chit chat

Favourite toys this Christmas have been the Disney dolls with different clothes to change them into, the marble run and the Leap Pads which have been an enormous hit, I shall be looking into new apps soon

Britax Kidfix SICT in carA guest post by the lovely people at Britax who want you to be safe on the roads this Christmas.

Travelling in the car over the Christmas holiday period to visit friends and family can be unpredictable.  The weather may be rubbish, traffic can be heavier and the darker mornings and early nights can make driving a little trickier.  Safety is important in the cold winter months and travelling on long journeys with children you also have to think about how to keep them amused, how to stop sibling fights and what to do when you hear ‘MUMMY I need a wee wee’ or ‘MUMMY I feel sick…’ Britax has developed some ‘Top Tips’ to make sure your Christmas journey is a little more stress free…

Getting your family ready

  • Make sure your car seats are fitted correctly so that your children will be as safe and comfortable as possible.  Check that the harness and headrest is at the right height for your child.  Visit www.britax.co.uk to see how.
  • Pack the car the night before so in the morning you just have to pop in the kids, the change bag and the favourite teddy bears.
  • Make sure you have extra drinks for the children and a flask of hot coffee / tea for unexpected delays.
  • Make sure your mobile is fully charged.
  • Have an empty plastic bag to store rubbish – think banana skins, chocolate wrappers, used baby wipes.  Also handy if there is an unexpected bout of travel sickness.
  • Best in-car munchies? Dried fruit, cheese sticks and the more chewy, less crumbly of the cereal bars.
  • Make sure you have a good collection of DVD’s that suit all the children for when they are allowed screen time!
  • If you have boys, make sure you have a couple of empty bottles if they need an emergency wee!
  • Have plenty of baby wipes for in-car nappy changes, dirty hands and chocolate faces.
  • Store a few surprises in the front seat for those un-timely fractious moments, such as pens and papers for extra games, some interactive books and a couple of little animal toys.
  • Try and plan your driving time around sleep times.  Sometimes letting the little ones run wild all morning lends itself to a more relaxed afternoon drive. Travelling at night may be preferable so they all sleep – although you need to make sure you aren’t too tired and settling a little one into a new environment late at night can sometimes be a bit testing.
  • Divide and conquer.  Keep as much space as possible between siblings in the back – the closer they are, the feistier they can get. Try a physical boundary like a pillow between them.
  • Pack some blankets and have hats and gloves ready should you need them at a moments notice.

Plan your route

  • If going on a journey that is likely to last longer than two hours, make sure you plan a stop as newborn babies should not be in car seats for longer than two hours at any one time.
  • Check online before you set off for any major delays or accidents and have in mind key service stations to stop at. Moto service stations have Baby Feeding Stations with free Organix babyfood, bowls, spoons, steribottles, nappies, bibs and wipes, plus high chairs.
  • Check out play facilities at www.motorwayservices.info where Britain’s service stations are reviewed and rated.  When you stop, try to allow enough time for your toddler or older child to have a run around before herding them back into the car. Having the chance to burn off steam helps to minimise squabbling and boisterousness when you set off again.

Britax Kidfix SICT in car

Getting your car ready

  • It is always important that your car is ready to hit the road when travelling in cold conditions.  Make sure you have an ice scraper or de-icer, some extra windscreen washer fluid and plenty of fuel in the car!  There is nothing worse than stopping 10 minutes into your journey with children to fill the car up, especially if you are travelling at night.  Give your car a small maintenance check, looking at tyre pressure, windscreen washer fluid, water and oil levels.  Make sure these are all topped up before you start your journey.
  • For more information on making sure your car is fit for the road and what to do if you breakdown on the motorway, visit: http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/breakdown_advice/general.html

Whilst on the move

  • It is no myth, when children hit a certain age, rather than simply cry, they constantly moan ‘are we nearly there yet?’  Keep a mental note of some good ‘in car’ games to while away the boredom that always hits on long car journeys.  A few of BRITAX’s favourite ones are;
  • Chocolate or cheese:  Each person takes turns to ask the question “If you had to choose between the following, which one would you choose?” For example, chocolate or cheese, or perhaps being able to fly or become invisible!
  • Granny’s Knickers:  Everyone asks one person a question to which they have to respond with the answer “Granny’s Knickers” regardless of the question, without giggling! (For example “What’s your favourite ice-cream flavour?”)
  • Guess the Animal: Someone thinks of an animal, others ask questions about that animal – can it fly? is it wild? To which the person can only answer yes or no. Or the person describes the animal and everyone else has to guess what it is.
  • The Yes or No Game: You ask one person questions to which they can answer anything except yes or no. If they say yes or no they are out and it’s someone else’s turn. (What’s your name? Anna. Are you sure?)
  • Rhyming game – start with a word (i.e. cat, love, chair) and see how many rhyming words they can come up with.

I feel sick….’ Whose heart doesn’t sink when their child utters those three little words? Especially when there’s no chance of stopping. Nausea is triggered by conflicting information being sent to the brain – i.e. while the inner ear detects lots of swishy motion, the eyes don’t. That’s why it helps to look out, especially at the horizon, or at least something in the far distance – rather than at a book.  Breathing slowly and deeply can help too, and opening a window might buy you enough time to pull over safely. If the worst happens, stop when it’s safe so your child can stretch their legs and rehydrate with sips of water.

and when you get there….

Just when you thought it was all over… Do remember that the children will probably fall out of the car when you arrive, either full of energy, sugar and thoroughly over excited, or groggy, car sick and nervous. Either way, plan for some transitional activity – whether that’s running up and down stairs or sitting quietly in the corner reading a book.


britax mumbassador