Friday, 21 September 2012

How to start your day the best way

Log onto our live and interactive WebTV show and join Dr Sarah Jarvis who will discuss the importance of eating a healthy breakfast and how to make sure your breakfast choices fit the bill.

Show date: Monday 24th September
Show time: 12pm

We are always told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, however many of us, especially busy mums, are often guilty of skipping breakfast altogether. A new survey has found almost half (45%) of the UK population is giving breakfast a miss.
No matter how busy you are, how many lunches you need to make, how many school runs you need to take, it is important to set your body up for the day. Starting the day without refuelling your body’s engine can lead to poor concentration, irritability, and low blood sugar as well as nagging cravings.

To mark the start of Better Breakfast week on 24th September fruit expert Ocean Spray is campaigning for us to start our day the best way.

Are you guilty of snacking on your kids’ leftovers whilst you make breakfast for the rest of the family?  Or do only have time to eat breakfast at 12pm once the morning rush is over? And what tips and advice would you like to motivate you to change your breakfast habits or lack of?

Log onto our live and interactive webTV show and join Dr Sarah Jarvis who will discuss the importance of eating a healthy breakfast and give tips to mums on how to make sure your breakfast choices fits the bill.


Dr Sarah Jarvis joins us live online at on 24th September at 12pm

Click here to submit questions before the show

Food for family car journeys

Travelling with a young family can be a stressful experience.  Keeping everyone topped up with healthy, nutritious food will go a long way to making sure that a long car journey doesn’t turn into a road trip nightmare.

Hungry kids are fractious kids, so always make sure that you pack adequate food for the journey. Keep things fresh by bringing a cool box or bag and make sure that you have healthy, dry snacks at the ready.

Follow these simple tips, and while we can’t guarantee a peaceful car ride, at least you’ll be well prepared.

Foods to avoid

Sugary treats will buy you a few minutes silence, but a sugar rush followed by a crash won’t do anything to keep the peace in the long run.

Just like us, children have a tendency to feel hungry when they’re bored.  Try to distract little ones with in-car games, like I spy and bingo. If all else fails, go for healthy snacks. Dried fruit satisfies a sweet tooth, but it’s healthy too.

Less mess

Cleaning up smears of food from car seats is no fun. Be sure to pack things that are easy to eat and won’t damage the upholstery if they get dropped.

Pitta pockets and wraps might be a better alternative to sandwiches as fillings are less likely to be spilled.

If possible, pull over to an appropriate area for your young passengers to eat. Not only will you reduce the amount of food that ends up on the seats and floor, but the risk of choking is minimised.

To make the trip more enjoyable, plan ahead to stop somewhere nice for lunch. A well-planned break can turn an arduous journey into a memorable family day out.

Make sure that everyone has a chance to stretch their legs too – after all, it’s not just children who get irritated when cooped up for too long.

Slow burn

The best foods for long journeys are ones that release their energy over a long period of time. Cereals like oats and barley as well as pulses are great foods for sustaining even energy levels – good for the kids and ideal for the driver, helping to maintain concentration.

Long lasting energy from oatcakes, wholemeal bread and bean salads are an important part of a healthy road trip meal.


Car sickness can be a major problem for young passengers and fatty foods really won’t help.

Stick instead to raw fresh veggies like carrot sticks, celery, cucumber and peppers. Go for low-fat sandwich, pita or wrap fillings like chicken or tuna and steer clear of mayonnaise.  

Fresh fruit salads or seasonal compotes are a better choice than sticky cakes or pastries.


Good hydration is very important, but avoid giving children fizzy drinks or bottles of juice. They’ll gulp them down and soon need the toilet.

A good solution, especially during the summer months, is to freeze a bottle of water or juice. Kids will love handling the cool container and because they can only sip the melt water, they won’t be able to guzzle the drink too quickly.

Don’t forget to give your car a once-over before you leave home. Inspect oil, coolant and other fluid levels, make sure tyres are fully inflated and check that your car insurance
 offers an appropriate level of cover for the driving you’ll be doing.

Author Bio:
Liam Williams writes for the Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog. In his spare time he enjoys motoring and organic gardening.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Same old routine

I've been staring at a blank screen all day, struggling to come up with the words I need.

The day didn't start too well. I spent my morning shouting trying to coax the children to eat their breakfast and get ready for school, though that's nothing new.  It's always a mad rush to get out of the house on time but this morning was particularly bad.  It started when I woke with a start and realised that I'd slept late.  Not much but still a bit later than planned, and my mornings are planned to military precision.  I shot out of bed, made the children their breakfast, made their packed lunches and then sent them upstairs to get washed and dressed.

That's where it all started to go wrong.  Within five minutes there was shouting, fighting, crying and then laughing as my youngest proceeded to throw all his toys down the stairs.

I went up, shouted a bit and eventually got them and myself ready to go.

Then I couldn't find my keys.

I spent what seemed like ages racing around the house looking for them, trying to phone hubby (I needed someone to blame) and then found my coat pocket!

I got the boys to school on time (by some miracle) before heading back home.  Just me and the baby for the day.

Then, 3.30pm arrives and it's the same sort of thing as above, except in reverse and intensified by about a million percent because everyone is tired.

Bedtime is the worst time of day for me.  The boys are excited at seeing their father, they're tired but don't want to go to bed, and I'm heading for breaking point.  All I can think about is wine settling down in front of the TV but the boys aren't going to give up any time soon.

It soon ends in tears (occasionally my own) and the house descends into calm.  Finally no more screaming, tantrums or cheekiness.  For a few short hours at least.

I savour this time of night where I get to relax and be me for a while.  I'm not being nagged; I'm not having to break up fights, answer constant questions or respond to demands for food and drinks.

It's also the time where I sit and reflect on my day and wonder what I could have done better.  I watch them sleeping and I realise that my boys are still so small.  I don't want to spend my days rushing and having to shout at them.  I want to savour this time when they're still young and innocent.

However frustrated and annoyed I get, it doesn't take much to change all that in an instant.  My oldest looking me with his big puppy dog eyes, my middle boy giving me a bear hug, and my youngest holding my hand.  It's these small things that make all the difference.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Party Planning

Their cakes last year
It's that time of year again where I need to start planning a birthday party.  Actually, it should have all been organised by now as the party is only a matter of weeks away.  It's for my middle and youngest boys as they are turning 5 and 2 respectively.  You'd think that I'd be an old hand at this by now what with having two parties a year between my three children (with the exception of my oldest sons last birthday which I still feel guilty about).

I've spent plenty of time in the past agonising over cakes, invitations, venues, and even what sort of balloons to get.

I think my main problem when it comes to organising the party is that I'm too indecisive.  And  I leave everything until the last minute.  It's not really a god combination.

I got the Thomas cake eventually
I remember planning my oldest sons third birthday.  He adored Thomas the Tank Engine so there was no doubt as to the theme of the party.  I'd hired a hall, I was all organised, yet I managed not to order his cake until a week before his party.  There's always something stress over.  It usually turns out okay in the end, but always causes me sleepless nights in the process.

So here we are again.  Their party is in three weeks.  I booked the venue yesterday and am now in the process of trying to decide which bouncy castle/inflatable slide/soft play area is best.  I have actually enquired about cakes (well, asked my mother to anyway) and my mother has found a face painter.  The themes are sorted - Ethan wants the Gruffalo and as Oliver has also developed a major love affair with the well known little blue tank engine, he will be having a Thomas theme.  I've somehow got to blend the two but I'm sure I can manage that.

Almost done really.  Oh wait a minute....

I still need to invite people.  I have invited those with Facebook accounts (so easy to set up an event on there), but I've still got Ethan's class to invite and anyone who hasn't succumbed to the dark depths of the aforementioned social networking site.

Then there's tableware, banners, balloons and party bags to think about.  Do I go for the easy pre-packed plastic party bags, or spend time lovingly creating my own using the more environmentally friendly (and nicer looking) paper bags?

What about the food and drink?  I've always prepared my own buffets and I never cater for the adults.  The most I do for them is buy a few bottles of pop so they can have a drink.  After all, this is about the children, not the grown-ups who accompany them.

But the latest trend in the school parties is to get sausage and chips from the local chip shop.  Easier?  Possibly cheaper?  I don't know.  All I do know is that it's yet another decision to make.  I was happy with the way I do things, so don't know if I really want to change.

I adore these cupcakes
I suppose I'd better get my nose back to the grindstone and start googling every website of every bouncy castle hire company in my area.  (What is it with companies who don't have a website these days?  Or even a Facebook page at least?  They don't actually expect me to pick up the phone to make an enquiry do they?)  I'll probably spend the next two hours looking and still not have made a decision by the end of it.

I think I need a personal assistant to help me with these things.  It would be so much easier to just give my requirements and then have someone else do it all for me.

Even then I probably wouldn't be happy though.  Yes, I get stressed and worry over every minute detail, but I always get a small sense of satisfaction when it all comes together in the end.  Ultimately, as long as my boys enjoy themselves then I'm happy.

So, I've got three weeks to organise the best party that a 5 year old and a 2 year old could wish for.  Someone pass the wine, it's going to be a long night.

Chilling out in soft play


Saturday, 1 September 2012

I deserve some shoes

My challenge is complete.  I managed to post on my blog every day throughout August and I feel very proud of myself for doing it.

It wasn't always easy, and I admit that some posts are a bit ropey but I got there, and I am glad I did it. It's helped get me back into the swing of blogging, but more importantly, I've discovered some lovely blogs and bloggers along the way.

I've started to enjoy my blog again, and it's reminded me of the reason that I started blogging in the first place.

I even learnt to blog from my mobile phone!

I can't promise that I'll continue to blog every day as some days I don't feel like I've got anything to say, but I am now looking forward to keeping my blog going and creating my memories.

A huge thank you to those who have commented and supported me; you have made it all worthwhile.

All I've got to do now is order those shoes.  I think I deserve them!