When your eldest child is autistic things don’t follow the standard format. You can’t rely on them to lead the way for your other kids, and some days, it hurts like hell.

Oh I know what you’re thinking. That I should lower my expectations, and not put too many demands onto any of their shoulders (especially Polly’s). They’re just kids after all. Truthfully speaking, I do feel this way a lot of the time. We live in the real world though don’t we? And on the super challenging days not expecting anything and not being tempted to future gaze just isn’t realistic.

Above anything else I want them to enjoy their childhood, and look back on these years fondly. But I also want my kids to become decent human beings who can cope in this ever changing, often cruel world.

eldest child is autistic If that’s a crime, then I am guilty as charged!

When your eldest child is autistic, and you can’t leave the room to have a pee without world war three kicking off, it makes your job as a parent hard.

Really bloody hard!

Polly is very high functioning, which comes with many blessings. Yes she’s verbal and continent and able bodied, but my goodness being high functioning can also be a curse.

I refuse to be so terrified of a divided autism community that I’m not willing to admit this.

As I’ve said before, us parents of kids with additional needs are not robots. We cope with monumental levels of stress. I try with all my might to not fall into the trap of ‘woe is me’ but some days it’s impossible to not long for the life you thought you and your family would have.

My daughter is growing up

I’m becoming hyper aware of the fact that most people expect more of Polly than she’s capable of giving. Here’s the thing though, because she’s so articulate and eager to please, she will do her upmost to give her everything. For her friends, for my friends, for her grandparents, our extended family. Hell the distant neighbour who we only see once in a blue moon will, without doubt, see her as the perfect child.

For the people she mostly shares her four walls with though, it’s often a very different story. Which is another thing that stings like hell some days.

My girl is amazing at masking her autism (I wrote about it here). It’s breathtakingly exhausting for her, but she feels she has to do it, otherwise her friends won’t like her anymore. She’s already seen how fickle people can be, how they want to be your best mate one minute and drop you like a hot potato the next. She puts in a lot of effort into being ‘her best Polly’ (her words, a legacy from school) when she’s on display.

I wish more than anything that I could teach her how unimportant most of these people she is so desperate to impress are.

eldest child is autistic She came to me last week and said that she felt terrible for not being a good big sister. She said she wanted to be better the next day, and try harder. These words came totally unexpectedly, from my not even nine year old autistic child (nothing short of a miracle). I know in my heart that she wants to be friends with Clara and Freddy, but the way she treats them leaves a lot to be desired.

When progress comes though, my word it’s as sweet as a multicoloured, many layered unicorn cake.

Polly is a phenomenal child in so many respects.

You only have to take a look at her cooking on my Insta Stories, or my most highly viewed YouTube videos to see her skills in action. I have no doubt in my mind that five, ten years from now a lot of these memories will have faded. They will be distant and I’ll look back on them feeling proud of how far we’ve come. All any of us really want is for our kids to be happy, to make good decisions and be decent people. My children are all well on their way to ticking these boxes. During moments of clarity I can see this bright future of ours.

BUT, right now, these days can push me to the very edge.

Polly starting to connect the dots between her behaviour and how it effects her siblings is incredible. The thing is though, as with all of her other positive traits, it comes with a high price tag. The dreaded overwhelm. Which leads to hyperactivity, meltdowns and starting mindless fights. When our little roller coaster is on the down, Polly takes everything out on us.

Now, I can handle being a punch bag. It’s not pleasant, but I’m a grown up. I can deal with it. When she takes her moods out on the younger two it’s another story. My primal mama bear instinct kicks in.

“SOMEONE IS HURTING YOUR BABY” – it screams inside my head!

But that someone hurting my baby is another one of my babies.

What a quandary.

It pains me that Polly can be so utterly adorable for everyone else, yet has the capacity to treat us so badly. I can only hope that as time goes on, and more dots are connected, we’ll see less and less of this.

When your eldest child is autistic your other children don’t have a typical big sister/brother role model to look up to.

eldest child is autistic

Sometimes Clara and Freddy’s mere presence is a trigger for Polly. Ultimately she feels short changed by them. She has articulated to me many times that she wants all the attention for herself, and is still getting used to sharing it (even though they are only two and four years younger).

I’ve come to the conclusion that she would have been the most amazing only child to have ever graced the planet.

I’m perpetually caught between a rock and a hard place, questioning whether anyone is getting their needs met.

When your eldest child is autistic, and all your kids are hurting, you have days that need to be written off and forgotten about pronto. Days that start with a five on the clock and the fighting begins shortly afterwards. Days that reduce you to tears, many times throughout. Days where your mind wanders down the road of ‘what if…’ and you have to fight your internal monologue with all your might to shut the F up.

I don’t over-share about my children, largely because my life before my children was so colourful. When I over-share it’s about me not them. I totally get that others need to though, that it helps them through their day. If they find themselves with friends in short supply and the ones they’ve made through social media are the only ones still around. I stand by all my brothers and sisters fighting the good fight in the autism parenting community right now. We are stronger together people, truly we are.

I’m going to leave you with some words to think about. They say that what screws us up most in life is the image in our heads of how we think things should be.

Do you agree? 

#ShareAStory is an hour long creative writing workshop where children aged 7+ learn how to write their own stories

PizzaExpress have teamed up with Scribblers HQ to launch a series of wonderful creative writing workshops across the country aimed at children aged 7-12. We were invited along for Polly (8½) to give it a taste test and see what she thought. 

The workshop starts with explaining that all stories have the same key elements. Take a leading character, give them some basic information and a mission, and away you go. Once you have these things nailed you can’t really go wrong. The delicious pizza also went down a treat with the children after a hard hours’ writing! 

Polly was a little bit nervous when we were on our way to the workshop. “I’m no good at coming up with ideas for stories,” she told me with a worried look in her big blue eyes. I assured her that there would be experts on hand to help her throughout the workshop, which there were. The experience panned out to be a lot less intimidating in reality than it had been in her mind beforehand. 

#ShareAStory

Polly’s story 

The lovely ladies from Scribblers HQ did a marvellous job of putting the children at ease from the moment they arrived. They were taken on a whistlestop tour of book writing, and taught how to structure their own stories. By being given two examples of best selling books, the kids were shown how similar they both were once they were broken down to their key components. 

After about five minutes Polly wasn’t nervous at all, and went on to write a little story about a giant ice cream called Olaf. Poor Olaf is in a real state because all his friends keep getting eaten by the humans (and some monsters) so he needs a plan to stay alive. It’s a fun and quirky story, which Polly was super proud of writing and I was incredibly proud to watch her write. 

The best part is that since this workshop a fortnight ago, Polly has written two more stories. Not because I’ve been on her case about doing so, but because she’s wanted to. I’m fortunate enough to be able to say that writing is my job these days, and it’s bringing me such pleasure to see her enjoying the process of putting a story together.   

Book your free #ShareAStory workshop

#ShareAStoryPizzaExpress are running their free #ShareAStory workshops around the country this month, and I thoroughly recommend you booking your place. For full details check out the PizzaExpress website, or click on the links below. 

Birmingham – Sunday 4th March 

Manchester – Saturday 24th March

Leeds – Sunday 25th March

Cardiff – to be confirmed

World Book Day 2018 

PizzaExpress are also supporting World Book Day with a special edition of their Dough Ball Times activity pack. Children are invited to design a bookmark to be in with the chance of winning a years supply of books. Packs will be available in restaurants until the 25th March. 

The Dough Ball Times will also include a World Book Day token which you can exchange for an exclusive book in your local bookshop. For a home educating family like us, this was really useful.  

There are ten fabulous books to choose from this year, my three have ear marked these. 

Nadiya Hussain’s Bake Me A Story (Polly)
Paddington Turns Detective (Clara)
The Avengers Greatest Heroes (Freddy)

What will your kids choose? Tweet me @MummyTries

**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative piece, for my full disclosure policy click here.** 

There is no denying that home educating three children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I’ve had a colourful, interesting past)

At this point in our lives though, I honestly would not have it any other way. I appreciate that this might sound like an oxymoron, so let me go back to the start and explain myself.

I didn’t set out with the intention of home educating three children. In Sept 2013 my husband and I sent our eldest daughter Polly (who had turned four in the July) to school with good intentions, but she was failed miserably. Sh*t happened, and we were left with no other choice but to remove her. You can read the full story here.       

How did we end up home educating three children?

home educating three childrenOn the surface Polly was doing “just fine” when she was at school. She was an average student, who didn’t cause problems for the other kids. She didn’t raise any major red flags as far as her teachers were concerned, and largely went underneath the radar. The sad fact was that Polly was seriously overwhelmed by going to school. She would have two hour long meltdowns almost every evening, and it would be a major challenge getting her out the door in the morning.

I had been in touch with the family liaison officer for months. To be frank she was more interested in regaling stories of her successful older children than she was in properly listening to me about mine. She would bestow bog standard reward chart ‘wisdom’ thinking she was telling me something I didn’t know already. The word patronised doesn’t come close to how she made me feel. She pretty much laughed in my face when I said I was concerned that Polly might be autistic.

Turns out my gut feeling was spot on, but even after Polly’s diagnosis in 2015 we received no additional support for her. I had the carrot of ‘help’ dangled in my face, and was promised meetings with the ASD team to assess Polly’s needs. The meetings were cancelled at short notice, and it was very obvious that help wasn’t materialising any time soon. Even if it did, budget cuts meant the likelihood of ‘help’ being substantial enough to reverse the damage school had done to my girl being slim at best.     

Left with no choice

I wrote a blog in October 2015 which went viral. My open letter to the mum of a highly functioning autistic child struck chords all over the world. It became apparent that I wasn’t alone in these feelings of utter despair. The perpetual cycle of Polly’s sleep and behaviour getting gradually worse as the school term ticked on. How soul destroying it was to see progress in the holidays only to watch it go out the window a week after going back. 

The thing about high functioning autistic girls is they are often so good at masking their autism it goes unnoticed. Polly’s overwhelm and anxiety were being glossed over, because she was so well behaved at school. How on earth can a teacher quantify a child’s needs if they are presenting a different version of themselves inside the classroom? Fellow blogger Miriam wrote a fantastic piece on this subject. 

home educating three childrenI’m sure we’ll all agree that an overworked teacher in an oversized classroom already has enough on their plate. It would be unreasonable of me to expect them to spend a large chunk of their day trying to unpick my high functioning autistic daughter’s complex issues. Getting to the root of why Polly was having such huge meltdowns at home was never going to happen, because the meltdowns were at home, not in school.  

Hubby and I had two choices. Wait patiently, and watch our child drown. Or exercise our lawful right to educate her ourselves. We chose the latter. You can read more about our early journey here. 

Home educating one child is all very well and good, home educating three children is another matter entirely          

We had a flying start to home education, and Polly’s meltdowns disappeared almost overnight. We went to great lengths to instil emotional intelligence into our daughter, and our decision to home educate paid off in those early days. Polly was still autistic though, and her autism did not ‘go away’ by home educating.

For the record and for those not in the know I’d like to state this. Autism is neurological condition which means Polly’s brain is wired differently to her neuro typical peers. This doesn’t make her less of a person, it just makes her different. I feel those trying to ‘cure’ or ‘reverse’ their child’s autism are on a fools errand, but that is a whole series of blog posts in itself, and this one is almost a thousand words already, so I shall stick to the point.

In Sept 2016 we made the decision to send Clara to school     

Hubby and I figured that just because Polly had had a terrible experience it didn’t mean Clara would. So we made the rather controversial decision to send her to school. It all went well in the first few weeks, but the wheels started falling off as we headed towards Christmas. 

The kicker for me was seeing my little ray of sunshine in pieces, dressed as an angel, in the nativity. Possibly the saddest hour of my life since becoming a parent.     

Not wanting to make a knee jerk reaction, we left her in school until Easter. I tearfully met with the SENCO who promised meetings with the ASD team to see if there was anything else in play. These meetings didn’t materialise – sound familiar? We could not sit back and watch history repeat itself. 

Potential reasons that had caused this problem  

home educating three childrenPerhaps it was our school that was the problem. However, when you don’t drive and have other children to consider, you don’t have much choice but to send your kids to the geographically closest school. We would have to properly move out of the area to change schools, and we didn’t have the means to do so.  

For Clara, having her brother (two at the time) and sister at home was a problem, because she felt we were sending her away. She would ask on a daily basis, some days multiple times, why Freddy and Polly got to stay at home and she didn’t. 

Ultimately though, Clara often presents strong autism traits herself, and was very overwhelmed being in a class of thirty. I genuinely cannot fault her teacher, or the teaching assistant who were both amazing, but it wasn’t enough.

We decided to not even test the waters with Freddy. Being such a sensitive boy, we know already that he would absolutely hate school. 

Owning your story 

I’ve been blogging for almost five years. From my very first post I have been explicitly honest and have continued to be throughout my online journey. I am very vocal on social media about both sides of parenting. I wrote this piece about home ed to highlight that it’s not for everyone.  

Having suffered with debilitating mental health problems over the years, I’ve undergone numerous counselling sessions and read hundreds of self-help books to understand why I am the way I am. I will always change when necessary if it means becoming a better person.

I absolutely refuse point blank to only present the best parts of my life. I share everything. Warts and all. Always have and always will. Otherwise I might as well hang up my blogging boots forever! 

home educating three children

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back to the point. After pulling Clara out of school last year, we have had plenty of downs on our little roller coaster. But we’ve also had the highest ups. Watching my children become emotionally intelligent people, who can have proper conversations with just about anyone always invokes proud mummy moments. 

Seeing them become confident in their own skin. Ride their bikes like they were born attached to wheels. Bake like professionals. Between them they can recite all the times tables. They create LEGO master pieces that are awe inspiring. They write stories. They build robots. They make up songs and sing them in beautiful voices (!) They dance like no-one’s watching. Most important of all, is that along with the fighting, they love each other fiercely.  

We must be doing something right  

Life is hard.

Often.

Grindingly so some days.

Every time I have a wobble, without fail, people will start asking if I’ve thought of putting them back into school. As if this has just been a little game we’ve been playing and hubby and I will come to our senses and be ‘normal’ like everyone else. 

Yes, home educating three children almost broke me. No doubt I will have plenty of days where I feel broken. But such is life with kids on the spectrum, and right now, I would not have it any other way. 

If being ‘normal’ means putting my children through serious distress and causing them major anxiety, then we’ll be the ‘weirdos’ thank you very much.

 

And just like that, I’m starting to feel much better about this thing called life. Parenting multiple challenging children will push the sanest of us to our very limits, trust me. ♥ Having been through two debilitating mental breakdowns in my 20’s and numerous boughts of depression throughout my life, I know when the dark clouds are going to pass quickly, or stick around for longer. ♥ And I refuse. Point. Blank. To put on a big fake smile and pretend I’m okay to make others feel less uncomfortable around me. If my authenticity makes you sad, then perhaps you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why. ♥ I’ve done many things over the last six months to help myself, so here’s the list, just in case they can help any of you. – squeaky clean diet, no refined sugar and very little natural sugar. – I took a break from alcohol, which was long overdue, you can take a look at that in detail if you so wish @mummysoffthebooze – I’ve got back to regular yoga 🧘‍♀️ – I’ve got back to editing the manuscript and am now looking at a pretty good seventh (!!) draft – I’ve upped my probiotic game, taking strong quality supplements as well as drinking on average 2L of water kefir a day and about 100ml of milk kefir – I started taking 5HTP, an old friend that has helped me in the past – I’ve stopped expecting anything from anyone else (this has by far been the hardest thing to achieve, but perhaps the most effective?) ♥ Let’s just hope this new and improved mood is here to stay!

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Guest Post by Sophie Le Brozec

At the start of 2015 I was living in London. I worked as a full-time childminder by day, and as a blogger and author by night. By the end of that year my husband and I had moved ourselves, and our two young daughters, to a new (dream) life on the tropical island of Mauritius.

We didn’t win the lottery. We didn’t receive a big inheritance. We didn’t suddenly come into a windfall.

What we did was decide what we wanted and figure out how to get it.

First of all a bit of background. I’m British and I did a degree in French and Spanish at university. When I graduated I was 22 and I bought a 3 month return flight to Nice, France to spend the summer working in a bar / partying at night and lying on the beach by day.

Within a couple of weeks I’d decided to stay indefinitely. I finally returned to the UK to live just over 12 years later, this time with a French husband, a half-French half-English daughter, a dog and a cat in tow.

In 2015 I was 39. I’d lived 12 of those years on the French Riviera where sunshine, warmth, beaches and mountains had become standard.

Whilst my French husband and I both loved London we massively missed seeing blue skies on a regular basis. And we both yearned to live somewhere hot and sunny again.

Today I’m going to share with you the three things that got us from London life to island life.

Sophie Le Brozec

1) Finances

We were renting in London so our monthly outgoings were – as I’m sure you can imagine – astronomical. We got to talking about how much further our money would stretch if we lived elsewhere.

So we took a good hard look at our finances.

– How much came in every month because of the work we did in London, and that would disappear if we moved?

– How much came in every month regardless of geography, and so we could count on if we moved?

– How much did living in London cost us?

– What were our outgoings every month irrespective of geography? Things like life assurance for example.

– What was our monthly budget if we lived elsewhere? And what options did that give us?

To give you an idea of how this played out for us:

the rent on our first house in Mauritius was well under half what we paid in London – for a house with a sea view and a swimming pool in the back garden!

our utilities bills are about half the size of the ones we had in London.

Although we had a reduced income (to start off with) our outgoings were at least half their London equivalent. And that was with a very good way of life here – our cheaper Mauritian house was 3 times the size of our London home.

You’d be amazed what you can afford to live on if you move somewhere cheaper, and often this makes the income drop doable.

I lost my childminding income when we left London but had geography independent income from my children’s book sales, my blog and later on online training courses I set up to teach languages.

If this is something you’re keen to explore have a think about money you can make that doesn’t require you to live in any one place. Us mums are very good at that 😉

2) Worst Case Scenario

Making a big move is not the time to play the ostrich game. You need to be very clear and aware of the worst case scenario if you go ahead.

For us we were moving to a country

a) which neither my husband nor I had ever visited

b) that was an island in Africa and we had no idea of how third world (or not) it might be

c) where we had no friends or support network.

We could stay in Mauritius on a tourist visa for a maximum of 6 months, but we needed to request an “Occupation Permit” (basically a visa to work and live here) to be able to stay.

We had absolutely zero guarantee that our request would be granted. We had no friends in high places (or in low places come to that!). They could say no and chuck us out of the country.

So our worst case scenario was fairly hefty:

we sell up everything from our 4 bedroom house in London

our eldest loses her place at an incredible Ofsted Outstanding school that is 1 minute walk from our house

we leave all our friends, family and support network

I lose my childminding clients

we make no friends

the country is too backwards

the schools are no good

we hate it / the kids hate it

we pay all the expenses to move to Mauritius (including shipping the belongings we decide to keep)

we are refused the Occupation Permit and have to return to the UK, with nothing there for us

Sophie Le BrozecWhilst it’s so incredibly important to look at the worst case scenario of what happens if you do this big thing, it is also vital to do the opposite. The worst case scenario if you DON’T do this big thing.

We looked at what would happen if we stayed in London.

Yes, we were happy, we had friends, a great local school etc etc.

BUT we had arrived in London from France too late to get on the housing ladder for where we wanted to live, and our rent was crazy money that was being thrown away every month.

Our future didn’t look great in London – it was hard to save money to get on the housing ladder, but we loved our area and didn’t want to move.

And once we’d started to explore our other options, the idea of going and it all failing was still more appealing than not going for it at all.

That’s what you need to decide – will I regret it more if I do it and it fails or if I don’t do it at all?

3) Woo-woo

The third and final thing might be a bit too “out there” for some of you, but it’s what makes the difference between successes and failures.

You can do all the practical and the logistics, but if your mind isn’t in the right place you’re screwed.

Once we’d decided we wanted Mauritius and we were going for it I went full-on to make it happen. Not only to make it happen, but for it to be the best possible situation.

I visualised our life in Mauritius – not easy when you’ve never visited the place! I watched videos and looked at photos to help with this one. I looked at the options for the girls’ school / nursery and pictured them there.

In my mind’s eye I saw myself working at a desk in summer clothes, eating salad outside before lazing by a pool after lunch.

I would write down what this dream life looked like in a journal – what my house is like, my car, my friends, our life in general. It is very important to write this in the present tense as if it is already the case, or in the past as if it has already happened.

Finally I truly believed, with all my heart, that this move would happen and be the best thing in the whole wide world. I refused to let any doubt creep in. In my mind I was already living that life.

Sophie Le Brozec

Those three things are already a powerful combination to bring about that big change you want

Then there are hundreds of smaller things that can make your dream life reality, all of which I teach in my Life Reboot Camp (www.SophieLeBrozec.com/camp), with concrete examples of how YOU can do it.

This online programme is for women (especially mums) like you who feel unfulfilled in life, a lack of contentment, jealousy when you scroll through social media and see other people’s photos and lives.

You are frustrated with where you’re at in life, you may be bitter and feel like life is so much better and easier for everyone else. You may also be looking for balance in your life, feeling a bit mid-life crisis or be at a crossroads.

My dream and goal now is to help women like you to live your own dream life. Whether that is on a tropical island like me or in a city centre skyscraper, whether it’s running your own business or teaching inner-city kids, whether it’s married with children or single and child-free.

Whatever your dream life is I’m going to do my very best to help you achieve it. And because I believe so strongly in Life Reboot Camp I guarantee you a full refund if you find the programme lacking at the end of the 6 weeks.

Registration for Life Reboot Camp opens today and the launch price of $197 (with a 3 month payment plan option) runs from Tuesday 20th – Sunday 25th February (the full price after this time is $497). 

By joining the Life Reboot Camp you also get free lifetime access to my private membership Love Your Life Club. This is a safe community of like-minded women, with a Facebook group and daily inspirational and motivational messages (normally $9.99 per month).

What we cover in the Life Reboot Camp

Module 1: YOU

Module 2: Woo-Woo

Module 3: Relationships and friendships

Module 4: Parenting

Module 5: Work & Career

Module 6: Decision-making and facing fears

+ 6 Bonuses from a variety of experts

Say yes to yourself today and make 2018 your year!

About Sophie Le Brozec

Sophie is a lifestyle entrepreneur and personal development mentor, who is passionate about helping women to love the life they live. Sophie is a Brit, married to a Frenchman and mum of 2, living in Mauritius after 12 years in France and 5 years in London. She’s not averse to taking risks and making big, scary decisions, and loves helping others make that leap too.

Follow Sophie Le Brozec on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Have you ever had that feeling where you just wish you could hit Control, Alt, Delete on your life and reboot it like a computer? Haven’t we all? That is one of the reasons I created Life Reboot Camp, to help women, like you, who don’t want to completely overhaul their lives and change everything, but who could do with a reboot. . And I’m excited to share that registration to my Life Reboot Camp opened this morning 💃 . There is tons of information in this life-changing online / offline course, which means its full price is $497, available all year round on my website. HOWEVER as I want the programme to be as accessible as possible to all women, there is an introductory price of $197 (or 3 monthly payments of $75) valid today through to Sunday 25th February. . Also if you scroll down you’ll see that you can even access Life Reboot Camp for free… . Like you, I am a busy woman, and Life Reboot Camp has been created to fit in with your hectic schedule 👇 . – the programme can be taken in via video, audio or text, or a mix of all three – you can access everything online but you can also download everything to have wherever you are – the course can be completed in 5-10 minute bite-size chunks, or you can binge on it like with your favourite Netflix series . I absolutely HATE being disappointed by things I buy online, and so I offer a full refund if at any stage – including once you have completed the whole course – you feel like the programme hasn’t helped you. So there really is nothing to lose. . You can find out more and sign up here: www.SophieLeBrozec.com/camp or link in bio . Now for the FREEBIE bit!! I am so passionate about helping women to live their best life and so I want to do some giveaways. . I will be offering my Life Reboot Camp for FREE to 5 women here on Instagram. All you have to do is tag someone in the comments below who you think might find it useful and / or repost this, tagging me. On Friday I will choose 5 winners at random.. . The official stuff: – By entering this contest you are effectively signing a complete release of Instagram – This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

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**Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Sophie Le Brozec’s Life Reboot Camp, if you purchase the course via my link I will receive a commission. Click here for my full disclosure policy.** 

My children adore everyone’s favourite ogre, so I was excited to tell them we’d be going to Shrek’s Adventure! on London’s Southbank. Better still, we’d be going with our dear friends, fellow blogger Mel and her four

The tour lasts for around an hour, and is very interactive with lots of different segments. It starts with a 4D bus tour, and although it doesn’t actually move, it wasn’t too dissimilar to feeling like we were on a roller coaster. Various characters from Dreamworks films are talking and flying all around you, and it’s a lot of fun.

I won’t ruin it by giving away too many spoilers, but during this early segment, a little disaster occurs, and the rest of the tour is based around getting home. You get to meet lots of characters from the Shrek films along the way, and join in to help bring certain items to the Muffin Man so he make a potion which will create a portal to return back.

The actors play their parts exceptionally well, and the children came out of the tour absolutely buzzing. It was such a joy to see them all this happy. Keeping seven kids aged three to nine entertained is no small thing, so hats off to Shrek’s Adventure! for doing so.

Things to know before your visit

Shrek's Adventure!Queues: if you visit at a busy time (we went in UK half term), be prepared to stand in line for a while. We had pre-booked tickets for the 3pm tour, but didn’t start our tour until a few minutes to 4pm. It was a teensy bit deceptive because there wasn’t much of a queue outside the venue, once inside however, there was quite a bit of waiting around.

Don’t worry though, there is plenty to look at while you’re waiting to keep you entertained. We also took a big bag loaded with snacks and activities with us. It wasn’t much of a problem for us, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind if you have mobility issues to consider. They keep the tour group sizes fairly small, which was impressive, because never once did I feel like we were being squashed in like sardines in a can.

Buggies/baggage: there’s no cloakroom until you’re just about to go on your tour, and they ask you to not take buggies in. If you’re planning to go with a baby either take a sling or be prepared to carry them.

Mobile phones/photography: you’ll be asked to switch your phone off, and not turn it back on until the very end. I really like this aspect of the tour, because it keeps everyone fully present and focused on what’s happening, rather than trying to capture the moment to put on social media. Not only are you asked to switch phones off, you won’t be allowed to take photos on a camera either. At the very end of the tour you’ll get to meet the big guy, and can snap away and share until your heart is content.

Frightening: until about six months ago, Polly (8½) would find something scary about even the most innocuous films or books. There are a few parts on the tour that involve witches and/or all the lights going out. Both Freddy (4) and Clara (6) stuck to me like glue in anticipation of something scary happening, but didn’t cry or get freaked properly out at all. Again worth bearing in mind if you have a highly sensitive child who is likely to scare really easy. 

Shrek's Adventure!The verdict

Shrek’s Adventure! got the resounding thumbs up from all seven children. Yes really, I’m not just saying it. I think the best thing is that there are different segments every five minutes or so, which keep the kids completely enraptured.

There was a bonus section at the end too, where we got to meet the Kung Fu Panda. You’ll have to get down to the Southbank quickly though, because he’s only there to celebrate Chinese new year, and won’t be there forever.

Huge thanks to the PR team at Shrek’s Adventure! for inviting us to come for a tour. For what’s on and pricing, head over to the Shrek’s Adventure! website.

**Disclaimer: we were gifted our entrance fee in exchange for this honest blog, all words are my own, some photos were taken by myself, some by Mel. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**