Today is my 39th birthday. I am almost forty, and that’s okay

I didn’t think I’d feel this way, but something has shifted in me this past year. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m getting older, and am genuinely okay with the idea. Might sound ridiculous, but this mindset hasn’t come easily.

I started adulthood at fifteen, and was always head and shoulders younger than everyone else. In all my jobs and house shares I had at least half a decade on my peers. Now I often find myself in situations where the extra five years is in the other direction.

Saying goodbye to my thirties

I had a bit of a freak out over turning thirty, but I needn’t have done. 3-0 was good to me. I’d recently got married and become a mum. I felt ready and happy to embrace the next chapter of my life. My thirties gave me three gorgeous kiddos and immense strength to get through the challenging times.

This decade has seen mine and Hubby’s relationship tested to the point of most people being incredulous we’re still together. It’s seen me make and lose friends, but my rock solid crew have never faltered. It’s been about truly looking inwards to squash the demons that have previously had too much control.

Bring it on!

Now that I am almost forty, I’m embracing it. Age is simply a number after all. If we feel healthy and happy in our achievements then who cares? I’m finally comfortable with who I am and the way I look.

I’m not going to waste another second agonising over my thighs which seem to get bigger every single day. I’m not going to cry over the weird mole/skin tag thing on my right eye ever again. My teeth suck, but hell I’ll cross that very expensive bridge when I have to. My nose isn’t, and was never, that big.

I just smile now when people make silly jokes about getting old. Or look at me in mock horror when a stranger asks my age. I absolutely refuse to cling to the next 365 days with dear life.

I am almost forty.

I am fully onboard with the flaws which make me me, and you know what?

Being me isn’t such a bad thing.

If, like me, you are incapable of not breaking your phone, then you need to read on my friends. I have broken no less than three phones in the last year. THREE! My inability to have a piece of tech for longer than a week without an issue is becoming the unfunniest running joke in my house. Of course my husband thinks it’s hilarious. After I dropped the second phone in four months down the loo recently, I started thinking about little rules I could create for myself to stop this from ever happening again.

breaking your phoneI am far from being alone when it comes to phone breaking 

I had genuinely started thinking I was cursed and or on a par with most reality TV “stars” in the stooopid department. Turns out many of the parents I know have broken their phones in weird and wonderful ways. So, I thought I’d bring you a little list of all the things you should not do if you want your phone to last the duration of it’s contract. I’ve had a bit of help from my blogging friends, and have linked back to their blogs with their comments. Do check them out if you’re in need of reading material, they’re a marvellous bunch.

Here are my top three rules, which I’ll be living by, come hook or by crook!

  1. Never take it to the toilet.
  2. Never keep it in your back pocket.
  3. Never let your kids look at it, let alone touch the thing!

Stop breaking your phone with these top tips (in no particular order)

breaking your phoneAmy from Amy Treasure Blog sagely warns “do not keep it in your bra.”

Donna from What the Redhead Saidadvises “not to put it in the front pocket of your dungarees if you might need the toilet. I have dropped mine so many times like that as I always forget it’s there.” (feeling your pain, Donna!)

Both Emma of Free From Farmhouse and Midge of The Peachick’s Bakery both say “don’t put it on the roof of the car while getting the kids in and then drive off.”

Victoria of VeViVo’s says “don’t put it on the edge of the bath, unless you are willing for it to go for a swim.”

Kate, the Gluten Free Alchemist says “never get it out whilst carrying two bags and walking down stairs, unless you want a smashed screen and destroyed touch passcode connector! Also, in the eventuality of submerging in water, ALWAYS put it in a tub of rice and ALWAYS remember not to cook the rice afterwards!” (Yikkkkes!)

Mel from Le Coin de Mel says “don’t put it in the front pocket of your hoodie.”

Chrissie from The Muddled Manuscript says “never try to protect it by putting it in your hoody pocket then leaning over to bathe your children…”

Emma from Writing Life As It Is simply advises to “never leave it behind!”

Mandi from Big Family Organised Chaos warns to “never stand up with headphones attached to your phone and then stare as the phone smashes to the floor!”

Lisa from That British Betty says “don’t use it as a music device when cooking – it *may* end up in the boiling pan of rice!”

Sara from Mum Turned Mom specifies “don’t jump up and down on the ‘shaky bridge’ in Cork!”

Hayley from Miss Many Pennies says “never put it loose in your bag and forget to zip it up.”

Becky from Mommy and Rory says “never leave it where you friends Labrador can reach it!”

breaking your phoneNatalie from Plutonium Sox says to “buy a case before the phone arrives. I had three days without a case between getting the phone and getting the case. Smashed the back of it on day two!”

Jodie at Maidenhead Mum says “never leave it on the bed as you’re changing the duvet cover as it might get mixed up with it and end up in the washing machine. On a 1600 spin cycle. And you might not realise for 40 mins! R.I.P iPhone!”

Leigh from Dad Geek has some great advice. “Modern batteries operate best if you DON’T let them run out completely. Keep your phone charged at 15% upwards and it helps to increase how long you’ll get the most battery life out of your phone.”

Rebecca from My Girls and Me says “buy glass screen protectors, because they’ll break before your actual screen does!”

Nita from Mummy Wishes warns “to not use a selfie stick! It either pops out eventually or gets knocked by someone/something.”

Emma-Louise from Even Angels Fall warns to “never put it in your mouth whilst using a public toilet, for safe keeping, only for it to then fall in… on second thoughts, just don’t put it in your mouth full stop.”

Kelly-Anne from Mimi Rose and Me says to “never throw your phone at a wall because you think you have a spider on you, it will most likely be a loose strand of your own hair!”

If you have anything to add, tweet me @mummytries 

Wishing you the best of luck with getting to the end of your contract, without breaking your phone!  

I’d like to start this blog by saying that I’ve not been incentivised to write it. We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for my previous post, and I’ve written this purely to capture the day. 

The Good

Kidtropolis The event is held inside East London’s impressive ExCel Centre, which was easy for us to get to on public transport. The DLR stops next to the building, which means no wandering the streets looking lost. 

The best thing about Kidtropolis is that once you’ve paid for your tickets almost everything is free. There are around fifty activities and two live mini-stage shows included in the price. We were also lucky enough to win both ballots, which meant we got a Next Step meet and greet, as well as a dance lesson with their choreographer Amy.

Of course there are extras that cost money – such as food, drinks and merchandise – but there is no obligation to buy any of it. We took food in with us, which saved tons, because it’s expensive once you’re inside. 

Kidtropolis is pegged as the best kids show in the UK, and I can totally see why. I think it’s safe to say that there is something there for all children within their advertised age range of 2-12. I can’t think of anywhere else on earth that it would be possible to meet the Lorax, Darth Vader, Next Step, PAW Patrol and Flawless within the space of a few hours.

As you’d expect the big stars are security protected, but some can be found wandering around chatting to fans. There were lots of opportunities to collect autographs, which is fully anticipated with the back page of the (free) programme being left blank, and marked autographs

The Bad

We had the afternoon session, which ran from 2-6:30pm, and our first live show started at 2:30. This meant dragging the kids away from the fun they were having on the 200ft obstacle course, which they’d all decided to gravitate towards first. It felt rushed, and the stage wasn’t particularly well sign posted, but we got there just before the show started. It was well worth persevering with, because Flawless were absolutely amazing to watch (see next section). 

After the show the children wanted to get autographs and learn some dance moves with them. This meant we got completely distracted and forgot about the dance lesson we had won in the ballot, which started at 3:30. By the time we remembered around 3:45, it was too late to join in. Polly and my friends girl were gutted, and as you can imagine there was lots of mummy guilt for not getting them there on time. 

That wasn’t the only unfortunate event that occurred. About thirty seconds after going inside the Next Step live show at 4:30, Clara said she needed to go to the toilet. As the show was only going to last around 20 minutes, I said to her that we’d run there and run back as fast as we could. It was very dark inside, and whilst running back I tripped over. I was convinced I was fine, until it was pointed out by security that I was covered in blood. Turns out that I’d cut my elbow quite deeply, but thankfully didn’t need any stitches. While I was being patched up by the paramedics, my friend made sure that the girls got to their meet and greet. I arrived just as our party was at the front of the queue, and managed to photobomb the pictures.

The Awesome

Kidtropolis The Flawless live show was nothing short of incredible. The level of coordination and effort that goes into that type of dancing is simply stunning, and a visual smorgasbord to view.

They had a huge mixed age troupe up on stage, and all the children had a turn to dance. Their sheer determination shone, and they were all an utter joy to watch. I didn’t realise that they run a dance school in central London on a Sunday morning, which might be worth checking out at some point.

I’m sure the Next Step show was fab too, if only I’d seen more of it. Polly and my friend’s 9yo were chuffed to bits to meet their idols and be cooed over. Myles signed Polly’s t-shirt and she has plans to put it in a frame so she can worship it.   

I’d say the best part of Kidtropolis was the children getting to make the decisions about where to go and what to do. Properly hanging out with the stars is a huge draw, and will provide them with many happy memories.

Tips for next time 

Kidtropolis I’ve asked myself if I’d go again next year, and would definitely like to if it’s on again. We got the ExCel Centre nice and early, and had the children to write a list of everything they wanted to do and see. In hindsight, I think that six kids aged 3-11 and only two adults was pushing it, because with the best will in the world, balls are going to get dropped. In our case it was the dance lesson. 

There was so much to do that it would have been impossible to get through everyone’s list. I think next time I’d be tempted to have a maximum of two similar aged kids per adult. Unfortunately, when you have to cater for bigger age gaps in general, you’re always going to come across this sort of dilemma.

Older children are perfectly safe to roam around independently, and there are clearly marked meeting points in case anyone gets lost. My friend’s 11yo was in the gaming section for big chunks, but they aren’t security tagged, so if you have a smaller child who likes to run off then you’d have to keep a very close eye on them. 

Overall, it was a fab day out, and we made lots more memories to add to the bank with our dear friends.

Oh, and for anyone that was wondering, my arm is healing up nicely thanks.   

BML17 Keynotes Speaker
The lovely people at Fantastic Services, who I am a brand ambassador for, are kindly sponsoring me for the Brit Mums Live blogging conference this weekend. I have been very excited about going for months, and am really looking forward to catching up with lots of bloggers who I only see once in a blue moon. Then something pretty amazing happened last week. I was asked to be one of five keynotes speakers – as I was nominated to read my Open Letter to the Mum of a High Functioning Autistic Child. I wrote this post almost two years ago when I was at my wits end, and it is still one of the most visited posts on my blog. To say I’m nervous would be a monumental understatement, but I’m also kind of looking forward to it. Wish me luck!        

Hubby’s time off/Staycation 
Every year since Polly came along, hubby has taken a week off work and we’ve had a staycation. It’s been during these weeks that we’ve made some of our most cherished memories. The girls had spent a few days at their grandparents, which was fab all round, and Freddy really benefited from having some one on one time. Then we had three days last week, and had a lovely time. Going to the Science Museum and Natural History Museum on a Monday was a real treat, as it was so much less busy than usual. Hubby took Clara off to a climbing wall on the Tuesday which she absolutely loved. Then we all went to Battersea Park and swimming on the Wednesday. Perfect use of the time off.      

Polly’s breakthrough 
rollercoasterAfter a really tricky morning on Thursday, on the back of all the excitement from the week, Polly was struggling. She couldn’t keep her emotions in check, refused to do her learning, and was very disruptive to the younger two. Then out of nowhere she went off upstairs and wrote us all letters apologising for upsetting us. Huge breakthrough, and comforting to know that we are making progress in this area.    

Clara riding a bike without stabilisers
About three months ago we took the stabilisers off Clara’s bike thinking that she was ready. After five minutes of wobbling however, she declared that she wasn’t interested and hated riding her bike. At five, Clara is and always has been the most wilful of my three kids. Once she decides something that’s it, there is no changing her mind. So you can imagine my surprise last week, when I casually suggested we try again for a bike ride and she was not only enthusiastic, but pretty much rode off first time. Amazing! There is no stopping her now, and she is a pure joy to watch. She had plenty of goes on Freddy’s balance bike over the summer which really helped.        

Freddy’s balance biking and sleep
Freddy is getting brilliant on his balance bike, and more often than not we’re leaving the stroller at home. This is quite a big deal for me, as Freddy is my third and final child. I’d be lying if I said his overall sleep has massively improved, because it’s still ridiculous most nights. BUT, I am managing to get him to go to sleep in his own bed a couple of times a week now. Even if he falls asleep in mine and hubby’s bed, he does spend at least a few hours in his bed every night. Slowly but surely my baby is becoming less so, and I live in hope that his sleep will get better very soon.  

Winning at Instagram
I have even more of a love/hate relationship with Instagram than I do with Facebook, and that’s saying something. However, I’m doing much better at it these days, both with balance and engagement. Woohoo!

It’s not often that you get to bounce on a giant trampoline disguised as a bed outside an iconic London train station. When Virgin TV Kids invited us to do so, we erm, jumped at the chance. My three relished their time on the bed, and were all smiles throughout. It’s just a shame this isn’t an every day occurrence!

Virgin were outside Kings Cross station on Thursday to celebrate the launch of their brand new children’s channel and app. Virgin TV Kids provides a safe and fun way for children aged 3-7 to watch their favourite shows, and is completely free of in-app purchases and advertising (always a win as far as I’m concerned).

Giant bed at Kings Cross Station, London, UK, 24th August 2017

Key features

There are thousands of shows for your little ones to watch, including Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol. If you’re already a Virgin TV customer on the fun or full house package it’ll cost you nothing extra.

As well as all the programmes, the app also has interactive games and books which is fab from an educational perspective. The children can create their own personalised profiles, which my three love doing.

For me, the best feature is the 30 day download. As a non driving family, we take public transport almost every day, and screen based entertainment is vital on return journeys when everyone is exhausted and in need of quiet time. Having shows downloaded on the children’s tablets is essential, as even when there is WiFi available, it’s rarely strong enough to be able to stream television.

The app also has a repeat feature, whereby the kids can press a button and watch the same show up to five times. Hopefully they’ll have their headphones on while they’re doing that!

As I’m sure you’ll agree, the app provides a whole load of fun to keep the little ones entertained. The app can be downloaded now from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

For more information please visit the Virgin Media website. You can also follow their news on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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**Disclaimer: Virgin Media paid our expenses so we could attend the launch, all words are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**