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.**

 

Today is my 38th Birthday, so I’d like to share with you 38 things that I’ve learnt on my journey so far

1. Above all else, know yourself, and always be true to who you are at your core. Integrity is everything, and will help you sleep easy at night.

2. Honesty is the best policy, never be afraid to put your hand up and admit that you were at fault.

3. You can’t argue with, or rewrite history, but you can do everything in your power to create a brighter future. 

4. You won’t win a fight by getting angry. Calmness is key to problem solving. 

5. To prolong a suntan, moisturise twice a day. 

6. The world is a friendlier place at five or six in the morning after your first cup of coffee. 

7. Eating clean is a form of self respect, people who make fun of the term simply don’t understand it.

8. To eat clean without it bankrupting you, it is absolutely essential to find a way of making the very best quality food accessible. 

9. Cooking a meal from scratch (especially for guests) will always feel like an achievement. 

10. Growing your own food even more so, but it takes time, patience and a willingness to follow instructions (the latter is not my strongest trait).

11. It’s better to do five or ten minutes of exercise every day, than say you’ll spend hours per week at the gym, but never making it there. 

12. Running is great in perfect conditions, or with friends, or as a head clearer, but Unless you’re a natural runner, it will feel like torture. 

13. Good friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget. 

14. Unless you’ve behaved in an appalling way, and only you will know that, other people’s mean-ness is them projecting their own hurt and little or nothing to do with you.

15. Never go to sleep on a fight, it’ll give you nightmares. 

16. Wasting time on people who don’t appreciate you will make you feel like crap. Beware the fair weather friends who only chat small talk.

17. However, it’s good to remember that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. There is a deeper meaning to everything, and everyone we cross paths with has a purpose.

18. You cannot change another persons behaviour, but you can control the way you react to it, which in turn will help control its effect over you. 

19. The only way to have a small influence over rubbish behaviour from another person is to kill it with kindness (the behaviour, not the person, obvs). 

20. Travelling while you’re young will provide memories forever. 

21. Sometimes the only option is to walk away, but good eggs will find a route back to each other. 

22. Saying no is a great skill to learn.

23. As is properly distinguishing between your wants and your needs. 

24. Buying clothes and household goods second hand is not only kind to the bank balance, but easy on the environment. 

25. To combat sleep deprivation, go to bed as early as you possibly can and take the Zzzzz’s where you can. 

26. When the chips are down, Instagram is not your friend. However, a Facebook group hug of proper old mates will do more to pull you out of a deep dark hole than a lot of other things. 

27. Don’t fall foul to FOMO, the grass is rarely greener on the other side of the fence.

28. Not doing something you love, every single day, will start to chip away at your soul.

29. Tapping into your creative side will make your heart sing.

30. It is possible to write a book amid a super hectic life, you just need to form a solid writing habit.

31. If it’s important you’ll find the time, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. 

32. Sometimes it’s best all round if you zip your lips and throw the key away.

33. There is no shame in taking an extra long loo break with your phone for ten or fifteen minutes whilst hiding from your children. How do you think I’m writing this?

34. No matter how much you love your kids, time out from them is the only way to recharge your batteries.

35. It will pass, no matter how raw or painful it is right now.

36. Laughter is always, always, the best medicine.

37. Some days are best written off with a large glass of vino. 

38. Other days you’ll swallow down all the unpalatable memories, put on your brave face and happy pants/knickers, and conquer the world.

 

All you need is… 😍😍😍

A post shared by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on

Only People with a Bigger Family Will be Able to Relate to thisWhile I was away on my own in Ibiza recently, I had a chat with a random, as you do. He asked me, in all seriousness, if people actually had three children in this day and age.

He spoke as if a bigger family was some kind of urban myth, and going against the 2.4 grain and breaking the unwritten rules would be a truly ludicrous thing to do.

Unsurprisingly this guy doesn’t have any children of his own, and didn’t strike me as the type of person who encountered many kids in his day to day. For some inexplicable reason I can’t shake this short-lived conversation off, his naivety (and rudeness) have been playing on my mind.

His thoughts are not unique though, and largely you are going against the grain by having a bigger family (which is anything more than two kids) these days. Most of our friends and family thought we were crazy when we announced our third pregnancy.

I’ve been noticing looks over the holidays – sideways glances from young folk off on adventures that don’t include changing nappies or pushing a buggy. Some comment on public transport, or when we’re out and about, saying ‘you’re braver than I am’, or ‘I couldn’t even cope with one let alone three…’

So here’s a little list I’ve compiled, to answer all those burning questions you might have*

Yes, they are all mine, I’m not the nanny.

Yes, they all have the same dad, we are even married!

No, we didn’t have a third because we were desperate for a boy.

In fact number three wasn’t planned at all, but then the best things in life rarely are.

My standards have undoubtedly got lower with each child, but that’s not such a bad thing. Motherhood and perfectionism do not belong on the same page, and certainly not in the same sentence.

It might take us longer, and we are usually running late, but we do manage to leave the house and do stuff.

wpid-wp-1454930587722.jpegWe also manage to go on holiday (abroad), and have a great time.

Three children is commonly revered as the hardest number of kids you can have, and certainly for the first couple of years I’d be inclined to agree.

At least one of them is always always hungry. Peace had to be made early on with how much my grocery bill costs.

At least one of them (in my house anyway) is up in the night *sigh* Which means I run mostly on coffee and cortisol.

It is true, that three is an odd number, and one will mostly be left out. However, when all three play nicely together it makes me want to weep with happiness and pride.

With three you are hedging your bets. Surely at least one will be willing to look after you in old age?

Just think, my lovely friend Mel has four children, and some people have even more than that…

*this list was complied just for sh*ts and giggles, and is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to tweet me @mummytries with anything you’d like to add! 

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