North East Family Fun

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Finding a job that fits around family life | My story and why more needs to be done

*This is a collaborative post

What are your chances of getting a part-time or flexible job? Take this quick quiz and find out. 

When Harry and Heidi were both young, I was really pretty lucky when it came to childcare. We lived a short walk away from Steve's parents (and his mum was retired and always happy to help) and my mum worked at home as a foster carer and childminder and was also available whenever needed. I decided that I wanted to work part time and luckily, my employers at the time were pretty flexible and we were able to work something out that suited us both. But then things changed.......

How to find a part time job that fits around family life. Join Hire Me My Way's campaign

When Jack was born we moved to Cramlington and my mum started an employed role as a carer and was no longer able to help as much with childcare. Steve and I were barely earning above minimum wage and we definitely could not afford childcare for three children along with all of our other bills. We really didn't know what to do.

If you are in a similar situation, please take this short quiz which will provide you with feedback on how easy/difficult it will be for you to find a part time job or switch to part time hours as well as provide helpful advice on what to do to improve your chances.

I was lucky and I was able to find a job that allowed me to work 2 x 12 hour shifts over the weekend and stay at home with my three children Monday-Friday. Steve and his parents would look after Harry, Heidi and Jack over the weekend and although it worked well, I did start to feel like I was missing out on a lot. Imagine spending just 5 weekends a year with your family - it's horrible and not something I wanted to continue. I didn't feel like I had a choice though as I couldn't find a single job that allowed me to work 9am-11am when Jack was at nursery or fit flexibly around Steve's 2 weekly shift pattern. It turns out I'm not alone and according to Hire Me My Way, there are 400,000 unemployed people who are unable to accept a job unless they can work part time/flexibly. It's really tough when you have kids and commitments.

As I was at home Monday-Friday, I was able to start building up my blog and start turning it into a business. I learned more about the earning potential of blogging and it seemed like the perfect solution - with three children at home, perhaps working towards being fully self-employed and working at home would be the answer for us.

After a bit of research and a pep-talk from my friends, I decided to formally ask my employer if I could work flexibly and reduce my hours. They agreed and over a period of around 16 months, I gradually reduced my working hours until I was only working 8 hours on a Sunday. Again, I was very lucky that my employer agreed to reduced part time & flexible hours. I often wonder what would have happened if they'd have turned my application down. My blog certainly wouldn't be where it is today that's for sure and I could still be working 2 x 12 hour shifts with no quality family time and feeling pretty trapped.

How to find a part time job that fits around family life. Join Hire Me My Way's campaign

The Hire Me My Way campaign really strikes a chord with me. If I hadn't have been able to start a career as a self-employed blogger, I would have been trapped working hours that weren't at all family friendly with no way out. 1.5 million people are trapped in part-time jobs below their skill level because it's just so difficult to find a new job that allows flexible working from the outset. I don't think I've ever come across a job advertisement that states a job can be flexible around you - it's always the other way around. In fact a lot of jobs these days state you must be available to work any hour of any day. Hire Me My Way are calling on employers to listen to people's needs and open up to part-time working and flexibility, right from day one of hire. I honestly believe that employers who do this will benefit in the long run as a happy workplace is definitely a productive workplace.

I think it's important to mention that the need for flexible and part-time working isn't exclusive to females and mothers. In a few years time, Steve would love to decrease his hours in order to fulfil some of his non-career goals and for us to travel more. I know it's going to be tough for him to do this and when the time comes, we'll definitely be using the advice and support provided by Hire Me My Way.

It did all work out for me in the end and every day I am thankful that I've been able to create a successful career for myself working from home. I can't ever imagine not having the flexibility that being self-employed provides. Self-employment does have it's own challenges though, and it's certainly not for everyone. If you'd like to learn more about Hire Me My Way and how you can add your voice to their campaign, you can sign up and learn more here.


Before you go, don't forget to take this quick quiz and discover your chances of finding new part-time work.

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How to find a part time job that fits around family life. Join Hire Me My Way's campaign


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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd

There have been rumours circulating the North East over the past week or two that the home of our favourite burgers (that's the Fat Hippo in case you didn't know) have launched a top secret menu. Only available to those in the know.

How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd -  the Fat Hippo's NEW Loyalty Card

Well I'm pleased to confirm that the rumours are true and if you join The Herd, you'll have access too.

How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd -  the Fat Hippo's NEW Loyalty Card - a burger


The Fat Hippo Secret Menu


Once you have signed up to The Herd via The Fat Hippo Website, you'll receive your very own membership card in the post and will be able to access a secret area of the Fat Hippo website which is the only place you can view the secret menu. Have a look and see if anything tickles your fancy (and why wouldn't it) and then visit any branch of the Fat Hippo, flash your membership card and let the staff know what you fancy. It's that easy! 

How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd -  the Fat Hippo's NEW Loyalty Card - burger at festival

I won't ruin the surprise for you but the secret menu features lots of Hippo classics from the past as well as some special edition burgers that need to be seen to be believed. There is even a 6 x 6 burger on there - yep that's six 4ox patties with all the usual extras! wow! 


Points Win Prizes with The Fat Hippo Loyalty Card


Joining The Herd doesn't just give you access to the secret menu.....there's more! Every time you dine at the Fat Hippo you'll collect points and these can be redeemed against some fabulous treats ranging from a milkshake (50 points) to a 3 course meal in Hippo Hour (250 points) up to your very own Fat Hippo Hoodie (500 points) and then 4 burgers and 4 soft drinks (1000 points). Just like Nandos, your points aren't spent when you redeem them so when you spend them at the first level, you don't lose anything and can start building points to access the treats on the next level. Love it! 

How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd -  the Fat Hippo's NEW Loyalty Card - black loyalty card

This is just the beginning


I was chatting with the Fat Hippo's owner at their recent 6th birthday bash and was really excited to hear future plans. Secret tasting events and the chance to be the first to try new menus are just some of the plans being discussed for the future of the herd. 

How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd -  the Fat Hippo's NEW Loyalty Card - chocolate milkshake

Join The Herd and Access The Fat Hippo's Secret Menu & More - It's FREE


It's FREE to join The Herd and I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't. You can sign up to join The Herd here and access the secret areas of the website straight away. Your membership card will take 7-10 days to arrive but if you simply can't wait, sign up and then just let staff know your email address and that you're waiting for your card when you order and you'll still be able to access Herd benefits. 

Let me know if you sign up and order anything from the secret menu.

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How To Access the Fat Hippo's Secret Menu | Join The Herd -  the Fat Hippo's NEW Loyalty Card



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Monday, 16 January 2017

A New Sunday Morning Routine with First News


*This is a collaborative post

Steve and I are not ones to shield our children from the world around them and we always try and include them in our conversations if they're around. For example, they know which political party we vote for and why (although we always make sure they know to make up their own mind when they are older). I think talking to your children about life, world events and issues helps to ensure they grow up to be a more rounded and mature adult and it's really important to us that they understand the world they live in - good and bad.

First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.

When First News got in touch and asked if Harry (10) and Heidi (7) would like to review their subscription service, I knew they'd be perfect for the job.

First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.  - front cover

First News is a weekly newspaper for ages 7-14 and is designed to 'get young people talking'. Sunday mornings are a lazy affair in our house and I decided it would be the perfect time for us to all sit around the table after breakfast and read First News together. First News is usually delivered on a Friday so it's perfect for weekend reading. The layout of the paper ensures there are lots of little snippets of information that are really easy to dip in and out of. Heidi particularly enjoyed the 'Quick News' section and shared lots of fascinating facts.

First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.  - 10 year old reading paper


First News is split into sections and it's very easy to navigate:

  • Quick News
  • Big News
  • The Week's News in Pictures
  • Home News
  • Good News
  • World News
  • Special Report
  • Science News
  • Animal News
  • Entertainment
  • Big Interview
  • Crazy But True
  • New Books
  • Competitions
  • Game Zone
  • Puzzles
  • Your News
  • Focus On You

Harry and Heidi are both very different in their likes and dislikes. Harry thoroughly enjoyed reading about world news, entertainment, game zone and crazy but true and his favourite section was definitely the science news where he learned all about Google's new Artificial Intelligence.

First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.  - Harry reading news

Heidi preferred the quick news, animal news and this week's news in pictures. In our first issue we received an 'animal watch' poster which we're going to stick to our conservatory wall. It shows you which animals to look out for in your garden throughout the year and was a nice added bonus.

First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.  - Heidi reading Quick News


Special Subscription Offer


If you would like to sign up and try First News for yourself, you can sign up using this special link and use code Blog17. This will activate a special reader offer of 5 issues for just £1 and then a 3 monthly subscription of £15.99 including delivery. You are under no obligation and can cancel at any time. 

First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.  - Heidi reading


What I liked about First News:
  • Easy to read for both Harry and Heidi
  • Harry and Heidi both enjoyed the paper
  • It's very visual with lots of bright photographs
  • Engaging and discusses issues they are interested in
  • It got us talking! In the space of 30 minutes we had discussed Brexit, Donald Trump, the new £1 coin, Artificial Intelligence, DNA, Cancer, Poaching, the death of the world's oldest Panda, which movies we'd like to watch in 2017, how much sugar is in your breakfast cereal and more.......
Harry and Heidi really enjoyed receiving a newspaper just for them and I'm rather jealous actually! I might subscribe to a weekly paper and join them I think.

Harry would like to point out that he feels that some of the information in the paper was a little dated but I think this will always be the case with print media as you hear everything on the internet first. Despite this slight niggle, he would still recommend First News. 

We'd love you to take a look at Harry and Heidi's video review below:



I'm really excited to add First News to our Sunday morning routine and I'm sure as the weeks go on I'll be tweeting little bits of info that we've learned.


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First News Newspaper features and review. A fantastic resource to encourage discussion for children and young people aged 7- 14 years. Plus a special trial offer for our readers.



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Friday, 13 January 2017

Buy CHEAP tickets to Lightwater Valley for just £6 over February Half Term 2017


It's my mission to save as much money as I can this year but one thing I don't want to do is stop our adventures and fun. Across the year I'll be sharing deals to save money on attractions and our first is this cracker from Lightwater Valley.

Buy cheap tickets to Lightwater Valley  for just £6 this February Half Term 2017. Plus win a family pass.

From 16th - 21st February, you can visit Lightwater Valley for just £6 per person! WOW!


In order to give you the best possible deal, the park's opening hours will be reduced from 10:30am - 3:30pm and not everything will be open. There is still LOADS of fun to be had though including:

Activities:

  • Angry Birds Activity Park 
  • Angry Birds Space Indoor Play Area
  • Lightwater Falconry with over 50 animals and birds
  • Riggmoor mobile farm with animals for you to pet and feed including rabbits, pigs and alpacas
  • Shopping Village and Cafe

Buy cheap tickets to Lightwater Valley  for just £6 this February Half Term 2017. Plus win a family pass.  - angry birds outdoor play area


Rides Open:

  • Skyrider
  • Eagles' Creek Farm
  • Lightwater Wheel
  • Carousel
  • Eagle's Claw
  • Trauma Tower
  • Ladybug
  • Space Pirates
  • Clown Around
  • Noah's Ark
  • Human Cannonball
  • Indoor Soft Play
  • Bouncy Castle
  • Pirate Assault Course
  • Giant Slide
  • Pillow Bash
  • Ball Pool
Buy cheap tickets to Lightwater Valley  for just £6 this February Half Term 2017. Plus win a family pass.


Tickets MUST BE PRE-BOOKED online for this event and cannot be purchased on the day. Children aged 1 and under are free.


Giveaway - Win a Family Pass


Lightwater Valley have given us 4 tickets to their Fab Feb Family Fun Half Term event to giveaway to one lucky reader. They must be used between 16th - 21st February. You can enter via the rafflecopter below. Good luck! 


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Thursday, 12 January 2017

The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams makes it's North East Theatre Debut at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle

Children aged 3 and up will love 'The First Hippo on the Moon' - an explosively funny space adventure from best-selling children's author David Walliams which has been adapted for stage and is making it's North East debut at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House on Saturday 4 February. 

The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams makes it's North East Theatre Debut at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House , Newcastle | Saturday 4 Feb 2017 | 1:30pm plus ticket giveaway

The performance will see two fat hippos with one ENORMOUS dream - who can make it to the moon first? 

The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams makes it's North East Theatre Debut at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House , Newcastle | Saturday 4 Feb 2017 | 1:30pm plus ticket giveaway

Now I don't speak Hippo, so I thought it might be a good idea to learn a few key phrases before the show:-
  • Hippo-po-rocket | A rocket which hippos use to get to the moon. The rocket which Sheila uses to get to the moon is made from the biggest tree trunk she could find.
  • Hippo-po-step | The first ever step which Hercules the Hippo is about to take on the moon before he's interrupted by Sheila's crash landing.
  • Hippo-po-spacesuit | A spacesuit which a hippo wears in space. Hercules' is just like a human spacesuit whereas Sheila's is homemade.
  • Hippo-po-buggy | An expensive piece of space equipment which Hercules uses on the moon.
  • Hippo-po-trump | The bottom burp created by Sheila when she crash lands back on earth. 

If you'd like to read the story, you can buy The First Hippo on the Moon from Amazon here (affiliate).

The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams makes it's North East Theatre Debut at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House , Newcastle | Saturday 4 Feb 2017 | 1:30pm plus ticket giveaway

Tickets for The First Hippo on the Moon are available via the Tyne Theatre and Opera House website from £12 here. There is just one performance and that is on Saturday 4th February at 1:30pm and tickets are selling fast so be quick! 

The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams makes it's North East Theatre Debut at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House , Newcastle | Saturday 4 Feb 2017 | 1:30pm plus ticket giveaway


Ticket Giveaway


We are super excited to have been provided with a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children) to giveaway to one lucky reader. The ticket is valid to see The First Hippo on the Moon on Saturday 4 February at 1:30pm at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle. You can enter via the rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck! 

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What's On in the North East for Kids | 14th & 15th January


Yeah! It's the weekend. Let's hope for calmer weather and that the predicted snow doesn't make an appearance. There are a few events and new exhibitions this weekend. Take a look.....

What's On in the North East for Kids | 14th & 15th January


14 - 15 January | January Blues Half Price Entry | Kirkley Hall Zoo

Kirkley Hall Zoo are offering half price entry this weekend. There's no need to book - simply turn up! That means grown ups are just £3.50 and kids £2.50 which is a bit of a bargain. More details here


14 January - 23 April | Brick History | Life Science Centre

Brick History opens at Life Science Centre in Newcastle this weekend. Over 50 of the most pivotal moments in history have been recreated in lego. From the big bang to the sinking of the Titanic and even the Apollo moon landing - this exhibition is included in admission and I think it will definitely be worth a visit. More details here. 


14 - 15 January | Make Your Own Masterpiece | Woodhorn Museum

Be inspired by the David Watson exhibition and create your own masterpiece. You can even make your own mini easel. Free event but donations are welcome. More details here



14 January | Saturday Storytime & Afternoon Craft | Great North Museum

Join the Great North Mouse for story time and rhyme followed by free crafts at the museum in the afternoon. More details here. 


14 - 15 January | Play & Invent - Timecraft | Discovery Museum

Suitable for children aged 7-14 years, this event allows children and young people to re-build Newcastle through the ages with the help of Minecraft. Tickets are £6 each and can be booked here.


14 - 15 January | Snowdog Story Party | Seven Stories

Join Seven Stories for a special Snowdog party with songs, games and stories. Recommended for under 4's, tickets are £4 each and can be pre-booked here.


14 - 15 January | Wellyteering Weekend | Gibside

There's a special welly trail around Gibside this weekend. Pick up trail maps from Gibside's entrance and mark your trail sheet with the stamper inside as you find every one.  More details here

If you're looking for a nice winter walk, how about the FREE art trail at Plessey Woods?  Whatever you're up to, add the hashtag #OurWeekendAdventure to your weekend Instagram pics and I'll pop pop by with a little comment and like.



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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Baby No1 vs Baby No3


If I turn back time to 2006 when Harry was born, I really wouldn't recognise myself. Aged just 22 and with no parenting experience at all (I hadn't changed a single nappy), it's fair to say I was a little out of my depth. During that first pregnancy, I would spend hours online reading everything I could about babies and parenting from how to correctly fill a baby bath to weaning methods and crib mattress ratings. I think I purchased around 8 pregnancy books. Yikes! Fast forward to December 2010 when Jack (baby no3) was born and things really couldn't have been more different. It's amazing what 4 years and a bit of 'on the job' experience can do!

How my parenting style has changed from Baby No1 to Baby No3.

So today I thought I would take a bit of a tongue in cheek look at how my parenting style has changed over the years. I'm sure parents of multiple children will recognise themselves in a few of these.

Pregnancy & Birth


As mentioned, with baby no1 I bought around 8 pregnancy and parenting books. There wasn't a thing I didn't know about the stage of pregnancy I was at or the latest birth techniques. Of course I bought myself a full pregnancy wardrobe and followed the advice from my midwife to the letter. I wrote a birth plan and had strong ideas about the kind of birth I wanted. I spent 4 days in hospital which I hated and I always regret that I didn't have the confidence to get the sort of after-care I needed.

For those that don't know, baby no2 (Heidi) was unexpectedly born at home with just Steve there to catch! So by the time baby no3 came along, I was prepared for anything. There was definitely no birth plan and I was just ready for whatever happened. I didn't re-read my pregnancy books and to be honest most of the time I forgot how many weeks pregnant I was and would just hazard a guess. When you are pregnant and looking after a one year old and three year old, you don't have time for such things. Jack's birth was my most difficult labour (he was back to back) but I'm pleased that I had the confidence to push for a 3 hour discharge from hospital as I knew we'd be happier at home and it was right for us. 


Parenting Style


I always smile to myself when I look back at my time with Harry as a baby. I think I was borderline neurotic! I had a schedule for everything and made sure everyone would stick to it. I knew exactly what time his nappy would be changed (and even by who - haha), I wouldn't let anyone come within 10 metres of him with a mobile phone and I always made sure he had the best of everything - there is no way you would have caught me buying nappies from Aldi back then! 

Fast forward four years and I was a very different parent with Jack. I was very laid back and just went with the flow. I had nursery and school drops offs to juggle with nap time and it was far easier for Jack to just fall into our routine than for us to try and create any sort of routine for him. By then, social media had been invented too and lets just say I wasn't so paranoid about him being near a mobile phone. 

Clothing and paraphernalia


We bought Harry a whole new wardrobe before he was even born and he was always wearing cute dungarees and beautiful outfits from Next. By the time Jack came along though I had learned a very important lesson - buy baby clothes that are super easy to wash and dry. Cotton babygrows and jogging style bottoms all the way for Jack - I seriously did not have time to iron anything so clothes that I could tumble dry without ironing were the way forward. You will also notice by the time baby No3 comes along that you won't receive as many gifts and there definitely isn't a baby shower as you've kind of been there and done that.

Harry had every piece of baby equipment going from a baby bath to bath thermometer, bottle warmer, nappy dispenser, top and tail bowl......you name it, he had it. By the time Jack was born I had learned another valuable lesson - you don't actually need all of this stuff. A normal bath is fine (and actually easier), you don't need a specific top and tail bowl and you certainly don't need a special machine that will dispense nappies. Plus, by the time you're onto baby no 3 you are definitely feeling the pinch on the purse strings and probably can't afford to buy all of these non-essentials again anyway and your priorities for spending money have certainly changed. 

Feeding


Harry was weaned at 4 month (as per guidelines at the time). I would puree my own food and buy him Organic baby food. It was a stict routine of milk and weaning and I felt as if he always had something in his mouth! By the time Jack was born, baby led weaning was all the rage and I tried that. It was a far more relaxed approach - not really starting until 6 months old and just giving him some of our food when we ate. It was so much easier this way. Incredibly easy in fact. I didn't need to give any thought or put any time into time into baby meal prepping. He just ate when we did - it really was that simple. 


Anyone reading this might be thinking poor baby no3 - they seem to get a bad deal and are perhaps are a bit neglected. But as any second/third time parent will tell you, that's not it at all. With baby no 1 it is your first time going through pregnancy and birth and you listen to the advice from the 'experts' as that's all you know. By the time it comes to baby no3 you are older, wiser and more experienced. You know that it really doesn't matter if your baby wears Aldi nappies and doesn't have a wardrobe to rival Prince George. By baby no3 you have the confidence and experience to realise that as long as a baby is well-loved and cared for, they'll thrive. Nothing else matters. You are also more relaxed and able to make the most of your time with your baby without so much worry too.

I'd love to hear if you have also changed your parenting style as you've had more children. Let me know in comments.


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How my parenting style has changed from Baby No1 to Baby No3.










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