A guide to visiting a loved one in Hospital with children – #HospitalHelpingHand

 Sadly, at one pint of another in our lives, we will all probably find ourselves having to visit a loved one in hospital. Whether it’s to pay a visit to somebody very sick, or to celebrate the birth of a newborn child, hospital visits are a part of everyday life. I have had to visit people in hospital on a couple of occasions with my eldest two boys and I felt ever so nervous taking them there – I was worried they wouldn’t behave, I was worried they would annoy the other patients, I wasn’t sure what the protocol for visiting was – yep, I am a bit of a stress head! 

Leading lawyers, Slater and Gordon, as part of their #HospitalHelpingHand campaign, want to make sure that visiting a loved one whilst they’re in hospital is as easy and stress-free as possible, and that you know exactly what you should do to prepare for it, depending on the individual patient. They have asked for me to share my ‘Top tips for visiting a loved one in hospital with Children’ so, without further ado, here they are.

1) Take a favourite cuddly toy as a familiar companion…but wash it first!

Hospitals can be daunting places for adults to visit, let alone children. Make the visit more child friendly by letting them take one of their favourite cuddly toys with them as a comforter/familiar companion. One tip of mine however, would be to wash said cuddly toy before you visit. I don’t know about yours, but my kids cuddly toys can often be a bit, how shall I put it, grimey?! Ok, filthy, that’s a better description. Seen as hospitals need to be as clean and sterile as possible, giving that much loved cuddly a wash beforehand would be a very good idea.

2) Decide how long you’re staying for

When you’ve got a friend, family member or loved one in hospital, all you want to do is stay by their side to offer support and make them feel better, but children can be fickle creatures with short attention spans – a bit like my husband. Setting a time limit on your visit, and informing the patient you’re visiting beforehand of your time frame, is a great idea. That way you’re not outstaying your welcome, trying to make excuses to leave or going to end up feeling guilty leaving after only 20 minutes. Most friends and relatives would love it if you could stay for the duration of their stay, I hated being left in hospital when I have been in and I cried when my husband had to go home to sleep when I had given birth to my boys, but realistically, 20-30 minutes visiting time with children is going to be a sensible limit. Check visiting times and constraints too, these usually vary from hospital to hospital and ward to ward so make sure you check with a member of staff before you set off.

3) Take an iPad/Tablet and some headphones. In this instance, technology is your friend!

I know people often frown upon the use of iPads and Tablets in public situations, but happy kids make happy parents so if that means giving them a film or TV show to watch whilst you chat and tend to your loved one in hospital, then so be it. Download a few favourite TV shows, put a game or two on there for them, whatever works. And remember the headphones! Nobody wants to hear Peppa Pig snorting away for half an hour (apart from your kids that is) so pop those headphones in your bag before you leave home.

4) Teach your children about good hygiene and why it is important before you go and make washing their hands fun.

Last but not least, don’t forget to de-germ everyone! Keeping your hands clean and washing them religiously is always important but it’s vital to kill germs when you’re entering a hospital environment. The same goes for when it’s time to head back home too because you don’t want to be taking any germs back with you – no gifts of that kind are welcome thank you very much! Carry a bottle of hand sanitiser in your bag and ensure you make use of the sanitising gels that will be dotted around the hospital to reduce the spread of germs. If your kids are anything like mine they will love pushing the dispensers and rubbing the foam/gel on themselves.

What are your top tips for visiting a loved one in hospital?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Education Quizzes Review – Help your child learn at home & at school

As a busy mum of 3, finding the time to help all your children with their learning on top of every day life chaos can be a real struggle. It’s enough to drive you to Gin!

School set homework each week, a small amount but enough to take up an hour and a half each week where my eldest (he is 9) is concerned, but I am also mindful that we need to be doing a bit extra at home in order to help them with subjects they struggle with. In Luke’s case, this is handwriting and confidence with Maths and for Zak, it’s spelling and literacy.

I set the boys challenges every week to aid their learning but it can sometimes get a bit monotonous and end in a shouting match which I despise. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for new apps or websites which will engage them a bit more and provide a different learning experience.

When I heard about a website called Education Quizzes and was asked to try it out with my boys, I was more than a little intrigued, as were they – any excuse to sit in front of the computer!

Education Quizzes is a website that aims to help all children to be successful at school and improve their confidence in areas they may not be so sure about. The company prides itself on making the school curriculum easy and enjoyable and includes all the levels of learning here in the UK; KS1, KS2, 11-Plus, KS3 and GCSE. The quizzes are created by teachers and can be used either at school or at home.

Zak is in Year 2 (KS1) and Luke is in Year 4 (KS2). They both had a go at completing some of the quizzes to test if they were both enjoyable and helpful.

For KS1 learning, the educational quizzes that are available are designed to build your child’s confidence with the KS1 National Curriculum subjects (so Years 1 and 2 at primary school) such as English, Maths, History and Science, as well as most other school subjects including PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) which I think is wonderful. Education at this age isn’t just about numbers, writing and reading, it’s also about emotional development and I really love the fact that this is included in the quizzes.

We weren’t sure what to expect with the quizzes but the questions are easily understandable, both Luke and Zak could read and comprehend them unaided, and they seemed to enjoy the challenge of seeing how many they could answer correctly rather than panicking about it like they sometimes do at school.

education quizzes website

The first quiz we tried was a PSHE quiz on feelings and then we went on to try a Maths one, both KS1 and KS2. The lads flew through the questions and were both overjoyed that they got them all correct – granted Zak chose an easy topic of counting in tens but it was great as a confidence builder and it encouraged him to go on and try something a little harder where he got 10/10 again. It was genuinely lovely to see them wanting to do more, without me having to suggest it!

Education Quizzes website

There are a lot of quizzes to chose from and the wonderful thing about them is they not only tell you if you answered the question correctly, they also tell you why you got it wrong if you answered incorrectly. This is so very important in my eyes, just telling someone they have got something wrong is of no use to anybody, they have got it wrong for a reason and normally it’s because they simply don’t understand the subject. Explaining why something wasn’t correct is the first step to helping them improve so this is a huge aspect of the website that I love.

Education Quizzes website

Both myself and the children are really very impressed with the Education Quizzes website and we think it could genuinely be a really useful learning aid to guide them through their years of education.

A monthly subscription (which can be cancelled at any time) costs just £9.95, which is quite reasonable considering the amount and mix of learning materials that are available to you.

There is also a schools’ subscription package which parents and teachers can work together on and students can access the quizzes at home or at school (and what’s even better is, the more students a school signs up with, the cheaper the subscription! It is possible for some schools to spend less than £2 a year per child subscribing to Education Quizzes).

All in all, it was great to do something different with Luke and Zak at home to assist their learning and I’ve no doubt we’ll be doing some more quizzes on there in the future.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Education Quizzes. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nappy Mishappy…

I’m going to write you a short little tale,

about a toddler who had a slight nappy fail.

I’m not making this up, it really did occur,

It’s a little effed up, I think you’ll concur…

One sunny morning, the toddler awoke,

he came waddling in like a big burly bloke.

His legs were all bowed, like he’d ridden a horse,

but he hadn’t for he’d only just woken, of course.

I looked at him baffled, he seemed very upset,

“What’s the matter my chap, is your nappy wet?”

“Poo poo!” he shouted whilst grabbing his bum,

Ah, the glamorous life of being a mum…

“It’s ok little man, mummy will help you,

don’t get upset about a little bit of poo”.

The toddler continued to grab at his nappy,

the poor little mite really wasn’t too happy…

I collected some wipes and sorted his clothes,

then steeled myself ready to cover my nose,

I undid the nappy, I was full of trepidation,

was I going to be greeted with another brown creation?

“Poo poo!” the toddler continued to shout,

“It’s ok little Ben, I’m sorting it out…”

As I open the nappy, to my complete surprise,

there isn’t a poo waiting before my eyes.

“What the fuck!” I exclaim, “what the hell is this?!”

“I was expecting a poo and a bit of piss!”

I’m not telling a lie, just picture the scene,

I’d only unearthed a sodding Lightening McQueen!

A Lightening McQueen was there in his nappy,

no wonder the poor little sod was unhappy!

A little piss sodden, but otherwise fine,

I used a few baby wipes to make it shine.

“How on earth did this get stuck in there my boy?

That’s not the best place to be hiding a toy!”

Ben cuddles his car and he smiles at me,

and there ends the tale of the nappy mishappy.

Truly folks.

Only in my world would one of my kids wake up at 6:15am and cry that they’ve done a poo, only for me to change them and find there is not in fact a shit in their nappy, but a toy car.

Thankfully, it would appear it was placed there by Ben as he was going to sleep and he had forgotten about it. Mr McQueen hadn’t passed through the littlest one’s digestive system – that would be some road trip, get writing that idea down post-haste Disney Pixar!

One to be saved for his 18th Birthday I think…

#dontbeadick – a toddlers guide…

Quite often, my youngest can be a bit of a (massive) dick.

There, I said it.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I love him to bits, and my entire family for that matter, and wouldn’t be without any of them, but just recently I have found myself mutedly mumbling the phrase, “don’t be a dick”, whilst feeling my heart sink multiple times in a day. It’s starting to feel a bit like Groundhog day…


That’s right Phil, you smash the crap out of that alarm clock my friend.

Every morning I try to wake up with renewed vigour.

“Today will be a good day!”

“Today will be full of fun and giggles!”

“Today, I’m not going to shout and call the littlest one a knob-head under my breath”.

And then, normally within 30 minutes of waking up, the little one begins his reign of terror for the day and the first muttering of, “don’t be a dick”, spills from my mouth.

Seriously, Boss Baby has nothing on this kid.

I just can’t help it. I can see him about to be a pillock before it happens, but there truly is little to nothing that I can do about it.

Sure, there will be those out there who tell me I am a shit mum for even thinking my toddler is a bit of a tit, who will be opinionated and say I am not in tune with my child’s feelings and it’s my fault he is behaving this way, but I beg to differ.

I can, at times, have the negotiating and bargaining skills of the President of the UN and it still doesn’t make any sodding difference. If this kid has decided he is going to dick-ville, he’s packing his Trunki and zooming there regardless of what I offer him.  This kid doesn’t do mediation.

Here are just a few instances where those words are uttered by me, including some handy tips for toddlers on how not to be a dick.

The first argument we face is normally;


  • Toddler tip: If you don’t like any of the twenty choices that mummy is offering you for breakfast, DON’T BE A DICK. Just say no thank you and go hungry until snack time, or at least have a silent protest. Don’t scream at me, roll about on the floor, blow raspberries in my face and throw all the cereal boxes out of the cupboard in a rage.

Getting dressed.

  • Toddler tip: If you don’t like the thought of being clothed for the day so we can leave the house without the potential of mummy being arrested for child neglect because it’s a mere two degrees outside, DON’T BE A DICK. Just put the goddamn clothes on already! I’ve spent a small fortune on clothes with your favourite characters on so that you’d be more inclined to put them on and has it made a difference at 8am in the morning when I need to get you and your brothers out the door for school?! Does it bollocks. Just say, “Yes Mummy! I would love to wear my Lightening McQueen t-shirt today! Why thank you!”, and put it on. Don’t leg it and hide under the table so I have to drag you out kicking and screaming by your ankles so I can wrestle you out of your birthday suit.

Walking to school.

  • Toddler tip: If you don’t want to go in the pushchair, I very am happy for you to walk as long as you hold my hand. Please DON’T BE A DICK and let go of my hand and do a runner towards a busy road. Lots of people frown upon the use of baby reigns (I’ve seen the Judgey-McJudge-face’s commenting on the interweb – they seem to think they’re for animals, not children, but I would hazard a guess they haven’t been in possession of a child who could keep up with Usain Bolt). If you continue to let go of my hand and accelerate away from me quicker than I can eat a Creme egg on the sly, I will put the animal-esque walking reins on you without a second thought.

Leaving pre-school.

  • Toddler tip: I know you’ve had a lovely morning playing with your chums, but when it’s time to leave pre-school and get in the car to go home for lunch, DON’T BE A DICK. Sadly we can’t stay at school all day nor go to your friends house for lunch every day. I know you love them, but the answer is no. Please don’t run off in the car park, or sit in a puddle, or go as rigid as a plank so I can’t get you in your car seat.


  • Toddler tip: When mummy asks you if you want a Ham sandwich for lunch and you reply with, “yes please!” and help mummy make it full of excitement whilst shouting, “Yummy!”, I don’t find it very funny when you then sit there and say, “Yuck!”, at it like I have presented you with a turd on a plate. I understand it’s everyone’s prerogative to change their minds, god knows I do it all the time myself (hmmm, Gin or Rum? Gin or Rum?) but to change ones mind within the space of 15 seconds, when one is the person who made the request of a ham sarnie, that’s just madness. Stop being a miniature penis and eat it nicely, there’s a good chap. Oh, and if you’re thinking about putting stickers from your Peppa Pig magazine in your sandwich, please don’t.

Around the home.

  • Toddler tip: If mummy gives you a snack, like a yummy-scrummy biscuit or yoghurt, DON’T BE A DICK. Please don’t put it on the TV cabinet, find a toy car and then smash it to smithereens or smear it everywhere because you didn’t want to eat it after all. Number one, you’ve now made a huge mess and pissed mummy right off because she now has more cleaning to do and number two, it’s a waste of good food and I’d have quite happily scoffed that snack had you offered it my way or left it lying on the floor (yes, I have no shame and would not bat an eyelid at the thought of eating a biscuit my toddler has left on the floor rather than bin it). Also, colouring yourself in with a felt tip pen might seem fun at the time, but getting it off? Not so much. Mummy will have to put you in the bath even if you don’t want to go in there and she will have to scrub you profusely until you no longer look like you have a tropical disease. You have been warned youngling.

toddler covered in felt tip pen

At the shops.

  • Toddler tip: Look kiddo, mummy hates shopping with you as much as you do most of the time, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes shit just needs to get done and until you start school properly, you might have to come along for the ride too, alright? If mummy needs to pop into M&S to get herself some new socks and pants because hers have more holes in than a slice of swiss cheese, DON’T BE A DICK. Please don’t go into jelly mode and lay in a heap at the threshold to the shop entrance because you know it’s a boring shop with no prospect of playing with toys. If you behave, I could be in and out in 5 minutes flat but if you continue to be a toss-turnip and bellow at me in the middle of the shopping centre, it’ll end up escalating to the point that I go all cry baby on your ass and then retreat home with no new socks and pants meaning I’m going to be a tad peeved at you and not let you watch the kids opening Kinder Eggs on YouTube. Capisce?


I know kids are only small for a short amount of time, and I wouldn’t wish the time away but my gawd, some days they push every single button you have don’t they?! It’s natural to feel like you want to book yourself a one way ticket to a Caribbean Island with only a suitcase full of Gin (and maybe those new M&S socks and pants you finally managed to buy) on occasion and that’s ok. It’s ok to find some days a struggle, and don’t think for one minute all those posts you see on social media of happy smiley families every day are the norm, because for most people, it isn’t. We all have wonderful days, glimpses of what we perceive to be perfection, but we can also all have truly shit-tastic ones, and I can assure you that you’re not alone.

So toddler of mine, and most other toddlers out there, remember;

Don’t be a dick.

Ultimately though folks, said toddler will end up being a bit of a dick at some point every day. They’re still little, they’re learning, they’re testing boundaries and pushing our buttons quicker than a teenager playing a video game. But it’s ok to feel a bit pissed off about it, mutter profanities under your breath and moan, lord knows I do.

It’s ok to say in your head, “I love you kiddo, but I don’t always like you”.

And when all else fails, remember cake and cocktails are your friends people.

Cake and Cocktails.

Perfectly Imperfect…

I’m far from perfect but, then again, who is?

I’m fully aware I have flaws and that I am (as the phrase of the moment goes) ‘winging it’ where Motherhood is concerned, but am I trying my best? Sure as shit I am and surely that’s all that matters – isn’t it?

Well, I would have thought so, but there are always those few arseholes, smug arseholes at that, out there who have to lob in their two pennies worth every now and then just to remind you that sadly for you, your best still isn’t good enough. They are here as your handy morale crushers (everyone needs one of those right?!) sent to remind you that you’re doing it all wrong and quite frankly, I am fed up with them and they can stick their ‘helpful advice’ up their butt holes unless I’ve asked for it.

Nothing can prepare you for the emotional roller-coaster that is motherhood.

The judging from others and ‘helpful advice’ can start as soon as your little cherub pops out of your lady bits (or the sun roof). You are presented with no parenting manual but many of these ‘handy parenting books’ have been written just to let us know we have, in fact, been doing it all wrong from the get go. As far as I am concerned, most of them (Gina Ford I am death staring you) can Foxtrot Oscar. I was lent Gina’s, ‘Contented Little Baby’, book as a nervous and naive first time mother who had been blessed with a non-sleeper.  I shit you not folks, Luke our eldest didn’t sleep through the night, not even once, until he was 18 months old. The first full nights sleep co-incided with him spending his first night in his ‘big boy bed’ (his converted cot bed) and myself and Mr Knutts questioned why we hadn’t done that sooner as we mourned the loss of a year and half of sleep. The fact of the matter is, it was probably just co-incidence that he slept through that same night but we did kick ourselves for not de-caging the miniature monster sooner.

Back then, when everything was chaotic – and smelt of sick and baby shit – I wasn’t sure why her book made me feel so uncomfortable, especially as a few of my other new mummy friends were raving about it, so I did try the routines and her approaches to sleep but, if anything, I cried as much (if not more than) Luke did. The guilt at leaving him screaming in his cot for hours at night (I’m not joking, it was literally hours some days) whilst going in and out every 5/10 minutes to give him reassurance that I hadn’t just abandoned him was horrendous and exhausting. I ended up feeling broken, and it’s no surprise I found those first few months with Luke overwhelming. Had I just done what my maternal instincts were saying, laid next to him, put him in bed with me until he had drifted off to sleep, not listened to half of the ‘helpful advice’ it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as traumatic. In the end, I gave up on following Gina’s demands and did what felt right for me. That may not have been the ‘right’ course of action, nor what the ‘helpful advisors’ or parenting manuals suggested, but it was what worked for me, and in hindsight, I should have done that from the very beginning.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the advice, a shoulder to lean on and support of my friends and family, but I didn’t like the judgey-mc judge-faces out there who seem to crawl out of the woodwork as soon as you become a mother. Everyone has an opinion on everything and sadly, some of those people didn’t know when to keep that advice them themselves which ended up with me becoming a worry head. Worrying that I hadn’t heated my child’s milk up for them (thankfully he wasn’t fussy and drank it at any temperature), worrying that I hadn’t taken him to our local rhyme time group to sing Old McDonald had a farm in a circle of other screaming babies from birth, worrying that he hadn’t said his first word at 8 months. It was a world of constant stress and worry.

By the time Zak came along, we figured things couldn’t be much worse than they were with Luke so we were fully prepared for a crap time of things again. As luck would have it, and it was luck, nothing to do with experience or Gina Ford, Zak was a sleeper. I’m not joking, he slept ALL the time. He was just so different to Luke. He would self soothe, happily be put in his room for a nap, sleep for a solid 12 hours and be happy as larry when he was awake during the day.

Screw you parenting manuals and ‘helpful advisors!’

 As time went by, we realised Zak wasn’t speaking very much. He was happy, developing socially and emotionally but no words were coming. By the time he was 3 and a half, he still wasn’t saying much and we had to seek advice from medical professionals regarding a possible speech delay. Once again, the judgey-mc-judge faces were out dishing out their ‘helpful advice’ and I was left feeling like it was all my fault.

Maybe it’s because he slept so much as a baby?

Maybe his ears aren’t working properly?

Maybe you haven’t spoken to him enough?

The guilt creeps in and you, once again, feel like a failure as a parent.

After a long wait, some speech therapy and lots of perseverance at home, Zak began talking age 4. He had a lot of catching up to do, and he still gets a bit confused with his words every now and then, but on the whole, he’s fine and made me proud as punch last week by speaking brilliantly in his class assembly at school.

I will never forget the first time he came home from pre-school and ‘sang’ me a song he had learnt that day, “1, 2, 3, caterpillar,” – four little words, but he was saying them and it was wonderful…

Moving on to the present day, we have very much just ‘let things be’ with Ben. Life is different now. The older two are busy at school, they have clubs, we are hardly home. Ben didn’t get to have a routine that he chose thanks to school runs and things (Gina Ford would be eye rolling me right about now). If he was asleep at 2:45pm, I had to wake him up to get him ready to go out on the school run and that was that. He is a fairly good sleeper, we have hit and miss nights still but that’s kids. We don’t stress about things with him like we did with Luke and I have to say, we are probably much happier for it. People also dish out less advice the more kids you seem to have, presumably because they assume you’re now ‘an expert’ in all things parenting.

The fact of the matter is, we aren’t experts, we just give less of a fuck about what other people think of us and our parenting/life decisions. It’s taken a while to get to that point, but it feels so much better this time around than it did with Luke back in 2008 when we were worried parenting rookies.

This ‘give less of a fuck’ mentality is something I need to adopt in more aspects of my life now.

I worry way too much about what other people think of me personally and I really shouldn’t. I find it almost impossible to say no, through fear of upsetting people or letting them down, and I need to stop feeling that way. I also find it hard to tell someone when I think they have stepped out of line, or said something I disagree with because I hate confrontation. The fact is though, sometimes people do annoy me and say things I think aren’t right and I shouldn’t feel nervous about airing my opinion when they clearly do it so brazenly without fear of repercussion.

Putting myself out there in the form of my blog has been both a blessing and a curse.

I love being able to write, to have my own little space on the internet. I don’t write for likes and shares, I write because it makes me feel better and I am able to write things down that I would never normally be able to say. In that respect, it’s great, but because I do write and share my life so honestly, I can also come under fire quite a lot. People with loud voices and strong opinions often feel a desire to drop a smug little, ‘Well I wouldn’t do that,’ or ‘we don’t do it like that’, comment in here and there without a thought about how that might be received by the person it’s intended for. This person may not know you, they may not even read your blog, but they love to share their two pennies worth and ruffle a few feathers. They seem to have adopted the ‘give less of a fuck’ attitude pretty well and I’m now of the mindset that it’s fair game to engage in scribed combat if they feel the need to comment on something, even if it’s trivial.

I don’t pretend to be the perfect mum.

I don’t pretend to be the perfect wife.

My house is often a mess, but that is because it’s lived in.

My washing pile is sky high, but that is because we are lucky and have a busy and full life.

My kids don’t pull their weight around the house as much as they should but hey, they’re kids! I don’t recall having to do much more than keep my room tidy and do some washing up every now and then as a child and I think I turned out alright (and let’s face it, getting the kids to cook me dinner is just a recipe for disaster and a surefire way of ensuring at least one of us spends the evening on a visit to A&E).

I shout at my kids to tell them to shut up when they’re being too loud, so I’m shouting at my kids for shouting. Yep, I know, the irony isn’t lost on me there either.

I cry at TV adverts because having kids has made me emotional about everything.

I drink a Gin and Tonic a couple of times a week because being a mum, wife, homemaker and general life-keeper-togetherer is bloody tough and it makes me feel better.

I haven’t polished my kids school shoes once since September and do you know what, I don’t care. They have shoes on their feet and look vaguely smart most days.

I give my kids sausages, waffles, baked beans and peas and class it as a winning, well rounded, nutritious dinner.

So, what I have come to realise is that I am perfectly imperfect, and do you know what? I kind of like it like that.