Term School Shoes Review

With only 1 week to go until my little munchkins are back to school, we have been busy zooming about the shops along with half of the nation to purchase new uniform, stationary and school shoes.

It’s my most dreaded time of the summer holidays to be honest.

Shopping and kids just don’t go together.

Most shoe shops are heaving and you now have to book an appointment like when you go to visit the GP, and all to often it’s utter madness. Completely Gin inducing.

When I was contacted by Term Shoes to see if I would like to review a pair of their school shoes for one of my boys, I leapt at the chance. I have honestly become very disillusioned with Clark’s school shoes. They are very expensive, they never seem to last very long (what my kids do to them during a school day I have no idea but it looks like they’ve competed in an Iron Man challenge at the end of each day!) and they seem to be more style than substance. The toys in the bottom of some of the shoes was the last straw for me. All the kids apparently ‘needed’ them but they had lost the poxy toys out of them within the first few days. Never again…

Who are Term Shoes?

Term School Shoes & Outdoors is a British brand registered in 2016 by a husband and wife team, who have been importing and selling a variety of children’s footwear brands in the UK. They started their business 6 years ago, to supply school shoes to the UK market and have learned much about the types of shoes British children need. Term was born out of the desire to make a great shoes and boots that children want to wear.

*Designed in the UK*

The shoes have been designed in the UK for the needs and desires of the UK child and they aim to make school shoes that even secondary school children will wear! Term school shoes are manufactured in India, again in accordance with EU standards. Once a child reaches 11 years old, they tend to turn their backs on traditional school shoes and buy high street fashion shoes, often very cheap and with no support, even damaging their feet. Term shoes will provide better support for these developing years, great insoles for comfort and designs that a teenager would be happy to wear.

Their designs for the younger market are gorgeous with contemporary and traditional options, concentrating on comfort and fit.

High quality leather upper, double dyed through, so that if scuffed it is less noticeable and can be polished in

Thermo rubber flexible and strong soles

Touch fastening and lace options – *new* loafers for older girls

Price range from £39.99-£49.99 depending on size/style

I had a look on the Term website and was presented with a decent, but not overwhelming, choice of school shoes for Zak. Using their handy print off foot measure, I checked Zak’s size and it matched what Clarks had measured him at when I bought him some trainers a few weeks ago. I knew I needed ones with robust toe protection because he plays football in them most playtimes and they also needed to be velcro fastening. He can do shoe laces, but he isn’t very quick at doing them so for the sake of ease, the teachers sanity and speed, I went for velcro. We chose the Hoddle Double shoe (RRP. from £39.99);

Term School shoes

They’re smart, comfortable and easy to get on.

The shoes arrived promptly and Zak couldn’t wait to get them on his feet (At the time of writing – 29/08/17 – Term Shoes have FREE next day delivery on all orders so make the most of it and get your order in before the kids go back!).

The shoes were well wrapped and arrived in pristine condition. They are made of real leather and have everything you’d expect from a well made school shoe;

Real Leather

Secure velcro fastening

Soft cushioned Collar

Cushioned insoles

Flexible Rubber Soles

Term Shoes website says this about the Hoddle Double Shoe;

“Designed in the UK with older boys in mind, this slip on school shoe has a fashionable look with a sleek toe and sole.  Manufactured from high grain leather and flexible thermo rubber soles, this is the ideal boys school shoe for middle school age upwards.  The pull on design makes the shoes easy to wear and the elasticated gusset on the upper creates a good fit.  A soft collar around the heel provides extra comfort to avoid blisters, whilst the comfortable insole provides support and cushioning throughout a busy school day.

Term school shoes are created with design, comfort and fit in mind.  Design so that children actually want to wear the shoes… Comfort so that children can do all they need in a day without a thought to their shoes… Fit so that comfort is improved but also a good fitting shoe looks after their growing feet”.

Zak is over the moon with his shiny new shoes and can’t wait to play football in them at playtime.

Term school shoes

He said they are easy to put on, comfy, shiny and ‘super cool’. High praise indeed from a 7 year old!

I feel happy and confident that they are going to last well, as well as fit his feet properly.

If you’re wanting to avoid the shops and get a robust, well made pair of school shoes for your little pickles, I would highly recommend buying a pair of shoes from Term.

You can visit their website by clicking here.

 Disclosure: I was sent a pair of Term School shoes for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sob story – I think motherhood has turned me into a cry baby…

My name is Gem and I’m a crier.

It’s that time of year again where I seem to spend most of my days getting emotional about literally everything.

I’m not joking, I don’t think there is a day that goes by at the moment where I don’t ugly cry at something.

It could be an advert about nappies, it could be a rare moment of affection and love between my boys, it could be a new bottle of Gin arriving in the food delivery that sets me off. I really do seem to turn on the waterworks at anything.

I am pretty sure my husband must think that I have finally lost the plot.

The summer term at school is always a hard one. There is loads going on day to day, there’s lots to remember, there’s uncertainty, questions, angst, stress, laughter, memories made, milestones reached and it’s all starting to take it’s toll on me.

I seriously don’t think I used to cry as much pre-kids. I have always been an emotional person (the sort to cry at TV shows and don’t even try to get me to watch Children in Need or suchlike, I just can’t) but I am pretty certain that motherhood has made my tendency to sob worse.

Just last week I think I cried about 15 times. Here are some of the things that set me off, some trivial, some not so;

– Ben telling me thank you at bedtime for giving him cuddles all day.

– All three boys eating the same dinner, sitting for the whole mealtime without me shouting at them for using their cutlery as weapons against each other like they normally do and finishing everything on their plates.

paddling pool brothers

– Listening to a song by someone called Agnes Obel (September Song – it was used in Big Little Lies on Sky Atlantic and I love it)

– Watching my middle one in his class assembly say his lines. For someone that didn’t say ‘Mummy’ until he was 4 and had speech therapy, I always get emotional seeing how far he has come when he does some public speaking.

– Listening to my middle one and his class sing their songs in their class assembly (Lean on by Bill Withers and History by One Direction – both got me right in the feels)

– Thinking about the fact my eldest only has 2 years left at Primary school.

Son being a cool dude

– Thinking about my middle one’s wonderful teacher leaving next week – she is one of the most lovely people I have ever met.

– Reaching the bottom of the washing basket for 2 whole hours.

– Having to say goodbye and go the funeral of my Auntie’s Grandma who was 102 years old – what a woman she was and what changes she saw in her lifetime. The vicar explained that when she was born in 1915, the first ever telephone call happened. Can you imagine the leaps in technology she has lived through, as well as witnessing 2 World Wars?! Astounding.

– Watching the last episode of Breaking Bad (yeah, we were late to the party there but what a series!!!)

– Having an argument with some fondant icing and ripping the head off something I had made in a fit of rage. Somewhat satisfying as well I have to say.

– Panicking about what I need to remember for the last 2 weeks of school and how I am going to fit everything in that I need to get done before the kids finish for summer holidays.

– Looking back at photos of my family and the kids.

Dorset kids on the beach

– My eldest coming out with some hilarious sayings and sounding really grown up. The comedian in me was super proud of his sarcasm, even if it was verging on cheekiness.

– Being told by my husband that a cake I made was actually, quote, “Pretty good”. High praise indeed from him.

Oh man, I’m starting to get all emosh just writing all this down! See, I told you I’m a crier.

 I actually hate the fact I am a crier. It’s super embarrassing.

Every time I feel like I am going to start wailing, I tell myself not to. I give myself a metaphorical slap around the chops and try to pull myself together, but to no avail. I’ll manage for a minute or two and then, once the floodgates have opened, that’s it. I’m like Paul Gascoigne after England crashed out of Italia ’90.

Last week, I knew I was going to cry at Zak’s assembly before I had even seen it. I read the script he was practicing with because I thought I might not find it as emotional if I’d got it all out of my system at home but no, I still sobbed like a lunatic whilst they spoke about being brave moving into year 3, about saying goodbye to their friends and reminiscing about all the fun they’d had as a class over the last 3 years. I was massively thankful that Ben piped up and demanded a piddle towards the end of it because I had snot dripping from my nose and makeup smudged all over myself like a crying clown. What a numpty.



I even looked at techniques online to apparently help stop yourself from crying;

– Pulling your bottom eyelids down (yeah Gem, because that wouldn’t look weird in front of the whole school and all the parents of your son’s class would it…)

– Pinching the bit of skin between your thumb and pointing finger really hard.

– Deep breathing.

– Singing a jolly song in your head (I chose always look on the bright side of life. That was a bad choice – it made me cry).

– Counting in your head.

– Looking up (again Gem, you’d have looked like a bit of an idiot doing that, either like you’re bored or doing some serious soul searching)

None of those things worked. None of them.

Utter bullshit.

I just cannot, stop, sobbing!!!!

Next week when it’s the end of term I am going to be even worse *goes off to google more ‘stop yourself from crying’ techniques*. We have leavers/end of year assembly at school and even though none of my kids are leaving, I will still cry. We have to say goodbye to my middle one’s teacher for good, again I will probably ugly cry in front of her and the entire class. We have to say goodbye to my little one’s preschool manager who is also one of the most lovely people ever (she is off to live in Dubai…noooooo!), the 3 year old has his preschool booster jabs and is going to hate me forever for letting them jab him up and we just have day to day carnage and shit to remember. I think I might be a complete wreck by next Friday and be on intravenous Gin.

I am fully preparing myself for another couple of weeks of snotty nosed sobbing before the summer holidays hit, and then I’ll probably just be crying through stress. Please be kind to me summer holidays…


 Dprset sunset

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.

Making sure that Maths Rockx!

The other week, I wrote a spur of the moment, heartfelt post about how Luke, my eldest son, was having a really hard time at school. It wasn’t any one thing that was causing it, it was a combination of factors, but he had become so nervous about school (and especially his Times Tables tests each week) that he began making himself poorly. He wasn’t eating his breakfast in the morning, he was giving himself tummy ache through nerves and he was also coming home ‘sick’ from school when in fact he was just worried. It was heartbreaking to see, especially when he is such a happy go lucky lad at home.

You can read my post, ‘Under Pressure’, here.

The response both me and Luke received from that post was overwhelming. We had messages from people all over the world saying, sadly, that they could relate to it, we had messages of support and kindness and we also had a message from a lovely lady called Jo who has made a Times Tables app called, Maths Rockx, to see if we would like to try it for free because she felt so sad for Luke. I cried, numerous times, because I couldn’t believe how lovely people had been and Jo just seemed to really understand how me and Luke were feeling.

She truly was our Times Tables Knight in shining armour!

Maths Rockx is an app to help kids learn their times tables in a fun and engaging way.

It was created by a wonderful woman called Jo, who lives in Australia.

Jo was a Primary School teacher, as well as a mum, and she could see that there were a few issues surrounding Maths and, more specifically, times tables. Some kids weren’t learning them at all, some children couldn’t cope with learning them in an old fashioned and rigid manner so began to fall behind and some just found it boring. So, she decided to do something about it and that is how Maths Rockx was born!

Here are a few words from Jo about Maths Rockx and how it came to be…

I was a primary school teacher for 15 years. During my career I was finding more often than not, children didn’t know their times tables any more – a fundamental skill was slipping through the cracks.

So, I would teach my kids their tables to funky beats and eventually started singing them to rock songs. It always worked, really, REALLY well. The results were consistent, the children knew their table facts quickly and had a blast in the process.

In our technology based society, the App platform is the perfect way for all children, educators and parents to have access to a teaching strategy that works – and it’s so much fun!

​When you see your children finally get it – that’s the best part.

My passion for this project is enormous. Every child needs this skill and Maths Rockx is the perfect teacher.

See what Maths Rockx is all about!

How happy do those kids look?!

And they’re doing Times Tables!

(I don’t think I ever looked that happy doing times tables…)

 What did we think of Maths Rockx and has it helped Luke?

In short, yes, it has helped Luke a HUGE amount and he is improving all the time with regards to his Times Tables.

He still has his tricky ones, 6’s, 7’s and 8’s but it’s not a complete whitewash of nerves and panic like it was before and now he actually doesn’t mind learning them, unlike before when he would crumble before my eyes and start sobbing before we had even begun.

Every day when Luke gets in from school, we make sure we sit down and do some times tables work together and every session starts with him listening to the Maths Rockx songs as a ‘warm up’ to get his brain in gear. He has certain favourite songs, ‘Happy’ by Pharell and ‘You don’t know you’re beautiful’ by One Direction and genuinely enjoys listening and singing along. I think the fact the app uses popular, and cool, songs is a real bonus. It means the kids can relate to the songs and they find them great fun to sing along to.

Luke didn’t want me to film him singing along to the songs because he gets really nervous, but he told me I could do it one time just for you guys. See, I told you he was a good lad…

If you’re a mother at your wits end with how to get your child to learn their tables, a teacher who is looking for a new way to teach times tables to your class in a fun and engaging way, or a friend who knows someone who is struggling with learning their tables, do share this post with them. I’m not doing it for likes and shares, I genuinely want people to know about this wonderful app and to be able to give it a go for themselves.

You can buy the app or find out more about it, here.

It’s been a revelation for me.

It’s been life changing for Luke.

Leith Hill tower

Thank you again to Jo for being so kind.

You’ve helped a little boy find his childhood again.

Under pressure – #cmhw17

School is currently causing my child stress and anxiety.

There. I said it.

It pains me to lay it out so bare, and so dramatically, but the pain of writing it down is nothing in comparison to seeing your child crying and in pieces over the stress of school.

How old is my son? 15? Nearing GCSE age?

No. He is 8. At 8 years old, he is already feeling the pressures and strains of school life and it is having an impact on him at home, as well as at school. It’s clear to see how much he is worrying on a daily basis. Nerves about going to school, crying and hitting himself on the head when he gets something wrong, calling himself stupid, frustration issues and just generally panicking about things that an 8 year old shouldn’t even have to be worrying about in my eyes.

I don’t think it is too overdramatic to conclude that school his having an impact on my child’s mental health, and that can’t be right, can it?

This week is Children’s Mental Health week. I have read a few articles about school stress and it’s impact on children and, sadly, they really resonated with me.

Every day at the moment I see the emotional pain etched on Luke’s face as he comes out of school. I’ll say it again, he is only 8. Why on earth is this happening?!

Government targets and guidelines have taken over our teachers lives as well as our children’s to the point that it is breaking both parties. Teachers cannot cope with the relentless targets, meeting of statistics and requirements and box ticking, and the children can’t cope with the pressure of having to meet these idealised the targets either. I know people myself, highly educated, talented people, who are teachers. They currently cannot see a way forwards, nor a future for themselves, in teaching anymore. Does that in itself not ring alarm bells with the powers that be? How can the children be happy when the teachers are unhappy?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a dig at my sons school or teacher, I truly appreciate the work they do and the stresses they are under. I have seen the hours they put in, the backlash they get from parents of pupils when an objection has been made regarding something they have said or done. It’s a thankless job, and one that is getting tougher. But, all of that put aside, something is going very wrong somewhere when my normally happy 8 year old is coming home and crying about how bad school was.

“We got shouted at a lot today”.

“I got my times tables wrong today”.

“People weren’t listening in class today and it made our teacher cross with everyone”.

“I didn’t get all my spellings right today”.

“I got told off for not asking for help with something but I have also been told not to ask for help straight away so I can challenge myself. I’m confused mummy. What should I have done?”

These are just a few of the things my son has said to me this week as he comes out of school.

Little, often seemingly insignificant, things that happen to a child during the day but they can all mount up and fast become an all consuming blanket of doom where a child is concerned.

Luke thrives on praise. He isn’t very confident, he is full of self doubt and is very sensitive. This means anything that is said to him, even flippantly, is stored in that little brain box of his for a very long time. He does not forget words. This means it is particularly difficult for him to get past what has been said and see anything else other than that. For example;

“Come on Luke! You can do this 8 times table no trouble. Let’s do it slowly together first,” I say.

“I can’t do it mummy. I’m stupid and I always get them wrong and I got them wrong again at school today” comes the reply.

It’s a constant cycle of self doubt.

Previous teachers have picked up on his personality very quickly and tailored his learning accordingly. Despite having a class of 30 children, the teachers have managed to do this and Luke has ended each school year meeting his end of year targets. This year however, I fear this won’t be the case. All of a sudden, Luke is going backwards. His times tables are apparently getting worse, his spelling is getting worse and he is not on target for where he needs to be. We have had to explain this to him because I was told by his teacher, in no uncertain terms, that Luke must know up to his 12 times table by the end of the year. And that’s that.

That is the marker of a person in year 4 of primary school.

You must know all your times tables up until 12 times otherwise you have failed.

It doesn’t matter that they are caring, thoughtful, sensitive, creative, eager to please and participating. If those targets aren’t met, those boxes aren’t ticked, they have essentially failed to meet the standard for that year. And, in my eyes, that is so wrong.

I appreciate children do need targets, but why do we have to pigeon hole them all into the same box? They all learn at different speeds and in different ways so why has it become acceptable for the success of a child to be pinned on these sometimes unobtainable milestones? We don’t force children to walk do we? We let them get there in their own time, and yet, we are forcing them to conform to a government target because that is what we are told to do. Regardless of the child’s wellbeing in the meantime in order to meet that target.

Because of Luke knowing he needs to meet this target by the end of the year, and because he was already struggling to get certain times tables to stick in his head despite our best efforts at home, he has become really stressed about it. He can’t even do a times tables practice session with me now without panicking and crumbling under his self inflicted pressure. I can praise, stay calm, reassure, do all those things, but because he fully understands the pressure he is under from school and his teacher to obtain the results they desire, he is becoming a nervous wreck.

I know he knows the times tables, and he can do them when he isn’t under a 10 second time constraint like in class, but as soon as that time pressure is put back there, he’s lost. Lost in an abyss of frustration and panic.

I have pretty much been told I need to do more at home with him. I need to make things better. In-between getting home from school, going to after school clubs, looking after his other two brothers and doing homework with the middle one, making dinner, getting them bathed, getting them into bed at a decent time, all single handedly because my husband doesn’t get in from work until late, I need to try harder. The pressure on me as a mum is also immense.

I won’t lie, I crumbled last week.

After a meeting with Luke’s teacher where I came out feeling like I had failed him as a mum and it was all my fault that he wasn’t where he needed to be academically, I cried. I cried because I was overwhelmed. I cried because I could see Luke looked disappointed in himself. I cried because I was at a loss as to what else I can do to help him when we already do extra work at home. Clearly what I am doing still isn’t enough, and that hit me like an out of control freight train.

What. I. Am. Doing. Isn’t. Enough.

The self doubt and panic baton was passed onto me and it culminated in me getting angry at Luke about it all when, in actual fact, it’s not his fault at all. Once I had reflected on it, I was angry with myself that I had snapped at him. He is trying his best, he really is, so I can understand how crushing it is to him to hear that despite his best efforts, he still isn’t doing enough. He was feeling that same self doubt and panic as I was at that very moment, and then we ended up crying together. An 8 year old and his mum, sobbing over times tables. Yep, that is what life has become.

Maths didn’t click with me as a child either. English, no problem. Maths, an eternal struggle so I can totally appreciate the feeling of wanting to chew your own ear off when you just ‘don’t get it’. We help as much as we can but sometimes these things just take time to click, but due to meeting these targets, time is not something we have.

Since that blip last week, we have started attacking his study at home in a different way. We have downloaded apps, a friend gave us a times table music CD, he has a target board on the fridge which he ticks off each day and we are challenging him to be more self motivated. It seems to be working at the moment but it has only been a week, and I am worried that if this doesn’t work then we will be back to square one again.

We will take it a day at a time.

Those carefree childhood days I remember as a kid don’t seem to be quite the same anymore, even if I remove my rose tinted glasses. I don’t recall the pressure in the same way. I don’t recall the fear of failure either. It really saddens me to think that Luke’s ‘carefree years’ are already beyond him. He quite often says, “I wish I was back in Reception. It was fun then”. How sad is that?! That he already feels like he has already had his best years when there are still (hopefully) so many more to come?

From the outside looking in, I can see that something is fundamentally wrong with our education system.

Something really needs to change.

 A child’s mental health and wellbeing is more important than targets and box ticking.

Isnt it?

All we seem to do is go on in a never ending cycle, even from a young age. Routine, work, stress, fear of failure, pressure.

Where did we loose sight of living and enjoying childhood, letting our kids be kids?

I think it’s time to claim it back.

Songs always help me through times in my life. This one sums up ‘life’ and how I am feeling perfectly.

Just listen. Eyes closed. Ears and heart open.