What to Pack For A Weekend Away With Kids (or what I should really, really have packed but didn’t)

Paying for theme park meals is very dear!

So, there are many things little ones need. (Food).  There are many things 2 Single Mums bring in order to keep costs down at theme parks and hotels and the like. We have only one pair of hands though and only one back!

Hats off to those brave parents who backpack abroad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are my top 5 most useful I did not bring to Alton Towers for 2 sleeps but really wished I had.

1)Calpol – I remember eyeing the bottle standing in the kitchen at home. He probably won’t get sick in the next couple of days I thought. Casually sticking my tongue out at the God’s of Fate and blowing a big raspberry. Day two was stomach aches followed by skipping the evening entertainment for a stomach ache in the hotel room. Calpol from the hotel shop was necessary, buying it when I have it in triplicate at home was not. Ditto hot water bottle.

2) Change(s) of Clothes- note the S there. As in a minimum of two changes per day. Or a big roll of clingfilm to wrap the child in and wipe down everyday! It began to drizzle as we queued for the rollercoaster, it fell down as we took our seats when there was no turning back and then we flew at speed into the now heavy rain,  at such force I couldn’t hold my eyes open against it. Drying shoes in the toilet hand dryer and looking like you’ve pissed yourself in all the photos is all part of fun (challenge) though isn’t it?

3)A bag with pockets ….ticket sized pockets…..Merlin pass sized pockets…….a bag with pockets , each pocket allotted to each required ticket or pass. It is a bad idea to hand train tickets and passes to a 7 year old. I know this….Now!

4)Snacks. And not just you know a bag of crisps and a bottle of water. The maximum amount of snacks you can possibly carry. Food was our biggest expense. I have even started putting snacks into a little case each time I go shopping to prepare for next time. Chiefly because Philippa isn’t with me and this is usually her forte.

5)Glasses or other visual aids so that I WILL NOT leave the wet swimwear behind on the pool floor, hotel room shower curtain but will see my belongings and put them into my bag!

Thank you for reading this far. You are clearly awesome. If you enjoyed this post please take the time to like, share or comment. Much Love, Melissa x


Mindfulness for kids

Relaxing and Meditating

Parenting happens in a variety of ways in a variety of different family strucutures. In single parent families it is important for little ones to understand that wo families are alike and every family is unique.

Sometimes though with family drama and emotions it can become necessary to seek professional help for little minds and this is never something to be ashamed or afraid of.

Feelings can brim over in all children as they learn how to regulate emotions and understand the world around them. Tantrums can spiral into a pattern of behaviour or a battle of angry wills as parent and child struggle to be understood.

In the Single Mums experience there is the over stimulated child and under stimulated child and both of these are unhappy monsters at times!!! And the difference between these two creatures is approximately 0.5 seconds in getting the balance right before a kick off.

Mindfulness can help in these situations. Very young children would find sitting still to relax for meditation difficult but here are some everyday activities which can help LOs to find some calm.

Simple Mindfulness Activities for Children

1) Colouring Books – this trend has taken off for grown ups and with good reason. Colour therapy and concentrating on the lines and shapes for a moment moves concentration to the page and away from all the other goings on of the day. Useful before bedtime for transitioning between active to restful.

2)Paying Attention to the Senses – Stopping and playing music in the moment or taking a short walk instead of battling through a time out or getting more wound up through a time in.

3)Feeling Close-  There are those who maintain that screen time is all bad but sometimes watching a programme on the phone close together brings some connection and closeness especially as children grow older and move on from cuddles or breastfeeding. Also stories on CD or reading together if this is not too exciting. (Dramatic reading of course has its place).

4)My Thing, Your Thing – this is good for reconnecting after a day at schoool or apart. Instead of questioning which can seem like nagging or banging on with information they don’t want to be overloaded with. ”You say one thing from your day, I say one thing from my day, who goes first?” 

This can be anything at all and usually gets (funny?) responses. ”I did a wee.”

5)Yoga and Hypnotherapy – reading through texts from the Relax Kids books or trying new poses can be lots of fun. Easy to learn at home or participating in a family class together. Even simple moves that can be a distraction like reaching up high and trying to tickle your own toes!


Tips for Trips

Top 5 Tips for Queuing with Kids

LEGOLAND Star Wars Experience
Two Lively Boys in their element, running free round the playground in LEGOLAND.

On Sunday the sun beat down on the queue for Storm Surge at Thorpe Park. One Lively Boy who is now 7 (very important difference from being 6) was bored, One Lively Boy was moaning, One Lively Boy didn’t really even want to take this ride with Mummy and her friend.
And so it could have started. The scolding, the yelling, the insistence on cloth ears to behave and stand still to no avail.
But One Single Mum knew that she was going to write a blog post on beating this and beat the stress of the queue we did.
Two Lively Boys usually beat through this sufferance together. Rolling on the floor together, wrestling or doing this bizarre hugging/fighting thing. You know the one? The we’re very dear friends and love each other very much but we’re boys! and boys don’t hug one another so this is how we express it thing.
There’s also the running off annoying Two Single Mums things, the throwing stuff that could result in injury thing i.e lego bricks, rocks or fake snow. Anything decorative in an attraction meant to be visually distracting but can easily be manipulated in destructive little hands.
1)Fidget Spinners – We know these are much hated by schools and parents alike but they are easily transportable and entertaining. As adult childless friends have been lured by their influence there must be something appealing them.

2)Heads Up! – This game kept us going through the hour long queue for Storm Surge. Thanks to friend of Two Single Mums Amy for the introduction and the use of her data. A guessing game on an app much the same as the party game where people where post-it notes on their foreheads and there’s a kids category. If like Two Single Mums your precious phone battery is dedicated to booking an Uber or taking photographs of Two Lively Boys you can probably make your own phone-less version of this. One Lively Boy likes to play this before bedtime to switch from physical, jumping, screaming and yelling to intellectual, sitting and thinking before bedtime. We give each other clues and it really makes a Mum notice the funny things we come up with so specific to the Mummy-Son bond.
ie Australia: Clue:Where is the Goosebumps shop?
Pretty sure there is no such place except in One Lively Boy’s imagination.

3)Take advantage of fast track.
Two Single Mums have never bought fast track passes but if you stay in resorts you can have early access for an set amount of time first thing. Plan the rides for the full-on queues very selectively in this time and also note that some parks alow you in half hour before day tickets. In short, get in early!
Also always worth going on a weekday or a slightly cooler day. This seems to help the parks popularity problem. Even school holiday weekdays are emptier and if you home school your children or have pre-schoolers go for it! May you never know the groan of the queue and that is just Two Single Mums reactions!

Take snacks, lots and lots of snacks. As many snacks as your pack horse backpack physically allows. It also means you can queue when everyone else is at lunch.

5)Use what you see!
Some places like Legoalnd play films on screens as you queue or has a spot where children can sit as the grown ups queue around them. It is worth learning from One Lively Boys misadventure of just living the area and causing extreme panic that the child is fully debriefed as to how this works.

Feel free to comment so we can grow as our patience does! Ha!


Chessington World Of Adventures

Last weekend we stayed in the Safari Hotel from Friday overnight til Saturday. We spent a day in the park which was the first day of the season and well as the launch day of the Gruffalo Ride.
This was our second adventure to this park having (enjoyed?) a weekend of glamping in August.

2 Single Mums don’t currently have a car. We travelled by Uber taxi for both journeys which was approximately £50 per journey. This sounds a lot but when you factor in that we do one journey each and pay no seperate coach or rail costs where would pay for the children also; and have quadruple the hassle of a long journey after school or after a tiring day of little legs wandering a theme park well worth it!
This year we have Merlin passes also so park entrance was ‘free’ and the Merlin holiday in January gives a discount for a quad room perfectly suitable for four people with two single beds and one double. We paid £69.63 precisely for an unthemed room which was clean and presentable. This included toiletries and breakfast. The highlight of our stay was definitely the hotel entertainment which literally could not have been better. We made sure to compliment theses energetic and enthusiatic staff on the tablet feedback form in the hotel itself and also the feedback requested after via email.
Entertainment began at 6pm meeting the Gruffalo which was lovely for our boys as this was the first part of our stay here. It lasted until 9pm which you would think would have exhausted the boys but the excitement of sharing a room seemed to keep them forever!
The entertainment included a family quiz, children’s games and disco dancing which grown ups could get involved with as long as they were as cool as we are. Agadoo, Saturday Night we are very cool but have no collective general knowledge involving Lazy Town.
The breakfast was everything a hotel buffet breakfast can be and set us up for a day of fun. It was helpful to have our passes scanned at a special gate for hotel guests rather than queuing for entrance on the other side of the park. We were a little disappointed to find that the hotels now charge for using the swimming pool and using the pool towels but after an action packed day we didn’t feel we could fit any more activity into the day anyway. The pool opens at 12pm and it would be good if it was open before breakfast so there’s something to do before park entrance.
Another tip for Merlin pass holders is the annual digipass. This cost £40 fora year or it is possible to get a daily pass for £30. This allows you to get all your photos from Chessington, Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Legoland for a one-off price as digital copies and paying for each photo between £10-£20 really mounts up and affects food and the dreaded sounvenir shop budget.
Only downside with this was the amount of time we spent searching for the right shop as it was unmarked and it being the first day of the season the staff seemed unsure of where everything was located but it’s only once a year it needs purchasing anyway.
Ryan and Leo are not interested (or not old enough really) for the rides though they are over 1 metre in height. Their favourite things are driving the trucks and getting a driving license, meeting their familiar friend the Gruffalo,
Sea Life Centre, Zufari, the softplay beneath Dragon Capers and the overhead playground near the hotel. 2 Single Mums enjoyed celeb spotting around the park as there was a launch event on for the new Gruffalo ride.
For lunch we ate at the Zufari Bar and Grill. Two cokes, salad, chips and kids portion of macaroni cheese cost £7 with Merlin discount and including a free pop badge (the pop badge is all important).
We have two more park stays booked this year. Here’s hoping they will be as wonderful as this one!