Free things to do with a three year old!

I know this might seem obvious. But hear me out.

I actually found myself this weekend just gone reaching out to some of the other lovely moms on my Facebook page for ideas on how to entertain my child indoors. Dont get me wrong, I’m not daft, I know the basics and more regarding looking after my daughter. We do it all from baking to crafts to exploring. But sometimes you can get stuck in a bit of routine, and if I am really honest, as much fun as a pre schooler would have going to the park and causing havoc with glue and stickers every day, for the parent, doing the same stuff day in day out can be a bit, dare I say it, tedious.

This weekend was very wet too so I was particularly struggling for indoor activities after filling the morning already with the usual ones! It’s easy to not think outside the box and miss things that should have been a really obvious activity, but sometimes, we don’t see whats in front of us and it takes another parent to point out these things to make you open your creative mind a bit more.

So here is a list of free activities that can be enjoyed with a child of my daughter’s age, a few ideas I have to thank the gorgeous network of ladies from my Facebook, you know who you are, and the rest being things we always do and can often be enjoyed by all the family!

  1. Bake! WP_20150915_10_33_38_Pro[1].jpgThis is probably the activity I rely on the most, as it is my hobby and now my daughter adores helping (and eating!) our homemade bakes too. It’s a great place to get really creative and it doesn’t have to stop at cakes. I let her blend up soups and add seasoning to dishes or tear and throw in herbs. The kitchen is a great place to learn life skills that are not only fun but will set them up for being self-sufficient in the future. Kids of this age really like being involved in the creative process of anything so involve them as much as you can.
  2. Crafts! WP_20160125_16_21_19_Pro[1].jpgWe do something of this form each day, whether it be drawing, colouring, sticking, making cards, or vegetable printing,anything that is messy and she gets to completely put her own personal mark on goes! Kids love messy crafts and I can easily fill an hour on a good day letting her imagination run wild on paper. Messy! But good for her!
  3. The Park! WP_20151228_15_09_33_Pro[1].jpgWP_20160608_10_51_24_Pro[1].jpgKids of this age will almost never turn down a trip to the park. They do not get bored with slides and swings. Fact! And its good exercise for them to run about for half an hour!
  4. Local Sanctuary! WP_20160523_10_40_20_Pro[1].jpgWe go and visit our local donkey sanctuary which is a lovely activity to fill a morning and get some fresh air. It is free entry and these places are usually run entirely on charity and sponsorship, so it wont cost you anything to visit. We decided after a few visits to adopt one of the Donkeys, but even this is a small price to pay at £2 per month, and for that she gets personal close encounter visits and updates. Our sanctuary is set in the heart of a large park so it’s a good excuse for a day out and more fun in the play area afterwards! Especially with a little friend!
  5. Have a Picnic! WP_20140309_051.jpgWe love a picnic. You can get the children to choose what they would like to eat, help prepare and pack it (if you can get a proper picnic basket that’s always more fun!) then choose a spot and stuff your face! We are lucky to have some lovely vast parks around us and my daughters favourite spot is usually under a big shady tree with plenty of ground in front of us to run about, play football and just be three!
  6. Gardening! WP_20160507_13_20_27_Pro[1].jpgWP_20160413_10_41_19_Pro[1].jpgOk, so to buy flowers or seeds it’s not so much free, but you can get these very cheaply now if you shop around. I have been getting my daughter involved in helping me to dig my border, plant flowers and water them regularly. She likes having her own job to do and it gives her a sense of achievement when she has fed the plants she planted herself. I don’t think enough kids know about plants, especially fruit and vegetables, or where they actually come from. It’s another life skill that could be vital to them as they grow up.
  7. Copying! 636014092629701617[1].jpgOk, this sounds like a bit of a nothing activity but it can lead to lots of things. My make up, very basic, can be on and done in about 4 minutes flat…however, my three-year old has taken to coming and sitting on my lap and hogging the mirror whenever I put it on now and she loves experimenting with all the different colours and transforming her face into something new. I wouldn’t suggest doing this with expensive make up as they are very messy creatures but its an amazing way for her to be creative. She does the same with her clothes too, she watches me pick what to wear and she is now going through her wardrobe herself and evaluating what she likes best each day.
  8. Reading! This is so important. For brain strength and learning but also for imagination. She loves to read and we make sure we read at least two books each day, usually around bedtime. It gives her a routine too and I love watching her little facial expressions ranging from shocked to happy to concerned when she is hearing different parts of the story! I also think it’s so important not to sit kids in front of the tv all day and I would much rather she read a book at bedtime than stare with her tired eyes at a blindingly bright screen right before bed.
  9. Water Play! WP_20160518_12_10_23_Pro[1].jpgShe has so much fun with water. A bath can turn into a swimming session. A washing up bowl becomes a make shift paddling pool. They are, really, quite easily pleased at this age, as long as they are allowed a bit of freedom and encouragement to enjoy simple pleasures. A paddling pool in the summer months can create hours of entertainment. If the weather is bad, she will shallow fill the bath and play with her ducks and other bath toys for ages, creating characters with different voices and making them dive into the bath. She has also discovered my sisters hose in the garden and would happily play with that all day given the chance!
  10. Teddy Bears Picnic! WP_20160611_10_57_20_Pro[1].jpgThis is something I hadn’t even thought of before! I had all the props available and yet it didn’t occur to me. So thanks again to my Facebook moms. Once we set it up, she had a good hour of lovely role play, dressing up each of her teddies in her own clothes and forcing our homemade cakes upon them! She loved it and afterwards she decided she would have a party and dance with every bear one by one, so this activity gave us a good 2 hours of fun!
  11. Dress up! WP_20151112_16_10_20_Pro[1].jpgWP_20151031_16_32_48_Pro[1].jpgWP_20160303_07_40_23_Pro[1].jpgKids adore dressing up and role play at this age! If you are willing to go along with them and let them make you over too, even better!
  12. Visit a Beach! WP_20150906_14_21_06_Pro.jpgWe were lucky enough to live by some great beaches in Cornwall and are also lucky that we still have family by some! You can lose hours simply playing, eating, building in the sand and splashing in the water! Its toddler heaven. Throw in an ice cream and its a great day out and something the whole family can enjoy!

There are loads of other things you can do like watch a film, go exploring in the local park and look for different bugs, go blackberry picking. We feel sometimes we always have to spend money on our children with fancy toys or expensive days out but, at this age, the simple pleasures really are the most enjoyable x

 

When its ok to say, Im not ok.

Before anyone thinks this particular blog is a cry for help or sympathy of some kind, let me put a few things straight. It really isn’t in any form.

I blog only as and when the mood really takes me. I blog because I want to share things that make me happy, such as milestones with my daughter. I also blog when I am feeling alone or particularly low, or like I want to express how I am feeling. It is the best sort of therapy to write and express how you feel and the bonus of it is that I know that if only one person reads and comments on my blog saying they know how I feel, I instantly feel a little better, a little less alone, all through simply sharing.

This weekend has hit me by surprise really. I have been doing really rather brilliantly considering. I have been enjoying my time with my little girl. I have been enjoying certain aspects of my own life. I have been busy and keeping going since I was left for a younger model last August. I have been getting through the days with my daughter, throwing around ideas about the future with regards to work plans etc, rediscovering hobbies that I personally enjoy and enjoying the little moments with her before she’s too cool and grown up to hang out with me.

We have also tried to establish some sort of access routine for Emis sake with her dad, which as you can imagine, can be up and down whilst emotions are still raw, but all in all, we are getting there, slowly.We see her dad every other weekend, so on those weekends it’s so much easier because she has two people to bounce off, two people to share the load. It doesn’t matter whats happened with regards to us, well it does to me obviously, but in terms of Emi she is still ours on those days and now its his focus and not his distraction, she has his attention and it is nice for her. She is happy so that is my main priority.

I don’t know if its slowing down this week after a hectic run over the last few months or Emi really noticing his absence on his weekend off and being a lot more clingy to me but something has just hit me like ive been smacked in the face this week.

As I have touched on before, the weekends are the hardest time as a single parent. Most weekends we are alone we just get on with things and we are fine. This weekend was different. I couldn’t move for the grief I felt. Just a general sadness overcame me and I wasted yesterday trying to keep Emi busy but in all honesty making a half-hearted attempt at it. A half-hearted attempt is better than no attempt, I know, but I hate not feeling myself. On days like that, Emi, my wonderful, intelligent and switched on three-year old will often say to me “Mommy, I miss you mom”. I may be there in physical being but I know exactly what she means and it breaks my heart.

All I felt I could do yesterday was lie on the sofa feeling blue, which obviously, with a three-year old, is impossible. When it happens, you really just need to lie in a quiet room, allowing yourself to get it out, then pick yourself up and get on with life again. With a very active little girl constantly demanding your time and attention 24/7, you simply cannot give your best on those days. You feel constantly guilty because she doesn’t deserve a depressed mom moping about the house. I am just thankful that these days are not everyday and seem to only hit me once in a while. But when they do come, I feel so low and I hate that I can’t shake it. A life trauma of any kind really does knock the life and soul out of you.

I have tried previously when I have felt this way reaching out to close friends, family or people who know whats happened, and in the start, when it was fresh, like the first month after he went, I had endless support and understanding for my situation. I am lucky to have friends and family that have offered their time and support when this happened to get me through those initial horrendous first few months. I do feel I would have crumbled under the weight of intense depression without them.

However, I have to admit, without wanting to sound harsh on anyone or like I am seeking sympathy, it has been made quite apparent to me that after a certain time frame, people do seem to take the feeling of “I thought you would be alright by now”, or “ahh, you will be fine, just keep busy.”. This is not to come down on anyone, not by any means, but I honestly see now that unless you have been through something personally, you can’t really relate to it or understand that pain and the torn feelings that come with it and their lasting effects on a person.

So I tend not to try to talk to anyone about it when I have these days now because without wanting to sound hard, once the initial shock of a heartbreak has passed, people generally are just not very interested in hearing about it. Its old news.You are after time perceived as negative, holding onto the past or seeking constant sympathy and it’s just not the case. So you cant help but feel alone, like there is something wrong with you for “still” feeling sad or hurting about it. People are uncomfortable with people grieving in any form or saying, actually, I am not ok. I feel at times its almost a taboo subject to be honest and say you’re not ok. People are much more at ease with hearing you’re fine and getting on with their day. It’s like you are expected to be perfect after a certain amount of time and I can safely say it doesn’t work that way.

There are highs and lows. The lows are really horrible and the disappointment and pain doesn’t go away. You just learn to try to manage it. So I think if this pain had taught me anything its to have a little more compassion for things that others are going though. I have honestly thought myself that people should get over things more quickly than they have. There are lots of occasions I can think of. Life is all about learning and I am at least grateful that this experience has given me a new perception of others and what they have to deal with. We all have our own personal struggles and only we can manage them until we feel ok. But more than anything I have become aware that there is no ETA for feeling ok. It will happen when it happens. x

 

 

 

Best Brownies

I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love a good brownie!

This recipe is my favourite. Its reliable, comforting and never fails to satisfy the appetite. Ever 😉

I literally make these once a fortnight, sometimes even once a week if I feel the need. I do always share them out though and give a box to whoever I might be seeing that day. The rest go in an airtight jar and they will keep well for at least a week. My lovely friend bought me a gorgeous pink kilner jar recently and now I have an excuse to make them so I can store them in a pretty place ;-). I love jars! WP_20160605_08_08_16_Pro[1].jpg

Above: My gorgeous new pink addition to my jar shelf. Thanks Liz x

I strongly advise that depriving yourself of life’s pleasures will make you utterly miserable!  Eating only lettuce will not make for a long and happy life! On the other hand, don’t go crazy! It’s very simple when you think about it! A little bit of what you like does you the world of good.

I use good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) and unrefined sugar. One small square is enough with a hot cup of tea. I don’t drink red wine but a couple of my friends I had the pleasure of cooking for recently assured me that these are an excellent accompaniment to a glass! So much so, I do believe they demolished about 4 each on the night. And took the rest home the next day. It’s a pleasure to see people enjoying something you have made!WP_20160221_14_30_28_Pro[1].jpg

Above: Birthday brownies for my daughters 3rd birthday!

I made a batch at 6.30am this morning to post off for a friend’s birthday! They make an excellent gift in a lovely tin and I have used this recipe for presents, party’s,dinner guests, every one seems to love them, from the three-year olds right up to my nearly 80-year-old Nan. They are a big hit!

They are very easy to make, the tricky part is timing it just right so that it doesn’t cook all the way through like a dry cake! I have had varied success with this but seem to be on a roll timing it for 21 minutes! WP_20160608_08_42_49_Pro[1]

Above: Batch for friend’s birthday. Just the right amount of squidge!

Ingredients

  1. 185g Unsalted Butter
  2. 185g 70% Minimum Good Quality Dark Chocolate (Aldi do a great range and not too expensive!)
  3. 85g Plain Flour (You could replace this with gluten-free or ground almonds for wheat allergies etc)
  4. 3 Large Eggs
  5. 275g Golden Caster Sugar
  6. 40g Cocoa Powder
  7. Icing Sugar to Dust after Cooking

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to Gas 4.
  2. Break up the chocolate and put into a heat proof bowl along with the butter. Melt in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds until melted. Usually takes around 2 minutes but every microwave may differ! Once melted set aside to cool until luke warm, just so long as it’s no longer hot enough to cook the eggs when combined!
  3. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together sieving into a clean bowl. Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer (if you have one), beat the eggs with the sugar on the highest speed setting. This will make the mix turn very pale and the volume will increase  almost doubling in size. Do this for at least two minutes. This will add air into the mixture for a lighter brownie.
  5. Once the melted chocolate mix from step 2 is cool enough, add this into the egg mix, folding it in gently to prevent knocking the air back out. Once combined, sieve the flour mix into this and again fold it in, don’t stir as this will make the brownies too dense without the lightness you have whipped into the eggs.
  6. Pour into a tin, you can get good tray bake tins, mine was just a poundshop job! The base of my tin measures 24cm by 18cm and it’s just the right size to hold this mixture.
  7. Cook on the middle shelf until the top starts to crack but inside still looks moist. I would recommend between 20-25 minutes but I have found around 20 works best.
  8. Leave to cool completely in the tin at room temperature. Dont be tempted to cut into it before its cool! Then sprinkle with icing sugar and cut!

I hope you enjoy x