Autumn on a Budget

Autumn is well and truly here now (boo). So, I’ve put together a few ideas that might help if you are trying to keep your littles amused and don’t want to spend a fortune. You can also check out all of the baby, toddler and children classes that are available in the area by clicking on the main tool bar at the top of the NHM webpage.

1. Nature Detectives

I know I always rave about Nature Detectives but it’s absolutely fantastic. They have special Autumn packs that you can download to use for Autumn activities.

2. The Cinema

Odeon and Vue both have children sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning and throughout school holidays. Vue is from £1.75.

From what I can see Basingstoke Odeon doesn’t have any Newbie and Children’s performances scheduled at the moment, which is a bit disappointing. I loved going to the Newbie’s showings when I was on Maternity Leave. Our little one “saw” her first film when she was three weeks old!

3. Puddle Splashing

I’ve mentioned before on NHM that I’ve heard the saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad weather clothing!”. Puddle jumping is great but you need some wellies otherwise it can become a bit miserable pretty quickly.

4. Find your local park.

We are very lucky in Basingstoke that we have some wonderful parks in the area. This is a great website to check out what’s around, especially if you are a bit bored with your local park. With weather being as windy as it today, Crabtree hill would be a great place to fly a kite!

5. Make Play Dough

I’ve posted up a few posts that have recipies for making your own Play Dough. Check them out here and here. I find this is a great activity when I want my little one to be preoccupied in her highchair when I’m trying to cook!

6. Cook together

We’ve tried this once and it was…interesting! lol. Our little one isn’t big enough to stand on a chair so I put her in her highchair and she had great fun playing with dough. She created an almighty mess though, but it was worth it to see how much fun she had.  There are some really easy recipes out there that you can make with your children, regardless of their age.

7. Visit your local museums

The Willis Museum in Basingstoke town centre is free and has a good variety of activities for children. Milestones Museum isn’t free but is worth a whole day out. Basing House isn’t free either but they have a lot of activities for children. You might be interested in a Culture All passport or Discovery Pass which helps to keep the cost of Activities down.

8. PJ Days and Movie Afternoons

When it’s raining and cold outside, Pyjama days are great. I personally wouldn’t watch a movie with my little one as I feel she’s too young (19 months) but for those bigger children movie days can be loads of fun. If your children have seen all of your DVD’s, why not rent one from the local library for a nominal fee. They even do a special deal where you can pay for film membership for the year.

Related Posts

7 Cheap or Free Rainy Day Activities in Basingstoke

Random Friday Post – Things I’ve learnt recently

As it’s Friday, today’s post is going to be filled with a few random things, that don’t constitute a full post of their own. I’ve learnt a lot about parenting over the past six months and I’ve built on what I’ve already learnt.

Slow Cookers

Yup, it’s slow cooker season again. Yippeee!!! Although, to be honest, we haven’t stopped using ours! I indulged and bought a slow cooker recipe book and it’s been brilliant. We use the slow cooker at least once a week and I try to ensure that we have as much variety of meals using the slow cooker so I’ve been branching out. A friend told me that you can make a lasagna in your slow cooker! I’ve found a recipe but haven’t tried it yet as I feel it’s still a bit advanced. However, I also found a recipe for making muffins in the slow cooker, so I want to try that soon. Check out my post earlier in the year about why I love my Slow Cooker.

Ace gentle

An experienced Mum told me about Ace Gentle. I was moaning about how I could never get stains out of whites and didn’t want to use bleach. Her children always look immaculate in whites so I asked her what her secret was. She willingly shared the joy of Ace Gentle with me. It’s fantastic. My little one’s bibs have been revolutionised and her white tops are still white! It doesn’t get every stain out completely but I’ve found that if I hang clothes out on a sunny day, it gets the majority of the stain out. Much better than anything else I’ve tried.

Evernote

I’m still completely addicted to Evernote. I use it for everything, from recording warranty details on new items, for work, for NHM, and for organising our daily lives. I love that I can sync it to my phone, iPad and computer and you don’t have to be connected to the internet for it to work. Only for it to sync. It really is my portable brain.

Dropbox

I use Dropbox for the same reason I use Evernote. It’s easy to use and I can sync it to all of my devices. I used it in April  to store pdf versions of our passports when we went abroad. I use it to store any word or excel documents that I might want easy access too.

9 Ways to get your husband to help around the house

I probably shouldn’t share this, but it did make me snigger!

Nappies

We’ve always used Pampers nappies. I tried some eco ones early on but they weren’t very good and leaked everywhere. I wanted to get some reusable nappies but didn’t know enough about it and didn’t know if we could justify the initial outlay.

We were using the main Pampers brand nappies but I’ve discovered that Simply Dry Pampers nappies are pretty much the same as the Expensive Pampers brand, just half price. I haven’t had any incidents of them leaking yet and the only difference seems to be in the thickness of the nappy and the marketing image on the front of the nappy. Otherwise, they seem to be exactly the same.

I’ve also discovered that swimming nappies come apart. Why did no one tell me this beforehand? Even my husband didn’t know this! This was a huge revelation. We’ve both been using them as pull up nappies since my little one started swimming at 3 months old. Big DUH to us that we only found it out, literally on the day she turned 18 months! lol. Now we know that we can tear the side of the nappy to get them off. This also goes for pull up nappies, which we tried recently but I hated because they were a nightmare to get off. It’s always the simple things that make such a difference!! lol.

What are the things that you’ve learnt recently that you think might help other parents?

Christmas Planning 2012

I really don’t want to scare you, but it’s 74 days (Xmas Clock) to Christmas. Yup, that’s less than 3 months. Eek! Feels like we’ve only just finished the Summer Holidays, so how can it nearly be Christmas!!?!?!

In my effort to try to make your life a little bit easier, last year I came across a lot of really good blog posts that I thought would be useful to share with you. There are some ideas about Christmas planning, how to not spend a fortune over the Christmas holidays and some ideas about being ethically conscious during the festive season. Some of the posts come from American blogs, but I don’t think this makes them any less valuable, as I always think that our cousins over the pond seem to be better at Christmas than we are!

I hope you find them interesting and helpful, especially the ones related to planning for Christmas!

Plan Your Peaceful Christmas: Task 1

Plan Your Peaceful Christmas: Task 2

Plan your Peaceful Christmas: Task 3

Goal: Get Christmas Shopping Finished Early

The Giant Christmas List: Curbing Impulses

Frugal Christmas – top 5 recycling ideas for your gifts….

Christmas Countdown Checklists – (A NHM Reader (Thanks Gillian!) sent this through. Excellent website so I’ve included it here)

5 ways to slow down and embrace your holiday stories – (One of my favourite blogs of all time. I LOVE SimpleMom)

Some Thoughts about Holiday Cards

Should I cancel Christmas or would my children never forgive me and Santa?

How to avoid a Christmas spending splurge … using tips from a psychologist

Christmas Gift Guide – 30 days and counting (a bit early for this, I know!)

Celebrate Solstice

Ultimate Christmas Movie Guide

The Countdown To Christmas – Let The Preparations Begin!

New Mummy’s Tips Christmas 2011

An easy, no-frills advent calendar

Dealing with Holiday Leftovers

Charity at Christmas (I think this is a really, really great post)

How to have a Frugal Christmas – Free Santa letters….

Count down to Christmas with our children’s books Advent calendar – interactive

How to have a Frugal Christmas – Fun Stuff to do together….

9 of the Best Christmas Crackers under £10

Tips for making your Christmas more enjoyable, and more economical!

Here’s how to save money on Christmas presents and make your kids really want to spend time with their family

Things to Make and Do with Kids During Christmas Vacation

How to Entertain and Keep Costs Down During the Holidays

Ideas for putting together a great Children’s Party

If you are planning to organise a birthday party for your little one, hopefully some of the following information will be useful because (in my naivety) I think that a lot of birthday parties that are hosted by places are just a big con, a huge expense, and aren’t very personal.

Birthday Cake: I have a couple of Likes on my NHM Facebook page of local businesses that make all sorts of cakes. From the photo’s, they all look fabulous and from what I can see are very reasonably priced.  As you know, I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses so like to promote wherever I can. You can find most of these local Cake Companies HERE.

Party Bags: I remember the days when party bags didn’t exist (yes, I’m old!) and you received a piece of birthday cake wrapped up in napkin when you left a party. These days party bags have taken on a whole new dimension. I can totally see how it gets ridiculous if you are hosting a party for lots of children. I also worry about how much of it ends up in landfill, especially the cheap plastic presents that you can pick up for party bags. We went to a party recently where the bags had bath toys in, which I thought was a great idea. I love bubbles and balloons so don’t think you can go wrong with these in the bag. NetMum’s has some great ideas for party bags in the link below.

Party Games: when I was a child I remember that my Dad led all of the party games, possibly because his name was Simon so we always played “Simon says”, lol. If you are hosting at home getting Dad involved as the “Party Games Master” (if he’s available) as it’s a great way for him to feel that he’s a key part of the event. It also shares the load with you!

Thank you Cards: These have been the bain of my life since my little one was born! lol. However, I think it’s really, really important to thank people for any presents that your little one receives. People make a lot of effort for presents and it’s only polite to thank them for this effort. Even if you do start to curse the thank you cards after a while. I can’t WAIT for when my little one is old enough to write her own! lol.

Invites:  get them out early. It’s amazing how quickly families get booked up on the weekend. If you are hosting in the week it’s still advisable that you send invites early because people often have set routines for the evening’s or in the day.

Locations: Obviously, at home is always the cheapest, but not always the easiest! There are a lot of Community Centres in the area. Over 60 at last count. You can find them all listed HERE. If it’s summer time you could organise a “Birthday Picnic” at one of the local parks (click HERE for ideas on local parks) but this is dependent on the weather.

Food: Costco. Nuff said! :-D. Although apparently Morrisons do some great sandwich trays for only £5 each.

Presents: Local Mum Businesses

Party Entertainers

Bopping Parties: Kids Disco Parties – 1 to 10 year olds. Great tunes, games, disco props, bubbles and more

Sing Along & Smile

Monkey Music

Creation Station

Toddler Sense

Sense Theatre

Local Party Shops

Dazzle Party Shop

Party Workshop

Face painting

Neon Fairy Face Painting

Bouncy Castles

Halloween Parties for the Younger Age Group in North Hampshire – 2012

A NHM reader asked a great question on NorthHants Mum and I thought the response deserved blog post. (Plus, I feel guilty that I didn’t post much this week because of internet issues.) Thanks for your question Kaela! I’ve put together a short post for you on Halloween Parties for little ones. Hope it helps!

Kaela asked: “Do you know anywhere that are doing children’s Halloween parties for the more younger age group? Many thanks”

Bopping Babies: Wednesday 24th (Chineham)  and Friday 26th October (Bramley)

BOPPING BABIES RETURNS FOR THE AUTUMN TERM (Chineham)
Bopping Babies is back with a ‘bang’ with the Halloween special themed
party.

Toddler Sense “Spooky Wooky Party”

Toddler Sense Spooky Wooky Party on the 28th October! Places are filling so please do contact me if you would like to come along for some fabby “more Wooky than Spooky” fun especially for your little one! Email at basingstoke@toddlersense.co.uk

PlayDays is having a Halloween Party: TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!!

Playdays Halloween Party, Fri 26th Oct And Sat 27th Oct 6-8:30pm. They have prices for children under 18 months, so will probably be appropriate for little people.

Active Tots Halloween Party

Join us for some HALLOWEEN FUN on Wednesday 31st October! Its a chance to show off your fancy dress! Soft Play as usual, with a few extras in our Activities Room which will be transformed to provide themed activities throughout the day!

The Green Gloop will be simmering in the cauldron for those that wish to give it a stir! Decorate yummy themed biscuits and more….. Usual Play Price plus £2.00 for those wishing to take part in the Halloween Activities! Fancy Dress is a must with prizes for the best dressed!

JJ’s

JJ’s has a halloween Party on, but it’s for older children and is from 6pm to 10pm

Children’s Centres

The Big Children’s Centres: Pebbles, Octopus and Buttercups used to do Halloween themed parties  and events (I think), but I can’t find anything about this on each of their websites and they may not be happening because of the change to Action for Children.

If there are any other events that are happening in the area for younger children, it would be great if you could share so others can see. Thanks everyone!

5 Places for Sunday lunch, with Children, in North Hampshire

Is it just me or has it been one of those weeks? We had no internet at the weekend and it’s been intermittent all week, hence the lack of posts this week. Very frustrating as I had lots of posts that I wanted to work on. For example, this post is supposed to have 5 places for Sunday lunch with children. I only had time to come up with three. Do you have any recommendations for this post?

1. The Beech Arms – Oakley

3. The Harvester – Brighton Hill (I’m going to be very controversial here and say that I’ve never been that impressed with the Basingstoke Harvester. The last time we were there the babychanging room was in a disgusting state, which never bodes well for a restaurant!)

Updated Dec 2013

4. Spruce Goose – Leisure Park

Playmobil.123 and Childhood Dreams

I’ve found somewhere that sells Playmobil.123 locally! Yay!!!

We were pretending we were posh and went shopping in Winchester the other week. I wanted to check out Childhood Dreams, a toy shop that I’d heard about. I have a bit of an addiction to wooden fruit and veg. Don’t ask me why and I know it’s a bit tragic but I just think they are SOOO cool!

I’d heard that Childhood Dreams sells them so I saved up especially for them. My Beloved Husband gave me a limit of £10 to spend (he’s so generous! lol) and I managed to get a lot for my money. We came home with a wooden lolly, a wooden fried egg, a wooden bratwurst among others. I ended up with about 7 different items. I loved a lot of the other items in the shop but wasn’t allowed to buy any (boo hiss!).

They stock Usborne Books (another one of my addictions!), the cutest wooden Tool set (Saving up for this already!), lots of wooden cooking implements, some VERY cute little baby shoes and THE most expensive rocking horse I have ever seen!

Annnyway, after I’d spent my budget in Childhood Dreams we popped round to see The Toy Cupboard. I love it in here too, but they don’t stock as many “old skool” toys. However, their display of playmobil was AMAZING! I was so impressed to see that they also have the Plamobil Advent Calendars.

I was even more impressed when I saw that they also sell Playmobil.123. Yay! At last! I’ve found somewhere that stocks it! I wasn’t allowed to purchase any as I’d already blown my budget and I would still probably buy through the site we’ve used before as it’s so much cheaper, but they did have some items that I’ve not seen before.

I think one of the reasons why I love wooden toys and Playmobil.123 is that they are built to last. No matter how much your children munch and throw about these toys, they still seem to look like they did when you bought them. This also helps if you are a tight wad like me and plan to try to sell on as many toys as possible!I also like to think I’m doing my bit for the environment too, by not buying plastic tat that’s built to end up in the dustbin.

Playmobil Posts you might enjoy reading

http://stickyfingers1.blogspot.com/2011/12/what-playmobil-to-buy-for-christmas.html

http://www.whosthemummy.co.uk/2011/11/seven-of-the-best-playmobil-toys-for-christmas-.html

http://babybudgeting.co.uk/review-playmobil-school/

18 Places that will host a Children’s Birthday Party

I’ve only hosted one birthday party for my little one, so clearly I haven’t been exposed to how these experiences can “escalate”. So, as I’m still green behind the gills with regards to parties (Goody bags? Have I not spent enough already?!?!?!) I’ve put together a post with a list of places that will host a birthday party for your little one.

I will be publishing a post next week that will look at cheaper ways to host a children’s birthday party. So if you are looking for birthday party inspiration, check out next weeks posts.

If you are planning a children’s party any time soon…Good Luck! 😀

1. Lymington Sea Water Baths – Pool available to hire for children’s birthday parties. (probably better for a summer party 😉)

2. Little Nellies Diner (was Nelsons Diner) – on the way to Newbury. (They do AWESOME milkshakes!). Minimum £8.95 per child but they can tailor depending on your budget.

3. ActiveTots – Bramley. Minimum £8.50 per child.

4. Intech Science Centre – Winchester (How cool would it be to have a birthday party in a Planetarium!)

5. Play Days – Basingstoke

6. Fun House Basingstoke – Soft Play

7. Basingstoke Sports Centre  (Is it sad that I remember going to a birthday party was at the Sports Centre some 30 odd years ago. Wow. How ancient am I? It was a wicked party though! lol) 

8. Finkley Down Farm – Andover

9. Queen Mary’s College: Our swimming pool is available for hire, and for children’s parties, throughout the year.

10. Bowling Alley, Leisure Park

11. Pizza Hut Parties, Festival Place or the same Business Park as ToysRUs.

12. Pots2 Paint, Viables.

13. Beale Park, Pangbourne, Reading

14. Jakes Indoor Softplay and mini farm, Sandhurst.

15. Birdworld, Farnham

16. The Hawk Conservancy, Andover

17. Atmosphere Trampoline Park

17. Any suggestions as I ran out of ideas!!! (Check out the post below with a list of 6 ‘extra’ places to host a children’s birthday party)

Related Posts

Another 6 places to host a children’s birthday party

Page: Birthday Parties

Post: Organising Birthday Parties!

Local Businesses – Children’s Parties (bouncy castle, face painters, etc)

15 Different Experiences for Children

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Blackberry Picking in North Hampshire

Today’s post was supposed to be about good blackberry picking spots in the area. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to research this or to get out and about to find some new spots.

The blackberries are quiet late this year which is probably because of the wet summer that we had. Blackberry picking is a great family activity and can save quite a bit of money if you have the ability to freeze your berries after you have picked them. I like to stick them in a bowl covered in water with some salt, then rinse them off, bag them up and put them in the freezer for the winter months. It can save a fortune when you compare the cost of buying frozen or fresh berries. We use ours in porridge for breakfast (great for weaning as the frozen berries makes the porridge cold and is another dose of fruit for the day) or I use them to make smoothies or a crumble.

These are the places that I do know which have good Blackberry picking spots. I am going to put out a request on the NorthHants Mum friend and the FB Page to see if anyone else can recommend any good spots and will update this post as I receive them. If you do know of any good blackberry spots please add a comment to this post. Thank you!

Carpenters Down/Basing Wood

There are lots of Blackberry Bushes at Carpenters Down and the further you go into the Woods, the more likely you are to find some good bushes. If you follow the path out to Bramley, there are some bushes there too.

Chineham Business Park

A new path has been put into Chineham Business Park and there are a lot of bushes around this area, towards the back of the Business Park.

Related Posts

Review: Basing Wood

MAD Academy

Elaine contacted me asking if I could publicise the new MAD Academy classes for her. Here is her post…

MAD Academy classes for preschool children are bursting with energy and fun!  Each week we combine lively music and dance, with carefully structured learning, designed for the specific age and developmental stage of your child.

We sing and dance to lots of popular songs which you will already know, as well as a few new funky ones of our own.  Children are introduced to a wide range of music, whilst being given the chance to explore different rhythms, musical instruments and musical styles.  Dance and movement are key elements of every session and we play lots of games which are guaranteed to be fun and motivational!

As well as ensuring each child has a fantastic time, we give them the opportunity to develop confidence, motor control, physical co-ordination, and social skills, whilst learning to express themselves creatively and encouraging their natural passion for music.

Children are accompanied by an adult and we hope you will enjoy the opportunity to share some fun time with your child.  At MAD we believe in a free-spirited approach to learning which means that if your child doesn’t want to join in an element that’s fine.  The ethos at MAD Academy is a relaxed and fun time for the children and this will, we hope, rub off on you!  Come and experience it for yourself!

We’re actually restarting. The classes used to be run by Cathy, who’s now teaching classes at Hatch Warren on Friday for us…9.30 walkers to 2 yrs, 10.25 2-4 yrs, and 11.20 walkers to 4s. And it’s now run by Sarah Maskell , who’s been teaching for many years and she’ll be doing a class at 9.30 in Chineham Village Hall on a Tuesday for walkers to 4yr olds, and a class at the Salvation Army Hall in Tadley on a Wednesday for walkers to 4 year olds at 9.30.

www.madacademy.com or the MAD Facebook Page

People do need to call to book, as we only put a limited number in each class.

If you mention NorthHantsMum then the first class is free and we do a special rate for siblings and childminders.

Please call us on 01189391055 or 07771850298 to reserve a space.