Ragdale Hall; A Mama Break

*This post is the full version of The Importance of Taking Time Out Just for You This Year. It’s also a review of Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa in Leicestershire.

Why taking time out just for you makes you a better parent…

When my twins were 13 weeks old we drove to France, from Yorkshire, for a holiday with extended family (reasons for which I wouldn’t have changed for the world, despite the challenges of the trip). We had two over-night stops in the UK before we even hit the Channel, one of which was memorably at Watford Gap services! (Did I mention we had 13 week old twins with us?!)

It was on the way back from this trip, still in the haze of sleep deprivation and constant breast feeding, that I made a promise to myself. In order to keep my sanity in-tact and for the sake for me and my children I promised that I would make time for myself, just for me, before I drowned under the constant-ness being a full time mother to two tiny humans. I’d come to the realisation (albeit earlier than most) that a holiday with very young children was actually not really a holiday at all.

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Wicked Wednesday – Hunt the Blu Tac

 

I kid you not – this is a game I, a 39 year old woman, played just last night! I know! This folks, is what real parenting actually looks like!

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You think you’re getting a baby, you know, the ones that look all cute in their knitted hats in the magazine, and wham, before you know it –  you’re playing hunt the blu-tac whilst trying to make the tea in an effort to prevent bat sh*t craziness ensuing from the smallest child in the house!

The game is fairly obvious. The Small Boy devised it himself 😐 he hides the tiniest pieces of blu-tac he can find, all around the house and then he waits expectantly for me to find them, giving helpful three-year old clues, like – ‘it’s der Mummy!’ as he opens the cupboard door to reveal the hiding blu-tac! This can go on for almost ten minutes – which as Mamas know is a long time when you’re TRYING TO MAKE TEA!

This game has the added bonus of finding long forgotten tiny pieces of blu-tac for days to come when you open cupboards, put on your shoe or go up the stairs!

#thestruggleisreal

#WickedWednesday 26th October 2016

brummymummyof2

(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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What Does ‘Happily Ever After’ Look Like?

So, I’m going to be forty at the end of this year, and it’s been making me think about a a lot of things. Mostly it’s about what the future holds, how lucky I am to have had the past I have had, and ponder the meaning of life a little too.

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One of the themes I keep returning to is the happily ever after. I think you spend so much of your life waiting for the happily ever after you are in danger of missing it when it comes.

In your youth you grow up wanting to do well at school, go to university, get a ‘good’ job, find a partner, settle down, get married and have kids. Live the dream. Now I’m almost forty I’m there. Now I’ve done all those things, and I’m living my happily ever after, but it looks a little different than I imagined.

No one told me that it would look like a weekly shop at the supermarket, plunging the blocked toilet, staying in for the boiler man to come, wiping snotty noses, driving the kids here, there and everywhere after school, loading and unloading the dishwasher. So what happens if you get there and it’s not your happily ever after you’ve imagined in your head? I’m sure there were more day trips to the beach as a family in mine, less vacuuming.

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As we get older and I see that it’s not always the way we have it mapped out, things happen, lives change and once we reach destination Happily Ever After then what? Unexpected things go wrong with our physical health, our mental health, our personal and family relationships, things rock our world that are beyond our control, parents, relatives, friends pass away, lives change forever. Life seems to get more complicated all the time and worse still we’re supposed to have reached the end goal of the Happily Ever After.

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So what I’m beginning to realise now I’m almost forty is that Happily Ever After is not a destination: it’s a way of life. It’s  all the cliches you already know; it’s not about waiting for the storm to pass it’s about learning to dance in the rain. That in order to make a rainbow a little rain must fall. That we should stop waiting for our Happily Ever After to arrive and make it happen in our day to day-ness of lives instead.

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I’ve started at night to remember one Happily Ever After incident that’s happened that day amongst all the day to day-ness of managing everyone’s needs. Yesterday it was enjoying breakfast with my nephew, today it will be remembering how happy I felt watching the small boy scooter in the garden in his wellies, last week it was an outing we had at the park all together as a family. And when you stop to count them in a day there are so many Happily Ever Afters going on that no matter what else is going on if you can pause to remember and be grateful that you have those tiny things in your life that make you happy then you’re there. Your happy ever after is changing all the time and it always will, despite what’s going on in your life at that time. The trick is to remember you’ve made it, your making it and you’ve still more to make!

lucy-xx

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Details of What’s On at Half Term with Discount Offer from Harrogate Mama

It seems like the summer holidays have only just finished and yet the half term is already on the horizon, I think once you hit October the term starts to run away with you!

I’ll be sharing a full What’s On at Half Term round up soon covering all the places to visit for FREE! But if you’re planning ahead and are looking for childcare options or just ideas to keep the kids busy in a new and interesting way, here are a few things that you might be interested in:

Stir Crazy Kids

On 26th and 27th October Stir Crazy Kids will be in Harrogate offering cooking workshops which are suitable for children age 4-12. The sessions run from 9.00 – 3.30pm at Harrogate Ladies College and cost £38.00. There is an option of extended hours if necessary.

The great news is that they are offering all Harrogate Mama readers a DISCOUNT on this price! 🙌 20% off each booking if you book with the code MAMA20, to book just visit their website.

“Our Halloween cooking and baking workshops provide an exciting, creative environment for children to learn to make yummy, nutritious food, taste different cuisines and make new friends! At the end of the day, participants can take home what they’ve cooked, along with new knowledge and skills.”

 

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Other session are also available:

Ilkley Grammar School – 25th and 26th October
Gateways School, Leeds – 25th and 26th October (and a bonus one on 1st November)
Harrogate Ladies’ College – 26th and 27th October
Queen Mary’s School, Thirsk – 27th and 28th October

 

Outdoor Holiday Clubs at RHS Harlow Carr 

On Wednesday 26th October RHS Harlow Carr are holding a creepy creatures capers workshop. The session will run from 10.30am -12.30pm and costs £5 for members and £10 for non members Suitable fro children age 5-7. Adults need to stay on site but don’t need to stay at the workshop.

“Join our outdoor holiday club this October half term and explore the woodland at RHS Garden Harlow Carr with our Forest School leader”

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On Wednesday 26th October RHS Harlow Carr are holding a wicked woodland creatures workshop. The session will run from 1.00pm -3.00pm and costs £5 for members and £10 for non members Suitable fro children age 8-12. Adults need to stay on site but don’t need to stay at the workshop.

Mini Medics First Aid Workshop for Kids

On Thursday 27th October Watson Training Services are offering a Mini Medics workshop on First Aid for Kids. This session runs from 9.00 – 3.30pm  and is suitable for kids age 7 -13 at St Wilfrids Church in Harrogate and costs £25.

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There’s an additional session at Darley Primary School on Tuesday 25th October. More details on their Facebook page.

Hookstone Woods Half Term Holiday Forest School

On Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th October Get Out More are holding their Hookstone Woods Forest School workshop. It runs from 10am to 3.00pm, it’s £20 a day and suitable for children aged 5-11. You can book through their website.

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“Following our fantastic summertime sessions, we’ll be bringing our holiday forest schools back to Hookstone Wood this October half-term. Be sure to book a place quickly for some fun and adventure – including the usual mix of games, den building, campfire and crafts – led by our forest school leader Sam. Forest school is an adventurous programme of play and learning in a woodland setting, led by qualified forest school professionals.”

The great news is Forest School are offering a 10% DISCOUNT to you, all you need to do is add the code  “HarrogateOct16” at check out!

 

Have you got anything planned yet? I’m still working it all out! Let me know if you’ve heard of any other good workshops for half term! I’ll be sharing all the great places to go for FREE or cheaply over the next couple of weeks too!

lucy-xx

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Parenting; a Europe wide issue!

The evidence is out there, we’re all doing our best;

Whilst touring around our Italian campsite for two weeks on our summer holiday I was lucky enough to be able to witness a range of nationalities; German, Dutch, Swiss, Italian, British, Polish and many others. It turns out that Venice is easily accessible to lots of countries!

What struck me most was not how different we all were as families, but how remarkably all the same we are! All I saw were parents across Europe all doing their best to raise their family.

Turns out the same conversations are going on around the globe that you are having in your very own home.

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Refusing to smile for the camera is not just a UK thing!
  • The German 10 year old is being reprimanded by his parents over a lost hat? “where did you last have it?”
  • The Italian 4 year old is being shouted at for not looking where he was going on his bike.
  • The Swiss toddler is crying and wriggling, wanting down from her Dad’s arms.
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Toddlers not giving a sh*t – that’s a global phenomenon, honest!
  • The Dutch five year old is being told off in the restaurant for swinging on his chair
  • The British teenager is embarrassed by her dad’s dancing
  • Preschoolers from every nation are persistently being told not to throw sand.
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Throwing sand is not a problem you alone are facing, it’s Europe wide!
  • 14 year old Polish lads are in bother for booting footballs high and landing them on parasols
  • Children universally are not wanting to have sun cream applied
  • Every European little one is loosing it over late nights and too much sun.

So while you might think you’re the only ones dealing with this sort of shizzle, then rest assured you’re not. The same convos are going on around the world, the same little battles over mealtimes are being fought, the same exasperated faces from parents are being shaped. For this is parenting.

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Parents trailing unhappy children around cities of culture is not limited to the UK!

I found the whole experience completely reassuring! You are not alone Mamas, the rest of the world stands with you in your parenting highs and lows!

So next time I’m stuck thinking, why does everyone else’s child put their shoes on when they’re asked?! I’ll think back to my Italian campsite and think of my European counterparts dealing with the exact same situation themselves and be relieved, in the knowledge it’s not just me it’s universal, across the globe!

For doing all these things, fighting all these battles, sharing right and wrong with your children is just called being a good parent. In whatever language you speak!

If you want to see some pretty pictures of our holiday – and there were obviously some good times! Ha! They you can read this post all about it. Five go camping in Venice.

Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – Siblings

If you don’t already know I have nine year old twin girls, and the Small Boy, three!

When people ask me ‘is it very different having a boy after two girls?’ I often say, ‘somethings are…’.

Here is what I actually mean…

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Sitting quietly, knitting

 

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Sitting quietly, knitting
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…this! 😝

😬#nowordsneeded

#WickedWednesday 28th September 2016

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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – The Crisp

Why do they do this? The small people? Why will they only have a photo taken if it’s with their ‘sword’, ‘Peppa Pig’, ‘PomBear Crisp’? What is that all about?!

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Photobombed by a PomBear 😆

AGGH! One day I will get a nice photo of him! One day! There will be no crisps in it!!

#WickedWednesday 21st September 2016

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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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Harrogate Mama ‘Bad Moms’ Movie Meet Up

A couple of Saturdays ago 30 Harrogate Mamas had a great time when we all came together to watch a special screening of the hit comedy film ‘Bad Moms‘ at Harrogate’s Odeon cinema! Here are some photos from the night – taken by the brilliant Catherine Gibbin photography.

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Harrogate ‘Bad Moms’ meeting up for the movie!

The film was brilliant and all the better for enjoying it with a group of like minded Mamas. It was super funny and poignant in parts, telling of how life can be when you’re trying to be a good Mama and how difficult that can be at times with all the constant demands of motherhood!

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Harrogate Mama – Bad Moms Movie Meet Up!

 

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Mamas at the Movies

The Harrogate Mama event was in aid of the MAMA Academy charity, which works to prevent stillbirth and support mums and midwives to help babies arrive safely.

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Raising money for MAMA academy

The film screening was supported by Harrogate’s Hotel du Vin who treated all the Harrogate Mamas attending to a glass of free champagne on arrival and donated Sunday brunch as a raffle prize!

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The Event was generously supported by Hotel du Vin and Odeon Cinemas

Harrogate’s Odeon cinema generously donated a percentage of each ticket sale for the event to the MAMA Academy charity and a raffled two pairs of cinema tickets too, all which helped to raise additional funds.

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Fabulous Raffle Prizes, kindly donated!

On the night we raised over £135 for the charity which was fantastic. I’d like to say a huge thank you  to everyone for coming to the event and helping make it so much fun!

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Super Pretty Goody Bags from Sophie Likes

Everyone who came went home with a rammed goody bag full of treats which included water from Harrogate Spring Water (what else for a Harrogate Mama), gin in a tin (perfect for Mamas everywhere!) and a lovely treat from Bettys of a chocolate and orange Little Rascal (my new go-to cinema snack of choice!)

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Goody Bag Goodies

Plus there were lots of other offers and treats packed in to the super pretty bag from Harrogate Independent shop Sophie Likes.

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Bad Moms Movie Meet Up with FREE Champagne and FREE goody bag!

The goody bag included some fab Jamberry nail wraps to try at home, some Aloe body cream, samples from Benefit cosmetics and some super special perfume from a luxury brand!

There were also discounts a plenty including from The Beauty Suite at Dangerfield and Keane, Prologue Cycling cafe, Toni and Guy and Catherine Gibbin photography.

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Goody Bag Offers Galore!

I had a blast and loved getting to meet so many of you in person! It was great! Hope you had as much fun as I did! Now, when’s the next one…

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Mama Movie Time

Next time I say we all meet up at the supermarket and down some shots 😜 who’s in?!

lucy-xx

 

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Wicked Wednesday – Toilet Roll Bed

Anyone else’s child like to get two pieces of toilet roll and lay them on top of themselves before they fall asleep? Anyone? No, just mine then 😬

IMG_1895.jpg Just to be clear – he did this himself! 😆

#WickedWednesday 14th September 2016

brummymummyof2

(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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Five ways to make new Mama friends at the School Gate

When my girls started school I was worried about making new friends for myself! I know when you’re 30+ you’re supposed to have it all sussed, but turns out I was just as anxious about what to do, where to stand and who I was going to talk to at the school gates as my kids were!

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When my small people were really small!

So if you’re facing the same dilemma here are five things I did that helped me make new friends at the school gate. They’re not rocket science and I’m sure you do them anyway, but they helped me enormously!

1.) Arrived Early – that way people came to me to start a conversation and I didn’t have to stand waiting awkwardly or try to join an existing group.

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2.) Said Hello and Smiled – I read somewhere that if you don’t make conversation within three seconds of someone standing in your vicinity than you generally don’t start it at all – at which point it feels awkward. So however uncomfortable I felt I always said hello when someone  came to stand close by. I always tried to smile, even if  I wasn’t feeling very smiley. I found people were much more likely to talk to me when I was smiling.

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3.) Asked open questions – I used to ask other parents about their kids, I found it always went down well. “How is your little one settling in?”, “What have you got planned for today?” and at the end of the day “What have you been up to today?” Better still, if I saw the same person, I could (when I could remember) asked them how their ‘supermarket shop’, ‘day at work’, ‘trip to town’ had been which helped me build on-going relationships with them.images.jpeg

4.) Volunteered to help out with school activities (only small ones! Ha!)- from collecting prizes for the PTA raffle to helping out on the annual cake stall. It meant a lot of parents got to know my name and I got to find out who they all were too and got the pick of the best cakes! Ha!

5.) Helped out in the classroom – tricky one if you have younger siblings, but I found trying to make the time to help out on the shorter school trips (like the Autumn walk) for an hour or so was a good way to see what goes on in school, discover who the other children in the class were and meet other parents who had also offered to help.

Good luck, I found it daunting when I started, but now I have some lovely Mama friends (and don’t volunteer as much! Ha!)

Have you got any tips to share? What worked for you?

lucy-xx

 

 

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