Parenting

Friday Five Weekend 16-17 November


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

GROOVE BABY PRESENTS GROOVE ONTO THE MOON
Royal Festival Hall
Against a backdrop of Ally Pally’s panoramic views of London, fireworks will light up the skyline in a unique display. There will be music, cabaret, bars, a funfair filled with retro rides, the great bonfire and a family friendly area.

southbankcentre.co.uk

 

DECORCAFE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL
Strawberry Hill House
Enjoy a day of festive shopping and seasonal decor in this stunning setting. From bespoke and original handmade gifts, local crafts and produce, Christmas styling across the historic rooms, demonstrations, tastings and inspired gifts to purchase. And festive foods!
All weekend
strawberryhillhouse.org.uk

JAZZ FOR TODDLERS

Royal Festival Hall
Get the kids syncopating at an interactive music session for toddlers aged 2-5.
southbankcentre.co.uk

COUNTRY LIVING CHRISTMAS FAIR
Business Design Centre, Islington
A fair where you can channel your creativity thanks to numerous workshops or shop til you drop.
All weekend
countrylivingfair.com

 


RUMPELSTILTSKIN
Watermans Brentford
Theatre of Widdershins with their trademark puppets, music and storytelling perform Rumpelstiltskin and the Snail of Fortune. This golden production is perfect for 4+ years.
Sunday
watermans.org.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Friday Five Weekend 2-3 November


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

FIREWORKS FESTIVAL
Alexandra Palace
Against a backdrop of Ally Pally’s panoramic views of London, fireworks will light up the skyline in a unique display. There will be music, cabaret, bars, a funfair filled with retro rides, the great bonfire and a family friendly area.
Saturday
fireworks.london

 

BAUHAUS BABY BALLROOM
Whitechapel Gallery
Celebrate 100 years of Bauhaus with a family disco, music and art. Mocktails will be served plus there will be abstract costume creation, geometric mobiles, architectural collages and Bauhaus badges.
Saturday
whitechapelgallery.org

 

FAMILY ART DAY
October Gallery
Engage with the galleries current exhibitions in this imaginative art making and multi sensory storytelling session for 0-7s.
Saturday
octobergalleryed

 

FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR
Crystal Palace
Food, drink, entertainment areas, fairgrounds, a Lords of Lightning Light show plus a spectacular firework display with lasers to boot.
Saturday
fireworksspectacular.co.uk

 

DIWALI IN LONDON
Trafalgar Square
Come and enjoy the delights of Diwali with a day of entertainment in the capital. As well as music, dancing and mouthwatering Indian treats there will be a children’s zone with plenty of fun activities on offer.
Sunday
diwaliinlondon.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Friday Five Weekend 26-27 October


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

HARVEST CELEBRATION
Borough Market
Celebrate Autumn at this harvest event for the whole family. With face painting, storytelling, pumpkin carving and cooking demonstrations there is something for everyone.
Saturday
boroughmarket.org.uk

HORNIMAN HALLOWEEN FAIR
Horniman Museum and Gardens
Get dressed up in your scariest costume for this fiendish Halloween family fair. There will be spooky storytelling, creepy crawlies and treats at the food stall and arts and crafts market.
All weekend
horniman.ac.uk

DIWALI FESTIVAL OF LIGHT
Natural Maritime Museum
Celebrate Diwali with some free family fun at the National Maritime Museum. There will be music, dance, arts and crafts, a parade and a celebration of light.
Saturday
rmg.co.uk

 

DESIGNING HEY DUGGEE
Design Museum
Explore the design, animation and production process behind Hey Duggee, the much loved CBeebies animated series, in this free family friendly display.
All weekend
designmuseum.org

 

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Friday Five Weekend 12-13 October


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

HIDDEN LONDON
London Transport Museum
Go on an immersive journey of some of London’s most secret spaces in the oldest subterranean railway in the world in this new exhibition opening just in time for the weekend. Visit an ‘abandoned’ Tube station underworld and see a recreation of the secret dining room where Churchill sheltered.
All weekend
ltmuseum.co.uk

 

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CHELSEA HISTORY FESTIVAL
Various locations in Chelsea
Celebrate the history of Chelsea at this family friendly festival. Activities include Giant Games for little soldiers at the National Army Museum, the hidden history hunt at the Royal Hospital and Medicine Through Time at the Chelsea Psychic Garden.
Saturday
chelseahistoryfestival.com

 

BLOOMSBURY FESTIVAL
October Gallery
As part of the Bloomsbury Festival, the gallery are running a Family Art Day inspired by the 1969 moon landing with art making activities and story telling.
Saturday
bloomsburyfestival.org.uk

 

THE HOUSE FULL OF STUFF WORKSHOP
Tate Modern
Inspired by her new book, author and illustrator Emily Rand is putting on a make and do workshop where you can create an invention and make a collage with images of junk objects.
Sunday
tate.org.uk

 

NEW SCIENTIST LIVE
ExCel London
Get your mind blown by some fascinating Science in this festival for all the family. Take part in a rocket building workshop, hop on a VR rollercoaster ride, launch your very own Saturn V rocket to the moon and enjoy some science story time with Maddie from CBeebies.
All weekend
newscientist.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Friday Five Weekend 5-6 October


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

SOUTHBANK SINFONIA FAMILY CONCERT
Southbank Centre
There will be live musical performance, film and theatrical lighting in this immersive classical music concert for all the family. You will also get to meet the musicians and try out their instruments at the end of the show.
Saturday
southbankcentre.co.uk

 

FESTIVAL OF THE GIRL
Tower Hamlets, E14
Girls from across the city have been invited to attend London’s first ever Festival of the Girl. A family event packed with workshops, interactive sessions, speakers and live performers.
Saturday
festivalofthegirl.com

 

FUN PALACES
Half Moon Theatre
A fabulous way to educate the little ones on recycling with this free family fun day which is all about reducing, reusing and recycling.  There will be storytelling, pop up performances, arts and crafts plus tea and cake.
Sunday
halfmoon.org.uk

 

THE PIRATE CRUNCHER
artsdepot, North Finchley
A comically gruesome adventure of pirates, monsters and the ingenuity of one small girl. Check out this new hilariously exciting play by Toby Hulse, adapted from the best selling picture book by Jonny Duddle.
Sunday
artsdepot.co.uk

 

APPLE WEEKEND 2019
Fenton House and Garden
Try out different varieties of apple and juice from the Fenton House trees while the kids make badges, do some apple juicing and partake in giant lawn games, at this annual celebration.
All weekend
nationaltrust.org.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

 

WHO ARE…BLOOM AND BLOSSOM

We interview the founders of Bloom and Blossom about creating a dream business, working with family and building a brand

 


Three words to describe yourselves.

Julia: Committed, honest and a giggle.

Christina: Determined, loyal and fun.

What’s it like working with a relative?

Julia: It really is great, and we know we are lucky. At first our family thought it could be too close to home, but we really are each other’s biggest supporters. We give each other the sanity check we know is essential in business. We support each other emotionally and physically. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and, as we build Bloom and Blossom, we are enjoying seeing ourselves develop as business women and as parents, this ensures our brand is continues to grow authentically.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve faced while being in business? 

Christina: Business is challenging, that is the truth, but we have learnt to embrace that. Managing manufacturing, NPD, retailers and customers makes it the rollercoaster ride that it is but we are happy with that and know it will continue. We take time to look back and evaluate decisions, the right ones and the wrong ones, to ensure we learn along the way. We are brave, we take leaps, and we aren’t scared to try new things, and with that we also take on the challenges of business, but that is half the fun, it is a little bit bonkers, but we wouldn’t change a thing.

Who does what in the business?

Julia: We are lucky to have built an incredible team of talented, dedicated and passionate people. For many years it was just us two, so we have literally done every job within the running of our business from financial accounts to product development to social media and packing up orders. We are not afraid or too grand to turn our hand to any task, and this is the attitude we look for in all our employees.

Now we have a strong team means we can focus our time on fulfilling our sustainability promise, developing new products, discovering new innovations, understanding our customers’ needs and building an authentic business focused on helping families thrive.

How did the initial collaboration with Roald Dahl come about?

Christina: All our product development comes from a place of authenticity, flowing from the products we need and want as parents. We developed incredible pregnancy products when we were pregnant and incredible baby products when our children were babies. So, it was almost a given we would bring out products for older children as ours grew up. As parents we know the importance of routine in promoting quality sleep and reading plays an integral part in that. Reading should be part of every child’s day and particularly their switch off process at bedtime. Who better than to partner with the world’s number one author Roald Dahl. Two British brands in partnership promoting the importance of sleep.

How do you decide on fragrances for the different lines you have?

Christina: Our fragrances sit at the heart of our formulations and play a powerful role in the efficacy of our products. Fragrance is key in evoking mood and wellbeing – we start with how we want our customers to feel when they use our products then blend in the ingredients to achieve this.

What has it been like to support Beauty Banks?

Julia: Having seen Jo Jones and Sali Hughes set up Beauty Banks and having watched the incredible impact it has had to people living on the poverty line – it was a no brainer. Being clean is a human right and whatever we can do to help get toiletries in to the hands of families, we will do. Our ‘one for one’ initiative was kicked off alongside the launch of our hand washes, and this is just the beginning.

Last book you read?

Julia: Sara Cox’s Till the Cows Come Home: A Lancashire Childhood. I am from Lancashire, I adore Sara Cox’s writing, her humour and outlook on life.

Christina:I AM, I AM, I AMby Maggie O’Farrell. A brilliant biography of one of my all-time favourite authors and her many brushes with life and death.

What’s your top tip for date night in London?

A top tip for date nights in London is to try something new. We are so lucky to live and work on the doorstep of one of the best cities in the world and there is always something wonderful and new to explore. Some favourites include Palomar (amazing middle Eastern food) and Kyseri (Turkish) but also enjoying the London parks, grabbing a picnic, taking in the views and enjoying walks around the city, when the weather permits.

Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?

Julia: The Southbank. Walking along there with the children is incredible, taking in the views, the atmosphere and the entertainers.

Christina: Kew Gardens. It’s got everything. The new children’s playground is insane. Just make sure you book in advance!

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.

Christina: I bought my first house on a property TV show.

Julia: I have a Blue Peter badge.

What would you take to a desert island?

Julia: Suncream and Spotify.

Christina: Complete library of Sex And The City and a lifetime supply of mango sorbet.

Signature dish?

Christina: Cooking is not my forte, but I do a mean Indian takeaway…

Julia: I love cooking, particularly cooking for friends and family. A favourite of mine is crab linguine – super simple, but so tasty. And then throw in some Ottolenghi inspired salads…I could go on and on, don’t get me started on puddings!

Your proudest moment?

Christina: my daughter recently won a coveted award at school for kindness. I really couldn’t ask for more. Very proud mother!

What’s next on the list of things to do?

Christina: is world domination too much? We have big, exciting plans ahead. Watch this space…!

 

Bloomandblossom.com

beautybanks.org.uk

 

Friday Five Weekend 14-15 September


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

FAMILY FESTIVAL: QUEEN VICTORIA’S CIRCUS
Windsor Castle
It’s time to celebrate Queen Victoria in the 200th anniversary of her birth. There will be a Victorian circus, some regal storytelling, falconry and horse riding displays and costume handling in this fun filled family festival.
Saturday
rct.uk

COOKBOOK FESTIVAL
Chiswick
Chefs, cooks and authors come together for talks and demos all weekend. Jo Pratt and Michael Fort are two names to celebrate but there are many more. Turnham Green Terrace will also be closed to traffic on Sunday for a very special street party. Events are ticketed.
Saturday & Sunday
cookbookfestival.org

 

BERNARD MAKES A SPLASH
Tate Modern
A make & do workshop around author and illustrator Lisa Stickley’s new book, a story about courage and self-belief. Make a spinning Bernard, design your own swimming costume, spot the difference and get drawing on a giant colouring in sheet.
Sunday
tate.org.uk

 

TOWER OF LONDON FOOD FESTIVAL
Tower of London
The Tower of London Food Festival returns with an array of delectable treats. The little ones will also be looked after with a range of exciting activities including kids cookery classes with Cordon Bleu, vintage games and face painting.
All weekend
hrpfoodfestivals.com

 

COLOURSCAPE MUSIC FESTIVAL
Clapham Common
Colourscape is back at Clapham Common with a 4 day concert inside the walk in structure of colour and light.
All weekend
eyemusic.org.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

 

Friday Five Weekend 7-8 September


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

CUTTY SARK FLOTILLA
Cutty Sark
As part of Thames Festival 2019 Cutty Sark invite you to create your own tall ship to add to a magnificent flotilla of masts and sails underneath the ship. Listen to poetry from students of the Rivers of the World project and write your own poem on your ship.
All weekend
rmg.co.uk

 

THE CLASSIC BOAT FESTIVAL 2019
St Katherine Docks
The festival will host an impressive display of beautiful classic boats. With plenty of activities for visitors, families and friends to enjoy including a tour of the historic Lady Daphne, paddle-boarding in the Marina and the all important Kids Club.
All weekend
skdocks.co.uk

 

FAMILY STUDIO: PUT IT IN PORTRAIT
Royal Academy
Experiment with printmaking techniques in this free workshop for families. Inspired by the graphic prints in their exhibition Felix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet find your own printing style and make some artwork to take home.
Sunday
royalacademy.org.uk

 

DIDDI DANCE
Jewish Museum
Get your dancing shoes on for this funky music session.  There will be dancing games, hoops,  bells, ribbons and exercises with dance moves from hip hop and salsa to disco and country.
Sunday
jewishmuseum.org.uk

 

BERMONDSEY FOLK FESTIVAL
Bermondsey
Head on down to South East London for a free family friendly folk festival. Folk music, craft beer, street food stalls and family activities including the opportunity to meet some friendly farm animals with Surrey Docks Farm Petty Zoo.
Sunday
bermondseyfolkfestival.co.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Friday Five Weekend 31 August -1 September


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this bank holiday weekend in London.

TWIRLYWOOS LIVE
Underbelly Southbank
Twirlywoos are coming to the stage and will feature all your favourite characters from the hit TV show. There will be puppetry, music and a load of surprises throughout.
All weekend
twirlywoosliveonstage.com

LONDON MELA
Southall Park
Inspired by South East Asia, Southall Park brings you a festival for all the family. Expect musicians, an Asian food market, dancers and DJ’s plus a children’s fun area in this celebration of Asian culture.
All weekend
londonmela.org

MUD CLOTH ANIMALS
William Morris Gallery
It’s family day at the William Morris Gallery and this month you can have a go at making a textile from Mali, mud cloth and you get to meet the Suntrap animals who have come all the way from Africa.
Sunday
wmgallery.org.uk

LONDON ZOO SUMMER FAMILY FESTIVAL
ZSL London Zoo
Say goodbye to Summer with the ultimate experience for your little ones. There will be an interactive kids quiz, animal themed storytelling, crafts, and vet or zookeeper role play at this action packed festival.
All weekend
zsl.org

KIDS MINI FEST
London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park
A weekend of family festival fun awaits. Activities include hula hooping, face paints, bubble wizards and ribbon twirling plus live music and a DJ playing kids favourite tunes.
All weekend
londondesigneroutlet.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

N21 POP-UP AT HARRODS

Even though we’re seeking out the last drops of summer it’s time to start looking at the autumn wardrobe and N21’s pop-up at Harrods will do nicely.

 

 

N21's pop-up at Harrods

We’ve been blown away by the images from this collection and you will be too. The fashion brand, created and directed by Alessandro Dell’ Acqua is now available at Harrods. Signature tie-dye that Alessandro featured in his SS19 women’s collection is present here, as well as maxi logo sweatshirts and oversized bows.

N21's pop-up at Harrods

Not only are there super stylish pieces for girls and boys, there are also some Mini Me items to double up with your sons or daughters.
For boys, expect prints capturing a fanciful image of the ‘American Dream’, using a strong, graphic statement on sweatshirts, cotton shirts and tracksuits. A stars & stripes theme characterises the check jackets with soft sheepskin detailing, as well as the tartan plaid shirts with logo embroidered, while a 1950s feel is featured in the maxi checkboard knits.

N21's pop-up at Harrods

The collection for girls includes chic, modern pieces with fun at the heart of it.  Rock’n’roll vibes are clear thanks to red & black leopard prints on maxi hoodies, retro sport tracksuits and bombers. Pop accents can be found on the black-on-pink star prints that add a graphic touch to piping-embellished shirts, smart pleated skirts which are paired with sweet ruche-trimmed stripe blouses and poplin polo dresses with stylish, yet simple yokes.
The range is suitable for girls and boys aged 4-14.
Head to Harrods for the N21 pop up which will remain open until early October.

Friday Five Weekend 24-26 August


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this bank holiday weekend in London.

THE FAMILY FOLK SHOW
Canary Wharf Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Award-winning folk duo Megson put on a family friendly interactive theatrical musical performance. With clever storytelling between playful folk songs, audiences are introduced to the instruments played and the stories sung about.
Saturday
halfmoon.org.uk

 

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SMITHFIELD STREET PARTY: A BEASTLY ADVENTURE
Smithfield Market and Rotunda
A free street party where animals top the bill. Learn how to dance like a bee, take part in running classes and animal amusements, look up and watch aerialists fly through the sky and learn how to look after the animals that live alongside us.
Sunday
culturemile.london

 

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL FAMILY DAY
Notting Hill
Sunday is family day at Europe’s biggest street festival, as crowds are smaller and floats more family-friendly plus there is a children’s parade. Fancy dress is definitely encouraged.
Sunday
thelondonnottinghillcarnival.com

 

A ROYAL FAMILY FESTIVAL
Buckingham Palace, The Royal Mews, The Queen’s Gallery
A family festival is taking place at all of the above locations which will be packed with exciting activities for the family to enjoy. Drop-in circus demonstrations, arts and crafts, dressing up and more will bring the role of the Palace and the Royal Family to life.
All weekend
rct.uk

 

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

CITY KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL GUIDE

Back to School guide labelling stationary

We love September and the excitement of that ‘back to school’ feeling. Summer is fantastic, but as the holidays reach an end we love looking forward to the new term and Autumn.

But with the new school year comes the need to sort our uniforms, pencil cases, sports kit and a million other things. So here’s our Back To School Guide with a few great stores and websites to help you get your little ones ready for the first day of term. Let’s make the transition back to routine all a bit easier.

Get their name on it

Back to School Wonderlabels labelling

There is something nice about getting all the shiny new uniform ready for the new school year. What is less enjoyable is making sure everything from blazers to socks is labelled with your little one’s name.

Take the hassle out of the process with Wonder Label. They make personalised stick-on name labels designed to be extra resistant. Their labels are washable and heat resistant making them suitable for washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves. Thiss makes them perfect for everything from sports kit and shoes to water bottles and lunch boxed.

wonder-label.com

New kit

Back to School guide personalised stationary

Sticking with the labelling theme, check out gettingpersonal.co.uk for a great range of back to school kit you can personalise.

From schoolbags and pencil cases to notebooks, pens and lunch boxes, you’ll find everything kiddos need for their school day and you can have their name printed on all of it. Making it much less likely to vanish in lost property.

The site has tons of great designs that are perfect for boys and girls of all ages.

 

 

 

 

Healthy snacks

Back to School guide healthy snacks

Packed lunches can be tricky. Trying to find tasty healthy snacks isn’t easy. So, we love the delicious, but also healthy snack, from Muchachos.

Their nutritionists have created a selection of yummy treats, each one inspired by flavours from around the world and all are made with natural flavours, no added sugar or salt.

Each box has a combination of 5 snacks that are ideal for lunchboxes or after-school hunger pangs including crispy pitta bread dipped in creamy tzatziki and paella inspired rice cakes. Simply order as many boxes as you think your hungry little people will need. And maybe have a nibble yourself – they are seriously tasty.

munchachos.com

Staying organised

storage ideas

During the first week of term, you will get precisely 387 letters home from school all containing ‘vitally important’ information about games kit/clubs/homework. Some will find their way to the ‘pile of doom’ in the corner of the kitchen (we all have that every growing stack of post don’t we?!). Others (usually the genuinely necessary ones) will somehow end up in the recycling.

Well not any more we say. It’s time for a bit of new term organisation. Be it a box file, a plastic folder or a storage tray, we all need a designated place to keep the school correspondence – add certificates and party invitations to the letters over the course of the year too. So, when it comes to that form you need to fill in for the school trip, you’ll know exactly where to find it.

Check out aplaceforeverything.co.uk and theholdingcompany.co.uk for some great storage solutions.

 

 

Friday Five Weekend 17-18 August


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

THE LOST LUGGAGE ADVENTURES
The Cockpit
Every suitcase has a story to tell and this show will take you on its magical journey.  With puppetry and a special pop up set the audience will be captivated from start to finish. Suitable for ages 3+.
Saturday
thecockpit.org.uk

 

ROYAL WHARF SUMMER FETE
Royal Wharf Park, E16
This free fete will offer food and drink vendors, entertainment including a soft play area by Gymboree, face painters, balloon modellers, Gandini jugglers, bubble performers and more.
Saturday
royalwharf.com

 

THE GREAT FETE
Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Park will play host to a delightful and eclectic mix of entertainment, education and performance at this free family Summer fete.
Saturday
thegreatfete.alexandrapalace.com

 

THE LONDON DESSERT FESTIVAL
The Old Truman Brewery, East London
Every kids dream, and adults for that matter.  Walls covered in chocolate, chocolate infused tastings orbs, ice cream flavoured bubbles, a patisserie zone, a chocolate wrapping room and rain in the form of sprinkles. Sounds sweet right!?
All weekend
londondessertfestival.com

THE JUNGLE ADVENTURE
Westfield Stratford City
Get a bit of jungle fever at this free event which features a climbing wall, animal toy rides, face painting, a photo-booth and the first ever Virtual Reserve for mini adventurers that transports them from the city into a real life wilderness.
All weekend
westfield.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

COOL THINGS FOR KIDS

The City Kids weekly round-up of super-cool things for your little ones to enjoy

My Moozik

If your children have grown out of nursery rhymes and the likes of ‘Baby Shark’, but you’d rather they didn’t listen to grown-up pop music just yet, then My Moozik could be the ideal thing for them to boogie along to.

This new musical venture for kids is designed to bridge the gap between kiddie tunes and inappropriate lyrics. Written by musician Newton Faulkner, My Moozik has just released the debut single ‘Breaktime’, and the album first ‘My Day’ will be available at the end of October.

The CD album comes packaged with a beautifully illustrated, hardback, lyric book. All songs can be streamed and downloaded via all the usual platforms and all songs will be available for the whole family to enjoy on the My Moozik YouTube channel.

As well as offering families an album that won’t make parents want to tear their hair out, the it has also been designed to support kids and their development. The songs explore key themes such as kindness, making friends, why we learn, why we have to eat our greens and everything in-between.

Catchy tunes and nice words to sing along to make My Moozik, perfect for kids of all ages.

mymoozik.com

 

Vild – House of Little

Vild House of Little mix great Scandi-inspired design with stylish, quirky prints to create really unusual clothing for kids. The patterned pieces can be combined with their neural basics to make amazing outfits.

The new ‘Dog Family’ AW19 collection is made up of prints featuring happy hound families including the curious pug, the brave beagle, the proud dachshund and adorable stray dogs. There is a long-sleeved t-shirt, a collared bodysuit and bomber jersey jacket. Super-cute and a little bit different.

Check it out at vildhouseoflittle.com

 

 

 

KiwiCo

So we are just over half way through the school holidays. Roughly three weeks left to fill with endless fun and activities. I mean it’s so easy isn’t it?!

Well if like us (all) parents you are frankly a bit frazzled and running out of ideas you might just like to hear about KiwiCo.

This amazing company make creative, innovative and educational hands on arts and science projects that are delivered to your door. Their ‘crates’  are age appropriate with a selection of activities for babies right up to age 16 plus. Projects include making models and instruments and encourage problem solving, experimenting and exploration.

Each crate is tested for over 1000 hours by the KiwiCo Team of experts, artists and scientists and engineers before they are delivered to you. Sign up for a one-off crate or take out a monthly subscription that you can cancel any time. Perfect for summer holiday entertainment or to bring out on any rainy day.

kiwico.com

 

 

Friday Five Weekend 10-11 August


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
Canary Wharf
As part of the Canary Wharf Summer Family Festival, Let’s All Dance will be performing their adaptation of The Princess and the Frog. A magical ballet for all the family!
Saturday
canarywharf.com

TARGET PRACTICE: NERF GUNS
National Army Museum
This Fortnite-themed target practice session ties in with the displays from Abram Games who designed a number of posters to educate soldiers about the use and care of weapons. Guns had to be kept clean and maintained to fire accurately. 8yrs+
Saturday
nam.ac.uk

FAMILY DAY: MICHAEL RAKOWITZ
Whitechapel Gallery
Inspired by the Michael Rakowitz exhibition, this family day will look at identity, borders culture and the significance of every day.
Saturday
whitechapelgallery.org

LEICESTER SQUARE SUMMER SCREENINGS
Leicester Square
Leicester Square plays host to a free family friendly festival of films. Screenings include The Little Mermaid, E.T, Mary Poppins Returns and a Grease, Frozen and The Greatest Showman singalong.
All weekend
leicestersquare.london

LONDON WILDLIFE FESTIVAL
Walthamstow Wetlands
Head East for a new family friendly urban event that celebrates the conservation and culture of Britain’s natural world. There will be fun family activities and immersive workshops inspired by nature.
All weekend
londonwildlifefest.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 3-4 August


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

WHIPPERSNAPPERS FAIRYLAND 2019
Dulwich Park
Enter the magical land of Wyld Woods this Summer and go on a mythical adventure. Meet the tooth fairy, have some sparkly face paint, make your own fairy garland, help prepare fairy cakes and enjoy some theatrical storytelling.
Saturday
whippersnappers.org

 

THE LONDON SLIME FESTIVAL
York Hall, Bethnal Green
It’s all about the goo at this years biggest slime event where there will be workshops, messy play, live demonstrations, a nail bar, face painting and plenty of interactives for the little ones to enjoy.
Saturday
slimelondon.com

CAPTAIN MICK SWAGGER AND THE SWASHBUCKLING PARROTS
The Golden Hinde, SE1
Arrrrrr! Come meet Captain Mick Swagger and the parrots and check out their latest antics in this pirate themed family friendly show on board a boat.
Sunday
goldenhinde.co.uk

 

WALTHAM FOREST MELA
Leyton Jubilee Park
Celebrate South Asian culture at this free family friendly event which features music, dance, theatre, food, traditional art and crafts and a giant funfair.
Sunday
wfculture19.co.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 27-28 July



It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

SHAKESPEARE’S TELLING TALES
The Globe Theatre
The Globe’s family festival brings together families, children’s authors, performers and storytellers to celebrate the power of imagination.
All weekend
shakespearesglobe.com

FIESTA DE MEXICO
Guildhall Yard
Head to London for the first ever Mexican festival.  The Yard will come alive with the sounds, smells and tastes of Mexico and there will be plenty of Mexican food, drink and family entertainment available including art workshops, ‘loitas card’ making and basket weaving.
All weekend
paternostersquare.info

ILLUSTRATOR TAKEOVER DAY
Discover Story Centre
Head over to Discover for a whole day of doodling with some brilliant illustrators and authors, who will demonstrate their skills and teach you how to draw pirates and aliens. The day will be completed with a head to head Draw Off.
Saturday
discover.org.uk

 

BIG FISH LITTLE FISH FAMILY RAVE
Horniman Museum
Big Fish Little Fish are taking over the Horniman Gardens for an afternoon of outdoor festival raving fun.  Dance with your family under bubbles and balloons to acid house, techno and drum and bass. The Orb are playing and there will be crafts with Captain Cookie, face painting and storytelling for the little ones.
All weekend
horniman.ac.uk

 

PARCHMARKS PROJECT FAMILY FUN DAY
Fulham Palace
Find out about the marks that appear on the Fulham Palace lawn each summer.  Get hands on with archaeology, take a tour of the site, and recreate their lost medieval chapel with cardboard boxes.                                                                                                                                                Sunday
www.fulhampalace.org

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 20-21 July



It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

KEW SCIENCE FESTIVAL
Kew Gardens
Get your lab coat and goggles at the ready, it’s time to experiment.  Fun for all the family, there will be workshops, behind the scenes tours, hands on experiments, shows and a bunch of Kew’s scientists to explain how they are protecting rare plants and fungi.
All weekend
kew.org

 

FESTIVAL OF PLAY
Museum of Childhood
It’s all about celebrating play at this free weekend festival. Suitable for all ages, there will be plenty of games, workshops and activities including making robot sculptures, baby sensory play and how to make a video game.
All weekend
vam.ac.uk

 

LAMBETH COUNTRY SHOW
Brockwell Park
Head on over to Brixton for this family friendly event where you can get to meet animals from Vauxhall City Farm, browse stalls, listen to a bit of live music, do some arts and crafts, get some yummy grub plus loads more, there is something for everyone!
All weekend
lambethcountryshow.co.uk

APOLLO 11 FAMILY FESTIVAL
Science Museum
Get dressed as an astronaut, find out what happened to all the Moon rocks, discover how your body changes in space and see a special screening of the Clangers at this festival which marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo Moon landing.
All weekend
sciencemuseum.org.uk

 


OVER THE MOON: OPERA FOR BABIES
Canary Wharf
As part of the Canary Wharf Summer Family Festival, Over the Moon is a free interactive, operatic adventure for babies. A calm, playful and relaxing first opera experience for the small ones and their grown ups.
Sunday
canarywharf.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

DAME JESSICA ENNIS HILL LAUNCHES FITNESS APP

With her new fitness app, JENNIS, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill aims to share the expert advice and support she was so grateful for during her pregnancies

 

When did you start thinking about creating the app?

The original idea came when I was pregnant with Reggie. I found it overwhelming trying to find the right information about fitness in pregnancy and post-natally. Luckily, I had an incredible physio to help me navigate this and I am so grateful for that, so I wanted to find a way to share the information with women everywhere.

What can it do?

There are three options within the app: workouts for pregnancy, post pregnancy (Jennis Pregnancy) or people who have busy lives and want a quick effective workout (Jennis Fitness). The workouts are all very easy to follow and are tailored to different levels of fitness.  The pregnancy workouts allow the woman to choose what activity they do based on how they are feeling and are tailored to suit each trimester of their pregnancy.

What kind of advice and support does the app have?

As well as the work outs, we have created something called ‘Your Pregnancy Questions Answered’. There are videos of me with physio Ali Rose chatting about some of the big things I discovered when pregnant and answering some common pregnancy exercise questions too.

On our website we will also host lots of informative pregnancy content, alongside our own content we have partnered with experts in their field – there will be lots of advice and support for mums to be – and Dads too!

How did you feel when you were pregnant?

I loved being pregnant but like every other woman I had no idea what to expect.  Our bodies go through so much change and I was super lucky to have an amazing team around me to explain what was happening and why. That was incredibly reassuring and that is why I have created Jennis, to share these insights and training programmes.

Did you feel any pressure to get your body back, particularly as you’re Jessica Ennis, World and Olympic Champion?

After the birth of my first child I was still a competing athlete and I really wanted to get back – I was always asking Ali if I could start doing some ab work, she was very careful and taught me ways to check if my abs were knitting back ok. I am so glad I listened to her advice and that of my coach as I came back all the stronger for it.  A gradual strengthening of your core muscles and building back strength sensibly is definitely advisable.

How do you fit fitness into your daily routine with the children?

I just try and grab 20-minute windows when I can, either when the kids are at school or after they have gone to bed. If they are around, I will still try but sometimes they might get cut short if the kids want to ‘get involved’ but even 5 minutes is better than nothing.

We’re told that through the app we’ll see the real Jessica Ennis-Hill. What’s she like?

Ha! I’d like to think… energetic, cheerful and honest. I am very down to earth and love a bit of a laugh.

Did you find becoming a parent tough?

I don’t think any parent is prepared for sleep deprivation! Having a baby is the most joyful thing you could ever imagine – but the lack of sleep is really tough. I am absolutely loving being a mum – it is a new challenge every day but the joy my two bring to our lives is immeasurable.

What advice would you give to new parents?

To accept help from family and friends and that there will be days when you have a newborn that you get nothing done and that is absolutely fine!

How well do Reggie (4) and Olivia get on (1)?

Brilliantly, I am so lucky!

What’s your favourite thing to do as a family?

I think holidays are the best time as we are all together 24/7 – otherwise a lovely walk with our dog Myla on a weekend.

Jennis app £9.99 a month www.jennisfitness.com

Friday Five Weekend 13-14 July



It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

FAMILY FUN OPEN WEEKEND
London Transport Museum Depot, Acton
A weekend of family fun giving children the chance to explore, learn and play in a treasure-trove of iconic artefacts from London’s transport history.
All weekend
ltmuseum.co.uk

 

JAZZ FOR KIDS
Royal Albert Hall
Enjoy a relaxed jazz concert perfect for little ears in an informal environment, performed by musicians from Albert’s Band.
Saturday
royalalberthall.com

 


ONBLACKHEATH 2019
Blackheath
A load of family fun to be had at ONBlackheath 2019 this weekend. Head to The Family Playground where you can meet Mister Maker, see Andy and the Odd Socks, touch a tarantula in the Mini Zoo or get stuck into a slime workshop with The Science Museum.
All weekend
onblackheath.com

 

CITADEL FESTIVAL
Gunnersbury Park
Messy art, storytelling, music, sport and even Peppa Pig at this one day family-friendly festival in West London.
Sunday
citadelfestival.com

 


WALTHAMSTOW GARDEN PARTY
Lloyd Park, E17
Enjoy a brilliant two day free festival celebrating global culture in London’s 2019 Borough of Culture this weekend. There will be music, arts and crafts, dance, circus and much more in this family friendly event.
All weekend
walthamstowgardenparty.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

TOP 5 LONDON PLAYGROUNDS


We all spend a lot of time in playgrounds with the kiddies so we have narrowed down our Top 5 in London

 

TUMBLING BAY PLAYGROUND
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
This huge playground built on the landscape of the Olympic Park encourages your children to experiment in a natural environment.  With tree houses, rock pools, sandpits and rope bridges your child will not only be entertained they will be inspired to.
queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk


CHILDREN’S GARDEN
Kew Gardens
The new interactive Children’s Garden suitable for ages 2 to 12 years old is now open. There is an earth, air, water and sun garden with lots of fun things such as a bamboo tunnel, a worm-hole tube slide, trampolines, a stream and splash pool and much more.
kew.org

 

PADDINGTON RECREATION GROUND
Paddington
An excellent large playground that caters for both the big and little kids..  With an adventure castle, a mini street, a percussion garden, a shipwreck climbing frame, a train station and a zip wire you will struggle to get them to leave this one.
westminster.gov.uk

 


RAF MUSEUM
Hendon
An outdoor playground with mini models of iconic aircraft such as the famous Spitfire and powerful Sea-King helicopter, there is even a mini version of the historic Grahame-White building.  With slides, nets, poles and ladders this play area is a wonderful place to fuel the little ones imaginations
rafmuseum.org.uk

 


BATTERSEA PARK ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND
Battersea
There’s heaps of fun to be had in this playground where kids can ride a tractor, hop in a car, ride a life size helicopter, get creative drawing their own animals on the chalk boards or be a fireman in the fire engine. The playground invites them to test their skills as they build, swing, balance and ride while the parents can have a sit down on the picnic tables surrounding it.
batterseaparkzoo.co.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

COOL THINGS FOR KIDS

We all have our favourite Marks and Spencer’s food don’t we? Here at City Kids we are very partial to a Percy Pig or two. So we love that M&S have just launched the cutest little collection of their best loved items in the food hall.

‘Little Shop’ comprises 25 iconic M&S Food products, miniaturised into collectables for customers and their families to collect, play and swap over the summer holidays, building their very own M&S Little Shops.

Small but perfectly formed, the collectables  (they are toys and definitely not edible) include a range of exclusive M&S Food icons, from mini Percy Pigs to plant-based favourite, Plant Kitchen Cauliflower Popcorn, alongside birthday party legend, the Colin the Caterpillar cake, and there are even family faves such as Chicken Tikka Masala, marking M&S’ introduction of the first ever chilled ready meal in the UK back in the ‘80s.

Collecting is simple. From 10th July, every customer in M&S Food stores spending £20 or more on food will be offered a Little Shop collectable pack containing one of the 25 iconic minis (and additional collectables for every subsequent £20 spent).

Hours of Fun

Ensuring kids both big and small get a surprise every time they receive a Little Shop collectors pack, collectables are given out in concealed paper packets and must be opened to reveal the mini M&S Food icon inside.  Alongside the food collectable, the pack includes a fun collector’s card with facts about the product and a joke.

With playing and learning at the heart, Little Shop collectables encourage imaginative play as well as helping to teach kids a little bit more about where food comes from.  Brightly coloured collectors cards provide fun food facts with further details at www.marksandspencer.com/little-shop where parents can find additional food and sustainability information as well as downloadable activities including quizzes and games- perfect for keeping the kids entertained this summer holiday.

Swap Shop

Kids (and grow-ups of course – we want to play too!) can also swap till they have they full set and there are even swapping events in 70 M&S Cafés across the UK where customers can trade their duplicates. Can’t wait for swap shops?  Use the #mylittleshop on social media to locate other collectors and create your own swapping communities.

To take their collection of collectables to the next level, customers can shop an exciting range of mini accessories available in stores. The range includes everything a Little Shopkeeper needs including a replica cardboard Little Shop front complete with till and shopkeeper sign (£10), mini metal shopping basket and mini trolley (£3 each), Little Shop apron (£3) and a must-have collectors’ album to keep collectables safe.

Such a fun idea for the summer holidays – we are sure these lovely little items will find their way in to every play kitchen and pretend shop all over the country.

Friday Five Weekend 6-7 July



It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

RHS HAMPTON COURT PALACE GARDEN FESTIVAL
Hampton Court Palace
Kids go free at this glorious festival which promises to be a fantastic family day out, featuring children’s entertainment.
All weekend
rhs.org.uk

 

TRINITY LABAN DANCE FESTIVAL
Horniman Museum
Enjoy a day of family fun with dance performances, workshops and music from around the world. Bring your dancing shoes and join in the fun.
Sunday
horniman.ac.uk

 


FAMILY PRIDE
Royal Opera House
Head to the Royal Opera House for some family fun the day after the Pride in London Parade.  Continue the festivities and celebrate the triumphs of the LGBT+ community.  Take part in a Big Tea dance, make activities and dress up.
Sunday
roh.org.uk

 

BALLET SHOES
The Peacock, Holborn
London’s Children’s Ballet return to the stage for an adaptation of this classic tale which sees the determined sisters take to the stage in order to support their adopted family.
All weekend
londonchildrensballet.comSUPER SATURDAY OF SPORT
Chiswick
Super Saturday of Sport is back! Let your kids experience new sports, and find their active passion. Free sessions all day, starting with a full family warm-up with AnimalFu.
Saturday
supersaturdayofsport.net

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

COOL THINGS FOR KIDS

Our weekly round-up of super-cool things for your kids to enjoy

Family Rule

Do you ever look at your children and think ‘how did they get so big so quickly’? It’s a feeling all parents have. With Family Rule you can keep track of their progress – no marks on the wall required.

Each of their gorgeous, handmade wall rulers come with a sharpie pen so you can write directly onto it. Unlike pencil on a wall, a Family Rule height chart can be removed when redecorating, taken with you when you move, and passed down through the generations.

A really special way to record the many stages of your family.

 

Outside the Lines

If you have little girls, then you need to know about Outside the Lines. Established by two friends to create a collection that delivers a unique boutique look for girls and doesn’t compromise on quality or design, it’s a treasure trove of fashion for girls.

They search the globe for beautiful trims, fabrics and details to ensure their products have that little something extra and unique touches.

We absolutely love the embroidered playsuits and dresses for summer and the gorgeous accessories such as hair clips and super-cute bags. They currently have a fantastic sale on and there’s even a few items for mums too – just saying.

Little Tikes

 

The summer holidays are literally days away so it’s time to start thinking about how to keep your little ones entertained during those lovely (hopefully!) sunny days.

A new addition to the garden toy collection is always a good idea and we think Little Tikes get it just right for pre-schoolers with their outdoor range. How about an interactive water table or handy little sandpit that comes with a lid and is easy to pack away?

Check out their range at littletikes.co.uk and you’ll be sure to find toys that will bring hours of happiness (and peace and quiet) to your garden this summer.

 

THANK YOU GIFTS FOR TEACHERS

Looking for a great end of term present for your little one’s teacher? We have some great ideas for original gifts they are bound to love

It’s coming to the end of the school year which means sports day, prize giving and summer parties. It’s also time to remember those who make it all possible – the amazing teachers.
Thank goodness for these wonderful humans who teach and care for our children. Their creativity, commitment, patience and enthusiasm are what makes learning fun for our little ones. They work tirelessly all year and we’re sure we are not the only mums who often think how to do they keep a class of 20 kids under control all day when we struggle with two or three?!

So, it’s time to say a little (or big) thank you to teachers. Parents often club together (thanks class reps everywhere for organising this) to buy a more expensive gift for their  teacher, which means a donation of a few pounds per family can accumulate into a sum big enough to purchase something really special.
While a homemade card is the only thing teachers ever say they want, a pressie is a nice way to show your appreciation.

A box of chocolates? A bottle of wine? Of course, these are lovely gifts but if you are looking for something a little more special then here are a few places you can pick up a present for you’re the person who has looked after and inspired your child all year.

Make it personal

Everyone loves a personalised gift. A mug or a notebook with their name on it shows you’ve put in a bit of time and thought. These things are particularly useful for teachers – it’s so handy to spot your own cup straight away in the staff room.

A message from their pupils – ‘thanks for being a great teacher Mrs Smith from the class of 2019’ – is a lovely keepsake to remind a special teacher of how important they are to the children. You could even opt for a little piece of jewellery. Something they will treasure forever.

There are lots of places to pick up personalised presents. Our favourites are Not on the High Street, Prezzy Box and All By Mama. Check them out and you’ll find a great range of gifts and something for every teacher will like.

 

A gift that’s great for everyone

How about letting your teacher choose their own gift? The One4all Gift Card can be spent in over 55,000 stores ranging from clothing to food. Stores include Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Curry’s, John Lewis, WH Smith and Topshop.
It’s the ideal voucher to give because your teacher is bound to find something they love -that could be a little treat or something practical they really need.
The card can be bought online from One4all.com or from any local Post Office and what’s more, it suits every budget as you can put anything from £10-£400, so you can group together with parents or purchase your own.

A break from the classroom

Teachers work so hard all year and it would be really nice to give them an opportunity to kick back and relax. So how about travel vouchers that they can put towards a nice break?
For example, Cool Stays have portfolio of hand-picked places to stay around the world, with vouchers available from £20-£500. There are villas and hotels as well as more unusual properties such as lighthouses, buses and boats. Many are family friendly and there is accommodation to suit all budgets.
Or if you’d really like to spoil your teacher get him or her a Mr and Mrs Smith voucher. They can be used towards booking any of their amazing 1,000 boutique hotels and houses around the world and are available for any amount from £50 upwards. The company have lots of fantastic hotels in the UK, so a night away is entirely possible if a group of parents buy a voucher together. A special treat that anyone would love to receive.

 

Friday Five Weekend 29-30 June


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.


THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
Barbican
The family film club continues at the Barbican with the fairy tale The Princess and the Frog.  The heroine Tiana being transformed into an amphibian by an enchanted frog will be the twist for this show.  There will also be an opportunity to learn some froggy facts in their show and tell, and you can get involved in their paper puppet workshop inspired by the film.
Saturday
barbican.org.uk

 

FAMILY DAY: COLOURFUL TEXTILES
William Morris Gallery
It’s family fun time at the William Morris Gallery in this free, drop in event suitable for children of all ages.  Get creative and make colourful textiles inspired by Madge Gill.
Saturday
wmgallery.org.uk

 


‘BEAT OUT THAT RHYTHM’ FAMILY SUNDAY
Royal Opera House
This Family Sunday will see the building transformed into a playground where children can make crafts and sing and dance in a host of activities inspired by the opera Carmen.
Sunday
roh.org.uk

 

THE GREAT EXHIBITION ROAD FESTIVAL
South Kensington
This festival is a three-day celebration of curiosity, discovery and exploration.  There are hundreds of hands-on activities including the chance to play chess with robots, multi-sensory experiences and virtual-reality headsets too.
All weekend
greatexhibitionroadfestival.co.uk

 

TOWER BRIDGE 125th ANNIVERSARY
Tower Bridge
Head to Tower Bridge for anniversary celebration where families can recreate the huge flotilla that passed under the Bridge in 1894, alongside a number of family activities taking place including ‘Meet the Victorians’ where the stories of workers, engineers, and passers by, will be brought to life by costumed actors.
All weekend
towerbridge.org.uk

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

GLORIOUS GLAMPING AT GAMBLEDOWN FARM

Editor-in-Chief, Victoria Evans, takes the family glamping and reviews one of Hampshire’s gorgeous glamping sites.

 

Let’s get this clear. We’re not camping experts, we’re pretty amateur, but we have been glamping before so we have some points of reference.

Previously a Feather Down farm stay, owners Tamara and Richard have struck out alone to bring you their take on the glamping experience at their 200-acre farm in Hampshire. Gambledown Farm sits within a slice of heavenly countryside on the outskirts of the New Forest, comprising the main farmhouse, barn conversion, cottages and four African-style safari tents. Tent underplays the situation somewhat. Here you have accommodation built on a raised platform, complete with running water and gas supply: yes, a flushing loo and hot showers shall be yours!

Inside you’ll find wooden flooring, a kitchen with gas hob, a wood burning stove, sofa and dining table as well as two bedrooms (one double, one bunk) and a cubby hole room reached from a fixed ladder which also sleeps two. At times it’s hard to remember that you’re in a tent: it’s very clean, comfortable and the ceilings are high. Plus, there rechargeable lanterns and lights dotted in and around the rooms.

Out on the veranda you can survey your kingdom which houses a herd of shorthorn cattle, two horses, chickens (you can collect eggs whenever you want), two Gloucestershire Old Spots as well as beautifully protected hedgerows, maintained expertly by Richard. In fact, Richard will happily take guests on a tour of the farm, explaining how it works, what lifestock and crops he grows and also what farming is like in today’s world.

 

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, Richard and Tamara host Pizza Night where you can create your own pizza and have it cooked in the wood-fired pizza oven. And when you run out of supplies like milk, charcoal or wine, you can head to the well-stocked honesty shop in the barn.

When we stayed, we weren’t fortunate with the weather – it hit two degrees overnight. However, the fire and the duvets kept us going until a hot cuppa and cooked breakfast in the morning.

Nearby Romsey hosts a Farmer’s Market every weekend, plus a large Waitrose if you want to stock up on other necessities.

Highlights for the children were definitely collecting eggs from the chickens. In fact, our son gave names to all of them and is campaigning for us to get some chickens at home. The secret rope swing down the lane was also fun. But perhaps what we and the children probably enjoyed most was the sense of freedom they were able to have, running off to enjoy the countryside, with us knowing that they could play in the copse or fields without us hovering nearby.

Tamara and Richard were fabulous hosts – nothing was too much trouble and they were incredibly knowledgeable about the area and the land that’s been in the family for years.

We have forged some happy memories at Gambledown Farm and definitely hope to be back.

Cool Things for Kids

Our weekly round-up of super-cool things for your little ones to enjoy.

My Busy Bots

The school holidays are just around the corner which means we will all have kids to keep entertained 24/7. But don’t let the thought of endless ‘what are we doing now mummy’ questions send you into a panic. We’ve got your back and will be sharing lots of ways to keep you children boredom-free (and your sanity intact) this summer.

First up check out the fantastic My Busy Bots. Founded by two mums, this clever company create award-winning ‘busy bags’ containing fun, educational activities that will encourage learning through play. These bags engage your little ones and keep them having fun, learning and occupied – very important when you have weeks of school holidays to fill.

 

Colourful and fun, they are an excellent resource and can be used either at home or on the go – they’re perfect for keeping children happy and absorbed while you’re in a restaurant, airport or travelling.

Each includes an activity with all the relevant materials required and an information card. Suitable for children aged 18 months – 8 years old with an age indication on each bag.

We will definitely be pulling a few of these out of our hand luggage this summer.

Hibou Home

All the mummy’s out there who enjoy designing and decorating their children’s bedrooms as much as any other room in the house will fall in love with Hibou Home instantly.

This amazing interiors brand has everything you need to create the dream bedroom or playroom for your little ones. We can’t get enough of the linen canopies that can either drape over a bed or in a corner with cushions inside to create a cosy little den. Their range of fabric and wallpaper feature the most beautiful designs and illustrations – all very tasteful with Scandi influences.

 

 

 

Hibou Home is a real one-stop-shop, packed with inspiration for a nursery or older children’s rooms, . Their experts are also happy to give you decorating advice so if you are planning a room revamp then definitely pay them a visit online.

 

Cienta Kids

When they aren’t running around barefoot on the beach this summer, our children will be wearing Cienta canvas pumps.

These classic children’s plimsols are stylish and practical in equal measure. Adorably cute, but also wonderfully practical, they come in a range of colours for boys and girls aged 12 months to 12 year.

 

 

 

 

A Spanish classic, these shoes are now worn all over the world and made from all-natural materials. We love that they go in the washing machine and even hold a little surprise – a natural fragrance is injected into rubber during production and the soles smell of berries! So cute.

 

Friday Five Weekend 22-23 June


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 


MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL
Canary Wharf
Head to Canary Wharf to celebrate the longest day of the year, where there will be live performances, a free drop in flower crown workshop, bubble magic and a drop-in Children’s Circus Skills workshop.
Saturday
canarywharf.com

 

GREAT GET TOGETHER 2019
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford
Why not kick off the Summer with a huge picnic get together. There will be music, storytelling, face-painting, family dance and singing workshops, street food and much more.
Sunday
www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk

 


OPEN HOUSE FAMILIES WEEKEND
Canary Wharf, Here East, Gasholder Park, Gherkin and more
A weekend of family activities across London as the largest architecture festival in the UK kicks off, designed to inspire the next generation of city shapers.
All weekend
open-city.org.uk

 

WEST END LIVE
Trafalgar Square
London Theatres host this medley of highlights from the top West End shows which include Mamma Mia, Thriller Live, Phantom and the Lion King. Free and fun – what else do you need?
All weekend
westendlive.co.uk

 

GREENWICH FAIR
Greenwich Town Centre
Greenwich and Docklands International festival, London’s leading outdoor theatre and performing arts festival, is back.  The free festival kicks off with the Greenwich Fair which features street theatre performance, games, art, Roll Play, a mixture of Hip Hop and Circus, and a family friendly drag show.
All weekend
festival.org/gdif

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

 

FAVOURITE FAMILY HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS: IBIZA

We take a look at the best family holiday destinations, starting with Ibiza

Summer holidays seem to be the main topic of conversation at the moment don’t they? Where you are going, when, and for how long. Closely followed by the all-important ‘what’s it like for the kids’ ’cause let’s face it, if the kids aren’t well catered for then mum and dad aren’t going to be having that much fun either.

So, we have decided to put together some features about some of our favourite family holiday destinations. Even if you are booked up for this year, this may give you some ideas for next.

First up is Ibiza where our editor Morag Turner heads off to every summer with her husband and three sons.

What makes Ibiza so special?

This island off the coast of Spain has become one of the most popular family holiday destinations in the Med. And for good reason. The laidback vibe and child-friendly atmosphere makes it an ideal place to go to  with kids of any age. Yes, it’s famous for its clubs and nightlife, but these days you’ll find just as many families chilling out on the beach as ravers heading for the party scene. Ibiza’s natural beauty combined with great hotels, restaurants and endless activities make it the perfect place to everyone from babies to teenagers.

The Beaches

Ibiza has 80 stunning beaches. From secluded coves to long sandy stretches, they are picture perfect. Simply rock up a and pop your towel on the sand or rent a sun lounger for the day for around €10 to €15.

A firm family favourite is Cala Vadella in the South West which sits on a charming little bay with a very gradual incline into the sea – ideal for younger children. There are a number of great places for lunch right on the beach such as the Maya Beach Club, or simply nip into the village supermarket to grab some sandwiches for the kids to eat on the lounger.

Just a few minutes around the corner is Cala d’Hort, a dreamy little beach with views of Es Vedra, a rock just off the shore that reaches out of the sea and is said to have mystical powers. The restaurant on the beach, El Carmen, does a cracking paella but book a table as soon as you arrive at the beach because it’s a favourite with locals too.

 

Head further up the west coast to discover Cala Bassa, an amazing long sandy beach that is also home to one of the island’s best beach clubs, CBbC

You’ll find cool shops, a restaurant and bar and sun beds  with waiter service. Just a few steps further along the sand you can hire jet skis and arrange other water sports. Cala Bassa has something for everyone to enjoy. This is the kind of place where you arrive in the morning and leave after sunset already planning your next visit.

Talking of sunsets, another spot on the West coast that is famous for its glorious evening vistas is Sunset Ashram on Cala Conta. It’s one of the island’s most popular restaurants. During the day the beach is packed with locals who love the crystal clear water and snorkelling. Then by evening the restaurant takes on a cool, hippy vibe as the sun goes down with chill-out tunes and great cocktails. A very cool spot to hang out until the day draws in and the kids get tired.

If the hippy scene is your thing – and even if you don’t think it is, when you’re in Ibiza you’ll suddenly love embracing it – then head to the north of the island to Benirrás beach. Every Sunday evening this sheltered bay is home to musicians who come to ‘drum down the sunset’.

This iconic hippie ritual has become a real tourist attraction but yet still feels very upspoit and relaxed. Even if the music doesn’t appeal, the beach is a gorgeous place to while away the hours and don’t forget to pop into the Elements restaurant which has a fantastic menu and is super kid friendly.

Where to Stay

There are so many different accommodation options in Ibiza that are great for families, with something to suit every budget and taste. From traditional to minimalist, you’ll find it all on the White Isle.

For those want peace and privacy a villa is the ideal option. There are thousands of them scattered all over the area. Unlike France and Greece, not that many have gated pools, so you’ll have to do a bit of research to find one of those. Rental companies such as Unique Ibiza Villas and Ibiza Rural Villas are a great place to start. Or check out Air BnB where you’ll find a huge selection of villas and apartments.

If you would prefer a hotel or bed and breakfast,  again there are lots to choose from. Thompsons, Thomas Cook and Jet2holidays all offer packages to family friendly resorts.

Fun for all the Family

If the beach isn’t enough to amuse your gang then there are tons of other activities to get up to.

Waterparks

Kids love a waterpark and there are a couple of good ones to choose from. Aguamar (next to Space nightclub), in Playa d’en Bossa, has plenty of parking, a range of different slides and pools (including paddling pools for smaller kids), picnic areas, a decent restaurant and a play park.

For kids and adults who can swim, Ocean Mania Waterpark in San Antonio is great fun, and is essentially an inflatable playground in the sea. The park is a bit like an assault course, and the inflatable circuit has rope swings, trampolines, balancing beams and slides.

 

 

Adventure Park

For a really fun day out head to In S’Argamassa, between Santa Eulalia and Es Canar in the east of the island, where the Acrobosc Adventure Park has an exciting set-up in the pine trees involving ziplines, trampolines, slides, nets, ladders, climbing walls, tightropes and rope bridges. There are three circuits of graded difficulty to suit children from three years old up to teenagers – although adults can join in the fun too. Everyone is kitted out with harnesses and tuition is provided before letting them loose.

Horseriding

If you fancy trying out horse-riding, then Active Ibiza offer amazing sessions that cater for complete beginners right through to more experienced riders. The kids’ package has basic tuition provided in the paddock before a gentle trek on small horses, with a maximum of four children in the group. The route through the interior of the island leads through fields and farmland. A great thing to do if you fancy a break from the beach.

Boat Trips

One of the nicest ways to see Ibiza is from the sea. Often you will find small dinghies available to hire along with paddle boards from the water sports companies found on most of the larger beaches. There are also lots of companies that offer boat trips, charters or let you to hire your own small boat for the day. Star Boats Ibiza have great little six person boats that you can hire without a licence just to stay close to shore and potter in an out of the coves. It costs €180 for the morning which isn’t cheap, but is a lot less expensive than chartering a larger boat and is such great fun.

However, if you do fancy hopping aboard a speedboat or yacht, get in touch with the likes of Charteralia or Smart Charter Ibiza who will sort you out with skipper and take you on a fantastic tour of the island and beyond.

Pop over to Formentera

Ibiza’s little sister island Formentera is definitely worth at least a day trip. It’s small, unspoilt and has stunning beaches with great restaurants. A really fun day out. There are lots of different ways to reach it by boat but for a simple, inexpensive day trip try Aqua Bus Ferry Boats who do regular trips back and forth from a few ports on Ibiza and as well as various excursions. When you are there head to Besso Beach Club for great people watching and wonderful food.

Visit the Old Town

No trip to the White Isle is complete without a trip to the beautiful Old town with its narrow cobbled streets lined with wonderful little restaurants and boutiques. Head there early evening if you are taking the kids and enjoy a lovely stroll around the marina and the old city walls before it gets busy later on.

Shopping

Ibiza is shopping heaven and the markets are the best place to pick up some unusual holiday buys. Think floaty kaftans, beach bags and beaded bracelets as well as artisan homewares.

There are markets on most days all over the island but one of the best is Las Dalias hippy market in San Carlos. It’s home to around 200 stalls where you can find crafts from all over the globe, clothes and antiques. It’s open every Saturday and weekday evenings during the summer.

Another shopping experience that’s a real must-see is Sluiz in Santa Gertrudis, a picturesque little village in the centre of the island.

This store is an eclectic treasure trove of homeware and fashion that has become a real destination for those looking to take back something special from their holiday. Definitely check it out.

 

Check out these website for more general information on Ibiza as well as villa rentals.

White-ibiza.com

Ibiza-spotlight.com

tourism.eivissa.es

Top image: Cotton Beach Club Ibiza

Friday Five Weekend 15-16 June



It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.


FAIR IN THE SQUARE
Highgate
Plenty of family fun over in Highgate this Saturday at this free Summer fete.  There will be live music, dance and theatre as well as fairground rides, stilt walkers and a children’s tent with musical and drama activities.
Saturday
www.fairinthesquare.co.uk

 

FATHER’S DAY
Market Halls Victoria
Launching conveniently for Father’s Day, Kid’s Table will be providing supervised fun every Sunday  for kids aged 3-10 so you can enjoy the ultimate Sunday brunch. Now, parents can finish a sentence while they eat too and the kids won’t be bored. Win, win.
Sunday
www.markethalls.co.uk

 


RAVER TOTS DRUM & BASS ROOFTOP RAVE
The Prince of Wales, Brixton
It’s time to get your dancing shoes and head on down to The Prince of Wales for some open-air family raving fun.  The music will be provided by Drum & Bass/Jungle legend Kenny Ken and there will be plenty of food, drinks and entertainment for all ages.
Sunday
www.ravertots.co.uk

 

MARYLEBONE SUMMER FESTIVAL
Marylebone Village
Marylebone celebrate Summer with a weekend of family fun that includes live music, stalls, film night and a Sunday Street party.
All weekend
www.marylebonevillage.com

 

CARTERS STEAM FAIR
Clissold Park, Stoke Newington
Fancy checking out the most beautiful vintage steam fair you ever did see?  Head on down to Clissold Park where you can get on rides dating from the 1890s to the 1960s, the kids will love it and so will you.
All weekend
www.carterssteamfair.co.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Author Matt Coyne on being a dad

Here at City Kids we love Matt Coyne’s hilarious book Man vs Toddler. It hits all the rights notes and will have parents everywhere in nodding recognition of the highs and lows of family life.

So in honour of Father’s Day, we asked Matt to choose an extract from the book to give us readers some idea of what it’s like to be a dad.   

Here’s a weird thing: when you’re a man on your own, some people assume that you can’t possibly be in charge of a baby or toddler. Twice now someone’s had a go at me for parking in parent/child spaces when I’ve actually got Charlie in the back seat. They see a man pull in and assume that I am just another childless dickhead taking advantage of the space.

I was in Asda car park just last month when, upon arrival, a woman knocked on my window before I could even turn the engine off.

‘Excuse me! You know these spaces are for people with children?’ she demanded.

I literally had to point my thumb in to the back of the car and say: ‘What’s that? A fucking cat?’

 

WHAT IS A DAD?

It is odd that in 2019 so many people struggle to comprehend the idea of dads being in sole charge of their own kids.

As a man who often has Charlie on my own I come across this attitude all the time. It’s usually not malicious, just ingrained. And so I might be asked things like: ‘Ooh, is it daddy and son day today?’ or ‘Ah, bless, are you giving mummy a break?’ These questions are normally asked with a patronising nod – as though I am being humoured – like I’m the local fuckwit taking his pet brick for a walk.

When Charlie was very little, I was even asked a couple of times if I was ‘being mummy for the day’. To which I was tempted to respond, ‘Yes, apologies for the damp circles on my Def Leppard T-shirt, I’m currently lactating.’

This last example I find one of the strangest. It speaks volumes that there are people, in this very century, who would describe a man parenting as ‘being mummy for the day’. As though dads are not really parents but temporarily assuming the role and just putting on a costume like Mrs Doubtfire.

One thing is certain, Lyns would never be asked the same questions: ‘Is it mummy and son day today?’ or ‘Aww, bless, are you giving daddy a break?’ It just wouldn’t happen. There is a sense that this is the correct order of things.

Another variation on these questions I’m asked is: “So, where’s mummy today?’ This seems like a pretty innocent enquiry. But again, I doubt Lyns would ever be asked the same thing, just because she is out with Charlie alone. In truth, the subtext to this is obvious: ‘Where’s the real parent today numbnuts?’

I remember that the first time I was asked this particular question was by a cashier in Home Bargains and it confused me completely. When she casually inquired Where’s mum today?’ I genuinely thought she must know my own mother and was actually asking about her. It’s no wonder she looked so confused when I answered that she was at home and that she’d just phoned me to say that her arthritis was acting up, the neighbours were still acting suspicious and she couldn’t find her teeth.

(It is only in hindsight that I understand her horror. Particularly, when from her point of view I went on to mention that we’d just celebrated my wife’s seventieth.)

BABYSITTING?

Interestingly, Lyndsay is also asked questions that I would never hear if the positions were reversed. So if she is out alone and without Charlie she will often be asked: ‘Is dad/Matt babysitting today?’

Okay, I object to being called a ‘babysitter’ for a few reasons. Not least because I’m a forty-odd-year-old man and not a fifteen-year-old girl with braces, twirling her hair and covering her school books with pictures of Zayn from One Direction because he’s super dreamy (although, in fairness, he is super dreamy).

But my main problem with being called a babysitter is that it is to be considered something less than a parent. When I have Charlie I have exactly the same responsibilities that Lyndsay does. Important stuff like feeding him, watering him, changing him, making sure he doesn’t jump off a motorway bridge chasing a fucking bee, that sort of thing. And yet whereas Lyndsay is parenting, I can be described as ‘babysitting’.

And these are not my only objections. I also object because, and forgive me if I’m wrong, but one of the defining characteristics of a ‘babysitter’ is that they get paid. I do not get paid for looking after Charlie. Fair enough, I could write something touching here about how every moment with Charlie is priceless and I am paid in the glowing love of my child. But, yesterday I was’ paid’ by being shat on in Debenhams and by Charlie pouring his Ribena down the arse of my jeans as I was trying to retrieve a plastic stegosaurus from under the settee.

And this is the point: it’s hard this dad-babysitting lark, almost as hard as parenting. In fact, it is as hard as parenting because guess what? When I’m being shat on in Debenhams or lying on the floor having pissing Ribena poured down my arse-crack…it’s exactly the same fucking thing.

For me, a father is not a babysitter any more than a mother is. And there is a growing movement, that includes mums and dads, who agree that it is impossible to ‘babysit’ your own children. I’m not particularly militant about this sort of thing but they’ve got a point. Their slogan is ‘Dads don’t babysit, they parent’ and this is not just semantics. There is a problem with reducing a father to the role of babysitter and it’s not just that it might hurt a dad’s feelings (we can handle that shit, we’re men and into car engines and stuff…grr).

The real problem is that it suggests that a dad’s role is something lesser. That it is a novelty for a dad to look after his own kid. It is something outside the natural order. And those who suffer most from this attitude? Mums. It reinforces the idea that dads are a backup plan rather than 50/50 partners in parenting, the secondary alternative for when mums, like Lyns, want to go off and do something really selfish like be ill or work. Dads are the spare.

Well, Lyndsay isn’t selfish. I’m not the spare. And I don’t babysit.

Check out more of Matt’s musings at man-vs-baby.co.uk or follow him @manversusbaby

Man vs Toddler is available to buy from amazon.co.uk The paperback version will be out in September.

 

 

Friday Five Weekend 8-9 June


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.


WORLD OCEANS DAY
Horniman Museum
A free day of family fun at the Horniman as they celebrate World Oceans Day. Take part in an ocean-themed poetry competition, enjoy arts and crafts, an underwater themed story, and explore ocean objects with the museums curators.
Saturday
www.horniman.ac.uk

 

LONDON DOCK SUMMER FAIR
Wapping
London Dock celebrate the start of Summer with a free fair.  There will be street food stalls, a live band and children’s entertainment including fairground games.
Saturday
www.londondock.co.uk

 


STORYTELLING WITH MYLO FREEMAN
Discover Story Centre
Hear award-winning children’s author Mylo Freeman read her newest book ‘Princess Arabella is a Big Sister’ and watch how she draws and paints Princess Arabella and friends in this storytelling session for ages 4+.
Sunday
www.discover.org.uk

 

OPEN GARDEN SQUARES WEEKEND
Various locations in London
Some of London’s most beautiful gardens are opening up their gates for the public this weekend.  There will be plenty of activities for all of the family to enjoy in some of the best green spaces the city has to offer.
All weekend
www.opensquares.org

 

SUGAR FAMILY FESTIVAL
Museum of London Docklands
Make your way down to the Museum of London Docklands for a sweet weekend of workshops, arts, crafts and performances that explore our relationship with sugar.
All weekend
www.museumoflondon.org.uk

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 1-2 June


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 


101 DALMATIONS
Barbican Cinema
The Barbican Cinema have joined forces with Battersea Dogs Home for a special Family Film Club screening of 101 Dalmations.  Be sure to drop by the Family Film Club Kiosk before the screening for some creative activities.
Saturday
www.barbican.org.uk

 

DALSTON CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL
Dalston
Get yourselves down to Dalston for a day of free kiddies activities including carnival crafts, Tots Tunes, an interactive parent and baby class, caricatures and a pop-up playground.
Saturday
http://www.dalstonchildren.org.uk

 


FEEL GOOD FESTIVAL
Geffrye Museum
It’s all about wellbeing and feeling good at the Geffrye’s summer festival this Saturday.  Enjoy delicious cultural foods, get creative with Origami or Turkish marbling, join in games or if you would prefer relax in one of their deckchairs and enjoy a foot massage.  The event, held in their beautiful gardens, celebrates Turkish, Cypriot and Vietnamese culture.
Saturday
www.geffrye-museum.org.uk

 


FAMILY FUN DAY: ALL ABOUT ELEMENTS
The Royal Institution
Get hands on with some science as The Royal Institution celebrate the 150th year of the Periodic Table.  There will be a series of talks and science workshops to take part in aimed at 7-12 year olds.
Saturday
www.rigb.org

 

COMEDY CLUB 4 KIDS
Underbelly Festival Southbank
Fun for all the family, this comedy club is guaranteed to give everyone a giggle.  A comedy club that promises not to patronise, so that parents can have just as much fun as the kids.
Sunday
www.underbellyfestival.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Bank Holiday Weekend 25-27 May


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this bank holiday weekend in London.

 


BEASTS OF LONDON FAMILY FESTIVAL
Museum of London
To coincide with their Beasts of London experience the Museum of London are running a ‘Beasts of London’ family festival.  Create your own animated animal puppet show, discover the secrets of the Tower of London menagerie or get crafty with an animal mask.
Saturday & Sunday
www.museumoflondon.org.uk

 

DALSTON CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL
Dalston
Get yourselves down to Dalston for a free day of kiddies activities including puppet making, a hula hoop workshop, live caricatures and a pop-up playground.
Saturday
www.dalstonchildren.org.uk

 


DOOR TO DESIGN: FAMILY FESTIVAL 2019
V&A Museum
The V&A are running free family drop-in workshops inspired by the Museum’s design and architecture.
Saturday
www.vam.ac.uk

 


TUDOR MAY DAY
Fulham Palace House & Garden
Head to Fulham Palace for their first family fun day following the restoration of the Tudor Palace.  Meet the May King and Queen and get involved in craft activities, including making a May wreath.
Sunday
www.fulhampalace.org

FERIA DE LONDRES FAMILY FESTIVAL
Southbank
Join in all the celebrations, from tastings and tapas to rumba and sevillianas, at this free family friendly Spanish festival. Children can enjoy activities such as face painting, fan making and flamenco rhythm workshops.
All weekend
www.feriadelondres.com

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Half Term event guide

As Half Term approaches we have put together a guide to all the family friendly events going on in London…it’s looking good!

 


FERIA DE LONDRES FAMILY FESTIVAL
Southbank
Head to the Southbank for this free family friendly Spanish festival where you can join in all the celebrations, from tastings and tapas to rumba and sevillianas.  Children can enjoy activities such as face painting, fan making and flamenco rhythm workshops.
24-26 May
feriadelondres.com


HORRIBLE HISTORIES WALKING TOUR
Monument
Get yourselves booked on to this gory interactive adventure of London.  Expect horrible sites, funny pranks and plenty of gruesome stories on this tour which starts at London’s Monument statue.
From 25 May
airbnb.co.uk


BEASTS OF LONDON FAMILY FESTIVAL
Museum of London
Create your own animated animal puppet show, discover the secrets of the Tower of London menagerie or get crafty with an animal mask in this family festival inspired by their new ‘Beasts of London’ exhibition.
25-26 May
museumoflondon.org.uk


ZSL LONDON ZOO ‘MINI KEEPERS’
Regent’s Park
London Zoo are giving children a chance to get stuck in and experience what life as a zoo keeper is like in their role play experience Mini Keepers.  Get on your uniform and receive your daily check list which includes activities such as preparing lunch for the monkeys, creating activities for the meerkats and getting stuck in to mucking out.
25 May – 2 June
zsl.org

QUEEN VICTORIA’S 200th BIRTHDAY
The Postal Museum
The Postal Museum will be celebrating the 200th birthday of Queen Victoria.  Activities include a hands-on arts and crafts printing activity, make your own Victorian top hat or tiara fit for a Queen, dress up with Victorian props, practice Victorian calligraphy and design your ‘Penny Black’ Greetings card. If your name is Victoria, you will also get in free throughout the month of May.
25 May – 1 June 
postalmuseum.org

GRUFFALO POP UP SHOP
Covent Garden A special Pop up shop will be opening its doors to mark 20 years of one of literatures best loved children’s characters.  There will be arts and crafts, screenings of the Gruffalo, storytelling and special appearances from the big cuddly monster himself.
25 May – 1 June
gruffaloevent.com

>
SHIP SHAPE
HMS Belfast
The HMS Belfast needs to be kept in ship shape and they are inviting families to come and help. Search for pests, learn to use equipment and help prevent damage to this iconic warship.
25 May and 1 June
iwm.org.uk

TRAVELLING WITH THAMESLINK
London Transport Museum
Inspired by their new exhibition ‘Untangling the Tracks’ get creative with your family and make a train out of crafty materials that speeds past your favourite London views and hear about some of the incredible landmarks you can see along the Thameslink route.
25 May- -2June 
ltmuseum.co.uk


MEET THE NEW QUEEN VICTORIA
Kensington Palace
Meet the new Queen and find out what her life has been like growing up in Kensington Palace, visit new rooms where Victoria grew up, see the puppet theatre and dress up like one of the characters on stage, then create your own story in your own puppet theatre to take home.
25 May – 2 June
hrp.org.uk


THE DAY THE CIRCUS CAME TO TOWN
Tower Bridge
Begin your day with a Master Storyteller who will guide you through the day the circus came to town. Watch as acrobats, aerialists and jugglers move and tumble across the Glass floor, steel girders and towers of the Bridge.
27-28 May
towerbridge.org.uk

LOVE YOUR ZOO WEEK
Battersea Park Zoo
There will be plenty of animal arts and crafts and storytelling, each day will feature a different animal as Battersea Park Zoo take part in the BIAZA Love your Zoo week celebrations.
27-31 May
batterseaparkzoo.co.uk


GO APE!
Alexandra Palace
Aim high at Go Ape! and check out their Tree Top Adventure where you can watch, or join your little ones reach new heights, conquer wobbly crossings and fly down the zip wire.  They are also running Tree Top Adventure+, a new experience that introduces a more challenging series of obstacles, higher platforms and longer zips.
27-31 May
goape.co.uk


ZINE MAKING
Discover Story
Make mini magazines with zine publisher and comic artist Kristyna Baczynski.  Kristyna will guide children through speed drawing, portrait making, collage and more as they discover the wonderful world of zines.
29 May
discover.org.uk

TRASH TEST DUMMIES 
Underbelly Festival Southbank
Watch this comedy threesome take to the stage with their wheely bins for a very trashy circus comedy show which is hilarious fun for all the family.
29 May – 2 June
underbellyfestival.com


FAMILY ART FUN
Horniman MuseumThe Horniman Museum will be buzzing with family friendly bee activities.
Find out about the Great British Bee Count and create a fantastic bee mask to buzz around the Gardens in.
28, 30 & 31 May
horniman.ac.uk


DEEP OCEAN TALES
SEA LIFE London
Head to SEA LIFE London for an after-hours storytelling experience in partnership with Walker Books. You will get to listen to Malamander being read by its author Thomas Taylor and get involved in some interactive activities with the ocean tank and its amazing creatures looming in the background.
30 May
visitsealife.com


SOUNDPIT
Southbank Centre
Fancy a bit of creative play in a giant sandpit? Head on down to the Royal Festival Hall where you can run your hands and even walk on the gritty stuff.  Created by artist Di Mainstone, children and adults can explore their individual sense of sound, touch and vision through play. A multisensory, fun interactive experience.
All week
southbankcentre.co.uk

MATHS CELEBRATION
KidZania London
Teach children to earn, spend and save their money.  Kids will be issued with bank cards which they can use to deposit more KidZos or withdraw KidZos straight from the ATMs in the city at KidZania London’s math celebration ‘Bring Learning to Life’.Throughout May
kidzania.co.uk

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 18-19 May



It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 


VICTORIAN PUNK IT UP!
Museum of London
Get transported back to the Victorian era in an interactive time travelling music show for families with young children
Weekend
www.museumoflondon.org.uk

THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA
Pentland Theatre
Head to the theatre for a stage adaptation of The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr.  Expect singalong songs, clumsy chaos and a whole heap of fun in this fantastic family show.
Weekend
www.artsdepot.co.uk


CHILDREN’S GARDEN
Kew Gardens
The new interactive Children’s Garden suitable for ages 2 to 12 years old is opening this weekend. There will be an earth, air, water and sun garden with lots of fun things such as a bamboo tunnel, a worm-hole tube slide, trampolines, a stream and splash pool and much more.
All weekend
www.kew.org

BFLF FAMILY RAVE
Proud Embankment
Get raving with the Big Fish Little Fish crew. With glitter canyons, balloons, face painting, arts and crafts and a right old boogie there is something for all the family.
Sunday
www.eventbrite.co.uk

URBAN VILLAGE FETE
Greenwich Peninsula
Expect a free day of family fun in this music and arts festival that features pop ups, walkabout entertainment and curated marketplaces.
Sunday
www.greenwichpeninsula.co.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 11-12 May

It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 


POPPY TRAIL
Richmond May Fair
Go on a fun trail and follow the big red poppies at the Richmond May Fair this Saturday.  Pick up an activity sheet from The Poppy Factory’s stall, copy all 10 drawings and receive a goody bag on completion.                                                                                      Saturday
www.poppyfactory.org

COVENT GARDEN MAY FAYRE AND PUPPET FESTIVAL

COVENT GARDEN MAY FAYRE AND PUPPET FESTIVAL
The Garden of St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
It’s back and snappier than ever, with plenty of laughs in this Punch & Judy celebration.
Sunday
www.alternativearts.co.uk

Children’s Literature Festival
Barnes
Head to Barnes for London’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival.  There will be fun performances, an Alice in Wonderland tea party, a model making session and a chance to meet the writers and illustrators who bring the books to life.
All weekend
www.barneskidslitfest.org

FAMILY TAKEOVER
Camden Arts Centre
Families are invited to work together through a series of free activities using sculpture, performance, and games to respond to key themes from the exhibitions.
Sunday
camdenartscentre.org

OVER THE MOON WORKSHOP
Science Museum
Build your own map of the moon and go on your own moon mission.
All weekend
sciencemuseum.org.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 4-6 May


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five. This weekend’s a bank holiday so even more fun to fit in!


THE MAY FAIR
Grosvenor Square
Enjoy a taste of the Great British seaside experience this May bank holiday weekend in the heart of Mayfair. From helter skelters to fish and chips, to coconut shys and candy floss, this free two day family friendly fair will showcase the British seaside at its best.
Sunday & Monday
mayfairandbelgravia.com

THE FLYING BATH
Half Moon Theatre
A new stage adaption of Julia Donaldson and David Roberts’ hugely popular children’s book, The Flying Bath comes to the Theatre.  This playful and adventurous story splashes into life in this adaptation featuring catchy songs, quirky bath toys and everyday heroes. Suitable for ages 2-5 and their families.
Saturday
www.halfmoon.org.uk

MAY DAY FESTIVAL
Hever Castle
If you want to head out of town for some May celebrations, Hever Castle has the full works, including dancing round the Maypole. You can even party with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
All weekend
hevercastle.co.uk

THE ORIGINAL HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS
Wembley Arena
You don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy this famous show packed with trick shots, comedy and audience interaction. Make the long weekend last!
Monday
www.ssearena.co.uk

DEEP SEA 3D AT THE IMAX
Science Museum
Swim alongside some of the most exotic creatures on the planet, from the bizarre Rainbow Nudibranch to the Giant Pacific Octopus. Narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet.
All weekend
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

 

Royal Opera House image © ROH 2018, Photograph by James Bellorini

City Kids Edit: What we love this week

Here’s the first City Kids Edit, a weekly round-up of things to do, see, wear, buy and enjoy, brought to you by editors Victoria and Morag.

As we are mums who live in and around London, we thought you might like to know what we get up to in the capital with our own kids. From the restaurants where we hang out with them and the exhibitions and events we all visit, to the clothes, toys and books we buy. There will also be some mum stuff too – where we like to shop, holiday ideas and what we are planning for the weekend. We hope to give you some fun parenting tips and inspiration.

 

Morag’s edit

Reading:

Raising kids isn’t easy even when you have a supportive partner to share parenthood with, so choosing to go it alone is a huge decision for any woman to take. In her new book Going Solo Genevieve Roberts tells the story of how aged 37 she chose to use a sperm donor to have her daughter Astrid after being told her fertility levels were dwindling. Now pregnant with her second child from a donor, Genevieve describes in moving detail what embarking on motherhood alone is really like – from the pregnancy and birth to raising her daughter and the way others react to her family set up. It’s a really powerful, uplifting read about one woman’s journey to become a mum and I would recommend it.

 

Wearing:

I had hoped the heatwave would last and I’d be in my sandals from now until September, but since the temperature has dropped I’m back in my trusty Veja trainers. I’ve been a fan for about three years and am on to my fourth pair. The brand is all about sustainability and all of their shoes are made from materials ethically sourced from producers in Brazil. I could lie and say this is the sole reason I buy them, but in truth it’s because I love the simple, chic design and the iconic V on the side. Plus they are super comfy. Perfect for wearing with jeans on the school run or my leather skinnies to a meeting.

Buying:

Still on the subject of footwear, great children’s shoes (and clothes for that matter) shouldn’t cost the earth in my opinion. So I really like the brand new kids’ range from highstreet favourite Aldo for ages 4 to 14. From boots to sneakers and sandals, their designs are pretty cool. I particularly like the tan leather high tops for boys that I plan to buy now and put away for autumn.

Trying out:

My kids eat pretty healthily overall (despite the chocolate over load at Easter) but I do like to give them vitamins to supplement their diet.

I’ve been sent some Super Hero Omega 3 fish oil from Bare Biology and my boys are trying it out – so far so good. It’s for children and the daily dose of one 1ml drop contains 500mg DHA and 130mg EPA – great for everything from their brains to their bones.

Booking:

Something for the kids and something for me. Firstly, this May half term (which is actually only a few weeks away!) I plan to take my boys to Beasts of London at the Museum of London which takes visitors though the history of the Capital through the eyes of animals who have played a role in shaping it – including foxes, pigeons and even elephants and lions. From Roman times to present day, the immersive digital installation tells some amazing stories that are narrated by the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Stephen Mangan. My kids will be fascinated I’m sure.

 

Secondly, I really want to see the new adaptation of the classic play All About Eve at the Noel Coward theatre starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. It has had rave reviews and I can’t wait to see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Five Weekend 26-28 April


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

LOVE YOUR LINE
London Museum of Transport Depot, Acton
A firm family favourite twice a year, this Spring’s open weekend promises adventure, discovery and fun. There are over 320,000 objects to see at this working museum celebrating the architecture, design and stories of the Victoria, District, Jubilee and overland lines. Expect talks and activities for kids and adults of all ages.
ltmuseum.co.uk

FRIDAY NIGHT 5s RETURNS
Chiswick, Hammersmith, Barnes, Balham, Fulham
The thrill of Friday Night Fives football league returns tonight. There are still spaces available at Ravenscourt Park,  Chiswick Riverside, and Fulham, plus new locations opening soon. To find out how to sign up a team and join the fun:
fridaynightfives.com

HANSEL & GRETEL
Waterman’s, Brentford
Goody and Storey and Norwich Puppet Theatre present a colourful retelling of the classic Grimms’ fairy tale, serving up a feast of delicious music, dynamic scenery and knock-your-socks-off puppetry.
watermans.org.uk

GREAT FIRE OF LONDON FAMILY WALK
Museum of London
Was the baker of Pudding Lane to blame? What did Samuel Pepys bury in his garden? Find out on a 45 minute interactive family walk exploring how the Great Fire started, spread, and was finally stopped.
museumoflondon.org.uk/events

WATER FROM SOURCE TO TAP
Institution of Civil Engineers
Our kids are very environmentally savvy and this exhibition will give them more information on fighting fatbergs and conserving water supplies. Real-life engineers, past and present, are reimagined as cartoon superhero alter-egos, making this exhibition fun for the kids and the whole family.
ice.org.uk

 

For more things to do head to our What’s On page.

Friday Five Weekend 19-22 April


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

LET’S PLAY FESTIVAL
King’s Cross
Over at King’s Cross there’s a whole host of free activities for kids this weekend as part of the Let’s Play Festival. One not to miss is an Animal Wellbeing workshop run by vets from the Royal Veterinary College.
kingscross.co.uk

HORNIMAN EASTER FAIR
Horniman Museum
A great family day out here with plenty of fun-filled activities including an Easter trail, crafting and facepainting.
horniman.ac.uk

DREAMLAND X CAMP BESTIVAL EASTER SUNDAY PARTY
Dreamland, Margate
If nothing but the sea air and sand between your toes will do, then head to Margate for this special Camp Bestival celebration at Dreamland. And there’s the world’s biggest bouncy castle. Enough said.
dreamland.co.uk

GREAT SHOREDITCH EASTER EGG HUNT
Shoreditch Town Hall
Entertainment comes in the form of the Tongue Fu band, Easter egg and scavenger hunts, competitions and story telling.
shoreditchtownhall.com


COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY
Criterion Theatre
If you think you’ve been over-egging the pudding, have a break and head to the theatre to see this West End show where everyone’s a crook and no one can be trusted. One for older kids.
thecomedyaboutabankrobbery.com

BEST LONDON PARKS FOR PICNICS

A sunny bank holiday weekend? Must be time for a picnic. Here’s our guide to the best London parks for picnics

Primrose Hill
One of our favourite London views is from the top of Primrose Hill, a whopping 63 metres above sea level. A special spot to watch the sun go down.

Victoria Park
Over 86 hectares, this is one of London’s larges parks, as well as one of its oldest. Sadly the splash park isn’t open until May but you should be able to find a little piece of green for your rug.

London Fields
Close to Broadway Market, if you can’t be bothered to pac the picnic, you can buy supplies here. The Olympic-sized lido might be worth a look in this weather too!

Holland Park
There’s plenty to do here if you need to keep the kids entertained with football, golf and netball. Plus the Kyoto garden may just be a hint of how Japan is looking during blossom season.

Richmond Park
Ignoring the roads that criss-cross this huge expanse of land, you really could be miles from the city here. Don’t talk to the deer though, they can do serious harm.

Wandsworth Park
A nice spot by the river, with a couple of pubs close by if the mood takes. Plus Putt in the Park which is fun for all ages and abilities.

Brockwell Park
If you get here early you’ll have time for a swim at Brockwell Lido and then a wonderful picnic in the park. Explorers will discover the 19th-century clock tower, a walled garden and some formal planting.

Thames Barrier Park
Who knew there was an accompanying park to this feat of engineering. It’s a whole day out too, including fountains, flower gardens, manicured lawns and a café.

St James’s Park
Give a nod to the new arrival, if she or he arrives this weekend, with a trip to one of London’s most royal of parks. Surrounded by royal residences and Horse Guards Parade, there’s also a fountain, lake and pelicans to amuse.

Kew Gardens
Always a popular choice when the sun shines, it’s still possible to find a quiet spot for a sarnie. Plus there’s the chance to see the Chihuly at Kew showcase.

Images courtesy:
Primrose Hill: Royal Parks
Holland Park: travellingdaveuk
Brockwell Park Lido: Brockwell Park Lido

ADVICE ON PRIMARY SCHOOL PLACES DAY

On the day that primary school places are announced, City Kids gets advice from one Headteacher about how to tackle disappointment.

Today sees the announcement of the primary school places for September 2019.  Many of us go to drastic measures to ensure that our little ones get into our preferred choice of school, but there are no guarantees.  Though there are many fantastic primary schools in your local area, competition is high.  Hopefully, you will be thrilled at your offer.

But what do you do if that is not the case? We caught up with Sophie Baber, Headteacher of Brookham School, in Liphook to see what advice she had to offer parents.

Don’t panic!

“First and foremost, don’t panic and don’t let your child see that you are upset. The last thing you want is to transfer any stress or anxiety on to your child.

Once you have processed the offer and collected your thoughts, it is time to accept the school place you have been offered.  While this may seem counter intuitive, it is important that your child has a school to go to in September.  If you don’t, the chances are that you could lose your place and be offered an even less desirable option. Don’t worry, this will not affect your right to appeal.

Get on the phone

After you have done this, I would advise phoning your preferred choice of school.  If you think it’s brilliant, the chances are so will lots of other parents.  As a result, the phones are likely to be busy and the waiting list may be long. However, there is always movement, places come up all the time and it’s not uncommon to be offered a place on the first day of the new school year.

Consider appealing

Now your child’s name is securely on the waiting list; it is time to consider appealing. If you are to be successful, you need to have a solid case.  Your reason could relate to a mistake in the admissions arrangements or the suitability of a school to meet your child’s needs.  It is important to note that each local authority will have a slightly different process, so it is imperative to check out your local authority’s website.  Most will have an online form to complete and you will have to complete a new form for each school you wish to apply to.  Don’t forget to have all your supporting evidence in a digital format, so that it can be uploaded and submitted all at the same time.  You may want to consider employing a solicitor or a member of a schools appeals organisation to help.

Going to appeal can be extremely stressful and the chances of success are limited, but there is another option to consider. There are some truly outstanding independent schools in our local area.  With nurturing smaller class sizes and an enviable breadth of curriculum, delivered by specialist teachers, this a brilliant back up plan.  If you are in the fortunate position of being able to afford this option, you will find that many independent schools will be open for admissions all year round.  If financially this seems an impossibility, it is worth picking up the phone and asking about the bursaries on offer.

With all of these options there is no magic wand, but if you don’t ask…”

Sophie Baber is Headteacher at Brookham School in Liphook, Hampshire.
highfieldandbrookham.co.uk 
01428 722 005

If you’d like to visit, you can join one of the open days held throughout the year, or organised a personalised visit with Sophie.

Friday Five Weekend 13-14 April


It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.


BRAVING THE ELEMENTS
Royal Institution
To celebrate 150 years of the Periodic Table, join 2012 Christmas Lecturer Peter Wothers for an exciting and explosive journey through the elements. This demonstration filled lecture will show you the genius of Mendeleev’s discovery from Argon to Zinc. This is an evening show, suitable for 7yrs+
www.eventbrite.co.uk

BIG CAT FESTIVAL
Royal Geographical Society
Returning for a second year, hear some of the world’s experts share their knowledge about big cats. Speakers include Chris Packham and the duo that wrote Christian the Lion about the lion cub bought in Harrods and released in the wild by its owners. For 12yrs+
Bradt’s Big Cat Festival

CHOCOLATE MARKET
Duke of York Square, Chelsea
The weekly fine food market will see London’s finest chocolatiers descend on the Square, overseen by the statue of Sir Hans Sloane – who notably introduced milk chocolate to Europe! The market will be open from 10am – 4pm with a selection of special artisan chocolate market stalls.
www.dukeofyorksquare.com

CHIHULY: REFLECTIONS ON NATURE
Kew Gardens
The world’s most celebrated contemporary glass artist, Dale Chihuly, returns, showcasing his work against the stunning backdrop of Kew Gardens. A day out for all the family.
www.kew.org

VARIETY CLUB 4 KIDS
Underbelly Festival, Southbank
Award-winning cabaret star Mat Ricardo and Comedy Club 4 Kids are putting on this variety show where you should expect comedy, circus, magic, music, thrills, skills, spectacle and silliness. Suitable for ages 6+.
www.underbellyfestival.com

 

REDROOFS WORKSHOP IN MAY HALF-TERM

Redroofs School for the Performing Arts shares expertise during two-day workshop in May half-term

 

Redroofs School for the Performing Arts, which has helped to secure life changing careers for hundreds of children in West End shows, are coming to London to share their expertise to your children.

During a two-day musical theatre workshop, girls and boys aged 8-13 will work with industry professionals from West End shows such as Wicked, Matilda, School of Rock and Mary Poppins to create an informal presentation of show-stopping songs and routines.

The workshops also give the children an opportunity to ask lots of questions about how to land a part in a West End show, life as a young performer and how to achieve your ambitions.

This is very definitely suitable for all levels of experience from a keen novice to experienced young performers, with or without a dance background. This workshop promises to enhance your theatre skills and to increase your contacts and introduce you to like-minded stars of the future.

About Redroofs

The School was founded in 1947 in North London, and moved to the home of the late Ivor Novello in leafy Berkshire in 1964. One of the earliest pupils was Rula Lenska and alumni now include Kate Winslet CBE, Lucy Benjamin, Joanne Froggatt and Kris Marshall.

The school has trained and also launched the young careers of Oscar, Bafta, and Golden Globe nominees and winners, musical theatre performers, film stars and familiar faces. Children from a variety of backgrounds and abilities are welcomed. Its Gold Teams currently work with some of the UK’s finest talent, in workshops and children’s masterclasses.

Supporting Young People

The building of confidence, teamwork, transferable presentation skills, and of course friendships through secure and assured Performing Arts training and expectations are evident in the Redroofs story and have supported young people into wide ranging careers, as actors, dancers and singers, directors, writers, producers, lawyers, teachers and more.

Redroofs pupils have most recently starred in West End Shows such as Matilda, Mary Poppins, Annie, School of Rock, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Nativity!, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child while more pupils are notching up TV & Film credits including The Kid Who Would Be King, Tolkien, Almost Never (CBBC), Picasso, Music, War and Love and many more.

MAY HALF-TERM WORKSHOP

KIDS IN THE MUSICALS
Mayfair, London
Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th May 2019

Venue: Danceworks, 16 Balderton Street, Mayfair, London W1K 6TN
Ages: 8-13+ years

Time: 10-3pm daily

 

ROCKS LANE OPENS NEW VENUES

Rocks Lane launches Friday Night 5s at new venues

 

 

London’s longest running junior football league is launching at new venues after Easter, with further new sites lined up for the Autumn. Rocks Lane Friday Night 5s is already a much loved and established Friday fixture in Chiswick and Barnes, described by parents ‘as a great way to end the week!’

The junior league recently launched at Hurlingham Park in Fulham and following its success, Rocks Lane will now run Friday Night 5s at Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith from 27thApril and in Balham from September.

Create a team

Built on Friendship, Fair Play and Fun – Friday Night 5s junior 5-a-side leagues gives young players a unique opportunity to play competitive football with friends. Unlike school or club sports, Friday Night 5s is incredibly social and lets the children take charge: they create their own squad, pick a team name and can even design their own kit.

Fair Play

Fair play is at the heart of the league, with weekly awards given for effort, aiming to boost the confidence of players.  In addition, each league can provide a Match Day Management service where a coach can give support to individual teams. After the matches teams can track their progress online – just like a real Premiership team!

Friday Night 5s is open to boys and girls in Years 1 -13. Places are limited so now’s the time to get a team together and reserve a place in next term’s league.


 

For more information:

info@fridaynightfives.com
www.fridaynightfives
0208 994 1313
Instagram: @fridaynight5s
FB: @fridaynight5s

Friday Five Weekend 6-7 April

It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

BEASTS OF LONDON
Museum of London
London’s history is narrated by animals who once lived here, and you might recognise some of the voices: Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Nish Kumar amongst others.
www.museumoflondon.org.uk

LIVE AT LUNCH
Royal Opera House
Part of series of free concerts of music and dance, open to everyone.
Just turn up at the Paul Hamlyn Hall at 1pm
www.roh.org.uk

EASTER EGG SEARCH
Battersea Park Children’s ZooIf a hunt with an educational slant is more your thing, buy a quiz sheet at the entrance and solve the clues. Runs daily until 22 April.
www.batterseaparkzoo.co.uk

THE MASSAOKE FAMILY SHOW
Underbelly Festival
A live band plays well-known songs with lyrics on a big screen and the whole audience sings along together. An hour-long party for all ages. Sat
www.underbellyfestival.com

BOAT RACE
Putney to Chiswick
You might not give a monkeys who wins between Oxford and Cambridge, but the festival atmosphere along the river grows each year. Sunday
www.theboatrace.org

Friday Five Weekend 30-31 March

It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

BIG FISH LITTLE FISH

www.bigfishlittlefishevents.co.uk
It’s a large weekend for BFLF this weekend, with two events.
If you missed out on tickets to Saturday’s Camp Bestival rave in Vauxhall, head to Hangar  on Sunday to party where DJ Mark Archer (Altern 8) is making his BFLF debut.
Sunday | 2pm-4.30pm

ASCOT SPRING FAMILY RACE DAY

www.ascot.co.uk
If you’re after a more sedate Mothering Sunday, head to Ascot Racecourse for their yearly Spring family race day. There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained while you quaff bubbles – the Gruffalo, Willow Bank ‘build a den’ classes, foraging and cooking demos with James Wood, Bird of Prey and Dog Agility displays and ferret racing.
Sunday

BRICK WONDERS

www.horniman.ac.uk
From an ancient Egyptian pyramid to Old London Bridge, and from the natural wonder of a coral reef to the modern marvel of the international space station, travel through history and explore over 50 models made using half a million LEGO® bricks. Then get them to make these huge displays at home!

 

COUNTRY LIVING SPRING FAIR

www.countrylivingfair.com
Workshops, shopping, eating and things not seen on the high street, this is a very pretty fair held in the glorious surroundings of Alexandra Palace.
All weekend

LONDON BIKE SHOW

www.thelondonbikeshow.co.uk
Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome at this great showcase of all things bike-related, with loads for kids.
There’s even a test track for kids!
All weekend

 

Friday Five Weekend 23 – 24 March

It’s time to check out our latest Friday Five – a handpicked selection of the best things to do with kids this weekend in London.

 

TOM GATES LIVE
atgtickets.com
There are still a few tickets left at Richmond Theatre for this story of Tom Gates. Based on the best-selling books by Liz Pichon, it’s presented by the team behind Horrible Histories and Gangsta Granny.

PIRATES OF PENZANCE
rmg.co.uk
The Cutty Sark celebrates its 150th birthday and this opera is performed on board, in its rightful place!

CHEMFEST 2019
sciencemuseum.org.uk
It’s the 150th birthday of the Periodic Table of the Elements so time to party at this free Chemistry-themed family festival. Explore the chemistry all around us with activities led by real life STEM professionals.

THE SELFISH GIANT
Watermans.org.uk
Inspired by the story ‘The Selfish Giant’ by Oscar Wilde. Explore an unusual friendship, and see how even the grumpiest giant’s heart can melt when Spring comes.

PITZHANGER MANOR & GALLERY
pitzhanger.org.uk
Newly opened after significant restoration, why not see the amazing Anish Kapoor
Exhibition which presents a series of sculptures, some previously unseen in Britain, which engage the viewer and their surroundings in a constantly fluctuating form.

 

Easter Holiday Camps

Easter may be a month away, but the holidays aren’t! We’ve picked our favourites amongst the many holiday camps now available in London

 

RICHER EDUCATION
One of London’s leaders in science and STEM learning, Richer Education provide camps for all levels of knowledge and ability. They have now also included debating and public speaking on their skills list.
Chelsea, Kensington | 4-14 years.
richereducation.co.uk

WILL TO WIN
At centres across London, Will to Win provide tennis, netball and multi sports camps for youngsters 4-7yrs and also full day camps for 7-16 yrs. All take place in beautiful London parks.
Chiswick, Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, Ealing, Regent’s Park
willtowin.co.uk

THE LITTLE GYM
Whilst you may think may only be open to members, The Little Gym opens its doors to everyone for their holiday camps. Some of The Little Gym centres also offer dance and karate camps. Register for full or half days. Gyms in Chiswick, Hampton & Teddington, Wandsworth & Fulham and Westfield White City | Ages 3-12 yrs
thelittlegym.eu

ROCKS LANE
With venues in Chiswick, Barnes, Bishop’s Park and Hurlingham Park, Rocks Lane offers football, multi-sport, tennis and netball camps for kids from the age of three (shorter hours).
rockslane.co.uk

SUPER CAMPS
Want to try something a bit different? Super Camps offer Lego Play, Bushcraft, Cookery, as well as football and multi-activity.
Various school-based locations |4-12 yrs
supercamps.co.uk

MOTHER NATURE SCIENCE
Book a day or a full week at these camps designed to have fun with science. Themed days include Rocket Launch, Powerful Air, Starry Light and Outer Space.
Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Harrow, Southgate, St John’s Wood, Hampstead, Kensington, Herne Hill | 5-12 yrs
mnature.co.uk

THE STRINGS CLUB
Packed with fun-filled, unmissable musical experiences, our multi award-winning Ofsted registered Holiday Camps for children aged 4 – 11 bring together the very best of childcare and music education to engage and inspire your child – every holiday.
Islington and Hampstead | 4-11 yrs
thestringsclub.org

FIRE TECH
One of the few camps to offer courses for older kids, Fire Tech run STEM based camps which include coding, VR, digital design and video game design. Students learn from the ground up, and there’s even a girls only camp for teens.
City, Dulwich, Notting Hill, Camden, South Kensington | 9 yrs+
firetechcamp.com

IOI
Bricks and Code, Robot Zoo and Game and Code are just three of the themed days which are part of Lab Liftoff this Easter. The Institute of Imagination’s mission is for kids to explore ideas, invent new products and build new skills.
Lambeth | 7-12 yrs
ioi.london

CHELSEA YOUNG WRITERS
Whether you’re at your wits end with your child’s creative writing skills, or you have a David Walliams on your hands, Chelsea Young Writer could help this Easter. Writing workshops are designed by award-winning children’s authors and led by experienced practicing writers and educators.
Notting Hill | 6-12 yrs
chelseayoungwriters.co.uk

KITE STUDIOS
Head to this oasis of creativity in West London to enjoy arty workshops for kids of all abilities. The classes will cover printmaking, painting and drawing during themed days such as Hobby Horses and Fabric Puppets and Brush Work and Painting Fur.
Shepherds Bush | 4-10 yrs.
kitestudios.org

THE MUSIC HOUSE
This Easter you can immerse yourself in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory week-long camp. There’s also The Lamb Who Lost Her Jump at Bush Hall and an Instrumental Extravaganza where children can try out any instrument they like!
Shepherds Bush | 5 yrs+
musichouseforchildren.com/whats-on

NET-IT CAMPS
Love netball? Junior netball camps aim to improve netball skills, maximise personal development and have fun!
Holland Park, Wandsworth, Fulham and sleepover camps at Woldingham School | Reception to Y8.
net-it.org

DUKES MEADOWS
A favourite with locals – wonder if it’s that hot lunches are also provided for those staying all day? Do tennis or golf, or both, multisports or even add skiing, yes skiing to the mix.
Chiswick | 5 yrs+
dukesmeadows.com

SPARKS
This Easter your kids could make a fantasy movie, exploring how to produce epic battle scenes, master stunts and fight choreography, not to mention full-on production design, cinematic camera skills, special effects and all the behind the scenes magic it takes to make a movie. Phew!
Balham, Highgate, Dulwich, Kensington, Hampstead | 7-11years
sparks-ignite.com

 

LEXUS RX L REVIEW

The Lexus RX L is a great family choice, combining the space of an SUV with reliable hybrid technology

 

As a family we’ve flirted with the idea of getting an SUV, but the most recent flirtation has been with electric or hybrid cars. The Lexus ticked both of those boxes in an instant, so we jumped at the chance of a week-long test drive.

On delivery, the RX L looked long. And it is. Although it’s modelled on its RX sibling, it’s over a metre longer to accommodate a third row of seats.

Extra space

Those rear seats fold flat of course to enlarge the boot area, which possibly isn’t as expansive as you might want if you’re looking at seven seaters like the Q7. The seats themselves are probably only suitable for kids, but you could bundle in a couple of adults if you’re the designated driver on a night out.

So, onto driving. As we had the car for a week, we completed some long (airport run) journeys as well as pootling around town. The first thing that strikes you, if you haven’t driven an electric car before, is the silence. It does take some getting used to, pulling out without hearing the engine rev. You can choose to run on electric all the time, but we stuck with the hybrid capabilities.

Fuel economy

Lexus stats suggest the RX L can get up to a fuel economy of 47.9mpg and although we were rubbish at keeping track, after a week, only a quarter of the tank of petrol had been used up, and most of that was a motorway drive to and from Gatwick.

It’s a comfortable ride around town, despite its size. Visibility is great, and we found the interior controls easy to use. (We did have a bit of a fight with the sat nav, but I’d blame the user for that!) Our children, who often get car sick in SUVs, didn’t with the RX L which means a huge thumbs up from us!

And the other plus point, from a choosing electric point of view was the fact that the car self-charges. No need to panic and find a roadside charging point. Flirtation over. We may have found a long-term partner.

For more details on options and pricing, head to

www.lexus.co.uk

Cool Things for Kids

Our weekly round-up of things that have caught our eye in the City Kids office this week.

Play and Go storage bags

Play & Go is a Belgian-based company offering clever, colourful and inspiring products for your kids and home. We think their Storage Bags are a great idea.

Made from 100% cotton these hard-wearing bags allow you to literally scoop up toys and neatly tidy them away. Plus, they also double up as a playmat and come in a range of lovely prints and designs. The perfect addition to any little one’s bedroom or playroom. Find them at Kidly.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

BabyBjörn’s Soft Selection 

BabyBjörn has just launched a new collection specially developed for those very first days with a newborn baby. The Soft Selection features a new super-soft fabric specially created by BabyBjörn called 3D Jersey that gently hugs the newborn baby whilst at the same time providing the proper support.

For years the Swedish brand has been a firm favourite with parents who rave about their practical, stylish designs. These new additions have been created from the feedback from their customers who like the concept of really soft, snuggly fabric.

Consisting of the Baby Carrier Mini (from £79.99) and Bouncer Bliss (from £145), the Soft Selection comes in muted, warm colours and cuddly jersey and a soft, lightweight breathable mesh.

Perfect for those precious early months when little ones are really tiny.

 

 

Mint Velvet’s Minty Collection

For nine years Mint Velvet has been a go-to brand for great casual separates. Now it has turned its hand to childrens wear creating their first collection for girls aged three to ten, ‘Minty’.

Think pink jumpsuits, star print sweatshirts, denim and some super-cool prints. Underpinned with that same easy aesthetic as its main women’s wear collection, the fabrics are easy to care for and the pieces coordinate perfectly.

We love this super-stylish collection so much that we kind of wish some of it came in grow-up sizes too!

New Range from Aspace

Aspace has been creating inspirational children’s rooms for over 20 years. Their furniture range is great – bright and fun but also practical and sturdy. We love the clever storage solutions they offer with cupboards and shelving built into beds.  They have a few ranges to choose from so whether you want the modern Scandi style or prefer a more traditional look, there is something to suit everyone. The new catalogue is out now and if you sign up to their online newsletter Aspace are offering £20 off any orders over £150.

If you’re thinking of kitting out your kids’ bedroom, then definitely check out the website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious, Healthy Pancake Recipes

It’s Shrove Tuesday – the day when it’s officially acceptable to eat pancakes for at least one meal! So if you’re looking for some super healthy, but totally delicious pancake recipes to make with your little ones then here are three from our favourite foodie gurus.

Deliciously Ella’s

LEMON CARDAMOM PANCAKES WITH A ZESTY HONEY DRIZZLE

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons chia seeds, 4 tablespoons water

1/2 cup buckwheat flour (100g)

1 banana

1/2 cup brown rice milk (or any other plant-based milk) (150ml)

5 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon coconut oil (for frying)

FOR THE DRIZZLE:

1 teaspoon coconut oil

3 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup

zest of 1/2 lemon

 

METHOD:

Combine 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with 4 tablespoons of water and leave to sit in the fridge for about of 30 minutes.

Firmly press down on each cardamom pod with the flat side of a sturdy knife. Open the pod and pick out the seeds, discarding the outer shell. Either carefully roughly chop the seeds with a knife or grind them using a mortar and pestle.

Zest an entire lemon and set aside half for the drizzle.

Mash the banana in a bowl and then add all the pancake ingredients to your blender. Blitz well until everything is combined. The consistency should be nice and thick!

Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a non-stick pan. Once the oil has melted, use about a ¼ cup of the mix and pour into the pan. Heat until bubbles form about three quarters of the way cooked through and then flip to cook for another minute or two. Repeat with the rest of the mixture adding more coconut oil when the pan dries out. The mix should make 5-6 small pancakes.

Then simply combine all of the ingredients for the drizzle together and stir well.

Stack your pancakes and pour the zesty honey drizzle on top!

deliciouslyella.com

 

Madeleine Shaw’s

CINNAMON SPICED PANCAKES WITH MAPLE SYRUP

METHOD:

In a large bowl mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt and coconut sugar. Add the eggs, oil and milk and mix well.

Heat a frying pan to a medium-high temperature and melt the coconut oil.  Fry off a few tbsp. of the pancake mix, cook for a minute or two on one side until the pancakes start to bubble then flip over and cook on the other side.

Serve with fresh fruit, maple syrup and nuts.

If you are vegan you can swap the eggs for chia eggs.

INGREDIENTS:

160g of rice flour or buckwheat flour

75g of ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoon coconut sugar

2 eggs

3 tbsp of melted coconut oil plus extra for cooking

1 cup milk (almond, rice, coconut…whatever you want)

to serve – maple syrup, fresh fruit and almond flakes.

madeleineshaw.com

 

Hemsley and Hemsley’s

BLUEBERRY PANCAKES WITH CASHEW MANGO CREAM

METHOD:

Wash the blueberries and allow them to dry.

Melt the coconut oil or butter, on a low heat, in a PTFE-free non-stick pan (we use Greenpan or Colourworks ceramic frying pan) and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

Sift in the coconut flour and bicarbonate of soda and blend with the melted coconut oil to make a batter.

Add water a tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency.

Use a spatula to redistribute any leftover coconut oil in the frying pan and on a medium heat add 2 tablespoons of the batter. Push 5 blueberries into the centre of the pancake and the blueberries will spread slowly as it cooks.

After a couple of minutes check if you can loosen the pancake easily and carefully turn it over – it may need a little longer.

After another minute or so the pancake is cooked and ready to serve.

For the cashew mango cream, add the mango and the water it has been soaking in to a blender with the rinsed and drained cashews then blend until smooth. Add more water if desired.

INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs (room temperature)

2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil or butter, melted

2-4 tablespoons of warm water

2 tablespoons of coconut flour

1.5 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 tiny sprinkle of salt

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon or more of vanilla extract

Cashew mango cream

1/2 cup of whole cashews (soaked for 6-7 hours in filtered warm water with sea salt, rinsed and drained)

30g dried mango soaked in ½ cup of filtered water

hemsleyandhemsley.com

 

DISCLAIMER: We aim to always credit the correct original source material. If we have got anything wrong, please contact us at editor@citykidsmagazine.co.uk.

 

WE LOVE

Every issue we highlight brands and products from businesses that WE LOVE. Our Spring issue is no exception. And as it’s our birthday, this time you can win them all! Scroll down to find out how.

 

Dandy Dill Way

Dandydill Way founder, Tania Rodney, has done it again! Her new Cleansing Mousse is soap-free, mild, yet effective at cleaning grubby faces. Check out the new Face Moisturiser too, containing hyaluronic acid and leaving no greasy residue. It may be for the kids, but we’ll bet some parents will be swiping these goodies!
From £22.50
www.dandydillway.com

London Learning

History Heroes’ LONDON quiz card game is packed with facts and illustrations outlining forty of the greatest characters in the capital’s history. Win the game by collecting the most cards.
£9.99
www.historyheroes.co.uk

Busy Not Board

The price tag is hefty, but the different play options are huge. Devised by a father for his son, these boards encourage open play with a range of toys that fit into the wall board. Designed to last from baby to pre-schoolers.
From £129
www.mymuro.com

Home Comforts

Hibou Home have released a new bed linen collection for kids which is made from 100% organic cotton as well as being OEKO Tex certified – that’s safe for children’s skin and kind to the planet too. These Flora bed sets are available in Junior and Adult sizes.
From £55
www.hibouhome.com

Happy Memories

Already a Gift of the Year nominee, The Book of Youis a stylish memory book for children and their grown-ups. Record moments over the year via a series of fun questions to build a lasting memento for years to come.
£20.00
www.colourchronicles.com

Top of the Plops!

(Couldn’t resist!) Who Did This Poois a hilarious way for children to learn about different animals. Did you know that Wombats poo in cubes or that there’s an animal which has sparkly poo? Enough said.
£12.99

www.laurenceking.com

 

Giveaway time!

If you like what you see and you’d like to get your hands on this stash, please head to our Competitions page. Good luck!

CK Reviews: Cloud Twelve Club

City Kids editor Morag Turner on London’s latest club for families and why these places are great for both kids and parents.

For over a decade private members clubs for families have been popping up all over London. The concept being that you can relax in a home-from-home environment with your little ones, enjoying classes, events and a sense of community with like-minded parents. Think Soho House for the under-fives and with a soft play area.

These are truly nice places to be. Yes, there will be plenty of toddlers running around screaming (this is not the world you inhabited pre-kids after all) but the décor will be stylish and you can have a decent coffee while your children have a ball.

Something I realised a long time ago is that it’s perfectly acceptable for mums to want to have just as nice a time as their kids. Yet all too often it seems to keep our little ones entertained we have to compromise – sitting in cold church halls, shaking a tambourine and getting a custard cream at the end of it. Not exactly what we’d imagined hanging out with our little darlings would be like.

This is where the world of private members clubs for families comes in, offering a nice balance between kiddie fun and happy mums. Something increasing numbers of parents are very happy to pay for.

So when I got an email asking me if I’d like to visit London’s newest one, I couldn’t wait to take a look. Cloud Twelve is located just off Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill. It differs from the similar clubs as, while it has fantastic facilities for little members, there is also a real focus on their parents too with a spa, salon, wellness centre and adults only restaurant.

Our visit to Cloud Twelve

It was a cold, wet February day when my four-year-old son and I visited, but as we walked through the door it felt like we stepped into summer. The amazing Family Zone on the ground floor is home to a beautifully designed and well laid out play area with a nature theme. A tree house to climb in with a slide down to a pirate ship ball pool and a giant ladybird to crawl inside for a sensory light experience. The stuff of pre-school dreams.

Off the main play area are smaller rooms filled with immaculate toys and books that are used for classes and a creche, as well as a craft room that most A-level arts students would be enthralled by. My little Picasso couldn’t wait to start painting and sticking.

We had lunch at the café in the Family Zone which offers varied and delicious vegan menu. I’m not vegan but try to cut out meat two or three days a week – if I was coming here regularly I’d mange it with ease. Fresh, healthy dishes that were also genuinely tasty. My little boy wolfed down his vegan mac and cheese.

Next it was time for me to pop upstairs for a treatment in the spa. I felt perfectly happy leaving my son with two of the ‘play buddies’ – fully qualified child carers who not only look after, but also seem to really engage the children. Of course he didn’t even notice I was gone, such was the excitement of hanging out with his new grown up buddy and such the selection of toys available.

The amazing spa

Even though Cloud Twelve inhabits an old building there is absolutely no sign of that whatsoever from within. The spa resembles one you would expect to find in a five-star resort in the Maldives albeit without the outside space. The treatment rooms are huge and luxuriously fitted out, complete with Dolomites quartz beds ‘to help promote a deeper state of relaxation’. The thermal area with its sauna, steam and salt room is positively dreamy.

They offer an extensive range of treatments and I opted for a full body massage, which was every bit as wonderful as the setting. Afterwards popped into the upstairs brassiere (which is adults only) for a cup of herbal tea. Next to this area is the salon for blow dries, manicures and pedicures.

What’s great about this entire adults’ area is that it’s open to anyone. While the Family Zone is members only, anyone can use the spa and salon. It struck me that this would the perfect place to pop into before a night out in central London – arrive harassed mum, leave feeling (and looking) a million dollars.

There is also a wellness clinic offering holistic treatments and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, osteopathy and colonic hydrotherapy. It too is open to the public. I didn’t sample any of these, but they club manager told me they have some London’s best practitioners available to book.

Cloud Twelve is a lovely family-friendly oasis in the heart of the Notting Hill. The price tag is steep with memberships starting from £2000 per year, but that’s no more than many other adults-only private members clubs all over the city.

We both loved our day there. Needless to say, my son didn’t want to leave (neither did I to be honest) and I would definitely pop back in again to use the spa.

Why Family Clubs are so good

My visit reminded me of the days when I was a member at Cupcake in Putney, a mum and baby club that I joined when my first son was a little baby nearly 11 years ago.

It offered a selection of baby classes (yoga, music, massage etc) along with fitness classes for mums and a creche where you could leave your little one while you worked off the baby weight. There was also a café to chill out in. An interior designer had clearly been involved, there were comfy chairs and great food on offer – like the places I chose to spend time in before I had a baby but with a family-friendly twist.

It was a great club though things have definitely moved on – I seem to remember us eating a lot of brownies that were definitely not vegan but that was well before the ‘clean eating’ revolution.

I made wonderful mum mates who became, and still are to this day, some of my closest friends. A decade and several kids later, and we still meet up regularly and holiday together.

With time we grew out of Cupcake as these places are great for a period in your life when you have very young children, but less so when they go to school and/or you return to work.

But I look back so fondly on the time I spent there, enjoying time with my baby and making friends. Never once did I feel bored or isolated as so many new mums do in the early days because I always had somewhere to pop into, even if it was just me and my son. A godsend when you are adjusting to life with a new baby.

More family clubs in London worth knowing about

The Putney club closed but another branch remains in Cupcake Parsons Green. Lots of mums sign up when still pregnant to enjoy the antenatal fitness classes. A full membership now costs from £139 per month with a one-off joining fee of £99 but they do offer different packages. I’ve never been to this branch, but if it’s anything like the original I’m sure it’s wonderful.

Others private members clubs for families have since opened all over London. As well as Cloud Twelve, there is Maggie and Rose who have branches in Kensington, Chiswick. You’ll find an amazing soft play area, fun kid’s classes and camps, as well as a great café.

Dreamt up by Maggie Bolger and Rose Astor, the idea was to provide a beautiful creative space for children in surroundings that appealed to grown-ups too. The principle clearly works as both London clubs have waiting lists and they are set to open a third in Islington this year. They have even ventured abroad with a club in Hong Kong and one opening in Singapore.

Purple Dragon who have two London clubs in Chelsea and Putney, cater for kids from six months old through to the tween years and are rumoured to have a number of celebrity offspring regulars. Young members have the options of beach club (indoor pool), massive soft play centre, music booth, kitchen (with cooking activities), music room, and art lab. And of course, there is a restaurant for the grow ups to chill out in while their kids are entertained. But these amazing activities and plush surroundings come a at a price. Membership fees are from £450 for 10 visits.

My days of mum and baby clubs are coming to an end now with all of my boys in school full time come September, but I really do think the concept is a good one. Yes, there are fees to pay but by becoming a member of one of these places you open up a world of fun activities to do with your little one all under one (very nicely decorated) roof. Whether you’d pop in every day or just use it on the weekends, these clubs provide a home-from-home environment where mums can connect with other like-minded women and form friendships, which I believe is an essential part of enjoying new motherhood. Joining Cupcake all those years ago was the best thing I have ever signed up to. For the fun, the friends and the wonderful memories of lovely times with my first little one that positively shaped my experience and view of motherhood.

Cool things for kids

NEW! Every week we’re going to bring you a round-up of some of the super cool things we’ve come across for little ones. From toys and games to travel and fashion, we will be sharing the things that have caught our eye in the City Kids office.

 

Doodle Tablecloth

If your kids love nothing more than a colouring book and a set of felt tips then this fab tablecloth would make the perfect present. From alphabet art and garden prints to intergalactic designs and critters to colour, Blue Jigsaw’s new range of Doodle Tablecloths feature five unique and original designs suitable for all ages. Each design comes with a set of wash out pens. Simply colour in, wash and start again. The ideal rainy day activity for little artists. Prices start from £19.

 

 

 

 

 

Playbrush toothbrush

Getting kids to to brush there teeth properly and for long enough can be a struggle. But this great little gadget makes the process more fun and encourages them to be better brushers.

Playbrush is an interactive electric toothbrush that connects via Bluetooth to game apps so children can play fun games with their toothbrush. Once it syncs to the app children use their own toothbrushing movements to paint masterpieces, make music or defeat monsters. This incentivises movement and encourages children to brush all around their mouth, increasing surface coverage. It also  records and assesses how well they are doing. Definitely a cool thing for kids!

The Playbrush Smart Sonic costs £29.99 and includes, 1 Playbrush Smart Sonic, 1 brush head, 1 charging dock and 4 free games.

 

Kid Pix

We just love the beautifully curated edits from Kid Pix, a new subscription box service for gorgeous childrenswear brands such as Patachou, Baby Mori and Dotty Dungarees. The idea is simple. Parents fill in a little online style quiz and from there the clever stylists at Kid Pix will create a bespoke box of six to eight items for boys and girls aged one to five and babies aged 0 to 12 months.

Your beautifully wrapped box will be delivered to your door step. Then it’s up to you what you keep or send back. Either sign up for a one-off or a quarterly subscription. We think this would make a great present idea for a new baby or a special little person.

Nuna CUDL

Founded by a father of two, Dutch brand Nuna is inspired by real parenting adventures for families on the go. Well designed and made from lovely materials, celebrity fans include Miranda Kerr and Gwen Stefani.

The latest addition to the range is their first baby carrier, the CUDL, launching this month. Both stylish and practical carrier makes it easy for you to keep your new born close. Then switches to a backpack as they get bigger. Genuis.  £150

 

Things to do with the kids at half term



It’s here already, but have no fear, we have the best guide to things to do with the kids during half term

 

When it comes to half term, you’re either a planner or a last minute merchant. We’ve rounded up some things to do with the kids during half term which apply to both camps! We’ve drop-ins, activities and workshops for kids of all ages.

ACTIVITIES

HAMLEYS GIANT PLAYGROUND
Celebrating some of this year’s biggest movie releases, kids can meet Emmett, Wildstyle and General Mayhem from The LEGO Movie 2, and join in with the Hamleys’ LEGO Building Workshops, where toy prizes will be awarded to the best builders. Kids can also dress up as a Viking and have their picture taken with Astrid and Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World. There’s loads more to do daily, but the biggest challenge will be trying to leave the store without a Hamley’s bag!
From 16th February
www.hamleys.com

GIRL POWER!
Trailblazing female composers and musicians are the inspiration of this session, which uses role play and music making to explore topics such as identity and mindfulness. Led by Royal College of Music chamber musicians and a professional workshop leader. Suitable for 7yrs+
16 February
www.rcm.ac.uk

YOUNG CREATIVES TAKEOVER
Through a year long project exploring the theme of Design + Community, this group of Young Creatives will host a day of free workshops, talks and an exhibition of their work responding to the theme.
The day includes opportunities for you to make rope jewellery, cast objects using jesmonite, produce Risograph prints and meet today’s designers working to create change at local level.
17 February
www.designmuseum.org

ROYAL SOCIETY OF SCULPTORS
Experiment with a range of different art materials to create your very own sculptures to take home. Punch holes and thread materials to explore tension and weight. Will your sculpture fall? Or can you achieve perfect balance?
Free drop-in workshop. No need to book.
18 – 19 February
www.sculptors.org.uk

THE POSTAL MUSEUM ACTIVITIES
There’s a full programme of events at The Postal Museum this half term. From arts and craft workshops and storytelling, to live performances and meeting people from the past, there’s loads to get involved with as The Postal Museum celebrates novel ideas and innovative engineering feats.
18 – 24 February
www.postalmuseum.org

POP UP PERFORMANCE
Come and watch the Nightingale Game: a re-invention of a classic tale; a world where the real and the virtual meet; a world of shadows and songs; an epic journey. Are you ready to play? Performance duration approximately 40 minutes starting at 11.00, 13.00 & 15.00.
18 – 22 February
www.vam.ac.uk

CREATE AND MAKE
This February half term, create a community garden around a model tower block, in this special paper-craft activity created by Designer-In-Residence Hester Buck. Common ground is land that everyone can use as they choose. How these spaces are designed and what activities happen on this land is decided by the people who use it. The large areas of green spaces that surround some social housing tower blocks are open to everyone, so some communities choose to use them as a common community garden.
18 – 22 February
www.designmuseum.org

ADVENTURE TO THE DEEP
Kids will dive through a reef, come face-to-face with a giant squid and see if they have what it takes to survive 3,000 metres below the surface. This immersive show highlights the importance of the oceans and demonstrates why it’s never been more vital to help protect this amazing habitat.
Best for children aged 7+.
19 – 21 February
www.nhm.ac.uk

The Music Lesson, Lord Frederic Leighton, 1877

GUILDHALL ART GALLERY AND THE CHARTERHOUSE
On 20th February a special family event presents Life as a Victorian Child, inspired by Guildhall Art Gallery’s exhibition Seen & Heard, which features 50 Victorian paintings to explore the changing role of children in Victorian painting. Meeting at Guildhall Art Gallery at 11am, children will be able to create their own family portrait, and then travel onto nearby Charterhouse to experience life as a Victorian school child. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for children aged 5 – 13 and their families.
20th February
www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

DISCOVERY DAY – BRILLIANT BIRDS
Drop in any time between 11am and 3pm in Hyde Park to take part in a host of exciting activities including:
Making a bird feeder to take home with you
Following our bird Discovery Trail and learning facts about our feathered friends
Donning some binoculars and taking part in some bird watching in our grounds
Building a nest box (£10, limited availability).
20 February
www.royalparks.org.uk

SHARKY & GEORGE UV TAKEOVER
Sharky & George are turning The Village Hall at Battersea Fire Station into a glow-in-the-dark playground for the whole family. This half term, take the whole gang for an hour of crazy activities under UV lights. Play with UV slime, create potions, build a solar system, rockets and get your face painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. There’s so much to try, see and do.
23 – 24 February
www.batterseapowerstation.co.uk

New screen time advice for parents

The government’s Chief Medical Officer has published new screen time advice for parents and carers

 

We’ve all known for long time that social media is not good for children. But for the first time ever the government’s Chief Medical Officer has published new social media and screen time advice for parents, carers children and young people.

These include leaving phones outside the bedroom when it’s bedtime, screen-free mealtimes and having family conversations about social media.

“Time spent online can be of great benefit to children and young people, providing opportunities for learning and skills development, as well as allowing young people to find support and information. But we need to take a precautionary approach and our advice will support children to reap these benefits and protect them from harm.” Professor Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer for England.

86% of 7 to 11s are online

According to a recent study by Internet Matters 43% of those aged between 10 and 13 now use social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and 86% of children aged 7 to 11 use some kind of online communication, often without their parents having any knowledge of them doing so.

And a recent survey by the BBC’s Newsround found that more than three-quarters of younger children at primary-leaving age were using at least one social media network. A terrifying statistic when you realise just how much children can be exposed to the minute they log on.  70 million photos are shared on Instagram every day, many of which will be entirely unsuitable for little eyes. Offensive and inappropriate material is only one click away.

Professor Dame Sally Davies’ view is that companies too have a responsibility to keep children safe online.

“Technology is an unavoidable aspect of modern life and technology companies have a duty of care. They must make more effort to keep their users safe from harm, particularly children and young people.”

So what is the advice?
  • Sleep matters. Getting enough, good quality sleep is very important. Leave phones outside the bedroom when it is bedtime.
  • Talking helps: Talk with your children about using devices and what they are watching. A change in behaviour can be a sign they are distressed – make sure they know they can always speak to you or another responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with screen or social media use.
  • Safety when out and about. Advise children to put their screens away while crossing the road or doing an activity that needs their full attention!
  • Sharing sensibly. Parents and children should talk about sharing photos and information online and how photos and words are sometimes manipulated. Parents should never assume that their children are happy for their photos to be shared. For everyone – when in doubt, don’t upload!
  • Keep moving! Everyone should take a break after a couple of hours sitting or lying down using a screen #sitlessmovemore
  • Education matters. Make sure you and your children are aware of, and abide by their school’s policy on mobile phones/personal devices.
  • Use helpful phone features. Some devices and platforms have special features – try using these features to keep track of how much time you (and with their permission, your children) spend looking at a screen or on social media.
  • Family time together. Screen-free meal times are a good idea – you can enjoy face-to-face conversation, with adults giving their full attention to children.

The guidelines are not prescriptive. Just as every child is an individual, and every family is different, every family’s approach to technology must be equally unique. Instead, the Chief Medical Officer is encouraging every family to have a conversation about screen time and social media, and has developed a series of pointers for parents and carers based on research evidence on child and adolescent development.

Conversation pointers:

Supported by the CMO and produced by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health these are ideas to help them make decisions about their screen use:

  • Is our family’s screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what our family want to do?
  • Does screen use interfere with sleep?
  • Are we able to control snacking during screen time?
Ongoing support
  • Charities such as the NSPCC are urging parents to make online awareness as high a priority as road safety. They have some fantastic resources for parents and schools.
  • The UK Council for Internet Safety has developed a framework to equip children and young people for digital life and guidance for parents on minimising their child’s risk of online harms.
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre has developed a platform where people can report harmful content online if they are not satisfied with the result of their report to social media providers. For illegal content, reports should be made to the police and online to the Internet Watch Foundation
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre have partnered with Childnet International to create specific guidance on Keeping under 5s safe online.
  • Children’s Mental Health Week helps to tackle childhood anxiety and depression which can be brought on by social media, cyber bullying and other online behaviours.

Images courtesy: NSPCC and Department of Health and Social Care

 

CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Whether you’re looking for a baby, pre-schooler, little kid or big kid, our Christmas gift guide could be just the inspiration you’re looking for.

This page is all for the very little ones. We have kids fashion, toys, games – traditional or modern – all within our edits. Happy shopping!

FOR BABIES & PRE-SCHOOLERS

 

 

Cloud Mobile, £42, Liewood

Oeuf NYC Unicorn hat, £54, Liberty

Bloomingville wooden breakfast set, £19, Amara

Roommate Giraffe Height Chart, £59.45, Taka Tomo

Wooden Robot, £25, Bobby Rabbit

Cashmere Jumper with Frill, £60 – £65, Mini Boden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organic Cotton Paw Print Baby Playsuit, £33.45, The Bonnie Mob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden tools, £14.95, Annabel James

Ollie Ella Wooden Carry House, £67, Smallable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lion Purse, £15, Meri Meri

 

MOROCCAN BAKED CHICKEN PARCELS

by Jo Pratt


When time is short (that’s most of the time then!) and I want a home cooked, nutritious meal for all the family, this is often my go-to recipe. It uses accessible ingredients, is really quick to prep and involves minimal washing up. Furthermore, you can cook them immediately or leave them in your fridge to cook later which means you can cook them to suit the various comings and goings in your house.
I’ve given you the Moroccan inspired recipe here but there are numerous flavour combinations to suit your family’s tastes or ingredient availability (see PS at the end of the recipe). Now my children are a bit bigger, I’ll make four parcels from this recipe, but you might find you can get six parcels if you have smaller tummies to fill. Cook them all and put any leftovers in the freezer for heating up another day.
The parcels work very well as a complete meal in one – so there’s no need to make extra side dishes. That said, some couscous, pasta, rice or crusty bread are always a welcome addition.

PREPARATION TIME 15 minutes
COOKING TIME 30 minutes
SERVES 4

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated root ginger
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin drained tinned chickpeas or cannellini beans
  • 100g dried raisins, sultanas or chopped apricots
  • 200g green beans, halved
  • 1-2 tsp harissa paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • large handful pitted black or green olives (optional)
  • small handful of shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped (optional)
  • few sprigs of fresh coriander (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and put a large baking tray in the oven to heat.

Take four large pieces of grease proof paper or kitchen foil and fold each one in half to make it double thickness. Tightly fold together two of the edges to seal, creating a pouch, making sure there are no gaps for the food to escape when cooking. Secure the folds using a stapler if using greaseproof paper. Alternatively, buy baking/roasting bags from supermarkets that are ready to use and a real time saver.

Slice each chicken breast into 3-4 pieces and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the remaining ingredients, apart from the pistachios and coriander. Season with a little salt and pepper. Divide between the four parcels and put a sliced chicken breast into each one, pushing down into the sauce to cover. Seal the parcels by folding over the open top, or using an oven-proof tie or string, leaving some air in them for steam to circulate when cooking. The parcels are now ready to cook straight away or store in the fridge until required.

Put the parcels directly on top of the baking tray you’ve been heating in the oven, slightly spaced apart, and cook for 30 minutes. By now the chicken will be tender and juicy and the sauce thickened. When cooked, split open the parcels onto bowls/plates and serve scattered with pistachios and coriander

Be creative and switch the flavours around:

GREEK CHICKEN PARCELS swap the harissa for 2 tsp olive tapenade and switch the ground coriander for dried oregano. Serve scattered with some feta cheese and serve with bulgur wheat.

INDIAN CHICKEN PARCELS swap the harissa for 1 tbsp curry paste and omit the olives and pistachios. Scatter the top with flaked almonds and serve with some mango chutney and naan bread or rice.

ITALIAN CHICKEN PARCELS Omit the ginger, harissa, raisins, coriander and cinnamon and use 2 tbsp pesto, 2 chopped anchovies (optional), 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar instead. Serve with parmesan cheese and garlic bread or pasta.

Teeth-friendly healthy snacks for kids lunch boxes

healthy snacks for kids lunch boxesFood vector created by Lesyaskripak - Freepik.com

As any parent knows, back to school can be a very busy time – from buying new uniforms and shoes to picking out stationary. With so much to plan, it can be easy to overlook what’s going in the packed lunches. But making sure your child has a healthy, inviting and tooth-friendly diet is really important.

Steve Preddy, Clinical Director at Bupa Dental Care, has shared his top tips to help you create teeth-friendly healthy snacks for kids lunch boxes.

Say cheese!

Cheese is a great ally for teeth. It is full of calcium and phosphates which are known for strengthening bones, especially in children. In addition, eating cheese causes salivation, which helps to decrease the acidity levels in the mouth, helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Remember to eat in moderation though, cheese may be easy on the teeth but it’s also high in fat.

Pack in the veggies

Crunchy fruit and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, are real helpers when it comes to scrubbing away plaque from the teeth. Carrots are also high in fibre and a great source of vitamin A. Make sure you include some and ask your kids to have them at the end of their meal! Fruit does contain natural sugar so it’s much better to eat during meal times, rather than snacking on it at other times of the day.

Find swaps for sugary drinks

Fruit juices – especially those made with acidic fruits like grapefruits, oranges, and lemons – are loaded with sugar and acid that can slowly remove tooth enamel. When they are concentrated down into juice, teeth are at risk of decay. When possible, give your kids still water, as it helps wash away food debris. Alternatively, watered down juices or weak cordials can help reduce the impact too.

Don’t feed their sweet tooth!

Limiting sweet treats is really important for children. Not only is this good for their overall health but it is also vital for good oral health. Each time you eat something sugary, the levels of acid in your mouth rise significantly. It then takes up to a full hour for the acidity levels to return to a normal state. If a child’s acidity levels are being constantly raised throughout the day from eating sweet treats, they are then at serious risk of tooth decay.

Avoid raisins and dried fruit

You might be forgiven for thinking raisins and dried fruit are a great healthy snack to stick in a lunchbox. While raisins may be rich in anti-oxidants, they’re also full of sugar and can be just as damaging to teeth as confectionary. When the fruit is dried, the concentrated sugar becomes tacky and sticks to teeth and gums, which can then cause tooth decay.

Beware of crisps

Crisps contain starch which can get trapped in teeth, leading to plaque build-up. If your kids love a crunch, it’s better sticking to the veggies.

Use whole-wheat bread instead of white

Consuming whole-grains actually lowers the risk of gum disease. The enzymes in white bread stick to teeth and then turns into sugar. Switching to wholemeal is a much healthier and tooth-friendly option… don’t worry, you can still cut the crusts off!

Get creative

Kids love getting involved in the kitchen, why not make a batch of healthier snacks at the weekend to pop in their lunch boxes throughout the week.  Mini savoury muffins are usually a big hit, high in protein and low in sugar. You can even get in one or two of their five a day with the right recipes.

 

WHO IS…KIMBERLEY WALSH?

Girl band member, actor, West End Star and now fashion designer. Victoria Evans met the multi-talented mother of two to celebrate the launch of Kimba Kids.

What’s the inspiration behind Kimba Kids?

Let me go back to the start. So my brother is the managing director of a company that make, design, manufacture, and distribute clothes so obviously I knew that I had a lead in to this and with Bobby, my oldest son I just found it really boring buying boys’ clothes. I really wanted a little boy, so it’s not like I’m one of these women who wanted a girl to dress up, it wasn’t that, I just felt they don’t suit him, there’s all this nautical stuff like everywhere, which is fine, but it’s a bit preppy-ish and felt like he’s a blonde, blue-eyed mixed-race little boy and felt like I actually want him to be able to express himself a bit more and wear things that are a bit more fun and colourful and that’s where it came from.

So I approached my brother and was like, “How do you feel about trying to launch a new brand with me so that we can use all your facilities to do so. And he was actually really up for it. As much as his job is so intense and full-on as he’s distributing to Next, ASOS, constantly meeting deadlines, I think this was more of a passion project for him. It’s been hard for him because there aren’t enough hours in the day but we’ve done it. It’s taken a while…we fully started it when Bobby was about 16 months and I was doing Elf at The Dominion over Christmas and because it was my first job back, I had a bit of time to actually think for myself again. There were times when I wasn’t on stage where I was able to start the design process and I would meet the designer between shows on the two show days.

So it has taken a long time to get it to this point – he’s nearly four now! I thought you just hand-picked designs from a rail and Adam was like no, we need to design them, we need to draw it and come up with every colour, fabric. One day we literally spent the entire day going through thicknesses, choosing colours, and I asked him, is this your life? And he was like, yeah, pretty much. We do have to do this every time. It’s interesting as I had absolutely no idea it would be so time consuming.

Perhaps there are other sides to the business you prefer?

Exactly, I prefer the design and can you send me a sample back? But it’s not that easy. I feel like we’ve found a good place now, where we both feel like we know what the brand is, I’m very sure of what I want it to be. He’ll sometimes throw something in like What about trying this? And I’m like no, it’s not me. I wouldn’t put my kids in it – it may be popular at the moment, but I just want to stay true to what I am and the design process will be easy. If I take it on a tangent that’s following something else, it’s always going to be hard to bring it back to what it’s supposed to be in the beginning.

Because of the fashion connection through your brother did you ever consider doing womenswear?

Well that’s something we’re talking about now because we can. There’s so many opportunities there because of the way I work with his company. Right now, the priority is getting Kimba Kids off the ground and hoping that we can make this work. We’ve already got our Spring/Summer in for sampling and that was really fun and exciting and doing it now that we’ve got to this point. So we’d need the time – this has become over the last 6 months like a full time job and it’s one of those that you can sort of do with the kids around but there are times when I’m like I just need to answer some emails when they’re not like screaming at me or something. There are certain things that you have to do so that they go to bed but you can do it around the kids which is why it’s brilliant. I have taken the kids into meetings before because it’s my brother but mine cause a lot more…there’s picnic mess all over the floor, or like rails and clothes boxes barricading the stairs so they can’t fall down. This is not ideal but if childcare lets you down which is what happened to me, we’ll just bring them. My brother was like, yes, it’ll be good to have their input. They’ll be interested for about 5 minutes and then he’ll be like where’s the guns or weapons I can play with?

So what are your favourite pieces?

For me, my favourite piece for the boys.. As we knew this was going into Autumn/Winter we wanted to do a slightly different tone so we’ve got an aubergine tone camo. And for the girls I love the twinset.

What are your hopes for the brand?

It’s really crazy at the moment because no one really knows what’s going to happen at this point. It has been a family passion project. It’s hard because we both care about it so much so obviously we really want it to do well. I’m realistic. I don’t know how this business works so obviously the fact that Next have endorsed it as big as they have gives us hope that it will work because I don’t think they’d take huge numbers of something that wouldn’t work.

Your brother presumably was able to advise?

He would know to a point, but they would know more because they sell kids wear every day and he does adult stuff. They were very excited about it. We went to them first as we felt that it was a fit for their stuff and I do still think it sits really well with all of their stuff. But they have gone above and beyond – they’ve had opinions on stuff that really helped us, little branding things, they wanted it to be branded because they said if people are buying into you, they want to know that it’s yours. You’ve got to offer something that isn’t already there, which we know. So we feel like together, we’ve got it to this point and now we want to see it on other children and know that people have actually chosen to buy it themselves. That’ll be so exciting – we’ll have to get everybody to send pictures into me.

How would you describe your parenting style?

Manic! I’m such a calm person. I genuinely think I’m one of the most chilled people. But my boys can drive me to places that I never thought were possible. And it frustrates me if I feel like I’ve lost it, that’s just not me. But sometimes at bedtime, the way that they taunt me, I’m like “you just want me to break so that you can laugh at me”, but I can’t cope! I try to be relaxed. I’m very loving, which I’m sure most mums are, but I feel like they do respond to that. I’m terrified of the day my boys don’t want to get in bed and cuddle me in the morning. Its my favourite time of the day. My brother who I’m doing this with still gives my mum a cuddle – it’s quite cute. I’m not going to lie, they’re really hard work at the ages that they are, they do not stop, they don’t sit still for five seconds. And I wonder which one I should protect. Bobby’s older and he’ll go and do something where he could hurt himself. If I’m at a park who do I protect because he’ll go and climb a climbing frame where he’s in full danger if he falls from it, but then Cole is tiny so I an’t leave his side so usually I’m like Stop! Grab Cole and try to help Bobby down the clmbing  frame down. I feel like a lot of the time I look at myself in day to day situations and think what would anybody think if they could see me now, but is that just parenting of two young boys?

What advice would you pass on to a new mum?

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Every mum thinks they have to be the perfect parent and everthing should be as the books say it should be. You cannot ever read something and be that person because every child is so different. Even seeing what my two boys are like – Bobby was so chilled out I could have gone to a hygienist appointment and he would have just sat in his pushchair and just watched. Cole would have just screamed blue murder, it just wouldn’t happen so already they have the personaliies so you have to adapt to them. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect because I don’t hitnk any of us are. We all lose our [shit] every so often don’t we.

Three words to describe yourself

Relaxed – all good things of course – warm and tired. Always tired.

Last book you read

I don’t read, there’s no time in my life for reading but I did read Giovanna Fletcher’s baby book ages ago. Weirdly because it was so relevant to me I actually really enjoyed it. I was reading it and thinking I’m reading about my own life, but there’s some comfort in it, that’s why she’s so popular, because she’s so honest. All the breastfeeding stuff you know I had a really hard time of it as well. Nobody tells you, even my own sister never really talked about it very much. I didn’t get that at all. But she was like I think I was so terrified that was almost…I think that the more we talk about it the better. You think that they’re supposed to latch on and it’s all lovely. I’ve never felt pain like it. Obviously it is a nice thing, it’s a labour of love.

Tell us one thing nobody knows about you.

I used to make my own clothes and sell them to my friends. My mum used to make clothes all the time, the sewing machine was always going. In the 80s with four kids it was tough financially so she made a lot of our own stuff. So I started making wrap around skirts, palazzo pants and scrunchies and people started putting orders in on our estate. I used to put the scrunchies on a big tube and take them to school and sell them. I was a right Del Boy even then!

Signature dish?

I’m not good at inventing my own things, but I am good at making something taste the way it’s supposed to taste. There’s a really nice Thai coconut sea bass recipe in one of the Leon books, which is really easy. You can prepare it earlier, put in the parcel and then they cook in 15 minutes and it looks like a really well thought out meal.

Who inspires you?

It’s a cheesy thing to say but my mum really does. I’ve got a new found respect for her since having children and trying to work with the kids. She had four and she was on her own because my parents split up when I was young. She always worked full time, she always did extra things after school like piano lessons for people to make extra money. I don’t know how she did all of that with the addition of financial worry and no partner to support her. So when I get stressed or think that life’s getting a bit tough I think, “ come on, think about what it was like for your mum, it was so much harder for her and she’s like happy now, we’re all happy and she’s getting the payback through us now I suppose. I think of her as a role model when I start to get a bit delusional as to what’s going on in life.

What’s next on your list of things to do?

I do do a lot of different things. I’ve been really lucky, I even got to do Strictly. There’s nothing really left that I desperately want to do. To be honest, if Kimba Kids works the way we hope it will it will be a much bigger focus for me over the next year because I’ll need to go full throttle if it works ans stuff. We’ve loads of ideas for interim things we can do around Christmas which all takes time and thought.

What are your memories of school?

I actually liked school from a social point of view. I was never sporty so I hated that side of things. I’d always find a way to get out of cross country. Generally I was lucky to be academic enough to get through without working too hard but I was never way up there. Because I was relatively clever but not expected to do amazingly well, I think you can enjoy school a bit more. You get grades that people are happy with, but you can also socialise without feeling too much pressure.

Memories of school dinners

We had really good school dinners. I always remember my middle school dinners were really good. They always did the best puddings, proper northern puddings like cornflake tart – a suet pastry base with jam and cornflake and treacle – and jam roly poly. Everyone who went to my school still talks about it.

What would you take to a desert island?

My kids, although it would be tempting not to! I can’t actually bare to be away from them for too long so they’d have to come, for help with the childcare. Music because I could keep them entertained and I can’t not be around music, so some sort of music system. And alcohol to get me through.

CITY KIDS SCHOOL FOOD AWARDS

 

STILL TIME TO ENTER!

We are delighted to announce that we have extended the deadline for our City Kids School Food Awards #CityKidsSFA19. The response from schools and parents has been so overwhelmingly positive that we want to include as many entrants as possible.

The School Food Awards are a unique opportunity to win an award that recognises the great work of schools and their kitchen teams. All schools are operating on budgets, and some are very tight budgets, yet many catering teams manage to provide nutritious, hot lunches for the kids. We think this should be celebrated!  But we also need to continue the discussion surrounding around free school meals and healthy eating.

With these awards we aim to recognise those schools who are providing catering excellence and thinking beyond meat and potatoes. The awards will become a well-regarded accolade amongst parents and educators alike. Winners will be handpicked by the City Kids editorial team and a host of well-known and passionate foodies, to be announced shortly.

The award categories are as follows:

State Sector
  • School Dinner Hero (Primary/Secondary)
  • Best School Menu (Primary/Secondary)
  • Best Vegetarian Menu (Primary/Secondary)
Independent Sector
  • School Dinner Hero (Prep/Secondary)
  • Best School Menu (Prep/Secondary)
  • Best Vegetarian Menu (Prep/Secondary)
Why Enter?

What’s the one question that kids ask when they visit a school? “What’s the food like?”
And what do parents ask on a daily basis when they collect their kids from school? “What did you have for lunch?”
School food is top of the agenda for kids and parents and what better way to show your school’s catering brilliance than with these awards.

Apart from the obvious positive PR, there are plenty of benefits to nominating your school for a City Kids School Food Award. All shortlisted schools will be mentioned in print and online and will be featured in our Spring Education issue. Winners will feature in our Summer issue. You will also receive a digital logo for use across your marketing assets to include: Vote for Us!, Shortlisted, Winner, Runner-up. This will contribute to the multi-media brand exposure across our platforms and yours.

How to enter

For more information about the entry process, categories and judging please click on the link below. Make your application by completing the online form on this page or by email. If you have any questions please email editor@citykidsmagazine.co.uk. Good luck!

CityKidsSFA2019 rules and entry form



Entries close on Friday 31st January 2019. 

#CityKidsSFA2019

NETBALL KNOWHOW

In netball, England are current Commonwealth gold medallists, and the popularity amongst girls is growing hugely. But what of us mothers, busy working or child juggling. Can we become ballers too? Beverley Turner says yes.

 

Netball.

I could think up some florid sentence to describe the benefits of netball, but – quite simply – I just bloody love it. And you will too. It all started four of five years ago, bored of the gym, tired of running but keen to keep a perky bottom, I tagged along with another school mum to a local leisure centre and a ‘Back to Netball’ session – part of an England Netball initiative running since 2010, which has seen over 60,000 women get back on court. Like most women, I played at school, but that was nearly 27 (f**k!) years ago. How hard could it be to catch and throw a ball? It transpired that the ball action was the easy bit. Sprinting up and down a full-size court while using my brain was the challenge. I came off red-faced, exhausted, elated and utterly determined to make this a weekly activity.

Commitment

For that last few years nothing gets in the way of my netball. In psychology terms, it’s a classic ‘flow activity’ – a pastime that is so engaging and absorbing that you forget all your worries and give yourself a very healthy mental break from any outside stress. Whilst running, swimming or pumping weights, it can be hard to switch off the to-do list in your head. But if you’re going to let your team mates down or get a ball in the side of your head, it’s surprising how concentrated you can be!

And netball is the UK’s largest growing sport. There was a 44% increase in participation at grass roots level in the last year, with nearly 30,000 players pounding the courts across England. Mothers supporting their school-age daughters now have a chance to play themselves at numerous courts across the country – knowing how hard it can be to shoot, must make for better side-line coaching.

Where to play

In West London we are spoilt for choice with teams and leagues available pretty much every day of the week. Kathryn Riley runs the Chiswick House Gardens-based Will to Win set-up where mums can be found on Thursday mornings working off a week’s worth of gin and tonics. “The appeal lies in women of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels playing together and having fun,” she says, “We employ fully-qualified coaches to take drills as well as oversee games.”  Like me, most of the women have played as youngsters so there’s also a nostalgic element to the game. “It keeps us all young!” says Kathryn. At the recent tournament they hosted, the Will to Win team saw more than 40 women gather on a beautiful summer’s evening to battle it out for victory. It was an inspiring scene: incredibly busy women who juggle kids, work and other commitments, yet who make time to get out and keep fit. By the end of the evening, everyone was smiling.

So it’s about time we women got to share in the magic that blokes and their weekly five-a-side footy teams have known for years: team sport is the very best exercise for both body – and mind. I’ll see you there.

Want to know more?

If you’re feeling a little intimidated, unfit or not sure if netball is for you, why not try walking netball.
Walking netball is a slower version of the game; it is netball, but at a walking pace. The game has been designed so that anyone can play it regardless of age or fitness level.
From those who have dropped out of the sport they love due to serious injury, to those who believed they had hung up their netball trainers many years ago, it really is for everyone.

For more information about netball and walking netball sessions across London for women and children, please visit www.willtowin.co.uk

 Above: Bev Turner and her sister-in-law

GUIDE TO SUMMER HOLIDAY CLUBS & CAMPS IN LONDON

If you thought you had it all worked out, but realise you’ve dropped a ball, here’s our guide to Summer holiday camps and clubs. Take note of some of the discounts we have available too!

THE LITTLE GYM

Themed activity camps that not only teach gymnastics but also work on confidence, self-esteem and creativity. Pirates, princesses, magic wizardry and superheroes for children aged 3-12yrs in Chiswick, Westfield, Wandsworth, Hampton Hill.
Quote CKTLG19 to get a 15% discount on camps at Chiswick

thelittlegym.eu/uk

 

RICHER EDUCATION

London’s leading STEM learning provider. Richer Education camps are not just about education, but also fun! All levels of knowledge are welcome and activities are led by specialists in their field.
4-14 yrs in appropriate age groups running at Imperial College London and at Baden Powell House in South Kensington.

richereducation.co.uk

 

FIRETECH

Innovative and creative tech camps covering Junior Python, all girls coding, video game design, Python and Java coding, Creative Digital Design, Unity 3D and more.
9-17yrs Imperial College, City of London School & South Hampstead.

£25 off with promo code CITYKIDS

firetechcamp.com

 

WILL TO WIN

Tennis for a week is a great way to improve. Lots of drills, games and match play with an emphasis on fun! Rackets can be borrowed.
4yrs+ Chiswick, Ealing, Regents Park, Hyde Park.

willtowin.co.uk

 

ARTS ED SUMMER SCHOOL

Acting and musical theatre summer school which teaches audition techniques, gives West End training and offers the chance to make your own movie. All from the best in the business.
7-16 yrs+ Chiswick

artsed.co.uk

 

WATERMANS SUMMER WORKSHOPS

These festival-themed summer workshops include music, making and having fun and include some FREE drop-ins. Highlights are a family gig with the Brass Funkeys, Cut-a-Shine’s family barn dance and animation workshops with an Aardman aficionado.
4-16yrs Running from Tuesday 30 July to Thursday 15 August in Brentford.

watermans.org.uk

 

FLIPOUT

Trampolining camps which include freejumping sessions, drama, art and back to school booster classes. Even a free t-shirt.
6-14yrs Brent Cross

flipout.co.uk

 

LITTLE HOUSE OF SCIENCE

Curious minds encouraged to explore, experiment and play at Imperial College.
4-11yrs Imperial College, Chelsea, St Johns Wood, Notting Hill & Kensington

littlehouseofscience.com

 

FIT FOR SPORT

Activity camps which have been running for 25 years to give children the opportunity to try a variety of sports and activities.
4-12 yrs all over London.

fitforsport.co.uk

 

CAMP ENGLAND

Multi-sports camp aiming to develop sporting talent as well as ‘Life Skills Through Sport’ such as resilience, teamwork, empowerment and responsibility.
5-13 yrs Richmond, Teddington, Hampton, Esher, Kingston

campengland.co.uk

 

SUMMER OF SLIME

Every parent’s favourite pastime…But Slime Planet are at the rescue offering one hour workshops every day during the holidays. Poppin’ Candy and Glow Slime are highlights.
3 yrs+ (under 5s need supervision) Arch 494 Rathgar Rd, London, Sw9 7EP

slimeplanet.co.uk

 

CAMP BEAUMONT

Multi-activity camp hosted at schools with some of the best facilities in town.
3-16 yrs at UCS and King’s College School. Runs until 23rd August.

www.campbeaumont.co.uk/our-camps

 

SCHOOL FOR CREATIVE THINKERS

Inspired by architecture, the summer programme is called Nature’s Architects and focusses on learning from nature’s builders such as birds and bees.Can be booked as a single session, weekly or whole course.
4-11 yrs (under 6 to be accompanied by an adult. Runs until 15 August.

www.schoolforcreativethinkers.com

 

CYPHER CODERS

Coding and tech inspired camps which touch on themes such as music, robotics, nature, oceanography and art. Pick up points across West London to their bases in Notting Hill and St John’s Wood. 5yrs+

cyphercoders.com

 

ET PATATI PATATA

Learn French from native speakers in this 30 hour a week immersion school. Gold Award holiday camp.
4-16 yrs in three age groups Hammersmith

etpatatipatata.com

 

MY LITTLE BOARDERS

Two disciplines, Skate park Skateboarding (in the morning) and Street Skateboarding (in the afternoon) running and running catering for beginners, intermediate and advanced skaters.
6-14 yrs Royal Oak & Camden

mylittleboarders.co.uk

 

KITE STUDIOS

All day workshops on Wednesdays including Plants inspired by Kew Gardens and Mixed Media with Ferdinand the Bull. Askew Road.

kitestudios.org

 

SHOOTING STARZ

Choose from multi-sports, football, netball or mini skills and book half, full or extended days or weeks at camp.
3-13 yrs Club Des Sports Acton.

shootingstarz.co.uk

 

ROCKS LANE

Multi-sports, netball and football on offer with lunchbox included.
3-12 yrs Chiswick, Barnes, Bishops Park

rockslane.co.uk

 

BRENTFORD FC COMMUNITY SPORTS TRUST

“Confidence, Fair Play, Leadership, Respect, Sportsmanship, Teamwork” Soccer schools which teach technique in a fun and safe environment.
5-12 yrs Isleworth

brentfordfccst.com

TNT HAMPTON POOL

On Tuesdays and Thursdays take the kids for two hours of inflatable fun with bouncy castle, giant aqua run, walking on water and of course, swimming. Snack included.
5-14 yrs Hampton

hamptonpool.co.uk

WHO IS…ARI LAST?

 

How did you come up with the idea for Bubble?

There were two things which gave me the idea and motivation to launch bubble. Firstly, I had kids of my own and quick realised that childcare is such a massive struggle – a daily struggle – for so many parents. Secondly, when I looked at how we and other parents were trying to find our childcare, much more often then not our decisions were being driven by recommendation and word of mouth. Trust is obviously the most important thing when it comes to who we let look after our kids and more so then anything else we want to know who are friends are using and who they really rate. We figured that is information that an app could bring to a parent’s fingertips, and we set off to build it with bubble.

How does it work?

bubble gives parents total control to find the perfect sitter for them and their kids. The app makes it easy to select when you need someone and quickly see the sitter’s around you who want to help you out. Every sitter passes an ID and Background check before being allowed onto the app and our USP is that the app will show you how you know the sitter via mutual friends. For example, you can see the other parents at your kids’ school and the sitters they know and use. You can also read the sitter’s reviews from other local parents, and even use the app to chat with those parents for more information. When you come across someone you like, you can use the app to book them as well as pay them cashlessly at the end which our customers really love. The app has a review system which helps ensure that the sitters giving the best service are the ones that get the most work.

Which areas of London are covered by the app?

We’ve got full coverage across London now and on average it takes just 43 seconds for a parent to receive an application from a sitter after posting their job. Parents are using bubble to book sitters in as little notice as 30 minutes. The thing they love most about the app is that ultimately they are always in control of the sitter they pick. And we see how parents use the app in many different ways, doing what they need to do to get comfortable with a sitter.

What’s been the biggest lesson learned running Bubble?

Doing a startup with three young kids at home (I’ve got three under 5) is especially difficult but at the same time I love how despite having never worked harder, I’ve also never spent more time with my kids. There’s a lot being written at the moment about helping parents work flexibly, and the importance of enabling us to better juggle work and family life. My experience has shown me how spending time with your family and being incredibly dedicated to your work are not mutually exclusive.

What’s your proudest moment?

There’s no doubt that starting a business is a rollercoaster, the only certainty you have is that things will go wrong. So celebrating the wins and having what can at times be gruelling days punctured with moments of pride is so important. Every time we get some glowing feedback from a customer we’ve helped is a huge boost to me and the team. We’ve got amazing feedback on our trustpilot page and seeing new comments come in from parents thanking bubble for helping them is honestly a huge source of pride for us. Childcare is a really sensitive subject and it’s not an easy product to ‘sell’ – particularly when you’re doing things in a novel way as we are. So great customer feedback is something we hugely value – it’s what drives us on to keep doing more.

What’s your top tip for date night in London?

I’ll be honest I’m pretty useless with this kind of thing! My wife and I are big foodies so when we go out, 99% of the time, good food is on the agenda. There are so many great places in London now we’re spoilt for choice. Caravan in Kings Cross is a favourite right now.

Where’s your favourite place to go in London with the children?

We’re typical North Londoners so we always like to take the kids to the Heath or Highgate Wood whenever the weather allows. When it doesn’t, the Wonderlab in the Science Museum is a great bet, though I always leave it pretty shattered.

Last book you read?

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s definitely not one to take in with the kids screaming around you but if you do ever get a quiet moment, it’s just brilliant.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.

My first job was commentating on European Football for UEFA – for a football anorak it was a dream. How I quite ended up running a babysitting app still bemuses me sometimes.

What would you take to a desert island?

My wife, kids and a bubble babysitter.

Signature dish?

I love to cook and find it a huge stress reliever. Nowadays though most of my time in the kitchen is spent making Cheese Toasties so I’ll go with that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Pretty tired dad.

www.joinbubble.com

 

 

AFTER SCHOOL BARS

Jo Pratt gives us a quick, easy and healthy recipe for After School Bars which can be made in advance, and also taken to school as they’re nut-free.


“I’m hungry, have you got anything to eat?”… that’s what I hear pretty much every day at school pick up – and not just from my own children.  I’m sure we’ve all been there and resorted to giving them something you’ve quickly grabbed from the ‘treat drawer’ on your way out of the house or from the local shop.

The problem is by the time you get home they are hungry again. As a result you then hear yourself say (again) that you must look for a healthier snack to give to them that will satisfy their hunger for longer.
So with that in mind, when City Kids asked me for this issues recipe I thought; it’s a new school year, lets start as we mean to go on. I had a play around with one of my Flapjack recipes and a healthy granola recipe to create these fruity, oaty bars that are packed with slow release energy from the oats and dried fruits. They are much lower in fat than traditional flapjacks, refined sugar-free, don’t contain nuts and better still get the thumbs up from my two children who can be very fussy at times.

Enjoy!

Jo

Makes: 8 bars

Takes: 40 minutes

  • 100g porridge oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g pitted dates
  • 75g honey or agave syrup
  • 100g tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • finely grated zest ½ orange
  • 40g pumpkin or sunflower seeds (or a mixture of the two)
  • 75g dried fruit (i.e cranberries, cherries, raisins, sultanas, chopped apricot)

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4. Line a 20cm x 20 cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

Mix together the oats and cinnamon. Spread onto a baking tray and toast the oats in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through so they evenly toast. Remove from the oven and tip the oats into a bowl.

Put the dates in a food processor and blend until they form a sticky paste. Transfer to the bowl with the oats.  Add the seeds and dried fruit.

Heat the honey or agave syrup, tahini and orange zest in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Pour into the bowl and mix everything together.

Transfer to the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out and cooling completely. Cut into 8 rectangle bars and store for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

BABY-FACED GENIUS

Baby-faced Genius – Who does your baby look like and why? Some science (and anecdotal evidence) from our ante-natal guru.

Words: Beverley Turner


One of the great joys of running ante-natal classes (I hate that word – you are adults who have had sex – classrooms are for kids) is meeting the babies who we started to know as bumps. Myself and the midwife spend eight weeks laughing, listening and learning with couples who are about to become parents. Then – as if by magic – we’re all back in the pub together with tiny, curled up, pink-faced babies. And everyone looks just like their dad in a baby-gro.

It never fails to amaze me how much babies resemble their fathers. Sometimes, it momentarily slips my mind which baby belongs to which dad. But then I look at the cherub in a pink frilly dress and think, “Ah yes, you’re the one who always orders a pint of pale ale and works in IT … that’s right, Mike.”

Mother nature very cleverly makes sure that dads stick around to do the Sainsbury’s run by carving out newborns in their image. It makes perfect sense. We mums are inclined towards keeping our babies close, feeding them, snuggling them and marvelling at the colour of their poo. Dads may need to work a little harder to feel that bond – but if they look down and see themselves reflected back … well, their hearts melt; they’re soon picturing those chubby cheeks in a Chelsea scarf, which is enough to make them stay.

Although I’d like to claim 100% certainty on this phenomenon, scientific studies don’t actually back my theory. A body of research conducted over decades and published in the journal ‘Evolution and Human Behaviour’, has delivered conflicting results: some studies found that newborns more closely resembled their mums than their dads; other studies found newborns to be matched with

both parents equally well. My personal favourite was the most recent study which found that, although babies more closely resembled their mother for the first three days, the mums themselves remarked on how much they looked like dads. The author of the study concluded that this was an “evolved or conditioned response to assure fathers of their paternity.” I’d also ask (with a mischievous glint in my eye) how many mums down the generations have cooed, “Oh darling! He looks soooo like you!” with a quiet sigh of relief.

Of course, this paternal-bias has also caused some mums to grimace at a large nose or flappy ears and say, “She gets that from your side of the family.” Fast forward two years and the toddler sulks can be weaponised by a tired dad: “She’s just like you when you don’t get your own way!” To the harassed mum, the teenager slamming the door becomes: “A mini-you! He’s learnt that from you!” And, just in case she hasn’t played the genetics card quite hard enough, “Remember the time your brother stormed off at Christmas lunch? That boy is just the same!”

Mud-slinging from the branches of the family tree is a tried and tested means of surviving parenting. We all do it. We shouldn’t. But, we do. It’s oddly satisfying. In essence, it’s an attempt to be a good parent whilst getting yourself off the hook – if Olivia can’t sit still, it’s easy to blame your restless mother-in-law. And if an inability to kick a football is a family trait from your husband’s side, little Jago may never make the A Team, regardless of how much you spend on lessons. It’s not our fault.

And there may be some truth in that. A recently published book, ‘Do Parents matter?’, tried to answer that provocative question. The author, Judith Harris wanted to establish whether a child’s behaviour was “learned from their parents,” taught by their social group or could be attributed to “the genes they inherited.” She concluded: “Studies using the proper controls consistently favour the latter explanation. In fact, personality resemblances between biological relatives are due almost entirely to heredity, rather than environment.” She cites the fact that adopted children “don’t resemble their adoptive parents in personality.” Harris claims not be particularly interested in genetic effects, but the point is that they have to be considered. Unless we know what the child brings to the environment, we can’t figure out what effect the environment has on the child.”

She travelled the world examining many different cultures and parenting styles, concluding that “parenting didn’t have to be such a difficult, anxiety-producing job, that there are many different ways to rear a child, and no convincing evidence that one way produces better results than another.”

So, the moral of the story is that we, as parents, just need to do what we can. I sometimes think the best we can hope for is a well-timed “please” or “thank you” – everything else is genetically pre-determined. We’re all just winging it, moulding our kids as best we can with the product we grew. But genes will always play a part – so pick those daddies carefully, and be honest – we may not be quite perfect ourselves.

Beverley Turner is author of The Happy Birth Book and hosts a show on LBC at 6pm on Saturdays. She also runs The Happy Birth Club in Chiswick.

HOW TO GET MORE SLEEP – HANDY TIPS FOR PARENTS

Want more sleep? The World Sleep Society is at hand with some ideas on how to get more sleep, for you and your children!

HOW TO GET MORE SLEEP

How many times have you quietly competed with anyone about how little sleep you’ve had. You must be the most hard done by, you must be the most tired, no one could have possibly had as little sleep as you.
Well, as parents, we all know that sleep is the holy grail and that we NEVER get enough of the stuff. And the best way to get more sleep is to get the nippers to sleep like babies. Ahem.

10 COMMANDMENTS FOR CHILDREN

Ages Birth to 12 Years

Sleep is one of the most important contributors to your child’s physical and mental health. Good sleep habits, sleep hygiene, or “sleep health” are alternative terms often used to describe sleep promoting practices. The explanation as to why healthy sleep practices promote sleep is likely to be, at least in part, that they work by improving the regulation of sleep, either by reinforcing the body’s natural circadian rhythms (ie, the timing of light and darkness), or by increasing the drive to sleep. Other sleep practices help us to associate certain activities (like a bedtime routine) and environments (ie, the bedroom) with sleep. Healthy sleep behaviours also promote sleep by reducing factors in the environment which are stimulating (like caffeine) and increasing relaxation, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Finally, good sleep practices include providing an adequate opportunity for sleep based on age and individual sleep needs and an environment that is conducive to good sleep quality and safety.
  1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep by setting an age-appropriate bedtime (preferably before 9:00 pm or 21:00 hours) and waketime*.
  2. Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time on weekdays and weekends.
  3. Establish a consistent bedtime routine and recommend wearing comfortable clothes in bed, including strong absorbing diapers for infants.
  4. Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.
  5. Avoid bright lights at bedtime and during the night and increase light exposure in the morning.
  6. Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers, and cell phones, out of the bedroom and limit use of electronics before bedtime.
  7. Maintain a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.
  8. Have an age-appropriate nap schedule.
  9. Ensure plenty of exercise and time spent outdoors during the day.
  10. Eliminate foods and beverages containing caffeine, including many sodas, coffee, and tea.
* TABLE OF RECOMMENDED SLEEP AMOUNTS

AGE                       SLEEP NEED
3-12 months —-   14 to15 hours
1-3 years —-        12 to14 hours
3-5 years —-        11 to 13 hours
6-12 years —-      10 to 11 hours
12-18 years —-    8.5 to 9.5 hours

In addition to clinical sleep problems, poor sleep habits can cause poor quality sleep in adults. To help improve overall sleep and wellness, World Sleep Society has created the 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults:

  1. Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
  2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
  3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime, and do not smoke.
  4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
  5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
  6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
  7. Use comfortable, inviting bedding.
  8. Find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated.
  9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
  10. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.

SCHOLARSHIPS AND BURSARIES

“I think he might be even cleverer than his brother,” said Monika, “so I’d like him to try.” She meant tto ry for a place at Latymer Upper. Peter’s brother was at a good comprehensive and would have done well anywhere. Monika worried that Peter was unconfident and, at his brother’s school, might lose interest and drift. Just before I was due to meet Peter to test his English and maths, Monika called. “Forget it,” she said. “I’ve lost my job. And his dad’s on zero hours.” “Bring him anyway,” I said. “We might as well take a look.”

Peter turned out to be a natural. He grasped how to approach a comprehension exercise without being told and wrote a beautiful essay. His maths was swift and accurate. He tried for Latymer Upper on the understanding that he could only take up the place with hefty assistance from the school with the fees. He was awarded a bursary which covered 100% of the fees plus additional help with extras.

This does not happen every day but a third of children attending independent schools now get some help with the fees in the form of scholarships and bursaries.

Since the government’s Direct Grant and Assisted Places schemes were abandoned, schools have built up their own funds in order to offer places to the bright children of broke – or semi-broke – parents. Why? They need pupils who will bring them top results and sporting glory so that they attract more of the same.

School fees have gone up out of all proportion to average wages and even to house prices in the last ten years.

In 2007, Westminster School charged just under £16,000 for a day place. Today you’d pay £26,130 – a rise of nearly 64%, whereas average salaries have risen only around 15% in that time. Godolphin and Latymer charged just under £12,000 in 2007. Now it’s just under £21,000 – a rise of 75%. For most professional families independent schooling in London is no longer affordable.

So, what help is available?

Most London independents offer at least some fee assistance in the form of scholarships and bursaries. These days, few scholarships are worth a major chunk of the fees, though some – awarded for promise in e.g. academics, sports, art, music, drama etc. – can cover up to 50% of the fees in some cases. Schools now channel most of their available funds into means-tested bursaries. These go to children who, like Peter, would not be able to attend the school without financial help. 100% bursaries are relatively rare (though University College School had 52 pupils on this level of assistance when we visited) but many schools will offer 25% or 50% to those pupils they really want and the bursary can be supplemented by a scholarship for able children. You can have both.

You have to be prepared to reveal your home circumstances every year – with complete honesty.

But you can have a joint income of a surprisingly high amount (up to £120,000 at St Paul’s Boys’) and still qualify for some help. And it’s not just your income that is scrutinised but your essential outgoings and lifestyle. So, if you have elderly parents to support that would be taken into account. But if you take four holidays a year, have two homes and a yacht, you can probably forget it.

Not all schools have much to give away but some have lots. If you want to give this a go, you need to educate yourselves on what could be available to you so as to give it the best shot.
The Good Schools Guide holds up-to-date information on the fee assistance offered by more than 700 schools and is the only centralised source of such general information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk

by SUSAN HAMLYN, Director at The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants

NAVIGATING THE 11+

If you’ve decided to go private for secondary school, by the time your child reaches Year 5 you’ll be contemplating the start line of the 11+ marathon. Having just been through the process myself, I decided that those Year 5 parents, as well as those closing in on application deadlines in November, might want to hear what it was REALLY like, straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ve spoken to parents to gather their perspective on the process, and how they think it could be improved, in addition to bleeding them dry of proper, useful advice and the lowdown on some of London’s most sought-after educational establishments. I think it’s worth noting that the parents I spoke to have children in a range of schools: Putney High, Harrodian, Latymer Upper, Francis Holland, Arts Ed, Ibstock Place and Kew House. So, you will be getting a decent overview.

11 plus advice

THE 11 PLUS PROCESS

General feedback from the parents I spoke to was that the process is ‘pretty awful’, ‘tough on parents and children’, ‘frustrating’ and ‘a bit like childbirth – you eventually forget the worst bits!’ One parent told me that their new headteacher recently congratulated the parents and pupils for having made it through the 11 plus process in West London, begging the question of whether it is better dealt with out of town (more on that in our Schools Out piece, p29).

One thing is certain, it’s a competitive business and applying for only one school would be foolhardy. Spreading your bets and applying for eight schools is equally daft. It just adds stress and is exhausting for your child (and really, are there eight schools you really love?). Be grown up and make some decisions!

The schools don’t exactly discourage applications; as one parent put it, ‘they can make serious money from the registrations, so they’re not going to turn people away!’ Emmanuel School in Clapham is the only one we know of that caps applications each year.

Beware, the cut-off is getting earlier and earlier.

Blink, and you’ll miss it. And don’t rely on other parents to let you know. It’s every man and woman for themselves in this game.

Part of the process involves creating a shortlist. Be ready for some schools to host open evenings that are like ‘bun-fights’, where they don’t control numbers. This results in some parents not being able to get a good feel for the school. Others require a ticket, so you need to book well in advance or you won’t get a look-in.

Try to get to as many open days and evenings as you can, even though it becomes a drag in the final stages. It will give you the opportunity to form a better opinion about what is important to you: single-sex, city, out of town, sporty, musical, all-rounder, religious.

Once the choices are made, be prepared for the interview. Some schools only interview candidates that reach a certain exam standard, but most will interview all pupils who apply, sometimes before the exam.

Recent questions included:

  • Tell me how a Fitbit works?
  • Describe this object. To this day, I still don’t know what it was my daughter had to describe.
  • What is time?
  • Rank the schools you have applied to in order from favourite to least favourite (yes, really, a child was asked to do this).
  • What was the greatest invention of the 20th century?
  • Who do you think should be on the new £10 note and why?
  • If you could be anyone for 24 hours, who would you choose & what would you do?

So, now you’ve prepped the questions, you’re ready, right? Wrong. You’ve got the environment to contend with. Some schools rip your loved ones from you at some distance from the exam centre, others provide a welcoming talk, tea and biscuits while you wait. Some interviews are one-on-one with senior management, others are in groups (when, inevitably, one over-confident chatterbox talks over everyone else), and often there will be many interviews taking place in one room at the same time. And then there’s the speed-dating type of interview. Oh yes, not just something for adults. The most important tip here is for you to give your child the confidence they need to be themselves. We have to trust that these schools know what they’re looking for and which child will fit in.

HOW COULD THE 11 PLUS PROCESS BE IMPROVED?

This is a difficult one. Some of the best schools in the country happen to be within a two-mile radius of West London. So, it naturally follows that it’s competitive. We all go into this with our eyes open. It’s a selective approach to education, so how is it best to select?

Kew House is regarded very positively by local parents as it puts a lot of emphasis on the interview with the headmaster (who, by the way, puts nervous children at ease in seconds).

The interviews are also all finished by the end of the Autumn term, meaning it’s one less thing to worry about in January.

A parent I spoke to suggested that there should be a limit to the number of schools that parents apply to. She said:

‘I think this would mean people categorised their choices better. The more academic kids would apply for the more academic schools, with maybe one fall-back. Instead, the less academic kids would apply for the middle/lower ranked (academia-wise) schools, with maybe one hopeful. This would stop the more academic kids being offered loads of places in schools they are unlikely to accept, therefore stopping so many kids having to go through the wait-listing process. It would also make the numbers applying to the schools more realistic.’

Another idea was to put co-ed schools together, like the North London Girls’ School Consortium. So,

‘one maths and English paper are taken by each child, and all schools consider these papers. The mixed schools, such as Ibstock, Harrodian, Kew, Radnor House & St Benedicts, could form a West London Consortium. If they want to do their own verbal/non-verbal tests, then they can, but the main exams would be cut down considerably.’

SOME 11 PLUS ADVICE FROM OUR PARENTS…

  • Get a tutor.
  • Don’t get a tutor. The debate will go on.
  • Get a folder & get organised! Buy stamps and envelopes now. Few of the schools use online applications. You’ll need photocopies of your child’s passport & passport-sized photos of him/her. The admin around applying and each exam day (whether your child needs to wear a certain sticker, take a card with them, etc) is surprisingly full-on, but you need to be calm and in-control so they don’t feel your stress as well!
  • Focus on your child and what they need from a secondary school, not what others think or which are the most popular schools of the moment.
  • Some people go completely bonkers through the process … ignore them.
  • When you look around a school, try and look for the reason you might not want your child to go there. These schools are all excellent!
  • Try to get to as many open days and evenings as you can, even though it becomes a drag in the final stages. You will form a better opinion about what is important to you: single-sex, distance from home, the journey to school, sporty, musical, all-rounder, religious.
  • Many schools host more than one open day at different times of the year. When trying to narrow things down, going to a second open day is a good way to help finalise a view. You may well see a school in a very different light the second time around, especially if you only saw it once, right at the beginning of the process.
  • Believe in your own judgement regarding your child’s potential, and be realistic about where they will get in. There’s no point putting them through the stress of a highly academic school just because you really want them to go there when the reality is that they will probably achieve more in the long term if they went to a school that was more academically appropriate for them.
  • Listen to your child. Having gone through this process twice now, both my children have been very clear about which school is their favourite, even if it may not have been my first choice. They are the ones who have to spend the next five to seven years at that school. So, it’s better they make the decision with you, rather than you deciding for them.
  • Don’t cross-examine your child after each exam. Chances are, they will have made some classic errors and it’s very difficult to pretend not to care! Best not to know.
  • Be ready for rejection. Getting offers from all their schools is for the very few. Knowing how to be positive is an important skill here.
  • If you’re on a wait-list, call the school immediately and express your 100% desire to be part of their intake in the Autumn. One headmaster joked that this is the time to send flowers and chocolates to the registrar concerned. Joking aside, begging letters, expensive gifts and stalking have been known.
  • Alternatively, take the view that if the school doesn’t want your child, you don’t want them to go there!
  • Relax, do not stress. It does work itself out in the end. Easier said than done. Take it from one who knows!

With thanks to Cherry Wood, Claire Rimmer, Sharon Hart, Maria Viader, David Ewen and Sarah Norman-Taylor.

WHO IS…IZZY JUDD

 

Victoria Evans caught up with Izzy Judd as she prepared for the launch of Dare to Dream, and for the imminent arrival of baby number two, who we now know is Kit.

Describe yourself in three words

Kind, control-freak, mum

How did Dare to Dream come about?

Initially, when Harry and I first announced our pregnancy with Lola, I was conscious about putting the news out there. For two years, I saw pregnancy announcements and wondered why it wasn’t me. Having seen another celebrity announcement, or a friend’s, it felt like it was all around me. So, when Harry and I did our Hello interview, I told him how strongly I felt about being honest about how we got here. So, I spoke about IVF and miscarriages during the interview, but it was quite scary to come to the decision to open up.

The response I got back from women – I couldn’t believe the number of people, and even my own friends, who started to open up. Harry was like, ‘Izzy, I think you should write something. There’s something here.’ When I was going through my own issues, a lot of the books that I looked at were very science based. I couldn’t really find anything that spoke to me emotionally. So, the whole idea behind Dare to Dream was driven by the desire to write a book that would be a companion to other couples going through fertility struggles. I was inspired by the people reaching out to me.

How was the process?

My intention is to try and change the perception of fertility treatment. I went through a journey, for want of a better word, but the moment I found out that it wasn’t going to happen straight away, I panicked and opted for medical intervention. I wanted whatever medication I could have to get pregnant. In hindsight, I wish someone had put a hand on my shoulder and gone, ‘It’s okay, these things can take time. Don’t panic.’ Hormonally, I reacted quite badly to the medication and became very depressed, lost a lot of confidence and felt as though I’d lost myself completely.

After about six months, and another negative test result, I went downstairs. I was devastated. Harry took my hand and said, ‘Worst case scenario – you and me, and it’s still a pretty good place.’ It was a moment of realisation for me. Here I was, I’d just got married but I was so consumed and obsessed by this one thing. So, I did this mind, body and soul detox, which was amazing in that I instantly felt a change in my mood, and thought about falling pregnant. I made a decision that, actually, my story is that it’s not going to happen quickly for me. So, by the time I started IVF, I was able to approach it in a very calm way. I looked at my nutrition, I was doing mindfulness and I was probably in the best state mentally.

I really believe that people are frightened by the three letters ‘IVF’, but there is something really magical about it. I really felt that doctors take over your body, but you’re very much in charge of your mind. I really wanted to try and provide a different view, a more positive perspective, as a lot of couples might only have one go. It’s expensive and the pressure on you for it to work is going to put your body into a fight or flight mode. It’s about how you deal with getting through. Hopefully, the book guides people on how to better manage those emotions.

What’s a typical day like?

I’m with Lola full time. We’re very lucky as she can hang out in her cot and play happily in the mornings. She’s always been a great sleeper, but I’m the one who’s up, staring at her, wondering, ‘Are you too hot, or too cold?’ We might go to a class in the morning or meet up with a friend. She has her nap, which gives me a bit of nap time too (seven months pregnant). We go to the local parks or Harry might take her out. My day is quite focussed around Lola and her needs.

Who inspires you?

My granny was a huge inspiration to me. She worked all her life, which, in her generation, wasn’t necessarily what happened. She was quite forward thinking in many ways. I was very close to her and was devastated when she died. In the book, I mention a time when I was going through IVF. I used to walk round St Peter’s Square and there was this robin that followed me around. Apparently, robins are someone from your past letting you know that they’re there. It’s a bit kooky, but I like it. I was always sure it was granny just being there.

Family inspires me. My brothers are all musicians, and I’m very close to my family.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My dad’s always said ‘dignity at all times’, and that does sit well with me. My dad doesn’t say much but, when he does, it counts.

What would you take to a desert island?

Can I take Harry? And Lola? Harry might be happy that I mentioned him first for a change! I have had my Winnie the Pooh bear ever since I was a little girl. I still can’t sleep without him, or go anywhere without him.

What’s your favourite spot in London?

My instant response is St Peter’s Square. I love the fact that, in a big city, there are these pockets like Chiswick House, where one can find moments of peace and magic.

What’s your biggest luxury?

I’m not one for luxuries but, when we go on holiday, I like a nice hotel. Go on, shall we upgrade? Harry is the opposite. We don’t go on holiday every year, but when we do, that’s our little luxury.

Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you

I have suffered horrendously with anxiety, for most of my life. When you’re someone who goes out and performs like I did with Escala on Britain’s Got Talent, you wouldn’t think that that person would then go off stage and have a panic attack. I don’t know if many people know that about me, but I’m sure that was the root of my problems when trying to conceive. My anxiety has become a friend. When I say I’m a control freak, being in control is my way of managing my anxiety. I find change very difficult. I do get anxious before events, but it’s such a silent thing, I don’t think anybody notices. I’ve learned when to say ‘no’ to things, and it’s become easier as an adult. At least mental health is being talked about now.

What’s next?

The baby! I knew that I had time to write the book, so I can now focus on Lola before the baby comes. The whole thing with Dare to Dream is, I feel like it’s a long-term campaign. I want to keep the conversation going about fertility, and empower people to feel comfortable talking about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROYAL PARKS LONDON: TOP THINGS TO DO

ROYAL PARKS LONDON: TOP THINGS TO DO THIS SUMMER

ROYAL PARKS LONDON: TOP THINGS TO DO THIS SUMMER

Nowhere beats London in the sunshine and nothing says summer more than the eight Royal Parks in London. This season Phil Collins, Disney remakes, sculpture, swimming and jazz are just some of the things on offer.

Take a dip in the Lido

What better way to spend a lazy summer afternoon than a refreshing dip in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park, followed by a spot of lunch at the nearby Lido Café Bar?

Located near the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fountain and overlooking the Serpentine Lake, the Lido Café is the perfect lakeside spot for a scenic bite to eat with friends and family.

Listen to some jazz in Greenwich Park

Throughout July and August, the bandstand at Greenwich Park plays host to some great jazz bands, from the Belvedere Concert Band to the Galaxy Big Band and the Lewisham Concert Band.

Organised by the Friends of Greenwich Park, the concerts are free of charge and take place every Sunday from 3 pm.

Discover the history of the Royal Parks London

The Royal Parks have evolved over the past 500 years from monarchical deer hunting grounds to the world famous public parks we know and love today, accessible to all and enjoyed by millions from across the globe.

For the first time ever, an exhibition will explore this rich history, with rarely seen artefacts including oil paintings, photographs, and historical documents spanning three centuries. The exhibition will also look at the history of Phoenix Park in Dublin, which was formed in 1662 as Ireland’s only royal deer park, and is today managed by the Office of Public Works, Ireland.

Parks: Our Shared Heritage is delivered in partnership with the Hearsum Collection and the Office of Public Works, Ireland.
In addition to the exhibition The Royal Parks, in partnership with the education team at Mall Galleries, will host a number of community art activities between 28 July and 11 August.

When: 27 July – 11 August 2017
Where: Mall Galleries
Free. For more information click here.

Get cultural in the Serpentine Pavilion

Diébédo Francis Kéré, the award-winning architect from Gando, Burkina Faso, is the seventeenth architect to accept the Serpentine Galleries’ invitation to design a temporary Pavilion in its grounds in Kensington Gardens.

The tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his hometown of Gando inspired the architect.  He designed a Pavilion that seeks to connect its visitors to nature – and each other. An expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics a tree’s canopy. Also, it allows air to circulate freely while offering shelter against London rain and summer heat.

On selected Fridays, the Pavilion transforms into a site for encounters in art, cinema, theatre, performance and music for the Serpentine Galleries’ annual ‘Park Nights’ programme.

When: 23 June – 8 October 2017
Where: Serpentine Galleries
Free

Admire free sculpture in The Regent’s Park

From 5 July Frieze’s first ever summer exhibition in The Regent’s Park will open in the beautiful English Gardens. ‘Frieze Sculpture’ is hand selected by Clare Lilley, Director of Programmes for Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It brings together 25 works by leading 20th-century and contemporary artists from around the world.

When: 5 July – 8 October 2017
Where: The Regent’s Park English Gardens
Free

Honour Emmeline Pankhurst on her birthday

From political activists to fashion icons, the Amazing Women of Brompton Cemetery tour offers the best in her-stories from inspirational women who are buried in this Grade 1 listed garden cemetery.
This new tour coincides with the birthday of Emmeline Pankhurst who helped women secure the right to vote almost a hundred years ago.
When: 15 July 2017, 2.30pm and 21 July, 6 pm
Where: Brompton Cemetery. Meeting point outside the chapel
No need to book, just turn up. The walk is free but the Friends of Brompton Cemetery welcome a donation of £5.

Experience RideLondon in the capital

Prudential RideLondon is the world’s greatest festival of cycling, developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies in partnership with Surrey County Council.

Staged for the first time in August 2013, it is the largest festival of cycling in the world with more than 100,000 participants. They’re expected to cycle more than three million miles during the weekend of 28-30 July 2017. St James’s Park and Richmond Park star in the weekend’s events. The Mall in St James’s Park provides the finish line.

The event combines the fun of a free family ride in central London with the excitement of watching the world’s best professional cyclists. Amateur cyclists participate by riding a 100-mile or 46-mile challenge on the same closed roads as the professional road race, raising millions for good causes.

Learn about minibeasts in the Royal Parks London

Discover the magnificent minibeasts that call London’s Royal Parks home! Join Mission: Invertebrate for a free day of storytelling, bug trails, creative crafting and invertebrate missions galore. Look out for our Giant Snail Caravan packed with fun activities for all the family!

Where: Across the Royal Parks and Brompton Cemetery
When: Various dates from July to October: See our calendar for further details.
Free

Take the kids to a free Discovery Day in Hyde Park

Summer is officially here and nature has truly burst into life! Choose from a variety of activities in our Education Centre in Hyde Park. These include sweep netting in our meadows for creepy crawlies, pond dipping and nature-inspired arts and crafts.

When: 2, 9, 10, 16, 22 and 23 August 2017.
Where: Education Centre, Hyde Park
No need to book. Just drop in anytime between 11am-3pm.

First school term: How to survive

The first sign may have been the Thomas train hurled across the room; the book slammed shut; or the lovingly prepared pasta pesto on the floor: it’s early September and things at home are not as they should be. Your darling – just starting nursery, primary or secondary – is struggling. Welcome to the world of a child in their first term of an educational step-change. The symptoms are remarkably similar across the ages: exhaustion, sulks, the occasional tantrum. And that’s just you. Imagine what it’s like for your poor kid.

For all those struggling, we’ve pulled together a first school term survival guide with tips from teachers and educational experts.

Let’s face it, we all do the prep: we read starting-nursery picture books with our toddlers, we play word games with our four-year-olds, and we practice the bus route with our 11-year olds. But no matter what we do, there’s always a moment, however brief, where we think, is this the new reality? The answer, obviously, is no; but here are some tips to refer to in the next month or two.

FROM HOME TO NURSERY

First school term: How to survive

Moving from the security of home to a room filled with at least a dozen other two- and three-year-olds is a shock to the system.

1) Manage the separation sensitively.

If the nursery offers a period of transition, where you can sit in the room while your child gets comfortable, by all means, take advantage of it. However, at some point, you will need to leave, and for many kids, anticipating that moment is the hardest part. “Every teacher will tell you that [a child] will keep crying as long as his or her parent is in sight,” says Sabine Hook, former primary teacher and early years educational consultant at Holland Park Tuition and Education Consultants. Give your little one a kiss and cuddle and make your exit quickly; if you’re worried call the nursery later to check in. In most cases, children settle very quickly once their parent leaves. Ask if your son or daughter can bring in a special toy as a transition object.

2) Keep an eye on how tired your child is.

It’s not unusual that children have to drop a nap when they start nursery, so allow your son or daughter to miss a day occasionally if necessary. If childcare doesn’t permit that, go for an early bedtime. Regardless, just being at the nursery can be exhausting, so be as flexible as possible. “You want it always to be something to look forward to, so play it by ear, and see how they are handling it,” Hook says.

3) Encourage independence.

Children are empowered by small acts of independence: maybe it’s putting on their shoes, or their coats, or simply parking their scooter in the scooter park. Those small moves can go a long way to making the child feel in control. You’ll also likely be reinforcing what they are being encouraged to do at the nursery.

4) Remember, it’s nursery, not school.

Not a few parents worry that nursery isn’t academic enough. Sarah Raffray, the headmistress at St. Augustine’s Priory, an all-through girl’s school in Ealing, says, “We’re not looking at the output when they are so little. The nursery is about learning through play, about learning to learn.” Hook adds that every school introduces reading and phonics at Reception, so don’t worry too much about anticipating that in the Nursery. “When they’re ready, they’re ready,” she says, adding that I-Spy and reading picture books together can lay a strong foundation for phonics and reading.

FROM NURSERY TO PRIMARY

Change

This can be an easier transition, particularly if the child is going to primary in the same setting as their nursery; or if the child has an older sibling at the school. Still, it can be quite a change.

1) Talk to your child about how Reception is different from the nursery.

Ask your child’s teacher if you can have a copy of the weekly timetable, and talk to your child about what the plan is that day, Rebecca Leviston, Head of Lower School at Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School (RPPS), recommends. In some schools, children may travel to a different room for an art class – and the simple act of navigating a bigger space can seem overwhelming.

2) Keep an open line of communication with your child’s teacher.

“It’s best to open up and talk to us about your child. It’s really important that as teachers that we really understand them as people,” Leviston says. She points out that some children make it very clear that they are struggling, which can make a teacher’s job easier. However, others keep their emotions in check at school and express them at home. Make sure you raise any concerns to the teacher.

3) Keep increasing your child’s independence.

Make sure that their toilet use is as independent as possible; go back to old training routines should there be any regression, Leviston says. Also, encouraging the use of a knife and fork at home can increase confidence at school lunchtime.

4) Remember they all get there in the end.

Reception is really about physical development, communication, understanding rules, and working with others, Hook reminds us. Be patient with the academics: some children gallop ahead while others take it more carefully. Raffray cautions parents not to compare their children to others. Advancing through the reading scheme, for example, “is not trophy-hunting,” she says. Educators also advise to not worry too much about homework. “You can actually hinder their learning by putting that subtle pressure on children,” Leviston says. Again, the message is, trust the school. “No matter what your child goes through, we have seen through a diversity of experiences that they always get there in the end,” Leviston says.

PRIMARY TO SECONDARY

The move to secondary marks a dramatic shift in independence, which can make for a tricky transition for both child and parent.

1) Big kids are small again.

The most obvious change in secondary is physical. “A lot of youngsters come into secondary having been a big fish in the small pond [at primary]; they are suddenly swamped in terms of the size of the school and the size of students,” says Camilla Smiley, secondary school consultant at Holland Park Tuition and Education Consultants. St. Augustine’s Priory’s Raffray agrees: “Moving up is a challenge. It’s the sense of being one child in the midst of hundreds.” Add to this that now your Year 7 child is moving from class to class for different subjects, and they are often overwhelmed. “The learning curve is very sharp,” Smiley says.

2) Help your child get organised.

Here a little help goes a long way. Help them get their backpack ready the night before. Smiley recommends printing out a copy of the timetable and hanging it near where your child stores his or her bag so they have it to hand when they pack. Help them think through what homework is due the next day, later in the week and next week to foster basic study skills.

3) Be proactive with the teacher.

Compared to the cosy relationship that you may have had with your child’s primary teachers, secondary teachers are necessarily much more removed. For one, your child has different teachers for each subject; and secondly, as your child is likely to be getting to school on their own, you don’t have the daily interaction of drop-off. Smiley recommends reaching out early to the form teacher by email or in person to establish a relationship.

4) Keep an eye on homework.

Year 7s tend to be very keen to get things right in all aspects of school (Smiley says not to expect this to last past Year 9!) and can overwork their homework. Most teachers will recommend an amount of time to spend on a particular assignment. Review that timetable with your child, and speak to the teacher if they consistently go over the recommended time.

By Christmas, hopefully, you’ll have been through the worst of it.

In fact, as often as not, the simple act of returning after the first half-term makes what was once so strange and scary seem familiar. Regardless of when it happens, though, remember, as Raffray says “Every child really is unique; that’s not just the school talking.”

WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN

What I Wish I'd Known

TO BE A PARENT IS TO BE BLINDSIDED BY QUESTIONS such as, why do men have nipples? Do the people at the bottom of the world fall off it? Is the orange man with the weird hair going to be president of America? The parent charter reads that you will have ready answers. This is why Google and Siri are up there with A&E staff and good teachers as vital parent go-tos. (As regards Donald Trump, your child’s judgement will be every bit as valid as any psephologist’s.)

When we have children we are told to follow our intuition. Might that be the same intuition that tells us tequila slammers are a good idea? As the new school year starts City Kids brings you the best pieces of parenting advice that we have gleaned from friends, family and those we admire.

BABIES

  • You will not go to hell for not being able to breastfeed.
  • You will treat your first baby like Granny’s fine china, the last one like a rugby ball. Both are ok.
  • Parenting books have the capacity to induce panic rather than quell it.
  • Place a coverless hot water bottle on a wet mattress to dry it out.
  • Marketeers are good at their jobs. Do not listen to them. You do not need special pots for freezing baby food. Ditto nappy bins that stop the smell. A baby bath? WTF…
  • If you have a daughter, Google the comedic genius Tina Fey’s Prayer for My Daughter. She provides no answers but knowing that Tina Fey fears the same stuff as us is comfort enough.

PARENTING

  • Try not to judge the actions of fellow parents. Particularly if they have children older than yours.
  • When a child asks you a difficult question, buy yourself some time and ask them, ‘What do you think?’
  • Cinderella got it right (in the 2015 film version with Lily James, at least). The tenets to being a good person are to have courage and be kind. Twofold, simple and yet über clever.
  • Children make mistakes. You need to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
  • Nature and nurture – the debate still rages. What is important is that the nurture fits the nature.
    Children will copy what you do, not what you tell them to do.
  • Children are people. Often their ideas, unfettered by the negativity of age, will be better than yours. Often they will be terrible.
  • If you’re going to call a girl bossy, make sure the same behaviour in a boy warrants the same adjective. Swap the child’s gender in your head and save them from negative gender stereotyping.
  • Treat siblings as a team, not as competitors.

PRACTICAL STUFF

  • A rolled-up towel, blanket or swimming noodle placed under the sheet on the side of a bed is the perfect alternative to a plastic bed rail. A pillow on the floor softens any fall.
  • Instead of buying a bigger car when you have your third child, try buying narrower car seats.
  • Write your phone number on your child’s arm or get temporary tattoos with it on for when you are in a crowded place.
  • Get your babysitter to come early enough to cover tea, bath and bed. It’s called getting your money’s worth…
  • The first time you encourage your small child to try fizzy water, lemon and/or ice cream they will pull the best surprised face of their life. This is permitted cruelty.
  • Kitchen roll when upright makes an exemplary ice cream cone stand.
  • A balloon is a winning present every time. It fits in an envelope, can be used for tennis, football, volleyball or wet farting noises.
  • Where you come in a family, oldest, youngest or in the middle, will inform much of your life. It is impossible to know what it’s like to be someone of a different rank.
  • Never go the beach without talcum powder – it cleans all sand off sticky, salty bottoms, balls (both kinds) and feet.
  • Wipes. Handbag, kitchen table, car. They are indispensable.
  • Expensive holidays are wasted on children younger than eight. However, they may not be a waste for the exhausted parents.
  • A simple guideline for holidays is that it has to be easier, better and more comfortable than home. The Luxury Family Hotels range in this country is popular for a reason.

EDUCATION

  • Release yourself from the burden of homework by finding a local sixth-former with gumption to lead your child through this minefield.
  • The subject of schools will dominate your conversation for years. You will worry that you haven’t got it right. You will make the best decision possible at the time.
  • Tutors. Eventually you will realise that every child you know is being tutored. The price is exhorbitant.
  • Getting a secondary school place in London is up there with moving house and divorce as far as stress levels go.
  • School clothes do not need to be washed and ironed every day for who is to know if it is today’s dirt and creases or yesterday’s?
  • If you choose/are offered a poor fit of secondary school when your child is 11, you may get a second stab at 13.
  • Academic achievement is overrated. Education is a much broader, rounded effort.
  • If you can (sort of) afford private education for a few years only, make it the middle ones. The longer days and extra-curricular activities will help stem teenage boredom and keep your kids out of trouble.
  • The positive power of sport is jaw-droppingly brilliant. Friendships are born this way. Sport is fun.
  • Sport is for girls too. Read sports journalist Anna Kessel’s Eat Sweat Play to learn why.
  • Good mental and physical wellbeing can, for the most part, be maintained with three things: a good diet, enough exercise and sufficient sleep. This is the non-negotiable holy trinity.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Technology is wonderful when used wisely. If you don’t want your children playing certain games, don’t give them access. Simple…
  • …except if you are being a stick-in-the-mud luddite. Get with the programme.
  • The bedroom is a sanctuary for sleep and, as such, should be a screen- and homework-free zone. (We repeat) sleep is the basis of good physical and mental health. For life.
  • Have a family computer in a living space where the screen can be seen by everyone. You can see what your children are doing online and they will learn the vital skill of being able to work with background noise.
  • Let your children read your phone messages and know your access code. This will give you leverage with their phones. Do as you would be done by.
  • Try to get your child into a sport or hobby when they are young so that they have an interest to distract them from screens when they are teens.
  • You will know you are old when you ask your children how to work every piece of tech you own. Live with it.

This list is not meant to be dictatorial and is certainly not exhaustive. Being a parent, however, is exhausting. Sometimes it all becomes overwhelming. That is when you need to call on your friends and slam those tequilas. You can then discuss the important things in life, such as why do men have nipples? And if you can explain the appeal of an orange man with a seedy comb-over then you have drunk too much. Call a babysitter for the morning after.

MUM BOSS: ADELLE SMITH

Baked

Mum Boss: Adelle Smith

In our new series looking at working parents, we meet Adelle Smith to discover how she turned baking with her son at home into an award-winning business working alongside the likes of Google, Virgin and Nintendo.

 

How did it all start?

BKD launched in 2014, in my kitchen in Shoreditch. What started as fun at home with my kids, swiftly grew and I had to rebase from my home, with my baking classes, to local haunts such as Hoxton Hotel, hosting corporate events, private birthday parties, creating bespoke cookies and styling photo-shoots

After establishing the events side of my business, I turned my attention to creating a collection of creative baking kits for children. I wanted to create a collection that encapsulated the BKD spirit of fun, teaching children kitchen basics and fuelling their imaginations. The collection launched in May last year and we are now stocked by lots of lovely kids boutiques, cook shops and delis, as well as bigger retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Fenwick and the Design Museum.

What makes BKD stand out from the crowd?

BKD’s focus is kids and design. I loved baking with Cai when he was younger, but hated all the baby blue and pink kitschness. We wanted to make fun, unique things like monster cupcakes! We get kids into the kitchen learning essential life skills, fuelling their imaginations, and enable families to have quality time together. Our baking kits make baking super easy, fuss-free, and are made with quality ingredients. Our unisex monochrome packaging shouts out to the crowds and has definitely given us a distinctive look in the children’s market.

What’s a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day! Things change week on week. Recently, there has been a lot of writing and recipe testing for my new book, Baked, and photo shoots for that too. I also make YouTube videos with my boy when we get the time. As a small business owner, I am heavily involved with day to day management, from updating our social media, emailing customers back, paying my staff wages, to helping the team get a corporate biscuit order out the door. In other weeks, I could be doing a personal appearance and demonstration at shows such as BBC Good Food Show or at Big Feastival, entertaining the kids. I really mix things up and love the variety.

Do you love it?

100% yes.

Have you found the holy grail of work/life balance?

It’s funny, as I thought that running my own business would balance well with family life. Whilst it offers me flexibility, I also have to work very hard! There are never enough hours in the day and I often find myself working at night when the kids are in bed. Cai often comes to the bakery to ‘work’. He’s our mini apprentice, always bringing so much fun, chaos and distraction to our day. The ladies are amazing with him, though I have to say, on Fridays I often get a lot less done! But I absolutely love running my own business and being creative; I get such a buzz out of it! I literally never know what’s around the corner. If you told me last year that I’d get a book deal and publish a book this year, I’d have laughed my head off! I feel tired but very lucky 🙂

Where do you get your ideas?

Our kids constantly inspire me and are, of course, my chief tasters! But I also take inspiration from everything around me, fashion, product design, toys, travel, interiors, and trips to the park; I always see something that inspires me. I picked up the sweetest metal chocolate moulds in a market in Essaouira, Morocco. I’m always on the hunt for cool things for the bakery.

Do you ever have ‘me’ time?

I have to say that is a very, very rare thing. Being a mum, a wife, running a business, and writing a book on top of that, it hasn’t left much time for me. I can’t remember the last time I had a haircut! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love BKD and what I do. I adore my family, and know in time that things will become a bit calmer.

What three words would your kids use to describe you?

Cuddly, fun, bit crazy.

How far would you like to take BKD?

What started as baking at home with my kids has now developed into a brand and business. I would love to keep developing that. It’s been a roller coaster journey from day one. Within a few months of launching, I was thrilled and gobsmacked to hear that I’d made it into the finals in the ‘Best Loved Kids’ Food’ category of the Virgin Foodpreneur competition, where I could meet Richard Branson.

So what can we expect from you in 2016?

We’ve just launched a range of Baking Mixes that we hope to get into supermarkets, opening up another category for us and taking BKD to kitchen cupboard staples. I will also be doing more online video content very soon. I’m really looking forward to getting back in front of the camera. In July, my book, Baked, will be out. So, so much work has gone into it and I’m super excited about promoting it. It still feels surreal to think how far I’ve come with BKD in such a short space of time; it really has changed my life.

Don’t forget that we are giving away 4 fabulous BKD Baking Mixes. Head over to our COMPETITIONS page to enter.

www.bkd-london.com

Adelle Smith BKD Baked Baking Book

BAKED: Amazing Bakes to Create with your Child (Orchard Books, £14.99) will be available from all good bookshops and online from 28th July 2016.

SATURDAY SCIENCE

Richer education

If your child is curious about science, or in fact, if they find their school classes a touch dull, then why not seek out a place where they can get involved in real life experiments. Every Saturday, Richer Education runs workshops in science, robotics and civil engineering, taking their learning to the next level.

Courses take place at Imperial College and each workshop is designed to inspire and motivate primary aged children into learning about science in a hands-on, practical way. A typical science workshop might be anything from dissecting a real heart, turning wine into water, to literally holding fire in their hands. In robotics, children can learn to write code, build a robot with robotic arms, that can grasp objects and how to synchronize multiple robots to make them dance. In Civil Engineering, children learn to find solutions to real life engineering challenges, in a child friendly way.

Science Saturday workshops are 9.30 – 11.30, whilst Robotic Saturday workshops run from 12-2pm, and Civil Engineering classes are at 2-4pm. All classes take place at Imperial College.

For more information go to www.richereducation.co.uk

DREAMS MADE AT KIDZANIA LONDON

webkidzania

Eight year old Max realised his dream of becoming an estate agent, as he officially opened Hamptons International’s latest branch at KidZania London.

He was invited to open the branch and became its first ‘Junior Estate Agent’ after sending the company a letter asking what qualifications and skills he needed to enter the profession saying “I really want to do this job when I grow up”.

He was invited to cut the red tape alongside KidZania London’s mayor, and went on to make his first sale within the concession.

KidZania London is the UK’s first educational entertainment experience which aims to offer real-life work experiences for 4-14 year olds. You have to see it to believe it. Hamptons International is just one of several global brands including British Airways, Renault, H&M and Cadbury’s which gives children an insight into how their industry works.

london.kidzania.com

hamptonsbranch Hamptons International Opens Branch at KidZania London (8) 150116

THE GREAT SCHOOLS DEBATE

Schools – is there a more hotly discussed topic amongst parents? We don’t think so.
Rebekah Hall sat down with Toby Young, Catriona Sutherland-Hawes and Tony Ryan to determine whether the fear and paranoia perpetuated by some parents is justified.

The Great Schools Debate

We’ve all heard the stories and some of us have seen them in action. Stand-up fights between mothers outside school gates over waiting lists; lying about tutoring and keeping those tutors names a well-guarded secret. This inevitably creates stress and apprehension… creating tension and paranoia. It’s little wonder that some families move away from the West London bubble.

However, even out of town, you can’t escape the facts. There is pressure on school places as pupil numbers grow. Data from the Department for Education (DfE) predicts an extra 900,000 children in English schools over the next 10 years, and statistics from the Local Government Association report that this will cost £12 billion. Private school fees have trebled since 1990 to £286,000 per child over 14 years of day school according to The Killik & Co Private Education Index. So yes, parents do have reason to worry. Maybe that’s why it is impossible to avoid those draining school discussions, especially in West London.

REALITY CHECK

A six-year-old has a creative writing tutor, maths tutor and must do 100 sums before he is allowed to play. A father is angry with the head teacher because his son failed to get into Oxford, despite his son’s average marks. Urban myths or a reflection of the competition for places at West London private schools?

As registrar for the past nine years at Latymer Upper School, Catriona Sutherland-Hawes says she often sees a lot of worry revolving around a parent’s desire for their child to attend a specific school. Unfortunately, she admits to seeing trophy hunting, with some parents unable to bear the thought of their child… failing. “The difficulty comes when parents think the best place is actually the wrong place; aspirational parents don’t always accept that,” says Sutherland-Hawes.

In these competitive times, what is her advice for parents? “I genuinely think there is a right school for everyone and there is a lot of choice. Parents are not always willing to accept that what they might think is the best place is not somewhere that will suit their child.”

STATE DOESN’T ESCAPE

While state schools continue to improve, (and private schools up their fees) they are included in the discussion too. Parents worry about catchment areas and consider moving house to within metres of their preferred school. League tables play their part as competition across the board increases.

As Chiswick School achieves better results, head teacher Tony Ryan says he’s seen more anxiety from parents due to the current entry waiting list. “Parents are now concerned about … the possibility that they might be just outside the catchment area,” says Ryan. “For some parents in certain geographical areas, there is huge anxiety because we are their first choice.”

To help alleviate some of the pressure, Chiswick School increased its intake from 215 to 240 pupils. While this means increased class sizes, Ryan is confident the school can manage without impacting the classroom. “We have a … moral purpose to try and provide a place for as many local parents who want it,” says Ryan.

During exam time, Ryan sees more parents at his door and receives many more phone calls. His advice for parents is to stay informed
throughout their child’s schooling. “The more information you give parents, the less anxious they are likely to be with [their child’s] results,” Ryan says.

Toby Young, CEO of the West London Free School Academy Trust, says parental anxiety in primary school is a combination of things.

“Parents with pre-school children are concerned that their children won’t get a primary place due to the national shortage, or concerned that their child won’t get a place at their first or second choice of primary,” says Young.

If you’re in the first situation, he suggests moving, going private, or urging the local schools to expand or start a free school. If in the second group, then Young says to “send your child to your third, fourth or fifth choice of school and supplement what they’re learning at home.” To supplement learning at home, he naturally points to his book What Every Parent Needs to Know.

TO TUTOR OR NOT TO TUTOR?

Tutoring. Perhaps the hottest topic of all. To alleviate worry and keep up with the Joneses, parents often turn to tutoring to help ensure
entrance into a top school or to achieve better test results. Analysis entitled Extra-curricular Inequalities [2014] by The Sutton Trust and Ipsos MORI states that, of 2,800 11 to 16 year-olds, 23 per cent of young people nationally and 37 per cent in London, say they received private or home tuition. The national figure was 18 per cent in 2005 and 24 per cent in 2013.

But what we all want to know is, are tutored kids better off?

Sutherland-Hawes knows tutoring is rife, and has become an industry. “If you need to be tutored to get into a school, then it’s not the
right school,” she says, adding that Latymer is only interested in a child’s natural ability on entrance exams. “If you are not at the right academic level for that school … you will then struggle. Three years ago, we stopped doing verbal and non-verbal reasoning, as it was being over-tutored. It wasn’t giving us an idea of the child’s natural potential.“

However, she does believe some exam preparation is a good idea, but warns not to the point of memorising an entirely irrelevant story for the English exam. She tells of one particular year when children from the same prep school wrote the same answers in the English section. However, the answer had no bearing on the actual question, and their tests were marked down. In another instance it was obvious that many children in one postcode had had the same tutor. “Exam preparation is different,” she says. “I fully support sitting down, doing exam papers to time, and getting used to that technique … Being tutored adds artificial intelligence; preparing for the exam is being aware of what is coming and having your timings right.”

Young suggests that the decision to tutor or not depends on where a child falls on the ability spectrum and parents’ ambition for their child. “Children with exceptional ability are going to do well in public exams … without any need for private tutors,” Young says. Those children most likely to benefit [from tutoring] are those on the pass/fail border.”

At Chiswick School, tutoring seems to be used as it was originally intended. Ryan says he rarely meets a situation where a child is being over tutored. At his school, tutoring is used instead as a healthy top-up. Outside of school Ryan doesn’t believe that a tutor should be a requirement for any parent, but if used, should complement what is being taught in the classroom. However, the school does bring in tutors to help give students more individual attention. “We employ tutors [to] work with small groups,” he says. “A tutor [will] come in and diagnose where [students] are and work with them … before we put them back into lessons.”

THE GOLDEN RULES

We can all agree to some basic ground rules, like do your research, read Ofsted reports, visit every school, meet with heads, ask tough questions and listen carefully to the response. Walking into a school, every parent should have an instinct as to whether the school is the right fit for their child, and this is far more more important than simply accepting a school as being a “top” school. Schools should also be a good fit with a family’s educational values because, frankly, you will be attending that school too.

When asked for some golden rules, Sutherland-Hawes provides sound advice. At the top of her list is for parents to listen to head teachers because they have special knowledge of a child’s abilities. Also, she says, at secondary level ask your child what they think because it’s just as much up to them. “Ask yourself, will my child be happy here? Don’t be over aspirational. Be sensible about your choice,” Sutherland-Hawes says. “Keep [children] calm.”

Young’s advice is two-fold. He feels that children likely to benefit the most from going to a good independent school are those from very disadvantaged backgrounds who have high IQs. “If any parent reading this thinks their child falls into that category, they should find out what the eligibility criteria is for full bursaries”. He adds that, unless your child is one of a handful who would really benefit from going to an independent school, send your child to the local state school. “Take the money you would otherwise have spent and put it in a savings account. You can then use that nest egg to help them buy a flat when they leave home. That flat represents far better value for money than a private education,” says Young.

Ryan says he works closely with parents. “We constantly check the progress of students at school, and we [bring] that back to parents,” says Ryan. “You want them to go to a school you trust, where they can get the right education, the right mould. It’s not just the exams you are buying into. You’re buying into a much bigger deal.”

Still need a last word of advice?

“Don’t listen to anybody,” says Sutherland-Hawes. “It’s about your child. Trust your own instincts and judgements; there is a right place for every child.”

And by the way, she occasionally reads Mumsnet. You’ve been warned!