what-can-two-year-olds-use-a-tablet-for
Mum's finds, Parenting

Does a 2 year old need a tablet?

As we get closer to the festive season, I’ve been wondering what on earth to get Travis for his third (!!) Christmas. With his birthday in October, I start to feel at a loss of what to get.

We are so fortunate to have such a loving network of friends and family that spoil Travis, so he doesn’t particularly need anything at this moment. Add to that the fact that hes too young to really want and persist about certain things (at the moment!), and accounting for the fact it will then be another 10 months before he gets another big present from us, and it all gets a little bit daunting.

So I decided to purchase a tablet as his main Christmas present this year. Even when I popped my card into the reader in the O2 store, I could hear twenty-something me saying “what does a toddler need an actual tablet for?” And I know many other parents (and non-parents) will be thinking the same. Whilst there are a million reasons that tablets are seen to be bad for children, there are also some plus points and benefits for parents (sanity) too.

When I was younger and childless I used to look at kids in restaurants glued to iPads or see little ones nag at parents for a shot of their phone – I’ve even seen kids sitting in the park on a tablet (!) All of which made me instantly recoil in horror and think, how could that be good for such a little mind? Truth is, without kids you don’t really understand the situation, and unless you ask someone why they’ve given a kid a device or what they are doing on it, you’ll never really know if it’s as bad as what your brain is telling you.

Now with my parent hat on I can see so many benefits to this little piece of portable technology and believe there are actually many things a 2 year old can use a tablet for. Here are just 5 of them:

5-benefits-to-giving-a-toddler-a-tablet

1.Watching things you don’t want to

I’ll be the first to confess, this is the absolute number one reason that swayed me to getting the tablet in the first place. I’m all for watching some CBeebies (especially if there’s a beaut bedtime story reader!) but with YouTube and Netflix and other streaming sources meaning that kids expect to watch things on demand, it can be difficult to control the timing of watching things. It can also be hard to control what your kid likes, thanks to auto playing and recommended suggestions from the likes of YouTube.

At the moment, Travis’ favourite thing to watch is remote control fire engines and trucks that change colour and teach him colours. Whilst they aren’t exactly x-rated or offensive, they are a tad repetitive and boring. There’s only so many times I can watch the same fire engine be driven to the same (fake) fire and watch it get put out by this remote control marvel. Similarly with the colours videos, though add to that a regular argument between a toddler and a grown-ass woman about whether the truck turns purple or pink!

So for me, having a tablet he can watch these things on, albeit on a limited time frame, saves a portion of my sanity, and means he doesn’t have to be in the living room to enjoy it.

2. Interactive learning

There are so many educational apps out there for kids at all stages of development. Whether it’s a fun game based on a cartoon character that lets you sort out shapes, or a simple screen where you tap animals to hear the noises they make, there are loads of interactive learning games for toddlers available on apps. Again, I feel like if the screen time is limited, it’s no more harmful than watching TV or doing similar activities not on a screen (with plastic toys that are unable to biodegrade for example).

3. Travel

This is another top reason in our book for getting the tablet. My own personal tablet was bought in 2014, but was quite possibly made earlier than that. As such, it’s getting to the point where apps are no longer able to update and so it’s not reliable for us to take when travelling. Whether it’s a long car ride or a plane/train ride where your little one can’t exactly get up and wander off, tablets can be a good way to incorporate the above into your travel plan, meaning a 2 year old is content watching fire engines or sorting shapes or watching a movie from one little device rather than having to pack 40 toys, games etc with you.

For me it sure beats the alternative of tantrums when he can’t get out and move around, or the polar opposite – a danger nap at the wrong time of day!

4. Playing with mum and dad

Nobody said that kids had no option but to use tablets by themselves, doing solo activities. In fact, most basic games can be played on tablets, whether it’s drawing and colouring or learning and counting. Mum and dad can always join in, picking a colour or singing along. YouTube can be a great resource for nursery rhymes with subtitles (because I swear there were never as many nursery rhymes when I was wee!) and dances or actions, meaning everyone can join in.

5. Growing with your child

Rather than a plastic toy that may only be in your toddlers favour for a few months, destined for a charity shop or recycling by the next December, a tablet is an investment that can grow with your child. Basic counting and naming apps too childish for your kid now? Simply find some newer ones which will stimulate their mind and educate their growing brain. As they get older they can use the tablet as a library and even homework tool (if the tablet is much better than my 2014 friend which is past its sell-by now!) meaning that there’s less wastage and you – or Santa – has actually got great value from a Christmas present for a 2 year old.

what-does-a-two-year-old-need-tablet-for

look-for-a-book-west-dunbartonshire-free-activity
baby and toddler activities, Free things to do with toddlers

Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire

One thing I love about where I live is the amazing community spirit. It mat be one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, but what we lack in our pockets we make up for in kindness and good spirits.

The latest example of that is the Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire initiative which was recently started by a local mum. Having seen something similar in another area, she decided to bring the idea to our neighbourhood which has got everybody in the community spirit.

What is Look for a Book West Dubartonshire?

According to their Facebook page, it’s a thrilling activity for families which injects fun and excitement into reading, by combining it with hide and seek. Essentially, children are invited to hunt for books around the local area, which have been hidden by other children. Books are hidden in parks, at the school gates, in the leisure centres and local cafes and anywhere that makes a good hiding spot really.

Each book is hidden with a cover note from Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire, saying congratulations on finding the book, and encouraging finders to read and keep, pass on or re-hide the book once they have read it. Finders are also encouraged to hide their own books for other boys and girls to find.

The power of social media is what really drives this fun game – clues as to where books are hidden are shared in the Facebook group and conversely parents share pictures of their happy children who have found books. The cover note with books strongly encourages the use of social media to share findings and be part of this community game.

Taking part in Look for a Book West Dunbartonshire

Its really easy to take part as all you need is a dry day to get outside and get hunting! We looked on the Facebook group to see if any books had been recently hidden nearby, and if any clues had been shared. This game is so popular in the area that books can literally be found within 15 minutes of a clue being shared online.

Unfortunately we haven’t found any books yet (though not for lack of trying!) But we did take part and hide some books locally. The cover sheets to accompany the books are available to print online, and most of the local West Dunbartonshire libraries have stocks of the cover sheets and plastic wallets to keep books dry. We just did it the old fashioned way and wrote our notes by hand.

We picked our spots and set off to hide some books from our bookshelves which Travis was no longer interested in. At this stage in his life, I’m too scared to give away some of his more loved books to others (if we don’t read Mr Happy at Sports Day every bedtime, I think his world would implode) but a lot of the participants have given away some of their favourite books, and well-loved ones that they have grown out of. Others have bought books especially to hide, though there’s no obligation to do that.

Free fun for all the family

The best part about this initiative is that it’s all-inclusive. There’s no cash barrier and no age barrier – books are hidden for all-ages from baby books right up to YA fiction. If your child finds a book and you/they think it doesn’t suit age or topic-wise, then you’re welcome to re-hide it for someone else to find, whilst you search for another to read. Additionally, the only ask is that you hide books back – this can either be the same book you found, or a book your child already owns. Either way, this costs you no money to participate in, and you get to enjoy two activities with your child – getting outdoors on a book hunt, and enjoying story-time later.
This has honestly got to be one of the best uses I’ve seen for social media and one of the quickest-adopted community schemes (RIP chain mails) in my area and I’m so thankful that we can take part. If you’re reading this and you’re not from West Dunbartonshire – why not set up your own Look for a Book game in your area?
Look-For-a-book-West-Dunbartonshire-Pinterest-Pin
five-minute-mum-makeup-under-30
Mum time

5 minute mum makeup

I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at worrying (remembering) about makeup at the best of times. Now I’m a mum, I find it even harder to fit a makeup routine into the mix, and am lacking motivation most of the time.

However that lack of time doesn’t stop me noticing that actually my face can look dull and tired, or a breakout can takeover my chin, or actually, sometimes, you just look a bit more approachable when makeup is covering all the flaws. Plus, it’s nice to look and feel nice sometimes. So I’ve devised my own sort of 5-minute mum makeup routine that can get you from bare-faced to bright-eyed without too much effort.

Here’s how I do it:

Moisturise!

I confess, I’d love the time to be able to cleanse, tone and mosturise every single day, but it just isn’t feasible. That said, a good moisturiser or primer is key for makeup to sit well (on my face at least!). I use Astral Cream and have done since I was a teen and used to nick my mum’s, and genuinely can’t flaw it. I’ve spoken about the many benefits of this wonder product here before.

The face part

Foundation, blush and powder – no more, no less. A comfortable foundation base, followed by a sweep of blush, then set in place with some powder usually does the trick. The products I use for this are all Avon – True Cream to Powder Foundation, True blush and Mark Loose Powder Foundation – but obviously everybody has their own makeup preferences and budgets. This simple face brightening usually takes 2 minutes tops – and that’s if I have to add a bit of concealer in to cover any breakouts.

Eyes/brows

I find that to get on the go, a good brow and mascara product are all you need. I am a self-confessed mascara junkie, and have found loads of favourites over the years but for the moment I’m really digging Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes Volume 2, which only needs a couple of strokes of the wand to create a dramatic, lengthy lash effect. For my brows I use Beautaniq fill & tame brow gel – it’s cheap and cheerful and came from my Birchbox – something which I shout about regularly. Again, a couple of sweeps of this sort out your brows by taming rogue hairs and filling in any gaps.

Lips

Last but not least, a good lip balm or sweep of favourite lippy does the trick to get you on the go – no need for any faffing around with lip liner or coats of gloss on top of colour. For me, I sometimes skip this step (ensuring I’m not sporting foundation lips!) as I find lipstick on my coffee cup annoying, but in the winter my dry lips normally demand it. Currently, my favourite lippy is Charlotte Tilbury Superstar Lips in signature shade Pillow Talk, but it could just as easily be a Rimmel lippy for under a fiver as I tend to go for shade and texture over anything else.

 

And that’s literally it. That whole routine takes 5 minutes tops. Granted, I could take longer contouring or adding more coats of mascara, eyeliner etc, but this routine is enough to give coverage and appear bright eyed and natural, without too much time or effort – because, as we know, toddler mums are rarely afforded such luxuries!

5-minute-mum-makeup

nordic-c-arctic-berry-lumene-skincare
Mum time, Mum's finds

My Winter Skin Saviour: Nordic-C Arctic Berry Cocktail

Now that the clocks have changed, winter seems to instantly be upon us. Living in Scotland, that means a sudden change in temperature, from mild, hitting-double-digits days to ice-cold mornings and cold, dark evenings. Since that seems to be the only time I’m out during the day (at least on weekdays) it definitely plays havoc on my skin.

Thankfully I’ve found what seems to be a miracle cure so far – for my face at least. Lumene’s Nordic-c Arctic Berry Cocktail Hydra-Oil would not necessarily have been my immediate go-to for a skin saviour, as I tend to be quite wary of oils. However I received it through my Birchbox subscription and it claimed to be for normal/dry skin (which I feel mine is in the winter) so I thought I’d give it a bash.

*I’ve completely tried this product off my own back (well, with a nudge from Birchbox) and have no affiliation with Lumene*

Lumene-nordic-c-arctic-berry-cocktail

Trying out Nordic-C Arctic Berry Cocktail

The first thing I noticed, aside from the cool packaging, is the beautiful smell. Arctic berry is definitely one of my favourite scents I didn’t know existed until using this product! At this point I was almost sold without it even touching my face, but was still stlightly wary of having a really oily complexion after using. After an internal battle, I opted to try it for the first time right before bed, for any damage limitation purposes!

The product itself comes in what looks like a hair serum bottle, you know the ones with a wide pump? You’re advised to shake well before using 1-2 pumps on your face, so being a scaredy cat, I opted for just 1 pump first time round. Fast forward 8 hours, and I was amazingly surprised by the results.

My face wasnt oily at all – it only felt slightly damp until the product dried in. Miraculously, my cheeks felt as smooth as Travis’ bum and when checking the mirror, I looked visibly brighter and more awake, despite having broken sleep (toddler-mum life!). There was a nice subtle glow on my cheeks in particular, which surprised me after just the first use.

The product advice for best results is to use the serum after cleansing and before face cream, which makes sense. However, as I was worried about over-oiling my skin I didn’t use a cream after the cocktail, and still noticed fab results the next morning. Possibly as the temperatures drop into the minus and skin starts to suffer more, I might think about popping a cream on afterwards but I wouldn’t say it’s essential if you’ve got pretty normal skin.

 

What’s in Nordic-C Arctic Berry Cocktail?

The brightening oil cocktail is 100% vegan and contains loads of great vitamins for your skin. Packed with vitamin C, B3 and B5 as well as omega acids and the purest arctic spring water, it’s no wonder skin is beautifully hydrated and noticeably brighter after just a single use!

Unlikely Mum Verdict

I have to say I’m sold on this one. For me to use an oil-based product on my face and actually be really positive about the results is telling. I’ve used Nordic-C Arctic Berry Cocktail on my face several times since the initial trial, and have to say it makes a difference. Even if I’m running late (typical working mum weekday) and use this in the morning with no other products or makeup, it shows. Skin is hydrated and more alert – it’s amazing how much more awake you can look in a 10am meeting after just 4 hours of sleep with this on!

Pintetest-arctic-berry-noddic-c-lumene

baby and toddler activities, festivals and events

Arnprior Pumpkins

An autumn event which I’ve been eager to attend for a few years now is the Arnprior Pumpkins event on Arnprior farm, just outside Stirling. I’d passed the farm many times when travelling to uni (longer ago than I’d like it to be), so it’s great to see the farm offer something for the community and wider public, and even better to watch this event bloom and grow over the last few years.

Welcome-to-arnprior-pumpkins

What’s on offer?
As the title suggests, there are a lot of pumpkins. Essentially a pumpkin picking trip, Arnprior Pumpkins has evolved over the years, to a full scale event with food, beverage and more family friendly activities. Plus it’s a super insta experience for those who have an eye for the ‘gram.

This year, in addition to the pumpkin picking and selfie hotspots (there are hay sofas, selfie frames, giant letters and pumpkins with face holes specifically for snapping, never mind anything else) there was a kale maze, encouraging kids to explore and find the hidden pumpkins within it. Unfortunately it was far too muddy when we went (on the first day too!) And if it had been sticky mud we would have been fine but it was soooooo slippy and dad only had trainers on!

Arnprior-pumpkins-selfies

Plus the veg picking has expanded from pumpkins of all shapes and sizes to potato picking, and the chance to pull your own turnip too!

There are hot food and beverage stalls catering for hot drinks, gin drinks, burgers, pizza and churros. On the subject of food, there’s also a bakers stall in the tent and a table selling fresh farm produce.

Inside the tent is where you pay for your pumpkin, and on the way to the till there are various craft tables, with the opportunity to colour in pumpkins, create puppets and make your own badges to take home. Around the crafty areas there are stalls of handmade items such as halloween decorations, candles and more autumnal goodies. Handily, there are also pumpkin carving sets on offer for a couple of pounds too.

How much does it cost?
Entry is £5 per car, so great value if you want to go as a family. The fiver also gives you a token towards the cost of a pumpkin, meaning if you choose a small pumpkin its essentially free. Pumpkins range in price from a tiny munchkin at £1.50 to a big daddy xl at £12. We opted for a medium (still pretty big!) and a carving set, costing us a further £5.

Arnprior-pumpkins-price-list

Prices for food and drink stalls vary, starting at a couple of pounds for a hot chocolate. Other picking veg ranges from £1.50 to £4, whilst the quad pod rides are just £1 per child.

When can I go?
The tickets are selling out fast, but there are three sessions per day on the weekends throughout the month, plus weekday sessions throughout half term. For those without kids (how did you end up here?) or of a more romantic persuasion, there’s also a date night session, but you might be lucky to get a space. Check out the Arnprior Pumpkins ticket site for more information and to book your car ticket.

arnprior-pumpkins-with-toddlers-pin

baby and toddler activities, festivals and events

Autumn Events

I used to think summer was my favourite season, but I think autumn is a new contender as I get older. Whilst I’ll always love shorts-weather and getting outside in the warm summer air for games, walks and even paddling with the wee man, there’s definitely something to be said for the magic of autumn, as the leaves change colour and the anticipation of Halloween and Guy Fawkes night gets us excited.

Plus, Travis’ birthday is in October, so that brings even more joy to autumn! It seems like there are more and more great things to do with kids in autumn (or maybe I just never noticed them before?) And as a famous comedian once said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! So grab your coat and wellies and see if you can get along to any of these events:

*once I have previewed or reviewed each event I’ll share a link to it below*

Ardardan Scarecrow Festival
A community celebration, held across the weekend of 28th-29th September involving local groups, schools etc. creating their own scarecrow to be displayed throughout the farm over the weekend. The festival is free to attend, as is the scarecrow trail, but there are additional extras such as tractor rides and inflatables for the little ones.

The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry
This one has been on my bucket list for some time. Quite pricey at £20 per adult, I’ve heard it’s worth the price tag for this immersive light show experience. This year’s theme is Cosmos, capturing everything from astrology to astronauts and all that lies between here and space. Runs from 3rd October to 3rd November, however its hugely popular and many dates and time slots are already sold out.
Get your tickets here.

Loch Lomond Scary Faerie trail
We’ve been on the faerie trail before, during summer, so this sounds like a nice wee variation on the classic 2km trail. It’s a bit pricier than the regular trail, but for an extra couple of pounds (£6.50) you get to enjoy a spooky version of the trail, which we’re assured isn’t too scary for the little ones! For added Halloween fun, go around 4pm and take a torch with you! Starting at Luss car park and going up through the glen and back down, there are some cracking views to be had on this trail too. Runs from 1st to 31st October.
Get your tickets here.

Arnprior Pumpkins
Another autumn event which I’ll be attending for the first time this year. Opening on Saturday 12th October through Sunday 27th October this year, Arnprior Pumpkins, located in the countryside outside Stirling, is a great family experience with pumpkin picking, kale maze, quad pods and more. It’s also really good value for money – just £5 gives you entry for one car full of eager autumn lovers, and also entitles you to £5 to redeem against a pumpkin (if you pick a small pumpkin, essentially that’s free with your ticket!). The 2 hour session slots are also ideal time wise for younger kids so as not to encroach on napping, eating and the usual routine.
Get your tickets here.

The A-scarium at Lomond Shores
One of our favourite haunts (pardon the pun) is the Sea Life Aquarium at Loch Lomond Shores, as it’s so close to home. One thing we love about it is the fact they do frequent themed activities throughout the year, and this Halloween, they have the Ascarium (see what they did there?!). Running from 12th October to 3rd November, the Ascarium is included in the price of a regular ticket, so under 3s get in free. Kids are invited to help the sea witch unlock the treasure chest by paying close attention to each tank and completing activities on their way through the aquarium.
Get your tickets here.

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baby and toddler activities, festivals and events

Ardardan Scarecrow Festival

We love Ardardan Estate for a visit on a (dry) day, so we are super excited to go to the scarecrow festival this weekend.

I’d never heard of a scarecrow festival before, and if it wasn’t held at Ardardan I’m not sure how appealing I would have found it. I had visions of multiple scarecrows being burned guy fawkes style – thankfully my macabre imagination was wrong!

The festival is a community celebration, with local groups, schools etc. Creating and sending in their own scarecrow to be displayed over the weekend. No burning involved!

The scarecrows entered are then dotted around the woodland trail on the farm, which is a nice wee walk with a toddler on a regular day, never mind when there are fun and fancy scarecrows to spot! The whole community involvement is something I really like, knowing that time and effort has been put into each scarecrow by those groups who have entered, whether a primary school class, community group or workplace.

In addition to magnificent scarecrow spotting, the farmer’s tractor Archie will be out taking people on tractor rides at set times throughout the day. There’s a cost of £4 per person to go on the ride but I imagine it would be worth it for the full farm experience. Although there’s no option to book and pay online, you’re advised to call the team at Ardardan to reserve a space.

Younger kids will have a ball with inflatables in the walled garden area, which also comes with a charge of £4. Fingers crossed the weather holds up to be able to make the most of this!

All of Ardardan’s staple farm shop, tea room, garden store and trails will be open and available as usual. From duck racing to fresh farm shopping and home-made cake-eating, it’s an autumn event I’m really looking forward to. Stay tuned for scarecrow pictures after the event – or check out my Instagram story on Sunday!

Oor-wullies-big-bucket-trail-wee-wullie-riverside
baby and toddler activities

Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail

What exactly is Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail I hear you say?

Well it’s pretty self explanatory but for anyone outside of Scotland, Oor Wullie is a beloved character, part of The Broons, who appeared in the eponymous comics in newspapers for years. A household name in Scotland, Oor Wullie has his own annual and range of merchandise, and is undeniably recognised for his dungarees and bucket seat.

Oor-wullies-big-bucket-trail-glasgowThe Big Bucket Trail pays tribute to that iconic version of Wullie on his bucket, in the first ever national public trail. 200 sculptures have been created and spread throughout Scotland’s main cities; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, all in the name of charity. Each region has its own select charity which the statues are raising awareness and funds for. Local to us, it’s Glasgow’s Children’s Hospital charity.

The idea of the bucket trail is that it’s a free, mass participation event that anyone can take part in, whether you aim to collect them all, or just enjoy adventuring out to see which ones you happen upon. Conversely it’s also about art and communities, as many brilliant artists have designed a Wullie for the trail, as well as numerous nurseries, schools and community groups creating their own Wee Oor Wullie’s.

There are 56 of the main Wullie sculptures in Glasgow and the surrounding area, so needless to say we didn’t capture them all. However it’s a fun game to play with your toddler and absolutely free. You can pick up a free copy of the map at selected Wullie locations, or you can download the free app, which contains the app, counts your collection and also offers rewards for unlocking certain Wullie’s along the way.

We didn’t download the app, as with a toddler under 2 we weren’t sure that 1) he would even like the sculptures or 2) would want to walk all that far as some of them are spread out. We managed to see some of the little ones in Braehead Shopping Centre and the Riverside Museum, and had fun walking through Edinburgh during the Fringe trying to find some big and wee Wullie’s.

I would say that this is an ideal activity for the whole family, and that if you want to collect them, maybe take a buggy with you in case of tired little legs.
Given more time, and a little planning, we would have probably tried to do the trail purposefully rather than happening upon it. And maybe if Travis was a little older we would have visited further afield to try and find Wullies. (If he was older he may also have posed nicely for a photo rather than screaming no and running away, but that’s another story!).

The Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail is highly recommended, as it ticks all the parent boxes. Firstly, kiddos are outside in the fresh air (mostly), burning off energy walking to find the sculptures. Secondly, each sculpture has a different design, many with things to spot and talk about with little ones. Thirdly, each sculpture comes with a backstory behind it, so you can learn more about the design, the artists and so on. Finally, the trail raises funds for a children’s charity, which you can’t really contest as a parent (why would you though).

Sadly, the trail comes to an end on 30th August, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to get out and spot some. However, there will be a big farewell weekend from 13th-17th September in each city, so you can see all the Wullie’s from that section of the trail at once. Tickets are free but there are limited numbers for certain time slots, see the Oor Wullie website for more on this.

unlikely-mum-quick-skincare-routine-products
Mum time, Mum's finds

Unlikely Mum’s Quick Skincare Routine

I’ll let you in on a little secret… I was always lazy with skincare, even before Travis made an appearance. I’ve always been a fan of quick and easy personal care products, and if they can do more than one job, even better!

Now that I’m a mum (and a toddler mum at that) I have even less time to dedicate to my own skincare, though I know it’s still important to have some self care and look after the skin I’m in. So you’ll barely ever find me wearing makeup unless I’ve got an important work meeting or a night out. However there are 3 magic products I try to use on a daily basis where possible.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with any of these brands, and have not been paid or approached to promote them – they are just genuinely the products I use and love.

Liz Earle Naturally Active Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
I was first told about this by a former boss when I was around 23. She explained about the benefits of the cleanser and why it was so much better than face wipes, but all I heard at that age was that it was a cleanser for older folk worrying about their ageing skin. I didn’t think I had time (or the cash) for the faff of using a hot cloth cleanser and I certainly didn’t think it would work on my spotty still-teenage-in-nature skin. Fast forward seven years, and now that I’ve reached the age my boss was when she told me all about this product, I’m a total convert. There’s literally no faff in using it – simply use one pump, massage into the skin and wash off with the hot cloth.

It’s so simple I tend to do it either right before bed, or right before the shower in the morning, washing it off as I’m in the shower. I’m a big fan as it ticks all the boxes – it’s less wasteful and environmentally damaging than face wipes, the natural ingredients cleanse without reddening and the cleanser even removes stubborn mascara!

For 100ml it costs £17 and you get 2 hot cloths with it, which is perfect to rotate for washing them. You can buy it from the Liz Earle website here.
Mum-skincare-routine-under-30
Pixi Glow Tonic
I first fell in love with this around Christmas 2018, when I received it in my Birchbox Advent Calendar. I hadn’t heard of the brand before and was totally intrigued when I found that loads of people were raving about it on my Twitter feed and Insta stories.
Not normally a toner kind of gal, I went in open-minded to see if I actually felt any added benefit of using this each day. Guess what? This is definitely a product that lives up to its name, as skin instantly feels more refreshed, and is noticeably brighter and glowing after just a few uses.
To buy the product from Birchbox, it’s just £10 for 100ml or £18 for 250ml, depending how dedicated you are! Now to give you an indication of longevity, I used my 40ml Birchbox sample size bottle every other day, give or take, since around Christmas, and only just ran out in August, so it’s great value for money.
Astral Cream
This is a cheap and cheerful moisturiser which my mum has used since before I was born I think! As a teenager, my mum told me about how versatile this product is, and since I didn’t really have an endless source of pocket money to be spending on makeup at that time (and if I did, it was going on blue mascara!) I began to use hers to see what the fuss was about, and then adopted it as part of my makeup routine.
It’s such a great moisturiser for under your makeup, especially in the winter, as it’s thick and creamy and gives your skin that much-needed hydration boost. It’s also a fab eye makeup remover – just layer some on your eyes, rub gently then massage away with a cotton pad. Hey presto! Stubborn mascara is removed!
I usually just buy the small 50ml tubs as they are handy for travelling and taking away, and in all honesty I only have to buy a little tub about twice a year. Get it from Savers and it costs around £1 – best beauty bargain ever!
So there you have it, a fool-proof, 5 minute skincare routine for busy mums, for under £30!
unlikely-mum-quick-skincare-routine-products-under-30
lamont-farm-free-things-to-do-with-toddlers
baby and toddler activities, Free things to do with toddlers

Lamont Farm

Lamont Farm is a wonderful charity farm project in Erskine, about 20 minutes from Glasgow city centre. It’s a city farm, so it’s in a much denser space that your regular rural sprawling hectares of farmland.

That’s not to say animals are boxed in on top of each other, it’s just that there aren’t massive fields with hundreds of sheep or cows in them. Yes they do have some of those animals at Lamont Farm, but to a far lesser quantity, and you might find a horse sharing a field with a llama or something.

The project itself is half typical farm life and work, half rehoming other animals, so on any given visit you might find your typical sheep and pigs, but also a bearded dragon and guinea pigs. Volunteers work hard to ensure the welfare of all animals, and not only give up their time to look after all creatures on the farm, they also offer guided tours for visitors.

 

The basics

As a community run project, Lamont Farm is completely free for all to enter, however there are donation buckets on the gates as you enter and exit. All donations go back into helping the running of the farm and continuing to look after the welfare of the animals. If there was ever a farm you wanted to visit that wasn’t out for commercial gain, or where you wanted to be sure the animals were treated properly and not like a production line, then this is the place.

The farm area is quite small, so it’s not a problem to visit without a pram/buggy. If you have smaller children unable to walk yet, there’s definitely room to get a pushchair in, however, there might be some areas you’d have to leave a buggy outside, such as the reptile shed. The location is quite easy to drive to, but there’s no set parking (it’s just on-street) so that’s something to consider when you’re visiting.

What to expect

Nothing like your average school farm visit, Lamont Farm is a city farm, so everything is in much closer proximity. Around the yard and stabling areas, the ground is all concrete so easy to navigate with a pushchair. Despite being concrete, wellies or boots are still advisable as even in nice weather, the volunteers at the farm may be cleaning out stables, rabbit hutches etc, and hosing things down which means puddles and muck are to be expected even on the sunny days!

My advice is to expect the unexpected! There are ponies, goats, sheep and a massive pig for those interested in typical farm life, but the uniqueness of Lamont Farm is really the rehoming and taking care of all the other animals. As the point is to get animals to a stage where they are rehomed, you might not see the same animals on a second visit. Similarly, as they take in rescue animals, you might find some new friends on a second visit.

Volunteers at the farm offer guided tours which are really interesting and allow you to find out more about each animal. Not only do you get to hear about how each animal came to be on the farm, and what they are like, you also get the opportunity to handle many of them. From rabbits, gerbils and guinea pigs to bearded dragons, snakes and turtles, it makes for a really interesting experience!

In addition to all of the animal fun, there’s also a play area for kids (it’s definitely for smaller kids), with the likes of red and yellow cars, slides, seesaw toys etc. There’s also a little tiny pig that gets to run around in the play area too, so you might be fighting him to go through the tunnel!

Within the play area, there are a couple of picnic benches, and the farm sells juice and snacks, ice lollies etc so you can enjoy a wee snack break there too. There are toilets, including baby-change facilities too, so it ticks all the boxes of all the necessities of an afternoon out with a toddler.

Unlikely mum verdict

I found this farm an amazing day out not only for my little man and his best friend who we brought with us, but also for myself! It was great to hear volunteers so passionate about the animals and what the farm is all about. Equally, it was lovely to be able to hold some of the animals, and let the kids try the feel of a tortoise, or pet a pony for example. I wasn’t brave enough to hold a snake or anything myself but that’s also an option!

I love the idea that not only is this a visitor attraction where you can learn and interact with animals, you could also adopt one or even end up taking one home! Not that we have room for a pet, but if we did I would consider rehoming from there as they do such a great job ensuring the welfare of the animals. Plus, even if your not a kind of pets-in-your-own-home kind of person, there’s always the fact that when you revisit, you might find some new and different animals, or find out that an animal you handled before has finally found their forever family. Additionally, you can sponsor an animal and visit it, and volunteer as if it were your own pet that just doesn’t live with you. A perfect way to introduce animals and the idea of care for pets to kids, without the additional mess and cleaning required at home!

I didn’t expect there to be a play area and juice etc available so I was pleasantly surprised by that. The kids had an absolute ball petting animals, chasing geese and playing in the picnic and play area. It’s definitely a good afternoon out for the family.

Main points

  • Free
  • Animals to be rehomed
  • Picnic area
  • Animal handling
  • Not suitable for young babies
  • Changing facilities available
  • Easy to explore without a pushchair

lamont-farm-free-toddler-activity

 

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