guarderia feature

#InfoUK – Type of nurseries and how to apply if you live in UK

If you have children between the age of 2 and 4 the big question if you’re living in UK will be:

How do i apply for a nursery place in uk?

We are many the mums that come to a new country with many questions and doubts. You can only prepare yourself that much but once you arrive you must be ready for any sudden changes that can happen. Since this is our fourth year in this country and taking advantage of our family blog every month we will share with you a post dedicated to #InfoUK. We hope that our experience along with many hours of searching will help you solve some of those doubts that you may have.

So you’ve just come to the UK and have the children with you. This is not like other countries, such as Spain, where kids will start preschool when they turn 3 years old. So if you want to work or just simply need or think it’s a good idea for your kids to start attending nursery you’ll probably have many questions in your mind. Let’s start for the beginning then:

what type of nursery will i find in the united kingdom?

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Private Day Nursery: it’s the typical nursery, not run by the government, but a private company itself. They usually cover the hours from 8am to 6pm and accept children as young as 0 months old to 5 years old. Some of them will be able to offer you after school club and/or breakfast club. (where they pick up and drop off children from school, taking them to the nursery where they will play and do different activities until their parents come for them. Moreover, they will usually be open during the school holidays. Every area usually counts with a few of this type of nursery. The fees may vary according to your needs, but usually for a 5h session from 8am to 1pm will cost around 20-25 pounds, based on our own experience. You would need to confirm all these details with the ones that have got your attention.

Nursery school: is the school nursery that will accept children aged 3 and 4 years olds. It will follow the school calendar and the same schedule but unlike “nursery classes in school” they will only usually offer you a part time schedule. Most likely the 15 hours will be spread through Monday to Friday, 3 hours each day. So that means, you don’t pay for this type of nursery.

Nursery classes in School: this option would be the closest one to the ones we have in Spain. Nursery belongs to a Primary school and it’s offered to 3 years old children. They will have the same schedule that the school does and therefore your kid will be there Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. You only pay for the school meals, unless you are on certain type of benefits. But don’t worry, if nothing changes, once they start Reception (their first year in Primary) they will have free school meals, regardless of your circumstances. Only for that year though.

*Childminders: this is a person who is been qualified to look after a group of children. She or He will take care of your kid and a few more. Usually no more than 5 people. With this it will be a matter of meeting with the person and seeing if it’s the right match for your child. They usually try to follow a schedule where they teach them through games and dynamics the basics according to their age.

“nurseries” that are not so much nurseries

*Preschool and Playgroups: as a general rule these groups will offer the parents the opportunity to meet with other families and for the children to play around and get to know each other. The people who run them though won’t look after your children, you must be with them all the time. Some will give you this option and even be a more economical than a private nursery, but it will be a matter of going there and finding it out for yourself.

*Sure Start/Children’s centre: it’s a centre located in your neighbourhoud aimed to families with children under 5 years old. They offer a wide range of activities, from baby massage to breastfeeding groups, among many others, including the possibility to meet with a health visitor there.

So we know what options are out there for us. What’s the next step:

how do we find nurseries in UK?

Google, as usual, it’s always there.

But trying to access a more accurate source you may also want to visit your Local Council website and search for “Find a nursery/ childcare” They will most likely show you a list with the schools that have this option, as well as the other type we have talked about above.

Another trustworthy source? Sure Start/Children Centre. My advice is for you to visit them as often as you can. You meet with other families, practice the language (if English is not your mother tongue) They’re usually quite kind and friendly and will share all the information they have available. In our case, when we went to the closest one in our area of that time, we asked the receptionist and she printed a whole lists of local nurseries for us.

Now what? May the search begin!

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What did we do  back then? We searched online those ones that had caught our attention and once they were pre-selected we gave them a call and arranged a time to go see them. We’re talking about our kids here, we don’t want to leave them in the wrong hands. So become as familiar as possible. At least for me I always try to do that. I get all the information I can, and then follow my “maternal instinct” It has rarely let me down.. 😉 haha

finally! We’ve got the chosen one! How do i apply now?how much is going to cost me?how do i get the 15 hours of free childcare?

You will probably think this is the hardest bit but not at all. Once you’ve chosen the one you like and made sure it’s Oftsted registered you should go and speak with the manager. Being Oftsted registered means they will be able to accept free childcare. Usually once you’ve made up your mind you will be given a form to fill out with your child’s and yourselves’s details. They will take care of the 15hours part. No need to worry about that. You will only need to agree which days you’d like your children to be in. The most frequent option is 3 days per week of 5 hours each day.

That’s in the case we’re talking about a Day Nursery, Nursery School, Playgroup o Childminder.

If we’re talking about Nursery classes in school  you will have to visit the school you are interested in and ask for an application form. They’re usually quite popular and according to the area you will have to hurry on this if you want to go for this option. They will follow their own admission criteria, such as: proximity to the school, if they have siblings already attending, etc. Furthermore, many of them will ask you to apply online through your local council website. And they will have the same deadlines than for a school place, which is around mid January for a place in September. You will get the results in April.

when is my child eligible for the 15 hours free childcare?

The UK Government has established that all children aged 3 and 4 will be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare per week. According to your circumstances, if you are under certain type of benefits you may also be eligible since they’re 2 years old.  For more information you can visit the Government website **

So the When will depend on your little one’s birthdate:

If they were born between You can apply
1 January to 31 March The beginning of the term or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August The beginning of the term or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December The beginning of the term or after 1 January
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K.O. on her first week of nursery!

Pretty soon you may have your little one as exhausted as our little J during her first week of nursery, completely knocked out! 🙂 Her key worker took this picture of her so we could see she was doing fine. The truth is we were quite anxious about the whole thing because back then she was only two years old, but we are so pleased of the relationships she built not only with the staff but also with her mates.

We hope this post will have given you some orientation at least and things will sound a bit more familiar now. If you’ve got any questions here we are and if not you can always have a look at the links below that we cheked ourselves in order to add more information to our own personal experience.

Links of Interest:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/parents/types_of_schools/

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/219167/v01-2012ukes.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/free-childcare-and-education-for-2-to-4-year-olds

https://www.salford.gov.uk/children-and-families/childcare/types-of-childcare/

https://www.salford.gov.uk/children-and-families/childcare/finding-childcare-in-salford/

** Some locations in the UK are currently offering 30hours per week but that hasn’t been extended to all the country yet. And you must qualify for them as well. You can find more information on the link below:

http://www.madeformums.com/news-and-gossip/30-hours-of-free-childcare—will-my-child

Confessions of a frustrated immigrant

Or should I say ‘expat’? Why when British leave abroad call themselves ‘expats’ and when we come here we are called ‘immigrants’? (By the way, I said British and I could have said Americans…) Either way, put whatever other nationality you can think of when mentioning the word ‘expat’.

According to the dictionary:

An ‘expat’ is  “a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country.” while 

An ‘immigrant’ is “a person who comes to a country in order to settle there.”

So they both leave their countries of origin because they chose to, otherwise they would be “refugees” being forced to do it. And they’re both trying to settle in a new place.

Is not that what we are all trying to do? It seems to me that the connotations are different though. Being an immigrant many times is related to all the negativeness of crime, taking advantage of benefits, lack of education, resources… If you’re lucky enough to come from a touristic place at least they will know where it’s located and the wonderful holidays they spend there. If not, good luck then. 

On the other hand, when you’re an expat, you have probably relocated because of a career improvement, your economical situation is much better and you don’t come to the country to take advantage of it but to contribute to it.

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Oh wait…aren’t immigrants doing that too? Working hard, accepting low-paid jobs that nobody else wants and moving the economy forward so we all benefit from it? I think that’s called “contribution” too. Yeah, I thought so.

Did you know that on our first year in UK

I tried to set up my own business and make myself a place within my professional industry? Back then we used to attend some Networking events to promote the business a little bit. One time, I came across a gentleman from the Marketing Association that told me quite clear that I needed to get a “proper education”. I explained to him I had a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Barcelona. (didn’t buy my degree in ebay, you know…) I worked and studied hard during 4 years to become a good professional. He belittled me, my studies and everything that I had worked for, just to sell me one of his courses…I left that room thinking  – you have all this knowledge about marketing, but let me tell you, you’re rubbish getting a sale done. I wouldn’t buy from you even if I had had the money to do it!-

entrepreneur-immigrant

My husband has broken his back in every job position he is been. He’s helped beyond his duties, his responsibilities. Because of that he’s been taken advantage many times, never getting the promotion he deserved so they could keep paying him a low wage.

How do you think it feels when you come to a country full of expectations, well-prepared and you accept any non-qualified job so that you can provide for your family?

Bills need to be paid. And you can always feel proud of an honest job, regardless of your salary, category or whatever. But if on top of that you come across people that think that your profession is a hobby and what you do as a job is who you are, then, my dear readers, it becomes more and more frustrating.

Let me tell you, my husband is not a “whopper-maker” He worked hard and studied even harder when we lived in Barcelona. He got to finish his career while working at the same time, having a first child, providing for both of us, studying in Catalan, not his mother tongue (which is Portuguese), and on top of all that, getting good qualifications. He literally sweated every day. Leaving early in the morning and coming home late at night. His passion, his career, his drive is not to prepare burgers. He does a good job there because he is a responsible man, but he is so much more than that.

j-bk-immingrant

I am so so tired of people who belittle you, who doesn’t see beyond a uniform or a desk. So tired of feeling that we can’t reach where we want. I should probably have written this some other day when I’m not full of pain killers and antibiotics, but this is real. The feeling is real.

Sometimes I wonder, who am I looking the praises from?

Do I really need that tap on the back from acquaintances, friends, family or even strangers? I know where to look up. But sometimes, it gets so hard. It gets so difficult to keep smiling to the ones who are rude to you, who don’t treat you well. I was telling Sam today – I can’t help be who I am. I am a kind person- It doesn’t come out that easy to shout back, say something rude or abrupt to people. Sometimes I wish I could do it, honestly. And I, obviously, have my rough days, I am no angel. But I don’t understand…of all the nice people that are in the world, how come I come across all the nasty ones?! I must have a magnet for them! A sign that says…”Yes, please, over here! Ignore me, shout at me, belittle me, it doesn’t matter, I’m an immigrant, right?!”

quote-selfesteem

Oh gosh, honestly, I wish I could finish this post on a positive tone. Believe me, I’m trying. This week I was thinking about my parents. About my parents in law too. Did you know that my father-in-law, who is a well experienced, educated man who pursued a career in economics and holds many titles, is currently working serving tables? When my parents arrived to Barcelona from Peru, I was just a baby, and couldn’t understand all their challenges. Both of my parents pursued different careers that due to family circumstances couldn’t finish. But they tried hard. They’ve currently got their own business, which has been running for a long time. They went through many hard, unbearable jobs to get to that point, though. Cleaning, looking after the elderly, working on weekends…the list is long.

I suppose that my aim with this post, apart from getting it out off my chest,  is to encourage everyone to see beyond the person.

Don’t just look at the outward appearance. Behind that tray, there’s probably someone who is dreaming to be something else, who has even prepared to be something else. Behind the lady that cleans your house or looks after your children, there’s maybe a fashion designer, or a doctor! Let’s start looking at people in the eyes and search for who they really are. Don’t be misguided by a job title, a salary or an outfit. Let’s be humans looking at other humans. Praising our efforts one another, because you know what, sometimes, this can be a terrible world to live in, but if we can find some support on another’s shoulder, life will get easier for everyone.

Again, maybe not my best week to write, but I needed to tell you this, I needed to tell you that you are GREAT, that we cannot let others, people, organisations, or society define who we really are or who we dreamed of to become. We can hope for better things to come, because we are worthy of them, because if we keep working hard, the tap on our back won’t be necessary, the results of our efforts will make us feel proud of who we are and what we do.

Since there’s nothing more positive than kittens and I can’t finish my post with an “all is happy” attitude, let me show you this hilarious video, completely unrelated to the post I just wrote.

Let’s laugh together at this poor little kitty…someone tried of its own medicine…hahaha

caucau-de-pollo-thumbnail-yt

Peruvian cuisine on our “Tasty Recipe Mondays”

We love cooking different dishes from our countries of origin. Did you know that Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the best in the world and has been awarded many times the World Best Culinary Destination?! So we thought that today we would share with you one of our tasty recipes, easy to prepare and delicious for the whole family, specially the little ones.

Since I was born in Lima, Peru, when I lived with my parents, back in Barcelona, every once in a while my mum used to cook some really tasty dishes. This is something we have continued on our family now, and even though I mainly follow a Mediterranean diet, now and then, we try something from Brazil or Peru. I think it’s a wonderful way to share other cultures with our children. Something very important, if, like in our case, you’re a multi-cultural family. But I think that even if we weren’t I would still like to try new recipes from around the world.

caucau-de-pollo-tasty-recipe

Anyway! So today on our Monday Tasty Recipe blogpost we have recorded ourselves preparing Cau-Cau de pollo (it’s like a chicken stew) It is easy and simple. Watch our video to see how to prepare it, but if you want to have a list with all the ingredients, here it is:

For 2 adults + toddler + baby (9 months old)

3 chicken breast

4 potatoes peeled and cut in squares

2 onions peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves peeled and sliced

mint

palillo (it’s translated like string bean) but I used food colour instead

half lemon juice

salt

250ml chicken stock

accompanied with white rice

I would share with you the instructions on how to prepare it but I think it will be easier for you to watch the video!

Your kids will love it! Well, ours do! 😀 Let us know how it went when you try it! We will love to read your comments.

 

 

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Behind the scenes…introducing our YouTube Channel

Well, we have finally had the courage of introducing our YouTube Channel! Since we started blogging again back in April this year that has always been in the back of my head but I wasn’t really sure how to do it, why or even when.

I’ve been blogging continuously now for 8 months. Sharing our first post, after the relaunch, was kinda scary cause I didn’t know if people would read it, if they would understand it, or if some how they would relate to it. What I did know is that I felt I needed to share our great miracle of being 4 after 2 years of secondary infertility. I thought that it could give someone the hope I searched for when I was in my darkest moments. With that same approach we are showing ourselves to the world in YouTube.

We want everyone to have a sneak into a portion of our family life

so you can laugh with us, cry with us or just give your children something good to watch on their iPads while you do other things. We want adults and children to be able to relate to us and get the positives of our adventures. We are far from perfect, and remember we are showing you an edited version of our lives, but still, we are also genuine.

One of my main fears was to not look like the “ideal mummy”

where she’s wearing a perfect make-up, perfect straight hair and no overweight! 10 years ago that could be the case, you know if you’ve known me before I’m not lying on that ;). But the truth is that the “me” of today is tired most of the time, barely wears any make-up and is struggling to lose the extra pounds. However, regardless of all that, that is still me, and is worth sharing our experiences with you on the camera if that helps any one.

familia-event

Another of my fears was to show my kids in Youtube.

We are quite sensible in terms of internet safety, but we have been blogging publicly for a while; and being cautious enough I think you can vlog without risking them more than you would by being on social media on your daily life. If at any time, we get a bit paranoid on that you will just not hear about us anymore cause we will have shut down everything online and gone up to the countryside to live in peace with the cows and sheep, as simple as that! haha 😀

So here we are, a Spanish-Brazilian family living in UK

embracing the good and the not so good moments of life. What can you find on our YouTube channel? Our days out, travels, recipes, and above all our daily life, as ordinary or extraordinary as it can be! Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, right?

Hope you enjoy it and subscribe to our channel!
We will be posting a new video every Monday at 7pm (UK time)

Looking forward to seeing you there! xx

 

ethannevelyn
christmas-market-feature

Visiting Manchester Christmas Market with kids

Even though we are on our 4th year since moving to UK we have never thought of going to the so well-known Manchester Christmas Market, let alone going with the kids. So we decided that this year would be different and taking advantage that we had family staying with us over the weekend we decided to give it a try. It is always a good excuse to go when you have someone who is not local.

Let us share our experience with you and maybe you can get some tips so that if you decide to visit you can make the most out of it.

Because we live 20 minutes drive from the centre we went by car, but usually the most affordable way of going is by Metrolink. If you’re travelling with the family they have a family ticket you can get, which I think goes around £6 for a day travel card (2 adults + 3 children) which is really good. So as I said, we drove there cause it was just more convenient for us, but unfortunately we had to spend a bit too much on parking. It was raining and to be honest, I wasn’t in the mood to walk 20 minutes so I could get a better price. Sometimes it’s worth doing it if you’re with little ones and you know they will get tired easily.

Before going I checked their website and saved their Manchester Christmas Market trail map.

market-trail-map

It is quite useful cause then you know which areas you want to skip and which not. As I said, we were with family on that day so we decided to start our little tour on Albert Square. There it has the main concentration of food stalls, some crafts, and yummy hot chocolates., AND the giant Santa! The lights, the atmosphere, always busy on a Saturday, so you need to be very careful with the kids. I didn’t let my 5 year old go for a second. As soon as she started smelling the frankfurts, burgers, etc and “begging” to try some of it we took off and went somewhere else. haha.. it’s not we’re stingy, but we weren’t going to spend 10 pounds per head on food on that day. I was ready with some snacks that I had brought from home. 🙂

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We walked down Market street, all the way up to Cathedral Gardens, where you can find the family friendly area.

No alcohol allowed, more space to walk around and a few rides the kids can go. Also they have an ice rink. You can find exact prices on the website but it goes around £10 for an adult, £7 something for an under 14, for a 45 minutes session.  Rides are usually 2 tokens and each token equals 1 pound. You can get them from the Ice Rink ticket office too. We weren’t that lucky on that day cause a couple of rides weren’t working but J had some fun at a little train.

christmas-market-family-area

Oh well! As usual, anywhere you go, if you’re accompanied with the right people it doesn’t matter that much so we can say our day out was lovely. J enjoyed herself quite a bit, and we all had a nice walk around the market, which for the first time for us we went intentionally, and not just by accident! Probably locals and frequent attenders must think we missed many things but for our little family of 4 with 2 under 5’s was more than enough for a first visit 🙂

**We’ve got really cool pics of the day on our Instagram account. Don’t forget to pop by and follow us there too** 🙂 

sleep through the night

How to help your child sleep through the night

How we got our now 5 years old little girl to sleep through the night is a battle that took us years to figure out. In the aim of helping those parents that are struggling to help their children sleep through the night we will share with you our experience. Hopefully if you put it into practise at home it will be as successful as it has been for us.

First of all, let us give you a bit of background for this. We moved from Barcelona to UK when J was a bit older than 18 months old, still breastfed and almost potty trained. When we arrived to UK the only place we could afford was a small bedsit accommodation where we had to share the bathroom with the other rooms that were in the same floor. Back at home we used to live in a two-bedroom flat, so when J turned 18 months we moved her to her own room, or that’s what we tried. But, as I said, we were in the UK, facing the situation of having to share bed with her again because that was the only space we had. So, we decided to put it back until we got a bigger house.

The time came and we moved to a two bedroom flat, by then she was 2 years old, but her room was quite cold in winter, so we decided to wait til spring. Then her vovo (grandpa) moved in with us while he was looking for a job in UK. He stayed in J’s bedroom for 6 months or so, meaning she was back to our room.

siblings sleeping

After that, we had a few attempts of encouraging her to sleep on her own but nothing worked. New decoration, more toys, nice bed covers, we tried to make her room as cosy as possible. None of that helped really. She wanted to sleep with us and would cry and cry if she didn’t get to do so. I got pregnant when she was 4 so we decided we needed to start looking for more ideas on how to help her overcome this situation. A few months before giving birth to our second child we got to move to a two-bedroom house. This time, it was a more comfortable and a better equipped place than where we were. We decided that of any times that would be the ideal one to take some action. We explained to her than when E turned 6 months he would go to his own bed and that she, as a big sister, would have to share room with him and keep an eye on him. 😉

The time arrived, we moved them both to their own room. All the excitement lasted for a couple of weeks. After that she started crying, waking up more than 5 times at night and coming to our bed. It was an exhausting terrible experience for all of us!

Our first attempt  to help her sleep through the night was the “Reward Calendar”.

reward calendar

For every night she slept on her own bed without going to ours in the middle of the night she would get a sticker in the morning. After 1 week of daily stickers she would get a little surprise. After a whole month the surprise would be “bigger”. (We have a sad story about that that will share with you some other time) Anyway. The stickers worked, but only for a while. We were constant in doing it though. And regardless of the family visits we had at home she would always sleep on her bed. Constancy is key throughout all this process. But this wasn’t to last forever…

star quote

So here our second attempt and definite solution on how we got to help her sleep through the night.

We read about the matter and found different approaches. You could let her cry, for a few minutes, then come back, then leave the room again, and so on, or you could accept she was a child and she needed your comfort at night and therefore just let her come to your room whenever she felt like it. I’m not going to criticise any of them, cause I think that every family is unique and you know what is best for them. We knew that none of them were completely right for us, nor especially for her. Then one day, after actually praying a lot about this, I came across an article that explained the importance of the previous routine before going to bed. Many talk about bath time, bedtime story…I know, but this one had a slightly different thing. When I was going to tell Sam about it he suggested exactly the same idea that I had read, without having heard it before. I knew it then! That wasn’t a coincidence. We found our solution!

So what we did to help our 5 year old sleep through the night? Now she goes to bed always around the same time, which is 8pm (we’re Spanish you see, no way I can put them in bed at 6 or 7…I wish though! 😛 )  At 7.30 we stop doing whatever we’re doing, whether it be watching a movie, YouTube videos, or playing in the iPad, and we start our “relaxing family activity” This is an activity that will entertain her but at the same time will also help her to relax and settle down in preparation of going to sleep. Sometimes we do some colouring, others we play cards, sometimes it’s a jigsaw or even role playing with her little people and dolls house.

toys playing

After that, when it’s almost 8pm we go upstairs and it’s time then to go to the toilet, brush her teeth, I do a bun on her hair and we go to bed. I sit right next to her and read some stories, and then sing a few songs. If E needs some breast milk I might swap the order just for convenience. She sleeps all through the night, goes to bed quite happy and relax and wakes up with energy and a cheerful attitude, most morning unless she’s ill, of course.

It has worked quite well for us. She appreciates that family time where we don’t juggle life but actually just focus only on her and playing with her.  We have gone through many sleepless nights, countless hours of singing, reading, getting impatient,but I am happy to say now that we were inspired to put this method into practise and it has been our answer. Even when we do it for ourselves and leave apart any screens for half an hour before going to bed we sleep much better. We totally recommend you to give it a try if you’re going through a similar situation. Obviously we’re talking about a toddler age, not really for a baby. But we will follow the same approach with E when the time comes.

Have you gone through something similar? Do you have any other recommendations on how to help the children sleep through the night? Tell us about it 🙂

back to work

Letter to myself: going back to work after maternity leave

Dear me,

You are about to finish your maternity leave, behind there’s that first month when you thought that 8 months would last forever, that when you would go back to work your baby would be old enough to leave him, cause you know he is already 8 months old!

Now you need to face the reality, your reality that it is over and you need to be away from him 3 days per week. I know everyone thinks 3 days is just fine and you will be alright but you think different. And because of this, I want you to remember a few things:

mummy and e

Remember that you need to trust that you are not the only one that can look after him and make him happy. Daddy is alright too, you know.He might get confused with what socks belong to who, (E or J) but he knows how to make him laugh, how to calm him down, how to give him the cuddles that he needs when he needs them. He will be able to style J’s hair every morning, even if no plaits are made, at least a nice pony tail, and no fashion will be in danger since it’s just the uniform she needs to wear on!

You also need to remember that going back to work means you will have some “adult time” for yourself, and you don’t have to feel guilty for that. It is alright to step away sometimes to be able to see the bigger picture of life and appreciate the small things even more.

daddy breakfast

Remember that you are not super mum! capable of doing everything, from laundries to homework, from meals to bedtime. If you feel too tired at some point, you can leave a few chores for the next day or even better, you can let somebody else gives you a hand.

Remember that as in everything in life, repetition and consistence marks the difference, so you will probably have a hard couple of first weeks juggling family time with your new schedule but it will get to settle down and you will be able to feel in balance again.

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Most of all, you have to remember that the option to choose is always there for you. If you think, at some point, you need to prioritise things on a different way is alright to say “no”. Whether it be to continue working, to become a stay at home mummy or even a full-time employee…The ball is always on your side of the field. Because you know what… “you are the captain of your soul”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

From my most humble heart hope this letter will not only help me but help you as well. xx
**If you’ve liked this post don’t forget to give us a shout on our Facebook Page, or tweet us a Hi! OR even get a little bit nosier and sneak on our Instagram 😀

 

Diary of an imperfect mum

 

low cost airlines

Our Top 5 Low-cost Airlines for a family trip

Over 3 years living in UK, travelling twice a year back to Barcelona, either for Christmas or Summer time, or lucky us, both sometimes, has made us try a few low-cost airlines and we thought to ourselves, let’s do a ranking of our top 5 low-cost airlines for a family trip, shall we?

Before going into it, let us just clarify a couple of things, most of our trips, if not all, so far, have been from Manchester to Barcelona, so our opinion is based on that route. And, because we are not filthy rich, we won’t mention any of the other normal airlines, which I suppose can be an option for some, but if you want to travel on a budget and want to have a rough idea of what to expect from a low-cost airline when travelling with kids I recommend you to keep reading 🙂

airport

So…without further ado…

#5 Ryanair

Price is usually one of the lowest ones in the market. Their website is quite easy to navigate in. They usually offer discounts for children’s luggage. All these pros have made us choose it more than once but it cannot be in number one because of these things: seats are quite small and not too comfortable, they don’t have a priority pass through the gates if you go with children, unless you have paid for it, like everybody else. Cheap tickets usually mean inconvenient departure or arrival times. You don’t want to have to leave home at 4 am with two kids because you need to be at the airport at 6 am…trust me, it’s not good for anyone.

#4 Vueling

Their bookings are quite easy to manage. Their staff is usually friendly. This is based on my brother’s experience when travelling from Barcelona to Manchester. I remember once they had to land in Birmingham because of a storm but they handled the situation quite well. They kept the people informed at all times and even the hostesses were quite nice with my little niece. Not in number 1 either because prices can vary quite a lot and the way they charge for the luggage according to your type of ticket is a bit of a hassle…

#3 Easyjet

They were our first choice for a few trips actually. Website easy to navigate, I really liked their app that kept me updated at all times. The inside of the aircraft was well looked-after, something that you appreciate when you have to breastfeed your little one during the flight…But it became too much having to get a bus from Manchester to Liverpool airport to then get the plane to Barcelona. Our “low-cost trip” would end in more hours and more money, and above all, more tiredness. If you’re travelling with little ones you want to make the experience as much enjoyable as possible, that means, short trip, quick nap and that’s it.

#2 Monarch

This low cost airline won our hearts on one of our trips. The seats are quite comfortable. You have priority pass when going with kids under 5 I think…not sure about the age now, but I do know you go first through the gate if you’re with little ones. Staff are friendly. Time flights are great, during the morning around 11 am maybe or then in the evening but not too late…The only problem? The price tickets…you wouldn’t consider it a low-cost airline depending on the time of the year you want to travel…

Finally, the “Oscar” goes to…

#1 Norwegian

norwegian

We traveled with them this last Summer since they recently opened new routes from Manchester, among them, to Barcelona. Heard about this and went to their website. I couldn’t believe how cheap I got the flights for end of July til mid August, definitely high season for such a touristic place like Barcelona. Because of work we had to reschedule our returned dates and Sam had to come back on his own first. I was able to sort this out through their Live Chat quite easily. A very friendly customer service assistant helped me solve it by splitting the tickets so I could then change the dates on each of them separately. Must confess that airport staff were more friendly from Barcelona to Manchester than the other way around. We were even given a plastic bag to put our pushchair inside to protect it. Also their aircrafts are more spacious than their competitors, plus brand new, and you can tell the difference. You don’t have priority pass with them, not that I can recall at least..but hey, overall it was the best travel experience so far. Also flying times are great, late afternoon or during the morning. One little thing that I’m not too happy about though, I still don’t get how it works their cashpoints (when you sign up) because I didn’t seem to get any through my purchase…

Anyway…we are going to visit family in January, and yes, this time we had to appeal to #5 so the flight tickets could be within our budget, but hey you’ve got the list now! Where are you travelling next?! Share with us your favourite ones!

 

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A Mum Track Mind
The Places We Will Go
trilingual

What is raising trilingual children like?

Are you planning to raise your children trilingual? Would you like to give your offspring the opportunity to speak and understand more than one language?

Multilingualism for us is one of the assets we could provide to our family free of charge, but not free of effort, must admit.

Before you start doing it you might like to read our own experience as a multilingual family. When we decided to go for it I read everything I could about the subject so in the aim of bringing some light we would like to share what is raising trilingual children like not from a professional point of view but from a family who’s living it every day.

Having said this, please, keep in mind every home and situation are different but at least you’ve got one more to consider with this post.

My husband is Brazilian, so Portuguese speaking, I’m Spanish speaking and we live in UK, so children, well our 5 y.old, baby is only 7 months old, speaks English as well. It wasn’t always like that though. When we first married we used to live in Barcelona, a Catalan speaking city in Spain. One thing we had decided even before getting married is that we would teach our children our own languages. Main reason of that time: so they could be able to communicate with our families. I also wanted to teach them English but since it’s not my mother tongue I wasn’t completely confident about it.

j_e_football

no language barrier when it comes to football…Forca Barca!

When deciding what approach we would choose we came across the OPOL method. It stands for “One Parent, One Language”  Each parent consistently speaks only one of the two languages to the child. We thought that, either living in Barcelona or moving to UK, it could be the one that would work best for us. Since it allowed us to communicate easily with the children.

But it wasn’t about talking only…

We thought it would just be a matter of patience and speaking but raising trilingual children is much more than that. The first year our little girl was exposed to Catalan and above all Spanish. She grew and developed according to her age. Then we moved to UK when she was 18 months and English became her third language. I don’t think it delayed her speech but it obviously had some impact on her, as it did in all of us as well.  We even took her to the Ear specialist because we thought she couldn’t listen too well (this was when she was 2) it turned out to be her hearing was just being “selective” and she was just ignoring us whenever she wasn’t interested on what we were saying… -cheeky girl! I know- she was perfectly healthy and I was very pleased with the doctor who encouraged us to keep talking to her in our own languages. In his own words he said “This is an amazing opportunity you’re giving her in many senses”

What else apart from speaking then?

birthday girl

The Portuguese speaking side of the family 🙂 (just part of it)

Reading books in your own language or translating them as you read them, travelling to visit family, regular Skype conversations with them, teaching traditions from your home country and learning the new ones from your adopted one, and most important, being consistent, at home and outside, regardless of who’s around, regardless of the situation, all those things have been part of this process and without them our child wouldn’t be able to understand the three languages and speak “almost fluent” in all 3. She just turned 5 and started school full time but before that she attended a local nursery three times a week. She still mixes them a bit but she knows what language to speak with who. Hubby and I speak Spanish with each other so I would say that it’s the dominant one but we are working on that so she can speak Portuguese with him and doesn’t reply in Spanish. She replies in English who anyone that speaks to her in that language. And now that my husband’s family live closer she is improving her fluency with them also.

Giving her more than just the opportunity to communicate

Our main reasons to raise them multilingual where: family and better future and job opportunities. As time has gone by I’ve come to realised that it is also a fascinating growing experience that expands their minds and makes them more aware of other cultures, other languages, different backgrounds. It opens up their understanding of the world. She wants to speak Chinese because she said “There’s a lot of people who are Chinese, and how am I going to be able to speak to them mummy?” One of her best friends is Russian and able to speak some French so they’re always trying to learn new words from each other!

So what is raising trilingual children like? An amazing, hard-working but very rewarding experience. You will face funny situations and not so funny ones but at the end everything will be alright, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end… 😉

 

The best places to breastfeed in Manchester

“May you find your own way with confidence and pride, as you experience the womanly art of breastfeeding”

The Womanly Art of breastfeeding 8th Edition

My baby boy is 7 months and a half and I can proudly say I am still breastfeeding him. This “pride” doesn’t come from thinking that whoever decides not to breastfeed has chosen the wrong path, this pride comes from the feeling of achievement that I have because of overcoming the pains from the first month, because of not paying attention to uncomfortable situations where I had to do it in public or to the many times where my t-shirt was stained due to an overflow… I love that I can give my baby what I think will be the best support for him.

 breastfeeding

Not everyday you are able to breastfeed within the walls of your own home, on your own rocking chair (I don’t have one by the way) or doing a skin-to-skin contact with your baby. So for any of you that are around the city of Manchester here are our recommendations for the best facilities to breastfeed your baby, from my own experience:

intu Trafford centre

Everyone in Manchester has been to this shopping centre, probably because it’s the biggest one in the city! so if your little one gets hungry and you’re around that place you can go to the Nursing room located right next to the toilets on the food court. There’s another one on the upper floor. Because in peak times it can get really busy and that is just an individual room. You can find there a rocking chair, a normal chair for the partner, and a sink. It’s quiet and clean.  So perfect for a relaxing time with your baby.

Manchester Arndale

Located on the food court, the main toilets have next to it a nice and quiet nursing room as well. Quite convenient if you’re looking to escape from the noise and the crowd from the town center.

Mothercare Store in Stockport

We have been to that one because we were doing some shopping and had to ask around to see if there were some facilities. I was quite surprised to find out about this one, since they have a nice, tidy and comfortable space for feeding your baby. It can be shared with other mums, but I don’t think that’s something, we women, bother that much… We were in Stockport at that time, so this one is the one we know of but if you go to their website you can probably check which ones have this type of facility. We know of this one for sure.

The Creche and Play area at intu Trafford Centre

Almost forgot to mention but if you have any older kids playing at this indoor playground may you know they have a quiet room, with a couple of comfy sofas for you to nurse your baby. The only thing is they ask you to not leave your other child unattended so either you have them with you or your partner can look after them.

baby_e

Breastfeeding is a right and a privilege so for most uncomfortable that you may feel remember that most of the times you will be able to do it almost anywhere. So don’t get shy and remember your why. I’ve breastfed at the airport, at the cinema, at a park,  at restaurants…sometimes with a blanket, sometimes without one because little E gets fed up with it… just forget about the people and focus on your baby, he/she will give you the confidence you need.

Any other recommendations of places from your own experience? I’m still planning to breastfeed him for a while, so we will appreciate any other suggestions! 🙂