Party Like It’s 1979

I supplied the photo, (can you guess which one is me?) but today’s guest post is written by the very wise Laura Potts, a mum to two. I think all parents will find her approach to kid’s birthday parties reassuring:

Themed cakes. Expensive activities. Party bags. Kids’ birthday parties have gotten entirely carried away. But the kind of low-impact, homemade celebration that’s been lost to the ages is the antidote to today’s commercialized overproductions – and little guys love it.

Be honest. How much pressure do you put on yourself to throw your child the “perfect” birthday party? Continue reading

Guest Post: Great rainy day activities for kids

With half term on the horizon, the prospect of coping with kids cooped up at home might seem daunting. However, even if the weather man is forecasting rain and cloud, there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy a fun family bank holiday weekend.

Take matters into your own hands with these rainy day activities for kids: Continue reading

Top Tips for Parents of Gap Year Volunteers

Did you take a gap year? I never did, but I wish I had done something like it sooner. My trip to Ghana with Comic Relief to do some overseas volunteer work earlier this year was three days, but in the sense that it involved months of planning: for the trip itself and around social media and fundraising, I felt as if I had taken a sabbatical from my everyday life and it gave me a whole new perspective on life.

I would really like my children to experience what I did, I talk to them about it all the time. Original Volunteer, organiser of overseas volunteer work gap years around the world asked me what my tips for parents of gap year volunteers would be, I have to admit the beforehand the thought of them travelling made me feel a bit wobbly, but the research has made me feel a whole lot better about it, plus, we still have at least 10 years to go! Continue reading

Parenting through a divorce

Today’s commissioned guest post does exactly what it says on the tin, it offers some useful tips on parenting through a divorce.

Nobody goes through a divorce lightly or without a lot of thought. Just like marriage, it can be a life-changing event with huge ramifications especially if children are involved.

Britain currently has the highest divorce rate in the E.U with an average of 2.8 divorces for every 1,000 people. Divorce is increasingly seen as not a failure but as a positive step that can liberate people from unhappy and/or abusive relationships and allow a second chance at happiness.

There is anecdotal statistics that suggest that the separation of parents who are in an unhappy relationship can have a far more positive effect on children than staying in a marriage purely for the sake of it. Divorce is, however, a big step and should not be undertaken lightly. It is and should remain a last resort after other avenues have been exhausted. Family counselling is readily available through organisations such as Relate who are at hand before, throughout and after a divorce.

Children are often underestimated in their ability to pick up on relationship problems that their parents have. This is sometimes used as justification for ending unhappy marriages to protect the children from any arguing and fighting that might have been going on in the home.

A family break-up presents uncertainty for all parties and children will feel this the most. It can lead to them feeling angry, frightened and sometimes even a sense of misplaced guilt but with the correct counselling and with the positive input from both parents this can be largely avoided.

Children need stability but above all they need both their parents in their lives and to know that they are loved, wanted and needed.

Divorce should be seen as an opportunity to promote this especially if the unhappy marriage might have stifled the development of these areas. Either parent airing any issues or problems they may have with the other parent to the child is not just unnecessary but can be harmful to the child’s development.

So what can be done?

  • Ensure that your child understands that they are loved.

  • Ensure that your child knows that they still have and always will have both parents.

  • Encourage your child to speak about their feelings and concerns.

  • Explain realistically what the divorce will entail.

  • Do not spring surprises on your child or tell them untruths.

  • Stand united as parents and ensure that you are both giving your child the same message.

Divorce is not easy for any party involved but by both parents following the above steps any upset and uncertainty for your child can be minimised. The plans being drawn up regarding the separation should always place the child first and when possible involve their input.

A luxury family break

I was sorely tempted just to let the pictures and the blurb do the talking when I was asked to write about family breaks in the UK with the Luxury Family Hotels family. How many hotels these days really deliver on this?

We understand that if your children are happy, so are you. Therefore, children are always warmly welcomed, making your life easier and ensuring that they have a fantastic time.


The Luxury Family Hotel family consists of eight hotels around the country, This is Thornbury Castle in the Cotswolds which is high on my list as we love both castles and the Cotswolds. Miss  L, inspired by Horrible Histories, is currently making me read a kids’ history of Henry VIII, who stayed at Thornbury with Anne Boleyn. Continue reading

The most popular baby names in 2012

Bounty just published this infographic about the most popular baby names in 2012, it is always good to see whether your little darlings names lie in the top ten, or not.

You can also see the rising trends and unusual names, as well as royal, Olympic and celebrity influences. Whilst my own name is not one of the most popular baby names in 2012, it is interesting to see Kourtney Kardashian giving Penny a revival. Continue reading

Learning about feelings with HABA

The German toy brand HABA are celebrating their 75th anniversary. I fell in love with German wooden toys as a teenager curiously enough. I used to visit Munich every Summer to visit a family friend, and bought a tiny wooden dog on wheels, from a book by the German author Janosch, that I used to wear on a necklace.

Even though I was a teenager, there was something beautiful and appealing about the German toys I saw, they were so unlike children’s playthings I had seen in the UK. Nowadays HABA is widely available in the UK, they launched a full range via a UK website in 2009.

When my daughter was born I bought her first HABA toy, a little clip on wooden mouse with beaded arms and legs, it was a special moment and now we keep it in her memory box.

To mark their 75th anniversary HABA sent me some products to review. We loved Come with Us, a clever book about learning about feelings, that is much more complex than its board book format suggests, and perfect for Mr G right now..

image  Apparently, at age 4 boys get a hit of testosterone bigger than they do at puberty. Mr G keeps losing his temper, afterwards he tells me this is because ’my body is cross’, then he gives me a huge hug and plants about a hundred sloppy kisses on my cheek. So talking about feelings is something I am trying to focus on.

Come with Us has a little wooden magnetic mouse which, as you read the book, you are prompted to stick to the bear in the picture feeling a particular emotion. Although it is a board book, the text is comparable to a pre school picture book in length, so aimed more at older toddlers and pre-schoolers than babies, Mr G really likes the concept.

It definitely held his attention long enough to get us talking about emotions. The other characters in the book display lots of emotions to talk about to, and Mr G and I talked about why the characters might be feeling that way, and what they might do to feel better about things.

More on what HABA has to offer tomorrow, something to get my two playing together, that fits neatly in ruck sack or bag.

Top Tips: Travelling with Kids

Easter Survival Pack

National Trust/ Simon Burgess

I’ve been sent some lovely bits and bobs recently which I thought might come in handy for the Easter holidays. Best bit is lots of it is free, or really cheap and can be ordered, or organised online. It’s the little things right? Continue reading

@AResidence does @RedTedArt


Top left, image from Red Ted Art, right, my space crab, bottom right L’s turtle family, bottom left Mr G’s turtle goes off in the campervan.

We love Red Ted Art craft book. It was full of surprises. It was the perfect collection of…

every memorable craft activity I ever did as a child, plus every one I am still waiting to try…

I admit I have shyed away from step by step craft activities in favour of open ended experiments, glitter bombing, collage making and junk modelling. But as my kids get older I am starting to realise that while open ended creativity is vital, it is actually really easy and satisfying to learn some technique too. I was surprised just how much technique kids can pick up with even the most simple materials and activities.

Red Ted Art is beautifully presented and so easy to navigate in a style that is appealing to both adults and children. No patronising cartoons, just lots of beautiful photographs and clear text and lots of clean white space. Each section is themed so easy to find, which also gives a clear sense of developing new skills.

Nearly all the projects have scope to be tackled by very little ones with some help, or bigger children independently. But the best bit, there are ideas and techniques I could use to make proper grown up gifts with. Everyone is a winner.

The activities we tried really encouraged us to make things together as a family. Perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon, tea and biscuits. Mr A even got stuck in to our turtle shell making.


There was plenty of room in the activities for individual variation, you could copy the idea exactly, or make it your own, as we did with our shell creatures. These are creations kids are going to be proud of, to want to play with, treasure and keep. In fact it was lovely to create shell creatures they are still playing with four weeks later.

I think this is a craft book to grow up with, it has all the classics I remember doing as a child, blowing eggs, papier mache, making things out of sticks and much more I have never heard of besides. I particularly loved the nature section, the walnut shell beds with people in have to be the most perfect thing to make as a child.

Can’t fault this book, it was like every memorable craft activity I ever did as a child, plus every one I am still waiting to try, all bundled up in one beautiful wrapped package. It was like wandering into the craft equivalent of an old fashioned sweetie shop.

This is the perfect Easter present and the perfect book to while away some happy Easter holiday afternoons with.

Over to Miss L, who is going to show you how she got on making felt strawberries.

We were sent a copy of Red Ted Art to review. It is available to buy here currently at just over £10 from Amazon.

How to make a toy suitcase

There’s a bit more to making a toy suitcase to this post, but I do promise to tell you how we did it. It was the second day of half term, but the first I had both kids together. A lovely day, it really made me realise how much I miss the days of both of them home together. Although, behind every beautiful moment there is chaos, as you can see in the photo above. As soon as I picked up the camera to snap the bears, they were fighting again, then wrapping each other up in sellotape.

This suitcase wasn’t a happy planned craft activity, at least not initially, it was was made under duress, while G screamed ‘Make a toy suitcase for Charlie bear!’ and L shouted ‘How do you spell horse?’. Continue reading