Cheekymums blog


Cheekymums Top Ten Tips for 2013

1 Don't put off that hobby you've been dying to do for ages. Sign up for an eve class, daytime course or even online course. If that's not poss. then buy a book on the subject and make sure you pencil in time for YOU regularly. If you unlock your creativity you will automatically pass ideas onto your children who will in turn benefit. Plus of course they will be very impressed if Mummy is going to 'school' like them!

2 Praise, praise and more praise. It's amazing what a little praise can do to a child of any age.

3 Diversion Tactics. If the kids are about to throw a wobbly or are just getting too stressed, create a diversion to diffuse the situation.

4 Don't sweat the small stuff. If you are always saying NO to the small things its poss. that when you really mean it the kids won't listen.

Save the word NO for the more important things, for example things that put them in danger, etc.

5 If taking the kids on a long journey, wrap up small presents for both them and for you (!) to open every few hours.

6 Really listen to your child. Look at things from their prospective. Occasionally squat down and talk eye to eye at their level.

7 Your child is a unique individual. Treat them with as much respect as you would an adult. We can all learn something from them.

8 Build up your child's confidence as often a you can. Incorporate it into your everyday life. A positive comment goes a long way.

9 5 mins peace. Yes YOU! Get to chill EVERY day even if its only 15 mins. And I don't mean when they are fast asleep at night! Don't wait that long. Recharge your batteries.

10 You child may have their own faults but don't keep reminding them instead concentrate on their positive attributes. After all you wouldn't keep telling a friend that they are overweight, too skinny, too loud etc.

Best of all enjoy being with your children. And for times when they they play up, just remember that that's great as they are healthy and that's the way its suppose to be! If they were quite all the time and hid in the corner then wouldn't we be worried?!   October 2013


THE GREAT DEBATE. ''As mums are we all expecting too much of ourselves? Can we really be superwoman all of the time and still be content and at peace? Or are we just setting ourselves up for a fall? Surely life is too short not to enjoy every moment and not put so much pressure on ourselves?''Dec 2011

RECHARGING YOUR BATTERIES. You can't keep giving to others without recharging your batteries. Give your mind some space to rest and re-energise. Relax. Calm down. Then you will be ready to go again and tackle the day's challenges. 22 Jan 2012

SLOW DOWN! Don't do too much all the time. Otherwise you end up doing things badly (we've all been there!). For example how many times have you had to call your mobile because you can't remember where you put it! 21 Jan 2012

Guest Blog for cheekymums - We are honoured to have our own panel of experienced Professionals...

MUMMY Saves The Day! 19 May 2013

(OK I may be talking myself up a bit but...)                                                                                           

I happenend on a normal Sunday afternoon. But it needed the skills and brains that only a Mummy could deliver. The mission was tough and had to be completed asap as there was a young child's emotions at risk. What happened? I hear you ask. Well, it was the Wobbly Tooth situation gone bad....The tooth in question had come out after days of anticipation and wobbling and HAD FALLEN DOWN THE DRAIN! Oh NO!!! I hear you say....What a dreadful experience! How did you cope? Mummy then came to the resuce and very slowly using all her Mummy magic powers managed to get hold of the tooth in question and save it. What a relief (for the Mummy as well as the extra happy child!)

So all you Mummies out there this is a reminder of how UNIQUE and AMAZING you ALL are!!!

PLEASE EMAIL US WITH YOUR TOOTH FAIRY STORIES AND TIPS so we can pass them on to other Mums. Email:



Organising a Children’s Party 21 Jan 2013

Does the thought of arranging your child’s party fill you with dread? Not sure where to start organising it? Tracy Ross provides some tips to help you get

Throwing a children’s party can be enjoyable and stress-free – it just takes some planning and a little imagination. You may well be panicking and asking yourself the following questions:How many children should you invite? Where should you hold the party? How are you going to keep everyone entertained for 2 hours? Is it possible to have yummy but healthy party food? How much should you spend on party bags?

Location - There are a number of factors which play a key part in deciding on where you should have the party:

Age: If it’s a first birthday you might only invite close family and friends, so could easily host at your house. If your child is 4 and has just started school you may want to invite the whole class so unless your have enough space at home an alternative venue may work best. Remember for children under 5 the majority of parents will want to stay during the party. For older children a smaller group of 8-10 and planned activity may work best.

Time of Year: If your child has an Autumn/Winter birthday an indoor option will work best. For Spring/Summer birthdays an outdoor option such as a picnic and games in the park would work well but it’s always a good idea to have a back up wet weather option.

Do it yourself vs Party Entertainer: If you organise the party yourself you can organise the entertainment, games and food to suit the space that you have in your home. If you book an entertainer check that you have enough space to host the activities and for parents to gather during the party.

Home Party:Decide on which areas to use for games, food/birthday cake, waiting area for parents and gift table. Decorate the rooms based on your theme.

Timing - Think very carefully about the length of your party. Children have short attention spans and can get tired easily. An hour and a half to two hours is enough for little ones and parents wishing to stay to join in the fun. You should have 45 minutes of games before the birthday tea and a couple of games once they’ve eaten. Weekend parties work best for the whole family as siblings may have activities that cannot be missed.

Numbers  - Again this will be dictated by the age of your child and the kind of party that you would like to hold. For younger children try to keep the number small as this will be doubled by parents wishing to stay.

Themes - For younger children (up to 10 years old) it can be fun to have a theme. Kids love dressing up and having a theme makes it easier to tailor entertainment, decorations, food and music. It doesn’t have to be an expensive superhero or fairy costume: choose a colour, accessory or hat. You can even give out prizes for the best homemade outfit.

Invitations - Before deciding on your party date check that it doesn’t clash with other key calendar dates, eg Mother’s Day, school holidays (if your child’s birthday is in the school holidays set a date before or after the break). You should aim to send out the invitations 3 weeks before the party date. Details to be included on the invites: name and age of your child; date and time of the party; location of the party with clear instructions on how to get there (a map is always useful; party theme (if there is one and instructions for dressing up); reply date and contact details for guest to respond). It’s also worth asking parents for their contact details (should you need to change plans at the last minute), to let you know if their child has any food allergies and if they will be staying.

Entertainment - Another trick to a successful children’s party is to make sure the kids are occupied, engaged and having fun all the time!

How to find an entertainer

There are plenty of online sources such as Netmums, Raring2Go and Families magazine but it’s often good to get a recommendation from someone you know well. So if you’ve hired a party entertainer you can sit back and enjoy catching up with the other parents until food time.

However don’t be put off organising the games yourself. You should plan on 10-20 minutes for each activity. It’s useful to have a few ice-breaker activities to keep everyone entertained whilst everyone is arriving and before the party begins. A bouncy castle can fill this time well as can a craft activity. It’s also useful to have a craft area set up for those children who feel overwhelmed by the activities to give them chance to wind down. This doesn’t have to be expensive – photocopy themed colouring pages with a bag of pens or sticky shapes and glue.

DON’T FORGET NAMES LABELS FOR CHILDREN (or you could end up in a messy situation when it comes to handing out prizes for games).

Games - What you decide to play depends on the age of your child. For younger children

Draw up a schedule of games and make sure that you have everything you need to play them, including suitable music, chairs, wrapped gifts for pass the parcel and small rewards for winners of the games (sweet tray or small goody bag toys). It’s a good idea to mix up lively games with slower paced games. A giant parachute is a great opening game for younger children and lets you judge what kinds of activities the children love. Parachute games can include:

  1. Catch the Beanbag (you can also use small cuddlies): Bounce the beanbags high in the air and the children have to catch them quickly and throw them back on.
  2. Children lie under the parachute and adults lift the parachute up and down.
  3. Shout out different colours, names etc so that the children run from their place to the other side.
  4. Cat and mouse – one child is the mouse and goes under the parachute. Another child stays on top of the parachute to hunt for the mouse. Everyone else shakes the parachute to make it difficult to find the mouse.

Other game ideas

  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • What’s the time Mr Wolf?
  • Musical statues/chairs
  • Pass the parcel (it wouldn’t a party without it)
  • Donuts on a string/Party rings (tie doughnuts on pieces of string and hang them from a longer piece of string. The children have to eat the doughnuts without using their hands)
  • Quiz/Treasure Hunt/Hunt The Stars
  • Best of – Dancer, actions, animal impersonations – take your pick! Best to nominate a judge.

For older children from five to eleven plan an activity like ice-skating, bowling or cinema. Many places will cater for children’s parties which will take the stress away.

Decorations - Whether you’re having the party at home or at a local venue decorations will brighten things up. They shouldn’t cost the earth –you can add balloons and streamers or a personalised birthday banner. Themed cups, plates and tablecloths also look great.

The menu - My top tip is to keep things simple. Finger food such as sandwiches, hotdogs, carrot and cucumber sticks, breadsticks, cherry tomatoes, small sausage rolls, pizza fingers, popcorn, chopped up fruit (grapes, strawberries) popcorn, chocolate fingers, party rings, cup cakes and mini muffins go down a treat. Children find them easy to eat and they can be prepared easily the night before. Keep plenty of jugs of fruit juice, cordial or water available during the games and birthday tea. If you know that you’re going to have lots of parents staying to the party is a good idea to put someone in charge of tea/coffee making and provide a tray of biscuits/cakes. It can be fun to have a themed birthday cake but it’s also just as easy to decorate a cake yourself. Cupcakes with the children’s initials or Smarties go down equally well.

Party bags - These are always the highlight for children at the end of the party. You should agree a budget per party bag and if you want to offer a few smaller items (stickers, marbles, pens, balloons, key rings, bendy toys, fridge magnets, etc) or one more expensive gift and a small bag of sweets. If you’re feeling creative homemade cookies with the child’s name on it always go down well.

Helpers - It’s always a good idea to line up a few willing helpers to help everything run smoothly.


  • Setting up/clearing the venue (table/chairs/decorations, etc)
  • Entertainment/Party Games (Liaise with entertainer or guide children during activities)
  • Music (you’ll need someone to do the tricky job of starting/stopping the music at the relevant time)
  • Food/Drink (teas/coffees for adults/setting out birthday tea
  • Gifts – Pack away gift table.

Checklist for the day - Finally, it’s always a really good idea to prepare a checklist for the day to ensure that you don’t forget any items.

  • Music
  • Decorations
  • Camera/Video
  • Food (birthday tea, birthday cake, candles & knife, cups/plates and serviettes)
  • Key contact details (venue, entertainer, bouncy castle, parents)
  • Prizes for games

Final tip - Make a note of who bought each gift as your child opens them. Aim to send out thank you notes within a week. It’s often nice to send homemade thank you notes from the party with a photo of the children having fun. And if you organise and stay stress-free they will be having fun!

Tracy Ross is founder of a lifestyle management business

How to Organise chaos 20 Jan 2013

By Tracy Ross

Whether you’re a new Mum or recently had another child it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of responsibilities we have. The ‘’to do’’ list keeps growing and your available time seems to get shorter. Creating order from chaos is one of the top goals for any busy Mum. You may not have it all the time but with some simple organisation you gain a sense of control. By prioritising the things that you need to do you can use the time that you have more effectively. You can break down everything you need to do into 3 groups – essential (feeding and looking after baby); helpful (cleaning the oven) or can wait (repairing clothes).

Here are some useful tips for organising your life one step at a time:

  1. Creating and maintaining a clutter free home

Having a place for everything and knowing where to find the things that you need saves time and creates a sense of calm. Look at each room and identify the areas that need to be de-cluttered i.e. toys spread all other the living room, paperwork piled on the kitchen table and bedside tables.

It’s useful to organise storage solutions in your home at the key points where things accumulate i.e. paperwork in a file in the kitchen, shoe box in the hallway and a toy box in a corner of the living room. Once you’ve identified the right space for each item you need consider if the storage solution that you have works. If not, source a new solution. Once you have the right storage maintaining the clutter becomes much easier.

Pack away and label those items that you no longer need. Each item should fit into one of the following categories - store in loft for future use (i.e. old baby clothes/toys); eBay (earn money from good quality items); give away to friends/family/charity. 

  1. Keeping the Toys Under Control

Unless you have a playroom it’s important to have a dedicated space for toys in the house i.e. Bedroom (majority of toys), Living room (small selection of toys and books) Kitchen (craft cupboard) and shed (garden toys). Toys should stay in these allocated areas. It’s a good idea to rotate toys between rooms every 2/3 months so the children play with all of their toys and are less tempted to spread everything all over the house.

  1. Housework and Chores

Staying on top of the housework is often said to be the number 1 stress factor for mums. Having good storage and a de-cluttered home can really help with day to day chores. The best way to get organised is to make a list of things that need to be done each week and tackle one task each day i.e. hoover/polish/clean floors/change beds. Then at various points in the day when you have 10 minutes free you can do some of the smaller jobs that give you a sense of order i.e. laundry, tidying, cleaning the sink, hanging up clothes etc. There will be other tasks that you can do when you have time i.e. cleaning the cooker/fridge/windows or ironing. Don’t let the pressure build at those times when you simply don’t have time and outsource a few key jobs i.e. running errands or ironing. Meal planning can save time and money as you can cook extra one day to have left over’s the next. Shopping online is also great when time is limited and can also save money as you only buy the things on your list.

  1. Paperwork/Appointments and Birthdays
  • Buy a family planner. As your family grows it’s essential to keep track of everything needed for each member. This will help you plan ahead and identify your key pressure points.
  • Keep an in-tray for all paperwork that needs to be dealt with and set aside a little time each week to deal with it. Keep a good supply of envelopes and stamps.
  • Set up direct debits for as many things as possible. This will help you manage the family budget and reduce the number of ad hoc things you need to deal with.
  • Deal with all schools letters as soon as they come home and send responses back the next day.
  • Set up a simple filing system so you know clearly where to find everything – i.e. Insurance, Utilities, car, Tax, phone etc
  • Have a special drawer for key documents – passports, birth certificates, cheque books etc
  • Buy birthday cards/gift wrap in bulk and set up a present bag. Knowing who you need to buy for each month means you can buy ahead, post gifts earlier using a cheaper postal option and stay on budget
  1. Organising the Kids for School

Again it’s important to have a system to know where to put things such as school bags, lunch boxes, reading books, letters etc when the kids come home. Try and prepare what you can the night before to avoid a frantic morning i.e. when the kids are in the bath you can lay out school uniforms for the following day or prepare packed lunches when you are preparing the evening meal.

One step at a time

So when your life feels in chaos try introducing small changes one step at a time. You’re more likely to stick to them and will really feel like you’ve achieved a little more control. More importantly, don’t feel bad about delegating some tasks to others so that you can focus on the most important things.

Guest Blogger Annie Hall from Help Your Child to Learn 20 October 2012


Maths is not a Dirty Word

I have a confession to make. I’m no ordinary teacher. I trained as a Physics teacher and I love maths. There – it’s out there. Usually when I mention that I get one of two reactions – either an embarrassed silence or a comment such as, “Oh I was useless at maths/physics when I was at school.” A lot of my friends feel singularly unprepared to help their kids with their maths schoolwork. For some it brings back nightmares of their own school days. For others they feel that the teaching of maths has changed so they don’t know how to approach a topic. But maths does not have to be scary. Here are a few ways that maths can be part of everyday life for your kids:

1) Money

It struck me a while ago that my kids don’t see money change hands the way I used to when I was their age. Most transactions seem to involve a card these days – or a phone if you’re very up to date! But the whole idea of handing over cash and getting change is something that kids often miss. If you use cash it can help them learn the value of something because they can see the transaction more clearly. You can use coins to develop all sorts of number skills, from basic counting to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Play shopping games or ask your child to sort out the payment when you are in your local shop. Discuss the total cost of a few items or how much change you will get from a £10 note. Ask your child how much it would cost if you got a chocolate bar for each member of the family. More often than not we are in a rush and just hand over our card to make payment, but with a little forethought it is possible to give your child the opportunity to learn about numbers and money in an important everyday setting.

2) Cooking

One of the things my kids love to do is bake. I’ll readily admit that I’m not much of a cook. But it’s a great skill to be able to pass on to your kids and it involves a surprising amount of maths. Start by choosing a straightforward and interesting recipe and get your child to measure out the ingredients for you. Show them how to use scales and measuring jugs accurately and help them to read the amounts they need to measure from the recipe. As their confidence and ability grows, get them to work out how much of each ingredient they will need for double the recipe and so on. Help them to get to grips with numbers, measurement and calculation in a setting that is fun and produces a tasty result.

3) Games

There are all sorts of games that require scoring so get your child to be the score keeper. Work with them initially and encourage them to keep everything written down so that if they get lost in the numbers it doesn’t spoil the game. Start with simple games that give scores of just 1 or 2 at a time. But move on to more complex scoring systems. One of my favourite games for this is Pass the Pigs. It’s hilarious to play and, depending how the pigs land, you’ve got all sorts of possible additions to make.

So there are three areas of your everyday life that you can use to demonstrate the usefulness of maths and to develop your child’s confidence in using numbers. Both of these are essential for kids to learn – that they see the purpose behind what they are learning and that they find some confidence in learning it.

If you’d like to find out more, drop by my blog at Help Your Child to Learn. If you have any questions or topics that you’d like me to talk about another time, please drop me a line or email Penny here at CheekyMums and she’ll pass it

Guest Blogger Annie Hall from Help Your Child to Learn 15 October 2012

Not My Choice

Choosing the right school for your child can seem like an enormous pressure. What if you get it wrong? What if they are unhappy? What if the teachers let them down? And then when you have finally made your choice and filled in all the forms and jumped through all the hoops they want you to, what if your child isn’t accepted to the school you want them to go to? What do you do then? My first piece of advice is to try to keep your child out of it – not the school – the stress. A new school can be a daunting place and if they are carrying all your negative emotions about it too it will be doubly hard to settle in. So unless your concerns about their new school are severe, encourage them to see it as a positive move and help them to get the most out of it. I’m a big believer in the fact that parents make all the difference to a child’s education. Your child can do well, even at the ‘worst’ school. You are the one who can make their learning experience a positive one.

Perhaps you are concerned about the level of teaching they will get. Help your child to get excited about learning outside of school. Let them see that school is only one part of their education and help them access other ways of learning. Note that this doesn’t have to involve tutors or extra expense. Look for ways of developing their learning through your everyday life as well as through free activities. Museums are a great starting point. They often have activity days and child-centred events, many of which are free or low cost. Or maybe the social side of school is your concern. Get involved at the school as much as you can, supporting change from the inside. Get to know the teachers and work alongside them to make learning as accessible as possible to the kids in their care. Perhaps you will be able to get involved in the PTA or even help out in one of the classes. Be as available as you can be and let your child know that their schooling is important.

In the meantime, if you are still keen for your child to get into your first choice school, don’t give up. Find out all that you can about the appeals procedure. Keep asking questions and make sure you know exactly what the school is looking for. Don’t do anything stupid like pretending that you live somewhere you don’t. You are more than likely to be found out and may do your cause irreparable damage. The same goes for pretending you attend a local church or other religious institution just to get into a particular school. People do it and get away with it. But it seems to me that if we are trying to help our kids see the importance of honesty in their lives, we should be living honest lives ourselves.

However, if there are small things that might help your appeal consider whether they are things that you can do. Home location is likely to be one of the biggest criteria but others such as academic, music or sporting achievement may be important to a particular school and you may be able to see your child’s skills in a new light. Keep your child’s name on the school’s ‘Continuing Interest’ list and keep checking in at the school asking where you are on the list and what else they need from you. Don’t let them forget you – but don’t be too much of a pain. After all, you want them on your side, trying to find a way of getting your child into the school. But do be realistic. If your child settles into one school and makes friends, they might find it traumatic changing schools part way through. That’s not to say it’s not the best thing for them. But if it gets that far, involve them in the process and help them transition as easily as possible.

For some, the idea of making this transition is too much. Perhaps the school that they have been offered is totally unsuitable for one reason or another. Or maybe they know that their child would struggle too much with leaving new friends behind. The other option is to home educate until a place at their chosen school opens up. It’s not an easy option but it doesn’t have to be an impossible one...but that’s a post for another time. On Twitter @helpkidslearn On Facebook

Guest Blogger Fiona Maguire from Real Energy 4 All 6 July 201

Hello my name is Fiona Maguire, I am a life coach who specializes in helping women release their emotional baggage. I have a Psychology degree and have worked in the NHS and Social Services with children and their families. Over the last 15 years I have helped thousands of people be pain and stress free.

Emotional Awareness

The most important thing I believe a mum can give to her child is emotional intelligence and good emotional health. I think that both of these essential qualities come from the ability to be aware of our and other people’s emotions, I call this emotional awareness.

The crucial factor here is that the mum has a high degree of emotional awareness herself and demonstrates good emotional health to her children.


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