A Powerscourt ‘Estately’ Weekend

We were lucky enough to be invited to attend both family friendly events in Powerscourt Estate over the October Bank Holiday weekend.

First up was “Frightmare” which was run on the grounds of Powerscourt Estate by a team from Imaginosity. I genuinely didn’t know what to expect – usually the Imaginosity events are very well run but as they are aimed at children, I didn’t think it would be scary enough for my Addams Family-esque children.

Well, we were in for a treat! At the outset we were given a map and sent off the beaten track to look for clues, the first clue confirmed as being under a witch’s hat. The walk was decorated to scare, with black bags containing suspicious shapes, cobwebs, broken police cordons, and scattered debris making it instantly atmospheric.

Off the beaten track.

Off the beaten track.

20151024_153617

There were some great touches – rather than using a static clue, we found a real live witch who said she could ‘smell the children coming’ – fantastic! We had to repeat a few spells in German before we could see the clue. All the clues had an interactive aspect, and we met spiders, rats and pirates as we continued on our journey, with each characters giving us chilling warnings to ’look out behind’ and ‘trust no one’ etc.

Who's afraid of the big,bad witch?

Who’s afraid of the big,bad witch?

The grand finale came at the Pet Cemetery where we met the absolutely brilliant Tina Vamp and her macabre ‘dead toy tea party’. She introduced us to a vampire who played the “Monster Mash” on keyboards while Tina taught the children to dance along. Unfortunately, vampires will be vampires and so it ended with him chasing all the children to shrieks of delighted terror. Where did the final clue lead us? Back to the main house for a sweet treat, of course.

Really creepy!

Really creepy!

The Monster Mash!

The Monster Mash!

Verdict: The children were just the right level of spooked, although the vampire chase was a little too much for my three-year-old who was frightened and asked to ‘go home now!’ If you are looking for a family friendly scare at Hallowe’en, I would highly recommend this.

'I want to go home now!'

‘I want to go home now!’

    

We headed back up to Powerscourt on the rainy bank holiday Monday for the ‘Make a Scarecrow’ at The Garden Pavilion event. This was brilliantly organised and again the team working at it were excellent at instructing the children on what to do. We had Monica helping us out, whose enthusiasm was absolutely infectious.

The wonderful Monica!

The wonderful Monica!

The children were invited to make and style their very own scarecrows, with a central supply of clothes and straw provided along with hessian, string and accessories left out at each family’s workstation.Now, I am not usually one for getting involved children’s activities, but this was so much fun that the entire family got stuck in! If we were unsure of the next step there was always someone on hand to help.

Stuffing our scarecrows!

Stuffing our scarecrows!

Sorting at our 'work-station'.

Sorting at our ‘work-station’.

We started with a bamboo cross for each scarecrow, and after much stuffing, tying and gluing ended up with three actual scarecrows. They are suitably creepy and will finish off our decorations for the 31st perfectly!

SCARE-crows!

SCARE-crows!

Our verdict: Well worth the trip, the Pavilion staff put a lot into making this a fun, successful and interesting class.

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the above events for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Advertisements

Simply Parenting – Screen Time

As with all things in life, I believe that screen time is fine as long as there is balance. So yes, when you are all at the end of your tether, vegging in front of the TV can be just the ticket. When meeting your friend for a cuppa and a chat, your phone will keep your toddler distracted so you can actually enjoy it. Giving children access to your laptop or tablet so they can ‘Google’ something (used to be called research), is a very valid part of their social and educational development.

Research and what-not!

Research and what-not!

We can start to go wrong by relying too heavily on all the screens available to us. We may ‘officially’ allow them to play a game on the Wii for half an hour but more realistically this will be 45 minutes or an hour. How many times have you agreed to half an hour of TV only to finally turn it off after an hour and a half? Am I the only one who lets them google Titanic and then spend 30 minutes watching funny videos on YouTube? Then, before we know it, they’ve had three hours of ‘screen time’ without even thinking about it!

But what harm is it really? I can’t purport to be an expert on the effects of screen time on the youth of today, although we are all aware of the correlation between screen usage and obesity in children.

However, I do know how screen time affects my own children. When it is time to turn off whichever screen, there is often a melt-down. They are always a little grumpy and less inclined to play together after watching too much TV.

Zombified!

Zombified!

In fact, they can become irritable, sluggish zombies for what feels like an eternity, completely negating the peace and distraction that the screen usage gave me in the first place!

So here are some tips to consider when managing screen time.

  • People come first: This is actually ingrained in me from my own childhood. We always had to turn the television off if a visitor came, and now the same applies in our house. Also includes if I’m talking to them and they do not look at me, they know TV will be turned off.
  • One screen at a time: So if you are playing on the XBox then the TV or iPad is off.
  • Keep it social: Watch TV together. Choose multiplayer games rather than single player games. Oversee any and all internet access or use parental controls.
  • Strike a balance: For example, thirty minutes screen time equals one and a half hours activity, playing outside, colouring, reading, puzzles etc.
  • Interaction: Discuss what you watched/played/researched after the fact.
  • Keep it appropriate: Absolutely NO screens in the bedroom, or after a certain time of the day. (The earlier you start this the easier it will be to enforce during the ‘fun ‘teenage years.)
Watching together.

Watching together.

Get out and do something too!

Get out and do something too!

Then there is the amount of time I spend looking at a screen. ‘Mum please put your phone down and watch me’ or ‘are you finished on your phone yet Mum?’ are all too common refrains in this house. And while I’m not about to start beating myself up about it, I am becoming increasingly conscious of not looking at my phone when I am in company, be it with friends or family.

So how do you manage screen time?  Feedback is always welcome, so please feel free to comment below!

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

photo credit: tug of the screen via photopin (license)

photo credit: After-dinner Gangnam Style via photopin (license)

photo credit: Robo-Nazi via photopin (license)

Detecting Nature at Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

I love Powerscourt Waterfall and have been there a few times over the last couple of years with the children; however, we haven’t been there as a family for over four years. So I was delighted when we were invited to attend the Imaginosity event ‘Nature Detectives’ at Powerscourt Waterfall yesterday!

We intended on arriving early and having a quick play at the playground before meeting up with the Imaginosity team by ‘the big tree’ as instructed on the ticket. Of course, best laid plans meant that we arrived breathless and just in time. I was smiling brightly and trying to ignore the – ‘I am too old for this’ and ‘talk about a good walk ruined’ comments from our eldest and Mr Dad.

20150524_140726

Rainbow parachute initiation.

Quite aptly for the weekend that was in it, the meeting place was clearly marked by a bright rainbow coloured parachute which was laid out on the ground. Martina – one of the three Imaginosity staff present – welcomed us all warmly and chatted animatedly about our plans for the day. You could not help but be infused with a little of her boundless enthusiasm (which was still there at the end of the day, even when some brats children were getting  a little rambunctious).

Magnificent Martina!

Magnificent Martina!

All the children were given a sheet of clues and a pencil, told where to start and what time to return and then we were off! It was all a bit crowded and manic at the start but by the time we had reached the third clue we had all spread out and were happily going at our own pace. Everyone, that is, except my boy Conan who is nothing if not competitive.  He was bailing along following the trail and ticking off all the clues without a backward glance to us. Paul had to catch up with him and encourage him to wait for the rest of his team (a.k.a. his family) to catch up!

Bark rubbing!

Bark rubbing!

Getting caught in the 'spider web'.

Getting caught in the ‘spider web’.

Caoimhe, who was ‘too old’, didn’t take long to get into the spirit of things and was soon caught up in the trail and discovering a few fun facts that were laid out along the way. Did you know the air up at Powerscourt Waterfall is negatively charged, so breathing it in promotes a refreshed and relaxed feeling?? I do now!

We fairly powered through the nature trail and discovered a few things that were not on the list, such as the Fairy Tree which was pointed out to us by Martina – the staff didn’t rest on their laurels but popped up here and there along the trail to keep us on track. Importantly, they also gave us space to enjoy ourselves as a family.The trail ended at the waterfall where we hung out for a while, climbing and exploring, before meeting back with the rest of the crew at the appointed time.

Listening to the leaves crunch!

Listening to the leaves crunch!

20150524_144129

Making a wish at the bridge!

20150524_144827

The Fairy Tree.

20150524_150229

Exploring the Waterfall.

Martina and crew had some samples of wild flowers and plastic insects and bugs which were laid out for the children to examine with magnifying glasses.  Caoimhe and Conan delighted in putting  the bugs in the magnifying jar and examining them in great detail.20150524_150151

The best part of the event, according to my children, were the games at the end; they got to have sack races and play organised games with the parachute, laughing and giggling throughout. The best part according to me was that the children really did stop to look at and examine the natural world around them.

20150524_151951 20150524_154301

Then it was time to say goodbye to the very popular Imaginosity team who really did deserve medals (or at least an ice-cream). Our day didn’t end there. We headed up to the fantastic playground where the children played happily for a good hour before we shared a tub of candy floss and headed home, tired but happy.  We will definitely be making a few trips back there over the Summer!

The Playground!

The Playground!

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend ‘Nature Detectives’ for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and words are my own.

Eat, Play, Love!

2011-07-07 17.42.03

Having just spent the Easter holidays letting the children gorge on chocolate to their hearts’ content, I found myself thinking about the issue of childhood obesity. I recently shared the safe food campaign on encouraging children to play all the old games we used to play. Like everyone else, I remember the joy of all those games; ‘tip the can’ was definitely my favourite although I NEVER played it with my parents – just my friends and siblings. I have been using ‘Red Rover’ and obstacle courses during the children’s parties for the last couple of years and the children love them..and they are not nearly as head wrecking as musical statues! However, although the children (and myself in fairness..) ate their body weight in chocolate over the holidays, I am not overly concerned. Neither am I rushing out every day to ensure that the kids get their 60 minutes exercise a day. I mean, if my children were only outside for 60 minutes a day, we would all have been institutionalised ages ago.

 

So why am I not concerned? I believe that the biggest contributor to childhood obesity is over-eating as opposed to lack of excercise. So, ‘choctastic’ Easter aside, I don’t tend to rely on snacks to feed the children. They have a normal breakfast of either cereal or toast – then they generally have a home-cooked lunch. I have been known to feed them frozen (oh, the horror!) chicken nuggets and chips or such like every now and then, followed by a small tea of cheese sambos or scrambled eggs on toast. They do have a snack between meals but it is a single rice cake or a single piece of fruit. The children are therefore always starving by the time they come to the table. This is a good thing! They also only get milk with their main meals – otherwise it’s water.. Now that is not to say that my children don’t have biscuits, crisps, ice-cream or squash – of course they do, but only occasionally – but everything should be in moderation.

 

Luckily for me, I only live a half-hour’s walk from the school so we generally walk, often getting a drenching but no one has suffered from pneumonia so far. I send them all out for a play at some point every day, including my youngest who just turned two. Last summer, my eldest was old enough to play ‘out front’, so now she hardly ever needs to be coerced outside. The balance of that is that if some days they don’t feel like going outside, it’s not the end of the world. I really think the never-ending snacking on cheese, frubes, biscuits, crisps and squash or milk between meals is a major contributor to bad eating habits which can in turn lead to childhood obesity.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is – don’t rearrange your life to encourage a new ‘Little House on the Prairie’ type existence. Instead, limit the size of their snacks and encourage your children to play outside. Family walks at the weekend are lovely and with the warmer weather coming in, will be something we can all enjoy a little more frequently. Maybe we will play a few games with the children during our holidays but the stress of trying to fit in some extra ‘fun games’ and activities to our already hectic weekdays is unsustainable. Pointing them towards the garden and putting away the biscuits is a lot more manageable in my opinion. Encouraging your children to go out and play does not mean that you have to drag yourselves to every adventure playground and public park in Ireland – just open the back door and boot them out!!

 

Thanks for reading

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

 

 

 

Baby Scratchings

Tales of an itchy baby

One Yummy Mummy

Award winning Irish Parenting and Family Food blog

Hey Ali

Family, Crafts, DIY, Decor

dairy free kids

shopping, cooking and living with dairy free kids

Glitter Mama Wishes

Irish Family & Lifesyle Blog

The Now Moment

Daily ambition is to get milk, have a clean house and an empty in-tray. Most days I get milk.

Musings and chatterings...

....of a busy mind

Simply Homemade

Food, Family & Lifestyle Blog

mammyinwonderland

How long is forever? Sometimes just one second

Office Mum

Just trying to keep my balance...

My Little Babog

Irish Parenting Blog

Dr. How's Science Wows

Science, Curiosity and Life

Learner Mama

Because Mother Nature didn't leave a manual

BabySteps

Observations, advice and tips on the early days and years of parenting

Green Elephant Crochet

Hand Dyed Yarn, Crochet and Things

Bumbles of Rice

Family, Food and Travel Blog

Minis and Mum

Special needs and parenting reads

The Airing Cupboard

A little place to vent

My thoughts on a page.

Living, Laughing, Loving, Loathing.

mamacourageblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

%d bloggers like this: