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Guest Post: Top Tips for a Musical Halloween for Preschoolers


As a family with some serious age gaps (kids aged 4, 13 and 20…), the struggle to get the balance right at Halloween really resonates with me – small one has always loved “painting faces” but is petrified of masks and any costume that hides the face – she’s as scared of a giant Hello Kitty as her sister’s latex wolf mask!

If you’re in the same situation, here are some great tips from Caroline Crabbe at Jo Jingles for Halloween parties which won’t scare the living daylights out of them.

Toddler HalloweenIt’s that time of year again, blood-curdling terror, potions and spells and jaw-dropping costumes which are enough to spook even the bravest of little soldiers…

But amidst the excitement of pumpkin-carving and bobbing apples, it is easy to overlook the fact that for some children, Halloween can be a little scary. This is certainly the case for the toddler/preschool community – who are old enough to understand fear but too young to distinguish between fiction and reality. But when you have older siblings who may be only too happy to indulge in trick or treating, it’s worth popping a few ideas in your back pocket to ensure your toddler has fun in a not-so-frightening way. Better still, if the party is designed for older children keep the little ones distracted or out of the picture altogether.

But if you want to celebrate Halloween with your toddler, music is particularly important in helping young children to express moods and feelings so it can play a huge part in your Halloween party.

  • Avoid the musical ‘fear factor’ – When playing games like musical statues: play music which is light-hearted and fun. Try sticking with tradition like ‘Little Miss Muffett’ or ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ – spiders and dragons give the element of Halloween but without the fear factor.

  • Monstrous music: have a go at making your own Halloween musical instruments and then play them along to a song. A crisp tube and a handful of rice make a great shaker and saucepan lids make great cymbals. Whatever you do, decorate the outside with stickers of stars and moons, cats and bats (light-hearted and fun images).

  • Actions speak louder than words: Singing songs that include actions will help with your child’s coordination and balance as well and their sense of self-confidence. Try songs like ‘Dingle, Dangle Scarecrow’ it has actions and the scarecrow element gives you a softer Halloween theme. You could even get creative and change the words of some traditional nursery rhymes to use a familiar tune that younger children can relate to but with a Halloween theme!

  • Put on a show: Another nice idea is to make scary/fun finger puppets out of felt and pieces of wool or string and anything else you can find. Then you could stage a finger puppet dancing contest where each child wears their puppet while dancing to the music.

  • Getting everyone moving: Some ideas for interactive fun are to play a traditional song and see how many Halloween actions you can do: such as ‘Boo hands’ get the children stretch their hands as far as they can saying “boo!!” or ‘spiders-tapping fingers’ and make them do this on a table/floor or ‘Ghost flying’ have each child hold their arms out and ‘fly’ like a ghost.

  • A nice end: You could always create a ‘last game’ of the day by getting all of the children to ‘shake the spooky out of themselves’ – dance to a song shaking your arms and legs so you have got rid of all of the Halloween spooks!

Jo Jingles provides music, singing and movement experience classes for babies and pre-school children nationwide.

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Is middle aged suddenly cool?


Since my middle aged moment on the train a few weeks back and the handstamp incident earlier this year, I’ve been spending far too much time pondering my vanishing youth. But I’ve spotted a glimmer of hope. Here’s my little list of middle aged things which appear to be seeing a renaissance:

1. Knitting & Crochet:
I have a “vested” interest in this one – if crochet is still middle aged, then so am I. But the stars are all at it you know… Scarlett Johannson, Cameron Diaz, Russell Crowe and Kate Moss all knit and Madonna crochets (I like to think that she shares my inability to coordinate two needles at once). Admittedly all those stars are probably, technically middle aged, but with textured knits and crocheted fashion all over the shops, it’s not going away any time soon. Besides, a tween who saw me crocheting in a waiting room the other day told me it was awesome, so there!

2. Novelty Knits:
Once the province of embarrassing Dads and toddlers, now all the cool kids are wearing them. Even if they don’t knit and crochet themselves, chances are they’re wearing something that is desperately trying to be a funky handknitted sweater.

[column width=”30%” padding=”5%”]
ASOS Christmas Pattern Jumper
Christmas Pattern Jumper (ASOS)


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Badger jumper
Badger jumper (Dorothy Perkins)

[column width=”30%” padding=”0%”]Zebra sleeve oversized jumper (M&Co)
Zebra sleeve oversized jumper (M&Co)


3. Baking:
You can’t move for baking books in the shops around Christmas, and we’re not just buying them for our mums. Great British Bake-off is a huge hit, and Mary Berry rocks.

4. Bingo:
I am reliably informed that bingo is no longer just for grannies and maiden aunts, but is now cool enough for students on a Saturday night. Proof of which comes in the form of my 19 year old stepson, who is not only the proud owner of his very own bingo dabber but an actual member of our local bingo hall. There is something rather recession chic about an evening out where you make money rather than spend it.

Which leaves me a little concerned.

Can I get away with such cool hobbies, or are these things only cool if you’re under 30? And if all these middle aged things are now edgy, then by trying to keep up with kids and “old-school cool”, am I just showing my age?

Or… and this is the one I’m clinging to, has the world actually turned upside down and made me cool after all these years?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but the subject matter and content is all my own.

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How to make going back to work a success: Guest Post & Giveaway


To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (1st-8th August, 2012), MilkChic is hosting lots of giveaways to give mums a boost. Today (a day late due to 3rd birthday celebrations at MilkChic Manor), Greatvine are offering one lucky reader a free call and follow up email worth up to £40 with their Mothers Returning to Work Coach, Joycellyn Akuffo.

Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif. (LOC)Here are some tips from Joycellyn Akuffo, Greatvine expert and founder and editor of on how to make going back to work a success:

Going back to work can be unnerving for a lot of mums – just how do you keep on top of the school run, extra curricular activities for the kids and work?

1. Make a plan
Planning is the key to every working mum’s success – without a plan, you plan to fail. So, get off to a good start by investing in a good diary, where you can keep track of the family’s important dates, and key dates for work so you don’t get caught short.

2. Use technology
Set reminders on your mobile phone so you don’t have to remember things – everything from birthdays, school plays and school assemblies should go into your phone, it’s a great way to keep on track…and it’s free to do.

3. Call in your favours
While you’ve been off work, you’ve probably helped out friends and family with one thing or another. Now’s the time to call in those favours. Speak to friends and family to see what they could do to help if your days comes a-cropper. For example, if there are train delays, could they pick up your toddler from nursery for you, or take in your child who walks home from school? Get to know who you can depend on (and help out), so it’s not a major panic when things go wrong…they will, sometimes.

4. Superwoman wore a cape…do you?
One of the perils of being a working mum is that you work and still come home to all the chores that need doing. Some days, you’ll have next to no energy to do anything, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. You are human, after all, and it can be more draining doing things for other people (your family) and working than we give credit for. Don’t feel like you’re useless just because you can’t keep your home pristine during the week like a Stepford wife.

5. A problem shared…
Delegation is a skill that every working mum needs. If you’re cooking, get your partner to do the homework with the kids. Or get them to read the toddler a bedtime story, while you do some chores. If you try to do it all, you’ll get half the work done if you’re lucky, and it will feel like you haven’t achieved much every day, which will demotivate you. Get your children involved – teach them how to tidy up after themselves and it will soon become a habit you don’t have to nag about.

You can do it…you may not have the whole cake to eat, but you’ll definitely get more than a slice if you have a plan.

Win a free call and follow up email worth up to £40:

If you’d like to win a one to one telephone call and e-mail with Joycellyn, just leave a comment below telling us what you most worry about / most look forward to about work. For a bonus entry, share this on Facebook or tweet the following on Twitter:

I want to win a @Greatvine 1-to-1 phonecall & e-mail for #mums returning to #work @MilkChic #workingmums

Don’t forget to enter all the other World Breastfeeding Week Giveaways too!

Giveaway Terms & Conditions: UK only. Closing date: 22/08/2012, 23:59. No cash alternative. Winners will be drawn randomly from all entrants. If the winner cannot be contacted after 7 days, an alternative winner may be drawn.

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Guest Post: Travelling abroad with a baby


You may feel very anxious before you go travelling with a baby for the first time. This is natural as your baby is obviously the most precious thing in your life. However, once you get going and provided you follow these travel tips, you will wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.

Continue reading Guest Post: Travelling abroad with a baby