Monday, 9 April 2018

Expat, nomad, immigrant: Stories from Life Abroad - The Wrong Coat by Liberty Henwick

Welcome to my new guest post series which gives expats, nomads and immigrants a space to share their stories of life abroad and offers us a glimpse into their experiences.

The series launched with my own post, the story of how I ended up in Mexico all those years ago. You can read it here: Stories from Life Abroad - guest post series launch.

Each month there will be a new post by a different contributor.  They may or may not be bloggers, they could be from any country, living anywhere in the world as expats, immigrants or nomads.  The idea is to tell as wide a variety of stories and experiences of living abroad as possible, from many different viewpoints.

This series will keep running for as long as I continue to get contributions for it, so if you would like to take part, email me at mummyandthemexicans@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you the details.


Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series - Liberty On The Lighter Side


The first guest post is by Liberty Henwick.  

Liberty lives in Ireland although she was born in the UK and spent her growing-up years in South Africa. She's a wife, mum of two teens and two teens-in-training, writer, women's ministry worker and graphic designer. Her writing resonates with other parents because she talks honestly about her faults while looking on the funny side. She blogs at Liberty on the lighter side.

The Wrong Coat


Every time I go back to South Africa to visit family and friends I feel sadder about leaving it behind to return to Ireland. This increasing sadness has caught me by surprise because I assumed that after almost 14 years of living here that it would get easier coming back, I feel more and more settled here, but at the same time the heart ache is getting worse.
Just so you understand, I am really happy living in Ireland - I call it home, we have bought a lovely house and are raising four children here, our roots have started to run deep. That’s what makes this longing so much more mystifying to me.

In 2004 we moved to this small village - population 850 or so - from Johannesburg where the population of that city is greater that the whole of Ireland. At that stage we had one little girl and I was expecting our second. As our family was growing we wanted to move out of the city to somewhere a little quieter, maybe with a nice garden, some trees, near the coast, a little safer for our kids on the streets. I sort of thought we’d move nearer to Cape Town maybe, I definitely didn’t imagine we’d end up in this opposite corner of the world.
When we arrived it didn’t take long to make new friends, having young children made that very easy. I joined the local Toddler Group, Breastfeeding group and library. I volunteered to host a Baby Group in my home and we went in search of a church similar to the one we had left behind. Within a month we had found a community who welcomed us and became our second family. Some of my best friends now were made in those first few weeks of arriving.
Now as our children are growing up and learning to speak about us in as Gaeilge (Irish) so that we can’t understand them, we’ve slowly adapted to the cultural and climatic differences. We don’t let the weather bother us – my husband is an avid braai-er (BBQer) and will light a fire outside to cook on, even in the snow. But we’ve also learned to make fires inside in the wood-burning stove to keep the house warm for more than six months of the year! We’ve adopted some of the colloquialisms and accent in our speech so that we can be better understood by our neighbours. We’ve become familiar with the political, cultural and sports scene.

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series - Liberty On The Lighter Side


So why is it that I feel the tug ever stronger each time I go back to South Africa? I think I put my finger on it this past visit, there seem to be a number of factors at play. One of the bigger ones is our parents are getting older so our time with them is becoming more and more precious, you never know when you are saying your final goodbyes. Our children are growing up without their grandparents and cousins nearby. Our friends have mostly moved on with their lives. However, the thing that I realised this time is something hard to describe but it’s to do with belonging. When I arrive in South Africa, moving through that space just feels right on a very intrinsic level. My ears are comfortable with the sounds - the bird calls and the voices, my eyes recognise the flowers and landscape, the faces and buildings, my tastes are well acquainted with the flavours. I feel a physical comfortableness and confidence in my environment. It is easy for me to blend in there still whereas back home I am always a bit different, an outsider in my own neighbourhood still, even after all these years.
The funny thing is I am no stranger to emigration as I was actually born in England to a Scottish mother and South African father. From that point of view making the move to Ireland didn’t bother me too much - although it’s different to England, there are many similarities too. We left the UK to go and live near Cape Town when I was eight and I can recall the early days of feeling completely odd in my new school compared to the other kids. It didn’t take me long to adapt and adopt though, children are much more sponge-like in their ability to absorb new things than adults are. I suppose because I lived most of my life there, it became the greatest part of my identity, I certainly don’t view myself as British.
In Ireland, although I call it home (I don’t like calling South Africa my ‘home’ as I have no physical home there anymore) I always feel as if I am wearing a poorly chosen coat, like someone told me I’d need to wear a coat but I got it all wrong - it’s as if I’m stuck with a bright pink leopard print design when everyone else is wearing black. My camouflage is inappropriate for my environment! I’m self conscious in my coat. But when I go back I shrug the coat off because I don’t need it, the lightness is refreshing and I float a little along the pavement.
I often think about those emigrants who left Ireland to go to America in the 1800’s, having to endure that huge upheaval and arduous journey across the Atlantic Ocean. In those days it was a final journey, very few would ever have seen their homeland again, the mail was slow and there were no telephones let alone email and internet. The separation from family left behind was more or less final, there was nothing easy about the transition for them. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to travel between my two worlds and enjoy the delights of both, the coat I wear may be ill-fitting but at least it brings something vibrant and unusual to my new home.
---
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post on my blog about some of the noticeable differences between where we live now and the place we left behind here: From Egoli to Glynn
Here’s another light hearted look at some of the cultural differences: My silly list of Irish threes
You can also follow me on Twitter , Facebook , Pinterest and Instagram .


Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series


I hope you enjoyed this post - please share it or leave us a comment below!


Next month I have another fantastic guest post by Paola from The Elephant Mum. Subscribe to my blog or the newsletter to make sure you don't miss it!





Photo credit: globe turned to Mexico photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

One Messy Mama

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Cuddle Fairy

Sunday, 8 April 2018

2018 Goals - First Quarter Review and Re-focus

I started 2018 with a post about my goals for this year Turning Dreams to Reality - My 2018 Goals.  I was full of enthusiasm and determined to stay focused on working towards my goals - in fact, I decided these would be my words for the year: Focus and Determination.

Now at the end of the first quarter of the year (how time flies!) I think it would be a good idea to hold myself to account and review how I’ve been getting on with those goals.


2018 Goals - First Quarter Review And Re-focus


I know it’s not good before I even start….but here goes.

I divided my goals into three categories: Blog, Home & Family and Me.

Blog


Grow blog traffic.  – Not much.  In January my page views more than doubled compared to the previous month, but in February and March they dropped again, most likely due to inconsistent posting.

Plan blog posts for the year.  – Yes, I have made a plan for the year for 4 or 5 posts each month.  Just need to stick to it!

Make and stick to a weekly schedule, batching blog and social media tasks.  – Fail.  I need make a schedule, I just didn’t stick to it very much.

Post once a week, consistently, and schedule posts in advance.  – I managed to post once a week in January, but then couldn’t keep up the same pace in subsequent months.  I was never able to have posts ready and scheduled in advance but I think this is the key.

Grow list of email subscribers by 10 per month.  – I think I’ve gained four so far this year! Must try harder.

Create two freebies per month as incentive for new subscribers.  – I didn’t do this. Too busy trying to keep up with writing posts.

Write monthly email newsletter.  – Only now have I just sent my first newsletter to the two subscribers who signed up for it.  And it was so much work, for just two people to maybe read it!

Start my expat guest post series.  – Yes, I launched the series at the end of March - Stories from Life Abroad - and have several guest posts to keep in going over the next few months.

Focus on Pinterest: schedule time each day to pin and join group boards.  – I haven’t given it enough time.  I’ve joined a few group boards, but haven’t stuck to a regular pinning schedule.  Must put more time into it.


2018 Goals - First Quarter Review And Re-focus

Home & Family


Meal planning: create epic meal plan for the whole month which can just repeat with variations each month. – Failed completely to plan most of the time.  Think I need to start with a week at a time and build up.  Again, I need to invest time in planning and researching more recipes.

Declutter.  – I have made a good start on this these Easter holidays, organizing documents and throwing out old papers we don’t need any more, organizing Emma’s clothes and purging clothes that are too small.  I also got rid of quite a few clothes in my own wardrobe that I haven’t worn in years and will never wear.  Just need to tackle all the toys now!

Me


Learn to drive. – No.

Go to the dentist. – No.

Practice yoga three days a week. – I have continued doing yoga but not as often as three times a week.

Get regular haircuts. – No, I’m now overdue a haircut, I haven’t had one since December.

Put myself first sometimes – self care.  – Sometimes.  I have bought a few things for myself.

Read a book for 20 minutes each night. – Total fail.  I think a different time of day would work better.


Time to re-focus.


2018 Goals - First Quarter Review And Re-focus


My goals for the next quarter, from here to the beginning of July are as follows:

Blog


1. Make and stick to a weekly schedule.  Batch tasks where possible.

2. Post once a week.  Stay ahead and schedule posts in advance so I'm not always trying to catch up.

3. Write one guest post per month or month and a half.

4. Focus on Pinterest, spend 15 minutes 5 days per week to pin.

5. Schedule/ plan social media posts on a weekly basis.

6. Grow email list by 10 new subscribers per month: create one freebie each month. Create sign-up forms with opt-in freebies.

Home & Family


1.  Meal plan on a weekly basis, building up to a monthly plan.

2.  Continue to de-clutter as much as possible and organise toys, clothes, books and documents.  Keep them organised.

Me


1.  Practise yoga 3 days a week.

2.  Make time during the week to read, not necessarily at night.  Put a book in my bag – you never know when you might get a moment to read while out.

3.  Go to the dentist by the end of April.

4.  Get a haircut this week!

5.  Start re-learning to drive at the beginning of July (when our summer holidays start)

I've tried to keep my goals  SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic and Time-limited.  I think this way I'll find it easier to stick to them.  I'll check in again at the end of the second quarter - hopefully I'll have achieved more by then.


2018 Goals - First Quarter Review And Re-focus


Important Note: Put my goals somewhere visible so I can see them every day!

How about you?  Did you set goals for this year?  If so, have you managed to keep up with them?  Do you think it helps to make SMART goals?   Let me know in the comments below.

I hope we can all stay focused and achieve our goals!  Don't give up!


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Cuddle Fairy

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories from Life Abroad - guest post series launch

Welcome to the launch of my new guest post series which gives expats, nomads and immigrants a space to share their stories of life abroad and offers us a glimpse into their experiences.

Each month there will be a new post by a different contributor.  They may or may not be bloggers, they could be from any country, living anywhere in the world as expats, immigrants or nomads.  The idea is to tell as wide a variety of stories and experiences of living abroad as possible, from many different viewpoints.

This series will keep running for as long as I continue to get contributions for it, so if you would like to take part, email me at mummyandthemexicans@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you the details.

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series



First up, to launch the series, is me.  This is my story, or part of it at least, of how and why I came to be living in Mexico.

The Outsider Inside

by Mummy and the Mexicans


Expat (n): (shortened form of expatriate) A person who lives outside their native country.
(archaic) An exile.

Nomad (n):  A member of a people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its  animals and has no permanent home.
A person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.

Immigrant (n):  A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

(Definitions from Oxforddictionaries.com)


Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series



What am I?  

After 14 years in Mexico am I an expat or an immigrant?  Or both?  I’m not sure what to call myself.  There have been times when I’ve felt like an exile.  How did I end up here?

I remember a whimsical daydream I had when I was working as an office temp the year after I graduated.  I was bored and frustrated; unsure what to do with my life and desperate to travel.  I envisioned myself living in Mexico and being an artist (anything is possible in a daydream!) without really believing it would ever happen.  Well, the artist part was a road I didn't take, and would've involved more hard work, dedication and self-belief than I had in me at that time.  But the road I did take somehow led me to the other part of that daydream, to Mexico.

Itchy feet 


A couple of years before that, 20 years ago, in fact, I had my first taste of living abroad when I spent my placement year in my third year at university in Spain.  Since I was studying Spanish part of the objective was to practice and improve my Spanish language skills, which I did, despite being sent to a small town in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Cataluña where almost everyone spoke Catalán.  I would speak to people in Spanish and they replied in Catalan!  It was an interesting experience and there I met some EFL teachers from the UK who worked in a local English school.  This opened my eyes to this possibility which brewed in the back of my mind for a couple of years as a way to do more than just travel as a tourist.  What I wanted was to be able to experience different places and cultures more deeply; to live them.

I took the plunge after a year of office temping and a summer of traveling and doing voluntary work in Belarus.  I took the Cambridge CELTA course to train as an English language teacher and suddenly the world was my oyster.  Where would I go first?

Mexico was actually my first choice but no school in Mexico would pay for my airfare out there.  I was offered a job in Costa Rica, but had to pass up the opportunity when I realised at the last moment that my passport was about to expire.  So in the end I stayed a bit closer to home, though perhaps stranger in terms of language and culture, and went to another country that fascinated me and that I had been wanting to visit: Romania.  That's another story for another time but it was a wonderful experience.

I also spent some time teaching English in London, and back in Spain, in Galicia that time.  Then I came to Mexico.

I wrote a little about how I got here in another post, Return to San Luis (and how I got there in the first place).  Basically I took a bus from New York to Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Texas – a two-day journey.  From there, I decided to take another bus immediately to San Luis Potosí, another day’s journey away.

I was 26 and evidently needed to make my life as complicated as possible.  At least that’s the only explanation I can think of now for taking a three-day bus trip.

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series

Destiny!


Why did I choose San Luis Potosí as my destination?  I knew nobody anywhere in Mexico and knew next to nothing about the country except what I had read in my Let’s Go guide to Mexico.  I made my decision on the basis of the guidebook description.  The city sounded interesting and neither too big nor too small.  It was a rather arbitrary decision, but a fateful one as it turned out.  I never imagined that there I would meet my future husband and stay seven and a half years.  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d just chosen a different city.  I would probably have gone back home at Christmas and lived a completely different life.  Or who knows?

At first, everything was a novelty, everything was strange and exciting – especially the food!  I started a blog (a very basic one – it was 2004 and nobody read it except my parents) to chronicle my experiences and describe the new and unusual foods I discovered.  After a couple of years I lost the impetus, the novelty had mostly worn off and so I stopped writing, unfortunately.  Almost ten years later, in a different city and with a new baby, I took up blogging again with this blog and I’m so glad I did.  It’s like my other life and my creative outlet.

Over the years, I’ve begun to put down roots here – without realizing it, perhaps – and I guess I do see our situation here as permanent.  I find it hard to imagine going back to the UK and starting from scratch – even if it were possible with ever-stricter visa regulations.  I’m so used to life in Mexico now.

Do you know what I would miss most about Mexico if we did leave?

The food, of course, the food!

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series


A couple of years ago I finally got my permanent resident visa through my job, which I am eternally grateful for as it means not having to go back to the immigration office ever – previously I had to go through the somewhat expensive and tortuous ordeal of renewing my visa every year.

I don’t know if I feel particularly like an expat.  My daily life is as if I were Mexican; my job, my family; my husband is Mexican, my daughter is Mexican (actually, she has dual nationality so she’s British too; she got her British passport last year, which you can read about in How to apply for your child's first UK passport from abroad  ) so the only non-Mexican is me.  I don’t really know other foreigners here.  Sometimes I forget I’m foreign and have an accent.

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series
In the centre of Querétaro, where we live now. 


Mostly it’s impossible to forget, though; I do stand out here.  Especially now I’m bringing my daughter up to be bilingual and I’ve got into the habit of always speaking to her in English.  Wherever we happen to be, no matter who we’re with and whether she replies to me in English or Spanish, I always talk to her in English.  Which may be a little odd and incongruous at times, but that’s become my normal.  I’ve got used to being an outsider on the inside of a strange culture.

Maybe I’ve even become comfortable with my own strangeness.

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series


If you enjoyed this post, please share it and feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t miss out on the next installment of the series, I have some truly wonderful posts by some amazing contributors coming up over the next few months.  I was fascinated to read about each of their experiences and points of view (and a little bit in awe of their beautiful writing) and I’m sure you’ll love them too.  You can sign up below to get these posts delivered straight to your inbox as part of my monthly newsletter so you don’t miss them.





ethannevelyn.com

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Mexico City Aquarium

If you happen to be in Mexico City with children and are looking for places to visit, the aquarium is a great option.  The Acuario Imbursa is the biggest aquarium in Mexico with over 300 species of marine life.

Mexico City Aquarium


We were staying in Mexico City for a few days over Christmas and wanted somewhere to visit with Emma.  There are lots of things to do with kids, for all ages and budgets but we liked the sound of the aquarium and it especially appealed to Emma because they have sharks!  She's really into sharks and was keen to see some real-life ones.


Getting there


The aquarium is located in Polanco, which is pretty central.  However, Mexico City is a huge monster of a city and where we were staying was pretty far from the centre, so the journey to get to the aquarium was quite an adventure in itself.

We took three different types of transport; bus, metro and taxi.  We could have just taken a taxi all the way, but it would have been a lot more expensive and would have taken longer, too.  Taking the metro means you avoid all the traffic congestion and is usually the fastest way to get across the city.  It definitely made the journey more interesting!

First we got on a bus.  Emma had travelled on buses before but not very often so it was still a novelty.  It wasn't at all crowded and there were plenty of free seats.  We had an interesting conversation about first aid kits as Emma, very observant, spotted a case with a red cross above the driver and was talking about an emergency case or box.  It took me a while to see what she had noticed so I had no idea what she was talking about at first.

We got off the bus near the metro station - the metro is Mexico City's underground system, the fastest way to travel and extremely cheap.  As long as you take reasonable "tourist in a big city" precautions it's safe enough.

Emma had never been on a train before, let alone an underground train, so this was a completely new experience for her.  It was pretty exciting going down all the escalators to get under the ground, then seeing the train arrive at the platform, getting on it, the sights and sounds of the train; stopping at each station; passengers getting on and off, different vendors walking through the carriages and making their sales pitch - anything from bubbles to CDs.

From the metro station in Polanco we took a taxi to the aquarium, just a short ride away.  We did have to wait in line to get into the aquarium for about 20 - 30 minutes outside.  Then we were inside.

Mexico City Aquarium


The Aquarium


First, we had to pose for a photo against the wall - before leaving the aquarium you can choose the backdrop - such as one where it looks like youre all about to be eaten by a shark - and buy the photo if you want.  We didn't buy ours, though, as we thought it was a bit expensive on top of what we'd already paid for the entrance (and I looked awful in the picture, too!).

Mexico City Aquarium


You pass through different areas which represent types of ocean habitat, including the coral reef, the ocean floor, the Antarctic, jellyfish labyrinth, the lagoon of rays, the kelp forest, the sunken ship and the black mangroves.  There is a tunnel you can walk through and be surrounded by fish (including sharks) swimming on all sides and overhead.  We saw what we thought was the mother shark with her baby swimming underneath her, but it turned out that this wasn't the case.  The guide told us that this was a kind of symbiotic relationship between the shark and the Remora fish.  The Remora fish latches onto the shark's underbelly, using it as transport and feeding off the shark's leftovers.  So not the cute mummy and baby shark we'd imagined!

We didn't go around the aquarium with a guide but there were various guides at certain points giving explanations, which was quite useful and informative.

Mexico City Aquarium


For some reason there was a skeleton in a fish tank, but it amused us as Emma had said on the metro that she wanted to see a skeleton!  It was a rather random comment at that moment (influenced by the Funny Bones book which she loves) but turned out to be true.

Mexico City Aquarium


We were fascinated by the beautifully photogenic jellyfish.

Mexico City Aquarium


One of the most memorable creatures for Emma was the lobster!  When we asked her the next day what she had seen in the aquarium it was the first thing she mentioned.  And her description of it: "It's like a monster but it's not."

Mexico City Aquarium


She was intrigued by the crocodile, lazing on the riverbank and transfixed by the turtle swimming around in the beach display.

Mexico City Aquarium


Other things that caught our eye were some tiny eels half-buried in the sand, heads stretching out to feed, some Nemos and Dories and a real-life dragon.

Mexico City Aquarium


You can't really beat the penguins though, in their own cool climate completely separated from the visitors but with a large viewing window.  The window allows you to see underwater as well as above the surface, so you can appreciate how agile they are in the water.  Emma insisted she wanted to fall into the water with the penguins!

One thing that hadn't occurred to me before, but that I couldn't help but notice this time (because my arms got pretty tired from constant demands to be lifted up!) was that a large number of the displays, although not all, are at a reasonable height for adults and older children, but little children need to be picked up to be able to see inside the tanks.

Mexico City Aquarium


The Underwater Lab


Included in the price of the ticket is the entrance to the Blau Life Underwater Lab, a separate but closely- related attraction.  To get there you have to leave the aquarium, cross over the road and enter the Plaza Carso shopping centre.  The entrance to the lab is via a submarine simulator which appears to take you down under the ocean in a pretty exciting ride where at one point a shark crashes into the porthole and cracks the glass!  There is also an alternative entrance for pregnant women and people with heart conditions.

Inside the lab, the displays start with the ocean depths and as you walk around you gradually get closer to the surface.  There are interactive displays, things you can touch and move and there is also the chance to touch some of the marine creatures under very strict controls.

We were fascinated with the shark jaws.  In one chamber there were some models and some real skeletons of shark jaws of different sizes.  One of them was enormous, others were a lot smaller, but you could touch them - carefully! - to feel how sharp their teeth were.

There were tanks with baby seahorses clinging to strands of seaweed by their tails.  And so many little jellyfish.

We lined up to be able to touch a jellyfish.  Before touching any of the creatures everyone was given a wet wipe to clean their hands and the guide explained exactly how to touch each species and what not to do.  Everything was under close supervision for the welfare of the animals.

You can also touch sea snails, starfish, sea urchins and rays.  There were a lot of people but the instructions were very clear and there were plenty of guides keeping their eyes on all of us to safeguard the wellbeing of the marine creatures.  In the case of the rays, we weren't allowed to reach out and touch them, we just had to hold our hands flat at the surface of the water and wait for a ray to come up and touch us.  This didn't happen very often so we gave up on that idea!

Why is it we feel the need to touch things?  Especially children, but adults too.  The touch pools were definitely the most crowded part of the lab, everyone wanted a turn.  It was a good thing there was such close control and supervision - I think pretty much all the visitors I saw were following the rules carefully so the animals wouldn't be harmed.

Mexico City Aquarium


Conservation


The Aquarium and the Underwater Lab are not just tourist attractions but also have a mission as a marine life conservation centre (CECONSE) to raise awareness of the need to protect ocean habitats.  There was a very chilling display in the Lab showing just how much plastic is in the oceans and the consequences of this contamination.

Recommendation


Both the Aquarium and Underwater Lab are well worth a visit if you're in Mexico City with kids of any age.  The marine creatures are fascinating and you can learn a lot about them and their habitats.  You need about 2 - 3 hours or maybe more to see it all, but make sure you've already eaten as there are only a few snacks for sale inside.

The details


Location:  Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 386, Colonia Granada, Mexico City

Prices: $195.00 (Mexican pesos), children under 3 go free.  Buy the tickets at the entrance to the Aquarium.  There is no charge to take photos inside the Aquarium but no flash photography is allowed.

Schedule: Monday to Sunday 10.00am to 6.00pm

Website:  Acuario Inbursa

Disclaimer:  I did not receive anything in return for this review and all opinions are my own.

Mexico City Aquarium


Wanderlust Kids

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


ethannevelyn.com

The Mummy Bubble

Monday, 29 January 2018

12 Valentine's Day Crafts and Activities to do with Kids


It's almost February, which can mean only one thing: hearts everywhere as Valentine's Day approaches.  I think I'm even a bit late to the party as I started seeing Valentine's Day posts pretty much as soon as Christmas was over!

To get into the spirit of Valentine's Day you don't have to be an incurable romantic, although that probably helps.  You can try out some of the crafts and activities below (contributed by a lovely group of bloggers - thank you!) and have fun with your kids - or without them, if you prefer!

The important thing about this celebration is that EVERYTHING MUST BE HEART-SHAPED!  This is a fact - just look at all the evidence below.  The only exceptions are the Love Bugs, which you could decorate with hearts anyway, and the rose petals blowing activity, but a rose is the other acceptable symbol for Valentine's Day.

So whether it's hearts ♥️ or roses 🌹 take your pick from the activities here and have fun!

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


To give or keep...


1.  These beautiful clay hearts would make a wonderful handmade gift and something to be treasured and kept forever.

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Fingerprint Heart Keepsakes  by Jenny from The Gingerbread House



2.  I really have to try these super cute pom pom love bugs!

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentine's Day Love Bug Pom Pom Craft by Emma from The Mini Mes and Me


3.  Do you want some ideas for Valentine's cards that children can make?  These heart cards are so cute!

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentine's/ Mother's Day Crafts with the Kids  by Eps and Amy



4.  These potato print heart T-shirts are just gorgeous!

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentine's Potato Print Heart T-shirts  by Lucy from Real Mum Reviews


To decorate with love...


5.  Valentine's decorations couldn't be easier with this lovely variation on the good old paper chain.

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


DIY Easy Peasy Valentine Garland by Jenni from The Bear and the Fox



6.  This lantern looks stunning but is really quite simple to make!

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Making a Decoupage Lantern for Valentine's Day  by Jane from HodgePodge Days



7.  There are a few ideas here, but I think my favourite are the wool wrapped hearts.

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentine's Crafts for Kids by Sarah from Whimsical Mumblings



8.  Make a beautiful window decoration using doilies!

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentine's Day Doily Heart Window Decoration  by Jenny from Midwife and Life



9.  I love this paper heart wreath, the shape made by joining all the hearts together in a circle looks really pretty.

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentine's Paper Heart Wreath  by Jane from HodgePodge Days



Something different - not crafty!


10.  This fun but also therapeutic activity involves blowing petals to strengthen muscles in the mouth area to help with speech development and mouth control.

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Valentines Day Blows by Rebecca from Mummy Est.2014


To tickle your taste buds...



11.  These chocolate hearts sound incredibly easy to make and look so gorgeous - they would make a great gift if you can resist the temptation to eat them all yourself!


12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids



Valentine's Chocolates Using an Ice Tray! by Megan from Truly Madly Kids



12.  You have to try some of these healthy - and mostly sweet! - Valentine's recipes.  I particularly like the sound of the raspberry peanut butter freezer bites.

12 Valentines Day Crafts and Activities To Do With Kids


Healthy Valentines Recipes Your Kids Will Love by Lucy from The Organic Cookery School



Which of these are you going to try?  Let me know how you got on!

Happy crafting/making/baking/blowing Valentine's Day!


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