My Holiday Essentials For Children

AD - This post contains gifted products.

A few weeks ago we jetted off to southern Spain for 11 nights and I'll be honest, we didn't want to come home! Traveling abroad with young children isn't as daunting as it sounds, it's all about being prepared for the journey and for your stay. A simple way to do this is to start your travels off in a relaxed and organised manner. Easier said than done right? Well, if I can do it then you can too! I like to prepare them a flight bag each, full of goodies to keep them entertained and make sure to pack essentials (nappies, suncream, etc) in our suitcases. This blog post has been put together with gifted products, all which we took abroad with us and used every day.

1. Trunki Toddlepak Rucksack & Drink Bottle - £19.99 & £7.99
The first items on my list are the rucksacks and drink bottles from Trunki. Both the bags and bottles come in an array of different colours and designs, all of which are funky, bright, and cheerful. I let the kids choose which ones they'd like. Noah chose the orange tiger design and the blue bottle, whereas Ava opted for the green dinosaur backpack and the pink bottle. Both items have the design and aesthetic quality that I expect from Trunki so they are certainly worth the cost. I'll be dedicating a full review of them in the next week so do keep an eye on the blog if you'd like to read more about these products.

2. Slipfree Shoes - from £14.95
I was gifted these in exchange for a social media post but I love them so much that I had to include them in this post. Slipfree shoes are designed to be worn around the pool, in the pool, at the beach, on holiday, at home, everywhere! They come in lots of different designs and after much deliberation chose the flamingo design for Ava and the shark print for Noah. They quickly became an essential for us on our holiday, and I noticed that the kids would prefer to wear them over their sandals. They took a matter of seconds to get on their feet, gave them extra confidence in and around the pool and dried within minutes too. I cannot recommend them enough and will be buying them new ones once they have grown out of these.

3. Cuddledry Sun Protection Poncho Towel - £27.99
Cuddledry is a brand that I've adored for years so I was delighted when I was offered their sun protection poncho towel to try out on our holiday. With Cuddledry's signature blend of bamboo and cotton, it's just as soft and lovely as their regular towels, however, it offers something extra. It provides SPF50+ protection, which makes it ideal for taking on holiday, both in this country or abroad. Ava liked to wear it after being in the pool or the sea. I'd simply pull it on over her head, make sure the hood was up, fasten the underarm poppers and she was good to go. Take a look at the images on my Instagram page if you would like to see the sun protection towel in all it's glory.

4. Organix Goodies Snacks - from £2.00
I've worked with Organix for years and their snacks often end up in my trolley when out shopping, courtesy of the kids. I don't mind though. Their products are organic and contain zero junk, they are a no guilt treat for them to indulge in. Organix kindly sent Noah and Ava some snacks for them to enjoy on the plane and whilst on holiday. They received a couple of their all-time favourites; two boxes of Organix Goodies Gingerbread Men and four packs of Organix Goodies Soft Oaty Bars. I made sure to pack a couple in their flight bags and the rest went into our cases because I always find it comforting to take familiar from home just in case they refuse to eat much else.

5. Orchard Toys Games & Sticker Colouring Books - from £3.00
Okay, so this post has turned into a favourite brands type post too. First Trunki, then Cuddledry, Organix and now Orchard Toys! We have amassed quite the collection of Orchard Toys games and puzzles over the years. They are something we like to do together as a family and can often be found in Noah's room playing with them. Orchard Toys sent us a couple of their products for our trip, the first being two games; Match and Spell, and Let's Go Lotto. I packed both in our cases and we enjoyed playing both poolside or on our terrace. Match and Spell was a great game to play to keep Noah's brain engaged whilst off school and Let's Go Lotto provided lots of fun for all the family. The Sticker Colouring books were just the right size to pack in their flight bags. We were 40,000 feet in the air, colouring, writing and sticking and the kids didn't make a peep! In fact, the couple in front of us made a point to tell us that they didn't even realise children were sat behind them.

Which of these products do you like the sound of the most?

Our Holiday At TUI Family Life Islantilla

- This is not an AD. We paid for the holiday ourselves.

You may, or may not have noticed that I've been AWOL the past couple of weeks, hence the three Sunday Photo's in a row. The reason for that is that we've been on holiday and just got back this weekend. We spent 11 glorious nights in southern Spain and the weather has totally spoilt us, coming back to the dreary British weather has been torturous! I'm hoping that we get a real summer this year because I'm missing the sun so much already.

We stayed at a four-star hotel in Islantilla called TUI Family Life Islantilla. We paid for it all ourselves, so this isn't an ad by the way. It's a beautiful hotel, situated in a quiet, non-tourist area in Spain. It's so far south that TUI actually fly guests to Portugal/Faro airport rather than Spain/Malaga as it's nearer. It was a 2 and a half hour flight, then a 1-hour transfer to the hotel. All in all, with transfers to and from, and airport time we were traveling for a good 9 hours which is long enough with two little ones.

As mentioned previously the hotel was stunning, full of palm trees, bright flowers, and greenery. The grounds are maintained to a high standard and it really pays off. It has numerous pools, all with a different feel. We found a nice spot near a quieter pool that we favoured and tended to visit every day. Noah and Ava loved dipping into the shallow pool, then cuddling up on the sunbeds together to warm up, usually with an ice cream in hand. Sometimes Nick would take them back to the room for a break from the sun, or to the play park, or games room and I would have some time to myself. It was total bliss to lay beside the pool, with a book and Pina Colada in hand! It made me remember what holidays were like before children.

The hotel is right on the beach too which makes a nice change from being around the pool. The sand contains lots of shells so thankfully I packed suitable footwear so we didn't hurt our feet. The kids liked collecting the shells and making sand castles and I swam in the ocean a couple of times.

The entertainment team, TUI kids club staff, and reps were amazing during our stay and are a credit to the hotel. They were upbeat, friendly, approachable, yet professional. Noah has always suffered from separation anxiety yet he felt comfortable enough with them to attend their Kids Club on a few occasions and even made a friend or two. The hotels Captain T and Bamse mascots were very popular with all the children at the hotel and it was lovely to be able to buy teddies of them to take home with us, real souvenirs to remember the holiday by.

We've only been home for a couple of days and we are already longing for another holiday! I've been thinking of trying to book a last-minute deal during the summer holidays, perhaps find a bargain? Has anyone had any luck doing this before? I'd love to hear about it!

My Sunday Photo - 24/52

7 Ways To Spruce Up Your Home For Summer

AD - this is a PR collaboration.

Summer is on the horizon and I cannot wait! I hope that we get a proper summer this year because I long to soak up all that natural vitamin D. I don't know about you but I like to spruce up my home with the start of each season, it's become quite the tradition. I like to do this in numerous ways. With this in mind, I thought I'd put together a post featuring my top tips, and feature a couple of ideas from some blogging friends of mine too.

1. Deep clean
I start my spruce by undertaking a full-scale spring clean, throughout the house. I tackle a room a day and focus on the areas that are easily forgotten about (back of cupboards, behind sofas, skirting boards.) I make a list of every job which needs to be done in each room and check them off as I go. It's very rewarding to see all the boxes checked off at the end of each day.

2. Clear out
While I'm spring cleaning a room I make a pile of items that I no longer need and ignore it until I'm done. Once I've finished cleaning I sort them into two sections, a charity shop pile and a bin/recycle pile. It feels so good to take bags of clothes, books, toys, and bric-a-brac to the charity shop because not only am I doing something good but I'm also decluttering my home.

3. Update your decor & furniture
A simple way to brighten your home for summer is to change up accent pieces in certain rooms. I like to switch my cushions, rugs, and ornaments around, however, I don't always buy new. I like to look in the charity shops for bargains or even buy and sell pages online. This summer I also want to update our garden and one way I intend to do that is by purchasing a hammock from Hammock Giant - I can just picture myself relaxing in with a good book!

4. Invest in a new piece of furniture
We started our home renovation five years ago. It's been such a work in progress but we are now at the stage where we have money left over to buy new pieces of furniture for our home. I currently have my heart set on a new sofa or sofa bed for the living room as I'm bored of ours. I always tend to opt for safe colours like grey or beige but I want to go for something brighter this time.

5. Flower and plants
Freshly cut flowers and indoor plants (real or fake) are a great way to bring nature and a pop of colour into your home. I love bouquets of flowers, but they don't last very long. Indoor plants can live for years, with minimum upkeep, or you can opt for realistic fake plants to add pops of greenery around your home. Kate from LesBeMums top tip is to; "Bring the outside in! Pick flowers or herbs from the garden, open those windows, and let that light in!"

6. Choose a home fragrance
I'm quite new to the world of home fragrance and I'm hooked on finding the perfect scent. The subtle use of home fragrance can freshen up your home, especially if you have young children and pets like I do. Jade from Happy and Stuff suggested choosing a scent that reminds you of summer or a holiday. Her current favourites are shea butter and anything fruity.

7. Make a living space outdoors
We don't get much sun here in the UK so when it does make an appearance I spend most of my time outdoors. Michaela from Adventures of a Yorkshire Mum tip is to; "Sort your outdoors and put a table out there so you can enjoy breakfast in the summer sun" which I think is a great idea! There are some wonderful garden furniture on the LionsHome website which would be ideal for this very reason. I can envision lots of family meals out in the sun.

Do you have any tips that you'd like to share?