There’s a certain excitement in the Blogosphere air. Even writing this first paragraph I have butterflies in my tummy. If you are into blogging or reading blogs then you may see lots of travel posts circulating about being a #MarkWarnerMum or #MarkWarnerDad at the moment. Bloggers up and down the country keen to become a part of the fantastic ambassadorship programme from Mark Warner Holidays. Something that I have only heard amazing, inspiring and heart felt love for. Anyone who has been on one of their fantastic holidays or who has been an ambassador for seems to only have good things to say and it’s no surprise their accolades feature consecutive awards for excellence, or that their innovative approach to holidaying with children are regarded as some of the best trips in the world.

#markwarnermum travel to Bruge to document for Mark Warner Mum ambassadorship 2017

As both a Mum of 2 young boys and a huge fan of travel this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get stuck into. We’ve been so fortunate in the past to have done a lot of traveling and have managed to see so much of the world as young and care (child!) free singletons. Flash forward 5 years Stuart is out the house 12 hours a day working and as soon as the children go to bed it’s my turn to work. Time together is a fragile balance and duly savoured over the weekends, our carefree days exchanged for a blur of nappies and sleepless nights.

I’m on a forever mission to be the fun mum: This usually ends in major #mumfail. Like that time I tried to impress my 3 year old and ended up flying face first off of a trampoline, almost breaking my knee. Or when I fell head first into a river, in an attempt to get the perfect angle for a family photo. Laughter is the soundtrack to our parenting style and without fail Stuart will be able to make the boys fall about in fits of it mid toddler meltdown, essential skills for life with 2 under 4!

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

We love to make all of our travels an adventure even within our own country but I’ve been thinking a lot lately how I would love to spend quality time as a family learning new things, and not just seeing new things. A chance for balmy days spent teaching the boys to swim under the summer sky, the opportunity for Stuart and I to learn a sport or skill together. I love that there are so many activities available on a Mark Warner Holiday that we can take part in as a family, but with the unique opportunity to put the children into childcare while we rekindle our passions together, or even learn a new exciting challenge neither of us have done before like water sports!

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

After we had Henry we did a little traveling in North America, however latterly our adventures have been constrained to the UK. You see traveling with children isn’t quite what it used to be. Gone are the spontaneous weekends away, jumping on the Eurostar a distant memory. Our Top 10 holiday essentials are not quite what they used to be. As part of the challenge to become a #MarkWarnerMum or #MarkWarnerDad I’ve been asked to share my top 10 travel must-haves…Now if you’re a parent also you’ll know that packing isn’t quite the same post children, so I thought I would share my top 10 holiday essentials – before and after kids!

TOP 10 TRAVEL MUST-HAVES BEFORE KIDS….

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

 

  1. Outfits. 3 per day. Hiking in the morning, perusing the town’s market in the afternoon, not forgetting a special dress for each evening to wear to a fancy restaurant.
  2. Bikinis. 7 in total. Well I can’t be seen in the same one in each photo?!?
  3. Books. Plenty of them and as many magazines. Hours spent reading, lounging by the pool ordering cocktails and nachos.
  4. Factor 6 tanning oil. No responsibilities and no apparent awareness for sun safety!
  5. Cocktails!! See points 1 and 3. Time to drink and party and roll in at 4am...well we wont be getting up ’til noon anyway so we can worry about the hangover tomorrow…
  6. Make Up. Lots of it. A bag full! Nights out are prefixed by 2 hours blissfully getting ready by myself.
  7. Sun bathing. Not a must have, but certainly a must-do. To be done at our leisure. Hot? Take a dip in the pool or a trip to the swim-up bar…
  8. Accessories. Planning outfits months in advance and making sure I have just the right fedora to compliment that new Maxi dress of mine.
  9. Hair dryer, straighteners, tongs, curling iron…Did I mention I have 2 hours to get ready each night??
  10. The Spa. Ahhh, the spa. Couples massage? Go on then, we’re on holiday after all…

TOP 10 TRAVEL MUST-HAVES AFTER KIDS….

 

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

  1. Outfits. 3 in total for the week including something I can be comfortable in whilst cosying up on the sofa once the children are down to sleep.
  2. Bikinis. High-waisted essential to hide inevitable mum-tum. In fact a swimsuit would be best. There’s a whole lot of bending down involved when looking after children by the pool.
  3. Books. Hmm, I had one of those once. It was replaced with an iPad, pre-loaded with the CBeeBies App.
  4. Factor 50 sun block. To be frantically applied 6 times a day, attempting to avoid mixing with sand, dodging imminent toddler meltdown.
  5. Juice…Squash. Water. Ice Pops. Anything to make sure little one is hydrated and won’t suffer from heat exhaustion when all they want to do is play. Repeat hourly.
  6. CC Cream. Store by the front door so you can apply quickly on your way down to breakfast (after having packed 4 beach bags full of stuff, wrestled toddlers to get dressed, yawned 3,000 times)
  7. Bucket and spade, frisbee, skittles. Anything to entertain the children with. Why not build a huge sandcastle with big windows for you to look out of over at the couples sunbathing, carefree, cocktail in hand.
  8. Accessories. 12 children’s sun hats – ensuring you have at least 1 that doesn’t get lost throughout the week.
  9. Dry Shampoo. You may, if you’re lucky, have time for at least one shower without a small visitor or 2 tugging at the shower curtain. Maybe take a couple of cans just in case.
  10. Baby Wipes. Ever been at a spa where they bring round cold cloths for your hot brow? I have and it was bloody glorious. Well that you can forget that. Instead bring 247 packs of wipes for all those baby related spills, scrapes and sick.

Check out my #MarkWarnerMum Pinterest Board for more Travel must-haves and holiday Pins!

I hope our passion for travel is passed down to the children. There really is so much to see in this world and I love showing the boys the beauty that travel has to offer. As part of our application I’ve made a little vlog of our travels in 2016, we would love it if we could make a very special one for 2017!

 

#nofilter – have you ever seen a more incredible sunset?!

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

I’d love to know how your must have holiday items have changed since having children – let me know below!

This has been my application to become a #MarkWarnerMum, Thank you for reading xx

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

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I love the planning that goes into organising a romantic weekend away. The anticipation, the excitement of escaping the ordinary. Before we had children we used to book a weekend at a spa or jump in the car to another city every couple of months. Being based in the South of England, we’re lucky to have lots of beautiful places within a couple of hours drive away and equally just on our doorstep. I love getting lost in beautiful surroundings, learning things about the places we go and I’m passionate about exploring close to home as well as further afield.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

It is especially exciting planning a weekend away now, because since becoming parents they are understandably rare. In fact I think we have only done one or two so far, but as the boys are getting older, in turn they are getting (slightly) easier to send to doting grandparents. Equally we love to show the boys the adventures we can have as a family, hopping in the car and going off on a road trip together. Although it has to be said it’s not quite as spontaneous as it once was when we only had to think of our own needs.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

As Valentine’s Day approaches I’m sure many couples are planning romantic ventures, be it at home or away. There’s a certain pressure that comes with a weekend spent with a new partner, a relationship in its infancy is put to the test when trying to plan for a weekend away together. It can certainly be a deal breaker. It’s probably a good idea to have spent a couple of nights together before putting your relationship to the test of a full weekend away. There’s nothing quite as awkward as realising actually you’re not the match you thought you were, when 300 miles from home and have 2 days to get through.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

I love the spontaneity of a loosely organised trip. Not knowing exactly what lies ahead provides extra excitement and adventure to your weekend. Showing your partner how you can be flexible can be an endearing quality, especially if you have children who don’t normally allow for such impulsive freedom. Getting insider tips from the hotel staff for the best brunch in town, or the secret spots they don’t show you in the guide book can be exciting and a fun way of getting to know each other. It’s great to discover the places on foot too if you have the time to meander through village streets without time constraints.

how to plan a romantic weekend away

It’s especially important to make time for a romantic weekend away if you have children and rarely spend time together as a couple. Even just to give yourself that time, have a bubble bath without interruptions, to take things slowly, enjoy each other’s company like you used to be able to without having to think of your children first. Rediscover each other, remember what made you fall in love with one another in the first place. It’s so so hard to make time for yourselves in day to day life amidst the school run, the food shop and the daily battles with getting children to eat their dinner. Each day ending with falling into bed, your head hitting the pillow desperately hoping for a few straight hours of shut eye and any thoughts of intimacy as distant as the memory of a full nights sleep. We’ve all been there and it’s only natural to put yourself and each other last.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Finding the perfect spot for your weekend of romance is key to getting the mood right. Whether that’s a weekend of escaping to the countryside to an exquisite peaceful retreat where you can spend the whole weekend soaking up the splendour of the romantic setting, walking amongst stunning gardens and taking time over afternoon tea. A weekend in the City, shopping all day, fine dining and taking in a show by night. Or perhaps an action packed weekend of fun and mayhem, jumping on the Eurostar and picking a destination as you get to the station. It’s important to choose something that you would both enjoy and that is an escape from the norm. Personally I like to make sure I get as much from the weekend as possible, which means the less travel the better – there’s not much point flying to New York if you only have 48 hours to enjoy your adventure.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire  Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Packing for a weekend away needs to start with the bag. Nothing too big so that you have to check it in for a flight, nothing too small so you have to scrimp on outfit options. I found the perfect bag whilst scouring one of my favourite websites, where I often get lost scrolling through their pages of beautiful homewares, iconic designers and luxury gifts. It’s just one of those sites where you want everything. I knew I wanted to get something uber stylish and special for a weekend bag because it will be something I use time and time again. This beautiful Ted Baker weekend holdall is a definite investment piece and one that I think will see me through years of adventures.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall HampshireValentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

What ever you do, wherever you go, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourselves to be romantic, just relax, enjoy the time do something fun together.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

What’s your favourite kind of adventure?

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“Outside

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With thanks to Tylney Hall for the use of their stunning hotel in rural Hampshire.

It’s easy to spend every Friday and Saturday night putting on a movie and sitting on the sofa mindlessly flicking through our phones. Being parents to young children we know it’s not always easy to make the time for each other, especially after a hard day of looking after the boys, it’s the ultimate down time. So it’s important once a month that we make time for date nights. We don’t have that many options when it comes to babysitters, and we never use them just to go to the cinema or go out to dinner because we save them for big events when we really want to go out together. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I thought I would share 15 stay at home date night ideas for anyone who isn’t able to get a babysitter, or perhaps if you aren’t able to leave your children to go out. There’s just as much fun to have together at home.

– 15 Stay At Home Date Night Ideas –

Cook together – this is one of my favourite things to do. Getting something like a Hello Fresh box means you have a step by step guide to a surprise meal you can cook together with a glass of wine in hand. I love this as my husband doesn’t cook things from scratch very often so learning how to cook makes for a fun night in together.

free date night ideas for valentine's Day nights in with no babysitter

Wine or beer Tasting – pick up a selection box of beer and find out the history behind each one – marking and describing them all as you go through each taste.

Watch your wedding video with your wedding wine, or look through photos of your first holiday together chatting through your favourite memories.

Gift your loved one a little present, a book they might find interesting or a new posh candle they’ve been lusting after. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, just something to show you’ve thought about them in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Check out my Valentine’s Day gift guide video here.

valentines day date night in ideas for couples who don't have a baby sitter

Have a couple’s spa evening complete with back massages and soaking feet in a foot spa. Maybe even share a bath together, candle lit and relaxing without the children wanting to get in and squirt you with water!

Play YouTube Karaoke! Click Here for ideas.

Set up a dessert station where you can make exciting ice cream bowls filled with loads of different sweets, or hire a chocolate fondue kit to dunk strawberries into.

valentines day date night in ideas for couples who don't have a baby sitter

Play video games if it’s something you don’t normally do! Something like the NES Mini can bring back memories of playing nostalgic video games like Mario Bros!

Make cocktails, pizzas or a cake! Get creative and make sure you eat at the table with a couple of lit candles so you make the effort to have a proper conversation about things rather than watching TV.

free date night ideas for valentine's Day nights in with no babysitter

Plan a holiday together. Look through guide books, check Trip Advisor, work out budgets, look at online photos and get excited about planning a special trip.

free date night ideas for valentine's Day nights in with no babysitter

Play a board game, it’s amazing how fun this can actually be when you play a game together, especially with a glass of wine!

free date night ideas for valentine's Day nights in with no babysitter

Build a fort – an oldie but a goodie!! Everything seems better when you’re surrounded by fairy lights and big fluffy cushions!! Make a floor picnic of cheeses and picky bits and enjoy snuggling up with some popcorn and a movie after.

Look at an old photo album together and reminisce about the times you spent together during that time. Or look back on old family photos and tease each other about how awful their clothes/hair/style was when they were growing up!

free date night ideas for valentine's Day nights in with no babysitter

Make Lists! Bucket lists, places you want to visit, favourite things about each other, favourite outfits on each other – they all get you talking and are a fun way to engage each other during the evening.

21 Questions – Stuart and I filmed a couples questions video during Vlogmas and it was so much fun attempting to guess the right answers! Make up the questions and take turns trying to answer them about each other.

free date night ideas 21 Questions - Stuart and I filmed a couples questions video during Vlogmas and it was so much fun attempting to guess the right answers! Make up the questions and take turns trying to answer them about each other.

I hope you liked these date night in ideas, pop over to watch the video here. Have a happy Valentine’s Day xx

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You may have seen my New Year’s resolutions video recently where I resolved to have less stuff, so I am really getting into minimalism this year and I wanted to share my tips for how to be a minimalist! There’s a video up on my YouTube which I will link below, which contains 12 hacks to help you on your way to being a minimalist, but to get you started here are 5 quick and easy tips. Please let me know in the comments if you have any more ideas or hacks which you find help you be more minimalist and have. less. stuff.

How to be a minimalist 12 hacks to get you started

– one –

Know why you are doing it. To keep yourself on track. Whether that is because you want to save money, to live a less cluttered life or perhaps you’re looking to buy a house and need to downsize. Put it down on paper so you can return to it when you need some inspiration to keep it up.

– two –

Use up all of your products before buying new ones. I am terrible at this one! I get to about a third less and I never use it again – I need to get better at this! Often they are expensive skincare items so I now make sure I am finishing things up before buying new products!

– three –

Make sure you clean your car out every couple of days. You could work really hard at cleaning your home and space around you, but if you don’t extend this to your car – your office even, then the feeling of a less cluttered lifestyle can be put back every time you get in your car to go anywhere.

 – four –

Tackle the small stuff first. Gain momentum by doing the easy things first and getting a good feeling from having achieved that. Start with things like your handbag or condiments cupboard then move onto the hard stuff like the wardrobe and linen cupboard!

 – five –

Go and unsubscribe to all those emails you don’t want to be receiving, all those people you met once on holiday but don’t actually ever see, and all those people who have a negative energy. Getting rid of all the online noise will help you cut down on what activity you have to actually be dealing with online and leave you more time for the things you do want to see and the things you enjoy looking at.

Come and take a look at my 12 Minimalist hacks video over on my YouTube for more ways to live a less cluttered life. Thank you for watching! xx

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I’ve been wanting to join in with a linky for the longest time, and The Ordinary Moments seems like the absolute perfect place to start. Firstly, I absolutely adore Katie from Mummy Daddy Me, and now that the lovely Donna has joined Katie as co-host, I know I’m in very good hands. I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years, and I still don’t entirely understand linkies, no matter how many times people tell me about them, so I am hoping this is right ladies!! I really love the idea that The Ordinary Moments focuses on the little things, the ordinary snippets of our week that make our lives special, and it’s so lovely to be able to look back on these little moments which we could so easily forget.

 


Winter Walks

the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family

I’ve always been a Summer kinda gal, mainly because I hate being cold. But there’s just something about Winter that I am really growing to love. There’s nothing quite as spectacular as a Winter sunrise. Brilliant orange and blood red beams pouring out, warming up the crisp morning sky. I love the way the grass glistens as if littered with tiny diamonds, paths twinkling under afternoon street light. But particularly, I love going out for a brisk family winter walk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I would spend a whole day outside during these current freezing temperatures, but to get wrapped up warm and make yourself to get out with the family to a blow away the cobwebs is really refreshing, especially after a long working week.

the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family

On Saturday, we ventured out with family down to the Meon Valley. It was beautiful sunshine the whole journey down, but typically once we arrived it clouded over. But determined, we forced ourselves outside to enjoy a walk along a disused railway. The mud was frozen stiff, thankfully, because the boys would have no doubt fallen into it otherwise!

the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family

Henry’s little cousin is 6, and he is utterly smitten with her. She’s the sweetest little girl and so caring towards both the boys, always coming over to help George out if he needs a hand and always so kind. When we are due to see her I can’t let Henry know until the day because otherwise he will be unbearable asking over and over when he is going to see her. It’s just so nice to see and capture their bond grow.

the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family

George managed to walk most of the way, excitedly chasing after the others and joining in with their games. He loves being outdoors and exploring nature, although does have a tendency to want to discover things in a different direction, which is no surprise given his fiercely independent nature.

The Ordinary Moments winter walks with family in Hampshire

Our walk ended alongside the River Meon with a small bridge to play Pooh Sticks and little waterfall to entertain George at while the biggies eagerly awaited the appearance of their sticks under the bridge. I love showing the boys how much adventure and fun there is to be had without having to spend lots of money on big days out.

the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family

the ordinary moments linky a winter walk with family

It’s always so satisfying when you’ve made the effort to get out when it’s this cold. Temptation to stay in is always hard to overcome, but the children loved running free, exploring the woods, finding different animal footprints, and the odd golf ball! We headed back for a hot coffee and cookies before the drive home, sponsored by YouTube so they didn’t fall asleep an hour before bed!

I’m looking forward to sharing more of our #OrdinaryMoments over the coming months, thanks for reading. If you want to watch our day check out the vlog.

 

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