Why everyone should visit Santa in a museum

We had the most special day visiting not one but two Santa’s at the museums on Saturday.  London Transport Museum and Museum of London Docklands to be precise and what incredible places to experience our yearly festive jaunt to see Santa.  If you’re looking for more than your average Santa trip then look no further than these museums which offer above and beyond the norm.

First up was the London Transport Museum where we were greeted by a beautiful Christmas tree on arrival to give us all the festive feels.  Whams ‘Last Christmas’ was playing out on the tannoy and lots of cute friendly Elves were dashing about the buses and the trams keeping the children entertained.  Our first stop was the singing and storytelling for Under 5s.  This was located in Santa’s secret hideaway where a super friendly elf enthusiastically told the children a story about the colours of the underground lines.  The kids were mesmerized by their very engaging story teller and it was a perfect start to our festivities.  Next up was Origami tree decoration making in an area filled with Christmassy lights and snowy scenes.  The activity was to make a lucky star with public transport patterned paper.  A lot of help was needed for our 1 and 3 year old but it was a fun task where all the family could get involved.  The husband was particularly taken with this one, so we left it to him to make his work of Christmas art.  The smell of sweet temptations lingered so we made our way to the café, ideally situated by the All Aboard childrens zone for 0-7 year olds.  A slight chance for us to rest our legs while the smalls played with taxi’s, buses, the baby train and the Thames nipper café.  They were in their element and so were we as we ordered hot chocolates and the most yummiest of waffles.  All of this before we even met Santa.  The big man made his appearance soon after and we located him in a 1940s electric tram which was awe inspiring alone.  The children loved him and his merry chat and received a badge which they refused to take off for the rest of the day.  There weren’t even any tears.  A morning of Christmas joy for us all and such a wonderful setting.

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Next up was our second Santa of the day located in the fantastic Museum of London Docklands.   I love this old Georgian warehouse building that was built in 1802.  It has such a warm feeling about it and I always somehow feel at home there.  We began our visit with a scrummy lunch in Rum & Sugar, the Museum’s tres trendy restaurant.  The food is very tasty with plenty of kids options too and we were fueled for our second Santa meet of the day.  Our eldest was not going to let us get away without a play in the free Mudlarks gallery, an interactive space for children up to 8 years old, first.  5 minutes of peace for us as we were able to confine both kids in one space, the soft play area for babies and toddlers, where they can climb into a boat or drive a DLR train.  Once we managed to tear them away from there we made our way up to the second floor, where we followed the footprints leading us to Santa.  To reach him we had to enter Sailor Town, a recreation of 19th century Wapping.  Now this was everything.  The quaint shops in the cobbled streets were all decorated creating the perfect Christmas ambience.  Never mind the kids I was so happy.  The most atmospheric setting transporting you back in time as we made our way in to the traditional Victorian Santa’s grotto.  The experience was wonderful, Santa was as you imagined him to be and I didn’t want to leave. Ok just remembered he’s for the kids right.  You’ll be pleased to hear they loved him too.  They received a wonderful wooden gift and we couldn’t leave without a picture of this truly magical experience.

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And that is why everyone should visit Santa in a museum.  It is so much more than your average Santa experience you usually receive.  Not only do you get Santa in a unique educational environment you get play areas, parent friendly facilities, workshops, storytelling, delicious fun food and the most perfect settings.  Ones we will never forget, both visits have by far been the best Santa experience we have ever had!!  I cannot recommend it enough.

Tickets to the London Transport Museum cost £17.50 for adults, children go free.  Tickets allow unlimited entry for 12 months. 

Museum of London Docklands is free entry.  To visit Santa, entry (includes gift) from £10 per child.  You can purchase a picture of the experience for £8.

 

 

Why I have an issue with the ‘Stay at Home Mum’ label?

IMG_0043Ok well first off what is this, the 1950s?! Geez Louise can someone possibly update this title already. Now I’m sure it’s not just me that feels that it comes with such a stigma attached to it. Google stay at home mum images and you’ll get exactly what I’m talking about. To me it implies that you maybe sit indoors all day watching a bit of day time telly, doing some ironing, washing and cooking and baking of course, in a pinny with your marigolds and feather duster on while entertaining the kids. PURLEEEEASE!!!! I can’t think of anything worse and if this is was what I actually did on a daily basis I would be bolting for the door.

It is also quite derogatory, I mean the amount of times I have heard people express ‘I am just a stay at home mum’. JUST…what is that?! Talk about doing yourself an injustice, it is the hardest flipping job in the world that you don’t get paid one penny for and you can’t even be proud of that fact. We are responsible for literally raising the future. Every day your actions alone will be an example to them of how they should behave in the outside world. Could there be a bigger more rewarding task. I feel the phrase makes us feel shameful and inadequate when really we should be feeling like we are the absolute bomb.

For me the stay at home bit couldn’t be further from the truth and I’m sure a lot of you other Mamas will agree. My two smalls and I go out every single day, maybe to the supermarket, playgroup, park, the local caf and errr a museum or two. This is mainly for my sanity as a whole day at home would drive me crazy, let alone the kids. Don’t get me wrong we spend a few hours indoors, mainly when the kids nap so I can get stuff done in the house but apart from the peace and quiet this is my least favourite time of day. While we are out and about they are being educated socially and mentally whilst taking in all that fresh air. What’s not to love!

Also it just sounds so uninspiring. Not sure I ever would have admitted to wanting to be a ‘stay at home mum’ when I was younger. How dull and boring does it sound. It was something I fell into unwillingly due to my wages not covering the child care costs.  How could I justify working for nothing when I have kids?! But turns out I absolutely love it (well…there are times I most definitely want to quit and leave the little rascals, like every day last week) but generally I wouldn’t change a thing, apart from being constantly broke, that bit kind of sucks. At the end of the day though it is such a short period of time which I am definitely going to look back on as some of the best years of my life.

This pretty much just leaves me to say that really I would like to rephrase this term and start calling it ‘Getting out and educating the kids on the world Mum’ and holding my head high in the process!  What do you reckon?

Social Media, my highs and lows of being an “Insta mum”

Ha even the word Insta mum makes me chuckle!  I discovered the big wide world of INSTA back in December last year and boy is it big!! I mean I had already been a mum for 2 years so not quite sure how I missed it.  I worked in a Museum for 10 years but when my mat leave was up I discovered that my wages barely covered my child care costs so it was a no brainer to stay at home with the kids.  Not one for staying at home with nothing to think about I decided to set up Milk at the Museum which has given me an amazing platform to raise awareness of some of my favourite places in the world and continue my passion in all things Museum whilst meeting some incredible Mamas along the way.  I would say I have had my fair share of ups and downs on it though so I wanted to jot them down in this little blog.  I really hope this is not too controversial but literally I typed as I thought.  SHITTT!  I might be in trouble later but I hope if anything some of you can relate to it too.

THE NUMBERS GAME

It’s like being promoted/demoted 50 times a day, getting a kick where it hurts and then a big fat hug all in the space of an hour.  My number of followers is minute but that wasn’t the reason I started.  Instagram gave me an opportunity to talk about my passion so numbers were not key to my agenda, however, you cannot help but get a little wrapped up in it all.  I remember one account I followed, who followed me back, had put up a post about being kind for which I liked and commented, the next thing I knew they had unfollowed me.  Where’s the kindness in that Insta!?!  And what’s all this buying followers malarkey, can’t get my head around why anyone would want to do that, surely you want your followers to be legit.  I have also noticed a number of big accounts follow me then I follow back then a week later they drop me again.  Errr is this not someone full of their own self importance to think I would still follow them if they’re following/unfollowing?!  Or are they just playing the game!?  It’s a funny old game though isn’t it!?  And one I don’t want to play in this way for sure!

POPULARITY CONTEST

Ok so I don’t want to ruffle any feathers here but it kind of, at times, feels like I’m back at school and what I mean by this is sometimes it can feel a little cliquey! Those that get chosen for the party reminds me of the school netball team. I mean there are the funny, slightly extrovert accounts who are loved by all and get all the mentions, then the less so.  I was always an Inbetweener, a term for which I am entirely happy with.  I had friends who were considered “cool” and friends that weren’t.  If they were generally good people who I got on with I was mates with them regardless.  Surprisingly barely any of my pals are on Instagram, so I pretty much walked into this friendless.  Walking into a world where there are quite obvious friendship groups already made has at times made me feel pretty damn lonely which is the weirdest feeling as I have loads of mates away from it.  On the plus side I am forming relationships on here with the most wicked people and beginning to have my own little Insta support too!!

FRIENDS

Speaking of friends I have actually had a couple of non Insta friends unfollow me.  Now that was a real choker and there were actual tears.  I still to this day don’t know entirely why.  One has completely fallen out of my life.  Is it because of what I am doing? Am I offending people?  Do people think I am a dick?  All questions I have had to battle with that have actually made me feel really quite horrible.  All for having a public Instagram account.  I would like to add that generally my mates have been really supportive!

MALE vs FEMALE RATIO

I love women but I also love men.  Men have always been key to my friendship groups so walking into a world that is mostly women has been a bit strange.  All of the events I have been to are predominantly women which I am not knocking by any means as sharing motherhood has been a life saver and I would be lost without it, it has just taken a bit of getting used to I guess.  All hail the Insta Dads, the reality is we need them at home to look after the little ones!

FOMO

So many events I want to go to but so little money and I want to support all you amazing Muthas out there, I mean you’re all bloody marvellous and for this I get major FOMO!  As well as a few Mothers Markets I’ve only been to one Pizzup so far but I absolutely loved it.  The other downfall of being skint is there are so many Mama led brands out there that I want to buy everything from all of them but I can’t and this at times can feel pretty depressing in a world full of Mums that appear to literally have it all!!

COMPARISON

Which leads me on to comparison…how do other Mums afford stuff, how do they juggle everything so well, how are they managing to cook, clean, mum, work, party and look good!  And where do they get their stamina!?  My stamina is really low, one night out a week and I’m pooped!

MOTIVATION

Some days I wake up and am not motivated whatsoever, what should I put up, I can’t think straight let alone write an interesting caption.  A lot of people seem to have their views of what should be put up but I think that is entirely down to the individual.  No one but you can tell you what is right or wrong.  It’s your page after all.  I’m a sucker for a nice colourful image but I completely understand that some prefer a more real life stance.  There are so many motivational accounts out there that continue to inspire me daily but still I have days where I get insta block and for the life of me can’t decide what to post.

ABSOLUTE HIGHS

I have loved having an output for all my thoughts, passions and interests.  Instagram has allowed me access to the most talented, inspiring bunch of people, ones I feel privileged to now know.  Museums to me are vital to our children’s upbringing and getting to spend much more time in them because of this little Insta project has been bloody fantastic.  The opportunities that have come my way since doing this, writing for a magazine, attending previews to exhibitions and meeting the incredible people behind the scenes, were only previously dreams and I cannot thank the world of the GRAM enough for this.

ADDICTIVE

And lastly how flippin addictive is it all though!!!  I have parent guilt daily, should I be on my phone a lot less in front of the kids, should they even be on social media, am I sharing way too much of my life and should I be in reality a lot more, is it even good for my mental health?! All things to think about in this little Insta bubble I guess but a bubble I currently enjoy a lot more than not at the moment.  The day that changes I guess you’d stop right!?  And speaking of bubbles…🍾

A family day out with the Museum of London Docklands

IMG_5589Well hey there everyone, so it kind of made sense that my first blog post EVER, eeek, would be about museums because well, you know, that’s my thang and all!!!  I just had to tell you about the wonderful event Museum of London very kindly laid out for us bloggers/instagrammers on Saturday.  We had an early start which kind of scared me a little bit what with getting everything prepared for my 2 year old, Ivy and 10 month old, Tom but we just couldn’t be late because we were going on a boat.  My husband and I love a boat and we knew the kids would too.  We arrived to get on the Thames Clipper at Westminster Pier, one of my favourite places in the world, I worked at the Churchill War Rooms for just under 10 years, got engaged there and of course BIG bloomin BEN!!!  Couldn’t wait to show Ivy these landmarks on the way and the sun was shining for us.  Perfect weather for a little trip on the Thames.  We met up with my Insta pal Donna @thecuriousmummy and her lush family  and it was because of her we managed to bag ourselves front row seats so it felt like the kiddiwinks were at the helm, parenting win right there.  It also meant we got a fabulous view of all the London treasures along the way.  The Shard, London Bridge, Tower of London, Walkie Talkie, St Pauls, and my old buddy HMS B (I worked at the Imperial War Museum so was fortunate to have a few meetings there back in the day).  The boat trip went down a storm, the kids were happy, we were happy and it was a marvellous way to arrive at our next destination, the Museum of London Docklands.

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IMG_7131.JPGThis incredible 3D artwork is currently just outside the museum promoting the FREE family friendly Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail exhibition in its final weeks.  If you haven’t been you must go, it’s fun for all the family and is full of fascinating facts.  The exhibition is all about the archaeological objects that were discovered during the Crossrail project, Londons newest railway.  Around 500 objects are on display and tell the story of 8,000 years of human history.  The exhibition unveils some incredible stories in different areas in London such as prehistoric flints which tell us that there were Londoners living on the Thames 9,000 years ago, a Roman bronze medallion that dates to AD245 found at the excavation at Liverpool Street and, get this, human remains including a skeleton of a Londoner who died from the plague.  How amazing is that!  One of the facts I particularly enjoyed telling Ivy was that all the machines that bored the train tunnels were given women’s names.  Relaying these facts is made a lot easier due to the child friendly displays which include buttons and flaps, a wooden Brio train set, a magnifying glass and the chance to don a high vis jacket and hard hat.  Jackie Keily, the curator, who used to be an archaeologist was on hand to explain to us how keen they were for families to engage more with archaeology and the amazing stories of past Londoners it reveals.  The results of this are clear as I watch Ivy in her high vis looking through the magnifying glass, perhaps an archaeologist in our midst.  Personally it has made me look at archaeology in a whole different light and it is a subject I shall definitely cover more of when Ivy gets a little older.  The exhibition ends on 3rd September so get yourselves down there before it closes, you will not be disappointed!

MOL3.JPGBy this time the kiddies were hungry and I was hangry so it was time for our lunch courtesy of Rum & Sugar the Museum’s restaurant, which by the way is a lot different from your average Museum restaurant.  More like the kind of place I used to hang out in on Friday nights when I had money and no kids.  Uber trendy bar/restaurant space which you can actually reside in until 11pm on a Saturday.  Tempted but with two kids in tow thought better of it and mocktails and a hearty lunch were on the menu!  It was DElish, I strongly recommend the jerk fries and slaw.  Less likely to get eaten by the 2 year old!  Also worth noting there is plenty of options for the little ones too.

MOL2The last part of our day was the Time Tunnellers show.  Basically a chance for the kids to become actual archaeologists.  The staff member running it was so enthusiastic you couldn’t help but join in on the fun.  We had to pull off rows of sheets where we discovered bones, plates and shoes from eras gone by.  I thought this was so well executed and a superb way to educate kids on London’s hidden past.  This is running Wednesday-Saturdays throughout August so a great activity for the little ones to get involved in during the Summer Holidays.

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I think Ivy summed up the day for me when she said ‘I don’t want to go home Mummy’.  My daughter always wants to go home so thank you very much Museum of London for a wonderful family day out that we will treasure and talk about for years to come!