The Big Neighbourhood Pumpkin Trail comes to Urmston!

The Big Neighbourhood Pumpkin Trail has take the country by storm with nearly 70,000 members and press coverage from The Times, BBC, The Evening Standard, Aldi and many many more!

With the usual Halloween celebrations of Trick or Treating and family parties being cancelled, it was clear that we needed something else for our little ones to do that was Covid safe but also affordable as 2020 has seen many of us financially affected by the Coronavirus crisis. Thus The Big Neighbourhood Pumpkin Trail was born! The idea is that as many houses as possible decorate their window with a pumpkin – as few or as many as you like! On Halloween or in the week leading up to Halloween, you take your little one for a walk around your local streets and every time they spot a pumpkin you can reward them with a treat. At ARTventurers, we have created several resources to help you, including pumpkin templates for the window and a trail map. You can find these on the main HQ website. If you head to my Facebook page or The Big Neighbourhood Pumpkin Trail group, there are lots of ideas for Halloween Crafts that we usually run in our baby, toddler and children’s art classes so you can really make this a family project!

In addition to this, I have set up our very own Pumpkin Trail in Urmston and Davyhulme. I have hidden 11 numbered pumpkins in shop windows and your little one needs to find the pumpkin and make a note of the number on the trail sheet, which can be printed here:

If you don’t have access to a printer, you can collect a trail sheet from:

  • Poppies 11
  • Elaine’s Creative Cakes
  • Little Yu Boutique
  • The Urmston Bookshop
  • Lockette’s Fashion
  • Thomas Carter Opticians or
  • Ixia Flowers.

You can then take your completed trail sheet back to one of these shops in exchange for your Halloween Treat – all completely FREE!

At the moment, with advice being not to travel out of the area – I don’t think you can have too many trails or walks to complete!

Take a look at this fab pumpkin cake as made the brilliant Elaine and Elaine’s Creative Cakes:

One pumpkin on The Big Urmston Pumpkin Trail made by Elaine at Elaine’s Creative Cakes

Please do share any pictures you have of your little ones taking part in the trails on Facebook – it so lovely to see everyone coming together yet staying apart to celebrate Halloween safely.

Thanks for your support and Happy Halloween!

Claire xx

Ten Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Ten Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

So this week I returned to work after nearly a year off with my babies. This was my second Maternity Leave but things are ever so slightly different this time, not to mention the fact that I’m returning to a virtual classroom and have to juggle, like so many people, working from home with two young children. This time, I will be reducing my hours in September to embark on my new journey which is ARTventurers! 

I am so excited to be running art and creative play classes for babies and toddlers in Trafford, Didsbury and Chorlton and I cannot wait to get started as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Some of you may also be getting ready to return to the workplace (wherever that may be at present!) and no doubt, whatever stage of the parenting journey you are on, you will be consumed by a tidal wave of worries, fears and doubts. Will my baby be okay? Will I be able to juggle work and being a parent? Will I cope emotionally being away from him or her? Will I be able to deal with the ‘mum’ guilt? The answer to all of these is YES! Yes you will! These are all completely natural thoughts and although you might feel like you’re out of your depths at times, the shoreline is always in view. 

Practical Tips

  1. Batch cook and freeze so you always have something in case you are home late or feel too tired to cook a big meal. 
  2. Online food shopping. Available slots may be like gold dust at the minute, but if you can, book a regular slot and use the shopping list feature so you can do your shopping quickly! 
  3. Pack bags the night before and lay out outfits.
  4. Follow the The Organised Mum Method or another cleaning account on Instagram for practical ways of keeping on top of the housework (unless you’re living the dream and have your own cleaner!) so it doesn’t become a huge job on your days off.
  5. Use an online diary app to store all your appointments, meetings etc and one that syncs to your partner’s diary is particularly useful so you can manage childcare issues effectively.
  6. Deal with letters, party invitations and post as they arrive. Don’t put them in the draw of doom – the paper munchers will eat them and you will waste hours of your life trying to find these things! 
  7. Schedule all appointments in advance otherwise you’ll end up sporting the Lockdown Look permanently.
  8. Set up birthdays on Moonpig or another app or set reminders that give you plenty of time to send cards. ‘Baby Brain’ lasts for a long time!
  9. Plan activities for your days off / holidays. When I was working full time after having Niamh, one of the things I missed the most was taking her to classes. Baby classes had been such a huge part of maternity leave and I loved our time together with no distractions. It was also so lovely to see her develop and socialise whilst I chatted with other mums, made friendships or just found reassurance as we discussed our worries (how much coffee is safe to drink) or sought advice from each other. So I would scour Facebook and Google for weekend classes and holiday specials and book them early as they nearly always sold out. As I understand the importance of these classes for working parents, I will be running weekend art and creative play classes as well as holiday specials. So do look out for them in my bookings section and on Facebook!
  10. Schedule in some you time. A tired mum and overworked employee will benefit nobody. 

There will be many more ‘life hacks’ and if you know of any, please share them in the comments. We’re all parents trying to do the best for our children and we need to support each other as best we can.

I’ve spent the last few weeks feeling anxious about returning to work but as I near the end of the first week, I feel great. I’ve managed to keep up with all the work and yes, I might have plonked the kids in front of CBeebies whilst I had another Zoom meeting, but I’ve also spent quality time with them. We’ve made Father’s Day gifts (craft packs available here), made slime, planted sunflower seeds for The Big Neighbourhood Sunflower Project and participated in our usual baby and toddler classes online. Organisation and discipline has been key.

So if you are worried, reach out to your colleagues, a friend or even an online community such as us! We are all in this together.

If you’re due back to work soon ‘Good Luck’ from me! If you’re at the start of your maternity leave – enjoy every minute! And if you are a stay at home parent – I salute you. Time with your children is so precious but it can be equally draining. I think one positive that has come from Lockdown, is the new appreciation that so many people have for parents who choose to give up their careers to look after their children.

I hope to see you all soon, whether it is at a regular class or at one of our special events!

Stay safe and well.

Lots of love,

Claire xx