Half Term Family Fun and More! Essex Mums Newsletter February 2017
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Half Term Fun  *   Alternative Shopping Guide  *   Essex Mums Awards  *   We want to pay you for your ideas!  *   Local Listings   
*    Competitions  *   Product Reviews   *   New on the Shopping Guide   *   Pregnancy & Parenting Articles   *   Recipes   *   Craft Ideas   *   Educational Activities   *   Special Offers   *   Blog   *   Events   *   New Groups & Classes   *   Ad Rates
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Some of you may have noticed that certain parts of the site are looking a bit different! I have embarked on a fairly lengthy but hopefully worthwhile overhaul of the site. It might mean that things are occasionally a bit wonky over the next few months but should make using the site much easier, especially on a mobile device. The new homepage should be ready to launch in a week or so, and while it's going to be some time before it's all finished, I'm looking forward to our shiny new website!

If you have any feedback on the new look, I'd really appreciate it!

Now that Christmas is well and truly a distant memory, hopefully you have all recovered and are looking for some fun things to do with the family. Half-term is coming for those with school-age children, so check out what's on across the county, and let's hope for a little bit of nearly-spring sunshine!

If you have something you'd like to add to the site, please use one of these buttons to get you there quickly!

You'll see results sooner than you think!

Effective tuition puts your child one step ahead. It helps them to develop and make progress – and improves their focus, motivation and creativity.
Our dedicated tutors are educational professionals who have an outstanding track record in helping children achieve better results.

Whether you’re looking to catch up or extend we have a group for you from age 5-18 years. Prepare for SATs, 11plus, GCSE or A Level in Maths, English or Science.

Call today to arrange your free consultation and trial lesson.
Southend        01702 680400
Benfleet        01268 833838
Basildon        01268 833330


Half Term Fun

If you are a parent of school age children, half term will be rolling around for you this month. As always we have plenty of fantastic events listed on the site, so take a look at our Spring Half-Term page (though admittedly, spring sounds a little ambitious given how chilly it is out there). This is currently being updated as we are sent more events so make sure you check back to find more fun family ideas.
Alternative Shopping Guide
I'm so excited to be adding some lovely new shops to the Alternative Shopping Guide this year. The guide is full of fantastic independent shops that sell great gifts, fairtrade or handmade toys, clothes that are a bit different to what's on the High Street, and lovely bits and bobs to treat yourself, so make sure you take a look! You can browse the different categories for shops or search the Product Guide if you are looking for something specific.

This will be getting a bit of a new look this month too, which should make it even better and easier to find some lovely goodies!

If you are a shop and are interested in getting listed, please email me for more information.

This Half term treat the kids to Rogue one, be a rebel and rise up against the Empire in our new Star-wars themed day at Laser Mayhem.   3 hours of action 2-5 pm on the 15 of February for only £19.99, battle along side Jedis taking on the darkside.  With staff dressed as characters from the Star-wars Franchise, you will be lead in to battle with the latest in Laser tag equipment, fighting over the awesome post apocalyptic Laser Mayhem landscape littered with Real Battle Tanks, Planes, Armoured personal carriers and the chance to play our Call of Duty replica map.


Essex Mums Awards
Coming next month is the opening of the third Essex Mums awards. Last year's was so exciting and saw more than 40,000 votes cast for your favourite people, places and things. The nominations will start from next month, so get thinking about what makes your life that bit easier or more fun!

If you want to see what people voted for last year, take a look at the Essex Mums Loves... section and if you're a company interested in sponsoring the awards, take a look at the packages on offer here.
We want to pay you for your ideas!
Can you come up with good recipes, craft ideas and fun educational activities? Send them over to us and get paid!
We always need new ideas for the website and can pay £5 for every one we use. Just email over instructions and a photograph to louise@essexmums.org and I'll let you know if we can use your idea!

New fun outdoor activities for children aged 3-11 at Suntrap in Epping Forest

  • Suntrap Squirrels: woodland outdoor pre-school club based around nature, wildlife and the seasons for 2-5 year olds. Last Wednesday of each month starting 29/03/17.
  • Be Wild Forest Saturday Club: a wild adventure on the second Saturday of every month for children (8-11) who like playing in the woods come rain or shine! First session 11/03/17.
  • Suntrap Holiday Adventure Club: Half-term: 13th/14th/15th February (8-11 year olds); shelter building, meeting animals, wild art, animal tracking, campfire cooking and much more. Easter dates tbc.

Booking essential: suntrap.centre@walthamforest.gov.uk
More information:

Local Listings
Have you browsed our Local Listings section? It's an amalgamation of the Places to Go section, the Directory and the Places to Eat section, making it so much easier for you to find shops, services, groups and wonderful places near to you. You can search for a business buy its name or just see what's near you: www.essexmums.org/listings 

If you would like to list your business there's a simple registration process, then you can add wording, images, social media links... whatever you want, and it's all completely FREE! You can choose to get a featured listing from just £2 if you want to make it stand out more, but there's no charge just to be listed.

New Featured listings this month:
Lotus Beauty Lodge
A cosy, clean, tranquil purpose built beauty Lodge based in Langdon Hills, Basildon, Essex. Offering Hi-end beauty treatments.
Click here to view listing
Basking Babies Massage Classes Hornchurch
Baby Massage Hornchurch, Essex. Group courses running every half term, weekly sessions for regulars, sessions for Dads and individual sessions to suit you.
Click here to view listing
The Party Kitchen
The Party Kitchen- Marking Occasions. Making Memories. Caterers & Party Stylists specialising in Afternoon teas, Children’s Parties and all things Cake.
Click here to view listing
Jacques and Bailey Travel
Jacques & Bailey is a family run business of mother and daughter Jackie Jacques and Jenna Bailey. Having a huge passion for travel we want to offer the most personal customer service experience in all fields of travel.
Click here to view listing
Amore coffee house
Relaxing new coffee shop at 137 hamlet court road. Buggie and child friendly and WiFi for those that need to be connected. All cakes are made in house or choose one of our delicious milk shakes or ice creams.
Click here to view listing

Easter and summer camps throughout Essex with 2 NEW locations in Ingatestone and Romford for summer 2017!

“Giving every child such an amazing experience they can’t wait to come back!”

·        Superb Easter & summer camps at 40 locations!
·        Fantastic range of activities for 4.5-14 years
·        The best qualified staff:child ratios for any comparable provider
·        Extended hours from 8am-6pm
·        A Brilliant Childcare Option for Working Parents! We even accept childcare vouchers!

Where will your child play? 
Easter and summer: Chelmsford, Chigwell, Hutton, Upminster and Woodford
Summer only: Harlow, Ingatestone and Romford


Fantastic things to win! Enter one of our great competitions or get in touch if you would like to run something yourself. New competitions are always being added so make sure you check the competitions page for new giveaways, and get in touch if you'd like to run a giveaway yourself.
Win a family ticket to Share the love during February Half Term at Colchester Zoo!
Join Colchester Zoo throughout February half term for ‘Share the Love Week’ and learn all about love in the animal kingdom!
Click here to enter
Win three Treasure Trails – Colchester, Chelmsford & Maldon
If you’re looking for something new to do with the children this weekend – and want something to encourage them outdoors – then why not try a Treasure Trail; an imaginative and fun way to explore. 
Click here to enter
Win a four night Toddler Break at Hendra Holiday Park, Cornwall
Hendra is a family-run, award-winning family and couples holiday park situated in Newquay, ideally located to explore Cornwall. We are surrounded by beautiful countryside, only minutes from Newquay’s famous beaches, 14 miles from the Eden Project and within easy reach of hundreds of holiday attractions. 
Click here to enter
Win a family ticket to Lambing & Laughter at Marsh Farm
Spring is always a busy time at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park and this year will be no exception as we prepare to welcome our newest arrivals. Lambing season runs throughout February and March with new lambs being born almost every day!
Click here to enter
Win an Afternoon Tea for Two at any of the ‘Tiptree’ Tea Rooms
We invite you to join us at any of the ten ‘Tiptree’ tea rooms, located at Tiptree, Dedham, Heybridge Basin, Writtle, Saffron Walden, Finchingfield, Cressing Temple, Colchester, Barleylands and Osea Leisure Park.
Click here to enter
Win a Mother’s Day Lunch at The Essex Golf & Country Club
Win a Mother’s Day Lunch at The Essex Golf & Country Club. Spoil your Mum this Mother’s Day and stay in her good books for the rest of the year!
Click here to enter
Win tickets to The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Chelmsford City Theatres
Win tickets to The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Chelmsford City Theatres on Thursday 16 March!
Click here to enter
Win a family ticket to Discover’s World Book Day Weekender!
Join Discover’s Artist in Residence, author and cartoonist Joe Berger, as he transforms the Events Space into a comic den to celebrate World Book Day on Saturday 4 March. Perfect for all budding young writers, illustrators and cartoon enthusiasts, Joe will introduce his new book and help you create your own cartoons. 
Click here to enter
Win a beautiful aden + anais bundle
aden + anais the baby brand known for its iconic swaddles, bath and sleep time products has teamed up with Essex Mums to offer a very special prize bundle to keep your little ones snug as a bug this winter! 
Click here to enter
Win a £100 voucher for a Maternity Onesie from The All-in-One Company
The All-in-One Company maintain a presidential and unquestionable standard throughout the whole of the company, from our team, training, equipment, materials and finished product.
Click here to enter
Win a Dusky Pink Peep Baby Nursing Cover
The Peep Baby Nursing Cover is made out of 100% soft jersey cotton and is fully machine washable, making it an ideal alternative to fitted breastfeeding tops for mums and babies.
Click here to enter
Win a Smock Shirt from The Fableists
Our signature Smock Top is based on vintage work wear. It looks just as good on boys and girls and is made in 100% certified organic cotton chambray. Hard wearing but dresses up smart! This is a versatile and stylish top for any occasion.
Click here to enter

AcroDance is a fusion of the artistic motion of dance and athleticism of acrobatics. AcroDance is not the same as gymnastics.  An AcroDancer trains to perform on stage without the advantage of a sprung floor, seamlessly integrating musicality, emotional expression, extension, control and line.  The AcroDance training involves building strength, flexibility, balance, limbering, tumbling, basic contortion and partner/group stunting for dancers.

Classes available:-
Beginners                 Monday        4.00pm -5.00pm
Intermediate           Monday        4.45pm – 5.45pm
Advanced                 Thursday      5.30pm – 6.30pm

All classes held at Alexanders School of Dance Studios, Brentwood Essex.  Free trial class. 
For more information www.alexanders-sdt.co.uk.  Email info@alexanders-sdt.co.uk Phone 01277 824209.
Product Reviews
Want to find out what's worth buying and what's worth missing out on? Where is good to go and where to avoid? Then consult our crack team of Essex Mums product reviewers before making your purchase! Click on each reviewer on the Product Reviews page to see all of their reviews, or click here to browse the reviews or search by categories such as age range and type of product.

Here are a few of the most read reviews from last year:
Organix Punk’d
We were asked to review two varieties of cereal bars from the new range by Organix. The Punk’d range uses organic ingredients to produce healthy foods and snacks for older children and not just for babies and toddlers. 
Click here to read Helena's full review

Little Scrummers
 was set up in 2009 to give a fun and exciting ‘tag-rugby experience’ sports class. With a talented team of handpicked coaches the club now runs across 3 counties (and growing!) With a total of 12 clubs & 750 children taking part each week.

By giving youngsters an introduction to a sport so young (classes start at 18 months - 6 years) the classes help improve fine and gross motor skills, encourage children to live a healthy and active lifestyle, all whilst being fun!

Why not book your child in today for a FREE TRIAL! www.littlescrummers.com
Getting Active
Find out how other Essex Mums and their families are getting fit and fabulous in our Getting Active section! Get some ideas for things to try, read their wonderful reviews and follow in their footsteps on your own healthy journey. 

Here are a few of the most read reviews from last year:
Who is to blame? Why are our children so overweight?
Keith here from Stone Free PT. I am a Level 3 qualified Personal trainer with my own home training Business and I am also a PT at Puregym in Billericay.

I am going to write a few articles on Health and fitness. Firstly, obesity in Children and adults.
Click here to read
There is always time – High Intensity Interval Training
“I don’t have time…” This is a common excuse when it comes to exercise. After school clubs, play dates, and just being plain tired can lead to exercise being bumped off the to-do list.

Click here to read
New on the Shopping Guide
Looking for great gifts, fairtrade or handmade toys, clothes that are a bit different to what's on the High Street, or just something to treat yourself? You'll find it all and more on the Essex Mums Alternative Shopping Guide! Browse shops on the guide by category, or search the product guide for that perfect buy! 

We are now looking for lovely new shops for our guide this year, so if you think you would be a good fit, please get in touch on louise@essexmums.org

New shops this month:
  • Jolly Smith: Household giftware that will transform any interior into a fun, contemporary living environment
  • Sparkle Club: Sparkly shoes and more for special occasions
  • Swanky Portraits: Unique gifts Illustrated from your photos
  • Yoga Leggs: The new generation of yoga wear

I loved my career in buying, but when my family came along, the long hours and demands of the role didn't fit with the family life I craved.

2 years ago I was shown a way I could be a mummy at the school gates and earn an income I wanted. I have built a flexible home based business which has changed our lives.

I now help mums like me achieve amazing things from an extra £200 to £400pm, more time with their children to career changes. If you are self-motivated, have a great work ethic and ready to make a change get in touch for more information.


Pregnancy & Parenting Articles
The Pregnancy and Parenting section features fantastic information about different aspects of pregnancy and parenting written by our very own Essex Mums: everything from trying for a baby to raising teenagers. This section is a work in progress so check back regularly for new topics.

Our pregnancy and parenting articles will be on hold for a month or two while the section has a facelift, but here are a couple of favourite articles from the past!
Pregnant and in Pain?
Around 1 in 5 women will experience mild discomfort during pregnancy. It is really important to look after yourself when you are expecting. Your body will go through an extraordinary amount of change and many women will experience problems such as fatigue, fluid retention, headaches and pain.
Read more
What Do You Want for Your Children? A Positive Discipline Introduction to Gentler Parenting
Parenting is one of those topics that everybody is an expert on, regardless whether they have children, or any experience (or even theoretical knowledge) about children. As soon as you announce that you are expecting, the advice and ‘opinion sharing’ begin. This doesn’t stop once the baby arrives; if anything, it gets worse. 
Read more
If your baby is showing signs of a raised temperature, fever or illness you should check their temperature using a thermometer as this will indicate whether your baby needs further medical help.
Read more
Take a look at our recipes section for some tried-and-tested family-friendly feeds! Do you have something you would like to add to this section? If so, please share it here. If anyone is interested in becoming a regular contributor please get in touch

Here are a few of your most-loved recipes from last year:
Organix ‘Hearty’ Valentine’s Breakfast
A tasty breakfast made with love for Valentine’s Day, why not get your little ones to help make this for a loved one.
Read the full recipe here
Organix Little Ladybird Love Bugs
Delight the family with these cute little ladybird love bugs, a lovely snack on Valentine’s Day (or any day!). 
Read the full recipe here

  • PregnancyBliss Stretch & Relax
  • MamaBliss Nurture & Relax
  • BabyBliss Massage & MamaChat
  • BabyBliss Yoga & MamaChill
  • ToddlerBliss Yoga & Massage

Motherhood is the most amazing journey so we have created a seamlessly integrated curriculum of classes to support you every step of the way. From Pregnancy to Mum - Baby to Toddler our classes have it covered. Our classes are also great for making new friends and supporting each other.
Using Yoga inspired postures combined with massage & relaxation techniques, you and your baby will be creating the best possible start in your journey together.


Educational Activities
Our Educational Activities section features ideas to get your kids learning and help them with their homework. We really need some contributors for this section who can come up with some simple ideas, so if you would like to become a contributor or just have a few suggestions, please post them - anything is welcome, no matter how simple

Here are a few of your top activities from last year:
Arts and Crafts Ideas for Every Stage of Your Child’s Development
Arts and crafts are great fun. Children love the creativity and imagination art requires, and getting a little bit messy is always a welcome change to sitting quietly! But, not all arts and crafts are suitable for all ages.
Read more
Getting Your Children Involved in Gardening – Bird Watching
If you’re an avid gardener, you may take pride pulling up weeds, planting seeds or choosing the right stylish bird feeder for your feathered friends. Being in the fresh air can be wonderfully rewarding – so how about passing this feeling on to your little ones?

Read more

Special Offers
Special offers for Essex Mums added this month!
10% off at Smith Glass LTD
Family run and owned home improvements company specialising in Windows, Doors, Porches, Conservatories and Roofline products. Trading successfully since 1968 with thousands of satisfied customers throughout Essex and Kent.
Read more
Midi Teepees reduced to just £89 at Just For Tiny People + free gifts!
We have an amazing offer with selected Midi Teepees now reduced to just £89 and we will automatically post out a dolls play Tiny Teepee and Twinkly Lights with any purchase of our sale Midi Teepee!
Read more
Buy 8 Sessions for Emma Lister Fitness Outdoor Fitness Class for just £45!
The class is in Leigh On Sea, on Belton Way, off Castle Drive, on the field next to the train station.
Read more
First Class Free at Honey Heels Dance
Honey Heels is a strong, female energy dance class, in heels. We promote confidence building, fitness and fun. This is for all women and all dance abilities, beginners welcome.
Read more
£25 off pool parties at Riverside Ice and Leisure
With up to 80 children you’re little one and all their friends can challenge each other on the exciting ‘Yeti’ inflatable or on the five metre high ‘Devil’s Drop’ slide!
Read more
10% off at Little Scrummers
If you book in for a FREE TRIAL with us and enrol we will give you 10% off of your first terms fees and membership fee!

Read more
Toddler Mad Classes- 10% discount for Essex Mums!
Toddler Mad (Massage and Dance) classes are designed for parents with children from 18 months – 3 years. Classes are lots of fun and give children the opportunity to express themselves through singing, dancing and age appropriate art activities.

Read more

Our fun, structured play sessions take children on a journey of sporting imagination with engaging and energetic coaches supporting them every step of the way whilst teaching how to catch, pass, kick, run with the ball and play as part of a team.

Blog & News
The blog features posts from us as well as from guest bloggers, as well as local and parenting news. If you have something you would like to write, please get in touch!
Try cloth nappies and help the environment
TRY cloth nappies and get a £30 refund. Cloth nappies are an alternative to disposable nappies and can offer great cost, health and environmental benefits. Essex County Council is offering a £30 refund on the purchase of any cloth nappies or laundering service.
Read more
Please help raise £12,000 to help support Emma and Phil Cater as Phil recovers from a serious illness
Please help raise money for this Essex family. As well as being an Essex Mum, Emma is a Mini Professor Franchisee for Colchester and really needs your help.
Read more
Skate park to be built in central Southend
A NEW skate park will be built in Southend town centre in a bid to get nuisance youths off the streets.The plans – spearheaded by James Courtenay, councillor responsible for children and learning – have been five years in the making.
Read more
New season of Cinema at Chelmsford Picture House
The new season of cinema at Chelmsford’s Picture House offers a wide variety of film and live production broadcasts.
Read more
Mixed fortunes in league tables as one south Essex school named in ‘underperforming’ list
A SECONDARY school has been named one of 300 nationwide which are underperforming.
Read more
Parents to pull children out of Darlinghurst School in Leigh after it was criticised by Ofsted and head Nicky Patrick suddenly quits
A PRIMARY school headteacher has suddenly resigned following a damning Ofsted report.
Read more
Colchester Woman sets up homeless coat gift rail
A paramedic said she has been “overwhelmed” by the response to a coat gift scheme she has set up to help keep homeless people warm in winter.
Read more
Information about hospice care in Essex is now all in one place thanks to new website
FINDING out how to get support from your local hospice is now easier than ever thanks to the launch of a new website
Read more

Nominations are now open as we search for the next set of go-getters who really stop at nothing to achieve their goals. 
We are looking for:
  • Working Mum of the Year
  • Working Dad of the Year
  • PA of the Year
  • Boss of the Year
  • Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Inspirational Achiever of the Year
Nominate now at: www.pitmansuperachievers.com

Lots going on this month! You can find full listings on the Things to Do section or search by area using the links below. Make sure you take a look to find fun things to do for your family, and let us know when you try something good. Oh, and remember to say you saw it on Essex Mums!

The family friendly Brentwood Festival returns from 14-16 July with a great line up including Status Quo, Go West, Heaven 17, Ultravox’s Midge Ure, Jocelyn Brown, The Real Thing, Missing Andy and over two dozen supporting bands on two stages.
Children under 10 attend for FREE throughout the weekend, adult passes start from £25.
The festival also includes fun kid’s activities organised by Brentwood Borough Council, Nuclear Races taster sessions, fairground rides, street food, market stalls, posh loos and overnight camping.
Held in aid of the British Heart Foundation, tickets are available via www.brentwoodfestival.co.uk

New Classes and Groups

A selection of new information about classes and groups added this month.  Some are brand new to the site, some just have updates about new venues, details etc. Take a look at the Things to Do section for complete listings.

Parent and Toddler Groups
Children's Centres
  • Kaleidoscope Children's Centre 

Groups for Older Children

01277 264644

Worried what to do with your children during the holidays & INSET days, do your children have so much energy you need a break?

We are running a Holiday Club during Febuary half term in our superb purpose built club.

The club will be open 8-5.30pm every day during all school holidays and on Long Ridings inset days.

Send your children to us for an action packed day with fully qualified staff for £27.50 including breakfast, lunch and tea.

Check out our website for more information or call us for further details.

Email now to secure your places, everyone is welcome

Ad Rates
If you'd like to consider advertising on the site, take a look at the Ad Rates page. There is a range of ads to suit all budgets, and if you want to hear how advertising on Essex Mums has worked for others, take a look at the Testimonials page. I am always happy to put together packages that suit you and are normally discounted so get in touch if you have a few ideas about where you'd like to be on the site and we can work together to find something that suits you. If you would like help putting an ad together, we can provide this service free of charge.

If you are interested in being informed of special ad offers, let me know. 
Everything else
As always, please send any events, feedback, ideas etc. to me at louise@essexmums.org. I love hearing how people use the site and ways I can improve it. The normal newsletter will be back next month - I hope you've enjoyed this overview of the website!

I hope you have a lovely month and that I'll get to see you at a meet-up soon.

Kind regards


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