On Essex Mums this month
Happy New Year! I hope you and your family had a wonderful 2012 but that 2013 brings you even more happiness. It's been a great year here at Essex Mums and as the site has grown so much over 2012 I thought I would take this opportunity to go over the many different areas of the site - I hope that it will continue to be a useful resource for your family.

Once again I would also like to thank everyone who has been a part of the site this past year (and previously). When I started it back in 2008 I never would have dreamed of it becoming what it is now - hopefully a useful and interesting site, but most importantly a supportive, friendly and amazing group of parents who have been there for one another through thick and thin. Thank you Essex Mums, there's a lot I would have struggled to get through myself without some of you.

The Forum
Without the forum, where would be be? So many of us have made great friends here, kids have grown up together and we've given and received some amazing advice as well as just having a lovely place to chat each day. If you've never posted, please make it your new year's resolution to come and say hello; if you posted once but decided it wasn't for you, please give us another chance! We're always happy to see some new faces, just dive right in to one of the daily threads. Don't feel daunted, it really is a friendly and welcoming group. If you're pregnant or already a parent and need some advice, there's always someone who has been there, done that. There's a section for Essex Dads, for those of you who fancy a bit of stardom, who fancy a debate or just want a rant; you can get professional advice from a Solicitor or a Midwife, Personal Trainer, Children's Physio and Occupational Therapist; you canask for opinions on medical issues, or on schools and nurseries. If you want something different for your child's birthday party you can find it on the forum, and likewise if you have a business opportunity you'd love to share, you can do so here too. There's even an area for buying and selling! If you're interested in advertising but don't have much of a budget, becoming a forum Sponsor could be the choice for you - at only £20 a year it's a great little spot! 

Wild n WackyHarlow's Newest and Biggest Playcentre
Need to get the kids out of the house? Drop in to Wild ‘n’ Wacky next to Harlow railway station, an award winning soft play centre to suit all ages with separate baby and toddler areas and plenty to keep older children racing around burning off excess energy!  They serve great cappuccino, latte or hot chocolate at really reasonable prices and the food is fantastic value too. There’s also free parking and free customer wifi – ideal if you just need to catch up on emails whilst the kids play. Check the Facebook page for special offers and directions.

Wild ‘n' Wacky Ltd, Unit 5, Mill Court, Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2JA
Tel: 01279 426976

Things to Do
Hopefully a section you're all familiar with! The Things to Do section is a fantastic listing of what's on for families across Essex. It's divided into different areas to make it easy as well as types -  one off events, parent and toddler groups, classes, groups for older children and things for parents. I'm always on the hunt for new goings on so please do contact me if you have anything you would like listed here. Every event links through to a forum post with more details, which means there is also the opportunity to discuss things you have been to yourself, and find out what others have to say about them. Regular events, venues etc. are also listed on the map, which makes it easy to search for what's on near you.

I'm eager to make sure that all classes, groups etc are as up to date as possible so please send over any new details if you run a class, or let me know if you see something that is no longer running or needs updating. Oh, and make sure you mention you read about it on Essex Mums if you do go along to something new!

Places to Go
I still have hundreds of great attractions and days out to add to the Places to Go section but it's been filled out a bit more this year, giving detailed descriptions of venues and attractions across the county, divided into categories to make it easy to find something if you fancy a day out. If you would like your place to go listed here, just get in touch on louise@essexmums.org

Places to Eat
The Family-Friendly Eats section contains listings and reviews of family-friendly restaurants and cafes, so that parents make informed choices about where their family can enjoy a meal, and where might be best to avoid. The plan is to eventually award establishments certificates of family-friendliness, based on what the users of Essex Mums have said but for that we need more ratings and more reviews, so come and tell us about the best and worst near to you!. The categories are arranged according to area, cuisine and type of establishment and will eventually feature everything from playcentres to five star restaurants. You can search in the drop-down menu on the left. You can also use the map to find places near you. Look out for an improved and more user-friendly version coming this year.

Pregnancy and Parenting
A brand new section in 2012! 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. Please bear in mind that all articles (unless otherwise stated) are written by members of the site and are not to be used in place medical advice from a doctor, midwife or health visitor. If you're interested in writing for this section yourself, please get in touch!

Things to win! Check out the great competitions we have on Essex Mums, and let me know if you would like to run a competition yourself. This page will be updated with some great new competitions for 2013 over the next few days.

Alternative 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! Now is the perfect time to sign up for the Guide for 2013 and/or 2014 so drop me a line if you're interested. All shops listed get a mention in the newsletter and on the forum and every new product added is shared with our followers on twitter and facebook so it's a great way to promote your shop.

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.  Click here if you have something you would like reviewed! We can allocate a reviewer to you, or you can choose someone you think fits what you're looking for.

The Directory
The Directory is your guide to local services, shops and more. There are free basic listings available to all which include contact details, website etc. and inexpensive lifetime listings for those who would like a little more exposure. 

The Blog
The blog features posts from me as well as from guest bloggers, so if you have something you would like to write, please get in touch!

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.


La Jewellery

Organically Inspired, Ethically produced and British made Jewellery.

Many jewellery companies these days call themselves 'bespoke', producing beautiful work that is indeed to the customer's specifications. At La Jewellery, we like to think we take it a step further, and make bespoke mean 'utterly unique', 'inspirational' and most of all, 'magical'.

		La Jewellery
Jewellery and gifts created from recycled silver, Fair Trade Gold and recycled Brass to be treasured for a lifetime and beyond... caring for our environment so that it may be preserved for our future 
We have told you what inspires and guides us, come with us and play and we will let the true magic of silver and our pieces speak for themselves. See our SALE Page for massive discounts on bespoke jewellery and our newly launched 'Little Peeps' range. 

As always there is lots more going on this month! Below is a selection of the fantastic things going on but you can find full listings on the Things to Do section.

Barking and Dagenham
2nd: Cinderella, The Broadway
5th: Eastbury Manor House Family Day

1st-6th: Christmas Crafts at the Visitor Centre, Langdon Hills
2nd-6th: Peter Pan, Towngate Theatre
4th: Mad Science Christmas Holiday Camp, Billericay
9th & 21st: RSPB Little Owls, Wat Tyler
17th: Caterpillar Club, Hanningfield Reservoir

1st-12th: Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens Ice Rink
3rd: Mad Science Christmas Holiday Camp, Braintree
18th-26th: Robin Hood, Braintree Arts Theatre
26th & 27th: Old King Cole, Empire Theatre
2nd-4th: TST Sport Camps, The Brentwood Centre
2nd: Caterpillar Club, Thorndon Country Park
3rd: Mad Science Christmas Holiday Camp, Brentwood
19th: J&J Webb Toy Fair, The Brentwood Centre
Castle Point
3rd: Chelsea FC Foundation Xmas Training Centre
13th: Roundhouse Open Day, Hadleigh Country Park

1st-6th: Dick Whittington, Civic and Cramphorn
2nd-4th: Olympic Fun Week, CSAC
2nd-4th: Tottenham Hotspur Soccer School, Riverside Ice and Leisure
3rd: The Magic of Merlin, Just Imagine Story Centre
8th & 9th: Kipper’s Snowy Day, Just Imagine Story Centre
11th & 12th: His Dark Materials, Anglia Ruskin University
13th: Fairy School Workshops, Chelmsford
15th & 16th: Monster Mania, Just Imagine Story Centre
19th & 20th: Jack and the Beanstalk, Keene Hall
26th: Children’s Story and Activity Morning, Galleywood Library
29th & 30th: Old Bear and Friends, Just Imagine Story Centre

1st-12th: Jack and the Beanstalk, Mercury Theatre
1st: New Year’s Walk, High Woods Country Park
2nd-4th: Holiday Fun at Colchester Leisure World
12th: It’s a Kids Ukelele Workshop, Tea and Sympathy
12th: The Selfish Giant, Colchester Arts Centre
19th: Star Gazing Event, Abberton Reservoir
23th: Box of Delights, Headgate Theatre
26th & 27th: National Storytelling Weekend, Colchester Zoo
27th: Rumplestiltskin and the Wheel of Fortune, Lakeside Theatre
Epping Forest
3rd: Epping Forest Gymnastics Club
19th: Wanstead Nature Club, Harrow Road Pavilion
1st-6th: Jack and the Beanstalk, Harlow Playhouse
2nd – 4th: School Holiday Activities, Harlow Leisurezone
12th: Junior Science Café, Science Alive
2nd-4th: TST Sports Camps, Upminster
2nd-12th: Jack and the Beanstalk, Queens Theatre
5th: Story Play, Queens Theatre
11th: Mini Relax and Indulge, Upminster Library
12th onwards: In Sickness and in Health, Havering Museum

18th-26th: Robin Hood, Maldon Town Hall
24th-26th: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Tollesbury
2nd-19th: Cinderella, Kenneth More Theatre
2nd-13th: Dick Whittington, Woodford Green
7th: Scrumptious Pumpkin Children's Cookery School
20th: Meet the Trees of Hainault Forest
19th: Free Family Sports Day, Clements Hall Leisure Centre

1st-5th: Pinokeyo, Clifftown Studios
1st-6th: Cinderella, Cliffs Pavilion
1st-13th: Space, Central Museum
2nd & 3rd: 3 Lions Soccer School
2nd-4th: The Soccer Hub, PlayFootball
3rd: Mad Science Christmas Holiday Camp, Blenheim
10th-12th: Dick Whittington and his Cat, Belfairs School
16th & 17th: Little Red Riding Hood, Palace Theatre
18th: Parents Direction Workshop, Summercourt CC
21st: Siberian Ballet – Swan Lake, Palace Theatre
22nd: Siberian Ballet – The Nutcracker, Palace Theatre
26th: TeenStar Singing Auditions
All month: Seeing Stars, Fingringhoe Wick
1st-6th: Christmas Wonderland, Clacton Pier
9th: Inky Fingers, Jaywick Martello Tower
15th: Hatchinglings Club, Fingringhoe Wick
20th: Hobbit Hike, Fingringhoe Wick

2nd-6th: Cinderella, Thameside Theatre
9th: Little Hoglets, Thurrock Thameside Nature Park
15th: Make Your Own Bird Feeder, Grays
22nd: Teddy Toes Dance Taster Sessions
28th: Play Your Way to Discovery, Kiddicare Lakeside
1st-6th: Cinderella – The Rhodes Pantomime
1st-27th: Castle and Community, Saffron Walden Museum
4th: Mad Science Christmas Holiday Camp, Bishops Stortford
9th: Disco Ducks Pre-School Dance Sessions, Stansted Mountfitchet
11th-13th: Saffron Players Present Cinderella, Town Hall
24th: Snowdrop Sunday, Easton Lodge


Play Your Way
Play Your Way to Discovery 
(Baby and Toddler Heuristic Play Sessions)

Heuristic play actively encourages exploration by using and developing childrens' senses. Children instinctively investigate objects that interest them, making discoveries through taste, touch, smell, sound and how they look. During the activity children explore different materials and objects without adult interference. We run 3 sessions on Mondays @ Kiddicare Lakeside, specially designed to suit different age groups. Different theme every week.
9.45am - 10.45am. 0-9 month old
11.15am - 12.15pm. 10-18 months
12.45pm-1.45pm. 18 months - 3 years
Free Taster Sessions are 28th January, 4th February & 11th February - booking Essential


Everything else
Product reviews etc. will return with the normal newsletter next month.

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. 

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

Kind regards


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