The Great Outdoors

It doesn’t matter how old you get, there is almost nothing better than getting your hands on a new toy. 

During our recent holiday to the south of France, Marley and I were super excited to crack open a brand new Nature Explorer kit we’d been sent by Anthisan*.

We got a magnifying glass, a small beaker with a magnifying lens for looking at any beasties we might find, a mini butterfly net and a lamp/torch for exploring in the dark. 

The region of France we were staying in (The Aude) is a place we’ve been to a few times before – we actually got married there in 2015. So we already had an idea of some of the creepy-crawlies we might see on our adventures; butterflies, crickets, beetles, some small lizards and possibly – even though I’m not allowed to look for them – the occasional snake. 

On this particular visit, we were a bit worried the only thing we might see would be the thousands of Boxtree moths that had invaded the area. They were everywhere!

But we set off on our adventure anyway. 

Marley – holding his little magnifying glass and net and looking incredibly cute  – picked up a couple of wild flowers (“that’s for mummy”) and chased a butterfly around….keeping his distance whenever catching it became a realistic possibility.  


We found an olive tree, some fresh figs, before he really started embracing his inner Attenborough.

He found us a jumping cricket, which we chased and captured. 

It’s hilarious to watch him as he gets really close and looks inside. But then leaps back as soon as it starts to move.

I was tempted to have a look under some of the larger stones on our route, just to see what might be lurking underneath. But I thought I might get in trouble if Marley returned from our nature hunt with a snake bite, so I resisted. 

We continued along the path. Marley was at a bit of an advantage, being so close to the ground. It’s OK, I’m not competitive about it.

And suddenly…

“Daddy, look!” 

I looked. There was nothing there.


I looked again. Still nothing.

“DADDY, THERE!!!” He pointed at the ground, where I still  couldn’t see anything.

Until….wait, what’s that??

A praying mantis! 

It was probably the most camouflaged creature imaginable, balancing on a tiny piece of grass the exact same colour as its body. I have no idea how he spotted it. But he ran back to the house to gleefully show it off to the rest of the family. 

After a closer inspection, he was happy to release the mantis back in to the wild for it to go back to……whatever they do. Praying, I suppose.

There is definite Attenorough potential there with Marley, a  very successful hunt. And not a bite in sight!




*Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream can provide symptomatic relief of skin irritation caused by insect stings, insect bites and nettle stings and has been used for over 50 years.

Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream is easy to use and contains the active ingredient Mepyramine Maleate (2%), a topical antihistamine which stops the histamine affecting your body’s cells by blocking receptor sites in your nerve endings, helping to reduce pain, swelling and skin irritation. Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream (20g) retails at £3.66 and is available from leading pharmacies and supermarkets. Suitable for the whole family including children from two years. Always read the label.

Am I “spoiling” my child?

I took Marley to get his haircut last week. And since it’s an experience he’s still getting used to (he usually hates it) I thought it would be nice to treat him with a little toy afterwards, since he was such a good boy this time.

The truth is that when you step in to Trotters (the kids’ hairdresser/shoe shop/toy shop in Clapham) it’s almost impossible to leave without buying something anyway, such is the array of colourful shiny goodness on offer. Marley’s eyes light up the second we’re in the door.

I know I would have been an absolute nightmare in that shop as a kid!

Afterwards, as we walked home and Marley played with his brand new little toy helicopter, it occurred to me that I may have planted a dangerous seed that means he will now expect something new every time he gets his haircut. 

Or worse, maybe even every time he is a “good boy*”.

*He called his mummy a good boy the other day, which made me
laugh way more than it should….

To help me with this conundrum, I thought I would reach out to the blogger-sphere to see what other mum and dad bloggers thought, and see if they had any suggestions about how we avoid “spoiling” our children. 

This is the first ever guest post to appear on my blog, so thanks very much to my guest bloggers.

Here’s what they had to say:

Segilola Salami, mom blogger@iyayetunde1 |

I personally do not believe in giving rewards for the sake of it. I do believe in giving my daughter treats every now and then. Treats tend to be special and gives her something to look forward to. When she gets a surprise it makes her soooooo happy that she’s literally dancing around. 

On a day she’s not being compliant, I ask her: am I a good mummy? do I look after you very well? I then say “well if you know that I am a good mummy who looks after you very well and doesn’t do anything to intentionally hurt you, then you should know that me asking you to do [insert whatever action] is for your own good” she thinks about it and does what I ask.

That’s why I feel that communication is key. Instead of thinking of ‘spoiling’ (whatever that means) we should work towards improving our communication skills and empowering our children. 

Neil – One Dad’s View (dad blogger) | @One_Dads_View |

The term spoiling can be very wide reaching and mean a lot of different things to different people. It’s all relative to the individual family. That being said I can relate the subject to my own parenting style.

I think a lot of it comes from your own experiences as a child. My family wasn’t wealthy so I couldn’t expect the latest “new thing” whenever I wanted it growing up. That didn’t stop me asking though. My Mother was a great believer in teaching me the value of money and whilst I know I didn’t appreciate it at the time it’s stood me in good stead going into adulthood.

As a Father I try to reward good behaviour but at the same time I try to teach my Daughter that just because it happened the once, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. Treats are treats for a reason. I’m also firmly in the camp of “no means no”. I have used threats (no ice cream etc) when disciplining her for naughty behaviour and I make sure I follow through with them. This has led to a few trying moments but I hold my ground and I get past them. It works for me and my Daughter and I think our relationship is stronger as a result. 

The Twiglets Dad (dad blogger) | @DadOfCrazyTwins |

To me the “spoiling” of children is a difficult subject. 

Not because I think there is a right or wrong way to do it but because I genuinely think it is none of my business. If someone I know spends £2000 on their child for Christmas, takes them on 3 holidays a year and spends every weekend doing expensive activities then that is their choice and nobody should judge them for it. 

I’m not one of those parents but I would say that I do spoil my twins…just in a different way. I don’t spoil them with materialistic things but spoil them with things that they love and that feel special. For example, we may be having struggles at bedtime so if they go to sleep with no bother every school night for a week I’ll reward them with a “midnight feast”. For this I let them have pizza and some treats in the living room whilst watching a movie and let them stay up a bit later. I was always going to feed them but this way makes it feel special and, in a way, tricks them into good behaviour. 

So that would be my advice. 

Don’t stop rewarding them or spoiling them but instead just be clever with it. A reward doesn’t need to be a £20 toy or an expensive trip out. It can just be something you ordinarily do but just tweaked to give it a little something special that is unique to you and your kids which they will always remember doing


I think we can all agree, it’s OK to “spoil” our children (and ourselves) every once in a while**. 

**The fact that i’m writing this on a family holiday in the south of France, with a swimming pool only about ten feet away from me, is none of your business.