Couch To 5K: Week 1

I’ve started running again.

(I use that term loosely, by the way. It’s more “moving-slightly-faster-than-my-usual-stroll.”)

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I did start running back in 2017, got two weeks in and suddenly it started getting dark in the evenings and I got too scared and stopped. All through 2018 I put it off and put it off because I was just petrified again.

Until I woke up on 3rd January this year and decided it was third time lucky.  So I put on tracksuit bottoms, my scabby old New Balance trainers and told Elliot that I was going to go for a run whilst he was at school.

Because if you tell a five year old something, you’ve got to see it through. They have memories like elephants when you tell them something you’d rather they forgot.

When I’d started running previously, I listened to the Couch To 5K podcast which, in hindsight, I wouldn’t recommend.

You have a slightly robotic voice (sorry, lady that does the voice over for the C25K podcast) and cheesy music that sounds a bit like Ronan Keating and a bit like Gary Barlow playing in between.

And it was bearable. But not for long, so as I said, I gave up.

This time, however, I found the Couch To 5K app, where you get to pick someone to narrate your runs (I went for the lovely Jo Whiley) and you can listen to your own music, with a few interruptions from Jo to tell you when to run and when to stop.

Yes, I just called her Jo. We’re on first name terms now.

Anyway – long introduction over, I thought I’d tell you about what it’s actually follow this plan through, from the eyes (and legs) of someone who once proudly announced to her Year 10 class that she’d failed PE that term, and who begged her mum to write a note remarking that Hayley was on her period for the third week running and therefore would not be able to join in with PE again.

Jokes on me, lads, because I obviously came on my period on the day I planned my first run of 2019 for.

Week 1 of Couch To 5K consists of running for 60 seconds and walking for a minute and a half alternately for 20 minutes.

Sounds easy, right? HAHAHAHA.

I stuck to my promise to Elliot – I dropped him off and then set off to do some exercise. However, I forgot that all the parents that I normally avoid in the playground would now see my hefty frame jogging around.

And I panicked.

And I wanted to just go home, curl up on the sofa and watch a Shane Dawson video.

BUT. Instead I headed out of the back gate of the playground, wandered around a few streets where I couldn’t see anyone before heading off in the vague direction of my house.

And then the time came for my first run..jog..okay, power walk. Somehow, I found myself fighting past that voice in my head that says “You look like a bloody idiot. Who do you think you are? Someone who can actually do exercise? Everyone that looks at you is going to absolutely wet themselves laughing thinking YOU can do this?”

I put one foot in front of the other and actually jogged for the sixty seconds.

I cannot stress enough – it sounds like nothing. But it’s tough. And it’s okay to admit that it’s tough when the last exercise you did was lunging for a buttered piece of toast that your child nearly dropped on your freshly hoovered carpet.

Somehow the rest of  the run passed by in a haze of me nosing at whether everyone else’s recycling got taken that morning and a medley of Fall Out Boy’s greatest hits and before I knew it – it was time for my 5 minute cool down walk.

So obviously, I aimed that walk back up the hill, into the Co-Op, bought some milk and went straight home for a celebratory cup of tea.

You have to repeat each run three times, which sounds absolutely dire. BUT I’ll tell you a secret.

It gets easier. You might even find yourself wanting to go out for a jog.

That little voice that says people will be peeking through their curtains to laugh at you does go away eventually.

And before you know it, it’s time for week 2.

I’ll let you know how that one goes.

My Actual New Year’s Resolution

There is a definite line between people who see the new year as a chance to wash all their curtains, hoover under the sofa and re-organise the sock drawer and also those who see it as any other Wednesday.

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And I can see both sides.

Towards the end of 2018, I put off doing so many things as I kept saying to myself “I’ll do it in the new year” and now I can’t get away with that anymore.

I’ve seen people making lists of 20 things they want to change this year: lose a stone, stop smoking, become a millionaire and that’s fabulous. But I need to aim a bit smaller.

And I actually did write out a list. I didn’t really mean it when I wrote it, “lose weight, save money, exercise more…” All stuff I knew, come December, I’d be putting off until the new year again. I realised that I’d need to see things differently to actually get shit done.

This morning I was listening to Fearne Cotton’s podcast with Zoe Sugg and that definitely gave me a kick up the bum with regards to realising what I want to achieve from 2019.

I realised that this year I would like to be braver.

No, I don’t mean I’m going to book tickets to Thorpe Park and start watching Luther without the cushion in front of my face. I’m still going to have that strange, irrational fear of demons.

I mean I’m going to feel the fear and then do stuff anyway.

And I feel the fear on the regular. Anxiety is a big part of me, and always will be. I can’t make it go away, but I can stop abiding by it’s ridiculous rules.

Fear normally stops me from going for a run every other morning. (No, shut up, it’s not the fact I’ve done no exercise since I was forced to play bench ball in Year 10) and it’s fear that stops me from sharing the shit out of my blog posts and achieving the goals I set myself every month.

I deserve to reach my full potential, and I’m not going to let my own fear take over this year.

Like I said, I’m not turning into Yes Man and you definitely won’t see me jumping out of a plane wearing a parachute and a Go Pro on my head. But you might see me actually running around my local park, actually booking a dentist appointment and creating regular content on here.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

 

 

5 Years of Elliot Doyle

It’s Elliot’s birthday!

He’s 5 today. 5 whole years of Elliot. Smelliot. Jellybean. Beanington bear. Beanotown. Beanbag. The list goes on.

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Half a decade since he appeared into the world with a snip, crackle and pop. (I might tell my birth story one day but trust me, you’ll need gloves.)

He’s gone from being a tiny little person with a massive head to being a massive person with an even bigger head and a bit more hair.

And he’s also been the biggest driving force in my life so far.

Because of him, I know I can deal with anything that gets thrown at me. Even toy cars and human shite.  I am so capable of anything I want to do, as I raised Elliot. I fed him from my own nipples for like, 9 months. (And I will continually parade that around as it was fucking hard and I’m proud of myself.)

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I can’t believe I’ve kept someone alive for five years.

Sometimes I get really scared that a small child has relied on me to deal with everything wrong in his life. If he falls over – it’s me he looks for. If he’s hungry or thirsty, it’s my job to sort it out for him. He’s my job.

When we’re walking to school and he reaches up to my hand because he wants to know I’m there.

Little things like that make me realise that I’m literally this tiny person’s life.

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He has so much joy in his heart and he’s constantly making me laugh. He’s the cleverest person I know, he understands so much about the world for the short time he’s been in it.

He also reminds me of myself, as he’s definitely an observer and will sit back before joining in with things. He also falls over a lot which he gets from me (sorry) and he’s also quiet and a bit shy. Which is good, in a way, as I’m glad he’s a lovely thoughtful little boy.

It’s really hard to write out everything I love about him. Because it’s just Elliot. Like, I go mega creepy and could 100% sit there and watch him sleep. (Sometimes I do.) And even when he says he’d like a snack and goes into the kitchen to grab a banana, I find that adorable.

He is the best person, and I’m genuinely privileged to be able to say I know him and that I’ve been a part in making him into this amazing person.

(Don’t know how I managed it as I’m still a bit of a wreck at 25!)

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Here’s to the next 5 or 6 years of you being a glorious, gorgeous little boy, before you then transform into an evil teenager and we fall out every day and I can’t tell you the Christmas Elf is watching you to make you talk to me again.

Happy Birthday, son.

Sorry I couldn’t find you a BB8 cake in ASDA or Sainsburys (I went to both!) but the cake I did get is double chocolate so I thought that’d be good enough. However you have got an orange Nintendo DS and I think we’ve won the parenting game there.

 

19 New Years Resolutions for 2019

Are you like me and sick of making the same resolutions for the new year? Lose weight, go to the gym, save money.  Same old bollocks, different year.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Here are 19 ideas of what I’m going to try and do this year (and fail miserably, no doubt – but that’s okay!)

  1. I will remember to take my reusable cup everywhere I go. I will not get paper cups. I will not take Instagram boomerangs of me doing a cheers with Elliot’s water bottle with the caption “Shopping with my bestie!”
  2. I will remember my fricking reusable shopping bags whenever I go out. I am so bloody sick of imagining my cupboard under the stairs, that is absolutely chock-full of reusable bags cackling at me as I pay another 20p to carry my Aldi shop home.
  3. I promise to stop going to Sainsburys for bread and milk and coming out with a new duvet set, three vases and a DVD for Elliot before getting home and realising I never got the actual food.
  4. I will stop going to the bloody Co-op three times a day as I keep forgetting to buy things when I do the actual weekly shop. I must stop the daily trips to the shop in my pyjama bottoms and no bra. It’s getting embarassing when Elliot proudly tells people he went to the shop at 7:10am in his pyjamas and Crocs for milk.
  5. I promise to actually utilise my Netflix account to watch the many award-winning films and TV shows that are available to me, instead of watching Gavin and Stacey on repeat.
  6. I will also possibly maybe buy my own Netflix account instead of using my Mum’s, when I haven’t lived at home for nearly two years. I am an independent young woman.
  7. I will remember to send birthday cards to everyone this year. I will not give people their birthday presents on Christmas Day. (This is especially embarrassing if your Dad’s birthday is in May and you found his presents at the back of the wardrobe mid-December. Soz, Dad.)
  8. I will stop caring about who Jake Paul is dating.
  9. I will get a skincare routine and stick to it. I will not fall asleep in my makeup and then resort to wiping my face with a baby wipe once I’ve woken up. I will stop smearing mascara all over my wedding present pillowcases.
  10. I will stop playing Candy bloody Crush until 2am. I will definitely stop changing the date and time manually on my phone so that it gives me 5 more lives each time. I will stop Googling “candy crush cheats level 667” at 2:30am when I’m stuck.
  11. I will actually sign petitions when I see them on Facebook and stop giving up when I get to the “confirm your email address” page. I’m so lazy, I just don’t bother to go any further and then it never lets me sign anything. I know, Brexit is probably my fault. Sorry.
  12. I will stop listening to podcasts about flat earth and Ted Bundy and utilise the Internet to broaden my mind.
  13. I will hoover my house every day. Seriously. I really need to hoover.
  14. I will paint my toenails regularly this year, not just once at the beginning of summer and then watch it slowly grow out until Christmas.
  15.  I will stop buying black ankle boots.
  16. I will stop scrolling through Zoopla when I’m bored. It doesn’t matter how pretty a five-bedroom house next to Greenwich Park looks. It’s 3.4 million pounds, Hayley. Shut up and hoover your own house.
  17. I will stop buying tights and just unravel the ones I’ve got. If I leave the pile in the airing cupboard any longer, I think it might turn into a black hole and eventually the whole universe will get sucked in there.
  18. I will do something cheesy like stand in front of the mirror for 10 minutes a day and tell myself how gorgeous I am. Joking, I haven’t got 10 minutes to spare and I’m constantly forgetting to shut the curtains so end up flashing my neighbours when I do get dressed.
  19. I will step out of 2007 and stop listening to Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge on repeat. Seriously, it’s gone too far.

The Most Stressful Time Of The Year

For the first 20 or so years of my life, I rolled through Christmas as chilled as a cucumber.

I’d run through Boots and gather up loads of shit from their 3 for 2 deal, hand out Lynx box sets to every man I know and convince my mum to go and get some bottles of Guiness for my grandad. Badabing, badaboom.

Then I’d sit back and wrap them half-heartedly whilst watching Downton Abbey.

Skip to having Elliot, and as soon as 1st December comes around, I turn into Mrs Christmas.

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A constant state of Mrs Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve when she realises the elves haven’t made any toys for the children of Bolton and that Father Christmas has been watching the reindeer racing instead of helping.

I can’t believe I lived for so long thinking Christmas was a time of calm and joy. Now I have Elliot, and more importantly now we have a house, I can see why my Dad was running around until 3am every Christmas Eve night. It’s stressful!

Last Christmas, we stayed in just us three and it was fine. We only had a minor disagreement about roast potatoes and it all turned out okay. Elliot even ate a sprout.

This year, however, we’re hosting. I keep saying that like I’ve got the 5000 coming round my house for loaves and fish…it’s the in-laws, they’re coming round for Christmas dinner. It’s serious though, it takes everything to a whole new level of Adulting.

I want them to walk in and think “Wow! Hayley has her shit together, she is such a good hostess! There will be no tears about roast potatoes today! She is definitely not in the kitchen sniffing the gin to try and survive until 3pm.”

…Let’s ignore that they come round every week anyway and have seen me through many stages of not-having-my-shit-together, from freaking out over a wasp and accidently setting off the smoke alarm trying to kill it with hairspray to suffering with mastitis and shoving my red lumpy boob in everyone’s faces whilst sobbing.

So really, my new tablecloth I’ve bought won’t mean shit, but it’s the thought that counts – right?

I’ve got the essentials in – vodka, baileys, turkey and approx 24 pigs in blankets. I even panic bought a table-runner in Aldi last week and have got place cards for us all, just to make the place look a bit more M&S.

I did eye up some napkin rings but it just felt a bit excessive.

I’ve also noticed, and my husband would probably disagree but I think it seems to fall on women more to bear the load of Christmas.

Yes, going up the loft ladder is well out of my remit and Reece’s roast potatoes are absolutely banging whereas mine resemble slightly baked mash. But with regards to filling the cupboard, sorting the presents, remembering the dates for the Christmas performance, sorting the childcare, organising the strange 90’s theme New Years Eve gathering that we’re apparently having – that all seems to fall at my feet.

And I don’t mind, I LOVE Christmas. I love wrapping, can’t think of anything better than settling down to wrap everyone’s present and watch the Christmas special of Gavin and Stacey with a tub of Celebrations.

However, running around the supermarkets trying to find a turkey crown for less than £36 (wtf, M&S), working out when to buy the sprouts so that they won’t all be rank by the 25th, whilst also coaxing our child to write “love, Elliot” in 30 cards for classmates that I’m 85% sure can’t read are definitely the lower points of the season.

I’m sure if he read this, my husband would be shocked and say “of course I’ll help, I’m great at maths so can definitely help you calculate the perfect time to purchase spuds and will always keep an eye on the levels of bread and milk we have so that you don’t need to run to the Co-Op at 8:54pm on Christmas Eve! I’m the best husband in the world of course I will help you.”

BUT there’s something in me that just can’t let go.

I love the control that comes with being the best hostess around. That comes when you sit down at my table to eat perfectly timed sprouts and I’ll won’t have to say “sorry, we’ve got no lemonade” to anyone as I will have gone full end-of-the-world style shopping the weekend before.

I mean, I’ve bought 16 toilet rolls. The shops are closed for One Day. And I’m hoping to not give anyone food poisoning.

I think I’m overthinking it all. It’s one meal. A Sunday roast with crackers, really.  It’s nothing to worry about. I really need to not worry.

It’s all fine.

Fine.

…I can’t stop thinking about the napkin rings.

Santa’s House visit at Acacia Hall, Dartford

Right, before you read this and roll your eyes at me for posting about something that happened last weekend that won’t be bookable again until next year, let me explain. You need to plan ahead, right? So let me tell you all about our trip to Santa’s House so you can pop it on the calendar ready for next year!

Santa’s House is something organised by my local council, where they run a Christmas experience in a listed building that’s normally closed to the public and open it to local children for one day. I wanted to up the festive ante, as we haven’t been able to put our Christmas tree up yet and also wanted to have a look around the house, as we’ve walked our dog round there for years and have always peeked in the windows but never actually got a proper look inside.

We booked our slot on the website (quick, mind as they sold out really fast) and received some snazzy invites through the post a few weeks before. On the day, we pootled down to Acacia House and went through a very Christmassy lobby (where my mum immediately started sticking her head through random doors as she’d waited a long time to nose around this place) and into a side room where a crowd of children were decorating Santa Stop Here signs.

Disclaimer: in the photos, Elliot looks like he’s having a whale of a time. And he did, eventually. It took me quite a while to prise him out of my shoulder as he was very overwhelmed when we first got there as there was a lot going on but he eventually warmed up to the idea and started to colour in with me.

(I literally was not able to take a single photograph as every time I touched my handbag Elliot was convinced I was going to leave and started howling at me so there’s a mixture of photos by my Nan and Mum here.)

Then, we moved into a room where Santa’s Magician was performing some tricks, which had the kids howling with laughter and even grumpy Elliot cracked a smile. It was classic slapstick magic tricks, and he even had the parents giggling at some points. After that, we went upstairs (again, my mum was in and out of any door she could open, she was getting her money’s worth out of this house!)

After going up the main staircase, which felt very important, albeit a bit like a slightly lower budget version of Downton Abbey that’s a bit more 70’s. We went into a room that was officially one of my worst nightmares. It was absolutely full of balloons, and had elves handing out party rings and chocolate fingers whilst we waited to go see the big man himself. To be fair to the elves, they tried to keep the children entertained by reading them a story but…you give 15 6 year olds chocolate mini rolls and expect them to stay still?! Good luck. It turned into a competition of who can hold the most balloons, and they kept popping on the Christmas tree spines. It was stressful but they all loved it!

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After hanging around in this room, watching children down blackcurrant squash and pop balloons, we went into a darker room that was really cute, actually. It was Santa’s Post Room and was basically a glorified waiting room, but you could take some cute pictures (if your child would let you do anything other than hold his hand, which mine didn’t) and the children could talk to the elves and get excited for their chat with the big man himself.

We then went in to see Father Christmas, and he was lovely. He chatted with the children well and Elliot even spoke with him a little, which was great considering the night before Elliot had confirmed he didn’t want to ever see Father Christmas again because he might eat him (??) and he didn’t want any presents yet as it’s not Christmas. 😐 Luckily, Santa was REALLY good with him and Elliot accepted some presents. Unfortunately wouldn’t get close enough for a photo, but it was still good to see him being so brave nonetheless.

Then we left the room, thanked the elves and made our way home again. Overall, we were in there for about 45 minutes, maybe, and for the ticket price of £7, that’s not too bad. I really appreciate that my local council does things like this for local children and would definitely recommend if you’re local and want to go see Santa in somewhere that isn’t a garden centre.

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Gift List For Kids

This is the big one. The ultimate question that parents get asked 257204 times through November and December: “what do they want for Christmas?” and the answer: I don’t have a fucking clue.

Children, as I’ve learnt this year as my son’s relationship with Tiny Pop reaches a new high, want everything they see in an advert. That goes from Poopsy the Unicorn who shits out slime to a iPhone X that they saw on a Vodafone advert to bloody car insurance with Aviva. They’re not picky, if it comes with a song and some bright colours, you’ll get an “I WANT THAT!”

So I’ve now learnt to pretty much ignore what children say they want and go with what they’ll actually use for more than the three seconds I’m sure they’d spend with Poopsy. Again, we’re following the same system of WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ and will go over a range of budgets, so if you’re treating your own child to buying something for a colleague’s grandson, there should be something here for you.

Something they want:

Wooden Rainbow – Grimms

Now I know you’re going to look at this and think “Hayley. It’s a couple of bits of colourful wood for £60, you’ve lost your mind.” BUT hear me out, okay! I’ve always heard people raving about Grimms toys, especially the rainbows, and I thought they were a bit overrated until we went to a friends house last year and Elliot was absolutely obsessed. You can build them, make tracks with them for cars, balance them on things – the list is really endless. PLUS when the kids are in bed, you can put it on a shelf and it’ll look nice as well! Win, win, win!

VTech Kidizoom camera – Argos

This is actually on my shopping list for a certain 4 year old for Christmas. He LOVES taking photos (mainly of himself pouting. No comment as to where he learnt that from…) and asked me for his own phone the other day. I declined on setting him up on O2 Priority but thought we could entertain the funny selfies with a camera. This is good as it’s chunky, I’ve heard it’s quite indestructible (touch wood) and it doesn’t connect to the Internet.

Scooter – Zycom

Zycom Zinger 3 Wheel Cruiser Scooter

Personal recommendation here. Elliot has had this scooter for nearly a year, since Santa delivered it to our kitchen last Christmas and he LOVES it. It’s been ridden nearly every day since then, and has been absolutely battered but is still pretty much good as new. It also looks almost identical to the Micro scooters but is a lot cheaper. (I wanted to get a Micro scooter because I’m a dickhead and thought that they were best because everyone else has them. Nah, this one’s fine too.) Absolute winner, plus it’s an excuse to get outside on Christmas Day. Because everyone would rather be watching their child scoot around a car park than watching the Queen’s Speech or some shit.

Something they need:

Blizzard Jacket in Navy – Tootsa MaGinty

I know your initial thought is going to be “Hayley. This coat is really expensive for a child, why aren’t you just popping down to Sainsburys as usual?” And I’ll tell you for why. I’ve heard blazing reviews of this brand, and I think they’re worth it. PLUS it’s got all the skiing extras that we might need next year if Reece gets his way and we all jet off to Finland. PLUS their sale is immense and you never know, this might go in there for the January sales so you’ve got something to buy with all the money distant relatives send over in Christmas cards from across the miles.

Onesie – The Bright Company

LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS! Look at the colours, the pattern. I’ve heard great things about this brand and I’d be absolutely chuffed if I had a new bubba or was expecting one around Christmas-time, to have this under the tree. And babies ALWAYS need more pyjamas. Always size up, though, especially if your baby is bigger as these do come up a bit small.

Leopard Bonnet – Mar Mar Copenhagen

I’m now taking this as a straight-up excuse to browse baby clothes and it’s so much fun. All babies need hats, their heads are important and soft and they never have much hair so they feel the cold. To make that hat LEOPARD PRINT? Honestly this truly belongs in the NEED category.

Something to wear:

Blue Tiger Print Sweatshirt and Leggings – Scamp and Dude

I think these are really bloody cool. I don’t know if my judgement is clouded by the fact my son would happily turn into a tiger if he had the choice. He’s obsessed and this would allow him to dress up as Tigery to his hearts content whilst also being slightly more stylish than something orange and fleecey, and also being incredibly comfy. Win win, really.

The Future sweatshirt – Mere Soeur

Carrie’s shop appears loads over my gift guides as I genuinely really love her products. The best thing about this sweatshirt is that it comes in bigger sizes, which is refreshing as 99.9 times out of 100 all the cool clothes stop at age 3-4 and then you’re stuck with t-shirts covered with dinosaurs and flossing. Or dinosaurs flossing.

Pro Choice, Pro Feminism, Pro Pizza t-shirt – Punky Moms

Our Pro Pizza Feminist shirts are the newest addition to the Punky shop. From 6 months to 14 years. Feminism is for everybody. Everyday.

If your child is anything like mine, they’ll be CHUFFED to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with their love for pizza. If you’re anything like me, and you’ve brainwashed your child into believing that women are people too (lol), then you’ll be chuffed to see your child wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their love for feminism. Just an all round good top, to be honest. You’d be the coolest cat on non-uniform day, that’s for sure.

Something to read:

Stories for Kids Who Dare To Be Different – Ben Brooks

There’s another version of the book for boys who dare to be different, which I’ve currently got hidden up in my loft ready to give to Elliot on Christmas Day, but this one is slightly more inclusive and is for kids everywhere who are that little bit out of the ordinary. Still brilliant though.

 

Scribble Yourself Feminist – Chidera Eggerue

This one is aimed at slightly older than the other gifts I’ve put in here, but I thought I’d throw it in in-case you’re struggling for what to buy a 12 year old this Christmas. This is a interactive book that young feminists can fill in and start their journey to destroy the patriarchy. Start ’em young, I say! It’s also written by Chidera Eggerue, who is also known as The Slumflower on ye old social medias, and she’s very honest and speaks a lot of truth so she’s also worth a follow.

The Truth Pixie – Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie is a little story about a pixie who can only ever tell the truth. It’s by Matt Haig, who has written books about mental health for adults and has now extended into writing about it for kids. It’s definitely worth picking up, especially if you’ve got a rather sensitive child like I do who struggles with his emotions a little bit.