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Cheaper Cinema Trips

After reading a couple of blog posts recently about how expensive the cinema is, I was inspired to write a post about ways of keeping cinema costs down. If you go out with the whole family on a Saturday night to see the latest blockbuster you are likely to be spending £30 plus, and that is just for tickets, let alone snacks on top of that. However, if you are a little more selective on the days you go, the venue, the movies you choose, or simply make the effort to collect a few vouchers/print something off online, then you could get your cinema trips for free, or at a much lower cost.

So here are my top 10 tips:

1. Unlimited card – this is what me and the hubby do, because we are regular cinema go-ers. The unlimited card at Cineworld costs £15.90 outside of London but it is only really worthwhile if you go more than once per month. I love it for several reasons: not only do we go to the cinema without having to think about it, we get to see movies we might not otherwise try. If you don’t like the movie, you can just go out and get another ticket for a different one, so the risk is less. If you have the unlimited card for over a year you get upgraded to premium, which gets you the added benefit of being able to see 3D movies for free (you don’t have to pay extra) and 25% off all food and drink. You also get special advance screenings of movies on occasion. I absolutely LOVE the unlimited card, and have had it for about 5 years!

2. Movies for Juniors – at Cineworld they have movies for Juniors on saturday and sunday mornings. They screen fairly recent kids movies and it only costs £1 per person! This week my cinema showed “Monsters University” and “The Croods” (very funny). Vue call it KidsAM and it costs £1.75 per tickets.

3. 2 for 1 on Wednesdays – It used to be called “Orange Wednesdays” (which was a much better name, but who am I to judge) however it is exactly the same. If you are an EE mobile customer, text the word “film” to the phone number: 241. They will text back with a code that when you buy your ticket gets you another ticket for free. This also works with the unlimited card, so I often take a friend out on a Wednesday and neither of us have to pay anything. As a bonus you can also get a 2 for 1 on pizza’s and dough balls at pizza express using the same code that they send you for the cinema.

4. Cheap night – most cinema’s have special cheaper nights. At Cineworld and Odeon it is called Bargain Tuesdays, Vue call it Super Tuesday where you get about 1/3 off the price. Currently around £6 per ticket, although less if you book online (you save 10% when you book online).

5. Outdoor cinemas – in Milton Keynes every year the Parks Trust have an Open Air Cinema weekend event. It it completely free, is in our lovely campbell park and is my favourite annual event. I have seen them in London too, so I am sure other towns must do it too, have a look in your local papers or local parks trust websites.

6. Sky Movies customers – one of the Sky Rewards scheme is that if you are a sky movies customer you can get free cinema tickets to advance previews of films at the cinema. For example they were offering up to 4 free tickets to see “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″.

7. Collect sweet wrappers e.g M&Ms for Sweety Sunday

8. If you are a student you can use your NUS card to get a big reduction in the price, and don’t forget to apply for an NUS extra card even if you are a part-time student, for example if you study with the Open University.

9. Moneysavingexpert is a fantastic website, that I have been using for years to save money. They have a thread, in their forums with a list of websites you can sign up to that have regular free screenings of the latest films, for example “The Book Thief” was free to see yesterday at cineworld.

10. Booking in advance, If you book your tickets online with Cineworld you save 10% off the ticket price. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to save a little money off your tickets.

Finally, what are we doing this weekend? Going to see the Lego Movie of course!

the official lego movie

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Review: Kingston MK Gymnastics Centre

I have been taking Nate to the MK Gymnastics Centre, at Kingston since before he could even crawl. Back then it was just to get out of the house and converse with other mums. For a long time I haven’t even been able to go because, annoyingly, the “Play Gym” is not open at weekends, which means (as a full-time working mum) we haven’t been able to take him. However, they were open over the Christmas break, so we decided to take advantage of being off work and take him there.

Play Gym

The gymnastics centre runs play gym sessions every day in the week, Monday to Friday, check out the timings and prices on their website. This session is where the majority of the centre has play equipment, suitable for babies to perhaps 5 years old. They have toys for young babies to play with and for older children: a bouncy castle, a mini climbing wall, a lovely playhouse, a ball pit, a giant metal airplane that moves (seen that in costco!), several different sizes of slides, see-saws and climbing equipment and then they have a lot of the gymnastics equipment to play on, including low trampolines, bars, balance beams, and several big pits full of foam for the kids to jump or somersault into (lots of fun). They have a changing room where you can leave your shoes and bags, and they provide biscuits and juice, with an area of tables and chairs to eat/drink them.

play gym aeroplane

There are two other play gyms in Milton Keynes that I know of: Arabian Gym in Bletchley and MK Springers in Kiln Farm. I have to say, having been to them all several times, I do prefer Kingston, it is much bigger with more choice, BUT, they are not open on the weekend for the play gym, therefore we are very restricted. The Arabian Gym is my next favourite, they run sessions on a Sunday morning which we have been to many times, they also do a song time at the end of the session with sticks, which Nate loves. Finally there is Kiln Farm, yes it is cheaper and closer to where we live, but they are pretty firm about their timings, you can’t just show up and it appears to be just a one hour session. There is a lot less non-gym equipment here too so Nate got bored quite quickly with Kiln Farm.

bletchley leisure centre

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Frozen – Cinema Trip with 2 year old Toddler

On Christmas Eve we took Nate to see the new Disney movie – Frozen. Nate has just turned 2 so we thought we would try the cinema again. Last time he sat through 1 hour of the movie which I thought was good for his age.

This time though he actually watched the entire movie! It took a lot of food and shuffling between the seats but he made it and seemed to enjoy it. He really like the reindeer and “Olaf” the snowman.

funny Olaf

Olaf really did steal the show, especially with his hilarious “In summer” song!

I like the movie, mostly because the snowman was so funny, but I personally found the singing a little hard going. It’s been a while since I have seen a traditional Disney movie, the ones where they sing every 5 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King etc but I am one of those weird people who doesn’t actually like Musicals! (I’m envisioning you all throwing rotten tomatoes at me right now!) I once spoke to an avid theatre go-er once and she said ahhhh you don’t like inappropriate singing, and I realised that is indeed what I don’t like. I love it when people sing in appropriate places like on a stage, at a karaoke, maybe even in the shower, but when they wake up, stretch their arms up and break out into song (like in Hairspray), or walk down the street singing at the top of their voices and spinning around lamp-posts I just cringe.

So yes, like many old Disney movies before this one, there is a lot of “inappropriate singing”. The Snowman helped me through though and I did enjoy it, as did Nate.

Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t like musicals?

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Toddler waking up Grumpy

Nate had a bad cold last week, which may be the reason but he has, of late, been waking up quite grumpy (not every morning), while he had his cold he flat-out refused to even get out of bed, at least he isn’t doing that anymore! So I did the usual thing that I do, which is to Google and try to find out how to help him, and I found some useful tips that I’ve been putting into practice with success, so far.

1. Let your toddler choose his outfit (this worked for a little while, but we really need to buy more interesting tops, perhaps his favourite characters).

Now that Nate has turned two, it’s like he knows he is two and he decided to flick the “terrible two’s switch”, so he can be laughing his head of one minute, then crying his eyes out the next. It used to be he was only like that when he was sick, but now he isn’t sick he just suffers from being two! I was reading a book about toddlerhood and they suggested that giving toddlers choices (not too many) helps them feel that they have some control over their lives, and are less likely to act out when they don’t get their way. I have found this does help.

2. Give him an important task to do that will encourage him out of bed, or out of his grumpy/crying state – for us this is turning on the Christmas tree lights, he loves doing it, so I say, let’s get up and turn on the Christmas lights, he usually jumps out of bed.

3. Let him have a treat for getting up/not being grumpy – this could be more controversial but is the one that is working best for us. I let him watch 5 minutes of Thomas the Tank Engine on my phone (netflix) whilst we get dressed, this makes him very happy. Most mornings when he is grumpy or doesn’t want to get up, I explain that he can watch a little bit of Thomas, but I also explain that he has to be a good boy and let mummy turn it off when we brush our teeth. Apparently letting toddlers know what is coming up, and letting them know the boundaries/limits is helpful to them, and this has been working very well for us.

4. Use a reward chart – so for every happy morning he gets a star on the chart and then a reward after so many stars collected. I’ve read about this one but have never tried it myself as I’m not sure if Nate would understand it. We might save this for potty training and try it then.

I guess the good side of this minor problem is that he loves his bed and he loves sleeping (hmmmm I wonder who he get’s that from, hint:me!). In the week it is harder because he has to get up early for nursery (down-side of being a full-time working mum), but on the weekend it is pure bliss, sometimes he doesn’t get up until 8 or even 9am! So I am certainly not complaining, I just miss my happy chappy sometimes.

This is how I found him this morning, I just wanted to snuggle in there beside him:

toddler in bed with teddy bears

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Teddies, teddies everywhere!

My little man is going through a new phase. He is totally obsessed with and overly attached to his teddy bears.

He always had his sheep that he slept with every night, since he was a baby. Then about a month ago he added a teddy bear to the mix. Then about a week later he found one of his birthday presents “Tigger” and wouldn’t give it up and then Odie the dog, for a grand total of 4! Then he tried to add a robot teddy to the mix, but I quickly hid that before he got overly attached, I started to foresee a very over-crowded bed.

toddler with tigger and ewan the sheep

The problem is he wants all 4 teddies with him at all times, which I won’t allow (because it is just not feasible lugging 4 teddies everywhere) so he just has all 4 on the changing table and in his bed. Have you ever tried to change a dirty nappy with Tigger sticking out over here and a sheep over there – not easy!

Then we made the mistake of letting him take tigger into nursery one day (they don’t normally allow that except on special days). Big mistake! For the next 3 days he cried his poor little heart out as we tried to explain that he is no longer allowed tigger in nursery.

A few days later he found a tiny little teddy at nursery that he claims is “mine” when we collect him. The good thing though is he now understands he has to leave them behind when we leave the house/nursery. We use a little trick where I get him to say “bye bye teddy”. He seems to understand that he has to leave it behind whenever we use that phrase.

Anyway, this stage has been pretty interesting so far. Does anyone else’s little ones have any soft toy attachments?