When you’re pregnant, you’ve often plenty of time to research every aspect of pregnancy – and there’s LOADS of information out there. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be reading all the pregnancy and baby books you can get your hands on! Particularly if you’re an older mum too (anything over 35).
There are distinct schools of thought on the best way to bring up baby, from the controlled crying techniques of Gina Ford to the co-sleeping recommendations of James J. McKenna.
Pram or baby sling? Breastfeed or bottle feed? Cot or Moses basket? There are reams of information on every aspect of motherhood even down to what to put in your hospital bag.
You really need clear, concise information from a reputable source you can trust and these pregnancy and baby books became my bibles. I heartily recommend all of them.
This was the book I turned to every night and at every twinge. Murkoff does not sugar-coat the information and points out what can go wrong as well as what is usually nothing to worry about. Don’t expect cuddly photos of newborns, but do expect practical, “does what it says on the tin” advice.
The latest edition (the fourth) has been completely revised and updated.
“Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week foetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples.
The Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy).
There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food-dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be”.
On the other hand, if you want to spend, like I did, hours staring at pictures of developing babies so you can gauge how big your little one is at every stage of your pregnancy, this is the book for you.
Far friendlier in tone than “What to Expect”, it has clear explanations of the labour process and a great medical reference section. It gives added peace of mind because it was written by a team of eminent specialists under the direction of a leading UK obstetrician.
“….this latest edition of Your Pregnancy Bible has been updated to take account of recent changes in antenatal and newborn care and to provide a more comprehensive discussion of caesarean deliveries.
Given a fresh design, it still contains special fold-out sections on each of the trimesters and the birth process; week-by-week images of the developing baby; in-depth chapters dealing with all aspects of antenatal care, labour preparation, delivery experiences and care of the newborn; comprehensive reference sections on medical treatments and procedures in both pregnancy and the postnatal period and an extensive glossary of ante- and neonatal terminology”.
When Caitlin was born I was completely clueless. I hadn’t even put a nappy on a baby before. And I certainly didn’t know anything about a day in the life of a baby. For example, I had no idea that a newborn will need substantial naps during the day and will not be able to play for much more than 45 minutes at a time.
It was with a huge sigh of relief that I stumbled upon Tracy Hogg’s wonderful Baby Whisperer books. Both this one and her problem solving guide (below) were invaluable in teaching me the importance of routines so that everyone in the family knows what is happening and where they are. Tracy sadly died in 2004 but her advice is still relevant today I think.
“In this remarkable parenting book, Tracy demystifies the magic she has performed with some five thousand babies. She teaches parents how to work out what kind of baby they have, what kind of mother and father they are, and what kind of parenting plan will work best for them.
Believing that babies need to become part of the family – rather than dominate it – she has developed a practical programme that works with infants as young as a day old. Her methods are also applauded by scientists: ‘Tracy’s is a voice that should be heard. She appears very knowledgeable about modern infant research and has incorporated this to a level parents can understand. In spite of all the baby how-tos on the market, this one will stand out.’
In case you’re wondering The Baby Whisperer method is often described as being in between crying it out methods and no tears methods. I liked it because Tracy does not advocate letting babies cry it out (unlike Gina Ford).
BUT she does not advocate “accidental parenting” which is where parents accidentally use props to get baby to sleep – like giving them a bottle, or rocking them, for example.
Several methods are given in the book to help parents teach their baby the all important sleep basics which includes a strictly structured routine (E.A.S.Y.) and the pick up put down (pu/pd) method for putting baby to bed.
E.A.S.Y. stands for Eating, Activity, Sleep and You and Tracy suggests timings for each activity according to the age of the baby. The Pick Up, Put Down Method looks at how you put your baby to sleep in her cot and focuses on getting her to sleep alone. Tracy suggests a “Four S” wind down ritual to set the scene (swaddling perhaps, sitting quietly, and shush-patting to help quieten your little one down). Even if you don’t adopt her ideas wholesale, there are enough ideas in the book to help you work out what works for you and your baby.
The follow-on book to “Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer”, this one answers a whole host of questions from parents of babies at differing stages of development.
It focuses on the “Big Three” – sleep, feeding and behaviour from infancy to the age of 3 and explains Tracy’s philosophy and methods in much greater detail. I think you really need both of these books to get the best out of the system.
Once Caitlin started her weaning around 4 months and had got past the baby rice and simple apple puree stage, I became completely stuck on what to feed her. Annabel Karmel’s books were fantastic at giving a range of ideas for simple purees and combinations to educate your child’s palette and to introduce a wide range of foods.
I think it’s no coincidence that Caitlin will now eat anything and is quite adventurous in her tastes (olives, for example). By the time Ieuan came along, he had less of a range of purees and mini-meals and is far fussier with food than his sister.
You will need a good blender and a range of freezer-proof pots in varying sizes.
Annabel Karmel is undoubtedly the UK’s No.1 author on feeding babies and children and this particular book is the one I turned to time and time again.
It contains: “the best first foods to try, tasty recipes and ideas for introducing more complex flavours and textures; meal planners and time-saving menu charts allowing you to highlight and record which recipes your children liked and disliked. The original version of this book has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, with Annabel becoming a leading resource for parents who want to give their growing family tasty, wholesome meals that even the fussiest eaters will love”.
So there you have it – my bibles, the pregnancy and baby books now handed on to other expectant and new mums so that they can feel as comforted by them as I did. I’d love to hear about the books that you turned to during your pregnancy or that you are finding helpful whilst you await the arrival of your little one.
It’s been the weirdest academic year ever, hasn’t it? Caitlin and Ieuan have both returned to school for a few hours each week but, the long summer holiday looms and the usual necessity to keep them occupied and stave off wall to wall gaming and moans of “I’m bored”!
Last year I asked my readers for simple suggestions for entertaining kids over the upcoming six weeks and here’s what they came up with. I’m sure parents and carers across the country are doing broadly similar things but sometimes a list helps (I do like a good list).
Anyway, see what you think and if you have any suggestions to add, let me know in the comments below. Bear in mind that these activities may all be affected by the various COVID-19 restrictions where you live. We can only hope that we will all be able to roam freely as the weeks pass by.
Ask your kids what they’d like to do over the holidays and then write all their ideas on pieces of paper and pop them in a jar. Let them pick out two different things every day so, for example, baking and a nature hunt.
Get the kids outdoors and, if you’ve got the energy to get the jetwash out afterwards (or wait for rain!), you’ll be amazed at home much fun they can have with a bucket of water and paintbrush or some coloured chalks. Create your own Roman mosaic on the patio or pavement. Just make sure it doesn’t annoy the neighbours.
Many kids enjoy baking and decorating simple items like biscuits and cakes. Not only is it creative, but you have an end product that everyone can enjoy together. Older children can be taught how to cook basic dishes too like Spaghetti Bolognese or even something really simple like poached egg on toast. Pizza dough is easy to knock up and everyone can decorate their own with their favourite toppings. Just ladle on some Passata on top of the dough, sprinkle on cheese and toppings and off you go.
Beat boredom with board games
Everyone’s got their favourite, haven’t they? Even though they might seem a little old fashioned these days, board games are still a great way for all the family to spend time together. From the sophistication of Chess (which I’ve never got the hang of) to the wheeling and dealing of Monopoly or the solving of the murder in Cluedo, there’s bound to be one they enjoy.
Several readers recommend large cardboard boxes as cheap and cheerful entertainment. One reader says that she spends a few weeks collecting cardboard boxes, tubes and bits and bobs then leaves it all out in her garden under the gazebo with paints, glue and other crafting bits so that the kids can create whatever they fancy.
Plus if you lose the cat, you’ll know where to find it.
Car boot sales
I’ve no idea if these are still going on but they are a great way to sell your own toys, books and games to make a few pounds for the family coffers. Car Boot Junction has a list of car boot sales across the country so check them out. Just be prepared for an early morning start!
Easy card games can keep kids occupied for hours, even Solitaire or Clock Patience. As kids we learned Rummy, Knock-Out Whist and of course there’s Snap and Happy Families. Poker might be taking it a step too far!
Chores for all
Many suggest giving kids a chore to do around the house each day and letting them know why they need to do it and how it will benefit them in their future. There are chores for kids of every age – even little ones can help put their toys back in the toy box.
One way of getting kids to do this, of course, is to bribe them but we tell our two that helping out around the home is expected of them. We might let them earn a quid or two here and there if they help out with bigger stuff like washing the car but I’d suggest you avoid paying them to do what your parents expected you to do for free.
If you choose to give your kids pocket money (and many don’t), you do have some leverage when it comes to getting them to, say, tidy their room. But, in our experience, not that much!
Create a holiday calendar
One parent commented: “I’ve found that the kids are less likely to keep saying they’re bored etc when there are days labelled on the calendar with activities. They seem to be calmer when they have things to look forward to”. I think some children certainly struggle with a lack of structure and discipline and, of course, you may need a calendar if you are still working from home. That seems to be on the agenda for many of us for quite some time to come.
As well as a structure to the day, lots of parents said it was important to go out every day with your kids, even if it’s just a quick walk around the block. Older kids can take the dog for a walk! We try to stick to regular meal and bedtimes too, although bedtime tends to get later. Tired and hungry kids are not the easiest to entertain!
Now is a great time to get everyone involved in wardrobe clearouts and general decluttering of toys, books and games that are no longer used. We have loads to take to the charity shops once they are accepting donations again. For anything that might add a bob or two to the family coffers, there’s eBay or even Amazon marketplace, although take into account listing fees and charges from Paypal that can eat quite significantly into any profit.
Again, who knows how things will pan out over the coming weeks but some fast-food drive-throughs are open and lots of places are now opening for takeaway or if they have outdoor space for tables. Pre-COVID, eating out used to be both a treat and a way of dragging the kids out to spend time as a family (and avoid cooking).
Save money by having your main course at home and then going out for dessert or ice cream. You’ll find you’ll halve the bill you’d pay for a full meal for everyone.
And you can’t beat fish & chips eating on a park bench or by the sea – or a family picnic.
We know that left to their own devices, seeing our tweens and teens at all is doubtful when it comes to gaming and mobile phones. They vanish into their bedrooms and there they stay, surrounded by used mugs and crisp packets. We use software to limit access to Wi-Fi and try to set limits to screen time – in particular having a firm cut-off off 7:30 pm before bed. Do we always stick to it? Nope. Fellow work-from-homers will sympathise and my advice would be to do what you can but don’t beat yourself up. These are strange times and we all doing the best we can. We’ve enough on our plate without sinking into a morass of guilt on top of everything else.
Gardening is one of our kids’ favourite things to do when they visit their grandparents. Children are naturally fascinated by planting flowers and anything to do with mud and bugs!
Why not plant some herbs in pots or make some home-made bird houses. A birdbath is a great way to keep visitors to your garden cool but be careful if there are lots of neighbouring cats.
You could also paint some rocks to decorate paths and borders or create a fairy garden with fairy doors and painted toadstools.
Teens and tweens can learn to move the lawn, weed and prune!
Hire a beachhut
You can find many beach huts for hire around the UK, including at the fabulous Barry Island (known to us as Barrybados), home of Gavin & Stacey and some very fine fish and chips. A quick Google search will throw up lots of options.
And, talking of beaches, why not go shell or pebble hunting, or how about sea glass? Bring your treasures home for arts & crafts sessions.
Kids of any age just love rock pooling too – just make sure an adult is on hand close by to supervise.
Love your library
Community resources like churches and libraries often have craft activity sessions or days during school holidays and they are likely to be inexpensive too!
See also Reading below.
National Trust Membership
Pricey but worth it if you have lots of National Trust sites around you and once you have paid for your annual pass you do save quite a bit on entry fees. Here in Wales, you may be better off joining Cadw as there are only 2 NT sites local to Cardiff (Dyffryn Gardens and Tredegar House). Don’t forget English Heritage too.
Lots of the NT sites have great play areas and I once read of a couple who, rather than visit motorway service stations for loo and coffee stops, headed for their local NT site instead. Much nicer. And better scones.
Party time & picnics
No, not the nightmare of one of those teen parties ‘advertised’ on Facebook (shudders). My readers suggest holding an ‘unbirthday party’ – ideal for those kids who have a Christmas or Boxing Day birthday and tend to miss out – or what about a teddy bear’s picnic?
Who doesn’t like a picnic (well, leaving out the wasps obviously)? Little ones can spend hours with a set of toy cups and saucers. Let them play with water and make ‘cakes’ from your salt dough.
Or, get the kids in the kitchen to bake some cookies or cupcakes and serve them out in the garden with mini sandwiches, sausage rolls and some home-made lemonade.
If you’re going further afield, investing in a picnic kit is a good idea – try one that is in a backpack – or just use a cool box.
But please please take your rubbish home with you and don’t risk injuring others by doing daft things like burying those instant barbecue kits in the sand once you’ve used them or feeding the wildlife on scraps (especially horses).
Mobile phones have made almost professional quality photos available to everyone and there are plenty of apps that allow you to be creative and make flyers, posters, cards and collages (try Canva.com). That’s without delving into the world of Lightroom presets which I haven’t quite got to grips with yet.
One parent suggested having a daily photo challenge which would give you a wonderful memory book at the end of the holiday. Or you could theme your photo challenges and send the kids off to capture wildlife, beaches, food, whatever you can dream up. If you’re letting them borrow your phone, a good quality shock-proof case is in order. Not one for the little ones!
Playdoh (or make your own)
Ah the hours spent playing with Playdoh as a child but you can make your own quite easily. Here’s a simple salt dough recipe to try.
Rainy day blues
Lots of you keep craft boxes for rainy days, full of glue, sellotape, string, wool, felt, tissue paper and lots of craft bits. I’d avoid the glitter though – not least because it’s pretty environmentally unfriendly and you never get rid of it.
Good old Google will find you lots of free templates for your kids to colour and Crayola has some free colouring pages too.
One enterprising parent suggested that you get some card blanks and get the kids to make Christmas cards for friends and family. Now that is thinking ahead!
And, talking of colouring, there are plenty of colouring apps like HappyColor – painting by numbers that I find very calming and absorbing – great for kids and adults alike.
When I was a child I spent hours reading. (Here’s my list of children’s classics). These days there are Kindles and Kindle apps on phones and tablets for kids who won’t pick up an actual book. We know that reading helps develop our children’s vocabulary which will stand them in good stead as they go to secondary school but we’ve found you do need to find the right books for them. Authors such as Jacqueline Wilson (Tracy Beaker), Rachel Renee Russell (Dork Diaries), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider books) are great places to start for older children.
There are plenty of classics that are free to download to a Kindle on Amazon and, of course, local libraries are beginning to reopen. Many of these run reading challenges over the summer which are worth checking out.
Safari at home
You don’t need to go to Longleat. Why not take your kids on safari in the back garden or at a local park or countryside. Take binoculars and a magnifying glass, borrow a nature guide from the local library and head out for some wildlife spotting.
As well as keeping your eyes peeled for bugs and animals also search for evidence such as paw prints and habitats. You can also teach your children to recognise different flowers, trees & shrubs or even birdsong.
I’m happy to say that our soft play years are behind us but, if you can find a good one that’s clean and well supervised, it’s a great way to let younger kids burn off some energy whilst you grab a coffee and a little welcome me-time.
Sports day at home
Whilst I’ve never been a fan of school sports days, holding your own sports day at home sounds a lot more fun. Sprinting challenges, egg and spoon and three-legged races are easy to organise and you can award a suitable prize to the lucky winner. If you haven’t got a garden big enough, hold your competition in the local park and take a picnic. The adults can compete too.
TV & Tablet time
Fewer young people than ever are watching TV it seems, with most preferring to stream their entertainment rather than rely on BBC and ITV. For little ones, though, CBeebies can be a lifeline for parents trying to juggle work and home, especially since COVID hasn’t exactly helped childcare providers.
A family movie night is always popular (generally because it means popcorn and a later bedtime) and there’s plenty of choice on Netflix and NowTV.
Tablets are very useful for travelling and for entertaining kids anywhere you have to wait like airport lounges and dentists’ waiting rooms. There are plenty of apps that are fun but also educational. Caitlin does all her school work via Google Classroom on an iPad.
As well as Happycolor (mentioned above), we love simple but absorbing game favourites like ToonBlast and older kids will love lost object games like Murder In The Alps, or my current obsession, June’s Journey. Be mindful that these games do offer ‘in-app’ purchases so make sure you’ve got any Apple passwords locked down!
Tents & dens
A tent in the garden is always a hit. It can be a den, or restaurant or where ever the children’s imagination takes them. You can pick up a two-man tent relatively cheaply from somewhere like Go Outdoors but don’t leave the tent up for too long if you don’t want to wreck your lawn.
A cheaper option is old blankets and pillows and a little creativity.
If you’re going to let the kids sleep under the stars, they’ll need a responsible adult with them to supervise.
If you’re lucky enough to own a campervan or mobile home, even better.
A great way to burn off energy for all the family if you’ve got the space. Just make sure that your trampoline is safely assembled and keep an eye on little ones. Nobody needs an unnecessary trip to A&E at the moment, do they? The same applies to any garden equipment. My two have managed to fall off swings and slides plenty of times!
Free and good for you, a walk in the park, through the forest, along a canal or across a local beach is a great way to blow away the cobwebs. Combine it with some Pokemon Go and try your hand at geocaching, the world’s largest treasure hunt. Use your trips out to collect items for crafting later in the week – twigs, leaves, pine cones, feathers etc. Don’t pick the wildflowers though – leave them for everyone to enjoy.
You’ll also find lots of guidebooks for local walks and trails in your area either on Amazon or your local tourist website.
A popular idea is to set up a Whatsapp group for friends and parents at school to share events and ideas. You can coordinate plans for playdays, picnics at the park, games of rounders etc. Pick up any flyers from the local library or community centre advertising free and discounted activities and share the details.
Zoos and aquariums
These guys really need our support at the moment due to the Government only recently allowing them to reopen. We love The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth and Bristol Zoo, both great days out. You may find your visit a different experience due to social distancing so make sure you take food and drink with you.
So hopefully there is something in the list that appeals. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
Many women report feeling tired and unmotivated after giving birth, and the last thing they want to do is to work out. However, according to the NHS, going back to exercising after having a baby can help you relax and boost your energy levels, enabling you to take better care of your baby.
Furthermore, the sooner you get back to your usual exercise routine pre-baby, the less your chances will be of going through postnatal depression, which many new mums suffer from. If you used to work out at the gym, you might find it challenging to go back to your old ways when your baby is still small. However, this does not mean that you cannot get your workout in; it merely means that you should find alternatives to your gym classes like going on outdoor jogs, for example.
Read on to find out how you can stroll your baby and jog at the same time.
Find the Right Baby Stroller
Baby strollers come in all shapes and sizes. Nowadays, you can find ones that are specifically designed to accommodate parents who have an active lifestyle. Besides asking for recommendations from your friends, you need to do thorough research and seek professional guidance, as it is a matter of preference after all. Visit trusted baby products’ websites that compare the pros and cons of an array of brands. To find the perfect jogging-friendly stroller, you can see more here and have your pick. Some basic features that you will want to keep an eye out for include stability of the stroller so your baby doesn’t bounce up and down as you jog. Also, it would be best if you made sure that the stroller is malleable enough to allow for seamless, one-hand manoeuvring.
Spend Some Time Practising
Jogging while strolling your baby at the same time is not easy, it needs coordination and strength. It gets even harder when you bring wet weather into the equation as slippery grounds might make it almost impossible to control the stroller. The best thing you can do is to practice jogging while strolling around your house before you go out on the open roads. Take all the time you need until you are confident enough that you can react fast if anything goes wrong while jogging with your baby.
Mind your Form
This is incredibly important if you have clearance from your doctor to go jogging in the early days after birth. Your body is probably still sore, and your muscles are weak after the delivery, so any wrong or intense movement can have serious adverse effects. Make sure you consult a physician about how to protect yourself when exercising after giving birth, and learn how you can identify your safe limits.
According to professional postnatal buggy trainers, as they are known in the UK, adjusting the handlebars on your baby stroller for your height will guarantee the right jogging posture without even trying to figure it out on your own. You indeed need to exert effort to reap the benefits of your exercise, but you have to get used to the fact that your body has changed, and you need to get reacquainted before you burden it with any expectations.
Set a Realistic Jogging Schedule
If you used to be an avid runner pre-baby, you should understand that you will have to tweak your previous schedule to better suit your new lifestyle. Make sure you allow a couple of rest days between each jog and actively look for ways to help you relax and restore your strength. Salt baths and stretching are simple and easy things that you can do to release any tension that might arise from jogging while clenching your baby’s stroller in front of you. Your baby will also need to take a break from the chilly winds, so she/he doesn’t get sick.
Wear the Right Clothes
You have to be comfortable enough when jogging. However, you might need to rethink your clothing choices if you are strolling your baby at the same time. Your loose fitted T-shirts might get tangled on the stroller’s handlebar, and make you lose your balance and trip. It is better to wear fitted clothes made from breathable material so you won’t overheat and get dizzy. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you wear breastfeeding-friendly sports bras to feed your hungry baby when you go on longer jogs.
Jogging while strolling your baby can increase your calorie burn by 20%, which is what every new mum would like to hear when she wants to shed the extra pounds. However, it is not easy, and you will need to practice before you can incorporate it into your workout routine. Do some research to find the best stroller that is comfortable enough for both you and your baby so that you can enjoy your time outdoors.
As parents, we make every effort to our children engaged with loads of activities during the day to use their energy, prevent boredom, and make them happy, but how much attention do we pay to the quality of their sleep? If your child doesn’t have sufficient healthy sleep, they will be subject to sleep deprivation, which may affect their growth and development. Healthy children are those who regularly get sufficient deep sleep and here’s why you should pay attention to the quality of both their sleep at night and their daily naps.
In this article, we will show you how important sleep is, and how it can affect your child’s growth.
The Importance of Sleep
Did you know that your kids grow while they’re asleep? The growth hormone is usually released during sleep, that’s why it’s important to ensure that your child sleeps well during the night, and takes all their naps during the day.
Lack of sleep tends to affect the balance of some hormones in your child’s body and other things like their mood, physical activity, and attention span.
You should always help your kids get a better nights sleep by making them go to bed at the same time to create a biological sleep routine, which will help them stay alert, attentive, and energetic during the day.
Studies show that children who don’t get sufficient sleep at night are subject to high blood pressure, obesity, attention issues, and mood swings.
A Good Night’s Sleep
To guarantee that your offspring are having healthy sleep, you should make sure that the following conditions are met. Your child should have an adequate amount of sleep; 8-10 hours is ideal. Those 8-10 hours should be uninterrupted though so make sure to cut down any noise and dim the lights to ensure your child has the best chance of drifting off to sleep. Also, according to your child’s age, make sure they get day naps which are equally important to their healthy development.
How Sleep Helps Children Grow
Children tend to learn loads of things during the day, that’s why they need to sleep to process all of this new information. Research explains that babies need multiple naps to be able to process what they encounter during the day since everything is new to them. They will surprise you when they wake with the knowledge they attained during sleep. Good quality sleep at night also helps them form long-term memories. If your child is a guru in math and languages, you have good nights’ sleep to thank for it.
You might wonder how your son’s pyjamas look shorter all of a sudden when they wake up. The answer to your question is that he’s getting taller while asleep. Doctors explain that the limbs grow while children are lying down more than while they’re moving or standing. In the morning, your child might tell you that their legs hurt as a result of their growth. Of course, if the pain continues, you should consult their doctor.
In sleep, children live in a world of their own; no one is allowed in it but them. They tend to have a lot of dreams, which are usually about their family members and friends. Such dreams are likely to make them have better emotional interactions with their families, as doctors say. Also, dreams help kids to obtain knowledge, mental health, and emotional growth.
Heart and Immune System Strengthening
Sleep is proven to protect children from high blood pressure and heart disease. Also, during sleep, your child’s brain releases certain hormones responsible for strengthening the immune system. That’s why when it’s time for your child’s vaccinations, make sure they get enough sleep before and after taking their shot to allow the immune system to be activated so they get well soon.
Anxiety and Depression Fighter
A child who is well-rested is likely to be calm during the day and cause less trouble than a child who’s exhausted from lack of sleep. The latter may show signs of violence, disturbance, and sometimes depression.
If a child doesn’t get enough sleep for two consecutive nights, it can trigger negative emotions and overall tiredness. The best thing to do for your children is to ensure that they get enough undisturbed sleep during the night.
We always want the best for our children but sometimes, however, we forget what their little bodies need. Sleep is as important as food, drinks, and hygiene; it helps them grow and blossom before our eyes. If you were not paying close attention to your children’s sleep, why not start tonight by committing to a sleep routine that will help them to have long hours of healthy sleep. This will give them an energetic and refreshed start the next day.
I’m sure many parents will recognise that feeling when you’re on the brink of losing it and, while we have all been cooped up together during Lockdown, I’m sure that plenty of tempers have been more strained than usual.
The kids have forgotten to tell you about their urgent homework. Or there’s pen on the walls. Or chocolate. The cat has brought in something which was once some sort of living organism and left it for you to put your foot on as soon as you come downstairs in the morning or worse, there’s Lego underfoot.
It’s that feeling when you start to lose your temper and your irritation levels bubble up to leave you in a state where “the voice” takes over.
You know the one. The voice is a combination of your inner critical parent, a drill sergeant and a grizzly bear. And it goes on relentlessly. Heck even you hate listening to it.
The problem with this kind of reaction to your children’s misdemeanours (or your partner’s come to that) is that you will swiftly be tuned out and ignored.
And it does nothing to make you feel better or resolve any issues.
The usual result of entering what I call the “Circle of Grump” is that you end up feeling dreadful, guilty and even more irritated whilst whatever has been bothering you carries on anyway.
Oh no! Mum’s entered “The Circle of Grump” again!
As parents, we need to recognise the warning signs that tell us the Circle of Grump is approaching and this means prioritising our own self-care through adequate sleep and exercise and great nutrition.
Relying on a deadly combination of late nights/caffeine/early evening wine is setting you up for long term exhaustion.#
It’s no wonder you can’t think straight to solve the problems thrown at you.
Because that’s really why you lose it I find – simply because you are being asked for the solution to a problem and you don’t, at that moment, have the physical or emotional energy to think around the problem and come up with the best solution for everyone.
I know I am about to enter the Circle of Grump when I
– Don’t listen properly to what is being said to me – Feel my blood pressure rise and a hot flush start – Feel my heart beat faster – Feel a sense of panic
Actually most of these symptoms have much in common with those of a panic attack and it’s not pleasant when your darling offspring are looking at you wondering when you morphed into the Incredible Hulk and why you just don’t get Google Classroom or your maths is so rubbish.
Mindfulness and meditation will help but you need immediate solutions and something that will break the pattern – concentrating on your breath for example or going somewhere else for 5 minutes to calm down.
You need a holding statement you can use such as “mummy is going to take this to the kitchen to think about it” or “I’m not happy about xx behaviour but we’ll discuss it later when I’m calmer”.
That way you can discuss the problem calmly, logically and get the child’s input.
It is better to see that the child understands the problem and gain their co-operation by allowing them to suggest their own solutions than it is to browbeat them into doing something “because mummy says so” – we all know how well that one works.
The most important thing is not to play the blame game. Sometimes we expect ourselves to be paragons of virtue and patience. I am not the Buddha (although there is a slight physical resemblance).
It is the unique combination of our imperfections as individuals that often creates a strong family bond because we grow together and learn how to overcome them.
As the great metaphysical writer, Louise Hay said, we are all doing the best we can where we are at the moment.
And in any case, when it all gets too much I like to make myself a strong coffee and ask myself the eternal question “what would Mary Poppins do”?
That’s a pretty good starting point I reckon.
There is a way out of the “Circle of Grump”. Who knows, perhaps Sir Elton might write a song about it.
The British weather can be wonderfully unpredictable. You can bet that whenever you decide to have a family outing in the sunshine, it rains! Every parent knows the value of a backup plan. So here are some great suggestions for not letting rainy days dampen the family fun. Read on for some great rainy day activities.
Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash
Rainy day activities for kids
Dig Out the Board Games
Every family has a hoard of games. They’ve probably been neglected in favour of smartphone apps, but now is the perfect opportunity to dust off the old-school games! Nothing quite brings a family together like a game of Monopoly or Connect 4. A board games championship provides a new twist and can easily occupy the family all afternoon.
There are lots of cake recipes which do not require kids having to use a hot oven. Rocky road, for example, is delicious yet very easy to make. Bring out your best Mary Berry or Pru Leith impressions for the taste test. The losing side has to wash up! Adult supervision will be required for cutting and heating ingredients.
Arts and crafts are the most popular choice for beating boredom on a rainy day. You don’t need a particularly extensive craft box. Just a few essentials that can be re-used for lots of projects. Make sure you have plenty of crafting staples such as crepe paper, paints and crayons for some no-sew crafts. You might want to invest in a glue gun too.
There’s never usually time to organize family photos. Have a good sort through all of your albums and loose photos. Have everyone pick out their favourite snapshots to be featured in the scrapbook. All you need is a plain notebook, scissors, glue and pens. Get everyone involved in the decorative process. The kids can draw illustrations while the parents add written quotes.
Make a pillow fort
Watching a movie on the sofa is so overrated! Set up a pillow cave for a cosy home cinema experience. If the rain is particularly persistent, get kids to organize a mini-film festival. Handmade posters and popcorn are essential! You could even encourage children to write a film review after viewing. This will ensure their handwriting and literacy skills are being practised during the holidays.
Photo Credit Seamus McCauley
Get a head start on gifts
Got a birthday or special occasion coming up? Check out these low-cost gift ideas. Even if you don’t make anything, planning the family schedule will keep everyone organized for the next few weeks. Pull down the calendar and write down everything you need to do before the kids go back to school. Remember to make time for more family fun too.
Have a jam session
Most homes will have a musical instrument lying around. If not, make your own! Pots and pans can be used as percussion. Rice in a cardboard tube can become an impromptu rain stick. Singing requires no accessories. You could even have a free karaoke session and use instrumental clips of popular songs from YouTube.
Rainy day activities for kids need not be complicated or expensive – and just think, you’ll be spending some much-welcomed quality time with your little ones. If all else fails, just don your wellies and waterproofs and head outdoors for some puddling jumping!
Having a baby is one of life’s biggest blessings and will bring such joy and happiness into the home. Even the thought of having a miniature version of you around the house is enough to put the biggest of smiles on the grumpiest of faces. Usually, when a couple or a person finds out they are having a baby, it’s a mad rush to get the apartment or the house ready but it doesn’t have to be like that. There are a few things you can do, amongst tidying, to ensure your living space is going to be as healthy as it possibly can for the baby’s arrival.
In the first few months of your baby being at home, you will find they eat, sleep, fill their nappy, and repeat and that will be routine for a little while. After this initial stage, however, there will be other problems creeping in like getting them to sleep.
Once they are asleep though, you’ll do everything within your power to keep them that way until they naturally wake, not only for their benefit but for your sanity.
The experts at Silent Home Hub emphasize that there are plenty of ways in which you can keep the quiet going into your house. It just takes a little bit of research and reading some real-world reviews to see what’s best. Health and comfort within your daily lives is a must and is what you deserve. If there are products that will help you and your family by bringing a little calm in the house, then you should be doing it, especially when it comes to the health of your baby.
If you have any form of step, staircase, or areas you don’t want your little one getting into then I would suggest investing in stair gates. They are a simple device that when installed properly are essentially Fort Knox to your kid and many adults. They will stop your child from falling down the stairs or any steps within the house and can stop them from entering into the rooms you don’t want them in.
Whether you live in an apartment block or a house, any window is going to be a beacon of hope for your child and they will stare out for hours, eventually trying to exit as the outside world sometimes seems a little more interesting than the thousands of dollars worth of toys sitting in the room. There are many contraptions you can get that will prevent your child from getting out, but if you are in a situation where you’re 25 floors up, just keep them locked.
Kids are known to play with doors and end up slamming them. There is nothing you can do to stop this and it doesn’t matter how many times they hurt themselves, it’s still an attractive toy, so the best thing you can do is mitigate the situation and make sure they don’t hurt themselves. You can buy foam stops that attach to the door frame stopping them from closing completely, saving your child’s fingers.
Only Have What’s Needed
Babies are babies, they don’t need toys that are for 3-year-olds just yet. You might be super prepared and have everything ready for the next 5 years of their development, but there is no need for it all to be on display. Only have the toys that are going to be used and things that have functional help. This way your space is going to be much safer for the little one to navigate and you have fewer trip hazards around the place. Not only that but having a clearer house will help ease any stressful feelings by creating a nice liveable area.
The 2-Foot Rule
This is a rule that applies to absolutely every parent on the planet, and if you think it won’t affect you then I would love to see your face when you are running around the house moving all your decorative ornaments. Everything is a toy to a child, no matter what it is, whether it’s a priceless Ming vase or a toothbrush, it is going to get picked up, thrown, chewed, and dropped. If you value anything I would keep it above 2 feet on any surface that can’t be reached by your little one.
There are loads of situations to think about when a child is imminent. The best way you can go about it is to think like a child and go around your house to see what you might play with. Sharp corners have to be dealt with, windows locked, dangerous ornaments out the way, and you need to create a soothing haven for you all to enjoy. If you can do all of this, your baby will be healthy and happy.
If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ll remember just how impossible it seems to get anything done around the house when you are caring for a newborn. While it may get easier as your baby grows, (you can leave them briefly in a play chair or on a mat and hello CBeebies!), you still have to make sure you can keep an eye on them at all times – especially when they start to roll and crawl.
In this way, you will be able to keep them safe from bumps and falls, or from putting whatever they touch in their mouth. Who hasn’t winced as their little one discovers electrical sockets (you can get safety covers!) or the cat’s food! Fortunately, the advancements in modern technology now mean that parents and carers can monitor their young ones even if they are in another room, or even out of the house, any time of the day.
Two-way Audio Monitor
If you want a baby monitor that can grow with your kid, then invest in one that can function as a night light and an alarm clock. Some can function as a sound machine. The great thing about this device is that you will be able to control all these features through an app installed on your smartphone. We used ours for years as they are a great way of checking that your kids have actually gone to sleep and they come into their own when your little ones are poorly at night.
If always seeing your baby is what brings you peace of mind, then invest in a smart home camera that you can control through your phone. This is made possible by the artificial intelligence (AI) which is integrated into the camera, together with Hubble or the smart platform that supports it. The latter can even support other devices such as audio products from the likes of headphones and speakers.
On the other hand, there are also multi-purpose monitoring systems that allow multiple users to stream and watch videos simultaneously. Other smart home cameras also feature night vision, as well as two-way audio. Still, there are also home camera systems with integrated control for room temperature and humidity.
Baby Feeding Monitor
As much as possible, you would want to keep your baby well-fed because in this case, he or she is more likely to be calm. For this, you need a baby feeding monitor that will keep you updated about your baby’s feedings through Bluetooth technology. This device takes one less off your checklist during your pediatrician visit as your baby’s feeding data is properly recorded.
There are already gadgets that allow you to monitor your baby’s temperature even if you are not in the same room. Your baby just needs to use a wearable device to allow you to do so. Aside from the temperature, the app you install on your phone to control the device can also send you notifications on when you need to give the next dose of medicine for your baby.
Leverage on technological innovations to make sure that you can keep an eye on your little one whenever you need to, wherever you are. You can invest in a two-way audio monitor that can also function as a night light or an alarm clock, or opt for a home camera that will allow you to see your baby through your mobile phone. In addition to this, you can also go for a high-tech baby feeding monitor or a smart thermometer that keeps you updated on their feeding or temperature through Bluetooth technology.
When you and your family wake up, how you handle the morning ahead can have a major influence on productivity levels. If your children are heading to school and you are going to work, getting the day off to a good start can help you feel positive and ready for anything.
Currently, of course, Lockdown has thrown us all off balance and we have had to adapt and create new routines and habits. That said, structure is key for both parents and children, so here are a few ways to create a positive morning routine as a family.
Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash
Make Sure Sleep is a Priority
For the morning routine to go well, it’s important that you all get a good night’s sleep beforehand. If any of you wake up feeling rundown and restless, tantrums and arguments can occur, which can set a bad tone for the day ahead. To wake up feeling energized and ready to jump into your morning routine, setting a firm bedtime for you and your family is key.
As an adult, you should aim for roughly seven hours of sleep per night. Children and toddlers will need more sleep, so make sure that you lay down ground rules from the start. To improve your quality of sleep, purchasing a new mattress may help. The larger size can help with sleep and get your day off to a good start.
Prepare the Night Before
Once everyone in your household is getting enough sleep, the next step is to try and reduce the number of tasks everyone has to complete in the morning. There are several actions that you can take, such as preparing breakfast and packing lunches the night before, choosing what clothes your child needs for school, as well as ironing your work attire so you can spend more time as a family.
Wake Up Before Your Kids
As a parent, being positive and in good spirits in the morning can rub off to your children. If your kids see you stressed and anxious, they may adopt the same mindset, which can hinder productivity levels at school, so make sure that you wake up before your kids and have some time for yourself to help you feel more relaxed and ready for whatever is on the agenda.
Just like children, parents benefit from a regular routine too, so creating your own morning ritual before you wake up the kids will add structure to your morning. You may benefit from practising relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga before starting your day.
Make a Morning Routine Chart
If you have younger children, try using pictures instead of words in your morning routine chart. There are several things that need to be completed before your kids head off to school, such as brushing their teeth, combing their hair, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. Making things fun and exciting for your kids can help the morning routine run smoothly. Creating a morning routine chart will teach your children the importance of organisation, which will put them in good stead when heading into the working world.
Check in With One Another
If you haven’t got a morning routine in place, getting your children ready for school can be overwhelming. It’s important that you are all in the best mindset possible before heading out the door, so setting aside time to check in with one another can help. Eating breakfast together as a family and discussing what you all want to achieve for the day ahead can boost productivity and concentration levels. It can also be a good time to address any worries, fears, or concerns your children may have.
Whether you have a long day at the office ahead, your kids are heading off to school or you are still all rattling around the home, all the suggestions listed above can help you create a positive morning routine as a family.
It’s a great thing as a parent, isn’t it, when your children start to explore who they are and discover their passions in life. In the generations before us, there was perhaps less emphasis on encouraging kids to seek personal fulfilment and more on toeing the line, fitting in and knuckling down to get a good job and pay your way in life.
These days, I like to think that we are more spiritually enlightened and our eyes are open to the fact that while money is a necessity to live, it is more important for our children to discover themselves instead of resigning themselves to a job or career they hate for the rest of their working lives.
How Can I Help My Child Find Their Passion?
Often, however simple this may sound, the best way to find out what your child’s passions are is simply to ask them. Many times, children will have a hundred different things they are passionate about during a week, but the one thing they really love will always remain. If you have noticed your child talking about one thing in particular, over and over, then it can be safe to assume that it is something they are passionate about.
Whether it be horses, cars, or dolls, you should encourage your child to pursue their passion, as much as your finances allow, of course. It is important, however, to remind your child that money does not grow on trees and draw a line between blindly financing anything your child asks for and spoiling them.
Pay Attention To Their Talents
The notion of cultivating free-spiritedness can seem daunting. If that is the case then check out this website, so you can learn more about children growing their personalities. Growth leads to maturity and freedom for appreciation.
If your child is not as vocal about their passions, then pay attention to their talents. Perhaps you catch them out of the corner of your eye playing football against a wall in the garden whenever they can, or you hear from teachers at school that they are very good at mathematics.
By paying attention to their talents you can get a better overview as to what it is that their passions are, perhaps more so from directly asking them. Oftentimes if a child excels in a particular subject or activity, it can be safe to surmise that it is one of their passions, as children, unfortunately, tend to only invest their attention into something that they are personally interested in.
Sign Your Child Up For a Sport
If your child neither expresses particular interest in any specific subject or activity nor speaks of their passions, then it would be appropriate to take a step toward encouraging them.
By signing your child up for a sport, you may introduce them to something they love and hold close to them for the rest of their life. Oftentimes sports, especially at school, can help them find friends and network with other students, and make lifelong connections.
Many of the most world’s most famous athletes were introduced to their sport by their parents and, without that introduction, would have been unlikely to achieve the heights of sporting prowess they subsequently achieved.
Allow For Boredom
Every single parent probably hears these three words once a day, ‘Hey, I’m bored!’ What you might not have known is that by allowing for boredom, your child’s hidden interests and talents may come to the surface. With little to do around the house, they may end up going outside and pursuing a sport or rather finding a particular subject they are interested in and want to learn more about.
Be sure to keep plenty of books lying around your house so that if your child happens to utter those three familiar words, you can offer them a book to read. More so in our current generation do we see children expressing less of interest when it comes to reading and writing. Perhaps that is one of the most important things you can cultivate in your child from a young age.
Without the written word, the world would not function. Surprisingly, many teenagers have yet to have even read a book, whereas in our parents’ generations they would have been avid readers by the age of ten. Start your child off slowly, introduce them to the works of Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss, and perhaps your child will develop an affinity toward reading and writing.
Whatever your child does express an interest in, as long as it isn’t harmful to them, you should encourage them and remind them you love them and will love them whatever they decide to do. Your child is often your best friend, and as they grow older and eventually have their own children, they will look upon their childhood as a reminder of how to raise a child, or how not to. Be their biggest supporter and never forget to tell them how proud of them you are.
It dawned on me today during the usual morning planning session we conduct that there is a key reason why homework is such a struggle for Year 6 pupils.
It’s actually very simple.
They are used to working on a collaborative basis. The classroom environment at this age is all about learning and sharing together. And, because it’s all about learning as a team, there is less censure, less judgment and less pressure when things are wrong.
The journey to learn is more important than the result it seems.
Now this seems to be different from the way I was taught all those years ago (40 years!). Classrooms were places of quiet (mostly). Heads bowed we used to complete our work in near silence. Books were handed in to be marked on the spot.
No Google Classroom for us. It was all about flexing those memory muscles and retaining information.
I will say that for all the advantages technology has given us, increased attention spans and the ability to focus don’t seem to be included.
So, my approach to making things easier is to get involved. To adopt the approach I used when I was an English Tutor many moons ago. To listen more and try to coach and motivate.
This, as many parents will no doubt agree, is tricky when you go through the list of work set (particularly for my Year 7) and feel stressed on their behalf!
It’s funny. I always thought I’d take to home education like a duck to water but, as many experienced home educators have pointed out, this is NOT home educating. It is taking over the reins from our beleaguered teachers temporarily in a crisis situation.
Home education requires strategy, materials, tools and techniques, a thorough knowledge of the syllabus and lesson planning skills.
It means pushing forward day in, day out. Not getting to 3 and going “we’ve all done enough now, let’s put Netflix on”.
Or perhaps, depending on the age of the children it does.
Either way, I salute those who home educate on a full-time basis.
For my own part, we’re bumbling along, making sure work is done and deadlines are hit without too many tantrums (mine generally) and too much pressure being put upon kids who are desperate for fresh air, their friends and freedom.
Raising a child is already a challenging job, but raising a child with behavioural issues can be a life-disrupting experience.
Now, your 2-year old’s tantrums don’t necessarily mean they have issues with authority. However, your fifth-grader, who shows angry outbursts or displays violent behaviour, may very well have some behavioural problems.
People with autism, ADHD, ODD, anxiety disorder, or a learning disorder, may develop behavioural symptoms in their childhood. While there’s no permanent cure for these disorders, you can manage them with some therapy – one such therapy is using social stories.
A social story is a special kind of story written to educate a child using some specific behavioural patterns.
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to teach children with special needs. Your child will be able to learn about behavioural norms, expectations, and routines in a relatable and engaging way through social stories.
How does Social Story Work?
Social stories use written or visual cues to guide children who are struggling to get familiar with unknown social situations in the classroom and social settings (like the playground).
There are numerous applications of social stories. They can also be customized to your child’s needs and comprehension.
These stories are typically used in different steps with narrative words that best communicate the social situation.
Social stories can help with social skills, new experiences, transitions, learning routines, and even specific behavioural issues like hitting, spitting, etc.
Benefits of Social Stories
Social stories are quite easy to implement with children with behavioural disorders. It’s a quick way to help them learn appropriate behaviour.
Here are some of the reasons that will help you understand the importance of social stories.
Provide The Theory of Mind
This is one of the most important reasons why you should rely on social stories. Your child may have a hard time understanding others’ perspectives, particularly if they are on a spectrum like e autism, ADHD, or ODD.
If a child’s development in the theory of mind is delayed, they will have trouble coping with other people’s thoughts and feelings. Social stories help them piece together reasons why some people are acting the way they are, meaning that they will not overreact to certain behaviour.
Consistency in Learning
Whether you’re a teacher or a parent of a child with special needs, you might be struggling with many of their common behaviours such as hitting, talking out of turn, touching others, etc.
That’s why it’s essential to have a social story particularly designed for those behaviours, which will help promote an appropriate attitude.
The story can ensure consistency. As you practise the story with your child or student, you will find yourself using the same terminology with other children with similar behavioural issues.
Helps Children Make Friends
Does your child often fight with other kids? Or are they having trouble making friends due to their behaviour? Don’t worry! Social stories are here to your rescue.
The best part of a social story is that it can handle nearly any behaviour. Your child will learn appropriate behaviour such as talking with other children, responding in a friendly manner, not to get involved in a fight, etc.
Social stories encourage the development of empathy in children, which helps them make friends.
Some children with behavioural issues often struggle with remembering things. This is because they struggle to focus and concentrate on observing and learning.
Social stories can help in developing your child’s memory. Reading a particular story every day, which includes a series of events can help kids practise their memory skills.
Can Prevent The Meltdown
Social stories can help prevent some common behaviour in children such as tantrums and meltdowns as they will slowly start to learn what you expect of them. Since they practice social stories specially written for them, they will begin to apply those stories to shape other parts of their day.
Using a social story, you will be able to make your child understand situations that once seemed unfamiliar to him. It will ultimately reduce the meltdowns associated with being overwhelmed by unfamiliar situations.
How to Write Social Stories
A social story can be created using words and pictures, which will help a child to learn what to do in a given situation. It will also help them understand how other people feel and why they should respond in such a manner.
For example, the sentence you’re writing must include the action a child must take, and how other people feel by that action, such as “When I enter the classroom I will say ‘good morning’ to my teacher, which will make her happy.”
Remember, you must write stories from the children’s point of view. Doing so will make it easier for your child to recognize the moral of the story, meaning that the lesson will be more fruitful.
Try to use photos of your child or include an artwork made by him to make the story personal. Your child will see himself in the story since he has had a hand in helping to create it.
How to Present a Social Story
Once you’re done writing the story, introduce it to your child. Ask them some probing questions, like “How do you think the little girl feels?” “What must she do?”
It takes considerable time and hard work to change the behaviours, so it is essential to read the story every day so that your child can understand.
You can ask them questions like “Do you remember what happened with the girl I told you about yesterday? Let’s find out how she fixed her problem.”
Raising children with behavioural issues is quite challenging and requires a lot of patience and understanding from a parent. While some of these problems pass with time, some may require long term therapy.
Using social stories can be a fun and engaging way to introduce your little one to new experiences, as well as expectations in situations. It will prepare them to navigate a social situation appropriately by teaching them the right behaviour.