Friday, 29 April 2011

Memories are an important keepsake

A Royal Wedding which will be remembered

Although only 9 months, I wanted Emily to experience the biggest event for our country since she was born. Granted, she will not remember the wedding, but I will tell her exactly where she was and how we celebrated this special day when she is older. We felt travelling to London and jostling for a space would be too much for a baby and stressful for us, but watching the coverage today I noticed many parents had been brave enough to take their babies along. We spent the day at home, watching every moment unfurl before our eyes.

Emily made memories for me by clapping her hands every time the crowd cheered, so to me she was joining in the spirit of things!! Something I will be telling her for sure when she asks where she was the day the future king got married! This leads me to today's topic, memories.

Keeping record of important events in your child's life can really help them to build a picture of their early days when they are older. I was only 4 months old when Prince Charles married Diana and Mum told me I watched it in my bouncer! Ok, its not a huge fact, but to me it means I was there and saw it, even if I cant remember! With our digital age, there are plenty of opportunities to record events. I must admit, I am a sucker for a photo of Emily and have taken loads of every moment I feel would mean something to her in the future. I think I also want to prove to her that the memories I share with her are true! I take her photos and make scrapbooks of her adventures which I hope will bring her great enjoyment when she is older!!

So, make memories for your child.........take photos, collect keepsakes and record the things that make your child's life story. And when they ask, "Where was I when........." you can tell them!!

Oh......and congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on your most wonderful wedding!!


Thursday, 28 April 2011

The beauty of public transport!!!

Is travelling by public transport baby friendly?

Today Emily and I went out to have lunch with my very good friends. I did not have to travel far, but as I have chosen not to learn to drive, I took the bus. My personal opinion is that however convenient cars are, now and again it does a child good to experience public transport. When working at a nursery a few years back, we carried out activities to do with transport and I was shocked to see when I asked the children who had been on a bus, 2 out of 23 children said they had and only 1 had been on a train!

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying travelling by car is bad, it is another experience for children to enjoy and Emily loves going in the car, but now and again I feel its good for her to enjoy other ways of travelling. So far we have been on a bus and on the local ferry, which she found fascinating! But, are these modes of transport actually baby friendly?

I must admit, the new style buses allow space for pushchairs and have a drop down mechanism on the doors allowing the floor to be lowered to allow pushchairs and wheelchairs on. The downside I have found is the fact that if the two spaces allowed for pushchairs are taken, you have to wait until the next bus with space comes along. Its not so bad term time, but when the children are off school it can be manic!! The other issue I have come across is other people not being so accommodating.

Today it was an elderly man, who had already taken one of the pushchair spots, the only one left, and he had a tiny trolley with him. Now, don't get me wrong, I would never ask an older person to move as they have the right to seats towards the front as much as I do, but I struggled to tuck my pushchair in behind him so it wasn't in the way and he just sat there, leaving his trolley in the way. I only needed it moved a touch so I could tuck in carefully!! Sometimes I do feel there is the attitude of "I'm not going to move for them!" whereas if the shoe was on the other foot, I would be expected to move and would move to help them out. Previously, I have had tuts and sighs from older people getting on the bus if I am sat at the front with the pushchair before they get on. It is difficult to please everyone I guess!!

But it doesn't put me off........I still enjoy taking Emily on the bus and it is worth any little niggle I may encounter. Its all about giving her new opportunities and a chance to experience new things. As I don't drive, I rely heavily on buses and my feet to get me around and if I didn't do that, I would be sat at home!!! I want to give my daughter the chance to see new things and enjoy the simple things in life, such as riding a bus! So, when it come to her turn being asked if she has been on a bus, she will be one of those to say "Yes and its lots of FUN!"

Oh, and a special thank you to my lovely friends. Its great having work friends who have become my close friends out of my work life. We have had great professional friendship and understanding and have now a great friendship on a personal level and hey, if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have gone on the bus today!!!!!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Sharing expertise

Networking can be useful for both parents and practitioners!

Whilst doing my Uni course, we spent sometime looking at the importance of sharing expertise with other professionals. All of a sudden, I started to believe in myself more.......I had so much knowledge to share and could learn so much from others. That is part of the reason why I started this site. I wanted to be able to share what I have learnt over the last 11 years in childcare and what I am learning every day as a parent.

And parents can learn a lot from one another too. Being at Baby Group today, I listened to loads of parents and discussed issues from Chicken pox to giving birth! It is great to get a different perspective and although Im receiving lots of advice, I know that I don't have to use it if it doesn't feel right for me.

I am lucky enough to have a great network of friends who are professionals in childcare as well as parents. A lot of my friends have worked with me, studied with me or I have looked after their children and every single one of them inspire me. Some have become child minders after leaving work to start a family (I recommend in Fareham) and others are aspiring to huge roles in their settings or running their own Pre-schools. ( in lee on solent is run by very good friends of mine and was a great place to work! )

Sharing expertise does take time and effort and requires you sometimes to take constructive criticism, especially in the child care sector, but with a little patience and understanding you can really begin to feel that your opinion means something. Being asked your advice by another professional makes you feel like an expert!

Some of you parents out there may be thinking to yourself that you are not an expert, but if you think about it, you are. You are an expert in YOUR CHILD!!!! You know what they want and need and what their routines are. You know their likes and dislikes and when they are tired or hungry. So if people ask you your advice, give it! Don't be shy! They don't have to listen, its just your opinion and if they do take your advice, it gives such a buzz!! I couldn't be without my friends both parents and practitioners as I have learnt so much about children through asking their advice and watching them in their jobs as professionals in their fields.

So thankyou all my friends out there who come under this category, because without your expertise I wouldn't be who I am today

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Changing the Framework............again!!!

The EYFS is due to change again.......for the better?

Having a baby has not stopped me keeping abreast of the latest childcare news and upon researching for the latest gossip, I found that the EYFS framework is due to change again. When the EYFS first came out, replacing the Early Learning Goals, I remember the look on my colleagues faces, as well as my own!! Change never is easy to swallow, especially when you have been used to doing things in a certain way for so long!! But, on reading the proposals, I think this may be a change for the better in the long run.

There is a lot of paperwork surrounding children's development in childcare settings and sometimes you do get a bit sidelined concentrating on the paper side of things, worrying you haven't filled this that and the other in, rather than concentrating on making sure the children in your care are getting the best of their experiences in the setting.

Read the proposals and see what you think.............I'd love to hear your thoughts and search for EYFS changes and click on the Dame Clare Tickell review.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Eating out

Eating out can be a bit of a pain with a young one in tow!
Today we went out as a family to have a meal with some friends to celebrate a birthday. We were lucky enough to chose a pub with highchairs available, but this is not always easy! A lot needs to be considered.......are there highchairs available and are they clean? Are there changing facilities or do you need to change your baby on the floor of the toilets?

This is an ongoing battle for all parents who want to eat out with their young ones and something that I have really begun to search for........the ideal family friendly eating area! I am fed up of having nowhere to change my baby's nappy when out for a meal in a "family" restaurant or pub. You have pubs with family areas so why still do parents have to be forced to change them on the floors of toilets which are not always the cleanest of areas? Dean and I prefer to take our daughetr out to the car if it is parked close by as its a lot cleaner and out of view of other people who really don't need to see dirty nappies when they are trying to eat!!

What is beginning to emerge in most shopping centres and some restaurants is changing areas which are separate from the toilets so that men can change their child/grandchild etc instead of it being left to the women who have to walk through the ladies toilets to find changing facilities. I know that Dean feels more comfortable when using changing facilities where he can have access without going through the ladies! It means he can take her out on his own and not have to worry about where he can change her.

Let me know your experiences of restaurants and changing areas by emailing me. My email is on the "contact me" page or comment below.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Making time for yourself

Its fun being parents......but you can't stop being a couple!

As soon as our little one came into the world, our relationship was bound to change. Its a natural go from being just the two of you to a family once that tiny bundle arrives. Where before you could throw caution to the wind and head out for the day, or to a restaurant for a meal, you now have to plan each outing down to the very detail making sure you have everything for your little one, or finding a babysitter!

It is quite easy to become detached from your friends as they carry on with their day to day lives and you try anything you can to get extra sleep! But it is important to remember that you need time to yourselves........not just when the little one is tucked up in bed! Dean and I try to make sure we go out at least once a month. We have a little group running where we visit and review local restaurants with my sister and our friend and I go out in term time once a week to my singing group which allows me to have a break and do something I truly love

I have found by getting out just for these few moments allows us to reconnect with our friends and enjoy the company of one another. We discussed this morning that we should go out now and again as a couple, just the two of us (my watching Date Night yesterday spurred that conversation!) There needs to be that little break, as much as we love Emily, to remind ourselves of how we love one another. We are lucky to have family close by to babysit, but even if you didn't there are brilliant babysitting services out there with CRB checked staff which I have heard to be very good.

And even for those who don't have children but work with them, I remember how stressful the job can be. You get to the point when sometimes you just need a break and treat yourself. I became quite work orientated at one point myself, and soon realised as much as I loved my job and was 100 per cent dedicated to childcare, I needed to switch off sometimes and become "Clair" again. It is kind of the same now....I am dedicated to raising my daughter, but sometimes I feel I need to be someone other than just "Emily's Mum" and by doing my singing and performing for crowds now and again, I get to do so.

So, if you are working with children or a parent.......take time for yourself......go for a massage, go shopping with friends, book a meal with your partner or go to the cinema and give yourself the chance to wind down. After all, I believe it doesn't make you a bad parent but allows you to become a stronger one in the long run.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Making the most of your local Childrens Centre

Why are the government even considering closing these vital facilities?

When my baby was born, I have to admit I wasn't the type of person to walk into places and ask people what I was entitled to. Whilst on Maternity leave, I walked into my local Children's Centre which I had visited before with courses through my work, and I asked what sort of things they had to offer. So, when she was 4 weeks old, I took Emily along to Baby Group.

It was daunting........lots of Mums there who had obviously been going a while and knew one another well. Emily was the smallest baby there and to be honest, didn't do too much but I can tell you, walking in there that day was the best thing I have done for her so far! Every Wednesday, I go into the group and spend time with other Mums, some with their first baby some with their second or third. We do baby exercises to calming music, sing songs and have a story as well as having the chance to talk to one another about the various things we have been up to..............yay! Adult conversation!!

But the group had lead to much more! Emily and I have now been to several courses at the centre. From baby massage, Baby signing, Health and well being to Using my senses.........the list became bigger and is still growing! Emily now knows when we walk into the building and gets very excited! I also use the baby clinic there, getting her weighed once a month. Today, after being weighed we went into group and got the chance for water play which she thoroughly enjoyed! She is beginning to recognise the other Mums and children there too and I would like to think she is so sociable because I took her there from an early age. I also have made good friends who I enjoy catching up with once a week.

So, why are the government wanting to take away these facilities from me and all of the families who use the courses, clinics and advice from staff? Cut save money........but surely this is money well spent? Children's centres are there for those families who need it the most, who otherwise would not get this sort of support. I am lucky to have family and a doting husband for support, but when I am at home with Emily I often feel isolated and having this service on my doorstep, I feel very privileged. I am pleased to hear as the centre I am at is a large one, it will not be closed but some of the things available to us will be stopped, meaning some of the lovely staff I have met will lose their jobs.

Smaller Children's centres will be closing. Completely. But these centres are not only great for parents, they are fantastic for practitioners too. When helping with the opening of one of the Pre schools I worked at, the local Children's Centre was fantastic with helping us get in touch with the local families, finding out what they needed and often recommending us. We also went to courses and meetings there, getting to know the other settings and becoming part of the wider childcare community. Personally, i found this a valuable service and was so pleased we had the chance to get together.

So, support your local Children's centre! Use them, sign their petitions and let your child have a go at the free courses with you. You meet lovely people, lovely helpful staff and use fantastic facilities.....................................


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Keeping Busy

Filling days is not always easy when there is a little one to entertain!

Coming from a childcare background, I have been used to having a wide range of resources on hand to create activities. I'm also used to older children! But, keeping busy and keeping things interesting for both me and my baby is something I try to do as much as possible. I visit my local Children's Centre regularly ( more about that tomorrow!) but I'm not there every day! There are plenty of days when i look at the calendar in despair that I have nothing planned. Today is especially important for me to keep going as my husband is away overnight and I need to keep my mind off things.

I can hear you all saying "one night? What's she moaning about?" and I realise to many parents with partners in the forces have months on end without their spouses, not to mention those single parents out there. I have deep respect for these parents. Although extremely rewarding, having a new baby can be very lonely at times when all your friends and family are at work and you are left talking to someone who quite often doesn't understand a word you are saying!!

So, keeping busy!! Today we are fortunate to have a beautiful sunny day! A good excuse to go outside and get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun! Emily was clasped into her bike (her preferred mode of transport and sometimes easier to use when just going round the corner), sun hat and suncream on and we went for a walk. Now don't get excited, it wasn't the most fantastic of walks but it doesn't have to be! We literally went round the corner to the bottle bank (teaching her early about recycling Daddy's beer bottles lol) and to the park for a little go on the swing.

It doesn't sound like the best outing ever, but to Emily it was fantastic! She loves being pushed around to take in the world and watching other children play in the park. As for me, it gave me a little exercise which I try to do as much as I can and an opportunity to make the most of the sunshine. Just walking back home I was greeted by a young boy, about three years old, playing in his front garden "Hello Lady!" Well, that was enough to put a smile on my face!

So don't let yourself feel down if you are a parent at home with a baby with no plans for the day. Just get your pram, buggy or bike (!) and go for a walk around the houses, to the shops, to the park or wherever and show your little one the wonders of the world, however small they may Check Spellingseem to you!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Celebrating new life!

The news of a new baby gets me reminiscing!

Our friends sent the good news that their baby boy, James was born on Wednesday 13th April and as soon as I received the text from a very proud new Mum, I began to get all emotional. It brought back such warm memories of when my husband and I were buzzing with the birth of our daughter, back in July last year, and with Easter on the horizon this weekend and New life springing up around us adding to the joy of the occasion.......I really slipped into my memories.

Of course, excitement was not the only emotion we were experiencing at the time.......pride, the fear of the unknown, many feelings for new parents to take in! My pregnancy had not been plain sailing to say the least, with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes followed by a inducement which didn't go to plan and ended up with an Emergency C Section. But it didn't stop there! Although we were holding our tiny 5Ib 9oz baby girl in our loving arms, I was rushed to the High Dependency unit as my blood pressure sky rocketed and days later with a machine malfunction causing our little angel to have a line in her arm she didn't need, you cant really say that my first days of motherhood were exactly fantastic!! But then we took her home............and here we are 9 months later and we have the most beautiful little girl who was worth every ounce of pain and worry we went through (and are bound to face in the future!)

So to all you new parents out there........enjoy every minute of your time with your little bundle of joy and remember through all the sleepless nights, mountains of nappies and tears you have brought a wonderful little person into the world who is yours to share with everyone!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Welcome one and all!!

Hello!! Welcome to my website/blog!! I hope that I can be informative to you all and create something that you will find useful. I will be adding new pieces to the site as much as possible, so if anything is empty at the mo, please bear with me! You will also get the chance to watch as my 9 month old daughter Emily demonstrates some of the items I am hoping to post. So, as I learn more as a Mum, you guys can see her growing with me! I am hoping to help both parents and practitioners alike as I have been both and therefore can share experiences from both areas to you all. So.............enjoy!!