Sunday, 31 July 2011

Too many hobbies??



Are we giving our children too many hobbies and therefore harming their development?
A recent survey has found that 80 per cent of parents feel their children's busy schedules are stunting their development. In an article in the Telegraph, Tim Ross describes how child development experts are voicing their concerns that children are experiencing too much pressure to do well in their hobbies as well as the need to do well in school.

Of course, this also leads to the point that by having lots of extra curricular activities, surely the amount of time spent as a family is suffering too. It is important that children have some down time in their lives, just as it is for adults. Stress can lead to many health problems in children and can lead to nightmares, new habits such as hair twirling and nose picking.

I have always talked about how I keep busy with my daughter. Whilst she is young, there is no pressure for her to achieve.......it is more about socialising for both myself and Emily. But, as she gets older, I will seriously look at creating a good balance for her. Although I feel that a sport activity or physical activity will benefit her, with the introduction of school, it is important to realise how tiring everything can be. Its all about creating a balance and being strong enough to say "No" when asked if they can do another class or club!!

It is always most important to have quality family time and that will be our focus as parents. By all means, an extra curricular activity will probably occur, but I would like to think I could limit those to just one a week, so that the rest of our little girls time can be for family, homework and most important of all..........being a child!! With such hectic lifestyles ourselves, it is sometimes forgotten that children are children, not mini adults. Allowing time to reflect and relax, hopefully a happier, more confident child would appear!!!

What do you think?

Friday, 29 July 2011

Smile and the world smiles with you!




A smile from you can really boost a child's self esteem!!

We all live busy lifestyles and can easily get stressed!! Sometimes, when we get stressed, we forget to smile!! It has happened to me working in busy nurseries and so stressed, I haven't taken time to relax with the children and smile!! Smiling can boost your mood, and makes you more approachable. If you were a child and your parent or carer was moody and stressed, you wouldn't want to go to them, would you?

It is all about being positive. When a child walks into your setting first thing in the morning, put aside the tiredness and smile!! Give them 3 positive comments such as "Wow! I love your coat today" or "You look lovely and smiley this morning". I was told to do this at a course once, and when I out it into practise, I realised the children seemed more comfortable leaving their parents. It was almost like they felt proud to come in because i had been so kind!

I try to show Emily a happy disposition so that she reciprocates this. Of course, when shes done something I am not happy with, she sees the change in my expression and realises I am not happy. I smile for her first thing in the morning, when shes playing.......as much as I can!! It helps me to relieve any stress if I stop and think of something lovely Emily has done or remembering a cuddle we had. It really makes a difference!! So, parents and practitioners.........smile at the children in your life and make a difference to them forever!!


Many thanks to Helen for the use of the photograph

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Cheese and Parsley Straws Recipe




Cheese and Parsley straws.............. a twist on an old favourite!!

Ingredients:

175g plain flour

75g hard margarine
1 egg
75g grated cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 heaped tablespoon parsley

Method:

* Preheat your oven to gas mark 5 (190 c)
* Sift the flour into a mixing bowl
* Cut the margarine into pieces and rub into the flour with your fingertips
* Add the cheese, parsley and pepper. Beat the egg in a cup and slowly add to the mixture until the dough is stiff
* Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 15 mins
* On a clean surface, roll the mixture out with a rolling pin, creating a rectangle shape about 1 cm thick. Cut into strips.
* Carefully place onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 mins





Give it a go!! Its a great recipe for parents to cook with their children, especially during the summer holidays as a boredom buster, or for practitioners to do for a cooking activity with pre schoolers!

Recipe from http://www.danthegardener.co.uk/

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Another Activity idea for the holidays!!



Why not encourage your children to get fit by creating their own Olympics!!With a year to go until the Olympic games in London, why not get your children active and busy by encouraging them to create a "Back Garden Olympics" So much can come from this, you can get them to first decorate their own medals using a range of materials, foil, shiny paper, glue and ribbon! This can be done the day before, as well as deciding what events you can put on!! Some ideas for events are:

1. A skipping race - using skipping ropes to get from one end of the garden to another

2. 25 yard run

3. Standing long jump - lay out a tape measure and get the children to jump from standing, measuring how far they have jumped.

4. Shot Put - using water balloons and again measuring how far they can throw them.

5. Crawling race - racing on hands and knees across the lawn!

6. Do the Limbo - using a long pole to see how low you can go!

7. A game of football

These are just some ideas you can use. The motto of the Olympics is that taking part matters, so it is important to bring this message to your own games!! You can get your children's friends involved to create teams and even pretend you are different countries!! You could even get the children to research their countries flag and make one to stick on their top!
If you don't have your own garden, you could always use your local park or grass area!

Give it a go..............your own Back Yard Olympics!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Babies need cuddles!!

It is something we do naturally and rarely think about, but a cuddle can go a long way!
We are blessed in having a little girl who loves cuddles. And not only with us........she is a big hugger of her lamb ("Teddy" as she calls him) and her new doll Grandma bought her for her birthday. She is a big one for kisses too. Every day I get slobbered with great big kisses (I hope they don't stop for a long while!!) But have you ever realised just how powerful a cuddle can be?

A report in 2009 on the Medical News Today website, describes how children who are deprived of cuddles are at risk of poor brain development and social skills.There is an old wives tale that says giving your baby too many cuddles will make them more needy - rubbish!! By cuddling your child, you are making them feel loved, safe and secure and you increase your bond with them. Just last week, I was discussing the importance of skin to skin contact with babies at birth and it was shocking how many mothers had to ask for this to happen when in hospital. It is something that all midwives are preaching, but when it comes to it, a mother shouldn't have to ask to have skin to skin contact. We still occasionally have skin to skin hugs........they are lovely and make you feel all warm inside. If it feels that good to us, imagine how your baby feels!

Of course, as a baby gets older the want for cuddles begins to be on their terms only!! There is far much more exciting things happening and therefore a cuddle with Mummy and Daddy is last thing on the agenda!! It is important to make the most of the cuddles we get, to cherish the moments of warmth or children give us. Before we know it, they grow up and rarely stop for a hug!!! So, go on.......give your little one a hug and show them how much you love them (even if they have been a pain today!!)

The big television debate



Is television beneficial for your child, or is avoiding it best? I think a happy medium!!
We have all seen it, people using the television as a babysitter to keep their children entertained. To be honest, I have done so once or twice to get stuff done when it was needed!! But, what is best when it comes to the dreaded box??? Within the first 2 years of a child's life, the development of your child's brain is at a crucial point, and in America the Academy of paediatrics recommend that children under the age of 2 should not watch any television at all. This is mainly because the television can get in the way of social interaction and learning about the world around them.

In moderation, television can be a good thing. It can be educational for children, and I must admit, Emily has learnt some words from watching the television with me. I think that is the key.... if you are going to allow your child to watch the television, sit and watch it with them. This helps with language and social interaction as you discuss what you see. We only have around 20 mins of television each time, usually watching In The Night Garden (Emily can say Daisy, but the whole thing drives me mad!!) or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse( where Emily goes absolutely over excited!!) and usually, I do join her, unless something that needs doing gets in the way!!

We all know television can be detrimental too......... children who generally watch up to 4 hours or more of tv a day are more likely to be overweight. And what your children watch on television can affect their behaviour (eg: violence on tv can lead to violent behaviour) But, i believe there can be a happy medium........ I am not saying place your child in front of the television everyday, I am merely pointing out that if you have some television time in your daily routine alongside exercise, being outside, reading stories and playing with toys, it cannot hurt to spend 20 mins or so sat watching a child friendly program with your little one.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Learning from others



A family get together makes me realise how much babies watch and learn

Today we had a fantastic BBQ get together in the New Forest with Deans side of the family. There were about 44 people there, with plenty of children too (Many if which are Emily's little cousins!) As well as the chance for Emily to get up close to horses and watch New forest ponies, the main thing that caught her attention were the children playing.

As many babies her age do, Emily was taking in her surroundings, watching every move her cousins made! Her squeals of delight as they ran past made it even more cute! By watching the way other children interact with one another and play, Emily was learning many things from social skills, communication skills to listening skills. When babies meet with other babies or children, they are learning to copy motions such as hand clapping or smiling. By watching older children, we are sure she will soon want to be on her feet so she can join in all the fun! Because of her age, Emily is not yet ready to play with other children as such, but she loves being alongside them and sharing their company. We have noticed her giving other children toys, which is a great start towards sharing skills (even if she usually wants it back straight away!!)

It is definitely worth getting your young child into group situations with other children. Whether it is family, friends or trying a new group or class, you are allowing your child to learn more about social situations and the basics of making friends and playing with others. It is also great for parents too, allowing you to be able to talk to other parents and in our case, catch up with family who we haven't seen for ages!!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Mediterranean Soup Recipe




How about a nice healthy, delicious Mediterranean soup??

I have stumbled across this recipe for Mediterranean pasta soup from http://www.kidshealth.org/ It is quick and simple and makes a lovely meal for your growing cherubs!!

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups water
16 fl0z Chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes


1/2 cup macaroni


2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Method* Heat olive oil in a pot over a medium heat

* Add onion and saute until browned

* Add water and next 6 ingredients above

* Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins

* Add the pasta and cook for a further ten minutes, until the pasta is tender

* Stir in the parsley and serve.

This recipe makes 8 servings (based on 1 cup per serving)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Its fun with one!



By choice or not, having only one child shouldn't make you feel guilty!

I have seen several forums with Mums worried that by not giving their child a sibling means they are missing out on something. Often in the media, only children are given the tags "lonely" and "tragic" but this doesn't have to be the case. Research in Australia has shown that only children are more academically minded and have a stronger self esteem. But what can you do to make yourself and your child feel that they are not missing out by not having a sibling?

* Give your child lots of opportunities to play with other children - not just by attending school, but allowing other children into your home too.

* Allow your child to be a child - by giving to much schedule in their lives, you may deprive them from free play and the opportunity to play outside

* Make sure you have a laugh every day - by being a bit silly and having a laugh as a family.

* Don't live in each others pockets - by not spending every moment with each other, your child can develop their own personality.

* Think about what you expect for your child - Are your ambitions for them realistic? Are you causing your child stress by wanting them to succeed too much?

* Be kind to yourself - Remember there are so many different ways of parenting and the way you are doing it with your child isn't wrong, just different than others!

And remember...................it is fun with one!!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Time is important

How giving the gift of time can be so precious to your child
We are all so busy with our lives. Juggling housework, work, parenting and social lives can be exhausting..........if only there were more hours in the day!! Anyone who has seen the new series of Jo Frosts Extreme parenting, may have seen the statistic that on average, parents only spend 49 minutes per day doing things with their parents. That is a sad fact, but even I realise its true when I think about some of my days when I am trying to organise things at home.

I have been reading several things about how to make sure spending time with your child every day happens for more than 49 minutes. It can be surprisingly easy to find the time, even if your children have been at school all day!! For example, reading a story to your child........15 mins, eating dinner with your child at the table with no distractions..........30 mins........ tidying the house together/washing up.........15 mins.......... helping your child get ready for bed....... 20 mins.........already we have made it up to 1hr 20 mins!! Better than 49 mins already!! It is easier for some on weekends to give more time to your child. We balance our supermarket trip and spending time with our daughter by having a "Family Day" and a "housework day" on our weekends, which has worked so far. Of course, we do still spend time with our little one on the housework day!!

Take a look at your routine at the moment........do you give enough time to your child? Is there things you need to do that your child can help with? Are there jobs that you can put on hold for a while, or at least until they are in bed? Just giving a little time to draw a picture together, share a story or simply sit at the table for dinner can make a huge difference. Your child will benefit by:

* Having quality time to bond with their parents
* Building a better line of communication with their parents
* Can help curb unwanted behaviour
* It builds self esteem - by spending time with their parents, they feel important
* It also benefits the parent.........you can really gain an understanding of what makes you child tick

So, give your children the best gift ever, and give them some time.........it is well worth it!!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ever heard of Amber??

Amber is a natural remedy which can help with teething!!
This is something totally new on me!! When reading a magazine the other day, I stumbled across a piece on Amber stones and its healing proprieties. I am not a new age Mum, but the idea was different! It has been used for centuries, especially in Europe as a remedy for pain and fever and because it is a natural analgesic, it can also be used for relieving the symptoms of teething.

Wearing Baltic amber close to the skin apparently helps calm a baby without the need for reaching for pain relief. Amber teething necklaces can be bought to be worn by babies to help this, from as early as 4 months old. Obviously, supervision is needed to stop babies chewing the necklace and also the necklaces should not be worn in bed or when the child is asleep at any point.

You can read more about amber necklaces at www.amber-teething-necklaces.com I have not tried them as to yet myself, but I may give it a go. If anyone uses them already, please comment below or email me as I would love to know if they actually work!!!



Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Let's get cooking!



How cooking can aid a child's development, and be lots of fun too!
I admit, I am not the best in the kitchen! I am getting better with cooking meals, but baking still eludes me in terms of quality! But where I seemed to not do too bad was in the Pre School room, cooking with the children. I think perhaps this was because I gained more enjoyment out of cooking with the children, and finding new and interesting things to make! Of course, we made cakes and biscuits, but I enjoyed branching out further, making apple crumble, sausage rolls and fruit kebabs (as well as the occasional pizza and sandwiches!)

There is so much children can learn from taking part in a cooking activity. The senses are the main target here, with children being encouraged to smell, touch, sometimes hear, see and taste their efforts. It is also a huge hive of activity for boosting language skills, as new vocabulary is introduced (such as kneading, rolling,bake etc) and there is plenty of discussion occurring during the process. If you use a recipe too, you can encourage children to understand more about the printed word, leading to reading skills. Older children can even make their own recipe of what you have made by using drawn pictures and numbers.

There is a huge mathematical aspect to cooking as well. Weighing ingredients, counting ingredients and following a method helps build number and reasoning skills. Their knowledge and understanding of the world is also boosted by discussing what they think will happen to the food when it goes in the oven. I always used to ask the children where they thought we should put what we were making. Interesting when I was once told to put ice lolly mixture in the oven!! But, I encourage them to think about where we put things to go cold or to cook. They also began to understand that you need to wait for things to change, and seeing what it looked like before and after often gave a great deal of conversation too!

It is fantastic to encourage children in the kitchen. Teaching them the safety rules, such as how to use knives carefully (and well supervised!!) and how ovens are hot places, can help them gain a better understanding of how to stay safe when cooking and still enjoy themselves. So, all you parents and practitioners out there, get cooking with the children !! After all, who knows........you could be training a budding chef in the making!!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Boredom buster!

Here is an idea to keep your child busy during the Summer holidays!

You can hear it now........6 weeks at home and the old saying "I'm bored!" starts to get used. Well, here is an idea which my Mum used for my sister and I when we were on Summer holiday to keep us busy! We had the situation where Mum and Dad still had to work the majority of the holidays and I am sure we used to drive our parents mad with being bored! So, Mum come up with the brilliant idea of getting us to do a project.

We chose the topic, it could be anything we wanted..Animals, Birds, the Jungle........it was wide open for us! We then had to research it. We were taken to the library to find books, used the encyclopedias we had at home, magazines and our artistic talent to create a book about the topic we had chosen. We illustrated the book, wrote all the words from what we had read and created a lovely project. At the end, we were given a treat for our efforts, I am not sure what they were, but I do remember being very proud of all my hard work!

This is an activity for slightly older children, but is very rewarding for them, especially if they chose something that really interests them. You will need to supply paper, pencils, pens, scissors, glue and the use of magazines, and visits to the library. You can also use the Internet for information (something we didn't have when I was younger!!) and let the children loose on it! I would definitely recommend this activity, I know it worked for my sister and I. Give it a go!!

(Thanks to my Mum for the inspiration and idea for this activity!)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

" I'm not listening!"

How to get your child to listen to you, and what to do when Time out doesn't work!

I have had a request to discuss how to encourage your child to listen. The parent who requested my input has a six year old girl who is wonderfully behaved at school and then changes completely when she gets home! Getting her to listen is an issue and time out just isn't working! Ok, here goes.................

It is extremely frustrating for any parent how has a child who is not listening, especially when they are hearing how behaved they are out of the home!! A few ways to try and curb this behaviour without yelling yourself are:

* Do not yell!
* Never give up and give in - be clear about what you have said and the consequences if they do not listen and then carry it through.
* Do not intervene in a child's behaviour when you are angry. Wait until you have calmed down, or try and step in before you lose your temper. This gives you a more rational and calm response.
* Be clear in the fact that you are the parent and not the child's friend
* Praise them when they have done something well. Make a big deal about it, especially if it is the fact they have listened to what you have said!
* Give an incentive to listen - the more they listen, the less the need for the incentive over time
* Do not give more than one chance! Giving three chances or counting to ten rarely works, it just prolongs the unwanted behaviour!

As for the Time out issue, not all families find that time out works for them, especially as the child gets older. Again, reinforcing good behaviour helps to combat the need for time out but of course, this doesn't help you when some form of punishment is needed! I would use something they enjoy, such as an activity or a toy. For example, if they are warned that they need to listen or they wont be able to play outside tomorrow and then they don't listen, then stick to it and don't let them out. Or, a toy gets taken away for a day. There is some research which suggests that excessive use of time out can be damaging for a child emotionally, which may be of some interest to some parents www.naturalchild.og/guest/peter_haiman.html

I hope this may be of some help to any of you out there, as well as the person who asked me to post this! If there are any other issues people need advice on out there, please email me at childcareclair@hotmail.co.uk I am always happy to help!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Creating a writing area



How practitioners can create an interesting and educational writing area

I recently spoke to someone who works in a Nursery setting who is disappointed with the writing area in the pre school room. The trick is to think from a child's point of view and offer a wide range of resources, some of which you may not even think of!! When I helped to design a writing area in a large nursery Pre school room, I introduced a range of resources to encourage children to beginning to use literacy in a fun and interesting way.

Some of the resources you can use are:

* Envelopes and used stamps, postcards etc (for letter writing)
* Paperclips, staplers (supervision required!), sticky tape
* Different sizes and types of paper such as coloured, graph, squared and lined
* A box of old written postcards to show different writing
* Laminated alphabet cards
* Old magazines, scissors and glue

* Laminated cards with the children's names on in different fonts and sizes
* Writing tools such as pencils, Biro, felt pens, crayons, coloured pencils, chalks and charcoal
* Clipboards
* Post it notes and notepads
* Hole punch, sticky labels and stickers
* Phone
* Calculator and Keyboard

It is important that the children get the sense that writing is important. You can do this by making the are high profile and easily accessible. Adding photographs of the children writing and images of people writing and different types of text can also help to spark interest. You can also create a scrapbook with cut out letters and text for children to look at. Of course, the adult role is very important here. By modelling writing and using letters not just indoors but outside too, can boost a child's interest in writing.

I would love to know what other setting use in their writing areas........I know some even have interactive touch screens!!! Leave a comment below or email me at childcareclair@hotmail.co.uk


Friday, 15 July 2011

Salmon, Potato and Spinach Puree Recipe

A recipe aimed for babies aged 6 months - 12 months

After attending a weaning talk on Wednesday, something that struck me is how some parents are a little worried about cooking fresh meals for their child. There is the worry that there may not be enough nutrients when you cook your baby's food independently. But the beauty of cooking for your baby fresh is that you know exactly what ingredients are going in to the meal! This recipe is to help anyone who is a little concerned about cooking from scratch!!

Salmon, potato and spinach pureeYou will need:

5 medium potatoes



2 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil



3 salmon fillets
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves, washed
Fresh Dill



Juice of 1/2 lemonMethod:

1. Peel the potatoes, cut into small pieces and boil for 12 mins
2. Cut the spring onions into small pieces. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add the potatoes and fry until golden and slightly crispy.
3. Cut the salmon into small pieces, checking for bones. Add the potatoes and gently move around the pan so the salmon cooks.
4. Add the spinach,dill and lemon juice and cook for 1-2 mins until the spinach wilts
5. For babies you either need to chop up the food or mash down with a fork.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bathtime fun!

Bathtime is not just for winding down and getting clean.......it is for learning too!!


Our little girl loves water, swimming and above all, bath time! As part of her bedtime routine, her bath gives her the chance to have a final play before winding down for bed. But as well as getting squeaky clean, she is also learning plenty from her bath time experiences!

The feel of the water is of a sensory benefit. Babies learn that skin feels softer under the water and that clapping your hands under water can be so much different from doing so above the water! They get to know about the weightlessness you can feel in the water and the cause and effect of splashing around in the tub!!

Other learning come in the form of:

* Personal, social and emotional development : Understanding routines and that bath time signals the end of the day. Bathing is also a quality time to spend with your baby, helping the bonding process.

* Mathematical Development : Understanding full and empty, volume and weight.

* Communication, Language and literacy : Learning new words such as "Splash", " wash" etc


* Creative Development: Creating opportunities for imaginative play, perhaps by washing toys, dolls etc

* Knowledge and Understanding of the World: Understanding cause and effect, experimenting with different containers and volume. Exploring floating and sinking.


* Physical Development : Strengthening muscles by splashing in the tub and developing hand eye co-ordination when catching floating toys!!

Toys for the bath don't have to be expensive either! Empty plastic bottles, pumice stones, sponges and cloths can be a cheaper but really educational!!! Just remember to always check the temperature of a bath with your elbow before putting your child in the bath!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Separation Anxiety strikes again!!

There is nothing that pulls the heartstrings more than when your child wont let you go!

Here I am, years of childcare experience and coming from giving parents advice on separation anxiety, and I am struggling myself!! It has been a difficult few days for my baby and I. What with family and friends invading her home on Sunday and Monday, she has not wanted to let me out of her sight!! Its been stressful, emotional and frustrating and I needed something to give!!

That is where the advice of other Mums is priceless. Whilst witnessing my child's insistence of being held by me at her party on Monday, they suggested me trying the creche at our local children's' centre so I could get a break, and also teach my daughter that when I go, I always come back! So, today I went along to the "Tums to Mums" session and left my little treasure in the capable hands of the creche staff for an hour and a half.

yes, I had the inevitable cry as soon as I moved away from her, but a swift exit and no long goodbyes allowed me to avoid prolonging the separation. I was tearful, I must admit, but I told myself if was the best thing for all involved in the long term. I would rather she gets used to being left now, than have major issues when she goes to Pre School in the future, which is my intention. I was reassured by the other Mums dropping their children in after me, that Emily was fine and had stopped crying. She was surrounded by babies she knew well (many of which were at her party!) which meant she wouldn't feel too alone as far as I was concerned!

It is a hard thing to do, and I have been telling people is the downside of being a stay at home Mum. You have to bite the bullet though and let them cry. Let them understand that you do come back and they are safe. We are very lucky to have this facility to allow me to meet with other mums, learn something (today's topic was weaning) and have a cup of tea. I was even able to grab lunch whilst I was there for £2 ( a lovely jacket potato!!) And my daughter? Well, no tears when I returned and she was having fun with her friends!! I intend to carry on for as long as possible doing this once a week, allowing us both a chance to breathe!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Birthday Party time!!

A first birthday party can be a bit tricky to organise........so I did 2!!!
We desperately wanted to share our little girls first birthday with everyone. When you asked me 6 months ago, I was adamant that Emily wouldn't have friends to invite to a party......surely she would be too young!! But, I began to realise what a social bee she had become and we ended up deciding on two parties. One for family, and one for friends.

It was hectic, I cannot lie!! Emily was very overwhelmed with her house being taken over by so many people on both days. She was very clingy to me (which recently is nothing too new) which made it difficult to get things done. I had to bite my lip and let her get it out of her system. I cannot be there all the time and do other things, which she needs to learn. The family party was lovely. We did a BBQ, which the weather was kind to us for. I have always discussed how important family is to a child, and when she was over her clingyness, she seemed to really enjoy the company of her Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Today's party was all about her friends. Its not easy doing a baby party........party bags are a challenge to be age appropriate!! I placed a book, balloon, slice of cake and mini bubbles in ours!! I set up the garden with a range of toys, Emily's new tent, cars, walkers, paddling pool and inflatables which all went down really well! The weather again was kind, allowing us to spend time outside and enjoy ourselves. The food was simple...........finger food such as raisins, carrot sticks, biscuits, sausage pieces, crisps (the organix children's range) and of course cakes!!

It was a laid back party. There is no need for party games or a need to book entertainers, the babies enjoyed just playing whilst the mums all caught up with the latest gossip!! I would recommend to anyone struggling to come up with ideas, to do a tea party as I did. It can be indoors if you have no garden or the weather is bad and it can be as simple as you like!!

Thankyou to everyone who reads my blog who knows us and came along. It was lovely to share our babys first birthday with you all!!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

A year of learning



My first year of parenting has given me lots to learn about!!
My little girl turns 1 tomorrow. I am all emotional at the thought of her being so big already. People keep on telling me how it will always just seem to fly by and before we know it, she will be turning 16!! My amazing little girl has not only given me lots of joy over the last year, but she has taught me so much!! We are having 2 parties for her for friends and family (more about parties with a later post!) but today I want to share with you everything I have learnt.

1. A new language - learning to understand my child's cries and what she needs from her body language is definitely a new skill!!

2. How to stick to my guns - I have learnt to never back down if I believe in my daughters best interests. (She hasn't had cake or chocolate yet- will be trying it tomorrow!)

3. Operation going out!- Leaving the house isn't as simple as it used to be. Packing nappies, wipes, spare clothes etc makes even the most disorganised person an organised mum!

4. Staying at home isn't all fun and games - Being a stay at home Mum is sometimes quite lonely. I have done my best to get out there and meet other Mums to make it less so.

5. You become invisible!! - Once you have a pushchair, you are basically invisible to others!! Need to get on a bus? Need help with a door? Forget it!! There is the odd helpful person out there (usually someone who has been there and understands!!)

6. Cuddles are the best - A cuddle from your baby is the best! It is a bind which stays with you forever!

7. Emotions run high - not only can you be really emotional after having a baby, but I have found seeing my baby reach milestones often brings a tear to my eye.

8. No books for the job - Babies don't come with manuals!!! Although some books can be helpful, at the end of the day you have to learn as you go! The person who knows your child best is you!

9. Teething is horrible for all involved!

10. Eyes in the back of your head - once your baby is on the move, there is no more quiet moments! You literally have to grow eyes in the back of your head!!

11. Being a Mum is the most rewarding, if tiring job, you can ever do

12. It is possible to run on limited sleep!

13. Sleeping whilst your baby sleeps - yeah, right! With housework and the like to do, no chance!

14. No room in your house is child free! - Once your baby arrives, every room has something baby related in it! Seriously!!

15. Bottle feeding isn't all bad - I have a happy and healthy little girl!!

So, to finish,( as I am busy party organising tomorrow!) I would like to wish my gorgeous little girl a very happy First birthday. Thankyou, Emily for teaching me so much and giving me and your Daddy so much pleasure. We love you with all our hearts!!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Working mums tired all the time!



60% of working mothers say they are tired all the time

A few years ago, a report in the Daily mail described that the pressure to be a "supermum" as well as working made 60 per cent of working mums admit that they are constantly tired. Lack of sleep, skipping meals and the stress of juggling parenting with work could be damaging these Mums health.

So, how can Mums help relieve this pressure? Here are a few ideas:

* Make sure to get some "you" time. A warm bath, a romantic meal or just watching a film in bed!!

* Try Acupressure - a massage therapy technique to help calm and relax tender muscles.

* Avoid tv and Internet after 8pm, and do more relaxing activities

* Go to bed no later then 10pm as your adrenal glands recharge between 11 and 1 am

* Wake up an hour before your child and have a drink of water, 30 mins exercise and then a shower. This will kick start your body!

* Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours sleep, and eat a healthy diet to give you extra energy and be more alert.

* Make sure you organise your daily routine. Write down what you need to do each day, making time for rest and fun with your child

These points should help to reduce tiredness for you working mums out there. I know I am not one myself, but i can appreciate how tiring and stressful it must be. Many of my friends are working mums and try to get a balance of work and what is best for their child. Whatever you do, you will always have your child's best interests at heart, and if that means giving yourself a break every now and then, then so be it!! Even I give myself a break now and then, especially as my job is at home with my daughter, and that is tiring in itself, heaven knows juggling work as well!! I have total admiration for working mums, doing the best for your children by working hard to bring the money in to keep them fed and clothed. You should be proud of yourselves!!


so go on, take a minute and realise how wonderful a parent you are...............relax and try and beat the fatigue!!

Thanks Neliza for your suggestion for this post. I hope it is helpful to you. If anyone else wishes me to help them, please feel free to email me at childcareclair@hotmail.co.uk






Wednesday, 6 July 2011

EYFS being made simpler and easier to understand



Government intends to slim down the Early learning goals!
After 3 years of getting used to the current framework, practitioners face yet more change as the government radically changes the EYFS. Due to the Tickell review, the decision has been made to reduce the number of early learning goals from 69 to just 17 and instead of the current 6 areas of learning, there will only be 3.

The aim here is to allow staff to have more time and freedom to work with the children in their care and also to allow parents to have more understanding of the framework. I must admit, trying to explain the current framework to parents was often time consuming! 2 year olds will have a development check to recognise as early as possible those who have a learning delay and need extra support.

It is about time that the government realised how difficult it has been for practitioners to adapt from the Stepping stones system to the EYFS, especially myself who was so used to the old way of learning!! But, as usual, practitioners are sure to embrace any changes and make the most of the new framework. I personally think slimming it down will make a big difference to the staff working with children, as with less areas to cover, they can really concentrate on the individual children in their care.

The new plans are said to hopefully come into force in Sept 2012, giving practitioners time to get adjusted and learn more about the proposals. If you want to read more about this radical change read www.nurseryworld.co.uk or www.education.gov.uk to find out more.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Ricotta Pancakes Recipe

This week, a recipe for tasty Ricotta Pancakes!!
What you need:

2 large free range eggs
1 mug semi-skimmed milk
1 mug plain flour
4 tbsp Ricotta cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg
Low fat Spread (for frying)
4 Big handfuls of spinach
1 Lemon
Instructions:

1. Put your oven on at its lowest setting

2. Put the eggs, flour and milk into a bowl and mix until smooth. Add the ricotta and nutmeg and leave to stand for 15 mins

3. Heat a little spread in a non stick pan and spoon a ladle of batter into it to coat the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes until golden on the bottom, flip over and cook other side.

4.When ready, take pancake out, pop onto a plate, cover with foil and place in oven to keep warm whilst making others.

5. When all of the pancakes are made, put some spread into a pan and wilt the spinach. Squeeze in the juice of half of the lemon.

6. Serve with the wilted spinach and use the remaining lemon to squeeze over them.


This recipe will make enough for 4

Adapted from gurgle magazine June/July 2011

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Taking time out



Taking a break can be good for all involved
The past few days have been very tiring, with our little girl being very clingy to her Mummy and being a right pickle at bedtime!! So, what was needed was a little respite from it all. Dean and I went to the Goodwood Festival Of Speed with our cousin and enjoyed a little break from all of the stresses of parenting. It hurts me to say it, but her spending a night with her Grandma and Uncle really allowed us to chill out. Dean said he slept the best he had slept in ages, and although my Mummy clock awoke me at 5 am, I had a good sleep too!

All refreshed, we were able to enjoy our day out knowing our little girl was safe and having a whale of a time! She went to the park, into town and spent some quality time getting to know her Uncle (who i am sure now is on a par with Daddy as her favourite guy right now!) Her Grandma, although a tad tired, enjoyed spending quality time with her Grand daughter. On top of it all, our little angel slept in longer than she has at home for ages!! So, it seems that our little break away has done us all the world of good!! Of course, now she is home I am sure it will get back to normal!!

Although daunting, it is good for parents to have a break from it all now and again. There is no harm with a child staying with a family member, giving you time to relax and them a time to bond. I had a little cry leaving her yesterday, but finding out how good she was, I know her recent clingyness is for my benefit only and something I have to sort out!!