how do you make sure you're teenagers are safe when they're online?
One of the biggest leap of faith I have to take while raising teenagers is having the courage to trust them when using the internet. While I can keep an eye on where they go when out and about and for how long (the advantage of living in a village) when it comes to letting them loose online, it’s one place I’m all to aware that they’re one step ahead of me.
Gone are the days where we had rules about only being online when I’m in the same room and choosing / vetting any websites they go on. These days, it’s a fine line between giving them the privacy that all teenagers crave while reminding them of the rules of keeping away from the deep dark web.
As a mum (or dad ) so many scenarios haunt you; from cyber bullying, violence, using and learning bad language and pornography. You here the stats all the time, one study by Kaspersky, the global cyber security company, of 5040 children age 10-15 found that over 2/3’s  had heard bad language, a 1/3 had witnessed violence online and 1/4 seen pornography. Not happy reading for any parent is it?

So that’s my wake up call, I need to up my game and find that balance as those are pretty scary statistics and I’m pretty sure my boys would know how to find anything I’d find worrying! So what am I going to do about it?
First things first, I’m going to have THE CHAT (again) I’m pencilling in a nice, tea time slot or maybe a car journey, yeah, a car journey would be better. Side ways conversations always work well with boys, minimum eye contact and all that. And then, once said chat has been executed and received, I’m going to look at ways to make sure I’m back holding the protective reins once again.
All be it a little slacker, and maybe sneakier than before.
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This is a collaborative post with Kaspersky and a reminder to check your parental controls! 
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This is a bit of an odd one to write from a lady (dare I call myself that? Answers on a postcard please, enemies need not apply ) I’m waving the mum of 3 boys card here to say I qualify as someone who could have an opinion on what would look good on a man. So if you’re wondering how to step seamlessly into spring then read on as I share some ideas on looking casual yet cool.

Go Spring Green!

Layering is still vey much the key, Spring can catch you out quickly switching from warm sunny mornings to chilly late afternoons or vice versa. So shirts, crew necks and a light jacket work well. Green is going to be big this year, think muddy, countryside greens and only in one item, head to toe and you’ll be stepping out like Kermet. If you’re tailoring then subtle blues and browns compliment it well. For a really fresh spring look, like the Pegasus moss stitch crew neck sweater from Chums   will work perfectly.

 Checks are big this year

Checks are also on the 2017 fashion radar, the classic Prince of Wales check print on a knit wear is probably one of the easiest ways to wear it although the more braver can opt for a check trouser in subtle grey aired with a plain crew neck jumper. And if you’re wearing a polo shirt under, according to esquire.com collars who’ll always be worn in unless you’re going for a John Belushi look.

Play it safe with Neutrals

And finally, neutrals are still going to be the more subtle theme for this year and are the perfect spring  tone to bring you out of a dark themed winter wardrobe. Where are previous years they were used to compliment brighter tones, this year it’s all about neutrals in varying shades. Think lighter browns, beiges greys and creams.

So no big shockers there, spring fashion is all about loosing the darker colours, stepping out of your comfort zone and being brave!

what's going to be hot for spring in mens fashion this year

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This is a collaborative post 
 
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how did you choose you baby's name?

I’m always intrigued as to how people choose their children’s names, I put a huge amount of thought in my choice of baby boy names (which I always found harder than girls. Not great when you’ve had to do it 3 times!) Having such a traditional name myself, I always fancied something a little different, something which had a meaning and one they wouldn’t share with other children.

When pregnant with my first son, Jordi, I envisioned a surfy, cool dude. A kind of laid back, carefree sort of boy. So chose a name inspired by an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and cemented by a football player. (It was nearly 17 years ago, age really did define my choices)   .  Coupled with a middle name poached from my dad, he had the choice of a more conventional one should he so wish. It couldn’t have been more fitting as the hair grew longer and skateboarding and surfing became his love. Almost as if I’d glanced into the future.

how did you choose you baby boys name?

Then second time round I kept coming back to one of my all time favourites. A family name already belonging to an American relative. Completely unusual to the unknowing ear but utterly apparent to anyone who knew my grandmother’s maiden name. It was going to be Kynan and nothing else, a tribute to my mum’s family and following a tradition to share names with our relies across the pond. Again, I gave him a slightly more known middle name, this time with a nod to my dad’s middle name. I’d lost my maiden name so I felt I needed to keep a little of my dad somewhere.

how did you choose you baby boy name?

So I guess the million dollar question is “do my boys like their unusual names?” after all, they’re stuck with them. And the answer is yes and no. Fact of the matter is, no matter how hard you think things through you can never guarantee to getting it right. Years of having to answer to various names as teachers struggled to remember them, then loving the fact that they were the only ones in the school with those names.

Which takes me right up to where I was some 2 or so years ago, right back to choosing baby names. Do I go traditional this time being older and wiser? Or should I stick with the unconventional? I’ve started something I shouldn’t really stop. But that’s the most difficult thing when you’re choosing names 2nd, 3rd or what ever time around. Really you’ve got to keep going, siblings will find any reason to throw a ‘why did you do this to me’ stick about. I did it once or twice as I yearned to be called something more way-out, forever envious of the Psyche who sat mysteriously with her mysterious and unspellable name at the end the table in my media studies lessons. While I, Alison, sat within poking distance of Nicola, Marie and Brian.

But then I thought, it just as name, and as long as he can spell it, I can say it and my family don’t scoff at it. I’ll just go with something I like. Something which makes me smile when I say it out loud, a name which doesn’t define him and leaves the book open to follow what ever route into the world he should take.

My bonkers, happy little Ronnie.

So tell me, how did you choose your children’s names? Was it a joint decision, names in a hat or did you name them after someone famous? I was named after Ali McGraw, apparently.

Not too bad a namesake I guess.

How did you choose your boy names? Does a name really matter or define who they'll be? read how I chose mine

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secretes to travelling with toddlers

I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers


The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.

 

I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers

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its ok to hold your toddler to sleep, I speak from experience read why hear:

None, I repeat, none of my boys ever learnt to self soothe as a baby or toddler for that. Each night I’d sit with then and often hold them to sleep. And with no.1 & no. 2 it was an issue. A huge, gut wrenching, I’m failing at this parenting lark issue.

It was all me, I’d done it all wrong.  That rod that people talk about. Well, I’d only gone and bought the blady t-shirt, cemented it in iron and left it there for good.

I’d tried the ‘put your baby down drowsy thing,’ yeah, that didn’t work. Lies, all lies, or at least to me. For my babies, putting them down was the absolute worst thing which I could do, so their ear-piercing cries told me. Like I’d laid them on a bed of nails.

How very dare you mother!

They’d say in thief Stewie from Family Guy voices

So guiltily, I picked them up. Guilt from knowing “the books” would scorn at my weakness, guilt that I’d not been strong enough to sit it out, to wait to see if it was just a momentary protest cry, and guilt that by picking them up I was causing deeper, long-term problems. They’d have sleep issues as adults and it would be all my fault.

I blame my parents

They’d tell their psychologists trying to repair the damage I’d caused.

Only it didn’t cause any damage. My cuddles and bedtime love caused no damage at all. 

I can tell you that now. As hindsight, that wonderful, beautiful thing called hindsight. Tells me that what I did was just what my babies needed.
As those babies, those little, cot resisting, Velcro babies are now teenagers who can quite easily sleep through the protest cries of their little, cot protesting Velcro baby brother.

Who each night curls up, in the safe, comforting arms of his cocksure (I know what I’m doing this time) mother and I hold him while he drifts to sleep. Sometimes in my arms, sometimes holding me. But never out of touch or out of reach.

And he let’s me know, my beautiful little boy, that there’s no way on this earth that tonight, or any other for that matter, will he  be drifting off on that 16-year-old bed of nails!

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