Today I’m choosing not to be a shouty mum

Choosing is the most important action in that title. I should probably start by explains that it’s not that I never get cross or live on a bubble of zen with my legs crossed and rose-tinted spectacles, ignoring EVERY misdemeanour with a smile and a nod

 they’re just expressing themselves

type thing. I know when my kids have stepped out of line and that they do things which need pulling up and stopping. I just choose not to shout.

It’s a parenting style which evolved through understanding and looking at things from their point of view rather than my own. Once I realised that life can be just as complex and downright wobbly for them, the light bulb moment came that yelling (and smacking) was more about releasing my frustrations than teaching them right from wrong.

Need that clarifying? Here goes;

When I’m stressed my brain and my patience goes gaga. Little irritating things turn into big irritating things. All that cortisol and adrenalin rushing round my body stops my rational thoughts like a huge boulder on the track. for example, when I’m stressed and my toddler’s wiping my favourite hand cream all over the bathroom wall instead of washing his hands. That really pisses me off. I WANT to shout and ask him wtf does he think he’s doing? Does he not think I’ve got enough to do. (of course he doesn’t, he’s 2 and it’s perfectly natural to be egocentric)

But I know that’s my fight response taking charge. I’m cross and I feel like shouting to release that frustration. You still with me?

Sure it’ll make him realise that I’m fuming, it was wrong and maybe he shouldn’t NEVER do it again.

But here’s the problem.

I need to be showing my kids how to show some self-restraint

By nature I’m not that shouty, stressed person. Most of the time I’m rational and would talk to my son in a calm but stern voice when he’s done something wrong. Explain why it’s wrong and give him an understanding not do it again (not just an it’ll make Mummy scary) Those moments when I want to yell are the hardest by far. Those are moments are the ones when I’m exercising every level of restraint not to lose my parenting cool.

But those are also the moments when I’m modelling to my sponge-of-a-son how not to loose your cool and alienate people. When I yell (it has happened in the past, I’m not Mary Poppins!) my kids glaze over, they shut down OR they get angry back. THEIR brain stops working as it should & they go into a fight or flight situation, where any chance of rational understanding goes out the window. In short, they stop listening, instead consumed by their own feelings rather than understanding what they did wrong.

I need to be showing my kids how to show some self-restraint, so they can do the same when faced with similar situations. By not shouting at every annoying or naughty thing they do, they also know that if they do do something horrendous, then they’ve really crossed the line. But even those moments when I have to whip out the big Mummy voice, we still regroup and talk about why it was wrong. Like I said, I’m not perfect but I am the role model and trying my arm hardest to raise level-headed kids.

But the no shouting thing, that’s normal me, that’s what my kids expect and that’s how my kids learn right from wrong and go out into the world with little inner voices reminding them how best life works. Don’t always jump in with both fists.

That’s why today I’m choosing not to be a shouty mum.


 

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Reviewing The Sleep Tight All Night Bear

Sleep, babies, toddlers, blah, blah, blah. They have got to be one of the most talked about subjects on every parent’s lips at some point in their kid’s lives and I totally put my hands up, I have quite an unconventional approach to sleep. 3 babies in and I ripped up the rule book and stopped fretting about what everyone else did with my last baby and followed my son’s lead.

We co slept for 2 years as that was the only way he settled and even now he wanders into my bed most nights or mornings.  He’s a happy, sociable child and I’ve never had the sleep deprivation that I experienced with my older kids. So why am I reviewing a sleep aid device, if I don’t think my son has a sleep problem you’re probably thinking?

Well, as much as I have no problem with early morning or night-time snuggles. As a work from home mum, who’s most productive part of the day tends to be the evening. I could REALLY do with cutting down our bed time routine. In the past I can spend over an hour settling, reading and sitting with my boy waiting for him to nod off for the night. He’s such a busy little thing at the best of times and seems to pull every last snippet of energy out the bag just before he heads off to dream land.

Which is why I’m testing the Sleep Tight All Night, I was curious to see if it helped cut down bed times.


Looking light a normal teddy, it’s a cuddleable sleep aid which helps teach your child when to sleep and when to get up by using different coloured lights and sounds to differentiate day and night. There’s a selection of  soothing white noise and nature noises for night and cute phrases for day.

We started off by keeping the Sleep Tight All Night  bear downstairs in daytime mode for few days while my son got use to it, then we moved onto to introducing it to our bedtime routine. Each night, after the usual round of stories, I remind my boy to get his sleep teddy, he pull’s out the unit which sits under a velcro’s patch of material at the bottom, set the timer, then go through which noise he wanted.

reviewing the sleep tight all night bear to helpmeet toddler settle more quickly at bed time and improve our bedtime routine

After a few days or so, he’d always opt for the heart beat sound but only after he’d been through every other one. I really started to notice a difference to how quickly he settled after a week. There’s was much less resistance and tossing and turning as he went through the same routine ending with selecting his noise, putting the monitor back in the teddy and telling me the light is red so time for bed. Then laying down quietly, drifting off in half the time he’d done previously.

reviewing the sleep tight all night bear to helpmeet toddler settle more quickly at bed time and improve our bedtime routine

I’ve not seen any change to keeping him in his bed all night yet, but if I’m honest, I’ve not really enforced this as I don’t have a problem which him coming in to sleep with me as he drifts straight back off. So I can’t comment on how effective it is in that respect, that said, I will be trying it out when he’s a little older and able to understand that he needs to stay in his bed and go back to sleep.

In a nutshell, the Sleep Tight All Night teddy has cut down bed time by helping my toddler settle and wind down to relax off to sleep. It’s given my son some independence and control over his bed time routine and is now a permanent feature on his pillow, I’m hoping it helps maintain some normality when going on holiday too!

Disclaimer

We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, the Sleep Tight All Night is available to buy  from Golden Bear Toys 

 

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Setting Online Parental Controls With The Help Of O2 & NSPCC

I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself to keep check on the parental controls on all the devices my kids have. It’s been really easy to let things slip as they get a little older but compared to how I was with my older son, the tween has a lot more freedom. While I’m fully aware that this whole parenting game is pretty much trial and error (should profusely apologise to my teenager at this point, he has been a total learning curve) now I’ve settled into the role and am a lot more confident that I’m doing ok, I’ve been free wheeling with the tween.

But he’s the quiet one, the one which won’t make a fuss and just go about his day playing his xbox, checking his phone and watching TV when we’re home, while my lively toddler takes up a lot of my time. We always used to joke that my sister, the middle child, only ever appeared so well behaved (compared to me) because she was so quiet and in hindsight, she wasn’t the total squeaky clean teen we all thought she was. Silence was her virtue, where as open and nonchalant me got away with nothing!

So I’m using that gift of hindsight to take a reality check on my quiet little 12 year old and setting up parental controls on his iPhone, sorry son! He’s at such a vulnerable and impressionable age and the internet can be a dark, dark place. I had been using a Home Halo device to filter unsuitable websites to their devices. The peace of mind it gave me was invaluable but since that packed in, I’m relying on the BT broadband parental controls as well as setting up the correct ages on all their apple devices and keeping check on browsing histories that they’re not access anything they shouldn’t which has slipped the net.

KidzInMind is an ‘app of apps’, unlocking over £50 worth of educational games and apps that can be played by children on smartphones & tablets

Social networking is a big scare factor for any parent theses days but I do feel it’s something which we have to allow. I regularly check my tween’s followers and at 12 I think it’s not unreasonable to know his passcodes, making sure we have that conversation about staying safe online  and for him to know that I’ll be doing it so he can exercise a little self control.

My real concerns, however, are when he’s searching the web and the possibility of him stumbling on things by mistake.  knowing where to start when your kids get new devices is a total mine field though. Even a technology loving mum like myself is finding it harder to stay ahead of the game. Initiatives like those offered by the NSPCC and  O2 provide parents with the free advice and technical support they need to keep children safe online.

For example, they run workshops with parents across the country, and offer a free dedicated helpline service – 0808 800 5002 – for any internet safety questions (i.e. setting parental controls). Additionally parents can get hands-on free assistance in-store with O2 Gurus. (you can book an appointment here)

With the statistics showing that;

  • Childline has seen a 60% year on year increase in counselling sessions with children left worried after seeing porn online.
  • ·      NSPCC research found that children were as likely to find pornography accidentally, as to deliberately search for it.
  • ·      Web traffic to the NSPCC’s parent advice on protecting young people from the impact of porn has increased by 58% during 2016.

Setting parental controls is something to be taken very seriously.

making sure your kids don't loose their momentum when it comes to their education is easy with these fun homework ideas

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post 

 

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Sneaky ways to get 5 a day in a lunch box

That 5 a day – I’m on it like a car bonnet. I’ve been a bit (a lot) slack with the whole clean and healthy eating thing.  It’s totally, 100 % Christmas’ fault but now he’s left the building I’m joining the rest of the wave of well intentioned by getting back into the ‘my body is a temple’ thing and this time I’m dragging the kids along.

I’ve silenced my ears to the protests of “there’s nothing to eat in this house” (there is, there’s ALWAYS something to eat, even if it’s custard powder Old Mother Hubbard has nothing on me.) One thing which has seriously transpired since I stopped buying biscuits and cakes is just how sugar addicted my boys are. So I’m taking us all cold turkey on the basis that if I don’t buy it, we don’t have and if they’re really as hungry as they’re making out they’ll reach for a good old piece of fruit.

But there’s a but, there’s always a but. When it comes to parenting solo, you have to pick your battles. The whole good cop/bad cop thing doesn’t work. You’re just one or the other  and they’re stuck with it, so for my sanity and to eek out the balance of a happy harmonious house hold. I’m being a little cunning in my mission by introducing some sneaky ways to make sure my kids are getting their 5 a day. And for anyone currently raising or survived raising a teenager, you’ll appreciate my cowards approach.

As for toddler parenting, this is where lunch boxes are worth their weight in gold and with preschool kicking in this week I thought,

“perfect! I’ll share some of my toddler lunch box tips”

 

Keep it colourful and in proportion

Chop up a small apple and chucks of cheese into little  bite sized pieces. add in some blueberries, just a couple of (their)  handfuls will do the job. A portion is equivalent to your child’s hand sized not yours so there’s no need to go ott. The trick here is you’re making it quick, easy and colourful to eat and if it doesn’t look like a huge amount of fruit to get through, they won’t feel overwhelmed by the quantity and refuse to tuck in. You can always add a few more if you’re with them when they’re eating it but the key here is small sizes.

Introduce a Healthy Fruit drink

Yep, you heard it,  a fruit drink like Little bottles by Tropicana . They provide the perfect serving of unsweetened 100% juice to count as one of your 5-a-day. The juice is available in pressed apple or smooth orange and contains 100% pure squeezed fruit in each bottle and there are no added sugars, preservatives or artificial flavours.

simple and sneaky ways to get some of your child's 5 a day with these lunch box ideas

Lunch Box Dips

working on the above idea that hand sized pieces count. pop a small portion of humous in a pot and cut up some carrot and pepper sticks. Again, keeping it small and manageable 3 of each will do so the focus is less on the fruit and vegetable eating and more on the fun with a messy dip which shouldn’t give too much cause for concern

Slip it in a sandwich (or a wrap) 

Or a pitta bread. You’ve got a little bit of everything going on now  but don’t forget the carbs, this will keep your child’s energy levels up. So whatever carbs you go for, a meat of cheese filling with a sliver of cucumber, lettuce leaf or a try good old egg and cress. Just chop it so it’s well and truly hidden, requires minimum eating effort and reduces the possibly of them taking it out.

Don’t feel like you have to go for all 5 a day in one meal time though, there’s always opportunities to top up the remaining 5 a day at family meal times.

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post

simple and sneaky ways to get some of your child's 5 a day with these lunch box ideas

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Supporting the Early Years Nutrition Partnership

Having worked in early years for 15 years, the issues surrounding the best outcomes for this most precious age group has been forefront in my mind. It went part of the parcel with being a mum, so you could say I had a very close and vested interest. Which is why I am supporting the launch of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership C.I.C; an independent social enterprise created in partnership with the Pre-school Learning Alliance, British Nutrition Foundation and Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition, that will provide ‘hands-on’ support for early years settings aiming to improve their whole approach to nutrition practice, to help support improvements across the sector that will contribute to positive health outcomes for the current pre-school generation.

The Early Years Nutrition Partnership (EYN Partnership) has brought together a unique network of self- employed, registered nutritionists and dietitians, each with extensive experience in the early years. They will work alongside and within early years settings, to help them achieve accreditation with a new EYN Partnership Quality Mark. The support provided by the nutrition professionals will be tailored to meet the individual needs of each particular setting and community in which it operates.

Early years settings that sign-up to the EYN Partnership will also be able to upskill their team with opportunities for professional development. The EYN Partnership will provide study places for a Level 3 CACHE award in nutrition and hydration in the early years, and early years setting chefs and cooks will be able to study for a Level 2 CACHE award in the preparation of meals to meet relevant nutritional standards in an early years setting.

If early years settings choose to do so, they can also access additional services from their EYN Partnership nutrition professional, such as the delivery of bespoke classes for parents, children or practitioners.

Integral to the EYN Partnership model is a commitment to support settings with the highest social deprivation needs, with an ambition that in the first year of the programme at least 10% of the settings registered with the EYN Partnership will benefit from subsidised access. A measurement framework and evaluation strategy has been developed to analyse the success of the programme in delivering demonstrable and sustainable social change.

tackling childhood obesity with the early years nutrition partnership

 

According to the National Child Measurement Programme, one in every five children starting reception in England is either overweight or obese.1 Obese children and young people are more likely to become obese adults, and have a higher risk of morbidity, disability and premature mortality in adulthood.2 Amongst other issues associated with poor nutrition in childhood, twenty five per cent of five year olds are reported to experience some tooth decay.

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive Officer of the Pre-school Learning Alliance and Chair of the EYN Partnership Board, says: ‘Childhood obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, and we know that eating a healthy diet during the early years has a significant impact on health outcomes later in life. Early years settings have an essential role to play in helping to establish good eating habits and positive learning about healthy eating. The Early Years Nutrition Partnership model, with its frontline help for practitioners from registered nutritionists and dietitians, offers a more collaborative approach to change at the local level. The Early Years Nutrition Partnership will bring about significant change that will have an impact on the future health of a generation.’

Please share this post with anyone who works in the early years sector as well as parents and carers of children under 5 

 

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