Raising Children

Can Controlled Crying Affect A Baby’s Psychological Health?

Sleep is by far one of the biggest concerns of new parents, so if you’ve tried controlled crying it’s completely understandable. In a nutshell, this technique requires the baby or toddler to self-sooth. This is accomplished by placing them in a safe place like their cot or crib and allowing them to cry themselves to sleep. Of course, there’s a lot more to it, but that’s the general concept.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip …Consistency

Despite controlled crying being a salvation to exhausted parents, I recently read a very different perspective about it in a new book called Becoming A Mother: A Journey of Uncertainty, Transformation and Falling in Love. The author, Leisa Stathis, talks about how controlled crying can be detrimental to child psychological development and how it can greatly effect parental-child bonding.

This made a lot of sense to me, having used controlled crying myself. This was twenty odd years ago when it was highly popular, however, and when no one considered the psychological effects on the infant. It was all about the parent getting some sleep – and boy did I really need some!

So, back to the book. Quite simply, Leisa wrote that we wouldn’t want an adult to cry themselves to sleep repeatedly. That would be cruel. So why on earth are parents encouraged to place their babies and toddlers in this situation? As a parent, this made me wince. What Leisa put so simply was 100 per cent correct.

She went on to say that babies and toddlers cry for a reason – and yes, some more so than others. My youngest had a very healthy set of lungs, but that was his only form of communication. With age he continues to have a lot to say, but obviously in being older he can now express it. What’s more is that when he does, I listen.

That made me think about what I had done by using controlled crying. As a young child, I would put him in his room and chose not to attend to his cry. Granted it wasn’t easy, many a tear was shed using the professional advice I was given, despite it going against my gut instinct as a mother.

After reading Leisa’s take on controlled crying, I realised I wasn’t alone. Many parents expressed they too felt this technique went against their maternal instinct. It really doesn’t feel natural to leave a crying infant alone for any period of time, let alone to allow them to cry themselves to sleep.

Over time controlled crying has been reported as being detrimental to infant development. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist who specialises in this field and the impact trauma has on the brain, believes infants don’t learn how to self-sooth at all using this method. Instead, they develop a defeat response.

This occurs because they essentially give up on crying. They do this because their cries yield no response from their parent. Eventually they learn that their cries for comfort will go unanswered – this is why they cease to cry. It’s got nothing to do with learning to self-sooth, as was previously thought. Instead, they rapidly learn that they are very much alone in this world. So in turn, this impacts their ability to trust and does nothing to strengthen the maternal bond.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful relationship with my kids, but I can see first hand the detrimental effects it’s had, particularly on my youngest child. My eldest is far more capable of regulating his emotions, while my youngest has always struggled. In hindsight, I wish I could turn back the sands of time and try something else. If only we had a crystal ball to inform us of our mistakes as we make them!

So in closing, it just goes to show that your maternal instinct will always be your best point of reference. This is the message Leisa Stathis delivers in her book, Becoming A Mother: A Journey of Uncertainty, Transformation and Falling in Lovewhich I highly recommend.

Image via mamamaike.nl

September 16, 2015

7 Modern Money Lessons You Need to Teach Your Kids

Teaching kids about money used to be as simple as: “This is the pay envelope with our cash for the week.” These days credit and debit cards, internet banking and – pretty soon – transacting via mobile phone mean money has become almost invisible to children. Add to that technology traps like unexpected in-app purchases and unfathomable mobile plans, and parents face a big challenge raising modern money managers.

These are the seven vital lessons to impart if your children are ever to fend for themselves financially.

1. Even though you seldom see money, it does disappear
Everyone has a finite amount on which to live and play. Key is to make it stretch as far as possible, and have a little leftover for later.

Top teaching tip: Use food as a pay proxy and from a young age. For example, with chocolate and money, you have to carefully decide how much and how quickly you consume, because it’s very sad when it’s gone. Especially when yours is gone before anyone else’s.

2. Plastic is not fantastic – unless it’s pre-loaded with cash
To a child, it can look like a real-life fairy tale to flash a card and magically take home anything you want. But a big credit card bill at the end of the month is positively evil.

Top teaching tip: Remember you are your child’s first experience of debt and spending so always model good credit card behaviour. Buy only what you set out to and explain there is either money saved onto the card or you will repay what you spend before it costs extra in interest (do you like the way I assume that’s the case?).

3. Tablets are not just for Angry Birds
How are your precious progeny to know when you are head down, brow-furrowed, that you’re not gaming but banking?

Top teaching tip: Always talk through what you are doing. And consider paying pocket money into a deposit account from an early age so children can watch both their game scores and bank balance tick up online. It might even encourage them to get competitive about interest rates.

4. Plan to not miss out
It’s crucial to think ahead to what you are going to want and need in any given pay period because, as we’ve established, money is finite.

Top teaching tip: The pocket money challenge. Give your kids the option to have $10 a week pocket money or $40 a month. They’ll presumably choose $40 a month and then spend it in a week, learning quickly – albeit painfully – to make money stretch. The ‘challenge’ for you is not to cave in and give them extra when they can’t go out at the end of the month (that could even pre-dispose them to debt dependency).

5. Children are viewed as ‘fair’ financial game
More than 50 consumer protection agencies around the world have now united in a fight against smartphone and tablet apps that mislead kids. They need to understand that companies prey on children’s psychology and competitiveness – to get to the next level… to advance more quickly… – to keep them spending money.

Top teaching tip: Micro-payments – on/in apps, games or music – can do maximum damage. Set any parental restrictions you can and keep a tally with your child of their spend. If they transact on the internet, also ensure they know sites need to be secure (with a ‘https’ prefix and a padlock in the bottom corner).

6. Waiting works wonders
Today’s money world takes our built-in instant gratification bent – you’ll recognise it in your child’s super-fun ‘I want, I want’ meltdowns – to a whole new level. An important learning is that alternative, delayed pay-offs can be far greater and even more satisfying.

Top teaching tip: Target a family goal like a big trip to California’s Disneyland. Then every time your child spies something shiny or yummy at the checkout, give them the option to buy it for them or save the equivalent for a splurge on Disneyland merchandise. Push actual coins or notes into a piggy bank or preferably deposit them in the bank, and keep an incentive chart of their ‘savings’ on the wall.

7. Stash cash from an early age
This one is really the key to comfort: tiny changes made early enough make a massive difference.

Top teaching tip: Drive home the dollar advantage of putting some money aside to keep your child focused. A dollar a day of pocket money saved from, say, age 10 becomes more than $60,000 by age 50 (at a return of 6 per cent). Better still, only $14,560 of that is from you; the rest is courtesy of the bank or investment. Imagine where you’d be today if someone had told you that…

Nicole is the founder of TheMoneyMentorWay.com and developer of the 12-Step Prosperity Plan, an achievable and even enjoyable blueprint to take Aussies from worry to wealthy. Nicole’s writing has earned her top personal finance awards in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Her career credits include founding and editing The Australian Financial Review’s Smart Investor magazine, and reporting and editing for the magazine arm of the UK’s Financial Times. Author, qualified financial adviser and Fairfax’s Money Matters columnists for the last decade, Nicole is a regular on television and radio. She talks money without the mumbo jumbo. Follow her on Twitter at @NicolePedMcK.

September 15, 2015

How To Combat The Return Of The Untouched Lunchbox

Are you spending value time and cash on school lunches only to have lunchboxes returned untouched? It’s a reality many parents face and we know that most kids would rather play around than eat – yet sometimes, it’s not about that.

RELATED: The Ultimate Morning Routine For Kids (And Parents)

In some cases, kids just can’t stomach the same lunchbox foods over and over again. It’s as simple as that. They might ask for peanut butter and jam sandwiches for a few days in a row, but when it’s what they receive every day for a week or longer, it gets monotonous. So what can you do to make them actually eat their lunch?

Coming up with a new appetising lunch every day can be a really tedious task. Especially when you get back full or half eaten lunches. That really doesn’t give you much incentive to put any more effort into it than you already are. However, if you want that lunch box returned empty that’s part of what you need to do.

Additionally, you need to involve the kids because after all, they’ll be the ones eating it. Don’t give them an entire menu, though. Your kitchen isn’t a restaurant and you really don’t want them to get used to ordering food like they do at a school tuck shop. Ideally, give them a choice from a few different options. Purchase the type of healthy foods you know they’ll eat, even if they cost you more. This will actually save you money in the long run because you won’t be throwing it out (hopefully).

If this doesn’t bring any joy and you continue to get back a full lunchbox, you might have to look at supplying on-the-go finger foods. Things like carrot or celery sticks with dip are great lunchbox alternatives. Plus they won’t take you too much time to organise in the morning if you pre-cut them, place them in water and leave them in the fridge.

This brings me to my next tip. PRE-PREPARE!!! Mornings are hectic, horrible times. So trying to get complicated foods in that dreaded lunchbox as well as get everything else done is a recipe for disaster. I’ve reduced the chaos by having a specific lunchbox container that the kids go to and select what they’d like to eat that day. It’s filled with a variety of fruits, nuts, veggies and a few treats. This not only encourages them to prepare their own lunch, but to also select what will actually get eaten.

Yes, it does cost a bit to fill a container with small packages of foods. I know I could pay less for the same foods in bulk, like yogurts, custards, tuna, crackers, etc. However, if it gets eaten rather than thrown out, I figure I’m saving money. In addition to on-the-go snack type foods, we also discuss what type of wrap or sandwich they’d prefer. I mix it up by having plastic containers filled with leftovers. These are great to take to school and once again, they can be easily prepared the night before.

Finally, getting kids to eat their lunch at school isn’t rocket science. Getting back empty lunchboxes is pretty simple just as long as your organised, supply a range of things they eat and most importantly get them involved.

Image via mumsgrapevine.com.au

September 14, 2015

Simple Ways To Spend More Time With The Kids

Spending quality time with the kids doesn’t need to cost a fortune. You don’t need to take them on some lavish outing, especially if you can’t afford it – that just causes stress for all of you.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

Instead, there are some really simple and inexpensive ways to spend time with the kids that you can both enjoy. The primary thing to remember is that they want your undivided attention, and that’s about all they want.

Going for a walk

When was the last time you went for a stroll with the kids just to walk and talk to them? It’s so simple but quite often parents have a way of complicating things. The walk doesn’t have to be to a specific destination, make it a bit of an adventure and let them lead the way.

A key thing to note is to leave the technology at home or use it only in an emergency. There’s no point taking the kids for a walk if you’re on the phone the entire time or distracted with other things.

Going for a drive

Last week my son asked if we could go for a drive to nowhere in particular. I have to admit, at first I wasn’t too keen as I had other plans that day. Yet wanting to spend some extra alone time with him, I agreed, and we both ended up having an amazing outing.

We got into the car, just the two of us, and together we decided which direction to drive. Even younger kids will have an idea of where they would like to go. For us this provided an excellent opportunity to have a great conversation. That’s not always an easy task with teens and despite only spending a few hours together, we both continue to feel that connection.

Get involved with their school work

Parents of younger kids will often help with reading and writing tasks. Yet as they get older parents will leave school work predominately to their kids. Many parents have no idea what they are learning at school, particularly in high school. We nag to get the work done but really that’s often where parental input stops.

Ideally, kids want their parents to be involved in their schooling and that includes high school aged kids. Particularly if you’ve got a child who’s not doing homework, being aware of what tasks they have can help them significantly. Plus it provides a perfect opportunity to spend time together.

You can then organize outings which revolve around their schooling. This not only boosts their interest, but it will motivate them to be more productive. You’ll end up spending less time nagging about schoolwork, which equates to more quality time together.

Keep it simple

As basic as it sounds parents need to remind themselves to keep parenting simple. Don’t put additional pressure on yourself to provide a magnificent day out when a few stress free hours together on a regular basis is all they need. It’s all about listening to your kids, sharing their world, their woes and providing your undivided attention. It really is that simple!

Image via huffingtonpost.co.uk

September 13, 2015

Should Young Girls Be Idolising Taylor Swift?

Love her or hate her, if there’s one person you want your daughters to look up to right now, it’s Taylor Swift. Sure, she’s got a self-admitted “long list of ex-lovers” but any Instagram follower of hers will see she’s strong, funny, and independent. Sure, that might just be a social media persona, but with an estimated worth of $200 million, she’s got to be doing something right.

RELATED: Is Miley Cyrus A Good Role Model For Kids?

She knows her worth

In the week when she sold 1.3 million copies of her album 1989, Swifty famously decided to pull all her songs and back-catalogue from streaming site Spotify.  “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” she wrote in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal.

More recently, she wrote an open letter to Apple Music stating her music would not be available on the platform, because it was not going to pay artists during their three-month trial period. “We don’ t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Apple did an about-face on the same day, announced it would be paying artists for the three-month trial, and 1989 can be listened to on the platform. A woman who values what she does and stands up for what she believes in? Tick. Having the power to trigger a hundred billion dollar global company to change a policy? That’s a feat anyone would be inspired by.

She has female friends

A quick look at her Instagram feed, and Tay Tay is always hanging out with her friends. A network including Haim, Karlie Kloss, Lorde and Dunham makes her #squad look like plenty of fun. Close female friends are crucial for daughters of any age, and seeing Taylor with her inner circle encourages all girls to spend more time with their girlfriends, support each other, and keep that network strong.

She’s real

Whether it’s granting the Sydney Belvoir Theatre permission to use her song in a performance, making multiple references to hanging out with her cats, or just generally making fun of herself, T-Swizzle just seems like such a nice, approachable person. Someone I could hang out with. Someone I want to hang out with. From all accounts, she writes her own songs, plays her own instruments and is heavily involved in the production process.

Working hard and being nice seem like a pretty simple combo, but it’s amazing how many people still haven’t nailed it yet. We could all do with a little reminder from Swift every now and then to not take life too seriously.

September 5, 2015

Parenting Mistakes: Giving Kids Too Many Choices

For years my partner told me that I gave my kids too many choices. He kept insisting that instead of asking them I should be telling them. At the time, I thought that sounded harsh and it became an issue of contention. Obviously, this caused quite a few rifts, but in my infinite wisdom I kept doing it because I thought I was doing the right thing.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip: Consistency

Ironically, now that I’m older and perhaps a bit wiser, I must admit that he was right (don’t tell him that though!). So when I’m out and about and I see parents asking their toddlers to make decisions, I have to stop and laugh. Not only does it take FOREVER for them to arrive at a decision, but often the choices in front of them are completely overwhelming. I see the confusion on these littlies’ faces as they are forced to make quick decisions and I feel for them.

Why parents get their toddlers to make decisions

Now, there are a few reasons why parents get their kids to make decisions and it usually starts when they’re toddlers. The first and most obvious reason is because they are damn bossy little creatures. Yes, you did read that correctly. As toddlers, they want their own way 100 per cent of the time – that’s their primary objective in life. Plus they will demand relentlessly and they’re not afraid to throw a tantrum anywhere, or at any time and place, to get their own way.

What parents do to save themselves some sanity is get them to choose what they want to watch on TV, what they want to eat, which pair of pants they will attempt to put on and the list goes on. It’s all done in an effort to keep their darling little angel from turning into Satan in front of their eyes.

The second reason, which is less obvious but still relevant, is that parents are too afraid to make a mistake. Yes, you read that correctly too. For one, they know all too well what will happen if they hand their toddler a banana but they want an apple. Parents have been conditioned by their children to know what to expect if they get it wrong. You see, their charming little bundle of joy will throw a sissy fit until said parent gets it right.

Now, there’s actually two parts to the idea about parents not wanting to make a mistake. Besides the obvious attempt to bypass tantrums, there’s also the blame factor. When mistakes are made someone is usually to blame. There are some parents out there who don’t want to be blamed later on for the mistakes of their children. Therefore, if they let their children make all the decisions, all blame will  be removed.

These type of people will generally avoid making any type of decision specifically for this reason. Whether they do it consciously or not is another question, however. I understand that this does sound ridiculous because giving children 100 per cent choice is ultimately their decision. However, in their heads that’s their only decision, so anything beyond that they really can’t be blamed for. Weird isn’t it, but it does happen more than people realise.

What’s wrong with giving kids a choice?

Okay, so you might be wondering what’s so bad about getting toddlers and kids to make decisions. After all, it does save a lot of headaches and the kids will grow up quite able to make decisions and be independent, right? Well sorry, your wrong. VERY WRONG!

If it’s to avoid toddler or little children headaches, may I offer a word of advice? Little children are easier to say no to than unrelenting, argumentative, determined teens! Toddler tantrums are nothing compared to teen tantrums. Teen tantrums involve slamming doors, broken technology like mobile phones, yelling, swearing and running away. Trust me, a toddler is far easier to tame than a teen!

Additionally, imagine for a second households that are run by toddlers and small children… Basically if they make all the decisions they’d have you running around like a slave to get their needs met. I’m sure many of us have seen videos of little people who are in charge and this is what actually happens.

I remember seeing a reality show where a pair of grandparents were unable to get a seat belt over a child in their moving vehicle. When a police office saw this and asked them about it, they reasoned this was because the child had refused. To them, this was perfectly reasonable and couldn’t fathom why on earth they received the fine because the child was at fault. Yeah, this is a true story. Imagine that household?

Now as far as giving kids an opportunity to learn about decision making, there are plenty of opportunities to do this without putting pressure on them to make decisions 24/7 from a young age. It actually places kids under a lot of stress and makes them anxious. We forget, kids don’t want to make mistakes either.

As parents, we always want to do the right thing by our kids and often it’s not until we look back that we can see where we made mistakes. Initially I thought telling them instead of asking was a bit harsh, when in actual fact I was treating them like adults and not children. They didn’t need nor want that responsibility but I forced it upon them. Luckily, my partner stuck to his guns and was as stubborn as he is because this gave them some relief.

Some kids don’t get that relief and they are forced to decide every aspect of their lives from a very young age. The key thing to remember here is that they aren’t adults with adult decision making capabilities. They’re children – and they should be able to live without the stress of responsibility for a while.

August 25, 2015

How To Choose A Baby Name Without A Fight

So you need to choose a baby name and the importance of this decision is weighing heavily on your mind – your child will be stuck with the name you choose for life! To make things more even more difficult, you and your partner may have different ideas about what makes a perfect name. Don’t know where to start? Some of these strategies will help.

RELATED: Celebrity Baby Names

Choose the surname first

Is it going to be your surname or your partner’s, or a combination of the two? Many of us will agree for the children to have the male partner’s name, even if we’ve kept our own surname after getting married. It’s how it’s been done traditionally and it’s an easy way to keep things simple. Besides, ladies, if you let your child have his surname, it gives you the upper hand when it comes to choosing the first name. Things have to be fair, right?

Discuss types of names

Do you prefer a popular name or an unusual one? How do you feel about a common name but with a different spelling? If the two of you come from different backgrounds, are there any names that are used or sound nice in both cultures? Will your child have a middle name? Agree on the general direction before getting down to the business of picking the actual name.

Make a list of names you like

Shortlist names you like. Use names of people you know or browse a book of baby names and don’t rush it. Every time you hear a name you like, add it to your list. Then once each of you has a few names in mind, examine each other’s lists and cross out any names that you absolutely hate. Hopefully, you will have a few options left. If not – it’s back to the drawing board, make another list.

Still finding it hard to choose a baby name? Leave the final decision until after you meet the baby. It can be much easier to decide once you have a face to put to the name.

Image by FeeLoona via pixabay.com

July 18, 2015

What Mothers Need to Know About First Aid

First aid, even at the most basic level, is a skill everyone should be required to learn. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in the workplace or not – first aid is something that can be applied anywhere at any time, as a mother or father of your child, a friend, a sibling, a stranger or a work colleague.

There is nothing worse than feeling helpless and stressed in a situation, that otherwise could’ve been avoided. What do you do when someone needs first aid and your skills are the difference between helping to ease the pain or outcome waiting for an ambulance, to the possibility of it all going terribly wrong?

First aid and the knowledge and skills you learn provide you with lifesaving tools that are simply irreplaceable. It also gives you the confidence and calmness to attend to an emergency situation, provide help and keep someone you love safe and comfortable. Thinking about getting your first aid qualifications? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Senior First Aid is now Provide First Aid

Previously, the workplace approved first aid course was called Senior First Aid. These days however, with some slight changes in place the first aid approval is now issued to the Registered Training Organisations (RTO) and titled Provide First Aid (HLTAID003). Provide First Aid, also referred to as level 2 covers all aspects of training in ‘Provide Basic Emergency Life Support’, as well as specialised training for the treatment of additional emergency incidents.

2. Senior First Aid is the standard requirement in most workplaces

Employers have a legal duty to keep their staff and work environment safe. Whilst the standard requirements for senior first aid vary between workplaces and states, all businesses should be first aid compliant to establish a safe duty of care. In Western Australia, the standard office workplace should have at least one staff member qualified to perform level 2 first aid to meet the WA Worksafe requirement as outlined in the Code of Practice.

The Compliance Code for First Aid in the workplace offers employers two options on how to comply. Option one, the prescribed approach; includes the number of first aid officers and their required duties and training, and how many first aid kits should be made available. This approach is suggested for workplaces with 10 or more staff members, or for high risk jobs with less than 10 employees. Low risk workplaces should have one senior first aid officer for 10-50 workers and two for 51 – 100.

The second option to comply with the Act is the risk assessment approach. This involves assessing the workplace and the hazards involved, and making the appropriate decision as to what first aid requirements are needed. The minimal acceptable level of training for workplace first aid is the senior first aid certificate (also referred to as level 2 first aid qualification or provide first aid).

3. Basic First Aid will teach you 3 essential criteria

Learning basic first aid techniques is the best way to help you cope with an emergency – whether it be in the workplace, or the comfort of your own home. It can help to keep a person breathing until an ambulance arrives, keep them comfortable by reducing pain and minimises the consequences of the injury worsening.

Basic first aid (provide cardio resuscitation) teaches you to:

  • Respond to an emergency situation by recognising the condition, assessing the casualty and seeking assistance from emergency response services
  • Perform CPR procedures in accordance with Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) guidelines, display respectful behaviour to the casualty and operate an automated external defibrillator (AED) should it be required
  • Communicate the details of the incident and what was done to help to workplace supervisor and emergency response team

4. Senior First Aid will teach you 4 essential criteria

The differences between basic first aid and senior first aid, is basic first aid is about providing CPR in an emergency situation. Senior first aid will teach you this, as well as prepare you for other possible life threatening situations like poisonous bites, airway management, seizures and bleeding.

Senior first aid (provide first aid) teaches you to:

  • Recognise and respond to an emergency situation
  • Apply appropriate first aid procedures including CPR and AED, shock management, airway management (asthma, chocking, severe allergic reactions and hyperventilation), cardiac emergencies, bleeding and wound care, bites and stings, seizures and convulsions, burns, extreme heat and cold, toxic substances, muscle injuries and abdominal injuries
  • Communicate the details of the incident and what was done to help to workplace supervisor and emergency response team
  • Evaluate the incident and own performance

5. Basic First Aid is a one-day course, Senior First Aid can be two

In order to be qualified in basic first aid, you’ll be required to complete a one day course. This will primarily cover life-threatening emergencies that can occur in the workplace, home or public and prepare you for a risk assessment and to perform CPR.

To complete a senior first aid course, this can be done as a one day or extended over two – depending on where you go. On successful competition, you will be issued with a nationally recognised Statement of Attainment that will show you’re qualified to perform the four sections mentioned above.

It’s important though, regardless of which first aid qualifications you get, that you refresh your qualifications as needed. Basic first aid should be refreshed every 12 months, whilst senior first aid (provide first aid) is every 3 years. This will ensure you’re up-to-date with any course changes, and remain confident and qualified to perform the tasks at hand.

By Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Training Course Experts – offering highly qualified senior first aid and refresher courses by an experienced team in Perth. You can catch her on Google+.

 

July 15, 2015

The Downside Of Being A Stay-At-Home Mum

If you’ve ever considered being a stay-at-home mum you really need to be aware of the reality of your decision. Expectant parents are often naive about the choices they’re making because it can be very difficult to imagine the future. They may think it will be better for the baby and their family for mum to stay home, when in fact it’s a full on mental, physical, emotional and often financial test of endurance. Not only does the mother need to be strong, but so does the relationship between both parents.

RELATED: Is There A Perfect Time To Start A Family?

So, what are some of the downsides to being a stay-at-home mum? OMG, where do I start!? There’s isolation for one – that’s a big factor because the majority of women are choosing to go back to work. Unlike women in the fifties who all stayed at home and raised their children like a community, that just isn’t the case now.

For the majority of the time a stay-at-home mum will be alone with the kids. There isn’t a lot of adult conversation to be had unless you join a local playgroup. However, they are only run a few times a week at most and you would need to find one where you get along with the other mums. So in reality, a typical stay-at-home mum does spend an incredible amount of time on her own.

With all that alone time depression can creep in because humans find isolation so difficult. This puts the new mum at risk of Post Natal Depression and this will put an enormous strain on everything she does. She will struggle to look after the baby, herself, and her relationships, so essentially she will isolate herself even more.

If she’s lucky enough to avoid Post Natal Depression, the isolation can affect other aspects of her life. For example, have you ever tried to have a conversation with a stay-at-home mum who only talks about her kids? Some women get all consumed by the task of parenting and actually forget there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t revolve around their children. This can be an added stress on a relationship, especially when hubby comes home and all she can talk about is dirty nappies and housework.

This brings me to yet another factor that can be affected: the partnership between parents. As they are generally only on the one income, finance is usually tighter than previously experienced. Additionally, there are multiple expenses associated with having a baby because cute little tackers aren’t cheap to keep!

Unless the relationship between the parents is rock solid, becoming a stay-at-home mum will put pressure on both parties. Her partner will likely be tired from a day at work and she will need some time out from bubs when he gets home. Not to forget babies need to learn the difference between night and day and new parents get very little sleep. Overall, this is a recipe for disaster unless both parents are willing to put in the hard work to survive their situation.

Then, depending on how long the stay-at-home mum has been out of the work force for, she will also struggle in many cases to return to a decent position. Some women stay home until their youngest child is in primary school and for some this may take longer than a decade. Imagine the change to workplaces and technology within that time! She would have to stay trained during her stint at home to even get considered for a position.

I could go on and on about the downside of being a stay-at-home mum, but I think you can get the picture. In many ways having some outlet of work, adult contact and responsibilities outside of the home could be a positive thing. Plus, having that away time from the kids is essential to retain some part of the person they were prior to motherhood. Regardless of what choice expectant parents make, they need to fully appreciate both sides of the equation very carefully.

Image yahoo.com

July 8, 2015

Toys Children Would Never Guess Are Educational

From LEGO to building blocks, puzzles and playsets being a kid is pretty damn enjoyable. But, it’s not all just fun and games through. Encouraging play through toys that are educational will leave positive fingerprints on a person’s brains well into their adolescent years – not to mention the endless amounts of entertainment it can provide for your little one.

In the first year, your baby will thrive the most absorbing absolutely everything in the world around him. The right toys are an essential part of this process and help to provide your little one with the tools to develop different skills, enabling them to discover as much as possible early on.

It’s not uncommon for educational toys to be mistaken for setting your baby up for school skills such as maths and reading. But before a child can even learn how to do these things, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done beforehand. This ‘work’ is called play. Children need to develop their own ways to express themselves and toys that are designed to educate help to bring the best of your child out. But which toys are actually educational for your children? We check out some of the top ones.

My Busy Town Wooden Development Toy

Bright, colourful and fun this development toy is perfect for little ones ages between 7 months to 3 years. It essentially combines a few toys together with 5 different sides of fun that teaches your child alphabet recognition, coordination and counting. The toy is ideal for introducing colours and shapes and helps to encourage problem solving and interaction.

To begin with, show your toddler each side of the cube to introduce the different activities. Let your child explore the rest of the cube on his own – he’ll be busily entertained and educated all in one.

Fire Station Playset

From curiosity to discovery complete with a healthy dose of imagination, the Fire Station Playset is perfect for education. Recommended for children between the ages of 12 months to 5 years old, the toys combines motor skills with the spark of inquisitiveness, encouraging your child to observe and respond.

Because the playset promotes imagination, it offers a magical experience for your little one (and you as the parent too watching). The Fire Station Playset takes thoughtfulness and practice into careful consideration and can help teach your child the importance of playing in group situations too.

Parum Pum Pum Drum

Any form of creativity skills encouraged from a young age can work wonders for educating your child. Music and art both play an important role in developing appreciation, imagination and intellectual skills. As they get older, these skills tend to be transferred and utilised into new situations involving perceptual awareness, personal, physical and social development. Check out this article for all the benefits of music for kids!

This musical drum toy is more than just a drum…it’s a whole musical set! Complete with egg shakers, a tambourine and other percussion instruments it helps young ones from 18 to 24 months utilise the magic of making music, as well as its cause and effect. Whilst it can be slightly frustrating from a parent point of view listening to your child shaking and banging different things to make a noise, it’s a fantastic development toy that encourages little ones to explore music and sounds, thus developing their music and motor skills significantly.

Le Toy Van Doctors Set

As a young child, going to the doctors can be extremely daunting and cause a lot of anxiety for both you and your little one. Doctor play sets are a great way to prep your toddler for future visits and use skills like imaginative play and role playing to educate your child in a fun and safe way.

Recommended for children aged between 18 months to 6 years old, the educational benefits of this Doctor’s set stem from creative thinking and motor skills. All parts of the toy promote a non-dangerous and innovative way to learn.

Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set

Just as much as music and the arts stimulate creativity, sports related toys help to keep your child active and educated. The Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set is a huge hit with kids… especially if they thrive on being energetic which let’s face it, most kids do! Suited for anyone aged 2 years and up, the sports set encourages healthy physical, emotional and social development.

Learning skills like confidence, balance, coordination, focus and motor skills, your child will also develop skills to assist in team working environments. In this day of age too, where so many things are influenced by the digital world – sports sets like this one promotes the importance of staying active and getting outdoors.

Design and Drill Activity Centre

Armed with grid holes, colours, tools and bolts the Design and Drill Activity Centre is perfect for children aged 3 years and above. Encouraging the use of coordination to build upon, creativity, fine motor skills and imagination, this toys set is super educational.

Because there’s so many possibilities for creative play with this toy, children fail to “get bored of it”. Complete with 20 activity card challenges for your child to use, the activity centre teaches a variety of skills that can be implemented down the track.

By Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Bubba Love, a leading provider of educational toys for babies and toddlers to help stimulate your young ones development.

May 19, 2015

Choosing The Right Daycare For Your Child

They grow up too fast, don’t they? It feels like yesterday you were holding a newborn, and now it’s already time to look for daycare so that you can return to work or have some time to yourself. Every mum needs to know that her child in good hands while she’s not around, but there’s so much to consider.

RELATED: Attack Of The Mummy Guilt: Is Daycare Really Bad For Kids?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of choosing the right day care, here are some steps to get you started:

Consider your child’s personality

The best type of care for your child will depend on how they relate with people and what activities they prefer. Before you start looking, try to imagine the ideal environment where your child will thrive. Does she always run around and climb?

She will probably be happiest in a daycare that has a big playground with lots of equipment. Is your child reserved and suffering from separation anxiety? Consider a family daycare. A bigger centre might be fine, too, but definitely ask about staff turnover before you enroll. You don’t want a centre where carers are changing frequently.

First impressions

Once you’ve gotten clear on the environment you’d like for your child, it’s time to start visiting some centres in the area and comparing the reality to your vision. Some things to look out for are:

  • Does the place look welcoming?
  • Are the staff friendly?
  • Is the centre clean?
  • Do the kids look happy?
  • What toys and activities are available?
  • What is the daily routine?
  • What’s the playground like?

Ask for recommendations

You can’t see everything in a brief visit. Talk to other parents whose children go to the daycare you’re considering and ask them how they feel about it. Don’t be discouraged if there’s one parent who has issues with the centre (there’s always the one!), but if you consistently receive negative feedback, look elsewhere.

Some of us live in areas where there’s shortage of daycare spots. If that’s you, make sure you put your child’s name on the waiting list as early as possible. It’s good to have options when the time comes and you can always say ‘no’ if an opportunity no longer suits you.

Image via Pixabay

April 28, 2015

Healthy Snacks For Babies And Toddlers

Most of us begin our parenting journey with the great intention to teach our children good eating habits. This intention often gets lost somewhere between the sleepless nights and the dirty nappies, however. We start looking for shortcuts, and one of them comes in the form of fast food. The temptation to choose one of the many readily available options is even stronger when we are on the go.

RELATED: Carrot, Zucchini And Parsnip Slice – An Easy Toddler Recipe

So, how do we find healthy snacks for our kids that are also quick and easy to prepare? Here are some suggestions:

Fresh fruit

For snacks on the go it’s best to choose fruits that keep well, are not messy, and which the children will like. Some of the options are blueberries, pieces of apple, mandarins, bananas, apricots and grapes. For babies, you may need to puree the fruit and carry it in a small container. If you have a toddler, keep in mind that apples and other hard fruit may present a choking hazard, so it’s best to get the fruit sliced and peeled beforehand.

Dried fruit

Some of the choices here are sultanas, dried apples, apricots or cranberries. They don’t take up a lot of space in your bag, don’t create mess and children love them. For young babies you may need to soak and puree the fruit before you offer it.

Veggies

Toddlers are notoriously bad at eating veggies. But sometimes they’ll eat them without a sound when they are outside and exploring new surroundings, so this is the perfect time to offer healthy snacks.  Some veggies you could offer include carrot, cucumber, celery or capsicum sticks, or cooked pumkin, peas and corn.

Sandwiches

Babies and toddlers usually love bread and many will be happy with just a bread roll on its own. If you’d like to add more nutrients, here are some basic sandwich fillings you can easily incorporate: Vegemite, cream cheese, grated cheddar, avocado, lean chicken, canned tuna, veggies.

Crispbread, crackers and rusks

There’s a variety of baby and toddler snacks available from the supermarket, but they aren’t always healthy (even if it reads “healthy” on the label). Check the list of ingredients carefully for any hidden additives and preservatives. Ideally, the products you select will also contain no added sugar and very little salt.

To take the stress out of snacking, be sure to carry a couple of different healthy options, especially for picky toddlers. This way your children will get a variety of nutrients and having a choice will help them feel in control.

Image via Pixabay

April 15, 2015

Why It’s Important To Set Boundaries With Kids

Children have many innate abilities, but understanding the workings and the dangers of the world we live in is not one of them. They know when they are hungry, tired or scared, but they don’t have the knowledge and skills to keep themselves safe or interact with others in a respectful way. It’s important for parents to set boundaries for their children as part of the learning process.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip: Consistency

Boundaries keep children safe

Learning from experience might be the best way to learn in many situations, but sometimes the stakes are just too high. For example, toddlers don’t understand why it’s not a good idea to run on the road or climb on the balcony railings.  They’ll test these boundaries again and again before they realise that they’re non-negotiable. Then they’ll stay within the boundaries without you having to enforce them every single time – what a relief!

Boundaries give children a sense of security

There’s a lot going on already in your child’s life: learning, building relationships, growing, changing. Boundaries make everthing look more organised and predictable. When children know what to expect and have some guidelines on how to behave in the situations they encounter, they gain a sense of control and confidence that they can manage.

Boundaries help create healthy habits

Even adults find it easy to get addicted to junk food or TV and children are much more vulnerable. It’s important to set limits in these areas in order to teach our children how to eat healthy and stay active.

Boundaries teach life skills

Overcoming difficulties, taking responsibility for your actions and delaying gratification are all skills that are best learned through boundaries. Having to deal with disappointment in a safe and supportive family surrounding will prepare children for later lessons in life, which will not necessarily be delivered in the same loving and forgiving fashion.

You’re a role model

Finally, by setting boundaries with your kids, you’re teaching them to set boundaries for themselves. It’s so important to know where a person ends and someone else begins, and it’s something many of us have to learn the hard way by negotiating our way out of abusive relationships or work commitments that affect our health. When you have healthy personal boundaries you won’t find yourself in these kind of situations in the first place, and this is exactly what we want for our children.

Image via Pixabay

April 13, 2015

5 Ways To Score Some Alone Time These School Holidays

I’ve always greeted school holidays with mixed feelings. Yay to not rushing to school in the mornings! No more school lunches! And if I can convince my kids to get their own breakfast, I might even be able to sleep in one day. But then… where did my alone time go?

RELATED: Fun Things To Do With The Kids These School Holidays

While parenting during the school holidays is more relaxed, it’s still hard work and we, mums, still need our alone time to recharge. Here are some ways you can recover your alone time, even if you’ve missed out on those precious school holiday care spots.

1. Swap child care

Kids love playing with their friends and it often makes your job easier, too, if they have a friend around – they don’t need you to entertain them. Arrange to swap a couple of hours or a whole day of day care. You child’s friend’s mum needs alone time as much as you do and will be only too happy with these arrangements.

2. Swap your skills

Another way to get some child care without paying for it is offering your skills in return. Maybe show your teenage neighbour some makeup tricks or offer to cook dinner for your friend in exchange for babysitting.

3. Hit the gym

The gym crèche is an inexpensive way to have someone look after you kids for an hour or so, and don’t assume it’s only for the littlies. Talk to the creche staff about the ages of the kids they’re getting. Most likely your kids will find lots of school-aged friends to hang out with while you’re working out.

4. Visit grandparents

You know your kids will watch TV and eat sweats the whole time they’re there, but you can pretend that you don’t know. Just sneak out for a few hours and let Grandma handle it.

5. Sign them up for classes

There’re all kind of kids’ classes you can find during school holidays for varying budgets, from art to sports, to science. Choose the ones that your kids are most interested in and more importantly, the ones that don’t require the parent to be present. Let the kids have their school holidays fun while you’re enjoying your alone time.

Image via Pixabay

April 6, 2015

Teaching Kids Money Skills

Most of us would admit that our finances could use some improvement. We weren’t brought up with good money skills and that’s what makes teaching our kids about money so challenging. But even if you don’t feel like a money expert, don’t be discouraged. Whether you realise it or not, you have acquired a lot of money wisdom you can pass on to your children to give them a good start in life.

RELATED: 7 Modern Money Lessons You Need To Teach Your Kids

Talk about money

Explain to your children what money is as soon as you can, as well as the different forms money can take – cash, credit cards, bank deposits. Let them watch you pay at the shop and later outsource the payment to them. They’ll love it and they’ll get to practice their maths, too.

It’s also important to teach them where money comes from (it’s not from the ATM, like my son used to believe). When children understand that people pay you money because you have contributed in some way to make their lives better, they see money as a fair exchange rather than endless supply.

Play money games

Kids love to play shops. Parents use this game to teach their kids new words, but it’s also a way to model money transactions. My kids have a price list for all kind of items they sell at their shop and we use play money to purchase them.

Monopoly is a great game for older kids. It will take their understanding of money to a new level and it’s fun to play for adults, too.

Encourage saving

Take the kids to the bank to open their own savings accounts – it will make them feel all grown up. Have a piggy bank at home, too, for easier access. When they receive money, remind them that saving it (or part of it) is an option and that not spending all their money immediately will help them buy bigger things later on.

Allow buying decisions

Let your kids take responsibility for their own spending every now and then. You can discuss with them the pros and cons of each decision, but leave it up to them, even if you think they’re making a mistake. Sometimes mistakes are the quickest way to learn.

Work on your own money skills

When you’re getting better at saving, budgeting, managing your debt and making the most out of your money, you’re modelling these money skills for your children.

Image via Pixabay

April 3, 2015

Toddler Taming: Does The Naughty Step Work?

Toddlers are at once ridiculously cute and funny, yet frustrating and incredibly hard to tame.

RELATED: Why You Should Say No To Kids’ Gift Registries

I’ve got two-year-old and three-year-old daughters and such is their tantrums, as is the norm for their ages, I swear one day I’m going to wake up with a giant patch of grey in my hair.

Parenting can be an incredibly thankless, confusing and just a plain tough job: you have to be an excellent role model, and incredibly loving and nurturing, plus a good disciplinarian, all at once! So, when it comes to toddler wrangling, does a naughty corner/naughty step/time out – call it what you will – actually work?

I’m in the process of trialling the naughty corner with my feisty and finicky eating three-year-old to mixed results. Is there a secret to this tried and tested parenting technique?

toddlers, toddler taming, discipline, naughty corner

The celebrated ‘naughty step’, made famous by UK reality TV star Jo Frost of Super Nanny fame (pictured), is much-loved by thousands of parents, according to the former nanny. Frost claims the naughty step can dramatically transform children’s behaviour and, even better; it gives exhausted parents a strategy for household peace.

The Naughty Step works best from age three, she says – a naughty mat can be used for littlies prior to this – with the key premise being that when a toddler is placed in a particular calm spot for time out, with no distractions, this gives the naughty, little tyke time to think about what has happened and repent. And consistency is key: Frost advises one minute for each year of his/her age is the perfect length of time.

toddlers, toddler taming, discipline, naughty corner

“Every new rule or discipline technique is difficult at first. Just stay calm, be consistent and remain firm and it will get easier… Eventually!” she has been quoted as saying. Yet even the Super Nanny concedes every child is different and the naughty step doesn’t always work, with her offering solutions to common toddler problems on the official Super Nanny website.

However, Dr Karen Phillip (pictured), who’s one of Australia’s leading family therapists and parenting experts, told me the latest research and thinking on toddler discipline is less punitive and about shaming toddlers, which is bad for their burgeoning self-esteem. Instead, she advocates a “thinking spot” as opposed to the old-school naughty corner/naughty step/time out.

toddlers, toddler taming, discipline, naughty corner

“I don’t like the term ‘naughty corner’ – I much prefer the ‘thinking spot’, because what you’re doing is removing the child to a safe place or spot for a stretch and connecting that behaviour,” Dr Phillip says.

“It depends, of course, on what the child has done as to whether it warrants a thinking spot. If the child has been deliberately wilful and/or hurt their sibling, it may help to isolate them to a safe place so they can think about their behaviour.

“The high emotion of the parent also needs to be considered, for when you have high emotion, rational thinking and logic goes out the window. This is where the thinking spot can also help.”

Dr Phillip also recommends the laundry as a thinking-spot location – once you’ve made it kid-friendly and removed all dangerous objects. “Choose a corner or a room in which your child wouldn’t normally go,” she says, “Remove the child from comfort and don’t place them in their bedrooms and/or shut the door if they’re under seven.”

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

Another key message from Dr Phillip is the importance of teaching children about consequences through choices. “Toddlers don’t have good self-control, but are actually really clever,” she says. “It’s crucial to give a child a choice. Say: ‘I’m asking you not to do that’ when they display silly behaviour and give them a consequence of their action.

“So, ‘I’m asking you to please eat your dinner so you grow healthy and strong’ – use a request, not an instruction or order. Then, tell them that if they don’t eat their dinner they will go to bed with a hungry tummy and not get to read a book they really like.”

Of course, as any mother (or father) of toddlers knows – these little people just love to push the boundaries. “You’ve got to be really firm with toddlers,” Dr Phillip says. “But it’s imperative to make requests, not an instruction or order.”

Images via www.ivillage.com.au; www.thebloomingblog.co.uk; www.parentdish.co.uk

What do you think? What method of toddler discipline do you swear by?

 

March 30, 2015

5 Easter Things To Do With Kids

Did you love Easter when you were a child? It was one of my favourite holidays when I was growing up and now as mum I want my children to fill their own Easter baskets with wonderful memories. Here are some of the fun things we do at home that you can try, too.

RELATED: How To Have A Guilt Free Easter

1. Easter stories

Easter is not just about eating lots of chocolate and having a good time. Help your children learn more about the meaning of Easter by reading Easter picture books together. Even if you’re not religious, the history of Easter and the symbolic meaning behind it can be interesting to kids and adults.

2. Dyeing Easter eggs

There are different ways to approach this – you can blow the egg out of the shell and dye the shell only or you can dye hard-boiled eggs, which is my family’s tradition. To colour the eggs, use special egg dyes, food colouring or natural dyes (beetroot juice will colour your eggs red and boiled onion peel will make them yellow). To make your eggs even prettier, draw on them with a candle before dyeing, attach a leaf or use stickers.

3. Egg fights

This is not what you’re thinking, there’s no egg throwing involved! The egg fights are a game we play with our hard-boiled dyed eggs and the mess is minimal. Each child picks an egg, then they hit the eggs against each other, first the sharp ends, then the bottom ends. The winner is the person who ends up with their egg intact.

4. Easter egg hunt

For many kids the egg hunt is the most exciting part of Easter, but it finishes too quickly! Most often we just hide chocolate eggs and let the kids find them, but if you want the fun to last longer, you can make the rules more complicated. Prepare clues to take children from one hiding spot to the next or hide a variety of objects and give each child a checklist of what they’re looking for.

5. Cooking together

Do you have a special treat that you only make for Easter? Involve your kids in preparing the traditional meal. Even if you don’t have anything that you’ve been making year after year, it’s never too late to start a new tradition. Try making hot cross buns, a special cake or bunny-shaped cookies.

Do you have your own favourite Easter family activity?

Image via pixabay.com

March 27, 2015

Do You Have A Favourite Child?

Most parents will say that they love all their children equally and that is probably true, but do you like all your children equally? Few of us will admit to having a favourite child, yet, children, even within the same family, are so different that it’s hard not to have personal preferences. Some children are better match for our own personalities than others. Some are harder to parent and we can get so exhausted that we unintentionally seek more interaction with the ‘easier’ children. You may even notice that your preferences change and you have a different favourite child at different times.

RELATED: How To Deal With Sibling Rivalry

While it’s perfectly normal to have a favourite child, openly showing it can lead to problems in the family dynamics and affect the children’s self-esteem. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re favouring all your children and no one feels left out.

Equal attention

Obviously, the attention you give is never going to be equal to the minute, but do your best to ensure that all your children spend some one-on-one time with you and have their own special activities on the family calendar. Sometimes one child will demand more attention than others purely because of the stage of their development, for example, a 2-year-old is not as independent as an 8-year-old and will need more help with everything. In that case, you can explain to your other children why that child is getting more attention and point out other times when the scales were tipped the other way.

Consistent rules

Have the same discipline rules for all children. Again, this can be hard when the children are at different levels of understanding. While you may not be able to get a 2-year-old to follow along, you can talk about your expectations and gently correct your toddler to let your other children see that the same rules apply to everyone.

Notice the good things

Take time to notice what is happening in each of your children’s lives. Comment when they’re putting a lot of effort into something and celebrate each child’s successes equally, even if some successes may look a lot bigger to you than others.

Don’t compare

Each child is an individual with unique traits and they don’t have to be like anyone else. Treat each child as if you’ve started the whole parenting gig from scratch – it doesn’t matter what their siblings were doing at their age and how their abilities compare.

Whether we have a favourite child or not. all children have the need to be loved for who they are and it’s our job as parents to give them exactly that.

Image via pixabay.com

March 23, 2015

Tips For Coping With The Terrible Twos

You’ve just experienced a miraculous transformation. Your sweet little baby has all of a sudden turned into a raging monster who screams, kicks and knocks down everything within reach. Welcome to the terrible twos. If you’re wondering how to cope, here are some tips that will help.

RELATED: Can You Prevent Toddler Tantrums?

It’s not your fault!

We, mums, often tend to look for faults within ourselves where there is none. When my first child started chucking daily tantrums, I analysed every situation to see what I could have done differently, I tried numerous different approaches and nothing worked. As much as I wanted to help him (and myself), not everything was within my power. Our children are learning and experiencing more that they know how to express and it’s a gap that they need to figure out how to close. While dealing with it on a daily basis can be frustrating, the terrible twos are a normal stage of your child’s development. There’s no reason to add guilt to your challenges.

Have a routine

Routine makes a toddler’s world more predictable and safe. When your child knows what needs to happen and when, it gives him one less thing to try to figure out and to argue about. It also makes it easier for you to know when your little one is hungry, tired or wants to play.

Take time out for yourself

Even when you have full understanding of what your child is going through, it can be tough to stay calm when your patience is tested day after day. It’s important to step away and spend some time by yourself regularly, then you’ll find much deeper appreciation for your time with your child.

Watch out for the good stuff

The terrible twos are not all terrible. It’s also a magical time when children laugh for no reason, say funny words, do strange things and see us, parents, as their heroes. When you’re starting to lose patience, remember that smile your child gave you when she woke up in the morning or the picture she drew of you (even if it didn’t look like you and it didn’t even look like a human). It’s the good things that fill your heart will love and give you the energy to keep on going.

There’s a saying about parenting that “the days go slow, but the years go fast” and this is certainly true about the terrible twos. It may seem now that you’ll never reach the other side, but you will and you’ll look back at the terrible twos with fondness.

Image by FeeLoona via pixabay.com

March 22, 2015

5 Ways To Improve Your Child’s Vocabulary

Your child’s vocabulary is extremely important for good understanding, communication and learning, yet, often we’re so busy with our daily lives that we forget to include activities that encourage mastering new words. If you’re looking for ways to improve your child’s vocabulary that don’t take too much time out of your day, here are some ideas that will help.

RELATED: Why Reading To Your Child Is Crucial

1. Conversations

We tend to limit our conversations to what our children can understand and what is relevant to them, but that doesn’t help them much to improve their vocabulary and understanding of the world. Instead, talk about your day, what you see around you, what your other half may be doing or anything else that comes to mind. Ask questions, too, and be interested in what your child has to say.

2. Reading

We only use a limited number of words in our daily conversations and that’s one of the reasons why reading is important – it gets your child exposed to words that he or she may not come across otherwise. Start reading with your baby as soon as possible and turn it into a daily habit.

3. Word games

You can start with games as simple as naming household objects and body parts, then progress to more complex games that require some knowledge of the alphabet. ‘I spy’ is one of the favourites in my family, because you can play it anywhere – at home, in the park or in the car.

4. Singing

Nursery rhymes are a great way to learn new words while keeping your child entertained. Songs are memorable and it’s another thing you can do whether you’re at home, at the playground or on your way to an appointment.

5. No baby talk

Baby talk can be very cute and it’s hard to resist talking to your child the same way they talk to you. There’s nothing wrong with using it from time to time, but avoid turning it into a habit. Talk to your child in complete sentences and encourage them to do the same. When your toddler points at something instead of saying the word, say it for them. They may not immediately repeat it after you, but will remember it.

Improving your child’s vocabulary doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it takes focus and consistency. Make it fun for yourself and your child, and it’ll be a lot easier to stick with your efforts.

Image via Pixabay

March 14, 2015

How To Combat Toddler Fears

It’s no secret that as a mother of a toddler, you’ll have to find superwoman-like mind strength and Mother Teresa-like patience.

RELATED: Rude Toddlers: How To Teach Kids Tact

Small people are a trying bunch; ridiculously cute, but ever-growing and evolving, they can shock and surprise you with new habits, such as toddler fears, just when you think you’ve got them all worked out. A case in point is my three-year-old daughter, who’s suddenly developed an almighty fear of the “big bath.”

You see, my husband and I bathed her and her two-year-old sister together in a small baby bath within our big bath up until only recently, because it was easier to contain two slippery little tykes. But now that they’ve well and truly outgrown it, we’ve upgraded to the adult-size bath and OMG, the tears and the tantrums?! I swear our neighbours must think we’re child abusers. The horror!

toddlers, raising toddlers, parenting advice

It’s the flush-down-the-drain dread that’s got my little one losing her tiny mind. What’s more, no amount of soothing or coaxing seems to help and she’s stubbornly refusing to sit down in the bath each night, all the while screaming like a banshee as if we’re torturing her.

Meanwhile, her two-year-old sister is equally baffled by her odd behaviour and then she works herself up into a frenzy in kind, after witnessing her sibling’s nightly bath-induced meltdowns. It’s like dealing with terrorists, I tell you! And all this is very upsetting at times and far from bloody ideal.

Child health experts say toddler fears are very common, in part due to their ever-evolving imaginations. As they grow, they start to realise they can get hurt and bad things can happen.

toddlers, raising toddlers, parenting advice

Experts say never admonish or belittle your child over his or her immoveable fears. Instead, we parents must dig deep and give our toddlers an ample dose of sympathy. We’re also advised to tell our little ones that it’s OK to have fears and praise any progress he or she makes, no matter how little.

That’s all good and well, but my advice is you may need a glass of wine (or two) afterwards, too. It’s hard to see your child upset and beyond reason, but like all toddler phases – this soon shall pass. At least that’s what my friends tell me!

Common toddler fears

  • The bath
  • Animals
  • Loud noises
  • Doctor visits
  • Santa and other costumed performers
  • Strangers
  • The ocean
  • The dark

What do you think? What are your toddler’s fears?

Images via todaysparent.com, drgreene.com and magicmum.com

March 11, 2015

Helping Your Child Through Homework Struggles

If you have children at school, the daily homework struggles are probably something you’re familiar with. The kids come back from school already tired and they would rather do something fun than more studying. They argue, make up excuses and would do anything in their power to avoid the dreaded homework. If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to end the homework struggles, here are some strategies that will help.

RELATED: Tutoring Tips To Save You A Fortune

Create a routine

When children know that homework comes every school day at a predictable time, there’s less room for questioning if they should do it today or not. I find it best not to get into homework straight after school. The kids appreciate some time for outdoor play and a snack. It energises them and then they’re ready to do their work.

Make it fun

There’s no need for your children to see homework as something hard. Show them how to have fun with their assignments. For example, when my kids have to write sentences or stories with the words from their spelling lists, I encourage them to make their writing interesting or funny. Even if they resist at first, after I give them a few suggestions, they get into it and turn it into a game.

Let your child take responsibility

From the start of school I’ve made it clear to my children that their homework is their own responsibility. They have a choice to do it or not, but then they will also have to take responsibility for the consequences, for example, “You will have to explain to your teacher why you haven’t done your homework”. So far we’ve been lucky that my children have loved their teachers and just the thought of disappointing them often provides enough motivation.

Address any issues with the school

If you genuinely believe that there’s too much homework, then advocate for your child and let the school know. When enough parents express concern about the amount of homework their kids are getting, the school will take notice.

As with any other parenting issues, ending homework struggles is about being consistent. Create a habit, send a consistent message that your children are in control of their own homework and you’ll notice how the homework routine starts flowing with less effort.

Image by Patrice_Audet via pixabay.com

February 23, 2015

Rude Toddlers: How To Teach Kids Tact

Life is certainly never dull when you have toddlers and the unintentionally rude things they say and do ensures both endless hilarity and humiliation galore.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

I am a proud mum to two little people: 20-month-old and three-year-old daughters. They’re endless fun, and hard work at once, but it’s shopping trips that can leave me especially embarrassed.

Just this week, I had to explain to my eldest why it wasn’t cool to loudly ask me at the supermarket aisle: “Why is the man (a female checkout operator with a crew cut) wearing lipstick?” Shudder!

Then, my one-year-old sufficiently disgraced herself (and me) at a play centre on the weekend by screaming “Mermaid!” every time she laid eyes on a little redhead who did actually closely resemble a mini Ariel in her new obsession: The Little Mermaid.

The poor little redhead was suitably terrified of my tiny banshee, who then exacerbated the situation by chasing her around for hugs. Oh the vast and infinite horror. And the fun didn’t end there: my feisty, little one-year-old then started screaming “Mine!” and pushing others off her favourite animal toy, once redhead and her mum had fled the building.

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

So, how on earth do we teach our toddlers sensitivity and tact? And why does it come naturally to some kids and not others?

Child experts say to gently explain to your toddler how certain involuntarily rude statements and behaviours affect others in the hope they’ll come to understand why it’s socially unacceptable. After all, your little tykes are busy testing out their social and language skills.

In addition, toddlers are also renowned for their total lack of self-control and are yet to fully develop a sense of empathy and understanding that people’s feelings can be hurt by unkind, tactless remarks.

Psychologists call this “theory of mind” which is where children come to realise that other people have thoughts and feelings different to their own.
And the age at which they learn varies greatly, depending on the social maturity of the child.
Daycare, which often gets undue bad press, actually encourages this important development of social skills and empathy towards others as children interact and feelings are inevitably hurt.

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

Another recent clanger, was when my three-year-old asked me, thankfully, within the safety of our own home: “Why is Jacinta (her new kindy teacher) a man?” For the record, Jacinta is most definitely not a man, just a rather voluptuous woman.

So, it seems yet another important and essential parental responsibility is encouraging toddlers to have inquiring minds – my girls ask endless questions, sigh – while also educating them about what’s appropriate conversation and what’s not.

Child experts say not to scold your child for his/her honesty, call him/her rude, or discourage them from speaking their minds. Instead, you could try explaining that words are powerful: they can make people both happy and sad.

I think it’s also, in part, that fun parental lesson about teaching toddlers what constitutes good manners; encouraging kids to be kind and respectful, by example. And like all toddler-related matters, it’ll take every ounce of your patience and tolerance, ladies (at least it does me).

Now, if we can just teach our husbands to similarly always think before they speak…

Images, in order, via www.sheknows.com.au, www.news.com.au and research.fuseink.com.

February 10, 2015

Starting Kindergarten: Survival Tips For Parents

If your child is starting kindergarten, you’re probably experiencing an array of emotions right now. Proud that you’ve come so far on your parenting journey. Struggling to let your little one go. Overjoyed that you’ll have all this time to yourself. Sad that you’ll have all this time to yourself…

In addition to your own emotional roller coaster, your child may start behaving strangely. Tears in the morning, tantrums in the afternoon and you begin wondering if you’ve accidentally made a mistake and sent your two-year-old to school. Take heart, this behaviour is completely normal and will pass as your child adjusts. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to make the transition to kindergarten as smooth as possible both for you and for your child.

RELATED: 7 Tips For A Smoother School Run

Allow your child to express her emotions

Your little one is spending her days in a new environment, with a teacher she doesn’t know well yet. Numerous things happen during her time at school that may upset her, excite her or make her uncomfortable, but she doesn’t know how to deal with it all yet. By the end of the day she’s full of new impressions and disappointments. Then she sees you and to her that means safety. She can now relax, be herself and let her emotions flow. Don’t see her behaviour as naughty or annoying. Instead, accept that this is your child’s expression of trust and be her safety island.

Be a role model

This is a big change for yourself, too, so it’s normal to feel anxious. Do what you need to do to take care of your own emotions – have a good cry once your child has been dropped off, talk to a friend, do something nice for yourself and try to have a happy, relaxed attitude about school. Your child will pick up on your feelings, so model what you want to see in her.

Introduce an earlier bedtime

Your child is adjusting to change and she’s also required to work a lot harder than before, so she will be tired. Set up an earlier bed time routine to allow for extra rest. You will probably benefit from an earlier bedtime, too. Nothing helps better with emotions running wild than a good night’s sleep.

Minimise after-school activities

I can tell you from personal experience that there’s nothing quite as frustrating as trying to drag a reluctant 5-year-old to a gymnastics class after school and there’s absolutely no reason why you should have to go through it every week. If your child is feeling more tired and irritable than usual, put swimming and dance lessons on hold for the first term or two. You can always re-enroll in a few months, when your new student is happy and confident at school.

Hopefully, everything will be effortless for you and you won’t need any of my tips for starting kindergarten. But just in case you’re having a hard time, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And that your child (and you) will adjust.

Image by joduma via pixabay.com

February 9, 2015

5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

Dads of the twenty first century are now expected to parent children, more than any other time in history. This includes step-dads, separated or divorced dads. While fathers have taken on disciplinary roles in the past, day to day parenting has traditionally been the responsibility of mothers.

The main issue with this massive shift in societal roles and expectations is lack of experience, knowledge and guidance. This is because many fathers of previous generations neglected critical aspects of parenting. For many, they just didn’t know how.

RELATED: The Ultimate Parenting Tip… Consistency

As a result today’s dads who want to be more involved in parenting, may lack the knowledge, skills or confidence. They won’t admit it, but many haven’t had sufficient exposure to effective role models. They are learning parenting skills from sources like the internet, other dads and their child’s mother.

This is why encouraging fathers to parent children is so vital. Not only in satisfaction raising them but to educate fathers of the future. Mothers need to play a pivotal role in achieving this. Particularly if they are going to make an impact on generations of parents who surpass them. The question is how?

Relinquish control

Mothers have an innate way of hovering over their offspring regardless of their age. This is an enormous responsibility, especially in the infancy stage and one which can and should be shared. Offering responsibilities to fathers will lighten the load and encourage involvement.

While most fathers would be happy for this to occur, it’s mothers who have stunted progress. The key here is for mothers to relinquish control. (Easier said than done!) It doesn’t matter if things aren’t done the same or if parenting styles aren’t exact. As long as both parents remain consistent children learn to adapt. This is a valuable life lesson which enables kids to adapt to different situations as they get older. Much like they do when they have multiple teachers at school.

Building confidence

It’s very easy to pick someone else’s parenting efforts to pieces, especially in the heat of the moment when kids play up. Ridiculing parenting efforts will only encourage fathers to doubt themselves and withdraw. The aim is to encourage, provide support, grow and learn together. This builds confidence in both parents.

When positive parenting efforts or changes occur, use praise and provide more opportunities for fathers to use their new skills. Remember, the only way to improve and gain confidence is to practice.

Communicate

Talk about your parenting experiences and issues often. I can’t stress this enough. This will provide an opportunity to become a united front. Kids need to know what their behavioural expectations are from both parents. If given the opportunity, they will divide and conquer to get their way. This applies from toddler to adult so you may as well start as soon as possible.

If they manage to divide you it will cause enormous strain on your family. As parents, set consistent boundaries together and most importantly enforce them. Communicating is the only way you can make this work, regardless of whether you are parenting together or apart. Separated parents have a much higher chance of being manipulated by kids to get their way. Communicate with your child’s father / step-father and make it a priority.

Remember not to attack but voice concerns if you have them. To avoid attacking start sentences with “I” instead of “you”, followed by the behaviour. Address the behaviour, not the individual. For example; “I feel uncomfortable when you…”. Instead of “You make me uncomfortable when you…”. Parenting can be a touchy subject, so be mindful of how you say what’s on your mind.

Alone time

It’s really important that fathers get alone time to bond with their kids. Separated parents often argue about this. Unless a child is in immediate danger, fathers should have private access to their kids. It’s all about what’s best for them, not how you feel personally about your ex. The children love you both, so keep negative parenting opinions to yourself.

If you are a partnered parent avoid pushing alone time opportunities upon fathers who need time out. Be fair and possibly create a schedule so both parents have parenting time alone. Also encourage fathers to take the kids away from home. Initially a park outing might be enough. Use gradual exposure to build confidence.

Fathers who have little exposure to their children alone in public are often quite timid about the idea. It’s generally a confidence thing. Plus the thought of anything going wrong and needing to report back to the mother is terrifying. Don’t laugh, because this is a viable rationale, especially for step-dads.

Give fathers time to learn

Finally, provide time for growth. Some fathers are intimidated by the responsibility, the actual size of babies or small children and above all making mistakes. Encourage them, provide opportunity and guidance, praise their efforts and above all be patient.

If you think it would be helpful find a local parenting group. Some are offered especially for fathers and some can be done together. They can be very helpful in educating both mothers and fathers adapt to their twenty first century parenting roles. Take a look at your local council website for options.

Image via dailymail.co.uk

January 29, 2015
Load More