I think it’s pretty safe to say that every parent out there has battled with their children at some point to cooperate and do what they’re asked.

It might be that you want them to get their shoes on so you can leave the house.  Or brush their teeth before bed.  Or tidy up the toys that they’ve spread all over the living room.

Whatever the particular task is, when your child isn’t in the mood to do it it can be really hard to get them to cooperate.

There is something you can try though that will help make it more likely that they will cooperate with you.

Get creative to get your children to cooperate


If you can make the activity fun, and more like a game, there’s a far better chance your child will cooperate with you on it.


Lets say you have a toddler who doesn’t want to brush their teeth.

You could try to explain how important it is that they do it.  That the tooth fairy will be sad if they don’t look after their teeth.  You could promise them a trip to the park if they do it.  You could get frustrated and end up shouting and then feel bad.

Or you could get creative.

You could tell them a story about pirates that have stolen some treasure and the only way to help the princess get it back is by brushing their teeth.  Or you could come up with a silly tooth-brushing song that you sing each time, with special dance moves to go along with it.


The same thing goes if you want them to tidy up their toys.

Play them a special ‘tidy up time‘ song to make the whole thing more fun.  Or challenge them to see how quickly they can put all their toys back in the basket.  If you can make a game of it, rather than making it a chore, your child will be much more likely to cooperate with you.


You can use this technique for all sorts of things that your children might not always cooperate with you on.

  • Sing a fun song or play upbeat music while they get dressed for school in the morning.
  • Make a game of throwing their dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
  • Play catch as you practice times tables.
  • Tell them a story or act out scenes from their favourite film to keep them walking home from the shops.  We live up a hill and Nerys used to pretend to be Elsa running up the mountain singing ‘let it go’ to make it back to the house without complaining.
  • Challenge them to get their shoes and coat on before a timer runs out.


Whatever it is that you want your child to cooperate with, try to get creative and use your imagination to bring your child into a world of make-believe and play.

I’m not saying they’ll always go along with it.  But by making these tasks more fun there’s a much higher chance that they will cooperate.  And while you might not always be in the mood for singing and playing and being silly, going down that route is pretty much always going to be better than nagging and getting frustrated.

The games don’t need to be complicated, and your stories can be completely nonsensical.  It really doesn’t matter.  As long as your child is having fun and distracted from the reality of the boring task you’re asking them to do you’ll be on to a winner.

One of the most exhausting parts of parenting toddlers and young children (other than being up half the night with them) is the constant requests.

Requests for snacks.  In particular bowls.  With a drink in that one special cup.

Requests for videos on YouTube.  Not that video.  The one they watched last Thursday.

Requests to go the park.  And the swimming pool.  And to soft play.

Requests for you to read their favourite book with them.  Again.  And again.

Some days it feels like it doesn’t stop.  And while a lot of the time we can happily say ‘yes’ and give them what they’re asking for, sometimes the answer has to be ‘no.

Try this trick to say no to your child without them getting upset


The thing is, children don’t really like hearing the word ‘no’.  It makes them feel upset.  Or angry.  Or both.

Which is valid to be fair.  No one really likes to be told ‘no’.  And if your toddler really wanted a snack in that special red bowl and you said no then they’re bound to be a bit frustrated by that.

There is something you can try though, to say ‘no’ in a way that has a much higher chance of a happy ending for everyone.


The trick is to say ‘no’ without actually saying the word ‘no’.

You can even do it by saying ‘yes’ instead.


What I mean is, if you child asks you for that snack but it’s 5 minutes from dinner time.

Instead of saying, ‘no, dinner’s nearly ready’ you can say ‘yes, but you need to eat your dinner first’.


Or if they are at your feet asking you to read that book to them while you sort the washing out.

You can tell them that yes, you will read the book to them but you need to finish sorting the washing first.  Instead of just giving them a flat ‘no’ or a vague ‘we’ll do it later’.


Even little children will understand if you give them a clear answer of what needs to be done first or instead of the thing they are asking to do.


For the most part anyway.

Of course there’ll be times when they still get upset and angry that you won’t give them what they want straight away.  But wording your responses like this really will keep the odds in your favour that they’ll accept it with less frustration.

Just cutting the word ‘no’ from your response can be enough to stop children from pushing and arguing back.


Do you find it hard to say no to your children?  Do you find they get really upset and frustrated when you do say no?

Give this trick a try and see if it helps you and your family!

In today’s technological age where travel across the globe can be completed in a matter of hours, we are starting to become a much more multicultural society. This is translating to the student body too, so you can expect to be surrounded by people that are very different to you whether you’re starting university or are already halfway through.

With this in mind, it makes sense to stay knowledgeable of cultures other than your own, which is why we decided to create this brief guide covering a few of the most important Islamic events in the year. Hopefully, this will help you understand a little more about your Muslim classmates and their religion – let’s get into it.

A student guide to important Islamic events


Laylat-ul-Miraj is one of the most important events in the Islamic calendar and literally translates to ‘Night of the Ascent’. The evening commemorates the night when Prophet Muhammad took a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night, led by Allah (God). During this journey, Prophet Muhammad is given multiple instructions by Allah, including the requirement of Muslims to pray five times daily. The story of Laylat-ul-Miraj is an intricate one, so I won’t go into detail explaining every element of what happens, though it does conclude with the Prophet Muhammad ascending to heaven.

In general, Laylat-ul-Miraj is celebrated by special prayer services during the night and the lighting of cities with candles and electric lights. Many Muslims return home to share stories with children or say special nighttime prayers too, though the Islamic community in the area usually come together and congregate in local mosques at some point during the night.


Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is considered a month of fasting by Muslims worldwide. The month is extremely significant in the Islamic faith, hosting multiple important days and festivals, as well as being the month in with the Holy Qur’an was initially revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan is also an essential month for giving to charity, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. In particular, Ramadan concludes with a festival called Eid-ul-Fitr, where Muslims give a donation called fitrana. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated through prayer, preceded by the fitrana, which is designed to enable those less fortunate to celebrate in the same way. Charity is generally very prominent in Islamic belief and events.



Eid-ul-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, is the final significant Islamic event that we will look at. This is a commemoration of when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream, requesting that he sacrifice his son to show his faith. In the story, as Ibrahim is about to kill his son, Allah stops him and gives him a sheep to kill instead.

The festival is usually celebrated through morning prayers, visiting family, exchanging gifts and eating. Also, during this period, the greeting ‘Eid Mubarak’ is used commonly, meaning ‘blessed Eid’. The key part of this celebration is also the slaughtering of an animal, usually a goat, sheep, cow or camel depending on where in the globe you are. Each individual is meant to slaughter an animal or have an animal slaughtered on their behalf. There are various rules around this, where some animals can only be used for single individuals (like sheep), whilst others can be used to count as slaughters for multiple people (like cows).

There are plenty more occasions than the three listed here, and this is only a very brief overview of how each of the events work. Hopefully, this short guide will have taught you something new about the Islamic faith and helped you understand the beliefs of your fellow students. There’s never any harm in learning about others!


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

I know this is such a clichéd thing to say, but how lovely is it now the afternoons are getting lighter for longer!

We had enough of a break in the rain last week that I was able to take Nerys’ scooter with me when I went to pick the children up from school.  So she had a brilliant time scooting round the playground before we headed back to the car.

Then once we got home she asked if she could stay out and scoot around outside the house for a little bit.  The late afternoon light was gorgeous so I grabbed the camera and called Rhys out so I could take a photo of him while she played.

Living arrows


I don’t know if it’s his pose or his expression but he looks so much older to me in this photo.

He’ll be 8 in a little over a month and it feels like he’s in a bit of a transition; still so young in many ways but getting quite grown up in others.  I’m very aware that I need to keep taking little steps back and letting him make his own way, his own choices.  All while letting him know that I’m still right here whenever he needs me.


After taking a few pictures of Rhys I managed to get Nerys to stay still long enough to get a few of her before she whizzed off again.

I love this photo of her, the happy smile on her face, the rather windswept hair.

Living arrows


She has always been quite independent, wanting to do things for herself.  One of the last few ‘baby phrases’ that she still uses is ‘let I do it’, and she uses it quite a lot.

At her swimming lesson this week she told me with complete confidence that she could walk down to her group by herself without me.  What made me smile though was that, while she walked off happily on her own, she still looked back to make sure I was still right there in case she needed me.


My mum has always said to me that our children are only lent to us.

Our job is to give them the skills they need to go out into the world on their own.  To make their own way.  To live their own lives.  They’re not ours to keep or to hold on to too tightly.

If we do it right though, they go out into the world completely safe in the knowledge that whatever happens we’re always here if they need us.

My parents did it right.  I hope I’m doing OK too.


Living Arrows

I can’t quite believe that we’re at the siblings project for March already, where is this year going?

It actually feels quite funny writing this now, and looking at the photos for this month when we were out in the gorgeous warm sunshine, as it’s back to being grey and chilly again now.  I’m so pleased I took the chance to grab these photos of Rhys and Nerys together while we were at the park in the half term holidays enjoying the few days of random warm weather.

We had been to the shops, played on the swings and the climbing frame, had an early picnic lunch and a few turns on the zip wire before we walked over to the big slide as a last stop before heading back home.

Siblings project March 2019


The children actually had the slide all to themselves which they loved because it meant they could pretty much do whatever they wanted.  They climbed up it a few times, and tried out all sorts of ways of sliding back down, including going down together.

These two can wind each other up something chronic at times, but most of the time when it is just the two of them they get on really well and play so nicely together.  They had so much fun together at the park, watching to see what ideas the other one came up with then trying them for themselves.

They are quite different in nature, and in the way they think and how they see the world, which seems to be a good thing so far.  I think as they get older they’ll sort of challenge each other more (hopefully in a good way), which will help them learn to see things from other points of view and to consider thinking about things from a different angle.


If you have more than one child, do you think they’re really similar or are they quite different from each other?

Since January 2017 I’ve been taking a family photo every month as part of the Me and Mine project.

I actually attempted the project in 2016 I think but didn’t last long at all with it.  It seems like such a simple thing to do, but honestly I have really struggled with it at times over the last few years.  But it is so worth the effort each month to take these photos and I absolutely love having them to look back on.

If you don’t ever really take any photos of you with your family because it seems too hard, or you think it’ll be too stressful then this post is for you.

Here are my top tips for taking your own family photos and making the process as stress-free as possible.

How to make taking your own family photos as stress-free as possible


1. Lower your expectations

I mean, really lower your expectations.  If this is the first time you’re trying to take your own family photos then try not to expect too much from this first attempt.

Let go of the idea you have in your head of the perfect family photo.  This way you can hopefully not put pressure on yourself and your family to capture this ‘perfect’ shot.  Try instead to focus on getting a photo that is perfectly you.

Keep in mind that the weird grimace-like smile that your 4 year old does for the camera might be a bit frustrating right now when all you want is a ‘nice’ photo.  But in a few years time you’ll look back at it and love how much that fake smile captures who he was at this time in his life.


2. Make life easier with the right equipment

If at all possible use a tripod and a remote trigger to take your family photos.

Set your camera up on the tripod and then get your family where you want them in the frame.  Then jump in with them and snap away with the remote trigger.

If you don’t have a remote then use the timer function on your camera.  This can be actually be a great way to get more natural smiles from your children as they laugh at you frantically running to get in the shot each time!

If you don’t have a tripod then get creative looking for places to prop your camera up.  We’ve used walls and benches at the park quite a lot when I’ve not wanted to take the tripod out and about with us.


3. Have a plan of attack

Sometimes it can work to take family photos on the spur of the moment, but for the most part it’s worth making a bit of a plan in advance.  Think about where and when you want to take the photos.  Try and plan them for a time when everyone will have been fed recently and no one is due a nap!

Have a quick chat with your children before you start and explain to them that you’d like to take a few quick photos of the family together and that you would really like them to just cooperate.  Use chocolate bribes if necessary.  If everyone knows what you want them to do before you start you’ll have a better chance of getting some good photos.

When you start taking the photos do the more posed, everyone-looking-at-the-camera type shots first.  Children will lose interest and get restless quite quickly so get these pictures done first and then you can move on to more relaxed photos.

Taking your own family photos with less stress more fun


4. Think outside of the traditional portrait poses

Once you’ve got the more posed photos that you want you can try a few other options.

You can encourage everyone to hug each other, to look at one another, to tell each other jokes.  Tickling little ones is a great way to get fun, happy family photos.  You don’t have to stay still either, you can set up the camera and then get photos of you all walking towards it.

These kinds of photos where you interact with each other, instead of the camera, are quite often my favourites.  And they’re generally easier and less stressful to take than when you’re worrying about having everyone look at the camera.


5. Don’t worry too much about clothing

If you want to then go for coordinating pieces rather than matching outfits, but really the best, less-stress option is to just let everyone wear what they’re comfortable in.

You’ll get much better pictures when everyone feels like themselves.

Taking your own family photos with less stress


6. Be prepared to take a lot of photos

The beauty of digital photography is that you can take way more photos than you actually need.  So use this to your advantage when you try to take your own family photos and just keep taking picture after picture.

Take more photos than you think you’ll need, to have a better chance of everyone being in focus, with their eyes open and looking where you want them to be looking.


7.  Stop and check your photos as you go

Following on from the last point, make sure you stop regularly to check the photos you’ve taken.   You don’t want to take hundreds of photos to only realise at the end, when everyone has had enough, that none of them are actually in focus.

So stop now and then to check the photos.  Make sure the settings are ok and that the pictures aren’t too dark or blown out, and check that you’re all in focus.


8. If all else fails, try again another day

Remember that this is meant to be fun, so if things just aren’t working out stop, and try again another day.

Some days you’ll find that someone in the family just isn’t in the mood to have their photo taken, or you just won’t feel happy with the pictures you’re getting.  On these days it really is just best to stop, take a break, try again later.



When was the last time you had a photo of you and  your family all together?

Hopefully these tips will help give you the confidence to head out with your family and take some if you’ve not done it for a while.

Have you ever got to the office and realised that you left your door card or work ID at home?  Or remembered as you arrive at school with the children that you were meant to return a form for something, that is now sitting on the dining room table.

We’re all so busy, with so many thoughts running through our heads and so many important things to keep track of, that it can be so hard to remember everything.

So next time you need to make sure you don’t forget anything important when you head out of the house in the morning, try this one little trick to help you remember everything.

Never forget things when you leave the house again with this one little trick


Write out a list of the things you need to take with you and stick it to the back of your front door.  This way as you head out the door you can scan it quickly and make sure you have everything you need.


There are actually a few ways this can work for you, depending on how forgetful you normally are.

If you’re really quite forgetful and often find once you’re out that you’ve left something at home, then you can write out a list of all the things you generally need to have in your bag and then stick that to the back of the door.

This list might be quite short.  If you’re going to work for example, you might just need to remember your wallet, phone, keys, ID, door card and lunch.

It might be a bit longer if you’re a parent and you’re heading out somewhere with your baby.  In this case your list might include your wallet, phone and keys.  Then it would also have things like nappies, wipes, change of clothes, muslins, bottles, dummy etc.

Whatever you normally need to take out and about with you, put it on the list and then stick it somewhere you can quickly scan it before you leave to make sure you have everything.


If you’re generally pretty good at remembering the regular bits and pieces, but have days where there are extra things you don’t want to forget, then keep a pile of post-its and a pen near the front door.  Then the night before you can note down what you need to remember in the morning and stick the post-it to the back of the door.

This could be things like a permission slip that needs to be taken to school.  Or the book that you promised to lend to a friend.  Or your gym kit if you’re planning on working out during your lunch break at work.


If you’re not a fan of post-its then you could get a little whiteboard or notice board that you can put up in the hallway or by the front door for jotting down reminders.  Or you could even get a magna doodle like the guys had in friends to scribble down one-off things you need to remember.


Whichever way you choose to do it, the principle is the same.

Make a written note of the things you absolutely need to remember to take out with you, and put it somewhere you’re guaranteed to see it before you head out the front door.

A very simple trick I know, but sometimes the simple, obvious ones are the most effective!