Try this to help get to sleep

Try this one little trick when you can’t get to sleep

Do you ever have those nights when you just can’t seem to fall asleep?

You toss and turn, flip your pillow, try all sorts of sleeping positions but still can’t seem to drift off.  If this sounds familiar there might be something you can try, that sounds a bit silly but has shown in various studies to be effective in helping people get to sleep.

 

Try sticking one foot out from underneath the covers.

 

See I told you it sounds a bit silly, and almost too simple to work, but there is some pretty solid science behind this little trick.

It all comes down to the fact that we sleep better when we’re cooler.

Our body temperature naturally falls by a degree or two before we go to sleep, and then falls again while we’re sleeping.  This decrease in temperature acts as a sort of prompt for other systems in our body to fire up and prepare us for sleep.

So when we’re too warm, possibly from snuggling down under the duvet, we find it harder to get to sleep.

It’s a delicate balance though, so often kicking the entire duvet off makes us feel too cold, but we’re a bit too warm with it completely covering us.  Sticking just one foot out of the covers seems to be enough to help reduce our body temperature the right amount to encourage sleep.

 

The theory is that sticking out a foot is more effective than just pulling the covers down a bit because our feet lose heat more quickly.

This is because our feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomoses which dilate when we’re warm, which lets more blood reach the skin to cool us down.   So our feet are designed to lose heat and help cool us down, in a way that the main part of our bodies isn’t.  If we pull the covers down to expose our torsos we wouldn’t get the same effect, and if you’re anything like me it would feel even harder to get to sleep with out the comfort and weight of a duvet or a blanket.

 

So, next time you’re lying in bed struggling to get to sleep, try sticking a foot out from under the covers. 

It may just help you drift off.

Mother holding child's hand

Try this little trick to keep your toddler safe in car parks

If you have more than one young child then you’ll know how stressful it can be trying to keep everyone safe while getting them in and out of the car.  It’s a bit of a juggling act, making sure your toddler is safe while you strap the baby into their seat.

Even if you have a system for sorting the toddler first and then the baby, whether you’re getting them in or out of the car, there are still bound to be times when you need to turn your back for a second to grab something from the car.  And things get even more tricky if you add another child to the mix.

If you do find you worry about keeping your toddler safely by your car when you’re in a car park or by the side of the road, then this little trick can help.

Mother holding child's hand

 

Challenge them to keep one hand on a certain spot on the car until it’s time to go or to get in the car.

 

I did this with my children when they were younger and it worked brilliantly.  I used to get Rhys to stand with one hand on the little fuel door while I got Nerys out of the car.

The little door is just the right size for little hands and you can make this into a fun challenge, getting them to keep touching the car, rather than just telling them to stand still by the car.

 

You can actually get magnets and vinyl stickers with hand-prints on them that you can put on your car to make it even easier for little children to know where to put their hands to stay safe in car parks.  These are a great idea if your child needs a little something more to make this special for them.  Their own special spot on the car to place their hand.

 

It might take a bit of time to teach them, and of course you still need to be watching them as much as you possibly can, but this little touch-the-car challenge for children is so handy as a way of keeping them close to the car and out of harm’s way.

 

Do you do this with your children?  Or do you have a specific system for getting everyone in and out of the car each time?  I’d love to hear what you do in the comments!

Try this little trick to encourage a growth mindset

Try this little trick to encourage a growth mindset

When your child tries to do something and finds it hard, how do they respond?

If they get frustrated and stop trying, with complaints of ‘I can’t do this’, then they most likely have quite a fixed mindset.  This is basically where we believe that we’re born with a set of traits and talents and that what we can do and achieve is down to these things rather than how hard we work and how much effort we put in.

A growth mindset on the other hand is where we realise that most things can be learnt and achieved over time with effort and perseverance.  This is the sort of mindset that we want to encourage in our children, so that they grow up with this belief that they’re not limited in what they can do.  That they can do pretty much anything if they keep going, keep trying, keep learning.

Here’s one little thing you can do to help your children develop a growth mindset.

Try this little trick to encourage a growth mindset

 

Try using one three letter word with your child.

Yet.

 

There is so much power in that one little word.

 

It takes you from “I can’t do this”, to “I can’t do this YET”.

That little word at the end of the sentence changes things so much.  Suddenly, instead of basically saying ‘this is hopeless, I can’t do it, I won’t even try any more’, we are saying ‘this is hard, but if I work at it I will be able to do it’.

Make a point of adding the word ‘yet’ on any time your child gets frustrated with something and says that they can’t do it.

Explain to them that maybe the maths problem they’re struggling with is hard for them because they haven’t learnt the best way to work out the answer yet.  Even people who are naturally good at maths need to be taught strategies and systems for getting to the right answer.  It’s all just a matter of time and figuring things out and persevering.

 

There are various other things we can do to help develop a growth mindset in our children.   But this little word, yet, is an amazing place to start.

Try it next time your child is struggling.

Remind them that they can’t get to the top of the climbing frame yet.

That they can’t swim breast stroke properly yet.

That they can’t tie their shoelaces yet.

 

Keep adding that word on to the end of the sentence, and take the time to expand on it.  Explain that while they can’t do what they’re trying to do right now, if they keep trying they will get there.

After a while this message will start to sink in and they’ll realise that if they stick with it and keep working they can do anything.

Entertain toddler while feeding baby

How to entertain your toddler while you feed your baby

If you have a toddler or young child and a small baby then you’ll know the challenge of trying to keep them both happy.

One of the biggest struggles is trying to entertain your toddler when you need to feed the baby multiple times a day.

If this is something you’re trying to deal with, or are worried about being an issue once your baby arrives, then this idea will hopefully help you out.

How to entertain your toddler while you feed your baby

 

Make up a few special busy bags that you can bring out for your toddler when the baby needs feeding.

 

If you spend an afternoon putting a few together then you can bring them out on a sort of rotation system, so your child doesn’t get bored of them too quickly.

There are so many possibilities for what could go into these busy bags.

Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

  • Sticker books
  • Colouring book and crayons
  • A notebook and crayons
  • Small jigsaw puzzle
  • Lacing/threading games

 

If you have more time and are feeling more creative then there are almost endless options for busy bag games and activities that you can make.

My ‘make a monster‘ felt activity is simple to make and great fun for children who like creative activities.

Build a monster busy bag

 

You can also use these busy bags as a fun way to teach your toddler about colours, shapes, numbers and letters.  My robot colour and shape matching game is perfect for popping in a busy bag for a toddler or young child to play with during baby’s feeding time.

If you need some more inspiration then Chloe from Life Unexpected has some great busy bag ideas as well as useful tips on how to actually put the bags together.  There are also tons of ideas over on Pinterest that you can use.

 

When Rhys was little I made him a busy bag with an alphabet game where he had to match up upper case and lower case letters and that would keep him happy for ages.  The one I made used velcro but I’ve seen some variations using wooden pegs that look like a lot of fun too.

Alphabet busy bag

 

What you choose to put in these bags will depend really on what sort of activities your toddler is interested in.

The key thing to it is to only bring them out when you need to feed the baby.  So your toddler is excited by them and feels like they’re getting something new and fun to do.  This will hopefully let you focus on feeding the baby without your toddler demanding quite so much of your attention.

 

One side note though.  While you’re putting these busy bags together, try and make a few extra ones if you can to pop in your hand bag or change bag.  They’re brilliant for giving little ones something to do if you’re stuck in a doctor’s waiting room or anything like that.

We used ours when we took the ferry to the Isle of Man when Rhys was 2 and they were perfect for keeping him sitting in one place instead of running riot around the boat.

 

Do you use busy bags with your children?  Which one is their favourite?

Phrases to calm an angry child

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

One of the hardest things for children to learn is how to handle big emotions like anger.

To be fair, it can be really hard for us adults too.  I know I don’t always behave all that nicely when I’m feeling really angry or upset.  But at least as we get older we, hopefully, have learnt tools and coping mechanisms to work through these feelings.

Children though don’t have this experience yet.  They really feel these big emotions, often over things that we as parents don’t quite understand, and can find it hard to cope and to work through them.

If you’re struggling to know how to help your child when they really feel angry about something, then here are 9 different things you can try saying to them that might help.

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

1. I can see that you feel angry.

Or frustrated.  Or upset.  Or whatever word best describes the emotion that your child is expressing.

One of the first things to try is to name the emotion for them.  This helps them feel like you understand and are listening to how they’re feeling.  It also starts to make them more aware of what different emotions feel like to them.

 

2. Can you tell me what’s happened?

This lets you get to the root cause of their anger and gives them a chance to talk it through.  When you ask this question, make sure you really take the time to listen.  Don’t interrupt, don’t try to reason with them as they’re telling you what has made them angry.

Just let them tell you the whole story in their own time.

 

3. Everyone feels angry at times and that’s OK

Let your child know that anger is a valid emotion to feel.  It’s OK if they feel angry; we all do at times.

Knowing you understand how they’re feeling can really help your child feel validated in their emotions, and to feel heard by you.

 

4. It’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to…

…hit.  Or break things.  Or call people names.

This lets them know that the emotion is valid but that the behaviour they’re showing while they’re angry isn’t acceptable.

 

5. Would you like to try…

… taking some calming breaths.  Or doing a warrior cry.

Offer a suggestion of something your child can do to try and calm themselves down.  But ask them if they’d like to try it, rather than telling them that they have to do it.  Give them the choice and the control over the situation.

Don’t overwhelm them with lots of suggestions either.  Offer one or two ideas and then give them space to think it over.

 

6. I’m here and you’re safe

Our emotions can get all jumbled up at times, and quite often when our children feel angry they also feel scared and unsafe.  Letting them know that you’re there, by their side, and that they’re safe can go a long way to helping them feel calmer.

 

7. I’m going to sit over here

If your child is right in the eye of the storm then let them know that you’ll be sitting close by.  Or just in the other room.  This gives them the space to work through their anger while knowing that you’re still nearby, ready to help them when they’re ready to let you.

 

8. Can I help you?

When your child is angry they may well  be feeling completely out of control, so asking them if they’d like your help gives them back a sense of control.  They can decide if they want a bit of time and space or if they want you to sit with them and help them calm down.

 

9.  I love you

Our children need to be reminded that even when they’re angry we still love them.  We might not like the way they’re talking or acting when they’re angry, but we will always love them.  We need to be that safe place for our children where they know they’re loved no matter what.

 

There’s no one magic phrase that will immediately calm an angry child down.

The main thing for us as parents to remember is that, as much as possible, we need to keep calm ourselves.  If we start to get frustrated too then we won’t get anywhere.  We need to be the calm in the storm.  Easier said than done at times I know, and if you do get angry too then make sure to talk about it afterwards once you’ve both calmed down.

If you can keep calm though, and try a few of the suggestions in this post then hopefully you’ll find the magic words that work best to calm your child down.  The other thing to remember is to trust your instincts.  You know them best, you know if they need to be left alone or if they need you to hold them.

With your help and understanding they can start to learn how to handle anger and all the other big emotions that they might be feeling.

 

What do you find works best for you and your child when they’re angry?

TV and films_ how to watch more for less

TV and films – how to watch more for less

We all want to find ways to get more for our money these days don’t we.  One of the big expenses a lot of us pay for is home entertainment, either with satellite TV services or streaming subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime TV.

There are some ways to save some money on these things though, and ways to find more films and box sets to curl up with in the evenings.

Here are some ideas for ways you can watch more for less.

TV and films_ how to watch more for less

 

Make use of your local library

Most libraries will have a pretty decent selection of DVDs that you can borrow.  From big budget films to boxsets of your favourite TV shows, you’re bound to find something you like there.  And you can normally borrow them for a decent amount of time.

There’s also something a bit nostalgic about doing it this way too, like spending Friday evenings in the local Blockbuster deciding what video to rent!

 

Set up your own DVD library at the office

If you work in a big office then you can get everyone to bring in DVDs they don’t want any more and gather them all on a bookshelf in the office.

Then when you fancy watching something you can grab it from the shelf and just bring it back again when you’re done.  You could get all fancy with this and set up a log book, or just keep it simple and work on the honour system and trust that people won’t just keep the DVDs.

 

Use gift cards

Did you know that you can get gift cards for Netflix?

If you want to save money on your subscription you can ask for gift cards instead of cash for your next birthday.  Or you can see if you can find any being resold online at a reduced price.  Ebay is always worth a look for things like this.

 

Get more out of Netflix with a VPN

If you already have Netflix you might have had the frustrating experience of not being able to watch certain films or TV shows because they’re not available in your country.

There are some shows that won’t be on Netflix UK, for example, that are available in the US.

Luckily there’s a way to get around this and get way more viewing options for your money.  You can use a VPN with Netflix to hide your geographic location.  This is called geo-spoofing, and basically it changes your IP address so it looks like you’re in a different location.

So you can set it up so Netflix thinks you’re in America and lets you watch all the shows and films available over there.

 

Use catch-up services

There are loads of TV programmes available for free using online catch-up services.

BBC iPlayer is really great with a selection of films, box sets of different shows and new episodes of the latest programmes shown a day later.  It’s also really great if you have children because there are loads of CBeebies and CBBC shows on there.

Other options are all4, ITV hub and UKTV play which has shows from Dave, Drama, Really, Yesterday and Home.

 

Make use of Google opinion rewards

If you have an android phone then you can download the Google opinion rewards app and earn money to spend in the Google play store.

You get sent ridiculously quick surveys to answer a few times a week and get paid for them.  It’s normally only a few pennies per survey but it does build up quite quickly.  Then you can spend what you make on anything in the play store.  They have a huge range of films and TV series in there, as well as music and ebooks.

 

Using a combination of these ideas you’ll have almost endless options of things to watch at home, all without having to spend a fortune.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

5 little ways to encourage kindness

5 little ways to encourage kindness

There is a quote I love from Mr Rogers that talks about how, in times of crisis and tragedy, when the news of full of scary stories, we should look for the helpers.

In amongst all the chaos and sadness and fear there will always be helpers.  We’ll always find people bravely doing whatever they can to help and to care for others.

I think this is such a great message to send to our children.  Firstly for them to know that there will always be more good than bad out there.  And secondly for them to learn that they can be the helpers too.  They can grow up to be the ones jumping in, helping others, coming from a place of care and kindness.

It’s so important to me that my children are kind people, and if you feel the same way,  here are 5 things we can do as parents to teach our children about kindness.

5 little ways to encourage kindness

 

1. Talk about differences

It can feel really awkward when our children ask questions about other people who have disabilities or who simply look different to them.  Most of the time though these questions simply come from a genuine sense of curiosity about other people.  And they’re a great chance to start a conversation about our differences and our similarities.

Talking to our children about why people use wheelchairs for example can really help them understand the different experiences and challenges other people might face.  This then helps them be more empathetic to others, as well as being a chance to talk about how we can be kind and treat everyone with respect.

 

2. Be kind to the earth

Being kind goes further than doing nice things for other people. We need to teach our children to be kind to the planet too.  So talk to them as you sort through the recycling.  Explain why you’re doing it and how it benefits the earth.

Look for changes you can make in your own lifestyle to be more eco-conscious and talk these through with your children.  Give them reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles of water when you go out for the day.  Wrap their sandwiches in reusable waxed wrap, rather than using cling film.  Talk to them about donating their old toys rather than just throwing them out.

 

3. Read them books about kindness

Find stories that feature the theme of kindness and read them to your children as often as possible.

Books are great ways to spark conversations about different topics and you can use them to help your children learn all about kindness and the different ways we can be kind.

It doesn’t have to just be books either. When you’re watching TV with them look out for story-lines about kindness and point out to your children how great it is when characters do something kind and thoughtful, and how happy it makes them and other people.

 

4. Do random acts of kindness with them

These can be really small but are a great way to get our children thinking about doing things for other people.

You can let someone go in front of you in the queue at the supermarket.  Leave some money taped to a vending machine for the next person to use.  Or simply leave notes around reminding people how great they are.

The beauty of these random acts of kindness is that they’re normally done in secret.  So we do them with no expectations of thanks or reward.  The reward is just that good feeling that comes from doing something nice and kind to brighten someone else’s day.

 

5. Set a good example

The most important thing we can do as parents, if we want our children to be kind, is to be kind ourselves.

Be kind to your children.  Let them see you be kind to your partner and to your parents.

When you’re out walking with your children, smile and say ‘hello’ to people you pass.

Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the bus driver, the cashier at the supermarket, the person who holds a door open for you.

Bake cakes with your children for the school cake sale and take them with you to buy flowers for your neighbour who’s been unwell.

Children will soak up all these little acts of kindness, compassion and caring and learn to go out into the world and act the same way.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post