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4 easy and fun Halloween crafts

Both of my children love arts and crafts activities.

Painting, glueing, colouring, creating; they love it all.

So we were all really excited when a box of craft materials arrived from Viking, for us to have some fun creating some Halloween crafts.

When I opened the box I found some white, orange and black wool, black paper, funky craft scissors, googly eyes, lollies and pipe cleaners.

I wasn’t sure what to make at first, so just spread everything out on the table, grabbed a few other supplies and just let everyone come up with ideas!

4 easy and fun halloween crafts
This is what we ended up creating.

 

Fluffy ghosts

I love this super simple craft.

We cut ghost shapes out of cardboard, spread them with lots of glue and then covered them in bits of cotton wool.

Then we added some googly eyes to bring them to life.

So easy, and so much fun.

And if you’re feeling creative like Nerys you can add loads and loads of google eyes to make a crazy monster ghost!

cotton-wool-ghosts-halloween

 

Tissue paper pumpkins.

For this toddler-friendly craft I cut out a simple pumpkin shape from thick black paper, which we then covered in bits of orange tissue paper.

Then we cut some eyes and a mouth out of black paper using the funky scissors from Viking and stuck those down to complete the pumpkin,

tissue-paper-pumpkin-halloween

 

Threaded wool spider webs.

This is a great craft for toddlers as it really helps with fine motor skills.  But it can also be really good fun for older children who can get creative with the pattern they make with the wool.

I cut a circle out of card and then cut a smaller circle from the middle of that.  You could use a paper plate instead if you have some at home.

Then I went round the circle with a hole-punch, making little holes to thread the wool through.  Then just start threading in a random, criss-cross pattern to get a spiderweb effect.

These would look great hung up around the house at halloween.

And you can even make little pipe-cleaner spiders to sit on them!

wool-thread-spiderweb

 

Spooky spiders.

While the children were busy with their ghosts and pumpkins, Steve and I had some spidery fun with the pipe cleaners.

I wrapped some round a lolly and added some googly eyes to make a tasty spidery treat.

While Steve got creative and made a spider with a cottonwool body and pipe cleaner legs.  And another made entirely out of pipe cleaners and googly eyes.

Hmmm, there’s a bit of a similarity between Steve’s multi-eyed spider and Nerys’ ghost!

pipecleaner-spider-halloween

 

Pumpkin tealight holders.

If you’re not up for the job of carving out a pumpkin, but still want something to add a little glow to your halloween decorations then these little tealight holders are a great option!

Grab an empty jam jar, clean it out and take the label off.

Then mix up some pva glue and water and use that to stick orange tissue paper all over the outside of the jar.

When that’s all dry you can either cut out some features from black paper and stick them on, or you can draw them on with a black marker pen.

Then pop a tea light in the jar and enjoy the spooky atmosphere!

You could also make ghost ones by using white tissue paper instead.

pumpkin-tealight-halloween

So there you have it, a handful of ideas for easy halloween crafts to make at home.  Will you be making anything to decorate your house with this year?

 

We were sent a box of craft materials from Viking for the purpose of creating this post, but all words and makes are my own.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
real-baking-cookie-kit

#RealBaking review – Cake pop kit, Cookie kit and Chocolate pen.

Oh we’ve been having some fun in the kitchen lately!

We recently reviewed the great baking set from Vivid Imaginations and had a lot of fun with that.

So Nerys and I were really quite keen to get stuck into the other sets we were sent to review.

Here are my thoughts on the cookie kit, chocolate pen and cake pop kit.

 

Real baking cookie kit

First up we spent a rainy afternoon trying out the cookie kit.

The set comes with a silicone baking sheet, a rolling pin, a rolling pin guide, a piping bag and a selection of cookie cutters.

real-baking-cookie-kit

As the set is designed for children aged 6+ everything in it is child-sized, which is lovely because it is nice and easy for a child to use it all, but it does also mean that you can’t make that much in one go with it.

As you can see from the photo you can only fit about 6 ‘normal’ sized biscuits on the little baking sheet, so you have to either make them in batches or do what we did and make lots of smaller biscuits and put the ones that don’t fit on a separate baking sheet to cook them.

The set comes with instructions on how to use the items included, but would be even better if it included a recipe or two.

With no recommendations in the kit it’s hard to know how much dough to make to work well with the size of the tray.

In the end I found a simple biscuit recipe that actually worked out really well and was nice and easy to make.

Nerys then really enjoyed rolling out the dough using the rolling guide to help her.

I have to admit I was a bit dubious about how well this would work.  I had visions of the whole thing just sliding around and her getting frustrated.  But actually she managed it really well and the guide really did help get the dough to a perfect thickness to then cut out the shapes.

real-baking-cookie-kit-rolling-guide

Once we’d used up all the dough we popped the biscuits in the oven for about 12 minutes.

I was really pleased with how well they came out!

real-baking-cookies

I would point out that even though the kit is called the ‘cookie kit’ you’re much better off finding a biscuit recipe rather than a cookie one.

Mainly because cookies quite often spread when you bake them, whereas biscuits will hold their shape better.

This kit comes with quite a nice selection of different cutters so it’s fab when they come out of the oven looking like the butterflies, flowers and stars that you wanted!

 

Real baking chocolate pen

Next we tested out the chocolate pen kit.

Oh I had such mixed feelings about this!  

On the one hand I was really excited to try it, because chocolate!  But on the other hand I just wasn’t sure how easy it would be to use.

And after reading the instructions I wasn’t feeling particularly reassured, because honestly it all looked quite fiddly.

In the set you get the Chocolate Pen, 3 mould trays, 4 nozzles & clamps, caps, 12 bags for chocolate and an instruction booklet.

real-baking-chocolate-pen

Firstly, I was a little bit disappointed when I realised that the pen requires batteries but these aren’t included.

Luckily we had some at home, but it was still a bit of a faff to dig out a screwdriver to put them in.

Secondly, I think the kit would be that little bit more special if there were a couple of bags of chocolate buttons in there, as this is what is recommended in the instruction booklet.  But there isn’t any chocolate included in the box.

Once we got started though I found that setting up the pen wasn’t quite as fiddly as I’d expected.  But I’m really not sure how well a 6 year old would manage if they tried to do it.

You have to fill one of the little bags with chocolate, attach a nozzle and clamp and then put the bag in warm water to melt the chocolate.

Once it’s all melted you put the bag into the pen and fasten it all up.  This part is a little fiddly but after you’ve done it once or twice it does get easier.

To get the pen to work you press the big button on it, which pushes a plunger inside the pen that then forces the chocolate out of the top of the nozzle.

You can then use it in two ways.

You can use the pen to fill up the chocolate moulds or you can draw freehand with it onto baking parchment.

We tried both and had a lot of fun.

The moulds I really liked.  There are quite a few to chose from and you can layer up colours if you feel fancy.  We only had milk chocolate in the house so ours are quite simple but I still think they came out really well.

And I think they’ll be lovely to make with the children to give to people at Christmas time.

real-baking-chocolate

As for drawing with the pen?  Well, maybe with a bit more practise we would get better but our results this time weren’t amazing!  The nozzle is quite big on the pen so I’m not quite sure how you could achieve the lovely delicate writing that’s shown on the box!

We ended up with a sort-of butterfly (my effort), a lovely muddy puddle (Nerys’ work) and a big flower with a leaf on the stem (a joint effort).

Not too shabby for a first attempt, but nothing like the examples on the box.

real-baking-chocolate-pen-001

My main feeling with this set is that, once you’ve got it up and running, it’s a lot of fun.

Nerys really enjoyed using it, and Rhys is desperate to have a try too.

It is tricky to get amazing results with it, but then it’s not claiming to be a professional tool.  To my mind, it’s a toy.  It’s supposed to just be fun, and to encourage children to want to bake more and get more involved in the kitchen.

And I think that it works well with that in mind.

 

Real baking cake pops

The last thing we tried out was the cake pop set.

And like with the chocolate pen, I was a bit apprehensive.

I’ve always loved the idea of cake pops but had never actually made them before because they always seemed a little complicated.  And at first glance this set didn’t make it look simple either, mainly because of the number of steps there are in the instructions!

In the kit you get 2 silicon mould sheets, 2 cone moulds, 1 mini doughnuts mould sheet and 12 lollipop sticks.

real-baking-cake-pop-kit

First impressions are that the pieces all feel nice quality, but there’s not much to the kit.

It seems a bit of shame that you can only make 4 cake pops at a time, it would be so much better if there were 2 of the mould sets in there.

And the little doughnut mould is sweet, but slightly random as no recipes are provided so I’m not really sure what to do with it.

The kit comes with 2 cone moulds as well, so you can either just make basic cake pops or you can melt chocolate and pour it into the moulds and then put the cake pops on top of those, to make sort of cake ice creams.

In the end we decided to just go for the basic cake pops, but I’ve promised Rhys we’ll get the kit out again soon and make the cones too!

To make the cake pops you make up your cake mix (I used my basic 2-4-4-4 fairy cake recipe) and then spoon some into one half of the silicone mould, up to the line.  Then you put the other half on top and press it down to secure it in place.

Then bake!

As the cakes rise they form themselves into nice little balls of cake.

I was so sceptical about this.

I really didn’t think it would work properly so I was amazed when I popped open the mould after the cakes had cooled to find these neat little cake balls!

real-baking-cake-pops

The next step then is to simply put the lolly stick in and then dip the cake pops in melted chocolate and decorate.

The issue I had here is that there’s nothing in the kit to use to stand the cake pops up while the chocolate hardens.  So you’d have to lie them down on some greaseproof paper or something similar, resulting in a random flat spot of chocolate.

I got lucky and had a plastic tub waiting to be recycled that actually had 4 little holes in the bottom, just the right size for the sticks.  So I put my cakes pops in there for the topping to set.  I would love it though if the kit came with something like that to make life a bit easier!

The end result though is really good I think.  

Not quite bake off standard but still!  It’s just a bit of a shame that you can only bake 4 at a time.

real-baking-cake-pop-set

There are one or two little niggles with all three baking sets that we tested.

Each set could do with having a few more key bits of kit to them, and it would be really nice if there were recipe ideas in the boxes to get you started.

Overall though, we really like them.

We’ve had a lot of fun and really enjoyed baking something other than our standard fairy cakes.

And I think that’s the key to these kits.

They’re fun.

They’re meant as a way to get kids interested in baking, and trying new skills, and having fun.

And from my experience with them they succeed on all those points.

My adult self has a few nit-picky reservations but the child in me, who always loved the look of things like Mr Frosty and easy bake ovens, really enjoyed them!

We’ll definitely be getting all these sets out again over the coming months.

 

Disclaimer – I was sent the kits for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are my own.

great-baking-set-contents

Great baking set review – #RealBaking

I may have mentioned this before, but I really love baking with my children.

So I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review some children’s baking kits from Vivid imaginations.

The first set we unpacked was the ‘Great baking set’ and Nerys and I had a great time testing it out one rainy day recently.

The set is made up of the following items:

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 suction cup, to keep the bowls steady on the table, genius!
  • 3 measuring spoons
  • 1 egg cracker
  • 1 silicone baking tray
  • 16 little cupcake cases
  • 4 piping bags
  • 1 icing nozzle

great-baking-set

So basically, it includes everything you need to get started with baking, although a little wooden spoon would make a great addition to the set.

My first impression of the baking set was really positive.  

Everything feels nice and sturdy and I love the bright, funky colours!

The bowls, measuring cups and little baking tray are all really handy bits of baking kit to have for cooking with children.

But the thing I really love?  The egg cracker!

I’ve not seen anything like it before!

Basically, you pop an egg between the arms of the cracker, press firmly down on the yellow button and hey presto.  The egg cracks into the little bowl below and the shell stays put.

We used 2 eggs in our recipe, and both times the eggs cracked perfectly with no little bits of shell making it through at all.

real-baking-set

Now I have to admit, I’ll normally crack the eggs open myself when I bake with Rhys and Nerys, and even then I quite often find little bits of shell that I have to fish out.  So this little device is great for giving them a way to crack the eggs without making a mess.

And honestly, it’s really good fun!

We stuck with our standard fairy cake recipe when we tested out the great baking set, although we did throw in a good amount of cocoa powder too.  Well, we had to test out the measuring spoons in some way!  So yeah, that’s about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder going in.  Yum!

great baking set 2

One thing I will say about the set is that the bowls provided are child size.  

So they’re really not big enough to hold all the mixture if you’re following a standard recipe for something like fairy cakes.

So we mixed everything up in a big bowl, then I transferred some into a bowl from the set for Nerys to add some chocolate chips and then spoon that mixture into the cake cases.

Again, the cake cases are teeny, and the silicone baking tray only holds 4 at a time, which could be a bit annoying if you’ve got impatient little ones who just want cake!

But the way I see it, this set is designed to be used to introduce children to baking and to start teaching them different skills.

And I think it worked really well, the way we did it.

Nerys had her independence to make some little fairy cakes by herself, and I made some standard sized ones for the grown ups!

She did such a good job spooning the mixture into the cases and was, quite rightly, very proud of herself when she saw the end result.

teeny fairy cakes

I mean, come on, how cute are these little cakes!

We iced the little ones with our usual white icing and Nerys then decorated them with little chocolate beans.

For the big cakes though I decided to try my hand at using a piping bag for the first time, using the bags and nozzle that came in the baking set.  I made up a quick chocolate buttercream and got to work, and I’m quite pleased with how they turned out.

I mean, I’m not going to be on bake off anytime soon but still, I think they look pretty good!

great baking set 3

All in all I think the great baking set is a lovely little kit for getting children involved and interested in baking alongside adults in the kitchen.

And don’t tell anyone but I think I’ll be making use of the egg cracker next time I’m making scrambled eggs for lunch!

A little note – the kit is aimed at children aged 6+, so if like me you decide to use it with younger children please do make sure you supervise them at all times.

Disclosure – We were sent the great baking set for the purposes of this review, but all words and opinions are my own.

Family Fever
I won't do my son's homework for him

Why I won’t do my son’s homework

We had a ‘meet the teacher’ session at my son’s school last week, where we were told all about what they would be getting up to in year one.

And one of the things that was mentioned was homework.  

For the most part the homework will be based around reading and spelling, but the teacher did remark that there will be one or two bigger projects now and then.  Like making posters to go on the classroom wall, and building model houses after a trip to St Fagans.

The thing is, I swear she said to us parents “you’ll be making models”, not “your children will be making models”.  And my immediate thought was that I certainly won’t be making anything!

I’ll help, of course, but I refuse to do my son’s homework for him.

Why I won't do my son's homework

 

Here’s why I won’t do my son’s homework for him:

  • It tells him that his efforts aren’t good enough.  By taking over and doing it for him, it implies that I think he can’t do it well enough by himself.  And I always want him to know that his best effort will always be good enough for me.  Last year he had lots of letters to practise writing as part of his homework, and sometimes those letters were the wrong way round, and wobbly, and imperfect.  But HE did it.  He sat and he tried his best, and honestly, at 4 years old surely that’s all that matters?!

 

  • He won’t learn anything!  What’s the point in him having homework and then me doing it for him?  He won’t learn anything from it in terms of academics, but he’ll also never learn life lessons about trying your best, about failing and that being ok!

 

  • It’s not my job.  I mean, I’ve been through school, and back then it was my job to do my homework.  But I’m not in school any more!  It’s my job to help him, to explain things to him, to support him, yes.  But it’s not my job to do it for him.

parent-help-homework

 

It seems like I’m not the only parent who feels this way.  I asked some fellow parent bloggers for their thoughts and this is what they had to say:

“I don’t think (apart from spellings and reading) homework should given in Primary school until years 5 & 6 to prepare them for secondary school. They have enough time in school each day to learn – they shouldn’t have to come home and do more. Hometime should be a re-coup time and time for doing things they want to do.”

– Lisa from It’s a blogs life

 

“I don’t do it for them, actually I wrote a post on it.. there’s no point me doing it for him, as he may as well not do it. I will help I.e. talk him through it if he’s stuck or suggest where he may look for answers. Eldest is year 4 and has had homework since year 2. I think it enhances his ability to be able to learn independently.”

– Vi from dancing in my wellies

 

“My son has just started Year Two and is a very reluctant writer. I won’t do his homework for him but I will help him and guide him or otherwise he’d never do any of it. If it’s written work he has to do, then we talk about what he wants to say one night and I write it all down, then another night we work on a shortened version of his thoughts. I’ve written it down in his words and then he’s copied it. He’s just had to do a family tree project, again writing is a nightmare, so I suggested he made a tree with ivy leaves, we printed photos and he just wrote labels for relationships. He did the work but with a lot of guidance.

I’d rather he had nothing except reading, spellings and maths for a few more years but it is what it is.”

– Mary from over 40 and a mum to one

 

“I totally leave my six year old to it, but that is because she is very self motivated. If anything I tell her to stop and leave it for a bit as she gets carried away trying to do too much. It depends on the child as some need more guidance than others. It needs to be a partnership bewteen school, child and home. As parents we do have a responsibility to get involved I believe.”

– Emma from emma and 3

 

“My daughter is 4 so has just started receiving homework, it’s usually something like “Draw a picture of something small & something big”, so I’ll discuss the topic with her, in this example, what things are small & what things are big, and then leave her get on with the work. But she’ll often have to write what her drawing are, so either I’ll tell her the letters to write herself or if she can’t remember her alphabet, I’ll write them on a scrap piece of paper for her to copy, with me telling her the names of each letter as she goes along.”

– Becky from hectic diabectic

 

“Things like spellings and times tables my son does himself but some of the harder homework we have done together. I certainly don’t tell him what to do but I sometimes help guide him in the right direction and then we talk about how he came to that outcome/ answer. I think sometimes a little help can be much more beneficial than them getting frustrated and giving up!”

– Jess from tantrums to smiles

 

“My son has just started reception, we are asked to do 10 mins a day of “reading or writing practice” which is a lovely way for us to see what he’s learning at school and so far feels like a treat for him to have 1:1 time with me or his Dad. I like that it’s flexible and there is no pressure on him yet to produce something to hand in! I wish homework could stay this chilled forever!”

– Amy from 2 boys 1 mum

 

“You can tell when a parent has done the homework and it’s not fair on the students. Not just their child but others, it puts pressure on everyone else.

I help my son but he completes it and if he struggles I write a note to the teacher.”

– Jaymee from the mum diaries

 

“My 4 year old has just started infant school so homework hasn’t started yet aside from a reading book each night. It does irk me when parents do their kid’s homework, especially if they are open about it too. Guidance and encouragement is key. I do find that some schools can be a bit suspicious of a good result of homework particularly if a parent works within that particular field, i.e, science or geography for example.”

– Sophie from sophie and lily

 

“I understand that when a child is little they might need some help with certain school projects, but it never ceases to amaze me the lengths that some people go to. There is absolutely no point in parents doing the homework for the children. My eldest took in a cereal box that I wrapped in paper for him and then he coloured in to make it look like a house for the Great Fire Of London. That was enough work for me! Some children had wooden houses with thatched roofs! It means so much more for them to do it themselves.”

– Louise from a strong coffee

 

“My daughter has just gone into year 6 and I have always just helped her not done it for her. If she is stuck and I can’t help her do it herself it gets left. The teachers prefer this as they then know where she is struggling and can help her more on that particular area.”

– Tracey from one frazzled mum

 

“I help if they don’t understand something but I usually leave them to it. I always make sure my teens do theirs but to be honest it’s only now my son is in year 6 that I make him do his. Any younger and I think they do enough in school without having to do even more at home.”

– Katie from mami to 5

 

“I’ll help my daughter (year 3) but only to expand on her thoughts. I’d never do it for her, it undermines the whole point of getting the homework. I’ll help her by testing her spellings in preparation for a test or I’ll read through something to make sure it makes sense but I’m lucky in that she doesn’t mind homework so needs little support. If she’s really stuck then I’ll explain what the teacher is looking for so she understands it better but not do it directly for her”

– Alice from living with a jude

 

“It’s homework day today. My daughter tends to rush through it, get it wrong because she hasn’t read it, gets cross with me and storms off upstairs stamping her feet for added effect. So when she eventually comes back down we talk about the homework, she gets it and re-does it correctly while telling me she wants to be on her own. Fun…!! She’s just turned 7 and is in Y3. Reading and spelling are much easier to deal with as she enjoys those.”

– Jo from mum-friendly

 

“I will sit with my children while they do their homework (quite often doing my work at the same time). If they need something talked through I will go through it with them but ultimately it is their work. I don’t even correct their spelling mistakes, I might just point out that they need to double check the spellings of a couple of words. If they’ve done it badly it still gets handed in. I think it’s important from an early age to get used to working on your own and under your own motivation too. They will soon learn they get rewarded at school for good homework which motivates them.”

– Alina from we made this life

 

“Absolutely a parent should not do the homework. We are paying a lot of money in taxes for our children’s education, what’s the point if parents are doing the work for them?”

– Hayley from life as a butterfly

 

And a teacher’s point of view:

“I don’t know the homework expectations at Primary level, but at Secondary level, I expect students to complete their homework themselves, except if parental input is part of the homework’s requirement. This is not to say that parents can’t guide or give any support, but I don’t want parents completing their children’s homework. It defeats the purpose of extending students’ learning beyond the classroom and challenging students to develop their independent learning skills. Also, homework contributes to overall assessment of students’ progress, and parental completion of student homework does not contribute to this. I expect completed homework to reflect the student’s ability, and not their parents'”

– Mo from a novice mum

 

So there you have it fellow parents!  

General consensus is that, yes, we should help our children as necessary.

Especially when they’re little and need a parent to sit and read with them.  But we should NOT be doing the homework for them.

So anyone feeling like a bad mom after watching Amy in the movie with a huge papier-mâché Richard Nixon head that she made for her son, please stop!

We’re doing much better by our children by letting them do these projects for themselves.

 

This post is linked up with Pick ‘n Mix Fridays.

spot featured

Have some fun with Spot

A few weeks ago an email popped into my inbox asking if I’d be interested in reviewing a Spot book and some related bits and bobs, and I jumped at the chance.  I mean, it’s Spot!

What really made me happy though, was the fact that when the book arrived (along with a lovely little tote bag and Spot hand puppet) I realised that it was the exact same one that I had as a child.

And as it turns out, my parents still have our battered copy at home!  Does anyone else still have a copy of ‘where’s Spot?’ at their childhood home, most likely with the flaps reattached with sellotape!

Spot1

It was so strange looking through the book with Rhys and Nerys, as all these childhood memories came flooding back.

I love those moments with them, seeing them enjoying things that we loved as children.  Although it did make me feel a bit old when I read that ‘where’s Spot’ is being defined as a ‘classic’, seeing as it was first available in 1980, only 2 years before I was born.

I do love the fact that Spot is still going strong though, and is being made available to a whole new generation of readers through the new website www.funwithspot.com.

The website is lovely and colourful and Rhys and Nerys both rushed over to see what I was doing when I had it up on the computer!  The site is fab as, along with information about the books, there are games to play online (great for practicing computer skills), a great recipe to download and also some lovely colouring sheets that you can download and print out.

Spot2

We were sent some ‘fun on the farm’ colouring sheets and both of my two had a great time playing with them.  Rhys took it very seriously and asked if he could have the ‘Where’s Spot’ book in front of him to make sure he got the colours right which really made me smile!

Nerys, as ever, was my maverick colour-inner and went straight for the green crayon to colour in the pig.  Well, why go for the right colour, that’s so unimaginative!

Spot3

Along with the new website, there’s also a really fun ‘Spot goes to the farm’ app that’s just been released.  We were one of the first families to try it out and it’s been a big hit here!

It’s a bright, colourful app that’s nice and simple for toddlers and young children to use, and Nerys has been really enjoying moving Spot around the farm and discovering the different games and surprises that are hidden around the app.

Spot4

The app is available for the iphone and ipad, and you can get it here on itunes.  The recommended age for it is 2-4 and I would say this is about right as it didn’t hold Rhys’ attention for that long, but Nerys really enjoyed it.  I love the fact that it’s simple enough, and intuitive enough, for her to play by herself but it’s also fun for us to play together.

I’ve really loved bringing Spot back into our lives, and have a feeling ‘Where’s Spot’ might just be the start of a little collection of Spot books for us!

Did you read the Spot books as a child?  Have you already introduced your children to Spot?

 

We were sent the book, bag and puppet and a code for the app for the purposes of this review, but all words and opinions are my own.

Cuddle Fairy
Potty training - are you listening

Potty training – are you listening?

I’ve been putting it off for months now, but it would seem that the time has come to get started with potty training.

Well, Nerys has basically started without me.  The thing is, I think she had been telling me she was ready to do it, but I wasn’t really listening.

Potty training are you listening

It all started when I was in the shower a few mornings ago and she came to tell me she’d done a wee.

So I tried to keep my voice calm as I cautiously asked her where she had done the wee, and she very proudly replied that she’d done it on the potty.  And sure enough, she’d taken it upon herself to go on the potty when she needed a wee.

And for the rest of the day she did the same thing.

And the day after.

The day after that her cousins came to visit and it was all too much fun, so the potty got mainly forgotten, and today she’s out with her grandparents so will most likely not ask to find a toilet when they’re out.  But I’m really curious to see what happens next week when we’ve not got much planned and I can focus on quietly encouraging her to keep going on the potty.

See, I’m quite laid back about potty training this time round.

There’s no great hurry for her to do it, and I remember how stressful it got at times when I was almost pushing Rhys to ‘get’ it when he was younger.

 

I learnt some key things from potty training him, which have stuck with me as I started to think about doing it with Nerys:

 

  • What until they’re ready.  Honestly, this has been my number one bit of advice up till now.  You can try potty training a child who’s not ready, but it will most likely be miserable for both of you.  Like all things, children learn to use the toilet in their own time.  Some are all sorted before they’re even two (which quite frankly is amazing to me!), but some take a lot longer to crack it.  The best thing you can do is not stress about potty training and find the right time for your child and your family to start the process.

 

  • Keep it relaxed.  Now, this kind of goes hand in hand with my first point, because I know how hard it is to keep relaxed about the fact that you’ve just cleaned up the 8th accident of the day!  But it’s so important that you don’t make potty training a stressful experience for your child.  And if you wait until they’re really ready, then I honestly think you won’t have as many accidents anyway, so it shouldn’t be all that stressful!

 

  • Go with what works for you and your child.  I didn’t use sticker charts with Rhys, because his issue wasn’t that he was resistant to using the potty, he just genuinely didn’t realise he needed to wee.  So for us, in the end, just waiting was the right thing to do.  For some children though, who know when they need to go, but are resisting sitting on the potty or the toilet, then sticker charts might work a treat!  Or, hey, literally give them a treat every time they go!  You know your child best, so find the method that works for you both, it might even be the promise of getting to wash their hands each time they go!

potty training

 

The number one thing I’ve learned in the process of potty training my daughter though, is how important it is to listen to what they’re telling you, and make sure you’re interpreting it right.

Nerys for the last few weeks has started saying, in an almost panicked voice, “I’m starting to wee!”

So I’ve been reassuring her that it’s ok, she’s wearing pull ups, it doesn’t matter.  Because I didn’t want her getting stressed by the idea of potty training, or having accidents.

What I’ve realised in the last few days though, is that what she actually means when she says this is, “I need a wee”

So she’ll suddenly blurt out, “I’m starting to wee”, but will actually then be able to make it all the way upstairs to the potty and calmly take her pull ups off, before she actually starts to wee.

Honestly, it was a bit of a revelation when I realised this!

She’d been trying to tell me for weeks that she wanted to use the potty, and that she knew she needed to go.  But because of the way she phrased it, I didn’t realise.

So, my newest, number one tip for parents thinking about potty training, is to pay attention to what your child is telling you, and don’t jump to conclusions about what they mean when they say something other than “I need a wee!”.

 

Wicked Uncle review

Wicked Uncle review

You might not know this about me, but I have 6 nieces altogether.

So that’s 6 little girls ranging in age from 3 to nearly 9 that I buy presents for every year.  And even though I have children of my own, I still find it hard at times to know what to buy for them.

Holliday Grandchildren 2014

Look at all those girls – poor Rhys is so outnumbered!

 

So I quite often find myself spending hours browsing the internet to see what inspiration I can find for presents.  Other times I just go straight to the source and ask my siblings what the girls would like!

See, I quite like the idea of being the ‘cool’ Aunt.  The one who sends really awesome presents every year.  But it’s not always as easy as I imagined it would be!

So I was really pleased to come across the Wicked Uncle website.

The site is designed to help clueless Aunts, Uncles and friends find presents for the children in their lives.

The site is really simple to use, you just select the age and gender of the child you’re buying for and then you can either browse all the options or narrow it down further by identifying if the child likes things that are outdoorsy, creative, snuggly etc.

To put the whole thing to the test I signed up for the Wicked Uncle challenge, which involved me asking friends of mine who don’t have children of their own to chose a present each for Rhys and Nerys from the site, with no help from me.

They were really up for the challenge and within half an hour I had a message saying it was done, and then I just had to wait to see what arrived in the post!

Honestly, I was so excited to see what they’d chosen!

The box arrived a few days later and the children were so eager to open it up when I told them that it was presents from Uncle May and Auntie Heidi in there.  I did film the grand opening, but, well, let’s just say it didn’t go quite to plan!

They were so excited to open the box, Rhys pulled out his present with shouts of ‘wow’ and I think Nerys then thought that was it, that there wasn’t anything in there for her.

Cue sad face.

And even when Rhys dug about in the box and found her present she still didn’t stop pouting.

See, even at 2 years old she’s quite stubborn like me, and you have to give her time to come round once she’s decided she’s upset about something!

It didn’t take long though, before she went back and had a good look at what she’d been given, and then she didn’t stop smiling.

So, what did they get?!

Well, Rhys, our 5 year old lego fan, who loves building things and who recently told me he wants to be a mechanic when he’s older had a brilliant Meccano junior set.

Honestly, I don’t think we could’ve chosen better ourselves, he absolutely loves it!

With the parts in the set he can build a plane, a helicopter, a racing car or a truck, so it keeps him entertained for ages.

And it’s a really lovely quality toy too, the pieces all feel really sturdy and, once built, the toy feels nice and solid.

wicked uncle meccano review

And Nerys?

She had something that I don’t think I would’ve picked out for her, but that is just fab, so I’m really pleased I wasn’t the one chosing these presents!

Our friends chose a really sweet kids gardening kit for her.

It’s a little pink bucket, and a bag to put it in, with pockets around the sides holding wooden plant markers, a spade, a hand fork and some incredibly cute spotty gardening gloves.  Now we’re just waiting for a sunny weekend so she can help us do some much needed gardening!

wicked uncle gardening set

From our end then, the Wicked Uncle experience has been really positive.  Delivery was nice and quick, and the items were packaged up well.  And there was even a brilliant pre-addressed thank you card in there, you just need to tick a box, write your name, add a stamp and pop it in the post.

The children really loved the presents that were chosen for them too, and it was so much fun for it all to be a surprise for me too!

I spoke to the gift-choosers a few days ago and their feedback was really positive too.

They said the site was nice and easy to use, and visually appealing too.  They did comment that there seemed to be a jump in price though, with not many options for presents for about £10.

They also suggested that it would be great if there was a feature where you could enter your budget, add a gift and then be offered suggestions of what else you could get that would go nicely with it and bring you up to your budget.  That really would be useful wouldn’t it!

 

All in all, I would highly recommend Wicked Uncle to anyone looking to buy a gift for a child.  I know it’ll be my go-to site come Christmas time!

 

Cuddle Fairy