How to explore gratitude with your child

Exploring gratitude with your child

Gratitude is a key way for your child to learn about kindness, respect and support of others around them.

In this guide from an independent school in Oxfordshire, we take a look at the ways you can explore gratitude with your child and how it will help them grow.

 

Saying your pleases and thank yous

This is one of the first parts of gratitude that should be explored with your child. Saying please after each request and thanking them for any gifts, favours and requests done will give your child the first steps towards being grateful and respectful towards others.

Even these small remarks will teach children to be thankful for a lot of things in their life and building positive relationships with friends, teachers and family members.

 

Ask your child what they’re thankful for

You should ask your child once a day what they are grateful for. Whether it’s something they learnt about at school or something their friend did for them that day, it’s something your child should learn to be grateful for.

These small things will make your child feel a lot more positive about their outlook on life and how people should express gratitude wherever they can.

 

Express gratitude in front of your child

Your child will learn from you a lot of the time, so be sure to use your own learnt manners in front of your child as well. They will often see a lot of mannerisms you’ll use and pick them up from you over time. They will see you as a role model, and follow your lead in a number of ways, so it’s imperative that you express those when in front of your children.

Often an essential way of showing how your child should treat others throughout their life, it’s a really important life skill to teach your children. There are many ways you can express gratitude, in small ways and in bigger ways too.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

trick to teach child new skills

Try this little trick to teach your child new skills

One of the things I don’t think I really thought much about before I had my children, is quite how much you end up teaching them over the years.

It starts with trying to teach them the difference between day and night, in the hope that they might start sleeping for more than an hour at a time when it’s dark out.

And I don’t think it ever really stops.  I mean, I’m nearly 40 and I still ask my parents all sorts of questions about all sorts of things.

A lot of the skills we teach our children come quite naturally, but with others it can feel like an endless challenge to get them to get it.  This little trick though can help with pretty much any skill or task you need to teach your child about.

 

It’s called the “see one, do one, teach one” approach.

This method of teaching is generally used in training new doctors and surgeons.  When they need to learn a new skill they’ll watch it being done, then have a go at doing it themselves (while being closely supervised), and then solidify their knowledge by teaching the skill to someone else.

It’s this final step of teaching the new skill that really makes sure that they’re confident in what they’re doing and that they really understand the process.

The beauty of this approach is that you can apply it to teaching pretty much any new skill and it works really well with children who love showing off their new abilities!

 

So, lets say you’re trying to teach your child how to tie their shoelaces.

Here are the three steps you would take:

1. Show them how to do it.

Sit down with them and show them the different steps needed to tie their shoes.  If they’re completely new to shoe-tying then just teach the first step to start with and then build on it from there.

 

2. Get them to have a go.

With you sitting next to them, let them have a try at doing the first step themselves.

 

3. Ask them to teach the skill to someone else.

Once they seem to have got the hang of it, help them solidify the knowledge by teaching it to someone else.  Now, that someone else could be you if there’s no one else available.  Or they could teach it to a sibling or relative.  You could even let them make a little video explaining how to do it, if they love watching things like that on YouTube!

 

It will still take a lot of time and patience for them to learn a new skill like this, but breaking the process down into these stages will really help make sure the new knowledge sticks in their heads.

The final stage of teaching it to someone else in particular helps make sure they really understand what they’ve learnt.

 

What I really love about this “see one, do one, teach one” method is that you can use it with children of all ages and for all sorts of different skills.

It would work for:

  • alphabet puzzles while learning letters
  • maths problems for all ages
  • learning to cross the road safely
  • cooking skills
  • first aid skills
  • sorting and doing the laundry
  • telling the time
  • car maintenance – like checking the oil and filling up with petrol
  • sewing skills

And so, so many other things.

 

What skill have you found hardest to try and teach your child?  Do you think this see one, do one, teach one method would help them to learn?

Helping your child with social skills

Helping your child with their social skills

When you socialise, you can make so many friends and contacts from so many places. For some people it doesn’t come as naturally as others, but it is a solid way of forming bonds with your parents, building relationships and learning about others.

For children it’s also a great way of building their vocabulary and strengthening their speaking skills.

So how can you help your child with their social skills? Read on with this guide from this junior school in Surrey to help your child with their social skills.

 

Get them to join a club

Clubs, extracurricular activities and sports societies are regularly hosted by schools in order for children to progress and use their skills taught during school time in other activities.

A key part of these clubs and societies is to encourage children to speak to each other and make new friends, improving their communication skills.

 

Outdoor play opportunities

Play time with kids is a great way of giving your child the chance to have some fun that doesn’t revolve around learning.

These can be held with other children they know as well – a popular reason why break times at schools are always employed. Playing with toys and other tools boosts your child’s creativity and inquisitiveness.

 

Parent and child activities

In a child’s primary school years there tends to be a stronger focus on involving parents in regular activities or bringing parents into the school at the start and end of a school day. Children gain confidence from their parents a lot of the time and they can use that chance to be happier and friendlier towards other children and friends.

Parents are also invited to a lot of activities that happen in the school as well, like sports days, games days and summer “Olympic” events.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Coping in lockdown as an introvert parent

Coping with lockdown as an introvert parent

Remember back in March 2020, when we went into the first national lockdown and there were all sorts of jokes flying around the internet about how this was the introverts’ time to shine?

It did seem almost like an introvert dream come true; the chance to stay at home all day, with the perfect excuse to not go out and socialise.  And chances are for a lot of people that’s still the case.

If you’re like me though, and you’re definitely on the introverted side of the spectrum and you also happen to be a parent, then you might be finding life in lockdown is actually much harder than you thought it would be.

 

Introverts enjoy having time alone.  Spending time with other people might still be fun for them, but it drains their energy and they’ll generally need to have some time to themselves afterwards to recharge.

So suddenly being told to stay at home sounds great, until you realise that you’ll never truly get to spend time by yourself at home when your family are also there with you.  All.  The.  Time.

We all love and adore our families, of course we do, and I’m so grateful not to be trying to get through lockdown on my own, but it can be exhausting to an introvert to always be surrounded by people.  It’s never truly quiet.  There are always demands on your time and attention, especially if your children are young.

I’m still working out how to cope with it all to be honest, but here are some things that I’ve found helpful and that might help you too:

 

Communicate your needs to your family

If you’re struggling and you’ve not done this already, then take a bit of time to talk to your partner and your children about what you need from them.

Chances are they all experience things differently to you, so might not know how much you need some time to yourself to recharge, even if they’re introverts too.  So tell them.  Explain that you need a bit of time, regularly, to have some quiet and to be by yourself.

Be clear and ask for what you need.  And while you’re at it, check in with them and ask what they need too.

 

Find ways to create quiet at home

Once you’ve asked for what you need, you’ll then have to find a way to actually get the quiet you’re desperate for.

You might be able to arrange your working days so that your partner can take the children out somewhere for an hour, so you can actually have the whole house to yourself.

If that’s not an option though you need to look at things like noise cancelling headphones so you can block out the sounds of a house full of people.

The other issue you might have is with needing to buy yourself a bit of time by finding ways to occupy your children that don’t require your constant input.  Card games are great because they don’t need much set-up time and most of the time the rules are simple enough that they don’t need a parent to keep stepping in with explanations.  My children have been really enjoying Dino Dump this year, but if they’re not in the mood to play together then that old classic Solitaire is always a hit too.

And if all else fails then there’s nothing wrong with the children having some more screentime than normal, as far as I’m concerned!

 

Try meditating to get your zen back

When you do manage to get some quiet time to yourself, try using it to meditate for a while.

There are loads of guided meditations on YouTube which are great for beginners who aren’t sure where to start.  Or you could try downloading an app like headspace or calm, but you do have to pay to access all their features.

If meditation feels too far out of your comfort zone then try a bit of mindfulness instead.

There are some great ideas for practising mindfulness throughout the day in this set of mindfulness exercise cards from Mindkompass on Etsy.  Each card gives you a prompt or an exercise to try to leave you feeling calmer and more grounded.

 

Say no to zoom

Video calls have been a bit of a lifeline for everyone throughout lockdown, giving us all a way to stay connected and socialise with friends and family while we can’t see them in person.

The thing with zoom though, is that it can be even more draining than actually meeting up with people at times.  The social cues are harder to read, it’s too easy to talk over each other, and it can feel like you have to be ‘on’ the whole time with the camera on you.

So if you’re being asked to join in with zoom quizzes and video chats all the time, and finding it a struggle, then pick a few nights a week that you want to keep zoom-free.  Make this a non-negotiable night off from all kinds of video chats, phone calls and other virtual meet-ups.

Having these boundaries in place can really help give you back some time to recharge your introvert batteries.

 

Make an effort to socialise in the ways that work for you

As an introvert you might find socialising in big groups draining, but enjoy spending time with a small group of close friends, or one-on-one with people.

If you’re missing those close connections that you normally enjoy then find ways to get that.

The lockdown restrictions in your area might allow you to meet up with one other person for a walk, so reach out to a close friend and arrange to get together.  If that’s still not an option, then arrange a phone call instead, to keep those connections going.

 

Create a relaxing bedtime routine 

If you find that you’re completely worn out by bedtime, but still somehow find it hard to switch off from the demands of juggling work, school work, family life and everything in between, then it’s worth creating a bedtime routine to help.

Here are some things you could try:

  • turn off the tv and put your phone away about an hour before you want to be falling asleep
  • try reading to wind down instead of watching another episode of whatever it is you’re binge-watching
  • make yourself a warm, calming drink, like a mug of night-time tea or some golden milk 
  • follow a guided sleep meditation or watch some ASMR videos to help you relax
  • use a few sprays of Rescue night spray to help you feel calm and help switch off your mind from unwanted, repetitive thoughts
  • have a warm bath with lavender bubble bath or bath salts

 

I know that none of these suggestions will make up for actually being able to take a proper break from everything and having time alone to restore your social energy supplies.  But while we’re in lockdown I’m kind of in the mindset that any little thing that makes even a little bit of difference is worth trying!

So hopefully if you feel the same way, the ideas in this post will help make a bit of a difference to how you cope in lockdown as an introvert parent.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  How are you finding life in lockdown?

Childcare Offer for Wales - a brilliant helping hand for working parents

The Childcare Offer for Wales – a brilliant helping hand for working parents

I’ve been a mum for almost 10 years now, and I think if I ever sat down and worked out how much money I’ve spent on parenting-related things I would, well, have to sit down.

Apparently, the average family spends over £10,000 in just the first year of their child’s life, which just sounds unbelievable until you start thinking about all the things you do end up spending money on when you start a family.

It starts with the basics like a cot, a buggy and a car seat.  Then obviously you need clothes and nappies.  If you decide to use formula then you need to pay for that, along with bottles and a steriliser.  And if you breastfeed then you might want nursing bras, new clothes that make feeding easier, a breast pump and bottles so you can express milk.

And that really is just the start of it.

For all the milestones of the early years with a child there are new costs, new things they need for each new phase. For a lot of families though, the biggest cost comes from childcare.

If you’re a parent living and working in Wales though, there is some help available that could make a big difference.

 

The Welsh government have created the Childcare Offer with the aim to take some of the financial pressure off working parents.

The Offer lets working parents of 3 to 4 year olds claim up to 30 hours of early education and childcare a week, for up to 48 weeks of the year.

The exact split between early education and childcare hours will depend on your local authority and how
much early education they offer.  As a rule though you can get up to 30 hours a week, made up a minimum of 10 hours of early education and a maximum of 20 hours of childcare.

When Nerys turned 3, for example, she was able to join the Rising 3s class at her school for 5 mornings a week which was great for us as it meant I had more time to work at home and she had a brilliant introduction to the routines of the school day.

 

The way the Childcare Offer for Wales is set up is that the funding goes directly from the Welsh Government to the childcare provider, and this amount is then taken off the bill you would normally pay.

So you don’t actually get handed any money, but you do get the benefits of the money you’ve saved.

What I love about this scheme is how it opens up so many opportunities for parents.

I know a lot of people end up needing to change jobs or reduce their hours at work, as the costs of full-time childcare are so high.  So this offer takes some of that pressure away and can enable people to go back to work they love, increase their hours, or even use the time to start their own business.

 

There are some criteria parents need to meet to be eligible for the Offer, but it’s all relatively straightforward.

Here are the main criteria:

  • your child must be 3 or 4 years old
  • you must be working and earning at least the national minimum wage for 16 hours a week, on average – this applies to single parents and to both parents in 2-parent families
  • each parent must earn less than £100,000 a year

If you’re eligible and want to apply, or just want to get a bit more information about the offer then head over to gov.wales/childcareoffer.

You can also get more information on the offer, as well as useful parenting advice in relation to childcare, over on the the Childcare Offer for Wales Facebook page.

There are so many ways this offer can help families, especially those who don’t have the option of relying on friends and family for childcare.

These 30 hours a week could mean you can get back into doing work that you really enjoy, or be able to dedicate more time to growing a business on your own terms.  It can also free up a bit of extra money for families to take some of the financial strain of raising children away, or even to spend on the things you enjoy doing together as a family.

So if you live in Wales and have a 3 or 4 year old child, it’s well worth taking a look and seeing how the Offer can help your family.

 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

How make room for your children's new toys this Christmas

How to make room for your children’s new toys this Christmas

Christmas is on the way (or it has already passed depending on when you’re reading this), and if your home is like many others up and down the country, it is possibly piled high with your children’s toys. From fairy tale castles to piles of lego (and anything else besides), moving around at home without stepping on something could be quite difficult.

And thanks to Christmas, there will be more toys than ever before, which is surely something you will be thinking of if you’re currently on the hunt for perfect presents for your children. Just how are you going to make room for them all? Other than moving to a bigger house, you will need to find a solution somewhere.

Well, to help you, here are some suggestions. 

1. Give the rest of your home a good clearout

To accommodate your children’s new toys, you might need to take a long hard look at the other things that are fighting for space. You might have pieces of furniture that are no longer being used, and there could be items in your storage spaces that are needlessly taking up room.

To create more floor and storage space, it could be time for a good clearout. Pick out those items you no longer need anymore, and either sell them, donate them, or send them to a recycling facility with the help of a house clearance service. 

 

2. Donate your children’s old toys

For those toys that your children aren’t playing with anymore, consider donating to them to those who are more needy. There could be children in your neighbourhood who could make use of them, for example, or you might want to give them to a charity.

Homeless shelters, hospital children wards, and local schools are three other places where you can donate the toys. 

 

3. Create more storage space in your children’s room

Of course, your children’s toys are probably spread all over the house, but you should still confine them to your children’s bedrooms when possible. This can be difficult when there isn’t enough storage space, but there are ways to make more space.

You could add shelving units, for example, or you could buy beds and other pieces of children’s furniture that double up as storage. Check out these other genius storage ideas and consider some of them for your children’s bedrooms (or playrooms).

 

4. Sell your children’s toys

You might need to make some extra money after your Christmas spend, so sell those toys your children no longer want to play with. You might even sell those toys that turned out to be unwanted Christmas gifts, although you probably shouldn’t tell the people who bought them.

Be mindful, however. Taking inspiration from these old toys that are now worth a lot of money, you might want to hold a few back in case they become collector’s items later. There might even be toys in your house now that are worth a lot of money, so commit to research before giving everything away.

 

Those were just a few ideas, so I hope they were useful to you. If you have any other tips and tricks, please let me know in the comments section below. 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Light the spark of creativity in your little one

Lighting the spark of creativity in your little one

We all love to see our children find their passions, and we want them to excel at them or to at least explore them with as much energy and depth as their little hearts can muster. But how do you do it right?

Here, we’re going to look at tips to help encourage the spark of creativity in your child, to see what it might grow into with the right help.

 

Try new outlets for them

For a lot of children, they might have a natural creativity that they’re bursting to let out, but they might not have found the way that’s most comfortable for them yet.

As such, you can help them try out new types of art forms, whether it’s finding fun photography projects for them, having a storytelling and writing session with them, or preparing a crafty activity for them to get their hands on at home.

 

Give them room to explore

Sometimes, all you need to do is make sure that your child has the resources that they need, sit them at a desk, and watch them go. To that end, if your child loves drawing and writing, for instance, then little gifts like party bags can come with all of the art supplies they need to go under their own steam for weeks and months to come.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much more than that.

 

Ask if they would like lessons

Some art forms, such as music, are not as easy to get into alone, even with online tutorials and the like. In other cases, your child might already have an interest but want nothing more than to improve their abilities to turn it into a real passion.

Ask if your child would be interested in taking lessons to learn. Don’t pressure them into it and, if they change their mind, accept it. However, many will be glad to jump at the opportunity.

 

Give them what they need to be bored

There is a certain amount of ability to hold one’s attention that is necessary for pursuing any interest. If your child is bored, give them what they need to quell it themselves.

Giving them books to read, music to listen to, art to enjoy can help them explore a dimension within themselves that they haven’t before, which can deepen their appreciation of the arts.

 

Don’t force it

You can always encourage, but you should never force your child to engage creatively when they aren’t feeling it.

It simply doesn’t work that way. If they’re not interested in a certain activity, keep that in mind and try to find those that are closer to what they’re already interested in. There is no easier way to turn a child off a pursuit that they might be curious about

 

Encouraging your child is about being on the same page with them. Don’t try to push them too hard into creative pursuits, simply be there to help usher them along in the same direction they want to go.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post