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?

Getting back to yourself as a parent

Getting back to yourself as a parent

Family life is a mass of contradictions, it’s rewarding, exhausting, frustrating and worrying in equal measure. It’s all also all-consuming. So much so that very often it’s easy to forget who you were before you had a partner and children.

If you’re happy with your identity as a parent then that’s great but for many of us, there is a sense that our old selves could do with being rediscovered, that those past hobbies and interests that have been lying dormant should re-emerge and find their way out from under the piles of dirty laundry, homework books and packed lunches.

In this article we look at a few ways of finding yourself again as you begin to see your way out of the tunnel that is parenting very young children.

Getting back to yourself as a parent

 

You used to have hobbies

Even ones outside of the house. Perhaps you were a real outdoors person and loved exploring the trails and surrounding countryside hiking or biking. Maybe you used to run and compete in races or love going off road.

You might have painted, sketched, knitted, played an instrument or danced when you had the time and the space as your younger self. Sure, these skills might be a little rusty but nothing a little bit of practice or some advice from a YouTube video can’t fix.

Could you find some time, carve out an hour or two to revisit some of those old interests you used to have and bring them back into the routine of your daily life? After all your children have their after school clubs and your partner finds time, so why shouldn’t you?

 

You love study

There was a time when studying and completing assignments was very much a big part of your life. You may have finished up that university course but that love of learning never really leaves you, so maybe it’s time to look at how some serious study might enhance your career and change your life.

There are plenty of options to do just that from courses at your local college in the evenings if you work or in the day when the children are at school. You might instead opt for an online course that you can follow in your own time, like the ones offered at Aston Online. These qualifications are, very often, equally as valid as traditional universities and will give you the professional qualifications you need to take your career one step further or change it altogether.

 

You have ambition

If you work maybe you find your job a fulfilling and enjoyable part of your life. However, if you’re finding it becoming ever more of a drag and that it fails to fulfil you, then it’s time to rethink your career. You have ambition and you want to do a job that you find challenging and rewarding.

If your boss can’t make some changes to your role or offer you a one-off project to work on then maybe it’s time to polish up that CV and get back out there in the job market. If you haven’t done this for a while then, yes, it’s daunting but practice makes perfect. With some dogged determination, you’ll secure an interview and with any luck a job in no time at all.

It might seem like an overwhelming prospect so do talk to a recruitment adviser if you need some help in where to focus your job intentions. They may be able to point you towards some companies where you can send your CV to on spec, you never know who might end up calling you for an interview.

 

Is changing your life difficult? Yes, in part. There are some small things you can do to help you find your sense of self again, some minor changes you can make to help you remember who you once were. There are also some large scale, game changers that will turn things around 180 degrees.

So whether you just want to get a bit more active, take up an old hobby, get back to education or shake up your career, plan today to do something amazing for yourself. When you spend so much time caring for others it’s easy to get lost. Invest in your health, in your hobbies and in your career and it will be an investment that will pay you back over and over again. You’re well worth spending the time and money on so put yourself at the forefront for a happier, more fulfilled you.

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

 

 

Getting your child to be more active in the chillier months

Getting your child to be more active in the chillier months

When winter time comes around, it’s very easy to get snuggled up on the sofa and not move for three or four months. Getting up in the dark, shivering cold mornings and generally greyer days mean we all wish we could stay in bed and forget about leaving the house.

Naturally, getting up and about, doing some exercise and keeping yourself fit can get a bit lost during this time, and that goes for both you and the kids. Your children are just as likely to want to stay in front of the TV as you are, so what can you be doing to keep them active, engaged and entertained in the colder months?

Getting your child to be more active in the chillier months

 

Get Out in the Snow

We all have wonderful childhood memories of playing in the snow, whether it be hurtling down a hill on a rickety sledge, pelting each other with snowballs or building the snowman to defeat all snowmen. Having fun in the snow should be a part of any child’s growing up, and it’s also a great way to get your kids outside, enjoying themselves and getting some fresh air.

This one’s not too tough a sell either; the kids will be chomping at the bit to start having some fun. And if you’re a tad wary of sledging or snowball fights, there’s plenty of safer activities to be getting up to, like making snow angels or drawing in the snow.

 

Embrace Winter Sports

Take some inspiration from the Winter Olympics and introduce your children to winter sports. There’s plenty of unusual and super fun ones to try, and you never know, you might find your child has a liking or talent for one.

Ice skating is a great family activity for all to enjoy and doesn’t need to be taken too seriously. You could also try a snowboarding or skiing lesson, whether that’s on holiday or down at the local indoor slope. If you fancy something more high-octane, retailers like Proline Skates are making Ice Hockey more accessible than ever.

Embrace the winter as a time to try something new, and your kids could find something they absolutely love.

 

Ideas for Home

Of course, you need to think about how to keep things busy at home. Chances are the kids will happily sit on the PlayStation all day, every day if you let them, so you’ll do well to think of some fun games for the house as well.

Counter the video gaming obsession with an active game for you and the kids to enjoy. You should be able to find a fitness or dance based title for any of the popular consoles, and this will get everyone moving indoors as well as out.

Away from the TV, there’s lots of great indoor activity ideas out there to choose from. The good news is most of them won’t cost you a penny, and they’re a great excuse to get you and the children spending some quality time together.

 

Next time you see the cold weather closing in, see it as an opportunity to experience something new with the kids. Whether it’s sledging, skating or building an indoor fort, there’s potential to make some great memories.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post