I hope my children are kind

I just hope my children are kind

What hopes do you have for your children?

I know some people want particular things for their children; they want them to grow up to be doctors or high flyers in a particular career.  I always thought I just want my children to be happy, but as they go out more and more into the world on their own I’m realising that, actually, I just hope for them to be kind.

 

I want them to be happy too, of course I do, but really that will most likely come as part and parcel of them being kind.

There’s a Roald Dahl quote that I really love that says, “I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being.  I’ll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else …  Kindness – that simple word.  To be kind – it covers everything, to my mind.  If you’re kind that’s it”

 

If you’re kind that’s it.

 

It says it all really.  If you’re kind, all those other positive traits will most likely follow.  It just all starts with kindness.

I think that we’re all born with a natural instinct to be kind.  A recent study at the University of Washington actually found that even at 19 months old children will give a tasty snack to a stranger they think needs it.  Even when they’re hungry themselves.

So as adults, we just need to nurture these instincts in our children.

We need to show them kindness.

They need to see us being kind to our friends and just as kind to strangers.

We need to talk to them, often, about how important it is to be kind and point out all the opportunities we have each day to show kindness to other people.

 

I definitely believe that kindness has a ripple effect.

When you do something kind for someone else, chances are they’ll carry that with them through their day.  And they’ll be more likely to pay it forward, to do something nice for someone else.  And it goes on and on.  A gentle wave of kindness.

And that would make anyone feel happy wouldn’t it?

make mornings easier by planning ahead

Plan ahead to make your mornings easier

If your family life is anything like mine, then you’ll know that mornings can be stressful at times.

It can be a rush and a race to get everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door on time to get to school and work.  The main thing I’ve learnt over the last few years is that taking a bit of time the night before to plan ahead for the next day can make the mornings so much easier.

 

Here are my ideas for some of the things you can do to plan ahead and get sorted the night before so that your mornings run that little bit more smoothly.

 

  • Get lunch ready.  If you and/or your children take packed lunches to work/school, then get these made in the evening and pop them in the fridge to keep them fresh.  If you make sandwiches for lunches then you could even go one step further and make a whole week’s worth on a Sunday and stash them in the freezer.  Nyomi has a great post on freezing sandwiches over on Nomipalony.

 

  • Make breakfast easier by prepping the night before.  This could be as simple as putting out bowls and cereal where your children can reach them so they can start sorting themselves out in the morning.  Or you could make something like overnight oats so you have a nutritious breakfast ready to go when you wake up.

 

  • Check your calendar to make sure you know what’s planned for the next day.  If you or your children need anything specific (like homework, cash for charity events, PE kit/gym kit) then get those things packed and ready by the front door so you’re not scrabbling round to find them in the morning.  Making sure school backpacks are packed and ready with everything your children need for school, and get your own bag packed too.  If you have a baby to get to nursery, then pack up their change bag.

 

  • Get clothes out and ready.  For the children this will probably  just be a case of setting out school uniform and clean underwear, but it’s also worth checking the weather forecast to see if they’ll need wellies or warm hats/gloves in the winter or a sunhat in the summer.  It’s also worth checking the forecast so you can plan and put out your own clothes for the next day so you’re not wasting time in the morning trying to decide what to wear.

 

  • Leave things you absolutely have to remember to take with you right by the front door.  This way you’ll have to get past them to leave the house, so hopefully there’ll be no chance you’ll leave without them.

 

  • Set alarms.  A lot of people swear by setting their alarms for a time before their children wake up in the mornings, so they can have a cuppa in peace first thing.  I’ve not mastered this one myself yet but can definitely see the appeal of it.  The one thing I do do is set alarms on my phone to remind me of things we need to grab and another to prompt me and the children when it’s time to go and brush teeth, get shoes on and head out the door.

 

You don’t have to do all of these things, although mornings would be so much easier if you do, but even just one or two of them will make a difference in how your mornings go.

Do you tend to get things ready for the morning the night before?

Are there any other things you do to make mornings easier that I’ve not mentioned?

Squeeze more quality time into family life

How to squeeze more quality time into busy family life

I’m not sure it really gets easier does it.

Parenting and juggling family life I mean.

You move from one phase to the next and each one brings its own challenges.  The biggest challenge for most of us I think is having enough hours in the day to get everything done.  And you think when your children start school it’ll get easier but somehow the hours and days and weeks are still full.

Whether you’re a stay at home parent or someone who works outside the home, when you’re juggling everything that busy family life throws at you, it can be really hard to feel like you’re getting enough quality time with your children.

 

The thing we all need to remember is that it really is about the quality of the time we spend with our children, not the quantity.

We can all stop feeling guilty about not having hours and hours to spend reading with our children, on the floor playing with them or listening to their endless stories.  What our children need from us is little moments of time throughout the day where they have our absolute focus.

They need to feel that they’re important, that they’re worthy of our undivided attention.

And, really, that is more achievable through small, repeated moments rather than one big block of time once a week.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas of how to find those little windows of time:

 

Organise your mornings so you can sit and have breakfast together

I’m so guilty of making breakfast for my children and then leaving them to it while I rush around sorting out lunch boxes and swimming kits, grabbing sips of tea when I can.

Getting just a bit more organised would mean I could sit with my children, just for ten minutes, and eat breakfast with them.

If you can make the time for that to happen then you can talk.  Turn the tv off and put away your phone and just chat.  Ask them about what they’re looking forward to doing at school that day.  Get them to tell you about the friends they want to sit with at lunch time.

 

Make the most of the school run

If you’re the one to take the children to school and pick them up again, then make the most of that travel time each day.

When I collect my children from school I get them to each tell me 2 things from their day.  One thing they learnt about and one thing that made them happy.  Asking this tends to get me more information about their day than if I just ask “what did you do today?”.

I love this little insight into their school day and they get to know that I’m interested, that I want to know what they’ve been up to and I care about what’s made them happy that day.

We generally drive to and from school, so my attention is obviously split, so if you can walk to school then you really can make that time focused, quality time with your children.

 

Get them in the kitchen with you

Early evenings are often the same as mornings in our house.  We come home from school and the children often play by themselves while I head out to the kitchen to sort out dinner and get lunches made for the next day.

That’s another window of time though that could be spent together.

There are a few ways you can use that time.  You can get the children involved in cooking their tea, or they can help with getting the lunches made while dinner is in the oven.  Or you can set them up with their homework at the kitchen table so you can sit with them and talk to them about it when the cooking doesn’t require your attention.

 

Build quality time into the bedtime routine

If you work outside the home then you might not be able to do some of the other things I’ve mentioned, but if you’re home for bedtime then you can squeeze some quality time in then.

Leave your phone and any other distractions downstairs when you go up for the children’s bedtime.

Spend 15 minutes reading to them, or listening to them read to you.

Have a 5 minute chat about your days.  Ask them what made them happy that day, and tell them something from your day that made you smile.

And remember to give everyone a long hug goodnight.

 

Once you start looking you’ll hopefully be able to find more of these little windows of time.

See where you can include your children in things like cooking meals and popping to the shops.  You might not think they’d want to come out with you to pick up some milk and bread but you’d be surprised. It might be an annoying chore to us, but our children often see it for what it really is, a chance to get a bonus 20 minutes of time with you.

Just remember that it really is about the quality, not the quantity, of time we spend with our children.  Find those moments where you can and spend them completely with your family.

Dealing with car sickness kids

Dealing with travel sickness in kids

Travel sickness in kids can put parents on tenterhooks even for short road trips. It can turn what was supposed to be an exciting adventure into a nightmare.

Around one in three people are susceptible to motion sickness but it is much more common among children, for reasons not fully understood.

Travel sickness is a complex syndrome believed to be caused by conflicting signals in body senses and often stops when you switch activities or cease the motion. When your kid experiences motion sickness, they usually feel dizzy, develop a fever, or feel nauseous. The illness can really dampen the mood of your trip for everyone.

Fortunately, you can manage travel sickness in kids with the following tips.

Ensure your kid sits in the right position

Choosing the correct sitting location in the car can significantly reduce motion sickness. Therefore, you should place your child’s car seat at the backseat of your vehicle, preferably in the middle.

The middle gives an uninterrupted view of the horizon through the front window.

Focusing on a single view will prevent sickness by controlling their senses. You should also advise your kids to rest their heads against the seat. It will control the movements of their heads, which can otherwise cause disorientation.

 

Avoid screens and make sure they do not read in the car

Kids love playing video games on the road or watching movies in the backseat. However, if they are prone to travel sickness, video games and movies are a big no-no. The stimulations used in movies cause conflicts in their senses, worsening the symptoms.

Reading also confuses the sensory elements because the ears can detect motion, but the eyes are fixed to the book. You should find low-tech games for your kids to enjoy on the road.

Better yet, they can listen to music or audiobooks.

 

Find the appropriate time to travel

Children are far less likely to suffer from motion sickness when they fall asleep. So it makes sense to try and plan your trip around your child’s naptime.

If your kid is sleeping, their visual signals are non-existent, meaning there are minimal chances of conflicts in senses.

Also travelling at night is an excellent way to eliminate carsickness.

 

Kids should not travel on an empty stomach

Many parents think that travelling on an empty stomach prevents motion sickness. The reality is it worsens the symptoms of nausea. While they should not overeat, they should have some food in their stomachs before departure. Give your child easy to digest meals or bland snacks that are rich in protein.

You should avoid greasy and spicy fast food before a long ride as they tend to cause a stomach upset.

To prevent nausea, stick to ginger and peppermint snacks. A few sips of water can also reduce the likelihood of your trip being messy due to carsickness.

 

Watch out for symptoms

It is critical to prevent the symptoms of motion sickness as soon as it starts since they tend to escalate quickly. The illness may not stop until you cease moving entirely. Therefore, if your child starts experiencing symptoms like dizziness or nausea, encourage them to do some breathing exercises to normalise their stomachs. If they are developing a fever, have them remove some clothes.

If they can also close their eyes for a couple of minutes, the feeling of dizziness will stop. However, if the symptoms intensify, pull over and let them rest for a few minutes. It would help if you kept the car window open for fresh air circulation. Excellent ventilation reduces the symptoms significantly.

 

Try medication

When preventive measures seem ineffective, you can seek advice from your paediatrician. They will likely recommend medication that prevents nausea on the road. While Dramamine is safe for kids, it has side effects. Your kid may not be able to enjoy their trip since they will arrive at the destination feeling drowsy. Medicine can only be given to children over two years old. Therefore, if your child is below two, try other techniques of managing motion sickness.

 

There are numerous ways to control motion sickness, but the problem is that not all of them are effective for all children.  For example, acupressure or simple distraction might work for some kids, but not for others.  Fortunately, when your kid hits adolescence, they will hopefully have outgrown the sickness.  It’s just a case of handling it as best you can in the mean time!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

How to encourage your children to open up about school

How to encourage your kids to open up about school

Lots of parents find it quite the challenge to get their youngster to talk about their school day, and their education in general.

When asking them questions about it, they often answer with a single word and refuse to open up. If this sounds familiar, don’t panic; there are things you can do to encourage your child to share more with you. Here are some helpful tips from a preparatory school in London

 

Think about the types of questions you usually ask your child after school.

Are they the right type of questions that require more than a one word answer? If not, you’ll need to mix things up. Phrasing your questions differently may go a long way to pushing your child to give you more details.

However, don’t bombard them with these questions immediately after you have picked them up; they will probably want some time to unwind after a long school day.

 

Always show an interest in your child’s education and stay informed on what’s going on at the school.

The more you know about it, the easier it will be for you to start conversations with your child and engage with one another. You could read the newsletter and browse their website every now and again.

What’s more, you could even think about scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher to talk about their progress and anything noteworthy that you should know about.

 

If and when your child does start to open up to you, make sure you don’t interrupt them.

Let them talk and share, without judgement, and only offer your advice and guidance when you’re sure they have finished.

Family meal times are a great time for you to all open up about each of your days.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Should my child have a smart phone_

Should I let my child have a smart phone?

In today’s modern world, it’s more unusual if a child doesn’t have a smart phone than if they do. However, you shouldn’t let that pressure you into getting one for your own child if you don’t feel comfortable with it.

Of course, there are many advantages to smart phones; they give your child the ability to contact someone they trust in an emergency situation. They also allow people to stay in touch with friends and family all around the world. 

However, smart phones also have their disadvantages, including the cost and the unsociable behaviour young people often display when using them. For parents who are unsure when the right time is to give your youngster a smart phone, here is some helpful advice from an independent day school in Harpenden.

 

Firstly, you might be interested to learn that there isn’t currently a legal age for owning a mobile phone in the United Kingdom.

It’s entirely up to parents to make the decision, based upon whether or not they feel their child is mature enough to look after the device and use it sensibly. Think about whether or not your child actually even needs their own phone. 

Lots of parents tend to wait until their child has started secondary school, aged 11.

This is typically the age when kids start to make their own way to and from school and socialise in their spare time, so a phone is useful for allowing you to check in and ensure they are safe. Some smart phones will even allow you to track your child’s location. This functionality will also help you track the phone if it becomes lost or stolen. 

If you do decide that your child is ready for a smart phone, make sure that you talk to them at length about how to use it safely.

Be sure to add all of the relevant parental controls to prevent irresponsible use of the internet. 

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

How to soothe a cough at night

The magic trick to soothe a cough at night

This may well by the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the time of year when everyone and his dog seems to be suffering with bugs and coughs and colds.

School-age children in particular seem to like sharing germs among themselves, and then bringing them home for the rest of the family to enjoy.

What’s so frustrating about coughs and colds is that there isn’t all that much you can do to chase them away.

If a cough is keeping your child (and the rest of the family) up at night though, there is a slightly random trick that you can try to soothe it.

 

All you need is a tub of vapour rub and a pair of socks.

You can use Vicks VapoRub or you can use an own-brand version from the chemist, it really doesn’t matter.

What you need to do is put a good blob of the stuff onto the soles of your child’s feet at bedtime, and then put a pair of socks on over the top.  The socks are mostly important for keeping the vapour rub from getting all over the sheets, but I think they also help by keeping the feet warm.

What you should find is that this is enough to soothe their cough; letting them get to sleep, and stay that way through the night.

 

Now I’ve read a fair few articles about this trick since I first heard about it, and no one has any real idea why it works.

Some people think it’s just a placebo effect.

Others think it might to do with reflexology.

The theory that I think sounds most likely is that the vapour rub on your feet acts as a counter-irritant, so your body focuses on that rather than the tickle in your throat, so you end up coughing less.

 

Whatever the reason behind it, so many parents have tried this on their children and themselves with amazing results.

I’ve done it myself when we’ve had troublesome coughs disturbing our sleep and it has worked like a charm.

 

So next time your child brings some lovely germs home from school, give this trick a try so you can all still get a good night’s sleep!

 

Have you tried this trick before?  Does it work for you and your children?