Friday 24 April 2015

Keeping Precious Memories Safe

Our little ones grow up so incredibly fast. One minute we are waving scan pictures around in excited anticipation and the next we are waving them into school for their first day, while desperately trying to hold back the tears. One thing that many parents are told when expecting a little one is that their early years especially seem to go so very fast, and they really do!  

From the moment they are born we start collecting mementoes and special items. Some babies are photographed mere seconds after they were born and these snaps are tucked safely away, hospital ID bracelets and even first curls are kept safe. How do you keep special memories safe? 

A Baby  / Memory Box There are some fabulous memory boxes or baby boxes which either come decorated or allow you to add pictures and more, personalising them. These offer a safe place to store mementoes such as baby's birth weight / ID cards if you opted for a hospital birth, scan pictures, first curls, letters to Santa and more. 

A Safe Box Perhaps not as pretty as a dedicated memory box or indeed any type of sealable storage box a safe box, or fireproof box is something that some householders choose to use to store very important papers and keepsakes so that they are safe in the case of a fire etc. While not the cutest way to keep your special keepsakes together it is certainly an option. 

Journals and Scrap Books Many parents like the idea of a memory book or memory file to share those special times, a mixture of photographs, keepsakes, quotes, text, dates; anything you want to include all in one place. This option offers a perfect opportunity for putting everything together ready to hand over to your children when these tiny tots are all grown up and ready to have their own family. 

 Whether you choose a special memory book or prefer to put your scrapbooking skills to good use is up to you. 

In Frames There are some special items that should most definitely be out on display. Baby handprints framed and on the wall in the nursery for example, or that first piece of artwork from school or nursery that just needs to be admired. These types of special pieces also make fabulous gifts for grandparents! 

Laminating some drawings and paintings will protect them however be careful what you try and laminate as not all materials react well with the heat, becoming damaged. Scan pictures for example have been known to be damaged this way. 

How do you keep first curls, scan pictures, school certificates and more safe? Do you store them away in a box or perhaps display them in a book or a frame? We'd love to hear your creative ways of preserving irreplaceable items such as these. 

*Top tip: Little ones bring home so many wonderful pieces of artwork, junk models and stories as they progress through nursery and school. Keeping them all would be impossible however no-one wants to upset a little one by binning their favourite cereal box and toilet roll robot. A great way to get around all of this is to take a digital picture of everything you want to recycle, keeping it forever (because it's so wonderful). 

Saturday 18 April 2015

Making New Friends (Parents and Children!)

Helping little ones make friends, to form bonds, have fun, learn to share and interact with children is just one of the very many ways that parents help their little ones develop. Unless you are surrounded by friends with little ones already meeting other children and parents (we can all do with some adult conversation from time to time!) can be harder than it sounds. 
If you are looking to meet other parents and children these are all great places to start: 

Netmums, Facebook and Similar Online Resources While Netmums is a website it also serves as a fantastic resource for local information. Users have access to local pages and news and some areas operate a Netmums meet-up group where parents and their little ones can get together and socialise.
Facebook is an incredibly popular social media site which often advertises local mum and dad groups, children's activities and more as well as local meet-ups.
*As with any meetings arranged over the internet though make sure it is in a suitable public place etc.  

Playdates Playdates are a great way to spend time with others, inside or outside of the house, to entertain the little ones, encourage nice play, sharing, communication and of course enjoy some adult conversation. If the weather is nice pack up drinks and snacks and head to the park or similar;  the fresh air is good for everyone. 

NCT The National Childbirth Trust is a membership group which offers everything from antenatal classes to advice and support and even Nearly New Sales. They also offer members an opportunity to get to know other parents in a variety of ways. If this sounds like something you think you could benefit from get in touch with your local branch for more information or visit the main website. 

Toddler Groups Most areas have a number of parent and baby, toddler groups, toy libraries and similar on offer. Your health visitor, community boards and other parents with be able to point you in the right direction. Most are free, some may charge a pound a time or similar to cover the cost of the room / hall and any coffee, tea, juice and biscuits. These are great places to visit for an hour, to meet other parents and children. 

Classes There are a great number of infant and toddler classes dotted around, from baby signing to gym or dance and more. There is a fee for all of these and they all offer different experiences and help develop certain skills so you have plenty to choose from. These classes are also great for meeting other mums, dads and children. 

Nursery or a Childminder If you are concerned about your little one not spending enough time with other children perhaps a regular session or two with a nursery or a childminder could be beneficial? All childminders and nurseries are Ofsted registered and of course you may visit the settings for a look around before deciding. Again there is a cost for this however if you feel your child could benefit from regular time outside of the house and away from you with other children this could be an option. 

Set UYour Own If you feel there isn't a suitable group for children and parents to get together set one up! Perhaps you would like to arrange a Netmums meeting or an independent and informal local group? The chances are that if you are struggling to find a suitable place for you and your little ones to meet and interact with others, that there are plenty more who feel the same.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Potty Training Hints and Tips

Potty training is one of those skills that children will learn when they are good and ready, working to their own schedule and that's just fine. These top tips, hints and ideas for smoothing the transition between nappies and the big boy or girl toilet will hopefully give you some inspiration if you are nearing this fun stage of development! 

Wait Until the Time is Right 
By all means introduce your little one to the idea of a potty or a toilet as early as you like however actually using it should wait until they are ready. Many children don't learn control of their wee or their bowels until they are between 18months and 2 years old. Some learn earlier and some later. There is no set age so you have to take your cue from your little one.   

Talk the Talk 
Teach your little one the right vocabulary for wee wee or poo (whatever you choose to use in your home) so that explaining the process and what you want them to do is easier for them to understand. 

Have a Potty or Toilet Seat Ready Have a potty around and in plain sight so that your little one gets used to have it around before you start encouraging them to use it. Some children are happy with a potty, some want to use a seat on the grown up toilet, it doesn't matter which as long as they are confident and happy. 

Reward Successes and Don't Worry about Accidents Toilet training is always going to get a little soggy and quite possibly messy. Instead of telling your little one off for accidents tell them and show them what they should have done. When it comes to doing a wee or a poo in the potty (victory at last!) celebrate these successes in style. 

Incentives Don't try and bribe your little one into using the potty as if they simply aren't ready and are denied their treat it won't go down well. Reward charts and stickers are a great way for these big girls and boys to see how well they are doing and how clever they are. Big boy and girl pants and knickers or pull-ups also do a great job of showing them how grown up they are now. 

Be Prepared For Mess Sometime there is mess and sometimes there isn't. It might be worthwhile making sure that you have an empty washing basket, extra wipes and extra absorbent kitchen roll or similar for quick and efficient clean ups when you do get started. 

Toilet Training Away From the Home If you can start the process at home on a week when you have little or no reason to go anywhere this is ideal. This isn't always possible however so make sure that you are prepared. Always carry extra clothing and underpants, bags for putting any messing items in and if you are out and about a travel potty will be a lifesaver for those "Mummy, Daddy I need to go NOW" moments. 

Above all remember that children are all very different. While one child might have daytime toilet training sorted within a week it might take weeks or months for another. Sometimes you have to accept that they simply aren't ready and it could be best to leave the potty in sight but revisit the idea in a few more weeks or months when you and your little one are more ready. 

Do you have any fabulous toilet training tips (or stories!) to share? If so we'd love to hear them!