Category Archives: Tips

Take A Look At This Guide To Mothering A Toddler

Life as a mother is hard. Nobody would dare say it isn’t. There are plenty of times when the job seems to get that much harder, though! It can be particularly tough during those times that your child needs the most attention for their own safety. We all know that looking after a newborn is the toughest job in the world. You have to feed them every couple of hours, change their nappies and get them clean.

Newborns really take it out of you, because you have to be so vigilant. With little to no sleep, this is incredibly tough. Small babies are so fragile and delicate. With no sleep and a dramatically altered body, you can be the clumsiest person in the house! That is, until your newborn reaches toddlerhood. As a toddler, there could be dozens of bumps a day, as he tries to find his feet.

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Once your child reaches those wobbly days of toddlerhood, your vigilance and fear of harm kicks back in. Within just a few days, they can be off and running, getting into things you never dreamed were possible. It’s around this time that you are probably thinking about changing things around in the house, to help make life a little safer for him.

Starting with his bedroom, it could now be time to do away with the cot. Instead, a bed with protective barrier may be a better option. Once he starts to climb over the bars of the cot, it is just safer to remove them altogether. If you are buying a new bed and toddler bedding, you may want to consider a waterproof mattress protector for when you start toilet training.

You may be installing extra stair gates too. The doorway to the kitchen and the top of the stairs are new places to consider safety. Shoes and slippers now need to be functional and not just a matter of warmth. You may want to consider having your child’s feet measured professionally to be sure the shoes you are buying are a good fit.

Your garden space may now present lots of hazards you hadn’t considered before. Now your little one is unlikely to stay where you put him, you will have to be with him at all times. It’s a great time to teach him about some of the hazards around him. Plants can be ‘spiky ouch’, and steps can be ‘bumps’. Teaching him to ‘bump’ down the stairs one at a time on his bottom is a safer approach than walking. It’s unlikely he can reach the handrail securely.

Now he is beginning to walk, you may choose to get rid of your pushchair. This is a bold move, but it will help him learn to walk farther more quickly. Of course, your pace will be dramatically slowed down. And the distance you can cover is greatly reduced. It will be worth it in the end for a strong and confident walker.

Toddlerhood is one of the toughest times for a mother. Soon they’ll be running around confidently. But in the meantime, you may feel like you need eyes in the back of your head! Enjoy it while it lasts.

 

5 Retro Games Kids Will Love

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Everyone seems to be jumping on the retro bandwagon these days, but kids just love a great game regardless of whether it’s fashionable or not. Active games like bulldog or learning how to play marbles are fun ways to keep them fully absorbed. They also make your life easier as you don’t have to worry about the pitfalls associated with lots of time spent online!

Here are some fun ideas that will keep them occupied for hours…

  1. Bulldog – you don’t need any equipment for this game, and it will burn off tonnes of excess energy! One person is the ‘bulldog’ and stands in the middle of your garden/ marked square/ church hall. Everyone else lines up along one side, and has to race past the ‘bulldog’ without getting caught. Anyone who is caught stands in the middle and joins the ‘bulldog’ in catching people, until there’s only one runner left.
  2. Marbles – these are inexpensive and versatile, and bring the word ‘retro’ to a whole new level: marbles were being played by Ancient Egyptian kids, as far back as 4000BC. You may find your kids just marvelling over the colours and swirls of their favourites, but there are lots of variations on how to play marbles. A simple game is to outline a circle on the floor with string, putting around 5 marbles in the centre. Roll another marble towards the ring, trying to knock out as many of the original marbles as possible. You can find a more detailed description on how to play marbles here.
  3. Roller skating – it’s an increasingly popular retro pastime for adults, but kids also love a good roller disco. It’s a great active option that’s social and good for balance, and they’ll be completely engrossed in working on their moves (learning to stop is always a challenge). A group trip to the local roller disco also makes for an easy party. They can dress up in their smartest ‘50s frocks and jeans, and nibble on retro party food like jelly and ice cream, to refuel after all of the skating.
  4. What’s the time Mr Wolf? – a noisy, fun game kids can easily run themselves, leaving the adults to have a quiet cup of tea. It’s very simple: one kid is the wolf, and stands with their back to a wall. Everyone else lines up about 10 feet away, and asks “What’s the time Mr Wolf?” The ‘wolf’ turns around and replies with a time, like “It’s four o’clock,” which means everyone else advances four steps. At any point, the ‘wolf’ can reply, “It’s diner time!” which is a cue for everyone to run away shrieking as the ‘wolf’ tries to catch someone.
  5. Cat’s cradle – a good activity for a rainy day, this can develop into an addiction as kids try to work out new ways to tangle their (and often your) hands up with string. All you need is a piece of string with the ends tied together to make a circle. Advance from cat’s cradle to the Eiffel Tower or Jacob’s Ladder!

5 Apps to Keep Your Kids Educated and Safe Online

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Kids love technology. Instead of TVs and video games, they find their entertainment on tablets and smartphones. But how do you make sure they’re staying safe online and utilizing those devices for more than just entertainment?

Because apps tend to be a little more accessible than a web browser for children, it’s likely their online experience will start in that category. As parents and caregivers, it’s your responsibility to ensure your children experience a variety of activities. Not only that, but you’re the sole guarantors of their safety.

To keep your kids safe and learning, check out these must-have apps for parents of toddlers, tweens and teens:

mamaBear

For the helicopter in you, the mamaBear app allows you to keep a close eye on your children and what they’re doing. It’s no secret that with new technology comes new opportunities to get into trouble; sometimes kids are going to need someone looking over their shoulder to make sure they’re not getting into something they shouldn’t.

The mamaBear app allows you to keep an eye on your children’s Facebook feed, and soon Twitter and Instagram as well. Cyberbullying has become an increasing concern, so this app allows you to step in without being asked (many times kids simply don’t want to bring it up).

If your kids are on the move, this app also allows you to track them via GPS, and even have them check in when they leave or arrive at destinations. If you’re the forgetful type, it will even remind you when it’s time to pick them up. There’s also an SOS feature for when they’re in real trouble.

If your kids are a bit older, you’ll have the opportunity to monitor how fast they’re driving too. Just because they didn’t get caught by the cops doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t give them a good talking to. Just make sure you don’t take this app’s features overboard; it’s definitely possible to be overbearing.

PBS Kids Video

When you’re not following your kids around, it might be nice for them to relax and enjoy some quality programming from PBS. Now, instead of being glued to the tube, they can be attached to your tablet or phone watching reruns of “The Cat and the Hat” or any number of PBS’s lineup of quality kids programming.

It’s an app that gets straight to it. Kids love to watch PBS’s programming, and PBS does a great job of making certain that all their shows are packed with educational lessons and helpful tools for living. Best of all, there’s little chance anything inappropriate will pop up on PBS, so you can feel safe knowing your kids are watching something good. Oh, and it’s also free.

ExpressVPN

Even assuming you’re monitoring your kids’ activities online, that doesn’t necessarily make them immune from foul play. If anything, your kids are that much more vulnerable to security risks because they’re less likely to be able to see around corners and make educated decisions.

So what exactly is ExpressVPN? It’s a virtual private network (VPN) that keeps anyone and everyone (both you AND the kids) a whole lot safer when using the net. A VPN acts as a medium between you and the rest of the net, transmitting your data and requests anonymously through an encrypted network. Then, when data is sent back, that information is also encrypted and returned to you safely.

Effectively this means malicious individuals such as hackers are less likely to intercept you or your children’s activities and upload dangerous malware. These sorts can create all kinds of problems for you and your family, sometimes going as far as breaking your device or stealing your (or your kids’) information.

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services available because it does not interfere with your connection speed and keeps your information secure. While not free, its services are definitely worth the small monthly cost.

Reading Rainbow

You probably haven’t seen this one since grade school; not only does Reading Rainbow still exist, but now it even has an app! Though it’s a subscription service, Reading Rainbow gives you and your kids access to hundreds of books. Books aren’t all they have to offer; they also have a library of educational videos to watch just like back when you were a kid.

We like this one because it gives you a real opportunity to bring story time into the tech era. With a bunch of books to choose from, your kids can either read on their own, or you can read together without being stuck reading the same book every night before bed.

Mad Libs

If you haven’t played this one, now’s your chance to try it as an app. Mad Libs is finally available on both iPhone and Android platforms. The free version has 21 different words to pick from (and they claim to be adding new free content all the time) with the option to purchase additional content separately. It’s a simple game, but it’s fun for both children and adults.

The premise of the game is simple: a story with blank spaces is generated, and it’s your job to fill in those spaces with words you have available. It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. The real charm of Mad Libs is in filling the blanks with words that make sense but are entertaining for everyone listening. Normally Mad Libs is a game you play with a group of people, but the app also allows children to play on their own.

This is one you may want to check out for yourself because the words being used don’t necessarily have to be elementary.

Be Safe, Have Fun

Though technology continues to offer us new challenges, bright minds come up with novel solutions every day. Despite the difficulties of ensuring your child’s safety while using the net, there are plenty of tools available to help. They are no replacement for you, but it sure feels great to have a helping hand here and there.

As always, keep an eye on what your kids are consuming. Fancy VPNs and monitoring apps work wonders, but only if you’re staying engaged. Just be sure you don’t smother anyone in the process!

Getting Back to Basics: Games our Grandparents Played

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There’s no denying we’re living in a digital era­ ­– even our kids are now being described as ‘digital natives’. They know about superheroes from movies, not comic books, and Ofcom reports that more than a third of children aged between 5 and 15 own their own tablet computer.

In between juggling work and family life, it’s not easy to find the time to lure the kids away from their video games. When was the last time you took the kids on a nature walk through the park, or play a board game? Do you even remember how to play marbles?

If you’re beginning to realise just how precious quality time (away from a screen) can be, we’re here to remind you of a few of the good old-fashioned games our grandparents used to play when they were younger; games that are still more than capable of entertaining and educating our little ones today!

Marbles

Marbles can be traced all the way back to the Romans, but it was during the 1800s that they really became a popular game for little boys and girls.

  • How to Play Marbles

If you can’t remember how to play marbles, don’t worry – it’s simple to teach your kids. Use a piece of chalk to draw a circle on the ground – any size (the bigger the circle, the more challenging the game), but around 90cm in diameter is standard. Place marbles in the centre of the circle, with each player keeping their biggest marble as their ‘shooter’. Players take turns to try and knock as many marbles out of the circle by flicking their shooter with their thumb. The rules are straightforward – if you knock a marble out, take another turn. The player who has collected the most marbles when the circle is emptied is declared the winner.

Hopscotch

Scotch hopper ­– now known as ‘hopscotch’ ­– became very popular in wartime Britain because it could be played for free. All you needed was a small piece of chalk and a lightweight stone or rock.

  • How to Play Hopscotch

Using a piece of chalk, draw a hopscotch course on the floor – there should be 10 numbered squares in total. Throw a small beanbag (much safer than a stone!) to land in one of the squares, then hop your way along the course. Only one foot should be on the floor at a time, except where two squares are side-by-side. Hop over the box containing the beanbag, turn at square 10, and hop back. Pick up your beanbag on your return, but still hop over the space that it landed in.

Jacks

‘Jacks’ is a relatively modern term for a very old game. So old, in fact, that the game is referenced in many Greek epics including the Odyssey.

  • How to Play Jacks

The first player holds the jacks in their hand and softly throws them to scatter around. The first player gently throws a rubber ball up into the air, attempting to pick up a jack before the ball bounces, and then catch the ball after one bounce in the same hand as the jack. They then move the jack to the other hand, and repeat until all jacks have been collected. Continue by picking up two at a time, and then three at a time and so on. The player’s turn ends if they fail to pick up a jack, fail to catch the ball after one bounce, or if they drop the jack. The game continues until a player has successfully collected all jacks in one go.

If you often read advice for kids, you’ll know that many experts recommend an ‘everything in moderation’ approach. This means that you don’t need to ban your kids from watching TV or playing video games, but that it’s important for children to spend time playing outdoors, too. This allows them to get more exercise, learn more about nature, and express their creativity. So the next time you’ve got a sunny weekend, get out into the garden and give these great, old-fashioned games a try!