Kids are funny creatures of habits. They thrive on routine and structure. My kids are no exception. We’ve always been keen to instil good boundaries and routines at bed time so that that have an understanding and anticipation of the ‘now and next’ of when it’s time for bed.
I don’t know about you but my kids latch onto really random things with these things being suddenly introduced as routine. For example; when Oscar was little he always had a ‘last play’ before bed. We obviously introduced the phrase ‘last play’ at some point by saying something like ‘Oscar now it’s the last play before bedtime. So this part of the routine was named as the ‘last play’. It wasn’t acceptable to Oscar that he played before bedtime and then it would be teeth and then bed – we had to announce the ‘last play’! So we’d have to say ‘Oscar it’s last playtime’. If we didn’t announce it in this way then as far as Oscar was concerned, the last play had not taken place!

Another little routine that came into being emerged through Oscar having a bad dream one night.  Oscar woke early one night upset because he’d had a bad dream.  James went into him and said to him thathe would whisper a good dream into his ear to make the bad dream go away.  James is very creative and has a wild imagination just like the kids and so he came up with the mystical and wonderful ‘dream’ to replace the bad dream that Oscar had had and Oscar went back to sleep without a problem.  This is where the ‘dream’ came about!  Every night after his bad dream, Oscar would ask James to give him a dream.  James even took to thinking up these ‘dreams’ throughout the day so that he would have some ‘material’ for that night time!

When Mabel was about 2 years old we used to have major trouble trying to settle her to bed.  She was a pickle.  Getting upset about random things, you know how it is?!  So in order to distract her James invented characters to make her laugh.  At this time Oscar and Mabel shared a room so of course Oscar lapped it up too.  So James would go out of their room and return with his top over his head and his glasses on a wonk and would put on a funny voice with a story to go with it.  I can’t remember what the first character was called now be over time we have had; Nanny Brenda, Uncle Roy and many many more.  These have had us in fits of laughter and have diverted lots of tantrums.  I won’t put any photos of James in character on here as I think he would divorce me if I did!

Mabel’s current bedtime routine at the moment is ‘one more minute’.  Just as we say goodnight Mabel will ask ‘can I have one more minute Mummy’.  By this she means that she would like us to  sit in her room for just a short time while she settles into bed.  Bless her!

One birthday James decided that he would make the kids American style pancakes.  This has now become another routine.  Any birthday, be it mine, James’ the kids, Christmas, Easter etc. We now HAVE to have pancakes for breakfast on all of these occasions!  Oscar doesn’t actually like the pancakes any more but still, it has to be done – thats just the King thing!

A few years ago, before I became a health visitor I didn’t really understand the reason for these routines that crept into a our lives.  However, since becoming a health visitor I now see the importance of these strange aspects of a family life.  Children crave routine and boundaries as these help to make them feel safe and ‘contained’.  The feeling of being ‘contained’ is described as that of feeling as though others can hold their emotions with them in mind.  We as parents (or other signifcant people in children’s lives) need to be able to respond to children’s feelings so that the children feel safe with those feelings.  This is the idea of containment. 

They know what is coming now and next and this predictibilty helps to keep their emotions in check.  I see many families in my role as health visitor where for whatever reason life is chaotic.  It might be due to the fact that there is parental ill health in the household or substance misuse or domestic abuse.  It can even be as the result of the children’s parents not having had structure and routine in their lives when they were children and so are unaware of how to create that in their own parenting.

So you see those weird little routines that you have are all good for those little monkeys in helping them feel contained. That’s not to say that they don’t push against the boundaries or routines that we, as parents put in place but that’s their job & our job is to be consistent.

Emma

School

I know, I know I must be mad thinking about it before the kids have even broken up from school. BUT……Albie starts school in September and the thought of having to dash last minute and find all the bits and pieces we need for 3 children, fills me with dread! So thought I’d be organised this year.

With so many things to buy I decided to have a look at Very. Very offers an ‘under one roof’ platform which is very appealing to me.  I really have no inclination to go and traipse around a shopping mall with 3 kids in tow trying to locate items in various shops.  I used to be a serial shopper, making a day out of a trip to the shopping mall.  Now – and 3 kids later , it’s very much a functional ‘get in and get out’ trip.  Anyone with kids will be with me on this one!

Oscar who is 9 needs pretty much everything as he seems to grow at a rate of knots at the moment.  Oscar is a skinny mini and we’ve always struggled to get trousers for him.  Trousers for Oscar need to have two things; an adjustable waist and they also need to be a ‘slim’ fit.   Very slim Fit trousers  will fulfill both these criteria perfectly.  Oscar needs grey trousers for school but Very also does these in black.  The other great thing is that they are £16-£22 (depending on size) for a pack of two which is fantastic value for money. I tend to buy 4 pairs of trousers for Oscar as he is (unusually for a boy) quite easy on trousers.  Albie will be a different story!  Oscar’s current polo shirts are starting to look a bit like crop tops on him bless him so I’ll be buying these polo shirts .  They come in light blue or white.  The one thing I LOVE about these polo shirts is that they come in a pack of 5 which to me, just makes perfect sense don’t you think?  Very’s school socks also come in packs of 5.  Anything that saves on having to do masses amounts of washing in the week is a win win for me!

Mabel who is nearly 7 also needs most of the school uniform too.  Now I usually buy Mabel some lovely pleated school skirts or pinafore but this year Mabel wants school trousers, I have no idea why?!  Very have got a smart pair of  skinny fit trousers which I think she’ll love.  Mabel is very fussy with clothes as she gets sensory feed back from seams and the like.  I ummed and ahhed about getting trousers as in most shops they seemed quite expensive but these with Very are £14-£20 (depending on age) for a pack of 2.  She’ll be super chuffed when she opens the package to find that I have relented and bought her the trousers that she was so desperate for!  I love these girls polo shirts too. They’re more fitted than the boys ones and have a little scalloped collar which is really pretty.  It makes identifying them in the washing/ironing pile much easier too.  Our children are supposed to wear a school branded jumper but children do wear plain jumpers and cardigans as well.  These girl’s cardigans are really pretty and again, are tumble dryer-able which totally sells these to me!

This year our ‘baby’ starts school….ahhhh!  Albie is totally ready for it and beside himself with excitement bless him!  So Albie needs EVERYTHING.  He’s not such a skinny mini as Oscar so Albie will be fine with classic fit trousers .  I’ll also be buying a 5 pack of polo shirts for him too.  I know there will be lots of children who start in reception who will struggle with tricky thing like doing up their trousers.  Very have a range of pull on trousers so there’s no need to worry if they’ll manage when getting changed for PE!

All of the items I have spoken about in this post are tumble dryer safe….whoop!  In this weather all is fine in the world of household laundry but come the winter when the outdoor washing line gets a break, the tumble dryer comes into its own.  Being a family of 5 means that my washing/drying/ironing pile resembles Mount Everest most days!

One thing I think every parent hates about shopping for school uniform is shopping for school shoes.  Eurgh!  At least with Very, us parents can take the pain and the relentless queuing away by shopping their school shoes range.  Oscar and Albie are really hard on shoes and so they need to be sturdy and ‘boy proof’.  With well-known brands such as Clarks and Kickers, us parents can be confident that we’ll get quality products.

All 3 of them will need lunch boxes as they seem to go grotty by the end of the year.  I’ll let Albie choose his lunch box (I’m sure it’ll be superhero relate) because this is one of the things that he is super excited about!  He really doesn’t want school lunches which are of course free in reception, because he wants his very own special lunch box!  I really remember that feeling as a child though, the excitement of new school shoes and new school lunch boxes!

May the force be with you whenever you decide to complete the dreaded task of buying school uniforms.  At least with Very some of the pain can be eleviated!

Much love

Emma

*This is a sponsored post and contains affiliate links*


Last weekend we decorated the living room , we’ve just got the finishing touches to add and then I’ll share.  We’ve lived in this house since September 2016 and have just enoyed living in it to be honest but now is the time to out our stamp on it!

So after the livingroom, its the turn of the kid’s bedrooms and Albie’s is up first.  His room is fairly small (although not as small as our last house) so we’ll have to be a bit clever I think.  When we moved Albie requested a ‘higher bed’ by this he meant a cabin bed.  We decided that because it’s such a small room that it would be good if the bed was open underneath so that we could store toys under it and it gave some more floor space for him to play.  In all honesty, I think we may have been a bit too hasty with the choice of bed for Albie as whilst it’s is off the floor, it’s probably too low to make full use of the underneath.

At the moment the room is painted in a yucky sludgy brown/beige colour and not very inspiring at all.  I really have no idea what I’d like to do in there so, as always -Pinterest comes to the rescue!  I’m keen for the decor to last a few years so don’t want it too young looking

Here’s some ideas from Pinterest.

 

We want whatever we choose to be one that’ll stick for afew years and the trouble i with 4 year olds is that they’re fickle.   Albie’s likes and dislikes change as often as his pants!  With this in mind, I like the idea of the theme being in details such as pictures and cushions.  That way when the wind changes and he decides that he’s not keen on Superheros anymore, we don’t have to change the whole room.  I really like the geometric wallpaper as this adds more of a ‘grown up’ element which will be able to grow with him.

We may swap his current bed for this one from Ikea.  We’ll be able to have so much more storage underneath than he has now and will give him more floor space to play in.  Albie is very used to climbing up and down bunk ladders as Oscar and Mabel had bunkbeds in our last house.

I’d love to create a nice cosy space for him.  At the moment he often plays with his toys in the living room or in Oscar and Mabel’s rooms.  So I really want a space where he is keen to play (less mess in the living room!) and also just to chill out.  Albie starts school in September and I know the older two value their personal space once school has finished so it’ll be good to create that for Albie.

Another idea is to have a small desk under the desk so that he can sit and drawer or do lego (again less mess elsewhere!).  This desk looks amazing as it grows with your child.  Good old Ikea, at only £50 it’s an fantastic price.

Its’s giving us a lot of food for thought at the moment.  We’re enjoying putting our own stamp on this house, creating amazing spaces.

I’d love to hear if anyone else has some ideas or suggestions…..

Emma

 

 

 

 

 

Kids.jpgAs I’ve said in my intro, I’m a Mum of 3 and also a Health Visitor (I know, I know-we have a bad rep!).  This parenting lark is a jungle some times.  I think that we spent a fair amount of Oscar’s baby/toddlerhood parenting how we thought we should parent and thought about what other people might think about our parenting decisions.  As we become more confident and more assured about how we wanted to parent we started to care less about needing other people’s approval.

Oscar has always been a pretty low-key child.  He’s very thoughtful and by that I mean that he is a thinker.  He’s never been a rough and tumble/in your fact type boy.  He’s the type of child who likes to abide by the ‘rules’.  For instance, he was at an after school sports club and left his school shoes at school by accident.  The next day, I told him to wear his PE trainers to school and we’d find his shoes when he got there.  Oscar was adamant that he couldn’t do that as they’re not allowed to wear to school.  It took a lot of convincing for him to wear his trainers just until we found his shoes.  Oscar is a keen learner, he takes in things he’s read or seen almost immediately and so he has always flown through school because he grasps things so quickly.

Mabel is head strong (that may be an understatement!).  Since she was a toddler Mabel has been ‘spirited’.  The ‘terrible-two’s’ started at about 18 months with Mabel, something Oscar never seemed to go through meaning that we were ill prepared for this delightful stage!  The tantrums Mabel had between 18 months and around 3 years were spectacular.  We had so many stand offs, and so many times we’d be utterly frustrated, we just had no idea how to parent Mabel.  At around 2 years old, we started to learn more about different parenting strategies.  Meal times were a particular ‘danger zone’.  We had many a stand off about what Mabel needed to eat.  She took (and still does) an age to eat her meals and I’m not sure what it is about children and food, it seems to spark a primative repsonse of the need to feed our off spring.  I started to look for advice of strategies to help meal times go more smoothly.  The key to our meal times becoming less of a battle zone was to take the pressure off.  To not focus and what Mabel wasnt doing and concentrate on the good things.  This was the key to less trantums with Mabel.  As she got closer to school age she was less ‘spirited’.  Mabel is a comedian, she loves to pull silly faces and put on funny voices.  She also acts like a little Mum towards Albie.  She helps him to get dressed sometimes and she speaks to him with kindness.  She has the patience of a saint with him too!

Albie, well Albie has always been…well…how do I describe him?!  Parenting Albie has challenged our parenting strategies.  Albie’s ‘babyhood’ was really difficult.  He was a very unsettled baby.  We went back and forth to the GP.  As a paediatric nurse, I knew he was suffering with reflux and it took until he was 6 weeks old, and a favour with one of the consultants I worked with, to get him on the appropriate medication.  He seemed a little better after that but things gradually became incredibly difficult.  At 3 months of age,  Albie became quite unwell.  I knew he was very poorly and so one Sunday at dinner time we took him to the children’s emergency department.  The nurse we saw there initially barely looked at Albie and was more focused on her computer.  Her opinion was that it might be colic -I knew otherwise.  After about an hour, we were seen by a paediatrician and within 10 minutes we were whisked off to the paediatric ward.  Practically as soon as we arrived, he had lots of tests – including a lumbar puncture.  We spent 5 days in hospital with him.  He had stong IV antibiotics and a further 5 days at home.  He had a sepsis with a very strange bug causing it.  He was still a very unsettled baby and eventually at 4 and a half months he was diagnosed as having cow’s milk protein intolerance (CMPI).  Albie was started on a special prescription milk and within 2 weeks he was a completely different baby. Albie follows in his brother and sister’s footsteps, he is the eternal comedian.  He is so loving, he says ‘I love you Mama’ without prompting.  He also follows in Mabel’s ‘spirited’ ways!

I think Albie has been the turning point for our parenting style.  I read an amazing book titled ‘Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids’ by Laura Markham.  It was a game changer.  Things suddenly fell into place.  The book talks about how children do not have the words to describe the big feeling that they have and the only way to demonstrate this are through tantrums or acting out.  This was the key to understanding our children better.  By naming the feelings so that as they grow older they are better able to identify those feelings without going into a melt down means that they can use words instead of actions.  We also learnt that a reassuring cuddle went a very long was to calming them down.  They’re reassured and feel safe with their feelings.  That being said, it doesn’t mean that the frustration doesn’t rear its head.  But during moments of calm we are able to regroup and be proactive rather than reactive parents.

The key messages to parenting I believe jare;

-don’t sweat the small stuff

-choose your battles -take the coat with you when they refuse point-blank to put it on despite it feeling sub-zero outside.

-decide on you parenting strategies during times af calm, it’ll help during those challenging moments and save you from reacting to a situation in a way that it isn’t helpful

-Lead with love – a reassuring cuddle goes a long way

-Regulating our own feelings and emotions means that we provide a positive role model for our children.  I don’t mean that we don’t show emotion because it so important to show children that us grown ups feel cross, grumpy, tired, scared and all the other emotions in between.  But we are not explosive and reactive

-We only need to be a good enough parent, there isn’t a single perfect parent out there

-apologising and admitting that we got things wrong.  We are fallible, just like them and that’s ok

-ALWAYS have wine or gin on standby!

 

Cheers!

Emma

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Oscar, our first born is 9 today!

I can’t believe that time has gone so fast and we have a 9 year old, where has the time gone? He took his time coming into this world with what would be a 23 hour labour.

The short version of his birth story is that he ‘got stuck’!  He has a big head bless him, we joke and say that he got stuck because of his melon head!  So, there I was on the rather bohemian and totally wonderful midwife led unit.  Our families all excited that they would most likely be meeting their first grandchild (on both sides) that afternoon, the 5th June.  Oscar, obviously wanted to keep us all waiting and at about 6pm that evening I was taken in the back of an ambulance whilst in labour to the local hospital as I was failing to progress.  James followed in the car whilst trying to catch up on the 2 meals he had missed whilst we had been in hospital!  Anyway, 7 long hours later which included an epidural and a c section Oscar arrived!

We are so blinkin’ proud of our Oscar.  He’s always been a very considered boy who surpises us with his emotional insights and his take on the world.  He is thoughtful and kind and such a wonderful big brother.  As he grows up he genuinely good company.  His school reports are always full of statements about how he is keen to help others and cheers his friends up with his jokes.  He’s so quick witted and has awesome comic timing!  He is of course the typical 9 year old boy who would be glue to an electronic device all day if he was allowed to!

So today his birthday breakfast of choice is Frosted Wheats and his birthday tea after school will be a typical birthday tea crammed with; cheap white bread, ham, cheese, cocktail sausages, chocolate fingers and party rings!  Whoop! Oscar has chosen to have 3 friends over for a sleepover on Saturday night for which he is planning hour by hour!

Happy Birthday wonderful boy x