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19 Sep 13

Tips for fun and stress-free family holidays

Tom and Mary are now settled back in school after the summer, but half-term is just around the corner. I need to plan a mini-break! I like my children to spend the first half of their mid-term holiday at home, then we take a two- to three-day trip somewhere that both mummy and children can enjoy themselves. Good holiday planning is vital as each of my children likes different activities and environments. Knowing your children’s likes and dislikes gives you the confidence to choose a holiday that will be perfect for everyone.  Here are some of my tips for fun and stress-free family holidays. Choosing a holiday destination Family holidays are important because they give parents and children time to relax and bond.  So if you choose to travel away from home, you need to get it right. I prefer an organised, all-inclusive holiday at half-term, and we have had great experiences with holiday […]

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10 Sep 13

How to plan children’s parties for every occasion

Children’s parties are fun to organise, but thoroughly exhausting! I prefer to do the catering myself, so that takes a lot of time and planning. I always celebrate my son Tom’s and my daughter Mary’s birthdays with a birthday party, but I also like to throw a small impromptu gathering to mark an accomplishment, such as winning a prize at school or being chosen for the football or hockey team. Any excuse for a party! So what’s my recipe for success? Here are some party planning ideas that work for me. Pool parties and tea parties Tom’s birthday is in August and Mary’s is in January, so I have plenty of time to recoup energy and ideas between parties, as well as to make a note of what party activities were successful. Tom, aged 10, likes to have a small pool party in our garden, weather permitting.  For him, I need to plan some […]

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29 Aug 13

Easing Your Child’s Transition Back to School

It’s back to school time already – and it has come round so quickly!  The summer holidays seemed eternal, but Tom and Mary will be on that school bus again next week. Are they looking forward to the new term?  Tom is slightly apprehensive as he starts a busy year of school exams, while Mary cannot wait to see her friends and participate in extra-curricular activities like tap dancing! But as a family, we do not find it easy to get back into the swing of things, so I have developed some tips to ease the transition back to school. Motivation for School After the lazy, hazy days of summer, it is hard to re-adapt to the strictly regulated days of classes, homework and sports practice. But this process can be less traumatic if you keep children motivated for school and keep their brains active during the holidays. For the last two years […]

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28 Aug 13

Good Behaviour: Teaching Table Manners to Children

Good table manners for children are essential. That’s what my mother told me!  So I took her advice and made sure my Tom and Mary learned from an early age how to behave at the table. But that is no easy task nowadays, as fast-food takeaways, busy working schedules and after-school activities can all get in the way of a family dinner. You need to start the learning process early and persevere! Check Your Own Table Manners Children learn best by example, so it’s a good idea to review your own table manners and practise what you preach. Sound like a breeze? Not on your life! My son Tom, now ten years old, was badly behaved at the dinner table when he was younger: slumping in his chair, pushing his food around on the plate, and even playing with his Game Boy games. But I found that gently correcting his bad manners by telling […]

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17 Aug 13

Sleepover success: how to avoid tears and tantrums

Sleepovers are a good way for children to deepen friendships away from school or other adult-organised environments. I have always encouraged Tom and Mary to have their friends to stay over at weekends or in the long summer holidays. These parties liven up the week when the kids are home from school, and other mums thank me for giving them the night off! I try to instill a sense of responsibility in my children, and it is their duty to plan the entertainment. They feel a sense of pride when they see their friends having a good time. But how do you avoid tears and tantrums during a sleepover at your house? Here are some of my tips! PLANNING FOR PERFECT SLEEPOVERS Sometimes a spontaneous sleepover happens at my house at the weekend if one of Tom or Mary’s friends has been around all day Saturday and we end up making […]

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10 Aug 13

Style Sense: Decorating the Nursery

I still remember the joy of decorating the nursery for my firstborn, Tom. There was so much anticipation for his arrival, that I felt that the active task of planning and decorating was a wonderful way to direct my nervous energy. Of course, I might have gone a bit overboard, as I spent a fortune kitting out the baby’s room. I probably overdid the blue motif as well. Everything was in blue and white, including wallpaper, curtains, carpet and cot furnishings. Even the light bulbs had a blue tinge! Although it may have been a bit over the top, I know many first-time parents who have invested more on decorating the nursery than on the rest of the house! But that usually only happens with the first child – we tend to scale down expenses for our second and subsequent offspring. Two years later, when we received the joyful news […]

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08 Aug 13

Summer reading, every mum’s dream!

While I feel it is important to provide our children with a change from their school environment during the summer holidays, I also like to avoid a “brain drain”. In my personal experience, a summer reading programme is the perfect answer, whether you organise it yourself or take advantage of your local library. My son Tom and daughter Mary both enjoy combining a good children’s book or two with visits to the swimming pool or picnics with friends when they are on vacation. To me, that is a perfect balance between intellectual and physical stimulation during the holidays. If you are looking for a book recommendation, a fellow blogger recommends Mommy Brings Home the Bacon, a story to help explain why working mums must leave home every day.   ENCOURAGING SUMMER READING Here are a some of my best tips to encourage summer reading: Children should be allowed to choose their own […]

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31 Jul 13

Bedtime for baby: developing a sleep schedule

One of the main complaints of parents with a newborn is the lack of a baby’s sleep schedule. A fussy or colicky baby will have mum and dad up all night! Although the first year or so is difficult, there are steps that you can take to get into sync with your baby’s routine preferences so that everyone can have a decent amount of sleep. A newborn needs between 14 and 16 hours of sleep split between day and night. Unfortunately for mums and dads who want to sleep a full night, that probably won’t happen because an infant will sleep only 3 or 4 hours at a time. At three months old, some lucky parents might even sleep for 6 hours! However, that’s as long as they get because the babies will wake up at intervals to feed. The first two months One sleep tactic for newborns from one […]

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22 Jul 13

The cloth nappy conundrum

In a time where convenience is king, many mums choose disposable nappies when rearing their toddlers. I have to admit that sometimes it may be tempting to be able to throw those products away, but I would recommend giving cloth nappies a chance. I have met many first-time parents who were slightly torn as to which to choose. They had heard of the benefits of the cloth nappies, but were also tempted by the convenience of the disposable brands. Although it is a big decision and should be agreed upon by both parents, I would like to present some advantages of cloth nappies that you might not have thought about. Good luck with your big decision! Advantages of cloth nappies Cost effective Think about how many nappies a newborn goes through a day. If you estimate eight changes a day for a week, that´s 56 heavy nappies in the bin! […]

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16 Jul 13

Games for kids on a rainy day

We all know the feeling… waking up on a bank holiday, ready to enjoy that “extra” day with the family, and it’s raining! Forget about that bike ride in the country or picnic at the beach. So how do we keep the kids entertained and ourselves sane? I have a lot of good ideas for stay-at-home games, gathered over the years. Games for kids on rainy days should keep their minds occupied as well as allowing them to burn off energy so that they don’t feel confined indoors. But it’s important to pace the kids – and ourselves!   Watching a couple of DVDs together is a good idea, but it’s better to leave that till later after playing some more “traditional” interactive games. Here are a few of my own suggestions. Rainy Day Ideas Hide and seek. This is a classic, fun game, especially when mum joins in with […]

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