mothers-day-crafts-for-toddlers
baby and toddler activities, Parenting

Mother’s Day Crafts for Toddlers

I can’t believe I’m almost celebrating my second Mother’s Day as a parent – time really does fly when you’re having fun! I don’t know about you, but Mother’s Day for me is more than just a card and gift kind of holiday, it’s about really giving back. It could be because my birthday is also in March (UK Mother’s Day peeps), so I don’t really want or need any additional gifts, or it could be because I find time and experiences as more valuable gifts than anything you could buy in a shop.

I just think, what could be better than giving back some love and care which has went into some hand-crafted tokens of appreciation? Things like handmade cards go a long way in my book, although obviously I won’t be making any of these with Travis for myself (I’m not that sad!), I know we’ll have fun creating memories as we craft. Hopefully the grandmammas who are in line to receive the crafts appreciate the homemade gifts!

Here are 5 Mother’s Day crafts you can do with your toddler:

 

Mothers-day-handmade-card-toddler-craftsHandmade Cards

Handmade cards are always a winner, and no doubt you will receive some from nurseries and schools anyway. All you need is some card, coloured pens/pencils, and any additional 3D materials you want to stick onto your card. We opted for tissue paper flowers this year, using coloured tissue wrapped into a flower shape and stuck on with some craft glue via a glue spreader. I’m considering adding some glitter that’s gathering dust in a drawer, but not sure the mess and glitter for days is worth it!

Mother’s Day token booklet

The value of the tokens is completely up to you. If your toddler is already speaking and communicating well, why not ask for their input on the tokens? For me, I’d like tea and coffee tokens so that I can have a hot drink or 2 made (probably by dad) on request, and possibly also enjoyed whilst hot! A couple of the tokens could contain chores such, like a laundry token or dish washing token, or even a simple tidy-up token that your little one can do. Here’s a link to an interesting pin I found with some simple token ideas.

 

handmade-mothers-day-plant-pot-decorate

Decorate a plant pot

Flowers are a common Mother’s Day gift, so why not go that one step further and really personalise this gift by getting crafty? Plant pots aren’t hard to come by – garden centres, B&M, Ikea or online stores like Amazon will have a range to choose from – and decorating them is fun and easy. Why not get your little one to help paint it in mum/grandma’s favourite colour? Or maybe glue on some coloured letters spelling “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Greatest Grandma” or something similar?

If plant pots and growing your own flowers doesn’t fit with your mum or grandmother, you could always try decorating a vase instead.

Breakfast in bed hamper

Growing up, it was always traditional for mum to have breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. How much myself or brother helped, without setting off the smoke detector, was another thing however. Depending on the age of your toddler, you might not think they are ready to help with the breakfast in bed just yet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help prepare and decorate a breakfast hamper for mum. Many craft shops have small hamper baskets, or you can simply buy a small wooden box which can be painted and decorated. Why not help your toddler choose the contents (tea/coffee sachets, jam jar etc) and pack with shredded paper or cardboard – another sensory stimulant.

Mothers-day-personalised-photo-framePersonalised photo frame

What could be better than your toddler picking out their own unique memory of you or a grandparent and adding their own personal stamp. All you need is a treasured photo, and a plain photo frame that fits the chosen photo. B&M do loads in various plain colours and sizes. Then it’s entirely up to you – why not add polka dots in mum/gran’s favourite colour, or shade that matches the colours of their living room (or wherever you want the photo to be proudly displayed!). If you know that mummy likes flowers or stars for instance, you can always draw some on, or pick up some embellishments from your local craft store and stick those on. Similar to the plant pot, you can also add in a message like “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Best Mum/Gran in the World” or even a favourite quote or saying that’s meaningful to you.

 

mothers-day-crafts-for-toddlers

moving-up-bigger-room-nursery
Childcare, Parenting

Moving to a new room in nursery

Just when we thought we were getting comfortable with routines and whatnot, we were told by the nursery that Travis is ready to move up to the “bigger” room. And I’m delighting and despairing at the same time.

“The big room” is the room babies move on to once the nursery are happy that they have become confident toddlers and think they will enjoy the challenge of new games, learning and experiences. The room hosts kids roughly from around 18 months to three years old. Obviously every child is different, so some may move shortly after their first birthday if they are confident walkers, in a good routine, or seem to be getting bored in the baby room, whilst others might be nearer two before they make that step.

I am of course delighted that my little munchkin is ready for this next chapter. At 16 months, I feel like he’s definitely progressed from the eight month old he was when he first started, and has come on so much even since his first birthday in October. Plus he’s been wearing clothes for 2-3 year-olds since the start of the year!

So in a way I wasn’t surprised by this announcement from the nursery, but it was still a bit daunting. I was only just coming to terms with the fact that my boy is no longer a baby, but a toddler, and now I have to prepare for him playing and learning with kids double his age!

toddler-new-challenges-nurseryNew challenges new experiences

One thing a new room promises, is a new environment to explore. The nursery have informed us that Travis will make visits to the new room during his regular nursery sessions, to give him a taster of what goes on in the room, and to get used to this new environment. Hopefully this will minimise the shock and confusion once he moves over there permanently.

I’m confident that he will love this room, as there are not only new toys and new nursery teachers, it’s also a big step away from more of the “baby” items and routines of the old room. For instance, there are little tables and chairs for having breakfast and lunch, rather than the high chairs of the baby room, and instead of cots/cribs for naps, everyone has their own mat and blanket.

In terms of fun, there are more advanced toys to explore, and an outdoor garden area specific to that room, which I’m sure will get much more use as the months go on.

 

independence-nursery-toddler

More independence

Within the bigger room, I think Travis will have more independence, as there’s a lot less one-on-one attention from nursery teachers. I’m hoping this will give him the confidence to explore and play on his own, but also to make friends, share and play with other kids. I’m also hoping that he’ll make the transition from high chair to small table and chair quite smoothly!

 

new-skills-toddler-nursery

Picking up new skills

When he moves up, Travis will be one of the younger ones in the room (despite probably being one of the tallest!), so I would like to think he would start to pick things up quite quickly from some of the older toddlers. Maybe his speech will come on by listening to other kids attempt sentences, and maybe he will get better with cutlery (he’s a very hands-on eater!) by watching kids his own size, and maybe he’ll pick up a million things that I’ll probably immediately wish he hadn’t, as it takes him another step further from being my tiny little baby!

Parenting

Playdates; the winter saviour for toddler mums

Its winter, it’s miserable, it’s dark and there’s nothing exciting like Christmas or New Year left to get excited about. The temperature is sub zero and unpredictable; will it be ice or snow, rain or hail in the morning?

Chances are, you and your toddler aren’t getting out to the park, because even when the sun is shining it’s still Baltic outside and you fear that their bum will freeze to the swing or something (just me?). Nursery is fun and all, but as a fellow mummy friend pointed out, we don’t get to see our little ones play there and we don’t get to join in and play with them.

Watching them play and interact
That’s just one of the things that make play dates so great. You can watch your child play and interact with another child, and get a sense of how they are developing and playing. You can join in and offer any guidance on things like sharing and “being gentle” with younger or smaller kids.

Time with other mums
Adult company is so important for all mums, whether that’s first time mums, new mums, mums of toddlers, teenagers or a whole football team of kids. Whilst the adult company is treasured no matter who it is, there’s nothing like trading stories, worries and advice with a fellow mum. You can talk about your wee one without fear of boring the bum off them (like with co-workers or childless chums) and can enjoy hearing about their wee ones progress or simply lend an ear if needed.

Exploring and learning new things
Play dates in different locations can involve lots of exploring of new surrounding, new toys and new faces. This is why it’s a great idea to switch play dates up between parents houses and places like soft play. Your child will not only enjoy uncovering new toys at their friends house, they will also discover new ways to play with their own toys with a play pal.

Making the day more exciting
In the winter, it can sometimes feel like days blur into the one same monotonous routine, guided by the weather. This often means staying in or finding indoor activities to amuse your child. Playdates take the boredom out of the repetition of staying indoors, making the day that little more exciting for your child. It might not seem like much to us, but even the addition of just one friend and mum into their usual daily space can add much more excitement and fun to their playtime.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why playdates are an absolute godsend for toddler mums, all backed up with scientific evidence and everything, but these are the things I’ve found to work and benefit out little family. I’d be interested to know if you have any other points to add or different ways you keep your toddler amused and learning in the winter!

 

PS Shout out to my mum pal who inspired this post after a play date with her and her little bear. Check out her videos here.

first-time-mums-post-photos-body-image
mum life

The real reason mums post hundreds of baby photos

Before I had a baby myself, it used to annoy the life out of me that people, especially first time mums, would share pictures of their child on social media every blooming day. Not only that, there would be the mums that would share a whole album of photos of essentially the same 10 mins of the day from about 90 different angles (just take a video?) or the mums who were all about a selfie before, never to be seen again, instead replaced by this mini-me. But now I get it. And it’s not what you think.

I used to think these mums were filled with self-assurance that their child, was, in fact, the cutest baby there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely an element of “aww cute” about baby pics, especially if, like me, you like to dress your baby up in old man outfits. But actually, the heart-melting factor wears off after a couple of weeks when you remember other people have kids and you see their photos and, oh gosh, isn’t little Amelia/Max (insert on-trend baby name here) cute in that little outfit/doing whatever they are doing.

So no, it’s not an egotistical thing where we magically think we’ve co-created the perfect being. It’s for a few reasons. Firstly we want you to know we are still alive. You may not have heard much from us in the first few weeks after we announced the birth of said perfect being. That’s because no matter how many books we read or sites we researched or advice we took, absolutely nothing prepared us for actually having to take care of these tiny beings all day every day. It’s like when you go off the radar for the first day at a new job, except you can’t just clock out at 5pm and join the real world again. There’s been a lot of learning, going with the flow and general panic and disruption at every hour of the day, so we haven’t had the chance to brush our hair let alone get ready and pose for a selfie, never mind actually go anywhere or do anything like we used to in the good old days. But we did get our baby up and dressed, and they did a windy smile. That was the highlight of the day rather than a fancy meal at a nice restaurant or catching a new film/band, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Secondly, many of us feel like absolute shit. Our bodies have been through more trauma than any non-childbearing person will know; we are fragile, trying to recover and simultaneously being flung into the most difficult role we’ve yet faced, with about 5 minutes sleep into the bargain. We currently consider it a good day if all parties in the house can manage to get washed, dressed and fed, so forgive us if we don’t feel like taking a selfie or doing anything other than take a quick snap of this beautiful little creature with wide eyes and perfect skin and long eyelashes and heart-melting smile. We’re not jealous, honest.

Not only do we feel like shit in the exhausted, outward-looking sense,
we’re mentally exhausted too. We are tired of looking in a mirror, not sure of what we see. We’re tired of being told about mums who walked out of the hospital in their size 8 jeans, or the mums who manage to get their kids into a routine and sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old. We’re tired of society telling us how we should behave as a parent, what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives and bodies now our child is here. And despite knowing that all this stuff doesn’t really matter, it still gets to us.

Whether it’s scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see some supermum taking perfect pictures from the perfect adventure with her 3 perfect kids in tow, or the Pinterest infograhics telling you how to lose the baby pouch, it all creates an overwhelming amount of pressure and guilt. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves with others in this situation, even though we know all pregnancies, births and babies are different. Us ladies get a rough time as it is from the media always telling us how to look, what to wear, how to behave, never mind when you throw a child into the mix. And despite our best efforts to rise above it, sometimes we just can’t.

Sometimes we feel really low and hate our bodies and the way they have changed, even if we have already been told a thousand times that pregnancy and childbirth will change your body, and that creating the miracle of life doesn’t always come without battle scars. Nevertheless, we still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that our body wont 100% go back to the way it was before, and, for impatient people like myself, it can turn into an internal battle between your head and body, when you still don’t fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes months down the line.

Sometimes we hate that we can’t even do our simple daily makeup like before, and hate it enough that we have to go to the shops for nappies with bags under our eyes and spots on our face, and don’t really feel like showing anyone that face, other than the cashier at ASDA – and that’s only because we absolutely have to. Everybody tells you about the changes to your boobs, belly, bum and thighs as a new mum, but nobody warns you about the massive changes to your skin and hair post-pregnancy. For me, my skin returned to that of a teenager, with eyebags you could carry a Primark spree in. Then, my hair started to fall out at an alarming rate (more on that here), so now there’s even more desire for me to actually do my hair and make up, despite having no time. This created more feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth (still comparing myself to supermum with her perfect eyebrows and coiffed updo), meaning I was reluctant to go anywhere and do anything unless necessary, in turn meaning less life updates, pics, witty things to Tweet etc.

Sure, this may not be the case for all new mums. Some might really believe that their kid is the cutest on the planet and that everyone else deserves to see at least 45 pictures of them a day. But for many of us it’s a mask, preventing people from seeing what we don’t want them to see. Our child (or children) represents the light in our life – smiling, bright-eyed, learning and doing something new every day, where sometimes we don’t feel good enough ourselves, we know that they are perfect to us and worth sharing. So please remember that the next time you see another new mum posting yet another album of her little treasure.

mum life, Parenting

Springing into a new routine

As the saying goes, this is the time of year where the clocks spring forward an hour. Normally this fills me with joy and motivation for the sunnier (not guaranteed in Scotland) seasons to come. This year, however, with a 5 month old in tow, I was filled more with anxiety of the prospect of an hour’s lost sleep.

I say an hour like it’s just one flippant thing, but what I really mean to say is another hour. Sleep is the most valuable commodity as a new parent, and as the clocks changed this year, daddy was trading highest. He was on the night shift at work and actually managed to wing a shorter shift than usual. That was great for him, but it meant that mum had a gamble on what time the wee man would wake up, and would have to bumble by on an hour’s less sleep whilst dad thrashed out zzz’s after his jammy shift.

Everyone knows that daylight savings or British Summer Time is complete robbery (I’d say daylight robbery, but actually, well, you know..) and does most hard working folk out of an extra hour of rest at the weekend. To the average Joe that hour is sorely missed never mind for parents of tiny humans. There are all sorts of things to factor in, aside from that other hour of much-needed sleep missing.

Routine rejig

We have just about got a routine of sorts down, especially when it comes to morning classes and feeding times. Recently (about 3 days before the clocks changed) Travis started eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all at reasonable times (around 7am, 12 noon and 5pm) give or take a half an hour here and there. Those 3 days were golden till the clocks changed and then suddenly everything was an hour later.

Don’t get me wrong, at least 5 people have told me I’m mad for being annoyed that he’s lying in longer in the morning, which is probably fair dos. But really that isn’t the annoying part. The tricky bit is trying to rejig our morning routine so I can get 2 people washed, dressed, fed, watered and out the door before 9am a few days a week. It’s like going to work for 9am since you started your job, then someone deciding you need to be in for 8am instead. Let me tell you this Tuesday (and that was a 10am class!), Wednesday and Friday were challenging. I may have turned up in my PJs on at least one of those days if Craig wasn’t around.

Sleeping with the light on

The most important thing we’ve fought for Travis is to learn night from day. Whilst other attempts at routine may go out the window at times due to unforseen circumstances, baby tantrums, jobbiegeddon or worse, we’ve always made sure the little man knows night from day in a bid to get him to sleep better (and more importantly, to let mum and dad sleep better!). So you can imagine my horror at having to contend with daylight creeping into our lives earlier in the morning and later in the evening. Sure, a few blackout curtains might do the trick for the light situation, but you try telling 19,000 birds to shut up at 5am because your kid is sleeping and doesn’t yet know this is an unacceptable waking hour. They don’t listen. Or at least they pretend they don’t hear you over their chirpy little morning song.

Plus I’m sure there’s only so much that blackout curtains can do when it’s still 100% light at 10pm and all the weans are still out playing because it’s the summer holidays and their parents have had a boozy BBQ (and why not?) and the wee man wonders why they are allowed to be outside shouting and having fun and he’s not!

Teething troubles

The little guy’s first tooth came through recently (more about that in March firsts, coming soon!) and so understandably he’s been in a bit of pain. To remedy this, there are all sorts of teething pain relievers on the market, each coming with their own usage instructions regarding time, number of doses in 24 hours etc. Let me tell you that lost hour (and my lack of mental maths skills) caused havoc last week, trying to remember when he could get something and if that had been too soon, and if he got it at 5 o’clock, wouldn’t that really be 4 o’clock? It was a confusing time and I’m glad we’ve got there now, but I can only imagine it being 10 times worse for parents of prem or ill babies who need permanent regular medication and/or care.

But now, over a week later, I think we are just about recovering from the missing hour (probably jinxed it now) and are looking forward to springing into the new season and all the fun and sun it brings. You know, once it’s stopped snowing…

Lists, Parenting

7 Things I’ve Learned in my First Month as a Parent

1. You can sing pretty much anything to a baby
And you will. Starting off quite sensibly with nursery rhymes, I quickly realised I’d forgotten many of those a long time ago. This resorted in singing some of my favourite songs, then singing a basic running commentary of life. It’s amazing just how much singing about wiping drool or putting on shoes can calm a baby.

2. Poo is a hot topic
I can honestly say I’ve never talked about poo so much in my life – and I suffer from IBS! Pre-arrival of baby M, we were warned by a friend that all myself and the other half would find to talk to each other about would be baby M, and his bowel movements in particular. We didnt believe her. Not only is it something which we both discuss, it seems like an open topic of discussion amongst grandparents, relatives and fellow parents. From first poo (an experience in itself) to different consistencies and even times or places to poo, I have found myself talking about the poo of someone else far more than I ever thought I would.

3. It’s easier to tell your partner off through your children
Not very practical, helpful or mature, but it’s quite therapeutic to the sleep deprived new mother. Things like “don’t cry because daddy hasn’t done the dishes” or “we can’t do X because daddy has left Y dirty/a mess” are favourites. Bonus points for also turning into a song a-la point 1.

4. You may call your child names
In a state of exhaustion, parenting confusion or frustration, you may find yourself calling your child names. Or maybe that’s just me. A particularly hard-going evening saw me call baby M an arsehole when he wouldn’t stop crying after a 5am feed,  and decided to skite his dirty nappy across my bed.

5. Sleep is currency
Another thing we were warned about was the daily sleep debate that would ensue as we tried to get used to a sleep deprived life. After a couple of weeks of bickering over who’s had most sleep, the other half and I have learned to use sleep as currency. This goes something along the lines of me exchanging a lie-in in the morning to get up with baby at 6am, letting daddy sleep on while we get up and start our day. In return, he will exchange an early night for a later feed while I take my weary ass to bed, or vice versa. It’s all about working together and realising that actually it’s just not practical to always wake, sleep or even watch TV together any more.

6. It’s not always possible to sleep while they are sleeping
The advice given from countless health professionals, books and well-meaning relatives is unfortunately not always practical. Yes, by all means sleep when your child sleeps if you can. But in the first few days, possibly weeks, you will find your home turn into a local Starbucks as friends, family, colleagues and friends of grandparents all pop by for a cuppa and a cuddle. While it’s lovely that everyone wants to meet your bundle of joy (who doesn’t love a cuddle from a newborn?) It can also be frustrating when they come at the only time your baby is willing to sleep soundly for more than half an hour. It’s not the fault of visitors or anyone really, as newborns are so unpredictable, but it doesn’t stop you wishing you could trade places with the little angel in the Moses basket as they snore while you prop your eyelids open with matchstick trying to entertain visitors that don’t want to waken said angel.

7. Babies make the weirdest noises
Like, really weird noises that I hope my baby eventually grows out of. I’m not just talking sighs or whimpers in his sleep either – those may be annoying, but they’re not that weird. It’s the smacking sounds with the mouth, clicking, nasal noises and more that will inevitably wake you up and see you hovering over their crib using the light of your phone to make sure all their body parts are still in the same place, and that they are still, in fact, breathing. Meanwhile, they couldn’t care less, probably dreaming about swimming in a bath of milk.

Of course every day as a new parent is a learning curve, and there’s far more to wrap your head around, adapt to and learn from – no matter how many books you read or fellow parents you speak to. So no doubt there will be another similar post when baby M has reached 2 months and uncovered at least 7 more unexpected changes to our lives.