237 articles Articles posted in Family

Getting Prepared for Your Holiday

Now that the weather is getting warmer, many of us are finally starting to wind-down and think about our yearly holiday. The problem with holidays is that all the prep can be such a stress that it’s hard to unwind once we finally get to our destination, so I thought I’d share with you a few tips that can make your life easier while you’re preparing for your trip.

Order Medications Online

From regular prescription meds that we need to take every day, to basics like paracetamol and antihistamines, most if us take a few different medications on holiday with us each year. Using an online pharmacy like UK Meds to order everything you need well ahead of time can save you the stress of picking up prescriptions as everything you order will be delivered straight to your door.

Weigh Your Bags

Is there anything more annoying than getting to the airport, realising your bags are too heavy and you’re going to need to pay a hefty fee to take excess baggage on the plain with you? We highly recommend getting a suitcase scale and weighing them yourself before you go so that you can be double sure you’re not going to get stung for fees.

Online Check-In

I’m stilled awed by this one, but the ability to check-in online means less time waiting around in airports and going through all of that aggravation. Doing online check-in means that you can spend your time in the airport enjoying a pre-flight cocktail and perusing the duty-free at your leisure!

Buy it There

Often, we spend SO much time and money shopping before a holiday, when waiting to buy things when you’re there can be beneficial in many ways. Most places you’ll go will have a supermarket nearby (we saw someone online the other day saying they did a Lidl shop in Tenerife!), so you could buy toiletries, nappies, sun cream and other items. They’ll probably be cheaper than they are in the UK, and you’ll also save space and weight in your suitcases if you aren’t lugging these heavy, bulky items along with you.

Book in Advance

If you’re planning excursions and day trips while you’re away, there will be lots of things that you can book in advance, like water parks and coach trips. This will save you the bother of doing it while you’re there, can help to navigate a language barrier and means that any money you take with you will be for luxuries and treats!

Tips for Puppy Toilet Training

As you many know, if you follow me on social media, at the beginning of March we added a new member to the Mum’s the Word clan – Maureen the Pup. Having a puppy has been a real learning curve for us as Chuck was already 2 when he came to live with us and needed no toilet training, but we’re doing pretty well so far. Here are a few tips that we’ve picked up along the way:

Think about your floors!

Whether you like it or not, puppies WILL have accidents, of both the wee and poo variety, so if you haven’t got something convenient like Karndean flooring, you’re going to have to deal with mess. We got a rug from freecycle for our lounge, so that the majority of the carpet is covered and we don’t mind the odd puddle on a free rug, but we also dotted puppy pads around in the early days, as she often had her “accidents” in roughly the same place.

Take them out regularly

Just like when you’re potty training a toddler, getting them to go to the loo really regularly is the first step to cracking toilet training. Husband and I try to take Maureen out at least once every 30-60 minutes, and at the moment we take her out on a lead and try to get her to go in the same place every time, as this will teach her to go there once she goes independently.

Invest in a carpet cleaner

Husband and I have a Bissell hand-held carpet cleaner, and honestly, it’s been an absolute godsend for cleaning up after Mo’s accidents. It can be filled with an odour-busting spot cleaner and can be used to vacuum liquid out of carpets, making it perfect for puppy puddles! I think life would have been much harder without it.

Reward

Most dogs are fairly food motivated, which means that giving them a treat as a reward after they successfully pee or poop outside will be more of an incentive for them to do all of their business outside. Do remember to adjust the amount of food you’re giving them if you’re treating regularly as you’ll end up with a very chubby puppy!

Watch for cues

After a while, you’ll start to notice your puppy’s behaviour or body language change when they need to go out, and acting on these cues is important to develop the communication between you and your dog. As soon as you see them acting like they need to go out, take them and make a big deal of praising them afterwards.

Be Patient

Toilet training a puppy can be frustrating at times – a puppy can do every single wee or poop outside and then randomly go on the rug, and although it can seem like an act of defiance or like they’re being naughty, this is rarely the case. Puppies get caught short, or sometimes we miss their cues. Be patient with them as getting cross will just make them fear you, which isn’t conducive to a good training environment.

Family Fun: Every Child Deserves an Amazing Party

Getting everyone together for a party is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with family and friends while creating lasting memories. If it is your child’s birthday or other special occasion, planning the best party may be your top priority–something for everyone to talk about before and after the event. Unfortunately, the grand idea often falls short of those expectations. That’s okay. An amazing party doesn’t have to be a budget-busting experience. It is a time when your child, family, and guests have a great time in the company of each other.

A solid foundation to start your planning process will make the experience go much smoother. Here are some tips for planning an amazing party for your child:

Make the Invite List

Before making plans for the party’s theme and location, get an idea of who will attend. Younger children may be content with a family party, but those in school may want their friends along for the fun. Determine your potential guests as a starting point.

Create a Budget

Maybe you want to throw your child one of the best parties ever. That mindset could quickly empty your wallet. By setting a reasonable budget before making any plans, you know exactly what your finances allow. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spurge on the party, there are creative, inexpensive ways to play games, decorate, and feed your guests.

Pick a Theme

Talk with your child about the desired theme. What are his or her current interests? Does your child have a favorite book, toy, show, or movie? Once you agree on a theme, involve your child in the planning process. This could mean picking out party favors, decorations, or helping prepare food. Your child’s input helps build excitement and anticipation of the big day.

Select Your Location

Now that you know your budget and theme, it’s time to select a location. If you have the space and resources, you may pick your home as the best location. Some families enjoy cooking, decorating, and throwing a party at home. Other families like to take the party elsewhere like a local amusement center or bowling alley. They prefer professionals to take care of the party details and want to avoid the inevitable after-party clean up. There are pros and cons of each option. The choice of location is ultimately up to you.

Keep the Food Simple

Though you may think food at the party is a big deal, most of the kids will focus on the games and fun of the party. Save the elaborate dishes and desserts for the holidays. At a child’s party, finger foods and snacks are easy to put out and don’t require a lot of work. Try to include some healthy options, and make sure you know if any guests have food allergies. An allergic reaction in the middle of a party could really put a damper on the festivities.

Make it a Point to Enjoy Yourself

You may have high expectations for the party, but chances are your child just wants to have fun and see everyone around him or her happy. Don’t get stressed if the elaborate games you planned take the backseat to kids playing a game with the balloons you intended as decorations. Ease up on the expectations and enjoy the time together with family and friends. You don’t want to be remembered as the angry type-A parent grumbling in the corner of the party.

By following these tips, planning your child’s party will be easier and more focused. Just remember to relish all the smiles and laughter as everyone enjoys the party you planned.

Who Can Foster?

Can members of the LGBT community foster? It is a common question and one that comes with a positive answer.

Being a foster carer is about personal qualities, rather than sexual orientation or gender. Foster children present an array of diverse and complex needs, and that means foster carers from all walks of life are needed.

Why LGBT fostering is a great idea

Despite more open discussion and acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriages, and a dialogue beginning to open over people identifying as transgender, research by Action for Children in 2013 identified that a third of the LGBT community think they are not eligible to become foster carers.

LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week 2018 will take places from 5th to 11th March, with this year’s theme being ‘10 Good Reasons’. Two reasons will be released every day as to why adoption and fostering by the LGBT community is a win-win situation for everyone, the foster child included.

As with any foster placement, it is the needs of the child that take centre stage when it comes to the right placement. Having suffered a traumatic start to life, there is a need for the child to be placed with a carer who understands their needs, working with them to safely explore their feelings.

Does LGBT fostering have positive outcomes?

All potential foster carers (and adopters) complete training as part of their application process. Examining common fostering issues, there is evidence from research that backs up the positive impacts of LGBT fostering.

In 2010, The Centre for Family Research, based at the University of Cambridge, interviewed 82 children and young people whose adopted or foster parents were lesbian, gay or bisexual;

  • No difference – the very young children of gay parents didn’t see their families as being any different to those of their friends.
  • Special & different – older children did see their families as special and different but here’s the great bit: these children saw all families as special and different, not just their own.
  • More accepting – children who were adopted or fostered by gay parents said they didn’t mind their parents being gay but they did wish that other people were more accepting and ‘minded less’.

And this isn’t the only piece of research that shows how LGBT fostering and adopting of children is making a difference. A later piece of research by the University of Cambridge on behalf of British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) also found that same-sex couples who adopted were successful. In particular, it found that children of gay fathers fared particularly well.

Helping children to thrive

Essentially, fostering children is about helping them to thrive, whilst making sense of their world. As adults, we assume that because same-sex couples are ‘different’ because transgender people are ‘different’ or, that bisexual people are ‘different’ that this will hinder foster children.

But the evidence shows that it is this ‘difference’ that is a platform for fostered and adopted children to thrive.

The same application process

Applications to become foster carers are welcomed from everyone and no matter what your gender, relationship status or sexuality, the application process is the same;

  1. More information – if you are interested in fostering (or adopting), you need to get more information not just about the process but what being a foster carer really means.
  2. Home visits – if you decide to continue with your application, a social worker will start a series of home visits to complete the application form, as well as discuss worries and concerns you may have.
  3. Initial training – fostering agencies, as part of the application process, facilitate training over several days that looks at core fostering values, as well as issues and challenges.
  4. Approval – once the application form is complete and you have attended the training course, your application is reviewed by a panel. If they are satisfied all criteria is met and you understand what fostering is about, they will approve your application. Within weeks of this happening, you could be welcoming your first foster child into your home!

There is no denying the fulfilment that you and your partner, if you have one, will get from fostering a child. Could you provide a home for a child in need?

Creating a Kid’s Wardrobe for Bad Weather

There’s nothing like a sudden-onset Snowmageddon to make me realise how woefully underprepared we are for cold weather. The girls both have decent winter coats, as do Husband and I, but in terms of proper cold weather gear, it’s only Husband who was sorted. Not only does he have water-resistant jeans and gaiters to protect his lower legs, he also has all-weather boots and merino layers for his top half. As you can tell, he spends a lot more time outdoors than the women of this household do!

We went out sledging on Wednesday, and it was so wonderful and fun, but we had to go home after an hour as the cold started to seep in and Sausage’s legs ended up damp after she decided to cheese-roll down a hill! I’ve been looking at kids winter clothes on the internet, in the spirit of being a bit more prepared if more snow turns up and thought I’d share some of my favourite items with you:

Didriksons 1913 Moarri Overall

Aside from the fact that this base layer is SUPER cute, I think both girls could really benefit from a proper thermal base layer to wear when it gets cold. We’ve been layering with wooly tights under their trousers but it’s not very comfortable or practical, so something like this would be properly fit for purpose.

Color Kids Tudo Pants

These fleecy pants would be so much better for outdoor fun, because they’re nice and loose fitting, unlike jeans which can be really restrictive and hard to run around in. These would make an excellent mid-layer over thermals and under a snow suit and the girls would find them super comfortable.

Isbjörn Panda Sweater

As well as being water-repellent, this fleece protects against sharp wind and is a brilliant mid-layer for wearing under waterproofs. Layering like this would give the girls the ability to still move around and either add more layers or take some off, depending on their environment.

Color Kids Klement Overall Children

This waterproof overall would be absolutely perfect for cheeserolling down hills in! The girls could play in the snow for as long as they want witout ever having to worry about getting wet, and the bright colours mean they’re really easy to see on a background of pure white. In fact, I love this overall so much that I wish they also made it in my size!

Sorel Whitney Short Boots

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my very outdoorsy Husband, it’s that good footwear is VERY important. Having the right pair of boots for your environment is basically the most essential part of any outdoor wardrobe, and these snow boots look as though they’d be perfect for the girls. They have a decent sole, are lined with microfleece and are waterproof – ideal for afternoons gadding about in the snow.

Are you regular outdoorsy people? Do you have a favourite selection of clothes that you wear when the temperature plummets? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

Anywhere But Here…

I’m not going to lie, between the relentlessly horrible weather (we’re currently on day 4 of being snowed into our village) and the looming spectre of Brexit, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about places I’d love to live which aren’t here. My lack of foreign languages and massive pot of money to enable us to do so means we’re pretty limited, but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Here’s a few of the places we’d love to go:

France

Husband actually lived in France in his youth, in a fairly remote Alsace town, and although I’d rather go somewhere warmer and more southern, France is a really appealing prospect. I think the girls would love the culture, and there are some amazing IB schools in France that they could attend where I think their education would probably be even better than here. France is also only a drive away if we ever need to get back to England quickly.

Iceland

Okay, so I know it’s really not an improvement in terms of weather, but I really love Iceland and the pragmatism which seems to be at the core of their culture. It’s a beautifully rugged country and the more I read about it, the more I’d like to go there – maybe for good!

Vancouver Island, Canada

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with Vancouver Island after reading about it a few years ago, and I think I’d move there in a heartbeat if I had an opportunity. Unfortunately, so would thousands of other people and I think it’s pretty expensive and hard to get visas for these days, although that does show you what a great place it is. The landscape is incredible and the way of life there just seems like something we’d really love. Also; who doesn’t love Justin Trudeau?!

New Zealand

New Zealand is another place that we have a bit of a family obsession with and somewhere we’d happily relocate to. It’s one of those incredible countries where you get the best of it all  – hot beaches, snowy mountains and temperate areas which feel pretty much like home. The wildlife in New Zealand would be fascinating for the girls, especially Sausage who’s had a lifelong dream of becoming a marine biologist.

South Korea

This one might seem odd, and the proximity to NORTH Korea doesn’t fill me with joy, but I’ve seen a lot of programmes about South Korea recently and as well as it being a beautiful country, the way of life seems really nice, too…although I must admit, a large part of the draw is the food!

Where would you go if money were no object?

For more info on the International school in Paris, follow the link.

The Best Travel Games for Children

Toddlers are not great in unfamiliar places, especially small and confined spaces like your family car. This probably explains why they are such terrible travellers, regardless of whether it’s just a quick drive to the bank or a longer journey on a train or an aeroplane. Even older children sometimes present a problem after the initial novelty wears off and boredom sets in.

Unlike at home, when toddlers and children get bored, cranky or tired in public settings, they will intrude on the personal spaces of fellow travellers. So there is an added pressure for parents to keep their children under control, which is easier said than done, for anyone who’s had the pleasure of going on trips with children. There is nothing as stressful as when your child is wailing at the top of his or her lungs and twenty eyes are staring daggers at you. Thankfully, there are several ways to handle and manage the situation – none of them is more fun though than travel games for kids.

Travel games for toddlers and young children are great tools to have in your armoury as they are capable of providing extended diversion for kids, who are famed for their short attention span. So if you’re planning on going on a trip in the near future, check our recommendations below of the best travel games for your children to give you an idea of what to get.

  1. Bananagrams

Bananagrams is a fun game suitable for children aged seven years and older. Like Scrabble and Boggle, the objective of the game is to form words using tiles drawn from a banana-shaped pouch. However, instead of using points, the winner is the player who has used up all of his or her tiles. Just try to keep the cries of Peel (to replenish tiles) and Banana (to announce victory) to conversation level. As a bonus, studies have shown that Bananagrams can help to improve a child’s reading and writing skills, and enhance their vocabulary.

  1. Travel Bingo

In contrast to traditional bingo, travel bingo requires users to match images instead of numbers to win. Most of the images are familiar to children, but to quickly draw their attention, pick one with a theme that your child loves (cartoons, TV shows, animals, etc.). There are many variations of travel bingo available in the market, but try to choose one with magnetic markers so you don’t have to spend time crawling under seats to find dropped image cards. Travel bingos are suitable for kids as young as three years old.

  1. Monopoly (portable version)

Portable Monopoly sets are perfect for long distance drives or train rides with slight older kids (eight to twelve years old). They are exactly like conventional monopoly, but the board, money, cards, tokens and dices are magnetised. Many manufacturers indicate that the game is suitable for children over the age of three, but we feel that the game would be more appreciated by children a couple of years older owing to the numeracy and reasoning skills required to play the game.

  1. Katamino Pocket

Would you like your child to improve their spatial awareness, deductive reasoning skills and logical skills, and have fun at the same time? Well, say hello to a portable Katamino. Just like the desktop version, the portable Katamino provides challenging 2D and 3D geometric puzzles with varying levels of difficulty. This engrossing game is perfect for children aged eight years and older.

Are You a Lover of #CulturalDrives?

When it comes to driving, I’ve done a fair bit – I know a lot of people who, even after years of driving, refuse to drive on motorways and I even used to know a lady who refused to drive around a certain roundabout, even though she’d had a driving licence for almost 30 years! That, however, is not me and I always say that if you’ve got a licence, you should be able to drive anywhere.

We live in the south of England, and I’ve done a fair bit of driving around London, I’ve driven to Liverpool, Cornwall, Bath, Cambridge and a few other places around the UK. The day we drove to Liverpool was bonkers; I drove up on the Friday night so that Husband, Sausage and I could go to a Saturday game at Anfield but the traffic on the M6 was absolutely HORRIFIC. A journey which should have taken four and a half hours ended up taking almost NINE…and did I mention that I was 5 and a half months pregnant with BB at the time?!

The truth is, I actually love being a driver. It allows us to live in a quiet rural location and still function in the real world, it’s allowed us to go on some awesome day trips and I just enjoy the freedom it gives us a family. Chill Insurance are asking bloggers to tell people about their favourite drives, calling them ‘Cultural Drives’ – you know, those times when you see breathtaking scenery and iconic landmarks, taking your drives to the next level.

Here in England, I loved driving to Longleat and seeing Stonehenge on the way as it’s one of my favourite UK landmarks. The mystery around what it is and how it came to be is so intriguing and I get a really powerful feeling when I’m there. Another trip which is high on my bucket list is renting a camper van and driving around Ireland as a family. I visited Dublin back in 2004 and totally fell in love with the place and I know that Ireland has some incredible scenery to offer, so it’s something I must do one day.

The Cultural Drives campaign aims to highlight some of Ireland’s best drives and they’re all themed – music drives, food drives, art, history and families – quite honestly, it would be impossible for me to choose, so it looks like we’ll have to take more than one trip to fit it all in!

Where is your favourite place to drive? Have you ever driven somewhere really exotic? Have you ever stumbled upon something totally unexpected while driving? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about them.

BabyMel Changing Bag Giveaway (in association with Sudocrem and the Baby Changing Room Awards )

It’s crazy to think that in 2017, there are still public places with totally substandard changing facilities, but it’s a fact. Although both of my girls are well beyond the nappy phase, I still notice these things when we’re out and about and I’ve given more than one sympathetic eyeroll to a struggling Dad who doesn’t know whether to balance his kid on his lap to attempt a bum-change, or brave the ladies toilet where the ONLY changing facilities have been inconveniently placed. One place I never fail to be impressed by is our local IKEA. Not only to many of them have HUGE family toilets which have ample space for buggies and wheelchairs, their family loos also have an adult size toilet and a kid sized on in the same room so that everyone is catered for in one special space.

Sudocrem Baby Changing Room AwardsFive years ago, Sudocrem launched the Baby Changing Room Awards to celebrate exactly that – spaces which have been designed with ease and inclusiveness in mind, and this year’s nominations are now open. The awards aim to recognise the fact that “changing” is about SO much more than babies, and that there are children with complex needs who’s parents need adequate facilities to make their lives easier.

Parents like Laura Rutherford, whose son Brody, 5, suffers from GDD, epilepsy, hypermobility and hypotonia, is forced to change her son on a toilet floor. “Life beyond a baby changing table when your child is doubly incontinent means constant exclusions when you go out as a family. It’s heart breaking for us as parents and this is an issue that will sadly become harder and harder as he grows up. He is different not less. Time for change.”

Jenny Miller CEO of PAMIS explains, “We are thrilled that Sudocrem have recognized the needs of children with complex needs as they grow too large for baby changing facilities. Children and young people who require these facilities are often prevented from taking part in their communities by the simple things that we take for granted. In 2007 we cofounded the  Changing Places Consortium and campaign to develop accessible facilities for the most disabled people in the UK. The Sudocrem award scheme is a great idea and we’re confident it’s going to make a big difference!

If you would like to nominate a changing room for the award, then let us know which changing room, why you want to nominate it and preferably include a photo on Facebook via the Sudocrem website www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub or by emailing   competitions@satellitepr.com.

To promote the awards, Sudocrem is giving one lucky Mum’s the Word reader the chance to win a beautiful Babymel Frankie Tweed Nappy Change Bag worth £58.00.

Win a BabyMel changing bag with Mum's the Word and SudocremTo be in with a chance of winning, just complete the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and don’t forget to nominate your favourtie changing space in the Baby Changing Room Awards!

Taking the Horrid Out of Horrid Henry

There’s no denying that Sausage and BB are very different in their personalities; Sausage has always been one of those kids who’s almost too well behaved and Husband and I have wished in the past that she’d been a little more outspoken so that she doesn’t just go with the flow and have her opinion disregarded. BB, on the other hand, is NOT the sort of kid to ever let her opinion go unheard and largely her strong personality is something we cherished (albeit through slightly gritted teeth at times!). Just recently though, we’ve seen a bit of a change in her personality and we couldn’t work out where it was coming from. Her normal strident approach to life was turning into a downright stroppy one, and it’s something which was impacting all of us.

One of the phrases which had mysteriously entered her vocabulary was “IT’S NOT FAIR”, which was usually accompanied by some sort of pout and throwing herself bodily onto the nearest soft surface, and I just couldn’t work out where it was coming from…until Sausage mentioned one of BB’s recent televisual favourites…Horrid Henry.

It wasn’t until Sausage mentioned how often Henry utters this phrase that we realised the direct correlation between BB watching the show and this phrase becoming her go-to protest. With age-gap kids, there was no doubt we’d face a bit of attitude from BB purely because Sausage is given a little more leeway and responsibility than her little sis – it’s normal; Sausage is nine, BB is three. However, the push-back has been so much worse of late and I’m definitely laying some of the blame on Henry!

I must confess, I’ve always been hugely sceptical when people blame things like TV or video games for kid’s behaviour. I’m a child of the Eighties, Husband of the late Seventies, so video games feel like they belong to OUR generation and I’ve seen far more evidence-based studies which prove positive effects of TV and computer games than the negative ones. We’ve always been pretty chilled out with what we let them watch and how much screen time we let them have, and with Sausage it never seemed to be an issue, but sometimes we forget that with BB, we’re not parenting Sausage Mark II, we’re dealing with a totally different kid…that and the fact that Sausage never watched a TV show, the entire premise of which was of a bratty little shit who no one actually likes!

So, in a somewhat unprecedented move for Husband and I, we’ve put a temporary ban on all things Horrid Henry for now, and if it makes a difference it will probably become a permanent ban. Instead of allowing BB to watch it when she’s using Netflix, we’re guiding her to shows where the characters aren’t mean and nasty all the time, where there’s no cries of “IT’S NOT FAIR” in every episode and where the main plot lines don’t revolve around mean-spiritedness. I never thought I’d be THAT mum, but it seems I am. And, after just a cursory search, it seems that we’re not the only ones either – I’ve found DOZENS of tweets from other parents about how they’ve banned Horrid Henry from their houses, making me feel a little bit less like Mary Whitehouse.

Horrid Henry Banned Tweets Horrid Henry Banned Tweets 2

Have you ever banned your kids from watching a TV show because of the effect it had on their behaviour? Did it make a difference? (we’re only 24 hours in and it already seems to be making a difference to BB but that could be a fluke) Do you think that it’s all nonsense and that TV doesn’t really affect the way they behave? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions on this so please do leave me a comment below.