Parents vs. The Internet

There is a lot of talk among parents about the use of technology and children. Do children spend too much time watching TV? Do they spend too much time on iPads? Is it beneficial? Should we use their names on our blogs or pseudonyms? Should we show their faces? Are we respecting their privacy enough?

I don’t have the answers or a solid opinion on the matter. I like Pinky and Perky using the iPad, we have some very education apps they can play on and I know it helps them. I don’t mind them watching the TV. I am strict with what they can watch (Peppa Pig is banned in our house) and mostly they learn things from what they watch. The other day even I learnt something about planets from the cartoon ‘Myles from Tomorrow’ on Disney Junior! Of course getting out in the fresh air is important. There is so much to learn in the big wide world. This week I have been teaching Pinky about evergreen trees and she has embraced what I have told her. This would not have stuck if I tried to teach her inside the house or on an iPad.

Yes, I use pseudonyms on the blog. It was something Hubby and I agreed I would do. I also contemplated only taking pictures of the girls that didn’t show their faces for Instagram but that became very difficult and would have meant I would have had to start over.   Initially I thought this mattered. I can understand why people want to protect their child’s privacy, they are as entitled as the next person. But I have a different question to put out there… Are we looking at it from the wrong perspective?

Our children, like it or not, have been born into the golden age of technology. Social media and its influence is HUGE. It is very difficult to avoid it these days and no matter how private you keep your profiles if you use ‘cloud’ storage your photos are obtainable by others with knowledge. Remember Pippa Middleton? If you put them online at all they can be found. Does it matter? Only if you are as interesting to the nation as the Royals and Middleton’s I suspect.

So what about as the kids grow up and go to school? Personally I think it would be naïve to think they won’t want to post stuff about themselves on social media. Perhaps start vlogging. Wasn’t Justin Bieber discovered via YouTube? This is a generation where all of their friends will grow up with their baby pictures easily found online. I think it will be abnormal to not have them on the World Wide Web somewhere. I’m not saying this is right, but I think this is what we are facing as parents. Things are not the same as when we were children.

Coding is now part of the curriculum and that is amazing. It should have been included when I was at school. Technology is progressing faster than we understand and that is the real problem we face as parents. Our children are going to be able to do things with computers we just don’t understand because we have spent too long saying ‘Oh I just don’t understand technology.’ ‘What is the point of that?’ ‘I don’t know how that works.’

I have had various jobs over the years in both hospitality and the medical industry. Both areas have used computers daily. In restaurants, as a manager, I had to use various computer programs to cash up at the end of a night. I would need to program the tills daily in one job according to the menu changes. This was made much easier with basic computing skills. In the medical industry many hospitals have gone paperless or are making moves to that status. To be paperless you need computers. I used an iPad daily, what people didn’t understand was although the software or app was something they had never used before it was still an iPad. It was not as scary or difficult to use as some staff thought, they simply weren’t actually looking at what they were doing. They were too ready to give up because they were uncomfortable with the change from paper notes.

We need to learn how it works! If we really want to protect our children forget about their privacy, learn how to use a computer properly. Learn how to see what someone has looked at online. Learn how to protect your Wi-Fi networks. Learn how to block unwanted downloads. Learn all of these well enough so a teenager can’t hack past it, because believe me they will be able to and you won’t know they have done it. Google and Yahoo are great sources of information to find people or companies that can help teach you or help you find the tools you need. If all else fails and if you really can’t get your head around technology then learn the warning signs of online bullying. Seek help if you need it but don’t simply worry about it. Do something about it.

As parents we need to embrace this change in the world because to our children this isn’t a change but it is a normal aspect of life. They will never remember a time without smart phones, without high speed Internet; they may not even remember a time when it wasn’t fibre optic. The social media platforms may evolve and change but they will exist. We need to be ahead of the game because our children need us to be, the deserve us to be.

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Christmas Brownies

This post features on Bad Mum Magazine if you would like to check it out there and other fabulous articles highlighting the highs and lows of Motherhood.  We’re all in this together and our best is all we can do.

Who doesn’t love brownies? Ok, potentially a lot of people but we are not some of them! These are a firm favourite in our family and it has been a long time since I have made any. How could I resist a Christmas theme at this time of year?

I am a self confessed perfectionist when it comes to baking. Most things I make are designed to look perfect, they require precision and often a steady hand. The end result isn’t always what I had in mind and I am my harshest critic. I want to teach my girls how to bake and decorate but I struggle to give up some of the control. Brownies are perfect to do this with, they are not meant to look perfect. They should be rough around the edges and homely.

The recipe I have used for years is one from Humming Bird Bakery. It is gooey and because it uses real chocolate it has a very intense flavour. Ordinarily I don’t fiddle around with it but this time I added the zest of three oranges for a Christmas flavour twist to it. (I wanted to make it with a gingerbread flavour but Hubby told me I was insane and that would be disgusting…. I think it would taste nice. No?)

To ensure a smooth baking experience, prepare everything in advance. Measure out all of the ingredients into bowls and have any equipment and utensils to hand. Things can get forgotten or burnt/over mixed if you aren’t prepared.

‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’ Benjamin Franklin.

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To line a square tin this is how I cut the greaseproof paper, then I use a fry spray to stick it to the tin.

I melted the chocolate myself, as I didn’t want Pinky to get a steam burn. When melting chocolate ensure that the heatproof bowl you use fits snuggly in the saucepan without touching the bottom. If the bowl touches the bottom of the pan or the water you put in it the chocolate will burn and taste extremely bitter (not in a good chocolate way). If you get water in the chocolate it will split and go grainy. Yuk!

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Before adding the other ingredients I added the orange zest to the melted chocolate to ensure it mixed in well and didn’t clump. You could also use an orange essence but I haven’t found one I like yet. If anyone knows of a good essence brand let me know!

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Look at the serious face!

I use two square brownie tins when I am making these. This is bigger than the recipe recommends so mine come out thinner than intended but I like them this way. Because it is such a rich flavour it can get a bit sickly. I have always cut them up into small pieces but now I spread the mixture more the portion size can be cut bigger.

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I cooked these for 40 minutes at 180oC. The recipe says they should be done after 35 minutes. I learnt a long time ago (due to mistakes) that every oven runs at a different temperature. I have made these in 30 minutes before and I have also used an oven that meant they took over an hour to bake! The best way to check is get an oven thermometer. I don’t actually have one but I now know my oven well enough to know where the heat spots are and how accurate the temperature actually is. Use your instincts basically.   Baking can be all about trial and error.

Once these are done and cooled completely I cut them up into triangles. I had every intention of trying to make them all the same size… That didn’t happen (give it up love it doesn’t matter).

I decided to use some Candy Melts I had in the cupboard to decorate. These can be melted using the same method for chocolate or in the microwave. Once melted put in a piping bag (carful this is warm!) and pipe however you like. You could dip the brownie straight in if you wanted*. Then I added some smarties and sprinkles to finish the look (thanks to Pinterest for the inspiration).

*The candy melts are quite thick once melted which is ideal for piping rough details. Add a little vegetable fat to thin the mixture out if you are dipping (I would anyway). Be careful not to add too much fat, but if you do, add more candy melts to thicken it up a little again. Little by little is the key. Candy Melts can also be reused, if you have some left at the end leave to cool, it will harden at room temperature, then place in a sealed plastic bag until you want to use them again.

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I gave Pinky some triangles to decorate and she had so much fun. I use a cable tie at the top of the piping bag, which stops any mix coming out of the top. I find this useful myself but it even more effective for a three year old who doesn’t really have the two hand piping coordination. I put the smarties and sprinkles into bowls for her because, as I suspected, things got a little messy and no one would want to re use they ones she didn’t need!

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Spot the cable tie

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The final result….

TaDah!

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Perky trying to steal her sisters creations! Didn’t Pinky do a lovely job?
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I Love the Winter

I love the winter. I make no secret of it, it is my favourite season. Many people think I’m a little crazy and I do understand the nice warm summers mean it is easier to get out and about. Also the rain is less than ideal if you are out, no one wants frizzy hair and wet feet. However, the cold I find refreshing. I love a cold bedroom so I can have a nice thick duvet cover and I sleep better. I love jumpers, scarves and hats. It is the time for hot chocolates, gingerbread lattes and mulled wine. Plus there is Christmas with all its festivities, twinkly lights and tinsel (ok I hate tinsel but I’m trying to make a point).

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She has grown so much!

I do love the summer, I really do but to get full enjoyment out of it I need a cold ‘reset’. The winter needs to be really cold*. There should be snow, not just a small smattering but lots of it and multiple frosts. These last couple of winters have been down right rubbish for me! This year I am really hopeful for a cold one. I’m talking minus temperatures regularly! The South East of England does get warmer weather than the rest of the UK but I’m really hoping some of the cold snaps reach us this year. Sorry fellow SE residents… Ok I’m not sorry!

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Since I cannot control Mother Nature and since there are still Global Warming deniers out there warming up my winters (bas***ds) I have compiled a December bucket list so I can tick little fun things off as I go. So even if I don’t get snowed in with the girls and make snowmen, women and cats. Even if I can’t go out and instantly feel Jack Frost nipping at my nose I can have other things to concentrate on. I’m also hoping this will help with the inevitable cabin fever we start getting with the Christmas Holidays approaching.

The Bucket List

  • Write a letter to Santa with both the girls
  • Pick a Christmas Tree
  • Decorate the Christmas Tree
  • Watch our favourite Christmas films
  • Go to Hobbycraft and get some Christmas themed crafts for the girls.
  • Go and see the Christmas lights in London with the girls
  • Visit a Christmas market
  • Visit Santa
  • Make Winter Cocktails
  • Wrap all the presents (all at once usually)
  • Go and visit the local RSPCA and make a Christmas donation
  • Visit the local garden centre to see the decorations and the rescue donkeys
  • Go out for a gingerbread latte and cake
  • Christmas themed baking
  • Finish and send Christmas cards (I have actually started them)
  • Take the girls shopping to each pick a present for Daddy.
  • Have an indoor picnic

I think we will have lots of fun completing this list. Is there anything else you would add?

*I know most people consider anything below 10ºC to be cold; I need it to be sub 4ºC to feel like it is cold…. I’m seriously not joking! In Vienna last year, in December, it didn’t get below 5ºC in the days… I was gutted! I think I would be very happy somewhere like Canada in the winter.

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Winter Cocktails

Winter is approaching fast and the temperature is certainly dropping. Each year my Mother in Law hosts Christmas for us and she always asks for some cocktail inspiration. Normally we have a Snowball for our Christmas Day cocktail but this year we are going to be trying something different… I’m just not sure what yet. As the weather is getting colder it is the perfect time for me to start getting out my usual host of cocktails I save specifically for this time of year.

Winter Jack Apple Pie

50mls Winter Jack Daniels

150mls Cloudy Apple Juice

Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

Pinch of Ground Ginger

1 Cinnamon Stick

  1. Heat up the apple juice and spices in a saucepan until boiling.
  2. Simmer for a couple of minutes
  3. Put the Winter Jack in a cup or heat resistant glass.
  4. Add the hot apple juice and stir.
  5. Enjoy!

I actually detest Jack Daniels but the Winter Jack tastes like apple pie in a glass. Hubby and I discovered it last year at the Christmas Markets in Vienna, when we came home it was the first thing we bought so we could make it ourselves.

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We got these boot cups in Vienna last Christmas.  Aren’t the cute?

Frozen Pomegranate Margarita

50mls Tequila

25mls Triple Sec

50mls Pomegranate Juice

  1. Put crushed ice and all the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and looks like a Slush Puppy (Adults only!)
  3. Pour into a glass.
  4. Enjoy

Alternatively if you would prefer a traditional Margarita:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add all the ingredients and shake well.
  3. Pour some salt onto a flat plate.
  4. Wet the edge of the glass (I use a lime or orange wedge for this) and dip into the salt.
  5. Strain into a glass.
  6. Enjoy!

You can’t line the glass with salt if you make a frozen margarita because salt melts ice…. It’s a science this cocktail malarkey!

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So yummy!
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Have you noticed my pine cones?

Mulled Wine

1 Bottle of Red Wine

1 Orange

1 Cinnamon Stick

Star Anise

Ground Nutmeg

Ground Ginger

  1. Add everything to a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer.
  2. Serve once hot enough, this makes 3 servings.
  3. Enjoy

I haven’t added exact amounts of spices as it hugely depends on your personal taste. I don’t add cloves to my Mulled Wine, even though it is traditional to do so, because I really don’t like them and find them an over powering flavour.

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Look more pine cones!
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And check out that reindeer.. He’s my new favourite decoration!

Snowball

25mls Vanilla Vodka

25mls Advocat

100mls Lemonade

  1. Fill a glass with ice
  2. Add all the ingredients
  3. Stir well
  4. Enjoy!
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Image from goodtoknow.co.uk I figured I had drunk enough by this point (I may have had more than one margarita)

All of these serve 1 with the exception of the Mulled Wine.

Didn’t I do well not to add a gin one in?!

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One Messy Mama
Cuddle Fairy

My Christmas Wish List

I wasn’t going to right a Christmas wish list post but after some consideration I thought I would. Whenever anyone asks me what I want I always claim I don’t know. This isn’t totally untrue as I often get caught off guard and in the middle of something. My brain doesn’t engage. I have always had lovely presents over the years and have never been disappointed but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t have got more use out of an alternative on some occasions. I hasten to add that none of this is aimed at Hubby. He has always excelled at Christmas presents for me. This is more aimed for him to read and to pass on to anyone who asks. We do Secret Santa in our family and this year I think my Mother in Law has me… I don’t know for certain but perhaps some of this will help her (or whoever actually has me). With that in mind I have tried to keep all ideas under the £30 limit that we have.

First up I really really want a Terrarium. I can’t keep plants alive no matter what I try. I think this is because I have a habit of forgetting to water them. Apparently that is vital to plant life? So with that in mind I think a plant like a succulent that required watering very occasionally I stand a fair chance of keeping alive. Plus having spent much of the past couple of weeks looking at them on Pinterest they look amazing! I have found one I really like on Amazon, plus they have kits with the stones, soil and plants to get you started.

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Mine will never look like this! £15.99
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£4.09
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£19.80
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£14.99

Next up I fancy some nice face stuff. I had a little tester of this Nuxe exfoliator a while ago and it was so luxurious. It left my skin feeling so soft and clean. I would definitely like some more for Christmas.

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£16

Every year I love getting slippers. I don’t have any at the moment as mine haven fallen apart. Generally I love a boot style slipper with nice fluffy insides. I don’t mind a pattern on the outside but not too much bulky detail like bows. Accessorize do my favourite slippers.

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Look at that pattern! £19
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Oh so soft! £17

One of my all time favourite beauty brands is Cowshed. I flippin’ love them! So no Christmas list of mine would be complete without a little something from them.

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£30

As a self confessed M.A.C addict it would be rude not to put a couple of their products on here that I want. Look at this green pallet! This turns from a powder to a creamy texture according to their description, which sounds divine!

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£25

I have wanted this make up pallet for a long long time now and always forget about it. I think I now prefer the green one but who wouldn’t be happy with this smoky eye kit?

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£25

M.A.C also have some gorgeous lip kits, I am more of an eye makeup person but on nights out (Haha! Yeah right!) I love putting on some lippy so its nice to have in the draw.

Everyone who knows me, will know that this Apron by Parent Apparel was made for me! (It totally wasn’t but wouldn’t it been cool if it was). This definitely makes my Christmas list.

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£25

So there is my Christmas wish list.  I hope I have provided some inspiration to someone.

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Science: Is it right this time?

Today I came across a ‘suggested’ article on my personal Facebook feed. It was an article that outlined the findings of a study conducted by Oxford University and The London School of Economics.   I have had some University experience, I am well aware of the high standing these two Universities hold so thought it may be worth a read.   The study they conducted was around the effect mothers have on the development of their children. The headline, which caught my eye, was ‘Young Children of Working Mothers have Better Skills than those of Stay at Home Mothers’.

The opening paragraph of the article states ‘Young children whose mothers are not working have lower capabilities in terms of talking, social skills, movement and everyday skills, according to new research from LSE and the University of Oxford.’

Instantly this has hit a nerve. I cannot deny that Perkys speech is slower than her sisters was. It is also slower than her cousin who is four days older than her. However I refuse to attribute that completely to the fact that I don’t work. Her sister does a lot of talking for her; also, she has been bombarded with more conversational talking from day one because I have her sister to talk to, direct, instruct. Pinky had a lot of one on one time that involved ‘Cow’ ‘Bowl’ ‘Window’. Instead of building up her use of single words Perky has jumped straight in with stringing two or three words together.

The article goes on to say: ‘The effect was particularly significant in both everyday skills and social skills. Among other findings were that spending more time in nurseries is associated with better social skills and better everyday skills, while spending more hours being cared for by grandparents is associated with better talking skills and social skills’.

Again, I cannot deny Pinky has better social skills and is more confident around other children than her little sister. I absolutely attribute that to the fact she started nursery when she was 10 months old because I had to go back to work. After Perky I went back for 6 weeks to work my notice period, she was looked after by family. If it were not for the cost of childcare I would still be working. Believe me I long to work, to have a little time out of the house without a child in tow. However, as a low paid worker (nurses really do get paid peanuts!) I would like to know where my husband and I were supposed to find an extra £3500 per year to cover the childcare for both the girls 52 weeks a year 20 hours a week each. And to be very clear that figure was calculated to include Pinkys 15 hours free entitlement for 39 weeks of the year. I don’t stay at home out of choice so the last thing I need to read is that I am having a negative effect on my child’s development. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this since I’m not done ranting!)

I am 30 years old. I will be 31 in January. I am not an ‘old’ mother by any definition, so my next snippet from the article is for all you ‘Geriatric Mums’ out there… (anyone else up for petitioning to ban that term?)

Having an older mother has a negative effect on all four of the skills assessed: social skills, talking, movement and everyday skills. Conversely, and not surprisingly, having a mother with more years of education has a positive impact on all four capabilities.

So if you are old and uneducated what were you thinking having children? How irresponsible!

What utter tripe!

I am sure education will come in very useful when children are at school. I know I will be able to help with maths, English and science to a point.   I do not feel scared by this at Primary level and perhaps my further education has helped with this confidence, but the notion that old age can effect the development of a child in four key areas seems baffling to me. If there are any mums reading this who were catagorised as ‘older’ when they gave birth can you understand this? Does any of this make sense or have I made you as angry as I am?

Next up… ‘There was also an assessment of which activities had the most impact on skills. Reading or telling stories and singing children’s songs are both found to have a positive impact on talking capabilities. Less obviously, visiting other families with children has a positive impact on talking ability.’ Less obviously? Less obviously to who? I know it helps! Most mothers I know, know it helps. It is a social event not just for the sleep deprived, wits end, stressed mother but for the children too. I don’t think anyone can disagree with positive impact reading has on a child but I would also like to find a mother who feels like they do it enough with the children… We feel guilty enough we really don’t need Oxford and LSE scholars rubbing it in.

‘Children with more siblings have better skills in all four areas, perhaps suggesting that they are learning from older siblings, despite having less time interacting with a parent.’ I hope none of you have only one child! Tut tut if you do apparently! We only have two children and we are NOT having anymore… Whoops! Poor deprived children.

The article goes on to highlight some positive things in a childs development, although I struggle to see that it tells us anything we don’t already know.

‘Singing children’s songs and painting and doing arts and crafts are found to have a positive impact on the development of movement skills, which researchers linked to the actions associated with songs and the hand skills needed for arts and crafts.’ I knew that! Or am I just being a smart arse now? Never fear because they are about to rip that positivity right our from under us…

‘Taking walks outdoors is negatively associated with movement skills, which is surprising but may be because children spend long periods in a buggy and spends less time doing other activities which appear to promote skills.’ Quick, throw that buggy in the bin! What a waste of money that was!

The closing statement finished me off: ‘Professor Anand commented: ‘We are delighted that one of first economic studies to look at the behaviour of very young children comes out with positive messages about activity involvement with parents, and shows that different activities promote different skills.’ I’m glad someone took something positive from it all because I didn’t.

The worst thing about it all is for some of it I know they are right. I didn’t need a study to tell me the benefits of a nursery setting. I always wanted my children to go to nursery for the social and learning aspect. I can see the positive impact it has on Pinky and I would love Perky to have that too. But we can’t afford it! As soon as her 15 hours free entitlement kicks in she will be going and I will skip her all the way to her preschool setting with a big beaming smile. As for the arts, crafts and reading I think you will be hard pushed to find a parent that doesn’t already know the benefits of it all.

This has just been another thing that has made me feel you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Have kids too early and you may not have the career that can support childcare costs. Have kids too late and your age will hinder their development. Does any of it truly matter? Don’t all children just want and deserve to know that they are loved, that they are special?

If you want to read the article I am talking about then click here. I have decided not to request the whole study paper but you can if you want to, the email address to do so is at the end of the article. In the interest of a balanced argument I know I should reference other places and studies but since I am not submitting this to be marked for a University course and since I didn’t actually conduct the study I am not going to. This did not make me feel like balancing my arguments today!

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Separation Anxiety in a Preschooler

Our lives have changed slightly recently.  Not vastly, or at least not to my adult brain.  To the brain of a three year old the change is obviously a lot greater.  Hubby is now traveling a lot for work.

This travel is often erratic, there is no pattern, it can be relatively last minute and although it isn’t for long, maybe a couple of days and nights, that is a long time when you are three.  To be clear I am fine with all of this, I am embracing the positives because if I didn’t that wouldn’t achieve anything.  I now get a couple of evenings to myself in a month (sometimes more).  I get to watch whatever I want, I can cook meals Hubby isn’t keen on, I get to be alone with my own thoughts once the girls are in bed.  It helps me reset.  Pinky, however, is not coping well.

Recently she has become very moody.  I understand that part of this comes with being three and a half but her outbursts have been a little different to the usual tantrum.  Ever since she was born she has been referred to as a ‘velcro baby’, a Mummys girl.  These last few weeks she has very much been a Daddy’s girl.  In the mornings she goes to him for cuddles.  She wants him to get her dressed, brush her teeth.  She wants Daddy to read her stories and to put her to bed.  All of this is lovely on the surface of it.  The fact that it is a direct reaction to him going away for work is what makes it hard.  As soon as the front door shuts behind him her whole mood changes.  She will go from happy and giggly to miserable and nasty.  The tears are free flowing over anything and everything.  This last week it has progressed fro being generally tearful to being outwardly angry.  Pinky has always had a great foot stomp but now she does it with the intent of causing pain.  She has started punching the floor, gritting her teeth and screaming in anger.  None of this is normal behaviour for her.  I was pretty satisfied with the idea that this was a phase that would pass in due time, she would soon get used to this change in our lives.  Now I’m a bit more concerned that the phase isn’t passing fast enough.

I decided I would do a little reading to make sure that I was doing everything I could to help her.  I have struggled to find anything really useful online as most websites only cover separation anxiety in relation to daycare of the younger toddler.  Pinkys preschool stage isn’t as well documented, nor is the ‘traveling parent’ scenario.  However, I think some of the advice is useful in general.

After much digging www.parenting.com gives the following advise for separation anxiety: http://www.parenting.com/article/separation-anxiety-age-by-age

  • Let your child know it’s onto feel nervous: I try and let Pinky know it is ok to miss Daddy… This seem to anger her further… I don’t know why.  Telling her that I miss him too is even worse.
  • Plan so extra one on one time: I have tried to do this but it isn’t easy.  She has a little sister, I can just take Pinky out.  We did go out for lunch the other week just the three of us and it was lovely.  It may not have been one on one time but it did remind her that I could be fun too.  We didn’t need Daddy to do nice things.
  • Develop a predictable bedtime routine: Well…. Pinky has had a predictable bedtime routine since she has been 12 weeks old! It has adapted slowly as she has gotten older but essentially it’s exactly the same.  She has still had the predictable sleep regressions and we have still had the awful soul destroying weeks that have require all of mine and Hubbys willpower not to cave in.  She is now playing up at bedtime when Hubby is away…. I think she can smell my weakness.
  • Do your best not to cave in:  I am the most stubborn person I know.  Pinky has inherited this!  It’s a stand off for days.

I found www.help.org much more useful http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/separation-anxiety-in-children.htm.  It lists some of the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety including reluctance to go to sleep and why. Check. Cling to the care giver. Check (she wont let Daddy go).  Fear that something terrible will happen. Check.  She simply likes having Daddy around, he makes her feel safe.

This website gives much of the above advise but it also has a couple of other points:

  • Develop a good bye ritual:  We have had one of these since she was born.  Hubby always says the same things to her as he leaves to go to work, traveling or not.
  • Leave without a fanfare:  Hubby also does this very well already.  It’s the usual good bye and he’s gone.
  • Have a consistent care giver:  I am a stay at home mum.  I couldn’t be more consistent if I tried.
  • Keep familiar surroundings when possible:  Well quite simply I do.  We don’t go far when Hubby is away.  Just our usual playground and walks.
  • Try not to give in: Again… stubborn!

The one piece of advise most people agree on is don’t use the phrase “be a big girl”.  I am very guilty of this so from now on I will not be saying this!  I will hold my tongue and tell her everything is ok.  I have taken solace in the fact that I have already implemented most of the advice so hopefully this stage will pass as quickly as it came.

Are there any other techniques you would recommend? Has anyone else been through anything similar?

This post originally appear on Meet Other Mums where I am very proud to be a regular blogger.

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Help! We’re Applying for Schools

That time has come and I can’t quite believe it. We are looking at schools for Pinky. She will start in September 2017. How is our biggest baby about to start her school career? Where has that time gone?

We are extremely lucky where we live as a vast majority of schools around us are excellent schools. We also have a lot of schools to choose from. Or so we thought. Our little part of the country is full of younger families therefore all of the schools are over subscribed. This isn’t actually a shock to us; the shock was more how the system works.

We get to pick four choices. Four!

‘Wonderful’ I hear you say, ‘What are you worried about?’ Well, hopefully I am worried about nothing, but here is our predicament…. One admissions officer has told us if we don’t put one of our local schools as our first choice we simply won’t get in. All of the schools are so over subscribed that they only take pupils who have put them as their first choice because there are so many of them. This means if we don’t get a place in our first choice we could end up anywhere! Another admissions officer of a different school has said that isn’t necessarily the case as schools simply get given a list of applicants.

When I first started looking into which schools to put down 3 were easy but the fourth choice was a little harder. I had to look further afield so there was a lot to chose from. I looked at the website for one of the possibilities and it stated that it is so oversubscribed it admits children according to distance from the school. Last years catchment was 500m wide! That’s not a catchment!

Initially I went to see all of the schools by myself but I have had to ask Hubby to visit them all subsequently because I was buckling with the decision. I have my top 2 schools in mind but they are so incomparable I need a second opinion. A pro for one isn’t always a con for the other.

First up; the school Hubby went to as a child.

  • It is a very small school, only one class of 30 children per year.
  • Of these 30 siblings get priority so we don’t know how many spaces there are available.
  • It is a Primary school so Pinky (and hopefully Perky) will be there until they go to Secondary school.
  • It feeds in to the best Secondary school in the area (apparently).
  • It is a high achieving school and its small size doesn’t seem to stop the students from thriving and succeeding in county sports games.
  • The children were all well behaved and polite. All seemed to be happy and confident.

I think Pinky would do well here. The smaller school wouldn’t suit all children but I think it would be fine for her. She would flourish in a smaller environment.

Second choice (currently):

  • This school has 3 classes in each year group, total 90 children each year which means there are more places available even after the siblings have taken priority.
  • It is an Infant school so we would have to apply for the Junior school in a couple of years.
  • The Infant school is fantastic (better than the first choice) but the Junior school is very average… I feel this evens things out a little.
  • The children were very happy and bouncy.
  • There is a preschool nursery onsite.
  • There are breakfast and after school clubs on all days. We don’t actually need these at the moment but what if we did one day?

So there is a little insight into my predicament. To make it worse we live smack bang in the middle of both of them. There is absolutely nothing in it! As far as suitability for Pinky herself I think she will be fine in both schools, I don’t think we can make a wrong choice. But if we make the decision to put a school as our first choice and she doesn’t get in I think we will always wonder ‘What if we had chosen the other one?’

The Pramshed