Exploring Maynards new Discovery Patch

Maynards Discovery Patch packetScrip had jelly for the first time last weekend at a party and was the only 2 year-old who enjoyed it, so I was pretty sure she’d be just as keen to try some jelly sweets. She hasn’t really had sweets with us and she’s only occasionally tried chocolate, so when she saw the colourful packet on the table she assumed they were Continue reading

Don’t give up the day job: what a week

My husband’s cousin was staying with us for a few days this week as she did a course in London (she’s a super-smart Obs and Gyny Senior Registrar). It was lovely to have her up here, but she probably got the impression that this was a completely frantic household (which it can be sometimes) as my husband and I were hardly in at the same time. We had a clash of busy weeks, which meant our Nanny had to do some extra childcare, my in-laws had to fill in for a few hours as I went into town on my day off, I had various events to fit in, my husband was pitching so was out and about and it was generally pretty hectic. It was just one of those weeks.

Anyway, although I feel like I don’t know what day it is, I’m pretty sure it’s Friday and I’m glad of that. I work 4 days a week and it can get busy but I couldn’t keep up this week’s pace permanently – although I’m sure some people do and manage it well. Anyway, in amongst it all there were some nice moments of being in lovely places, enjoying the spring weather and life in London, so here’s a selection of my pics from my soon-to-be-retired iPhone (a new one is arriving tomorrow after a few false starts, fingers firmly crossed).

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Five things I’ve learnt from my nanny(share)

Nannyshare toddlersAs the (oft-quoted) saying goes, babies don’t come with a manual. However, there’s an abundance of well-meaning advice out there which every new and soon-to-be parent needs to sift through – starting from maternity leave and continuing indefinitely.

In my (limited) experience, some parenting skills can be read, some can be learnt, some taught and a lot is instinct. But aside from family, one source I’ve found particularly helpful is my fab nanny, J, who works with us in a nannyshare with Scrip’s best buddy. I’m eternally grateful for everything she brings with her and the way she cares for, teaches and most importantly, loves Scrip – which was the number one priority when we sat down in Pain Quotidien a year and a half ago and first interviewed her.

For her tender years (she’s almost a decade younger than me) she’s a qualified child carer with a lot of practical experience and she’s taught me so much. Here are just five things:

  1. Distraction is sometimes the only way. Whilst I’m tempted to explain things to Scrip – especially now she’s asking so many questions – or deal with issues head on, I’ve learnt that sometimes, the only way is distraction. When I’ve had to leave Scrip to go to work or they’ve had to do something she wasn’t keen on, J is a master of distraction – and I’ve learnt to be one, too.
  2. Always try and keep naptime at home. I was out and about as much as I could be when Scrip was little and naps would often be in the pushchair or in the car. Staying in seemed constraining. But J always makes sure she’s here and it’s really helped with getting Scrip into a routine. There’s no keeping her moving or popping her in the car to fall asleep – she knows what naptime means and where it is, and there’s usually no complaint.
  3. Always eat at the table. This is one we’re both keen on – I didn’t want to have a child tearing around, half-eaten biscuit in hand. J feels the same and she always makes sure both little ones eat at the table and stay until they’re finished. She’s taught me that they can be patient and can wait for a short time – even when they’re really small.
  4. Don’t force potty training. With a little girl who’s always been alert and keen to learn and mimic, I was happy to embrace potty training from 18 months onwards. Scrip had other ideas. She’s still nervous of the potty (‘too big’ she says…) J reminds me not to rush, that she’ll get there in the end but only with patience. If you encourage too enthusiastically, she’ll only be put off.
  5. TV is OK for a treat. J is the most vehemently anti-TV person I know – I remember trying to explain how to turn on the TV when she first started working here, but she told me she didn’t need to know as she never watched it. When she’s babysat for us she’s read or used her iPad – she never watches it herself here or at home. But I know even J turns to the TV when one of the little ones is not feeling so good and she advocates that. It keeps them entertained and distracted. She’s taught me that there’s a time and a place – and she has a good point.

Parenting is a constant learning process – and this is just a fraction of what I’ve picked up so far. But I’m so grateful for what I’ve learnt. What about you – what have you learnt about childcare from the people around you? I’d love to hear.

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Five simple toddler activities for when the sun’s shining

Toddler eating ice creamI don’t know anyone who isn’t lifted by the emergence of the spring sunshine. Even in the most difficult, sleep-deprived early days with a baby Scrip I was so glad I’d made the effort to gather together my changing bag essentials (all 50 of them) and head out to feel the sun on my face, even for a short walk around my local streets.

Getting out is essential; getting out in the sunshine is even more rewarding. So here are five ways to celebrate the spring sunshine with your toddler in tow (and no swings in sight):

Playing Pooh Sticks
I was in Barnes this morning with a good friend and her little girl and they were fascinated by a family nearby playing pooh sticks. Rushing from one side of the bridge to the other to spot the sticks first and whose was in front, was high entertainment.

toddler playing pooh sticksMaking a daisy chain
Even if the execution is a little too much for Scrip’s toddler paws she enjoys pottering around collecting the daisies and I enjoy a little sit down in the sun making the chain. She’s very into jewellery at the moment so is particularly intrigued by a necklace or even bracelet of flowers, and it takes me back to long lunchtimes sitting in groups in my primary school field.

Eating an ice cream
A good way to pause in the sunshine rather than racing around – there are some fab, tactile toddler ice creams like the Smooze Scrip had last weekend – a better choice than the large, unweildy ones that too often spoil appetites. Just make sure you have lots of baby wipes around as these ones seem to be stickier than ever.

Toddler picnicHaving a picnic
If you want to go one further, there’s nothing like a picnic. I bought a new rug with a waterproof backing from Sports Direct last summer which is cheap and cheerful.  The food doesn’t have to be complicated – just some bits and pieces laid out on a rug – like cherry or chopped up tomatoes, chopped apple, sweetcorn, bread and butter or mini pittas and grated cheese. It’s a much more fun and sociable way to eat.

Making (and chasing) massive bubbles
Those bubble wands you can pick up in toy shops are such a simple way to entertain little ones outside. If you start off it’s not long before they want to have a go themselves – and I find it easier them running around with one rather than them struggling to blow using the little pots. The bubbles look so pretty glinting in the sun and there will be plenty of smiles, so a good opportunity to get some pics when everyone’s grinning.