Sunday, 26 June 2016

Positive parenting...

I'm no parenting expert. Despite a degree in Psychology and being an experienced teacher, when it comes to parenting my own kids I am still very much a novice. It's learn as you go, and certainly NOT a one size fits all thing. But recently parenting has been getting on top of me. It has become a chore and not a pleasure. I have started to dread weekends rather than look forward to them, as I know there will be many moments of conflict with my children - as I desperately try to get them to spend time doing anything other than staring at an iPad. I actually regret hugely the decision to buy an iPad and often wonder about selling it or simply chucking it in the bin. It is the biggest cause of conflict in our house by a long way and is the first thing my children ask for when they wake up in the morning. I say "no, not yet" and the first of the arguments begin, before it's even 7am, and seems to set the tone for the rest of the day. The simplest of requests or any sort of transition, seems to always result in conflict - or downright refusal. I've been so worn down that I couldn't even think outside of the issue or come up with idea for tackling it, I admit I had given up and accepted constant conflict almost as a fact of life for the foreseeable future. A depressing thought.

Then I had a night away. In fact a night and a day away. Just that space allowed me to start thinking about it objectively and try to identify exactly what is going wrong and when. A few things struck me...

1) We've pretty much given up being nice to our children. Requests have become orders, and when these are ignored or reacted to, the conflict begins.
2) Spending time with my children is no longer a pleasure whatsoever
3) I am constantly worn out and fed up.

As the adult in the situation, only I can change what's going on here. So today I woke up and decided to have a totally different sort of day. Here's what I did.

1) I greeted each of my children really enthusiastically, and complimented them on something.
2) Rather than ordering my children to get dressed, I asked them what they wanted to do. They wanted to do different things but both could be accommodated, so we compromised.
3) Every small thing they did, I praised them. I used the language, "I've noticed that Lewis has been very grown up and cleaned his teeth without being asked, that makes me very proud." and "Euan you showed such good manners then, what a star you are." To be honest I sort of feel like I shouldn't HAVE to praise such basic things, but you've got to start somewhere.

The effect was immediate. And I mean, immediate. The first thing I noticed was the look on the boys' faces when I complimented them, they didn't know what to say, or do. That made me sad as I realised they weren't used to it, they were just used to us moaning at them or requesting them to do something. Not that what we were asking them was at all unreasonable, but I have to get out of that mindset as it's just not working!

The other thing I tried was if one of the boys did start becoming difficult, I ignored that and focused on the other child, "Lewis I really like the way you've eaten all your food, that makes me think you're a very sensible boy." Lo and behold, our other son suddenly stopped messing around and started eating too. Hmm!

One of the things I also noticed, was that if I engaged with the boys and chatted to them about something they were interested in, there were no issues whatsoever. They didn't even notice when that meant I was leading them towards their bedrooms to get dressed, as they were totally distracted. I asked questions (mainly about the battle of Waterloo) suggested theories and explanations. Really, and I mean REALLY engaged. Not just superficially, but a proper, real conversation that was genuine. In the past I've felt too worn down to really go above, "Oh that's nice".

So today I have spent the day being 100% positive, engaging and "in the moment" pretty much the whole day. I have nothing left to give right now, but today was a GOOD day. We enjoyed spending time together and all got to do something we wanted. And I can't remember the last time that actually happened.

I purposefully haven't researched or looked into the theory or ideas behind the concept of "positive parenting" as I want to figure this one out for myself based on what is best for our family. But I can say that suddenly the future looks so much brigher. And I don't need to dread weekends anymore.

Now that is progress.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Mothercare Review

Like all mums in the UK I've pretty much grown up with Mothercare - in recent years the stores have become absolutely awesome. The store in Leeds has SO much in it - a cafe, changing room, feeding room, photography studio... and you can even go there for baby scans! It's a real home from home for us, and I sometimes just go there to relax and have a coffee with baby girl. The quality of the products in there really speak for themselves - and for any parent it's a must visit in terms of car seats, cots and more.

For me it's about safety, and the fact that all car seats are properly checked and fitted by the expert staff, means ultimate peace of mind. I also noticed that every member of staff is trained to use all of the prams and pushchairs which is pretty impressive. Some pushchairs can be quite difficult to grasp, but here you have an obvious point of call should you need any help. Genius!

We were lucky enough to be offered an item to review from Mothercare this week, and we decided to go for the ELC My First Sand and Water Table along with some Sand to go with it. Unfortunately, since receiving the items, it has rained solidly for days, so it's been pretty much impossible to get any photos - my little girl did have a quick splash on Friday evening before the heavens opened, and she was splashing about like no-ones business, laughing her head off. At 13 months, she's into EVERYTHING at the moment, and loves making messes and generally covering herself head to toe in anything she can lay her hand on. Water to me, is a better alternative to paint - which I'm pretty sure she would eat. The sand I am less sure about, as I have a feeling she will also try to eat it - but I also sort of think it's a trial and error thing - she'll only learn by tasting that gritty sensation...

ELC My First Sand and Water Table £30

ELC Sand £2.50
First of all, the table was SUPER easy to put together! It took less than one minute - which was blessed relief I can tell you. The table is in two parts - the bottom part if for the sand. It has a plug hole in it which is pretty handy, and is a great height for younger toddlers. On top of the sand layer you then place another layer, where the water goes. If you want to prevent water mixing with sand, there is a sort of lid that you can put on - a great idea. What I love about the top water layer is the way it looks like a sort of boat race track! The set comes with a boat and some digging tools - but we have plenty more at home, plus some boats that can whizz round. We use lots of cups and old washing dispenser cups to create ways to throw the water around, and baby girl absolutely LOVES it. I wish I could get a non rain photo - but when I have one I will add to this post.

I would really recommend this item as an ideal 1st birthday present. You really cannot fault the quality of Mothercare and anything bought from there you just know will be something that will last.

These items were sent to me for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Top 5 Father's Day Ideas

If you're anything like me, then thinking of ideas for Father's Day pressies - both for your own father and hubby - is low down on your list of priorities. What with birthdays galore, Christmas and the rest, my ability to choose useful yet luxurious presents seems to have fallen by the wayside! I commented to my husband recently that since we got together, he immediately obviously thought - "ah, no more present buying for me from now on, I now have a woman to do that for me!"

So anyway, back to Father's Day. Here are my fail safe ideas for easy pleasy pressies.

1) Whisky. Preferably a 12 year old as this is better value. Apparently there is a Whisky in Aldi that is to die for?

2) An olive tree - who doesn't love olives, and everyone knows that men love gardening. I got this one for my dad from Find a Present UK - incidentally they have loads of ideas for pressies.

3) I always think that this mini greenhouse from Ikea if a bit of crowd pleaser - speaking of gardening. Can be used in doors or out? And for £12 why not?

4) Cuff links never fail - and everyone loves lego. I picked up a pair of these on ebay for £2.99. Cheap and cheerful I say.

5) Craft beer - I don't actually know what this is but I have noticed that lots of men really like it. Saltaire Brewery which is close by to where I live do an actual keg of beer that men seem to get quite excited about. It's just where to store it?!

What are your Father's Day ideas?


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