Looking back on Leo’s first year of school

Looking back on Leo’s first year of school

How has this happened? Leo has finished his first year of school. Reception year is over, done, finito! As with most stages of parenting, I feel like the time since his first day has just whizzed by. With today marking Leo’s very last day of reception, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on Leo’s first school year and to see how far he has come since September. View Post

The ultimate summer holidays bucket list for kids under 5

The ultimate summer holidays bucket list for kids under 5

The summer holidays are almost here, who’s freaking out? I’m feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing, which is surprising! Having two kids at home is never easy so that’s why I’m planning on getting out of the house with Leo and Alex as much as possible. 6 weeks is a long time and it can be hard to come up with enough fun ideas to keep the kids entertained. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking there is nothing more frustrating than hearing your child say ‘I’m bored!’ about a billion times a day. This year I have decided that preparation is key and you can’t get more organised than a list. If you are wondering how to keep your little ones entertained this summer too, here is my summer holiday bucket list for kids under 5, there’s an activity for every day. I hope it helps to eliminate your summer holiday ‘I’m bored’ fears and that you and the kids have a lovely summer break making magical memories. View Post

How I got my four year old dry at night

How I got my four year old dry at night

Potty training, we all dread it don’t we? The thought of puddles of wee on the carpet or a smelly poo hiding amongst the toys on the floor, it’s enough to make even the most hardcore parent squirm as they reach for the anti bac and pull on the rubber gloves. We get through it though and whether it’s with or without some mess and stress along the way, at some point our toddlers start doing their business in the toilet and we are free from nappy changing duties at long last.

Except we’re not.

After taking a very relaxed approach to potty training, from about 2 years 9 months Leo was dry in the day but still wore a nappy at bedtime. In August last year Leo turned 4 and we ditched the bedtime nappies once and for all. There have been a few accidents since we said bye bye to the pull ups but at last I can confidently say Leo is 99.9% dry at night now – yay! View Post

Does my four year old hate me?

Does my four year old hate me?

Do you ever think you’re doing something lovely for the kids and it just ends being the total opposite? After school today, Oli and I had a few boring jobs to do in town and obviously we had to drag the boys along too. It was coming up to 5 o clock and everyone was getting a bit hangry so I suggested we grab some food from the shop and go to the park for a picnic and a play. Won’t this be a lovely treat for the boys, I thought. Is there a more perfect way to end a Monday than sitting on a blanket, munching yummy food in the glorious sunshine and then spending the evening playing on the slide and swings, I mused to myself as we filled our basket full of goodies in the shop. As it turns out, we should have just gone home, had tea at the table, watched the bedtime hour and done the bath, book, bed routine like normal. What happened to the perfect picnic in the park you ask? Well, it all went wrong and has left me feeling like my four year old hates me. View Post

Tips to help you talk to your child about race

Tips to help you talk to your child about race

Something happened this afternoon that made me stop and question how well I am actually doing at teaching my four year old about life. I am always trying to educate and encourage good morals and values in my children, I want them to grow up into kind and respectful adults and I know it’s mine and their dads job to make that happen. I’ve fallen short though, completely unintentionally, I have failed to educate my child about race.

This afternoon Leo was watching Go Jetters after school (that Cbeebies programme with the theme tune that gets stuck in your head for days) and he made a comment about one of the characters. This is how our conversation unfolded –

Leo: Mummy, Grand Master Glitch is brown.

Me: Yup, he is. What do you think about that?

Leo: I think it makes him weird.

Me: (slightly horrified) Why?! Why would the colour of his skin make him weird?

Leo: Because he looks different and that’s weird.

Me: (despairing to myself) Different doesn’t mean weird. You have blonde hair and mine is brown, does that mean I’m weird?

Leo: No.

Me: Our eyes are blue but some people’s are green, does that make them weird?

Leo: No.

Me: So, the little boy in your class who has brown skin, what do you think of him?

Leo: He’s weird.

Me: Why?

Leo: Because he looks weird.

Ahh! It’s safe to say by the end of the conversation I was trying to calm down the voice in my head that was telling me I am raising a racist child. Obviously this isn’t the case, Leo is only four and just starting to really get a grasp of the world and all the people that live in it but I can’t help but wonder where this assumption that people who look different are weird has come from? I have certainly never said anything like that, neither has his Dad or any of our friends and family as far as I am aware. Has he heard something at school or is it just him starting to notice these sort of differences and just assuming different means something negative?

I have to admit, my friendship group isn’t very diverse. I can count on one hand the amount of friends I have who are not white and British, that’s not because I have any issue with those who aren’t, it’s just how it is. My family are all white and British, as are Oli’s and Leo has never really been around anyone from a different ethnic background before. We don’t really have conversations about race and that isn’t because I have been avoiding the topic, it is just up until recently I haven’t really had any reason to bring it up. I hope what I am about to say doesn’t get misconstrued or offend anyone but race is such a non issue for me, I mean that in the nicest way possible. I will treat everyone the same, I like or dislike you because of your personality, the colour of your skin does not play even the smallest role in how I form an opinion of someone. I have been foolish though, just because I see everyone on this earth as ‘human’ and not white/black/Asian etc doesn’t mean I don’t still need to teach my children to share this same outlook.

I’ve not been burying my head in the sand about this somewhat hard to explain life lesson, I have just been ignorant to how important it is to have these conversations even with very young children. I would be absolutely mortified if I picked Leo up from school tomorrow and his teacher told me he had called one of his classmates weird, purely because their skin is a different colour to his. I told Leo he is never to be nasty to someone just because they look different and he says he understands but it just worries me that those thoughts that different skin = weird were even there in the first place.

Trying to navigate the often highly emotive and easily misconstrued conversations around race can be really difficult, even when you are trying to talk about it with other adults. so trying to teach a four year old about it isn’t always as easy as using an analogy about different hair and eye colours. I turned to the blogging world for advice on how to talk to your children about race and here is a list of their really useful tips.

How to talk to your child about race.

Hold you arm up next to your child’s and point out that no skin tones are the same colour, some are darker some are fairer but everyone is beautiful and worthy of respect.  – A Slummy Mummy 

Print off images of different faces and make up stories with 2 or 3 at a time where the people are saving / helping / educating him. Magical etc. So he learns to see and value the person and not just the face. – Our altered life

Read lots of books with a range of people ages/abilities/ethnicities, sexual orientation etc and in so doing show your child the huge beautiful diversity of the people who populate our world. – Simple parenting

I would encourage kids programmes or videos where there is a mix of different races in one family or group of friends – My bump2baby

I have had a chat with my eldest about this in the past. I have explained that people come in all different shapes, sizes and colours, but underneath it we are all human, & it’s personality that counts. I am trying to reinforce this in relation to awareness of any physical difference so that my kids understand that it’s not about what you look like, but who you are and how you behave. The Mum Conundrum 

We’ve been reading the Oliver Jeffers book ‘Here We Are’ its a beautiful book with a beautifully simple message about how everyone looks different and sounds different but we are all people living on one tiny planet so we need look after each other and the planet. – Sinead Latham

My son shouted out ‘look at that black man’ on the train when he was 3. I had a big chat with him about how he wouldn’t feel comfortable with being made to feel different by him pointing out something that doesn’t need to be pointed out. Skin colour is just that and it makes people no different to us so that we have to point them out as different. He hasn’t done it since and when he talks about his coloured friends now he honestly sees them as no different to him. I stress that we must treat everyone as an equal no matter what their colour and that their race and colour doesn’t make them different as we are all human beings. – Our bucket list lives

Its really tricky to get the terminology right as what is and isn’t acceptable changes all the time. I have used the term mixed race to explain how HE (my three year old) can describe someone if he is talking about them to me and I make a big point of making sure we talk about similarities– lots of things we have the same as well as things that are different. – Arthur Wears

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There are so many really good tips here, I am definitely going to start having more conversations about race with Leo and I would love for him to get to the point where he sees each and everyone of us as human and deserving of the same love, respect and treatment as people who have white skin like him. Go Jetters may be a seriously annoying TV show but it has helped me see that I need to start talking about the big issues with my little one and, for that reason, I will always be thankful to Grand Master Glitch.

***

Do you have conversations with your children about race? Got any advice you would like to share for parents like me whose children have started to notice that we don’t all look the same? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Child free couples, STOP taking these things for granted

Child free couples, STOP taking these things for granted

Today, I have to decided to write a post not for my usual demographic. This post is not here to offer advice and solidarity to other parents as is the norm here at Naptime Natter. Child free parents, I am speaking to you. Have you got babies on the brain? Maybe you are trying to conceive or are already expecting your first ever little bundle of joy, I am here to offer you a friendly reminder to start appreciating what you now probably consider ‘the little things’. Once your gorgeous baby comes along, all these day to day activities will suddenly not be as simple as they once were and when you hear parents say things like ‘going to Tesco on my own feels like a spa day’, they are not being dramatic, it’s the truth. Don’t think of this post as a mum moaning about life with kids, think of it more as a bucket list of things to enjoy now while you still have the chance. I love my kids but, I am not going to lie to you, it would be nice to not have to use the toilet with my little ones either watching or sat on my knee. View Post

13 tips to help your child settle in to a new school

13 tips to help your child settle in to a new school

We’ve moved house! It has all been a bit crazy, what with packing up a million boxes while my kids try an unpack them at the same time, and I haven’t got around to sharing our news on the blog. We have moved back to Swansea, after 2 and half years away from here it feels so good to be home. Although we are all so excited to be back living by the sea and closer to family, Leo is a little bit nervous and sad as he will be starting a new primary school very soon. It was very hard saying goodbye to his old school, it really was a lovely little infant school, the staff were amazing and Leo had a great group of friends that he is missing loads already. We are currently waiting to hear back from the council to find out where Leo will be placed, in the meantime I am doing all I can to prepare my little boy for starting a new school. I want the transition to go as smoothly as possible and I have asked some fellow bloggers to share their tips with me on how to help your child settle in to a new school. If you are in a similar situation, I hope you find this post helpful and I am wishing you and your little one lots of good luck with the move.  View Post

Tips for taking your toddler to the cinema for the first time – Showcase de Lux and Sherlock Gnomes review

Tips for taking your toddler to the cinema for the first time – Showcase de Lux and Sherlock Gnomes review

*collaborative post*

Taking the kids to the cinema can be a bit hit or miss can’t it? Especially taking a toddler under two, they are unpredictable at the best of times, let alone in a darkened cinema room, with a big screen, booming sound and loads of people about for your little cherub to throw popcorn at. We have been taking Leo to the cinema since he was about 20months old and he loves it. Alex is 18months and he is more into the whole popcorn throwing thing than watching the film but I think he enjoys it too. We were invited to a preview screening of Sherlock Gnomes at Showcase de Lux in Southampton and we actually managed to all have a really lovely family trip to the cinema and I definitely think the cinema itself and the film we watched were key in making or day out such a success. If you are planning on taking your kids to the cinema for this first time soon, here are my top tips for taking young children and toddlers to the cinema, along with my thoughts on the Showcase de Lux cinema and Sherlock Gnomes. Spoiler alert: We loved it all! View Post

25 things to do before your child starts school

25 things to do before your child starts school

Starting primary school, it’s probably one of the biggest milestones for parents and their little ones. Leo started school last September and the day he first tentatively stepped foot in to the classroom was the day our lives completely changed forever. School is, obviously, an essential and necessary part of every child’s childhood but for all the amazing things that an education brings, school life also restricts your family life to a certain degree too. Now Leo is in the classroom five days a week, there is a long list of things that we can no longer do and enjoy together and there are some things I wish we had done more of before his life as a schoolkid began.

If you have recently found out your child’s school place and feel like you are too scared to blink because you’re worried September will be here when you open your eyes and you’ll be waving your child goodbye as they take their first nervous step into school, wearing their brand new shiny shoes and oversized uniform, then this post is for you. I know parenting a three/four year old is hard and there may be lots of times you are desperate for a break from parenting. I am not telling you to cherish every moment of these next few months before school begins but there are definitely some things you should make the most of while you can. View Post

The best bedtime routine for kids of all ages – Bath, Book, Bed

The best bedtime routine for kids of all ages – Bath, Book, Bed

*collaborative post*

If there is one thing all parents are obsessed with, it is getting our kids to go to sleep. My main concern when I had Leo 4 years ago was how on earth was I going to get my baby to have a good nights sleep so we could both get some much needed rest. Struggling to get your little ones off to the land of nod and then actually getting a decent stretch of sleep once they finally drop off is one of the biggest challenges faced by parents and is something we are all keen to find a solution for. Well, I have two kids now and I have been using a very simple routine at bedtime ever since Leo was 6 weeks old and, I am pleased to report, it really works. The bedtime routine we use with our toddler and four year old is bath, book, bed. Jo Frost and Book Trust have teamed up together for the third year running to share tips and advice on the best bedtime routine with their successful Beth, Book, Bed campaign. A good bedtime routine really is the key to a successful nights sleep, here are my tips along with some great information from the Bath, Book, Bed campaign to help you are your little ones have a happy bedtime and a peaceful nights sleep. View Post

Hey Mama, you’re stronger than you think { #mumsthatgotthis roundup }

Hey Mama, you’re stronger than you think  { #mumsthatgotthis roundup }

Being a parent, it’s not all sleepy baby cuddles, picture perfect days out and heart warming moments that you’ll cherish for eternity. Sometimes, raising tiny humans is really hard work. By their very nature, kids are curious and it is built into them to push boundaries and test us, they need to do this to develop and figure out what being a person is all about. Despite knowing this fact that children challenge us in order to learn and grow, that doesn’t make things feel any easier when your toddler is performing tantrum number ten of the day. Parenting is definitely no walk in park. Well, not unless you usually end up feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious after a stroll through the park, that is. View Post

Living with a mischievous todder {featuring outfits from the Disney Store baby collection}

Living with a mischievous todder  {featuring outfits from the Disney Store baby collection}

*collaborative post*

Have you seen the original version of The Jungle Book? Of course you have, it’s an amazing film. Do you remember the song King Louie sings? The chorus goes ‘Oobe do, I wanna be like you. I wanna walk like you, talk like you, too‘ and so on. Well, I am pretty sure my toddler Alex is channelling his inner King Louie, but in reverse. Alex is already a man cub , so to speak, but he is desperate to show us all that he would love nothing more than to be a little cheeky monkey. My 16 month old is so mischievous and is always trying to get up to no good. View Post

A bad day doesn’t make you a bad parent

A bad day doesn’t make you a bad parent

Everyone has bad days. Parents, children, teenagers, wealthy people, healthy people, singletons, the ones in happy marriages and every single other person who walks the earth. Bad days are, unfortunately, just a part of life. I had a bad day today. A really really bad day. It was one of those kind of days where you feel like drawing the curtains tightly shut, creeping back into bed and cocooning yourself from the world, along with all it’s frustrations and complications, in the safety of your warm soft duvet. Sometimes you have a choice whether to wallow in the hard times or muster some strength from within and move towards a better place. If you struggle with depression, sometimes it feels like that choice is cruelly being kept just out of reach, instead your mind keeps you captive in your house, convincing you leaving and breathing fresh air is pointless. Today I wallowed, I let mum guilt consume me for not being a fun mum for Alex and I had a cry, a rare phenomenon since I started on anti depressants. When I have bad days, times where my mood has a direct impact on the kind of day my kids have too, I end up feeling like the worst parent in the world. Well, amongst all the negative fog occupying my mind today, an epiphany managed to burst through – a bad day doesn’t make me a bad mum! View Post

Mental health after pregnancy – my first month on Sertraline

Mental health after pregnancy – my first month on Sertraline

Since having Alex back in October 2016, I have learnt quite a bit about mental health. I have learnt that just because you haven’t experienced mental health problems in the past, that doesn’t mean you never will. I have discovered someone can outwardly seem like they are coping just fine but on the inside they are feeling unbearable pain they feel they must keep as a secret. One of my most recent learnings is that we can relapse and recovery is never as straight forward as we would hope.

In January, after months of feeling like my old self, I started to feel really low again. That familiar weight of sadness had crept back in and was resting, heavy and unwelcome on my shoulders. I had started to feel like I was loosing control of my thoughts again, anxiety was seeping through my mind and drowning my normal train of thought with terrifying ‘what ifs’ and worse case scenarios. Unlike when Alex was a newborn, I recognised something wasn’t right really quickly and after a week of daily crying sessions, I knew I needed to get to the doctors as soon as possible, suffering with post natal depression was without a doubt the hardest period in my life and I was not prepared to get dragged back down into the dark again. View Post

Parenting a toddler, it’s not as bad as I remember

Parenting a toddler, it’s not as bad as I remember

Alex started walking just before Christmas, he was about 14months old and after months of cruising around the furniture and taking the odd tentative step or two, he finally got his confident strut on and now there is no stopping him. I had sort of been dreading the day that Alex found his feet, I find it hard enough chasing after one child and I was anxious I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the both of them. If I’m being totally honest, I had been dreading parenting a toddler again in general. Leo was an adorable baby and toddler and obviously I still love the bones off him now, but my firstborn really did embrace the whole ‘terrible twos’ phase and I really struggled to enjoy those toddler days at times. It would seem though that I have let all those difficult times cloud the truth of what being a toddler mama is really like. All the memories of biting, screaming on the floor of the supermarket, hitting, crying and total diva meltdowns had a cast a dark shadow over all the fun and joy that having a toddler brings to your life. View Post