Simple Happy Parenting:Book Review And Giveaway

[AD] I’m not going to lie, since my last two came along parenting has taken a completely new turn for me and has become a whole lot harder than it ever was with my first three.

I have spent so much time trying to work out what has changed. Has my will become a little broken with the more children that have been added, is it the fact that they are both very strong willed boys close in age, is it that I haven’t been as strict with them, is it I’m older and feeling the strain more. The list really has been endless and I am still in search of the answer to make for an easier and happier home life.

The combination of a large family and busy work lives makes things pretty manic and I do thrive off of the hustle and bustle of a large family but sometimes it really does take its toll and a quieter, more relaxed pace of life would be a welcome change.

When I was asked to review the book – Simple Happy Parenting I was immediately taken in with its promise to show the secret of less for calmer parents and happier kids.

The basis principles were put together after Denaye Barahona had her first child and found herself trying to give her all to her children by ways of gifts and activities which I’m sure we are all guilty off and actually realising that maybe this isn’t the best thing for them and a simple way of parenting is more beneficial to you all.

By simply buying less, fearing less, referring less and entertaining less we can make a happier life for the whole family.

This is all done in stages and over the summer I am going to implement some of these strategies to see if they can help us.

First up is to have a declutter to make for a simple family home and this is something I going to get the children involved in and explain to them that they don’t need such an abundance of ‘stuff’.

It’s not only going to be toys, it will be their wardrobes and mine and my husbands too!

With step one complete it will be time to move onto meal planning. This is something that I can actually say I’m already pretty good at but getting the kids involved is something I don’t always do enough so this will certainly be happening more.

For me the next steps will be a little harder as it involves slowing things down, letting the children get bored and find amusement for themselves and letting them explore and adventure without any fear from you.

All of these tips seem so easy to implement and it certainly sounds like a much more relaxed, happier and easier way of life and I am going to enjoy reaping the benefits.

If this sounds like something that your family would benefit from then I have three copies of the book to giveaway over on Instagram so click HERE for your chance to win.

Just Go To Bed!

It’s Friday night and I’m sitting here writing this at gone 10pm, wrinkled from hiding in the bath at my absolute whits end after seven years of no sleep.

Tonight really has pushed me to my limits and after three hours or pleading, bribery, shouting and crying I really am lost at what to do.

The oldest three weren’t bad sleepers. I had a few problems over the years with my eldest but all in all bedtimes were pretty much the same routine of bath, book, bed and there they stayed.

Then along came my fourth. He didn’t really get off to a good start as he suffered terribly with food allergy related eczema that keep him awake at night. I felt terribly for him and night after night would be spent applying creams and trying to sooth him back to sleep. Breastfeeding was a huge comfort for him and for the first few years he spent each and every night in my bed on and off the boob to give both me and him some much needed rest.

Fast forward a little and the allergies were under control as was the eczema and I had said goodbye to our breast feeding journey but the sleep problems were well and truly still there and to be honest now at the age of seven nothing much has changed, in fact over the past year things have got worse and it is really taking its toll on me.

You name it I’ve tried it! We’ve gone through countless pillow sprays, special bedtime stories, meditation apps, the list really is endless. There may have been a little light relief every now and then and all this false hope would come flooding in and then bang – right back to square one.

I’ve sat tirelessly outside his bedroom in the hopes he will drift off to sleep, tried the ‘Super Nanny’ method of returning him every time he leaves his room, none of which have had any effect. He unfortunately inherited my stubborn pigheadedness and it is a standoff between us both and I have to say each and every night he wins.

When he does eventually decide he can’t take anymore and drifts off it’s not long before he is making his way into our bed, usually closely followed by his younger brother and here starts the next leg. Flying limbs in everyone’s face, the arguing over who is in who’s space and before you know it the alarm is going off and I am ready to face the day on a few broken hours sleep yet again.

I have to say that over the years I have grown accustom to the lack of sleep and seem to mange pretty well on this but I’m not so sure it’s the same for this little one and I worry what effect it is having on him in terms of his health and learning as it can’t be doing him any good.

For me the major problem is missing those few hours of time to myself before I hit the sack. A child that won’t go to bed coupled with the demands of two teenagers in the evening, mixed in with all the other admin of life that needs to get done leaves a window of about 30 mins for me to switch off unless I want to push my bedtime back until about 2am.

I try to remind myself of the quote ‘motherhood – the days are long but the years are short’.

With grandchildren of my own already I know this too well but I can’t help but feel if my days were a little shorter those years would be they little bit more enjoyable!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty Two

This week one ‘celebrating the small things’ I really am talking about very little things that bring me lots of joy.

Tea – I think growing up with a father as a builder who drank ‘builders’s tea’ by the gallon it was instilled in me to become a tea drinker. Whilst I was out the other day have a delicious cream tea it made me realise just how much I love a good strong cup of tea and how it really is a cure for everything!

Stationary – Since I was little I have had a love for pretty stationary and I certainly share this love with Izzy. We love nothing more than walking round stationary stores, selecting our favourite shinny new pens and fresh pages in new note books. The only problem is I tend to hord notepads in fear of messy them up with my terrible handwriting!

Why, Why, Why – I have a love hate relationship with the relentless ‘why’ questions I still get from the youngest two. It can be massively draining when they are in full swing but equally as indering that they have such a thirst for knowledge and what to know about absolutey everything that is going on around them.

Letting Your Children See You Cry

Parenting is a challenge on a daily basis, it comes with bundles of rewards but these are without a doubt entangled with countless hurdles that have to be navigated everyday. This coupled with challenges in your work, marital and personal life can be all consuming sometimes and things can just get to much.

As parents we are expected to be a rock to our children. Someone that is there for them wherever they need you and shoulder to cry on, a fount of knowledge to gain information from and and a fountain of love to pour over them whenever needed.

In reality though no one person can be a solid rock at all times and we all have cracks that appear that need to be delbt with from time to time.

I was earwigging in a coffee shop this week…a speciality of mine, and overheard a couple of mums chatting over what a hard time that were having with their terrible twos. They were recalling being brought to tears and how they had gone to hide away in the bedroom to shield their children from seeing them cry.

It made me stop to think about how I deal with these situations and for a moment I questioned how I showed my emotions in front of my own children. Over the years I have experienced plenty of situations that have brought me to tears and have cried in front of my children on many occasions. It made me think that should I have been letting my guard down in front of then, should I have let them see that I am not invisable or should I have keep these feeling to myself to save their own feelings.

Whilst feeling like I had been a terrible mother for allowing my children to see me like this. I then thought a little harder about it and acutally is it really such a bad thing?

As I have already said life throws us all kinds of curve balls that we have to deal with and sometimes things can all get a little to much and having a good cry about this releases all kinds of emotions and makes us feel better about the bad situation we are dealing with at the time and why shouldn’t I show my children that this is a good thing. Doesn’t it do them good to show them that it’s ok to express their emotions rather than keeping everything bottled up, doesn’t it show them that nobody is invincible and its ok to feel bad from time to time and dosen’t it give them a chance to be caring and compassionate towards someone that they love?

I don’t think that showing my vulnerable side has had a detrimental effect on my children and will continue to show them its ok to shed a tear from time to time and that I will always be there for them to hug it out and talk it over whenever they need me too and I hope that as they grow they will build a loving and compassionate side that will be used to comfort family and friends in the same situation when they are older.

Back To School Sleeping Woes

Well we are nearly back into the whole school routine thing and I am finally coming to terms with all my babies being in full time education! We have nailed the homework, have been leaving the house in the mornings with plenty of time to spare, there have been no phone calls for forgotten books and ‘touch wood’ everything seems to be running smoothy…well aside from bedtimes!

The summer holidays made way for long bright evenings and a much more relaxed routine when it came to bedtimes. This was perfect at the time and I loved those few extra hours it gave us all to be out and about or relaxing in the garden; but this has all backfired on me with a certain little boy now that the school term routine is here.

The problems start as soon as dinner is over and the realisation that bedtime isn’t to far away. The tummy aches and headaches appear, the bedtime drink takes an eternity to get finished and then once finally in bed the real issues start.

Frankie gets so worked up about going to bed that the minute I leave the room he got foots it out of bed and is right behind me, refusing to stay in his bed and pleading to come downstairs. At the moment we seem to have two options which is to continually lead him back to his bed until he his finally to worn out to fight it anymore or spent half the evening sitting in his room until he falls asleep.

Both of these options are time consuming and hugely stressful for all of us and its really something we need to get on top of as the lack of sleep is breaking us all.

Below are a few tips that I’m going to be trying out to see if we can finally crack this before I crack myself:

Routine, Routine, Routine – This is one of the things that was always a big priority but over the years and the more children I had the relaxed and calm bedtime routine I once inforced has stacked somewhat and it is all a little manic. A definite routine of bath, book and bed are certainly going to be put in place again.

Security – A know that a big problem from Frankie is the anxiety of being left on his own at bedtime so finding a toy or a blanket to snuggle up to may help to make him feel a little more secure.

Calming Environment – I know for me I get a much better nights sleep when my room is clean and tidy and free from the clutter of the day and I’m sure that for children this is the same. Making their room a calming and inviting place make for a good starting ground for a restful night. Making sure that all the toys are put away and there is a cosy and inviting bed for them to jump into is a must.

London Bus Red Wooden Kids Theme Bunk Bed Frame - 3ft Single £364.99.jpg

Turn Off Electrics – I definitly fall down when it come to limiting electronics before bedtime and it is actually advised that anything stimulating such as TV, computers and tablets should be turned off an hour before bed.

Choose The Right Foods – Try not to give children any sugary or caffeinated foods before bedtime. They work as a stimulant and can be a good reason as to why they are still bouncing off the walls when you are trying to get them to sleep.

I am really hoping that some of these tips are going to work for us and we all finally get some much needed rest. I would love to know if you have any other top tips to help me out.

*collaborated post

Needing To Feel Needed

This week bought the day I had been dreading for so long and to most of you this may seem extreme, but after a long twenty one years of having a little ones at home with me this era of my life has almost come to an end.

I have spent hours upon hours craving a few hours on my own to grab a child free coffee and now the silence is strange, I have moaned so many times about my mornings being filled with hectic and noisy soft play visits and luke warm coffee being drunk at toddler groups which I’m now finding myself longing for.

My work over the past few years has been crammed into a few small hours during the day and leaving me having to put in hours way later into the evening that I liked. My new found freedom should be a blessing to finally get back to a proper working day but instead I’m craving the sound of Cbeebies in the background and requests for snacks every few minutes and I think this is where I really finding it hard… I’m no longer needed!

The care of my last little bundle has been handed over to someone else who as I know to well will become their font of knowledge, his independence will grow even greater and all those things that I have moaned about and tired of over the years such as wiping noses and buttoning shirts will soon be a thing of the past and in a strange way I’m really going to miss all of this.

Of course I know that nothing lasts forever and I want and encourage my children to be confident, strong willed and independent but this doesn’t help me feeling a little more redundant with each new step they reach. The person that I have been for over two decades is slowing changing and I am not sure I’m ready for that.

My job as a Mother is ever changing and evolving and I should be embracing this new chapter in both our lives rather than seeing it as something negative I should look at all the positives its brings and I’m sure that a few months in I will be reading this back and wondering what the hell I was getting so emotional over. But for now I’m going to make the most of these last few child filled afternoons and try and embrace the change it will bring for us both.

photo credit – Laura Shaw Photography

Ergo Pouch Sleepsuit Giveaway

All of mine have been crazy sleepers in the sense that they can’t keep still in bed for more than a few minutes! From tiny babies it was always the relentless task of going into their rooms at night to cover them back up before they got woken by the cold.

This is where the discovery of baby sleeping bags with my youngest two was an absolute game changer and the ability to keep them warm all night was finally discovered!

As they grew though we still had the issue with missing bedcovers but a real lack of anything to use once they outgrew the sleeping bag stage.

However the clever people at ergoPouch have got this covered with their amazing Ergo Pouch Sleepsuit.

Ergo Pouch in fact start with baby swaddles and sleeping bags for little ones and then allow older children to progress to the sleep suit.

All their products are made with natural, skin friendly fibres that allow both temperature regulation and breathability which gives the child comfort and you peace of mind.

Oscar is probably on of my most wiggly little ones who also feels the cold terribly so trying out the sleep suit bag on him made for the perfect candidate.

The bag is easily converted into a suit from a bag allowing the child freedom to move around or the perfect way to move them from car to bed in one easy movement without having to fuss around.

Being avid campers this is also the perfect alternate to the traditional and somewhat uncomfortable sleeping bags we usually use for the children and we will be testing ours out at Camp Bestival in a few weeks time.

If this sounds like the perfect solution for your little ones then please feel free to enter my completion below to win one of your very own!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Talking To Teens About Vaping

Parenting is hard work at every single stage. You start with the sleepless nights and endless feeds, move onto the temper tantrums of the toddlers years, hit those awkward in-betweens years until you finally get to the dreaded teens!

For me I think the transition of no longer being the person they always turn to for advice and the person they confide it the hardest part of them growing up. There as so many other people in their lives now that they hold of great importance that Mum is often pushed down the pecking order and certainly for me my opinion on pretty much everything isn’t really valid.

When it comes to subjects such as what they are wearing or eating for their lunch then it not really to much of a problem but when it comes to more worrying subjects such as drug taking and smoking then this is something I find important they can feel comfortable approaching me to talk about and not just take for gospel the facts they come across on the internet or chat about with friends.

Both of these things can have a huge impact on their lives and being an inquisitive teen very tempting to try for themselves. For me as long as they are armed with all the information possible about how these decisions can affect every aspect of their life and I have given them the physical and emotional side to it then I am happy that they can go onto making an informed decision about what path they take when these temptations come their way.

However something that is pretty new to the UK and something I have very little knowledge about is vaping. It has taken off in a huge way and has been labelled the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking but there are mixed views on how safe it actually is.

Vaping – inhaling and exhaling vapour through an aerosol type device is being dubbed the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking. With this label and the fact the vapours come in appealing flavours such as strawberry, mango and even salted caramel the pull to teens is very strong.

I know that I have had several heated debates with my teen regarding their safety and being such a new product there is certainly a lot of conflicting advice out there, but below are a couple of the things I feel it is important to talk through with your teens about:

Unknown Chemicals – Different brands use different chemicals in their vape pens that could potentially cause harm to growing lungs and mouth.

Can Lead To Smoking down The Line – In several studies it has been proven that people who start by vaping then move onto smoking itself. Although they may think they are harmlessly experimenting with a safe alternative they could infect be putting themselves on a slippery slope.

Don’t Follow The Crowd – As I said before vaping has been dubbed the new and cool thing to do and is becoming increasingly popular. Peer pressure will be extremelly strong when there is temptation like this all around and I hope that my teens can make informed decisions on wether they really want to follow the crowd or not.

My biggest tip though is the same for any tricky and worrying subject…just keep those lines of communication open. Allow them to be inquisitive, be as honest and you can and hope that by this they will choose the right path.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Three

Im a little bit late with this entry as life has got in the way and things have been sidelined. Last week was full of mundane tasks but I certainly have a few special moments to record.

Isla’s First Haircut: Being a grandparent is a completely new ball game to being a parent and one thing that I have found hard is bitting my tongue when Alice does things differently to I would. I have to hold myself back and remember all those times I got annoyed with my own mother for voicing her opinion so I told myself I wouldn’t be that fussing, interfering mother.
For months Isla’s hair has been growing out of control and I have wanted to take the scissors to it for so long.
Finally this week they decided it was time to be taken for her first haircut and I was so please to have been able to take her along for this experience.

Eyesight Improvement For Frankie: Last year Frankie was prescribed glasses and the vision in the right eye was a lot poorer than his left. The glasses alone hadn’t made any improvement so just over a month ago he was given a patch to wear for four hours everyday.
To be honest I thought we were going to have more trouble getting him to wear it then we have and apart from a few strops he’s been pretty good with it. This has paid off and he had improved by two lines on his sight test last week which was a big win for us.

Shopping With The Boys: Walking round the shops is somewhat of a distant memory for me since having children…well actually it’s only the last two that have put me off shopping with children for life.
All my shopping is done online and it wasn’t until we had a walk down Carnaby Street at the weekend that I realised now the boys are older they actually loved being able to walk around picking out things they like and trying the on.
They both certainly have and know their own minds when it comes to their style and Frankie was over the moon to be able to choose his first pair of ‘real’ trainers.

Making Boredom Fun

Today I woke up to a miserable, grey day with no plans and no intentions to leave the house at all. This of course an absolute bombshell drop on my children!

With their eyes out on stalks they looked at me in sheer disbelief and repeatedly chanted, “what we’re doing nothing at all”.

I take full responsibility for this as I feel the need to continually occupy the children and fill their days as much as possible. A weekend rarely goes by where I haven’t tried to arrange something exciting and the times there is not much on I always feel the need to get out of the house and do something, no matter how small.

This has certainly had a detrimental effect on us and I feel I have taken away the children’s ability to amuse themselves and be happy in their own home with their own time and space.

I remember as a child making shops with my sister, playing fashion shows and thoroughly enjoying simple things such as colouring or dancing around my room; yes of course I remember those times where I moaned to my parents about being bored but there was never that expectation to be occupied every waking minute, it was down to me to make my own entertainment.

Being bored allows children to explore their own imaginations, to be creative and inventive and to find activities that they have a real passion for.

Society has made us feel that we should be continually stimulate our children, to make their weekends as jam packed as possible and to be enrolling them on every activity possible where their entertainment is already structured for them and limits the chance for them to use their own imaginations.

After the day from hell with the children continually craving my attention, demanding to be amused and begging to be taken out they finally found their own entertainment and settled down to word games and books that they wouldn’t ordinarily pick without being promoted, they made up their own workout routine and the youngest two baked a cake together with little intervention from me.

To them this has obviously become learnt behaviour and so I have come up with a list of things I am going to stick to the fridge to help then get started with enjoying their own free time:

Read a book
Do a puzzle
Dress up
Paint
Draw
Play with playdoh
Make a cake
Make a Lego creation
Have a puppet show
Have a teddy bear’s tea party
Play football
Skip
Bug hunt
Jump in puddles
Make an exercise circuit
Make up a dance
Make a show
Practice magic tricks
Climb a tree
Write a story
Build a cardboard car/house
Junk modeling
Make paper aeroplanes

I would love to add to this list and know how your little ones spend their free time.