How to survive a zombie apocalypse

What a mum really feels when her kids go back to school

This week, up and down the country armies of parents will be cheering as their little bundles of joy will be returning to school! It follows 6(ish!) weeks of wonderful bonding time with them – and of course playing referee between them and their siblings 24/7! No doubt they have eaten them out of house and home, made too much noise, too much mess and not listened to what they were told. They have probably uttered the b-word at least 3 times each day … “Muuuuuum I’m BORED”. So yes, it’s a blessed relief when, for 6 hours of each day, they are someone else’s responsibility! 

I’ll be one of those mums tomorrow. Have you seen that YouTube video of the monkey dancing? If not it’s here: Monkey dance!

That will be me… All the way back to the car! 

But…. Whilst I’m dancing on the outside there will be a little piece of me that is lost on the inside. A tiny, microscopic piece of my heart gets chipped away each time they return to school because it means that they are one step closer to growing up. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know every day is a day older, a day more independent etc, but the first day back is a milestone. Another year further on in their education, another year of expectations of them to do well. Another year of them learning to be independent which, although I know they need to do, makes me worried about the time that they won’t need me so much anymore. 

Another year of worrying that they are happy in school, that they have good friends, that they aren’t being bullied and that they aren’t afraid to be themselves. 

So when you look at me, the mum on the school gates who is outwardly cheering that her little horrors have gone back to school, know that whilst I might seem heartless and like I’m wishing the years away, on the inside I’m a little sad, worried and emotional too. 

Good luck to all the kiddies who are starting new schools and classes this week, and those simply “going back to school”. I know you’ll do great. 

Dee xoxox 

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Kids & Media Device Usage: How much is too much?

It seems kind of fitting that the day I intended to do this blog post, I came downstairs pre-8am to find the kids both sat like this…

kidsmedia

I posted the pic on my personal Facebook page with the caption “peace and quiet sponsored by Nintendo”.

We all know that kids are now exposed more than ever to a wide variety of media devices, and handheld computers like Nintendo 3DS’s are just the tip of the iceberg. From television – which seems almost primitive compared to some technologies – to Xboxes, iPads and Smartphones, most kids have access to one or more of these devices on a regular basis. My 8yr old has a Wii, a Kindle Fire, a Nintendo 3DS and an iPod touch. Oh and a tv/dvd in her room. My five year old has a Kindle Fire, a Nintendo 3DS and will be getting a tv/dvd from Santa this year.

With easy entertainment at the touch of just a few buttons, it is easy to embrace media devices. They are a great way to keep the kids quiet – as demonstrated by my picture this morning – without creating much mess or noise. When it comes to eating out in a restaurant, I almost always take the kids handheld devices so that they have something to keep them occupied if there is a long wait for food. My 8yr old always unwinds with a dvd before bed. The kids both love Minecraft and will happily sit and play it for an hour at a time without moving from their seats.

On the surface it all looks great. Mum/Dad gets some peace and quiet and the kids are kept busy relatively cost and mess free. And there is plenty of evidence that supports that media device usage does indeed have a heap of benefits, particularly in terms of language development. However, there is also evidence to suggest that too much screen-time can actually have a negative impact on some areas of kids lives.

So how much is too much? My friends over at California Cryobank have created the following powerful infographic detailing the pro’s and con’s of children using media devices. Their research clearly illustrates the effect that too much screen time has on our kids health and development. It’s thought-provoking stuff and well worth five minutes of your time to read – hence why I am sharing it with you today.

Feel free to like, share and comment on this infographic from http://www.cryobank.com entitled “The Pro’s and Con’s of Children’s Media Device Usage”.

Thanks for stopping by!

Dee xoxox

 

Keeping the Tooth Fairy Happy: My Guide to Oral Care for Kids

Any parent will tell you that persuading children to brush their teeth can be a difficult task. When there are cartoons to watch and toys to play with, those four minutes a day that your little one needs to spend brushing can seem like an eternity. Children with additional needs, and particularly those with sensory difficulties, can be even harder to convince. However, regular cleaning and teaching them about making good nutritional choices to support their oral care will ensure that they have healthy teeth and gums throughout their childhood. If you want to ensure that your child understands the importance of looking after their teeth then read on for my guide on how to keep your tooth fairy happy and make oral health fun for kids.

First Teeth

Babies may start showing signs of teething from as young as 8 weeks of age, but typically the first tooth shows up between 4 and 8 months. That said, some children cut their first tooth much later – my son was 14 months old – and although rare, some babies are actually born with a tooth! As soon as your baby gets a tooth you should begin the cleaning process. Get them an infant toothbrush to hold and demonstrate to them putting it into their mouths and the actions that they need to make. When you actually brush them, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. The important thing at this stage is to get them used to brushing their teeth as a part of their daily routine.

If you decide to give your infant a drink in a bottle then always try and give water or milk rather than juice. Bottles encourage prolonged sucking which means that any sugary drink that may be coating the teat/nipple will be in contact with your child’s teeth for an extended period, increasing the likelihood of decay. Teeth are also more at risk at night when there is less saliva to protect them so the sooner your child drops any night-time feeds the better… for your sanity as well as their teeth!

Nutrition

Good nutrition is not only important for your child’s growth and wellbeing, but it also plays a vital part of maintaining good oral health. Here are some basic guidelines for helping your child make the best nutritional choices for their oral health, but for more comprehensive advice please visit: diamondbraces.com/snacking-and-oral-health

Calcium

Calcium is an essential nutrient for developing strong teeth, and works to fortify the adult teeth during childhood.  A glass of milk is a great accompaniment to your child’s snack. Children under the age of 5 are recommended to have full fat or semi-skimmed varieties, whereas older kids can opt for lower fat versions.

The recommended daily allowance of calcium varies dependant on child age. Current guidelines suggest the following:

Children aged 1to 3 : 500mg per day

Children aged 4 to 8 : 800mg per day

Children aged 9 to 18 : 1300mg per day

milk

Snacking

Whilst we frazzled parents believe that our children suck the energy out of us for their own personal use, they also need plenty of snacks to keep them going. Unfortunately a lot of convenient snack items are packed full of salt and sugar, making them far from ideal choice for maintaining healthy teeth, particularly as brushing after snacks is a rare occurrence and sometimes impossible to do. Limiting processed snacks and keeping a supply of healthier, teeth-friendly alternatives is advisable. Raw veggies, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain toast, and even cubes of cheese are much better alternatives.

Fruit

Fruit always seems like a great choice for a snack as it is usually easy and convenient, and it’s healthy too, right? Yes fruit is a healthier snack than the processed snacks I mentioned before. However it is also full of sugar – albeit the naturally occurring kind – which also damages teeth. Limit fruit and opt for veggie-based snacks where possible.

Drinks

It will come as no surprise to you that water is the very best drink that we can give to our children for their overall and oral health. It is sugar free, calorie free and great for staying hydrated. Sugary and fizzy drinks should be avoided as much as possible, and if you opt to give your child fruit juice, try and limit how often and opt for unsweetened varieties where you can.

Making brush-time fun

As I said at the start, getting your kids to take time out of their busy lives to brush their teeth can be a challenge. Making it a routine and making it fun are the best ways to ensure that they look after their oral health.

Ideally both children and adults should brush a minimum of twice per day and after each meal if at all possible, and you should do it for at least 2 minutes each time. That is a lot longer than most people realise and definitely much longer than most people brush for. Setting an alarm or using a timer is a good way to keep track, but I highly recommend using an egg-timer. Kids are fascinated watching the sand trickle away and the two minutes are quickly over for them. They are inexpensive and easy to find online. Another alternative is to find a song that they like that is at least two minutes long and ask them to brush for the duration of the song. They can even have a little dance around the bathroom whilst they do it!

Brushing should always be done in a circular motion so encourage your kids to make “train wheels” with brushes (with accompanying noises if necessary!) and use brushes with smaller heads to help them get to those harder to reach teeth. Battery-powered toothbrushes are also a great choice for helping children do an awesome job of brushing.

Other useful ways to encourage brushing include stickers and reward charts and allowing your children to pick out their own toothbrushes.

Don’t forget about the dentist!

As soon as your child has a number of teeth ensure that you register them with a dentist and start taking them for the recommended schedule for check-ups. Your dentist can ensure that your child’s teeth are in optimum health, your child will learn to feel comfortable in the environment, and going for an oral check up will quickly become an easy routine.

I hope that you have found this guide interesting and useful, and can use some of the ideas and information to make brush time fun for your children. For further, comprehensive guidance on oral health I recommend visiting this awesome website, diamondbraces.com.

livteethcleanPhoto: my 8yr old enjoying brush time!

 

All in a days work for a mother & writer

So when I started freelance writing I naively thought to myself that working from home in the school holidays was a huge benefit, and whilst I appreciate that I have saved precious money on childcare, I fear I may well spend said savings on wine, chocolate and dye to cover the grey hairs it is causing!

So far today I have finished sexing up an article about payment gateways (yes really!), played several games of snakes and ladders, broken up countless fights, poured multiple drinks, provided multiple snacks, come up with titles for the chapters of my latest eBook and responded to a load of emails.

Once I have fed the small people who are currently engrossed in How to Train your Dragon 2 and demanding yet more nourishment, I have to  start writing sections for a website for a client based in Dubai, rotate another load of laundry, no doubt break up countless more fights and arguments, write some more articles…. oh and help my 8yr old with her “predator” project for half term for which she wants to make a clay tarantula.

I have thus decided that MY lunch time will be spent researching summer playschemes, and shares in Blossom Hill, Chloroform and Duct Tape.

All in a days work for a mother and writer, now I need to go and get my washing in as it has just started raining again….!

A little education about misunderstood children

Every time I read this I dissolve into tears, but as the parent of a ‘misunderstood child’ I feel that it sums her up perfectly.

It is also a good reminder to me when I am feeling less patient with her to try and see the world through her eyes.

Please take a moment to read the poem below, for my daughter and all the other misunderstood children who face a daily struggle against stress, anxiety and the ignorance and judgement of some.

Thank you xxx

themisunderstoodchild

When your 8yr old is braver than you are….

I just wanted to take 5 minutes to write a proud mum post, so here we go…

About a month ago I discovered a local theatre group had spaces in the 7-9yr old class and knowing my daughter has a flair for the dramatic and was interested in finding a new hobby I immediately snapped up a space. She didn’t know anyone at all and at the end of the first session she came out in tears having found it overwhelming. She also suffers with ADHD, sensory processing disorder and high anxiety levels so it wasn’t entirely a surprise she found it a bit much to cope with, but I was proud of her for trying and expected that she wouldn’t want to go again.

The following week rolled around and she surprised me by being oh so mature and stating that she would go and try it again and see if she could learn to fit in, make friends and enjoy herself. Bearing in mind that she struggles with some social skills and has confidence I was so impressed with her attitude. She went along and came out smiling and saying she had fun.

Fast-forward to now, approximately 5 weeks since her first session and she is absolutely loving her drama group. She has made a new friend and its lovely to see them chatting to one another. Best of all, they are doing a show at the end of July and she has been given the part of a mermaid with around 10 different lines to say! I hope its not too much for her, but then I am sure she will surprise me again and cope splendidly.

I am so proud of how brave and mature she has been – I probably would have run away the first day and not come back again!

A new kind of yoga?! 

I swear my son Roman has ants in his pants! He never just sits “normally” and watches telly! I shared a pic of him the other day, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg! I tell you something though, he’s got a lot more muscle than I have to sustain those sort of moves!