Becoming a big sister…

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I wrote a blog entry in 2019 about preparing my daughter for her brother coming along. It worked to an extent! She was so excited and seemed to be prepared for the change! But we’ve still run into a few hurdles along the way.

I cannot fault her for how helpful she is with him and for showing an interest in him. I’m so proud of her when she tells me on a daily basis that she loves him and when she introduces him to everyone that she meets.

Everyone said she’d get jealous but I was so adamant that she wouldn’t. I mean I never stopped giving her my attention so I naively thought in my head it wasn’t going to happen. The first few weeks passed and we had no problems whatsoever.

In hindsight this could have been because my partner was around for the first 4 weeks. Since then my daughter’s been copying behaviours such as wetting herself, (which has happened as  late as her brother turning 4 months old). On one occasion because her brother had drooled on me, she started licking my clothes! She’s stopped doing these things, (at the moment) and I found the best way to respond was to talk to her, to ask her if she was okay, reassuring her that I love her for her and that she doesn’t have to be like her brother. I’ve been trying to make more one to one time although it’s quite hard because my partner is at University as well as working full-time and we don’t have a lot of involvement from other family members, because they are busy doing their own thing. She’s constantly asking for cuddles and wants to sit on my lap when I’m feeding her brother, but I’ve found a way of having them on each knee! It’s easier said than done though, trying to juggle everything. I feel so guilty that she’s having to wait all the time for me and if she asks me to play with her, I feel like I have a million and one things I need to do first at the moment. I don’t want her to feel she’s not important, but I only have two hands! When my partner was home over Christmas I was able to take her out to do a few nice, inexpensive Christmas activities, so we could have quality time, but I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard to do that since. In my situation my partner finishes University soon, so hopefully that will create more opportunities for us as a family to do nice things.

Whether it’s because: she’s now 3; that she’s dropped her daily nap; or because of all the change, her behaviour has definitely become more challenging. She is such a strong and determined young lady, which I’m proud of but she can be so defiant and a handful when she wants to be. So taking both little ones out on my own, trying to build up my confidence, has been difficult when she’s been doing what she wants to do and not what I’m asking of her. Not only that but the not listening is so hard isn’t it?!

Please tell me this phase passes soon! 

Mummy needs rest… 12 Activities to do with your little one when Mummy can’t do so much.

I’ve been feeling some guilt that so late in my pregnancy I’ve not been out and about as much as I’d like to with my daughter. I’ve been trying to encourage my daughter to play a lot more by herself but I think these little games, even if they are really simple, have meant we have still been able to have fun together.

Being heavily pregnant when you already have a toddler/pre schooler is hard work isn’t it?! Especially if your little one doesn’t spend very long entertaining themselves without asking for Mummy to play too. If you’re on maternity leave, you might even want to save a few pennies too…

So I’ve been trying to think of 12 simple ideas so we can still be involved in play time at home. Ways that don’t create too much mess and that allow tired mums to put their feet up for a bit and enjoy a cuppa at the same time! It’s so easy when you’re feeling exhausted to put some cartoons on or a game on your phone, but I’ve been trying not to overdo these things if I can.

1 – Puzzles. Either doing one together or having little competitions of who can complete their puzzle the quickest. You can make it a bit more challenging for yourself by choosing the puzzle with more pieces, turning your pieces over or giving little one a timed head start.

2 – Colouring. You can’t go wrong with some colouring, and putting some music on in the background makes this even more relaxing. Mummy can be colouring in her therapeutic adult patterns at the same time. Win win! If you’ve run out of colouring books there are some great websites where you can print out pictures for free.

3 – Book reading. I can’t not put this in because story time is a lovely excuse for a cuddle on the sofa.

4 – Play dough. In an attempt to make this a bit different I saved some small plastic trifle pots from going in the recycling bin. I put some little spoons out so my little one could pretend to make little ice cream sundaes from the play dough. I haven’t tried this yet but you could also put some little plates out, a plastic pizza cutter and pretend to make pizzas with different toppings. I find play dough is such a good distraction but can be a bit of a pain when you’re picking bits of play dough up off the floor after, especially if you’re struggling to bend over at this point in your pregnancy!

5 – Cafe. My little one really enjoyed playing this. I got to sit down with a little table in front of me while my daughter took my order like a little waitress. Then she was going to her play kitchen and making me meals like a chef with her play food. If you don’t have a play kitchen, get a few pans and wooden spoons out the kitchen and encourage your little ones to use their imagination. You can do as much or as little as you like with this.

6 – Snap. We have nursery rhyme snap cards but if your little one is a bit older, you could use a normal pack of cards and match the numbers. What child doesn’t love slamming their hand down and shouting “snap!”?

7 – Domino bingo. Take a piece of paper or card per person and write 9 random numbers on,h no than the number 12. Turn over the Domino pieces so you can’t see the numbers and take it in turns to pick a domino. Ask little one to count the dots and match them to the numbers on the paper and when you get all 9 numbers shout Bingo!

8 – I spy. I spy with my little eye a quick and simple game to try to help with colour recall. You could ask little ones to describe to you something they can find that is the colour red for example.

9 – Treasure hunting. I love the sand pit. I’ve been hiding things such as shells or coins in the dry sand and my daughter has been sieving to try to find the ‘treasure’. You could ask your little one to cover their eyes and then hide a surprise toy in the sand for them to find. This is a nice excuse to sit out in the sun. All that is missing is a nice Pina Colada! Not too long to wait ladies!

10 – Playing with a ball. You don’t have to be running around the garden to play with a ball. Sit on the floor (if you are able to of course!) with your feet together to make a diamond shape. Roll the ball to each other and sing nursery rhymes. This is such a simple game but we had some giggles when we were rolling the ball as quickly as we could.

11 – Memory game. Laying out some items on a tray. Asking little one to look for a minute then turn around so you can remove one item. See if little one can remember what has gone missing from the tray.

12 – Photo puzzles. Make some copies of family photos, cut them up into different shapes and ask little one to put the pictures back together again.

I’ve been feeling some guilt that so late in my pregnancy I’ve not been out and about as much as I’d like to with my daughter. Driving in the car has become uncomfortable and I’m walking around at a snail’s pace. My body is definitely telling me to slow down. I’ve been trying to encourage my daughter to play a lot more by herself but I think these little games, even if they are really simple, have meant we have still been able to have fun together.

I hope you get as much enjoyment as we both have out of them and please share your ideas with us!

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Preparing toddlers for a sibling. Is it really possible?

I’ve asked a couple mum friends who have toddlers a similar age to my daughter and who are expecting their second baby if they think their kids are excited about being older siblings. They’ve told me they don’t think their toddlers really know what is going on but I would completely disagree! I think that you can prepare a toddler by making the new baby part of the new norm. However, as the baby is not here yet, I am fully prepared to eat my words!

Myself and my partner have included Imogen in almost everything baby related from relatively early on. In hindsight this was risky in case something didn’t go right with this pregnancy, so I think we should have introduced her to the idea of a baby a bit later on just in case. My daughter came to the first scan of her brother, she’s come with me to some of my midwife appointments and heard her brother’s heartbeat. We talk to her about her brother all the time and let her know he is looking forward to meeting her. We tell her what a great and important responsibility being a big sister is and she seems so excited. She often comes over to me to put her hand on my tummy to see if she can feel him kick or sings nursery rhymes to him.

When I was younger I wasn’t really ready for my sister to come along. It felt like a bolt out of the blue and when I should have been excited, I was completely confused! My younger sister and I laugh about this now, but I really didn’t take the news well as a youngster, I was very jealous. So I think this is why I’ve tried to make sure my daughter is prepared, if that is possible with a toddler! I’m fully prepared that she will still be filled with jealousy and worry when the baby arrives, but I just want to do what I can to make it easier for her and if I’m wrong then it was worth trying!

Books

There are great lists online of books to read to a toddler/pre-schooler to help prepare them for a sibling. I picked two books: ‘You Were the First’ and ‘Big Sis, Little Miss’. What attracted me to ‘You Were the First’ was that the story talks about how the eldest child is special because he/she was the first child that the parents saw do all of these amazing things. The book tries to reassure an elder child that they are not valued less just because another child is coming along, it doesn’t change how much they mean to their parents. It’s so important to me that she feels as celebrated as the baby when he arrives.   

‘Big Sis, Little Miss’ is a book all about the important job of becoming a big sister and how much the younger sibling will look up to them for guidance and will want to play with them.

Toys

I was browsing online and found dolls that have a removable tummy and a baby inside. Yes they are a bit creepy, but I thought this would be a great big sister gift for my little girl from her brother. The set I got had a Dad and young girl in as well, which I thought reflected the size of our family, but obviously every family is different and there are dolls sold on their own which have the removable tummy. We have also been playing with baby dolls, pretending to feed them, wash them etc. and I have been dropping in the odd “you can help mummy and daddy do this with your brother.”

Shopping

I’ve been taking my daughter to shops that sell baby items and have been talking her through what the different items are, which is a great opportunity for her to ask questions, like “what is this and what does this do?” She picked out a cot, a pushchair and a drinks beaker, (all of which we didn’t get), but I told her how thoughtful she was. It was nice to see that she was considering what her little brother would like. She has ‘bought’ him a couple toys and helped me to pick out some clothes too.

The nursery

We have yet to decorate and sort out the baby’s nursery, but I have asked Imogen if she can help mummy and daddy to make the room look nice and welcoming for her brother and I told her we will also be getting some nice things for her room too and rearrange the furniture a bit.

The birth

Family members have asked if we want them to take Imogen out when the baby is born, which is a lovely idea and of course we will need to ask someone to help us to look after her at that time, but I don’t want her to feel she isn’t included. I would like to make her feel special, so if anyone has any ideas from their own experiences please share them!  

Mummy I want something else!

“I want something else”

Please say I’m not the only parent who hears these words mere minutes after her toddler has ‘finished’ her dinner!

Imogen has always been so good at eating. She’s usually liked trying new things, just sometimes has needed a little encouragement. I know there’s of course going to be those things she will not like for a while, (maybe even ever)… such as peppers, but on the whole, if it’s sliced up small enough, in another meal she’s wolfed it up. So over the last couple of months this new refusal to eat pretty much anything I’ve put in front of her has been a bit of a shock. I’ve been so smug and naïve!

At 2 and a half Imogen has become such a fiercely independent young lady. She’s putting on most of her clothes herself, she’s choosing what she wants to wear, what she likes and dislikes, so I guess it’s only natural that she would be trying to choose what she wants to eat. Of course anyone who didn’t know the repercussions would want to eat nothing but chocolate and biscuits, but trying to get it through to a toddler that this isn’t possible is not easy is it!?

I tried different techniques: gentle persuasion, cartoons on the TV, no TV at all, music, sitting next to Imogen for emotional support, eating all together at set meal times, eating out in public, negotiation, and the more desperate approach of bribery with dessert/cake. Nothing was working!! This toddler had me wrapped around her little finger and she knew it. All those meals she used to love… spaghetti Bolognese, moussaka, sausages, chicken nuggets… Imogen was now telling me “I DON’T LIKE IT! I WANT SOMETHING ELSE!”

WHY????!! You liked it a couple of months ago!

I was even considering putting my daughter in nursery for the entire 5 days a week because every time I’ve gone to pick her up, the darling has eaten double portions of all the meals they’ve been serving. At least, I thought, she would be eating! But no, in all honesty I enjoy my time with her and that wouldn’t be what I wanted really. I also can’t imagine having the finances to do that.

So I’ve tried something new.

I bought the Fred Dinner Winner Kids’ Dinner Tray, with dinosaurs on, for my little dinosaur lover. If you’ve not seen these dinner trays they look like board games, with a little windy path to the hidden prize at the end.

I also printed out a little sticker rewards chart which has gone on to the wall next to where she eats.

The dinner tray has gone down well. My only comments on it really are that Imogen hasn’t got her head around eating from the slots in order, but on the plus side, she has been eating it all. When she’s older, I’m sure she’ll get the idea around it being like a board game, but right now I think it’s appealing because of the dinosaurs and the surprise at the end. The prize slot is a little small, so what I thought I might do is maybe draw a small picture of a yoghurt pot etc on a folded piece of paper, so she knows what her surprise is when she opens it up. It’s just too small for anything really other than a couple pieces of chocolate. When Imogen has eaten her dinner we have the exciting job of adding a star to the reward chart, and it shows a reminder that she has been eating all week. So far, it has been working, but I don’t know how long it will work for. I’m hoping that if we make it our new routine hopefully Imogen will start eating better. We also need everyone else to be on board, i.e. the grandparents who have a tendency to give children what they ask for!

If you have any dinner time tips for getting a fussy or bossy little one to eat, please share them here for everyone to see, we’d love to hear them! 🙂

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4 Woodland Themed Activities for Little Explorers

Butterflies

This is a really simple and quick activity we did. I cut butterflies by folding a piece of plain A4 paper in half and cutting a large number 3 and opening it up. We used stickers and a large coloured stamp for finger painting to make butterflies like the ones we saw on our walk.

Bug hunting!
 
We were looking under logs and leaves to find what different bugs lived there. But we also found wild berries, fungi and rabbit holes on our wander.
Rainbow Nature Hunt 
                                   
On our rainbow nature hunt we were looking for flowers, leaves and whatever other items we could find in the woods to glue down on to our hunt sheet. This was a chance to get my daughter talking about the different names of colours and doing colour matching.
Decorate Your Own Woodland Animal Masks
 

I found these masks in Poundland and my daughter used acrylic paint to colour them in. I used them to talk with my daughter about the animals that live in the woods and next time we go she can wear them.

We love any excuse for a woodland walk! We would love to hear about your activities that we can try on our next trip out. Please let us know in the comments. Happy exploring!

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Mental Health Monday: I’m taking control… Anxiety vs social media

I have an anxiety disorder. There it is, I said it. Phew! That wasn’t so hard I guess… but I’m someone who doesn’t openly discuss my anxiety issues, (being a bit of a proud and stubborn person), I still find it hard to admit that I have difficulties, which were on a daily basis. But here I am opening up about it and who better to share it with than you lovely mums?

I came off Facebook earlier this year and I’ve not looked back. When I realised that it was causing problems for my mental health, I decided it was best for me to finally ditch it.

Facebook has over the years been a great way for me, (like most people who use it), to stay in touch with old friends and new, but as my long-term relationship broke down, it was visually obvious just how much I had lost in the process. Seeing that old friends and family were deleting me out of their lives, after years together, took its toll on me and contributed towards my illness. Memories popping up each time I logged on. My anxiety was constantly telling me how lonely I had become. Some of my closest friends, I thought would be there through thick and thin, weren’t as supportive as I needed at that time, (and I recognise now that yes I was needy), and Facebook was reminding me of how much fun everyone was having, whilst I was falling into what I didn’t see at the time as depression. Of course when you’re in a better state of mind, you know that Facebook isn’t really ‘real life’, but as a result I was further pushing those people away and isolating myself as a way of coping, which I can see now.

Facebook again continued to serve as a reminder that as I reached my 30s and had become a mum, that I was no longer such a socialite. I love being a mum, so I accept that I can’t do as much; it’s part and parcel of being able to have a wonderful child, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped being me! Am I still fun to be around? My anxiety would chime in to torture and remind me that I’m lonely and instead of fun nights out, I’d be updating everyone on my excitement that I’d managed to get through the day without tearing my hair out.

The final push for me as a mum with anxiety was because I was noticing that family members were using Facebook as a way to ‘stay in touch’ with my daughter, by picture comments. Whilst it’s lovely to hear from people and to get their well wishes, (I don’t want to seem ungrateful), it means nothing to a baby/toddler, when she’s older and can read it’s a different story. I felt like people were knowing what my daughter was up to, without really knowing her and my anxiety again was causing me to have difficulty processing and dealing with this. Relatives, living nearby, were often going long periods of time without seeing my daughter. I knew I would much rather be able to see those people in person to build up relationships the old fashioned way, no matter how often that was. Coming off Facebook felt like the push I needed to arrange to see people more in person.

Coming off Facebook helped me to concentrate on my little circle of close friends and family and helped me to prioritise what is important to me and my family.

Leaving Facebook didn’t of course erase all of my mental health issues, but I’m using the social media that doesn’t trigger my anxieties instead which has helped me to feel more in control. Facebook is no longer there to remind me of the person I used to be; because I am finding that person again myself. Getting additional help from my GP has meant that my anxiety isn’t feeding me this false information, which sends me into a downward spiral where I am convinced that I am lonely. I am also far better at dealing with things that would have previously been a trigger.

I’m in a place now where I can stand up to the anxiety, (which I refer to as the A hole), and I can say I have my daughter’s and my partner’s love and that is more than enough! So with my little social circle of mums and treasured old friends, I feel very rich indeed. I haven’t felt this good about myself in a long time and I have more confidence than ever before to get out and meet new people. Each day feels like a new exciting opportunity now.

Thank you for reading about my journey.

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Bath boohoos to Bath wahoos!

We lived in a flat where we didn’t have access to a bath, only a shower. So my daughter was stuck in her baby bath, probably longer than we would have liked. When we moved, the big bath tub came as a huge shock for her, and she didn’t like it. Not one bit! No sooner would we put her in the bath tub, then she would stand up and try to climb back out again. When we would wash her hair she would get hysterical and was grabbing at me to get her out. It got to the point where I was dreading bath time and was feeling anxious about it because it seemed more like water torture than fun!
We made some changes and Imogen looks forward to bath time. We struggle to get her out of the bath now!I really didn’t feel like we were going to get to this point. What a relief.

The number one thing I had to bear in mind when making these changes was that the more stressed I was getting, the worse the situation became.

I looked online at some helpful blogs and Mummy chat pages and felt more reassured. So this is why I wanted to share what worked for us with you lovely mummies.

We had a non-slip mat in the bath but I don’t think my daughter felt very comfortable and confident standing on it. The mat wasn’t very big and I don’t think the grip on it was very good. We got the Munchkin Dandy dots bath mat because it is long, almost covering the whole bath base and has bug rubber spots which have good grip for little feet.

We previously tried washing my daughter’s hair out with a sponge, with a jug, splashing it on with our hands… Nothing seemed to make the process quick and less upsetting. We got this though and this next item was a game changer for us.
The Moby waterfall bath rinser is a jug that gives a gentle flow and has rubber which allows you to press it to your child’s head. A couple rinses and a bit of distraction and the hair is washed very quickly!

We had toys for the bath previously, but Imogen wasn’t too bothered about them any more. When we got her a water book and letters however, she found these lots of fun to look at and they’re a good distraction!
The ‘Who’s Playing?’ outdoors magic book has animals in it that change from white to a colour when they go in the water.

The Welecom 36 pieces alphabet comes with an organiser which sticks to the side of the bath or the bath tiles, which is always handy. It means we can spell out words and stick them to the bath tub now that Imogen is taking an interest in letters.

Have you had any similar bath problems and do you have any tips on what you used/did that helped? We’d love to hear about them!

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Last minute Father’s Day crafts

Have you forgotten that it’s Father’s Day on Sunday 17th June?

Left it a bit late to get anything or just stuck for ideas? I hope it’s not just me!
Don’t panic… I’ve picked some crafty ideas for your toddlers and pre-schoolers which I thought looked really fun and that can be made from things you have at home.

Who says you have to spend a fortune to give a thoughtful, personalised gift from your little one?

1) I love this footprint art, this is sure to make Daddy smile and you could make this for Grandfathers too!

https://www.craftymorning.com/following-daddys-shoes-fathers-day-craft/

2) I love how simple this is. Your little one could make a lovely picture, no matter their age.

http://clareslittletots.co.uk/2016/06/finger-painted-fathers-day-card/

3) Wondering what to do with those spare paper plates you have in the back of the cupboard? Look no further! You could even make this world cup themed!

http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Worlds-Best-Dad-Award.html

This is my daughter’s version which I think is great!

4) I love asking little ones questions and getting their honest answers. This gift is sure to bring some giggles and smiles.

http://www.papertraildesign.com/fathers-day-free-printable-cards/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes#_a5y_p=6323391

5) Sure to bring a year to Daddy’s eye, this cute picture is a winner.

http://diyjournaling.com/leave-out-daddy-40-diy-fathers-day-card-ideas-and-tutorials-for-kids-handprint-happy-fathers-day-card/

6) Let Daddy or Grandad carry a finger print around on a keyring of their precious ones. Don’t have a keyring to attach? You could glue it to a magnet or make it on its own as an ornament.

https://www.craftsonsea.co.uk/salt-dough-fingerprint-keyrings/

7) Another key ring idea, and it looks so professional!

http://whatmomslove.com/kids/shrink-film-keepsake-keychain-unique-diy-gift/

8) If you have a printer and a chalkboard, then this is a great idea! What are your children’s favourite things about their Dad, what do they like to do with him?

https://projectkid.com/fathers-day-photo-collage/

9) What I love about this keepsake ornament is that it includes a photo as well as a handprint.

https://www.teach-me-mommy.com/handprint-photo-keepsake-ornament/

10) Use your imagination with your little ones to come up with some ideas of fun things they can do with their Dad. Then it gives Dad some precious time with his little ones and gives Mummy a chance for a cuppa and some catch up TV!

https://www.theseasonedmom.com/diy-fathers-day-gift-building-memories-dad/

11) What child doesn’t think their Dad is a superhero? I think these are really fun.

https://craftsbyamanda.com/avengers-bookmarks-craft-for-kids/

12) A portrait of Daddy. These are always great to have!

https://www.totschooling.net/2016/05/fathers-day-portrait-drawing-free-printable.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&m=1

13) Want to make an easy but super smart award for Daddy? Then this is perfect.

https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/award-ribbon/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=lets_get_creative_fun_under_the_sea_fathers_day&utm_term=2017-05-22

14) Coupons! Such a fun idea.

https://mummykindcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/2b501-screenshot2013-06-05at4.19.07pm.png

If you’re looking for some Father’s day colouring fun, here are my favourite links for free print outs of pictures and cards:

http://www.doodle-art-alley.com/fathers-day-coloring-pages.html#

http://coloringbookfun.com/Fathers%20Day/index.html

http://twistynoodle.com/coloring-pages/holiday/fathers-day

https://m.thecolor.com/Category/Coloring/Fathers%20Day.aspx

…and if you’re still stuck, here are some short and sweet Father’s day poems to add to your cards to make the daddy feel extra special.

https://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/fathers-day-poems.html?utm_expid=.wxm-L9m1Tcmyqj3zqjtPTw.0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2F

Let us know your Father’s day crafts, we’d love to hear about them! Have fun!

Travelling with a toddler… How bad can it be?

When I’m out in the car with my daughter for a bit longer than she has the patience for being stuck in a car seat for, then I’ll get the high pitched screaming alarm or a frustrated hissy fit. She doesn’t hold on to her toys in the car for longer than five seconds before hurling them somewhere. With that in mind, she does pretty well to keep herself entertained most of the time on our car journeys, but it doesn’t stop me feeling a little anxious if I’m stuck out for longer than I intended, especially after I had a particularly bad car drive on the motorway… I will admit I haven’t really ventured away too far from home with Imogen and I do try to stick to some sort of daily routine. So when we decided to go abroad, I was left thinking how on earth we would cope with a toddler on a plane trip.

It seems silly now in hindsight of our holiday that I was a bit worried, but it’s because toddlers are so unpredictable, as you all know!

Perhaps you’re waiting to go away somewhere or you’re unsure of how you would cope… Please don’t let it put you off!

Think of when you need to leave for the airport and then add extra time! You just know that with kids, that something is going to happen… a last minute stinky nappy or a refusal to get ready. I never get out of the door on time anymore anyway, so despite feeling super prepared we didn’t leave home until later than our plan to.

On the motorway we were diverted off course due to road works and the sat nav took us through town after town. Watching the time ticking by, I’m not going to lie, I thought we weren’t going to be leaving the country at all, but in an attempt to keep my partner calm I kept saying just drive safe, it will be fine. At the end of the day, it’s not worth putting our lives at risk to catch a flight. Imogen slept the whole car journey and I’m glad we picked an early flight for this reason. At least she wasn’t adding to our stress.

Once we got to the airport there was no time to shop, we were racing through the airport and got to the boarding gate with 20 minutes to spare before it shut! We could finally sit and relax we thought. Imogen had other plans though, she wanted to run around. She most definitely did not want to sit nicely Mummy! So we had squealing and tantrums. At this point I noticed some panic stricken faces from people knowing that they were about to share a flight with a screaming toddler. This was one of the things I was a bit worried about but I thought ah yes, I’ll get her bottle ready for the flight. The milk will make everything better…

… Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t picked up the cartons of milk from the bag check. Eeek!

We were keeping Imogen as entertained and calm as possible, with my partner’s brilliant idea to download some Peppa Pig from Netflix onto his phone before we left home. This helped while the flight was delayed for almost an hour on the runway before take off.

Imogen was a bit squawky by this point on the flight and wanted to get off my lap to run around but the whole experience for her was new, exciting and strange! There was very little we could do, other than try to keep her occupied with the toys we’d packed for the flight, (one of them being a new toy that we thought she would be excited about), and once we could, we bought some snacks from the on flight drinks trolley. There were other babies and toddlers on the flight and they all did really well. Yes there was a bit of noise but if other people have a problem with that then I’m sure it’s nothing that a pair of earphones wouldn’t help with. Don’t let this worry you. Kids have as much right to travel as anyone else!

We found out once we reached our holiday destination that our relatives with a small child had to wait hours for a delayed flight the day before. I suddenly felt that our experience could have been a lot worse!

We had a lovely week with family and we were all feeling pretty sombre about the holiday ending.

When we were headed back to the airport we were stuck in traffic and I think the constant stopping and starting was what caused Imogen to be very sick all over herself. I was cleaning her up and once we got to the airport I was able to change her into fresh clothes. So I think in future I will remember to keep a spare change in our cabin bag.

We then had a forgotten Toot Toot dog set off the scanner for our hand luggage, which caused us a bit of delay but at least it gave the staff a few giggles! We again got to the boarding gate with very little time to spare… 10 minutes this time! But the strange thing is, we were so much more relaxed. When we were queueing to board the plane we were told our cabin bags would have to go into the hold! So on the flight back we didn’t have all the toys and entertainment that we had on the trip there. This time though we had the trusty milk and Imogen fell asleep for the whole flight home.

When we returned to the car, thinking all had gone pretty well and feeling eager to get home, we found our car had a flat tyre in the airport car park! We wouldn’t be home for another 5 hours! Instead of worrying though, we took it in our stride and managed to get it sorted, despite having no phone, (the battery died) and being somewhere unknown.

What I learned from our trip was that we coped. We could have spent ages planning for the trip and things still wouldn’t have gone to plan. What happened though wasn’t really so bad! I’m so glad we went abroad with Imogen and now I know I won’t worry so much about travelling again. Perhaps we’ll go further away next time. Maybe I will try doing longer car journeys or a train trip on my own? I feel far more confident for next time.

My D.I.Y fun toddler game part 2- smiley sorting faces game!

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Who doesn’t love smiley faces?!

I’ve dabbled with trying to show Imogen the names of different colours. We’ve got books with them in and she’s got coloured shape sorting toys but I realised that colours isn’t something we have really looked at through play. Imogen really loves sorting things and putting them in to boxes, so I had a little think, and a little look on Pinterest for some ideas. I started dyeing some dry pasta and cereal and thought, now what?! Just getting my daughter to sort them into coloured pots, I thought, could be made more fun. So this is when I came up with this simple idea, which took next to no time at all to set up. The only thing that takes a bit of time is waiting for the food colouring to dry. Some of the colours are a bit  more stubborn than others to dry though!

I hope you and your little ones enjoy this and you can make this game from items you have around your home.
What you need:
4 handfuls of dry pasta or cereal, (whatever you have in your cupboard and is a suitable size for your child),
Different food colouring, (you can use paint but if your child is still putting things in their mouth then food colouring might be the better option),
4 plastic bowls, (they don’t need to be coloured but mine were red, green, blue and yellow, which I just so happened to have),
Paper,
Coloured pens or pencils,
Sticky tape,
Scissors,
A bigger bowl to draw around,
A container to mix the food dye in,
A spoon,
Some kitchen towel.
Make the game in 4 easy steps:

1) Add some drops of food dye into the container with one handful of dry pasta/cereal and mix thoroughly with the spoon. Lay it on the kitchen towel to dry overnight. Continue this with the other colours, so that the rest of the pasta is different colours. I used red, blue, green and yellow dyes.

2) Turn the bigger bowl upside down on your paper and draw around it to make the circles for each of your smiley faces. Then cut them out.

 
3) Draw your smiley face’s eyes onto your circle with your coloured pens. Next you need to cut the mouths out. If you fold the circles in half, so the eyes are both on one side, this makes it easier to cut. I then coloured around the mouths. Repeat for all four circles.

4) Tape the smiley faces to the tops of each of your bowls, corresponding to the colours of your bowls.

Then it’s time to play!

Mix your coloured pasta and cereal together. The game is for your little one to try to match the colour of the pasta with the right smiley face’s mouth. It’s as simple as that! I did think about adding more to the game, but I think for toddlers and pre-schoolers it is okay for the game to be this simple. You could add new colours to the game and different items. You could even introduce tweezers to pick up the pasta or cereal, to help your child with their hand-eye coordination. If the faces get ripped, then it is easy to replace them.

Imogen didn’t want to stop playing this game and I was so pleased to watch her get the hang of it. We started her off with just two colours to begin with. We did find the Cheerios were starting to disappear, so I was relieved I used the food colouring instead of the paint!

Let us know if you tried it!