So we are in the final week of July and this post is currently being written for you, while I am in France and it will be the last 10 things type of post. The children are still on holiday, but I have spoken and FaceTimed them most days and they seem to be having a great time! Those who follow me on Instagram will have seen some of the things I have been up to without them and also, a BIG thank you for following me – I will follow back everyone who adds me from here.
When we become parents, there is no guidebook or set of instructions, we tend to act on instinct initially and experience sometimes too. I am by no means an expert here, but I thought I would share with you some things I do, that for me, makes being a parent easier. My hope is that if one or two help you out along the way, then that will make me happy and of course let me know what you do to make your lives easier too!
Both of my children have one of these and while we do have the odd blip where a child gets up in the night and outmanoeuvres me in my own bed, they generally do work so well.
For those who don’t use them or know about them, essentially they are a clock, you set the time for the child to wake up, the clock goes blue and a moon appears. There is then a number of stars which is determined by how many hours are left for them to sleep for, so when they count to a basic level it will certainly help. When it is morning time and the target time has arrived, the clock turns yellow and a sun appears – the child then knows it’s time to get up.
(The Gro-clock in the background there)
2. My phone
I have touched on the significance of mobile phones in 10 things children of our generation will take for granted… but although they are a pain at times, they really do make parenting easier for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the camera – we can take videos or photos whenever we want and wherever we are, these days, there is no real excuse to miss a photo opportunity. Now I am all for my children reading and writing but of course technology has to feature in a modern child’s lives. There are apps and games (some educational) that my children love to play, does it make me a bad parent giving the children my phone/Ipad to play with? No. Does it make parenting easier? Yes! There is a time and a place for everything and of course in moderation.
3. Not to take things too seriously
Ok, this is a really important one, but one I probably need to work on at times, but I do try! I have a 4 and a 6-year-old, things are bound to go wrong. It is easy to get infuriated, upset or even angry and I am guilty of all three of those things at times.
Children can be clumsy, moody and careless – mistakes happen, messes made and things get broken. It can be so easy to get cross and of course sometimes it is warranted but so long as the intent isn’t there, then it is important I give my children the benefit of the doubt.
Recently, Connie was colouring in on a table using Sharpie pens and they are great but very tough to get out when something gets marked by them. Now, she wasn’t leaning on anything and the pens went through the paper and marked the table slightly. She apprehensively approached me and told me and I guess she was worried I may tell her off. However, it was apparent it was a mistake and an innocent one too – and I thanked her for telling me and that was the end of that.
When I flew out to France last week, there was a single mother whose child cried/screamed non-stop for the last 20 minutes of the flight because the child didn’t want to be strapped in to the seat. People were looking and commenting etc and I could hear the woman getting more and more irate with the child. I really felt sorry for this lady, she was aware people would be looking, the child wasn’t backing down and I think as parents, sometimes we can probably make a situation worse. It is human nature to worry about what other people think of us and so we end up trying even harder to resolve and in this case quieten the child down. It is like children can sense a parent’s fear or desperation at times and this child had definitely gone past the point of no return – that was obvious, but keeping on at the child was definitely not working either. Sometimes, I guess a change of tact is required and it is times like this when having another parent/partner with you massively helps! Let’s not forget I have been in a very similar situation in My Single Parent Holiday Nightmare – Theresa May, Paramedics and Sandwiches!
(Frustrating moments are very normal when being a parent, but I am trying to get less stressed about things!)
4. Stickers for shoes
This one is more for my son, but may be of use to other children of a toddler age in preparing them for primary school and getting them used to their left and right. Very simply get a sticker, cut it in half and place the left hand part of the sticker in the inside of the left shoe and the right hand part of the sticker in the right shoe, when the shoes are put together the correct way the sticker is complete – a sure-fire way to help your child and get them to learn their left and right and great for when you are in a rush in the mornings too!
5. Present cupboard
I remember when I was younger, my Mum had one of these and used to think she was crazy for doing so! It now makes complete sense, we all have times where we have forgotten a Birthday party that our child is meant to go to, to suddenly remember a few hours before they are due to be there. I have a drawer dedicated to cards for all occasions, stamps, present bags (I tend to use these as my wrapping skills are about as good as a toddlers) and a selection of presents! This one has got me out of a few scrapes in the past!
My observation from what I have seen is that aprons are an underused item in a household! Aside from painting, whether it is baking a cake to eating spaghetti bolognaise, my two will always wear an apron! This means we aren’t having to change clothes midway through the day and as a result makes the washing pile that little bit lighter. In fact, anyone who knows my family well, will testify that my Dad still wears an apron when he eats spaghetti bolognaise too – he just can’t be trusted! Maybe, we are just a family of messy eaters!
(We love an Apron in our household!)
7. The Egg-timer
The egg-timer in my house has many different uses, although I don’t think I have actually ever used it to boil an egg! I will use the egg-timer mainly for when it is bed time or in the mornings when the children are brushing their teeth, it makes my life easier in two ways, a) the children stay in the bathroom looking at the egg-timer and so I don’t end up with toothpaste on my carpet and b) they brush their teeth for a decent length of time too.
My favourite use for an egg-timer though is playing is beat the clock. When the kids have made a mess with their toys etc and I want them to tidy it up, I will try to get them to beat the clock in order to tidy up the lounge for me! Winner!
8. Behaviour charts
I know a lot of parents who do this and some will question whether it is right to reward what it is ultimately expected behaviours of a child. I will be honest, I have never really done this before, but in the count up to my holiday with the children in August, I thought I would create a chart and if they are good on the days of the week I have them, they get a tick, if they are naughty they get a cross – all very simple stuff! The end goal for them is that they get some holiday spending money to do with whatever they please.
It seems incentives are pretty well-integrated in all walks of life already, the good school report or exam results, hell, even at some places of work. People get rewarded for treating customers well or exceeding expectations – so why is this any different? For me, it isn’t and promotes good behaviour, ok, there is a carrot dangling over their heads, but for me, the past couple of months, thing have gone pretty well – no real major stresses or dramas and as soon as there is an inkling I gently remind them about the chart.
9. Baby wipes
Every parents essential – need I say anymore? They seem to work on tough stains, toilet disasters and the cleaning up of a child – gone are the days of spit on a tissue! What more could you (or a child for that matter) want?
(Pass the baby wipes!)
10. Alone time
Now I appreciate, this isn’t something all of you who read this can do regularly. I know some of you are completely on your own and have little or no support whatsoever. Hopefully this doesn’t rub your nose in it, but my alone time is massively important to me. Whether it is when the kids are in bed, or when they are with their Mummy, time alone allows me to process, evaluate and plan.
It seems at times my children seem to be able to ‘smell’ when I am relaxing! Trying to find the time to relax is massively important in my book – for any parent, it allows us simply to re-charge, this is essential really to allow us to perform to the best of our abilities be it at work or at home.
(No child Zone!)
Let me know what you do to make things easier for yourself and if you enjoyed reading this, you can find the whole 10 things series here: