Now that Mr Z is 5, I have started to think about enrolling him in some kids after school activities. I was never really in favour of starting him too early, as I believe children do need time for relaxation and free play after school so I did not want to schedule all of his time. I don’t think one or two activities would hurt though!
I have moved house during every pregnancy with my 3 boys, plus another couple of moves in between too! Now we have been at this home since Mr R was 3 months old and I hope that we will be staying put for a good few years. Although it is always exciting to get a new home, packing up and moving everything especially with small children can start to get a little stressful! Today I have a guest post to share with you, to share a few tips if you are in the same situation of moving house with young children. Personally I found that luckily the children do adapt fairly quickly but I always need to allow for them to have a couple of days were they won’t sleep well as they are not yet used to their new house! I hope the following tips will come in handy for some of you:
Children need to have a sense of security and routine in their home life. That is why moving homes can sometimes be traumatic for young children who don’t understand what is going on.
Parents need to take certain steps to make the transition as easy as possible and they need to ensure their children understand the reason for the move.
Here are 6 tips on moving house with young children:
1. Explain the Move to Your Children
You might think your children are too young to understand, but they need to have some sort of explanation for why they will be living in a new home. Highlight all of the positive reasons your family is moving homes and why the new home will be better for your children.
2. Comfort their Concerns
Make sure your children know that all of their important belongings are also moving to the new home. Tell them that their loving family, special teddy bears, and favourite toys will still be with them no matter where they live.
3. Pack Their Room Last
Don’t start packing up your child’s belongings until the end, so your child’s room stays intact until the very last moment possible. This will give them a stable place to go if the sight of the rest of the house being packed up upsets them. It is also important to unpack their room first and to layout it out as closely to the old room as possible. This will make the new place feel safe and familiar.
4. Involve Kids in the Move
Young children like to be involved in grown up things whenever possible. If you give them some responsibilities and make them feel like they are a part of the process, they will become enthusiastic about moving homes instead of fearful.
5. Stay Calm and Organized
Young children will notice if the move is making you stressed out or frustrated. It is important that you stay calm and collected, so they get a sense of what a positive experience moving is for everyone.
If you are renting your new place, it is best to work with a letting agent that can make the transition as smooth as possible. Rentify has a solid history of helping families find safe and secure rental homes throughout the UK.
6. Plan Before You Go
Make sure you find a good school, dentist, pediatrician, pharmacy, and hospital in the new area before you arrive. You should also look for fun activities and family restaurants that your kids will enjoy, and then plan a trip to visit those places within the first week or two of moving in. This will help your kids get excited about their new home and location.
Moving homes is a big endeavor and it can be difficult on younger children. If you are moving homes with young children make sure to explain the move to your children, comfort their concerns, pack their room last, involve the kids in the move, stay calm, stay organized, and plan out the services and facilities that you will need once you are in the new home. These simple steps will make it easier on everyone.
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*Featured Guest Post* Image: Girl having fun moving house Shutterstock (modified)
As a parent, safety is always one of the primary concerns! Now that winter is here, the nights are drawing in very early and I have noticed that it even starts getting dark on our way home after school some days! The plus side of that is that we are lucky enough to have Christmas lights and decorations on our local main road which we sometimes pass on our way home, so it is lovely to see the trees and lights sparkling away, and we have lots of residents locally who have done a great job with their houses and front gardens too. The boys really enjoy pointing at all the lights that we pass.
However, there are some downsides to the dark evening too and the main one is safety. I hope these winter road safety tips will help to keep your children and family safe this winter.
Statistically you are more likely to get into a car or cycle accident in the dark. There is also a risk with children that they may not be seen by a driver as they dash along in the dark, which is why it’s important to wear a coat with some reflective panels or a bright colour to allow the child to easily be seen. I also ask Mr Z not to run too far ahead in the dark. Even on the pavement, there is a risk of cars reversing out of the driveway and in the cold weather they are likely to have all their windows closed so they will be less likely to hear a child running along as well as having reduced viability in the dark.
A really worrying statistic is the amount of cyclists being killed or injured on the roads these days. The number of cyclists killed increased by 10% from 107 in 2011 to 118 in 2012- The number of cyclists reported to have been seriously injured increased by 4% from 3,085 in 2011 to 3,222 in 2012* – meanwhile the number of cyclists overall has only increased by 1.2% over the same period. This shows that accidents are sadly becoming a lot more common. I have noticed myself that we are hearing of more cycling accidents in the news.
My boys do not cycle in the street at all yet, as they are too young and don’t have the required skills to cycle safely, but they do cycle in the back garden. As cycling is such a good form of exercise I would love to encourage them in the future, as long as they stay safe.
Eversure have provided some tips and advice about how to keep safe when cycling and these will definitely be important to remember if I do allow the boys to cycle out in the dark winter evenings as they grow older:
- Don’t overload a rucksack or backpack, you could reduce your ability to maintain your balance.
- Don’t use a phone or wear ear phones with music playing
- Wear a properly fitting crash helmet
- Make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
- Consider fitting a bike horn or bell to alert road users to your presence. You can get specialist electronic horns that can cut through most background noise
- Don’t cycle on the pavement (unless marked for cyclists)
- Always look and signal clearly, you can get electronic signals reasonably cheaply
- Always cycle with traffic, on the correct side of the road, never cycle into traffic, even if the roads are quiet
- Always have front and rear lights fitted to your bike, and check that these work before setting off
- You should wear light coloured clothes / hi vis / reflective clothing always when cycling in low visibility, not just at night
- Ride predictably, decisively, in a straight line, and well clear of the kerb
Do you allow your children to cycle in the winter evenings? What difficulties and worries do you have with Winter road safety? Let me know in the comments
Family Investments have just published their 3rd annual Family Friendly Hotspots report, detailing the best places here in the UK to bring up a family. The report is a result of analysing 2,400 postcodes throughout England and Wales to reveal the top 20 best places to bring up a family.
The factors taken into consideration to find the most family friendly places to live in the UK are:
- Childcare costs
- Local amenities
- Affordable property
- Green spaces
My area came out a fair bit worse than the national average on crime and safety, and more expensive than average for house prices (to be expected, we do live in London). But when it comes to education, our local schools are doing better than most and we have 8x the average amount of Green flag parks in our postcode area!
This years new results which have only just been revealed have shown that the Welsh postcodes stand out as the safest place to raise children. I can totally believe this, based on our trip to Wales over the summer. It did seem very calm, safe and tranquil compared to where we live. The Family Friendly Hotspots report finds Llwyngwril, St Marys, Abercych, Dyffryn Ardudwy and Seascale are the safest areas of England and Wales in which to raise a family in terms of crime.
90% of people stated that crime was the biggest factor when considering where to live, but If other factors are your top priority, then you may be interested to know that Brighton, Hove and Waltham Forest were named as the best areas for childcare provision. Meanwhile, Wokingham, Broadstairs and Gateshead were found to have the best local amenities.
Here are the overall results for each category. Is your postcode amongst them?
Safest postal districts in which to raise a family
1 LL37 Llwyngwril
2 TR21 St Marys
3 SA37 Abercych
4 LL44 Dyffryn Ardudwy
5 CA20 Seascale
6 SA34 Whitland
7 LL69 Penysarn
8 LL51 Garndolbenmaen
9 LD4 Llangammarch Wells
10 TR2 Probus
11 SY17 Carno
12 SA63 Clarbeston Road
13 EX21 Shebbear
14 TA22 Dulverton
15 SY19 Llanbrynmair
16 SY15 Montgomery
17 SA41 Crymych
18 SA32 Peniel
19 PL33 Delabole
20 NE68 Seahouses
Postal districts with the best childcare provision
1 BN1 Brighton
2 BN3 Hove
3 E17 Waltham Forest
4 BS16 Bristol
5 LE5 Leicester
6 SO19 Southampton
7 BN2 Brighton
8 BB2 Blackburn
9 SL4 Windsor
10 ST6 Stoke-On-Trent
11 PE1 Peterborough
12 E14 Tower Hamlets
13 SN3 Swindon
14 ST3 Stoke-On-Trent
15 IP14 Stowmarket
16 E4 Waltham Forest
17 CO10 Sudbury
18 DE23 Derby
19 LE15 Oakham
20 NW1 Camden
‘Most fun’ postal districts
1 RG40 Wokingham
2 CT10 Broadstairs
3 NE11 Gateshead
4 DT1 Dorchester
5 B78 Polesworth
6 PO30 Newport
7 GL50 Cheltenham
8 CA12 Keswick
9 RM20 Grays
10 DA9 Greenhithe
11 EX5 Bradninch
12 SY23 Aberystwyth
13 BH21 Wimborne
14 BS2 Bristol
15 CH62 Wirral
16 PL25 St. Austell
17 MK41 Bedford
18 TF3 Telford
19 BA1 Bath
20 PO20 Selsey
What do you think of the results? and how has your area fared?
You might also like:
*In Partnership with Family Investments
*Image used courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net and the image creator Ohmega1982 Image source: row of typical English terraced houses Shutterstock (modified)
Life with little people can often be loud and lively, but here are my tips to help keep things calm rather than chaos! Having three boys within 3 years (now 5, 3 and 2) I am now outnumbered by the little guys, so I do need to keep some order, and this is what works for me:
My Tips for a Peaceful Life with Preschoolers
Toddler-Proof the house
Having most of the precious or breakable things out of harms way allows everyone to relax more, so lessens unnecessary conflict. Especially with even younger toddlers (1+), temptation will always be there and they find it hard to control their impulses. Why leave a shiny and tempting vase or ornament at a low level? When it inevitably gets broken, you would realise that the whole thing could have been avoided by placing it up high. I still manage to decorate my house, with wall canvases, frames on higher shelves and nice soft furnishings but anything breakable, any important papers, or anything particularly expensive all needs to be kept safely out of harms way.
I find some of the things that always attracted my boys the most as soon as they started crawling or walking were the electrical items like the TV or computer. We got a much wider television stand so that all the wires are hidden behind it, and I found switching to a laptop much better as now all our Computer Cables are tidied away safely in the drawer.
Have a section of the house just for them
I know not everyone is lucky enough to have a playroom, we haven’t always had one. But I find it is great to have somewhere just for them which they can put their personality all over. It also helps to stop the whole house being taken over with toys and toddler paraphernalia! For my boys having a separate play room gives us a nice dedicated area to do activities together without the distractions of the rest of the home (like television, or spotting some dishes that might need doing!)
For us, having this space downstairs works much better. When I do need to get on with some household chores, they can play there. They wouldn’t all play on their own upstairs with their toys as they are quite young. My 2 year old especially likes to know that I am nearby! Before moving to this house, we used to have a special section of our living room to fulfil the same purpose.
Pick your battles
Save “no” for what really matters, and don’t assert your authority over every little thing. I remember clearly seeing an example this on one episode of Supernanny, before I even had kids. The mum asked her little boy to sit next to her on the sofa while she was feeding his younger baby brother. He didn’t want to, so didn’t listen. This resulted in him being warned for not listening, and then ended in hours of battling and naughty step – all because he didn’t want to sit on the sofa. There wasn’t even really a reason why he had to sit on the sofa! There is no point coming down so hard for arbitrary rules, it will create an atmosphere of tension and unhappiness in the house for parents and children. I’m not saying don’t have any authority, but if you save it for what is really important then the children are more likely to listen as they are not hearing “no no no no” all day long!
Fresh air and exercise
Young children (I’ve heard it said particularly boys, but I wouldn’t know as I have no girls to compare!) need their fresh air and exercise, as much as possible. Toddlers have a lot of energy. It needs to be burned off in a positive way. If not, you will find them going crazy in the house, becoming hyper active and sometimes even aggressive. I always notice the difference if we have a lot of bad weather or for some reason we are not able to go outside. In fact recently we had to stay in two weeks as one of the boys was recovering from an operation and couldn’t risk infection. I noticed within a couple of days that they really needed to use up their energy, so I let them clear a space in the house where they could race up and down without crashing into anything!
Keep them busy
A bored child will end up finding something to do to amuse them self, and it may not be with something you would like them to do. Drawing on the walls, sudocrem spread over the house – I’m sure many of us have been there! When I give my children constructive activities to do, the atmosphere is much more calm and peaceful and we all enjoy each other’s company more. No-one can spend all day crafting or entwined in make believe games with their little ones but a good balance between this, and having suitable toys and activities available for them to keep themselves busy should do the job.
I am meaning to start up a toy rotation, where I will pack some of the toys out of the way for a while and then reintroduce them, swapping some of the others away. This should help to keep the toys more fresh and exciting for them as they wouldn’t have seen them for a while. I also find that sometimes with even my 5 year old, when there is too much choice available he becomes overwhelmed. Having a selection of just a few suitable toys or activities at a time, can sometimes work better.
Using Screens in Moderation
I don’t believe in no TV whatsoever for preschoolers. I hate to say it, but certain parents who have bragged to me that they have no TV and their child is so exemplary – I’ve not always found this to be the case when said child has visited my home! A bit of well chosen children’s TV programming or DVDs is a life saver at times. Sometimes my boys are over tired and this leads to them getting hyperactive and wound up. You would think children would slow down when tired, but no – not mine! In those instances, it’s best to step in and switch on something to grab their attention for half an hour to give them the chance to recharge their batteries and cool off.
Give them responsibility, according to their ability
I always found this gives them a bit of control, and helps with their self esteem. There is less conflict when they feel they have a say in what they are doing, or are involved in the ways things are done. This works from getting toddlers to help prepare lunch, to letting them go and pick out their own clothes. Even for the younger boys who can’t talk, I like to give them choices by showing two options and letting them point. This is good to encourage early communication which is a foundation for speech, and a side benefit of that is that it let’s them know that their choices are important and that they have some say in their world.
Once they get a little older, they can be given some responsibility for problem solving and sorting out their own squabbles amongst themselves. I remember reading an example about a brother and sister who both wanted to sit in a certain seat in the car, and both were making a fuss. The mum told them, either you come to some agreement between you, or neither of you will get it. So they discussed with each other and ended up coming up with their mutually acceptable solution – brother would have the seat on the way there, and sister will have it on the way back. Because they were given ownership of the situation, they both accepted it and were happy with what they came up with, whereas if Mum had just given that solution straight away they still probably would have been moaning and not entirely happy with it.
Routine and let them know their expectations
My children, like most, respond better to having a rough routine in place. I am not a stickler for strict routines and schedules down to every last minute! But most children feel more secure when they know what is going to happen next. If they know that 7pm each night is bedtime, then they won’t really be as likely play up at bedtime because they know that this is bedtime and that’s just the way it is! If they are told in advance about plans or change of activities, then it will enable them to transition much better between activities. No wonder a toddler may have a tantrum if pulled away from a favourite activity with not even a moment’s warning! Even using a five or ten minute count down system could work much better. For some children having a routine in place visually in the home can help even more, or other visual support such as timers when moving on from certain activities if they need it.
It’s similar with behaviour. If they know what to expect and what is acceptable and not, then there are less boundaries to test. I don’t like to have lot and lots of rules in the house, so let the most important ones be clear and well known and leave it at that. Such as no hurting each other!
Let me know your tips too!
Most of my tips are common sense and may not sound like much but these simple things do make the difference between calm and chaos. What tips would you add? Let me know in the comments!
At any celebration time, Children end up eating more sweet treats! With Halloween just gone, there would be sweets and treats from trick or treating. At Bonfire Night there is the traditional toffee apples, or freshly cooked donuts! At Christmas, it’s uncommon to find a child who’s not going to be having some extra chocolate – whether a chocolate santa, chocolate coins or even from the chocolate advent calenders. We also give the kids lots of extra treats and deserts at Eid.
Knowing that these are the times we need to take even more extra special care of the children’s teeth – we were recently sent a Dental Hygiene box for the boys to take part in a kids toothbrushing challenge over Halloween.
Mr Z and Mr T were sent children’s electric toothbrushes. This is great as I had been thinking of getting this to replace their usual manual toothbrushes and see if it makes a difference to how clean they can get their teeth every day when brushing. Mr Z loves his electric toothbrush. Mr T is still a little unsure but hopefully it will grow on him! I do feel it does a better job for them and gives me more confidence that their teeth will be as clean as possible. We were also sent a packet of children’s dental flossers. I had never seen these before and wasn’t aware that you can get special dental floss for children! This is great to get them into the best habits early on!
They were also sent a chart to tick off once they have brushed their teeth each morning and evening, this is a good idea to give the children a visual reminder.
Finally, the boys were sent some sugar free treats each! They tasted just as good as the usual chocolates but must be kinder on teeth!
Thanks to Oasis Dental Care for our Dental Hygiene Package!
One of the many lessons I have learned in my 5 years as a parent is to expect the unexpected and that being a mum makes you stronger. You have no choice but to deal with all the challenges that you face, for your child’s sake. Sometimes you will find strength and energy reserves from a space inside you that you never even knew you had.
When I was expecting my first child, I never thought that 3 years down the line I would be there with 3 little boys, and it never crossed my mind that I would have a child with Autism.
When I became a mum for the first time with Mr Z, it suddenly hit me that I am the one responsible for this little person, and that as he grows up the first person he is always going to turn to and rely on and expect to fix his problems will be me, his mum. I will admit that as a young parent to realise this for the first time was such a strange feeling. It’s overwhelming and surreal at first. Whatever your age, it is a major adjustment to suddenly go from mainly looking out for yourself to having such a small helpless (and of course very cute!) little being relying on you for their every need.
I remember saying to some of my friends that I would leave about 4 or 5 years between children so that I would have my first one off to school and then have the next one, to give me plenty of time to spend one to one, and to be able to relax and make life easy for myself. They reminded me of this when I ended up having my next baby within 18 months! We may make our plans, but we never really know what life has in store. Expecting a second baby while my first was only around 8 months was quite a surprise to me, but it was lovely. I really enjoyed having the two of them so close together, and that is why my next one has the same age gap because it was so happy with that age gap dynamic that I thought I would repeat it!
After having my first child, I might have thought that I will know exactly what to expect, being a seasoned mum by that time. I soon found out that was not the case. At the times I would have expected my second little one to be meeting his milestones, he wasn’t meeting them. So by the time he was one and a half and my third baby was born, he still was not able to stand and walk, and was not talking at all. We knew he was globally delayed but it took another year and a bit before he was formally diagnosed with Autism.
That time was quite challenging for me. At the time my husband should have been just finishing his paternity leave, he was unexpectedly hospitalised and I was on my own with a brand new newborn baby, a just turned 3 year old, and a one and half year old toddler with special needs. Just to add to the situation, at that time we were living in a mouldy damp flat with a leaking roof and a crazy landlady so we had to pack up and leave!
The gift my children have given me is to know that whatever life throws at us, I will deal with it and find the strength to make the best of any situation and always do the best for them. I sometimes feel like being a mum gives you a sort of super power – to deal with the unexpected and find strength to cope with whatever life throws at you. In a small child’s eyes, Mum knows everything and Mum can do anything. So when you see that look in their eyes, you know that you have to try!
I’m not saying it is all a struggle. On the contrary, it’s a joy. There have been so many laughs and smiles and special moments along the way. The words your child says unexpectedly for the first time; the steps they take, when you almost thought they were never going to get there. The last minute spontaneous trips to new destinations and seeing the joy in your children’s faces at seeing something new and exciting. So many special moments that I never knew to expect back when I was expecting my first baby, and so many more still yet to be experienced!
Maybe the unexpected is not always all that bad after all.