Playing with your kids – boring or fun?

I recently read an article that said playing with your children was boring.  Ok I thought when I first saw the headline I am not going to pretend I absolutely love playing with Little Mr A every minute of the day, his new ‘trumping on people’ game is certainly not one I enjoy joining in with, but I do enjoy playing with him.  The more I read of the article the more I was quite disgusted at the sentiment in it.  Why this person ever had children is beyond me!

Little Mr A reading and playing

Little Mr A reading and playing

In my opinion, when you chose to have children you give up your life for the next 16-18 years (or longer! )to be there for your child’s needs.  This is not to say you can’t still have adult time, however, your children come first.  Yes this will include doing things that maybe you aren’t too entertained by, but so what!  Even if I am not particularly enjoying a game we are playing/place we are visiting, seeing Little Mr A happy makes me happy.

Who's having more fun?!

Who’s having more fun?!

I think parents have a big responsibility to teach their children how to play both by themselves and with others.  How many times have you been to a playgroup and seen either a child sat on their own or running around taking toys off other children as they have not been taught how to play properly?  I am not professing to be the perfect Mum who drops everything as soon as Little Mr A says play with me.  Yes there are times that jobs need doing and I have to say no, however, at weekends we will often take it in turns to either go and play lego/trains etc in his room or bring a game downstairs for the whole family to play together.

Playing board games is a favourite Sunday afternoon activity

Playing board games is a favourite Sunday afternoon activity

I don’t consider ‘play’ to be just using toys.  I think anything you can make fun and do together with your child could be considered ‘playing’.  For instance baking, crafts, even getting them to help you with the cleaning can be made into a fun game.  Little Mr A is always asking if he can help with the cooking.

Little Mr A has always loved helping with cooking

Little Mr A has always loved helping with cooking

It is hard sometimes to find the imagination to play with your children and I must admit I do prefer playing actual games or doing jigsaws with Little Mr A, however, I try to remember what it was like when I was a child playing with Barbies etc and all the fun things me and my sister used to play.

Me & my sister used to have great fun (check out those matching outfits!)

Me & my sister used to have great fun (check out those matching outfits!)

I do think it is important for children to learn to play on their own too but sometimes I find Little Mr A needs starting off with something to play with then he will quite happily carry on playing on his own.  At the moment he is spending a lot of time in his bedroom building lots of little lego things for a ‘show’ he is going to do!

I join in with IzziWizzi playfest on a Tuesday night on Twitter which is a group of mums getting together to discuss different play ideas (and see my previous post).  If anyone is doubting how fun playing with your child is I suggest joining in with us!  I think us mums often get more excited about new toys and play ideas than our children!

How do other parents feel about playing with their children?  Do you find it a pleasure or a chore?

Half term fun (& not so fun!)

If I am being completely honest I was not looking forward to half term last week.  It was the first time I was going to be on my own with both of my babies and Little Mr A has been a little sod challenging lately to say the least!

I knew it was going to be a hard week and I was not wrong!  Although it was nice to be able to have a bit of lazy time together without rushing around getting ready for school, the constant noise and lack of any personal space has been rather difficult to cope with!  I fell out a lot with Little Mr A.  I love him to pieces and it hurts so much to argue with him all of the time but it is just so frustrating when he won’t listen to anything!  I want my lovely little chap back that we took on holiday last year, not this monster that we seem to bring home from school everyday!

If I hadn’t kept him entertained I could understand him getting bored and frustrated which is usually when he starts to play up, however, I did only the essential cleaning like the pots/washing, the housework I thought could wait a week!  Little Miss A was either asleep or laid on the floor entertaining herself so I could spend as much time as possible with Little Mr A.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much we do with him, it’s never enough!

I know he is struggling to come to terms with not being an only child anymore but I don’t know what else we can do to make him feel included.  He is beginning to play with Little Miss A more now she is getting bigger but some days he is so rough, shouting and laughing really loud right in her face or trying to roll her around and when we tell him to stop he just doesn’t listen.

At the moment all treats are banned.  He is having no computer games or i-Pad and no T.V. programmes of his at all.  He tried to convince me that Total Wipeout was my programme and that we could watch it, but I wasn’t falling for it!

I am really hoping he settles down soon, I don’t know how much more we can take.  I hate to see him so upset and emotional when he has been told off but the nicely, nicely approach just doesn’t work anymore!  I feel like I am being such a bad mum sometimes and that he must hate me, but my patience is wearing so thin I can’t help but snap at him.

Having said all that (!) we did manage to do some fun things in between the bickering…

making binocularsmaking cupcakesmaking pancakesmaking cardstrip to magnalego

I can’t say I am looking forward to the Easter holidays in a few weeks, however, I am hoping the weather will be nice so I can shut him outside let him play outside!

I hope everyone else’s half terms have been/will be more successful!

Updated Diary of a Newborn and first food video

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Diary of a newborn has been updated with a video of Little Miss A enjoying her first taste of food!  Please check it out x

Story Time

Since Little Mr A started back at school after Christmas his reading has really come on.  PushHe is now bringing home two books at a time, a phonics book (which are gradually getting longer and harder) and now an Oxford Reading Tree book with more difficult words.  He loves reading and can’t wait to read the books to us when we get home.  When we are out and about he is forever reading signs, sides of lorries, wherever there are letters really!

I have videoed him reading his latest books as I thought it would be really nice to remember how he started reading and it will be interesting to look back in a few months to see how he has progressed.

Max’s Box….

Push…

Pancake day!

Since Little Mr A started school no ‘holiday’ big or small (Diwali anyone?) goes without a celebration in our house.  Last week he came home very excited as he had had pancakes at school (they are on half term this week so had them a week early).  He has been pestering me all week for pancakes and finally, today, I was able to let him have some!

Here are some pics of me and my helper making our pancakes:

Making the batter...

Making the batter…

Mummy are they ready yet?

Mummy are they ready yet?

 

Mmmm.... Chocolate spread!

Mmmm…. Chocolate spread!

Enough pictures now, I want to eat them!

Enough pictures now, I want to eat them!

 

The aftermath!

The aftermath!

 

Roll on Easter!

Review – East Park, Hull

DSCF2533The one thing I miss now we don’t live in Hull is being able to pop to East Park.  We only used to live just around the corner so could often be found there on a Sunday afternoon or I would take Little Mr A when we had our Mondays off together.

When you think of a park you think of a bit of green space and maybe a few swings, slides etc.  Well East Park has this but also so much more.  As well as the usual play park which is full of activities for all ages, there is also 130 acres of parkland to enjoy ranging from open space to more wooded areas where you can spot many a squirrel!

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There is also a lake with splash boats and rowing boats in the summer, an animal education centre and a great cafe.

The animal education centre is a great place for children.  There are so many animals to see including snakes, tarantulas, millipedes, beetles, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, deer, alpacas, wallabies, chickens, parrots and peacocks.  There is also a walk through aviary which includes exotic birds, Koi carp and a waterfall.  Be warned though, once when I took Little Mr A there was a peacock stood in the middle of the path as we went in.  It had it’s feathers up and would not let us pass.  It was quite scary as once you are in you cannot get out without walking all the way around and there was no-one else about.  Eventually I managed to sneak past hiding behind the pushchair, we must have looked ridiculous to anyone watching!  Another great thing about the animal education centre is it is free.

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If you need to take a break there is a great cafe where you can get tea, cold drinks, cake, paninis, etc and when it’s cold you can warm up with one of their lovely hot chocolates!  The cafe can get quite busy as they cater for a lot of groups but there is seating outside and you can take the food out with you.  They do have a few children’s toys and books in one corner so when it is quiet in there it is a nice place to sit with your children and they can be kept occupied whilst you have a nice cuppa!

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If you like to be a bit more active you can hire a bike to go around the park, I have also seen running clubs there to but have never found out more about this as I am hopeless at running!

Throughout the year there are often events taking place.  The main one we always try to visit is the fair in October.  When Hull fair finishes a lot of the rides and attractions take off to different parts of the country but some of them stay and set up in East Park for a weekend.  I’m not keen on taking Little Mr A to Hull fair when it is on as it is so big and busy I can’t relax and worry all the time I am going to lose him (I know I need to losen up a bit!) so this is a great compromise.  He gets to go on the fairground rides but there is nowhere near as many people around!

So if you are looking for something to do with your children on a visit to Hull that doesn’t cost much, I would highly recommend East Park!

For directions and more details please click here.

To work or not to work? The cost of childcare -v- wages and family time

As I am sure most people are aware, this week the government announced new plans to cut the cost of childcare.  These plans would see childcare workers requiring higher qualifications, however, the number of children they could look after would increase from 4 to 6 at age two, and for under ones the number would increase from 3 to 4.  Although I am sure we would all like our children to be looked after by highly qualified staff, surely any benefit this may have would be wiped out by the fact they are looking after more children and therefore they will not have as much time or attention to spend with each child anyway.  I can say, from our experience, we have never had any problems with either staff that are still training or those that are already qualified at either of the nurseries Little Mr A has attended.  They have all been very professional and Little Mr A has had a really great relationship with all of the workers who have looked after him.

Little Mr A at his first nursery!

Little Mr A at his first nursery!

Also, any saving made in being able to look after more children will be wiped out by the fact that higher qualified staff will demand higher wages?  In my opinion ALL nursery workers deserve to be paid more, regardless of qualifications.  They are under a lot of pressure not only to look after your children but also to fill in the ridiculous amount of paperwork in order for OFSTED to be satisfied   I really don’t need it documenting every time my child poops/laughs/smiles (OK maybe I am exaggerating but you get the picture!)  We have even attended parents evenings to find out how Little Mr A is getting on!  Is it really necessary?  I would rather my children got their workers’ attention 100% of the time than get a photo/description of every single thing they have done.  So what if they can’t recite the alphabet backwards and count to 100 when they go to school – maybe I am wrong, but I thought school was for learning?!  Whatever happened to having fun at nursery?  Why do we feel the need for kids to be taught right from being a baby?  They have plenty of time to grow up and learn when they start school, I really think nursery should be more relaxed and fun.  Do they need to learn phonics before they start school?

Little Mr A had a great relationship with all the nursery workers

Little Mr A had a great relationship with all the nursery workers

I know the government will not win whatever ‘solution’ they come up with as there will always be someone who disagrees but I really don’t feel their proposals are an acceptable solution to any parent.  Any parent will know how difficult it is to look after one or two children, let alone four or even six!  In my opinion I feel that reducing the actual cost of childcare is not the solution.  I think more help should be given to those parents that do choose to go back to work.  I appreciate that some help is already given in the form of tax credits/childcare vouchers/free nursery hours but I feel that these could be increased upon, rather than cut as they have been.

Since going on maternity leave in September we have been thinking a lot about whether it is worth me going back to work when my maternity leave ends.  If I choose to go back to work we will get no help with the cost of childcare and, unless I work 5 days a week all of my wages will be eaten up with the cost of childcare and transport, etc.  We would probably be lucky to come away with an extra £100 a month!  When we just had Little Mr A it was not really an issue.  I could work 3 full days a week, still leaving me time off with him, and, because we were on lower wages (and the tax credit thresholds were lower!) it made sense for me to work.

Now, as I have to fit in work around Little Mr A’s school times, it really doesn’t seem worth the hassle!  With Big Mr A getting his new job at the start of the year it means he needs the car everyday, he is out the house at 7:30 a.m. and doesn’t get home most nights until gone 6:00 p.m. which I am sure is the case in a lot of working households.  For me to be able to get Little Mr A to school in time, Little Miss A to a nursery and then get to work at a reasonable time on the bus would just be an almost impossible task.  By the time I got to work it would be time to leave to pick them up again!  This would mean buying another car.  So as well as paying for childcare for Little Miss A we would have to pay a car loan, insurance, tax, petrol as well as any maintenance jobs that needed doing.  Maybe that £100 a month is looking a bit optimistic!!

In some ways of course I would love to go back to work and have a bit of ‘me’ time away from my family but I don’t want this to come at the expense of family time.  If I do go back to work, when are all the other jobs going to get done such as cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping etc?  The only time to do these would be the weekend which would take away from precious family time.  Children grow so quickly, before I know it Little Miss A will be at school and I don’t want to look back and regret not spending time with her.

I really appreciate the fact that we actually have a choice of me not having to go back, I know some people don’t have that choice and have to work to survive.

Does anyone have the perfect family/work balance and if so, how on earth do you manage it?!

‘Slave’ At Home Mum

Don’t get me wrong, I am loving being a mummy again and really enjoying being at home and being able to pick up Little Mr A from school everyday as well as spending lots of time with Little Miss A, however, when I thought about being a SAHM, I didn’t realise the ‘S’ stood for slave!

I don’t mind doing the pots, washing, ironing, cleaning, meal planning, online shop, cooking or getting the kids ready, bathed, fed or even feeding the dog, however, I do sometimes feel it is taken for granted and maybe a little bit more appreciation wouldn’t go amiss!  Big Mr A, if you are reading, there are no ‘fairies’ that come and do these things!

Even at a friend's party I had a hoover in my hand! (BTW it was fancy dress!!!)

Even at a friend’s party I had a hoover in my hand! (BTW it was fancy dress!!!)

Little Mr A just expects me to do all these things and more often than not I have to drop a subtle hint that a thank-you would be appreciated.  Big Mr A can be just as bad!  Quite often he will drop a comment about what we are having to eat that week which may not seem like a big deal to him but actually it’s quite offensive when I have spent ages trying to think of interesting things we can eat rather than having the same stuff week in week out.

It wasn’t so bad when I was on maternity leave with Little Mr A.  We could laze around in bed for a couple of hours watching TV but now I have to get up to get Little Mr A ready for school, his lunchbox packed and get him to school on time.   I don’t have a car so we have to get out the house on time or he will be late!

I’m sure I am probably more appreciated than I think but some weeks I would love to take off on my own and leave them to it or swap roles with Big Mr A for the week.  I appreciate that he has to go out to work everyday but sometimes I long for that again, just having a bit of me time and adult conversation!

It is the same when it comes to holidays.  When Big Mr A is off, he is off.  He will watch TV, play playstation etc.  When do I get a holiday?!

Don’t get me wrong I am quite lucky, Big Mr A is helpful most of the time but sometimes I wish he would just think for himself rather than asking or having to be told what needs doing!

Anyway I am sure all us mum’s feel unappreciated and ‘used’ some of the time and I suppose I am luckier than some as I do have a husband that will help.  He is brilliant with the children when they are being hard work.  Tonight he came home and had to deal with Little Mr A who had been sat at the table for over an hour refusing to eat his tea.  He was really calm with him but in the end had to carry him kicking and screaming to bed as he would just not listen!  This meant he has not seen Little Miss A at all today as she was asleep when he left for work and went to bed as he was putting Little Mr A to bed.  He does let me have a lie in at the weekend too (but I won’t feel guilty about that unless he starts getting up to do the night feeds!).

Sometimes I just wish I could have a bit of ‘me’ time back!  Maybe I just need a good night out!

A bit of 'me' time would be nice...

A bit of ‘me’ time would be nice…

 

Reminiscing….

Little Mr A has been feeling quite down recently, mainly through being overtired from school but he has also been feeling very jealous of Little Miss A and all the attention she obviously needs.  He has been wanting us to feed him and has insisted on watching CBeebies again, as well as wanting to be carried everywhere by his Daddy!

Last night was a particularly horrendous night with Little Mr A coming into our bed about 1 o’clock and refusing to leave us.

Today he asked to look at some of the old photos of him as a baby and, after I had shown him a few I dug out the DVD we had made of him of lots of videos when he was a baby.  He seemed to really enjoy watching it and I hope it has made him realise he was a baby once too and it is not that we don’t love him anymore, he just has to understand he is growing up and Little Miss A takes up lots of our attention.

'Little' Little Mr A

‘Little’ Little Mr A

We have had a much nicer evening with him, he had a fun bath, then we all snuggled on the bed to watch In the Night Garden and he went to bed without any fuss.

Looking back at his video was really nice for us too.  We had forgotten what he was like as a baby (a bit grumpy most of the time!) and have said we need to start taking more videos of both of them.  Photos are all well and good but they don’t always capture things as well as a video.

We have made a start tonight at bathtime…..

 

How did others cope with elder sibling jealousy?  Any tips to make him feel less left out?

Feeling let down…

Today was the day we had to take Little Miss A to the hospital for her tongue tie to be snipped.  I was hoping to be able to come back and tell you all about the wonderful experience we had.  Unfortunately (but not unsurprisingly given my past experiences with the NHS!) that is not the case.

When we went in to see the Dr and he asked how she was feeding.  We explained she was being bottle fed and that although she was feeding she was not having as much as she should and therefore we had been advised to have her tounge tie dealt with by our GP and Health Visitor to see if that helped her.

We popped her on the bed and he had a look in her mouth.  When he did, obviously, she had a little cry, wouldn’t you if some stranger put their fingers in your mouth?!  He then turned around and said he wouldn’t do it today he wanted to do it under anesthetic at a later date!  Both Big Mr A and I looked at each other in bewilderment.  We explained again to the Dr why we were there i.e. because we had been referred by our GP.

He then said that if she was a breastfed baby and having problems he would have done it there and then.  This is when I went into a bit of a meltdown!  I was already, understandably, a bit stressed about having to put my baby through such an ordeal without the ‘B’ word coming up again!  I said to him, as best I could through my tears (!), ‘So if I was breastfeeding you would do it today?’.  His basic answer was ‘yes’.  I asked what the difference was, we had been referred because of her ‘feeding’ issues, surely it doesn’t matter how they are being fed?!!  He said those were the guidelines for breastfed babies, there are no guidelines for bottle fed babies – don’t they think there should be?!

Reluctantly, he agreed to do it (probably just to stop me making ant more of a scene!) but said she would probably cry!  Er, no *@#” Sherlock, I’d never thought of that, we were just here for a nice morning out!  When I asked if it would hurt her, he just shrugged his shoulders!  I know you can’t ask a baby if something hurts but surely with his experience he must know whether it hurts or is just uncomfortable?!

Anyway I am pleased to say the procedure itself was fine – well so Big Mr A told me – I couldn’t face being in the room, as much as I wanted to be there for her I am just too squeamish and I knew she had her Daddy with her so she wasn’t alone.  Yes, she screamed for a couple of minutes but after that she was fine.  There was a little bit of blood but she didn’t appear to be in any pain.

I did apologise to the Dr for getting upset but it is hard enough to make these decisions for your children without being made to feel even worse.  I appreciate there are guidelines to be followed but maybe it’s about time the NHS started treating both breastfeeding and bottle feeding Mummies the same and had guidelines for both.

I wish they had told me when she was born just to get her tongue tie dealt with then we wouldn’t have had any of these worries.  At the time they said it may or may not need doing and it was up to us.  We weren’t really given any information about it.  I would say to anyone wondering whether or not to get it done – just do it whilst they are tiny!

My brave little princess after her ordeal xxx

My brave little princess after her ordeal xxx

To top it all off we were told to stay at the hospital for 5-10 minutes to make sure the bleeding stopped so we decided to go to the cafe for the only thing I had been looking forward to, a Mocha!  Big Mr A put his money in the machine and it said there were no cups left.  As we were in the cafe he asked one of the staff for a cup only to be told they couldn’t give him one!

I am so glad today is over with and hope we don’t have to make any more trips to the hospital any time soon.