New Years Resolutions

I just checked the date thinking “is it too late to write this blog post now?”…how is it only the 6th January? I was expecting it to say 20th. Just…

I just checked the date thinking “is it too late to write this blog post now?”…how is it only the 6th January? I was expecting it to say 20th. Just goes to show how life is dragging in lockdown 3.0.

During 2020, I was forced to spend a lot of time with myself. That might sound odd, but usually my brain is active on other things like, where to go next etc. Actually sitting with myself and being content with myself enjoying the little things in life made me learn at lot of lessons.

My new life lessons have shaped my new years resolutions for 2021. I will add that, I have never been a new years resolution person. The phrase “new year, new me” would make me wince. Yet here we are…

Right after the countdown I actually said “I feel like this years going to be for me”. I am more than ready to embrace change into my life and face aspects of my life that were making me unhappy, rather than just moaning about it.

Read Morekindle

Yes, a very common basic new years resolution but let me explain why…

I taught secondary school students 2 years ago. I spent the majority of my time making complicated content sound easy. Then I had to young kids close together. My range in vocabulary had changed. Conversations with friends and family started to feel slightly intimidating because I knew for a fact that the words I would choose to speak were very bland. It is not like I don’t understand what complex words mean, more so that I lost confidence in using them.

To get me going I downloaded a vocabulary app, simply called: Vocabulary. It pops up with a new word and meaning throughout the day as a notification to your phone.

Then I purchased a Kindle. When I was younger, I would always have a book in my hand. I read Malorie Blackman’s book over and over. I spent a lot of time researching Kindle’s because the feel of an actual book to me is part of the whole reading experience. Not to turn this into a Kindle review but, there are a few things I enjoy:

  • The access to hundreds of books that can be downloaded instantly
  • Cost efficient compared to buying an actual book
  • Do not take as much space as books do
  • The data insights into how much you are reading and how long you have left makes me eager to read more.

So far, I have read more books in January than the past couple of years.

Shop Small

In a bid to become more conscious of the planet, shopping small is something I want to pay more attention to. I must confess that I use to be the first to hop onto Amazon and order what I needed from there but after discovering Etsy, and the hundreds of small businesses that make beautiful products, it is my first point of call now.

The downside is they tend to be more expensive. However, as I have become more minimal, I look at treating myself to a cute house accessory that is sustainably made rather than buying what I don’t need from a huge store.

Keep up to date photo albums

Anyone else take hundreds of pictures on their phone and never get them developed?

I purchased this photo album to put a stop to it. I love how it reminds me of when I was younger and I would look through the old school photo albums my parents use to make. I’ve filled three up to now and they are my favourite things ever. 

I use the free prints app to select 45 free photos a month and just pay for postage.

Become more organisedbecoming more organised

A hard pill to swallow was that I am not organised. I think I do try to be but I write that many notes down all over the place and have so many new ideas for projects on the go, I found myself not moving forward with any of them.

My new planner is solely business focused and is the key to my new mission to become organised. It features a full weekly spread with room to add goals and tick lists. by far the most superior weekly planner I have ever seen.

Journal

On the subject of planning, my final resolution is to journal. This is for me to brain dump all of my thoughts and feelings in the evening in the hope for an easier switch off.

I love the aesthetics of bullet journals however, for me I know that I need a simple journal with various prompts. You can purchase my exact journal here.

Mental health is extremely important and over one of the most challenging years we have had, I realise this is something I need to do for myself.

I would love to know in the comments if you currently journal and has it helped you in any way?

Thank you for reading

lot’s of love

Zoe

xx

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Zoe’s Self Care Routine

This year, 2020 has been a very mentally challenging time – the pandemic. With the new year right around the corner, I made a pledge to myself to get in…

self care tipsThis year, 2020 has been a very mentally challenging time – the pandemic. With the new year right around the corner, I made a pledge to myself to get in the best mindset for a fresh new start. We all deserve it. That is why i’m going to share my simple self care tips with you.

I’ll start off with what gets me stressed. I am one of those people that gets overwhelmed easily. I struggle with having a million jobs to do and nothing getting done or, if I do get things done, I will beat myself up feeling guilty for not having quality time with my children.

During lockdown, I was forced to face myself. Spending so much time on my own gave me the opportunity to improve my day to day life and lift up my mood.

Bubble Bath

Pour it all in! Turn the lights off. Phone away and eyes closed. oh it is just so relaxing…until Mole runs in. It occurred to me that there is little time in the day I am by myself. My boyfriend works from home and I have Mole and Frankie glued to my hip. A hot bubble bath allows you “me” time.

Paintingself care tip

My Grandad use to paint landscapes and it has always fascinated me. The detail, patience and talent involved to make the picture look realistic is truly a work of art in itself. The best part is you do not have to be good at it to enjoy it. Just make patterns on paper. I aim to paint once a week. It is surprising how quickly your mind can become lost in paint and any worries or stresses disappear.

Learning

Expanding my knowledge is very important for my mental health. I like to still feel I can hold a conversation in interesting topics and have enough understanding to form an opinion.

I enrolled on an online course that studies Bitcoin and the Fintech movement. There are so many free online courses to choose from. You can give an hour a week over a number of weeks and trust me, when I tell you how amazing you will feel afterwards.

Seeing how much learning a new topic was making me feel content, I decided to download an app to my phone that pops up with new vocabulary every couple of hours. It is the simplest thing but I feel so good for learning something new.

Create a folder of your best memories on your phone

When times get tough and I start to miss my family and friends, I go through a folder I created on my phone full of happy times. It puts me in a positive mood and makes me look forward to the times ahead.

Lift Heavy

No matter how tired or drained I feel, getting in a workout is vital for my mental health. Any stresses or anger are taken out. You have to move your body. Spend at least 20 minutes working out. I can promise you, your head will feel clear afterwards and you will have a better nights sleep.

Do something for someone else

Feeling good about yourself doesn’t mean you only have to do things for yourself. I started putting time out of my day to help others.

Donating toys, clothes or money can make a difference to someone else.

Whilst I had nothing physical to give, I began creating free revision tools for Computer Science students to download. The feeling is amazing reading the feedback.

Pamperself care tips

Hair mask, face mask, manicure and self tan make me feel fresh. I love dedicating a full evening to take care of my body. There is just something about the next day when you wake up with soft glowing skin and polished nails. If you are ever feeling a little bit rubbish, take the effort to look after yourself. I can guarantee you will wake up with a spring in your step.

 

Let me know your favourite self care tip in the comments below!

Look after yourselves, speak soon,

Zoe

xx

 

 

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Amazon’s Top 5: Best Selling Beauty Products

Whilst I was doing my evening skin care routine, a thought came to me. I wonder what the best selling beauty products are on Amazon? So, my mission was to…

Whilst I was doing my evening skin care routine, a thought came to me.

I wonder what the best selling beauty products are on Amazon?

So, my mission was to find out.  Plus, during the process, check out the reviews and hopefully seek out new beauty products that I should be using, that everyone else is already using.

amazon best selling beauty products UKDots For Spots

Target your spots by placing the smallest, discrete patch over your pimple. I have used a similar product before and have seen great results.

The price of this product is only £5.99 which is half the price I have previously paid for the product from another brand.

 

Look at the reviews! Over 5000! Straight in my basket.

 

amazon top selling beauty products UKAztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay

You can use this giant tub of Aztec mud on your body, face or hair!

What for?

Healing, cleansing and toning.

The beautiful Egyptian women used clay from the River Nile in their beauty regime. Definitely ordering this for only £13.85!

amazon best selling beauty ukCeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

A very reassuring sight to see this product at number 3. I’ve always opted for a simple cleanser for my skin care routine. I’ve found that with sensitive skin, this has always worked best for me.

This price is a bargain too at only £7.10

 

amazon best selling skin care UKOrganic Vitamin C Serum & Hyaluronic Acid by Florence

Replenish your skin with this Vitamin C Serum. Ok, I feel like this is the product that everyone has been using except for me.

Over 28,000 reviews! This best seller is a steal at £9.99, Did I mention this product is Vegan?

It’s a yes from me.

 

amazon top selling beauty products UKElemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

 

This product appearing on the top sellers list has come at no surprise to me.

Beauty bloggers over Instagram have been raving at this skin care staple over this year. Taking your make up off with a balm leaves you with hydrated and clean skin before you go in with your second cleanser.

Currently on offer for £30.80. That is a deal your skin can not miss.

 

What do you think? Comment below any products on here that you have not used before!

Speak to you soon

Zoe

xx

 

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Styling Mole and Frankie’s Playroom

The Playroom: our first point of call when boredom strikes. A handy option to have to break up part of the day. Here is our Playroom journey: My thinking The…

The Playroom: our first point of call when boredom strikes. A handy option to have to break up part of the day.

Here is our Playroom journey:toddler playroom kitchen

My thinking

The style of the whole house is cool-toned neutral with a modern twist. In addition, I still wanted to keep to a modern flow , to be cohesive for the style going on with the rest of the house. However, this room needed to be inviting for the children. Give off an impulse to play and be creative.

 

Scandinavian Style

The Scandinavian style. Renowned for their simplicity, utility, and beauty. Besides, when researching different themes for the room I came across many different ones, from Boho to Classic. Nothing matched my love for minimalism until I saw the Nordic/Scandinavian Style. The love for clean lines, simple art and functionality. But, what pulled my heart in the most was the use of natural materials like wood.

Choosing a colour palette

Choosing the room colour is very important. I knew I wanted top take a risk with this room and ditch the typical neutral toned walls like the rest of the house. My usual motto is to go with neutral walls and add colour and warmth with decor.

The room is a small box room. Therefore, choosing a dark colour for the walls was out of the question. Finally, once I had settled on the intention of a playful environment with colour, I began to look at palette that were suitable for this idea.

Nordic Spa by Dulux was bright, clean and fun. I can not explain to you, how much using this colour on all of the walls changed the openness of the room. It was like we had added an extra window.

The tone worked beautifully with dusky pinks, grey and blue.

Wall Arttoddler wall art

The three posters have been framed with a thick black frame to create the clean defined lines seen in Scandinavian styles.

The background colours on the art add pops of colour and tie in the rest of the colour palette.

I purchased them from Desenio. They were placed in the centre of the wall and a little higher up to allow for a spacious feel, as most of the storage and play toys are at the lower level.

Storage

The key to making a Playroom complete. Storage is essential. I went for large draws that are big enough to throw all sorts of toys in that are usually on the floor making the room look untidy. Most importantly, storage is vital for keeping for children entertained.

How?

Toy rotation. Storage allows toys to be hidden out of sight. Rotating the toys makes them feel like new.

Using natural materials for the storage was necessary. I hate plastic. It is bad for the environment. Plastic takes away the Scandinavian style where the core purpose is to provide functionality with natural materials.nordic playroom

The storage we use is from Flexa.

The Storage Bench 3 in 1

My favourite feature is the cut-out. This ensures that the child will not pinch the fingers when the storage bench is been closed. The sleek, modern design means that the storage bench will look beautiful in any room of the house. Place cushions on top to make the storage area a seating area.

One downside I have with the storage bench is that it is tricky to open the draw on the carpet. It would work better on wooden or tiled floor.

To add to the storage. This toy chest on wheels allows you to decide if you want it as storage or a pull along cart.

Book Storage

Flexa Play Shelf

In addition to the toy storage, to keep the furniture matching, the bookshelf is also from Flexa. Originally, I wanted the bookshelf higher on the wall to create shelving and free up floor space. However, the kids have access to the books when it is on the floor and I did not want to drill holes in the wall to hang the case up on.

Table and Chairstoddler table and chair

Shortly after Mole celebrated her second Birthday, I realised the need for a table and chair set. Allowing her to be creative with arts and crafts or her favourite thing to do is set up a tea party on.

I had spent hours researching table and chair sets that were of good quality. An easy option for me was to go back with the brand Flexa. They have provided quality and the colour scheme their furniture comes in matches the theme of the playroom.

The deep pink serves a contrast with the greys in the room.

Play table Popsicle 

You can mix and match the stools for more pops of colour.

Stool Popsicle

Creating Space

The Playroom is a small box room so, when all of the furniture and storage moved in, the space closed in too. I needed to extend the space without extending the physical footprint of the room. To do this I added a simple play mat.

The play mat has created a new section in the room in fact, we call this section the kitchen area, when I see Mole or Frankie getting bored of the area, it can be changed to a new area.

The style of the mat flows with the rest of the room.

Our playmat is in the shade: Moon Grey

Statement Toystoddler wooden toy blocks

Lastly, you need statement toys for defining the playroom from a storage room, moreover, once all of the main toys have been tided up and put away, I leave the following toys out for character and style.

Ooh Noo Wooden Blocks

Mole and Frankie love to stack the blocks and I think they look fantastic spread across the playmat.

Toy Kitchen

This toy kitchen belonged in the living room. I choose this kitchen because it was small enough to fit in the space I had available for it at the time. I didn’t want an overpowering toy kitchen in the area where I like to relax.

The kitchen is made from natural wood.

Soft Play

Frankie’s personal favourite. Soft play blocks with a slide. The soft play has given us so much laughter over the year it is my favourite part of the play room too!

 

I hope you enjoyed reading about the thought process behind creating the playroom. I am always keen to hear your thoughts. Most importantly, advice on what I could add to improve functionality or style. Please leave a comment below.

 

Zoe

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 5: Kitchen Decor

We are all staying in our homes more than ever. Previous to lockdown, I never paid much attention to home decor before as i’ve either been out all day working…

We are all staying in our homes more than ever. Previous to lockdown, I never paid much attention to home decor before as i’ve either been out all day working or taking trips with my family.

Earlier this year, I began to realise how little I felt connected to this house. It was time to start paying attention to the house and updating it with my style.

Starting off with the kitchen. The heart of the house where everybody spends the most time…except for my boyfriend. His would be the living room with the PlayStation. But, that is a conversation for another time.

Here are a few of my current favourite kitchen pieces from H&M Home

For the kitchen

Stoneware cake standPink Mole Kitchen decor

Personally, I would use this cake stand instead of a fruit bowl. I would place it in the centre of the island or table and display Lemon and Limes or a small tower of Avocados.

If you wanted to be super fancy go for Artichokes.

 

 

 

Marble Serving TrayMarble serving tray

Is it me or does food look so much better when it is served on a serving tray?

This marble serving tray looks expensive and is very handy to have for families. Throw bread with a balsamic dip and serve whilst the main meal is still cooking.

 

 

 

Large Rectangular Wooden Boxbread box pink mole

Our bread is always left on the side. To be completely honest, I throw it in what should be a wine cooling bucket. Every time I do it I wince.

This wooden box is first on my wish list. Ive never been the biggest fan of bread tins or boxes. I feel like they take a lot of room on the kitchen counter and previous bread bins I have owned the doors have become faulty.

This wooden box is accessible and rustic.

 

Large Wooden TrayLarge wooden tray kitchen

How beautiful does this wooden tray look on the window ledge. I’d style similar with recycled glass vases letting the light from the window reflect through.

The idea of storing fresh produce or herb plants is good too. Plants can begin to look untidy and having a simple storage solution available immediately looks more organised.

 

Bamboo Dishwashing Brush

classic kitchen decor

I dislike it when dishwashing sponge left on the side next to the sink. This eco-friendly bamboo dishwashing brush makes it look part of the kitchen decor whilst also being good for the environment compared to your disposable sponge. A must have when making your kitchen look classic.

 

 

 

 

*Links are affiliate links. I make a small commission from the links when an item is purchased. Thank you all for your ongoing support.

 

 

 

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Taking a COVID 19 Test

Do you remember on my instagram stories when Frankie had nappy rash and I was confused why he was sent home. Turns out the other little one in his class…

Do you remember on my instagram stories when Frankie had nappy rash and I was confused why he was sent home. Turns out the other little one in his class who was poorly, had tested positive for COVID. Shortly after, the mild symptoms Frankie had, that we thought were related to teething was actually COVID symptoms.

Starting off with Frankie

Frankie had a loose nappy at nursery. A few hours later I was asked to collect him because he looked like he was getting nappy rash. As you all watched, I was doing the best I could in trying to make the nappy rash clear up. At the time, the rash was almost gone. We then got a phone call from nursery to say that Frankie was not allowed back for 14 days as he has been in contact with another child who has tested positive.

I spent a few days isolating with him and he continued to get worse. Red raw.

His stomach was so poorly. I was changing nappies constantly. He wasn’t napping because he needed his nappy changing again. I was soaking him in oat baths at 6am in the morning and changing his nappy twice through the night. The cries in pain were heartbreaking.

Frankie then developed a wheezy chest. Nothing for me to think it was anything serious.

A day or so later, he was still having stomach issues and his breathing got worse. One night he was struggling and vomiting everywhere. We held him next to the humidifier which seemed to help him settle back down.

We ordered COVID tests

Waiting for my result

At the time I took the test, I felt okay, no temperature and very mild symptoms.

I recorded a gym session on my stories of me doing deadlifts in the garage and struggling to complete my workout because I was so tired. You know the kind of tiredness you get in your first trimester?.

That day my eyes had started burning. To the point where Jay asked if I had been crying because they were red. Still, I didn’t think much of that at the time. I just made sure I was self isolating as I was worried of picking COVID up on top of feeling run down.

The next day, my eyes were so sore. A bit like hay fever but worse. The fatigue hit me too. After I put Frankie down for his nap, I barely made it out of his bedroom before lying down outside his door on the floor. Every chance Frankie was asleep I’d lie down in bed which is not like me at all.

The results came back

Testing positive. The following day, I developed a tight chest which turned into an annoying dry cough. I could still get on with my day at home looking after the kids. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard looking after Frankie. I had moments where I would get tearful because I could feel how drained I was and how ill Frankie still was. Mole on the other hand was fine.

Later that night my breathing had changed. The frustrating thing was because I had noticed it had become slower, I couldn’t take my mind off it when trying to fall asleep. Out off all the days and nights so far, that was my worst. My head was light headed and felt funny but it was hard to tell if that was from worrying or from my breathing.

Waking up today I feel like I am on the mend. My shortness of breath comes and goes but the fatigue is wearing off and my cough is clearing up. I’m glad the worst feels over and I can see how this virus could be serious for some people.

 

I hope you all stay safe <3

Zoe

xx

 

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Frankie’s Sustainable First Birthday Presents

Birthday’s are my chance to spoil my kids with their favourite toys! I rarely buy them toys through out the year as I tend to take them out to places…

Birthday’s are my chance to spoil my kids with their favourite toys! I rarely buy them toys through out the year as I tend to take them out to places instead. So when Birthdays and Christmas comes along, I get stuck into gift hunting.

What is different this year?

In the past, when it has come to searching for presents, I have never given a second thought into what harm the gifts I am buying are doing to the planet.

Now my eyes are open to the damage plastic is doing to our planet, I can’t buy it.

It’s crazy because I remember seeing an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, when Kourtney was talking about how she only buys wooden toys and all I could think was “that’s snobby!”. At that time, wooden toys were expensive compared to the plastic ones I would tend to buy. I would have never seen myself a year on making a conscious decision like her, not to buy plastic.

Yes, the prices of wooden toys do tend to be higher. But the bigger cost is the damage we are doing not buying them.

Anyway, enough of my preaching, here are his toys:

Kids Concept Wooden Xylophone

Kids Concept - Xylophone - Multi Blue (1000430)

Anything that gives Frankie the option to make loud noise, he is instantly in love with! My sister got Mole a keyboard for her Birthday and Frankie always tries to take over and play his tunes.

This Xylophone is about the length on my laptop. For me, that is perfect as it is not too big to tidy away after it has been used but, I am aware that some reviews said they would have rather it been a lot bigger.

Little Dutch Toaster

Little Dutch Wooden Toaster

This brand is incredible. In terms of quality and price, I’d say they are very fair.

Frankie plays with Mole’s kitchen endlessly. This toaster set will be the perfect addition to their kitchen playroom. Imaginative play is something I love to encourage with my children.

Stacking Ring  Kids Concept: Neo Wooden Stacking Rings for kids to learn size & colour!

A mistake I made with Mole’s First Birthday presents was I thought too much into toys that she could grow into. I bought her too many that were a little old for her and she couldn’t understand how to play with them straight away.

A stacking ring is a perfect Birthday present for a 1st Birthday. I know Frankie will love the puzzle of the stacking ring or simply banging the rings together to make a loud noise.

Dinkum Doll

Dinkum Doll - Poppet

Frankie does pick up Mole’s dolls. It’s only fair he has his own too. The Dinkum dolls can be boys or girls. They are soft and cuddly too. You can stand them up or sit them down. I like how you can choose a doll that your little one can relate to.

Dinkum Doll Feeding Set

Dinkum Doll Feeding Set

I had to get Frankie accessories for his doll. The feeding set is just adorable! Again, I love the natural colour so it is suitable for boys or girls, meaning Frankie and Mole can play together.

Dinkum Doll BottleDinkum Doll Bottle

Another accessory for Frankie’s doll is this natural wood dolls bottle. This paired with the feeding set makes a lovely combination.

Dinkum Doll Changing Basket

Doll Nyla Basket

We don’t have a pram for the doll, I thought i’d see if he takes to the doll before I buy a pram. The changing basket can be for changing or a bed.

I purchased the sage mattress for a more masculine look.

 

VertiPlay Tree Top Adventure 

Oribel Vertplay Tree Top Adventure Wood Wall Toys

The best part about this toy is it sticks to the wall! Perfect toy to practice fine motor skills and the cars can be used alone too.

I’ve seen a few of these types of toys and I loved the different features of this one like the swinging squirrel.

Wooden Car Transporter

TOP BRIGHT Wooden Truck Toys for 2 Year Old Boys Gifts, Wooden Car Toy for Two Year Old Present, Childrens Transport Toy for Boys Age 2

To further Frankie’s love for cars, this car transporter will start off his car collection. The car transporter is great to help him practice his pushing technique too.

Does your little one love cars like Frankie?

 

 

 

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5 fun activities to do with Toddlers

Over the past years, screen time for children has increased massively. I’m sure during lockdown we all have been guilty of allowing our children to have more screen time too….

fun toddler activities

Over the past years, screen time for children has increased massively. I’m sure during lockdown we all have been guilty of allowing our children to have more screen time too. I know I have.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a massive advocate for children and screen time. Tech has saved many tantrums for me and my career background is all based around tech. It is a part of me. And I want technology to be a huge part of Mole and Frankie too.

However, giving our children a creative outlet or an educational project is extremely important for not only their mental health, but their overall wellness. Our children are still developing. Activities like the ones i’m about to share, will help to give them skills that can’t just be gained from watching tv.

Sometimes, when it comes to activities with Mole and Frankie, I get stuck in a rut on what to do. When I find myself researching fun activities for toddlers, many of them seem complicated or time consuming even costly!

I’m going to share 5 of our regular activities for you to do too!

1.Postcardsfun toddler activities

Whenever we visit a place together as a family I always check the gift shop to see if they sell postcards. I buy quite a few and when we get home, Mole and Frankie go wild with crayons all over them. It’s a lovely activity to end the whole day on a positive note and keeps them busy when you’re getting the evening meal prepared. You could add stickers, make your own, go as creative as you want!

Even if your children are old enough to write, this is a great activity to practice their writing skills.

Mole loves sticking on the stamps and then we all take a trip to the postbox the next day. It’s such a simple activity that they love to do.

I send the postcards out to family members and long distance family friends as a nice way to keep in touch. I know that they enjoy receiving them too.

2. Gardeningfun toddler activities

Toddlers love getting messy. We took a trip to Homebase or B&Q and went just to look at the flowers. I call it the flower shop. Mole (Frankie is still a little too young) picks the flowers and head back home. Mole is bossy, so having her in control of the decision making makes the process very fun for her.

In the garden, I have pots where Mole loves to clean with the hosepipe, adds the compost in and then helps with the flowers or seeds.

The whole activity took as all morning the other day. We all had the best time and the biggest bonus is that the garden looks pretty!

3. Bakingfun toddler activities

I’m sure this is already an activity you have tried with your toddler. So for this point, I making it a reminder to bake again!

Toddlers love it. You could switch it up and do cupcake decorating, have them choose items out of your fridge and see if you can challenge yourself with them to create something or even make something like bird feed or a potion.

Invest in a step up stool and encourage them to clean the pots afterwards. Add lot’s of fairy liquid and your toddler will think washing up is fun!

4. Throw a party

This activity really gets Mole excited. Whilst your doing your food shop buy a packet of balloons and some simple party food. You can even create party invitations with your little ones. Get some music on, let them wear party clothes and have fun in your living room! Toddlers love a party. Mole invites all of her teddies too.

5. Picnicfun toddler activities

Whenever I feel like dinners and tea’s are struggling to go down well with my kids, I plan for a picnic. For some reason, whenever we go on a picnic they eat ANYTHING.

Even if we just go down the road to our local park, it is refreshing to get outdoors and feel the wind on our skin. Picnics have helped to make what turns into a stressful time of day for me (when they refuse to eat) into an enjoyable couple of hours. They are always shattered when we come back too, so I even get a coffee in peace.

fun toddler activities

Not necessary but I purchased a toy wooden camera, Mole loves to take it along with us and take photos of the picnic.

Please share your favourite activity to do with your toddler!

 

Zoe xx

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Transitioning a toddler from cot to bed

Hello toddler bed. You now let me roam free at bedtimes, jump out early at the crack of dawn and look for mummy or daddy instead of nap time…every toddlers…

Hello toddler bed. You now let me roam free at bedtimes, jump out early at the crack of dawn and look for mummy or daddy instead of nap time…every toddlers dream.

You are not the only parent that has probably tried to put off transitioning your toddler from a cot to a toddler bed for as long as possible. Now that time has come, I have a few helpful tips that will make the transition easier.

Mole was in her cot whilst Frankie was under 6 months old sleeping in the Snuz Pod next to me in our room. It suited us just fine as we were managing to get sleep and stick to the working bedtime routine. Our plan was to transition Mole when I felt like she was ready however, Frankie had other plans.

Frankie, as you know, is such a big boy. He out grew the Snuz Pod quickly. Our only realistic option was to move Frankie into the cot Mole was currently in, and invest in a toddler bed for Mole. (Rather than buying another cot, that would not be needed in a years time.)

Ideally it is best to transition your toddler from around 18months of age up to around 3 1/2 years old. The timing is different for every child. If your toddler is trying to climb out of their cot or asking for a big bed then its probably time to make the change.

A big move

Transitioning your toddler from a cot into a toddler bed is a big move for them. We were currently potty training Mole at the time and doing both of these milestones together was wrong as it would have been too much for her. Not forgetting that she was also adjusting to life as a big sister.

As the bed transition was our main priority, we put potty training on hold for a couple of months. I can now tell you, that break from potty training, to focus on her new sleeping routine, was the best decision ever. We started potty training again and made faster progress than before and Mole is now nappy free.

Change their roomtransitioning a toddler from cot to bed

I truly believe that changing their room from baby to toddler decor helps. We were lucky enough to be in a position to give the room a full make over from scratch, as her room was a spare (dumping) room.

I got her some fun artwork with big bright animals above the bed that she instantly got excited about. The walls were painted in bright colours opposite to neutral walls Mole had before. The reason was to make the room look noticeably different to her. All decorations were a mix between adult decor and children’s.

The bed we picked was perfect for her height to hop on and off with ease.

transitioning a toddler from cot to bedThe duvet set was purposely chosen as a bold Peppa Pig print that caught her eye immediately and was inviting for her to sleep in the bed rather than having an insta-perfect bedding set.

All of this added together built up Mole’s excitement and made the change positive for her. Once she saw the complete room, Mole started asking to sleep in the “big girl bed”.

I have seen parents simply change their toddlers cot into a cot bed and begin the transition, however, I would really recommend adding a few new touches to their “big girl/boy” room to make it feel more grown up to them.

Reference big girl/boy

Every now and again, I’d use the term big girl when describing something to her. This could be drinking from a big girl cup or sleeping in the big girl bed. It helped because Mole started to understand that the cot was now for babies and she wanted to sleep in the big girl bed.

Routinetransitioning a toddler from cot to bed

Stick to the same routine that worked for you before. The same bath time and bedtime story to bring familiarity to them in a big change.

Don’t be alarmed when your toddler decides to wonder around after 10 minutes of putting them to bed. That is normal and can be stopped with other methods that I will discuss later on, rather than changing their bedtime routine around.

Give them credit

I can guarantee your toddler will adapt to change.  We should have given Mole a little bit more credit for how well she took on the transition. I can’t believe I doubted doing it for so long. We started putting Mole down for a nap in her big girl bed first. She looked so grown up, it didn’t feel right when I saw her back in her cot for bedtime. Mole looked older (or more her age) and everything felt right to move her into the bed full time during the night.

Jumping out of bed

Mole was an angel for the first few weeks in her toddler bed then something changed. As soon as I put her to bed and started walking down stairs, I would see her bedroom door handle move and next minute she was running around the landing.

Do not give into giving them attention for doing this. We would say one word. “BED”. Take Mole back to bed, give her a kiss and then leave the room.

Some night I would be doing this till 11:00pm.

We even tried a stair gate on her bedroom door but that made her very upset and she was screaming “Molly stuck”.

If the one word “bed” would not work. I’d take Mole back to bed and tell her, “Molly stay in bed now, no open door.” and usually her reply would be that she isn’t tired. Which would be a lie as the time would be 9:00pm. Id simply then tell her that all of the animals, are in bed now, sun in bed, Frankie in bed and she would get the idea and stay in bed.

Early Birdtransitioning a toddler from cot to bed

Wow. 5:00am mornings are not for me. We are still working on this. My current alarm clock is Mole running in asking to watch Hey Duggee as 5:00am. i’ll keep you updated if I find a working miracle.

All I can say is, be prepared for the early starts.

Transition them at a weekend when you don’t have to be getting up early for work after getting a stressful night of keeping them in bed.

 

I hope you found this blog post useful.

Please share below any advice you have for other parents.

 

Lot’s of love

Zoe

xx

 

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Pedagogy| The Montessori Method

My time in lockdown had me exploring for new ideas on how I can educate Mole and Frankie at home. As a former teacher with background research in pedagogy, i’m…

My time in lockdown had me exploring for new ideas on how I can educate Mole and Frankie at home. As a former teacher with background research in pedagogy, i’m aware that different teaching practices work great for different personalities and activities. So there was no harm in stepping out of my comfort zone to try something new for my own children.

Pedagogy is theoretical part of education which helps teachers to know the objective, process, outcomes of the reaching process. Teaching is the practical part of education

One teaching method I found myself drawn to frequently: The Montessori Method.

Let’s explore it.

Where did Montessori come from?maria montessori

The Montessori Method was based on the observations and discoveries of Maria Montessori. An Italian doctor, who was the first woman to graduate from Rome University medical school. Montessori had a passion for treating children that needed extra care and assistance in the classroom. Later Montessori went on to establish schools for students with working parents. Montessori looked at the schools with a scientific approach, compared to your traditional education setting. She spent time observing the students behaviour then began to implement ways to help the students progress. To put it simply; the classroom was her laboratory.

What I like about her experiment was that she spent hours simply observing the children in a number of different activities. That line spoke to me that, for once, everything is paused, analysed and an approach is made. Compared to going with the norm of society when it might not be as effective.

What did Maria Montessori find?

The Italian educator and doctor, Maria Montessori, found that if children work carefully in a prepared environment, they are more focused and controlled.

Montessori’s work began to spread all over the world and influence many teachers. She wrote numerous articles and showed success in the children she taught.

This had me thinking about the numerous activities, I had previously planned for Mole that had gone wrong. From what I assumed was due to her lack of concentration. Not the environment she was in or me interfering. I was keen to learn more.

The Montessori Approach

The Montessori approach believes that children have the best capacity to learn from birth to 6 years of age. You will find that most of the Montessori tasks have this age range in mind.

Montessori offers a more holistic approach to learning. Where everything is real play (no pretend play with Ikea kitchens, fantasy – reading books with princesses and dragons in is a no go and as for plastic toys – that is a big no). But, the good thing about today’s  world, is that you can take what you want from Montessori without judgement.

Here are the principles of Montessori:

The Principles of Montessorimontessori activity

Principle 1: Respect

Respecting the child is the most important principle of Montessori. You wouldn’t actually think you wouldn’t have an issue with  not respecting children but, in many teaching cases you will find this can be common. Ways to respect children whilst learning are: do not interrupt a child’s concentration whilst on a task, give children the freedom to do something for themselves and learn for themselves. The teacher must have peaceful conflict resolution and to not be judgemental.

How I have applied principle 1: Respect the child, to my parenting

  •  Mole’s toys (educational & fun) are at her level. She can grab any she pleases.
  • I’m simply a guide. Before, if Mole was to make a mistake on a task, i’d immediately jump into help her. Now, I give her time to figure it out.
  • Clothes. I let Mole choose her own outfits to wear now (as long as they are weather appropriate). This was quite hard for me to do as I love styling her, but, she wanted to get involved one day and I couldn’t refuse.

Principle 2: Learning through livingmontessori

Montessori believe that children have an absorbent mind. They are constantly learning through just simply, living. Everything they see, touch, hear, taste, they are learning from.

How I have applied principle 2: Learning through living, to my parenting

  • I know make a conscious effort to involve Mole in everyday tasks. Tasks that you would not necessarily think a toddler would enjoy or a toddler can do.
  • Washing: Mole takes her dirty clothes to the washing basket, helps me colour sort items of clothing, fills the washing machine up and now that we are using natural soap, Mole adds the soap nuts.
  • Cooking: Mole will help wash fruit and vegetables, pour pasta or rice into a pan. Chop up fruits. Her favourite is whisking with a hand held electric whisk. I’m careful to observe her in the kitchen and guide her. It is amazing what they can do if you give them the independence.
  • Getting ready: Mole chooses her own outfit daytime and pyjamas. Again, if it is not weather appropriate or the outfit just looks absolutely crazy, I will guide her with different options.
  • Cleaning: Using natural products, we take it in turns to either spray or do the polishing. Sometimes, I do have to go back over and do it again but she has so much fun doing it, its worth while.

Principle 3: Sensitive Periods

The Montessori pedagogy believes that children are ready to learn certain skills at different times. They call this sensitive periods.

Each sensitive period is a specific kind of inner compulsion. They motivate children to seek objects and relationships in the environment. Children use these to develop themselves. A young child, however, is neither consciously aware of, nor capable of directly communicating, his or her potentials.

The sensitive periods only last for as long as the child is ready to learn the certain skill. The skill could be reading or writing. It is important for the teacher to observe when the student is in their sensitive period for a skill to then prepare resources for the child to help them learn.

What happens in a Sensitive Period?

Montessori believes that during a sensitive period the child will behave differently towards a certain task. Here are the different behaviours.

  • Behaving more sensible towards a task
  • An overpowering force and interest in wanting to learn the skill.
  • A commitment to learning the skill
  • Instead of showing signs of boredom, the child shows persistent energy
  • Never regained
  • Wanting to do more creative activities
  • When noticed by the child, the sensitive period ends.

What are the “Sensitive Periods?”

Montessori claim there are eleven sensitive periods in total. They occur from birth to to the age of six. They are:

  • Order (Ages 2-4, developing a passionate love for routines)
  • Movement (Ages 0-1, controlling random movements e.g. grasping or crawling)
  • Small Objects (Ages 1-4, Interest in small objects and tiny details)
  • Courtesy (Ages 2-6, Imitating polite behaviours to then make the polite behaviour part of their personality)
  • Writing  (Ages 3-4, children become passionate about letters and numbers and want to put pen to paper)
  • Reading (Ages 3-4, children begin an interest in the symbolic representation of a sound)
  • Senses (Ages 2-6, children become fascinated with their senses: touch, taste, smell, sound and weigh. They are eager to do sensory activities)
  • Expressive languages (Ages 0-6, begin to use babble sounds to communicate then develop their sounds to meaningful words to communicate)
  • Spatial Relationships (Ages 4-6, An understanding of common places and expanding this from their home to their wider surroundings)
  • Mathematics (Ages 0-6, formation of the concept of quantity and operations)
  • Music (Ages 2-6, an increased interest in rhythm, pitch and melody)

How I have applied principle 3: Sensitive Periods, to my parenting

  • Honestly, this one I struggle to agree with. My personal opinion is that, if you make a task fun and engaging, then children will love to learn.
  • But, I have noticed when Mole suddenly has an increased interest in things and I do follow her lead with thing. e.g. wanting to read more books.

Principle 4: The Prepared Environmentmontessori playroom

The environment has to be child focused. Children should be able to move freely and explore. Children must be able to reach for activities they want to do and teachers should prepare the environment in the best way for the child.

How I have applied principle 4: The Prepared Environment, to my parenting

  • Mole’s toys are all within her reach. Nothing on high shelving.
  • Puzzles are deconstructed with all the parts together on a wooden tray.
  • Snacks are kept at her level for her to help herself (I choose what snacks are available and guide her on timings for eating them e.g. if she gets one too close to lunch then I guide her to choose differently)
  • A footstep for her to reach onto high countertops.
  • Aiming for as many real life items for her to use as possible. Real kitchen appliances, real tableware.

Principle 5: Self Education

Montessori believe children should be educating themselves. The role of the teacher is to provide the environment and encouragement to help the child self educate and develop.

How I have applied principle 5: Self Education, to my parenting

  • Stepping back. Giving Mole the freedom to choose what she wants to do and letting her go about it in her own way.
  • Mistakes. I’ve noticed how often I use to step in before a mistake would have been made or how quick I would help to make something right for her. I now let Mole make plenty of mistakes where she can learn from until I guide her.
  • Trying something new. Your toddler will surprise you.They are so clever and independent. I let her do tasks that I never thought she could do, such as, using a blunt knife to chop vegetables or helping put clothes away.

The Montessori Classroommontessori classroom

The way a classroom is set up is very important for the Montessori method. They believe that the classroom has to be a specific way to encourage learning.

  • Real plants (great activity for children to water them too)
  • Minimising over stimulating toys or art work (neutral wall colours)
  • Plenty of storage (everything should have a place where children can store items neatly e.g. coat peg at their level, toy storage is accessible)
  • Peaceful, quite classroom with no clutter
  • Plenty of open space for children to move freely
  • No fantasy for children under 6 years old
  • Sensory resources
  • Natural and real life materials (wooden toys over plastic, playing in a real kitchen not a pretend one)
  • Separated areas for different tasks.

I love the idea of increasing the amount of natural toys. This benefits the environment too. The toys Montessori recommends are like wooden blocks and puzzles. We have some wooden shapes where Mole loves to use her imagination and they can be anything from a person to a tree.

Personally, although Montessori recommends to use real experiences. Having Mole play in our real kitchen all day is not practical for us. Using her pretend kitchen, we have still been able to make it as real as possible for her and she has enjoyed it.

I want to explore the reason for no fantasy under the age of 6 too. To take on this method, it would have a huge impact on my parenting. We have so many books with fantasy characters, wooden fruit and princess dress up costumes.

Why no fantasy in Montessori?

Fantasy Vs Imagination

Montessori wants to encourage children to use their imagination over fantasy. Many people often get fantasy and imagination mistaken for one another.

Fantasy is the stories and ideas drawn from a world which does not exist (fairies, dragons, talking horses, etc.). Where as, imagination is the ability to conjure images or scenarios in one’s own mind, separate from present sensorial input.

An example of fantasy would be, giving a child a book to read with a talking cat. Rather than an informative book about cats.

Or

giving a child wooden food to make a sandwich, rather than giving a child the real ingredients to make an edible sandwich.

An example of a child using their imagination would be, a child crawling on the floor barking pretending to be a dog, after seeing a real life dog.

Or

A child pretending to be a mum, as they want to practice a role model they have seen in their family.

Montessori believes that imagination is where are creativity comes from. It is important to focus and develop children’s imagination to help with their creativity.

The reason for no fantasy is that Montessori believe children have a difficult time understanding what is real and what is fantasy whilst growing up. Thinking about it, Mole probably does think unicorns are real.

Not only is it confusing for children, Montessori conducted an experiment where she found children preferred to play with real life items and do real life experiences over pretend play. e.g. Children wanted to play with real food rather than toy food.

Having the science explained to me, it all makes sense.

Ways to to develop imagination in children

  • Water real plants
  • Make meals with real food
  • Clean up real dirt
  • Help to wash real clothes
  • Read more non-fiction books
  • Feed real animals (make bird food or feed your dog)

Whilst writing this blog post, I can say I have learned a lot. I’m still not complete with my understanding of Montessori as i’m sure there is still so much to explore. I may not agree with everything Montessori but, I will be taking aspects of the Montessori pedagogy into consideration with my parenting at home.

*images sourced

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