Children

Fundraising ideas for school – help your PTA raise money!

You may have decided to join your school PTA – that’s the Parent Teachers Association – to help the school and your children, or your school may have a less formal arrangement where it asks for assistance with fundraising. I think it’s a great way to volunteer your time and having an active PTA can really improve school activities and helps a lot of people. Taking part in the PTA, school council or other volunteering school activities is also a good way to socialise with other parents and work together, so I think you’re going to have tons of fun. One of the big jobs of the PTA is to help fundraise for the school. Every school has different needs when it comes to funding, but the fact is – they can always use more. Funds could be used for improving facilities, gardening and landscaping projects, educational materials, special school trips, playground improvement, extra staff training, sports equipment, support learning, activities and events and loads more. All of these things can really improve things for the kids, so it’s really important that everyone get involved and help out how they can.

If you’re on the PTA or involved in fundraising you’re going to be brainstorming for events. You want to find fun, interesting and engaging things to do – as this is what will give back the most value for money and bring in the best donations! On top of the financial side, running extra events helps everyone to socialise and provides a great deal of value to the community.

Here are some fundraising ideas for your school PTA – you’ll soon be raising loads money for an amazing cause.

Fundraising Ideas for your School PTA

School Fetes – Themed fetes can include the seasons, or events such as Easter, Christmas or other special celebrations. A fete can include selling stalls to local companies and small businesses which helps support them as well, and you can run raffles and have entertainment, as well as food, cakes and drinks to buy.

Cake / Bake Sale – Everyone can make a cake to sell, and you can host a cake / bake sale after school at a prime time such as when parents are picking up their children, or alongside a School Fete or Jumble Sale.

Jumble Sale – Ask for donations for a jumble sale and you’re sure to get a ton of things! This is a win win for everyone. Some people get to clear their houses of things they don’t need anymore, other people get to buy second hand goods at bargain prices, and it’s great for the environment too, as this keeps items in circulation and out of landfill. Anything left over at the end can be donated to your chosen charity shop to spread more goodwill.

School Uniform Sale – You can hold one of these by themselves or alongside any of the other events. Ask parents if they have any school uniform that’s used but in good condition that they’ve outgrown. Children are constantly outgrowing their uniform. You can then sell pieces for a small price, saving other parents money, and raising some money for the school at the same time.

School Disco / Dance – This one requires a fair amount of organization and volunteers but it can be a big winner as you’ll sell tickets to the event, and it’s also very rewarding for the children and helps them socially.

Non Uniform Day or Fancy Dress Day with a Donation – This is a simple and easy one that any school can take advantage of. Just send out a letter to the parents saying it’s a non uniform day to raise money! The kids will love dressing up and a small fee from each parent who can afford it soon adds up.

Christmas Events – Christmas is a big time for everyone and parents are often looking for fun activities, to make memorable moments and to exchange gifts. Some ideas for Christmas events can include a visit from Santa and his elves or reindeer, Christmas shopping nights (crafts and jumble), Breakfast with Santa (a breakfast buffet is a very affordable event to host), Christmas photos (with festive backdrops), Secret Santa exchange, Christmas charity collection (such as putting together Christmas gift packs for the homeless or those in shelters) and Christmas crafternoon events with themed crafting such as card making and bauble personsalization.

Quiz or Bingo Night – Host some family entertainment with a quiz night or bingo night. You can use some of the entry money for a prize for the winners, and use the rest for the school. This is a really fun activity for families and helps parents and children bond and work together too.

Sponsored Walk or Bike Ride – Get the kids and their parents exercising together out of school with a sponsored activity.

Evening Classes for Parents – If anyone has a skill that they can teach and are willing to volunteer their time, you might be surprised how many parents want to learn and do something in the evening! This could be learning a language, decorating cakes, sewing or even classes about parenting.

Car Boot Sale – If your school has a large car park, playground or field that cars could drive on, you could be making money by hosting a car boot sale on a weekend morning. You’d charge per car to use the field, and then parents could sell anything they want from their car!

Movie Night – Host an evening entertainment with a movie and popcorn, like a mini cinema, but in school. How cool would that be?

Parent Coffee Mornings – A lot of schools don’t have a coffee shop nearby. Wouldn’t it be nice if parents could come into a space in the school and have a coffee and just have a chat after dropping their kids off? This could be an excellent way of raising money!

I hope that all of these fundraising ideas have sparked some enthusiasm and you’re now thinking of how you can make lots of money for your school, and how to spend it. Good luck!

Children

How to talk to your children about divorce

First of all I want to say that just by searching for ways to talk to your children about divorce you’re showing yourself to be a loving and caring parent. You might be worried that your actions are going to affect your children, but whether you realize it or not, being in an unhappy marriage will be affecting the children too. It’s incredibly brave to be tackling divorce when the marriage is no longer happy. Of course if you’re still not sure whether divorce is the right option or not, then couples therapy together could really help figure out if divorce is the best way forward.

Once you know that separation or divorce is the next step, it’s time to talk to the children. There is no easy, one size fits all way to talk to your children and separation and divorce. Every child will react differently and have their own concerns, questions, and anxieties surrounding this change. As an adult and a parent, it’s important to remember that during a divorce your children are likely to have a flurry of emotions and concerns that they may, or may not, wish to voice to you. It is your job to make sure that your children are comforted, their questions are answered, and they know that you’re available to talk should they have further questions. Make sure you also have someone to talk to during this time to help your mental health as well.

Below are a few tips on how to talk to your children about divorce. Talking to children about divorce is no easy feat, however, it’s something that must be done; therefore the following tips will help to make this difficult conversation easier for you and your children. It’s better for both parents to be present during these conversations unless that is likely to cause more conflict or bring negative energy into the conversation.

Remind your children that both parents love them still – no matter what.

Regardless of what has happened in the relationship between you and your partner, it’s imperative that your children know that they are still loved and cherished by both parents. Communicating to your children that, although your relationship may have broken down, it had nothing to do with them and was certainly not their fault, will help put them at ease. When talking to your children about divorce, making them understand they are not to blame is vital, as well as ensuring they know that, despite changes in living arrangements, both parents still love them just as much as before. If you are determined to still have contact with your child, despite not being the main carer, ensure that you make regular plans to connect and spend time together. Stick to these plans as best as you can, as canceling meet-ups with your children can make them feel unwanted and unloved.

Do not blame the other parent for the divorce.

It’s best for parents to plan what they want to say to their children when thinking about how to talk to their children about divorce. With complicated break ups and mixed feelings, sometimes parents cannot agree on what to say. The most important thing to do in this scenario is to refrain from placing the blame on the other parent. Blaming the other parent when discussing divorce with your children can create confusing and conflicting feelings that are often far too complex for your child to process, especially in such a highly emotional situation. Children may feel they then have to ‘choose a side’, or feel worried about rejecting or betraying a parent. Whatever the ‘truth’ may be, ensure that your children do not feel torn about who was in the right and who was in the wrong in their parent’s relationship.

Tell your children what’s happening, but keep it appropriate.

With that being said, your children will ask you questions about why this is happening and how it all came about. Older children and teenagers may have seen it coming and have their own opinions that they may wish to voice. They are also more likely to ask questions that will help them to understand how and why their lives are going to change. Although it’s advised you don’t share the nitty-gritty details, it is perfectly reasonable to explain that, despite your best efforts, your relationship is no longer working. Again, it’s best to refrain from playing the blame game and reiterate that, despite the divorce, both parents still love their children very much. 

Having some age appropriate books to hand that they can read, or you can read together, can help them process the information. For example this drawing and activity book is suitable for children under 10. Charly, an Amazon reviewer, said “As you can imagine it’s been a difficult time for our family but this book has helped my 6 year old to understand the situation better she’s able to talk and express herself through the pages.

Discuss what will change and what will stay the same.

When discussing divorce with your children, you’re going to want to focus on how your divorce from their other parent is going to affect them. No matter how amicable your divorce may be, there will still be big changes to your children’s lives, and preparing them for these as early as possible will give them a better chance to compose their thoughts and feelings. Important things to mention will be topics such as:

  • Where will the children live?
  • Which parent will be the main carer?
  • Who will be leaving the family home?
  • Who will pick them up from school?

Again, it’s vital you reiterate that, as parents, you are divorcing each other and not divorcing your children. Reassuring your children that, even though one parent won’t be living with them anymore, doesn’t mean that they don’t still love them. 

When it comes to discussing divorce with your children, reassurance is key.

Divorce is often a symptom of complex adult issues that are too complicated for children to understand. Because of this, no matter what approach you use when discussing divorce with your children, you need to ensure that you are frequently reassuring them that they are loved, wanted, and that they are not at risk of ‘betraying’ or hurting one of the parent’s feelings. During the first few stages of separation, there are a lot of unknowns; because of this and the volatile nature of separation, ensure you do not make promises that you cannot keep. Remind your children that, no matter what goes on between you and their other parent, you will be doing your best to make plans and stay in their lives as much as possible.

I hope that these tips have helped give you some confidence and reassurance for this difficult time.

Children

Tips For Blended Families

Blended families are becoming increasingly common, yet despite there being many more family units composed of step-siblings, parents can still struggle when attempting to bring together their family members. The term ‘blended family’ has evolved in meaning over the last few years, but to define it in the simplest form, a blended family refers to a family whereby a parent, or both parents, have children from previous relationships and are now living together as one family unit. Understandably, this process of blending two families together is not always easy. Often there are hiccups along the way, but these issues can often be managed with empathy and understanding. If you are looking for advice on blended families or indeed looking for how to make the transition to a blended family easier, this blog post will help you! 

1. Remember that, although as parents you may be excited, your children and stepchildren may not feel the same way right now.

As an adult in a relationship, you will be accustomed to being around your partner, accepting their quirks, and figuring out ways to circumvent conflict between the two of you. You have had plenty of time to get to know your partner and also you’ll have years of experience in dealing with common relationship discrepancies and handling big changes. Your children, on the other hand, do not have this life experience. Big changes can become overwhelming, having to share a parent with other children is a difficult emotional concept to digest, and living with step-siblings that the children don’t know well, or potentially even like, can be a really challenging and even frightening thing for them to process. 

Don’t be disappointed or upset with them if they don’t share your enthusiasm or positivity and listen to their concerns.

2. Promote open communication and mutual respect.

Parents are likely to become frustrated if the blended family they have created doesn’t function as smoothly as the family unit before did. Remember that no matter how strained things get, the key to working through the transitional period is to promote open communications between all family members, and ensure each and every person is treated with respect. Respect isn’t just something that should be between children and adults, but between every member of the family unit. Even if there are growing pains within the blended family, respect should be given to everyone who is a part of it – after all, you’re all part of one family now.

Having a family meeting where everyone is allowed to have their say and where the coming week can be organized and discussed can be beneficial. It lets everyone be heard. But if communicating is proving difficult, a second option is also family therapy, where a professional can help you work through your problems together.

3. Ensure your relationship is solid.

This may seem like such an obvious point, however, before creating a blended family, both adults need to really consider the choices ahead. Without a solid marriage or relationship, there is no family unit. During your previous relationships, you may have had additional time to adjust to your new role in each other’s lives as partners or spouses, however when forming a blended family, you’re unlikely to have that adjustment period. Your relationship will have to be strong enough to withstand frustrations and backlashes from your own children, as well as your stepchildren. You also need to ensure that both adults in the family are on the same team and have chosen to approach blended family life in the same manner to ensure consistency for the children involved. 

4. There should be no more “his kid” or “her kid”. Instead, form personal relationships with your stepchildren.

Prior to blending your families, you may have referred to your partner’s children as “his kid”, or “her kid”. After making the commitment to form a new family unit, this thought process needs to stop. You are all members of the same family now, so everyone should be seen as equals. Some children will require more time to adjust to their new stepparent being present in their life and that’s okay. Try to form personal relationships with your stepchildren by dedicating your time to them without their biological parent being involved. 

There also needs to be a very clear discussion between the adults before the family is blended, about parental responsibilities and how things will be handled from that point of view. This can also involve including the co-parent of the children, which can feel uncomfortable or even unnatural, as they are your new partners ex, but by working together as one team to figure out the children’s best interests, you secure the most positive future for everyone.

5. Everyone will make mistakes, but in the end, the effort you put into creating a blended family will form supportive, loving bonds that last a lifetime.

There are plenty of hurdles ahead if you’re thinking about forming a blended family, however, with enough patience and love for everyone involved, blended families can be extremely successful. There will, of course, be moments where frustrations and jealousy get the better of both the adults and children, but eventually, your blended family will start to feel more and more like a loving, compassionate, and respectful family unit.

Children

18 Positive Affirmations for Kids

Positive thinking is a tool that many people use for overcoming anxiety, challenges or overwhelm during exam time. By starting to think more positively, children can boost their self-belief and work towards reaching their full potential. Helping our children use affirmations can also help us to use affirmations ourselves. No one is too young, or too old, to benefit from positive thinking and self-care.

If you’re helping your child to improve their self-esteem, try using these 18 positive affirmations for kids. 

Before we get to the list, let’s take a look at what affirmations are, and how you can practice them with your child for maximum impact. 

What are affirmations?

Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself. This can be something like “I am a good person.”

When saying affirmations out loud, it’s important to feel the words in your body. For example, if you’re saying ‘I am a good person’, notice how it feels in your stomach and chest when you say this statement. Feeling the words makes them more powerful.

It’s important that you know how to do this as you can then show your child the best way to practice. 

How to create affirmations with your kids

Ask your child to think of a time when they felt really good about themselves. What were they doing? Who were they with? How did they feel? 

Now, ask them to write down some of their thoughts and feelings on paper. Next, help them to make up an affirmation based on these ideas and feelings. For example:

“Today, I will try my very best at everything I do.”

To help you with this process, here are some positive affirmations. 

18 positive affirmations for children

Practice saying these together. It may help your child to stand in front of the mirror and make eye contact with yourself, to really feel connected to yourself and the words you are saying, but they don’t have to if they don’t want to. They can also read them out loud; reading words on the page can make a deeper connection with us.

“I am smart.”

“I am kind.”

“I am beautiful.”

“I can do anything.”

“I am special.”

“I can do hard things.”

“I am good at maths.”

“I am good at football.”

“I am a good friend.”

“I am kind to others.”

“I can learn anything.”

“I love to learn new things.”

“I am a good reader.”

“I can learn anything.”

“I am a good artist.”

“I like my hair.”

“I always try my best.”

“I am an amazing person.”

You can tailor these affirmations to the things that matter to your child and the things they are good at or are working on being good at. For example replacing maths and football with whatever subject they enjoy, be it English, reading, dancing, hockey, climbing, or anything else that will boost their confidence. Repeat these affirmations a few times, then ask your child to write their favourite one down and place it where they can see it, such as by their bed. 

A few other ways to help kids develop positive self-esteem

  • Let them know that you believe in them.
  • Help them to do things for themselves, like getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and making their bed.
  • Point out the things they do well.
  • Be sure to give lots of praise and encouragement for the good things they do.
Children

5 Ways to Save Money on Children’s Clothes

This post is written by Fiona Hawkes, who writes about money-saving, frugal living and shopping second hand on her blog www.savvyinsomerset.com. She loves using coupons, buying yellow sticker food and creating thrifty meals for her family. Fiona is also a passionate advocate of buying second-hand clothing and blogs about her finds at www.slowfashionfanatic.com. Find her on social media at Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

5 Ways to Save Money on Children’s Clothes

If you have children then you probably know they can cost a small fortune to clothe! From growth spurts meaning that suddenly nothing fits to leaving their P.E kit on the bus, it may seem like you’re always having to fork out for new items of clothing.  To help with this ongoing cost that all parents face, here are five ways to save money on children’s clothes including how you can get big brands for less and make your kid’s clothes last longer.  

Shop Second Hand

One of the best ways to save money on children’s clothes is to buy second-hand clothes and there is a myriad of ways you can do this. First up, is buying from charity shops. Smaller town centre charity shops don’t tend to have the biggest range of children’s clothes so opt for one of the bigger ones, which are often found in retail parks, if you can.

Buying clothes through apps such as Vinted, Shpock or Depop is another great way to shop second-hand. Search for bundles or create your own by buying several items from the same seller, which can save you money on postage costs.  Another option is Facebook Marketplace where kids’ clothes are typically very cheap and you can collect them from your local area. Also try local Mum 2 Mum markets and clothes swapping parties.

Many parents are selling brand new with tags clothing that have never been worn, either because they were the wrong size, style or season.  This means you can often get well-known brands at the fraction of the cost of buying new. This could also allow your budget to stretch further meaning you can afford better quality items that will last longer.

Supermarket School Uniform 

From September 2022 a new government bill will be introduced which encourages schools to make school uniforms more affordable for parents.  Schools will no longer be allowed to stipulate that parents can only buy uniforms from one set supplier and they must keep requirements for branded schoolwear to a minimum. 

This is great news for cash strapped parents as it means many will now be able to buy budget school uniforms from the ranges offered by all of the six major U.K supermarkets where items start from as little as £1. The bill is also encouraging schools to have second-hand uniforms available to all parents. 

Buy Out Of Season

Buying out of season simply means taking advantage of sales and putting away clothes ready for next year or next season. This tends to get easier as children get older as they don’t grow quite so quickly and you’ll have a good idea of what size they’ll need in five or six months’ time. 

This works especially well for buying more expensive items like coats and boots, which in February and March can have as much as 90% off. Even if you do misjudge sizes slightly it should be fairly easy to sell items on at a cost price and recoup your money. 

Make Do and Mend

Fast fashion and cheap, low-quality clothes mean we are far less likely to repair and reuse clothes as we once might have.  However, repairing an item so it can be worn even two or three more times makes the original purchase more cost-effective, delays needing to spend money on a new item and is much better for the environment too.

Mid Season Sales

Mid season sales are a great time to grab some bargains if your child seems to have had a bit of growth spurt and it’s not quite yet time to buy them a whole new wardrobe for warmer or colder weather. 

It can also be great if you like to shop for particular brands for their quality or styles. One of the best ways to find out about sales is by signing up to your favourite brand’s mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when a sale starts. You can also follow them on social media for updates about sales and discounts. 

Final Tips For Saving Money On Children’s Clothes:

  • There’s nothing wrong with hand me downs, so do lots of swapping among family and friends.
  • If clothes shopping online always go through a cashback site such as TopCashback or Quidco. 
  • Try the shopping basket trick when shopping online – create an account but don’t purchase anything that’s in your online shopping basket – often brands will send a discount code to encourage you to checkout but you need to be logged in for this to work.
  • Always look for a discount or free delivery code before checking out online.
  • Don’t remove tags until clothes are worn – if don’t they don’t get worn for whatever reason, they will sell for more with tags on.

Whether you plan to shop secondhand or hit up the sales for next year’s colder months, these tips should help you save money on children’s clothes. 

Babies

Do’s and Don’ts for Moving House with a Newborn

Join us for the do’s and don’ts for moving house with a newborn, written by Claire who blogs over at Claire Mac.

I gave birth to my second baby on September 17th last year and relocated 70 miles North six days later. You could question if I was brave or stupid moving house with a newborn baby, but in reality, I didn’t have a choice. It took a long time to exchange contracts on our house and it just so happened that our move in date was six days after giving birth.

We’re six months into our new parenting / living arrangements so I’d like to think I can speak from a clear head space right now. But truth be told, the final few weeks of pregnancy were far from that for me. I was a mess!

I’d like to think I’m a very chilled person. It doesn’t take a lot to stress me and I’m quite easy going when it comes to plans changing. Obviously you can only plan so much when it comes to moving house and having a baby. One thing you can’t plan for however is when they’ll both happen. As much as you want your body to start labouring, you literally have no control over when that pesky baby of yours wants to make its move. This uncertainty made me feel really uneasy. I had moments of sheer panic, moments of confusion, but also moments of sod it I can’t control it why am I worrying?

I was a week overdue with my second child. It was during this time of limbo we found out we’d be moving house the following week. This meant I either needed to go into labour sharpish and have my baby at my local hospital – The hospital I had my first, and a place I knew like the back of my hand. Or I had to move up North earlier than our move in date, move in with my Dad who lived close by and potentially give birth on my own.

This stress is exactly what I didn’t need at 40 weeks pregnant. It’s not a feeling I’d wish upon anyone. In hindsight however and looking back now six months later, everything happened when it was meant to happen. I’m a firm believer that timing is everything and what is meant to be will be.

Here are my do’s and don’ts for moving house with a newborn baby.

DO pack early

I started packing the house up at six months pregnant, three months before our move. My husband at the time questioned why I was doing it so early. But in reality you never know what’s going to happen. Babies and house moves are unpredictable and it’s wise to prepare for all outcomes.

What if the baby comes early? What if you get the green light to go before your baby’s born? Packing early and getting organised while you still feel relatively fit is so beneficial.

Our home looked bare for a long time. But it was still comfortable for us to live in and we still had everything we needed, it just didn’t feel like our home anymore. Which I suppose it wasn’t.

DON’T pack your baby essentials away

Can you imagine anything worse than trying to find your baby’s belongings only to find they’re at the back of the moving van, or packed in the most inappropriate of places. The thought filled me with so much fear.

Because of this I made sure we had a couple of different bags. You could say they were like multiple hospital bags. All made up of the same kinds of essential things, just located in different areas around the house and in the car.

This goes hand in hand with being as organised as possible. You can never be too prepared for two of the most stressful life experiences you can go through hitting at the same time. Better off having too many nappies to deal with your baby’s poopsplosion than none at all!

DO let somebody else take control

We decided from the get go that my husband would be the person taking control of the house move and I would be the person parenting our two children.

We didn’t see each other very much during the moving process, which as a new father and new mother was really quite difficult. It makes me sad to think about the time we spent apart at the beginning of our second child’s life, but we didn’t really have a choice. 

Whether you get help from a partner, a relative or a moving company, I’d 100% recommend you take that pressure off your shoulders. As a new parent you have enough worries.

DO have a dump room

There is no better feeling than loading all of your belongings into a room and shutting the door behind them. Say goodbye to the stress, at least for a short time. Slowly but surely you’ll be able to chip away at your dump room making your new house a home.

Truth be told, we still have our dump room six months later. It’s supposed to be our second daughter’s nursery, but it’s still got a few different boxes in there. *Second child problems!* It’s our project to clear and turn into her bedroom next month.

DO hire a cleaning company

You usually have a day to pack up your old house and move into the new one. It’s a lot to do in (usually less than) 24 hours so I’d highly recommend hiring a cleaning company to clean up after you’ve packed your old house up.

I’ll be honest, we didn’t do this and it’s one thing we regret. For the sake of an extra £100 or so I think it’s so worth hiring outside help to do the jobs you don’t really want to do.

DON’T get lost by the healthcare system

Switching health care providers was one of my biggest worries once I’d had the baby. I didn’t want her to get lost in the system and not have the proper health care the NHS provides.

I’d made sure before giving birth I’d told my local midwife about the house move as well as the midwives who’d helped me give birth. There weren’t many people I didn’t tell to be honest and I think this really helped us get picked up by our new practitioner.

I also made sure one of the first jobs I did when we moved house was to get my girls registered with our new GP’s surgery.

DO be gentle with yourself

My biggest tip for moving house with a newborn baby is to be gentle with yourself. You’ve literally just given birth! I’m terrible for doing too much too soon, but I often reminded myself of what my body had been through a mere six days previously. I think a really great thing to do is think of yourself as a friend (for this and for everyday life). Would you be advising your friend to lift heavy moving boxes six days postpartum? Probably not, so definitely don’t be doing it yourself.

Moving house with a newborn baby wasn’t the easiest process I’ll be honest, but it really wasn’t the worst either. The worst part for me was the unknown and the feeling of being in limbo beforehand.

Good luck! And if you are moving house with a newborn baby, make sure you have the details for your new local takeaway place!

Product Review

Review: The BABYBJÖRN Bouncer

The BABYBJÖRN Balance Soft Bouncer was reviewed by Christy who blogs over at Welsh Mum of One about life in South Wales with her toddler. She bought the bouncer herself and was not compensated for her review in any way. Please give her a follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to join her family journey!

My son William was born in April 2017 and at a few months old had already outgrown the cheap bouncer I’d picked up from the supermarket. It had been fairly flimsy, had a low weight limit and had been difficult to clean, so I was looking for some specific things in a new bouncer and the BABYBJÖRN bouncer range fit them perfectly. Swedish company BABYBJÖRN have been making family products for young children since 1961, including baby carriers, bouncers, travel cribs, cradles, high chairs and more. If you’re looking at their products, I recommend shopping the BABYBJÖRN catalogue on Amazon UK or UberKids.

We bought our BABYBJÖRN bouncer from Amazon in July 2017 and two years later, here are my thoughts.

BABYBJÖRN offer a few different models of bouncer using the same design but with different materials and colours. Ours was the Balance Soft, which is very similar to the updated Bouncer Bliss.

BABYBJÖRN Balance Soft Review

It’s washable

Firstly, I wanted it to be washable because I’d already had to clean wee, poop, spit-up and copious amounts of cat hair (because my cats loved it..) out of the old one.

It has a high weight limit and will last

Secondly it needed to have a high weight limit. My son has been on the 98th percentile for both height and weight from birth. He’s two years old now and has finally started slowing down. I scoured the internet and found that many bouncers had low weight limits – limits he would hit by 6 months! Even if you don’t have a big baby, you don’t want to be buying something new that will be quickly outgrown. The BabyBjorn bouncers have a minimum weight of 8lbs (so not suitable for premature babies or complete newborns) and a maximum weight of 29lbs (13kg). This means for the average child it’s going to last all the way up to two years old and potentially beyond. Why would a 2 year old be using a baby bouncer you ask? Well, this can actually be inverted and used as a chair without a harness after the bouncing stage has been outgrown.

My son is now 2 years and 4 months and I’m sad to say we’ve finally retired it after daily use, but I certainly felt like we got good longevity out of it and it can now be passed on to another baby, as it’s still in great condition!

It folds flat

The design of this bouncer is really innovative. It folds completely – and I mean pretty much completely – flat. I could store it behind the sofa, under the bed, stacked behind chairs, in the kitchen, anywhere. It fit easily in the boot, or in the back seat of the car. I could transport it to my mum or friend’s houses with ease, and we even took this on holiday with us twice! As we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment for the first year, space was a really big issue for us. I was surprised how sleek and ergonomic the design was whilst still folding down flat.

It’s Comfortable for the Baby

Perhaps this should have been my first point! So far I’ve addressed why the BabyBjorn bouncer ticked all my mum boxes – but of course, a product that baby doesn’t like is pointless. All I can say is William absolutely loved this bouncer. He kicked his tiny little legs with glee, bouncing surprisingly high and well just from momentum. He also napped in it every single day, so it obviously passed the comfort test. Want proof? Here you go!

It has different recline settings for napping or bouncing and provides a lot of support for the whole body, neck and head at every angle. The harness is incredibly secure so I was never worried that he would slip out – or release himself.

The Downsides of the BabyBjorn Bouncer

To be honest, the only downside I personally experienced is the price. Models start from around £100 and some go up to £180 depending on the material. You can even spend another £100 on adding a toy bar (we didn’t). I thought it was one of the most expensive bouncers I’d encountered and it seemed like a lot of money for an incredibly simple design. When you look at it, it really looks like a piece of material over a metal frame, yet it somehow comes together to give you exactly what you need.

Having used this bouncer for two years all I can say is it was worth every penny. It can now be passed on and used by another child and hopefully it will last them two years as well. When I think of how many hours of fun (and peace!) were had in this bouncer, it works out at incredible value for money, so there really aren’t any downsides at all!

My Rating: 10 / 10 – Happy baby, happy parents!

Babies

Best New Baby Gifts in the UK

Is there a new baby in your family and friends circle? It’s time for a celebration! A newborn baby is a big occasion and one that you definitely want to buy a present for. In the UK the average spend on a friend or family member’s new baby was found to be £179.74 across several gifts – coming into the world is certainly a big occasion! You might want to give a baby shower gift to celebrate the pregnancy, a newborn gift to celebrate the birth or perhaps a Christening or other religious ceremony gift as well. It’s a time of celebration for everyone, but you might be wondering exactly what makes a good present for a new baby?

We’ve collated some of the best new baby gifts that will be suitable for newborn boys or girls, whether it’s for a baby shower, birth or Christening. These gifts are designed to have a mix of memorable and practical and to suit all budgets, but all will be greatly appreciated by the recipient – well, by their parents anyway!

Best New Baby Gifts priced under £50

Neutral Baby Essentials Gift Hamper

This adorable baby hamper by The Gift Basket Boutique comes in at £39.99 and offers excellent value for money. Designed to be gender neutral in whites and greys, this is ideal when you don’t know the gender of the new baby yet – perfect for baby showers. In a beautifully prepared gift basket you’ll find plush toys, a hanging plaque, a blanket, babygrow, bodysuit, bib, hat, booties, muslin squares, scratchmitts and washclothes. If you’re looking to give a more personal gift, you could put together a hamper like this yourself with hand picked items.

“An absolutely fabulous gift that I purchased for my sister-in-law’s baby shower. It arrived beautifully gift-wrapped. It contains two very cute cuddly toys, a baby-gro as well as mittens, very very cute bootees, blanket as well as other items. All presented in a lovely basket/hamper. Very good value for money.” – Review by Didi.

My First Year Photo Frame

This First Year Photo Frame is such a simple and classic photo frame that will be a great gift for any family. It offers thirteen photo slots, one large and then twelve small, to track the progression of baby month by month. It’s a fantastic budget gift available at £16.95 that will be on display for all the family to see and offer many cherished memories. There’s also a separate insert with no words on to allow this to be converted to a photo frame that encompasses the whole family rather than just the first year – so one that will be used for a long time in the future.

“This frame is solid, good quality and a lovely keepsake. Ideal baby gift, we have two now and the option to change the frame title is a lovely extra.” – Review by Nicola.

Sweet Dreamers Ewan the Sheep Deluxe

This is one of the big sellers in the newborn baby department, selling over 950,000 worldwide! The fact is the one thing parents really want more than anything else is more sleep. Ewan the Sheep helps babies and toddlers get to sleep and stay asleep by producing soothing white noise, a heartbeat and voice. It even has a smart sensor which activates when it detects the baby stirring, ready to soothe them back to sleep, and has a night light which some children will find comforting. As baby grows up, Ewan will be cuddled and be a much loved toy. Currently selling at £39.99.

My new baby has never been a good sleeper. On good nights I get about 3hours and that’s very rare!! We purchased Ewan and the baby instantly slept straight from 7pm-3am and then back to sleep until 7am. He even had his 8 week jabs yesterday and has slept so oh my god I didn’t get a chance to catch up on the love island final! The moon mode is fantastic and turns itself off if there isn’t a baby cry for four hours so the batteries don’t get used up if you forget to switch it off. It’s so easy to use and it’s definitely a good idea to make the sheep washable. Thank you Ewan. I love you!!!” – Review by Georgiana.

Peter Rabbit Toy and Muslin Set

This is an adorable Peter Rabbit gift set that offers something practical and something fun. Three muslin squares – perfect for swaddling, lightweight blankets, towelling and loads loads more have beautiful blue and green Peter Rabbit designs on. It’s accompanied by a lovely soft toy that will become the favourite comforter for any child. What a special little present, it won’t break the bank at £25 and could be coupled with many other Peter Rabbit themed gifts, including commemorative gifts as well as books, movies, toys and even a children’s dinner set.

Personalised Children’s Bath Robe / Dressing Gown

This super soft fleece dressing gown or children’s bath robe by Hoolaroo is bound to be a hit. It’s personalised on both front and back with baby names and has cute little bear ears guaranteed to make anyone smile. It’s available in various sizes from 0-6months up to 18-24 months. Available in blue, white or pink and priced between £15.95 and £19.95.

“The quality is great. The hood especially is extra thick and snuggly as the material is doubled over, so twice the thickness. The personalisation is spot on and a great size. I would definitely buy more. I wish they made these in adult sizes as they are super snuggly.” – Review by UK Reviewer.

Best New Baby Gifts priced £50 – £99

Ingenuity ConvertMe Swing-2-Seat

Ingenuity have created this stylish portable swing seat that will be popular with every new parent and baby out there. This will give mum and dad some blissful peace and quiet (which is definitely the number one wished for gift) as it soothes newborn babies with gentle vibrations, 8 melodies and 3 nature sounds, as well as an overhead toy bar to keep baby occupied and stimulated if they’re not sleeping. It folds flat meaning it’s easy to travel with, without compromising on features! The price ranges from £59.99 to £89.99 depending on which toys you go for.

“At first I was sceptical but hopeful that this would help ease our baby and keep him entertained. Having had this for over a month now I can now say this is worth its weight in gold.” – Review by Simon Daley.

My First Frugi Bundle

Frugi is world renowned for providing high quality organic, ethical children’s clothes. Their range of newborn items called My First Frugi will delight any parent and new baby. Why not put together a present bundle of a few items such as babygrows, swaddles, socks, bibs and more? You are absolutely guaranteed to be able to put together a bundle that fits your needs, with prices starting from £6+

Silvercloud Counting Sheep Bedding Set

Spare bedding is a godsend when you have a newborn baby, but you want something good quality that guarantees the best night sleep, as well as attractive for the nursery. Consider this Silvercloud Counting Sheep bedding set as a lovely newborn baby present. It contains a lightweight quilt, cot bumper and a fleece blanket with soothing, neutrally coloured sleep sheep design. At £52 this is a good price for a complete set and there are many other matching items you could bundle together, including muslin squares, changing mat, comforter, mobile and more. See the whole range!

New Baby Gift Ideas for the £100+ budget

Skip Hop Explore and More – Activity Centre

The Skip Hop Explore and More is the crème de la crème of baby activity centres with over 25 development activities encouraging baby to use their hands, body and even their feet. It grows with the baby, converting into a play table once they’re standing by themselves, so this is going to be something that’s well used over the first few years and contribute a lot to development. It comes in at £100 and we think that is good value for money for all the play and development it offers.

“Bought this for my 4 month old daughter who is quite an active little one and she absolutely loves it. It’s very well made and thought out, really nice to look at, not at all garish like some of these type of things can be. The toys are lovely and very securely fit to the table and it’s got 4 settings for the wobble board and on the highest my daughter can just about reach it but there’s plenty of room for growth. I’m absolutely delighted with it!” – Review by Cassgal

BabyBjorn Bouncer Bliss

The BabyBjorn Bouncer Bliss is an innovative bouncer that folds completely flat for storage or travel, taking up almost no space, yet manages to create an ergonomic, comfortable and soothing bouncer that newborns will love. It’s one of the few bouncers on the market that is extendable past the infant stage – taking up to 13kg in weight, which should suit those up to 2 years old and the design is reversible to make a chair once the bouncing stage is over. The cover can be completely removed and is machine washable and toy bars are available to go over the secure safety harness at the front. This simple design is unique and extremely effective.

Read our hands on review of the BabyBjorn Bliss Bouncer after a full year of use at home! That’s some extensive testing.

Newborn Photography Session

This one requires a bit of research as to what’s available in your area, but is likely to be a very appreciated choice. Professional photography sessions can produce some amazing photographs which will be treasured for a lifetime. Photographers will offer packages that the parents can redeem at their leisure and if you really want to push the boat out, try to include one that has digital images. Photography packages often only come with one or two prints, if any, but if you have your digital images that you can download, then you can get them printed again and again, blown up into canvas or sent out in the Christmas cards. This one is the ultimate congratulations gift for the family! Package prices usually start from around £100-£150 and go up to £500 depending on the options chosen.

Don’t forget to have some relaxing you time as well whenever you can, even if it’s just 15 minutes in the bath with some wax melts in the burner.

We hope that this has given you some options and you’ve now got a good idea about what you want to buy that lucky family and their new baby!

If you found this helpful, please share.

Children Teenagers Toddlers and Preschoolers

The Parenting Types – What type of parent are you?

There are a lot of different parenting styles out there and some of them have become so notorious (for both good, or bad reasons) that they have their own parenting terms and have become a parenting type. For example some of the common ones right now are snowplow parenting, lawnmower parenting and helicopter parenting, whilst tiger and free-range parents have been around for a while. But what exactly do they mean? And which one are you? Which one were your parents?

Snowplow or Lawnmower Parenting

The Parenting Types - Snowplow parenting or lawnmower parenting

The snowplow parent will stop at nothing to ensure her child’s success. She will literally push any obstacle at of their way so that they can achieve success. They are entirely focused on their child succeeding in their goals and willing to get their child to the goalpost by removing obstacles rather than their child genuinely overcoming them. They act as the rescue, even when their child doesn’t need them or would have coped on their own. They’re also likely to blame others when the child doesn’t succeed in their goals and refuse to admit that they, or their child, could be responsible for a less than successful result.

Lawnmower is much the same, the term being coined because parents will “mow down” any obstacles in the path of the child so that they can succeed. Helicopter parents hover on the outskirts, but snowplow and lawnmower parents get stuck right in there.

Taking away obstacles and coming to your child’s rescue at all times will stop them from being independent and learning important coping skills. It makes them reliant on other people and can enhance fear and anxiety when they are left alone to solve a problem.

Tiger Parenting

The Parenting Types - Tiger Mom Parenting

Tiger parenting is one of the oldest and perhaps well known types of parenting. It is when the parents are very strict and demanding of their children. Unlike snowplow parenting where the parent will remove obstacles or blame others if success is not achieved, tiger parents will demand success through the child trying harder. Tiger parenting is about the children succeeding through hard work – but this is enforced through strict discipline and uses authoritarian parenting methods. Often the children have no say in whether they want the success they are being forced to achieve.

It’s very easy for kids to crack under pressure which can result in a breakdown. Being too strict actually increases the likelihood of rebellion, and in general will result in poor relationships between the child and their parents, as resentment will foster long into adulthood. Children won’t feel accepted for who they are and may feel like they’re never going to be good enough, resulting in poor self confidence.

Helicopter Parenting

The Parenting Types - Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parents are parents which hover around their children constantly. These parents may struggle with control issues, anxiety or fear and want their children to succeed and want the best for them – but be afraid to let go. Their desire to help their children and make sure nothing goes wrong often steps over the line into being over protective, which in turn can make children more anxious or less self confident themselves.

Some may think that helicopter and snowplow parents are similar, as they both seem focused on their children succeeding, but helicoptering comes from a place of genuine concern and fear rather than a place of ambition and entitlement.

Free-range Parenting

The Parenting Types - Free Range Parenting

Free range parenting is a type of parenting that encourages children to be independent. This means pushing them to make their own decisions and going it alone. Generally speaking this is attributed to raising kids who are self confident, assertive and decisive – but like anything, too much can be bad. There have been questions in recent years about the legality of free range parenting and when too little supervision becomes dangerous or a case of neglect, potentially breaking laws about leaving younger children alone. Free range parenting is considered to be a positive parenting style, but it definitely needs some sensible boundaries.

Which parenting type are you?

The truth is, we all have a parenting type that’s a combination of our own hopes and dreams, the things we want for our children, the things we’ve had to overcome, the way our parents have raised us and how we perceive society right now. There’s a crazy mix of psychology that goes into our parenting styles and the odds are, you do identify with one of the above. I’m a helicopter mom. I’m afraid to turn around and walk away and leave my son to his own devices, to let him fail, to let him make his own decisions and take his own risks. I’m also a little bit of a snowplow parent, I want to remove obstacles from his path and make his life easier than mine was. Being a little bit of something isn’t bad, as long as you can look at it and understand why and what damage it may do and stop yourself when you know you’re going over the line. My mother was a combination of tiger, helicopter and snowplow, but I think I turned out okay in the end.

I do worry that he’s forgotten his water bottle at school and I want to rush in and take it to the office, but at the same time, after taking a step back I realize he has to take responsibility for packing his bag and let’s face it, he’s not going to die of thirst. He’ll go find a cup. I hope!

So which parenting types do you identify with?

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Toddlers and Preschoolers

Bye-bye Binky! How do I take a pacifier away?

Is there anything that causes such relief and such consternation as the pacifier? Dummy, binky, nunu – I’ve heard it called lots of things. I’ve seen it both cause and fix the most epic of tantrums. It helps mums and dads across the country and around the world get a good night’s sleep, but as our kids get older, we have to start thinking about ditching it.

Why is a pacifier good?

Pacifiers have pros and cons and there is no right or wrong when it comes to using them. We are not a health website and do not make health claims, so you should always have a chat with your health visitor, doctor or pediatrician and see what they think.

That being said some of the things that are good about pacifiers are:

  • Research has linked the use of a pacifier to a reduced risk in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • They offer comfort and help children to cope with stress
  • They can teach children to self-comfort in the night without crying to wake you
  • The pacifier is something within your control – you can give it or take it away, unlike the habit of comfort by sucking a thumb

Why is a pacifier bad?

There are some negatives around using a pacifier as well, which can include:

  • Your child might rely on the pacifier more than you like
  • It can become a bad habit for parents to give the pacifier to handle any potential issues rather than learn good habits
  • They can be hard to take away when you decide it’s time to quit them
  • A child may not attempt to talk as much if they’re using a pacifier in the day
  • Pacifiers can be bad for toddler dental health – this is after two and should be discussed with your dentist at their first check up.

When should I take the pacifier away completely?

There’s no rule for when you should decide that the pacifier has served it’s purpose and you want to get rid of it. It’s not a case of the older they are the easier it gets, or vice versa, because it’s really dependant on the child. If you think the pacifier is having any negative behavioural or medical affects then it’s time to move away from it. The ideal time to start thinking about whether the cons outweigh the pros is around the 12 to 18 month mark, or at t he very least, shifting it towards only being used at night and not given at all in the day. Most parents start thinking about giving up completely by around the two year mark, but some children at three are still not ready to give it up.

The theory is the earlier you take it away the less dependent they become on it, but there is a point at which being able to explain and reason with them is an advantage.

How do I get take a pacifier away from a child?

The first question I’m going to ask is how old is the child in question? There are two different methods for taking a pacifier away from a child.

  1. A child too young to understand reasoning – usually under the three year old mark but can vary.
  2. A child old enough to understand reasoning, cause and effect. Usually a child over the three year old mark.

Have a read through these two different methods and see which one will work best for your family.

Taking a pacifier away from a baby or young toddler

Because you can’t explain why you’re taking the pacifier away or make any bargains with a baby or younger toddler, you simply have to go cold turkey. You can adjust them to having the pacifier only at night to make it easier, but to get rid of the night time comfort it’s going to be a case of tough love. They will miss it and they will cry for it and you need to not give in. It’s gone. If your children are anything like mine, they may have secreted pacifiers around the house. You know how you started off with 5 and suddenly there’s only 1 left so you buy another pack and those disappear too? I’ve found them in shoes, in drawers, under the mattress, under the bed, in the cat food, you name it… so make sure you’ve had a really thorough clean of the house because if you take the pacifier away and your child magically finds one somewhere (it shows how good their memories are!) then you’re back to square one.

Step one – remove all the pacifiers in the house.

Step two (optional) – only give the pacifier at night time, removing it in the morning.

Step three – remove it completely.

It sounds simple, yet incredibly hard. The habit should break fairly quickly if you stick to it – within three to five days on average. This is likely to be three to five days of increased tantrums, needing more attention and waking during the night. In the night time during this time you can either decide to go and offer some comfort, or to try a cry it out method. It’s up to you as a parent. I personally only allow 5https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/sids.aspx minutes of crying before I go in and offer comfort.

Taking a pacifier away from a child who can understand (two to three years on)

If your child has a good grasp of language, which could be anywhere from two to three years on, you can use some simple ideas to help them grasp the concept that the pacifier is going away. They can include things like:

Giving the pacifiers to another baby in the family – You can symbolically gift the pacifiers to a younger family member or friend, talking about how grown up your child is now and how nice it is to give the gift to another baby who needs them.

Posting or giving them to the binky fairy – It sounds a bit silly, but you can make a ritual out of popping them in an envelope, decorating it with art and glitter and then posting it out to the dummy fairy, then waiting for a little reward to come in return!

You can also leave them outside the door, which is what happens in the book Bea Gives Up Her Dummy. Reading this book together might make your child see that this is a really good idea!

My 3 year old daughter loved her dummy. We had managed to restrict just to bed times but she still needed it during the night and had started to wake for her dummy during the night so thought it was time to try to get rid of it (her teeth were also starting to protrude).

She really enjoyed reading the book and chose it before bed most nights. After reading, we would ask her if she wanted to give her dummy to the dummy fairy; each night she responded ‘no, I like sucking my dummy’ so we didn’t push it. After about two weeks, her response changed one night to ‘yes!’ so we collected her dummies and left them for the dummy fairy!” – Review by LibbyHow

Hanging the pacifier on a Christmas Tree – If you’re looking to quit around Christmas, you can hang them as a decoration on a Christmas tree, and say Father Christmas is going to come and take them away for all the little boys and girls who still need them and he’ll be leaving lots of presents in return!

These are just symbolic gestures that help the child feel like they’re in control and that they’re choosing to give the pacifier away and are being rewarded for their hard work. You just need to find the hook that captures your child’s imagination and makes them want to hand it over.

Some extra tips for banishing the binky

Always explain why and talk about it – Even if they don’t understand, talk in simple language about what you’re doing and why.

Offer a replacement comfort item when needed – Offer lots of cuddles and love. Offer a stuffed toy or a favourite blanket. Distract with favourite toys, snacks and songs. Children still need to be comforted and finding alternative ways to the pacifier will help smooth the process along.

Make sure all caregivers are on board – mum, dad, friends, family, nana, but of course, also people at daycare or nursery. Everyone needs to know to stick to the plan, as if someone gives in, not realizing that you’ve cut them out, then you’re back to square one.

This too, shall pass – Keep reminding yourself that this is a storm in a tea cup. Even if you are struggling right now, keep calm, weather the storm and it will pass. Good luck!

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