21 Feb 2017

Travelling with Children #Travellessons

We've just got over half term for the children - and when I say get over it, I mean I have had to sit in a dark corner for a while to compose my senses. We didn't go anywhere, just a few days out and I worked as normal but it really takes its toll with two small children who get cabin fever. So hubby and I have decided that the next holiday (it's only six weeks away!!!!) we will take the kids away somewhere but where to.....we are currently checking out Go Euro.

Pre kids we went further afield and did an amazing trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and we saw so many great things, there was another trip to Cuba where we traveled the length of the country staying in some amazing (& not so amazing) places. We went to Madrid in August...who even does that, most of the Spanish had decamped to cooler parts of the country. Since having our children we have kept it more simple but as they are getting older we feel its time to get more adventurous again, I may get some time to actually sit on a beach again and read a book or relax.

Whilst we decide I thought it would be good to put down a few of the lessons we have learnt whilst traveling with children:
  •  Plan, plan, plan....
I love a good plan at the best of times but when we go anywhere with our kids it all needs to be a bit more of a military operation. I've come to find out over the years that our two love a bit of structure and it all falls apart with out it. There are favourite toys to factor in and fussy eaters to cater for so I like to know exactly what we are getting and where from! I can then sort out child entertainment for whilst we are there or on route.

  • Don't over complicate things
I'm a less is more kind of girl and so find it easier to only plan one activity a day for the kids, so for instance we may go visit a town or attraction and then head back to our villa or chalet to take it easy, pop to the pool and unwind. I've never tried to cram it all in and it works for us.

  • Take snacks...bribes....distractions
Yep I was going to be that mother that wouldn't bribe my kids with some chocolate fingers or a packet of crisps but when they are getting bored and we've been on the road for a long time I break out the big guns. I also take a new toy along for the ride and produce it when things are starting to melt down slightly, it takes their mind of the woes and gives us as parents a brief bit of head space.

  • It's not about us
Holidays used to be all about us, relaxing, resting, seeing new things but when you become parents you often need a holiday to get over the holiday. It's great fun but a different type of fun, most of the time things are geared up for the kids, we go places they will enjoy and on the back of it we enjoy watching them enjoying new things. There is a little bit of us in there but I will no longer be dragging a preschooler and a 6yr old around an old ruin in the midday sun...it will just never happen!
  • New places are exciting
For everyone there is something to see and do and even the mundane is beautiful when you are 2yrs old. We want to do more city breaks for this exact reason because its fun exploring a new city where there are different things around every nook and cranny. Beaches are great but it's good to think outside of the box on some places.
  • As long as we are together nothing else matters
It's so true because sometimes the wheels fall off our plan or the kids don't want the bribes and distractions but as long as we can all look back and smile at the adventure we have had then it's all worth it. Spending time as a family is what counts the most and if its raining then we embrace it and go splash around in puddles, if it's too hot then it's ice creams all round.

This is our entry into the GoEuro #travellessons travel blog competition.

13 Feb 2017

Cleaning Teeth - Brush baby Review

We've been dealing with brushing teeth now for over 4 years at least and I remember when Bubba was small we used the chewable tooth brush and she loved it, especially when she was teething. We moved onto a toothbrush when she had a full set of nashers and she has always been great about having her teeth cleaned twice a day.

With cub its all been a bit more of a struggle, he used the chewable tooth brush and loved throwing it around the room, he didn't go for the wipes (he's never been one for letting me do anything for him) and we have had a struggle with cleaning his teeth. It's been a bit hit and miss regularly and sometimes we've had to hold on tight and try and get his teeth clean whilst he shouts 'No no no' at us.

One thing we've come to realise is that for Cub it is all about fun and if he thinks it is fun then he is willing to give it a go...otherwise forget it! So when we got to try the BabySonic & KidzSonic Electric toothbrushes our whole teeth cleaning adventures really took off.

Up until this point my husband freely admitted that he hated cleaning their teeth (especially cubs) and would do almost anything to get out of it. It was always a last minute scramble and the negotiations would start in earnest with cub the moment we stepped into the bathroom. I would plead and try and make him open his little mouth enough so I could clean his teeth with a normal toothbrush (forget trying to let him do it himself as he'd just throw the brush). I tried cute and funny toothbrushes, I let him pick his own and put the toothpaste on...but I was still met with resistance. Because he was getting all the attention, Bubba would insist I clean her teeth for her, she was happy to have it done but didn't want to do it herself...she wanted in on the action.

When the toothbrushes arrived the kids went nuts and asked to try them straight away, this was at 3pm in the afternoon! So by the time bedtime came they were beside themselves with excitement. I've got to say, hand on heart, two weeks later and they still clean their teeth with just as much excitement. They sit together on the bathroom floor like a couple of expectant puppies until I hand them their brushes...and they clean their teeth on their own! It's amazing.

The BabySonic is designed to grow as your baby does and is from 0-18 months and it has added brush heads for 18-36 months. So we just went straight to those for cub, the toothbrush lights up and vibrates and after 2 minutes (the recommended tooth cleaning time) in turns itself off. It's very lightweight for him to hold himself.

The KidzSonic is for 3-6 year old children and as Bubba said "its like a disco in my mouth" as the lights are multicoloured. The bristles are graduated to help clean between the teeth and I hadn't realised that as soon as teeth start touching, it's time to start flossing. So this is perfect for Bubba at the moment with all her baby teeth still intact.

They use the corresponding toothpastes - 0-3yrs toothpaste is applemint, 3-6yrs toothpaste is spearmint (up until now we've had to change toothpaste regularly for Bubba as she didn't like the taste but so far she loves this one.

Bubba really liked the stickers and brushing check-list and took it all very seriously, she likes that she has a 30 second reminder to move the toothbrush around her mouth. I asked what she likes best about the toothbrush and she said "it does the work for you" and I couldn't have said it better myself...it's taken the work out of keeping their teeth clean for me.

As parents we now know that they are brushing their teeth properly and also regularly with less bribery and more involvement from them. It's made our morning routine a lot calmer already and a lot more fun..which is what was missing for us before. We will continue to use these brushes and my only wish is that they made an adult version because I would so be up for using that.

We were sent these items for review from Brush Baby - all opinions are ours (& honest). Check out their website for fun ideas and a brilliant colouring in chart

10 Feb 2017

Five turning Six - Your changes

I can remember when I sat up all night whilst you screamed as a newborn feeling helpless

I cried buckets when you used to hold onto my leg and had to be prised off at nursery

I would always make sure I was the first smiling face you saw when I hadn't been with you for a while

I felt so much pride when you were a little star at school nursery

The way you always reached for my hand wherever we were makes my heart swell

I catch a glimpse of the teenager in you, headphones on, slouched on the sofa listening to your 'tunes'

Your moods confuse me sometimes but others I can totally relate to.

The way you are learning to read is amazing and totally worth spelling out every. single. word!

Looking at you swim makes me realise how little you really are.

I fret about you coping ok all day without me at school, who will you turn to when I'm not there.

I smile when I think of your wit and comedic timing, you are sharp.

It makes me proud how you love to learn and your little brain is like a sponge.

The way you've taken to wearing glasses full time, like its nothing, has humbled me. The hospital appointments taken in your stride.

Your big heart is something I love the most about you, you love your brother and us and want to help everyone.

I'm looking forward to watching you grow up each day, month and year.


8 Feb 2017

Keeping you Safe at School

As a mother you kind of get blasé about the dangers and how to keep your children safe, it becomes autopilot all day, every day;
  • Hand holding crossing roads, telling the dangers of car parks and roads - yeah tick

  • Kitchen knives hidden away and pots of boiling water pushed back to far corners of the kitchen - Yes...got that sorted!

  • Stranger danger and the virtues of having a safe word that only mummy and you know and if a stranger approaches...sorted!

  • Cutting up grapes and other small objects so you don't choke...tick
But it's the big stuff we sometimes struggle with, the how to keep your brain safe, how to prepare you for the world where not everyone has your best interests at heart. I really worry about how I can help my babies go out into their own lives without me being there to pick up the pieces. Obviously I will (& do) hover in the background and get prepared to scoop them up when things get tough but this won't always be the case.

First holidays without me - going out with friends - job interviews and boyfriends/girlfriends...how do I manage these situations? For my husband it's simple, you don't 'manage' them...you simply let them happen. But my babies grew inside me, they are still a part of me and I made and birthed them so I feel like I'm holding these delicate little eggs made of diamonds that might smash if I let them go and those diamonds scatter all over the place. I want to show these beautiful shiny, happy children off but I don't want them to become tainted or lose their sparkle....now that's the real challenge.

Recently I've also become a lot more aware of mental health (sadly I've had to be) and it is something I never even thought about before, my own mental health yes but never trying to protect my babies mental health. My girl has been getting hers dented a lot lately and at first it all got brushed under the rug and dismissed but lately we haven't been able to do that and it's apparent there are a few little cracks appearing. I don't want to (or need to) go into it now but she has such a big heart that she has been listening to comments and others thoughts that are damaging, as well as being picked on relentlessly at school. I have to remind her daily that she isn't 'stupid' and I want to weep every time I think of it, she berates herself and believes what someone else has told her...she often says when something goes wrong "Oh I'm so stupid, no one loves me!"

She is 5...only 5! It devastates me every time and I'm desperate for her to realise how far from stupid she is. Really she is amazing and although I'm biased, she is very brilliant and I expect great things from her. We have to be careful now and the word stupid isn't in our home (it never was before this), it's such a destructive word and has no place in our family. No one is stupid, we all have a worthwhile place and some actions are stupid but never a person. Never!
So  I feel like I'm walking a tight rope now between keeping her stable and loved and knowing she is deserving and watching out for signs that she isn't coping. A big one we have and that I've written about before is sleep (or lack of it), on a bad night we've had wake ups of around 15 times a night but sometimes when she has purged her soul to one of us (usually daddy as she keeps things bottled up from me) she sleeps better that night with just one wake up or on a rare night, no wake ups at all.

I can now tell when she's had a bad day at school because she loses her cool quicker, the anger bubbles out of her and she shouts at me about things that usually she doesn't give a second thought to. She rages and then is very remorseful and it breaks my heart.

The bit I really didn't realise is that this is such a common thing and only yesterday I was talking to another mum who watched me fall apart one morning when Bubba was so distressed and didn't want to go into school. I had had to physically push my daughter into the gate and a teacher was there to guide her to her classroom, as soon as she was gone I sobbed and sobbed before retreating embarrassed and worried. This mum caught up with me as I was going to collect my girl and asked how she was getting on now and I said better, her love of school is back and her desire for learning is just as strong. The mum then admitted that her daughter (who is a year older than Bubba) also got bullied and hers had started in nursery. We agreed that little girls had complex relationships and she said 'good luck' and waved as we went our separate ways. I had always assumed bullying was a physical act but it's not, it's a mental destruction that causes the most anguish, now I know differently.

I am committed to getting her through this unscathed as much as possible and teach her what loving and nurturing relationships should be like. To show her that words may hurt but they don't have to define you forever and I will make sure she doesn't loose that big heart of hers. I will always remind her she is beautiful inside and out and nothing or no one can take that away from her.
© Bubba Babble. All rights reserved.