Thursday, 19 June 2014

Second child...

With only 6 weeks to go (give or take a few either side) I am now starting to get a little nervous about the massive change that's about to happen in our household...

So here is a plea for advice on how to deal the following - from anyone who has more than one child already or anyone who doesn't but still thinks they have good advice :)

1. Feelings of jealousy & sharing of attention between children

Doof will be 21 months when Doofette is born. I've heard people say that if the age gap is less than 2 years there is a lot less jealousy in the long term as the older one can't remember being an only child - but surely at the start that isn't true? Any top tips on how to reduce Doof feeling like he's being displaced? We've bought some toys for Doofette to give him and also a small doll so he has a 'role' to play and can feed his baby when I'm feeding etc but any other tips?

2. How to breastfeed

How do you BF with a crazy toddler running around?! Doof was not the most quick-to-learn (mainly due to his posterior tongue tie I think) and so would take about an hour to feed and would want to feed every 2-3 hours... Obviously no problem with baby number 1 when I had nothing else to do but no idea how it'll work if Doofette is also that slow! I know I could bottle feed etc but I exclusively BF Doof and would love to do the same with Doofette if possible. So other than putting Doof in a baby cage for the duration of each feed, any other tips? He's not quite old enough yet to sit nonstop in front of a tv programme or play consistently by himself for more than 5 minutes.

3. Bath and bedtime

How do you do bath/bedtime when solo? Toddler bath and bed at usual time and just work baby around it? Or did you try and get baby down for a sleep before dealing with tired toddler?


So many things to think about... Obviously people have been coping with multiple kids at the same time for centuries and am sure going with the flow is the best approach. But forewarned is forearmed and so any top tips from anyone who's been through it already would be very much appreciated :)

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Creative play (2)

This month I've been working a lot so have done very simple things for creative play - I love the preparation and planning involved for some more intricate ideas but sometimes it's also good to have things you can throw together in 2 minutes :)


1. Fingerprint flower cards

We made this card for my mum as she's not very well at the moment. She loves everything and anything Doofy does (special privilege of being first grandchild!!) so I knew she'd be especially touched at a handmade card. I originally saw something similar on Pinterest and decided to try our own recreation/twist.

The only drawback is my husband said the end result looked "too good" so didn't look very homemade. Oops! That was definitely not the plan...

What we used:
-          plain white paper
-          coloured card (orange and purple)
-          green felt tip
-          finger paints
-          pritt stick

First of all on the white paper Doof did a thumb print in yellow and then finger prints of different colours in a circle around. This was the flower head. I then cut it out (D is too young to understand how to use scissors and/or use them properly!). He then coloured in a strip of white paper with a green felt-tip. That became the stalk. From the orange card I cut out a small "pot" shape. Doof then smeared glue on the back of each separate piece and stuck them onto the purple card (with a little help to get them in the right positions!). We then wrote a message inside - job done :) 


2. Outdoor drawing

This is a nice thing to do on a sunny day and everyone can join in. It can help develop sharing (a very important skill I think!) and also allows you to talk about colours with your child.

What we used:
-          chunky wax crayons
-          large A1 paper sheets
-          a sunny day

This is the most simple of activities. When it was sunny I spread a couple of large paper sheets on Doof’s outdoor mats and put all his chunky crayons in a bowl. Initially he had fun trying to stand all the crayons up like a large crayon army. Next he had fun knocking them all down. Then he started to scribble with them. I joined in and drew a few different coloured shapes. At the moment D still just scribbles but as he gets older this will be a fun way of practising shapes or letters as the whole family can do it together.


3. Indoor painting

This is perfect for those days that are the opposite of those needed for the above activity – rainy, cold or otherwise not-wanting-to-be-outside days.

What we used:
-          washable paints
-          plastic bowls
-          large roll of paper
-          masking tape
-          assorted brushes
-          Doofy's hands and feet :)

To start with I rolled out a length of paper (from an easel paper roll – brilliant purchase from Amazon) the same width as the kitchen floor. I cut 4 similar pieces and then taped them together with masking tape so paper covered nearly all of the kitchen floor. I would definitely recommend trying to do this *before* you let your toddler in the room… I did it while Doof was milling around which made it a lot harder!! Next time I’ll do this prep while he is napping!

Next I laid out a few brushes and squirted different coloured paints into separate bowls. I wanted to use larger ‘paint pots’ than his regular paint palette so he could put his whole hand and foot in if he wanted. Then I let Doof loose…

To start with he was a bit reticent – maybe because he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to paint on what he thought was the floor! But soon he was dipping the brushes in the paint and from there it was a rapid slippery slope to hands being dunked in the paint and smeared on the paper :) this is definitely an activity I would recommend stripping down to the nappy for!!


And I'm so pleased that Doof is still loving his couscous sandpit - he asks to play with it nearly every day :)

Friday, 6 June 2014

Bath time fun

AKA one of the only perks of being a working parent...

So having a full-time job and being a mum is always a delicate balancing act and I really miss having quality time with Doof when I am working long shifts. However about half of my shifts do let me be home for bath time so I love making that time extra special – as we have to pack our whole day’s fun into only 15 minutes I really enjoy thinking of different ways to make D’s baths more interesting than just a regular plain bath…

Here are some ideas we’ve used recently:

  1. Bubbles
This is one of the most simple ways to have fun in the bath but still provides so much entertainment :) Doof enjoys making bubble towers, giving himself a bubble facemask and wiping a bubble beard off Daddy.

  1. Building blocks
We got these foam building blocks from JoJoMamanBebe and they are brilliant in the bath. They float, stick to the side of the bath and stick to each other so you can stack them up into towers or build a house. They’re also soft but firm so nice for teething babies to chew and don’t hurt if your toddler gets a bit boisterous and throws them around! At the moment Doof mainly likes to pretend to knock on the front door block (maybe a sign he watches too much Postman Pat?!!) and destroy any towers we make. But this is definitely a toy that will grow with him as he gets older and is more interested in building stuff up and creating things.

  1. Crayon
We got these bath crayons from Walmart when we were last in the States and they are awesome. We are definitely going to stock up on both these and the paints below when we next go back :) They are easy for Doof to hold, he enjoys the range of colours, they float, don’t disintegrate if left in the water and they easily wipe off the side of the bath. In the last few months D has started to really get into scribbling on paper so these are a natural extension for him to use in the bathroom.

  1. Painting
It may sound slightly scary to encourage your toddler to get even more messy at bathtime when you are trying to get them clean before bed but don’t worry about it… letting Doof paint himself actually encourages him to be cleaner as he then washes himself really thoroughly with his flannel afterwards! The bath paints came in a pack with 3 primary colours and don’t irritate Doof’s skin even though it is pretty sensitive.

  1. Coloured water
We have some water colour tablets from Crayola – they come in a range of colours and just one turns the bath water a really vivid colour. It does say on the box be careful about colour staining but we haven’t had that problem on either the bath. Doof’s skin or the towels. Next I’m going to try mixing these with bubbles and see if we get coloured bubbles :)

These are also going to be great for doing this when it gets hotter this summer :)
  1. Letters
These foam letters came from Tesco and were super cheap. When he was younger Doof enjoyed chewing them, as he got older he enjoyed sticking them to the side of the bath and to himself and as he gets even older we’ll have fun spelling out words with them.

  1. Glowsticks
So my mistake when first using these was not realising that on a summer’s evening there would be too much light coming through the bathroom window… but after Daddy managed to somehow drape a towel over the window the bathroom became dark enough for the fun to start :) Doof loves the different colours, how they light up the water and his skin but most of all how he can wear the smaller ones as bracelets! When we first put these in the bath he stayed in for ages and didn’t want to get out at the end!


So what next? I recently saw this and can’t wait to try it! I just need to convince my OH that we really do need a blacklight…

Do you have any bathtime activities your toddler loves doing? We’re always looking for new and different things to try :)

Monday, 2 June 2014

The big toy declutter...

Recently I've been hearing a lot about the importance of "decluttering" and not having too many toys around at any one time. The reasoning behind this (very simply) is that if your toddler/child has access to too many different toys at the same time they can:
- become over-stimulated
- flit quickly from one activity to another without learning how to focus and fix attention
- struggle to develop the skills of learning to "play" properly with anything as there is too much choice

So last week I collected all of Doof's toys together and this is what I found...

Where did they all come from?!

Pretty obviously way too many! I'm not quite sure how we/he accumulated so many but he has and we were definitely finding that he tended to just play with the same 2-3 toys repeatedly - usually whatever was on top of the toy box pile - so a real waste when he had so many lovely toys and a bit repetitive for his development. So operation declutter began :)

First I laid out all the toys on the floor (as above) and separated them into groups - e.g. cars, puzzles, musical toys, items for pretend play etc. Any toys that were broken or had pieces missing went in the bin. Any toys that were too young for Doof were separated out into a pile and put aside for Doofling (there were, unsurprisingly, quite a large number in this pile!). Lastly I put a small number away for "travel" (pretend phone with noisy buttons, blow up ball, noisy keyboard, talking books).

From all the remaining "keeping" toys I separated them into 2 categories - "general toys for everyday" and  "box toys". The idea was that the "general toys" box would be out all the time whereas the "box toys" would be put out in rotation. The general box contained:
- click clack track
- etch a sketch
- wooden alphabet 
- push-pull elephant
- random small box

I then divided the "keeping" toys between 3 boxes with each box containing some: 
- building blocks
- jigsaw
- cars
- musical instruments
- animals for pretend play
- stacking cups/rings
- ball

Individual rotating boxes - toys divided between "frog", "lion" and "monkey" - with all the monkey ones laid out as an example of how many items are in each box

Lastly I tackled his books. Doofy loves his books and I didn't want to limit his access to these at all. However it was a similar story to his toys - he would read the same books over and over again, mainly because he forgot what ones he had, which was a shame. So I sorted his books in a similar way - one pile for general everyday use (went in the general box) and then 3 separate piles for each individual box. 
Three piles of books for the rotating boxes (back row) and then the 11 books for the general box (middle and front rows)
So there it is. 
Our new toy routine. 
Currently we have the general box and the "frog" box in use. In 2 weeks the frog will go away and the "lion" box will come out. So far Doof has not noticed that 2/3 of his toys have disappeared and he seems to actually be really enjoying the new smaller selection :)

Has anyone else done anything similar? How did it work for you?

Abricotines = deliciousness

So for a change here is a grown up cooking blog post :) I started following Foovenirs food blog a few weeks ago - it has so many delicious looking recipes, all with a french twist, and they're all really well-explained and simple to follow (even for someone a bit cookingly-challenged like myself!). 

When I decided to try one of the recipes there was no competition over my first choice - Abricotines. These are like small bite-size very light macaroons - I love anything with almonds (marzipan is top, mmmm) so this recipe was always going to appeal to me :)

You can see the full recipe here but below are some things I picked up when making them which might also be helpful.

1. I had to whisk the egg and sugar for over 5 minutes before it went firm so don't worry if it takes a bit longer than you think

2. Use a disposable piping bag if you have one (mine was from Sainsburys) - the process is still very messy but at least you don't have to bother washing up that bit at the end! Alternatively if you manage to pipe them out without mixture going all over your hands/the bag/baking tray etc then please let me know how!!

3. In our oven I cooked them at 160 degrees C (fan) for 13 minutes

4. Not really a tip for cooking... but these were so delicious straight from the oven whilst still warm that about half got eaten without any jam being added!

From start to finish...

As these were very sugar-rich I didn't plan on giving any to Doofy - he doesn't usually eat sweet puddings or have sugary snacks - but he saw me sneakily eating some one afternoon and kept wildly gesticulating and saying "uh-uh-uh" repeatedly until I gave in and gave him one. Needless to say it was devoured so quickly that I didn't even have time to get my phone out to take a photo of him enjoying it!! It also meant I had a good excuse to quickly eat all the remaining ones so he couldn't ask for anymore... ;)

So for anyone looking to try something different or find delicious recipes definitely check out Foovenirs.
Some of the recent recipes on there include a Checkers cake, Chocolate raspberry tartlets and "Le concorde" all of which look so good. Due to how much fun I had making Doof's birthday rainbow cake I think I'll try the Checkers cake next...