Things to do with Kids

July 18, 2016

M&M pebble

Decorate pebbles to look like M&M’s

Make a moving paper fish.

Homemade Puffy Paint

Make Homemade Puffy Paint with just 3 ingredients

3D Hand Drawing

Make a 3D drawing of your hand

corner bookmark

Make a corner bookmark

Or have a country-theme dinner and get the kids to make decorations to suit like flags, place mats, etc and source fun facts about the country while you serve its traditional dishes.

E

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Disneyland Paris

We’re just back from Disneyland Paris. Here are my tips for a less-stressful trip

  • Get used to queuing. They can be up to 60mins for one ride.
  • Alternate rides you have to queue for with ones you don’t such as the Labyrinth, Dragon’s Cave, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Alladin’s Passage, Shootin Gallery (2euro a go). My kids really enjoyed the interactive displays in the Disney Animation Gallery in Walt Disney Studio Park. You don’t have to queue for this if you skip the video at the start and go straight in the exit. I was told this by a staff member so it’s okay to do.
  • Hit the most popular rides as soon as you get into the park and get fast-passes where you can. As far as i know you can’t have two ‘live’ fast passes at once so choose well.
  • It’s often best to go to the back of the park and work you’re way forward in order to avoid queues.
  • Rides are quieter during lunchtime and parade time.
  • If you’re on your own or a group that’s happy to be split up you can avoid the queues by availing of this on the rides that have the option.
  • The car stunt show in Walt Disney’s Studio park is worth attending but wrap up warm if it’s a windy day. It can get cold!
  • We also enjoyed the 30min movie in the Cinemagique. Famous scene from Disney movies sound boring but there’s a story running through it and it’s very well done. It’s also an opportunity to rest the legs!
  • Unfortunately quite a few of the attractions were closed but we still had a great time. My kids are 8 and 6 so our favourite rides were the Ratatouille and Pinocchio rides. My husband liked the scarier Space Mountain and Tower of Terror (Walt Disney Studio Park).
  • If your children do not like rollercoasters or the dark avoid Crusher’s Coaster. Given it’s link to the movie Nemo we thought it’d be harmless, it scared the sh**t out of me and the kids.
  • Do not miss the light show at 8pm in the Disneyland park. It’s deadly!
  • If you’re going half-board reserve sittings in advance. Most of the restaurants we visited weren’t taking any reservations and without them you might have to queue for up to 45 minutes for a table.
  • Be warned food in Disneyland is EXPENSIVE, which is why we availed of the half-board option and booked in advance. Still a 3 course meals for two adults and two children will set you back over a 100euro and burgers and chips for 4 will be about 50euro.
  • If you get vouchers for tea-time treats expect to queue for up to 30 minutes to collect the free drink and treat.
  • If you’ve fussy eaters i think the buffets are the best bet. We liked the Plaza Gardens in Disneyland Park and Cape Cod in Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne.
  • We loved the interior of the restaurant Chez Remy in Walt Disney Studios Park. The choice of food is limited, particularly if you’re on a half-board meal plan but that wasn’t why we went there. It’s made to look like the ‘rats’ bistro in the film Ratatouille so the scale of everything is made to suit, i.e seats look like champagne cages.  We heard it’s packed at lunchtime but we took the last sitting at 5pm and it was really quiet and relaxed.
  • We told the kids that they could window shop for toys while we were in the resort but we wouldn’t be buying them until the last day. This was for a few reasons; to keep a cap on spending, the shops stock different product ranges to this way you get to see it all before deciding, avoid impulse buys and to stop them wanting to stay in the hotel playing with them!
  • There’s a great Lego shop in Disney Village where you can customise and buy your own mini figures. This area stays open till 10pm and has lots of shops and restaurants.

E

Super Mario Party

January 19, 2016

It was my son’s 6th birthday over the weekend so we decided to throw him a Super Mario party. I spent ages on the decorations, which i mostly sourced online and printed ourselves so although it took quite a while to do it wasn’t expensive.

Super Mario Party Backdrop

I downloaded most of the characters for the background from One-hip Mama and Clipart Sheep. I used the question box graphic as a template to make a Happy Birthday banner. I enlarged the graphic of the Piranha Plant, printed it, cut it out and stuck card to the back of it to stiffen it. I used a card buttress at the back of the Piranha Plants and the ‘pipes’ to make them stand up. The runner under the sweet treats is from Tesco for (€1.89 for two metres)

Super Mario Birthday Banner

I got the printables for this banner from Oh My Fiesta and used a Super Mario Font, which you can download, to complete with my son’s name and age. I bought blue ribbon for it in Home Focus (€0.50 per metre)

Pin the Nose on Mario Poster

I tweaked a printable from Oh My Fiesta to make this Mario poster. Then i printed out a second copy of his face, which i mounted on card before trimming so i just had his nose and moustache. I just put bluetack on the back of the nose and moustache to help it stick to the poster.

Super Mario Party Food

The Super Mario food was a combination of Yoshi Egg cookies (biscuits decorated with white icing with red or blue spots), Mario Fire Balls (Burger Bite crisps), Luigi Gold Coins (chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil from Aldi) and Toad cupcakes (fairycakes / cupcakes iced with fondant icing with two lines of chocolate icing for eyes! I edited the ‘Starman’ graphic and used the Super Mario font to make the food signs. We also served pizza and cocktail sausages, which were pierced with with these Super Mario cupcake picks from Beach Bums.

Super Mario Cake

My cake decorating skills won’t win any awards but my son was delighted with my version of the Super Mario Wii game. Using plastic figurines to decorate the cake really helped with the final result! I also had to make him a cake for his actually birthday (his party was on a different day)

Bowser Castle Cake

Super Mario Party Ware

I got the yellow plates (€1.99, green napkins (€1.49), blue cups (€1.99) and red paper tablecloth (€1.99 for 5 metres) from Mr Price, the green paper straws (€1.49) from the Euroshop and the table runner is Super Mario wrapping paper that i got for €1 in Smyths Toys. I printed and cut out the Pirhana plant heads and use PVA glue to stick them onto the straws. I also printed and out the moustaches templates and use PVA to stick them to the cups. I finished each place setting off with a chocolate coin wrapped in gold foil from Aldi.

Super Mario Favour Boxes

I got the printable for these boxes from Oh My Fiesta.

A found a few other printables that i didn’t use for the party. Here they are;

E

I thought these suggestions were great and really work. Original post to be found here.

1. Name the Bad Feelings

Get your kid to think up a silly name for the bad feelings they’re having. For example: Bob.

Then tell your kid to boss those bad feelings around.

“Bob, stop making me feel like that!”

Or: “Go away, Bob!”

2. Shhh…

Logic doesn’t help when a child is experiencing real anxiety. Just stop talking and instead listen and give lots of hugs and kisses instead.

3. Give Your Kid a Friend

Let your kid pick a doll or stuffed animal, or even something like a bracelet.

In times of stress, encourage your child to find comfort in this special object. Research shows this helps kids with nighttime fears and sleep problems. Especially in cases of shared custody, the child can find it helpful to have an object they take between both houses that always travels with them.

4. Get a Straw and a Button

In one study, teaching kids to blow into a party blower reduced anxiety in 40 percent of the kids who tried it. If you don’t have a party blower on hand, use a straw and a button instead.

Show your child how to blow through the straw to move the button. This trick forced her to take a big deep breath and let it out slowly. Too fast, and the button would fly off the nightstand.

For more tips try What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety,

5. Make a Photo Album

When a child is feeling upset, it can help if he looks at pictures of pleasant events or people he loves.

6. Record Yourself

Record a loving and calming message on a device that your child can play when you’re not there.

7. Make a Calm-Down Jar

When anxious encourage your child to shake this glowing bedtime bottle and then count as many stars as possible as they float back down to the bottom. This can distract them from their anxiety and help them calm down. Research has shown that by practicing this and other forms of mindfullness regularly increases bloodflow and development in the areas linked to emotional control and feelings of calmness. Mindfullness in kids is easiest to achieve by asking them to focus on one of their senses, i.e. sight, sound, touch or breathing for a short period of time. This gives us brain a rest from ‘thinking’ and helps us be more in tune with our bodies.

8. Build a Toolbox

After you read through these tips to see what will be a good fit for your kid, review those ideas with your kid to make sure they understand all the tools.

Practice each one.

Then in the moment where they’re feeling anxious or scared, they’ll be confident and prepared to use their toolbox.

Original Post by Kelly J Holmes

And her’s one of my own

9. Happiness Book

My daughter was prone to the ‘negative nellies’ at bedtime so a friend, Fionnuala, suggested a happiness book. Everynight we’d write down one thing that made us happy that day. After about 3 months she didn’t need it anymore but it’s still a nice thing to do.

 

E

 

The order kids get teeth in

February 20, 2015

the order teeth arrive

8 things to teach your child

September 28, 2014

Text ‘borrowed’ from article by Smita Malholtra in Huffington Post. I think they’d apply to boys as well as girls.

 

These are eight lessons I want to teach my daughter. I have learned these through many mistakes, periods of introspection and learning in my life.

My hope for her is to live authentically, passionately and gracefully.

1. If someone hurts you, don’t take it personally

Chances are, they have been hurt themselves. In fact, never take anything personally. Don’t let compliments get to your head and don’t let criticism get you down. It is a known fact that most people can only give others what they have received themselves.

All your actions and words should come from a place of love. But not everyone will be loving back. And that is OK.

As Miguel Ruiz explained in his book The Four Agreements, when you do not take anything personally, you are in a place of liberation. You can interact with the world through the lens of an open heart, not having to worry about what others will say.

2. Keep a portion of what you earn for saving and another for giving back

Learn to see money as a tool with which you can achieve your greatest dreams. But it is also a tool that can be used to do tremendous good in the world. If you are blessed with a lot of money, do not waste this opportunity. Use it to change a social condition, to uplift a community and to inspire others.

Someone once gave me some great advice about money:

With every dollar that you earn, keep one third to spend, one third to save, and one third to give back to the world.

3. Live every day as if it was a Friday

Speaking of money, do not trade money for meaning in your life. Hopefully you will find a career that gives you meaning and all the money that you need. Finding meaning is the only way to live every day as if it was a Friday.

You cannot live your life just waiting for the weekend. Find something that excites you. As Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Do not die with your music still inside of you.”

Your job in this life is to find your music and go about the business of sharing it with the world.
If you have not found your music yet, keep searching. Do one thing everyday that makes you happy. Make it a Friday, every single day.

4. You do not need anyone’s approval

The need for approval is like an addiction. If you base all your actions on the approval of others, ultimately you will sacrifice your own happiness. Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket. Learn how to say “no” to people and obligations that do not add value to your life.

Your time on this earth is precious. You must invest your time like you invest money. Invest in people and activities that uplift you. As the saying goes, “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”

5. In every tough situation, try kindness first

People may make ugly comments. The airline may lose your bags. Another driver may cut you off. These situations will happen everyday. How are you going to respond?

Although your first response like many others will be to get angry, why not try a different approach? Anger in these situations rarely solves problems. People are more likely to respond to kindness. And you can be kind and be firm.

Get your point across without sacrificing your integrity. It is the only response that you will not regret later. No matter how upset you are, always treat others with respect. You will be surprised at how much can be accomplished with kindness.

6. Do not complain unless you can suggest a solution

Do not be a constant complainer. No one likes that person. If you do not like your current situation, work towards changing it. But don’t sit and complain about it. Complaining will get you nowhere. In fact, it will only make others not want to be around you. Be someone that looks for the positive in every situation. And if you do find a problem, be someone that can suggest a solution.

You will never get to where you want to be by complaining about where you are now. Each step in your life is preparing you for the one that comes after it.

7. Learn to be present

While technology can be life-changing in many great ways, there is an aspect to technology that interferes with our relationships. Do not be so addicted to a screen that you miss enjoying real life happening in front of you. Learn to disconnect everyday.

Learn to slow down. Give people your full and un-divided attention. Do not seek mindless stimulation on a screen and learn to make real human connections.

8. Don’t let the world make you bitter

The world can be a difficult place. You may experience suffering, heartbreak or the loss of a loved one. All of these things can take a toll on your soul. But do not lose hope.

Think about the Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy, which states that opposite forces are often interconnected. In suffering, you can find great strength, in heartbreak you can find resilience and in loss you can find a renewed appreciation for life.

Life comes with Yin and Yang. The two opposites are interdependent and interconnected. And you do not need to be afraid. In every difficult situation, you are being tested. If you become bitter and angry, you have lost.

Stop to notice each flower, each weed that is breaking through the cement to find the sun and each butterfly that has found it’s wings. Learn to see the beauty around you.

Iaian Thomas wrote:

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still know it to be a beautiful place.

Keep your sweetness. Be soft. And know that the world is a beautiful place. Always.

You can follow Smita on Facebook here

This post is ‘borrowed’ from AHA Parenting website.

We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. Connection is as essential to us parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it’s also sweet — so we receive as much as we give. That’s what makes parenting worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents WANT to cooperate. They trust us to know what’s best for them, to be on their side. I hear regularly from parents that everything changes once they focus on connecting, not just correcting.

But we’re only human.  There are days when all we can do is meet our children’s most basic needs:  Feed them, bathe them, keep an encouraging tone, hug them, and get them to sleep at a reasonable hour so we can do it all over again tomorrow. Given that parenting is the toughest job on earth — and we often do it in our spare time, after we work at another job all day — the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. What kinds of habits?

1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day. Hug your child first thing in the morning, when you say goodbye, when you’re re-united, at bedtime, and often in between.  If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection.  Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond?  It’s a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today. You’ll find yourself glad, many times, if you have that high on your priority list.)

2. Connect before transitions. Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another.  If you look her in the eye, use her name, and play a bit to get her giggling, you’ll fill her cup and make sure she has the inner resources to manage herself through a transition.  Mornings go much easier when you start with a five minute snuggle upon awakening to help your child transition from sleep into the executive functions of dressing and teeth brushing.

3. Play.  Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you.  Making playfulness a daily habit also gives your child a chance to work through the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected — and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate.  Which is likely to work better,  “Little Gorilla, it’s time for breakfast, come eat your  bugs and bananas!” and “Don’t you think your steam shovel wants to get in the car now so he can see the construction site on the way to the store?” or “Eat your breakfast now!” and “Get in the car!”

4. Turn off technology when you interact with your child.  Really. Your child will remember for the rest of his life that he was important enough to his parents that they turned off phones and music to listen to him.  This is particularly important in the car, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.

5. Special time. Every day, 15 minutes with each child, separately.  Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want.  On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct.  On your days resist the urge to structure the time with activities.  Instead, play  therapeutic “games” to help your child with whatever issues are “up” for her. (For game ideas, click here.) 

6. Welcome emotion. Sure, it’s inconvenient.  But your child needs to express his emotions or they’ll drive his behavior.  So accept the meltdowns, don’t let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you’re the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it.  Afterwards, he’ll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you. (Yes, this is really, really hard. Regulating our own emotions is the hardest part of parenting. But that doesn’t mean we’re excused from trying.)

7. Listen, and Empathize. Connection starts with listening.  Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say “Wow!….I see….Really?…How was that for you?”  The habit of seeing things from your child’s perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions.  It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in “fight or flight,” your child doesn’t look so much like the enemy.

8. Slow down and savor the moment. Share the moment with your child: let him smell the strawberrries before you put them in the smoothie.  Put your hands in the running water together and share the cool rush of the water. Smell his hair. Listen to his laughter. Look him in the eyes. Connect in the magnificence of the present moment. Which is really the only way we can connect.

9. Bedtime snuggle and chat. Set your child’s bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you’ll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it’s something that happened at school, the way you snapped at her this morning, or her worries about tomorrow’s field trip. Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that together you’ll solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You’ll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don’t give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.

10. Show up.  Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before he leaves your home.  He’ll be gone before you know it.  Try this as a practice:  When you’re engaged with your child, just be right here, right now.  You won’t be able to do it all the time.  But if you do it every day for a bit, you’ll find yourself doing it more and more. Because you’ll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.

The text was ‘borrowed’ from AHA parenting. You can subscribe to their newsletter here. Subscribe.

We went to Legoland with my 4.5 year old son and my 6.5 daughter this July and here are my tips on how to enjoy it to the max!

Legoland aint cheap. The walk-in price is £46.80 for adults (over 16) and £41.40 for children over 3 plus £4 for standard parking, i.e £180.40 for two adults and two children including parking. We used Tesco vouchers to get one free day in Legoland and Kellogs vouchers to get free entry for adults on a second day, so we paid approx £90 for two days at Legoland including parking.

You can get Qbots that allow you to virtually queue for rides. I’m not exactly sure how they work but essentially you choose your ride, it tells you can next get on, you go off an do other things until that time and then go to the Qbot entrance at the ride and get on. They cost £35 per person per day!

We stayed in a Travelodge in Windsor on one night and a Travelodge in Slough the second night. It was good to visit both places but Windsor is by far the more picturesque of the two. If you stay in Windsor the Carlucci cafe just around the corner from the Travelodge, do a coffee and pastry for £2 before 11:00am.

You can’t use vouchers if you book online so if you don’t have any i suggest you book in advance and save up to 30%. You can also save by buying a two day ticket instead of two one-day tickets.

I think Legoland is best suited to 5 – 8 year olds, but it all depends on the child. Most rides require children to be over .9m to go on with an adult and 1.3m to go on it without an adult. So if one of your children is under .9m they won’t be able to go on most rides. If they’re under 1.3 you’ll have to go on the rides with them, which might be a issue for a parent with two kids.

The park doesn’t open till 10:30 but you can pay after 10am and wait at the top of the hill for them to lift the barrier. We noticed that it got really busy after 11 and quietened down after 3pm, probably because the school tours headed home.

We went in July before the English schoolkids were off on holidays but even then it was busy. Most rides had a wait time of about 20 minutes but some were 45 minutes. The second day we visited we took the hill car down to the bottom of the park and went on the rides there first so there were no queues for the first few rides because most of the crowd worked from the top down instead.

There are a few attractions that don’t have a wait time which i’d recommend you do to mix it up.  Otherwise the day might feel like just one big wait.

The rides that we liked the best were as follows;

  • Land of the Viking’s River Splash (wet ride) – make sure your kids are able to hold-on for this. It can be very bumpy!
  • Pirate Shores’ Pirate Falls: Treasure Quest (wet ride) – often has a long waiting time
  • Adventure Land’s Squid Surfer (wet ride, but not too much)
  • Atlantis Submarine Voyage (underwater submarine trip through real marine aquarium) – This was our kids favourite ride of all, and ours!
  • The Dragon (rollercoaster)
  • Jolly Rocker (Swinging boat) – our kids thought this was too scary so we didn’t go on it.
  • Spinning Spider – our kids were too scared to go on this too but it looked good
  • Boating School (electric motor boats on a canal)
  • Traffic School (kid’s electric cars) – good fun but very short ride

Attractions that you don’t need to queue for include

  • Loki’s Labyrinth (a maze)
  • Mini Land (Lego’s original minature models)
  • Duplo Water Park – wonderful attractive weather permitting. The water is cold so you need it to be quite warm. There are changing rooms but not many toilets in the area so visit loo near Dupl Brickville instead.
  • Duplo Brickville- playground suitable for smaller kids
  • Castaway Camp – playground suitable for larger kids

Timetabled Attractions that are worth a visit.

  • Imagination Centre
  • Duplo Theatre Puppet Show – great incentive to get kids out of water park
  • Pirate’s Shores Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show – our kids absolutely adored this. It’s a popular attraction so get there early to get a good spot. Some areas get splashed quite a bit and are marked as such so pick carefully.

Food in the park is quite expensive but kids eat for free after 3pm. The best value in food appeared to be in the Pizza & Pasta place in Pirate Shores where adults pay £11.95 for all you can eat and kids pay £7.95 before 3pm. You can also get ‘proper’ coffee for £3.50 in the same area in the Harbourside Coffee co. Alternatively there is a picnic spot down in Adventure Land.

Lego is surprising expensive in Legoland, more expensive than in toystores! The least expensive Lego item were bags of little helicopter kits and similar costing £2.99  in a shop at the top of the park (The Beginning).

Strangely enoughly there are no ‘Emmets’ or ‘Wildstyle’ characters wandering around the park, which our kids were a bit dissappointed about. There was only one guy dressed as a Lego brick!

I find that the most successful parenting skills are counter intuitive. Like all toddlers my son can be very obstinate and insist on doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. I try to give him some freedom on when he does things and how but sometimes we just don’t have time for him to dress-up as a superhero before we do the school run.

I’ve found that the more i give out to him the more obstinate he gets and the longer it last. For instance if we go toe-to-toe on something in the morning he can be oppositional all day, refusing to do the smallest thing in protest. So i resorted back to distraction or game playing (e.g. making tidying-up into a race) to deal with confrontations, which help to diffuse the argument and allow us to get where we need to be on time.

I used to use the techniques all the time when he was smaller but dropped when i thought he was getting old enough to reason with. I think kids can take a set back developmentally when they’re sick or stressed so it’s worth taking a step back with them until they’re ready to be ‘big’ kids again. Although it takes a gear change, I find switching down a gear with my son when he’s like this is much more successful than getting into arguments with him, which just seem to make him an angry and sad little boy and will do nothing for his self-esteem.

In a similar vein, in the book ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’ the author references how offices in the navy were instructed to treat poorly-performing sailors as if they were high-achievers, letting them know that they knew they could do what was being asked for them to a high-stand. The result? The so called ‘poorly-achieving’ sailors excelled and reported a much higher satisfaction rating then when the management technique had been lambasted for their poor work. Maybe this is what’s going on for toddlers. Maybe by putting a positive spin on instructions we’re building their self esteem and helping them be proud of their achievements.

E

Parenting – Habits

April 27, 2014

I spent my early years as a parent worried about introducing my daughter to bad habits. If she was sick and wanted to sleep with us, would she want that every night?

Most parenting books will say DON’T DO IT and they may well be right for most children. I just want to let you know that letting my daughter into our bed, or letting her have an extra bottle at bed time if she was teething or letting her sleep later the odd morning never did turn into habits. This is probably down to her personality, which is exactly my point. Take parenting advice if you think it suits you and your child and if ignore the advice if it doesn’t.

Sometimes we need to let go of the fear of what might happen and give what’s needed in the moment. This may just be enough to nuture the child so that they feel secure enough to go back to their old routines once the moment of need passes.

E