Hiring The Right Childcare For Your Family

When it comes to your children, you will always want the best for them. This sometimes means making sacrifices for them. We are quite lucky at the moment that I have been making enough from my blog and freelance work for me to work around the kids (thus attending all parent evenings, assemblies, clubs) and enabling Steve to work part time.

However we want to move out of the house we are in now as it is only two bedroom and Olivia needs her own room as Jack’s room is just too small for her to move into. Unfortunately the house prices around here are much more than what we are currently paying but we can’t move as Jack is far too settled at his school – and it is one of the best around for miles. The alternative? Steve and I both go back to work full time. But then that leaves us with a problem – childcare.

I had Jack at home until he was just over 3 – he then went to preschool for 3 hours a day Monday-Thursday and then in the September went to the nursery attached to the school. Olivia is a lot younger than Jack was when he first went into childcare and I obviously don’t have much experience in choosing it so I’ve compiled a few top tips on choosing the best childcare for you and your family.

Check, check and check again

Whether you are using a nursery or a private caregiver, you will of course be doing checks. When it comes to nurseries, check the Ofsted ratings – not just the most recent rating either. You want to know if they have gone downhill over the years or if they have improved dramatically and why these things have happened. You want to ask friends and family who have prior experience with the place what they felt.

If choosing a private caregiver, you will of course be choosing someone registered – but using an online background checking service is a good idea. Any caregiver should be DBS checked and registered with the relevant authorities. Again, ask around to see what other people have experienced with them.

Follow your child’s lead

It’s all well and good if you feel comfortable – you obviously do want to be comfortable leaving your child somewhere but it is your child who should have the ultimate decision. I am not saying ask your child outright where they want to go – that’s silly – but you will know if your child feels comfortable or not in a caregiving setting. They may be really unhappy at the nursery but prefer a childminder – once you’ve done your research, are you really going to ignore your child’s feelings and put them in the caregiving setting they dislike? If Jack had ever shown any signs of being uncomfortable in any childcare he had been in, I would have taken him straight back out. It is so important to follow your child’s lead when it comes to things like this.

Check your budget

Don’t promise yourself and your child the world when you may not be able to afford it. There are a few different care options in our area – a nursery, a pre school and various childminders. I know who or what we would be able to afford budget wise and would then work out which is the best for my child accordingly. Interestingly the most expensive option is the one I would least likely to send Olivia too for various other reasons and not the money!

How do you pick childcare for your family? Do you do these things above?

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What Type Of Mum Are You?

Have you ever wondered what type of mum you are? No two mums are the same but plenty of us mums share some distinct features. I believe me and my friends have very different parenting styles but sometimes our ideas do align – they are subtle but visible.

There’s a great tool out there by Sunlife; a quiz where each question is designed to seek out your mum features and find out which mum group you most relate to. I took the ‘What type of mum are you?’ quiz myself and found out that I was apparently ‘The Sharp Mum.’

A sharp mum is described as an idealistic mum who is always looking for opportunities to help your kids learn and achieve their goals. I would say this is true – I’m not pushy but I will encourage Jack to do the things he is good at. He loves golf and is okay at it for his age so we got him some junior golf clubs for his birthday; he loves writing and we recently went into school to see his learning journals – he had written a poem which, even though I suppose I am biased, was brilliant for a six year old – so I have encouraged him to enter some writing competitions. However, if he doesn’t want to do them, I won’t force him – only if he really wants to do them himself.

They say that a sharp mum is charming, persistent and familiar with the benefits of Google – I’d also agree with this. Jack is only allowed on our devices when we give permission and we do have parental controls but I do often help him with his homework, looking through Google together for information.

When it comes to having to make decisions or sort things out you make a great mediator and your choices are smart and intuitive. The kids know you rule the roost and your explanations never give them any reason to doubt you; they trust you implicitly. Now I would say that Jack does trust me but does test the boundaries a lot – but I suppose that is to do with his age as well. He is getting more independent so he is bound to act out a little more.

I would say this is also true of my own mother from when I was little. She would encourage me – but never force me – and always supported my decisions, even if my father sometimes did not. As I have grown older, I have realised that we are more alike than I used to want to admit and whilst she does drive me up the wall, if I turn out to be half the mother my mum is to me, then I will be happy.

What type of mother are you – have you taken the quiz to find out? Were you surprised by the answers? I wouldn’t have called myself a sharp mum per se but the description given does fit me almost 100%. I’d love to know what type of mum it says you are…let me know in the comments below.

Why do we need to introduce colour into our children’s lives from an early age?

Babies and young children are fascinated by colour. It has the ability to stimulate their mind and grab their attention. A baby is born with monochrome vision and is unable to distinguish the difference between colours, until around 8 months when their colour vision fully develops. By 3-4 years, a child can begin to recognise and name basic colours as frequent exposure can help strengthen this skill.

But, not only is it enjoyable for a child to be surrounded by colour, it is also beneficial to their development. Infinite Playgrounds, educational play area designers and retailers of playground canopies, have provided us with more of an insight.

The significance of colour

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of colour in a child’s life.

As we know, babies do not have the ability to see colour. At 8 months, they begin to notice bright colours and this stimulates their minds. Exposing a baby to different shades of the same colour can help them make important colour connections early on in life rather than surrounding them with the same primary colours. Experts have said that showing patterns to a baby is important as it provides visual and cognitive stimulation for a growing baby as they focus on what they can see.

Having the ability to differentiate between colours is important for a child to get through younger life too. Learning colours allows them to recognise significant visual hues such as red as a code for danger and the meaning behind traffic lights. It is useful outside of the curriculum too — knowing the difference between a red and a blue coloured tap.

The knowledge of different hues of colours can improve a child’s ability to creatively write. Describing an object without saying its colour is difficult! Similarly, when they are exercising their imagination when creating a story, colour is an important part of descriptive techniques.

There has been a large amount of research done on the effects of colour on people and behaviour. Some experts claim that different colours enhance learning in different ways:

  • Blue — a colour that encourages creativity, if overused however, it can bring the mood down in a room. A cool blue enhances relaxation levels in individuals.
  • Yellow — a colour of happiness for children as it is associated with sunshine. This can lift the mood and excite a child due to its vibrant appearance.
  • Orange — this is said to enhance critical thinking and memory.

Teachers have noticed that they are happier teaching in a colourful classroom too. It gives them various colours to refer to when teaching and creating an overall pleasurable place to work. Research has shown that colours are more memorable than monochrome too — a bright and colourful classroom makes new learned experiences stick in the mind.

Add colour to learning

As a teacher or parent, you may be wondering how you can ensure that children and pupils learn the essentials of colour. From decorating your classroom to introducing games based on colour, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate colours into the classroom.

Outdoor learning is a fun way to get children engaging in new experiences. Consider installing colourful playground canopies and parasols. These can sit over areas of a playground, allowing the sun to shine through and create many colourful patterns for children to enjoy. Pupils can trace shadows of the patterns on the floor with chalk and learn how they move throughout the day with the sun.

Bring colour into the classroom by talking about its significance in different countries. Discuss how colours have different meanings in various countries, for example red signifies good luck in China and green is a colour of independence for Mexicans. Encourage children to use colour to create their own national flags and teach them more about the country.

For younger children who enjoy more hands-on play, introduce them to brightly coloured mats, books and toys. Research has highlighted the importance of messy play too — where children can take part in unstructured play and get their hands dirty! Let them play with brightly coloured foodstuff such as jelly and develop their fine motor skills too.

Dedicate part of your week to reminding children about colours. There are many games that you could add onto the end of any lesson too. How about colour eye-spy, colour matching memory games or presenting coloured flashcards and encouraging pupils to name them.

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Happy Birthday, Olivia

How are you one, Olivia? How has that year gone by so quick? It seems I forgot to do your October, November and December updates – oops.

So what can I say about you? You are a very vocal, very temperamental child. You are crawling like crazy, forming some words and taking steps with help. You’ve recently managed to stay stood still on your own for a couple of seconds. You are doing so well and I am so proud of you. You still haven’t cut a tooth – if this still hasn’t happened in a month or so, the health visitor advised us to see the GP.

We’ll probably have a small birthday tea later for the immediate family and perhaps take you to soft play at the weekend for your very first experience. Our year with you in it has been a total whirlwind, I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Love Mummy xxx

Develop Your Career Whilst Changing Nappies With These Online Approaches

As many as 61 percent of mothers in the present day are unmarried when they welcome their newborn babies. With modern times being less economically stable than they used to be and the family unit a less fixed and structured one, gone are the days when women chose to be just mothers and stay at home looking after their babies whilst their husbands made money.

The millennial mum is highly connected, holding an average of 3.4 social network accounts  and spending an average of 17.4 hours per week on these. With internet usage levels increasingly on the up, there is no reason why you too shouldn’t be developing your career whilst looking after your baby.

Here’s how:

Online networking

Whether you are a company employee or your own boss, the internet has made it easier for us to stay connected with our professional environments. If your job is office-based, chances are you can perform this from the comfort of your home whilst looking after your baby (provided your employer is happy to give you some flexibility in your working patterns). Maximise your working day by engaging in some important online networking. Once your daily tasks are completed, make sure you take to Skype to keep in touch with your professional circle and not lose sight of what is going on.

 Glenn Carstens-Peters

Online studying

It is easy to think that you will not study again in the years to come when you have a toddler to look after. Statistics show that only 50 percent of teenage mothers have a high school diploma by age 22, compared to 90 percent of females who didn’t get pregnant during their teen years. The world is an ever-changing place, with the need to invest in renewing skills and qualifications being a priority. Study an MBA online and get ahead of the game, by never allowing your responsibilities as a mother get in the way of your career development.

Web developing

A study published in 2014 showed that the number of freelancing mothers in the UK had risen by 24 percent in two years, with the main reason for this being a desire to have more flexible working hours. If you have also decided to fly solo, building your website might be the first obvious step for you to take in order to have an online presence. A web developer will cost you and you will not be totally in control of the end design, so why not embark on the journey of designing your own website? Platforms like Wix are easy to use and they will help you produce a beautiful and engaging site.

Looking after your baby whilst developing your career sure ain’t no easy task. It never was and it still isn’t. The internet, however, has made it easier for people to build businesses from their own home and has also helped employees adopt more flexible working patterns and stay connected to their colleagues. Whether you are looking to keep up your networking efforts, launch your own website or go into education whilst caring for your baby, you too can do it by studying the options outlined above.

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