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Behaviour and Development
- Remember: you are in charge; not your children. It's so easy to forget sometimes...
- Check inside your shoes BEFORE putting your feet in them....
- We've used muslins as comforters for baby since she was born. The good thing is that you can buy them in packs, so if one gets lost it's easy and cheap to replace.
- Thinking of potty training? Check the calendar to ensure that the first nappy-free day does NOT coincide with your PMT...
- Give your toddler a clean wet wipe to play with while changing their nappy, keeps their hands busy, until they learn to use it!
- Pocket money system: Have 2 glass jars per child and put coins in the Smiley Jar for jobs done around the house. When they won't co-operate, move the money to the Sad Jar. They can spend money from the Smiley Jar but have to earn back from the Sad Jar next time. Nothing like being able to see what they have lost to motivate a child!
- Vanilla *extract* (not essence) rubbed onto gums makes a great natural teething remedy for babies.
- Help that dreaded hayfever put a dab of vaseline in the corner of your eyes and the nostrils instant relief
- If your child hates getting out of the bath, take the bath toys out first and pull the plug - once the water and toys ar gone they'll be no fuss about getting out themselves!
- Don't ever try to step over a potty with poo in it. Just don't.
- If you are travelling in a malaria mosquitoe infested zone and forgot/lost your luggage and you have no mosquito repellent gadgets to hand, then root around for some citrus fruit. Peel several and squeeze the peel over your skin, bedclothes and jimjams. Mozzies hate the smell of citrus and will veer away from you and your loved ones.
- Dry cereal makes a good snack for car journeys as its relatively mess free and takes a relatively long time to eat piece-by-piece
- After another day with your highly spirited toddler, remind yourself they are going through a turbo-charged version of puberty. Then reward yourself with a large glass of wine for being such an understanding parent.
- Stick a wooden lolly stick (available from Lakeland) in a mini fromage frais or similar, put in the freezer and you will have a yummy healthy treat for the children.
- Shaving foam gets curry stains out of carpets. Just spray on and watch it lift out the turmeric. Has to be foam though and not gel.
- Orange juice is one of your 5 a day. So are apple, cranberry, pineapple and grapefruit. The flavour of all these can be massively enhanced by the addition of vodka or rum.
- Indulge your teenager's most faddy clothes, food and music phases. The more you approve, the shorter each phase will be!
- DC won't eat fruit? Let them help you make smoothies and then make them into ice lollies
- Nail polish remover removes biro marks from pale leather (but do it with a cotton bud)
- If your baby cries endlessly, try turning on the vacuum cleaner - it sent ours off to sleep every time!
- Once our daughter developed an attachment to a particular soft toy, we bought several duplicates. They've all been used so all smell the same (delightful!) but means we don't have to panic if one gets lost. This has saved us from lots of panicked bedtime searches.
- Have a little girl with hard to brush, tangled hair in the mornings? Water down conditioner in a spray bottle and spritz hair before combing/brushing through.
- always have bicarb of soda in the house - it gets rid of smells you thought would linger forever!
- Got hard/laminate floors and a toddler? Get your toddler to lie down on a blanket and drag them round the house for 5 minutes. It's a hoot!
- To help young children get their pumps on the right feet for PE, draw half a smiley face at the bottom of each pump on the inside. They can then put the two together to make a whole face and the pumps will be in the right places for putting on.
- Having a problem getting them out of the bath? Turn it into a game; You have to get out before all the water goes down the plug hole works for us.
- When my children are having difficulty with sharing I use my kitchen timer (a chicken!) and tell them that when the chicken 'rings' they must hand over to the other. They both find this amusing and it seems to work.
- If you need to get things done in the kitchen, sit your toddler on the draining board, feet in the sink and have the tap running slowly. Toss in a few plastic cups and my son will play quietly for ages. Just make sure you're close by in case they stand up and put a towel down to catch spills.
- If you're moving house, keep a pack of felt tip pens or crayons handy. My two have been busy for ages colouring on the boxes and the huge sheets of packing paper. They've hardly noticed their toys disappearing around them.
- To stop pram wheels squeaking-spray them with furniure polish. It saves big drips of oil in your house!
This works on the top of swings too.
- If your kids aren't sleeping in this heat, send them to bed with a frozen ice pack wrapped in a tea towel. It's sort of the reverse of going to bed with a hot water bottle in the winter!
- To stop baby socks getting lost in the wash put them all together in a 'washing tablet' net bag.
- Put some talking books on your iPod - guaranteed to silence any child over 3 on a long car journey. They were all borrowed from the library too.
- Sometimes it is easier just to believe that the cat DID draw on the wall...
- Before going on any day out - always do a search on the web for vouchers - be amazed how many sites offer vouchers and can save alot of money on a day out.
- A toy watering can makes an excellent hair rinsing aid when bathing toddlers.
- If your baby does a bright green poo and has a slightly snotty nose, they are probably brewing a cold. If your child does a bright green poo, has no snotty nose and the green crayon is missing, they have probably eaten it.
- Sit down, take a deep breath and repeat, It's only a phase...
- ALWAYS check the pockets of your child's uniform before putting it in the wash. So far this term, we have found a rock, collectors cards and several small toys...
- If your child tends to kick off in the supermarket write a mini shopping list for them (pictures work for pre-reading children). Let them find things on their list and put them in the trolley.
- Putting teather toys in the fridge are more soothing for baby gums!
- Do not post letters whilst holding your car keys in the same hand
- Baby Monitors - to stop you having to check if the monitor is working properly (often the case with a new parent!) pop a ticking clock nearby in your baby's room. If you listen closely to your monitor you will be able to hear the tiny ticking, so will definitely be able to hear any noise that requires investigation! This stops you sending your other half upstairs to check if the monitor is working ok!
- When watching DVDs with your child, put the subtitles up - it helps them with word recognition!
- Don't waste time getting into an discussion with your four-year-old about why she needs to have suncream on and dogs don't. Just let her try putting some on the dog and she'll soon see your point.
- If your toddler insists on getting out of bed in the night, put their night light on a timer. If the light is on they must stay in bed, if it is off then they can get up. Use a timer that plugs into the socket - the type normally used to turn lights on/off if you go on hol!
- Make your cheese sauce without a roux...
Start with a Pyrex jug/bowl that can go in the microwave (0.5 litre is fine)
300ml milk (put this in first)
Give it a very quick whisk before you start.
Then 1 minute in the microwave on high, whisk and put back in.
Repeat that step until it's had 4 minutes in the microwave in total - at that point, it will have thickened.
Then stir in 50g of grated cheese.
- Don't throw away the plastic tops from aerosol cans. Wash them thoroughly as they make ideal stacking beakers for children to play with in the bath or sand pit.
- When it's raining and your children are insisting on playing the PS3 or XBox again - only allow them to play standing up. You will be amazed at how much energy they burn jumping up and down.
- We ask our 6 year old to tell us when he thinks it's safe for us all to cross a road. It gives him road safety practice and he thinks he's in charge!
- To open jars: do it while wearing rubber gloves. Or just place the glove between your hand and the jar, and twist.
- Save the net bags from washing tablets to wash your baby socks/washable breast pads. Otherwise the machine will eat them.
- Never ask a child IF they need the loo...
- Listening is a verb. Listening to your children is different to hearing what they've said.
- Never ever leave your 16-month-old in the same room as your husband's new state-of-the-art cinema system, while you nip to the loo.
- When everything else fails put yourself on the naughty step; never fails to stop my toddler in his tracks and calm me down!
- When they drive you round the bend with constant but why's just remember how you really longed for their first words.
- Always tell kids their bedtimes in front of the babysitter; no ambiguity then!
- No matter how frustrated you get, and no matter what heinous crimes they are being blamed for, do not shout at your child's imaginary friends in public.
- If your children won't put/keep their seat belts on, make it seem that the car won't start or move unless they're strapped in.
- Set up a behaviour contract between you and your child and get them to sign/scribble on the end of it. Hang it up and any misbehaving, just point at it.
- Taking my daughter to open a bank account has worked wonders. Now she has a little book from the bank manager with her balance, she is more money conscious and does not nag me to buy stuff; instead she checks her balance first to see if she can afford it.
- To stop an apple from turning brown, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on them and wrap the apples pieces in cling-film. You can prepare them in advance and the kids will have normal apples in their lunch boxes!
- After some behaviour issues with DS who is 5, we have started the Red Card system. We give him a warning, then if the behaviour continues he gets a yellow card that he puts on the shelf, if it still continues then he gets a red card and either time out or another punishment such as losing a toy he is playing with for a set time.
We have found that this works better than just verbal warnings because it is a visible reminder of his warnings and his behaviour has really improved.
- Sanity-saving: Save your energy for the BIG battles.
In a few months time, the things that upset and frustrate you today will be gone and forgotten.
Try not to lose your temper over every little thing, that way they will listen to your advice and come to you first with their worries. And when you say NO hopefully they will understand why.
- If your child does not want to read, share the reading with them. You read a page, they read a page, you read a page etc,etc. They think it is fun and engage more because you are engaged more rather than just listening to them.
- Never teach your three year old how to open stair gates. He will inevitably open it for himself and his one-year-old brother to play downstairs at 3am.
- The best thing that I have done as a parent is to get my children used to helping in the house every Saturday morning from an early age. Now my 16-year-old son hoovers the whole house every weekend without being asked!
- The old adage 'never go to bed on a quarrel' goes double with kids - and that includes sending them to bed!
- Children whinging? Wail and moan with them. My two stop immediately, stare at me, then burst out laughing. The novelty will no doubt wear off soon but it's been a very useful tactic so far!
- Modern Hide and Seek. Put your mobile phone on loud then hide it somewhere in the house. Ring mobile from landline, send kids to find mobile phone. Can you guess how I came up with this idea?
- Keep an eye our for the clearance sections of supermarkets for crazy tableware such as napkins and table runners ect..My DD (4) now loves setting the table every night as she decides who sits where and she gets to help mummy. On Sunday they can bling the table with napkins, confetti and the like. Improved their eating strangely enough
- Using a pair of socks, a needle and thread and toy stuffing.... A cute child friendly toy can be made, I have made a rainbow coloured sock monkey for my baby boy using adult size socks, which can be tied on his high chair, buggy, car seat etc....a cheap home-made toy, which can be enjoyed for many years to come. He loves the monkey tied across his play gym as the monkeys arms and legs are long enough for him to grab.
- When children are arguing or playing up at home, get them to run round the garden a certain number of times - burns up excess energy, good exercise, stops them being able to quarrel & when they've finished they'll have forgotten they were fighting! Used to great effect by my mum....
- My son will not touch water, he always asks for squash (stupid, silly Mummy giving him squash when he was poorly!) - but if I put ice cubes in it... it's a totally different drink apparently and he'll drink it with no problems.
- If your preschooler is bothering an older child - typically his big brother/sister's playdate - tell the playdate to just turn around and give the preschooler a hug. This both disconcerts the LO - it wasn't what he was expecting - and also satisfies his desire for attention. With any luck he will then leave the bigger ones alone for a little while!
- When young children argue, don't step in immediately. Give them a chance to sort it out for themselves, without you being within sight. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- Growing their own tomatoes, carrots and courgettes in buckets has really encouraged my kids to try eating them! They love the planting and watering, and it's a cheap, fun and messy (!) activity, which you can do inside or out (as long as you don't mind a bit of compost on the kitchen floor :) )
- Don't assume that older children don't need hugs and cuddles as much as young children. They do, they just don't ask !
- If your child is reluctant to do something (like use the toilet, drink out of a cup or whatever) let them see another kid that they like doing the said thing. Once they realise that other people their age do it they are often more willing to try. There's nothing like a bit of subtle peer pressure!
- Get some soft shoes before they can walk to try wearing. I did not and she screamed in the shoe shop and is now in soft shoes for a few days till i'm feeling brave enough to try again.
- Make up a small photo album of pictures of family and friends for car journeys.
Include nan & grandad, cousins, aunties , uncles etc plus some friends.
The kids love looking at them and then you can ask questions as you are driving. Can you find nanny Green, can you see your friend Pippa, look for uncle Tom etc! It worked for me!
- We don't have a naughty step but rather a thinking step. The kids get sent there to think about their actions. It works well as they come up with the reasoning why they got sent there and it helps them to understand things better. Also, thinking while crying is a no no as you won't be able to think clearly.
- Keep a football in the boot of your car for unplanned trips to the park.
This avoids disappointed children.
- If you don't want a crawling baby to sample cat food, put them in a playpen.
- When a group of children get over-excited it can be tricky bringing them down to earth. Luckily they will also still competitive, so a game of sleeping lions can be sanity saving!
- When all else fails, sing a lot. Either the kids will join in and stop moaning/tantrumming or you'll drown them all out and stay sane.
- Get older kids to choose a layer of the dishwasher to unload before breakfast.
- Popper vest fastenings together over one shoulder of your baby while you're changing nappies. This will stop it getting soaked by all but the most adept sprinklers...
- Kids bored? A bowl of melted choc, puffed rice and some cake cases. Keeps them happy for a while.
- If you are going to buy Easter eggs in advance, for goodness sake hide them somewhere high up. Otherwise you will find your DC hiding in your bedroom with half an Easter egg crammed in their mouth. Trust me.
- Getting your child to hold the car door handle makes them feel important and stops them from running off in car parks while you're trying to get your bag out and lock the car.
- Allow your baby or toddler a treat once a week and give it on food shop day when they become unsettled in the trolley.
- If your child keeps putting their shoes on the wrong feet, tell them not to put the Velcro tabs next to each other or they will fight. Then demonstrate 'fighting Velcro'. You may look mad if another adult walks in but it works.
- Let your children play with their Lego on the floor on a blanket. When it's time to tidy up you just pick up the blanket and pour it all back into its container.
- Screechy toddler? Lower your voice to a whisper and you'll find they shut up to listen to what you're saying. This works especially well if your words include chocolate and buttons.
- If you have a fussy eater, make a list of the healthy foods your child will eat and rotate them.
- Need an all-embracing toy for your toddler of 18 months upwards? Go for a set of good quality skittles. Toddlers will develop good hand-eye coordination and hopefully a lot of patience!
- An old-fashioned telephone with a dial front keeps my toddler daughter amused for hours. Considerably cheaper than a mobile!
- When your small baby gets into a too-tired-to-feed-too-hungry-to-sleep tizz there's nothing like a blast of serious white noise. Use the sound of your hairdryer or vacuum cleaner and watch baby calm at the flick of a switch - literally.
- On rainy days, never underestimate how much fun a tent made from bed sheets and a few chairs can be.
- Buy a cheap diary (academic ones are about now) and whenever your kids do or say something memorable (good or bad!), write it down. You'll all love reading it when they're older.
- Never underestimate teething!
- Use old chocolate box trays to make ice cubes. Kids will love the different shapes.
- Never watch Big Cook Little Cook, if you are suffering from morning sickness. It could make you feel a lot worse!!
- My daughter never had a nappy rash whilst she was wearing a nappy. I always washed her bottom with baby soap and water and applied vaseline - nappy rash free and a super soft bum.
- Don't make chocolate rice crispy cakes with the kids when you're on a diet.
- I always have a book on hand to read to my toddler while breastfeeding my new baby. It keeps her out of trouble and feeling loved.
- When feeding a newborn baby in the night try to find an alarm clock/light with a dimmer switch so you don't have to get out of bed.
- Don't waste your money buying big highchairs. The cheap booster seats that fit onto normal chairs work just as well and your baby can sit at the table with you as they get older.
- If you're going somewhere like a wedding or other celebration to stop the kids getting too bored pack a goody bag with some new magazines or toy, cheap pens, paper & stickers and a small snack.
- To help your newborn settle in the bath, place a warm, wet flannel on their tummy. Also ensure that they can touch the end of the bath with their feet.
- For a stain-free ice lolly on hot days, use flavoured water to make them instead of cordial or shop bought ones.
- Baby store catalogues are fantastic for babies and toddlers - they love all the pictures of other children!
- Kids not taking turns? Invest in a sand-timer so they can time their turns. They often stop arguing and just stand and watch the sand!
- Children do the last thing they hear, so instead of saying don't walk on the road, say walk on the pavement.
- When my sons are at a loose end at home, I keep reminding them of when we will next be busy/going out. Knowing their downtime is only temporary gives them a little more motivation to make use of it.
- If, like me, you struggle to get shoes and socks on an active toddler, wait until they are strapped into their buggy or car seat ready to go out to put them on.
- If you're having trouble getting your toddler into their car seat because they wriggle too much, give them a toy or your keys to hold to distract them (but don't let them lock themselves in!).
- If you and your toddler are about to get into a big argument over something trivial laugh to diffuse the situation. Laughter is infectious and after a good laugh you can chat to them in a calmer tone about why you were angry.
- When taking your toddler out for a meal always have an entertainment pack in your bag; a pack of wax crayons, a notepad, a book and a few building bricks.
- When my two daughters (aged two and four and a half) won't share a toy it just gets put away until later. No blaming, no fuss and they soon find something else to play with!
- Painting with toddlers can be more trouble than it's worth. I put mine in the bath, no clothes on, give them the paints and brushes and tape a big piece of paper to the tiles. When they've finished, turn the shower attachment on the bath, tiles and your child.
- if you want your children to do something quickly, like putting their shoes on, tell them they have to do in it in 10 and then start counting up. Deadlines (even if they aren't for real) definitely get mine moving in the right direction.
- When my two children are waiting for birthdays and other special days, I use mark all the days left on a piece of paper and let the children use stickers to fill in the days. It's a great way of counting down days and the kids love using the sickers.
- We try our hardest not to say No in our house. Instead we say Yes, tommorrow, Yes but not today or You can have one next time This works a treat and we find that after a little negotiation it really cuts down on tantrums while we are out and about.
- If your toddler screams loudly when told they cannot do something, say 'Ouch, mummy's ears hurt they need to be kissed better'. This normally works and brings a smile to their face (most of the time).
- We have instituted a rule that our 2-year old daughter only gets 3 books out from the shelves at a time, then puts them away before getting more out. (In this, and only this, she is compliant!)
- Don't be embarrassed by the occasional impromptu tantrum/exploding nappy/vomit/act of wanton destruction. Remember all those looking sniffy were kids themselves once.