30 April 2016

Visiting Farnham Castle

While we were visiting Surrey for a friends wedding we popped by some local sights. A few hours to spare we decided to do a quick run up to Farnham to see Farnham Castle. It was actually a perfect spot to pop by quickly. It was free (bonus!), relatively small so you could see absolutely everything in less than an hour, and gorgeous views all over Farnham. 

The grounds were really beautiful. Lots of green, some little hideaway places, and gorgeous flowers. The scenery was beautiful and as castles usually are, it was situated at the highest point on a hill so you could see all of Farnham. So we walked around and enjoyed the sights and once it started raining we went down to the village for a babyccino. 

farnham castle surrey family photo

farnham castle surrey

enjoying views from farnham castle surrey

farnham castle surrey views

farnham castle surrey view of garden from castle

farnham castle surrey park bench

farnham castle surrey garden

farnham castle surrey garden decoration

farnham castle surrey walking in the garden

Here is a little video from the day - I think I have caught the home-video bug and might try my hand at vlogging... What do you think of the video?

Ever been to Farnham Castle? And please do recommend another castle nearby London - we would love to visit some new ones!

If you liked this you might also like: A trip to Forty Hall, and Autumn walk at Whitewebbs Forest

18 April 2016

How to get your toddler to give up their dummy using imagination

Our daughter was always a bit of an dummy-addict, pretty much from birth. As she was nearly three we figured it was time to get rid of the dummy as we were getting worried it might affect her teeth. She loved her dummy, really loved it. So to get her to give it up without too many tears we figured we should use a bit of imagination.... Using a bit of story-telling and imagination we got our toddler daughter to give her dummies away, all by herself, and be happy about it too. And it was fun for us parents too!

toddler with treasure chest

toddler girl with treasure chest

Our grand story was that baby hedgehogs needed dummies. They were crying all night as they didn't have any dummies. They couldn't sleep and mummy hedgehog needed our help. 

Our daughter was very concerned, and of course, we suggested she could give her dummies to the baby hedgehogs as she was a big girl and babies need dummies. She took that on her stride so we continued the story and reminded her every once in a while that baby hedgehogs needed her help. "Mummy hedgehog, need-a-my-help! Baby hedgehog crying!" she would exclaim back.  

About a week before "the big event" we started talking about baby hedgehogs every day, reminding her how they needed her help, and what a big girl she was by giving her dummies to them. And every night we would remind her that soon we should give the crying baby hedgehogs dummies, as their mummy was very tired and she couldn't get them to sleep without dummies. I also suggested mummy hedgehog would be very grateful and wanted to leave her a gift - our daughter said she would like a Paw Patrol gift (her current favourite TV show). 

So off we went, on Mother's Day, to the woods to take dummies to baby hedgehogs. We packed the dummies to a little treasure chest, and went for a walk. "Mummy hedgehog, need-a-my-help! Baby hedgehog need a dummy!" she was telling us. As we found a good little spot, we left the treasure chest, full of dummies for mummy hedgehog to come and collect. Daddy spotted some horses and the two of them went off for a walk... So the real mummy could swap the dummies for the gift from mummy hedgehog!

using imagination to get your toddler to give up their dummy

Oh the look on her face when she saw mummy hedgehog had visited and brought her a gift! She accepted the loss of dummies quite well, although we did have to remind her baby hedgehogs had them now. 

The night time after giving away the dummies was a bit difficult, and it took her a long time to fall asleep. We had to give her lots of extra cuddles in the night time, and told her the story again and again. We told her that mummy hedgehog gave her the soft toy so she could cuddle it when sleeping. Bless her little face, she cried a bit and talked about baby hedgehogs and her dummies, and hugged her new toy extra tight. 

toddler with skye puppy soft toy from paw patrol

Every night for the following week we always told her the same story about how she had been such a big girl to give her dummies away to help mummy hedgehog, and how mummy hedgehog was so grateful and gave her a toy as a gift. She cried only on the first night, and it took a bit longer for her to fall asleep the following nights, but soon she got over the whole thing. Now, about a month after the event she still sometimes talks about baby and mummy hedgehogs, and dummies, but she falls asleep fine and doesn't seem to be too bothered about her dummies. 

So overall, it went really well. We had a bit of fun, she got to give her dummies away in a very noble way, and we are a dummy-free household now!

Top tips:
  • Begin talking about the story a week in advance to prepare the toddler for it. 
  • Go for the altruistic streak so they can be the hero... Like giving dummies away to baby animals, be that hedgehogs, squirrels, owls or even reindeers over Christmas time!
  • Swap the dummies for a gift - something cuddly so they can have it at night and remember they got the soft toy now instead of dummies. 
  • Have fun but be prepared for tears and some extra cuddles and attention!

How have you got your children to give up their dummies? Was it difficult?

13 April 2016

How to have a great trip to the swimming pool with toddlers

Here are my top tips on how to have a successful swimming pool trip with young children. When my daughter was a baby we swam often. We even did a baby swimming course, which was a huge help in building her (an our) confidence. We have recently got back in to swimming again, and oh boy does she love it! As we have been swimming a fair bit recently, I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks for how to have a great trip to the swimming pool with toddlers, such as what to pack and how to get them to love swimming. 

Please note, this post is written in collaboration with Trunki. 

trunki paddlepak spike the blowfish backpack

Our swimming bag is PaddlePak, a new water resistant bag from Trunki. My daughter loves her new fishy bag - and what's not to love? Brightly coloured, cute designs ranging from frogs to octopi, and comfortable to wear with the padded back and straps.

And mummy loves it too, as it keeps the water out, and water in (important with post-swim soggy towels!) and ensures she is not the only Sherpa around...

what to pack for toddlers for swimming

what to pack for toddler swimming

trunki paddlepak crab purse

trunki washbag jellyfish

packing trunki paddlepak spike the blowfish backpack

We packed our Spike the Blowfish Paddlepak for our swimming trip with:
  • Reusable swimming nappy (just in case!)
  • Swimming costume
  • Hooded towel
  • Jellyfish Washbag with baby soap and shampoo
  • Snacks and water
  • Crab Purse and coins for an after-swim babyccino!

That was our daughter sorted, and she was able to carry all her stuff in her own bag. We of course had our own adult bag as well.

trunki paddlepak spike the blowfish backpack

Here are a few swimming tips based on my own experiences at the pool!

When my daughter was a baby, she was quite unsure of the water. After we went on the baby swimming course it was quickly apparent that she was taking her scaredy-cat cues from us... Every time she would get water on her face or cough and splutter, we were immediately terrified, looking at her anxiously, thinking she was about to drown.

Lots of positive encouragement while feeling safe
Once we made a conscious effort of looking happy and smiley, and give her verbal encouragement when mishaps happened, she became more sure of herself. Other helpful tips are to keep your baby / toddler facing you, and holding them close. And every once in a while extend your arms and pull them back again with lots of positive encouragement so they get used to being physically away from you in water. 

Getting used to water on the face
To get them used to water on their face, you should count (out loud!) to three, say their name, breath in, and trickle a bit of water on their face. Keep repeating this sequence every once in a while, eventually increasing the amount of water to a great big splash, and even dunking them once they are ready. They will learn that once they hear "one, two, three" and their name, they have to hold their breath! 

With toddlers you can also try teach them to blow in the water, first just above the water, then mouth in the water and eventually the whole face in the water. We haven't managed to get to a full face yet, but we are trying!

Getting excited about swimming!
I find one surefire way of getting your kids excited about things is to let them choose their own equipment. So for swimming, you could try letting them choose their own swimming costume, or their own swimming bag. My daughter chose a bright yellow Spike the Blow Fish Paddlepak for her swim bag and is always excited about packing her bag for a swimming trip.

Other great things to spice the swimming up a bit are other swimming accessories, like goggles or swimming toys. We usually just bring a bath duck, that works as well as a toy!

I have also found that getting them out of the pool can sometimes be as difficult as getting them into the pool... Once they get the hang of it they don't want to leave! A promise of a nice babyccino, or perhaps hot chocolate in the cafe always does the trick though, ha ha.

trunki paddlepak spike the blowfish backpack

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6 April 2016

Thoughts about motherhood on my third Mother's Day

My third Mother's Day was spent walking in the woods, enjoying the fresh air, wondering about motherhood while chasing after a toddler.

selfish mother t shirt

When I was pregnant, a little past the due date we went shopping for the last little baby items. As we were walking between the isles, a Nigerian lady came and spoke to me. 

She asked me was I expecting a girl and I responded that's what I have been told. As her own daughter, who was holding her own little baby, shouted at her mum for being so embarrassing and to leave strangers alone, this lady stayed to have a little chat. 

She told me that our baby would be a "contented little baby". She told our baby would be an especially happy and contented baby, as you could physically feel the love between us and the baby would soak it all up. She told us we would get two more children. Our baby to be born would be very musical and music would be important to her. "Piano, piano, I'm telling you" she repeated. 

I would be a "real earth mother", a natural born mother, and she felt she had to come and talk to me after seeing how beautifully my aura radiated. As she went back to her embarrassed looking daughter she wished us all the best for the future, and to stay strong, as strong love attracts people that want to tear it down.

As the years have passed, I feel like many of the things she said have happened. My baby was a contented little baby. Always happy, quite quiet, easily pleased, easily managed. She may not always have been easy, as what babies are and she may not be an easy toddler, but as for being happy and contented? Yes, unequivocally yes.  

Was I ever an earth mother? Motherhood sure felt like it came natural to me. It never was a struggle in any way. It just sort of happened, a happy little event in my life that I took on my stride. Maybe it was because my daughter was overall an easy baby, something many family members mentioned when they spent time with her. Or maybe it was just because being a mother is and feels natural, to me anyway. I can appreciate it is not the same for everyone, in fact, many loud voices online and offline do seem to make it out to be a hard tiresome slog. I have never felt that. It has been nothing but joy. Perhaps interspersed with exhaustion and long nights spent awake, but overall, a joyful experience.

Celebrating motherhood on a Mother's Day sometimes feels a bit silly, as I don't feel any different from what I was before and I don't feel like I have really done anything. I just have a tiny little shadow with me.

But celebrate we did of course. For my third Mother's Day I didn't want anything special. Just a card, to eat breakfast out and to go for a nice family walk in a forest. Well, I got my card and I got my walk, but as the restaurant was far too busy we ended up having a very late and quite luxurious Mother's Day brunch back home. During our walk we also gave all the dummies to baby hedgehogs - a surprisingly successful strategy to persuade a toddler to give her dummies away!

How was your Mother's Day? And how do you feel about motherhood? 

If you liked this, you might also like: My second Mother's Day