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Wednesday 23 December 2020

It was the year 2020


We all know that 2020 has been a rough year. We were faced with our own mortality, took a financial knock and many of us lost people close to us due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We experienced different levels of lockdown, living and learning online and we were exposed to media sensations. We questioned our governments and some of us turned into conspiracy theorists. But as I look back on my 2020, I realized that among all the losses experienced and fears faced, I also gained new perspectives about my priorities and what is really important in my life.

The importance of connection

We teachers literally had only a couple of weeks of school to connect with the new children in our class, before lockdown came into existence and forced us to learn to connect online. I was incredibly thankful that we did have these few weeks of being together at the start of the year, as it made it much easier to maintain my connection with my little people online. But I missed the direct interaction and found adapting to this different way of connecting challenging. On the home front my hubby, our two boys and I created a new routine for us and made connecting a priority during this vulnerable time. We cherished every day, deliberately made special memories and purposefully made connecting with each other a priority.

Self-care is very personal

It might seem to just be the new craze, but there really is so much value to it. We get swallowed up by our busy lives and we forget to stop, breathe and speak kindly to ourselves. Granted, self-care can also cause more stress (which totally defeats the purpose) when we feel that we are falling short and judge ourselves or others for not making time for self-care. But I realized that self-care is a very personal act and that it will take different forms for every human being. Your self-care practices have to adapt to who you are and the life you live. Your self-care must suit your lifestyle and it must feed your needs. For some of us self-care might be a long shower or bath and for others cooking or reading. It may even be just taking a deep breath and exhaling it slowly with our eyes closed or visiting with our best friend once a week. It might be phoning your sister, playing a board game with your children or taking the dog for a walk. I realized this year that self-care is not about what activity I am doing, how frequently I get to practice it or even for how long I am doing it. For me it is about having that moment, where I can pull myself towards myself and take a conscious breath.

Polarity of change

Change is inevitable and it is not always easy. At times it can feel like a curve ball that has hit you between the eyes. I think that feeling overwhelmed by change, was a universal experience, that we all had to roll with this year and will likely continue to face next year. Dealing with such a large scale of change that impacted every facet of our professional and personal lives has been challenging. Everyone’s jobs were affected in different ways. Some of us lost our jobs, some of us created new jobs and some of us learned new skills as we were forced to adapt the way we do our jobs. We also had to change the way we interact with others and were faced with the significant changes brought about by losing loved ones. It is easy to get lost in the long list of changes we did not want and did not like this year. But I acknowledge that there has also been positive changes that helped us become far more conscious of our health and our environment. Our way of life has changed and our perceptions and level of appreciation has changed too. We might not always have control of the changes that come our way and at times they might temporarily throw us off balance. Ultimately, the only choice we have is how we respond to it and I realized how important this choice is, as our children are watching and learning from us every step of the way.

Family is priceless

My family… my tribe… my favourite people… This year reminded me of the incredible importance of family and to not take my people for granted. It reminded me to cherish them, love them and protect them. It reminded me that to be right or win an argument is really not that important. And it reminded me that making special memories with the people I love, will last me a life time.


So as I reflect on 2020, I choose to focus on what I have gained this year and hope that I will never forget to adapt, connect, cherish my family and close my eyes while exhaling.

Saturday 19 December 2020

The December gremlins

 It is December and we can finally exhale. It has been a rough year on many fronts. We are all looking forward to forgetting about this past year and relaxing from our daily routine. The entire family will likely end up eating more junk, consuming more sugar and having more screen time. We are often out and about, surrounded by more loud noise and our kids regularly experience unpredictable and unfamiliar situations. We find our kids whining, crying, talking back and acting out. It may even seem as if they are doing it especially when friends and family are around. We feel embarrassed and often react by overreacting.

It is not about you

It is important to remember that our children’s behavior is not about us as parents. It is simply their way of communicating their needs and the more extreme our children’s ‘performance’, the more desperate they are. During the holidays our children often find themselves in unfamiliar situations, they suddenly have a different or even unpredictable routine, they are surrounded by random people and eating unfamiliar food. Small children can feel extremely overwhelmed by all of this and will communicate this to us in ways that we, and others, might misunderstand and think is bad behavior.

Let go of the guilt

When this happens, especially while visiting friends or family, we might feel judged or even judge ourselves. It is important that we remember that we are human, our children are human too and we are all still learning. We need to go easy on ourselves and them and if anyone does make a judgmental comment, just smile and say: “they are still learning” and walk away.

Connect, reconnect and repeat

Our children regularly need to feel connected to us. Do not assume that just because you are home, that it counts as connection time, because during the holidays we are often surrounded by other people. Start every morning with some quiet time together. This can be cuddles in bed, breakfast together at home, exploring the garden or reading a story. The length does not necessarily matter, because it is about making that connection before the day’s activities start. Make sure to make time to reconnect during the day, even if just to talk about the day’s activities and experiences. You might be surprised how just a few minutes of reconnecting can make a huge difference in a child’s day and behavior. It is all about them feeling noticed and loved by you.

Help them anticipate your next move

Small children thrive on predictability. Yes, we can relax during the holidays, but we need to weave in some predictable routines for the benefit of our little people. Let your child know in advance what your plans are: ‘”we are going to visit granny’”, “we are going to the shops”, or “we are going to visit cousin Terry” etc. Even when our children are small, just talking about our plans, gives them a sense of what to expect and when our children know what to expect, they already feel more relaxed.

Take it easy

It is incredibly important to schedule in some downtime, especially for our young children. Our adult bodies have sensory filters, but this only develops as we get older. Most adults can have a conversation, while subconsciously cutting out all the background noise, the many colors surrounding us, the sun’s warmth on our skin, the smells of the different foods on the table in front of us and the constant movement of people walking past etc. When we are little and we are exposed to noise, movement, people, different temperatures, lights, environments etc. and our sensory filters don’t get sufficient breaks in between to digest it, we will react by crying, having a melt-down or demonstrate, what many consider as, ‘bad behavior’. If you have a busy morning planned, have a relaxing calm afternoon afterwards at home. If you had a busy day, make sure that the next day is a calm day at home. Downtime for our small children helps them to relax in their familiar environment, with their toys and their people, and it gives their sensory filters a chance to digest the over-stimulation.

This too shall pass

Our children are not small forever. They will grow up and move on. For now, let’s enjoy our kids and make special memories during the holidays. Take photos, laugh often, create your own special December traditions, remember to eat healthy in between and use this time to reconnect with yourself, your partner and your children, before the crazy rat race starts again in the new year.


Friday 11 December 2020

Our pets and the kids who get to love them


We had many different pets growing up including dogs, birds and chickens. We loved our animals and it was a great way for us to learn about responsibility, respecting all living things and the important role we play in the environment and society. Looking back, I realize that they were also very educational and helped us learn about their lifecycles from birth to death. As a parent, I wanted this same special learning experience for our children.


I believe that having pets around contributed to the development of our self-esteem, as we were responsible for these living creatures that were completely reliant on our kindness, compassion and care. We had to take care of them, fend for them and make decisions based on what we believed was the best for our animals. For example, although our dogs generally slept outside, on cold winter nights we would bring them in to sleep in the kitchen. And in preparation for winter we would fence off an area for our chickens to help keep them warm. Having pets also challenged our cognitive abilities. As we observed our pets, we developed the need to learn more, which forced us to do research and gave us the opportunity to interact with others who had similar pets. We experienced their lifecycles first hand and learned to compare this with the lifecycles of other animals. Even our social skills benefited as we shared our pets’ milestone achievements and talked about their adventures with others.

Having pets definitely also reduces stress and anxiety. As we stroke them, bath them, chat to them or take them for walks, we feel less alone and isolated with our pet companions. I have found that children find great comfort in pets and will confide in them regarding their worries, fears and needs. And I have also seen that children who are scared to talk or read in front of others, develop their confidence through practicing their oral or reading to their animals.

Decision making

There are a number of things to take into consideration before choosing a pet for your child. Do consider your child’s age and what kind of pet will be a good match for your child as well as the rest of your family unit. Parents have to commit to being involved right from the start, as you are your child’s primary role model. They will learn how to be caring and patient from watching your interactions with your pets. I recommend that you make time even before your new pet arrives, to sit down with your child, have a discussion and create a plan together that takes your child’s age and developmental level into consideration. Although you as their parent are ultimately responsible for your child’s pet, with your guidance, a lot of patience and consistent gentle reminders, your child will grow in their love for and understanding of their new pet and can gradually start taking over more of the care taking responsibilities.

Our experience

We recently adopted a bunny, who our boys have named Charlie. Charlie has made a very special connection with our youngest son. She is learning to trust him and in doing so is also teaching him the importance of trust. I watch him learning about loyalty, affection, and love as he holds Charlie and gently strokes her fur. He is clearly finding great comfort in connecting with her. We have realized that since we have had Charlie, he seems to be less emotional and more relaxed.

Having pets or other animals around evidently has healing properties. When we interact with them we are for a moment transported away from our other worries and problems, to a place where we can experience tranquility and enjoy their acceptance of us, just the way we are. Our animal friends quickly become part of our family and are our children too.

Sunday 29 November 2020

A child's report card

End of year progress assessments can cause a lot of stress. This is true for us as teachers, who are trying to give parents a true, but kind reflection of their child’s progress, based on how we have experienced it in our classroom during their school year. It is also true for us as parents, who receive the final assessment feedback, whether with fear, shock or excitement and (definitely not least) for our children, for whom it can be a cause of stress, heart break or celebration.

Assessments, whether formal or informal, provide us with an important opportunity to help teachers and parents see where a child’s individual needs or lack of development are and can help us to focus on how we can develop a child’s strengths or assist them in areas where they are struggling. However, it is important to keep in mind that standard assessments are usually inspired by milestones of a specific age and reflects what around 90% of children are able to achieve at that specific age. In reality, children do not all progress at the same pace and therefore allowance should be made for a grace period of 6-9 months for other children to reach these specific milestones too.

All young children are in different stages of their brain development. With every experience our brains make a connection and the more that connection is repeated, the stronger it becomes. When not repeated, it will fade away. It’s the same when we walk through a forest. If we follow the same route every day, we eventually have a natural path visible for all to see. That is why it is important to practice skills regularly. Simplified, our brain consists of two main skill areas, the first one contains the basic skills for living and survival (e.g. fight or flight) and for young children this is generally driven by instinct. The second area consists of our emotions, thoughts, communication skills and how we learn, which is part of our personality and characteristics and is DNA inspired too.

Our very young children’s brain development starts with copying everything and everyone in their environment, but in time they become independent from us and start to discover and interpret their world on their own. During this incredible and rich development journey our small children are sometimes reaching their milestones fast, sometimes according to the books, but always at their own pace. And in this, we as adults, need to give them their space to develop and the confidence to believe in themselves and follow their own path. Yes, it is true that sometimes we as parents need to ask and accept the help from specialists, like Speech therapists, Occupational therapists or Play therapists, when our children’s pathways might have taken a detour into a cul-de-sac, where they got a bit stuck, but with a little help, our children can move out of the cul-de-sac and back onto their own path again.

When you as a parent look at the report or assessment feedback for your child, focus on their strengths and encourage them by creating opportunities for them to excel even more at it. Also work at the areas where they seem to have challenges, because if you just ignore it, they might fall behind even more and this can later shake their confidence to such an extent that it also diminishes their strengths.

Teachers, when you hand us parents that report, please know, that we take everything that is in it to heart, even if we don’t say it. Please don’t take any of our reactions personally, because often our reactions are just a reflection of our own fears and guilt.

And parents, when you look at your child’s report, please know that most of us as teachers, who put in so much hard work, thought and love into your child’s progress, are proud with you and we hope that, no matter what the content, you will celebrate your child’s report and remember that assessments do not define your child. It is merely a reflection of one small part of them.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Nurturing your child's inner being.

As parents, we want our children to be good people. We want them to be our legacy. We want the world to know what incredible human beings they are. But how do we do this? How do we raise our children to become the best version of themselves? Our day-to-day family lives lay the foundation for who they will become as adults. This is where our children first learn about trust, kindness, compassion, friendship, patience and forgiveness, or the lack thereof. If we live these values in our homes and practice it regularly, it will become a part of our children and spill over into life outside of our homes. 

Set the right example

We need to start with us. Our young children will follow our examples and not our words or even suggestions. They look at the way that we carry ourselves and the integrity we show at home when the rest of the world is not looking. We need to teach our children to value people over things. If we expect our children to become adults with good values, we need to set a higher bar for ourselves.

Get your priorities straight

Make time for what really matters. Hug your children and your partner many times during the day. Connect with them, share and speak from your heart. Show them that they do not need to scream for attention, that we do hear them and we do see them. Spending time with our families is such a great future investments – in ourselves and our children. 

An attitude of gratitude

We can talk about the people, things and experiences we have to be grateful for in the car, while driving to school or the shops, around our dining room table at meal time or at bedtime. Making time to reflect on our day, how we lived it and how we can make it better tomorrow, should never be about being better than others, but rather about being a better me tomorrow. Giving every family member a turn to reflect on what they are thankful for might start off with a purposeful decision, but once it becomes a habit, it will turn into a natural family tradition and ensuring that every day we look for the goodness in our day and the people around us.

Encourage individuality

Let us encourage our children to be individuals and not parent/people pleasers. We need them to know that we will support whatever decision they make, encourage them to work hard for themselves, and not because we need them to have good marks. Show them how to consider different perspectives and celebrate our differences.

Be a courageous cheerleader

Believe in yourself and believe in your children. Our children will believe in themselves if we believe in them and when we believe in ourselves, we can do difficult things. When our children face hard times, we don’t take it away from them, but instead stand next to them, give them the tools to cope with it, guide them and support them, but let them do it. When they see and hear you cheering them on and believing in them, they will keep trying, no matter how hard it gets and they will become strong adults that are capable to face the world and the troubles it often brings. 

Pay it forward

When we make a positive difference by the way we live, our children can experience it firsthand. When you buy or get new clothing, you can give away the same amount of clothes to less fortunate people. When your children receive new toys, you can teach them to give the same amount of toys away. If you know of a family going through a rough time due to sickness, death or financial reasons, you can support them by dropping off food with a note of encouragement. When you have extra food left after dinner, you can make food parcels to hand out to homeless people. When you go the shop on a warm summers day, you can buy a cold beverage for a security guard. These actions introduce our children to the big world out there and shows them that we all can help, because we want to and not for the recognition. When we contribute to society in a big or small way, we do make the world a better place and at the same time we make ourselves better people.

Taking care of nature

We can teach our children to appreciate and love nature by taking our children for walks, lying on the grass and looking at the clouds during day time or admiring the stars at night time, participating in recycling and re-purposing items, taking good care of our pets, making bird feeders to hang in our trees, showing kindness to the smallest little bug, stepping over a snail, appreciating the smell of rain, admiring the trees and flowers. By teaching our children to take care of their natural world, our children will learn to be kind to things that can’t defend themselves, because all lives matter and they will learn to admire the beauty around them and take responsibility for their environment. When we care and love what is around us, then we understand that life is sacred and we will protect and defend it.

Our children are precious souls entrusted to us. We need to guide them on this road of life and we need to make sure they are strong enough to face whatever comes their way. They are our legacy. Let’s make it count.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Hurry up… We are going to be late… We don’t have time for that now…

How has your week been, I wonder? It is mid-November and it seems that everywhere we turn there are increasing demands and everyone has less time. It is an end of year pattern amongst adults that ripple into our relationships with our children, causing them to act out with emotional outbursts that are easily mistaken for naughtiness.

Yes, we as adults are very busy and face many demands on our time. As a result we rush around, lose our cool and speak unkindly to others and our children. We impatiently dismiss them and their needs, failing to notice their little hopeful eyes that are watching us and not acknowledging their soul’s yearning to be noticed. We are missing from our children.

If you think back over just this past week – did you notice any of these ques? Did your child seem to be overly emotional, whining, and aggressive or suddenly say that they don’t want to go to school? How did you respond to these ques? Did you recognize it as a plea for a little bit of your time to connect or did you reach for a disciplinarian response instead?

It is possible, within our very busy lives, to ensure that our children feel loved.

·         Put your oxygen mask on first

     As cliché as it sounds, we cannot serve others from an empty cup. By managing ourselves better, we will naturally be able to better deal with life and the many demands on our time. Eat healthy, drink enough water and regularly do something that you enjoy like walking or cooking. Make time to laugh, pray and/or meditate. Do your best to focus only on what you can control and let go of the rest. By prioritizing our physical and mental health and involving our children in these activities, we are setting a great example for them and laying the foundation for healthy habits that they can take with them into their adult life. 

·         Be boring
A predictable daily routine, with firm consistent boundaries helps our children feel safe. When children know and can predict what is expected of them, they tend to be much calmer. 

·         Connection. Connection. Connection. Connection.
I can never emphasize this enough. Our children need to feel connected to us. This can be accomplished by doing several little things together during the day e.g. reading a story, going for a walk, cooking or baking together, cuddling, watching a movie together, gardening, bath time, shopping or dancing. One of our boys’ favorite things are to look at their baby photos, while discussing their ‘babyhood’ - it immediately makes them feel special and connected to us.

·         Don’t fight fire with fire
Children are emotional beings, so they will react emotionally. As adults, we need to remember not to react to their emotional moments with our own emotional outbursts, as this will only escalate the situation into an emotional explosion. Rather pick them up, hold them tight and do your best to be calm. The calmer you stay, the calmer they will become. They need to feel your love and once everyone is calm, you can meet them at their level of understanding. Sometimes you will have to say: ‘Let’s try again’, and go back to the beginning of what caused that explosion, to handle it in a different manner. When we teach our children that we can try again, we teach them that everyone makes mistakes and help them learn about forgiveness and second chances. These life skills, practiced often, will help your child to become a kind adult human being.

·         Mind your language

As adults we need to carefully choose our words. We tend to say ‘no’ or ‘don’t touch’ often, when a ‘yes’ can be much more effective way to divert their attention. For example, instead of saying: “Don’t touch the bird ornament”, we can say: “Come let’s look at the birds outside”. For every negative word we use, we should try to share at least four positive words. We can be firm in our speaking, but we don’t need to be harsh or unkind.

Our children are only small for a short time and whether we like it or not, they will follow our example and not our wishes. We need to do our best to make the little time we have with them count.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Santa is coming to town.

Christmas celebrations can include a variety of low cost activities and does not have to be limited to just gift giving on Christmas morning. Making Christmas decorations and homemade gifts together and singing carols by candle lights can become some of your child’s most precious Christmas memories. We do Santa letters and depending on your child’s age or ability, they can either write to Santa, draw pictures or cut pictures from toy catalogues to stick on their letter to Santa. 

Christmas time is also a special opportunity to teach our children about what is truly important and not forgetting those who are less fortunate. Give responsibly and support other parents by buying their children practical gifts. In our home we have a rule that for every toy our boys receive, they have to give one away. We feel that this teaches them about generosity and it also helps limiting their amount of toys, otherwise they might not appreciate the new ones. 

Walking down the toy aisles can be quite overwhelming. The variety of toys are amazing and it makes it very hard for us as parents to choose the perfect gift for our child, which might result in you deciding to buy them more than one. Spreading your gift shopping throughout the year, keeping an eye out for when there are specials, can help minimize gift expenses around Christmas time.

Probably one of the greatest gifts you can invest in, are books. It can be a story book or a non-fiction book about a topic that your child is interested in. Books creates opportunities for you to connect with your children when you sit down, take a breath and read with them. 

If you are considering a different type of gift, please remember that the perfect gift is one that will encourage your child to play. Through play our children are developing many different skills such as social, problem solving, reasoning, fine motor, gross motor, creativity, self-regulation, language, communication and more. Play provides them with an opportunity to explore and discover and develop their cognitive abilities. Here are some gift ideas that encourages play:

·         Blocks - wooden, plastic, large, small, foam or magnet

·         Vehicles - water, land, air, small, big, noisy, quiet, made from different materials and traffic signs. You can even make up a combo that includes cars, blocks, traffic signs and thick cardboard pieces for building ramps.

·         Animals and bugs - different types, sizes and made from different materials

·         Pretend play props - doctor’s kit, tools, vet kit, shop kit, kitchen set, dress up clothes, tents and hats

·         Puzzles - wooden, foam, floor, alphabet or number

·         Games - board games, dominoes, card games or memory games

·         Science kits that are age appropriate

·         Sensory play - sand, playdough, kinetic sand and toys suitable for these different mediums

·         Gross motor activities - trampolines, different balls, skipping ropes, hoops, different rackets, tunnels, balancing beams, a scooter, bicycle or tricycle

·         Craft kits with items such as paper, scissors, stickers, different drawing tools, paint, glue or glitter

Even though there are so many different options to consider, the choice is ultimately simple: Is this gift really all about your child? Did you consider your child’s personality, and will this gift invite them to play? Can you as their parent join in this play for connecting time? If you are unsure, then it is most probably not the right gift to buy.

Ultimately Christmas is about Love, Peace, and Hope. 

Have fun shopping and see you in the toy aisle!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Sunday 1 November 2020

The End of Year Blues.

And here it is… the end of year is in sight. We never thought this roller coaster year will ever come to an end and with this, we all have endless deadlines, extra stress and even more duties to fulfill. Right there with us, in this mad rush, are our little people… watching us with hopeful eyes, eagerly waiting to be noticed.

We don’t realize the effect that we as rushed grown-ups have on our little people. We have this to–do list that is ever growing and this to-
do list becomes an almost obsession to the point where we become impatient, time obsessed. We lose sight of our families and they become almost invisible on our priority list.

Our children can sense it and when they experience this, their behavior seems to become needy, whiney, emotional, difficult and/or aggressive, because they don’t feel connected to us anymore. When our kids feel disconnected from us, they feel disconnected from themselves and their worlds. So how can we stay connected and survive the end of year blues?

·         Stay connected to your partner. If you are single, choose a specific adult to stay connected to - it can be your best friend, parent or sibling. When we as adults are ‘fed’ in our grown up relationships and feel connected to others, it naturally enhances our ability to stay connected with our children. Having a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or cooking together are some ways to make a quick connection with your adult person on a daily basis.


·         Make a purposeful decision to minimize screen time on your devices. We easily get caught up in our devices and all our kids see are our bowed heads tranced by the device in hand, unaware of what is happening in our world around us. It is now more important than ever, to put your devices down when you are spending quality connection time with your partner and children.


·         While driving in the car together, especially to and from school, switch the radio off and chat - even if you are just making observations of your surroundings.


·         Go for walks (it does not need to be a long walk). Just going for a short, slow walk with your young child, letting them discover their environment and make observations will help them feel connected to you.


·         Keep to your children’s routines. They need predictable days. Our children feel safe when they have structure and routine.


·         Have meals together. As a family it is incredibly important to have no-device meals together - especially during times that are hectically busy. During family meal time everyone can get an opportunity to share about their day, ask and talk about anything.


·         Keep bath times special. It is a wonderful, playful time to spend with your young children. Children tend to open up more about their day when they are relaxed and playing in water.


·         Bedtime is very important. Taking time to read a story and cuddle with your young children will make them feel loved and connected.


·         Check in with your child’s teacher. Most of the times when we are so busy, we do not necessarily notice changes in our children’s behavior, while at school your child’s teacher might have noticed it.


·         Make a purposeful decision to keep your sense of humour and laugh often, even about silly things. Make eye contact and when you speak to your children, say their names.


·         Don’t sweat the small stuff. When we are stressed and task orientated, we do tend to be more serious, focused and that in turn can make us become impatient and careless.

Remember to also take care of yourself. It is important to make time to focus on deep, slow breathing, to eat healthy, drink water regularly, to get enough rest and speak kindly to ourselves and others. Life seems to be more hectic this time of year, so it is vital that we are purposeful in all our actions. You will be surprised at how well you will cope with all the stress and demands of life, when you feel connected to your family.


Monday 26 October 2020

Making bath time something to look forward too.

For many families bath time is a daily stress filled event. The biggest mistake we can make is to consider bath time a chore that we need to tick off our daily to-do list. Rather take a step back and consider bath time a special time that you get to spend with your little one. Here are some ideas that will hopefully help make the transition to bath time and bath time itself, a more enjoyable and relaxing occasion.

Safety first

Remember that small children need to be supervised at all times, especially in and near water. Sometimes the big bath does feel scary for a little person and then to use a smaller inexpensive tub inside the bath will help them feel much safer. The bath itself can be very slippery and it is scary for both you and your child when they slip. A non-slip mat (or a towel) in the bath can help to reduce the chances of them slipping.


Do your best to make bath time fun. A mirror in the bathroom that is at your child’s eye level when they are in the bath is a great attraction and distraction. Painting with face paint or drawing with bath crayons will also help make bath time more exciting. Having different toys like small containers and spoons, a doll and doll clothes, blocks, toy cars, plastic animals, a small plastic teapot / jug with little cups, different sponges, foam animals, shapes, letters, boats, floating animals or small balls at hand for bath time, are all inviting toys that you can alternate during the week.

Use this play time to bond with your child. The more you speak to them, the more you enrich their vocabulary and language use. Name the objects that they are playing with, mimic the animal or car noises and describe what you are doing by using sentences like: ‘I am pouring tea into my cup’ or ‘let’s wash your blue car’. You can also count the toys, look at the colours and sizes, and do measurement activities while using sentences like: ‘Let’s fill up the cup’ or ‘Oh dear, now the bottle is empty’, to help build their Math’s related vocabulary.


If supper time is generally a chaotic time for your family, then consider planning for bath time to take place earlier in the day, if possible. When I found myself alone at home and rushed for time, I would put a large towel on the kitchen floor, with the tub on top of it and my boys bathed there (well honestly they splashed more than anything else). This allowed me to get supper going, while they were having fun getting clean and when dad got home, things were slightly less crazy.

Sometimes our little people have had a very busy day and we as grown-ups assume that a bath is just what they need, because that is what we love after a long day. But for a little person whose small body is still learning to digest all the sensory input from their day, a bath might just be the trigger for a complete meltdown. Never wake a sleeping child to bath them. You will definitely have self-inflicted war on your hands and it is really not worth it.

Think about their senses

Make sure the bathroom is not too cold, especially for your very small child. Consider having a candle lit in the bathroom, as the softer light will be gentler on their tired eyes and the flame will be a welcome distraction.

Minimising problems

Bubble bath is a great soaker for all the dirt, so that you do not always need to fight with them to use soap and a facecloth or sponge. One of my boys despised having his hair washed when he was small, but once he started wearing goggles in the bath, it became a much less traumatic experience for all us. Telling your child step by step what you are doing is very important. Once bath time becomes a predictable time, they will feel more in control. You can help to establish this routine by narrating the washing process with sentences such as ‘I am rubbing soap on the sponge and then I am going to wash your back’. This will also enrich your child’s body knowledge. And know that sometimes your best bath time strategy is to just sit quietly with them and play with the water.


When bath time is done, don’t just yank them out. Have a predictable three step routine, that is always the same, for when you near the end of bath time. This way their subconscious will know that bath time is coming to an end. Here is one example of such a routine that you can consider adopting:

·         Step 1: Let’s put the soap and face cloth in their places

·         Step 2: Let’s pack our toys on the side of the bath so they can dry

·         Step 3: Would you like to use your blue towel or red towel tonight?

And the bonus for getting out of the bath? They get to blow out the candle (and that might just become the best part)!

It is important that you don’t rush this part of the routine. Small children do not like to be rushed. Do your best to stay calm and stay present. Take them to their room after their bath to dry them and massage them as you rub cream into their skin, all the while talking gently. This will help to set the tone for the rest of your evening together.

Our children are desperate for our physical and emotional presence and because we live such rushed lives we often miss those ques. Bath time is a perfect opportunity to pause life, take a deep breath and just be with your child. They will chat to you and even if you don’t understand what they are saying, knowing that you listen to their small conversations, will lay the foundation for your relationship with them so that they will come to you later with the big stuff too. 

And as life with children are, even when you do all of the above, you will still have those absolute insane evenings, but hopefully with these tips they will become few and far in between. Enjoy this time. Our children grow up fast and then we can only return to these memories, wishing we had more.


Sunday 18 October 2020

DEVELOPING LIFESKILLS: ‘Mom and Dad, I want to dress myself’

Dressing themselves is a life skill that our children need to develop at a young age. We can support them to achieve this important milestone by creating an environment where they can experience success. Here are a few tips on how you can help them on the road of independent dressing:

·       Firstly, make peace that your toddler and young preschooler (and later your teenager) will not necessarily have the same fashion sense as you. Consider it their creative expression of who they are.


·       A full length mirror is a great asset in any young child’s room and is beneficial for their physical, cognitive and emotional development. It helps them to develop their sense of self and generally they also enjoy their reflection ‘imitating’ them. It is good practice for visual tracking as their eyes follow their own movements in the mirror. And it also helps to develop their spatial awareness of their own body and their body in space.


·       Have a low shelf, drawer or basket with a few matching clothing items in there for them to choose from. Keep in mind that they will mix and match how they see fit and may even wear all of the outfits at once and that is perfectly okay. Anyone who has ever spend time with a young child will completely get it and won’t think any less of you as a parent.


·       Make sure that their clothing is easy to put on and take off. This is especially important during toilet training.


·       When you dress your child, or attempt to help them, let them face away from you. This will make the transition from being dressed to being able to dress themselves easier. Trying to convert the getting dressed process from how it works when they face you to when they have to do it themselves can be very challenging.


·       Teach them the order you want them to get dressed in, for instance first put on your underwear, then your t-shirt, pants, socks and lastly your shoes.


·         Show them their clothing tags and teach them that it has to touch their backs.


·       You can cut a large sticker into two pieces and stick one half in each of their shoes so when they put their shoes on (left and right) next to each other, the picture is completed correctly. It is a great visual aid to help them know which shoe fits on which foot.


·       Simple directions in the form of a rhyme, song or chant will help them remember. Use the same one every time you dress them and once they are ready to do it on their own they will be able to recall the ‘instructions’. Repetition is key.


Here is an example for when they put on their pants or skirt

I sit on my bottom,
Flat on the floor.
I put my one foot in,
I put my other foot in,
And wiggle all the way,
Until I see my toes.
And then I stand up straight.
I pull it over my bum.
I turn around and say (with thumbs up): ‘That is done!’

            Here is an example for when they put on a t-shirt

I put my head through the big hole,

My one arm through a smaller hole

My other arm through another hole.

Now look at me!


Developing the life skill to dress themselves does take time and sometimes we want to rush our children by helping them. But the immense pride they will experience, knowing that their grownup trusted them to do it all on their own, is priceless. By consistently showing trust in their ability, you will see their competence increase over time, they will become more and more independent and handle future challenges with confidence. It is worth the mismatched outfits and every questionable fashion sense memory that you will collect along the way.


Sunday 11 October 2020

Busy Teacher? Busy Parent?

Steph from The Secret Slob (mom of 3 kiddos), have very practical and easy tips helping us busy grown ups and sometimes very overwhelmed grown ups, to keep on top of our homes. Here is the link to her blog and you can also visit her on You Tube. The Secret Slob. As Steph says, its all about progress, and not perfection.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Tips for introducing more ease into your mornings with kids

Mornings can be very rough in a household with little people, but there are a few changes you can consider to help make your mornings a bit more manageable.

·         Consistent routines
I cannot emphasize the importance of a consistent routine enough. Even though life will still happen and all your good intentions might on occasion fly out the window. Once you have established a consistent routine, children will start to follow it automatically - even on the rough days. It is similar to following a map. Even if your car breaks down or you have a flat tire, you still need to follow the map to get to your destination.

·         Be organized
The best tip a friend gave me when our boys were very little, was for me to get up before them so that I can get myself sorted first. Although I wasn’t too keen at first, I quickly recognized the difference it made and kept to it. As they have grown older and become more independent, it has become easier. I now no longer have to get up before them and every now and then can even enjoy a sleep-in.

·         Adapt to your child
Every child is unique. If your child is not a morning person, don’t rush them. Let their mornings be relaxed and calm, because the more you fight them the tougher it will get. If your child needs cuddles in the morning, sit down or get into bed with them to have a bit of cuddle time. Maybe read a book together or spend some time outside. Use your morning time to feed your child’s soul. Your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. If your child has a soul fed morning, they will be so much more receptive to learning at school and you yourself will have a much better day too.

·         Encourage independence
If they want to feed themselves, let them. If they want to dress themselves, let them. If they want to brush their own teeth, let them. Independence encourages confidence and confidence encourages good self-esteem.

·         Don’t sweat the small stuff
Pick your battles. If your child wants to go to the shop wearing their fairy wings, let them. If your child doesn’t want to wear shoes, let them. Rather challenge your child about things that really matters like good manners and being kind, as those are the things that will ultimately make them better people and help them to make a difference in our world.

I do hope that these tips will help you bring more ease and calm to your mornings. Don’t forget to live in the moment with your little people and on the days when your mornings do go wrong, remember that this will not last forever.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Helping little ones develop their concentration

As parents and educators, we often forget to have realistic expectations of our children and their ability to concentrate on activities. It is only natural that the younger our children are, the shorter their concentration will be. I have found that a predictable routine helps make a positive difference in children’s lives, because when a child knows exactly what to expect of someone, or a place, they are calmer and more focused. There are several things that we can do to help little ones develop concentration.

Carefully consider the time of day, because children’s concentration is usually better in the morning than in the afternoon. It is therefore better to plan academic work for the mornings. Make sure your child has a good breakfast with little or no sugar, because a child will struggle to focus after they have had a chocolate or packet of sweets. It is important to limit screen time, because it can negatively affect your child’s concentration.


Daily movement and exercises like riding bicycles or playing ball outside can significantly improve your child’s concentration. Going for walks and looking for things like twigs and rocks will also help your child to become more observant and aware of their own environment. During story time ask your child to look at a picture and encourage them to find specific detail. Doing handwork (like threading), making crafts and playing board games are all beneficial ways for children to develop their concentration skills. Building puzzles together takes focus, problem solving skills and good observations from the puzzle builder. Look for a picture of a landmark like the Eiffel Tower and encourage your child to build that from blocks. Sensory bins are great ways to help your child to informally improve their concentration. Sensory boxes can be filled with coloured pasta or rice, small spoons, tweezers and containers for them to scoop or pour. 

Finally, when sitting down as a family around the dinner table, we can talk about our day, which will help our little friends learn to slow down, sit still, concentrate and focus on their family members while participating in the conversation.

 Here is another great article to read on this topic:Child development and concentration.



    As parents, it is always important to remember that when it comes to our children, that we NEED to be on the same team, and that we ...