Easter Sunshine at Powerscourt!

We went to the Easter ‘Hop’n’Hunt’ in Powerscourt Gardens this year. Having spent Easter Sunday feasting and watching television, a trip up to Powerscourt was a great excuse to get out, stretch our legs and most importantly, to STOP eating chocolate!

We were booked in to the 12.30pm time-slot , and were greeted on arrival by a very friendly Easter chick who chatted to the children and happily posed for photos. We were then directed to the walled garden where two ladies from Imaginosity

The Easter Chick.

The Easter Chick.

were just starting the warm-up exercises to prepare for the hunt. The sun was shining, the children were excited and before we knew it we were donning bunny ears and climbing into sacks to hop around the garden finding clues that would lead to the eventual pay off at the ‘treasure table’.

And we're off, once we fix our ears of course!

And we’re off, once we fix our ears of course!

Our eldest volunteered to hop (a member of the family had to be ‘hopping’ at all times), while her little brother offered to write down all the letters that the clues revealed (good educational fun!) and my youngest was happy just running around in the sunshine following the herd.

The sunshine, the location and the staff from Imaginosity all helped make this a very enjoyable event. There was a slight backlash from the children though. I had told them we were going on an egg hunt, so they were a bit whingey disappointed that the clues were so easy to find. The pay-off at the end was a bit meagre too – they all received a small (but brightly wrapped) hollow egg, and the parents received a tea cake. My son felt cheated as he thought after all the clue collection and the promise of a Treasure Table, he would be leaving with armfuls of goodies!

The Treasure!

The Treasure!

So would I recommend it to others? Now, I’m not a fan of adults paying to go to kids events. However, in this case, the €25 family ticket included the egg hunt and full access to the gardens for the day. In my opinion, this ‘package’ makes it well worth the money (particularly as the sun was beaming).There is so much to do and explore in the gardens that even when your child gives out about the small egg, they’re easily distracted by a trip up Pepperpot Tower or to the Japanese Garden.

It may be a thought for next year though to put together a little basket of goodies per family, rather than choosing an egg or tea cake from a plastic tub, but that is just my opinion. Now where did I stash the children’s Easter haul??

A success!

A success!

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the Hop ‘n’ Hunt for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bad Mothering

I love my children. I want the very best for each of them. I want them to grow into confident, capable, happy, content and independent people. And so I insist on being a “bad” mother!

Here are some examples of my bad mothering.

1. I don’t put their coats on. I provide them with coats (and hats and gloves and scarves).I advise them that they should wear their coats when it is cold. However, from the moment that they learn to put on their own coats, I no longer put their coats on.

You'll be grand!

You’ll be grand!

2. I don’t pack their lunches. I make their lunches (although my eldest wants to start making hers soon), I fill their water bottles. I leave them out on the counter for easy access but I don’t ever put their lunches in their school bags.

3. I don’t carry their school bags. Ever. (OK, I confess I did for my son last summer but
he had a broken arm at the time).

Seriously Mum, can I have a little help?!

Seriously Mum, can I have a little help?!

4. I let them out of sight. If we are walking in the woods, I let them go off exploring
amongst the trees, I tell them to keep me in sight but I don’t follow closely behind.
5. I let them fall. Once I gauge that the jump is not going to result in any more than a
scraped hand or bloodied knee, and they insist that they can do it, I let them try.
6. I make them wait. If I am busy doing something big or small, and they interrupt me
with a need of their own (which is of course far greater..), then I insist they wait until
I am finished.

7. I don’t organise their toys. I will fix broken toys when I can, and I will give them aplace to keep their toys. However, any question about ‘where is Teddy/my lego/ myprecious stone collection?’ is answered with ‘it‘s your toy, you tell me’.

8. I break the rules. For example – all meals are at the table, except for today when we will have our pizzas under this camp we made!

With the time pressures and constant bombardment of fear by the media we tend to over think our parenting and can end up doing too much for our children which we think is helping but will ultimately hinder their development. So as Victorian as some of these practices may seem I do them for a very good reason!

Keeping her balance...I hope!

Keeping her balance…I hope!

To encourage independent thinking, and build self esteem. Because I want them to develop good reflexes and instincts, and because I want them to learn their own boundaries and when it‘s okay to break boundaries. Who knows, it might even work! 😉

Do you practice ‘bad’mothering too?

Thanks for reading
Aisling

I originally wrote this post for MummyPages, why not pop over there for a look-see?

The ‘F’ Word.

If I ever meet whoever is responsible for the scheduling of the current Safefood advert, I will not be responsible for my actions. I hadn’t seen it before but it came on while I was watching television with the children. It is clearly trying to send adults a message not to give out biscuits willy-nilly but all it did was make my daughter say, ‘look Mum,when she got the biscuits she got fat, ugh, I would hate to be fat!’ So the message that particular advert sends my child is that fat is wrong! Nothing about healthy eating, nothing about being fit and strong – just the message that if you eat biscuits you will be fat and that is bad.

 

I am fully aware that my child will go through phases of worrying about her shape. It will not matter what her shape is, she will worry about it. Do we ban biscuits from the house? Are cake and chocolate to become ‘unmentionables’? Because as we all know, if you are forbidden something you just accept it and move on, right? You don’t make it your sacred mission to eat as many biscuits and cakes as you can, whenever and wherever you get the chance!

Childhood obesity is a problem in Ireland and so there is a massive push by safefood at the moment to encourage healthy eating. I am absolutely all for that. I have written about it previously myself – it is one of our parental duties to encourage healthy eating and explain why everyone needs to eat well. But not because you will get fat, but because if you only snack on sugary food, you will not feel well. Because if you only snack on sugary food, you will not have enough energy to play outside. Because if you only snack on sugary food, you may harm your body, and your teeth. Because sugary snacks don’t give you enough energy to play football, to go swimming, to climb trees, or to scoot to the playground. Sugary food will not help your brain to grow and develop, it will not help you do the ‘maths frenzy’ that you love so much.

Rather than scare-mongering children into thinking that eating sweet food will make them (horror of horrors) fat, I for one am teaching them the positives of healthy food. Fruit and vegetables are good for your body and mind, and eating these will help you to grow strong in both. Cheese and milk are good for our bones and teeth, they will give you a nice bright smile. I focus on encouraging the children to eat the meals I prepare for them rather than rely on snacks to keep them going. However I absolutely refuse to demonise sugar. Biscuits and chocolate every now and again are good too – no they will not help us to grow strong and healthy but they are tasty and enjoyable.They are sweet. They are, in fact, a treat!

Doing lots of this..

Doing lots of this..

 

 

 

...and this..

…and this….

Makes this O.K.

…makes this O.K.

I have never felt the need to tell any of my children that a food type makes them fat and I never intend to either. Stick to correct portions, keep sweets as a treat, let your children have plenty of fresh air and play. Allow them to grow up healthily but not living in fear of the dreaded sugar! If you are struggling with limiting your child’s sugary treat intake, then there are some great tips here from safefood. But please don’t let them see that ad!

I welcome all feedback, please feel free to add your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading

Aisling.

Enjoying Play Dates ( it can be done!)

Actual playing on a play-date!

Actual playing on a play-date!

As much as I hate the children going back to school, and all the hassle that goes along with it, I must admit to enjoying getting back into the routine of things. However, like them or loathe them, along with all that routine come play-dates!!

I was useless at play-dates when my eldest started school, way back in 2011. Not that I didn’t like inviting children to play per se, it was just that I was not great at the awkward inviting-strangers-in-to-my house thing – for the uninitiated, junior infant playdates involve parent coffee dates too. In my defence I was pregnant and dealing with a newborn throughout that first year, so I kept forgetting to organise them. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Nowadays with my eldest going into second class, I finally have a handle on play-dates and no longer cringe at the mention of them. In fact, I have made some very good friends of my own through the play-date system. I was having coffee with a couple of said friends this morning and we got to talking about play-dates and the various problems that can arise, so I decided to sit down and do a list of my version of the do’s and don’ts of play-dates, so as to avoid the stress and actually enjoy them.

Play-date etiquette:

  • From day one, tell your child that adults arrange play-dates, not children! This will help to avoid your child inviting themselves on play-dates. This line also comes in handy when a child starts inviting themselves to your house and their mother stands idly by and says nothing – been there done that!
  • Depending on how little/much you enjoy them, set a day/days aside that you dedicate to play-dates. For us, it’s every second Friday. Pick a day that suits you and stick to it. When invited on a different day, avoid saying yes straight away in the fear that your child will never be invited again. Explain and get the word out there that a certain day/days are when you are free for play-dates.
  • When it comes to junior infants, I would absolutely avoid organising any play-dates with new friends before mid-term. Starting school is an overwhelming and tiring experience for children – give them a chance to get used to their new routine before putting anything else on their plate. From senior infants on, I would also avoid play-dates for the first week or so for the same reason.
  • Keep them short (at the start) and always state the time you want the other child picked up. Remember that both your child and yourself may need to decompress afterwards so allow time for that before the dinner rush. When children get to know each other a bit better, play- dates can be longer and can sometimes run into dinner dates too! If it doesn’t suit you to return that service, then decline dinner and pick up your child earlier. Otherwise it can get a little awkward.
  • Give them space – children may be a little awkward with each other at the start – it is perfectly natural and they will figure it out for themselves.They may need a little direction as to what to do but don’t start creating games and taking part yourself. It is tiring and kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Make an effort to also invite children without stay-at-home parents. They can definitely fall through the net because their parents are not seen at the school on a daily basis.
  • Until you know the family well, keep the play-date at home. Taking responsibility for someone else’s child is a big enough deal without the added potential risks and dangers of playgrounds etc. (One of my first playdates involved a trip to the playground where the invited child got bitten on the arm by a random little brat in the playground – mortifying beyond belief!)
Maybe, avoid the playground!

Maybe, avoid the playground!

  • If you are planning to offer snacks, check with the parent first that snacks are okay and that there are no allergies.
  • Keep the snacks simple and easy; you don’t need to have a fresh fruit platter with normal and tropical fruits ready and waiting. If the normal is a banana from the fruit bowl, stick with that! Don’t fill your house with goodies in a Hansel and Gretel manner – you will only end up with a sugar rush/crash to deal with.
  • Avoid baking, or arts and crafts unless you are that way gifted. They are stressy enough with our own children but are even harder when you have to be ‘nice’ throughout.;-)
  • Be yourself. If behaviour from either child is unacceptable, then say as much to the child, whilst keeping it fair. Often our own children become casualties of a play-date as we want to avoid upsetting the invitee!
  • Inclusiveness is key, so when we have people over on play-dates they have some time to do their own thing, but I also encourage them to include the siblings in the games; as well as ensuring no-one is feeling left out, this also gives one time to sit down during a play-date with a cup of tea!

My children have developed some fantastic friendships from play-dates and I am so glad that I got over myself and embraced them ( the play-date that is, not the children..) Play-dates are now a pleasure and something I look forward to. So if you are embarking on the journey for the first time, or are not a fan of play-dates, I really hope that you have found something useful in the above.

Have you any tips to offer yourself? Please feel free to add any tips or advice of your own in the comments below!

Thanks for reading

Aisling

Breathe Through the Fear…

 

Protectiveness is one of the strongest instincts we have as parents. We would walk over burning coals, fall out with friends and family, and literally take a bullet to protect our children. Have I mentioned what I would do to someone who harmed my children in any way before? However, over-protecting our children is not good. In doing so we are stifling our children’s instincts, possibly to detrimental effect.

 

From the moment they are born, children are curious about the world around them and do everything instinctively. This can be scary to watch as they wobble trying to sit up, teeter between sharp-cornered furniture whilst learning to walk, and climb sheer heights on unstable home-made towers of anything that comes to hand. Just terrifying for us who know that they could bump their head, cut themselves or possibly break a bone or two if they fall – but brilliant for the children that are allowed to follow their instincts as they will learn and develop as nature intended.

 

I thought I was pretty relaxed in my parenting. I generally let my children figure it out for themselves, with a few ground rules in place. I take them on walks along unprotected quays, safe in the knowledge they will not run lemming-like for the edge. I have taught my eldest daughter how to light candles and handle sharp knives. So far so good, right? However, I recently went to Powerscourt Waterfall with a friend, and realised I am not as ‘zen’ as I imagined. As she let her children galavant about the lake, I was anxious. I took a leaf out of her book and let the children navigate the lake on stepping stones – they got stuck here and there but, as they were left to their own devices and allowed to follow their instincts, they figured it out (and had a ball). Worst case scenario was that they would have gotten a little wet, which they also did!

We're fine Mum!

We’re fine Mum!

I recently read an article about a playground in Wales where parents are not allowed in, and I must say I was cheering reading it. That playground seems so extreme to us but what it is really doing is allowing the children to hone their instincts and figure things out for themselves. Invaluable lessons that will stand to them their whole lives. So what are the signs that we are being over-protective with our children? Here are a few examples I have come accross in my twenty odd years around young children:

 

  • Putting a crash helmet on your baby when they start moving about and learning to sit, stand etc. I have seen more than one infant donning a bicycle helmet during these times. Yes of course they will not get that bump on the noggin but, guess what, they need that bump on their noggin to learn how to do these things. They will of course learn these things eventually anyway but the children who didn’t get the bang or bump will be less likely to avoid future possibly more serious injuries..
  • Cutting up all their food into teeny tiny pieces. Seeing babies gag and splutter as they are learning to eat can be scary but they are instintively gagging and spluttering so as to avoid choking not because they are choking. Whipping the food out of their mouths and cutting it in to teeny tiny pieces is hampering their ability to learn how to eat properly and can create bad eating habits to boot.
  • Sterilising every toy, cup, spoon and surface they touch to prevent germs. Good hygiene is of course important but so are germs. Exposure to everyday germs is necessary for them to develop good immunity. I am not saying inject your child with a dose of salmonella, but no-one ever died from the ‘five second rule’ either.
  • Not allowing them out of your sight, at home. Once your house is pretty much child-proof ie: chemicals and harmful objects out of reach, front door and high windows locked (and unreachable), cords and wires out of reach, and so on, give your child a little freedom. Allow them to play alone in their room or the garden for that matter. Keep an eye out of course but don’t constantly watch them. They cannot develop their own independent instincts with an over-protective parent hovering at all times. We have all heard stories of children who have suffered accidents (sometimes even fatal) and their Mum only left them alone for a minute, but I truly believe if you allow your children to learn how to go about their own home and garden alone they are less likely to suffer a bad accident then the constantly watched child left alone for a moment.
  • Following them around the playground, and lifting them on and off every toy. Playgrounds are designed with children in mind, particularly nowadays with the soft surfaces and rounded edges. Let them climb up and down their chosen toy alone! Children really need to learn their limitations when it comes to physical activities and they WILL NOT learn if they are not allowed to. They may well slip and fall, they may even break something or worse still suffer from concussion but they will have learnt their limitations at an age when they can heal quickly and move on. If you lift a child up onto an inappropriate toy that they can not climb themselves, then you are doing them a lot more harm then good.
  • Not allowing them to get dirty. No brainer – a child playing outside in the dirt is happy! They are using their imagination, developing their creativity and most importantly are having fun. The germs don’t matter – get them to wash their hands before eating but a little dirt under the fingernails is a good thing!
  • Keeping them away from water. Be it the sea, a pond, fountain or pool. Water is dangerous and drowning can happen quickly. Rather than keeping them at a safe distance at all times encourage them to touch it, paddle in it – teach your child about the dangers of water by letting them be around it under your supervision as opposed to keeping them away from it at all times. Splash water on their face in the bath, dunk them, let them splutter and realise how unpleasant it is so that they hone their instincts and learn from it.
  • Never lighting a fire! Children have a natural curiosity when it comes to fire but they will feel the heat long before they get close enough to touch the flames and their instincts will kick in to tell them this is dangerous stuff. That said never leave a child unattended around an open fire, they wont purposely touch it but accidents happen and they could fall in.
  • Not allowing them to run, jump and climb! Children do everything at top speed and no they don’t see the dangers that we as adults do. However, they will learn about the risks from their grazed knees and twisted ankles pretty quickly. They will not learn the dangers if they don’t get the opportunity to do so, and this could lead to far more serious injuries when they are older.

     

    Let them climb. Even if it terrifies us!

    Let them climb. Even if it terrifies us!

I am sure there are lots of other examples of over protecting our children but these are a few that I have witnessed and done myself! Protecting our children is a basic instinct that we as parents follow – over-protecting them is something we have learnt from fear, but it will do our children a lot more harm then good in the grand scheme of things.

 

What do you think? I love any and all feedback so please put any thought or comments below.

 

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

 

Summer Lovin’!

Summer Camps are brilliant. Particularly if you work ‘outside the home’ and have this long stretch of time to manage. There is an amazing variety of activities from drama to religion (if that is your bag) so you can plan your summer with less stress and more choice than ever before. In fact, I don’t know how professional parents would cope without the variety of summer camps out there.

However, as a stay-at-home mum, I don’t ‘do’ summer camps. One of the things I LOVE about the summer holidays is the fact that there are no rules – we are at nobody else’s beck and call, we don’t have to be anywhere at a particular time, and most of all I don’t have to make packed lunches!!

Summer is all about unwinding and relaxing, and I truly love having the children at home with me. Yes, of course they drive me up the walls and there are A LOT of hissy fits (including theirs..) but even with all that I still love having them about.

20130822_163120

Trips to the beach!

 

I got myself into a bit of a panic recently – everywhere I looked, there was information on summer camps – on social media, in the newspapers, and in leaflets that were constantly coming in through the letterbox. Most of my peers were booking their children’s summer camps; just a week here or there to give some variety. Was I causing my children to miss out by not sending them to camp? The main reason I gave up work was to spend more time with the kids so it really goes against the grain with me to sign them up for a camp. I swallowed my panic and made a list of all the things I plan on doing with my guys during the summer. So here it is:

 

  • Send them out to the back garden to play!

 

We will also do lots of things like taking trips to the beach /playground/park, walks, a little gardening, a little housework (emptying the dishwasher and putting away clothes for example), visiting friends and family, playing games together, going on picnics (somehow I don’t view making a picnic in the same dastardly light as making school lunches), browsing for some books at the library and stopping off here and there for the occasional ice-cream. However, outside of these plans, I will revert to my list and

 

  • Send them out to the back garden to play! 

We might even spend some money on day trips to town, or to the zoo or the farm. Make a journey the whole length of the DART line, or go on the LUAS to a secret destination (aka The Dead Zoo), but these will be one-offs and in the meantime I will revert to my list and

 

  • Send them out to the back garden to play!
20130724_171512

Fun times out the back 😉

 

So if you are struggling to come up with ideas of how to entertain the children over the summer holidays, and the thoughts of picking home-made playdough out of your carpet for the forseeable don’t appeal, please feel free to make use of my list! I appreciate not everyone has a back garden but the local green or park will equally suffice. My general point is that we dont have to farm out our children or fork out lots of money to create magical summer holidays.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Aisling

 

I love any and all feedback please leave any thoughts or comments below. 🙂

 

10 Random Things I have learnt as a Mother

Because I had a long career in childcare, everyone (myself included) thought that I’d find having children of my own a doddle. Yes, I know, ridiculous! Of course I was taken down a peg or two hundred when my eldest arrived. That in mind, this week I am linking up with fellow blogger Learna Mamma’s post on 10 random things I have learnt since becoming a mother.

 

  • Don’t jiggle a recently fed baby over your head whilst gazing up at them laughing. Regurgitated breast milk tastes as disgusting as it sounds.
I don't recommend this after a feed!

I don’t recommend this after a feed!

  • Breast-feeding is A LOT harder then you think! And when you do get ‘a good latch’, you will ask your husband to take photos from all angles in the hope that you can re-create it on the next feed.
  • ALL the tear jerker films that didn’t make you cry before having children will reduce you to an inconsolable wreck nowadays. In fact, tears in general come much more easily.
  • If your child sleeps an extra ten minutes, you will send your husband in to check them as you ‘can’t face the corpse’. Every time!!
  • Your face is your baby’s favourite toy.
  • No matter how uncomfortable you are, or how much you need the loo, if your baby falls asleep on you, nothing on earth could move you!
I could stay like this forever :)

I could stay like this forever 🙂

  • You finally understand what selfless means. Your children take over your independence, freedom and bank balance, whilst giving you ‘lip’, wrinkles, worries and grey hair – but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • Sometimes ‘turning a blind eye’ is the best option! Not seeing the fight/punch can be the best way to get it resolved. Trying to ‘sort it’ can often make things ten times worse. However, you would hunt down and hurt anyone who really harms your child. ANYONE!!
  • The sound of your children giggling and playing together lifts your spirits to the highest heights!
Sunshine and happiness makes it all worth while!

Sunshine and happiness makes it all worth while!

 

These are just a few things I have learnt, and I am in no doubt whatsoever that I have years of learning ahead of me! If you fancy reading what other random things we learn as parents, check out the link below!

 

Thanks for reading

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

Learner Mamma

 

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