Feb 17 2018

BABIES: Making the move from cot to ‘big’ bed

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17 February 2018
Though it might only feel like yesterday that your tiny newborn bundle first curled up in their cot, all too quickly it’s time to look at moving them into a big bed.

Most children make the move into a ‘big’ bed somewhere between the age of two and three. If your child is sleeping happily in their cot, there is no need to rush into moving them out of the fenced-in safety of a cot into a bed. Maybe you are putting it off because you are worried they might not settle for their naps, or will suddenly begin to get out every night! However, there are several reasons that might indicate it is time to make the move:

  • They have learnt to climb and the cot rail is at chest height, meaning that successfully climbing out is more possible
  • They are toilet training
  • They are asking for a big bed
  • You are expecting a new baby and want to pass the cot down
  • The cot is getting too small

Bed options
There are several bed options when graduating from a cot.

Regular single bed: This is the most common choice, and comes as a mattress on top of a frame. This size bed will last them until they are well into their teens, but some models can be a little high off the floor for younger children. If you are worried about them falling out, you can add a portable bed rail.

Toddler bed: A smaller, lower version of a single bed, often in fun kid-friendly designs. Though toddler beds make the transition easier, they will outgrow them quicker and will need replacing.

Mattress on the floor: Providing a big bed but without the worry of them falling out, this is a popular choice to gradually transition those kids that move around a lot in the night! They can then graduate to putting the mattress onto a frame when they are ready.

King single: A nice choice if you have the room, giving you plenty of space to snuggle up together and read at night. This size bed will also be big enough to last a long time!

How to make the move
Moving into a ‘big kid’ bed is a significant milestone in their life, and one they might feel unsure about. They might be excited, then wary, then excited again, so be patient as they adjust.

Keep your child involved in the process and have them help to choose the new bed and pick out new sheets and bedding. If they are hesitant about the change, take it slowly – try setting up the bed in their room and just using it for naps or reading time.

If they aren’t settling well without the cot, try taking the cot mattress out of the cot and place it on the floor where the cot was. This provides the same sleeping surface, bedding and position as previously. Then once they feel comfortable without the cot frame, swap the cot mattress for the big bed mattress in the same position in the room.

Always maintain your same night-time routine, even if they are unsettled for the first few nights.

Try marking the occasion with some new décor for their room also. This could be a full redecorate or just cushions and artwork to make it seem more like a ‘big kid’ room.

If they continue to get out of bed, try to stay patient, accompany them back to bed and give lots of hugs. Arguing or punishment is likely to just increase their anxiety.

Safety first
Giving a child the freedom of a big bed also means ensuring that the room is completely safe, in case they are ever out of bed alone. Make sure cords from blinds and curtains are out of reach and all heavy furniture is firmly attached to the wall with brackets.

Electrical appliances should also be out of reach and safety plugs installed, and the room should be free from clutter.

Also double check the rest of the house, should your child get out of bed at night and go wandering! Stairs need to have gates and medicines, cleaning fluids and anything small need to be out of reach.

 

Feb 16 2018

BABIES: Babyproof your home WITHOUT compromising on style!

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16 February 2018
Baby-proofing your home is an essential part of preparing your home for an inquisitive little one. Children love exploring their environment, and they always manage to hunt out every little hazard, so you need to thoroughly check your home before they are on the move. However, don’t worry, you won’t have to sacrifice your home’s aesthetics – you can have both a safe and stylish home.

1. Cover potential hazards
Sockets, plugs, wires and cords are a serious threat to your child’s safety. You children will be tempted to pull out plugs and poke things into sockets that can electrocute them. They can also trip or strangle themselves on long cords. Use plastic covers for the sockets and plugs and possibly place furniture in front of them so that your children can’t reach them. Also adhere cords to the floors to prevent your children from tripping over them.

2. Keep chemicals under lock and key
Once they start crawling and walking around, your kids will open every possible cabinet they can reach. This can be a major safety hazard, especially if you use those compartments for storing cleaning products, detergents, shampoos, etc. It’s important that you check every room, especially the bathroom and the kitchen, for any chemicals and toxic products that can endanger your children’s health. Either lock them or place them on higher shelves where your kids can’t reach them. The same goes for medicines and hygiene products in the bathroom – keep them in locked drawers or medicine cabinets.

3. Merge safety, comfort and style
Although you need to baby-proof your home, it doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice its aesthetic appeal, especially when it comes to the living room and master bedroom. Of course, you need to make these areas safe and stock them with some of the baby essentials, but make sure to keep them to a minimum. 
Furthermore, when baby-proofing these rooms, you can opt for pieces that are both stylish and baby-friendly. For example, there are chic, comfy sofas with soft, upholstered edges that make your living room safer and more stylish while also elevating its design. In the master bedroom, introduce just a few necessary items, such as a baby monitor and feeding paraphernalia, so that you have them within your reach when needed.

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4. Clean meticulously
You need to create a safe, healthy environment for your little ones, which means that you need to clean your home from top to bottom. Pay special attention to your carpets and area rugs because they are typically fraught with dust, mites, dirt and other bacteria – something that is a major health hazard for children crawling around and playing on the floor. If possible, steam clean your carpets and rugs and get rid of stains. Try to find antiallergenic mattresses and materials for the baby’s room that will keep your little one safe from dust and mites.

5. Install locks
Installing locks everywhere is another important step in making your space safe for your baby. Your children will be curious, so they’ll want to take a peek at everything. Thus, to keep them safe, install locks on doors so that they can’t go outside on their own or to the rooms that are off limits. Windows, toilet lids and cabinets should also have locks and latches that will prevent your children from accidentally hurting themselves.

6. Make the baby room safe
The baby’s room should be the safest place in your home, so you need to be thorough when baby-proofing it. Make sure that every piece of furniture properly adheres to the walls so that it can’t fall over your children. Also move the cot away from the windows and install locks on the windows. The mattresses in the cot should be placed a bit higher at first, but make sure to lower them once your child can sit or stand on their own.

Baby-proofing your home is essential for your child’s safety, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a stylish home. If you balance safety, functionality and aesthetics, you’re home will be just perfect for the whole family.

Oct 08 2017

EDUCATION: How to determine if your child is ready for Prep

Four years old can seem such a young age to start school, particularly if your child’s birth month makes them the youngest in the class.  It’s common for parents to wonder if they should wait a year and let the child start Prep with greater maturity. In child development terms, this is huge and just another consideration for parents. 

A child’s first year of school is crucial to the success of their future academic career.  It is not merely about learning to read, write and add up; it’s also about developing independence, problem-solving and social skills. If a child starts school before they are ready, they risk losing confidence, feeling isolated and falling behind.

What will your child need to be able to do in Prep?

When a child starts Prep, they will be required to perform a number of tasks outlined on the list below, a good guideline in determining prep readiness.

In their Prep year, your child will need to …

  • be at school five days a week for six hours a day
  • have an interest in learning
  • wear shoes and socks all day long
  • concentrate for long periods of time
  • be obedient, take turns, follow rules and treat others with respect
  • go to the toilet on their own
  • speak clearly and make themselves understood
  • run, skip, climb, throw and catch balls
  • use pencils, scissors and a wide range of art materials
  • ask if they need something or don’t understand
  • change in and out of sports uniform and/or swimming costume
  • sit quietly and listen without interrupting
  • follow and remember instructions
  • focus on a blackboard or electronic whiteboard
  • use logic to solve problems
  • work independently
  • collaborate in small groups
  • do regular homework and practice what they have learnt in class

Prep is very different to Kindergarten. Although a Prep class will typically have one teacher and a teacher’s aide, if there are multiple children feeling homesick or distracted, it can make for a difficult learning environment.

What skills are required for starting school?

Child development rates vary widely in the early years. There will still be six-year-olds who struggle with the demands of formal schooling and a few four-year-olds with the maturity to thrive in their Prep year.

There are biological differences too; girls tend to develop language skills earlier than boys. Steve Biddulph, the author of “Raising Boys” claims boys are six to 12 months behind girls when it comes to fine motor skills and paying attention.

Skills required for school include:

  • Academic
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Self-care
  • Fine motor
  • Gross motor
  • Verbal
  • Cognitive

What is the difference between Prep and Kindergarten?

The difference between Prep and Kindergarten will be in how those skills are taught. Prep classes are more structured and the whole class follows the same curriculum.  Pre-Prep (Kindergarten) classes are more play-based and educators take their cues from a child’s interest to nurture their skills beyond the Pre-Prep curriculum. So, if a child shows a particular interest in letters or numbers, the teacher will encourage them to take it further … but will not push it beyond their level of interest and enjoyment.

 

Who should I turn to for advice?

You will know your child better than anyone else – their personality, temperament and habits. Many parents have a gut feeling when their children lack the emotional maturity to start school.

The best authority on your child’s readiness for school, however, will be their Kindy teachers. These qualified educators will have observed how your child behaves in class, responds to teaching and co-operates with other children. They will also be able to identify any developmental ‘red flags’, such as problems with speech development or gross motor skills, which may require intervention from a pediatrician or child therapist.

Who has the final say on whether your child is ready for Prep?

All schools have their own enrolment policies.  A few are happy to accept your child providing they meet the standard age requirements. Most will interview the child and parents. Some will require your child to undergo a full ‘school readiness assessment’ – a series of exercises and observations, usually carried out away from the parents.  These will include activities such as building with blocks, identifying colours, shapes or parts of the body, using a pencil, cutting with scissors and answering some questions about themselves.

Depending on a school’s enrolment process, child interviews and assessments may take place nearly a whole year before your child will commence school. It is important to remember that a child will make a lot of progress in a year.  If a school is unsure about your child’s maturity or considers them borderline, they might ask you to re-interview in six months’ time, to see how your child is advancing.

Many schools ask parents to provide a transition report from their child’s kindergarten but they are not legally permitted to contact the kindergarten directly to discuss the child.

Prep year is the foundation for your child’s future achievement in school. It is so important to get this right. If your child starts school before they are ready, they may find the Prep year distressing and develop a negative attitude towards learning and education.  If they fall behind so much that they need to repeat their Prep year, this can have a detrimental effect on their self-esteem and confidence.  Happy children are more receptive to learning than unhappy ones!

Oct 03 2017

The 5 rules of play

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Parents should love to schedule play date for their kids  , seeing them as a chance to not only meet new parents, but also to keep an eye on the new best friend in their child’s life and check if they’re a good or bad influence. While other parents run a mile from anything resembling an organized hook-up, their minds on juice-stained sofas, terrorized pets and kids.

 

But however, regard the modern play date, there’s no denying they’ve never been more popular, especially here in Qatar where soaring summer temperatures mean plenty of indoor time. And whether you’re a seasoned play date pro, or a newbie keen to get her hands (and rug, and sofa!) dirty in the play arena, we reveal the rules you should be following to ensure you get invited back every time…

 

  1. Parents stay too…don’t drop and dash

Yes, the main aim of a play date is for the kids to have fun, but equally, you’ve been invited, because the other parent wants to get to know you better. Unless the person doing the inviting explicitly tells you it’s cool if you don’t stay, don’t assume you can drop the kids off then hit up Harvey Nics for a couple of hours. And always offer to help tidy up at the end!

 

  1. Ask about bringing your nanny

With so many Qatar households having a nanny, it’s a valid question to ask when invited on a play date: Shall I bring my nanny? It might be that their nanny can keep an eye on the kids by herself, or equally, that the parent hosting would rather not have so many people in the house, so always check first.

 

  1. Organize activities, but keep it loose

When it comes to kids and their attention spans, one word covers it: goldfish. If you’re organizing a play

date at your house, don’t get bogged down in arranging lots of things to do or even attempting to stick to a schedule. The kids will be excited enough to play with a whole load of new toys. You could organize one thing, such as baking a rainbow cake, or laying out some arts and crafts, but don’t expect the kids to get stuck into something organized if there are trucks and dolls and water guns tempting them just a few feet away.

 

  1. Bring siblings, but only if they’re age appropriate

A bored pre-teen on a play date goes down about as well as… a bored pre-teen on a play date! If you don’t want to spend the time fretting that your eldest is bored out of their skull, then leave them at home and only take the kids who have an age-equivalent friend on the play date.

 

  1. Some things you just have to suck up

It might be that in your house chocolates and lollies are banned, or only dished out as special treats. You might have an iPad or TV ban or limit your child’s exposure to them. However, on a play date, it really is a case of ‘their house, their rules’, and no host is going to be impressed with you texting them a list of your preferences ahead of the play date – it’s rude. Of course, if your child has a food allergy or intolerance, speak up, and additionally, if the parent is selfie-mad but you don’t post pics of your kids online, then a gentle reminder is fine, but for the most part, you’ll have to grin and bear it and refrain from uttering the words ‘We don’t do that at our house.’

Sep 27 2017

WELLBEING: Enjoy yoga with your children

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How to enjoy yoga with your children. In real life.

Yoga with children. It sounds so wonderful and already your mind is conjuring up images of you and your child stretching and smiling together, gracefully coordinating your downward dogs and relaxing peacefully in child’s pose. You may even picture yourself balancing your child on you in some inverted position, the two of you so radiant that the moment definitely deserves to be captured and posted on Instagram as soon as possible.

So you decide to give this brilliant idea a go and enthusiastically call out, “Come! Let’s do some fun yoga together!” Your child responds with equal enthusiasm and declares that he (or she) knows yoga too, immediately demonstrating upward dog, maybe even tree pose or pigeon pose.

In fact, he is so excited that he insists you follow along and keep up with the insane speed with which he switches sides and poses. After about 5 minutes of this whirlwind activity, he decides that he is hungry, needs to use the toilet, or wants to move on to the next thing. It dawns on you pretty quickly that your vision of calm and loving mother-child yoga is not going to happen today.

To some of you, this may sound vaguely familiar. I’ve done this many a time with my children to varying degrees of ‘success’ – however this may be defined. In the beginning, I would find it frustrating that I couldn’t share this beautiful experience that I LOVE in the way that I imagined it to be. Over the years, however, I have learned that sometimes it can be even more amazing than what I expect. Moreover, in those moments when yoga time appears to spin out of control, use that parental instinct to judge whether you should reign it in just a little bit (no need to go crazy control freak) or just go with it.

These days, our spontaneous ‘classes’ vary in tone depending on the time of day and combination of participants. The eldest and I will have a more ‘proper’ session and may follow a teacher online on Yogaglo if we are on our own. When there are 2 or 3 children involved, we take turns leading the class and demonstrating various yoga postures or even doing some meditation. #1 will take it seriously and teach gracefully; #2 will be quite Zen at times and goofy at others; #3 will almost always start off with pigeon pose, transitioning from left to right in lightening quick bursts that make your crotch cringe just watching.

We keep it fun and flexible but the only firm rule is that ‘students’ must respect the ‘teacher’ or they can’t have a go. We all enjoy our savasana session at the end as someone leads a fantasy-themed relaxation exercise of some sort. We might be snugly caterpillars transforming into butterflies or resting on a bed of cotton candy clouds, you name it. Some classes may run for 5 minutes and others for 30 and we just enjoy the yoga while it lasts.

Here are just a few points to keep in mind when you decide to give the romance of ‘yoga with your child’ (cue singing bowl and chimes here) another go:

  1. Find interesting and slightly challenging postures to gain and keep their interest. Maybe even give them weird and wonderful names – Sparkle Toe Princess or Kungfu Panda can be yogic if you want it to.
  2. If it starts to get goofy and insane, go with it and let the little weirdos get their crazy out. Knock yourself out, I say! Children are natural yogis and we can learn from their uncanny ability to be intolerably hysterical at times but still return to a state of inner contentment.
  3. Towards the end, always wind down and on the ground with eyes closed. Guided fantasy meditation is a great way for them to let their (and your) imagination fly free. They will sleep better for it!
  4. Music, candles, eye pillows… props can make the experience rather special and they will likely enjoy helping you set up the scene. They may even give you impromptu foot massages – it’s happened before!

May the force be with you on your yoga journey with little ones. Namaste!

May 03 2017

PARENTING: Reconnect with kids, in just 10 minutes

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I love those times when things just work. You are playing together, you have your moment and you truly connect. But for me, those times are rare and I often find myself out of sync with my child. The days fly by in a haze of feeding, nappies, soccer training, and kindy drop offs, and those precious moments when I truly connect with my kids just don’t often happen in our world. And these out-of-sync days are also when the kids seem least cooperative and tensions run high.

We all feel connected when we listened to and loved. Kids especially need this connection, and when they don’t get it chaos can come! Pam Leo, author of Connective Parenting says, “The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.”

 

“Rather than focusing on ways to discipline children when their feelings of disconnection result inuncooperative or unacceptable behavior, Connection Parenting focuses on ways to maintain and increase the parent-child bond/connection.”

 

10 minutes a day of full engagement with a child can be all it needs to build that bond. Not just taking them to the park and watching them play, but letting them take the lead, and actually playing with them in their world. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and maybe each child doesn’t get it every day (God knows getting through the day is sometimes hard enough with an army of kids to tend to!), but if there is a child who seems out of sorts, having those 10 minutes together can make all the difference. We CAN find 10 minutes to listen to the latest update in Minecraft

 

For those 10 minutes our kids will truly thrive on us just being there. And for that, the laundry can wait. When you feel tired, resentful, and the last thing you want to do is stop and play dress ups, bridging that gap is probably the ONE thing you need to do. Taking those 10 minutes, giving yourself permission to take a breath and letting the child take over, is enough to reset and reconnect.

 

Pam Leo says, “Children need at least one person in their life who thinks the sun rises and sets on them, someone who delights in their existence and love them unconditionally.” Regularly connecting with a child, one-on-one in their world, a child knows that they are loved – as an individual.

Great games and activities:

  • Hide and seek
  • Tickles
  • Dancing
  • Walking outside and seeing what you can find
  • Reading
  • Throw or kick a ball
  • Have a snack picnic
  • Nightly cuddles and a chat
  • Playing music or singing together
  • Cooking together
  • Arts and craft
  • Family games
  • Sensory play
  • Talking about the day
  • Family chores

Wondering how your child’s day was? Check out 25 ways to ask your TEEN how school was today and 25 ways to ask your CHILD how school was today.

Apr 24 2017

YOU: Find your joy with these playful parenting tips

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Why so serious? Parenting these days demands a lot from us and often it’s our own sense of fun that gets left behind. No more! Here are some ways to unlock your playful side!
• Have a dance party in the living room – turn the music up load and make up some awesome dance moves (a good chance to listen to some of your favourite tracks, too!)
• Arts and crafts. Yes, there will be a mess to tidy up afterwards, but most kids love getting crafty. A good hour or two getting arty with the kids is well worth the ten minute tidy up afterwards.
• Make your own playdough or slime. Loads of good, easy recipes can be found on Pinterest.
• Have a game of hide and seek. An easy game that gets the kids (and you) moving.
• Do an exercise video or play a kinetic game on the Playstation. We all know regular exercise benefits our brains and our bodies so it’s a win-win.
• Let the kids make you over. Hairstyles, nail polish, even a natural face pack.
• Head to the shops. Even a trip to the supermarket can become a fun activity rather than a dreaded chore. Get the kids to help find the groceries, or hand them a shopping list or pictures of what you need (cut out of a magazine) and get them to cross them off for a game of supermarket bingo.
• Go for a walk. Anywhere. Fresh air works wonders for us and them.
• Have a game of Uno. It’s an easy one to fit in between chores. Play first to three.
• Get your kids to come up with a list of the things they want to do. Try and cross one off each week and replace it with another.
• Get the face paints out. Let the kids choose what they want to be and go for it. Then it’s their turn…
• Organise a treasure hunt. If you use items from around the home it’s fairly easy and you can think up the clues the night before.
• Make a slip’n’slide with a tarpaulin, water and washing up liquid.
• Make a cubby under the dining table.
• Give the kids a camera for the day and print out their photos. They can write a story based around them.
Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for fun activities to do with your kids.
What are your favourite ways to get playful with the kids?

 

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Mar 25 2015

Audio Post / Guide to Getting Your

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[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

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Mar 25 2015

Video post / Find the perfect gift with our Secret Santa.

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[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

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Mar 25 2015

Soundcloud post / Securing Your Hot Ticket

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[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

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