PLAY, Recreation, The U URSELF Routine

TIME TO PLAY

Lock down has been bitter sweet for many of us. One thing I know a lot of us working parents can relate to is for once- having time.

Time to do what we want such as spending time playing with the kids.

Walking in nature.

Reading, writing, crafting or cooking.

Time to reflect on who we are and what we do and why?

In essence, we’ve had time to play, be creative and indulge in those things normally we have no time to waste doing.

But for some we’ve had to continue to work on the front line and keep our country going, working harder than usual.  Whatever situation we found ourselves in during this strange time in our history, one thing is for sure, we’ve all felt a need to embrace some down time more and find ways to occupy ourselves and this is what most of us plan to hold onto leaving lock down when returning to our old lives.

Play is a word usually associated with children.

Adults work.

Children play.

But the benefits of play are ageless, the only question is, can we remember as grown-ups how to play?

JACK IN THE BOX

As a child, I had a toy called a ‘Jack in the Box. I loved nothing more than watching as a clown like head popped out to startle me. Despite expecting it, each time, I always felt surprised and delighted. It was simply fun.

Where did that joy of something so simple disappear to?

Where has all the excitement and anticipation in life gone?

Have we grown up and forgotten how to play and have fun for funs sake!

Play encourages laughter, which is well known for its healing and anti-aging properties, a useful side effect for us grownups. And if we enjoy physically active play, it can help keep us fit and healthy. Even non-physical activities release chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, which reduce stress and tension.

That’s why recreation (another grown up word for play) is part of the U URSELF Routine.  You can find out more about The U URSELF Routine by clicking here below

Or you can buy The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child ( where the routine is covered in detail) from these places below just click the button to find out more.   

Recreation is vital because, when we take parenting too seriously, we miss out and deprive ourselves as much as our children of all the fun in life.

Life is meant to be fun!

If it doesn’t feel that way to you at the moment, then you’re not playing enough.

Indulging in frivolity when we are supposed to be working, however, can have negative connotations. Others may think we are immature or don’t take our work seriously. But if we stressed less and had more fun in work, we’d take fewer sick days off and look forward to going to work each day, resulting in more productivity. 

Children instinctively know how to play. They understand the benefits and enjoyment it brings, it’s their main priority in life.

It was once ours too, so why did we stop playing and having fun?

As grown-ups, have we shut that box closed so tightly, that we are now more afraid of what may not pop out, than what will?

We are all capable of having fun, we just have to entertain the idea of opening that box and learning how to play again.

We are all born to be creative and with our own unique talents. And there’s no better time to express them, was there something you once did or would like to do such as; playing a musical instrument, singing, painting, writing, crafts, tennis, martial arts, carpentry, or gardening?

Have fun, and don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been playing this week? Why not share your fun on social media and inspire other grown-ups too!

Until next week, Stay Present,

Em x

Image by ErikaWittlieb pasja1000 Anh Nguyễn Duy Alexandr Ivanov by StockSnap from Pixabay

Esteem, FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, The U URSELF Routine

Watercress -The Super Salad

What’s so super about watercress then?

Well I call it super because it’s a natural, yet, highly nutritious food. Its good for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, increasing those feel good hormones known as serotonin, giving us energy, stamina and reducing inflammation and bloating.

It’s so versatile it’s an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s diet.

Stick to the watercress and forget the eggs please!!!

Following last week’s blog post I received messages from parents who said they tried the egg and cress sandwich and their children didn’t like it. Some children don’t like sandwiches or egg, but if it was the watercress putting them off, its more likely the healthy green look of it than the taste.

We can get around this fear of the healthy green stuff by letting them grow their own.

Kids love to feel connected to what they eat, and are more likely to eat watercress if they’ve nurtured it from seed. Children are just in awe of growing watercress; the main reason is it takes only days to grow where’s, most other fruit and vegetables take months from seed and children lose interest and forget.

Seeing before their eyes a mop of cress growing from a simple egg shell is mesmerizing for little ones and the really great thing is, very small toddlers can do this too, it’s so simple. No need again for allotments or even a garden or window box, just an empty eggshell. As an added bonus it can be grown inside the home all year round, making it cheap, quick, convenient, educational and fun.

Something as simple as growing some seeds can also help develop their caring nature, the plant is after all a living thing.

Seeing their efforts transpire into something they can pick and eat is a wonderful self confidence boost, giving them an – ‘I did that’ sense of achievement. It also offers them the chance to get creative too.

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN

Take the tops off the eggs and remove the egg from inside, put this in the fridge in a sealed container for later to cook with. Wash the inside and outside of the shells and wipe dry. Let your little one’s paint or use felt tip pens to decorate their shells with funny faces and leave them to dry for a few hours. If you don’t have any eggs or don’t fancy all the fuss then simply wash out a used yoghurt pot and follow the same procedure. You could turn this activity into a recycling education by looking for containers such as margarine tubs you’d normally bin, to plant in, showing children the real value, that so-called rubbish can have.

Such focus and concentration!

Dip some cotton wool balls in some water and squeeze any excess water out so they are damp, not soaking, and put a ball into each shell and add on top one tsp of cress seeds to each egg shell (you can also use chia seeds the same way they are genetically related to the cress seed family) and place the shells into an empty egg carton or holder, you usually find these plastic ones in your fridge or use egg cups if you prefer. 

Leave in a light place such as the window sill but be careful not to expose it to too much direct sunlight, that can dry them out. Allow your child to sprinkle them with a little water each day if dry and needed, and show your child how the cress grows towards the light, then watch the miracle unfold and cress hair sprout from the shells in a matter of days! Don’t forget to show your child the furry root hairs of the cress seeds growing on the cotton wool, they’ll be amazed.

Then when the cress has grown usually within a week, snip the sprouting cress hair and get sneaky with hiding it in their meals, add to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soups and stews- whatever you choose! Try adding it to cheese spread on wholemeal bread or even peanut butter sarnies?

Or give this super summertime soup a go;

Watercress Super Summertime Soup (super, simple and speedy to make!)

Even a child could make this soup with guidance its super simple!

You’ll need

A knob of butter

A stick blender

1 x large peeled and diced potato

1 x large leek finely chopped

A bunch of watercress

600 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (maybe more depending how thick you like your soup?)

Half a teaspoon of ground cumin (if your child prefers bland food you can leave this out)

A generous grinding of black pepper

A dollop of double cream

Then let the cooking alchemy begin

Sauté the leek in the butter on a low heat.

Add the stock and diced potato bring to the boil then simmer for half hour. Make sure to keep stirring throughout as it can stick to the pan.

Get your child involved in the preparation too its good for their self esteem, confidence and teaches them valuable life skills.
LOOKS LIKE A LOT OF WATER CRESS BUT IT SOON SHRINKS

Add the watercress with the pepper, stir with love for a couple of minutes.

(I don’t add salt when I’m cooking for children and personally I use chicken stock so I get enough flavour from that, along with the cumin and black pepper but if you’re cooking a batch for yourself or other grown ups then feel free to season with salt and pepper to suit your preferred taste.)

Puree in a blender, I find using a stick blender quick and easy for soups. I love that thick gloopy, velvety consistency but if you or your child don’t you can add more stock initially or do what I do and add hot water from the kettle while blending to get it just right. Its surprising how thick this soup gets.

Add the dollop of cream stir and serve immediately. If you are going to store some in the fridge or freezer for later then don’t add cream to soup now, add to the soup when serving. Personally, I like it with or without the cream but when I’m trying to lose a few pounds I usually omit the cream but kids will likely prefer it with the cream.

This is a powerful detox soup for us grown ups too so grab yourself a bowl.

So, here’s some facts per 100 grams of watercress.

FIBRE 2.1

CALORIES 29

PROTEIN 2.6

CARBS 2.5

TOTAL SUGARS 0.2

FAT 0.5

VITAMINS A, C, K

Watercress is packed full of calcium and manganese for healthy eyes, skin and healthy blood clotting.

If you want to learn more about this underestimated but amazing super food and you like the facts and science behind food, then this is an interesting read,  find out more here https://www.thewatercresscompany.com/snapshot-of-researched-benefits

As always, the priority is on our children eating a well-balanced, overall diet and enjoying the mealtime experience. Not making them sit at the table trying to force them to eat their vegetables or clear their plate. That’s why The U URSELF Routine (click here or the button to find out more)

includes food and the mealtime experience. My book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child has a whole chapter dedicated to this, for a sneak-peek take a look below

Let me know how you and your little ones get on with watercress this week and feel free to send me your own sneak it in recipes so I can try with my little and big ones and share with other readers, if you have any pics feel free to send me those too 🙂

Until next time Stay Present, Stay Healthy,

Em x

Photo by Milada Vigerova silviarita Alexas_Fotos Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

home grown cucumber
Esteem, FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, Learning, Routine, The U URSELF Routine

MAKING FOOD FUN FOR CHILDREN

BOOSTING IMMUNE SYSTEM

Now children are gradually returning to childcare and school many parents are concerned about boosting their children’s immunity.

Covid -19 is still present in our society, it’s not gone yet, despite some easing up on lock down restrictions, and children can be affected by it too.

There’s not one magical solution to prevent it or boost our childrens immune system but there are a few things we can all do to help.

ROUTINE

A good routine as always is key.  

Exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a variety of nutritious food is fundamental to any routine. But now this is more important than ever when it comes to assisting our children’s immune system.

Exercise.

You can learn more about the benefits of implementing daily routine in your child’s life by reading my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child, available from all good book stockists now.

KEEP THEM HYDRATED

Fruit infused water for a flavoured alternative!

Our children need water to help their bodies function properly, so we need to keep those hydration levels topped up throughout the day. If they are not a fan of water then try infusing their water with fruit, so they get a natural flavour without the sugar dump of a smoothie which can cause a sudden sugar high, resulting in a sudden dip in energy.

NUTRTION

As our childrens immune system is still developing, they need all the essential amino acids, which can be found in, poultry, fish, eggs and yoghurt.

If however we are raising our children vegan, this can pose a problem, as there’s no one single source of plant food that will offer all the essential amino acids our children need. Therefore, we need to make sure they get a good variety of plant based foods, such as, beans, lentils, rice, oats, grains, seeds, root and leafy green vegetables.

It’s a good idea to increase these in your child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not if they are fighting any type of viral infection, as essential micronutrients maybe depleted, such as the minerals, selenium, zinc and iron and vitamins C, D and A.

Selenium can be found in tuna, mushrooms, cottage cheese, herrings, cod, chicken, courgettes and brazil nuts.

Zinc in lamb, shrimp’s, haddock, egg yolks, and nuts such as almonds, pecan, brazil and peanuts and also green peas, turnips, oats, rye and whole wheat grain.

Iron can be found in pork, lamb, pork and beef liver, lentils, spinach, parsley, prunes, raisins, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecan, brazil and cashew nuts.

For Vitamin C, try these immune strengthening, infection fighting foods- cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.

Vitamin D is needed to keep our little one’s bones strong and healthy and help fight tooth decay. Try feeding them, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel or cottage cheese and eggs and get them outside for some sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen factor 50)

Our very own home grown wonky veg.

Vitamin A, will help to protect them against infections and frequent colds. For an antioxidant immune boost, include in their diet plenty of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, tangerines, papayas, apricots, mangoes, melon and watercress (try adding watercress into their sandwiches, egg and cress make a lovely combination giving them their vitamin C, D and A in one sitting)

As well as adding fermentable fibre from beans and fruits, like bananas that they can digest and use as energy, while feeding their good gut bacteria, and including pro-biotics such as yoghurts can lead to numerous health benefits for our children.

Bananas with benefits.

One of the biggest challenges most parents face though is getting their children to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables.

Make food fun!

The easiest solution I’ve found is to approach this issue from a child’s perspective – which basically means – make food fun!

GROW YOUR OWN

A small vegetable patch in the garden, window box, or allotment can be a great investment, providing fresh air, fruit, vegetables, nature, exercise, education, and a fun hobby for some Us Time together. 

cucumber
We picked this cucumber today from our garden, grown in a basic grow bag which are available from most supermarkets or DIY Stores, no fancy green house or allotment or lots of space or money required, just add, water, love and sun as my husband says!

INVOLVE THEM

Involving them with food shopping, preparation, and spending time discussing ingredients and where they come from, looking at recipe books, watching cookery programmes, and the cooking and preparing of meals provides children with basic general knowledge and understanding of the world.

My daughter has always loved to cook from a young age.

EDUCATE THEM

Assisting us in meal preparation will also teach them mathematical concepts such as weighing, timing, and food in its natural state, and the scientific changes it goes through, such as solids melting.

Giving them a part to play at meal times by way of laying the table and helping us out also boosts their self-esteem. And having a regular mealtime routine ensures they get the right type of food they need at the right time.

When our children were young we had an allotment but still grew lots of veg in our garden too so the children could grow their own wonky vegetables.

A lot of children today think their food originates from a Supermarket. We can educate them about food and where it comes from when we involve them and grow our own, this encourages healthier eating too. Sowing, planting, picking, preparing, and cooking their own food teaches them the whole food process, from where it comes from to how it ends up on their plate. And provides a sense of achievement and pride, helping them feel connected to the food they eat, as well as encouraging them to experiment with new foods they wouldn’t normally.

To read more about Food and The U URSELF Routine you can take a sneak peek inside The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child below.

Until next time,

Stay Present,

Em x

MEMORIES, MILESTONES, PARENTING

SWEET 16

Well it’s happened the first coming of age milestone, our first-born turns 16!

It’s an emotional day.

We couldn’t have imagined the beautiful person you would become then!

Like all loving parents, our children are our life. Everything we do, we do it for you. But soon you’ll be doing stuff for yourself, now you’ll have your national insurance number you’ll be able to work and legally able to do other things we’d rather you didn’t. But so far parenthood has been a very rewarding journey, full of love and laughter, and we just want you to know Holly how very proud your Dad and I are of you.

Since the day you were born you just love to literally laugh out loud and to make others laugh too!

You had a tough entry into the world, giving me a tough time in the process, but since your initial birthday you have been an easy child ever since, and we want to thank you for giving us the best 16 years of our lives so far.

You’re funny, confident, caring, and full of that zest for life. You are always up to trying new things and giving anything a go, always facing your fears with determination, whilst always being thoughtful and empathetic towards others.

We’re so eternally grateful for everything you have taught us, especially all that’s good about this world.

We can all remember that moment we brought our first-born home from hospital. 

On tonight’s Snow Moon I will reflect on the day you were born. I remember that snowy February day like it was yesterday, my husband Paul putting the car seat down in the middle of the living room and us both staring at our new arrival Holly, for what felt like hours. 

We were just in awe of her. Scared and anxious at the same time. 

All those fears surfaced. 

How would we cope? 

What do we do if she cries? 

How will we know what she needs?  

When?  

And why? 

What if we don’t know how to be good parents? 

Now on her sixteenth birthday, as a Mum, I feel so proud, privileged and happy to have come this far, to have learnt so much but more importantly, to love and feel loved by such a smart, wonderful, funny, kind and crazy daughter. 

The pride and love I feel for her every day are overwhelming. Making that difficult birth and all those doubts and fears pale into insignificance. 

Yes, even the toddler tantrums and teenage angst has been worth every minute.  

So much so, I feel saddened that she is growing up way to fast, and I long for those baby days back. 

Yes, children change your life in many ways, but always for the better.  

It may be hard to imagine now when you’re in the thick of dirty nappies and sleepless nights, but it’s in those ordinary moments together, that one day, you’ll linger with your memories longing to go back.  

Parenting is a very rewarding time and can be lots of fun if we let it. Enjoy and treat every day as a special one, because while your child is young, every day really is special and full of firsts. First words, first steps, first pee on the potty, first day at school, first boyfriend, all of which are magical moments for you and your child to cherish.

Believe me, the time really does go so quickly, one day you are crying into your pillow, begging for some sleep while they are teething, the next you are crying into a tissue as you are waving them off to university!

When your baby becomes one of your best friends!
DAD AND DAUGHTERLY LOVE

One day in the not so distant future, those dreaded night feeds, school runs, class assembly’s, duvet days and trips to the dentist, will become the best moments in our lives.  

Today they are ordinary every day events, although tomorrow they’ll become the most extraordinary, priceless, irreplaceable nuggets of time in our lives. Time that all too often we take for granted because we are disillusioned that the work and worries that occupy our mind, are the things that need our attention the most.  

Yet, neither now nor in the future will anyone or anything, ever bring us the joy, fulfilment or happiness that our children do. 

I wish they were both still this age!

Happy Birthday Holly Love Mum & Dad xxx 

Proactive Parenting, Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

SLEEPING PAINS

After environment, other physical factors such as Illness and pain can be a cause of sleep disruptions. If a child has a fever or rash, are severely lethargic or unresponsive, then we can assume they’re ill and need immediate medical attention. Teething or colic pain is not always visible but should subside of its own accord. Not helpful when trying to get a good night’s sleep, I know, but there are over the counter remedies to help with this period. If constant over a few days, then it may not be teething. You should always contact your GP or out of hours if you are concerned. Even if it turns out to be teething, it’s always best to get it checked, as our children can’t let us know how they are feeling. But we can usually visually tell or sense if our children are responding differently, always follow your gut instinct, you know your child better than anyone else.

If unsure of the severity of their pain, there’s a general test I like to recommend; next time they awake crying at night, let them hop into bed with you. If their pain magically disappears as soon as they jump into bed, it’s not going to be pain keeping them awake.

We can be sure pain is not the cause of their sleeplessness because pain remains, regardless of where or who they sleep with.

If your child has a chronic medical condition or they have experienced stress or trauma, such as a parent leaving, you might feel sorry or guilty and encourage them to co-sleep with you for comfort. We need to reflect on the beliefs we have around our children’s illnesses or circumstances to see if we are trying to overcompensate unnecessarily. Asking ourselves honestly whether they need our comfort to help them go to sleep, or whether we are interfering with their necessity to sleep alone because of our own emotions and beliefs.

Are we looking for comfort and company, or projecting our own fears and anxieties onto them?

If they are ill or under any sort of stress, they will need to sleep more than ever.

It’s tempting to comfort and soothe them to sleep at these difficult times but when will the cut-off point be? The odd night is normal such as when they are sick or have had a bad dream, but if we make it a regular habit, we could still be sleeping with our teenagers!

I know all those attachment parents out there who believe co-sleeping is best will be going wild right now, everyone’s entitled to parent their own way. I’m not saying my way is right and their way is wrong, but I have a strong attachment bond with my children, and we haven’t co-slept.

Attachments come from love, and I believe routines provide all the love and comfort our children need to feel safe, secure, healthy, and happy. Routines make us proactive and responsive as parents, helping us meet the needs of our children before they desperately need them. Mums need a good night sleep to be emotionally and physically available to their children.

We also need to maintain a loving relationship with our partners to keep that bond strong too, something sharing a bed with our children makes impossible.

There were 3 in the bed & the little one said ‘Roll over!’

I’ve encountered many parents who have this attachment parenting style, who reject routine and let their children choose what they eat, wear, and when and where they sleep. Personally, I’ve not found these children any happier than any other child. I don’t think children are experienced or capable of making the best choices for themselves. Given the choice, what child wants to go to bed early, on their own, or eat vegetables over chips?

That doesn’t make us unfair for insisting they do though. But that’s just my opinion. I’m an advocate for having close physical contact with your child. I kiss and cuddle my teenagers, and tell them I love them more than once every day, and have done so since they were born.

Since my children were born our family has benefited from the comfort and reassurance of a consistent routine #TheUUrselfRoutine

I also encourage them to be themselves and express how they feel and comfort and reassure them in times of need. But even though they are teenagers now, I still know what’s best for them, and yes, they both still have a bedtime routine and are in bed at a set reasonable time on a school night. Call me old fashioned, but I want them to get all the rest they can and to feel refreshed for school the next day. Obviously, they’d prefer to be on their electronic devices, but we take them off them at bedtime so they can’t. I’m not punishing them though. I’m helping them.

I encourage you to try letting your child lead the way if you want to experiment, then come back to a routine if that’s not working.

It’s a lot harder to provide consistent routines and to encourage our children to adopt healthy eating and sleeping habits, but that’s the kind of nurturing that being a parent is all about. They can spend the rest of their adult lives making their own independent choices regarding what’s right for them, until then, let’s show them the healthiest ways.

As previously said, we offer our children routines for their own good, out of love. That doesn’t mean that they are going to feel good about them in the beginning though.

If we have co-slept with our child for the last six years, but now would like them to move into their own bed in their own room, then we need to understand how they might feel. From their perspective, we’re telling them to move from the shared, warm, safe comforts that they have always known to the cold, lonely, dark, unknown room across the landing.

Understandably, this new bedtime routine would upset them and seem more like a punishment for growing up. Their behaviour toward the changes, which could lead to angry or emotional protests or regressive behaviours such as, bed wetting or clinginess, is not intended to upset us for moving them into their own room. This is merely a normal reaction to change and to feeling afraid, anxious, or unsettled.

Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be okay. We must be understanding. Calming any fears they have in a calm and confident manner whilst still communicating to them it’s not a bad change in circumstances, it’s just different!

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Next time we’ll tackle Enuresis aka, bed wetting, until then, Stay Present Em x