Whilst I don't disagree that technology and social media have a part to play in teenage mental health, I love how it's so easy to blame these simple things for the issues young people are facing today. The society we have created for them, including excessive use of social media is a problem but whilst the media and the government have us focused on how the “evil” technology is damaging our teenagers, we are happily distracted from looking at government policy, the education system and common parenting practice and advice as a potential cause.
(A response to the telegraph article by Hilary French dated 10th October 2017)
Children and sleep. It’s always a topic that gets people going, with opinions and advice being bandied around to ‘fix’ whatever sleep problem parents are experiencing. Let’s face it, we’ve all been asked ‘Is he good?’ about our tiny newborn – which basically means ‘Does he sleep?’ And obviously, babies who don’t sleep are ‘bad’ - and this labelling continues through to toddlers who don’t sleep either.
Tonight’s Panorama (Sleepless Britain) was no exception.
Before I go any further, I would like to say that this post is in no way referring to those children who have a recognised, clinical sleep disorder. What I am talking about is children who sleep like normal children, who are being let down by out-of-touch advice and techniques. I’m also going to focus on the younger children featured in the programme, as that’s the age range we cover.
Let’s address some of the points made by the programme one-by-one:
He's going to find out who's naughty or nice...
Because formula companies don't care what you feed your baby - right?
You might feel like that mantra puts a lot of pressure on you and makes you feel like a failure when you can't provide the "best" for your baby. Well that isn't the only reason to hate it. The thing is that formula companies love the "breast is best" campaign, precisely because you hate it. They love it because it separates us into two categories (this is important). It pits us against each other: those who are breastfeeding and those who are using formula. Now those who are desperately struggling to breastfeed (and it can be bloody hard, especially at the start) and not getting much support, need to defend their reasons for this struggle (sometimes to themselves and close relatives even) by sticking to the "it's best" mantra, and those who formula feed feel attacked by this message. Now why do you think this benefits those who sell formula?
If you have children, you might have found yourself wondering at some point, 'Why didn't anyone tell me?', 'How am I supposed to know what to do?', or 'Which advice / opinion is the one I should be listening to?'
*fanfare* That's where BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm come in (if you're not sure what we're about, then this video will help):
Spreading the word - please vote for us
There are currently four directors (all teachers) running the business. We are extremely passionate about what we do and we want to spread the word to more parents and their children.
In an effort to help the company on its way, we've entered Voom 2016 in the Grow category. Making it through to the next round would make a huge difference to our business, but (and here's the catch) - it depends on votes.
So - if you liked our video and think we could have helped you in those first few years of parenthood, or think it might be something you'd consider in the future, please take a moment to vote for us: https://www.vmbvoom.com/pitches/babycalm-toddlercalm
Voting closes on Monday, and we need to get into the top 80 to progress to the next round. Every vote counts. Every family deserves the best possible start.
It's the 1st December, and in my house that means only one thing - the arrival of our elves.
Now before you roll your eyes and start muttering about people taking something fun and magical and using it for bribery and corruption, rest assured that our elves are here for fun only. They don't report back to Father Christmas or advise him on whether my kids are naughty or nice. They do mischievous things like eating my husband's advent calendar chocolate, or fun things like playing board games with the other toys.
My kids love it - so much, that last year we had to steal Grandma's decorative elf (which, rather handily, was the same as our elf George Jingle) in a bid to reduce the sibling rivalry over who got to the elf first. Now George brings his cousin Jim Jingle with him on his visits to our house, and my two smalls get an elf pal each to tote around and cuddle.
And that's another thing we do slightly differently - the typical 'rule' about Christmas elves is that you cannot touch them or their magic goes away. No such rule here! My daughter has gone to sleep this evening clutching both elves (I had to prise them out of her vice-like grip), and our elves frequently come out on outings with us in December.
Having two house-elves with us for 24 days certainly isn't easy - this is our third year, and I'm scraping the barrel for ideas of what the elves can do each evening (and in fact have zero clue what I'm going to get them to do tonight... better sort that out sharpish). I make my life slightly easier by having them bring advent calendars on night 1, and on the 23rd they leave us a Christmas Eve box. Some nights I delegate responsibility to my husband - and he tends to go for the toilet humour sort of stuff that 5 and 3 year olds find hilarious (like George Jingle pooping DUPLO blocks in the potty).
Another issue is that our elves aren't posable like some others, so in the past we've had to get creative with sellotape (which has raised questions from the littles). That was after a few incidents where we propped George up only to find in the morning that he looked like he'd cracked open the brandy overnight.
Other than having to think up ever more exciting japes for them as well as ways to imaginatively (and invisibly) pose them, they're actually easy house guests to have. There have been a few occasions where I've been tucked up cosy and warm in bed and have had to get back up as I've realised that I haven't sorted the %#~€£¥ elves, but often the simple ones are the ones that my children enjoy the most (usually it involves a bunch of toys playing with cars / tool kits / games / jigsaw puzzles / bicycles - and if your children have anywhere near as many toys as mine, you'll have an inexhaustible list of ideas).
The only word of caution I would give is - once your elves have left, make sure you hide them well. My husband was in charge of putting George away one year - which amounted to him flinging him on his office desk and forgetting about him. Until my son saw him and started shrieking excitedly that George had come back. Didn't make that mistake again.
Right now, elf duty calls, but I'm going to update the CalmFamily blog regularly with details of what George and Jim have been up to - starting tomorrow, when I've (hopefully) thought of something before I head to bed tonight! Wish me luck...
Last night, George and Jim got a bit peckish and decided to raid the kitchen cupboards. Seems they've got good taste. This was a husband suggestion because I (rather shamefully, considering we're only on day 2 - and actually it's really only day 1 as the first night just involved plonking them down with some advent calendars) was too tired to think about what they could do.
My two loved this one - lots of shrieking and excitement, and we got dragged out of bed to see what the elves had done. My 3 year old also had stern words with the elves about not making lots of mess (shame she doesn't listen to her own advice, really)...!
George and Jim and their pals, Frozen the spinosaurus (no prizes for guessing what my 3 year old's current obsession is) and Sabre-Tooth the sabre-toothed cat (my 5 year old is all about original names) played a game of Snakes and Ladders last night. Apparently Frozen won.
Last night, the elves set up the children's mini-tree, ready for them to decorate.
A word of caution to those who consider this one: if you have a child who wakes at night (like mine) and who comes through to your room (also like mine), you may want to rethink putting something like this in your child's room.
I learned this lesson at 2.45am this morning, when my 3 year old woke up and discovered the tree in her bedroom. She shrieked so loudly that she also woke my 5 year old up. Apparently they then decided that 3am is the perfect time to decorate a tree. I half-heartedly attempted to persuade them to wait until a more reasonable time, but honestly, I was still half asleep and just wanted my 3 year old to stop shining my phone torch in my eyes, so I left them to it.
The only saving grace of the situation was that they weren't fighting while they did it - and I actually heard my 5 year old exclaim 'Good teamwork!' That (almost) made up for the numerous visits where they asked me to detangle tinsel or retie baubles.
Discussions about certain styles of baby carriers and the possible harm they could do to the baby and the back of the person wearing it are hot topics at the moment. With this in mind, what should parents pay attention to when choosing a carrier?
M-position baby carriers
A big advantage of an ergonomic baby sling or carrier is that the child can always be carried in the healthy M position. What makes this position so important for the baby’s health? In the M position, the baby ‘s knees are up higher than its bottom. Thus the spine of the baby is not burdened and, moreover, a good development of the hips is fostered. The fabric of a good baby sling can be spread from knee to knee. Whether the baby is small or somewhat bigger, the baby is always in a right M position.
Carrying facing outwards
It is intended that a child, when carried in a baby carrier, is in the most natural position. If you carry the baby facing outwards, its back assumes an unnatural posture as well as the hips. The back isn’t nicely curved, but instead has a hollow curve facing the other way which is neither comfortble or healthy. Your child may also be over-stimulated and this is also unnecessarily tiring for the back muscles. When carrying your child on the back the same applies, the back of your child should be in its natural position. So, for carrying both on the back and belly the best option is having the baby facing the person that is carrying.
Safe ergonomic carriers
Some baby carrying systems don’t provide a facility to support the legs from knee to knee. Something to be aware of when purchasing a baby carrier, particularly those in high street shops The pressure on the hips should be minimal with a good support, because the legs are spread and are also supported by the wide straps. In addition, the hips are in a stable position.
Have a look at the picture below for an example of a good carrying position. On the left you can see the position of the hips that we do not recommend.
Comfort for the Carrier
Let’s not forget the father or mother. We wouldn’t want a baby sling or carrier causing any discomfort for the person carrying. When a carrier has narrow shoulder straps people can still sometimes experience shoulder and back problems because of the weight that burdens these narrow straps, and the minimal distribution of the weight over the shoulders and torso. A good baby carrier distributes the pressure over the body thanks to the wide straps. When wearing a good baby carrier you burden your back and abdominal muscles in an ergonomic way, affording stronger muscles. Back problems are often caused by the lack of strong back muscles, or by an incorrect burdening of weight. When using a baby carrier or sling you train your abdominal and back muscles in an ergonomic way, making your back stronger.
With the right baby carrier it is a pleasure to carry for both baby and parent. Carry your love, anyway you want!
By Kay Poelen, found of ByKay Baby Carriers www.bykay.com
Christmas – a time of festive family fun and memory making… when it goes well that is, but for many parents of young children Christmas can be a time of stress, anxiety, exhaustion and arguments. From the everlasting lure of the Christmas tree ornaments, just begging to be stripped by curious chubby hands, to the frustration of your little darling refusing to eat any of their lovingly prepared Christmas dinner – not just the Brussels sprouts – and perhaps the worst of all, enduring the tuts and “in my day children were seen and not heard” comments of your mother in law.
For parents of little ones Christmas can be a fierce test of endurance and Christmas spirit. But never fear, there are ways to cope without downing Great Aunt Edna’s 20 year old bottle of sherry in the pantry! Read on for our ten top festive parenting tips.
1. Reset your expectations. Visions of 1950s movies, with roasting chestnuts and rosy cheeked children in awe at receiving a Satsuma in their stocking belong just there – in fantasy land. In reality most homes resemble a bomb site by 10am on Christmas morning, children won’t feign joy when unwrapping a boxed handkerchief set from your Grandmother and the only colour to their cheeks will come from the smeared chocolate orange they snaffled from the kitchen at 5am.
2. Stock up on batteries well beforehand. Even if you don’t think you need them, buy some in every size because inevitably your child’s favourite present will require batteries and you won’t have any that fit, resulting in much trauma for the rest of the day. Alternatively don’t buy toys that need batteries – ever – and save your sanity and nerves when you accidentally set off the freaky doll that says “I want to play” on your way back from the nursery at 3am.
3. Babies and toddlers love boxes, don’t be down-heartened or take It personally when they ignore their lovingly selected presents and prefer to play with the box, this is a universal toddler play law
4. Don’t expect your toddler to eat their Christmas lunch, especially if it involves Brussels sprouts, food tastes stronger and much more bitter to young children, to them you may as well be trying to make them eat neat vinegar.
5. Don’t take any unwanted parenting advice seriously. The chances are your in-laws, parents, aunts and other relatives have a rose tinted vision of their early parenting years and have forgotten what it was really like. Nod and smile sweetly, or better still change the subject when they start to give you advice.
6. Don’t expect your toddler to sleep well the night before Christmas, the excitement is too much for them, why not give in and let them stay up and fall asleep on the sofa in front of a festive family film?
7. Be prepared that the idea of Father Christmas can be pretty scary to young children, think about it, would you like a big man with a long beard in a funny red outfit breaking in to your house whilst you were in bed asleep? You could arrange that you meet him at the door and take in the presents when your child is asleep instead. Much less scary!
8. Stagger present opening throughout the day, or even over a few days so that your toddler doesn’t become overwhelmed (which usually results in a meltdown).
9. Don’t expect your toddler to share his new presents with his or siblings or cousins. Toddlers really don’t understand the idea of sharing until at least 4 or 5 years old. Imagine if somebody told you to share your presents of new perfume or favourite chocolates as soon as you’d unwrapped them. You wouldn’t like it much either!
10. Try to restrict the amount of sweets and chocolate that your toddler eats, all of the extra sugar and colourings are likely to make him hyper which will have a negative effect on both sleep and behaviour. Plus you can secretly eat them all when he’s gone to bed instead.