Category Archives: Toddler

Bedtimes Apps for your Toddler

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Total non-guilty admission: We love technology and think apps can be a REALLY good thing for children.

While bedtime is a time that we genuinely treasure – full of books, made-up stories, quiet songs and last minutes cuddles before The Duchess drifts off – we also sometimes need a step between the chaos of the day and that quiet period.

Here are a couple of apps that we have found have that lovely, calming touch right before the bedtime hour.  Image

Nighty Night is an interactive bedtime app where the user puts each of the farmyard animals to sleep by switching off the light in their room.

ImageIllustrated by Oscar-nominated Heidi Wittlinger and narrated by Scottish actor, Alistair Findlay, Nighty Night is stunningly done.  His beautifully soporific voice coupled with the sound of crickets and that instrument of glory, the glockenspiel, is enough to send me off to sleep.  A free version is available on Android, where your little one can put 6 animals to bed, or there is a fuller in-app purchase option (£1.99) for 13 animals.  On iOS you can purchase Nighty Night for £1.99 for all 13 animals.  Image

The Best Friend introduced us to Sandra Boynton (not in the flesh) when she bought us The Going to Bed Book in hardcopy shortly after The Duchess was born.  We loved it as it was, but when the app was in a Play Store sale, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have an interactive version.

We’re glad we didn’t.  Produced by Loud Crow, the little touches are what make this book especially wonderful.  With the lovely voice of Billy J Kramer providing narration (who I SWEAR sounds like Christopher Walken – you know, if Walken wasn’t so intense), a melodic piano tune playing in the background, and interesting interactive touches on each page – like turning on the bath tap and popping the bubbles from the tub – it is definitely one of our personal favourites and one we’d suggest to all parents of young children.

GoingtoBed2The Going to Bed Book is available on iOS for £2.49 and currently all Loud Crow apps are on sale in the Google Play store.  Unfortunately, I can only see the listing in US dollars, which is priced at $2.84.  This converts to £1.82.

I’d suggest both Nighty Night and The Going to Bed Book for children between the ages of 2-5 years old.

And just as proof that Billy J Kramer was the better choice for narrating The Going to Bed Book, here’s an old video of Walken on Jonathan Ross telling the story of the 3 Little Pigs.

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Further Tales of a Pink Potty

Months ago, we bought a pink potty simply to start the conversation around what would happen in the months to come as we transitioned from nappies to pants.  But recently, we’ve properly decided to explore potty training with The Duchess.  I am three months away from my due date, which means either she potty trains now or we wait until the kid is pushing three.  Because Lord help me if while sleep deprived, I am constantly running a toddler to a potty while an infant is treating me like a milk machine.  I am not made with that kind of patience.

She occasionally goes where she’s meant to at the moment, but mostly she goes in her pants.  Sometimes, she asks me to put pants on her SO she can go in them.  Last week she came home and bragged about pooping on my in-laws floor.

Somehow I’m not sure she’s getting the concept.

So when I unearthed this horse puppet from a corner that The Big Brown One had hidden him in and The Duchess made old Mr Horsey her go-to guy of the day, I am not above saying that I took advantage.   Image

I gave that horse a voice and talked to her as Mr Horsey until my throat became sore.  When the golden opportunity presented itself, I held him over her potty when she wasn’t looking, poured water in and shouted, “OH.MY.GOSH!  Horsey wees on the potty.”

The kid about fell over.

I’m just praying she’s not now expecting him to poo.  Image

Rosemary Lemonade Ice Lollies

Last month I was the hostess for a baby shower thrown for my sister-in-law.  I wanted to pull together an interesting spread of food and tasty treats and went to one of my go-to lifestyle blogs, A Beautiful Mess, for inspiration.  They have inspiration coming out of the wazoo (literally – their wazoos are full) and I never cease to be amazed at all they offer.  But what I really wanted was a beautiful looking and fresh tasting lemonade.  I spotted their Rosemary Lemonade recipe and gave it a go.  It was a huge hit.  Genuinely.  It looked and tasted great.

I won’t mention my cake pops.   May they be archived and forgotten in Pinterest fail folklore.  Forever.

I’ve been wanting to find an excuse to make the lemonade since then.  Call it pregnancy hormones or Mummy guilt, but over the weekend I decided to embark on a lemonade making journey with the Duchess that might inject our spirits with a shot of summer since that mystical season still seems to allude us.  But instead of just making lemonade, I decided we’d turn that citric concoction into ice lollies .

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All you need is:

5-6 lemonades
fresh rosemary
sugar
ice lolly moulds – we got them nice and cheap at Sainsburys for around £2.

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It helps if your clothes match the lemons.

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Half the lemons and juice them.  Again, if you don’t have a juice squeezer – you can always hand squeeze or we picked this up from Asda for the cheap and cheerful price of £1 and it’s safe for little hands.  Once the lemons are freshly squeezed, decant the juice into a jug until the next step.

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Gently boil 1 1/2 cups of water on medium heat and add 1 cup of sugar.  Heat until all of the sugar has dissolved.  When all of the sugar has dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat and add a fresh sprig of rosemary.  Let it sit until the water cools and then remove the rosemary.    I let the rosemary sit for quite a bit to make sure it really infused into the water.
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Add the lemon juice to the water.   While I don’t mind a bit of pulp in my lemonade, I didn’t want it in my ice lollies, so I sieved the juice when adding it to the water to make sure we’d get a smooth, no bits kind of liquid.  I then went on to add about 6 cups of water to taste.  That will be down to your personal preference as I don’t like my lemonade to be too sharp.  Once it was nice and cool, we poured the lemonade into our ice lolly moulds and left them to freeze.

The result?  Summer in your mouth.  So delicious.  They would definitely be made better with some blazing sunshine, but we’ll indulge now with the hopes that we get our chance to try them while sitting in the sunshine sometime soon.

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I question who the more sensible one is in this relationship.

Buggy Battleground

I’m warning you now – I may be about to have an unfair rant.  A rant about British people.   British people and their manners.

That’s why I’m giving you the chance to stop reading now.

Right here.  Especially if you’re British or adverse to sweeping cultural generalizations because in my mind, this does not happen in America.  In my mind, the people of America clear paths, sprinkle rose petals on the ground and softly sing lullabies when a momma with a baby is coming through.

Clearly this is going to be a rational post.

Well…considered yourself fairly warned.  You made the call.  I do not want to be likened to Prince Philip in the comments section.

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I am not an entitled Mummy.  I do not walk into town to throw my maternal weight around (which you will find in my baby-lifting arm and shoved in the bottom of my changing bag).  I don’t wave my toddler around your face to try and jump a queue or expect everyone to stop and open doors for me (although that does help – thank you.)

Because my daughter is 1, she goes in her buggy when we are walking through town.   When shopping for her buggy, personally inconveniencing you didn’t fall in the top 5 of my pushchair criteria.  It was #9.

But British people, when you see me in a restaurant or public area trying to squeeze past you, I am not TRYING to hit your table.  I am not intentionally getting the wheels of the buggy caught on your chair and in the hangers spilling from your Primark bag.

See.

I smiled at you.

I politely said, “So sorry.  Pardon me.”

And I am met with no eye contact, no attempts to be helpful and at most, an ever so slight scoot of a chair.

It’s a small ask.  I would just like the tiniest acknowledgement the “path” I’m trying to navigate is like trying to drive a small person in a tank through a garden gate.  So, if you could stand up, push your chair in and be inconvenienced for 3 seconds to help a struggling mother out, I’d really appreciate it.

Please and thank you and start being nicer to me or I swear I will drive this buggy straight into your shins.

Sucker

We have been back from America for well over a month.  When we initially returned I made a number of allowances for The Duchess during her bedtime routine.  And by routine I mean “bedtime free-for-all.”  (Because that’s the same thing, right?)

I blame myself.  I totally do.  But when you arrive in America and your child looks like this for the first 3 days:Image

And then looks like this upon your return:Image

It meant that I wanted to be patient with her preciously tiny little body-clock, fully expecting we’d soon be back on track.

But we are nearing the end of February and bedtime has instead become an hour long (+) process filled with impromptu Thomas stories  and the ever-present request to join her in her bed and hold her hand.  And it gets REALLY cramped in there.

Tonight was the night.

I clenched my jaw and steadied my hands as I prepared myself for war.  I sometimes watch Supernanny when there is nothing else on TV.  I knew what I was in for. Hours of screaming?  We’d just have to endure it.  Cries for Mommy?  I was doing this for her own good.  Claims that she’d pooped herself?  My nose would be the judge of that.  I know her tricks.

I read her final book of the night, reached over to switch off her lamp and placed her in her cot.

She was asleep in 20 minutes.  

(Ahem) It might have been 15 if I hadn’t run in there, convinced that she was going to use her crazy climbing skills to Parkour her toddler behind over the side of her cot.

20 minutes!!!  We have been doing this for 7 weeks.  SEVEN.  I am such a sucker.

The Tale of a Pink Potty

Weeks ago we bought a little pink potty to keep in the bathroom.  The Duchess is still quite young to potty train, but we wanted to begin the conversation about toilet training and if I’m being honest, in the deep, dark places of my prideful Mommy heart, I hoped she would be a potty using phenom.  I imagined she’d spot the potty, whip off her nappy and with triumph in her eyes, she would never look back.

We talked about it.  I gave her a chocolate button (or 5) for sitting on it.  We were on our way.

Tonight as I as prepared her bath, I took her nappy off and asked her if she wanted to sit on her pink potty.  “No. Duck?” she said as she stood on her tiptoes and stretched her arms over the high edge of our tub and down towards the bathwater.

I moved in closely and replied, “Fine, but if you need a wee or poo, you need to tell Mommy.”

“Yes.”

I handed her the duck and leaned over to check the temperature of the water when I heard short and sharp breaths.  Ahead of the game, I spun around quickly and said, “If you need a poo, you need to tell Mommy.”

Again she said, “Yes,” and satisfied, I turned to resume the bathtime routine when I saw it.   Lying on the bath mat.   It was perfectly formed.  I didn’t even know you could accomplish that while standing.

I think I may have possibly set the bar too high.

Remembering 20

January has been a weird month for me.  Ever since returning from our trip to America, I have been wandering in this unexpected desert of dissatisfaction.  My ambitions have wandered.  I have gone from wanting to stay in my job to wanting to be a stay at home parent to wanting to open a burger bar.  (I blame you for that, Britain.  Sort your burgers out!)  My thoughts have wandered.  I have found myself losing hours of my time flicking through site after site on the tablet, knowing that I’m searching for something, but not really knowing what it is that I want to find.  I have been hoping, whatever it is,  that I would find it on Not on the High Street.

I could feel it all happening.  I knew the cause of my tiresome circuit through this decision-less desert.  I was simply dissatisfied, but I continued to do the same things day on day through the month of January.  I felt it affecting me.  I felt it affecting how I was parenting.  I couldn’t muster up the motivation to do more.  I would just let her get on with playing as my thumb would repeatedly slide across a screen – searching.

And then last week The Duchess turned 20 months.  That doesn’t even sound like a real thing, does it?   20 months.  Lost somewhere between a baby and a girl.

I decided that I should probably start to look into the local pre-schools.  In some areas of the UK, it can take up to 18 months before a place becomes available for your child.  And so this morning, as she was picking at the remnants of her breakfast, I leaned across the table and asked excitedly, “Do you want to go see a school today?”  She didn’t raise her eyes as she flicked the toast on her plate, “Yup.”  I grinned.  “You don’t know what school is.”

I carried her up to the painted yellow door of the tired looking building because carrying is what you do when they are still little enough.   Despite the neglected exterior, the large room was brightly coloured with children scattered on the floor, sitting in a reading nook and on themed tables, engaged in various activities.

“Hi, I’m Jane.  We spoke on the phone.”  She was the supervisor of the pre-school.  She was a slim, middle-aged lady who took the time to chat with me beyond just the standard explanation of how the school runs.  I liked her.  She invited us to stay and let The Duchess play.

As she started to make her way around the busy room, I looked back at a group of children on the floor.  About 10.  Adults were around, but not needed in that corner at the moment and 10 children were there by themselves.  Without their mummies.  Without their daddies.    Playing in a room, in a village and getting on with life.  Because that’s how school works.  My child will move from being solely ours each day to being one in a class of many.

She is 20 months and I was reminded of how special this privilege of parenting a toddler is. This time is precious.  It is so, so precious.

And right then, I made a decision to be more present.  Because in 18 months this time will change.  She will start school and that will be the next huge step towards independence – a step that is away from me.

So this is what I’m going to do.  3 things.  Only 3.  But I am going to do the poo out of them.

1. Put the technology down.   I don’t want her to feel that she has to compete with a piece of plastic for my attention.  She is my daughter.  I also don’t want to teach her that this is what relationships are like when she is someday old enough to have technology of her own.  Who knows what kind of crazy hologram, space contraption will be on the market by then.  She is watching me and I am teaching her how to treat other people.

2.  Doing stuff together.  I’ve just started a book (read: a whole 3 pages in) where he opens by observing, in a restaurant of non-engaged people,  a mother and daughter completely lost in each other’s company during a simple game of cards.  Doing stuff together builds relationships.  I will not buy a ticket for the crazy train and assume that I have to create a pinboard of elaborate activities in order for it to be worthwhile.  The kid likes it if we walk into town and scream “bus” whenever one passes.  Doing stuff is easy.  There is no excuse.

3. Look closely.  I am going to look closely at the way she crinkles her nose when she is pleased with herself.  I am going to focus my eyes as she lifts her hand to wrap her chubby fingers into mine.  I am going to study the tendrils of hair that fall and tickle the bottom of her neck.  I am going to relish and remember 20 months.  And 21 months.  And 22….. Image