Tag Archives: toddlers

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.

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.

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

Planes, Trains and Thoughts on Gender Stereotypes

Loving a child changes you, but not always in the ways you anticipate.

I’m going to be honest with you, readers.  I’m going to put it out there.  You may not like what I’m about to tell you, but bear with me.  I’m a work in progress.

I don’t love flying.  I don’t have a paralyzing fear of it, but often find myself anxious when we have to do it.  And while there has always been something naturally terrifying about the fact that a crap-tonne piece of metal can take to the skies with the lives of the passengers trusting engineering that they don’t understand,  my fears, much to my frustration,  also stem from what happened on a September day in America 11 years ago.

Which leads me to my confession: when we go to board a plane to make that intrepid seat-bound trek across the Atlantic once a year, I want, I NEED to see a grey-haired man with years of flying experience under his belt, looking calm and commanding in the cockpit.   There.  It’s out there.  I prefer middle-aged male pilots.

Or at least I did.

When I was pregnant we were unable to find out the gender of The Duchess.  We had to wait 40+ weeks to know for certain what her name would be.  We would shop for clothes, blankets, and nursery decor and would repeatedly ask, “Is this too girly?  Is this too boyish?”  You’d find no pink in her drawers.  You’d see no dolls in the room that would welcome her.  You couldn’t spot a blue bodysuit, a truck or a tractor.

And even after she arrived and the gender-related gifts came in, I found it very difficult to finally put her in her first gender-specific outfit.  For so long, we’d tried to avoid that because of not knowing who she’d be and now that she had arrived it seemed foreign to box her in in that way.

I am so glad for that.

I don’t know what I would have done had we found out her gender at 20 weeks.  I completely understand why parents do.  I bounced up and down, wriggled my hips and took a trip to the toilet to try and shift her so we could see.  It is practical to know.  But for me, the not knowing did something.  It helped free me up not to jump into filling her wardrobe with pink or her nursery with trucks.  There is something about not knowing that allowed me just to let her be who she would be.

She will scream with glee about the purple dress her Grandpa picked out for her.  She likes cars, buses, trucks, and tractors and talks about them more than anything else .  She makes “dip dip” for me in her kitchen.  Her favourite pajamas are blue flannel with a Thomas the Tank Engine pattern.  She stands at my bedroom mirror, dons my bracelets and  pretends to put on make-up.  She has a very realistic Triceratops called “Graaaw!”

And every now and again she will pull herself into the chair at our desk and request to see videos of real planes taking the skies.  When she does I look at her, feel immensely proud and think, “Maybe she’ll be a pilot someday.”

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