As an English teacher and an avid bookworm, I’ve fantasised about reading to a brood of my own children since I was small. I absolutely love the faces of my school kids as I read them a tale; their faces come to life, they cover their eyes at the scary parts, they dive under their desks, they hold hands, they belly-laugh, they scream, shout, whoop and clap.
It is the most fascinating and heart-warming thing to watch children react to a storyline, to a character, to an injustice, to a dilemma.
When my son was born, I suddenly panicked. What if he doesn’t like books? Boys, notoriously, are harder to encourage to read. I spend many a year persuading teenage boys that reading is, in fact, cool, while girls happily bed-down in the library and fill their rucksacks with the latest series.
My Bookish Background
‘My dad once poured grenadine onto a sanitary towel in a desperate attempt to teach me about periods.’
I was raised by a man, and there were many things Dad couldn’t do very well.
Plaits were a no-no. I looked like I’d been dragged through forest-land by wolves in most of my school photos.
Talking about ‘womenly things’ – awful. He once poured grenadine onto a sanitary towel in a desperate attempt to teach me about periods.
But one of the things I’ll be thankful to him forever for, is reading to me in bed.
My early memories consist of ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ and ‘Farmer Duck’ and my later ones of ‘The Famous Five’ and the entirety of the Roald Dahl collection. He bought every story to life, varying his voices from cackling, high-pitched aunts to booming, Northern headmasters.
We played a game where he’d miss out or mispronounce a word to see if I’d notice and I revelled in correcting him. Before I went to sleep, he’d jokingly threaten me in Dahl-esque language, ‘lights off, or I’ll swangle your flibberts!’ and I’d reply accordingly, until I’d laughed myself to sleep.
‘Before I went to sleep, he’d jokingly threaten me in Dahl-esque language, “lights off, or I’ll swangle your flibberts!”’
Don’t assume because your kid’s double digits that they don’t want to be read to.
Encouraging a love of reading isn’t too tricky, and there are lots of things you can do to inspire a love of literature. It’s also a winner if dads are looking for more ways to bond with your child. It’s often easy for us mums, and we can sometimes be a little guilty of ‘maternal gate-keeping’, snuggling our babes to our bosoms, deciding what’s best, assuming all the responsibility and excluding the father from playing a pivotal role in raising the child.
(There’s a whole new blog waiting to be written right there!)
Have a plethora of books on display at home. I loved leafing through old reads, feeling the shiny spines of the silver Penguin classics, thumping the heavy hardback covers of Dad’s hefty historical tomes and medical dictionaries. All of it encouraged curiosity and I remember it so vividly.
Grab a book, hop into bed or into a comfy corner and flick through the book together. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself, unleash your inner thespian and play the parts: your child will love the entertainment.
Ask questions about the characters along the way, encourage them to describe them, to read between the lines, to predict upcoming events: this’ll aid their comprehension and will really involve them in the process.
Take the sprog to your local library! They are never too young. After taking advantage of the free Rhyme Time sessions, let your baby pick up and handle books: encourage it right from the start. And when they’re older, involve them in the library’s reading challenges and encourage them to peruse and choose their own books. Boys – particularly – will respond better if they feel more in control.
Similarly, make a day of going to a bookshop, look upon new books as special treats; rather than sweets as a reward, how about delving into a magical wonderland? A ghastly graveyard? A wartime bunker?
If you have an older, reluctant child, there is still hope. Don’t assume because your kid’s double digits that they don’t want to be read to. My year 8 boys love a good dose of ‘story-time’ and are as rapt as the little ones. There are some excellent, gritty books that teenage boys can’t get enough of. Subscribe to audiobooks: it takes the ‘effort’ out of reading! Introduce them to graphic novels and comics; there is a world of fantastic storytelling told through dialogue and vivid illustration.
And finally, pick up a book yourself! There’s nothing better than modelling the behaviour you want to see in your child.
Happy story time!
Lotte North is an English teacher and mother to eight month old Winston. She also co-runs The Parent Hood, a social events group for parents in Mid-Sussex. When she’s not teaching, wrangling babies or schmoozing with other mums and dads, she’s…well, sleeping, because there isn’t really any time for much else.
Sometimes as a parent, it’s necessary to play the part of Hercule Poirot in order to get the bottom of your kid’s misbehaviour. You may try out a fake Belgian accent if you like and grow a small moustache, but a little detective work can go a long way.
Let me tell you the story of the last few days and a bit of context to show you what I mean…
I, a Woman Less Ordinary, sprained my ankle last week and Mr L.O. has been taking excellent care of Billy (our very-almost 5 year old) and me, in addition to holding down a professional job. It has stretched him to the max because he has been trying to put in the hours at work, take Billy to and from school and do all of the things that I would usually accomplish.
Billy is usually a lovely, well behaved child. (If that sounds smug, please let me reassure you that that doesn’t mean that he’s faultless / perfect / beyond reproach! Our parenting gig is every bit as tough, unpredictable and sometimes annoying as yours!)
There are some leftover chocolates from making a Chocolatebread house at Christmas within Billy’s reach. And let’s face it: everything is within a 5 year old’s reach!
Billy’s behaviour is suddenly terrible.
So, Billy’s Dad and I are left wondering what is up with Billy?
Our first thought is maybe he’s just tired or ill. So we have the laziest weekend possible with a young child. Plenty of playing in the garden, healthy food, lots of stories and a strict enforcement of bedtime to ensure that Billy gets over whatever it is. Unfortunately, there’s no improvement in his behaviour, despite an excellent sleep and no apparent illness.
Our next thought is that maybe he’s trying a new round of pushing our buttons. So, Mr L.O. works hard on following through on consequences every time, uses some positive techniques and distracts Billy with plenty of attention. Improvement in his behaviour only occurs with maximum effort so we’re baffled.
Fast forward to the truth as I get up to make breakfast on Monday morning:
Billy looks suspicious.
Salt has been spilled on the kitchen counter near to the container which holds the chocolates.
Billy says that he’s not hungry.
The opaque chocolate container is looking emptier than I remember.
I challenged Billy. He denied it at first, but then admitted that he has been helping himself to a lot of chocolate when his Dad and I are not looking!
We knew that this day was coming eventually. Only a few weeks ago, we were remarking about how well the Christmas chocolate was lasting! What is remarkable to me as a first time parent (despite my teaching experience with older students) is the fast change in cognitive abilities. Billy has only been able to lie semi-convincingly for a month or two. All of a sudden, he is able to carry out a chocolate heist under our noses! If the container wasn’t opaque, he may have carried on for a few more days. Perhaps this is giving him too much credit, but he picked a time when his Dad was extremely busy and I was out of the picture / sluggishly returning to active duty. He’s one cunning kid.
So, what did we do about it?
We used consequences. Billy had already eaten enough candy for at least the equivalent of 2 desserts, so that was how many desserts he was going to be excluded from. Until a few hours later, it was revealed by a younger friend of Billy’s that he had a stash of chocolate hidden in his room. We decided that as he had not confessed to this straight away that he would now miss 3 desserts. We have also made it clear that the number of missed desserts will accrue over time: if he does it again, next time it will be 4 straight off the bat.
Of course, we expect him to try this stuff (and indeed, I did the same to my own parents. Mr L.O. claims he didn’t) but Billy needs to learn to manage his greed. 1 or 2 chocolates would go unnoticed, and would not have the detrimental impact on his behaviour that the large amount he had that morning so clearly did. It’s pretty shocking to see what a massive impact on behaviour diet can have. This morning, following a normal breakfast Billy is back to normal!
He has certainly learned two important lessons.
1. Parents notice everything.
2. Mum and Dad keep each other informed!
A Woman Less Ordinary lives, parents, purchases and thinks differently. With 10 years of teaching experience, she has many effective techniques for managing kids’ behaviour (and a lot to say about finance if you’re interested) BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANY OF IT!
We all have a personal relationship with our body image. How we see ourselves is massively influenced by friends, family, media, and our culture. This affects our self esteem and confidence. The pregnant body is very glamourized these days and rightly so, bringing a new baby into the world is worth celebrating.
So your amazing partner has just given birth to the best gift you will ever receive in your lifetime.
You have spent the last 9 months watching her beautiful body undertake a physical transformation and become emotional periodically. Her body has changed in appearance – the tum, the boobs, the waddle, the water retention not to mention the mood swings – one minute happy and the next crying because she put the milk in the oven (its called baby brain for a reason).
Now you are holding your tiny, precious child, and probably wondering what you can do to help your partner feel good about her body. Many new mums feel ashamed of their new body. They think they have a wobbly jelly belly, swollen painful leaking boobs, (worrying they will become saggy), silver stretch marks that cover the tum, boobs and bum, clumps of hair that fill her hairbrush and she is full of the emotions that can make her feel blue.
But believe it or not, the postpartum body is just as beautiful as the pregnant body.
Thanks to the media, some celebrities deem it priority to go to any lengths possible to eradicate any sign of pregnancy and the postpartum body. Some woman think that their bodies are only worth loving if they look a certain way; slim and toned.
We need to change that perception and here’s where the dads come in. Dads often report they feel pretty helpless during the pregnancy phase.
Well here is your time to shine.
How can I help my partner through this time?
When your partner is feeling low tell her its OK, tell her that her body is beautiful and you love it.
Touch her, cuddle her, don’t be afraid to touch the wobbly bits – just mind the boobs.
Tell her that her body has just done something amazing. Tell her she is amazing. Keep the compliments coming she needs them now more than ever. Many women worry that their man thinks ‘This isn’t the body I fell in love with’. I know I did. In all honesty, it isn’t the body they fell in love with, but their new body has created, carried, protected, grew and birthed life, fed your baby, and comforted your baby and will continue to do so.
Let her rest, being sleep deprived will not help her see her body in a positive light.
Give her time to have relaxing baths, let her have a spa session- let her treat herself. If money is tight, offer her a massage, run her a bath with essential oils in etc.
Talk to her, just be there and listen to how she feels, let her get her feelings off her chest.
Her new body is worth celebrating every day. Hearing lots of positive comments is what she needs and it is so important for her journey to self-acceptance of her postpartum body.
I was trawling through Netflix the other day, searching for something vaguely edutaining for my little one to watch, when I came across something I’d never seen or heard of before. Pauper Troll. Finally, I thought, a TV show that represents the working class online commentators. I looked again. Paw Patrol. That sounded more kid friendly. I hit play. We watched it together. I’m not sure how long we watched it for, but it was dark out when we finally stopped.
Let me sum it up as best I can, for those of you who may not have yet seen it. An unschooled orphan commands an army of sentient, genius dogs who have for some reason replaced the emergency services in this twisted parallel universe. Every adult is depicted as a dithering buffoon of some degree who has to routinely be rescued by the aforementioned pups, who, besides talking, can also operate complicated, heavy machinery as well as drive trucks, boats and planes. No explanation is ever given for any of this.
The main characters are:
Chase – The leader and very much the Ross of the group. Has an infatuation with Skye, and the ‘will they, won’t they’ aspect of their relationship makes for scintillating viewing.
Rubble – He’s very protective of his food and is a big softy at heart, he is of course Joey.
Skye – She loves to look her best and has a flirtatious relationship with Chase. You guessed it, she’s Rachel.
Marshall – The Chandler, his many pratfalls make for hilarious slapstick and he’s always making the others laugh with his one-liners.
Rocky – This energetic pup loves to pick up rubbish and has a place for everything. Who else could it be but Monica?
Zuma – Phoebe, because that’s who’s left. Is there an episode of Friends where Phoebe drives a hovercraft? Or maybe Zuma’s mum killed herself, I don’t know. The analogy’s fallen apart a bit, if I’m honest.
Over the course of the series, the gang of plucky pups rescue chickens, frogs, monkeys & aliens, but the real irony is they’re unable to rescue themselves from their lives of servitude. They’re ruled over by a cruel master, a young boy called Ryder. He may not rule with a metaphorical iron fist or even a literal iron fist, but he does have unquestionable doggy dominion.
Why else would they obey his every whim? For fear of what would happen if they stepped out of line, of course. Add a touch of Stockholm Syndrome and you’re ready for action, Ryder, sir!
How many other pups have paid the price for their insubordination?
Why do we never see any other dogs in Adventure Bay?
Why are the Paw Patrol the only animals that possess the gift of speech?
Everything comes down to Ryder, that glassy-eyed little eugenicist. I’m willing to bet that deep underneath The Lookout there’s a room with failed experiments, discarded body parts and half-formed monstrosities that are neither human nor animal. Like The Island of Dr. Moreau, but for kids. And he’s able to get away with it all, due to an inept mayor and severe lack of any outside interference.
I think it’s high time Ryder was made to stand trial and answer for his crimes against humanity. Maybe a live-action sequel set in a courtroom, with the pups giving evidence against Ryder should be the next must-see series splashed across Netflix.
PND, the “baby blues” that’s just for mums, right?
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to have kids. I always imagined I’d be a great dad. I looked forward to having so many adventures and being someone they could look up to. So when my wife told me she was pregnant I was so excited.
Our pregnancy was fairly uneventful but the day Fawn was born I can honestly say was the best day of my life. It was such a magical experience watching my daughter enter this world.
The day after she was born we took Fawn home and were immediately hit with the realisation of how difficult having a baby was. Fawn is our first child and I don’t care how much you get told about how hard it is, nothing really prepares you for what’s it’s actually like.
I took paternity leave for the first two weeks so I could be at home. They were tough but we both worked together (in between the sleep deprived arguments) and with the help of our family we were able to slowly get the hang of this parenting lark.
Those first few weeks went by pretty fast. Lawrie, my wife, was amazing and watching her grow as a Mum and connect with Fawn was beautiful. However, at the same time it was heartbreaking because although I’d not had the courage to even admit it to myself, I knew deep down something wasn’t right.
Worlds worst dad?
I didn’t want to admit it at first but the longer it went on, the more unavoidable it became. There was no doubt in my mind that I had a paternal instinct. I wanted absolutely no harm to come to her at all and I would have died to protect her. But that bond so many people talk about, just wasn’t there. Fortunately the madness of being first time parents kept me busy enough to keep my mind of it most of the time and I convinced myself it would come.
Going back to work was when it hit me the most. I was inundated by the same questions over and over again.
“How is everything?”
“How’s the baby?”
“Isn’t it amazing being a parent?”
I could hardly answer them truthfully, could I? I knew what a “normal” new parent would say so I told them what they wanted to hear.
“Everything is great, were so happy”
“Fawn is perfect”
“It feels amazing to be a dad, I can’t tell you how much I love it!”
I told these lies over and over again to more and more people; work colleagues, friends and even family. I watched as they accepted this truth so easily. This “truth” that was so far from it. The only person I couldn’t convince was myself.
I felt like my dreams of being this amazing Dad had been stolen away from me. I felt empty, substandard. The words “not good enough” rattled through my thoughts and the guilt I felt was immense.
That guilt of not loving my own daughter consumed me and I was terrified it would never change. I would never get “that bond.”
As time went on, resentment crept in. Resentment of this person I was sharing my house with. Who I had to look after but struggled to feel anything more than a sense of duty for.
I got myself caught in a vicious cycle. I didn’t feel connected with Fawn so I didn’t want to spend time with her. On my way home from work I would hope to get stuck in traffic so I wouldn’t have to feign affection towards her. On the nights I got home early there was always an excuse as to why I couldn’t cuddle her.
I know now that the more I avoided her, the harder it actually was to make a connection with her. And even today as I sit here and write this I feel ashamed.
Time to talk
My Wife had asked me what was going on multiple times and I gave her the same fabricated story I gave everyone else. She was the one person who could see through it and she knew I was drifting further and further away.
I remember vividly the day I told her everything. We were stood in the kitchen and she wouldn’t let it go. I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. What would she think of me? How would she react when I tell her that I don’t think I love our child?
With support, unwavering support.
I literally felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time, I told someone exactly how I felt. My lack of connection with our daughter and my fear that this would never change. She didn’t recoil in horror or judge me. She was amazing. We talked it over and set out a plan. I spent more and more time with Fawn, interacting, making sure I got up with her on my own in the morning and taking her out for some Daddy Daughter time on a Sunday etc.
Braking that vicious cycle was the best thing I could have done.
It didn’t happen overnight but that first step. as hard as it was, it lead to the next step, then the next and took me to where I am today. To a place where I can say, I truly, deeply, madly LOVE my daughter!
This was my story. It wasn’t sugar coated. I was as honest as I could be and tried to articulate how I felt as best I could. And I think it is so important that others do the same.
One of the biggest reasons I put off admitting how I felt for so long was because I thought I was alone. Men suffering from PND just wasn’t on my radar. I, like most others didn’t think it happened to men.
The truth is the total opposite and I think more needs to be done about this so that others know they are not alone.
We need to break down the walls surrounding this issue and start the conversation.
My only hope is that someone, somewhere sitting at home struggling as a new Dad reads this post and realises that they are not on their own.
As parents, Netflix and Chill doesn’t mean exactly what ‘the youthful and limber Tinder generation’ might have you believe. It quite literally means, spending 4 hours with your partner searching every single category on Netflix before finally agreeing on something to settle down and watch, before one of you, no doubt, falls asleep before the end.
(Who says romance is dead, eh!)
But fear not because I have come up with a list for you of the stuff my husband and I have been LOVING watching together recently. None of them are soppy, lovey doves films; I prefer to watch those on my own without my husband rolling his eyes at every single scene. Instead these are a bit more gritty and things you can definitely enjoy together this Valentines Day.
Warning:If you start one of these series together and one of you carries on watching without the other, that is definite ground for divorce.
With Jessica Biel as the main protagonist, this series blew my mind a little bit. It was just so unexpected. It got an 8.0 on IMDb so I knew it was going to be good, plus the buzz around this series has been huge and it was nominated for two Golden Globes.
It starts with your average family on a day out at the beach, all having a great time. All of a sudden the mother (Jessica Biel’s character) stabs a seemingly random man to death in front of everyone on the beach. No one (especially her) knows why she did it.
The series unravels the mystery of why on earth she would do something so out of character. It’s dark, it’s twisted and full of surprising twists and turns. It had me completely hooked. I’ve heard rumours of a second series of this one so watch this space.
We have only just started watching this one (it came out on February 2nd) and are part way through the series. It’s an 18, so definitely one to watch once the kids are in bed.
At ten episodes high, It scores pretty high on IMDb with an impressive 8.6 but critics and reviews I have seen on Facebook are mixed. I think it’s fair to say that it is tough going for the first two episodes, where you really have to pay attention but once you break onto the third episode you’re most likely fully in it and ready to binge.
It is set in a dystopian future, where a persons ‘soul’ or consciousness can be digitised and stored inside what they call a stack, which is put in the back of the neck. Bodies are referred to as sleeves and are seen as interchangeable. If your body is damaged and you have enough money, you simply buy a new one.
The series centres around a guy who has been imprisoned without a body for a while and is re-sleeved inside a body to solve a complicated murder. If he does it, he wins his freedom and anonymity. You need your wits about you with this one, so don’t start it part way through a bottle of prosecco.
I’m actually really surprised that there hasn’t been more of a hype with Godless. It is absolutely brilliant and has an all start cast – yet no one seems to have heard of it! It’s 7 episodes long and for some reason categorised as a ‘mini series’ on Netflix.
With an 8.5 on IMDb it makes big promises and in my opinion, it absolutely delivers on them. The premise is that it is a Western, but the town it is set in is made up primarily of women only. Roy Goode is an outlaw who rocks up to the town and is being ruthlessly being hunted down by our main baddy – Frank Griffin (played by none other than the lovely Jeff Daniels).
Jeff Daniels is amazing in this role, I have actually never seen him play a character like this before. I loved him in The Newsroom but I love him even more now after this. We also get an amazing performance from Jack O’Connell (star of Skins, Unbroken and Money Monster) and Michelle Dockery (most known for Downton Abbey).
It is a little cliche in places, but very well executed and with plenty of interesting twists and story arcs. You fall in love with some of the characters quite hard too, which is always a marker to me that a series has been done well.
You must have seen Ozark by now… if not, why not?
It stars the ever loveable Jason Bateman in his darkest role yet (in my opinion). 13 episodes long and categorised as an 8.4 on IMDb it is definitely worth your time.
Bateman plays a financial advisor who ends up money laundering for some very dodgy drug dealers. Other than his questionable drug relations, Bateman and his family are completely and utterly ordinary – which makes this series all the more interesting. He moves with his family to the sleepy Ozarks in an attempt to make some serious cash and of course, chaos ensues.
I really don’t like Laura Linney in this, her character is just really annoying and unlikeable but the series overall is excellent. I’m waiting patiently for Series 2, so might I suggest you get yourself caught up with Series 1 so you’re ready too.
The Netflix Originals are absolutely killing it lately.
If you’re ever stuck for something to watch just filtering to the Netflix Original category and picking something from there is sure to throw up something you fall in love with. They seem to have the grittiest, strangest series out there – because they aren’t having to follow the standard ‘make money at the box office’ scripts that all the big movie makers have to.
How many times have we as parents been in a situation where we have been deep in the middle of doing something and all of a sudden our small person (my Bear) is behind us asking, WHY?:
Bear: “Daddy, what are you doing?”
Daddy: “Painting the wall buddy”
What do I say? Clearly I am painting the wall. I’ve a paint brush in my hand and everything has been covered with old bed sheets. I now panic because a three year old is near an open tin of paint. It makes me feel like a dizzy tightrope walker, one false move and its all over.
Daddy: “Because it needs a paint”
Then you get hit again:
Bear: “Why Daddy?”
I’ve been guilty, and probably still am of using the standard technique.
Daddy: “Because it needs a paint”
Guess what comes next:
Daddy: “Because it needs a new coat of paint. *insert deflection task* Why don’t you go and play bud?”
Bear exits past the paint to play.
On reflection, what a total wasted opportunity. I have made it so I can continue my job rather than seeing the opportunity to expand Bears understanding whilst also limiting an interaction.
How frustrating must this have been for him? He came to me inquisitive of what I’m doing and all I’ve done is give him an answer that satisfies me, rather than him.
Bear was eager to expand his understanding, I’ve just enabled a route for this quest for understanding to be blocked.
Perhaps I should have said:
“Because the walls look a bit tired and mummy and daddy want to brighten it up, a bit like a colourful picture.”
This could feed another ‘why,’ and fuel a thirst for more knowledge.
I have a theory that I’m starting to play with in my quest to grow as a dad, husband and person. By not having our questions answered, we stop asking and wanting to know answers.
This probably isn’t revolutionary to many, as a first time dad who didn’t grow up with siblings asking me why, I didn’t know how to approach the inevitable ‘why’ at first. Looking at it now, the fact Bear has started asking me why, and keep asking me why, has made me start to understand how powerful the word is. Not just for a toddler’s learning but also how powerful the implementation of the word is when parenting.
I don’t mean we now have two people going round and asking why at everyday tasks and winding my wife up. However by using the word why I’m starting to understand more as a first time dad.
Why is the Bear not doing what I ask? Probably the way in which I’m asking, it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, it’s been a busy day, me repeating ‘the toys need tidying’ over and over isn’t engaging him. So, I need to implement a new strategy, make it a game.
Why are we at logger heads about eating rice? Maybe I need to take a step back and relax about the rice, he’s eating his veg. Get a grip.
Here’s where I’m now at with this:
Why can’t I use ‘why’ to understand me as a dad and a person?
Why should I worry if the Bear is round an open tin of paint? What’s the worse that can happen? I’ve put dust sheets down. The end result here is the Bear gets some paint on him.
Why do I worry when the Bear walks on the pavement with out holding my hand? I shouldn’t, I trust him, he stops when I say stop. I have the issue not the Bear.
Why should I work all the hours? I don’t want to. I want to be there as a dad and a husband so it’s within my power to change as long as I keep my family safe.
This is the essence as to what asking ‘why’ has opened up for me. If I want to be a better dad, why shouldn’t I? It’s with in my power to the change the areas where I feel they are needed, why shouldn’t I?
This is the magic that parenthood has given me. Not only a beautiful Bear but the confidence to ask why to things I never would, because in truth I want to provide the answer to the questions the Bear will ask me.
This freedom has only opened up because I have set ground rules for myself.
I love my family and their security comes before anything.
When I’m prepared to investigate I will also be prepared for any answer (for the most part).
I want to grow and have given myself permission to grow as a dad, husband, and person.
These rules and me asking why are driving me to grow.
The next time you feel challenged or in a challenging frame of mind, both as a dad and as a person ask why. This can be externally or internally and this can be a challenge. However, it will give you the one thing we all want in one shape or another. Answers.
Here is my why challenge, the next time your little one asks ‘why’, why not expand on what you are doing. Who knows where it will lead. It made me explain why I was completing boring paperwork, the bear focused till budget, so we went for ice cream!
Are you a lover of English Pancakes? Or maybe you prefer Perfect American Pancakes? Or maybe a typically French Crepe?
For me there is no doubt that American Pancakes truly out do our UK attempts, when it comes to pancakes.
I have tiresomely searched for the perfect Pancakes online and in books and just never really found the real deal. So I set about conducting some research (and a lot of taste testing) and have successfully developed my very own recipe.
And now, I will share the secret with you. Its really simple, even the kids could do it.
You will need:
200g self raising flour
190ml full fat milk
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
3 Free range eggs
1tbsp Caster Sugar
pinch of salt (optional)
Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and give it a good mix to get rid of all the lumps. I use an electric whisk but it’s more fun to do it by hand if you’re involving the kids.
Once all combined, put your frying pan on a medium heat, add a knob of butter in to melt. (You could use oil but butter cooks better and adds flavour to the pancakes.)
Spoon small amounts (or large; up to you) of the batter into the pan and cook for around 1 minute on each side. You will know when to flip, as the batter will start to bubble on one side.
How you decide to dress your pancakes is up to you.
Or just add it all.
You can even go all American and add bacon, sausages and eggs, with maple syrup. Sound disgusting? Try telling the Americans; believe me, its amazing.
Trying this recipe out? Remember to #TDNPancakeday and share your results with us.
Before you have kids, you have all these ideals of how they are going to be raised and how you’re going to be as a parent. Obviously, I had no clue what parenting actually meant, even though I loved giving my opinion about what everybody else did with their kids.
A few thoughts that might have crossed my pre-child mind:
“ I will continue to exist as an individual”
“ We will have date nights every month”
“ My kids will not watch TV until they are at least 5”.
Then I became a parent and I can tell you that I have let myself down on every single ideal I had about having kids thus far. The latter one above, specially, because I caved in and turned on the TV pretty early on. Don’t judge me.
Introduction To The TV World
We were blessed with a healthy and truly adorable child. He was also extremely averse to going in the car for any length of time. I’m talking about crying-until-you-go-purple, averse. That’s when we introduced the iPad resulting in being able to use the car for the first time in 9 months.
With the introduction of this magical, technological pad, we came to know about other tools that we were not aware of before kids. As he got older, his love for the screen became stronger and we allowed him to have some screen time everyday. Someone recommended YouTube Kids,
“It’s pretty awesome because it’s totally safe for kids.” They said…
Nothing makes a parent’s heart all warm and cosy as the words, “safe for kids”. So we gave it a go.
At first finding some specific content that we wanted him to watch, but then you get the suggested content coming up on your screen and when a toddler sees something they want, they will make sure they scream the house down until they get it.
The Problem With YouTube Kids
More experienced parents will now be laughing their asses off, because they know exactly what the suggested content is…
Kinder Surprise Egg videos!
If you do a quick Google search with those words, you will find no less than two million videos as a result. Most of which all have millions upon millions of views.
“What can be so wrong with that?” some people might say.
Take this video as an example. It has over 96 million views and it’s 53 minutes long. Six million accounts are subscribed to this particular channel which shares either Kinder Egg videos or videos of someone’s hands playing with toys. That means that there are millions of kids out there, sitting in front of the TV watching someone opening Kinder Eggs for an entire hour – or maybe 96 kids watched it a million times each – either way, nothing less than disturbing!
I have come to the realisation that my child loves TV and, although that wasn’t how I was planning to parent, I do turn it on for half an our here and there so that he can have some sit down time and I can cook dinner/do laundry or any of the other million jobs that need doing. But we also go outside every day, explore, do crafts, play pretend, go to museums, so I am not too worried about that.
For me the most important thing is what type of content he watches. If you sit down to watch these videos on YouTube Kids you will realise that they add nothing to your child’s development at all. Not only are they not adding anything positive but, in my opinion, they are actually detrimental to their mental health and wellbeing.
Take the boy who made 11 million dollars last year opening toys on YouTube. To me, the message this sends to kids is that they should always have more and more material things and that they need to have every toy in the Amazon catalogue if they are going to be as happy as that little boy seems to be.
Not only that, but there are well known problems with YouTube Kids and they have recognised so themselves. Kids are potentially exposed to inappropriate, over sexualised content, tons of advertisement and strong themes like suicide and torture. It’s not 100% safe.
Coupled with that, are the creepy automated creations that have taken over. Cartoons that are being created by algorithms and don’t seem to make any sense at all. I would love to explain how this works but it’s all very complex and brilliantly explained here.
Child-Friendly Or Not? It’s Our Call
We all know that we are responsible for our kid’s safety, but when it comes to the internet it can be incredibly hard to keep track of everything your child sets their eyes on. I can’t even help my kid from listening to songs about butts on the radio, for God’s sake.
One thing I can say is, just because it claims to be child-friendly, it doesn’t mean it is. Sure, it might be ‘better’ than the normal YouTube listings, but seeing it for yourself, making your own judgement and monitoring is the best way to go.
Parents tend to be too hard on themselves. I am trying not to think too much of the fact that my toddler watches a few hours of TV a week. Right now, I am trying to focus on making sure he watches something sweet like Daniel Tiger, taking away a lesson that it always pays off to be kind instead of being traumatised by a headless Mickey Mouse or getting a masterclass on being materialistic from little Ryan.
How much TV or screen time do you let your children have?
Embarrassed to take them to soft play, children’s groups, parks in case it happens again!
A toddler biting is actually extremely common, yet as a parent you can feel like you’re alone.
Babies experiment with their mouths. It’s one way they learn about the world around them and when they bite they are looking to see what happens; a dummy, toy, boob!? What reaction can or do they get?
But before the age of 4 their emotional development is immature and often do not know the best way of expressing themselves. They are still learning. If something upsets them or angers them it can be stored up. Particularly if we have used the good old distraction technique!
The distraction technique
Have you been told to use the distraction technique when your child hits terrible twos? I am sure these tantrums start way before 2 years and last until… well my son is 3.5 years and still waiting for them to stop?!
How many of us see another child coming in for the swoop to take our child’s toy? We glare at the other child as to say, “don’t do it!” Yet we end up distracting our child by offering them something else? Or see our child’s nostrils start to flare because we have said no to them having a 10th biscuit and so we distract in order for them not to scream the cafe down! All of these emotions are then stored as they have not had a chance to express their feelings.
Anytime but now
Eventually it can get too much and the emotion just then over flows. You cannot predict when or where. What you can guarantee, though, is it’s going to be in front of as many people as possible! It’s not the child’s fault and it’s not meant to hurt but it can result in them biting.
Ground, swallow me up right now!
But what do you do!?
Dr Lin Day, parenting expert, advises us to put your arm around them and keep calm. This then makes them feel safe and secure, followed by asking,
“Why did you do that?”
If they wriggle or laugh it is just a release of emotion which then follows with a cry. Even though it is horrid to see our little one cry, it releases all the tension and frustration which has built up.
Being open about it and talking to other parents helps everyone to see that it happens. Often.
All too often, others will label the child as, ‘The Biter.’ They develop the attitude of, “you need to keep an eye on that one.” Whilst you can understand the roots of this mentality, it’s entirely unhelpful and will not only isolate the child further, but the parents too!
Is your child a biter? Let us know your thoughts and experiences below.