Free Safety Rules Poster for Families

Here it is! Feel free to download, colour, and personalise yours – it never hurts to have a conversation about safety with your children and for them it’s even more empowering knowing what to do! This file will print at A4 size just fine. I ended up printing an extra one for my eldest who asked to have one to colour herself and have in her bedroom.

Here’s mine before I’d written the address in. This emergency number is for Australia however if there’s enough interest I can do other countries as well just get in touch 😛


I’ve coloured it, laminated it and hung it in an easy to see, and frequently seen, spot in the house. 

Download yours from the Printable Posters page 😛

Thanks for 

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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: Book Review

It finally arrived today! Here in Australia we’ve had to wait until April to receive this wonderful new storybook. Not just for girls or teens, but for everyone 🙂

Unfortunately, this book has received labeling (in positive praise of course!) using the term “anti-princess“. While that may be the view of some, I personally think it’s less anti-princess, less “rebel”, but more pro-action, pro-self belief, pro-game-changer, and pro-female.

The stories of each of the 100 inspiring women from around the world are just as the title suggests, and follow a simple, bed-time story format. Easy to read and interesting even for toddlers, each story reveals the lesson or value each person has given to the world in a way that is easy for young minds to digest. 

I personally think it’s less anti-princess, less “rebel”, but more pro-action, pro-self belief, pro-game-changer, and pro-female.

The illustrations on each double page spread are unique to the woman they portray. Completely different styles created (as expected) by 60 women around the world. Simply gorgeous.

After reading only 2 or 3 stories my 7yo decided to write and illustrate her own story (about her) in the allotted pages at the back of the book – very cool 🙂

Highly recommended for all ages 🙂

C xx

Buy it here !!*

Happy Reading!!

* Affiliate link used.

10 Phrases to use instead of “Don’t be Silly”.

** 5 minute read **

I’m tired of hearing people say “Don’t be silly” to their kids. 
I believe children aren’t trying to be silly nor are they trying to embarrass or annoy us. They are simply being children and more often than not are trying to have fun! Or, equally as often, have simply not been shown or modeled the expected behavior or required boundary. I often also hear this phrase used when children are presenting ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you were told “Don’t be Silly!!!” in a firm and unpleasant or even condescending tone when you were presenting a keynote to a group? Or when you’d been injured and mentioned the pain? Or were crying because of grief or sadness?

Here I give you some alternative phrases to help guide your child and maybe recognize your own need in a situation as well.

1. Wow! – How easy is this one? Put a smile on your face and secure yourself a few seconds to judge your next parenting step, whether it’s a safety, health, or behavior issue.

2. Please use an “inside voice”. (Followed by a reason, if possible) – No explanation needed.

3. That really hurt, didn’t it? It’s ok to cry to let out the pain. (Folllwed by breathing with the tummy or whichever calm-down method you use). – Sometimes I even tell a story of when I got hurt a similar way as a child & kabam! Crying stops and play continues.

4. Looks like you’ve put so much effort in to that! – Another simple one which really only requires you pay attention to what they’re doing to supply an appropriate reaction. No need to judge their creation, just show them you know they’ve put in an effort and be encouraging and supportive by using this phrase.

5. Are you excited? Or, You look so excited! – I allow my children feelings of excitement, and naming the emotion allows them to identify it. As they grew older, their squealing reduced and bright, bold statements of “I’m so excited!!!!” Came out instead. A lot easier when you’re in crowded places as well!

6. Let’s stay calm. – Saying this out loud will also help you stay calm and remember to be the adult and be the parent. I’m saying this from experience!

7. In the ____place name____ is where we sit on our bottoms/in the chair/stand in line/etc. – Attaching a behavior to a location can be very helpful. Consistency also helps with this particular phrase.

8. What makes you think/feel that? – You’ll be surprised at what you discover using this phrase. Especially if your child is 4/5+ years old, then simply “work it out together” as I like to say.

9. You’re upset! (Followed by ‘Come here and let’s talk about it’) – In the same way as point 5 works, giving a name to the feeling is the first step in being able to identify and manage their emotions. 

10. Try telling me in a clear speaking voice (or if your child has a connection to a favorite adult or character who always speaks clearly, try using them as an example). Forget baby talk or either of you competing in a bout of demands and yelling. Encouraging clear articulation and making a point of its importance simply sets your child up for the future and it makes things SO much easier for you!

I’ve found these phrases work like magic and in addition to that, the children don’t feel shamed, confused, guilty, overwhelmed or overloaded, and they learn (slowly) what is expected. Win win win.

Xx C

Why “Moana” is Disney’s Best Children’s Film Yet

Moana: A Mother’s Review;

I’m a parent of two very different children, and I wear my high alert parenting goggles when I watch or choose films with my kids. I have chosen to be a Conscious Parent and I know children take a lot from movies whether we realize what/how much of it or not. I’ll be writing about how we watch movies in a separate post 😉

As I’m sure most of you know, Western, English speaking “children’s” films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to role models. On the whole I have been gobsmacked at watching only the 2 minute trailers for children’s films over the last 10 years because of the increase in endless violence, sexism/gender bias, terrible role models, and severity of character-on-character mistreatment both verbally and emotionally – and it’s all made out to be funny. It is just incredible 😦

But – never fear dear parents! A great film has arrived in Disney’s latest creation – Moana. I will be putting together a list of great films for conscious parents soon (why didn’t I do that earlier?!?!?!) but for now I’ll give you the bullet points as I know you don’t have much time!

1. Strong Role Model

This won me over for point number one as Moana displays so many admirable qualities. She’s physically, mentally and emotionally strong. She must overcome many barriers, trust her instinct, and believe in herself. Despite the fact she yearns for the sea and exploration she does so in wanting to be a better leader for her family and village as opposed to fighting or rebellion. And she’s not “super sexy” or sassy anything like that 🙂

Any “attitude” throughout the entire film is only character frustration or misunderstandings as opposed to plain rudeness or malice. So the biggest things my two kidlets are repeating/taking from this film are; trying to be better swimmers (yay!), being strong, trying hard, courage, females being in positions of great responsibility, seeing through the pain of others, and well, the words “butt cheek” did enter the eldest’s vocabulary but I’m not complaining about that with everything else she’s taken away from the film.

2. Presention of Culture

Although this story and characters (I believe) are not intended to represent a specific South Pacific Island or specific Nationality, I believe that the overall presentation of the island way of life, the region, and peoples to be positive and in many ways true. Happiness, sharing, reliance on the coconut, roles within the community, dancing… And the hair – my daughter wants hair like Moanas now, and even as I write this my youngest is covering her arms with removeable sticker tattoos, haha!! I was easily able to discuss and relate my children to SO many aspects of the movie (from the boats to the dancing, tattoos, language, roles within a village community, etc) not only because of our trips to New Zealand but because I have dear friends from the South Pacific Islands and we (myself and my children) are always involved in cultural and global exploration in order to widen their circle of knowledge, wisdom and tolerance. Moana is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to exposing your children to this regions peoples if they aren’t already 🙂 And I believe it’s also possible to research the less Americanized/Disney-fied versions of the story of the Demi-God ‘Maui’, for example, if you wish to further educate yourself.


3. No Unnecessary Violence and Minimal SlapStick Humor

What a relief to be able to watch a film without constantly reassuring my children that “we don’t hit others like that”, for example. I think there are two points in the film where it comes close. But this was a huge part of the appeal of this film as well as we saw that it’s only necessary to fight in self defense as opposed to attack or to be funny or provoke others. Or most importantly, when we can’t use our words effectively.

Thank you, Moana Directors, for this!

Oops, I must note though that a few scenes may frighten young children so please cuddle tight and answer their questions through those. I’d recommend ages 4 to 5 and older watch this one.

4. Great Story

Easy to follow for the children, and as I say in both points 7 & 9 the lessons were obvious, and it’s a wonderful coming of age story. I personally am happy the main character is female, too, since I have daughters 🙂

As I said in an earlier point it’s a Disney-fied version of a legend, so, research further for the history behind it. Or otherwise simply go and enjoy the film! 

5. Visually Breathtaking

I’ve recently started following Andy Harkness, the creative Director behind this masterpiece, and I would have to say I’m very impressed with pretty much every element. And when you do watch it – check out the amazing texture, look and movement of the hair and also water! I just wanted to touch it all!

6. Beautiful Music

Moana and the supporting characters have far easier voices to handle. This thankfully is not a repeat of Frozen. And yes, I do have the Frozen soundtrack. And yes, I do know all the words.

Secondly the mixture of languages was refreshing and also for my children, exciting. They appreciate the culture behind the music and I think that’s a wonderful thing!

7. Lessons Are Clearer

What I’ve actually noticed with a lot of kids films (Disney’s included) is that there are a LOT of underlying themes that simply go straight over the heads of our children but not without first modeling unwanted behaviors and adding confusion or inappropriate themes to their minds. And no, I’m not a “way out hippy”, or extremely religious, or extreme anything type of parent, I’m just aware of what they’re digesting, processing and regurgitating!

8. No Hate

In this world where there is so much hatred I find it refreshing that Moana doesn’t promote hate or a separatist attitude. Love it.

9. Easy to Explain or Expand On

Winning! Even after the 3rd viewing my children still have “why” questions and I find it is so easy to explain the answers and explore the topic/question raised. We do this with all films but I’ve found this very easy to parent through 🙂

10. Appropriate Themes

Following on from the last point, I don’t have to explain the ins and outs of themes they’re too little to understand or shouldn’t even be exposed to.
That just about sums it all up! I hope that what I’ve shared was helpful for you in choosing whether or not to show this film to your children. But as I’ve said I really do think it’s their best film yet 🙂

*This review is my personal opinion and I have no monetary affiliation with Disney. 

The day I thought I’d failed my daughter, and how I made my way back to her.

It’s not until you reach the lowest point possible, or, the highest point of stress that you may find your way to light. That’s how it’s been for me for the last 2 months – feeling like I’ve totally failed raising my second child. For varied and numerous reasons – lets call it “mashed up circumstances” – I hadn’t been as focused on my second as I was on my first – goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to handle any more children as other mothers so graciously do. But more than the usual “We played classical music for our first but the second just gets whatever is on the radio”, or, “We went totally organic for our first but the second ate bread and processed food WAY too early”… It was more along the lines of simply dragging the second along to everything the first was doing over this particular two month period, “hurrying” her along to keep up with whatever I was doing, and never really paying attention to more than her physical needs. I am a second born myself and I do realise how this feels. What a fool I was to repeat it for my own child!

So one day recently, all of a sudden everything felt like it came crashing down. My sweet, sparkly 3 yo was screaming and crying, constantly doing “bad” or the wrong things – that which she knows will push me or upset me, even physically hurting myself and others, and it felt like EVERYTHING I tried failed. Patience, calm non-violent communication, yelling, stupid consequences like removing cherished toys, changing the environment, making sure all physical needs were met that instant… I felt like I used all the tools in my toolbox and everything failed. I felt like she, and I, we’re breaking down. 

I cried for a while… Well, it was 2 days actually. And then it hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks. 

Connection.

SO simple. Children lash out when they are in need. When they are hurting.


Because of the various differences between my two, I was so focused on catering to my older child’s new phase and needs, as well as the other stressors which were going on at the time, my little one was totally left behind. My heart broke when I realised this. And then, her collarbone got broken after she fell from the dining room chair. This child who can literally jump off the clothes line, hang upside down on an aerial bar, do yoga, and climb 10 feet into the air on a circus rope, fell half a metre when messing around and broke her clavicle. At the time I felt it was my fault and wanted to make it all better, then we had quite a roller coaster ride with not getting help at the hospital (long story), that even more of our relationship felt like it was breaking. I felt like a really bad mother.

From that day onwards, even though she had been in pain and frustrated at not being able to do the amount of physical activity she was used to and had a lot of pent up energy, I tried to connect with her. It’s crazy how simple it is but in the busyness of every day life we can overlook that which is most simple.

I gave her 100% of my attention and focus. We played games led by her. We read her favourite books. I shared my feelings with her. And I made a conscious effort to have my older child allow her to speak without interruption. Every day I am working on it but every day is getting better. I think at one point in the process of feeling I was losing her I thought that because my first was constantly in the carrier and very attached to me (when she was tiny) that we had a stronger connection, and that my second born was simply a more adventurous, free spirit (which she is) but that she wasn’t as connected to me and that I had no say in the matter. That was another mistake.

You CAN make a difference in your relationship with your child. Never give up no matter how old they are! All it takes, is connection. You can never fail them as long as you are trying your hardest.

Let your love rule 🙂 You got this!
Xx

Book Review: Hugo Pepper (junior fiction)

  
Title: Hugo Pepper (link here)

Authors: Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

Age range/ ability: 5-10 years

Summary: The main character is a boy who was unknowingly adopted into a family of reindeer herders in the frozen north. This story follows his adventure of finding out where he’s from, and what his parents were like and their lives. It is of course, fiction.

My thoughts: This title is from the Far Flung Adventures books and I tell you now it’s a treat!  It’s actually what started my daughter on her crusade to read all of Chris  Riddell’s books (appropriate titles that is, as I think he may have books for older children/teens as well). I’ll be posting reviews on his other work soon.

What I like about this is the amazing illustrations – incredible line work which is a style all of its own. I’ve popped in a couple of pics below. Then next is the language – the descriptions and characters are never harsh or belittling and if there is a “mean” character there is never violence. I think at this age children don’t need to be exposed to extra violence in their life, especially when enjoying books!

I like how the authors give you the background on individual characters apart from the main boy. Teaching our children that everyone has a story and their own challenges in life.

The story is adorable and really pulls you in – my husband and I even enjoyed reading this one! It’s always great to find a gem.

Feedback from a 6 year old: “I love this book, Mum. I love the drawings and the boy and the snow Giants and, and, and “… You get the idea 😉

Here’s the link to get one: http://goo.gl/ds3OKA

And some samples from in the book:



*This post contains affiliate links

First Steps to Being An Awesome Parent

I couldn’t believe when I read this article on becoming a better parent.

  I had come to this myself maybe 6 months ago, after a year of to-and-fro (which I haven’t posted about just yet) and I just want to let you know that if you don’t do these things already – they really do change your life, and your children’s.

Read it and take the steps. It’s only 5 steps, and take the baby steps to begin with, but it’s worth it. Being a Mother or Father can rock – you just need to – Rock It!!

If you feel like you’ve chosen the wrong life (let’s face it, not all pregnancies are planned!) and parenting is just not you, sometimes a little shift in perspective or approach is all you need ❤️❤️

Attempting Organization: Wins and Fails

 

My desk looks organised for once!


 
Organization will always be a work in progress for me I think. I’m naturally a spontaneous, opportunistic person but having children – particularly homeschooling them – requires structure. I learnt this the hard way, which I’ll write about soonish in a separate post.

FAILS:

  • A monthly scramble – I tried to get organized month by month. Absolutely no chance. Too many changes happen over the space of one month (for everyone in the family) to do this. Unless you’re following a curriculum right on point I found this was way too ambitious and didn’t work in reality.
  • Moving without a plan – I’ll write in more detail about this in another post but the best way to move forward confidently will be to have a clear idea of how you want things to be. I had ideas, was swayed by other’s ideas, but until you research options and decide from there you’ll always fall short. Or get anxiety in the process which is what happened for me.
  • Being short on materials – I’ve had this problem countless times and it’s not only frustrating because we can’t finish a task or project but because it meant I either had to go to the shop again (yuck), or, had to wait until I had time to make the materials another night during the week/s to follow. Uncool.
  • No designated children’s work area – The reason I mention this is because I felt that all areas of our home were becoming too messy to think. It was overwhelming and suffocating (for me).

WINS:

  • Weekly organization & batching – Where possible, set aside a few hours every week (or more if you need) to pre-organize activities, materials, or at least a focus point for the week ahead. As I don’t follow a set curriculum my week to week activities follow the needs of my children and I adapt. It takes longer but I trust this will serve them better. As a side note, batching tasks helps too, even if it’s just batch preparation of snack items for the week! I prepare 4/5 days worth of activities/work/outings at a time. I do this after they’ve gone to sleep at night. A schedule will help too, even if it’s just a rough one 🙂
  • Split and combined activities – this is tricky for me and I’m just transitioning into it as I have a 4 year age gap between children their needs are quite different especially as my youngest turns 3. Our week consists of several activities which can be done together, and several where each child focuses on their own “work”. This also addresses the one-on-one time with mummy issue 🙂
  • Down time and free play – this functions for both you and the children. I have this mentally scheduled into each day. Let the children play! Parent down time is much harder since we have so much do to but where you can, do it. When mine were babies I started off just taking two minutes to moisturize my face instead of 2 seconds, and it has grown from there.
  • Monthly materials shop/make/gather – I’m still perfecting this but it really comes down to planning, and saves loads of time on a week to week basis!
  • True presence – Time and time again, any behavior “hiccups” we go through are down to connection time with me. If I’m multitasking or making them wait for interaction with me for too long, the problems start. Put your phone on silent and in a separate room, and fill their cup of love – you’ll be surprised what can come of this.
  • Designated areas for focused “work” – This idea doesn’t work for everyone, but as soon as I introduced this to my two when they hit approximately age 3, their ability to focus grew and they readily jumped at creating in and keeping tidy, their own space. They felt important, and as well as that, knew where they could find what they needed!
  • Continuous learning and exploration as a Homeschooling Parent – In the hustle of the every day, sometimes we forget that we too need to keep learning. I find inspiration in exploring different ideas to present concepts, better ways to get more done, and lessons people learn as they ride this wave of their parenting life.
  • Being part of a Homeschooling community – Lets face it, we’ve chosen to do a pretty big thing by taking on this responsibility ourselves. People do it for different reasons and in different ways, but regardless, having support and others to bounce ideas off is a wonderful (and at times sanity saving!) thing.

🙂

So that’s a quick rundown as I know none of us has time for lengthy posts! If I think of more I’ll write again 😉

Cooking and Toddlers: Yes, it CAN work!

  

I’ll make this quick because, who has spare time when you need to prepare a meal or 10?

As of a few months ago, I have extra chefs in the kitchen when I need them, and boy does this take the frustration out of the “witching hour”! It means they get focussed time developing fine motor skills, they learn to respect the cooking and food handling (and potentially food growing) processes, AND they spend quality one-on-one time with me – it’s a win-win-win as I like to call it!

Usually, my eldest is finished first with her cooking task simply because she is more experienced and skilled. My 2yo however will spend 20 solid minutes or more cooking if necessary as she loves to be a part of what I’m doing (don’t all toddlers?). So today I’m sharing how I got it to work, and a few recipe outlines to get you and your toddler started – hooray!

  1. Ask them, with joy, whether they’d like to help.
  2. Explain the importance of, and how much love goes into home cooked meals.
  3. Teach knife and stove skills early.
  4. Have trust (and patience!) with their rustic artistry.
  5. Thank them for their part in creating the family meal.

Setting up a workstation in the kitchen.

I set up a stable footstool by the bench or dining table. Arrange a small chopping board, paring knife (or spoon if spooning or other utensils), and the food items, with as much space surrounding this area as possible. Place a hand cloth and the dish/bowl/cup next to them for transferring the food into. Have the child stand up on the stool in front of the workstation and explain the items and what they’ll need to do.

Try these simple, toddler friendly recipes;

Salad (fruit or green). Select, or have them select foods that can be easily cut, set up their work station, and until you’re confident they won’t cut themselves, stay nearby to guide them.

Yoghurt with berries. This one is great for practicing pouring and scooping. Again, guide them lightly until you see they can manage scooping the weight of the items, then relax and let them handle it!

Pancakes. This one is slightly more complex and you will need to supervise for a longer period but when they’re confident, pancakes for Mum or Dad in bed with yoghurt and berries on top is excellent!

Scrambled eggs. I have a small frying pan the children can lift and place on the stove. Have them place the butter/oils in and turn the stove dial to the appropriate setting, and have them crack the eggs into a separate bowl before pouring into the pan. Once they’re confident enough they can crack them straight into the pan. With this, I handle the transfer of eggs to plate.

Sandwiches. You can get creative with your workstation here and line everything up like a train!

Pouring liquids. Juice, milk, water, gelatin drinks. This is a great one to start small then work upwards with the quantity.

Rice cakes with toppings. My little one loves preparing the bedtime snack for herself and her sister. Coconut oil (solid of course), butter, tahini, jam, honey … whatever works 🙂

So – one more reminder before you get started – allow an extra 10-20 minutes for meal preparation 🙂 

It may be slow to begin with but such skills can only improve and serve your children in the future. Good luck and have fun!!!!

Xx

Teaching Your Children About Consent – in pictures

I could not have done this better myself. If it makes it easier for parents to give them tools to feel a little less awkward (especially those who haven’t experienced any form of sexual abuse), or a great choice of words to use, I’m all for it. I will be searching for more from Morgan in the weeks to come. Check it out;


 Originally found here.
Thank you, Morgan and Liz! I will be sharing this everywhere! Useful for fathers as well.
Xx