One thing about parenting that nobody prepares you for

One thing about parenting that nobody prepares you for

We asked our community ‘What’s the one thing about parenting that nobody prepares you for?’ and were overwhelmed by the response. Mums began to share the things that really took them by surprise. The things that nobody had told them about beforehand.

Mums acknowledged that one thing they had never experienced before was the overwhelming sense of love for their new baby. But they also shared many of the things that frustrated, overwhelmed or even terrified them. Their shared experiences were really enlightening. How many of these did you feel too?

After birth I wasn’t prepared for…

  • The invisibility. Everyone asks about the baby and not mum and dad
  • How broken my body would feel months after birth
  • The loneliness
  • That being a parent is amazing, frustrating and terrifying in equal measure
The one thing nobody prepared me for after becoming a parent
  • The mental load that feels overwhelming
  • The fear of something bad happening to your baby
  • The sudden loss of identity
  • The intrusive thoughts and the trauma from birth
  • The relentlessness of it all
The things nobody prepares you for about parenting
  • The biggest burden I am carrying right now is pretending I’m OK and I’m coping
  • The guilt and judgement from all angles
  • How broken my body would feel months after birth
  • How you will be more tired than you possibly thought and can still function
  • That it’s normal not to cherish every moment because lots of times it’s tough, frustrating and even boring
the things you're not prepared for before birth
  • The complete loss of freedom
  • The overwhelming feeling of responsibility that seems almost impossible to manage
  • Why we don’t prepare enough before birth for the impact both mentally and emotionally
  • That being a parent is amazing, frustrating and terrifying in equal measure

Parenthood – the shock of the new

Although you can read all the books and go to antenatal classes there’s nothing that can completely prepare you for how much your life will change after having a baby. These responses do highlight how the biggest shock after birth is how much it affects you emotionally and mentally. If we talked about this more before birth then it might really help us better prepare. Or at least know some of the things to expect and be armed with knowledge of where to turn if we struggle.

Mental health checks for new mums

In 2018, the NHS introduced a brilliantly progressive introduction to mental health checks for new mums. Then Covid happened! The NHS recently promised that ‘ten sites will be up and running within months’ and ‘every area will have one by April 2024’. If that happens then it’s a big step towards supporting new parents and families. But that’s still two years away. And new mums need support right now.

What can you do now if you need support?

We’ve put together a list of places that you can go to find support, advice and help. Many include helplines and text messaging services as well as individual and group support. You can find them all here.

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9 genius travel hacks when you have small children

9 genius travel hacks when you have small children

When the sun is out, and the summer term comes to an end, the words “travel” and “holiday” are suddenly on everyone’s minds. It’s the perfect chance to recoup and relax. However, when you add small children into the mix, suddenly it becomes a very different ball game! These tips and tricks will help you through.

Here are 9 genius travel hacks for when you have small children onboard!

Small child sitting in a suitcase ready to go travelling!

1. Bring a seemingly endless amount of ziplock bags

There’s no such thing as too many when you are travelling with small children. Trust us, you will get through a lot of them. Their versatile nature lends to so many uses, whether that be carrying home wet swimming costumes or for quick and easy disposal of dirty nappies. They definitely won’t go amiss.

2. Crucial travel hack for small children- Bring spare clothes!

However you’re traveling pack a spare set of clothes for your child AND a spare set for you. And pop them somewhere you can grab them easily if you need them. The last thing you want is to be trapped in a hot car/ferry/plane in soiled clothes after a bout of travel sickness or an explosive nappy!

3. Travel hack for small children- Pack small and new toys

Colouring books, sticker books, small sensory plushies, crayons… All of these will come in SUPER handy when you’re experiencing those “quiet” periods on your trips. Like when you’re waiting for food or travelling on a coach/plane. There’s some great ideas for travel toys listed here from Carrie, a blogger who has had to keep her two little ones occupied through long flights between UK and Australia.

4. Buy suntan lotion, baby-care products and any crucial toiletries before you go on your trip.

Places orientated towards tourists often know what products are being sought out from holiday-goers. Which usually means the prices of them will be sky-high. To save some precious cash, make sure that you pack plenty of nappies, suntan lotion, Calpol, travel sick tablets, Sudocrem, femcare products, paracetamol, and any other toiletries, medicines and care products you may need. And don’t forget the reusable water bottles where you can refill at a nearby water fountain. Save money on bottled water (if at all possible in your holiday destination!)

sandy toes toddler

5. Travel hacks for small children- Bring talc to the beach

It seems like you only have to spend 5 minutes on the beach to suddenly be finding sand in your bags for the following year. But, one of the most frustrating things about going to the beach is trying to brush that sand off your feet when you’re trying to leave. An easy hack is sitting right there with the rest of your baby products- talc. Try using it to get right between your child’s little toes. It really works.

6. 2 items you’ll be glad you packed – a fitted sheet and a sarong wrap!

These two items can have so many uses that you just wouldn’t fully expect.

The fitted sheet:

  • Take it with you to the beach. Place pebbles on all four corners and ta-dah! You’ve created an instant sand-free space for your baby to play.
  • Spending a bit of time in your hotel room? Use this to make a cute little fort for your little ones to play in while you have a bit of downtime.

The sarong:

  • Could be used as a blanket or a towel
  • Handy picnic cloth
  • Something to help give you and your little ones some privacy while you’re changing in and out of clothes on the beach
  • Also a very useful item for fort-building!

7. Let your little one’s travel buddy be their 2nd or 3rd favourite plushie

Your child might want to bring their number one cuddly toy with them on their adventure. But if their best friend ends up being lost, then they (and you!) will be devastated. If their 2nd or 3rd favourite cuddly comes along for the ride and ends up being left behind somewhere, well they may be able to be replaced by someone just as soft and cute. Don’t take the risk of potentially losing your child’s number one toy while in unfamiliar territory! Oh – and buy a lanyard to attach your toy too so you can keep it safe at all times!

Young toddler cuddles with a stuffed toy while laying on a fluffy carpet

8. Check before you go if you can hire out baby/toddler equipment when you arrive

Some locations that are family-orientated will provide this equipment to you for free. But for the sake of saving the stress while you’re somewhat sleep deprived and just arriving at your holiday location, it’s best to contact the company you’re staying with ahead of time to check all those nitty gritty details.

If there are no highchairs and cots provided you might be able to hire them. Check before you go.

9. Final travel hack for mum and dad: pick a room with a balcony or lounge area

At the end of the day, this isn’t just a holiday for your kids. It’s a holiday for you too. Make sure that the place you’re staying in has an area where the adults can sit, relax and chat once the kids have all gone to bed. Don’t forget about the you-time on this trip!

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9 super summer crafts for kids

9 super summer crafts for kids

From a super cool ice lolly creation station to the cutest handprint blooms here are some super summer crafts for kids.

1. Button trees

An absorbing summer craft that will keep little ones busy for ages. Paint a tree trunk on their sheet of paper in brown paint. Then your child can glue down lots of colourful buttons to make the leaves/blossom. You can buy jars of brightly coloured buttons very cheaply at craft shops or online.

2. Lolly creation station

summer crafts lollipops

Set up a little creation station for your child to design their own ice lollies. Cut out shapes for the lollies from card and then put together a selection of craft items to decorate. These could include buttons, mini pom-poms, little rectangles of card and ‘sprinkles’ made from tiny pieces of snipped card. Finish with wooden lolly sticks. This is not only a lovely summer craft but creates an opportunity for imaginative play too.

3. Colourful caterpillars

Cut lots of little circles from sheets of foam (or card) and ask your child to arrange them into a pattern and stick them together to make their caterpillar. They can either glue on googly eyes or draw on eyes and smile with a Sharpie. Cut a leaf shape from green card for your little caterpillars to sit on.

4. Summer craft for kids – Happy hand flowers

This is a lovely activity to do with a group. but you can also make much smaller pictures if you are just doing it with your child. Paint hands with bright coloured paint and make hand prints on a sheet of paper. Then use a paintbrush to make the green stalks. You can print as many flowers as you like. You can then print with forks and sponges to make lots of smaller flowers and grass. The result is a super cheery summer scene.

5. Little sponge sailing boats

A quick and easy way to make little sailing boats for the paddling pool (or bath!). Just cut sponges to your desired shape. Make a sail from card and a cocktail stick and pop it in place. A lovely summer craft for kids.

6. A hand full of blooms

summer crafts handprint flowers

Pinnies on and tablecloths down as this one’s a bit messy! But – it’s great fun too. Paint your child’s hand in a nice bright colour and help them print it onto a sheet of paper or card. Repeat to make lots of overlapping handprints (like in the picture above). Complete your bunch of flowers by painting stalks a little heart and ribbon details.

7. Bugs and bunnies

Don’t throw out those toilet roll tubes! Repurpose them to make these gorgeous bugs and bunnies. First paint your tubes and then add details with card. You can add googly eyes and pom pom noses too. There are a few different ideas here but your child can use their imagination to create their own critters.

8. Summer craft for kids – Cute cows

We love this little make. Again start with an empty toilet roll tube. Fold down both sides at one end to make the ear shape. Then paint with white paint. Add a bob of pink for the nose and black spots. Then complete with googly eyes and a little tail from card.

9. Animal planters

A perfect summer craft for kids. Let your child create their own little plant pot. These start out in life as milk cartons or empty plastic bottles. Carefully cut the bottom from your carton (make sure an adult does this bit!). You can cut out some ears too to make an animal planter. Then your child can paint their planters and add details, such as the eyes and nose, whiskers and any other patterns they like!

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Top tips if your toddler is a fussy eater

Top tips if your toddler is a fussy eater

Is your toddler a broccoli dodger? Have mealtimes become a battleground? If so – you’re not alone. According to Great Ormond Street up to a third of two year olds can be described as fussy eaters. So – it’s not just your toddler. It’s a common phase toddlers go through.

That doesn’t make it any less stressful or worrying though. Which is why we’ve put together some top tips from our own experience as well as experts to help.

Why is my toddler suddenly a fussy eater?

It could be for a couple of reasons. Firstly their rate of growth slows down when they are around one and that means their appetite might decrease. Toddlers are also very busy little people, learning all sorts of new skills. They might have less interest in sitting down to eat a meal. Also, you’ll no doubt have noticed that your little one is becoming more independent and determined to ‘do it by my own’. Refusing food is a powerful way of asserting themselves.

little girl refusing food

Having a fussy eater can be super stressful

If your toddler goes through a fussy eating stage it’s all too easy for mealtimes to become very fraught and a battle of wills. You can begin to worry about how much your child is (or isn’t) eating. And, even though it isn’t your fault, the mum/dad guilt often kicks in too.

Feeding your child is one of the most fundamental things we do to make sure they grow and develop. Remember all the worries in the early days about how much milk your child was getting and how well they were putting on weight? Those worries can come back BIG time if your toddler suddenly starts refusing food.

What did you do wrong? Will they be OK when they screw their nose up at every single piece of fruit or veg you give them? Does this mean they’ll be a fussy eater forever?

You’re not alone and it will be OK

It always feels like you’re the only one but remember that a third of toddlers go through a fussy eating stage so you’re definitely not alone. And – even though it really doesn’t feel like it now – the majority of toddlers will grow out of this stage. In the meantime – even though it feels like they’re surviving on a crust of bread and a morsel of chicken – research shows toddlers almost always manage to eat the right amount of nutrients for healthy growth and development.

So what can you do? Firstly – relax!

One of the biggest things you can do is to stop worrying so much. We know, we know – that’s easier said than done. Hopefully by the time you’ve got to the end of this article you’ll have found enough reasons to start feeling less anxious about your toddler’s fussy eating. And that will make a massive difference. We promise!

toddler eating broccoli

Look at how much food your toddler eats in a week NOT a day

Look at the bigger picture. Some days toddlers hardly eat anything; the next they’ll probably make up for it by eating a bit more. If you look at how much they eat over a week instead of each day you might be surprised. And will feel less anxious.

Stick to a routine

Offer meals and snacks at the same time each day. Toddlers love nothing more than routine. And it helps them regulate their appetite too.

Eat together and stop hovering!

Sit down for meals together. And keep them as stress free as possible. That means no hovering over your toddler and continually asking (or pleading) them to take another bite. Lots of happy chat around the table will make both you and your little one more relaxed. And if your focus is off watching your toddler’s every bite it takes the pressure off.

Toddler refusing to eat a tomato

Offer the new with the old

Give your child tried and tested favourite foods along with something new. If they don’t try the new food or spit it out – don’t worry. Just wait a while and offer it again. Research has found that toddlers need to try a food at least 12 (but up to 30) times before they like it.

Don’t give too many choices

Don’t ask your toddler what they want to eat. Present them with small portions of three or four foods and you can always add more. But do let them feed themselves so they feel like they have a bit more control over their meal.

Toddler a fussy eater? Try food-chaining

If your toddler loves chicken nuggets, try offering them similar but slightly different versions of this food. So you might offer then different shaped chicken nuggets. And then chunks of chicken that you’ve coated in breadcrumbs and then breaded fish nuggets. You might then move onto strips of roast chicken or baked fish without the coating.

This is a very gradual approach but can work really well.

Mix it up sometimes

Although toddlers love their routine you can try mixing things up sometimes too. Especially if mealtimes have become a bit of a battleground around the table. Try sitting on a picnic rug on the floor or having a teddy bear’s tea party in the Wendy house. The new setting can sometimes mean your toddler is having so much fun that they nibble away happily at their meal.

Remember this too shall pass

When you’re in the thick of the storm it’s hard to believe things will ever get better. The truth is they almost always will. Like so many things in parenting if you can stay consistent in your approach each stage eventually passes by.

Disclaimer: We have researched and included robust sources to provide information in this article. However, we are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about your child’s health. Do speak to your health visitor or GP if you are worried about your toddler’s diet or health.

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