WHEN SCREEN TIME FOR CHILDREN IS A GOOD THING – KIDLOLAND APP REVIEW

I must confess that pre-kids I swore I wouldn’t allow my children too much (if any) screen time. As soon as my eldest hit 2 this went out of the window. There are so many shows on the television that she loves, they are educational and fun and also mean I get a few minutes to do some chores or go to the toilet without a child hanging off me.

There are certain times of the day that I let my two girls watch television and I always control exactly what they watch. I’m not sure when the iPad was introduced but I guess it was when she was about 3. I limit her time on this too, it’s usually only for 20 minutes in the morning when she wakes up – this is because she is an early riser and stops her waking her sister!

When Kidloland approached me to review their app I was dubious. I am trying to limit her screen time not encourage it. That said I was keen to see if there was an app available that would offer a fun, interactive and educational option instead of just children’s programmes.

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What’s Mine Is Mine And What’s Yours Is MINE!

 

 

 

Today I bought my youngest child (16 months), a brand new pair of shoes. This is very special for two reasons. Firstly – they are the first pair of shoes that I have bought for her, she’s been waddling around in her older sister’s scuffed cast offs since she started walking. Secondly – because they are too small for her older sister (nearly 3), so there is absolutely no way that she can claim them as hers.

When I discovered I was having another girl I was delighted. I hoped that one day these sisters would be best friends as I am with mine. However I can’t deny that some of that delight was due to the practicalities of having 2 girls. I had cupboards bursting with girl’s clothes. Having a second child required a lot less preparation too. We already had all the equipment and toys we needed, even if they were a little stained, worn or broken – they’d do!

I have moments of guilt when I realise the extent to which I sterilised and cleaned everything for my first born. With my second child it’s more a case of lick and spit and off she goes. I actually went and bought a heap of batteries a few months ago when I realised most of the developmental flashing and talking toys she was playing with were no longer functioning as intended.

At Christmas the presents ‘Father Christmas’ bought my eldest were fun and, on the whole, things she’d requested. Whilst my youngest received more practical gifts such as beach towels, lunch boxes and a ladybird icepack to put in the freezer in case of an emergency. Despite the practicality (and rather boring nature) of these gifts, the octopus hooded beach towel with the red fish on it, only stayed in her possession long enough for her to rip off the wrapping paper. It was immediately claimed by her sister in exchange for her older, tattier and very well used purple princess one – all this performed under the guise of kindness when it was nothing more than blatant stealing.

Meanwhile, the giant rabbit teddy with pink hands and feet that my eldest so specifically requested from Father Christmas, has not received anywhere near the same level of love and attention as the towel. In fact, said bunny teddy sits rather depressingly hunched over in the corner of her bedroom, neglected and unloved.

Almost every other gift my youngest received for Christmas or her birthday from friends and relatives has been stolen or swapped with the older, worn or used versions of her sister’s.

When giving them food, I am careful to distribute  everything evenly. However, the minute my back is turned my eldest is on the prowl. Grabbing her sister’s food out of her hands or directly from her mouth, if it looks appealing enough. If they are sitting down to eat at the table, she is usually to be found leaning across the table with her fingers wriggling around in her sisters bowl; busily picking out the items that take her fancy and, (if she’s feeling generous) exchanging them for her rejects. Occasionally my youngest squawks at her, grabbing hold of her bowl or toy and wrapping her arms around it as though her life depended on it. On these occasions my eldest will use all of her might to extract the item from her sister’s tight clutches. If this proves unsuccessful she starts chanting ”sharing’s caring” – a rather one dimensional view on sharing. However, more often than not my youngest  gives in, resigned to the fact that her sister will usually win.

I have learnt that literally whatever the youngest has, her sister will always want – at that precise second. There is no negotiation. Even when I try to step in, in an effort to teach her about sharing or inform her that it’s not actually hers, she has no interest in what I’m saying. Somehow she always manages to walk away the winner with a rather smug satisfied smile on her little face.

On the couple of days a week when the eldest goes to kindy, I love watching my youngest enjoying the freedom of playing with each and every toy (especially the ones that are 100% her sister’s that she never usually gets to lay a finger on). You’d think she would be so happy to not be bossed and pushed around by her elder sibling, however I sense that she  misses her.  As soon as they are reunited, her face lights up like a ray of sunshine and she squeals in delight.

Since returning from the shops this morning and waking from her day sleep my youngest pulled her new shoes from the cupboard and brought them to me. Insisting that I put them on her feet immediately, she sat down and held one chubby little foot up in the air, eagerly waiting for her new shoes to be placed on her feet. I wonder if she somehow knows that these are HERS?

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Eagerly holding her feet out to wear ‘her very own’ brand spanking new shoes

 

 

Food For Thought

imageYesterday, whilst at the playground I had to admire my 3 year old for her persistence.

It was New Year’s Eve. We took the girl’s and their dinner as well as some snacks and wine for us, to the playground at the back of the beach. I rarely leave the house without food for them as it appears to be the main bribery tool that works when trying to get them to complete the simplest of tasks.

The girls opened up their Peppa Pig lunch box, as they do every day, in excited anticipation to see what goodies lay within the pink canvas casing. Sometimes I can sense (and understand) their disappointment- it’s usually some variation of the same 3 ingredients: yoghurt, pasta and eggs. However today (as it was NYE) I’d tried to make it more interesting. I’d go so far as to say I’d possibly gone a little overboard with the amount and variety; chicken, avocado, crisps, yoghurt, nuts, grapes, cherries, dips and crackers – no egg or pasta in sight for once! Initially most of the contents seemed to meet their approval- this was evident by the way they were busily tucking in. Obviously not all of it was a winner, every now and again an item of half nibbled, sucked, licked or untouched food landed on or near me as they discarded it.

After a few minutes my 3 year old hot footed it to the other side of the playground where she promptly stood and stared intently at a family who were sitting down to enjoy their own picnic. They gave her a couple of token/awkward smiles as they tried to carry on enjoying their dinner in spite of her watchful eye.

After a good ten minutes of some hard core staring and probably making them feel immensely guilty with each bite they took, they caved in and passed her a strawberry. Without hesitation she took it from them and ran back to us, grinning with pride and satisfaction at her achievement/steal.

When I was a child it was drummed into me daily not to take food from strangers. I can’t remember what age I was when I started to understand this. As you can see, I haven’t started teaching this to my girls yet but I guess it may be time to start.

I remember the first few times my daughter got ‘food envy’ when we were out in public. I’d desperately try to explain and show my friend or the stranger she had approached, how much food I had brought so they didn’t think I was a terrible or unprepared mother. The shoe has now been on the other foot as it’s happened to me many times with other children. I have to say I find it a little awkward. I have no issue giving the child some food but it’s often tricky to know what is the right thing to do, especially if the parent is nowhere in sight.

It made me wonder why it is that children get food envy? My youngest will vigorously shake her head from side to side and throw food off her high chair in disgust, 5 minutes later if I’m eating the exact same thing she stares at me longingly and opens her mouth wide waiting for me to shovel some in. Once I do as she requests, she has a look of immense satisfaction on her face and opens her mouth even wider in readiness for the next deposit.

Is it because other people’s food actually tastes better or is it the satisfaction they feel when they get something that isn’t actually theirs? I’m inclined to think it’s the latter however I’m no child psychologist so unfortunately I don’t have the answers. Just food for thought!

Don’t Be Afraid, My Lovely Sister

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What words exist to comfort you for what you have just lost?

Time will heal, this is true, but no one knows the cost.

Don’t be afraid to scream and shout, whilst stamping both your feet.

About the baby who breathes no more, you never got to meet.

I wish so much, I was there with you to hug you, oh so tight.

I want to whisper in your ear, that all will be alright.

The distance we have between us, has never felt so far.

You’ve always been a rock to me, my friend and shining star.

I know that you are blessed with a great husband and 3 gorgeous boys,

They make you laugh and make you mad, when you stumble on their toys.

But knowing this doesn’t take away, the sadness you may feel.

Don’t be afraid to let it out, sharing will be the best way to heal.

I love you more than words can say, I’m feeling for you so much.

Please don’t be afraid to call me often, we need to stay in touch.

The emotions you may now feel could be up and down, who knows?

You’re brave and strong and really tough, that will pull you through the lows.

These words I write for you alone, they can’t express enough

How sorry I am to hear your news, and know you’re having it so tough.

Please don’t be afraid to moan and swear, a right you surely own

When you have lost some part of you, a spirit that has flown.

I LOVE YOU X

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Growing up I can remember many disagreements with my two older sisters where my Mum or Dad had to step in to referee. We would all stake our claim that ‘SHE started it’. Sometimes I’d side with one of my sisters to say that it was the other one’s fault. Regardless of these assertions usually the outcome was the same – Mum or Dad would insist that we apologised to each other, irrespective of who had ‘apparently’ started it.

It always felt desperately unfair and I can remember even then finding it incredibly challenging to say those two little words, ‘I’m sorry’.

As I grew to be a teenager, the fights with my siblings decreased and they were replaced with arguments with my parents (mainly my Dad). Sometimes I was fully aware that I’d been out of order or grumpy and that perhaps the argument was my fault however I still found it difficult to utter those two little words.

Then came disagreements with boyfriends and friends. Occasionally I’d know I was the one in the wrong but once I’d started down that path it was so difficult to retract what had been said and actually admit that I was ‘sorry’.

Recently I’ve been observing my eldest daughter (age 2 years and 8 months) and have been amazed to see how at such a young age the words, ‘I’m sorry’, seem to cause her such difficulty.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Occasionally she does something naughty to her baby sister such as a heavy handed pat (AKA a whack) or grabs a toy off her. Recently she has started to hit out at me and her Dad. Aware we must teach her that this behaviour is unacceptable, we take her away from the situation and talk to her insisting that she says ‘sorry’ to whoever she has upset. Well, you would think we were asking her to jump into a pit of snakes. She will do absolutely everything possible to avoid saying those two little words. She would rather sit and scream in her room for eternity than say those words.

We offer her bribes:

‘’If you say you’re sorry we can all go out and have fun after at the park’’

or

‘’If you just say you are sorry you can come and eat ice-cream with us’’

Sometimes she will slowly move towards whoever it is she is meant to be apologising to, hanging her head, avoiding any eye contact. She will stand like that for ages and no amount of gentle persuasion/bribery will get her to say those words. We have now offered her the option of giving the person a kiss instead of saying those oh so difficult words. Even still she just can’t quite bring herself to do it. Very occasionally we have been known to hear the words we’ve been eagerly awaiting. But those occasions are rare and the words are muttered so quietly under her breath, whilst still avoiding all eye contact, you could blink and miss them.

As an adult I understand that the reason I don’t like to say sorry sometimes is either because I absolutely believe I’m right or I know I’m not right but just can’t quite deal with losing face – that little thing called pride not helped by my stubborn nature. There are occasions, I will concede, that I have been known to have a row with my husband and I’ve completely lost what my initial point was.  Worse still,  I’m suddenly aware that I’m being totally unreasonable yet I just can’t seem to stop myself (it can’t be just a coincidence that such arguments tend to happen at a certain time each month and during the early weeks of both of my pregnancies! I’m of course apportioning all blame for these crazy mood swings and irrational behaviour to hormones). The argument can sometimes carry on in this vein for several minutes. It’s only after some cooling off time that I may be able to swallow my pride, admit I was wrong, and say, ‘I’m sorry’.

So my question is, when my little girl seems to find it impossibly hard to say, “I’m sorry”, is this because she believes she is in the right or is it because she knows she’s in the wrong but doesn’t want to lose face?

Unfortunately, I’m no child psychologist.  I don’t have an answer to this question. I’m thoroughly intrigued by watching my daughter to see how her relationship with these two little words may develop as she grows older. She certainly takes after both myself and her father with her stubborn nature- it’s fair to say she’s a chip off the old block!

A Night of Blissful, Uninterrupted Sleep

Whilst our 1 year old baby has never been a good sleeper, she has certainly stepped it up a notch over the last few weeks. We are both sick which doesn’t help. Last night, when my husband kindly offered to do the night shift in my place, suggesting he sleep in the room with our little owl I jumped at the chance.

I would sleep (as usual) in our bedroom with our 2.5 year old who is a good sleeper however I wouldn’t have to get up throughout the night as I usually do which inevitably ends up with me sleeping in the babies’ room.

Words cannot express how grateful I was to him for this kind offer, ecstatic at the thought of a few hours’ uninterrupted and blissful sleep especially given I’m was feeling so poorly.

I went to bed placing my ear plugs firmly into position, snuggling down under the covers in excited anticipation of a wonderful, restorative, unbroken night ahead. In the words of Giggle and Hoot;

“Seeeeeee you in the morning”

Unfortunately it didn’t quite pan out like that.

First of all I couldn’t get off to sleep. Something I don’t tend to have much trouble with at the start of the night these days given I’m usually knackered from the night before. Not a regular user of ear plugs, it seems that with a head cold they make you even more aware of your Darth Vader breathing. Once I noticed my heavy breathing I couldn’t stop hearing my own thoughts spinning round and round in my head. I’m sure at least an hour had passed before I eventually must have drifted off to sleep.

“Nooooooooooooooooooo, stop it! I don’t like it”

I am abruptly woken. Startled I sit up and see our eldest is wriggling around in her cot shouting, obviously in the middle of a terrifying nightmare (probably involving her sister trying to steal her beloved pink unicorn or teddy bear).

She has had a few of these nightmares recently but usually earlier on in the evening. I remember the first couple of times I was quite alarmed by it and desperately wanted to pull her out of the cot, wrapping my arms around her to comfort her. However, I have heard that it’s best to leave them if they are asleep and on the few times she has had nightmares they don’t seem to last long before she appears to be back in peaceful Lah Lah land.

Once her screaming and fidgeting had stopped (it wasn’t for long), sighing I relaxed and lay back down. I’m pretty sleepy still so should drift off into a deep relaxing sleep easily and hey, one awakening is still heaps better than the usual 6.

I’m woken again, it feels like seconds later but I have no idea how long it’s been or what time it is. When it comes to sleep I have strict rules not to look at my clock so I don’t obsess about the amount/lack of sleep I’m getting. Having suffered with insomnia for a few months several years ago I’m fully clued up on what to/not to do when it comes to sleep.

‘’Dummy, dummy, dummy”

Dragging myself out of bed using my phone’s torch (I only recently discovered my iPhone actually has a torch feature, not sure how many years I have spent scrabbling around in the dark with just the light from my phone). I locate the dummy, pass it to her and hear her contentedly sucking away on it again like Maggie from the Simpsons

I crawl back into bed and attempt sleep again for the 3rd time of my so called unbroken night of sleep. I Feel myself getting slightly more stressed, the pressure building to get to sleep and make the most of my night off. Of course, I can’t sleep. This is exacerbated by the build-up of snot in my nose which is making it impossible for me to breathe (unable to take Sudafed whilst breastfeeding I stick to the old fashioned method of hankies and Vicks).

From this point on I drift in and out of a light and unsatisfying sleep, waking again for a sneezing fit and then again because I’d given up on the earplugs and heard the baby crying in the other bedroom. It’s now 5.30am.

Fearing the baby will wake the eldest (who usually stirs quite easily from 4am onwards if disturbed) and not ready to have her start her day yet, I admit defeat. I stumble across the apartment to the bedroom where my husband is trying to console the crying baby (she has serious attachment issues to Mummy that we need to work on).

And that was my night off, you can imagine what a night on duty is like at our house.

Fear not, my wonderful Mum is arriving from the UK on Wednesday and I shall be happily taking her up on ALL offers of help. Ensuring that both my husband and I get a few more nights off however minus any little people in the room.