Hi there, my name is Saima, currently living in Malaysia. I am a blogger, freelance article writer and a SAHM mum of 3 beautiful kids (2 girls and one boy all under the age of 10) literally in pjs all day long like you all beautiful mums out there.
After pregnancies, most of the mothers gain a lot of weight and with their new baby they don’t get the time to work out, go to the gym or even for a walk. I didn’t gain much weight in my first pregnancy but after my second, I did put on a lot of weight. After my daughter was 2 years old, I tried to join different group training sessions. But then they were expensive and obviously it was difficult for me to leave her at home and manage it with the other house chores and commitments. By the time she was 3 I found out that I was expecting again with my 3rd child. So I started to gain weight again…along with the previous weight which I was never able to shed!
I decided to workout at home when my son (my 3rd child) was 2 years old. I googled how to workout at home and I joined various support groups on Facebook which gave me a lot of motivation. Following are some tips which can help you work out at home and save some money instead of going to the gym which can cost a lot!
Fix the time
Fix the time which is most suitable for you to work out at home and stick to it, so that you will be able to manage and finish your house chores accordingly. I schedule my time from 5pm to 6pm when I am usually done with all the cooking, cleaning and dishes. This is generally the time when my children are always busy playing in their room or when they are allowed their screen time.
Always change into workout clothes
You will never get the motivation in your lounge wear or in your pjs. When it’s time for your work out always wear your gym clothes. It also improves your confidence and performance.
Follow YouTube and workout apps
There are lots of YouTube videos through which you can search for any type of workout; whether it’s simple cardio or aerobics, zumba or strength trainings. I started with Leslie Sansone’s “walk at home”. If you are new to work out and don’t know how to start, I suggest you begin with this. It’s a low intensity cardio and very easy to follow. For a little high intensity, you can checkout popsugar fitness on YouTube.
Also, there are different apps available like ”women workout at home”, “workout for women”, “home workout for women”. These are some which I downloaded and found really effective. You can search for more which are applicable for you.
Cardio vs strength
When working out, both cardio and strength exercises are essential for the body. With cardio you can burn those calories and strength training helps you to burn the body fat and makes lean muscles. Try to do strength trainings twice a week.
Involve your kids
If you think your kids won’t let you work out (and if your kids are older than 2 years,) you can ask them to follow you. Children love to imitate their parents. They will try to copy you in their cute little ways, and you will love it!
Early morning/ late night
If you are a mother of an infant who keep you busy the whole day, then you can work out early in the morning before your baby wakes up or at night when you put him/her into bed at night. Just 30 mins will do the work. You know… a little workout is always better than no workout at all. I used to wake up 30 mins before my husband woke up for office and I would leave the baby with him. It was going good until the pandemic happened.
Ask for your partner’s support
If you are a mother of an infant, you can always ask your partner for support to look after the baby while you can do a little work out at home. You can select your time when your spouse is available to take care of the baby. Sometimes when I am doing exercise at home, I ask my husband to play with our son otherwise he comes to me again and again and asks for his milk or candy or cookie or toy .. or any thing at all… you know kids! Lol!
Work out at home is not difficult and it can be done very easily. It just needs a little determination and planning. I am a mother of 3 kids and if I can do it, so can you. I’ll be honest here. I do become lazy sometimes and don’t work out for days but it’s okay… it’s okay to take a break. Because tomorrow is a new day and you can start again. Don’t forget…consistency is the key!!!
When you get to know that you are expecting, motherhood hits you instantly. No matter it’s a boy or a girl, you automatically connect with your child. But when you know you are having a daughter, you know that’s something which you can’t have with your son. You always know that that time will come when your daughter think and feel differently. She will come to that age when you will be her biggest support BUT you can never expect when it will happen.
The baby girl you were holding in your arms. The baby girl, who was playing with dolls just a few day ago, started to feel differently. All of a sudden she becomes quiet and starts to behave like adults. Then you know that your baby girl is not a baby anymore. She is a big girl now. And now you are the only person, who can understand her and make her feel comfortable and safe.
My daughter turned 10 this year in January and everything was going normal. Suddenly she started to act strangely. She started to behave and talk like big girls. She started to get irritated by small things and now she likes to spend time in her room rather then going out with us.
I knew this would happen but, I was not expecting this so soon. Then I realized that she has started her tween phase. And this is all very normal. Then I started to google about it how can I make her feel comforted. So these are following thing am doing right now.
1.Doing something together
Try to engage her in your activities or do something together what she likes. Like you can bake her favorite cookies together or when you are cooking ask her to help you with the ingredients. Or may be you can go for cycling/ swimming together (whatever she likes).
One day my daughter suddenly started to wash dishes. Without telling me. I told her its okay if she likes to do the dishes she can wash her plate only. She doesn’t need to do all the dishes. She was happy. Now she helps me the laundry regularly. I tell her every time what cycle to select and how much detergent to use.
Doing this make them confident and responsible and they feel like contributing in the house like adults.
2.Talk to them
As a mother you can always sense that something is bothering your child. Something is not right. You can sense their tone. You can even say it by looking at their face. Just talk to them. Ask them what’s bothering them.
My daughter started her 6th grade this year. And this year the school management shuffled their sections and now her best friends is in another section. Since the beginning of this academic year she is acting as she is not happy. One day she was very quiet so I asked her “what’s wrong?”. Then she told me that she is sad because her friend is in another section now so she will make new friends and that she will forget my daughter. We talked for an hour and I tried to explain it to her that it’s the part of life, you can always make new friends and you can stay connected to your old friends as well. After the talk, she was fine.
3.Plan a family day/ activity
My daughter always asks me to do something fun. And by fun she means doing anything but with the whole family. Whether its going on a picnic or swimming. Or just a family movie day with pizza. My daughter loves this. She calls it “pizza party”.
4.Ask for her opinion
Take their suggestions when ever you can. If you are buying clothes ask them what they like. Even if you are buying for your self ask them if they like the color. They always give the honest opinion. Or if you are planning a dinner party, ask her if she can help you make the menu.
5.Don’t take their behavior personally
At this age, she is going through a lot of emotional and physical changes. She is confused and she is trying to figure herself out. The emotions that she is feeling for the first time. She gets irritated on small things or talks to you disrespectfully. Don’t take her wrong. Try to handle her calmly. Talk to her if you can or just give her some space to cool down. She doesn’t hate you. She is trying to understand her emotions.
Keep your calm and give her space BUT also keep an eye on her. This is when she needs to be observed. Stay strong on rules and try to explain it to her. Tell her the things she is allowed and things she is not allowed to do. The best way to do is to answer her every question like adults. At this stage giving commands will only make things worse. Gain her trust and explain everything to her that if she is forbidden then why is that so. Give her logical explanations.
Its not easy. Its really tough. But this is the time when we can have that connection with our daughters which can help them in the development of their personality. this is the time when she wants someone to understand her and listen to her and feel her. And when you do this, she will feel special and loved. She will feels comforted. Otherwise she will look for someone outside of her family who can give her all these things.
Being a teacher has made me realize one thing. I’m not just a teacher. I am a mentor, a friend to the little ones, a nurturer and almost a mother to roughly 40 kids. Why do I say this?! Because I am responsible for their mental and physical well-being for those 8 hours of school every single day.
It’s been 4 years to my teaching experience. I am an elementary teacher and it has been nothing but a roller coaster ride. It’s exhausting, it drains me out to the core, there is so much work that sometimes I feel I’m unable to manage my time. But there is one reason why I chose this profession; because it makes me happy. It makes me feel rewarded. When those curious minds ask the most interesting questions, it makes me realize that these children have so much going on in their minds, and we need to give them all the chances to let their creativity flourish. This can only happen through us adults as their facilitators. And that makes me proud!
Many parents have told me that they would like me to guide their children with specific do’s and don’ts of the daily routine because I have a major influence on them. They listen to me more than their own parents! This makes me even more accountable to everything they do, say or feel.
Recently, I’ve been teaching the kids about having a happy and healthy lifestyle and its impact on our well-being. But before getting into the details of this, I would like us all to understand what being healthy really means and what our well-being is all about. Our well-being is the state of being happy, healthy and comfortable with our lifestyle and surroundings. How do we achieve that? And more importantly, how do we instill this very thought within our children? The thought of being content, happy, complete and pleased with wherever you are, with whatever you have…
As a teacher, I’ve noticed how flexible and open-minded children are. I deal with 7-year-olds and even though they do not exactly know the meaning of mental health or depression, they know precisely how to define happiness, and that is exactly what we need to keep our children’s mental health intact to develop a constructive future for them.
I’d like to share an in-class discussion that was recorded in the form of a virtual mind map. This was the starting point of our discussion about what our health and well-being is affected by. It is important to note here that every single point added in this mind map was stated by the students… which means, we are pretty much on the right track as far as our health is concerned.
The above mind map clearly goes to show that life is pretty basic and simple. If the kids adhere to all these factors from a young age, it is certain that they will never have health issues, whether they’re mental or physical.
When my students were asked about why our health and well-being is so important, their responses amazed me.
It might seem basic, but all of this came from the minds of 6-7 year olds. I was stunned when one of my students said, “When we are happy, we feel like visiting our family and friends.” I perceived this as the opposite of isolation. If you think of her statement in its exact opposite, what she was trying to say was that when we are unhappy or unhealthy, we don’t feel like socializing; and that’s where mental health comes in. So even though they don’t really know what isolation and loneliness is, they definitely understand the effect of a happy lifestyle on our minds and our bodies.
When asked, “What makes you happy?”, I got the usual responses: “my family, friends, toys, going out, playing games, school, etc etc… There was one student who said, “Rain makes me happy.” How beautiful! How simple! I realized that it’s the simple things that matter most. The more we delve into unnatural things, the more complicated our life becomes. We start taking nature for granted.
Teach your kids to appreciate the simplest things in life. Connect with them on an emotional basis. Encourage them to organize themselves from a young age. By organizing, I don’t mean just cupboards and shelves, rather manage their basic routine, like waking up on time, taking a shower every day, feeling fresh and maintaining cleanliness personally and for their surroundings too. Make them count their blessings. Let them be grateful for being able to live a new day, everyday. Take them out on a nature walk. Make them understand how lucky we are to be able to see four different seasons of nature. Ask them to look at the sky and observe how beautifully God has painted the clouds. Count the twinkling stars at night. Hear the chirping birds. Look at the different types of plants, animals, trees. All of nature’s beauty; because if nature doesn’t bring peace, then I am not really sure what does… 😊
Zara Razzaq is a dedicated elementary school teacher in a well-reputed school in Lahore, Pakistan. She is a good listener, a sincere friend and she loves to spend time with her family and friends. She is also a big foodie and loves trying and exploring new things.
I remember my father always bringing us these beautiful and colorful books when he would return from his business trips. Oddly enough, he used to bring us those kids encyclopedias or other kinds of general knowledge books because he didn’t know much about story books then.
Now I was never a reader, but I always wanted my kids to read books. I remember when my oldest daughter was 6 months old and I bought her first baby book. I would read it to her in the afternoon right before her mid-day nap.
Fast forward a decade; now I have 3 kids and all of them love to read. Here is how I got my kids to love reading books.
Start reading to your baby as early as 6 months
We all know a 6 month old baby can’t read books, but you can find plenty of books for 6+ months old babies in the book store that they sure can appreciate. You can buy books like “My first words” or “My toys”. Babies this age are more intuitive than we think, and they can pick up a lot of things from these books that “resemble” their surroundings (it’s all about cerebral development and forming connections). Or, you can buy some of those cute song books of nursery rhymes and you can sing along too.
Different Types of books
You can find all types of books in the bookstore. For babies and toddlers buy small hardcover books or big books with lots of pictures and very little text, or those books that play music when you open them. You can also find water proof books for their bath time!
Read to them with expressions
I started to buy story books for my oldest when she was one year old. I used to do the dramatic reading I could manage, with all the expressions and exaggerated emotions and all, much like what the kids are used to see in cartoons. It will make them to connect with the book and make reading time more interesting.
Keep the books in their reach
Make a book corner, decorate it and keep the books at the place from where they’re always reachable to the kids. Soon enough you’ll start noticing that your child heads over to the book corner and grabs a book when they’re not in the mood for toys!
Fix the time for reading
Make book reading a habit and set up a crude schedule for reading time. When my daughter was 2 years old, I used to read her story books before her bed time at night. She was too young to read then, but she liked books so much that she would bring me her favorite story books to read.
Make your children relate to the books
When you start potty training your child, you absolutely HAVE to buy a book of potty training of your child’s favorite character or cartoon. Similarly if you are expecting another baby, or your child is starting their pre-school, or you visit the zoo for a family’s day out, or even if you are moving to another house, you can find children’s books on all these topics. Remember; a child’s mind is quick to form an attachment to things they are familiar with. Children can and will relate their lives to their books and then you can talk to your child about all the things they think reflect in their own lives.
Make library/ book store visits regular
We used to go to the book store every month and we would spend HOURS there to find some good books. We have been doing this since….always! And now, we go to the book shop every week because my girls love to read so much that they start reading their new books the day they buy it. And they can finish a book within one week!
Books vs Toys
Try to replace toys with books. Instead of buying them a toy present, buy their favorite story book or a story book of their favorite cartoon character. Instead of spending way too much in an attempt to expand their toy collection, spent some time to find and collect all the books of their favorite character and make a small library in their room. This way, you save money and help your kids form a productive habit. Two birds with one stone!
Let them choose
Whenever you go to the library or a book store, encourage them to choose their own books. If you force them to buy a book according to your liking, there is a chance that they will not read it and end up developing a dislike for reading. Don’t make it seem like a chore! When I try to give my 3 year old son books about colors or shapes or ABC’s, he simply rejects it and picks up something related to construction machines or PJ Masks (his favorite cartoon). Let them select what they like and they will devour it faster than you can imagine.
Read to your children
Even if your child is old enough to read, make time to read to your children. They will simply love you for it. Whenever I read to my 3 year old, my 7 year old always comes and sits with us. It’s a great way to spend time with your children. Talk to them about the story; ask them about their thoughts on it and little trivia questions about the plot. Invite them to explain what’s happening in the story. Don’t forget to encourage their questions and comments!
Give them a big cheer after they finish their book
Whenever My 7 year old daughter buys a new book, she comes home and starts reading it right away. And sure enough, after some time she comes up to me and tells me proudly that she already has finished her book. How you react to your kid’s achievements is VERY important. I congratulate her and always act surprised about her finishing her book so quickly. Always tell them that they have done a great job and how proud you are of them.
Don’t force them to read
If there’s one thing we know about kids, it’s that they’ll always do the opposite of what you pester them about. Don’t force your child to read if they want to play with their logos or paint instead. Let them make their own choices. Otherwise, they will start to dislike reading altogether. Let them decide when to read and what to read.
Reading is an excellent activity which helps children in increasing their knowledge and vocabulary. It’s a healthy habit far too often overlooked by parents and an opportunity far too valuable to not take advantage of.
They say that children imitate what they see. They are right. If we want our children to pick up the reading bug, we have to set examples in front to them to follow. If we keep using our electronic devices in front of them and hypocritically ask them to read more books, they are never going to do it. So, the next time you’re at the book store helping your kids pick out their books, pick one up for yourself and jump aboard the reading train!
Remember the times when we used to play fun games in our childhood? You know, that time in our lives when these electronic gadgets hadn’t taken over the world yet? Good old days. We used to come home from school, finish our homework in a hurry so that we could go outside to meet our friends and play; games like hopscotch, hide and seek, playing with our dolls or going to the park and wait for our turn on the swings. (Seems like I’m talking about another era :D)
But times have changed. Technology has taken over and today’s children are more advanced. They even know how to use all these electronic gadgets better than we do. For instance, my ten year old daughter tells me how to use the new filters on Snapchat and my three year old son knows where to find the games on the tablet. And honestly, every time he uses the tablet or my cellphone, I feel terribly sad and guilty. It’s unhealthy and it’s unnatural. Therefore, I came up with these 10 ideas to limit their screen time:
Build structures with Lego/blocks
My 3 kids love playing with Legos and blocks. In all fairness, every kid in the world loves Legos. Sometimes even adults! Both my daughters get extremely creative and they can spend hours building doll houses with Legos. As for my 3 year old son, he loves to make big towers with the blocks and gets really dramatic when the tower crashes (he has a flair for drama). He could do this a hundred times.
2.Build a fort
This is another way for the kids to explore their minds and get creative. If your kids are old enough then allow them to set up the fort according to their imagination. With younger kids, you can help them make one with cardboard boxes or put a linen sheet over 3 wooden sticks and decorate it with fancy pillows and twinkly lights and put their favorite toys inside. They would spend hours pretending prince or princesses.
When you go to the bookstore, let your children choose a book for themselves. Like when my second daughter was learning how to read, I helped her choose one of those “Easy to Read” beginner level books. Now she can read quite well and when we go to the bookstore, I just tell her the section to choose from and she selects her own books. For my 3 year old I buy big books with a lot of pictures and very little text, or one of those cute books with the sound effects and music that plays when you flip the pages.
Another great way and highly recommended way to spend some quality time with the kids. Make cupcakes and ask them to help out! They could put ingredients into the bowls and help mix the batter and at the end, they always love to decorate the frosting with some sprinkles. You can also try making pizza. Each kid gets to make his own pizza. You can put everything in front of them and ask them put the pizza sauce themselves and the toppings according to their liking. You can also tell them your childhood stories while you are cooking/baking with them.
Head out to your backyard or to your nearest park and let them play on the swings and slides, or just run like there’s no tomorrow. There are a lot more benefits to physical activity than you might think! Physical benefits aside, children are more happy and easy-going after a good visit to the park. You can take your bicycles to the park and ride along with them. Or you can also play badminton, enjoy a game of Frisbee, throw and catch the ball. Another fun thing to do is bring a picnic in the park with the kids’ favorite snacks.
6.Arts and crafts
Painting, crafting for dolls, or just give them some plastic bottle caps, tissue rolls and some egg cartons; you will be surprised how kids use their imagination and make amazing masterpieces.
Children are always interested in gown up’s activities. So, the next time when you’re gardening in your backyard or if you are watering your indoor plants, ask your children to lend you a hand (don’t forget to make it sound like a fun task!). They could help you change the soil and maybe fetch some water in the watering can. You can also give some basic information about gardening and how plants grow.
8.Play indoor games
There are lots of ideas for indoor games like Simon Says, I Spy, board games like Monopoly and Scrabble, and card games like UNO. Playing indoor games is a great idea when you are tired and you want the kids to play quietly. While the kids are playing you can join them or just watch them and cherish these moments.
9.Zumba for kids
This works for me all the time. My 3 kids just love doing Zumba for Kids, which I think is a great way to use their energy and stay physically active. Just search “Zumba for Kids” and you’ll find a ton of videos on YouTube. My 3 year old doesn’t know how to follow, so he just copies his sisters 😀 It’s always so much fun watching them doing the Zumba. And the fun part is you can join them and they will love you for it.
10.Give them chores
I often ask my kids to help me in different chores, like help me clean up the room or clean the dining table or take out the garbage bags or help me put the groceries away. And when I fold the laundry, I arranged everyone’s separate piles so that they can put them into their cupboard easily. You can give them tasks according to their age which they can do easily. And at the end you give them a big hug or a big cheer to appreciate their effort when they are finished.
I know we cannot stop our kids from using electronic gadgets completely, especially in today’s day and age where everything is digitalized and online. But we can deviate them with these activities and moderate their device usage. Remember, children follow what they see. We as parents can set examples by unplugging these electronic devises and replace screen time to face time.
Toys can be replaced, so can the cartoons and the video games, but the only thing children cannot replace is the time which they spend with their parents; the time which they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Did you enjoy the post? Don’t forget to share it to your mum friends. Did you try any of these tips? Did you enjoy your time with your kids? Do you have some more ideas? Tell us in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Being a Muslim, Ramadan has always been the special month of the year for us . I have lived my whole childhood in Saudi Arabia as my father was employed there. Every year Ramadan would come, and when we were little we would see our parents fasting, praying extra prayers and the special preparations for suhoor and iftar. We would try to copy our parents and I remember my mother telling us that children can fast two times a day. So you can start your fast after your breakfast till lunch and start your second fast after having lunch then we can open our fast at iftar time together… lol .. and we believed them (now the same thing I am doing with my children 😀 )
My oldest daughter (who is 10 now Ma sha ALLAH) has started fasting from this year’s Ramadan, so I thought it’s the best time to teach my children the true meaning of Ramadan, why do we fast in this Holy month and why it is so important to Muslims. That’s why this year I decided to do something extra special in Ramadan. We do the Ramadan decorations every year but this year I wanted to do something to make it more exciting for them.
When I googled and searched on pinterest, I liked the idea of advent calendar. So I decided to make a Ramadan advent calendar. But we were in a lockdown, so couldn’t go out to buy the crafts. Luckily I got everything from home. A black cardboard, a gift wrapping paper, a string, and a sliver glitter foam paper and I made the simplest Ramadan Advent Calender (when you have 3 kids pretty much you always have these crafty kind of things at home all year long 😉 )
Most fun part was to fill the advent calendar. Instead of putting small things in it, I filled it with Ramadan good deeds(like help mama in the kitchen or clean your room), daily Dikr (like say Alhamdulilah 70 times or recite Surah Nas), and some small information (like which is the longest and shortest surah of Quran.) and I told them to open one envelope daily 15 min before the iftar time because that’s the time we should make duas while waiting for the adhan. So I thought it would be the best time to talk about the religion and tell them short historic Islamic stories.
The whole point was to make them excited about Ramadan not only for decorations and food but to know the true meaning of Ramadan. And it kind of worked… every day when I was preparing for iftar, my daughters would take out one envelope by themselves and waited for mama and baba to gather around the table and do the deed of the day.
I really enjoyed making this Ramadan Advent Calender and I will definitely make one for the next year’s Ramadan too (In sha ALLAH) with whole new theme, new information and new set of good deeds. May ALLAH give us hundreds of more Ramadan to spend it with our children with true Holy spirit and accept our prayers and duas. Ameen.
So it was my son’s 3rd birthday on 14 june and me and my husband were really excited about his birthday for months because we were planning to have a big birthday party at our place. My son (Ali) is very fond of construction site machines and construction vehicles like excavators and backhoes and cranes (even i didnt know these words untill my son started watching blippi .. lol)
Me and my husband just love to do birthday decorations and planning for birthdays for our kids (our oldest daughter is 10 and second daughter will be 7 in august this year) and we have been doing this for years now… 🙂
This year, since march we were planing Ali’s 3rd construction theme birthday. I had search all the decoration ideas from pinterest, the idea of the cake , the buntings, the food … everything. and then…. lockdown started due to covid-19. We were so disappointed because we were so looking forward to it.
One day, after ramadan and exactly 2 weeks before Ali’s birthday, I was scrolling down on face book and somebody was asking about the party props for zoom birthday. Then it clicked me that we can also have Ali’s birthday party online and we can invite our family and friends on zoom.
We got really excited and started planning everything again that how should we go about it , where we should make the back drop so that it can be visible to everyone on the laptop, how to make the happy birthday banner for construction site theme, the balloons and everything. The fun part was that we made these birthday invitation cards online from http://www.greetingsisland.com . They have different themes and we were lucky to find the construction theme invitation on this website. My husband customized the details and send it to all our family and friends we wanted to invite for the zoom birthday party. This was the first time we had done this online invitation thing and everyone also got very excited about the zoom party because it was something new for them too. As soon as we send the invitations, we started to get their replies that they liked this idea very much and they confirmed at once that they will join us.
Luckily Alis birthday was on sunday so we started to setup our decorations on saturday. My husband made the perfect construction theme backdrop. He also got the caution tape from a hardware store. My daughters were also very excited and the helped us with blowing up the balloons and I made the cake at home with simple store bought chocolate cake mix and did the decoration with the small construction site toys and some chocolates like maltesers , chocolate flavor love letters waffer rolls, kitkats for the details.
We decided the birthday time at 7pm malaysia time because all our relatives are from different time zone from Pakistan, Bahrain and Sweden. So this was the time when everyone was available. And when we came online 10 min before 7 pm, everyone was already online for Alis birthday. They all were so happy to see the complete decoration like a real birthday party. We took pictures, selfies and everybody sang happy birthday for Ali. We enjoyed the party for one hour. At the end we all ordered pizza for dinner.
It was not something we planned but it turned out to be a really good and fun idea to see all your family altogether on your sons special day. So this is how we had our first zoom birthday. I hope this pandemic ends soon and we can be with our family and friends like before and be able to share these special moments with our loved ones.
Planning a birthday party for your children is an exciting endeavour. Children always love to celebrate their special day with their friends and family but that doesn’t mean it has to cost you a fortune.
You can have a perfectly fun and successful DIY birthday celebration at your home.
Here are a few tips that can help you plan your next celebration.
Fix The Budget
Planning your budget will help you get organized and avoid any surprise expenses at a later stage. Keep in mind the cost of a cake, decorations, party favors and food.
Decide your total budget and stick to it. If your budget is low, don’t worry there are many fun and less expensive ways to make your party amazing.
You can bake a homemade cake that suits your budget, design simple but colourful party decorations with crepe paper and balloons, and plan simple games for kids as well as for adults as entertainment.
Guest List and Invitations
Make a guest list and send out invitations in time so no one misses out on the party.
You don’t need to spend money on printed invitations. Take advantage of making free but fun invitation online. I used free downloadable invitation templates from greetingsisland.com and evite.me.
You can send these invitations through emails or text messages. In some cases, you can create and maintain a group chat through whatsapp or Facebook and get the group discussing the upcoming party.
Consider the Food
The best time for a birthday party is between main meals, either in between breakfast and lunch or in between lunch and dinner. That way, you can avoid having to prepare a full meal.
You can easily get away with snacks like mini pizzas, nuggets, sandwiches, a variety of fruits and vegetable sticks. For drinks you can serve homemade lemonade and juices.
Decide on A Theme
Deciding the theme of the party is always exciting. If your child is not able to express or tell you what theme is his or her favourite, you can plan a theme around a character he or she likes the most.
My son loves Blippi and the construction site machines. So, that was his 3rd birthday theme.
Should you not have a specific theme, you can’t get it wrong with a carnival, jungle or a pirate theme birthday party.
Once the theme is decided, shopping for party decoration would be easy. Nowadays, most table cover, paper plates and cups, napkins and balloons comes in themes and are easily available.
You can also stick to theme colours as plain coloured decorations are more cost effective than the ones with design. For example, if Frozen is your theme, stick to blue, white and silver while for a Mickey mouse themed party, red, black and white would do the trick.
If you are going to order the cake, take your time to scout for a baker who can offer you a cake at a reasonable price.
There more intricate the cake design, the more expensive it would be. If you prefer to be cost effective, then choose a cake within your theme colour and with simple or no design.
If time is not a constraint, baking your own cake can be fun endeavour, especially if you attempt it with your children. Let your children help you with the simple activities like with measurements, mixing and decorating.
Even if it didn’t turn out perfect, for children, baking their own birthday cake is something to be very proud of!
Plan Short Games
Plan games according to age groups. For younger children, musical chair, duck duck goose, dancing competition, pass the parcel would all be a hit. For older kids, tug-of-wars and creative indoor or outdoor obstacle courses will do the trick.
To make it exciting, introduce prizes where appropriate.
If you have space, create an arts and craft corner. Prepare safe and age related material such as colouring pencils and play doh, and let children feel free to entertain themselves whenever they want.
You can also schedule a short cartoon or movie time along with snacks to keep the kids busy so that the adults can have some time for food and socializing.
If you have the budget, hire bouncing castles, magicians or a balloonist.
Goodie bags are a great way to thank the guests for coming. It is easy to be creative with goodie bags. If you are on a budget, it can be as simple as a homemade cooking in a simple paper bag or it can be paper bags filled with various toys and snack.
To make it personal, include a “Thank You For Coming” note by the birthday kid.
Make it a Team Effort
Involve your children as much as you can even if it about making the smallest decision. Involve them in deciding the guest list, ask them about party snacks and games for the big day, party theme and let them help you decorate your home whenever possible.
Involving your kids will not only make them happy, but teach them a sense of responsibility and ownership for what they are doing.
However, be mindful that things may move slower than expected when kids are involved. So, remember to allocate enough time when planning each activity.
With proper organization and planning, you can have an unforgettable birthday party without sending yourself (or your bank account) into a meltdown.
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Potty training is a huge milestone in a child’s life and for many parents it can be a roller coaster ride.
When to start potty training?
Is my baby old enough?
How should I go about it?
Should I do the potty train them for the nights as well?
So many questions when you begin. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or the third time, every single time and every child is a different experience.
Here are some tips to help parents make this task a little less scary.
When to start?
At The Right Age
Potty training is possible when a child’s bottom muscles are strong enough and he is able to have some sense of control over his bladder. This usually happen anytime between the age of 18 to 36 months. Therefore, potty training is recommended around the age of 2 years old.
You’re Changing Fewer Diapers
Until they’re around 20 months old, toddlers still pee frequently. But once they can stay dry for longer, about longer than an hour or two, it’s a sign that they’re developing bladder control and are becoming physically ready for potty training.
Bowel Movements Become Regular
Her bowel movements are often around the same time daily.
Your Little One Will Be Able To “Announce” It To You
Your toddler will start using baby language like “pee pee” or “poo poo” to refer to needing to pee and poo.
Your Child Notices (and doesn’t like) When He Has A Dirty Diapers
Your little one may not like having a dirty diaper and request for an immediate change to a fresh diaper.
How to start
Choose The Right Equipment and space
Firstly, you’ll need the right toilet seat. Obviously, adult toilet seats are too big for your toddler. Many toddler toilet seats comes with handles on the sides or a build-in foot rest to give better support and stability to your toddler.
Why not take your child shopping with you and let her decide which potty seats she likes. Getting your child involved is an excellent way to encourage her to look forward to the new experience and help ease the stress of the transition.
Set up the potty in a comfortable and easy to access spot. If the bathroom or toilet is too small, would it be possible to set it up just outside the toilet? Should the the toilet is too far way from her playroom or living room, maybe find a quiet corner not too far to set up her “special corner”.
Having a fixed spot will help her know which direction to head to should she need to use the potty.
Communication is Essential
Talk to your toddler. Explain and talk her through the process in simple terms. Explain to her when you are with her buying her a toilet seats and again when you are setting it up for her to use.
Though she may not be able to grasp the concept completely by simply listening to you, she will be aware that a change is coming. And having a trusted care taker to explain and reassure her will give her a sense of comfort.
Lead By Examples
At around the age of 2, my toddler tagged along when I needed to go. I also used toys and books to help explain and incorporate the new change into her daily routine.
Look for signals
Squirming, squatting, making specific faces, being still or holding the genitals could all be possible signs that your baby needs to use the toilet. Keep a lookout for these signals and help them reach their potty in time.
He may not be able to hold it long enough to reach their potty in the beginning. Make him walk up to the potty and sit nevertheless, to help him familiarize with the complete action. Eventually he will get there on time.
Note the time
If your toddler has begun to consistently have his bowel movements at about the same time daily, be proactive by taking him to the toilet regularly at those critical times.
Otherwise, taking him regularly to the potty in the interval of 1.5hours to 2 hours is a good way to go about tackling potty training at the beginning.
When your baby is ready for his potty training, you may start using pull up diapers. They can be easily pulled down when needed. Also ensure you dress you toddler in easy to remove cloths to eliminate additional effort that may result to being frustrated and anxious.
Don’t avoid drinks
Never avoid giving fluids to your child in the hope to reduce accidents. In fact, the better tactic is to increase fluid intake and offer more her more opportunities to succeed.
I have establish a comfortable potty routine. What’s next?
Congratulate him on every success. Offer simple but fulfilling rewards such as stickers in his favourite shape. These rewards keep things interesting for your toddler. Once he masters the potty, you can phase out the rewards system and let his inner motivation take over.
Appreciate Them For Not Wetting Their Clothes
Make a point to praise and give attention to the fact that she is dry and did not wet her clothes. Make it a hug!
No Negative Comments
Don’t scold, punish or shame your baby. If you overreact, you might discourage your toddler’s future attempts.
Keep it casual when reminding your toddler about using the potty. Nagging will only provoke resistance. Similarly, don’t force him to sit or stay on the potty when he is not ready.
Switch From Diaper To Underwear
When your child is ready, switch from using diapers to underwear. Make sure you buy appropriate and comfortable underwear. In fact, bring your child shopping with you.
Children underwear nowadays comes in all sorts of colors and designs. Let her choose what appeals to her.
Accidents Will Happen
Remember, accidents will happen. Stay calm and be prepared with several sets of change of cloths. Don’t penalize your child for accidents when they happen, instead offer word of encouragements and always keep a positive outlook.
Potty Training While Travelling
When travelling, always make time to take regular toilet breaks. A good rule of thumb is to take a toilet break every 2 hours. Take him to the toilet before leaving home and before getting into a car/train/plane.
Even if your child says she doesn’t need to use the toilet, encourage her to try. Most stores sell travel potty that comes in different sizes and function. Having a travel potty eliminates the hassle of looking for a toilet the very last minute.
Potty Training At Night
Most potty trained children will gradually stop wetting their diaper at night too. There will come a point where they wake up to ask to go to the toilet. This can happen soon after they are potty trained in the day or much later.
So, continue using diapers during night time and when you see progress, gradually stop using diapers at nights. This is my personal experience with 2 children.
If you are no longer using diapers for bedtime, ensure you take your child to pee right before going to bed. If necessary, you may need to take him to the toilet once in the middle of the night too.
Protect your child’s mattress with the mattress covers. And remember, accidents happen and that it is ok.
Finally, after all your attempts, if potty training is not working, do not worry. Give yourself and your child a pat for trying and take a break. Tray again in a few weeks.
Never compare one child to a sibling or a friend’s child. Each and every child is different. Some children are not ready till the age of 3 or more. There is no rush. Every child grows at different rate.
What’s important is that you are helping your child learn new skill and showing her that learning new skills can is fun.
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Whether it’s a hiking trips, a romantic holiday in a beach resort or going on a simple road trip, each holiday creates a wonderful memory.
Once you have kids, travelling can be a little challenging and overwhelming but it doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy it. You just need to be very organized to be able to enjoy your holiday and make unforgettable memories for them and yourselves.
Here are some tips to make your next trip more enjoyable and less stressful.
Plan and Organize Ahead of Time
Choose Your Travelling Time Wisely
Pick a suitable time in the day to begin your journey. A good rule of thumb is to travel when you think your kids would be most comfortable.
I prefer to fly in the morning. A good night sleep and having breakfast at home before leaving sets a good tone for my children. This way they remain active and are able to enjoy their trip better.
Alternatively, many parents prefer night flights so that their children can sleep in the plane.
If you are planning a road trip, again, choose according to your preferences. You have more flexibility in terms of planning your toilet breaks and can even time your road trips to coincide arriving for breakfast or lunch at a particular town or café that you would like to try.
Where to Sit?
If you are travelling in a plane and have a baby younger than 24 months, you can request for seats that offer baby bassinets. These seats are also often closer to the lavatory and aircraft galley.
Should one of your children need to go to the toilet, it is easily accessible while you can keep an eye on your other children. You can also easily catch a flight attendant’s attention if you need assistance.
Trains usually have seats in group of 4 where passengers can sit together facing each other. Some of these seats even come with the table in the middle. If you are travelling with more than one child, try to book these seats.
Make a List
Make a list of all the things you will be needing during your trip so that you don’t forget anything at the very last moment.
Based on this list, you know ahead the things you need to buy and prepare before packing day, including taking note on other things you need to do before your trip. When it is packing time, you will have everything ready and there is one less thing to worry about.
For example, if you will be travelling in a plane with a baby, you need to prepare a complete baby bag with extra diapers, feeding bottles or a breast feeding cover, rash cream, extra pair of clothes and baby wipes that you can take with you in your cabin bag.
If you are travelling with toddlers or older children, you need to pack according to their needs, for example, snacks, change of clothes and definitely something to keep them entertained.
You may not be needing a separate bag when you travel by road as you will have access to all your bags, but be mindful to pack them the last so you can easily pull out things you need.
Make an Itinerary
Plan each day of your trip.
Go all the way by making an excel sheet or simply plan each day that shows places that you will be visiting and activities that are planned. Take into account transportation, hours of openings, duration and cost.
This way you will know how to get to the next attraction, how long will it take you to get to the next location and how much it’s going to cost you in terms of transportation and entrance fees.
Give an outline of the trip to your children to keep them involved and excited.
Making an itinerary will save you the hassle of trying to make on the spot decisions and help you manage cost and time effectively especially when you have children who still require day naps and rigid meal times.
Wherever you can make bookings online in advance. Once you have your hotels bookings done, don’t stop there.
Book tickets for amusement parks, museums, sightseeing, tour buses and other attractions that you are planning to visit so that you can avoid waiting lines and have more time to relax and enjoy your holiday.
Baby Carrier or Stroller
Going on a trip with a baby or a toddler adds up to your luggage. Strollers and car seats are not only heavy; they are bulky and they take a lot of space.
Think of your destination. If you are planning a visit to an old historic town which has cobbled streets or planning a hiking trip, then it’s best to ditch the stroller and opt for a baby carrier.
Stroller will be a good option in a big city with pedestrian walkways.
A lightweight cabin size stroller would be the best. If you are flying, most airline allows you to bring a compact stroller into the cabin. This way you will have access to a stroller all the time.
If you are on a road trip, these strollers also take less space.
Some destination offers facilities that allow you to rent strollers and car seats. Perhaps explore if that option is possible on your trip. Please remember to rent car seats from reputable source to ensure you can trust that their car seat is accident free and meets all the safety regulations.
Entertainment to Keep Children Occupied
Children of all age groups need something to do on their trip to keep them from getting bored. Make sure to prepare enough material and toys to keep you children entertain if they get bored at any point of time.
My older daughter likes to watch cartoons. She also downloads some of her favorite cartoons and games on the tablet before every trip. This can become handy in case there are no movie screens offered in the plane or train.
My 6-year-old is not very fond of tablet, so she packs her small bag pack with toys, color pencils and blank white sheets. For my toddler, I download his favorite educational games and videos. I also pack a few of his favorite books.
Things to Remember Before Leaving the House
Children can get difficult when they are hungry.
You also run a risk that they may not like the meal offered in the plane or train. Or if you are on a road trip, you may not reach the nearest restaurant before hell breaks loose.
I always pack enough snacks like healthy chips, nuggets, vegetable sticks, cheese sticks, homemade pancakes or sandwiches. Don’t forget to bring their water bottles and enough water to keep everyone hydrated.
Pack important Medications
Pack all the basic medicines like pain killers (for adults and children), Panadol or paracetamol for fever, a cough syrup, baby rash cream, anti-allergy and a small travel first aid kit. Make sure they are easily accessible to you when needed.
Travelling can be tiring for kids specially if it involves standing at check points and immigration line. When tired or bored, they can easily be triggered by the smallest difficulty they face.
Should they need to take off their jackets, belts or untie shoe laces for security checks and these becomes difficult or uncomfortable, you can imagine the emotional outburst. Imagine the chaos if you have more than one child.
I prefer to dress young children with comfortable t-shirt along with a pair of track pants without zips or buttons and shoes without shoe laces. This also helps with toilet emergencies.
On the Day
Keep Track of Your Children
Kids love to run around, be it their backyard or the airport and the train station. It’s very difficult to watch the kids and your luggage at the same time.
Keeping track of your kids seems obvious but it’s worth mentioning. There are many gadgets that allow you to keep track of your children as long as they agree to continue wearing this gadget that usually tagged to their belt or worn as a lanyard around their neck.
You can also write your name and contact numbers on their arms so that you can be contacted immediately in case you lost them.
However, remember, it is always best to keep your children close and around you all the time. These gadget adds as an additional measure and can never replace an adult’s role to watch over them. Neither do these gadgets guarantee the safety of the children should they get lost.
Take Frequent Washroom Breaks
This may sound like a silly reminder. But most parents can imagine a scenario where we have found ourselves really needing to go to the bathroom, but simply cannot because our children’s need at the moment had to come first.
So whenever you can, take the chance to go to the washroom so you don’t have to deal with it standing at the immigration line or traffic jam.
Ask older children to go to the toilet before leaving the house. If you are flying, remind them to go to the washroom again right before the airplane starts taxing as you are not allowed to use the washrooms close to take off.
If you are travelling with a baby, change his diaper before leaving the house. Again, if you are travelling by airplane or train, change your baby’s diaper just before arriving so you don’t have to worry about it for the next few hours.
Take Your Time
Aim to leave home a little earlier so that there is no need to hurry. It is OK to be the last person to board the plane and the last person to get off the plane. Relax and take your time to gather all your belongings and don’t forget the kids!
During a car ride, use a car seat for your child’s safety and comfort. Aim to take a break every 2 hours at a rest stop that has a park and restaurants. Let the kids run around to burn off some their energies so that they can be contented and comfortable for the next few hours sitting in a car.
Even after all your planning and preparations, things may still go wrong. Be flexible. Be open to changes. It is all part of the journey.
Travelling does not need to be perfect. Everything you do will usher in new exposures and experiences to your children. So use these tips to make your journey a little less stressful , get out there and enjoy yourselves.
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