Tags: dinner etiquette, eating out, Phones at the dinner table, tweeting at dinner
We’ve slipped into bad habits in our house, and even if our mobile phones aren’t on the table when we start eating, they seem to creep over from the worktop, up the table legs and appear by our plates, buzzing and beeping away.
In reality, we can’t seem to switch off long enough to even eat a meal in peace and quiet. There’s always something we realise we need to check whilst we’re sitting, or show the other person – just quickly, between mouthfuls.
But when it comes to eating out, or eating with friends, is it acceptable to do that? It’s bad manners really to do it at home when it’s just the two of us at the table, but because we’re both as bad as each other, we let it go. I think it’s also because it’s often the only chance to catch up with your partner during a day. These days, alongside a verbal description of what we’ve been up to, we show each other videos we’ve taken along the way, photos, and also tell each other about people’s Facebook or Twitter updates, having a giggle at their misfortune or trying not to feel envious over exotic holiday check ins.
I heard a great idea discussed on the radio recently for keeping people off their phones whilst eating in a restaurant – on arrival everyone puts their phone in a stack in the centre of the table. The first person who caves in and checks their phone has to pay for dinner – it would certainly make you try harder, especially if you were eating somewhere pricey.
I’d be interested to know if you have phone at the table rules and incentives for making people switch off.
Tags: baby rice, Cow & Gate, food wheel, weaning, weaning facts
I went to a weaning workshop at the local children’s centre last week. I’m always impressed at all the free services they offer as well as the drop in messy play, sensory sessions and other groups they put on for a small donation.
So, I went along to find out about weaning – even though Sully is our second, we’ve weaned him early at four months of age after he started refusing a bottle completely and stopped sleeping, so I wanted to find out the best course of action for a young baby.
It did not start well. The first task was to introduce ourselves, our babies and why we had come along. I was first and on declaring that I’d already started weaning and explaining why I was met with disapproving raised eyebrows and references to the Department of Health guidelines that you should NOT, NOT, NOT begin weaning before six months. I was also asked if I had spoken to my health visitor so I meekly said no and that as he was my second I was comfortable trusting my judgement. I went straight to the bottom of the class.
Everyone else introduced themselves. I still didn’t seem to move up the class when one mother introduced her five month old daughter who wasn’t weaning yet but had tried an Easter Egg and had enjoyed her first malted milk biscuit.
I couldn’t knock it as I did learn some new things – mainly because the guidelines seem to change from week to week but I’m open to new ideas. I haven’t taken any of the following as gospel, but these are the things I didn’t know until last week.
1. If you’re expressing breast milk and bottle feeding, you don’t need to sterilise anything. It’s the bacteria in milk formula that means you have to sterilise.
2. The reason you shouldn’t wean pre-six months is because the stomach has holes in it that don’t close up until this age. Your baby is also more likely to develop allergies or intolerances if you wean early.
3. You should start your baby on fruit and vegetable not baby rice or baby porridge as your baby is more likely to have an intolerance to these.
4. Within three weeks of starting weaning at six months of age, your baby should be eating meals like cottage pie and finger foods like broccoli.
5. Finger foods like carrots can be raw. This really surprised me – I can’t imagine a six month old tackling a raw carrot. Apparently it’s best not to purée go straight to lumpy food to get your baby used to it quickly.
6. Portion sizes should be based on the size of your baby’s fist.
7. If your water doesn’t have fluoride in, you should use a (non-whitening) adult toothpaste. You should start brushing as soon as your baby gets their first tooth.
8. The latest guidelines suggest you move your child onto semi skimmed milk aged two. This is due to current child obesity levels. Personally I think that it’s something quite different that is the cause of our children’s health issues, not that we give them full fat milk.
9. All children should be given vitamin drops – even babies. These are free to some families. I’ve decided not to give our children vitamin drops as I feel quite strongly that they have a healthy balanced diet. They’re never ill (touch wood) so I don’t think it’s necessary.
10. Any drinks given to your baby other than milk should be given from a cup or beaker with a spout, not a bottle with a teat. This is so that they can differentiate and move onto a cup as soon as possible.
So, it was an interesting session. The biggest piece of advice, apart from the fact that I MUST speak to my health visitor, that I took away is that I should be starting on fruit rather than baby rice. This surprised me as I saw baby rice as the first logical step of weaning. However, as we’ve seen no sign of intolerances, I’m still using it, mixed with apple and pear.
We also tasted jars of baby food during the session and I can honestly say I will never be buying Cow & Gate cauliflower cheese or spaghetti bolognese. I’ve never tasted anything more disgusting. Babies have taste buds too, so I don’t think I’ll be inflicting that on him! Sully does however favour their formula.
Finally, the tutor showed the food wheel, broken down into different sized portions based on what quantities of fruit, vegetables, carbs, fats etc children should have in their diet. Unfortunately the fats section included chocolate, burgers and coke – she had to clarify that these were not suitable for babies. Just in case you were wondering…..
Tags: Charity shops, Helen & Douglas House, Is it ok to give second hand gifts, Oxfam, Scope, second hand clothes
I’ve always loved scouring charity shops and being on maternity leave has given me more time to browse the high street – after spending time with my gorgeous boys, it’s one of the things I’ll really miss when I go back to work – alongside lazy afternoons in Costa, having time to plan what’s for dinner and never having to sit in rush hour traffic.
As well as charity shop bargains, the age of the iPhone has made it incredibly easy to shop on eBay and Gumtree. Combined, it really means you don’t have to buy anything new or full price. It’s made me think about buying clothes and other things in a whole new way. If I see something in a shop, I’ll always check online for a second hand version first.
It’s also made me question the way we buy gifts. How would you feel if you received a present that was second hand? From a charity shop for example? What if, rather than high street vouchers or a top from Next for example, it was a beautiful cup and saucer that the sender knew was perfectly you? Buying second hand means you get more for your money as well as something unique, with history – and matched perfectly to the recipient. What if you bought a child a gift from a charity shop and your child gave it to them at their party? It should be fine right, but would the parents approve?
My absolute favourite is Helen and Douglas House – especially their vintage shop in Summertown just outside Oxford town centre. It’s well worth travelling to. Buying second hand clothes means that you can afford to buy better brands. A pair of Jigsaw trousers from Oxfam may set you back around the same as a pair of New Look trousers for example. The second hand Jigsaw trousers will last you forever despite having a previous owner whereas the New Look pair will last a season, maybe two.
I picked up some baby gifts for a friend who has just had a little girl – an Old Navy crocheted top from Scope and a pair of handmade booties from the Animal Sanctuary. I know that she’ll appreciate them, where they came from and that they’re just a little different to the other gifts she’ll receive. That’s what I’m hoping.
What are your thoughts about buying second hand clothes – and gifts? Let’s not forget, at the same time as getting a bargain, you’re helping a good cause. Clothes with good karma!
Images: Top – Old Navy cardigan £1.50 Scope, knitted booties 50p Animal Sanctuary. Middle – hat with blush £5 eBay, butter dish Blue Cross £8.95. Bottom – Baby K t-shirt £1.50 Helen & Douglas House, French Connection blouse £6 eBay.
Tags: Barefoot books, difficult children, problem child, supernanny
I experienced something new today as a parent – and it wasn’t a nice feeling. That feeling of the burning eyes of other mothers glaring at you, secretly saying ‘that woman’s child is a total pain’ to themselves.
It’s a feeling we’ve all had about someone’s child if we’re totally honest. Come on – the one at the soft play centre who is throwing balls really hard at other children and won’t stop. The one in the cafe who keeps kicking the seats. The one at the park who won’t let anyone else on the swing.
This morning it was my turn to experience what it’s like to be that kid’s parent. We went to Barefoot Books, a fantastic book shop in Oxford which puts on story time, craft activities and singing and dancing.
Initially he didn’t want to do the singing and dancing but we dragged him in knowing full well that as soon as he sat down he’d want to join in. And join in he did – he sat right next to the lovely teacher – so close he was pretty much on her lap.
He then spent the next 45 minutes interrupting her, talking the loudest, vying to answer every question she asked first and pulling faces that if I’m really honest, grated on me too.
And I only made it worse. I spent the entire time whispering very loudly to him to sit down, give the teacher space, let someone else speak, stop interrupting and calm down.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to quash his enthusiasm and I’d far rather he was hyper than really shy and clung to me – but there was a middle ground where he fell and it was a very happy, comfortable place.
Up until very recently he was chatty, sociable and polite. Today he was testing. I could feel the other parents looking at me. Some with pity, others with a look of ‘thank god you not me’.
If I’m 100% frank, I was glad when it was over.
We retreated downstairs for face painting, however my trauma was set to continue. He was practically on the face painters chair hanging over her shoulder while she tried to paint someone else’s face. When it came to his turn, the face painter had to ask him numerous times to stop talking so she could do him up as Spider-man - which aptly, by the end of the day looked more like the devil.
If you’ve experienced anything like this, do tell me – PLEASE! And share your wise words of encouragement and advice. Before I put him on Gumtree with all of my beloved clothes that are too small.
p.s. I put ‘problem child’ as a tag which sounds a bit harsh, but it sprang to mind far too readily to be excluded.
Tags: #artintoilets, Art in Toilets, found art, Nick Austin, Yarnton Nurseries
Today I made a small discovery while spending a penny in an Oxfordshire loo. A piece of art, mounted by the soap dispenser above the sink, with a label saying ‘LIKE IT TAKE IT’. So that’s what I did.
I felt a bit naughty – another user of the facilities was watching me like a hawk. So I studied it intently until she left, not wanting to meet her gaze. And then, like a naughty child I took it. Well, it invited me to, so I did – it was like the Alice in Wonderland bottle saying ‘drink me’ – how could you not?
Once back out in the open air I studied my find more closely – the reverse of the label read ‘ ART IN TOILETS‘ and I realised I had become a part of something very cool. This piece of art was found in the ladies portacabin toilets at Yarnton Nurseries near Oxford courtesy of Abingdon based Nick Austin. The back of the canvas frame also held two ‘Art in Toilets’ wrist bands which Nick himself had made. You can visit the Art in Toilets Facebook page to see the full extent of his creative quest.
So having found myself the lucky recipient of this art (which will take pride of place in our loo at home), I’ve purchased a blank canvas and am brainstorming what to do with it. Then I’ll find a suitable public toilet home for it and leave it with a ‘LIKE ME TAKE ME’ tag and see what happens.
Nick seems quite happy with the idea that I’m going to jump onto his bandwagon. Why don’t you have a go too – I know lots of you are super creative.
“The secret to humor is surprise.”
Tags: Fiat 500, The Fatherhood, The Motherhood
The video, much like The Motherhood, shows the ordeals of being a new dad as he tries to get his babies to sleep on a night time drive – in his Fiat 500 of course. Dad tries desperately to get them to nod off whilst hankering for his life pre Fatherhood.
A life of shoulder-puke, broken sleep and marital rifts all come up in the eighties inspired song – with the threat of revenge on the children’s wedding day for the stress they’re causing their dad.
I have to admit to having a teeny crush on the Dad – and this follow up video from Fiat is even better than the first. Working in PR and social media too (yawn!), I think it’s really hard for big brands to do viral content like this and do it well. It’s so difficult to get away from the big sets and bright lights and create something witty when it’s scripted and uses actors rather than candid footage.
I think that Fiat have achieved something pretty unique with The Fatherhood. On a par with The Old Spice fish phenomenon maybe?!
Going back to the video; got to love the New Romantic nod and the challenges of having young children are in there down to a t – finding the favourite bear, lack of nookie and the sirens waking the baby just as Dad pulls up outside the house!
It’s great when a brand takes a risk – maybe not quite on the edge but it’s the family market – so the random unicorn in the back of the car made me smile! Take a look, might just brighten up your day. It’s a dad’s life…
The Fatherhood features the new Fiat 500L, Fiat’s latest addition to the Fiat 500 family. The new Fiat 500L is aimed at style-conscious young families who are looking for a car that not only meets their practical needs but also reflects their personality. Significantly larger than the iconic Fiat 500, the Fiat 500L is plenty big enough for a family of five.
I received a small payment for posting this content. I stick to the Bloggers with Integrity code to post honest reviews and only share content which I find interesting and think my readers will too. Off to watch some Human League on YouTube..
Tags: Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This post was prompted by a rough few days and nights with my three-month old baby boy – god I love him to the end of the world and back, but being a mum can be hard work sometimes…
This is for all of the mums I know who dedicate their lives to their children, as well as juggling a job, a home and a husband.
In the light of the moon a mum cradled her baby and rocked him ’till he slept.
One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and – pop! out of the moses basket came a tiny and very noisy baby.
And the mum knew that the week ahead would be wonderful yet exhausting….
On Monday she ate through one Dairy Lea sandwich from the leftover packed lunch. But she didn’t mind too much.
On Tuesday she ate through two packets of pickled onion Monster Munch. But she didn’t mind too much.
On Wednesday she drank through three cold cups of tea. But she didn’t mind too much.
On Thursday she ate through four ginger biscuits (and the rest of the packet). But she didn’t mind too much.
On Friday she ate through a five-minute microwave soup. Cold. But she didn’t mind too much.
On Saturday she ate through one piece of leftover pizza, one packet of Maoam sweets, one satsuma, one leftover fish finger, one croissant, one cheese sandwich, one chocolate finger, one Yakult, one shepherd’s pie and one Bakewell tart. That night she drank wine.
The next day was Sunday again. The mum ate through one nice green salad and vowed to start her diet again on Monday. She smiled at her family. After that she felt much better.
Now she wasn’t frazzled anymore. She wasn’t a washed out mummy anymore. She was just herself. Happy.
She built a small house, called a cocoon around herself on the sofa. She stayed inside for more than four hours. Then she folded up her cocoon, pushed her way out and….
…went to bed – ready to start all over again tomorrow.
Thank you Eric Carle for the best children’s book ever written.
Tags: glue ear, grommets, otovent
Since last summer we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of a worsening issue with our four year old’s hearing.
It started with selective hearing which we put down to him being a typical three year old boy. He started school in September with no issues – an August baby, so young for his year.
He also started swimming lessons around the same time.
Two ear infections close together in October of last year seemed to make his hearing much worse and we requested a referral for a hearing test. Much chasing and re-requesting of an appointment later and we got him tested. Glue ear was diagnosed and we were referred back to our GP.
They then referred us to our local hospital. On trying to get him assessed at the hospital we found out there was a three month wait to be seen. So we went to the next nearest hospital, the Royal Berks which unfortunately for a 9am appointment took an hour and a half to get to. The waiting time was less though, around 7 weeks so we opted for that.
Leading up to the appointment our son had a two week course of ear drops to clear a huge amount of solid wax. This alone improved his hearing.
The consultant re-confirmed glue ear, removed more wax and advised that grommets would be the best course of action. That was last week and we now have another three month wait. We were due to go on holiday two days after the operation but he won’t be able to swim for three weeks so we’ve decided not to go.
The glue ear has had a profound affect on his behaviour. He’s learnt to adapt to it but also use it to his advantage. He gets frustrated quickly and has become disruptive at school – not paying attention or taking part as he should. At after school activities he guesses what he’s supposed to be doing when he can’t hear. At bedtime he refuses to get undressed, get in the bath, get out of the bath – the list goes on. The morning routine before school can be disastrous This hasn’t been helped by the arrival of a new baby which our four year old has found ‘annoying’ on occasions. As a rule he hasn’t been too upset by it but at times he finds it hard having to share our attention after four years of having us to himself.
I’d be interested in your experiences with glue ear and grommets. We also tried a product called Otovent – it’s a small plastic tube with a balloon on the end which the child has to try to inflate with their nose – sounds odd but apparently gets great results. Our four year old found it frustrating because he couldn’t blow the balloon up but we are persevering.
Any inside information about the operation or dealing with glue ear most welcome.
Tags: huggies nappies, Huggies nappies no longer on sale, nappies UK
Have you been wondering where Huggies nappies have gone? For all those devoted Huggies users you’ll be saddened to know that Huggies nappies will not be available in the UK for much longer.
You can find out more in the Huggies nappies FAQ here. You’ll be able to find them in some stores until April.
We have fond memories of Huggies, especially as I was a Huggies Mum and they helped us to potty train Bear.
Huggies nappies are a trusted brand and hard to replace. You will still be able to buy:
Huggies Little Swimmers® swim nappies, Pull-Ups® Potty Training pants and DryNites® pyjama pants & bed-wetting mats.
We are currently trying out Tesco own brand (Tesco Loves Baby) and have been so impressed, we’d definitely recommend trying them. the waistband fits perfectly and we’ve had no leaks with them. They’re very cheap yet the quality is fantastic. I’d be interested to know which you swap to.
Tags: bath crayons, bathtime phonics, bathtime stories, Bedtime routine, food painting, Phonics
Now that we have two boys, bedtime has become slightly more complicated.
Husband is often at work in the evening and I am yet to nail a calm and controlled bedtime operation – if there is such a thing. I have taken to pouring a glass of wine a little earlier than I used to.
So, I put it out to Twitter yesterday – does anyone read their children stories whilst they’re in the bath to speed things up?
At the moment tea is at 5.30pm and with the snails pace that our four year old eats and faffs around at, we’re never upstairs until 6.30pm. With bedtime at 7pm, the bath and story routine is a little squeezed. Yes I need to figure out how to get four year old to eat more than a mouthful every 10 minutes - I’m trying (see food painting), but the bath and book combo could be my secret weapon.
The general consensus on Twitter was that it’s a genius idea, so I will be giving it a go – anyone else tried and succeeded?
The other thing we’ve tried is bath time phonics with bath crayons – works well and four year old has started writing his own words for me to spell - admittedly they are concoctions such as ‘hmp’, ‘wilp and ‘goft’ but we’ll get there.
All bedtime routine tips most welcomely received especially if accompanied by red wine recommendations.