family fun

Bear Hunt

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Well, you may well know by now that I (Ruth) am an English teacher and am passionate about reading and especially getting children engaged in books and reading from a young age. You may also know that both Loretta and I have really rather active little mites who, although they both enjoy books, are often in need of activities that burn off a little more energy than reading, so I gave some thought to the matter and when we met up with the kids, we went on a bear hunt…

To read the rest of this post, head over to our newly launched website: www.more-than-a-mum.com

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New Year’s resolutions for children?

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The New Year means new beginnings for many and an opportunity to start again, set some goals and make some changes.  These very often take the form of New Year’s resolutions for adults.  But what about children?  Is it a good idea or even healthy for children to have a set of New Year’s resolutions?

I must admit, personally I change my mind from year to year with regards to resolutions.  In some ways I think they can set you up for inevitable failure, in other ways I think it is good to have something to aim for.  I guess as long as you don’t beat yourself up about it if you don’t reach your goals than they can be helpful guidelines.

Anyway, I came across an interesting American article about New Year’s resolutions for children.  It quotes American pediatric psychologist, Stacy Flowers.  She says, “The New Year is a fresh start and it’s a great time for families to take a look at the past year and see where they can make improvement. For children and teens, making resolutions helps with self-discipline, goal setting and, when they are successful, improves self-esteem.”

I was skeptical at first but as I read on I felt Flowers had some interesting and helpful points.  According to Flowers, parents can play an important role in helping their children decide on goals and successfully meet those goals in the coming year:  “The first step is knowing your children. What areas can they work on? Where can they improve? Where will they see the biggest benefit?”

The key, according to Flowers, is to come up with manageable accomplishments that are personally meaningful to your child. These accomplishments will vary greatly with age.

However it’s all very well setting goals but how on earth do you get children to keep them?  Flowers suggests,

“Young children might benefit from charts and stickers to document their progress and accomplishments. Older children and teens can utilise calendars or electronic documentation of their achievements. Parents can also use age-appropriate rewards to recognise their children’s successes.  No matter how old you are, it feels so good to get something crossed off your list, and the absolutely best way to change behavior is to reward it instead of punish it.”

We, as parents, don’t get let off the hook in the article either.  Flowers says if children are making resolutions, their parents should be as well.  She says, “Those goals should be shared with the children so they are aware of what their parents are hoping to achieve. That actually makes it fun for the children. They get really excited when they can point out something their parent isn’t doing right.”

Flowers concludes that, “Everybody has something they need to work on, so resolutions can become a family tradition.”

After reading the article I felt that if nothing else it would give me a chance to approach and tackle some of the ‘difficult’ behaviour my son has made a habit of over the last year and I can set some goals that I know he’ll relish keeping me accountable to.  It could actually be fun! What do you think?

L

Country Kids

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Daddy took munchkin to Richmond park and these are his photos.

 

I know you all know this, but kids LOVE the outdoors and it is brilliant to get them running, jumping and exploring outside as often as possible. That is why I have joined us up to Country Kids again this week.  It is such a great reminder to us all that it is really important to get outside with the kids.

As it gets colder and darker it is easy to forget just how much our little ones get out of a good run around.  My plan is to try, even through winter, to get munchkin outdoors for at least an hour everyday.  I’ve bought her some waterproof dungarees and a jacket from the lovely @kidzoutdoors (unsponsored post, other retailers do exist!).  Now all I need to do it make sure I am wrapped up warm and dry enough to enjoy outdoor time too!

R

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Toddler Friendly Museum: part 2

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You may well know that we here at More Than A Mum are based in London, however we are keen that this blog doesn’t become London-centric.  Today’s blog post therefore is based in York.

We went to York to visit friends and 4 hours after we left home, we knew that we’d need a good active diversion for Munchkin once we arrived, so we took her to the National Railway Museum.

We arrived at around 11am and headed to park the car (top weekend tip: park in the railway car park for £2.50 all day instead of the museum car park which cost £9).  The museum is free entry, so like the last ‘Toddler Friendly Museum’ post, you can spend as long or as short a time as you want there without feeling short-changed.

First, we headed to the Station Hall and wandered round the trains – well ran, full pelt with excitement for Munchkin!  Half way round the hall, we stumbled on an old goods carriage which had been turned into a venue for the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.  We sat and watch three lovely short films, beautifully artistic, thought-provoking and fun for all the family.

We then headed outside for a play in the play area and a ride on the miniature train (50p per ticket).  Munchkin loved both, despite it being a cold and damp day.

Next, we popped to the restaurant for lunch; a good choice, with 3 out of 4 adults opting for the warm pork, apple sauce and stuffing bun and one for the cream of curried butternut squash soup with a roll.  Munchkin had a kiddy’s picnic meal.  Reasonably priced and sized portions.

Finally we headed into the great hall and looked round the engines and exhibitions.  Munchkin’s favourites were the Japanese Bullet train (“that one  looks like a plane, mummy”) the interactive announcement and jigsaw exhibits (“the train now leaving the platform goes from my house to Grandma’s”) and the film about women and the railways. (I think the final one may have had more to do with the swing music than some budding feminism on Munchkin’s part!).

All in all, we’d highly recommend the National Railway

National Railway Museum York
View from the minature railway

Museum for all the family.

R

Playdough Recipe

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cooking playdough
Playdough ingredients

As the cold weather draws in we are all going to be looking for a few more indoor activities for the little ‘uns.  The best things provide a range of activities rolled into one to keep the kids engaged for a reasonable amount of time.  This is an old one, but a great one and both Munchkin and I love it – making playdough and having a playdough party.

Activity one: playdough making

Even young children can help with the mixing and kneading as both are done away from the heat.

Ingredients:

1 cup water (it doesn’t matter what size cup, just use the same one throughout)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil  

½ cup salt (This preserves it and makes it unpleasant for little ‘uns to munch on!)

Homemade playdough

1 teaspoon food colouring (You may need more if you want very vibrant colours)

A few drops almond essence (This is not essential, but mimics the scent of the bough playdough)

1 cup flour (Make sure it’s plain)

Put all the ingredients, other than the four, into a large saucepan and warm gently.

Remove from the heat and add the flour.

Stir in the flour, then remove from the pan and knead until smooth

Keep in an airtight container (we often use old take away containers)

Activity two: playdough playing

Once you have made the playdough, you can keep it for months (no exaggeration, if you’ve used cream of tartar) in an airtight container, but nothing beats that first game with the new, still slightly warm dough.  I actually find it quite relaxing, rolling, shaping and squishing the dough!

Munchkin and I usually have a playdough party the first time round. We get cake decorations, fairy cake cases and candles and make numerous cakes.  We usually then get out all the stuffed toys, a picnic blanket and the tea set and have a playdough party.

Making the dough is brilliant for their cooking skills (older children could help weigh and measure too) and the child’s enquiring mind will love watching the individual ingredients combine and create a new substance – chemistry in action!  Playing with playdough encourages imaginary play and also helps with fine motor skills.

Playdough cakes

All in all, then, making playdough is a great activity for a cold, rainy day.