Life Area: Family

Category Archives: Family

Kids Boredom Buster

Kids Boredom Buster
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‘I’m bored.’ ‘I don’t know what to do.’   Sound familiar?

Inevitable words out of the mouths of our kids during the school break.

It’s great to organise trips, days out and social get togethers but don’t feel you have schedule their every move. Children need the time and space to transition from busy school routines to laid back livin’. It’s ok to feel a bit bored sometimes, they just have to find their own way out of it. (And that doesn’t have to mean endless hours glued to Minecraft.

A few summers ago I pre-empted the cries of boredom by getting my kids to create a Not Bored Board. It worked a treat and has become an annual tradition.

Here’s how:[more]

How to Get Your Kids to Help You More

How to Get Your Kids to Help You More
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Are you tired of feeling like the family slave? Do you feel like if you don’t do it yourself, it’ll never get done?

Wish your kids would pitch in and help, but feel like they’re too young or it’s not worth the battle trying to get them to do it?[more]

Photos out of control? 6 steps to take control of your family photos forever!

Photos out of control? 6 steps to take control of your family photos forever!
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Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of family photos you have sitting on your hard drive, unorganised and unloved? Do you worry that one day you’ll lose them all and your children will have no photos of their childhood? Do you love the thought of having family albums but don’t know where to start?

In the digital world that we live in it’s so easy to get our photos out of control. We go on holiday and rather than coming home with 36 photos on a roll of film you then take to get developed, you come home with hundreds of photos (with dozens of the same thing!) that you keep on your hard drive and never do anything with. Perhaps you share some on Facebook or print a few out and frame. But the rest just sit there unloved.

If you follow my simple 6 step plan you can take control of your photos forever. And if you have years (or decades!) worth of unorganised photos, don’t worry. Just start from now and you can gradually go back and sort through your old photos. Just make sure you take control of it now![more]

Why My Son Quit Minecraft For Good

Why My Son Quit Minecraft For Good
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When my 12 year old son told me last week that he’s quitting Minecraft for good I nearly fell off my chair.

He realised he was addicted when he found himself bored while playing it, yet unable to stop himself.

I asked him if he didn’t want to just ease out of it slowly, but he said he wanted to go cold turkey.

I explained that when we give up an addiction we need to replace it with something else or we’ll just go into default mode and carry on.

So he rattled off a whole list of other activities he’ll do on his own such as: play the piano, sing with his microphone, write a song, play ping pong against the wall, make bracelets, make a video, make a fort, etc etc…

Whew! I’m so happy it was him quitting on his own and not me forcing him to.

Now I have a confession to make.

Lately I’ve really lazy about enforcing computer time limits. I’ve been so consumed with creating my on-line programme for busy mothers (writing scripts, shooting videos, promoting, launching and now running the actual programme).

For over two months I’ve turned a blind eye to the amount of time he’s spent on Minecraft.

It felt hypocritical for me to tell him to get off our spare laptop when I myself was on the main computer and his older brother was on his laptop preparing for exams. Guilt was creeping in, but I chose to ignore it.

Although it sucks to admit it, his preoccupation with Minecraft was serving a purpose for me. [more]

What Parenting Skills Classes Did To My Family

What Parenting Skills Classes Did To My Family
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My life used to be a hot mess. My two year old ruled the roost and didn’t listen to a word I said. He and my five year old squabbled incessantly. I felt like I was losing my mind.

My husband and I disagreed over discipline and ended up having huge arguments in front of the kids. I remember him leaving on a business trip and saying he couldn’t wait to get out of there. I sat on the floor and bawled my eyes out.

This wasn’t the happy family life I’d envisioned. No one told me it would be so hard. In fact everyone else was making it look easy. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mother? I didn’t seem to be made from the right stuff.

I’m ashamed to admit that I took my frustrations out on my kids. I overreacted, shouted, punished, and I was heavy handed with them more than once. I even feared a new version of ‘Mommy Dearest’ being written about me one day.

My kids deserved better, but I had no idea how to change things. I read some books on discipline and parenting, but didn’t manage to implement anything that made a difference

One day I happened to spot an ad for a parenting skills workshop run by The Parent Practice near my home in London. I went along for a free taster class, unsure if I’d actually commit to the money or time of the full 10 week course.

I found myself surrounded by mothers who were also finding parenting tough. I realised I was not alone and that there were many ways to make things better.

I walked away with some valuable tips and was able to put them into practice with immediate results. But I still dithered about whether to sign up as it seemed expensive… and I’d be missing my beloved spinning class at the gym for ten Fridays in a row….

Somehow I ended up going for it and The Parent Practice gave me [more]

How To Be A More Peaceful, Loving Mother

How To Be A More Peaceful, Loving Mother
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Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You love personal and spiritual growth, but you don’t make it a regular part of your day.
  • You want to experience the calm and peace you read about in all the books you buy, but instead you feel overwhelmed and disconnected.
  • You know your life would be better if you took time to meditate (or do yoga or journal), but you’ve already got too much on your plate.
  • You’re not looking for a major life overhaul. You want to do something small and simple that will improve the quality of your life now.

If the words above resonated with you, you’re not alone.

My online business buddy Peggy Freeh printed this on her website and it made me sit up straight and listen to what she has to say.

I’m one of those mamas who wants to be more mindful and self-aware. I crave personal growth and know that when I give this part of my life the attention it deserves I’m a much more peaceful and loving mother.

When my soul is being fed, I can begin to see life beyond the laundry pile. I feel less hard-done-by. I’m also a better wife, friend – human being. I eat better, I take care of myself. I’m fun! I have more to give and I feel so much happier.

I used to buy all of the inspirational books and I genuinely wanted to put all of the great things I read into my daily life, but then things would get hectic and I’d slip back into my old ways. I knew what I was capable of if I’d only stay focused on the positive! It wasn’t easy.

One area I knew I needed to work on was my mornings. I was a B.I.T.C.H. of a mother in the early hours and my poor kids bore the brunt of it. I’d wake up and immediately begin barking at them to get up, get dressed and have breakfast so I could get them to school on time.

I remember dropping them off at the school gates, then putting my head on the steering wheel and crying. I wanted to be patient and kind, but there was something about being on mama duty from the moment I opened my bleary eyes that made it so damn hard for me to be nice.

My saving grace was [more]

Create Christmas Experience Vouchers With Pic Monkey

Create Christmas Experience Vouchers With Pic Monkey
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Stuck for what to get your kids for Christmas this year?

Do they already have the latest gadgets and ‘must have’s’?

Or maybe money’s a bit tight and you need to find something great for not a lot of cash.

Last Christmas I didn’t have a clue what to give my teen and tween boys. When they were younger it was so easy to buy lots of small stuff plus one big ‘star’ gift. It gave them the excitement of seeing a load of prezzies under the tree and the fun of unwrapping them all.

But what do you get older kids who’ve outgrown toys, have plenty of games and certainly don’t need any more gadgets?

I put my thinking cap on and came up with an idea….  I wasn’t 100% sure if it would go down well, but I had a pretty good feeling about it.

Experience vouchers they could redeem for a whole variety of things!

I started making a list of what each of them would consider a real treat, then I got to making them. I used Pic Monkey to create the fun designs and then printed them out and wrapped them all individually so they’d still have the fun of unwrapping them all. Here are a few examples:[more]

How to Stay Calm When Your Child Gets Angry

How to Stay Calm When Your Child Gets Angry
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How can we help our children when they are angry, frustrated, disappointed, or sad?

The key is to start by staying calm. We don’t need to argue, defend, or join them in their emotional upheaval. Instead, it’s important we just breathe, relax, and stay grounded.

It’s not easy, I know.

Feeling frustrated or angry with our children is often the reaction we have when we’re on autopilot. Accessing our inner calm takes awareness and practice. We need to create the space to choose a more helpful response. How can we do this?

Call it whatever you want—meditation, quiet time, nothingness, breathing, relaxation, sitting in stillness. It isn’t the term that matters, but actually taking the time to practice what the term points to.

You don’t have to take a class or buy a bunch of books before you can practice becoming quiet. Not that I’m against either classes or books. It’s just that they aren’t essential. I’ve studied many different types of formal meditation, and I know many who swear by a certain teacher or practice. But for me, trying to follow specific guidelines turned out to be a distraction.

Now, I simply [more]

How to Get Out Of A Kitchen Rut and Love Feeding Your Family

How to Get Out Of A Kitchen Rut and Love Feeding Your Family
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Do you adore cooking and dreaming up new ideas for ways to feed your family?

Me neither.

I spend as little time in my kitchen as I can possibly get away with.

I’m amazed at mothers who food blog or are professional meal planners and seem to have the whole feeding their family thing down to a science – and love doing it.

How do they have time to do all of that cooking and take photos and write about it?

Meanwhile I’ve got my head in my hands moaning, ‘Oh why do they need to eat dinner every night?!’

I vaguely remember a time when I did enjoy cooking. I bought recipe books, clipped things out of magazines and was always trying new dishes.

Clearly it was only a phase.

Three years ago things got bad. I flew blind at the supermarket without much of a list. I never seemed to have the right ingredients to put together a meal everyone liked. I felt like a failure at feeding my family.

So I set myself a goal to get my act together in the kitchen.

I’ve come in leaps and bounds in the Planning department, I now have a system for Meal Planning that works.

Every Sunday I sit down, bite the bullet and just do it. And if I ever have a week that I don’t do it, I deeply regret it and it doesn’t happen again for a long time.

It’s great to know what I’m going to cook for dinner every evening and that I’ve bought the ingredients to make it (hurrah!), but now it’s time to tackle my next challenge.

Too often I don’t get started on the prep side of it early enough. I tear myself away from whatever I’m doing, dash into the kitchen, only to realise what I’ve planned to cook takes more time than I’d thought. I end up with cranky kids begging me for a pre-dinner snack to hold them over while I rush through it – begrudging every minute. Not a lot of love going into that food.

My avoidance of the kitchen needed to be addressed. Resenting and begrudging it doesn’t make it any easier, nor does procrastinating and leaving until the last moment.

I knew I needed to overcome this hurdle, so I scheduled in some solution time last week to hash it out on paper.[more]

My Child Loves Spinach For Breakfast (And Yours Will Too!)

My Child Loves Spinach For Breakfast (And Yours Will Too!)
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Can you imagine your kid slurping spinach as an after-school snack? Or enjoying kale and broccoli for breakfast?

I certainly never dreamed of it, yet my 12 year old is now one of the many kids jumping on the green smoothie bandwagon. Blending up some leafy greens + fruit + a liquid base = a delicious smoothie.

Who doesn’t want their child to have a strong immune system and loads of energy when they set off for school each morning?

If yours hasn’t tried it yet, here are my top tips for turning your child into a green smoothie junkie.


How To Get Your Child To Listen To You

How To Get Your Child To Listen To You
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Do you feel a broken record – repeating the same instruction to your child over and over? Not sure whether to book them in for a hearing test or yourself into the looney bin?

How can you get your child to listen to you the first time you say it?

I used to go nuts over my boys’ inability to hear me. I got louder and louder until I’d morphed into a crazed chronic shoutaholic. Things got really out of control.

I became a parenting book junkie, eating up anything that would help me get a handle on the chaos and stress of raising two boisterous little boys.

It wasn’t until I did a 10 week Parenting Skills Course at The Parent Practice that I finally cracked the secret to getting my kids to listen to me the first time I say it.

Kids have selective hearing. They tune out the sound of your voice unless it’s something they want to hear. You may have noticed husbands suffer this same affliction…

So what do we do? We repeat.

‘Jack, I told you to put on your shoes. We’re leaving now.’

And we repeat again, louder and more annoyed. And again, this time with exasperation, then anger.

We’ve inadvertently trained our child to only really pay attention once we’ve said it a few times or have begun shouting.

To gain better cooperation with your child you’re [more]

How To Stop Sibling Squabbles

How To Stop Sibling Squabbles
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Are you sick of hearing your kids bicker? Worried they’ll kill each other – or that you’ll be driven to do it yourself?

When my boys were three and six I was at my wits’ end. They were constantly fighting, and I’d morphed into a chronic shout-a-holic.

My older son played the good cop and felt it was his duty to stop his younger brother from doing anything ‘naughty’. ‘No no Marco! No no!’ was his continuous catch phrase.

Of course, this only fuelled the little one’s fire and he quickly became the rebel, doing everything except what he was supposed to.

Even short car journeys were a nightmare with each one pointing to something they saw out their side of the window. If one of them had more interesting things on their side, the other would have a fit. I started taking back roads just to avoid construction sites as bulldozers ruled and I knew it would cause a battle.

It was a downward spiral and I felt increasingly exasperated. Their constant sibling squabbles and complete inability to get along for more than five minutes was driving me to the looney bin.

Thankfully [more]

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