Friday, 28 November 2014

Mandy Gurney's Top Ten Sleep Tips!

Mandy Gurney’s Top Ten Tips to Help your Child Sleep Better


Good sleep habits can not only take the stress out of bedtime, but can also help to make it a special time for you and your child. With lights out leading to weekly tantrums from one in five (20%) children aged between three and six, most children’s sleep struggles can often be addressed with a simple yet practical solution.
Recent research from Dream Lites*, the cuddly bedtime toys, reveals that the average three to six year old child awakes three times in the night, with almost half (46%) of mums regularly awaking to soothe their infant back to sleep.
Dream Lites has teamed up with sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, Mandy Gurney, to create a simple guide for parents to help their young children to sleep better. If you are unsure why your child has difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, take a look over this handy checklist - implementing small changes could make all the difference for your family come bedtime:

1. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time

Encourage a regular sleep-wake schedule for your child with no more than one hour’s deviation from day to day, including weekends. This will help regulate your child’s internal body clock and ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep. Your child’s wake up time is just as important as their bedtime since our body clocks are reset every day by the time we get up in the morning.

2. Avoid stimulating activities in the hour before bedtime

Have a quiet wind down period about an hour before your child goes to bed. Turn off the TV and any computers; bright lights from screens can interfere with production of the sleep hormone melatonin that is responsible for making us drowsy. Instead use this time for reading, doing puzzles, listening to a story tape and chatting about the day with your child.

3. Stick to a set bedtime routine

It is never too late to establish a bedtime routine. Aim to carry out the same series of steps each night, around 30 minutes before your child goes to bed. This routine may include a short warm bath and a quiet story, before lights out with a purposeful “goodnight”. Make it low-key and relaxing – it is repetitive for you, and may even get boring, but it is worth it for the long-term benefits to your child’s sleep pattern.

4. Enforce clear boundaries for bedtime behaviour

This applies to you as well as your child! If you have said you will give your child one cup of milk in bed, do not be talked into fetching a second. Once boundaries start to become stretched, most children will push further. Most requests for a drink or another trip to the toilet are excuses to string out bedtime and should be resisted so that they do not become a habit.

5. A healthy sleep environment
The bedroom should ideally be a comfortable temperature of 18 degrees. Warm temperatures can disturb sleep, and research shows a hot room leads to more wake time and a lighter sleep at night.

Our biological clocks are regulated by light. Make sure your child has time playing outside every day so they are exposed to natural light. Ensure their bedroom is dimly lit; darkness triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. If your child wakes early in the morning consider black out blinds to block out morning light.

6. Teach your child a settling routine that does not rely on props that require your presence          

Children who rely on props at bedtime, such as your presence, are more vulnerable to waking later in the night. As your child comes into light sleep phases, which we all do throughout the night, they are likely to look for you to help them to get back to sleep.


7. Leave your child awake when you say goodnight

This will teach your child to get to sleep by themselves, which is beneficial for both of you.

8. Ensure your child is asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving them

This is the maximum amount of time it should take your child to fall asleep. If a child is awake for long periods at bedtime some can become anxious that they cannot sleep – even as bedtime approaches they start to worry, leading to an anxious and stressful time for everyone. Check that your bedtime routine is quiet, focused and relaxing and that your child is not dozing or napping in the day, if not appropriate for their age.

9. Diet
Avoid allowing your child caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, since tea, coffee and fizzy drinks can profoundly disrupt night-time sleep.

Sugary sweets at bedtime will not only give your child a boost of energy hindering them from falling asleep, but research has also shown them to be a cause of nightmares. Instead, encourage your child to have a bedtime snack of foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan. These foods are thought to make some people drowsy, and include bananas, warm milk, oat biscuits, wholegrain low-sugar cereals, eggs and chicken.

10. Keep bedtime stress-free
Do not use bedtimes to discuss any difficulties or anxieties relating to today or tomorrow. This can unearth difficulties from your child’s day, which may interfere with sleep. Try to get these types of discussions out of the way by teatime.

Mandy Gurney, sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, said: “However hard and boring a bedtime routine for kids may seem after a long day, it is vital to enable everyone in the family to have a good night’s sleep. Just setting aside 30 minutes at the end of the day with a simple, quiet, relaxing bath, a calm story and kiss goodnight is well worth the effort.”

If, despite your best efforts, your child continues to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep during the night or has nightmares or night terrors, they may have a genuine sleep problem. Talk to your GP or health visitor about your concerns.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Three's A Charm

My sweet Grayson, turning 3

Oh my Grayson. A small time ago, you were a happy surprise soon after having your older sister (REALLY a surprise, considering the medication it took to have Sydney). Then you surprised me more by rupturing my uterus AKA busting into this world (TMI?) 2 weeks before you were scheduled to arrive. These past few months and years, you have been a typical boy: keeping me on my toes with everything.

We have a special connection, me and you. Don't get me wrong, I love your sister's just as much. Who knew a heart could hold so much love?? But there is something different with us. I almost died giving birth to you, and you as well, thanks to the busting of my internal organ (thanks dude). You need me more than the girls, my little Miss Independents. You have no problems snuggling, and kissing me sweetly on the cheek to wake me in the morning. You run to hug me when I walk into a room. You are my shadow (which can be very annoying, but right now I think of it fondly).

One of his favorite toys from Radio Flyer

My heart hurts, but is so happy that you are getting older. No more babies for me, and I am starting to feel that "mommy void". I don't think I could have another though, because you are the most easy going and happy kid that I have ever had, and I don't think I could recreate that if I tried. Unless you start screeching at high pitches like your sisters. Then I may have to take it all back. Just kidding. I would love you if you did that just like I still love your sister's, even if their decibel levels hit where only dogs can hear them.

We are potty training now, and as soon as that is done, no more diapers for the family. But still, I get a little sad at that. In the end its ok though. It doesn't look like you are giving up your "chewys" (aden and anais swaddles) anytime soon. That's a signal that you are still my baby, and you always will be. Although, I look forward to even more adventures. Just try not to hurt any more of my organs :).

Putting him to bed tonight for the last time as a 2 year old, with chewy's of course. Tomorrow (11/20/14) he will wake up and be 3 years old. 

I love you to the moon and back my moose. Happy birthday.

xoxo
Mommy
(Clarissa)

Friday, 14 November 2014

Maybe It's In The Cards...



The famous "holiday card of 2014"

As a photographer, holiday cards have been always something to look forward to. It's a very lucrative time, and seeing all different kids dressed in their best always makes me smile. But as a parent/stepmom, I HATE holiday card time. 

Don't get me wrong. I love all my kids to death. But usually getting them all together to look semi decent is a struggle and is deeply stressful. I mean, how good can a photographer be if she can't get her own children to cooperate for one picture? (This is what I think people say) Or when it comes to cards: thats the design she picked? I thought she had an eye for the artsy? (Another thing I think that people may say)

The major stress I have every year though is not something that would normally register in anyone's thoughts: should I be allowed to add Andrew (my stepson) into the holiday mix? Should I be allowed to put the picture on Facebook? 

Most know the back story: Danny and I have been together for almost 10 years, and married for 6. Andrew was 3 when I met him. Danny and his ex at that time had a civil relationship, but over the years it deteriorated rapidly. Long story short: after many court appearances, Andrew lives with his father most of the time, and his mother every other weekend. It varies slightly in the summer, but it has been like this for many years. As of now, Danny and his ex do not speak. 

This is where I wonder: where does the stepmother line begin, and end? It's a bit different in my situation, since I am there to fill in for his mother (NOT REPLACE) most of the time. It's not a job I enjoy lately, but when you've been there for that long and your stepson doesn't remember a time when  you weren't there, you kind of just roll with the teenage angst that comes along. My problem is is that I am always frightened to post pictures of my stepson, or to even call him part of my family, because I have gotten flack for it before. I keep a lot of them on my personal computer, or to myself, because I just don't want to hear it. You would think people would be happy that I care for and treat him the same as my biological children, but that is not the case. 

I don't know what the right answer is anymore. I have a picture I love of all 4 children, and I want to share it with the world. But I don't want to make stress and anger come my way. In the end, after much deliberation, I posted the picture on my Facebook fan page  and on my private page. It did cause anger, and I was surprised at which people were angry (some not so much). I have made the decision to make this picture my holiday card, because I love it so much, but am I ready for another round of stress? Even now, I am shaking, because once I post this entry, it will be on the internet for all to see. Will that put a bullseye on my back too? 

What would you do? 

Anxiously hitting the post button,

xoxo
Clarissa

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Bee is almost 1!! - CAKE SMASH

 Can you believe my little Bee is going to be 1 year old on saturday? because I can't!!

Here is a couple of photos from his recent Smash Cake photoshoot! (Photos by us)

John Deere BIG FARM - TOMY Review

Living in Suffolk, Rocket is used to seeing a lot of farming equipment and tractors around close by. So when we were sent the John Deere 6210R Tractor and the 348 Square Baler it was really exciting for him to see how they worked up close and at a 1:16 scale!

The 6210R Tractor is suitable for ages 3-8 so Rocket is perfectly in the middle rand as he is coming up 5 in only 4 months time!

Rocket had lots of fun with the tractors moving parts though I did have a giggle when he told me the wheels were broken and wobbly and I had to explain that they were purposely like that to
go over bumpy terrain - it was a great way to teach him more about farming.

The sounds are realistic, there are two buttons on top of the Tractor roof which make engine and reversing sounds.

The Tractor is sturdy and you can feel the quality of it - it is definitely a toy that will last and can be used indoors or outdoors so good for summer playing.

The Tractor takes 3 AA batteries which are included ready for play.

Best of all it is compatible with all Britain's Big Farm toys so there is a whole range you can collect if your little person is a budding farmer.

The John Deere 348 Square Baler is fun when attached to the
back of the Tractor making fun of the hard graft of harvesting. It leaves cute little green hay bales ready to be stacked up! The bucket at the back has a flip up action bringing some more excitement to the toy!

Like the Tractor, the Square Baler is an indoors and outdoors toy and a lovely sturdy quality.

I personally didn't have much experience of farming but through play with Rocket I'm learning more and now on the look out for big tractors!



*We were sent these toys to review, views and photos are our own.
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf

    Sunday, 2 November 2014

    Goblins and Ghouls

    I've been told that Halloween is not that big in the UK, but in the states, it is a huge affair! Some parents start planning their costumes weeks, sometimes even months in advance. There are parades, parties, and get togethers all leading up to the main event, and even more on the actual day. For the ones without children, it is a huge drinking holiday. For me, it was running from sun up to sundown, and even later.

    This year was no exception on the craziness. I had picked up a costume for Grayson, Monsters University's Sully, and he refused to wear it. Maybe because it was heavy, maybe because it was fuzzy, who knows. All I know was that he was not wearing it. I ended up having to scramble to figure out a new one for him last minute. Luckily, I was able to put together a Where's Waldo costume from what I already had in the house.
    Grayson watching Sydney's concert, as Waldo from Where's Waldo

    Sydney is my clothes horse, so she changed costumes multiple times. She wanted to be a ladybug at school for her concert and parade, and Elsa when it came to the actual trick or treating. (Sully costume ended up being worn by her earlier in the week at another party). The concert was adorable. She is usually very quiet, but in her pre-k class singing songs, she seemed to be the loudest 4 year old there! She was so proud of herself. And yes, I teared up a bit. I am a huge softy.
    Sydney (2nd from left) singing 

    My ladybug in the school parade
    Cassie was her usual Power Ranger self. She was the easy one. The only request was that she wanted to be a "boy" one. Suit yourself, kid. Whatever makes you happy!

    Cassie always being the life of the party
    Andrew was a character from Adventure Time. Being a teenager, I doubt that he will be trick or treating / dressing up after this year. I would say maybe half of the class actually dressed up, so I am pretty confident on my thinking that he is done. He didn't go trick or treating with us, he went with his friends. He's too cool for us.

    The elusive teenager. Don't make direct eye contact.
    Since it was so cold, the kids had to layer up underneath the costumes, which made them uncomfortable slightly, but they still ran around getting as much candy as they could! This was Grayson's first year really realizing what was happening, so that made it really fun. Think about it: at 2 years old it doesn't make much sense to just walk up to people's doors and ask for candy, but after 2 houses he got it and was running with the rest of the kids.
    Trick or Treating in the 'hood
    Happy Halloween! (The Elsa costume change)

    They crashed pretty early that night, despite the sugar rushes. Halloween is tiring but it is one of my favorite things to do with my kids! My stomach hates me for trying to shove so much extra candy in it (I'm on a runner's diet usually), but I am just getting ready for Thanksgiving :)

    xoxo
    Clarissa