Category Archives: General

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Guest Post: Best Holiday Gifts for Grandparents.

This week’s guest post is provided by Libby. As a 60-year-old grandparent of seven, Libby prides herself on successfully spoiling every child with minimal complaints from her daughter, son, and their respective spouses. Even with chronic back problems, she is determined to earn the title of “World’s Best Grandparent” and spends every afternoon loving on her kids’ kids, one child at a time. Libby created Grandparenting.info to share what she’s learned as a grandmom and to help new grandparents make the most of every second with their grandkids.

There’s no doubt that you love your grandparents, and this holiday season is a great time to show them just how much. When choosing a gift, you can make their day by getting them something they’ll truly cherish. They might be extra appreciative of gifts that they can use to make their lives easier or more comfortable, such as tools for their favorite hobbies or a senior-friendly phone. Here are some ideas.

Sentimental Gifts

Letting your grandparents know how much they mean to you is always appreciated. The holidays could be a great time to gift them some sentimental gifts that will remind them they’re always in your thoughts. According to Personal Creations, personalized gifts can hit the right spot. They can combine sentimentality with function or add a great aesthetic to a room. Your choices can include daily use items like clothes, bowls, mugs, and jars. Decorative gifts like photo albums, throws and pillows can really brighten your grandparents’ day. 

If your grandparents are like most, they like to talk about family and the great, big family tree. Why not get them a gift that will showcase these interconnections? Family tree frames can be used to house pictures of a family tree of varying sizes depending on how large you’d like to make it. You can even get creative and combine more than one of these frames. 

Tech-Based Gifts

Yes, it may seem that technology and older adults aren’t always a good match, but you might be surprised by the number of senior-friendly technology devices out there. According to Gear Brain, some tech gifts your grandparents might appreciate include robot cleaning devices and a truly simple Wi-Fi product that your grandparents can have set up in no time. If you always want to send pictures to them but they’re not that tech-savvy to use email, consider getting them digital photo frames that you can update with pictures at the touch of a button. 

If your grandparents need a new mobile phone, then consider checking out some flip phone options like the LG Exalt LTE or the Kyocera DuraXV LTE. Both of these phones work well for seniors, but the Kyocera phone is great for those who love the outdoors. Where tablets are concerned, you should definitely check out a few Samsung devices which feature large display screens and are easy to use.

Companionship Gifts

If your grandparents aren’t close by and you don’t get a lot of time to visit, it might be good to consider getting them a gift of companionship. There are numerous health benefits for older adults who have pets, but there are also quite a few responsibilities involved with taking care of an animal. In this case, it might be good to strike a happy medium where your grandparents get to interact with animals but aren’t completely responsible for their care. 

If your grandparents live in a location that is frequented by birds, then a good birdhouse might be just what they need. When it comes to birdhouses, Gardener’s Supply Company suggests paying attention to the material that it’s made of and where you intend to place it. Make sure to find a birdhouse that is the right size for the kind of birds you expect to visit. A recent companion invention may also be of interest as a gift. The companion pet is a robotic pet that behaves very much like a cat or dog, but your grandparents won’t need to clean up any messes or make visits to the vet. 

Hobby-Friendly Gifts

Depending on your grandparents’ activity level, they may have certain hobbies they enjoy, so you can get them gifts that support that. For older adults who love fishing, you can choose from gifts that match their level of expertise. Whether your loved ones are just starting out or have been doing it for a while, you can definitely find gifts that can help them enjoy their hobby even more. 

If your grandparents are more sedentary and have a knack for knitting, then how about getting them some tools for their craft? They may appreciate items like knitting needles, storage tote bags, and a yarn ball winder. Finally, for the gardener in your midst, they may be interested in trying out bonsai trees. If they have the patience for growing the trees from scratch, consider getting a good starter kit. Otherwise, you can get them a bonsai tree seedling that they can start tending to immediately. 

The gift options for older adults have broadened over the years, and you can pick out quite a few gifts that would mean a lot to your grandparents. You can get them sentimental gifts that will keep their memories close at hand or get them technology-based gifts that they’ll find easy to use. Whatever you choose, your grandparents will certainly be appreciative that you put so much thought into it.

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How many presents ?

How many presents do you buy for your kids at Christmas?

In my family, amongst my friends, between the parents I speak to online, there are very different approaches to Christmas presents. Some people buy a lot, some buy little. Some place a lot of emphasis on Santa’s gifts, some less, some not at all. Everyone wants their kids to have an amazing Christmas experience, and all the kids get exactly that! But which approach to gift giving is best? Which suits you and your family?

  • How much to spend?
  • How many gifts to give?
  • More presents or bigger presents?
  • Who gets the credit, parents or Santa?
  • How to make sure the kids appreciate their gifts?

How much to spend?

How long is a piece of string? This really is a circular question. Family finances are so different that measuring your spend against another can never be helpful. Different incomes, different budgets, different priorities make this an impossible comparison and one that can only make you feel bad. Bad you aren’t spending enough or bad you’ve spent too much. Or you feel smug you’ve done just the right thing and then you should feel bad for feeling smug.

The main thing is to spend what you can afford only. Going into debt or having to cut back too much to afford a lot of presents isn’t going to pay dividends. Your kids may love those toys but soon they’ll want to go on fun outings you can’t afford or need new shoes you can’t buy and the toys won’t make up for it.

How many gifts to give?

This is where you can save money when you have little ones. They won’t know how much things cost so if you want to give a lot, go for lots of cheap gifts rather than one or two expensive ones. If you have more than one child make sure they have the same number as they’ll probably compare. Even if you spent more on one child they are more likely to see the fairness in how many gifts they can count. But giving too many gifts can make the opening become a factory line and the shine of getting a gift can be rubbed away. Too many presents and you run the risk of an ungrateful child who keeps expecting more and more. Plus there’s only so much they can focus on and some of the toys are likely to gather dust, at least for a while. Where’s the sweet spot? That’s up to you, of course, but just remember not to compare to the other parents! There’s always someone giving a number wildly different to you and making you second guess your decision.

Bigger is better?

There are some big items that are often given as Christmas gifts. I mean large! Like cubby houses, trampolines, swing sets, play kitchens, bikes….. This big presents often come with a price tag to match and can be an excellent option for a group gift, to all the kids/all the family (maybe not the bike!)

Large toys can be impressive and give a lot of bang for their buck as they aren’t always matched by their price. Young children, just as they will see a lot of toys as a big haul, are likely to see Big toys as impressive. A large cheap toy might create more excitement than an expensive small one. But the long term value is worth considering, if the cheap toy becomes just more for the toy box and eventually landfill. Small toys can be used to fill a stocking. Little hands reaching in again and again to reveal yet more tiny wonders might create more joy. How big is your home? I know I think hard about just where I will keep each item once it’s a part of our lives and homes before I buy it. If you can’t think of an obvious place to keep it, maybe it’s something best to avoid!

Who gave the best gift, you or Santa?

This one really gets the mums groups to disagree. On the one side is the argument that Santa is magical and special and kids should believe the best comes from that magical place while they still can. On the other hand is the position that parents put in all the hard work so they should get the credit and appreciation they deserve. Also to take into consideration is that the biggest and best present means very different things to different families. Some have hardly anything or nothing to spend on Christmas and some have limitless funds and means. If Santa is attributed with the most extravagant present, yet this varies from one child to the next, will the children see this and feel like Santa has been unfair or doesn’t care as much for some children? This a very personal question and your family dynamics and the personality of your child will sway the decision. How likely are your kids to discuss their gifts with other children? Some countries have school close to Christmas and some do not, does this affect the likelihood of comparison discussions? Do your children appreciate you usually or do you feel they need to see how you work hard to get them the things they have? Is the magic of Santa especially important to you and to them?

How much will they appreciate their presents?

We all want to give our kids what they want, but we try to give them what they need as well. And maybe sometimes they need to appreciate what they’ve been given a bit more? I know my toddler can begin to expect gifts around present giving time. For a month after his birthday he would come home from daycare asking, “Have you got a present for me?” There were even tears sometimes when the answer was no. I think the toddler may be old enough to begin learning about giving his toys to those who haven’t as many. This year I’d like to have him pick something new to give to a children’s Christmas gift program and also to agree to pass on some of his own toys. Getting him involved in choosing and wrapping gifts for other family members also makes sure he understands that presents are a two way street and to help him grow his own joy in giving.

How do you and your family approach presents for your kids?

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How to cook soup, a busy parents’ guide

Find a whole cauliflower in the back of the fridge you forgot about. It looks a bit sad but it’s still good, surely.

Leave it on the bench for 6 hours while you keep thinking you’ll get to it “in just a minute”

Break the cauliflower into large florrettes and tip onto an oven tray. Spray with oil and put in the oven while the toddler’s dinosaur nuggets cook.

Ignore for about half an hour and congratulate yourself for remembering to take it out before it burns. The crispy edges are, in fact, exactly what you were after and not a mistake at all. Leave tray on top of the stove while you put the baby to bed.

Chop some onion and/or leek and/or celery and/or whatever you have to hand and throw in a large saucepan with plenty of oil and garlic. Keep the temperature fairly low so you can leave the veggies to sweat and not burn while you put the toddler back to bed.

  1. stir the veggies.
  2. put the toddler back to bed
  3. stir the veggies.
  4. resettle the baby.
  5. stir the veggies.
  6. put the toddler back to bed.
  7. forget the veggies but that’s ok because you had the temperature low.
  8. put the toddler back to bed. and this time you mean it!

Add the roasted cauliflower and any stock you may have (that half a box in the fridge says use within three days but you can’t remember when you used it so best just throw it in now). Top up the liquid with approximately 2 paw patrol drink bottles worth of water.

Remember you were meant to add spices earlier. Add them now! A dash of this and a shake of that. Cumin coriander and tumeric maybe? Don’t have those? Thyme and oregano? None of that either? Forget the spices, it’ll taste good as it is!

Turn the heat up now and let it boil then simmer while you pack up the toys and the dishes. Move the laundry that needs folded to a different area, to be done “later”.

Now your soup looks cooked. It’s certainly hot and it’s time to watch the next episode of your show so let’s say it’s done! Get out your stick blender and whiz it up. Add plenty of salt and don’t worry that it tastes like you tipped in a bit too much tumeric.

Your soup is now done. The kids are asleep. You a wonderful chef and parent combination.

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Guest Post: The case for male nannies

Guest writer Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londongoverness.com. She recruits nannies, governesses and other childcare professionals, ensuring top-notch services for parents worldwide. In her free time she likes reading about education, and children’s welfare, as well as visiting sports events.

If you would like to contribute a guest post please send me a message!

Ask anyone: would you hire a male nanny?

(Stereo)typically, you might get two completely opposing responses: “Why not?”, or “No way”.

A mother asked this question on a forum- because her search to find her son a part-time “manny” position during the summer break was quite futile. She got a lot of emails, and while the discussion is really interesting, it came down to some common responses:

  1. Yes, I have an older active boy, and a male caregiver would be a perfect fit
  2. No, I have daughters, and I’m terrified of sexual predator

This is sexism at play. Women (and men) openly wonder why a man would want to deal with kids at all. It’s all rooted in a stereotype: men don’t belong near children and they don’t know how to handle them.

So, what are we teaching our kids?

“It’s a shame really, because how are we supposed to nurture our boys into being good fathers when the world is telling them they shouldn’t be near children?” one mom asked.

By the way, do you know that women show greater distrust towards male nurses or male beauticians, and also female pilots, mechanics, surgeons or bus drivers?

What Male Nannies can offer

  1. According to some theories of child development, children 3 to 6 years old go through a phase where they identify with people who they perceive share their gender. This would explain a rising demand for male nannies for preschool aged boys.
  2. Kids need role models of all genders, both boys and girls. There are often families where kids don’t have all these role models in the home and a nanny can provide another role model, of another gender.
  3. In some cases a male nanny will be more physically inclined in their play than a female nanny and may be better suited to children who prefer robust, physical games.

People who have hired male nannies report how their kids loved spending time with them as much as with their female nannies. It’s not gender-related, since the men who choose to nanny are, of course, also nurturing and caring.

Double-check

Safety is of utmost importance, no one wants to risk anything with either female or male caregivers. Instead, opt for agencies, such as this British governess agency, they go the extra mile to check their candidates.

You can stop expecting something terrible to happen- do the research and background check for ANY person that will come near your children.

It’s important to stay open-minded. Not all people fall into categories. Confirmation bias is strong, I know, but try to see the bigger picture.

If your child prefers or needs male energy, there are knowledgeable, qualified male caregivers out there who won’t turn your house and kids into a mess. Kids might as well enjoy them!

Qualities and qualifications

Anyway, what does a nanny do? A wide variety of tasks, including, but not limited to preparing meals, cleaning the house, carpooling, entertaining children, and of course, caring for infants and teaching them basic skills.

They have to love working with children of all ages, show integrity, be loving and caring, nurturing, warm and cheerful. But also alert and assertive. Attuned to their own emotions, and naturally open.

If you happen to have all these qualities as a person, and also have some qualifications and references, it really shouldn’t matter if they are a male or a female.

Nannies should just be good at what they do and kids have to love them. It’s that simple.

The bias is so strong that “mannies” have to prove themselves a lot more. And oftentimes, they are paid less.

They may be a minority, but a lot of them have a tutoring background or have a college qualification. As the owner of the Manny agency said: “They know how to have fun, and how to discipline when needed.”

He adds: “It feels strange writing the ways in which a male nanny can help a household, I didn’t even bother to add that a male can clean or that they know their way around a kitchen because it just seems insulting to everyone involved and should be a given”

Raise awareness

It’s important to discuss this issue of “cultural uneasiness” and raise awareness. We cannot act out of fear. We have to make informed decisions.

Men have the equal right to belong in childcare, it’s not exclusively a woman’s job. If men are fixed to macho jobs, we may conclude that women should be fixed to “feminine” jobs. And that is not something we want either!

As this brilliant article concludes: “For my part, I know I can’t control what my son thinks, but I can change what he sees, and I want him to see a world in which, yes, women and men can both hold high-paying executive jobs. But they can both teach preschool and babysit him, too. [Male babysitters] are awesome.”

  • Opt for a person who meets your child’s needs and fits your lifestyle, not for gender.
  • Don’t question whether a man is capable of loving and caring for an infant/ child, especially those that choose this to be their calling.
  • This is almost 2020. The reason this myth is still alive is not because it’s true, but because only a few people dare to question it.

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Why is my baby shaking their head from side to side?

You might be worried that your baby’s head shaking side to side means that something is wrong. You may even be worried this is an early sign of autism. But chances are this is a normal behaviour. If your baby is crying and head shaking many parents become concerned that their baby is sick, hurt, or autistic. But there are lots of good reasons your baby might shake their head from side to side. Even if your baby is crying, it is most likely nothing to worry about.

Does your baby shake their head from side to side while they are breastfeeding?

This is a common time to see a baby shake their head, sometimes they will also grunt and fret. This is the baby trying to latch and find the best position to feed. By moving their head side to side they can ensure they latch onto the nipple correctly. You can help them by encouraging them into the right position and by assisting them to attach well. A very hungry baby will often shake their head a lot while latching in their eagerness and frustration that the milk isn’t flowing yet. Very normal and nothing to worry about!

Does your baby shake their head from side to side while they are trying to go to sleep, or when you notice they are very tired?

Even very young babies can have self settling skills and this may be one of them. The shaking of the head may make baby slightly dizzy and help them fall asleep. It may feel comforting to feel the material rub against their cheeks. It may also be a sign of frustration that they cannot relax and fall asleep as they would like, especially if they are also crying. Very normal and nothing to worry about!

Does your baby sometimes shake their head from side to side when they are playing, or when they are interacting with you?

It’s fun to move your body isn’t it? Your baby doesn’t have a lot of control over their body so when they are having fun they may shake their head with excitement. They are practising new skills all the time and are testing out what their body can do – look I can turn my head to one side, and now I can turn it to the other side! You might notice this during tummy time in particular. If you are turning your head while playing with them they may try to imitate you, the earliest way they know how to communicate with you and join in with your activities. Very normal and nothing to worry about!

What if something is actually wrong?

There are a few reasons why a baby turning their head from side to side may be a cause for concern.

  • Ear Infection or other illness
  • Febrile Seizure
  • Rash/ itch
  • Autism

If your baby has an EAR INFECTION they may find the sensation of a blocked ear canal very uncomfortable. They may turn their head from side to side in an attempt to relieve the pressure or pain. If they feel unwell in general they may turn their head in frustration. If head turning is accompanied by a fever, fluid weeping from the ears, or any other concerning symptoms you might suspect an ear infection and should visit a doctor.

Sometimes if your baby has a sudden rise in temperature they may experience a FEBRILE SEIZURE or convulsion. While this is not uncommon or life threatening it can be very scary. In this instance your baby would not just shake their head, their entire body would go stiff and jerk and they may lose consciousness. Don’t panic! These kinds of seizures are not harmful and do not cause brain damage. Keep them on a soft surface and wait until it’s finished then seek medical attention from your GP or hospital to confirm your child is well and safe and to identify any underlying illness.

You may have noticed any redness or dryness or a rash on your baby, especially on their face, they may be turning their head from side to side in an attempt to itch. Young babies with limited control over their arms and hands will be particularly vulnerable to an itch they cannot scratch.Babies with parents who have ECZEMA or asthma or other allergies are more likely to have eczema and itchy skin themselves. Keep baby’s skin moisturised and watch for irritation. If you see a spreading rash take your baby to the doctor to rule out any illnesses.

When you see your baby shaking their head from side to side you may think of stimming and other repetitive behaviours that you’ve heard are sign of AUTISM. Head shaking on its own, however, is not usually a sign your child is autistic. So long as your child makes eye contact with you, smiles (if they are older than about 8 weeks), makes gestures such as pointing or waving and imitates you (if they are older than about 9 months) it is unlikely they are autistic and more likely they are displaying one of the very normal head shaking behaviours. If you are concerned your baby’s head shaking from side to side is excessive and/or you feel they are not meeting other milestones and not engaging with you by making eye contact, smiling or gesturing then you are wise to seek the advice of your doctor. Early diagnosis of autism is becoming more possible and early intervention can help an autistic child to thrive.

so….. should you be worried?

Probably not.

A baby shaking their head from side to is very normal and common. It’s usually a way for them to share something with you, to let you know they are hungry or tired or happy and excited. It is often fun for them and interesting to experiment with their bodies. It may be a way for them to tell you when they are uncomfortable and to try and communicate with you. Babies turn their heads from side to side for lots of reasons and most of the time it is nothing to worry about at all!

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