Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Letting go of the mummy guilt.

Ever since I became a mum 3yrs ago, mummy guilt has been a constant part of my life in one form or another. If you have a child you'll probably know what I mean. The constant second guessing if you're doing everything right. The constant trade offs, if we do this then we can't do that. The constant desire for alone time, but then desperation to be with your child once you finally get it. Parenting is a constant battle with internal guilt in some shape or form, for me anyway. Since I've been pregnant the mummy guilt has sky rocketed to another level.


Pregnancy has affected my ability to spend quality time with her in so many ways. For the first few months I suffered badly from morning sickness, like I need to spend all day on the couch or in the toilet or I may die kind of nausea. It was a huge adjustment for her because she's used to me being so interactive and spending the day playing with her or tending to her every need. Constant nausea has a way of controlling how much you can function whilst upright though, so we both had no choice but to adapt, and unfortunately that meant she needed to get used to fending for herself a little more.

As the weeks progressed my pelvis decided to separate again. It happened last pregnancy so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but it's happened a lot worse and a lot sooner this time around. Some days this simply means I wear a belt and am uncomfortable, other days it renders me unable to walk more than a few metres and in excruciating pain. It ebbs and flows each day and is rather unpredictable.

I'm not going to lie, I've been feeling so incredibly guilty about my pregnancy and the impact it's had on her. For the first few months I felt like I was neglecting her and saw everything in a negative light, but then I started noticing small moments and changes in her that made me realise this experience hasn't been as detrimental as I first thought. There have been many positive things to come out of the whole experience for both her and I and these are helping me to slowly but surely let go of my mummy guilt.

She's learning to be more independent - I've always been one to do most things for her thinking it was my job as her mum. Since I've been physically unable to satisfy her needs at the drop of a hat I've been teaching her to be more independent and do things for herself. She now knows how to go to the cupboard and fridge and get snacks/drinks for herself when she needs them {she still asks first thankfully or she'd be eating nothing but chocolate all day}. She also gets out toys for herself to play with and has become quite good at fetching things for me too.

She's learning to spend more time independently playing - She's always wanted me to be involved with activities or play along side her and hasn't really liked playing by herself, but the last few months she's learnt to go off and play blocks or "read" books on her own. She also sets up play activities with her dolls and other toys and her imaginary play is evolving in leaps and bounds because of this. I'm finally learning that kids being bored is not a bad thing, because they learn to adjust and make their own fun.

She's spending more time with her daddy - He works shift work so there's not usually much of a chance for us to spend quality time together, but we've been specifically trying to carve it out lately. Or at least they have been {I've been mainly trying to rest on the couch when he's home}. Now that I can't go food shopping {physio orders} and I have to attend hydrotherapy each week, it's given them two specific periods of time where it's just them and it's fast becoming their own little ritual. I'm loving that this has started now before the baby comes along because she'll be relying on daddy for entertainment a lot more often once I'm attached to a hungry/tired/clingy newborn all day.

I'm learning to go with the flow - I'm normally a control freak, I have everything planned out and prepared and I like everything to happen in the order it's meant to. Being physically unable to do things {like walk, drive, lift things etc} has forced me to slow down and realise I can't do everything, even when I have the best intentions of doing it. I'm struggling a bit because I don't want to let anyone down, but I'm also learning to listen to my body and go with the flow more.

So while being pregnant has been physically and emotionally hard, it's also been quite enlightening. I think we're both learning to make allowances for each other more and we're all helping each other out a lot more. I'm learning to let go and trust in her abilities, and she's learning how to adapt to change, and daddy's been stepping up to the plate too. My mummy guilt is still there, but it's not as loud as it was before.

Toni x

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | My Creative Box

Before I had kids I never thought I'd be a crafty mum. I loved art as a kid myself, but for some reason I could never imagine myself sitting down and doing craft activities with my child. Most likely because I thought I wouldn't have the patience for it. Evidently I was wrong. So wrong.

Turns out I love doing craft activities with her. Granted my ocd does get tested a fair bit when she's decorating or making things, and so does my tendency to want to control everything, but that's the beauty of being a parent ~ you adapt and change, and if not look in the other direction to stop yourself from "fixing" everything. As much as her doing things differently to the way I envisaged does test me, I really love watching her imagination come to life as she creates and I love that we get to share that together. For this reason we usually do a craft type activity at least once a week, whether that be drawing, painting, something more elaborate like making pom pom monsters or something themed like making Christmas wreaths.

Even though I love doing craft and am always looking up new things we can do together, there are times where I just lack motivation or enthusiasm to come up with new ideas {or trawl through pinterest for inspiration}, especially now that I'm seven months pregnant. There's also lots of nights where I don't want to spend ages prepping activities for the next day. Unfortunately though her desire to do activities never wanes, so I have to come up with alternatives, which is why I'm so glad I came across My Creative Box on Instagram.

My Creative Box is a monthly art/craft activity box which can be purchased as a one off box or via a subscription. It's the brain child of two childhood educator mums, Leanne and Abby, who wanted to bring fun, creative learning activities to other children. As educators they realise the many learning and development benefits of children being able to express themselves creatively, but they also understand that lots of parents are time poor so organising art activities can be a challenge, so they've done all the work for you. Each My Creative Box is designed for preschool children {3-6yrs} and includes 4-6 different craft activities each month. The activities included in the boxes are designed to encourage children to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, cognitive skills, build confidence and express their creativity through multi-sensory experiences. We've been working our way through the activities in the February My Creative Box over the last fortnight and this is what we think.
My creative box monthly art and craft activity kit

My Creative Box is literally packed with activities and I love that there's a guide page attached inside so you can see all the activities easily, which helps with choosing which one to do first {although if your child is like mine they'll want to do that one and that one AND that one first}. I also really love that everything you need for each activity is included {literally everything right down to the glue or paintbrush for example} and they're all packaged into separate bags for each individual activity. It's so easy to grab out a bag and set up an activity in less than a minute. No prep, no gathering of materials, it's all done already. 
My creative box February contents

Each activity comes with a comprehensive guide card which lists how to complete the activity step by step including photos. There are also extension activities listed at the bottom as some of the items can be re-used again and there's also usually excess materials {such as paint} left over once the specific activity is completed. On the back of the guide card the girls have also listed all the skills the activities help your child develop {like fine motor skills such as hand strengthening, pincer grip etc} and there is also suggested prompts to use when doing the activity to aid in language development too. The aspiring childhood educator in me loves this addition.
paper plate beach craft idea for toddlers

One of her favourite activities included in the February box was this sea plate craft activity. She loved gluing down each of the pieces of the blue tissue paper and choosing where each one would go to make the ocean. I then sprinkled the sand onto the bottom of the plate and she placed all the shells and fish where she wanted them to go. We didn't glue those down because I wanted to keep the plate as a more fluid kind of small world scene that she could change up each time she wanted to play with it. She kept moving the fish and crab around making them talk to each other and moved the shells around to make imprints into the sand.
beach sensory paper plate craft from my creative box


Being the February box it also included some fun valentines day crafts to make homemade presents. She loved putting these together, especially the clay heart necklace which she straight away told me was for grandma. Why do the grandparents always get the good stuff? Every single time we make a necklace, pretty picture, painting etc she always wants to give it to grandma. What about mummy? I'm the one who puts in all the effort, haha I'm totally not jealous at all! Luckily for me there was enough clay to make a few hearts so I got her to paint another one I'm keeping for myself.


Her most favourite activity of all was decorating her very own library bag. To be honest I think she was just as excited to paint all over a bag {because she thought she was getting away with something naughty} as she was with actually being able to paint it any way she liked. This activity did test my own ocd a bit because my brain wanted her to draw a nice pretty picture, but I knew it would end up being a bunch of random colours and lines. I managed to control myself though and allowed her to decorate it however she wanted and it was actually really amazing talking to her about what each squiggle was. She drew rainbows, mountains "like da pyramids" and one blue squiggle is apparently Sonic the hedgehog. Kids imaginations really are the best.


We've really enjoyed doing all the activities included in this month's box and I love that she also practised so many development skills while creating all her little crafts. The activities definitely helped to improve her hand strengthening as she can now squeeze a glue bottle without needing my help {which may bite me in the butt later if I leave her unattended with glue, but at the moment I'm just super proud of her}. To see all of our finished activities from the box check out my Instagram feed.

It's evident that Leanne and Abby have put a lot of time and planning into curating My Creative Box so that the activities appeal to a range of children and each activity {although comprehensive instructions are included} has a wide scope of how it can be completed given each child's imagination and individual way of manipulating the materials provided. I really love that each activity is so easy to set up and everything is provided so all you need to do is help your child to create a little masterpiece. They're great for rainy days, hot days when it's too hot to go outside, time poor parents who want easy no fuss activities and also crafty kids who love to create. I've already ordered the March box because she loved this one so much and I'm pretty sure we'll be ordering more in future months so that she has something just for her once her little sister has come along. I'm certain I'll need help coming up with creative ideas when I'm knee deep in sleep deprivation again, so I'm glad I have this special craft box {as she calls it} up my sleeve to keep her entertained.

Do/did you enjoy crafting with your kids?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided the February My Creative Box for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the items and activities included in the box. I did not receive payment for this review and have already ordered the March box because we had so much fun doing the activities from this month's box.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mummy Must Have | Heart in Box

Often when a new baby arrives the baby is showered with loads of attention and gifts, but mum, who quite frankly is the one who's done all the hard yards to bring the baby into the world, is easily overlooked. I kind of understand why though, I mean babies are incredibly cute so people can't help but swoon over them, but it's important not to forget the woman who endured 9 uncomfortable months then a {no doubt} painful labour to produce that cute squishy newborn. Mum's deserve a bit of showering of their own, but what do you give them? 

It's easy to think of gifts for a new baby, because there's so much they need - clothes, nappies, toys, teething products, toiletries etc, but not much of that translates to a gift for mum. Most new mums have toiletries covered before going into hospital {and lets face it showers aren't high on the priority list in the first few days after having a newborn} and well clothes won't fit properly again until that equally squishy belly settles back into the correct spot. I can tell you what I would've loved the first time around, chocolate, a shit tonne lot of chocolate! Unfortunately though chocolate doesn't last long {not around here anyway} and it also doesn't last well sitting in a hot letterbox so if you need to post a gift, or just want a gift that arrives in a gorgeous gift box, I suggest you check out Heart in Box.


Heart in Box is an online gift box company that specialises in curated gifts to uplift and pamper recipients through gifting and words. The business idea was originally conceived after owner Meng had her baby and realised all the gifts she received were for the baby and that mum's were often forgotten {other than at Mother's Day}. Then she received gifts for herself from her girlfriends which immediately lifted her spirits and she wanted to bring that same feeling to others. In just over a year Heart in Box has expanded their gift box range and now offer Heart Boxes for various different occasions including birthdays, housewarmings, weddings and many boxes to celebrate just because and to remind people they're loved and appreciated by friends and family.


NEW MAMA HEART BOX


The New Mama Heart Box was the first ever gift box from Heart in Box and was designed purely for new mums {whether they be first time mums or have multiple children already}. The early days with a newborn can be quite hectic and are a whirlwind of cluster feeding and sleep deprivation, which can lead to the baby blues for even the most prepared of mums. The New Mama Heart Box is designed as a pick me up for new mums to alleviate some of the stress of life with a newborn.




The New Mama Heart Box contains 7 carefully selected items to put a smile on mums face, including:

- A tin of lactation cookies
- A handmade chew safe necklace
- A book of 99 pick me ups for new mamas
- An all natural nursing balm
- An all natural sleep balm
- A custom designed card
- A special note card to pass on to a fellow mum

I can't wait to crack open the lactation cookies {which incidentally are choc-chip, yum}. Last time around I was continuously worried about my supply levels because I had no idea whether I was producing enough milk so it'll be great to have a little boost. The good thing about these cookies is they're also egg, dairy and wheat free which is great because bub was allergic to egg and dairy, so even if I need to eliminate them from my diet this time around the cookies will still be ok.

The handmade necklace is fabulous because it's still something for me to wear and feel a little bit dressed up, without much effort, and it's still safe for baby to chew on. Which will no doubt inevitably happen.

I can also envisage flipping through the 99 pick me ups for new mamas book at all times of the day {most likely when I'm trapped under a breast feeding baby} for a laugh. It's full of so many hilarious pictures and quotes. It'll probably save my sanity a lot during the 2am and 5am feeds when there's nothing else to do.

Also included in the box is an all natural nursing balm and all natural sleep balm. I can actually still remember how sore my poor nipples got while breast feeding so I'm glad I have a good balm ready to go and I love that it's all natural. I also can't wait to try the sleep balm as I had an awful time sleeping when bub was a newborn. I used to lay awake literally counting how long I could sleep before she would need another feed again {she would feed for an hr then take a while to go back to sleep then sleep about an hour and a bit then feed again}, but then by the time I got to sleep 20 minutes later she'd be ready to feed again. It was exhausting, so anything that can help me get a bit more sleep is very welcomed.

If you're after a special gift for a new mum in your life I'd definitely recommend the Heart in Box New Mama Heart Box. It arrives in a beautiful gift box which makes you feel extremely special before you even open it. The products are beautifully packaged and they're all useful items. You can also choose the flavours of the lactation cookies and the colour of the necklace when ordering to cater for individual tastes. Best of all, the gifts are all for mum {even though some come in handy with baby too} so she'll feel extra special when the focus is often on the baby.

Toni x 


Disclosure - I was gifted a New Mama Heart Box for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed in this post are based on my experience with the service and products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

How to teach young children what to do in an emergency

Emergencies can be scary, even for us adults, so imagine just how scary they are for little kids {especially if you, the adult, are incapacitated at the time}. Nobody ever wants to imagine their children alone and scared when something has gone wrong, but its a fact that some children will unfortunately find themselves in that situation. We as parents often do all we can to avoid accidents and do first aid courses so we know what to do if our children hurt themselves, but what if we are the ones that are hurt and they are the ones who need to help us?

This has been playing on my mind a lot lately, especially with T working shift work and me now being in my third trimester. It's often just bub and me and labour is going to inevitably happen at some point, not to mention there's always the possibility of accidents occurring at any time. If something should happen I don't want her to be freaking out by herself, I'd rather teach her what to do so she can get help asap {both to help me, and also so she isn't alone}.

Over the last week or so I've been gently broaching the subject of when to call an ambulance with bub {with an emphasis on not making it seem scary}. We've spent a lot of time at hospitals and the doctors since I've been pregnant so she understands that Drs help people and make people better, but she hasn't really been exposed to ambulances or the concept of calling 000 {she was taken to hospital in an ambulance when she was younger, but she doesn't remember it}. These are the ways I've been teaching bub what to do in an emergency.

IS THIS AN EMERGENCY? THE ADVENTURES OF TOBY THE TEDDY


I'm a big believer in using picture books to introduce complex concepts to young children. I didn't really know how to start a conversation about emergencies, but reading the new Toby the Teddy book was a great way to explain different emergency situations to bub and has also lead to lots of other conversations about what to do in an emergency.

Toby the Teddy is purposely written to facilitate discussions between kindergarden and primary school aged children and their parents and teachers about what situations constitute an emergency and when they need to call an ambulance. Written in collaboration by a primary school teacher and paramedic, the book follows Toby the teddy through a series of scenarios that children may face and explains whether these scenarios are emergencies or not and what Toby should do in each situation. The book starts out with something that every child has most likely experienced, dropping their ice-cream by accident, and then gradually goes through more urgent scenarios such as falling over, an asthma attack and an allergic reaction.

I really like that the book included the asthma situation as I have asthma myself and bub knows that I have special medicine for it, but hasn't seen me have a really bad attack yet. I also like that the book ends with Toby finding his mum unconscious and he has to call the ambulance, because this is the exact situation I'm worried about her being in. The book calmly walks trough the steps Toby needs to take if he had to call an ambulance, which has allowed us to have the same conversation with bub.

The book includes a Notes for Parents and Teachers reference section at the back which provides background behind the book and ways to further discussions on the topic of emergencies after reading the book. There's also a fridge magnet included to write your address on so your kids know the address to tell the 000 operator if they ever need to call {we hadn't taught her our full address yet so its good to show her its on our fridge so she knows where to look if she needs it}. There are also additional free resources available online at Toby the teddy including the Ambulance model shown above.

After reading the book a few times bub's been very interested in talking about ambulances and how ambulance people can help us if we're hurt so we've been incorporating this into other activities as well. Twinkl have a plethora of teaching resources {for both teachers and parents} available to teach children of all ages about people who help us. I browsed through the site and downloaded a few different activities that I knew would appeal to bub.

PEOPLE WHO HELP US CAN YOU FIND POSTER


We've downloaded numerous themed can you find posters from Twinkl so when I saw they had a people who help us can you find poster I knew bub would love it. I laminated it and she's been using her glass pebbles to find all the items on the page. As we play we have conversations about what all the people are doing and how they can help us in different situations.

PEOPLE WHO HELP US PENCIL CONTROL WORKSHEETS



I also found these pencil control worksheets that teach kids to get people to the correct helpers. There's a few sheets in the set including a sick person who needs a doctor, a fireman that's helping to put out a fire and a robber that gets caught by the police. The great thing is these sheets facilitate discussions about emergencies while she's also working on her pencil grip and pre-writing skills.

PEOPLE WHO HELP US COLOURING SHEETS



There's also numerous different people who help us colouring sheets available from Twinkl, ranging from simple sheets like these ones we downloaded to more complex colouring scenes. These are great to use during quiet time and get kids used to what people who help us look like so they can easily recognise them if needed during an emergency. There are many different sheets available in the sets including police, firemen, ambulance officers as well as doctors, lifeguards, vets, ses workers and numerous other people who have jobs that help others.

Twinkl are also currently creating new resources directly related to the Toby the Teddy book. To be notified of when these will be available click here.

Other non invasive ways to introduce emergencies and people who help us to young children include:

1. Small world play
2. Role play/imaginary play
3. Story stones or other books
4. Tv shows such as Fireman Sam
5. Triple Zero Kids Challenge app.

Since we've started introducing the concept of emergencies with bub she now knows to call zero, zero, zero in an emergency and to ask for an ambulance if we're hurt. She's started conversations with us about when she needs to call the ambulance which has lead to discussions about various different situations, both when she would need to call an ambulance and when she doesn't. We still need to work on certain things, like teaching her our address, but most of all I'm happy she doesn't seem scared of having to call an ambulance, which reassures me that she'd be ok in an emergency.

Do your kids know what to do in an emergency?

Toni x
Disclosure - I was gifted a copy of Toby the Teddy Is this an Emergency? Ambulance to help compile this post. I did not receive payment for this post. Some of the Twinkl resources shown in this post may be paid resources, but there are a huge range of free resources available, simply sign up for a free subscription.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | Pepper & Penny milestone cards

I normally hate being in photos, except when I'm pregnant. When I'm pregnant all the imperfections I normally focus on are far outweighed by the amazing transformation my body's going through. Of course my flaws are still there, but they no longer matter. I don't even care that I'm gaining weight, I'm just so in awe that my body is capable of growing another human being {especially after our fertility battles to conceive both times}.

Pregnancy is one of the only times I love being in photos. My newfound body confidence means I'm more than happy to document my changing shape, in fact I long to document this amazing journey as much as possible. Both times I've been pregnant I've been genuinely unsure of whether it would be my last pregnancy, so I've cherished every moment {even the shit ones}.

Last pregnancy I took lots of random belly shots {usually a reflection in a smeared mirror with a messy room in the background to be honest}, this time I'm documenting it even more and thankfully my photography skills have improved {and I have a reluctant Instagram husband who helps out every now and then}. I've also added in milestone cards to capture specific moments, because I know how easily I forget things afterwards {aka baby brain, which by the way seems to last for years}. Pregnancy milestone cards didn't seem to be a thing when I was pregnant last time, at least if they were I had no idea about them. Fast forward almost 4 years and they're now all the rage {and I can totally see why}. I'm loving tracking the progress of my belly every few weeks.


28 week pregnant belly with milestone card

The cards I chose are Pepper & Penny pregnancy milestone cards which I was initially drawn to because they're gender neutral and I started using them before we found out the sex of the baby. I didn't want anything overly pink or blue or too girly/masculine. The Pepper & Penny cards are printed on recycled enviro board and the weekly record cards include a number of gender neutral geometric patterns such as stripes, circles, triangles and arrows. There's also It's a boy or It's a girl cards to use for gender reveal photos. We didn't do a gender reveal party or cake etc, but I did do a flatlay with the card to include in my gender reveal post.
baby girl gender reveal flatlay

The pregnancy milestone cards also include 15 other cards to track special moments throughout pregnancy from the beginning through to the end. They include moments such as we're having a baby, today we heard a heartbeat and today we had an ultrasound, as well as funny moments such as I've gone a whole week without puking, officially can't see my toes {I'm almost there now!} and preggi brain. My favourite special moments so far have been today dad felt a kick and this is what I'm craving today... {fyi its always mango}. I also need to capture a few preggi brain shots because there's certainly been a few of those moments!

I first started feeling this little miss popping away at 12 weeks which progressed to proper forceful kicks by 16 weeks. Poor daddy had to wait until nearly 23 weeks before he felt them from the outside though {about the same time as he felt them with bub}. He still has days now where he says he can't feel kicks, but I have no idea how because these days she has mini parties in there and my whole belly looks like a wave pool at times.


Pepper & Penny logo

Pepper & Penny is an online business selling handmade invitations, greeting cards and milestone cards on 100% recycled brown craft enviro board. Owner Jacinda started Pepper & Penny after having her son so she could work part time around him. The business first started with greeting cards and then milestone cards were later added as an extra gift option. The milestone cards are nice and thick and come in a sturdy kraft box for easy storage when not in use. I'd definitely recommend them to anyone who's after a more traditional set of pregnancy milestone cards {with some slightly humorous ones thrown in},
neutral baby milestone cards

I've also got the Pepper & Penny baby milestone cards in branch. The milestone cards also come in 4 other designs - fox, geo, boho and arrow. Each set is available in weekly or monthly milestone cards and with a twin option for mums of multiples. I got the monthly set so I can capture how she changes over her first year. When bub was a baby I attempted to use belly stickers {they were the in thing then not cards} but they were a total pain as they would peel off her outfit or crinkle up as she moved, so I gave up after 2 months. Hopefully the milestone cards will be much easier to include in photos as baby won't be wearing them. I already have a photo board idea for her first birthday using all the milestone photos {hopefully that's motivation enough so I don't forget to take any of them}.

Follow me on Instagram to see the rest of my pregnancy photos using the milestone cards + a never ending stream of baby spam come April.

Did you record your pregnancy or baby's milestones with cards?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided the pregnancy milestone cards and baby milestone cards for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on my experience with products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | Little Blue Lamb Shoes

Do you have a child with slightly larger feet? Bub's always had long feet with a high bridge {which if she was a boy I guess would be considered a good thing, but as a girl it's just inconvenient to say the least} and it makes finding shoes that fit quite difficult. So difficult in fact that every pair of department store shoes I'd bought before she was born never fit properly and cut into her feet leaving really painful marks, so I gave up on them fairly quickly. 

Thankfully I found Tiptoe & Co online when she was about eight months old. They stock a huge range of quality {mainly leather} kids shoes that also cater for little ones with bigger than average feet. Ever since then I've been a huge fan and her shoe collection has been exclusively from them {when you find something that works stick to it I say}, even T raves about their shoes {which coming from a guy who doesn't care less about shoes or brands is a pretty big compliment}. 

Recently however I had a bit of a freak out moment as bub grew out of most of the sizes stocked by Tiptoe & Co so we made a reluctant trip to local department stores to {try to} find her some new shoes. Oh my god, if you think buying shoes with a toddler is hard, multiply that by about 100 when you have to try on literally every single pair of shoes {that are apparently her size} in order to come away with only one pair of shoes that badly fits her foot. She was over it after about five minutes and we were well and truly over it after ten minutes but we persevered for over half an hour, because well a girl can't be without shoes and a toddler definitely can't. We ended up buying a pair of shoes that didn't fit her that well, but was the best of all the options, because we were desperate. That night I contacted Chelsea from Tiptoe & Co to ask beg her to please, please, please order me in larger sizes of the shoes we already have. Unfortunately she couldn't, but she did have a new shipment of styles that had just arrived and had a few options in bub's size! Hallelujah. Why I didn't think to ask her before we went through the hell of trying on every shoe at the shops I don't know {won't do that next time}.


I think she's pretty happy having shoes that fit properly again. Truth be told when Chelsea suggested the new Little Blue Lamb Hayley Ballet Flats I wasn't entirely convinced they would work, because of that big elastic band across the top. We've never had luck with any shoes that have an elastic band, no matter how thick or thin it is, purely because bub has such a high bridge, so I was sceptical to say the least, but I trusted her advice. Sure enough when they arrived they fit her foot perfectly and with a bit of wiggle room to boot.

These ballet flats are unlike any other shoes bub's had before because they're an all in one slip on shoe rather than a velcro fastening shoe. If you have kids with bigger feet you'll know velcro shoes are the bomb, but I have to say these are pretty awesome too. I think the key is they're made from super light leather microfibre so they're not too tight. I also usually stick to open toed shoes or sandals with cut outs because it gets quite hot up here in Queensland and heat = sweaty feet. However, these ballet flats have a unique antibacterial foam insole with a breathable moisture reduction system that keeps her feet dry, and it really works {thankgod because sweaty feet = stinky feet and aint nobody want that}.

peach toddler ballet flats

When I found out there was also a new leather sandal available in bub's size I couldn't pass it up. I'm a sucker for a pretty pink shoe {because her shoes are all about me, clearly} and I was sold with the velcro strap. The Little Blue Lamb Hazel Sandal is an enclosed sandal with cute pink flower details. It also has little cut outs above the toes and the same antibacterial foam insole with the breathable moisture reduction system to keep little feet aerated and dry while being worn. Apparently these ones are her favourite ones, because they're pink. I love them because they go with almost every one of her outfits, clearly we have way too much pink.



I'm so glad I checked with Chelsea if she had any shoes in bigger sizes, we're now set for another 6 months at least and after that I'm definitely planning on either buying these same styles in bigger sizes or getting some of the other new Little Blue Lamb styles she recently got in stock. There's even a few cool boys styles in grey and neutral colours that I'm thinking would be great for bub. I'm beyond relieved that we won't need to endure another mammoth department store shoe expedition for quite a while. If you have little ones with hard to fit feet you really should do yourself a favour and check out Tiptoe & Co online, Chelsea has such a great range of shoes available and is always happy to help with sizing advice.

Do/did you abhor shoe shopping with toddlers as much as I do?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided the Little Blue Lamb shoes mentioned above for the purpose of review {after desperately contacting Chelsea to see if she had any shoes that would fit bub}. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the shoes. I did not receive payment for this review and have spent a huge amount of $ on Tiptoe & Co shoes over the last 3 years and will no doubt be buying more of the Little Blue Lamb shoes once she grows out of these ones.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Must Have Materials for Sensory Play

If you follow me on Instagram you'll be well aware of my love of sensory play. We're constantly using food items, water, craft bits and pieces, left over packaging and basically anything we can get our hands on for sensory play. There's a plethora of items available for sensory play, you just need to know where to look, so this week I've invited my friend Casey from Little Lifelong Learners, who has many years experience as a teacher and a stay at home mum to two little ones, to share her favourite must have materials for sensory play.

Must Have Materials for Sensory Play


As a teacher and mama, my collection of educational toys and resources is ever growing. I’m actually kind of embarrassed to share images of the play room cupboard because it is overflowing with goodies! It’s hard to resist when there are so many amazing resources for play and learning which are so easily accessed. Today I’m thrilled to be guest posting here at Finding Myself Young and sharing my favourite items for Sensory Play at home with your Little Learners!

Must have items for sensory play

The Basics


Sensory Play is notorious for being messy but that shouldn’t discourage you. Large, shallow tubs are great for Sensory Play and you can find them at your local supermarket. I love using big under-bed storage crates or clear plastic containers. I recently bought a shallow Trofast Box from Ikea which has been great for sensory tubs and experiments. The Creative ToyShop also stock a fantastic Activity Tray which is perfect for Sensory Play.


An old bed sheet is also wonderful for catching any spills that might will occur while playing. You can also get splash mats or plastic sheeting which would work just as well, especially for things like edible paint.

Always remember to have everything on hand for easy clean-up afterwards as well. You shouldn’t ever leave your Little Learners unsupervised to go and get supplies. My basics for cleaning include a dustpan and brush, wipes and my trusty vacuum.

Supermarket Items


Many great items for Sensory Play can be found at your local supermarket. Staple household items like flour, oil, salt and cream of tartar can be used to make play dough. Food dyes and essences are a great way to develop the sense of taste and smell too.

Food supplies for sensory play

Large bags of rice are often on sale at places like Woolworths and Coles which you can dye different colours. I save mine in a container and use it for well over a year! Simply add it to a tub with some different sized measuring cups, containers and spoons {from the supermarket too} and your Little Learner can work on their pouring and transferring skills.


Woolworths also stock the plastic variety of the very popular Voss water bottles. They make FANTASTIC sensory bottles which you can fill with just about anything. One of our favourites include musical bottles using things like bells, paddle pop sticks, pebbles and shells. 


voss sensory bottles

Small World Invitations


Small World invitations are a great way to engage the senses, particularly if you use different textures in your play. By using things like dirt, sand, water, ice, beans and rice, you are encouraging your Little Learners to touch and explore while developing their vocabulary too. You can also get fake turf from places like Bunnings which makes a great base for small world play.

You can get beautiful, realistic animals from places like OhIvy, Mini Zoo and even Kmart. Dollar stores also have fantastic items like synthetic aquarium plants, stones and artificial plants which are wonderful for small world invitations.


Bug small world invitation to play

Sensory Art Exploration


Exploring art is a big part of sensory play because it can engage so many of the senses. You can find wonderful art resources from websites like ZartArt and RiotArt and Craft. However, your local shopping centre will be a treasure trove for art resources. Your local dollar shop or Kmart will have everything you need. I love things like ice-cube trays or simple plastic trays for pouring paint into and you can get washable paints by Crayola from places like Kmart, Target or Big W. You can get different textured rollers and paint brushes from these store as well.



As you can see, there are many places you can go shopping for Sensory Play materials, many of which can be found at your local shopping centre. Before you know it, your cupboard will be overflowing with Sensory Play goodness too!
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My name is Casey and I am the teacher mama behind LittleLifelong Learners. I love to provide teachers and parents with play and learning inspiration for the classroom and home. If you’d like more play inspiration, feel free to follow me on Instagram or Pinterest. You can also check out my brand new eBook, Sensory Play for your Little Learners.

sensory play ebook


Disclosure - This post contains an affiliate link.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

52 Weeks of Memories is back for 2017

If you've been following along here for a while then you'll be aware I started a weekly photography project 52 Weeks of Memories back in 2014 as a way to capture memories of my daughter. I initially intended for it to be a one off challenge for that year, but due to popular demand have brought it back each year since.

To be honest I was considering not doing it this year as my motivation waned a bit the second half of last year {due to morning sickness and pregnancy issues}, but once again I was inundated with requests for a new list. My friend also reminded me of why I started the challenge in the first place, to capture memories, and with a new baby on the way this year it seemed even more fitting than ever to want to capture special memories. So over the past few days I've created a new list for 2017 {there's a few of my favourite prompts repeated from last year, but the majority of them are brand new}. 

My interests have varied over the last few years since becoming a mum so I've aligned the new prompts with most of the things that make me happy ~ special moments, play based learning and nature. There's also a few prompts relating to seasons and special events throughout the year. I've tried to make the prompts as open ended as possible so everyone can play along, regardless of if you have kids as well. I'll also send out inspiration for each of the prompts in the weekly emails {simply subscribe to the list at the bottom of the page}.



So how do you join in and play along I hear you ask? Well, it's super simple.



1. Follow the weekly prompt for your photo - you can be as creative or literal as you like.
2. Share your photo - there are many ways you can do this:
  • via Instagram, simply use #fmy52weeksofmemories
  • on the Finding Myself Young Facebook wall
  • on your own Facebook wall
  • via the 52 Weeks of Memories Facebook group {subscribe below for access}

To help you stay motivated I've added an email list so you can get weekly prompt reminders and inspiration. I know it's tough to stay focused for a whole year and things often get in the way, so it's nice to have a friendly reminder. By joining the mailing list you'll also get access to the private Facebook group. To sign up simply fill in the form below. 

I can't wait to see all your wonderful photos throughout the year.

Toni x


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Friday, December 23, 2016

The Twirlywoos

Have you met the Twirlywoos?

Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy and Chick are some of the newest residents of ABC Kids, landing on our screens here in Oz about 3 months ago now. When the show first came out bub would run around the house saying it's the Twirlywoos mummy, the Twirlywoos are back! It took me ages to figure out what she was saying.... Twirly boos, tombliboos? I had no idea, so I sat down and watched it with her to see why she was so excited.


It turns out The Twirlywoos are actually pretty funny {even though they don't talk properly}. Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy, Chick and their friend Peekaboo are incredibly curious. They sail to our shores from far away on their special boat to learn something new each day. They hide, watching inquisitively what's going on around them, then when the coast is clear, they investigate what they've seen.

The show is made by the creator of The Teletubbies and In the Night Garden {perhaps why the name is so close to the tombliboos} and is purposefully designed to introduce and explore age appropriate concepts with preschoolers. Each episode the Twirlywoos go on wacky adventures and learn new concepts like up, over, behind, round and round, through and upside down. The show teaches these concepts to toddlers and preschoolers using a combination of stop frame animation and live sequences using images that correlate with how 3-4 year old's perceive the world around them. There's also lots of added humour with jokes and funny mishaps occurring along the way as they explore the world around them.

Like most of the tv shows on ABC Kids, there's also an abundance of Twirlywoos merchandise to support the show and bring the stories to life at home. I'm all for imaginative play so of course some of it has found it's way to our house. Naturally there are character play sets and figurines, but being the mean mummy I am {i.e. being super strict about what plastic toys enter our house}, I went for the activity books and plush toys {sorry, not sorry}.


Board books are seriously one of the best gift ideas ever, especially for kids who still like to tear pages instead of turn them [we had a mishap with one of her favourite books last night that required emergency reconstructive surgery}. The Twirlywoos board books show a complete reenactment of an episode {minus the live scenes} so you can recreate your child's favourite episode as a bedtime story. The sticker activity book allows kids to place the stickers in scenes from the show to tell the story. I love that it makes the stories interactive and also makes kids problem solve about where the stickers go, plus what kid doesn't love stickers? I still love them as an adult. Aaand how cute is the little Toodloo plush?! There are plush toys, both big and small, available in each of the characters {perfect for pretend play, or terrorising the cat, if your child is anything like mine}. The Twirlywoos books, plush toys and play sets are a great way to bring the fun of The Twirlywoos to life in interactive play at home.

To get to know the Twirlywoos and all their friends, play games and watch the Twirlywoos explore their world, visit www.Twirlywoos.com, or check out the latest Twirlywoos news on Facebook www.facebook.com./Twirlywoos

Disclosure - I was gifted the books and plush toy shown above. All opinions expressed are based on my extensive experience watching The Twirlywoos {soooo many times} with my 3yr old and from playing with the products provided. I did not receive payment for this post.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our favourite free christmas printables

A couple of weeks ago a wonderful thing happened, I finally got my own laminator. To say I'm slightly obsessed with it would be a gross understatement. I've never loved a machine as much as I love my laminator {if that's not a sign I should be a teacher I don't know what is}. Needless to say ever since I've had the laminator I've been on a quest to laminate all the things and that's involved printing out a tonne of printables that we can re-use.

There are so many super talented bloggers out there making educational, fun and interactive printables and the cool thing is you can pretty much find them for any theme, you just have to know where to look for them. Over the last fortnight I've been scouring Instagram to find the best free Christmas printables from some of my favourite kid bloggers. Holiday themed printables are great because they build her excitement for Christmas, while also reinforcing fundamental developmental skills. Like most kids bub learns best when playing and printables are a wonderful way to facilitate this {in a slightly more structured way}. These are our favourite free Christmas printables we've been using this year and links to where you can download them for yourself.

our favourite christmas printables

CHRISTMAS TREE PLAY MAT


This Christmas tree play mat from Learn With Play at Home is so versatile and can be used to play a number of different counting games. Simply place a number in the circle at the top and let your child decorate the tree with the correct number of baubles {or other decorations}. It's great for number recognition, counting and one to one correspondence, and most of all it's heaps of fun and can be reused numerous different ways. 

Free christmas tree printable

It can be used with a variety of materials such as playdough, loose parts {beads, buttons, shapes pieces, gems}, craft items {sequins, pom poms, stickers} or whiteboard markers depending on your child's age. You can also use a variety of different numbers in the circle at the top, e.g number magnets, wooden numbers, puzzle number pieces, write them in whiteboard marker or shape them out of playdough. Please keep in mind loose parts play is not recommended for children under 3 years of age and young children should always be supervised when using small parts.


We've been using ours with little wooden numbers and a variety of loose parts, but I have so many other ideas for using it. The great part is I only had to show her how to do it once and she played with it for over half an hour counting all the numbers and pieces as she created each design.


SHAPES CHRISTMAS TREE


Our first Christmas tree mat was such a hit so I went looking for other Christmas tree printables and found this awesome collection of Christmas tree learning activities from Totschooling. The pack includes numerous activities that help kids work on literacy and numeracy concepts through various Christmas tree themed games. Simply sign up to be a subscriber of Totschooling to access all the free printables.

She's very much into matching games at the moment so this shape matching poster has been a huge hit. We've used it with the shape cut outs it comes with {pictured above} as well as various shape loose parts we have from other games. She loves finding where each shape goes and telling me which ones they are as she matches them up. We've also printed out the alphabet matching tree {included in the pack} to try soon.

CHRISTMAS SEARCH AND FIND POSTER


Bub's been a little bit obsessed with the search and find posters on Twinkl ever since we got our subscription, so when I saw the Christmas search and find poster I knew she'd love it. I laminated ours {of course} and she uses transparent glass pebbles to find all of the items. It could also be used with whiteboard markers to circle the items as they're found.


Search Christmas at Twinkl to find heaps of other Christmas themed printables including colouring sheets, word activities, maths worksheets, craft activities, pencil control sheets, labels, sensory play ideas, busy bag games and classroom resources for teachers. Sign up for a free account to access the printables {selected printables may be for paid subscribers only}.

GINGERBREAD HOUSE ALPHABET MATCHING GAME


I don't know about you, but I for one am not game enough to try putting together a real gingerbread house with a toddler. However, seeing them all being shared all over social media did make me want one, so I went looking for easy no bake versions. I found this awesome gingerbread house alphabet matching game from totschooling which still allows bub to have the fun of decorating her own gingerbread house with lollies but there's no mess after {and no sugar high to deal with either, yay}.


I love that this game lets kids practice letter recognition while having fun. I also love that there's both and uppercase and lowercase versions included as so often lowercase letters are overlooked in alphabet resources. I laminated ours and painstakingly cut out each individual lolly, but it was so worth it. If we had velcro dots I would add them too so the lollies could stick in place. She was so proud of her finished gingerbread house and it's something she can do over and over again {unlike a real one}.


GINGERBREAD MEN TRACING WORKSHEETS


Bub's been showing a lot of interest in wanting to write letters lately and drawing more interesting drawings, so I thought it was time to try out some pencil control worksheets to help with her pre-writing skills. I love these gingerbread tracing worksheets from Fun With Mama. Much like the gingerbread house, I've been far too scared to bake real gingerbread men after far too many failed cookie attempts, so these worksheets are another way to incorporate gingerbread goodness into the lead up to Christmas without me needing to bake anything.

At first when I told her she was meant to follow the lines she drew a line underneath the dotted lines following the pattern. I probably should've been more clearer in explaining it, but to be honest I didn't expect her to be able to trace them properly anyway. Once I showed her how to draw over the actual lines she went back and tried to copy them properly. I'll be printing these off again and laminating a copy as soon as I find our whiteboard markers so she can reuse the same sheet.

LETTER TO SANTA TEMPLATE


Santa hasn't really played a huge part in our Christmas celebrations in past years, of course she's gotten presents from him, but she's been way too young to understand. We also haven't had a Santa photo since she was 5 months old because she's been petrified of him. While we still haven't conquered the Santa photo this year, she is starting to warm up to him and is definitely starting to click onto the fact that he brings her presents. So, I decided it was probably time we started a new tradition of writing a letter to Santa. I found this cute letter to Santa template by Casey at Little Lifelong Learners and decided to fill it out with bub's help {because obviously she can't write}.


The template comes with both blank and lined options so it's great for younger kids who can't write and older kids who can, or mummy's who want to write one on their kids behalf like me. I printed off the lined version and let bub colour in the Santa picture then I filled in her letter with what she told me she wanted. I probably should've done this a little sooner so Santa could organise more of these items {minus the iPad for mummy, not sure why I need one of those}, but I think she'll still be pretty happy with what he brings her. I'm sure next year her wish list will be a lot more elaborate. I'm going to do this every year and keep the letters until she's older, I think it'll be so cute to look back on them when she's grown up.


We've loved using all of these printables and will continue to use them for years to come. Hopefully they've given you some fun ideas to do with your kids too. 

Disclosure - I DID NOT receive any payment or items for this post, these are all printables I've found {mainly via Instagram} and printed out to use at home. I thought I'd compile an easy reference list for other mums who may be looking for similar Christmas printable activities. To keep up to date with other printables and play activities we've been doing follow Finding Myself Young on Instagram.

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