It was J.K. Rowling that said she would "defend the importance of bedtime stories until my last gasp," and I completely agree. We, as parents, are our children's first step to becoming readers. We are their first experience of books, fiction and imagination. Bedtime stories are one of the best traditions you can start with your little ones, and you can start this tradition anytime! If you have not began already, here are a few reasons to start making the time for bedtime stories.
1. Bonding Time
What better way to end the day that snuggling up together with a Gruffalo tricking mouse or joining a bear hunt through swishy swashy grass! Laugh together, explore together, share a new world together.
2. Vocabulary Building
Reading aloud to children is the magic wand for beginning their inner dictionaries and word banks. It will introduce them to a wider range of vocabulary that may not otherwise be in their daily surroundings and environment.
3. Predicting Skills
In our house, there are some stories that are more popular than others, and if I dare to 'accidentally' skip a page I am very quickly reminded. This is because it does not take children long to learn and recall patterns and sequences. They also learn the skill of predicting what comes next by using their prior knowledge and imagination, thus developing their comprehension and ability to make inferences.
4. Bedtime State of Mind
Bedtime stories as a genre are soothing, relaxing and rhythmic. They often are about the world slowing down and almost rock you into a tranquil state of mind, ready for sleep. Anything that makes sleeping easier and longer is always good in my books!
5. Dream Fuel
I recently read something online which ignited my own imagination, as well as summing up what J.K. Rowling is defending -
Bedtime stories are important - how else would our dreams know where to begin?
If you would like some suggestions, I have previously shared some of our bedtime favourites here.
I read an article recently about the rise of 'performative' or Pinterest parenting on social media and the pressure to get it right all the time. I have chosen to share some of my life on social media. I share the good bits, I share the funny bits, but I probably don't share the bad or tough bits enough, probably because I want people to think I have it together. The truth is, I don't. I have shared plenty of images, like the one below. The smiles was real. The moment was real. However, by me choosing to share this image, and not an image of the very tired toddler who cried the whole way through pumpkin carving and the very stressed out mum who could not get to the car quick enough, I am only showing my best side. It is one moment in a filtered reality. My parenting life, however, is more trial and error. It is fuzzy. It is imperfect. It is messy. It is chaotic.
Although, parents have began to share their parenting fails in a hue of humour online, I think it is important to remember that 'fails,' can be funny, but they happen because, as moms and dads, we are not supposed to be perfect. In light of this, I started to think about all those moments that I was not as fast as usual to swipe into portrait mode (and believe me, they account for 70 - 80 % of my parenthood existence)
My Biggest Parenting Fails To Date
1. No bedtime routine
My second born has a wonderful bedtime routine and goes down to sleep calmly, soundly and sweetly. She usually sleeps straight through and is pretty much the dream baby in that department. My first born however, is five years old and is still in our room. The bed to space ratio in the room now resembles one of those overcrowded, overcharged rentals in Dublin City Centre! Hands are up for total failure there - we were so in love and so blind to the future when she first arrived, that she never knew her own room! Eviction notice has been handed over yet again. Wish us luck!
2. Screen time over quality time
While scrolling through Instagram, my daughter said to me 'Mom, when you are finished on your phone, can you help me build my Lego coffee machine?" I straight away put my phone down. What I got from that question was she thought my phone was my priority. This was a fail that really got me in the feels. In this tech savy world, everyone is constantly swiping and scrolling. Google is our new GP, guidance counsellor, handyman and stylist. My right thumb definitely gets more of a daily workout than my left. I have used my phone as a babysitter. I know I spend too much time with it in my hand. This is a fail that I am very conscious of. I want to build more Lego coffee machines!
3. Forgot pick up day
It was a Wednesday. I had a long in work. I was so happy the day was over. I stopped for diesel and set off home. I heard my phone vibrating on the seat next to me. I caught a glimpse of the caller on the screen. It was my daughter's dance teacher. It was that moment that my heart plummeted to the pit of my stomach. I looked at the time and felt sick. I was not just late collecting her, but I had forgotten I was even supposed to. Luckily I was only five minutes away and all was ok but it gave me a kick to get more organised. Some parents can get through the week of appointments, drop offs and collections seamlessly and without a stray hair in sight. I, however, need a visual schedules, paper reminders, digital alarms and I still arrive late with a baby fuzz fringe in static stress bounce mode!
So, as you scroll through the daily parenting performances online, remember your ticket is just to view the best bits. Even if the out takes are shown, they are well hidden and easily missed. Parenting is not a perfect performance. The bloopers are the best parts. I think we need to show them more.
If you would like to read the full article I have referenced, read it here "Pinterest Parenting: How millennials are facing overwhelming pressure to be perfect parents."
Spooky season is upon is and Halloween is creeping up slowly. Other than Christmas, Halloween has always been my personal favourite holiday - any reason to go out with back combed hair and a full face of Snazaroo (without a second glance from anyone). It's also the only reason I had children really - duo character costumes! Joke - not the only reason. However, I cannot deny we think A LOT about our costumes. In tradition, I have been doing my annual Pinteresting on the subject, and I have pulled together some of the best sibling costumes out there, just in case you need some inspiration for the ghoulish festivities ahead.
17 Of The Best Duo Costumes For Kids
Which is your favourite?
If you would have told me this time last year that I would be back living with my parents, along with my own family, I would probably have chuckled with disbelief and then booked a family ticket to...well, anywhere. I have moved home quite a few times in my life, but I did not think I would be back again with my own kids, yet here we are - taking over my mother's house with more laundry and play doh than she can shake her paint brush at. The decision was a tough one, but it was one for a greater good - our own home. And this is something that, unfortunately, we most definitely would not achieve before our retirements if we stayed renting and living in the Dublin area.
Having the opportunity to save like this is something I am very appreciative of. When we first moved in, I was very conscious about making the kids feel at home, but also, not SO at home that my own parents felt they were out of one!
So for anyone about to embark on a similar move, here is what I have learnt....
What NOT to do moving back in with your parents (with a family of your own!)
1. Don't unpack everything at once
It was only on moving day that I realised just how little my poor mother thought we had. The vast amount of 'stuff' and boxes even overwhelmed me when I saw it all on the moving truck, Keeping in mind your parents will have years and years of 'stuff' kept themselves, space is an issue - it is base camp after all. Unpack the essentials, and do the rest in intervals so as to avoid anyone feeling the crunch.
2. Don't move in without setting expectations
It is a good idea to work out as much logistics as you can early on - bills, dinner time, shopping, etc. Of course, as soon as new routines start to happen, different things will arise and change, but at least you have something to work from.
3. Don't complain about storage
As an adult and parent, I have accumulated quite a lot over the years - some is of daily importance, some is seasonal, and some is purely for that one time you might need a box of velcro and empty egg cartons! Either way, storage has always been a sought after feature in any house I have lived in, and moving in with the mother of hoarding (aka my mother), every nook and cranny is bursting with her 'velcro' - interiors magazines, clothes, books, antiques. It is important to always remember, it may be our LEGO scattered around the carpet but we are guests. Any excuse for a trip to IKEA for storage shopping!
4. Don't slack off
We all love those weekend/Christmas visits home, where the fridge is always full, the dinner is always made, the fire is always lighting and they always know when to make tea! When we moved in, I was very conscious of 'overdoing' things. I wanted to let them know we were our own entity, pulled our weight and we were not just adding to the daily grind, but hopefully lessening it. See what needs to be done, do it, and do it first.
5. Don't forget they are parents too
It is a funny dynamic - two generations of parents under one roof, and it is only when the situation occurs that both parenting ideals and styles come head to head. Personally, I think it is impossible for there to be no overlap (currently our overlap is at 3am on the stairs each night when I have to whisht my mother away if there is even a mumbled cry - just stay in your room!) It is definitely a learning curve, but I have to remember that they are parents too, and were before I was. There will be times you spot them underhand a cupcake you said no to earlier and times they make you feel like your children are the coldest, most hungry toddlers in Munster. For that one time I need to breath and count to ten, there are ten other times they swoop in and take over when I'm loosing my mommy cool.
6. Don't forget they are YOUR parents
You may be an adult, you may have your own family, you may be a tax paying member of society, but they are still your parents and you are living under their roof. so house rules apply. I am all for the circular economy and recycle/reuse, but sponge scrubbers are only 60c per packet in Aldi, do we really have to put them in the washing machine?! How and ever - I will comply - 60 degree wash - check!
7. Don't stay out of the way too much
Before we moved in, my parents loved when we came to visit. The house would get much louder and a lot messier, but the kids always brought life and laughter with them. Being here all the time has brought this atmosphere to stay. We may log heads about leaving lights on and doors open, but I am looking on this chapter, not only as a time to save, but an opportunity - an opportunity to make some very special memories. Rather than trying to stay out of their way all the time, make the time to talk and to chat. Take out the camera and capture those moments - when Grandad is outside carving their names into the tree, when Nana is on her knees helping them make a tent, when you all join the kids performing to the Greatest Showman on the kitchen tiles. Everyone may have their own agenda and their own routine, but why not welcome a new one?
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it. move with with it and join the dance." - Alan W. Watts
How our little one's take to starting big school can be quite unpredictable, and this was most certainly the case with my almost five year old. After two years of Montessori and playschool, I was definitely banking on a first day of excitement, confidence and her pretty much twirling into the classroom without a glance goodbye. However, the girl I thought would be forming the first Junior Infant Alpha Omega sorority in her first week actually fell into my lap after three days in tears - "It's too long. I worked so hard. I just want to quit." There were more tears and falling asleep from emotional drainage by 6pm that evening. My heart was genuinely sore for her. I put it down to the change and the new routine and spent the following few nights with her in a bear hug of mommy proportions while I tried to talk to her as best I could. This was difficult considering the only answer I got from 'how was school?' was 'Mum, is it ok if I say I don't want to talk about it?'
I needed a way to get her to talk - to want to talk, and this is what I did.
I picked her up each day as usual, full of hugs and kisses. and reminded her how much I missed her. On our short drive home, I would share with her a little piece of my day and ask her about hers, but just once. It was not until we were close in bed and finished our bedtime story that I would ask four simple questions -
1. Will you tell me something that made you happy today?
2. Will you tell me something that made you sad today?
3. Will you tell me something kind that someone did today?
4. Will you tell me something brave that you did today?
Each of these questions has its own purpose.
Will you tell me something that made you happy today?
The purpose of this question is self explanatory - I want her to remember the feeling of being happy that day and even if it was something that did not necessarily happen in school, it is a positive starting point.
Will you tell me something that made you sad today?
It is important to also acknowledge and validate their feelings of sadness, whether that be when she hurt her knee on yard or when his partner told him he did not want to play his game anymore - they need to know that you empathise with them.
Will you tell me something kind that someone did today?
Originally, I phrased this as 'something kind someone did FOR YOU today' but I started to notice that as the time went on, she was giving me examples of when she herself was also kind, which showed me that she was beginning to be more confident and more involved with her school friends, so we changed the question. She loves answering this the most too as she knows her Mom has a soft spot for kind gestures.
Will you tell me something brave that you did today?
I want her to know that I understand how big this change is for her and how brave I know she is being. Although, there might be repetition at times, I want her to feel courageous and like she can take on the world, one cheese dip and cracker at a time.
It may only be a month in but finishing our day with these four simple questions has helped my daughter understand and adjust. Her face actually lights up when I ask the first question before bed. Some nights the answers are short - and sound quite familiar (basically the same as yesterday's answers!) but then there are nights that they lead into so much more. Being able to recall and share these moments in her day have made her happier and more secure in the new chapter of her little life. The most important thing for me is that she knows when that bell rings, no matter what happened before it, Mom's smile is always waiting at the gate. We can talk later - first hugs!
If anyone has seen any of my Instagram posts lately, they may have noticed that a lot has changed in our lives – we have moved cross-country, we have left/changed jobs, we are now the gracious roomies of my parents (for money saving reasons), Lola has started ‘big’ school and Sadie has… well, let’s just say found her voice. Our next move is still being blue printed by the gods of destiny I guess, but as of this moment, I’m ok with that. I had an experience recently that has given me a new perspective. I have always believed in the ‘what will be will be’ ethos in life, but now I see that a little more is necessary. It is not enough to live in today but being grateful is the key – that is what makes today my new favourite day. I went to see a movie with my four old last night staring the always insightful, Mr Winnie the Pooh, who in fact lay this lesson down with a fully-grown Christopher Robin - “Today, my favourite day.”
One week ago, I found myself sitting in a busy hospital corridor, after two of the longest days of my life, waiting to be seen. I was waiting for a consultant to call me into his room to answer one of the scariest questions I have ever had to ask – is it a tumour?
We all hear cancer stories every day; sometimes it is in the news, sometimes it is friends of friends, sometimes it is closer to home, but one thing I never thought, was it could be me. I would have never thought that the blurry, distorted vision I was experiencing for a few weeks prior was something that would lead to a ‘query suspicious lesion, possible melanoma’ prognosis. It started a few weeks previous, when I noticed myself blinking and rubbing my eye a lot, which I was self-diagnosing as the usual parent broken-sleep tiredness, or maybe just time for a new pair of glasses and another thing to stack on that back burner. The end of the school year was nigh, we were moving to a new house, there was so much going on. It was not until one afternoon, when I was watching the girls play in the garden from the back door, that I covered my right eye and was shocked to see, or not see as the case was, there was a very evident blind spot. I could not see my kids’ faces. Still not too concerned, I made an appointment with an optician in a local Specsavers and it was there that things changed.
The optician showed me a worrying scarring/tear, which was visible behind my retina on the screen. She made a call to the hospital to expect me in asap. My husband had just finished work and dropped me in immediately. At this point, I was still unsure what was going on but was quite calm. I told him to return home with the girls and decided I would wait alone. It was only when the doctor called for his colleague to examine me also that I knew something was wrong. I was then told that there was a visible lesion or growth which had caused a haemorrhage inside, and they were querying it as more. Luckily, my Mum and sister were waiting for me after my consultation to bring me home, because as I left the room the tears were impossible to hold back. The atmosphere at home over the next two days was difficult to explain – silent, on edge, nauseating. I spent the night cuddling my little girl in bed, looking at every little speckle on her skin and imagining what I would do if I could not see these things anymore. These were thoughts I could not help but also, I could not avoid.
The waiting which followed through tests and scans was hard, but I was so lucky that it was not a long wait and, even more lucky with the outcome. I will never forget the feeling I got (and my Mum who was beside me) when the consultant said the words ‘it is not a tumour.’ Relief. What followed, of course, was nothing in comparison as far as I was concerned – a diagnosis of 'choroidal neovascularization', an injection into my eye, steroid treatment, progress check-ups for the haemorrhage and hope that sight will improve. I was told I was lucky that my peripheral vision has not been affected which means there is no need for laser treatment or for it to affect driving, etc. Now it is just a case of visually adapting (and maybe an on-call makeup artist!), which, in comparison to last week’s fears, is a huge relief. It is crazy to think so much can change in such a short few hours. For those who received much different news to me, I cannot even begin to imagine your journeys, but I am so proud of your strength and courage.
Today, as my mother and I currently discuss the excessive laundry situation which has turned her house into a TK Max of air drying – I smile with gratitude; gratitude for what I learnt yesterday, gratitude for what I have today, and gratitude for whatever tomorrow will bring.
So, Mr Winnie the Pooh, I must agree with you whole heartedly – today is my favourite day too.
We have quite a large and vast bucket list to get through this summer. In doing some research to find a few events that might help us tick a few off, I thought these were worth sharing. Here are six of the best family friendly events and festivals taking place this summer in Leinster and Munster.
Super Milk Wild Air Inflatable Run
What I Like...
Festival of Curiosity
(July 19th-22nd Dublin)
What I Like...
Bray Air Display
(28th-29th July Bray, Wicklow)
What I Like...
(4th - 11th of August Birr, Co. Offaly)
What I Like...
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SPRAOI Street Art Festival
(3rd - 5th August, Waterford City)
What I Like...
Castlecomer Discovery Park Digital Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
(All summer, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny)
What I Like...
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"I could not believe it! I stuck my head around the door and saw her snuggled up to Bed Ted!"
What is it?
How does it work?
- Begin with your bedtime routine (i.e. bath, bottle, story)
- Lay baby down drowsy but awake and leave the room
- Only return to baby's side on predetermined intervals to offer comfort before leaving room again
- Your plan for check ins will look like this :
I was given a sheet with the details of the timed check-ins and was given some extra tips:
- Make sure to put baby to bed within 20 minutes of the bath, so body temperature is not affected.
- When returning to the room for check ins, do not pick baby up - rub, pat, hush only.
- Try to avoid eye contact during check ins. (This one I scrapped when I heard it)
- It does not have to be the same person who does it every night, however ensure it is the same parent who carries out check-ins for the night in question.
The first night, the tears started pretty much straight away. Of course, this was hard, very hard - but I waited the three minutes and went back into the room.
I am a believer that all these techniques are flexible and open to personal tweeks here and there. With me, I chose not to pick her up but I gave lots of rubs, smiles, and reassurance before saying good night and leaving the room again. I repeated the check in again after five minutes and ten minutes. That was it - somewhere within the next interval, she fell alseep. I could not believe it! I stuck my head around the door and saw her snuggled up to Bed Ted!
I thought it would be a tough night ahead, however I just had to do one three minute check in and off she nodded again. The next morning she woke up at 7am. Night two and night three were even better, with the muffled sound of baby snores filling the upstairs air within 10 minutes of the good night kiss.
Three days later, my public health nurse was very happy to hear about my sleeping baby and that my scepticism had been put to sleep too! Eighteen months later, little Sadie is the one getting the most sleep in the house!
To sum up
So on a mission to keep my sanity intact and to make some memories, I sat down with Lola (my only speaking little human!) and made our summer bucket list. I thought a four year old's bucket list prospects might be a tad far-fetched, but she surprised me - with most being quite achievable. Now, where to start...
What's on your bucket list this summer? We would love know!
You might not realise it, but reading to your child is the first step in them becoming good readers themselves - this is where reading fluency begins. Even if they choose the same story, over and over again, this repetitive reading has real benefits. Making time for that bedtime story (even if you have been reading the same one for the past 12 months) has more importance than you think. I will definitely delve into more about reading with your little ones in another blog post but for now I would like to share with you some of our own favourite bedtime story books - from catching stars to brave little mice, here are some tales perfect for entry to Dreamworld!
Where's my Teddy?
by Jez Alborough
Boo Boo Baby and the Giraffe
by Eileen Browne and Emily Bolam
by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Peace At Last
by Jill Murphy
Before You Sleep
by Benji Bennett
How to Catch a Star
by Oliver Jeffers
Family | Lifestyle |
Motherhood | Me