Are you a confident parent? When did that feeling kick in?

confident mum

Taking a new baby home is a milestone in itself. I remember the lovely outfit I had bought for my son whilst pregnant being way too big when it came to the time to put him in his car seat for the first time. Car seats can be a challenge too for sure! I am the first to admit I was not the most confident new mum having not spent any time around babies before. My husband who had children from previous relationships seemed to know how to do things so much better than I did. The first nappy change my son experienced was by my GP as it was all too much for me to take in. I quickly worked out I was a clueless rather than a confident parent.

I was very quick to handover daily childcare to my parents so that I could return to work. That worked really well for all involved although I did sometimes miss moments that matter.

I read up about every parenting book on the market and slowly learned to distinguish between different sorts of cry. There is a great joy in being able to second guess why your baby is distressed. Like most things in life, you get better with practice.

I also made great use of online networks like Mumsnet where you could share openly and learn from others with more experienced and confident parents.

I guess my most important tip for new parents is to seek support and to recognise that doing so is a sign of great strength. None of us can know everything. Not all of us have the best support networks. It is OK to be unsure and if you are asking questions, you are showing that you are parent who cares.

The team at Nurofen for Children say, “it’s no surprise that in our survey almost nine in ten first time mums reflect on having a baby as a life changing experience as they rework their normal routines to take care of their little one. During their baby’s first year, mums say they felt the biggest impacts on their relationships work life and friendships[1]. Our research shows that on average, it takes a first time mum six months to feel confident as a parent[1], and for almost half (47%), the health of their child is one of their biggest parenting worries[2]”.

This is important – let’s realise that if we struggle we are not alone!

As time went on I loved that I knew my baby put his arms back when he was ready to sleep, got red cheeks when teething and only wanted a cuddle when he was poorly.

Take a look at Nurofen for Children’top 10 tips for becoming a confident parent.

They say that 38% rely on the advice and experience of their own mothers, and one in five turn to other parents for guidance. My Mum brought up babies in the Fifties so some of her advice was a little dated. I was terrible at reaching out to mums in the real world but did seek support online as 12% of survey respondents did. You can be that much more anonymous online and feel less judged.

19% mentioned taking the advice of a GP. I found my GP lovely but unhelpful when I sought help and he did not pick up that I was experiencing depression. 9% of respondents mentioned a pharmacist as a source of support and it never entered my head really to reach out to a pharmacist although I know my husband did.

My oldest child is now a teenager and I recently outlined my ideas on how not only to be a confident parent but also a happy mum because I think children need to us both confident and happy.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to blog about a specified subject or review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have been entered into a prize draw to win a £100 voucher as a token of thanks for this post. Find out more about Mumsnet Bloggers here. And to see the other posts about this topic, see the linky here.

Please note that this post is not intended to contain any medical advice. Always contact your own doctor or health professional if you have any concerns about your child’s health.

(i) Survey of 2,000 parents with a baby under 6 years old, commissioned by Nurofen for Children (May 2014)
(ii) Survey of 2,000 mums by One Poll, commissioned by Nurofen for Children (October 2013)

What is the best way to learn about maths?

I had a difficult day on the home education front as I tried to teach maths to my daughter.

It got me thinking about what is the best way to learn about maths.

Math-Jokes-math-20787058-500-364

I look back and I remember playing shops with my Mum before starting school. I also remember having a little blue circular container for holiday savings. Mum went mad when she found out I had being dipping in regularly for Chewitts so there was not much left at all by the time the holiday came round. An early and valuable lesson about saving, spending and the need to budget for special occasions.

Moving onto primary school, the only clear memory I have is of doing regular speed tests in arthimetic. At the same age, my daughter according to Key Stage 2 needs to know about numerals, digits, integers, graphs, percentages, fractions and a whole lot more besides. I learned about integers this week for the first time as far as I can recall.

At secondary school, I hated maths lessons more and more as the years rolled by. I could see no point in most of what we were learning. I was bamboozled when numbers became letters in algebra. I was more interested in chunky chicken pie than Pi. I used to spend maths lessons moving my ruler about so that light would appear on the blackboard and distract the teacher. I still managed a disappointing but adequate B grade in my O-Level.

At university, when I got into money trouble, I knew Dad would write a cheque or the bank would lend me money. My only real concern about figures was how college could justify charging 20 pence for a portion of vegetables.

In my working life, if any job description mentioned financial management, I would avoid it like the plague. I did help families with their budgets and carry out calculations of welfare benefits and debt repayments whilst working as an advice worker.

In a later job, a boss said quite casually that I had a learning difficulty around numbers. She was bright so presumably knew what she was talking about.

At the moment, my children are doing daily worksheets on maths set by myself and guided by Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum requirements.

My daugther loves art and I have learned this week that there are ways to harness that passion to get numeracy across to her. My son, like his Dad, is keen on maths anyway so they work together a lot.

Both children are using maths games online too which captures their imaginations.

We bake which involves loads of maths and we go shopping comparing prices in different stores, working out how much things add up to and how much change we are due.

What is the best way to learn about maths? I still don’t have the answer but finally I am enjoying finding out and think we are making progress as a family with this topic.

Are your memories of learning maths good or bad?

How do you help your children with numeracy?

What do we really need maths wise to succeed in the real world?

What are 10 ways to be a happy mum? Not every mum is happy all of the time or even most of the time.

me

I love my children but there are times when I have struggled so as I hit the teen and tween years, I am going to share some of my lessons on what has helped me be happier as a mum.

1. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to be a mum. People have done it for years so why should you be the one who messes it up? Believe you are a great mum and see what happens.

2. Look at your own individual circumstances. Some mums have a massive support network of family, friends and colleagues. A lot don’t and then try to measure up to those that do. How can you realistically have hot date nights, a fabulous career and look glamorous if you are the one who is always holding the baby?

3. Accept from day one that some people will judge you adversely. I was told I was an inadequate mum when I returned to work when my first son was 6 weeks old. If I was, I also earned money for the family, kept my sanity and gave my parents precious and as it turned our limited time with their first grandson.

4. Try to carve out time for yourself and your own interests. It is a challenge but even if you just insist on having 10 minutes to yourself a day, it can remind you who you are and what you like.

5. State very clearly and in writing if necessary what you need people to do to help you. Do you need your parents to show you how to do DIY or housework more effectively? Would you be happier if your partner took the baby to soft play once a week to give you a rest? Whatever works for you, let them know!

6. Be aware that if you feel sad or fed up with a life a lot of the time, you may be experiencing depressionhappytoday. Take it from one who tried, you cannot get through this without help. Get to the GP (and write down that is what you need for your family or friends if you can’t face going) and access medication or talking therapies. PLEASE!

7. Remember your children will love you anyway. That fact should not be abused but they will celebrate the mum and person you are not some media fantasty mum. Make sure they know who you are because not to put too fine a point on it they will probably give your eulogy one day. It would be good for them to have something to say.

8. If housework is overwhelming, work out a system that ensures the house at least habitable. For me, I started by doing housework in short spurts during telly advert breaks. That was all I could handle at the time but if made me feel more in control and I built on that over time. Just give me a day before you announce your visit!

9. Take every media image of motherhood, research study,parenting book and webiste with a huge pinch of salt. They are tastier that way and for goodness sake laugh at some of them. Always look at who is behind the research or whatever and what is in it for them.

10. Accept that just as you are an individual so are your children. They will develop at their own rate and have their own talents, skills and interests which may not match yours. Celebrate the people they are and make some amazing memories together.

If you think I talk sense let me know and if you don’t forgive this old wife for having her own tale!

Even better, why not put a pin it and add the image below to Pinterest and then a mum who needs a little back-up just might get it.



Jacky Ha-Ha Book

We would like to share our Cafe Rouge review as first time visitors to this particular restaurant. We had an amazing lunch at the Portsmouth branch yesterday.

homepage-panel-v2

We have just moved and meals have had a degree of lack of planning about them as we have cleaned, moved furniture and explored a new area. So it was a real treat to take time out for a special lunch at Cafe Rouge. Why special? Because I feel compelled to give a glowing review.

Our day did not start well as due to extremely heavy traffic we missed our booking. The staff were wonderful with us offering us a table inside the stylish interior or outside on the Historic Waterfront.

We fancied outdoors and settled down to take in the vibrant atmosphere. It soon became clear that my daughter was feeling the cold. We asked if we could move inside and the staff facilitated this with speed and understanding smiles.

I love the menus in this restaurant. There is, of course, a French theme but not a daunting one so that although there are some French words on the menu, a non French speaker would not be unable to work out what they wanted to eat. In any event, all the staff we came across were so well trained and keen to assist.

The food was exceptional. My children are not the fussiest of eaters but they rarely clear their plates when we are out and about. That is always a little frustrating when you are paying good money for their meals.

Both children loved the warm fougasse artisan bread with crudites and tomatoe dip. My children are 9 and 11 but I could see this really working for a much younger child who enjoys finger food.

My son enjoyed ordering Le Burger which was of a large size and he loved the presentation. He did need help cutting it into manageable portion sizes but he found the whole dish very exciting.

My daughter had chicken and was very quiet during the meal which is always a great sign that she is enjoying her food.

Both children ordered profiteroles with my daughter wolfing them down with gusto and my son finding them slightly too rich for his taste. Mum was more than happy to help with that one!

My husband enjoyed a steak and I went for my favourite Croque Madame served with frites.

We had desserts and I was delighted after studying the menu and being tempted by 3 options that you could have them as a trio of mini desserts. More eateries should offer such delights!

Café Rouge say “Using only the finest ingredients served in a stylish and relaxed environment, Café Rouge’s carefully designed menu has been created to tickle even the pickiest youngsters’ taste buds. To cater for fussy eaters, Café Rouge is offering easy first courses of warm fougasse bread finger with d’signy butter and crudités with a tomato dip. Other (hopefully) tantrum-busting dishes include the new tasty Macaroni Cheese, Le Burger which uses the best Aberdeen Angus beef and the sautéed ‘Poulet Ooh la la’ with all the trimmings. For children who like to eat like an adult, there is a selection of mouth-watering desserts such as traditional French crêpes with chocolate sauce or children can get their ‘five a day’ the Café Rouge way with a simple bowlful of fresh fruit salad. Ice cream is a classic summer indulgence and is available in six tempting flavours. All of the petits enfants favourite dishes can be washed down with flavoured milk, bottle of green cordial or a selection of soft drinks. We look forward to hearing your verdict!”

Here are our scores on the doors!

Starters – 10 out of 10

Mains – 9 out of 10

Desserts – 9 out of 10 with a proviso that you need to think about what your children might enjoy most as some of the mouth-watering desserts may be a little bit rich for some tastes. Ice cream and fruit salad provide milder options.

Service – 9 out of 10

Affordability – 10 out of 10 – where else can a whole family dine out with starters, mains, desserts and drinks for around £50-£70

Atmosphere – 10 out of 10 – we felt very relaxed, unrushed and enjoyed how the restaurant seemed to actively welcome all age groups.

Location – perfect with great views and people-watching opportunities. It was lovely to have a choice of eating inside or outdoors.

Conclusion – I wondered why we have never visited before as we have missed out on a real treat. I very almost went back for breakfast the next day! I love going for a meal where at the end of it you are satisfied but not uncomfortable. Sometimes as you eat the food, it feels of good quality and this was our experience at Cafe Rouge. We will be back and regularly both for family meals and for the occasional date night.

Family Fever

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Last September after my daughter had awful issues at school, we decided to home-educate her. Very quickly, her younger brother was staying at home too.

learn

It has taken me until now to relax about the whole thing. I had no faith in my ability to teach despite having an amazing educational background. What if I damaged their life chances for ever? Let’s face it – I couldn’t even potty train them effectively for long enough so covering a load of topics some of which I might struggle with a bit myself seemed daunting.

On a selfish level, having just about rediscovered a sense of self after the onslaught of becoming a parent, what about my me time? What about my career or business prospects? What about me?

I know many people were interested in our home education journey but I was not sure how much I wanted to reveal. I wanted to get it right and know what I was doing first. I also wanted to fit in with other home educators and was not sure I was “hippy-dippy” enough. So I joined online networks and whilst being inspired by other home educators, ran away from actually joining them in real life and feared what I was doing with the children might not suit the home-educating community.

I have changed my perspective on quite a few things over recent weeks and months. This includes home education I think partly though learning by doing. As we move towards a year of home education, I am reminded of how terrified I was about my daughter’s mental well-being. Now I see a happy, creative, excited little girl with her own strong passions including politics, film-making and story-telling. Isn’t that good enough for Year 1 of the Family on Thin Ice Homeschool?

I also have to give a huge vote of thanks to the wonderful Cerys from RainyDay Mum. I was fortunate to be in her company with my family twice in recent months including on a camping weekend. It was a joy to get to know her a little and I want to make her a a friend. She told me in no uncertain terms how impressed she was by my children. As it was clear she has a fine mind and knows about education in a big way, I actually listened and perhaps more vitally, RELAXED!

I have started reading “A Funny Kind of Education” by Ross Mountney. People advised me to read this ages ago but it has taken me a long time to accept myself an an “official” home educator. I advise anyone embarking on the home education to read this book straightaway. It is down to earth, honest and true. It makes me feel OK and good enough.

So how was starting home education for me?

Terrifying – heart-beatingly scary with adrenalin overload.
Confusing – which home education philosophy was right for us?
Exciting – the joy of our first day of freedom from school runs and what have I forgotten? was superb. We had a picnic in the sunshine and made precious memories.
Guilt-ridden – are we doing enough and the right sort of thing? What if we have a day or two off? What if I allow them to play video games? Arrrgh!
Lovely – no nits all year!
Revealing – used to children coming home and saying little about their days however much I enquired, now they chatter on about their passions with me. Very quickly I learned that my son loves classical music because he finds it calming. My daughter showed that she wants to make films. I knew neither of these things about them when they were in school.

I often wonder what my parents would think about this life choice. I do clearly remember my mum telling me to make the most of the pre-school years “because you lose them when they go to school”. At the time I thought at least I could look foward to that as I struggled with post-natal depression, nappies and bottle-feeding.

Now the fog of depression has cleared, I see what great individual children I have and Fate has decided for now that they spend more time with us and we learn together ever day. I think I want to be “hippy dippy”!

I am going to write a lot about home education from now on – this family matters and I am going to revel in it.

The amazing thing about starting home education is you can make a fresh beginning every day and do it your way.

And then the fun began...