I worry about the impact of what I see as the over-use of technology in our family. I never really wanted my children to play video games and so on at all. That decision was taken out of my hands when my parents turned up with a games console one day for my oldest son. More followed and all my children spend a lot of time on screens with the boys particularly keen on video games.

In my childhood, I think some children did have games things but I was not one of them and did not miss them. Now, they are a part of our everyday lives. Parents have always struggled to find reliable ways of pacifying a child when they are upset, but now more than ever, many appear to be counting on smart-devices to entertain their children. I think this is a worrying turn of events. A smart device can distract but it can not provide the listening, counselling and hugging skills of a parent or other loved one.

Children now own their own smartphone by age 7; based on a survey of 1,500 parents – Opinium found that children also owned an iPad by age eight. This makes me feel our family is not so bad. My children were much  older when they got phones and quite basic ones at that. I am not attached to my phone and so my children seem to have phones in their right place too. I am also never keen to buy the latest or more expensive item partly because I can’t afford them and also because I like children to value things and know that price is not always what matters most.

Have I used smart devices to calm my children down on occasion? Have I just wanted some peace sometimes and accepted that smart devices can act as babysitters allowing me to get to the  loo or make a cuppa? Yes I confess I have done this. Sometimes juggling work, home education and  housework means I have to hope the children can entertain themselves from time to time. At times like this, I can almost work up a love for smart devices.

If parents continue to use smart devices to entertain children, then in the long-term, it is unclear how this may impact a young child’s social and emotional development. As opposed to using more traditional methods, digital devices appear to be more convenient than human interaction, but only time will tell how much of an impact this will have on a child’s cognitive learning.

Infinite Playgrounds, specialists in creating wooden canopies and natural playground equipment, investigates just how much of an impact this is having on our children, and how we can return to more interactive forms of play in the future.

The problems with smart technologies and child development

Before the age of two, a child’s sensory play with objects or other people helps them to develop their problem-solving skills within unstructured play. A person’s capacity for empathy is derived from social interaction with others, so when a child plays with an inanimate object – such as a smartphone – this limits their ability to gain an understanding of others, as they don’t solve problems with others constructively. However, I  know my children would argue that some video games involves team-working skills and that friendships can form online.

Every person has their own thresholds for sensory information; for example, someone who has a high threshold finds it harder to register sensory information, whereas others have a lower threshold – thus finding it easier.

Studies have suggested that smart devices compromise the extent to which these thresholds can be developed – limiting a child’s cognitive ability to register external stimuli that allows them to understand the world around them. However, more traditional forms of play, such as using building blocks, can ignite a child’s imagination and basic maths skills through interaction with physical stimuli. This is opposed to digital forms of entertainment that the child can’t touch. I think some of us parents have lost touch with the play we enjoyed as children. When I step back into traditional play the children love it whether den-building, crafting items for an imaginary desert-island or Lego which has always stood the test of time.

Can smart technology benefit a child’s understanding?

The simple answer is that there is no proof that smart technologies encourage or compromise a child’s learning. Studies have suggested that in children who are close to school age, children’s television programmes and smart technologies can help to improve vocabulary and reading comprehension, but this is only when children have already acquired the basic cognitive behaviours and skills attained from human interaction.

Parents can help by testing smart applications before they are given to a child, to establish whether they are worth handing over to their children for play in the first place. It strikes me us parents are facing huge changes and could do with far more support in this area.

The benefits of sensory play

The five senses, taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing, allow a child to evaluate and weigh up the world around them. These senses help build stronger cognitive abilities, whilst human interaction improves language development, gross motor skills, and teach children the basic principles of social interaction.

As well as producing cognitive benefits, traditional forms of play also produce physical benefits within a child. Heightened bodily awareness within the space they are in, and balance, are improved when children interact with the world around them, not a screen.

This is because this type of play refines their thresholds for understanding the five different types of sensory information that they will process. By making stronger connections with the brain, a child is able to retain more and learn more as a result. I have looked into how I might incorporate the five senses more when it comes to our home education adventures.

Although smart technologies have become part of an adult’s everyday life, this doesn’t mean that they need to be part of a young child’s one too. Research is beginning to reveal that smart technologies, as opposed to traditional interactive forms of play, can do more harm than good. Perhaps limiting a young child’s exposure to smart devices will allow them to make the most of their early-years learning, improving their cognitive understanding and the world they live in.

I may be old-fashioned but I still really do not like seeing babies and very young children on screens at all. Let’s get back to traditional forms of play and bond with our children rather than use the screen as a babysitter.





My Random Musings

Regular readers will know that I have had my big battles with depression over the years. In the last couple of weeks or so, I have felt the dark clouds hovering again. I am pleased I see them early these days so I can do something to prevent hurtling headlong into full depression.

First there were the anniversaries of my brother’s death followed in the same week by my late Mum’s anniversary. Also I know that my Dad’s anniversary is close too. They all died in the same month which makes this a heavy time of year if I don’t take care.

Then my other brother had a huge crisis which is his business but I felt so bad for him as a  long-held dream crashed leaving him in quite a precarious and undeserved position.

As the children get older, they have differing needs including where they want to live, how they wish to be educated and so much more. It all gets a bit overwhelming for a mum who struggles to be good enough at the best of times.

Tonight I feel lighter. I am searching for my birth father and it is taking its toll. Like with everything, I have gone at it like a bull in a china shop and committed hours to a search that is so far proving fruitless. I have stayed up into the early hours contacting people with his surname tiring  myself out when I already have a busy schedule juggling things. Most people have ignored me, some have responded amazingly generously and  one person was rude and negative.

I cannot explain what it feels like to stare at profiles and photographs trying to see a family resemblance or a clear link to my roots. Soul-destroying probably sums it up but equally you retain that glimmer of hope.

Anyway, my highlights of the week will help build on an already more positive mood.

  1. I have a new Aunt or rather I am in touch with one for the first time from my birth mother’s side. She seems really sassy and someone I would like if I met them anywhere. She is intelligent, warn  and a bit of a campaigner. Right up my street! We are unpicking out way through a relationship really well considering.
  2. I have a good relationship online with 2 half-sisters one adopted and one who remained in the birth family.
  3. My family have worried about me this week which shows they love me. I have had my daughter and husband  telling me over and over to get some sleep and to take better care of myself.
  4. I have returned to the marital bed – that’s a whole other story but it is helping me sleep well.
  5. I have managed to read a book. I always struggle to allow myself the luxury to just read.
  6. I have a home education “contract” with my son very much based on what he wants to learn but also covering key topics so that I am happy too. We did some really good thinking and feeling about the events of 9/11.
  7. I had a social life on Friday and Saturday. Saturday was particularly great as I was also treated to a free meal and a special cocktail.
  8. On Sunday I was really happy with a cheeky coffee morning that went just as I wished.
  9. I have had some free clothing offered and have ordered some distressed jeans and a leopard skin top to keep my mid-life crisis going nicely. Oh and I have a bra and pants coming soon too. Love the perks of blogging sometimes!
  10. Tomorrow, I will be out and about again celebrating one year of finding a very special place.

So I guess I am saying that sometimes keeping on keeping on is a great reason to be cheerful and I am reminded that I am far stronger than I sometimes feel.

And finally, if I don’t find my birth Dad, I can always celebrate my “real Dad” whose anniversary I will mark on 23rd September quite possibly with a tot o rum.

How is your week going?

The Ordinary Moments

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

My Random Musings

A moving house checklist can save so much hassle. Did you know relocating is one of the main stressors people face in life? If it is stressful for you as an adult, imagine the impact on your little ones and your pets too. A checklist can reduce your stress levels which also has a positive impact on those around you. Yes you may have chosen the best of removal companies but there are other matters to consider for a happy family move.

Inject some fun

If moving involves laughter rather than arguing and tantrums, it can become a pleasant memory. Have fun things for the children to do throughout the day. Do a little research about play parks or bowling alleys so you can promise a celebration when you are finally at your new place. Not only can you all let off steam but you might make some new family friends too.

Listen to your kids

It is so easy at busy times to file our children  in front of a screen. You need to be there to listen to their concerns. Take those concerns seriously because they are real to your children even if they appear minor to you. I find admitting you have your own worries too helps you bond with your child so long as you don’t over do it.  Think about books about moving home which can help children make sense of it all and make it that  bit less scary for them.

Decide where the children will be on moving day

Will your children join in with the practical tasks of the move? This will depend on their age and personalities. Would it be better for them to be with family members and for you to reunite when the  move is complete? Grandparents can come into their own on such occasions. They also will know what it is like to go through a move and so are a great support to you. If you are lucky, they might even cook for you all at the end of moving day.


Once your children are past the baby and toddler stage, you can explain things very clearly to them which helps. That is not so easy when it comes to your beloved pets. Do not try to move yourselves with pets as part of that process. It just adds to stress levels. Again if you have family or friends who can take your pet until the move is done, so much the better. There are also some great pet sitter services out there these days.

After the move

Don’t start off adding  more stress to your lives by spending too much after the move. It’s not just about getting affordable removal quotes before the move, it is about managing money from day one in your new place. Do you need to eat takeaways for the whole week after the move? Do you need brand new furniture just because you have changed houses? Yes it is nice to treat ourselves but it is all vital not to pile up debts.

What tips do you have for moving home with children and pets?









Pink Pear Bear

Tracing my birth family has not happened all at once. In my twenties I got found out the basic information. This basically meant I found out I had Irish parents who were not married and who had already had one child who they had adopted out to Ireland. I also found out other children were put up for adoption by my birth mother afterwards. There seems to be some confusion as to whether there were four or five of us in all.

With the help of Social Services, I wrote to my birth mum and she wrote back. She had returned to Ireland, married and had four more children. I am in touch with some of these and they are amazing people and very generous in putting up with the sister they knew nothing about for so many years.

For me it was always about tracing my birth mum but for some reason recently I find myself wanting to know more about my birth father. For various reasons, I do not think Social Services could help too much with this. Their focus was on mother and baby back then. I have shared a post on what I know about my birth father before.

To date, I have messaged people with his full name or his surname on Facebook. I don’t want to cause hassle to anyone but equally I feel I have a right to claim my identity in some way. I would also like him to know that it all worked out alright in the end for me and to know it did for him too. There may of course be a whole new family of half-siblings to discover too.

Due to the number of people I have contacted and the lack of so many responses I do wonder if my birth father does not wish to be found. I know he could be dead or even in prison. Who knows? It is best to prepare myself for everything as best I can.

Some people have responded to me. We have ruled out some people with his name as the dates of his birthday and so on do not match. Some people are really trying to help as best they can and that amazes me considering that they are strangers. Having said that I suspect the Irish are quite used to babies turning up decades later laying some sort of claim as so many Irish babies were adopted in what an Aunt of mine refers to as “very different times”

I have contacted the local newspaper for the area he came from and they have offered advertising rates if I want to go down that route either in the paper or via social media.

I am wondering if the Salvation Army or Missing People could help.

The search is of course taking hours of my time. It is exhausting sometimes but also addictive. I need to look after myself better in all of this. Last week, I felt so tired and emotional. This is not good as it impacts on family life here too.

I don’t know quite why but I suddenly had a realisation which is new and I think important. I know that I come by birth from the Joyce and Codd families. That remains the case whether I was rejected/adopted or not. As I look at the longer-term history of these fascinating families, there is so much to like and these are my people just as much as the Thornton and Holmes families that became mine via adoption. Not only that but my three children have Joyce and Codd within them from my birth family and their children will too.

So I will continue the search for my birth family with a little more balance and with the knowledge that I know my birth family already via history and more vitally by the three amazing personalities that live right here with me totally in my line of sight.

Cuddle Fairy
Mum Muddling Through

Strays and Relations is a book about an adopted woman tracing her birth family. As an adopted person myself I was interested to read it and finished the whole book in just two sittings.

This book was inevitably very close to home for me particularly as the birth mother was an Irish Roman Catholic. The birth family had different strands to it too much as my own birth family did. Even in less momentous ways, I felt a link to the main character from the fact that her birth mum was based in Yorkshire where I was brought up right down to the description of her baby’s “upturned nose”. I had literally read the same description in my own adoption file only a week before reading this book. Life moves in very mysterious and meaningful ways sometimes.

Of course the story in this book is not mine. Every adoption story is an individual one. It is my belief being adopted is not a tragedy just a fresh start. Having said that I think adoption has a huge impact emotionally for all those involved including birth parents, adoptive parents, the adopted person, siblings, partners and friends.

Just as in my situation, there are different stages to locating the birth family in this story. At one point, the main character believes her mother to be deceased. I can remember being warned of such a potential eventuality when I first looked into my birth family in my twenties. I was pleased that she has support from a dear friend, her adoptive mum, her partner and her child.

Later the birth father surfaces and to me acts in a very strange way eventually bringing the birth mother and various siblings into the mix. I can see how this would be overwhelming emotionally. Adopted people often feel that they are not good enough. However logic says this is not the case, it is that feeling that comes from an early rejection whatever the sensible reasons for that letting go of a child.

I enjoyed this book a lot and found it to be a real page-turner partly because there really were so many strays and relations along the way both human and animal. The characters are well-drawn and I found myself particularly attracted to the birth mother and her daughters. I was less impressed with the birth father who I should point out does not stay with the birth mother. I would have liked to know the adoptive mother a little better too as I did not get a firm sense of her.

I have never seen myself as a stray but I can see the analogy drawn with animals in the book and the quirky Tuesday/Merlin dog in particular. There are angels masquerading as human beings out there who take on personalities who may be challenging but who ultimately deserve a second chance. You know some of us strays are quite special in our own right and add loads to the places and people we end up with. Not so long ago I would not have seen this so clearly.

The author comments;

“My novel is a fictional insight into what happens when birth and adoptive families meet – and when those families are from very different backgrounds.”

My adoptive family and birth family have never met. It is too late now. I am OK with that. I know my adoptive family were supportive of my search but did not really wish to meet my birth parents. As far as they were concerned, I was their child so I can see how meeting my birth parents would have been too much for them.

In conclusion, I highly recommend tis book. I hope the author will forgive me that I have referenced my own story in this review partly because I am right in the middle of searching actively for my birth father and establishing contact with new members of my birth mother’s family.

If you are intrigued by adoption or have experience of it, I think you will enjoy this book. In any event, I think it is a jigsaw puzzle of life as many of our stories are and worth a read adopted or not.

ISBN: 9781788039345 Price: £10.99


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