Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Why women worry

According to an article I read on Slate last week, research has shown women tend to be more anxious than men. There are various facets to the evidence of this claim but I found one particularly interesting that concerns parenting. The article suggests the way we deal with boys and girls is different and can have implications later in their lives.
"Whether parents intend to or not, they usually treat the emotional outbursts of girls far differently than those of boys. From a socialization angle, there's quite a lot of evidence that little girls who exhibit shyness or anxiety are reinforced for it, whereas little boys who exhibit that behavior might even be punished for it".

UCLA anxiety expert Michelle Craske has written a book called Nerve, in which she gives the example of a parent's response to their child falling over and crying. With a boy, you're likely to brush it off and tell them to be tough, no need to cry. If you have a daughter, you're more likely to give them comforting hugs and kisses.

She goes on to say that," on top of this, cultural biases about boys being more capable than girls also lead parents to push sons to show courage and confront their fears, while daughters are far more likely to be sheltered from life's challenges". The consequences are that boys grow up with a capacity to cope with challenges and address problems that cross their path, whereas women can become anxious in the same situations, often lament of them to others and generally avoid dealing with them directly.

It made me think about my own parenting. As a mother of a boy, I can relate to the attitude of trying to toughen him up and encourage him to be a fighter.  I can see that a gentler more nurturing approach might seem more natural with a daughter. What do you think? How do you treat your son or daughter in the example given above of when they fall over and cry? Let's not forget that the parenting aspect is just one of many mentioned in the article I read and is not solely responsible for creating women who worry.  I'm not suggesting we take this too seriously but it's something that caught my attention and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.


Photo credit



Friday, 15 April 2011

Easter Ideas

Next weekend is Easter. I thought I would share a few ideas of what I like to do around this time, including a couple of arts and crafts ideas, a recipe, Easter egg hunt suggestions and decorative touches you can make to your home. If you like any of them, you have time to work on them this weekend!

Arts and crafts. My son and I had great fun making Easter cards the other week. I cut out some egg shapes and then let my son loose with glue, glitter, shredded coloured tissue paper and felt pens. Once he had decorated them, we left them to dry and then stuck them onto coloured folded cards. We used his alphabet stickers to add a 'Happy Easter' greeting on the front of the card, above the egg. I handed him the stickers and guided him to stick the letters next to one another but he did the sticking himself. The grandparents loved them!

I found a post on making a cardboard tube bunny rabbit family that we're going to try out next week too. They look relatively easy to put together and are very cute.

Recipe. Last year I was looking for an Easter biscuit/cookie recipe to use with a new Easter egg cookie cutter I had been given. I found one in my Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book that I really like. This year I'll have my son help me make them:

  • 40z/100g softened butter
  • 3oz/75g caster sugar + extra for sprinking
  • 1 egg separated
  • 7oz/200g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 2oz/50g currants
  • 1oz/25g mixed candied peel, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Pre-heat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 & lightly grease 3 baking trays. This recipe makes about 24 biscuits.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in egg yolk.
Sift in the flour and spices and mix well. Add currants, mixed peel and enough milk to form a fairly soft dough.
Knead the mixture gently on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a thickness of 1/4in./5mm. Cut with your chosen cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking trays.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 mins. Remove from the oven, brush the biscuits/cookies with the lightly beaten egg white, sprinkle on a little caster sugar and return to the oven for another 4-5 mins or until pale golden brown.

Easter egg hunt suggestions. An Easter egg hunt is a lot of fun and can be adapted to suit different ages. Weather permitting, it's nice to do outside either in your garden if you have one or you could do it in a local park. You could organise a larger-scale Easter egg hunt with friends, neighbours or extended family if you all live nearby.

For young ones, you don't want to hide the eggs or whatever they're collecting too much - keep them visible and give strong hints to lead them in the right direction. I remember one year when I was young, my parents made little bunny footprints (just cut out from paper) and scattered around for me to follow. For older children you could be inventive with riddles to help them on their hunt. I'm sure you can think of lots of other ideas!

If you don't want your children collecting and eating a bunch of chocolate, you could get fillable Easter eggs and fill them with healthier treats or small toys. They will be just as fun to find.

Decorative touches. Simple and seasonal, cheap and cheerful - I'm talking about a bunch of daffodils. Easter is a good excuse to pick some up and have in your home.  Your local florist probably stocks wooden eggs on a stick that you can add to your vase for a more Easter-themed look.

You could create an Easter basket by decorating a wicker basket using ribbon and flowers to display some painted eggs inside. If you have some nice egg cups, you could put those out with real or painted eggs inside as a table centrepiece.

I hope you enjoy some of these Easter ideas.  I would love to hear about any of your Easter plans, activities or traditions.
Photo credit

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

From cot to a big bed

I have three major tasks to tackle with my 2-year old in the upcoming months.  One I've mentioned already, is him starting nursery in September. At some point in the summer we'll get to potty training. The third one, which seems the easiest of the three,  is moving him from his cot to a big bed and this is the one we'll be doing first and quite imminently. I've decided on the long  Easter weekend to make the move when my husband will be at home for a few extra days to help out.

We rent our flat so it comes furnished and there's certainly no space for a toddler bed in my son's room. There's a double bed in there so we have no choice but to move him into that. It really will be a 'big bed'!  As I am yet to make the transition with my son, I have no words of advice to offer as yet but I thought would share my plan of action, thoughts and fears in the hope that some of you who have already gone through this stage can share some advice in the comments!

So my plan of action has been as follows....firstly talking about it with my son to introduce the idea and hopefully get him comfortable with it.. I've explained that now he's not a baby any more, he gets to move into a big bed soon and be just like mummy and daddy. He'll have lots more space and it'll be great! He seems to be pretty open to the idea but of course it may be a different matter when he actually makes the move.

A few weeks ago I searched for a book about a child moving from their cot to a big bed. I thought it would be helpful to have a story to read and enjoy as preparation too.  To be honest I struggled to find a good book on the subject.  I ended up getting Sophie's Big Bed. It's ok and the short simple story is reassuring to children I think but it wasn't  quite what I was looking for.

Something else I have done recently is to swap his gro-bag with a duvet for sleeping in his cot at night, as he'll have a duvet for most of the year on his big bed. He's done fine sleeping under it. The only slight difficulty has been that he often pushes it off when he gets warm but then wakes up cold around 6am and hasn't yet grasped the reaching and pulling it over himself yet.  I have been going into his room to  put it back over him and then he sleeps for another hour or so.

I've been thinking about bed guards and coincidentally read on northernmum last week about a kind of bed guard that sounds simple and  effective that we might try out. Bed guards because of course I worry  about my son falling out of his bed at the beginning. My other fears (maybe that's too strong a word) are him not staying in bed at bedtime because it will be easier for him to get out by himself, getting up too early in the morning and feeling uneasy with all the extra space around him when he does go to sleep. I also wonder if his afternoon nap will become more of a struggle. I'm not ready for him to give that up just yet!

Now over to those of you who have made the move with your child already....what were the most challenging aspects of moving your child into a big bed? Are there any concerns I should have that I've missed? Do you have any helpful tips for making the transition smoothly? Do let me know in the comments!


Photo credit


Monday, 4 April 2011

Altered perspectives

A couple of months ago a friend and I were at London zoo with our two boys and got to talking about how we both used to be anti-zoo people before having children. We didn't like the idea of animals being kept in captivity, the small spaces they lived in compared to what they would experience in the wild nor the invasion on their lifestyle and privacy by having hoards of people staring at them day after day.

Fast-forward a few years and as mothers now, we both are members of the zoo and love to take our children there. It seems a wonderful opportunity for little boys and girls to see the animals that they have depicted in their books at home in real life, to understand that they really exist and are not just a fantastical character in a story. Of course, London zoo also does great conservation work and helps endangered species - it really does have the interest of the animals at heart.

This example of an altered perspective that comes with motherhood got me thinking about others. A mum I know told me how quickly she lost her love for the buzzing financial world after having her child. She told a story about going back to a busy City cafe to meet some old work colleagues with her young baby and feeling so far removed from the banking business to which she had previously belonged, completely out of place as she sat in a corner breastfeeding her baby surrounded by bustling high-flyers and not wanting to return to that lifestyle.

There are the 'family-friendly' restaurants that as adults without children you tend to avoid but as a parent now, I welcome their offerings: balloons, crayons or whatever it is that helps make eating out with young children more relaxed. Knowing you won't get sneering looks from fellow diners if your child has an outburst because the place is full of children, is nice too.

Can you relate to these examples? Are there are others you can think of where as a parent your perspective on something has completely changed?