Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Mid-week moan

Vegetarian + pregnant = very limited choices in some restaurants!

I've noticed recently how many vegetarian options in restaurants, especially in pubs and British restaurants involve a cheese that is not recommended to eat when pregnant. If the choice was not limited enough as a vegetarian, I'm finding it almost impossible sometimes. Goats cheese is a common one - goats cheese tart, goats cheese salad....or blue cheese, in pasta dishes or savoury tarts.

Not that it would occur to a restaurant owner or head chef to cater to vegetarians who might also be pregnant but it would be nice to see some wider options, maybe something without any cheese at all!

When I was pregnant with my son we lived elsewhere in London and didn't have the same kind of nice pubs for eating in that we have in our neighbourhood now. We would go to more Indian and Italian restaurants which are great for vegetarians (and pregnant women) so I didn't come across the same difficulty before.

Is there anything similar that you experienced when pregnant that frustrated you a little, either with eating out or other social situations ?


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Five favourite links

Toilet training my son continues to be the main focus of the week, meaning my time for writing and doing other things is limited. We started this past weekend and it is going pretty well so far. I will report back at a later date to let you know what worked for us.

Rather than rush out a blog post for the sake of it, I'm sharing five links to items I've read and enjoyed recently that you might like too:

Cleaning with Kids on Babble gives simple, constructive tips for encouraging your toddler to help tidy up and making it part of their daily routine.

• Another great free eCookbook is available from the minimalist yet always imaginative Stonesoup. Quick, easy, delicious meals perfect for busy families.

• Lots of helpful suggestions from Gretchen Rubin if you want to feel happier by the end of the day. I know whenever I have done any of these they always work for me.

• As the summer holidays are about to start, you might like to try some of these ideas for frugal summer fun for the whole family.

• Summertime is picnic season. Simple Organic provides a great list of portable lunch options that can be ready in 15 minutes or less.

Let me know if there's something you've enjoyed reading online recently.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Toddler Travel Tips

To follow on from my previous post this week, I wanted to talk a bit about preparing for travel with a toddler. Before you set off on your journey there are a few things you can do to help make the experience run more smoothly:

Talk about the journey a couple of days in advance. Explain what's going to happen, the transport you'll be taking, how long it'll take and what it'll be like (for example, I told my son that our 10 hour flight would mean he wouldn't get to run around like he usually does in any given day, that it would involve a long time sitting on the aeroplane, that he'd have lunch and his nap on there). Repeat the explanation the next day and in the lead up to your departure to get them used to the idea and what to expect.

Pack early. You probably already do this but starting to pack for a trip well in advance makes the process less stressful. It also gives you time to go and get any last-minute things you might need. You are likely to be more organised about what you pack and avoid over-packing or taking unnecessary items. Keep a list of what goes into the suitcase so you can keep track of what has been packed.

Think small! Whether clothing or your bag of toys for the journey, you want to keep things to a minimum. It's no fun carrying heavy bags when you are travelling. You can still have a good variety of toys and activities for your child without them taking up much space. Look out for small notebooks / colouring books / packs of crayons, mini tubs of playdough and small fun toys that can all be easily stored in a small bag to take on board a plane, train or in the car. With clothing, consider if there will be any washing facilities at your destination so you can take less or otherwise try to plan outfits with mix and match tops and bottoms.

Plan toys and activities in advance. A week or so before you leave for your holiday, pack away a few of your child's favourite small toys and books so they are forced to play with other things before you leave. That way they appreciate having their favourite toys on the journey all the more. Wrap up a couple of toys too (they don't have to be new) for them to open on the journey. It will help provide extra interest and excitement in them.

Watch what your child eats. The day before you travel and the morning of your departure, pay particular care to what your child eats. You don't want them hyper on a sugar rush, you don't want them to eat anything that might cause an upset stomach. If they are prone to constipation that causes them discomfort, give them a healthy dose of fruit to avoid it or if they are the opposite, limit their fruit intake! Healthy and nutritious food will make a difference to their behaviour and disposition on your travel day so it's worth bearing in mind.

Prepare some healthy snacks. Likewise with snacks that you pack for your journey, make sensible choices as to what they will be nibbling on. You also want to think about snacks that transport well and won't leak, smell or go off! You can still take some fresh fruit and vegetables but they will need to be eaten first. Crackers, nuts and raisins (obviously not if there is any choking or allergy risk), rice cakes, unsalted breadsticks and that kind of thing are all good options. Whilst it is good to break up a journey with frequent snacks, don't go crazy like one of my friends did. She gave her son so many snacks on their long train journey that he ended up being sick!

Travel with a toddler doesn't need to be something you dread. Some thought and preparation beforehand helps everyone feel calmer and appreciate the experience all the more. It should be something to enjoy together as a family so tell your child all about your upcoming holiday and the fun things you have planned to do together. Remember that young children are fascinated by the simplest things and love watching what is going on in their surroundings. Make the most of that and talk to them about each stage of your journey and the environment around them, point out things, ecnourage their observation and have a great holiday!

Do you have any other toddler travel tips to add my list above?


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Monday, 11 July 2011

10 toddler entertainment ideas for long journeys

Last year I wrote a post with some suggestions for keeping your toddler entertained when you're travelling. As we are entering the peak summer holiday season and we recently had a 10-hour flight to visit relatives in the US last week, I now have 10 more ideas to share with you!

Most of my mummy friends seem to rely on portable DVD players and iPad games to keep their little ones amused on journeys but as we don't have either, I asked around for other ideas and was given some some helpful recommendations of things to try. Here they are, along with some of my own:

(1) Sticker books. Great as an activity and can be educational or encourage interaction about different scenes and situations.

(2) Lacing / threading activities. Punch some holes in a shoe-shaped piece of cardboard and take along a shoelace to be threaded through. Pack some dry pasta and a piece of string to make a pasta necklace.

(3) Collage. I took some scraps of coloured paper and a small roll of sticky tape. I had my son tear up the paper into tiny pieces (plenty of space on your aeroplane drop-down table for doing this) and then placed tape (doubled over to leave a sticky side up) onto a sheet of paper. He then stuck on the various coloured scraps of paper. This was a big success, he spent a lot of time on it and the end result was quite pretty.

(4) Fastenings: buttons and button holes, zips affixed to a square of material, various buckles and clips. These types of things are fun for little fingers to open and close but just be careful they are easy enough to not become frustrating for them.

(5) Flash cards: use them to create matching / sorting games or play snap.

(6) Children's magazines: they often come with free tacky toys that have a certain novelty value to them. We got one earlier this year that had a free plastic camera and our son still uses it now and takes it out sometimes to take photos. They usually have pages for colouring as well as simple counting and matching activities so they can provide a variety of activities to pass away some time.

(7) Music: my son is a big fan of children's music and nursery rhymes. The in-flight entertainment system (on British Airways) has a children's section with a selection of these kinds of songs and he sat very still listening to those. We also had some of his favourites on our iPod but didn't ever get around to switching it on.

(8) Cleaning: we opened up the free toothbrush provided on the plane and our son enjoyed using it to clean the area around his seat - the seatbelt, the tray table, the armrest etc. Same with the paper napkins.

(9) Calculator: maybe it's because our son is not used to playing with phones, screens and computers but I decided to pack a calculator for the journey and it turned out to be a good source of entertainment. It wasn't a really tiny one so the buttons were a good size for his little fingers to press. He pretended it was a computer and we also used it to practice numbers.

(10) Cooking: I packed one of his little saucepans that he has at home and gave him that, along with some of the unused plastic cutlery we got with our meals and a couple of pieces of the dry pasta I had brought with me and he used them to do some 'cooking'. You could also just use an empty plastic cup from the aeroplane instead of a toy saucepan.

Have some of these suggestions aleady been a success for you? What else have you discovered works well for keeping your toddler happy on a long journey?

Remember to check out my post from last year with more ideas. I'll also be following up with some general toddler travel tips later this week.


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