Tuesday, 18 December 2012

This week: last 2012 post

Tomorrow we fly out to family in the US so it's been a busy time trying to get Christmas shopping done and parcels posted off to my side of the family, as well as getting organised for our trip. I had all these plans for blog posts that unfortunately never materialised. I wanted to share this fun idea for a homemade Christmas gift, maybe one for next year. I liked this paper wreath too.

This will be my last post for 2012, as I take some time to enjoy the Christmas holidays, take stock on the year that has almost passed and begin thinking of the year to come. Mummy Zen will resume in the new year but until then I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas giving and receiving

There's always lots of talk around this time about the cost of Christmas to families, the pressure on parents to buy the latest toys, the power of advertising on both children and adults and such like. I read an interesting article, Christmas, Materialism and Toys that had some good advice for parents. It's slightly lengthy so I've selected a few bits from the article that I particularly liked:

Help develop their imagination:
"Simpler toys like dolls, construction kits, train sets and cars, ‘house’ items like kitchen sets provide the richest experience for children because they can use their own imagination more".
We have bought our son some Lego for Christmas, just the basic building bricks, so I was especially pleased to read this next bit. He has been given special sets where you follow instructions and I hadn't thought about it before but indeed, the scope with those is so much more limited:
"There has even been a change in Lego from simple bricks which allow the child to create and problem solve to sets with specific dedicated pieces and instructions which dictate what should be made. If children get spoon fed everything, even in play, their imaginations close down, they don’t develop the ability to pursue sustained thought and they get bored easily... "
The concern of over-indulgence: My son had his fourth birthday yesterday and had so many (arguably too many) presents, mostly due to all the friends who came to his birthday party. It was really too much for him to take in, appreciate and value so I can definitely relate to the following:
"Many parents are concerned about falling into the trap of over-indulging their children, fearing that their children will grow up to be overly acquisitive and never satisfied, unable to appreciate the true cost of things or differentiate between their needs and their wants."
Children learn by example - we always need to remember to practise what we preach! If we want to encourage all things in moderation, then as parents we need to be moderate in our gift-giving and think quality over quantity. Likewise, to teach our children about giving to others, we need to show them it in action, not just in words.

Encourage your child to enjoy the act of giving. The article offers some good tips for engaging your child in giving at Christmas time, such as thinking of non-material gifts (homemade cookies, a story or picture they've created etc), giving to those less fortunate in your local community, having them help select a gift for a particular person and talking through the process (what the person likes, cost etc).

Some of the advice sounds obvious perhaps, but if nothing else it's a good reminder of what our responsibilities are as parents to help instill the kind of values that are important in our own family. Have a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Cheap and cheerful Christmas gift ideas

We are into December and probably a lot of you are in Christmas mode, shopping and planning for the festive season. I always like discovering ideas for more creative presents, whether it's something homemade or something a bit unique that I haven't thought about before.

This week I read 50 Festive Fivers, a list of gifts that all cost a fiver or less. There are some great ideas in there, have a read for yourself. Most require a bit of your own effort and creativity but nothing too challenging! Some of my favourites are:
  • Hidden compartment book - a link is provided for an online tutorial to cut into a book and create a hidden compartment within (I think my son would love one)
  • Memory jar - as it sounds, a jar full of memories for someone you love
  • Kids' homemade movies - making a video compilation using various snippets of footage of your children to give to grandparents
  • Homemade recipe book - a former work colleague made me one of these as a leaving gift and I loved it. I still use it regularly and I think of her each time I make one of the recipes she included.
Let me know which of the 50 Festive Fivers you especially like!
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Monday, 3 December 2012

The frustration of fussy eaters

Most children go through the odd fussy eating stage every now and then, even those who for the most part are not fussy eaters generally. For the parent, it's frustrating when a meal is cooked and the child won't eat it. Even more so when you know it's a meal they've eaten and enjoyed many times previously!

I've been experiencing some of this fussy eating frustration myself lately. Now having two children and two palates to please makes it even harder sometimes. My daughter is teething and quite miserable with it so she is understandably a bit off her food. My son is usually a good eater but is going through a phase of turning his nose up at almost everything I put before him. If I can just get him to take a couple of bites, it's usually ok and he'll eat most or all of it, realising that lo and behold, his mother has cooked him something he likes!

A couple of friends have been lamenting of their mealtime challenges recently too. One friend was saying she wonders why she bothers cooking for her children when they would be happier if she served up oven chips and tinned spaghetti every night! Someone pointed out that her child ate everything until she started nursery and discovered that other children ate 'kid food'. She then demanded 'kid food'  but her mother stood her ground and won her over eventually.

As if it is not hard enough deciding what to cook each night to accommodate everyone's tastes and nutritional needs, it's then additionally difficult having to negotiate getting the meal eaten without making an issue of it. Usually I like to provide some tips for readers, but to be honest I struggle with this myself.

I long for the days I can cook a meal, put it on the table and have everyone eat it and enjoy it without any hesitation. I know those days will come but in the meantime, I will have to deal with the frustration and keep cooking. I'm certainly not going to resort to chips and tinned spaghetti!

Have you been through a fussy eating phase lately with your child? How do you deal with it? If you have older children, when did mealtimes start getting consistently easier for you?
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