Monthly Archives: September 2017

How To Get Your Child To Open Up About Their School Day

How To Get Your Child To Open Up About Their School Day

With the new school year now in full swing, many parents find extracting information about the school day from their children an excruciating process. The question ‘how was school today?’ is invariably answered with a ‘fine’, ‘good’ or ‘ok’. It’s often very difficult to get past these one word road blocks.

As parents, we want details! We want to know that they had someone to play with, that they felt included, that they had someone to sit with it at lunch, that they understand their lessons and that they are happy. Yet all this information never seems to be volunteered very readily.

However, there are some tactics you can use to delve deeper into your child’s school experiences. The first is binning the question ‘how was school today?’ because it is proven to be an ineffective way to open up conversations about the school day.

Don’t ask straight away

As soon as your child steps out of the classroom, they may be feeling a cocktail of emotions. As well as feeling tired and hungry, they can be strained from the effort of concentrating, being on their best behaviour and following the rules all day. As soon as they see a parent, they feel comfortable enough to release all those emotions and let loose. This can lead to ‘after school attitude’, when children play up, have tantrums and are uncooperative.

This is not a good time to ask them about their day. Once they’ve had a snack, adjusted to their home surroundings and had the chance to unwind, you’ll have a better chance at finding out what happened during their day. Your child will be much more likely to open up while you all sit down to dinner and during bath time, for example.

Ask Open Ended Questions

Once your child feels ready to talk about their day, open ended questions requiring more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer are your best bet.

Try and be a bit creative with your questioning. Avoid ‘how was school today?’ and try a more interesting route:

What was the best/worst thing that happened today?

Who did you play with?

Who did you sit with?

Tell me one thing you learned today.

What was your favourite part of lunch?

Who is the funniest person in your class?

What was your teacher wearing today?

Often the answer to one of these questions will be a natural progression to other topics.

Listen

It’s tempting to jump in with more questions to try and get to the bottom of a topic, but try to hang back and let your child direct the conversation.

Share your day with them

If you share tit-bits of your day with your child, they will be more likely to reciprocate. For example, if you share what you ate for lunch and who you ate it with, they may do the same. Although, for children who have just started school and are missing home, it may be a good idea not to make your day sound too exciting, especially if you have spent it with their sibling. Talking about what you ate, who you saw and what you talked about are good ways to help your child see how we share information about our days.

Living with a six year old

It’s Like Living With A Six Year Old

If you’ve ever seen the 1986 comedy film ‘The Three Amigos’ you’ll be familiar with Steve Martin’s famous line, ‘It’s like living with a six year old.’

When I was younger, my friend Gemma and I used to roll our eyes and say this every time we perceived someone to be behaving immaturely. Mostly, we just said it to each other and always in a stupid American accent.

I spoke that line so many times as a teenager but it’s only now, twenty years later, that I actually know what living with a six year old is really like.

I often see blogs with titles such as ’10 things I would tell my pregnant self’, which are generally centred on sleep deprivation, poo conversations and the mischievous antics of very little people. All are perfectly valid reading for those with babies and toddlers. I also see lots of literature based on parenting a teenager, which for the most part, I can’t bring myself to read yet.

However, there doesn’t seem to be many articles written about the joys and tribulations of raising post-toddler, pre-teen children. So I decided to write one about my life with my six year old daughter.

Here is what I would tell my pregnant self about living with a six year old:

You don’t have possessions. Nothing of yours actually belongs to you anymore.

Make-up, jewellery, clothes, stationery – nothing is safe from my daughter’s hoarding hands. Most of my jewellery has been stashed away in pink containers in her room and I’ve given up trying to find it.

Hiding my treasured items is fruitless because nothing escapes the radar of a pilfering six year old. This became evident to me the day that my daughter emerged from our spare room wearing my wedding dress (which had been carefully wrapped, boxed and put away) accompanied by her little friend who was modelling every handbag I own. They had been into the bathroom, opened a box of my tampons, removed the applicators and were wearing them as earrings. I later found the rest of the box floating in the bath. Tampons do make excellent bath toys.

While six year olds enjoy making use of their parents’ possessions, they don’t always fully grasp the correct usage of them. I learned this one morning when I woke up to find my daughter sitting on my bedroom floor painting her toenails. With my eyeliner.

I truly have no possessions anymore. John Lennon would be proud.

You’ll see complicated issues in a new light

Inside the head of a six year old, the world is a delightfully uncomplicated place. There is good and bad, black and white, superheroes and villains. Messy political and global humanitarian problems can be solved by a six year old in as little as a few words.

One afternoon, my daughter had some pressing questions about the Second World War. She wanted to know how it started, why so many people died (see on for six year old obsession with death) and how it ended. I explained all about Hitler and his invasion of other countries, Nazism and why the Allies retaliated. I was quite proud of my 1997 GCSE History knowledge. I ended by telling her about the Holocaust and how millions of innocent people were killed by the Nazis.

When I had finished, my daughter was quiet for an uncharacteristic moment. Then she said, ‘Well I don’t know where Hiltler’s mind was at, but he shouldn’t have done that.’

Indeed.

While I was listening to the radio one afternoon, a speech from Donald Trump was being relayed. ‘Who’s that man?’ my daughter piped up. ‘He has a lying voice.’

Say it how you see it, dear six year old, say it how you see it.

You’ll talk about death a lot.

I thought it was just my daughter who was given to making countless enquiries about death. However, after voicing my concerns to friends, it seems that many six year olds are preoccupied with the topic. Take my friend, who one morning found her six year old scribbling away furiously on a piece of paper. She asked him what he was writing and he replied, ‘I’m writing letters. To dead people.’

Perhaps it’s a fascination with and anxiety about the unknown that preoccupies a six year old with death. Whenever I watch a film with my daughter, we firstly have to ascertain which cast members have died since the film was made and those who are still with us. With a little help from Google, I am now fully up to date with the status of everyone who acted in Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Annie and many other children’s films.

On earwigging at my daughter’s bedroom door during a play date, I discovered that six year olds also tend to play quite morbid games. I heard three sweet little girls playing, ‘pretend you’ve broken your leg and your bone’s sticking out’, ‘pretend you cracked your head open and your brain spilled out’ and, perhaps the most insulting, ‘pretend we’re orphans and we like it’.

Your transformation into your own mother is now complete

It started gradually after my daughter was born – a word here, a habit there. Six years on and I have now fully and irreversibly morphed into my mother.

On a daily basis her words fly out of my mouth – phrases such as; ‘what did your last slave die of?’, ‘mind your Ps and Qs’, ‘do you do that at school? Well then don’t do it here then’ and (my personal favourite) ‘what did I come upstairs for?’

It’s taken six years but I have now perfected my mother’s sigh of martyrdom and pained exhaustion whenever I sit for a moment on a chair or sofa.

Chasing a child who is munching on a packet of crisps around the living room while screaming, ‘I’ve just hoovered!’ is now as much a part of my daily life as it was my mother’s.

You’ll wonder what parents did before google

Important questions such as ‘why is the sky blue?’ and ‘what’s the poorest country in the world?’ are beyond my GCSE science and geography knowledge. A sneaky Google on my phone behind my back helps me retain my status as the font of all knowledge. Seriously, what did parents do before they had such technology to fall back on? I know, I know they looked it up in a book.

You’ll be made to feel stupid on a regular basis

It’s not pleasant when my six your old knows more than I do about something. And yet it is a feeling I experience more and more often.

When she was studying dinosaurs at school, we decided to take her up to the Natural History Museum. While standing by the big dinosaur in the entrance hall, I read out its name from the display case.

‘It’s a Diplodocus’, I said, pronouncing it Dip-lo-dok-us.

My daughter rolled her eyes. ‘Mummy, it’s a dip-lo-dough-cus and it obviously ate tree leaves because it has a long neck.

It’s like living with my own personal Hermione Granger.

It’s like living with a six year old.


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.

What’s Your Take On Gender Neutral Clothing For Children?

John Lewis’ recent decision to introduce gender neutral children’s clothing has divided the internet.  The store has removed ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ labels from children’s dresses, trousers and other clothes, replacing them with ‘girls and boys’ or ‘boys and girls’.

In a statement last week, head of children’s wear at John Lewis, Caroline Bettis, said, ‘We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.’

Gender stereotypes within children’s clothing has been a hot topic over the past few months, with retailers Morrisons and Mothercare among those criticised. While Mothercare offered girls the chance to ‘sparkle’, boys could choose to be a ‘genius’. Morrisons’ t-shirt selection included slogans such as ‘little girl, big smile’ and ‘little man, big ideas’. Understandably, many parents found the difference in girls and boys clothes to be sexist and old-fashioned.

However, it seems opinion over John Lewis’ introduction of gender neutral children’s clothing is split between those welcoming the move and those branding it ridiculous.

Let Clothes Be Clothes, the campaign for gender neutral clothing was, predictably, ‘absolutely thrilled’ by the news.

Other Twitter users agreed:

Yet not everyone was as supportive. Speaking on Good morning Britain, Piers Morgan said, ‘I have three sons and one little daughter. None of my sons have shown any interest in wearing dresses and my daughter wears 20 dresses a day. Why can’t we let boys be boys and girls be girls?’

Many Twitter users agreed with him:

https://twitter.com/danidotx/status/904657440796549121

Twitter polls revealed the extent of the split:

The furore has led many to question whether other retailers will follow suit. Is this political correctness gone mad or should all children’s clothing be gender neutral? No doubt we haven’t seen the end of this debate.


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.

 

Back To School Tips: How To Rock The Morning Routine

Back To School Tips: How To Rock The Morning Routine

It’s no secret that mornings are often stressful and frustrating times for many parents. With children heading back to school this week, getting the little darlings dressed, ready and packed off to school on time can be a challenge.

Here are some tips to help your mornings run as smoothly as possible:

Get everything ready the night before

Make up packed lunches, iron and hang up clothes and line shoes up by the door the night before. Make sure all school bags and sports bags are packed and ready to go. If you fall into the routine of prepping everything the night before, you will save precious time in the morning.

If you drive to school, put everything you need in the car. If you walk, make sure it’s all ready to grab by the front door.

Prepare breakfast the night before

You can set the table and ensure all cereal boxes, jam and other provisions are ready. If you fancy something more adventurous, such as muffins, scones or even breakfast burritos, check out these easy to make recipes. You can prepare them all the night before.

Back To School Tips: How To Rock The Morning Routine

Put the clocks forward by ten minutes

This little trick works a charm for ensuring everyone remains ahead of schedule without even knowing it!

Don’t allow anyone to go downstairs until they are dressed and ready

Once children disappear downstairs to play and watch TV, it’s often a very difficult job to haul them back up again. Make a rule that no one can go down until they are washed, dressed and have brushed their teeth and hair. If your little ones are hungry for their breakfast, they’re also likely to move faster.

Get up before everyone else

Set your alarm before the rest of the house normally wakes so you can have a shower and get ready in peace. Just taking the time out to have a coffee and slice of toast in the early morning peace and quiet will set you up for a better day. If your mind is overload with tasks, jot them down into a manageable list to give yourself some clarity before the day begins.

Back To School Tips: How To Rock The Morning Routine

Use a reward chart

For younger children, a sticker chart will really help motivate them to keep moving. For older children, you could use rewards more relevant to their age.

Make it a competition

Utilise some of that sibling rivalry for a positive end by challenging your children to see who can get ready first. Reward the winner with a small treat. Giving the mornings a competitive seems to spring children into action more than anything else!

Keep an emergency kit in the car

This could include cereal bars for those who didn’t make it up in time for breakfast, a brush and hair clips for those who didn’t do their hair and some change for those who need lunch money.

With a little preparation, a smidgen of bribery and a bit of creativity, the school-run doesn’t have to be overly stressful. Good luck with getting your little ones back to school on time!


Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.