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searching for childcare

Searching for childcare ?

searching for childcare

 

Is your head spinning looking for a childminder? You are not alone!  I am going through this dilemma as i reluctantly plan to go back to work and hopefully excel at my job again.  Being on maternity leave for a year does obviously change the skillset (hopefully for the better!) but would things change drastically?  Will I remember or pick things up quickly? Can I handle working?

To accompany the fear of returning to work, I am also faced with the worries about being a working mummy.  I am being presented with utter guilt of leaving Joshua in someone else’s’ care.  I actually want to be there with him, to see all those amazing milestones that he will achieve.  Experiencing his firsts for activities will be shared with a stranger or family member but not I! So to add to the mix – I wanted to find the best environment for Joshua.

A home that he would develop and learn in, with enough space that he can cruise around and have fun, along with insurance of his safety.  With an array of questions, examining the childminders personality and capability becomes part of the quest to find the most suitable childminder.

I’ve got to say – I’m no expert but i have seen my fair share of childminders already.  And I have to be honest – there are some shocking childminders out there! How they get away with it – and charge – ludicrous! Martin, Joshua and I had met various childminders – to the point I was getting so fed up! How can one, not watch your potential client, in this instance Joshua and not notice he was playing with a sharp fork which was in the toy box which was put down infront of him?

No apology or haste to get it away from him.  How about a tiny room filled with 9 children! Or taking on friends children randomly without any planning? What about loads of toys of different ages being mixed? Would you like the childminder aggressively dumping your child on a sofa? Or saying no I don’t take the children out (even though there is no garden)?

You may think I’m picky but I want a home away from home style carer, whereby values, exploring, and caring are met. I understand it can be a bad day (we all have them), and I totally get that not 100% attention will be there as it needs to be shared amongst all the children.  However I want the best for my child, especially when I am paying for it – childcare is not cheap!

So when you see the childminder and her home, treat it like an interview.  Just as much as you are interrogating her, she will query about your child and you.  One of my childminder friends mentioned that it’s just as important to get on with the parents and for the child to fit in with the other children. Well said! I’m so happy with the one I found!

I’ve put together a quick list of a few questions to help you understand the childminders skills, along with helping you decide if they are suitable to your needs.  I hope it helps!

How to get there ?

Consider the travel journey of how easy it is to get there and to work. Would you need to leave the car or pram in the vicinity? Location is such a big part, especially if you have got to be at work at peak times and come back at peak times.

 Price

Is the price reasonable compared to others? Most childminders include meals and snacks.  Some even include trips.?  Are there any caveats – ie lateness, upfront costs, sickness costs?

What is the environment like?

Does it look clean to you? Is it safe for your child? Is there a decent amount of space for the total number of children on the day?

Attitude of childminder  

How comfortable are you with her?  How is she towards your child?  How does your child react with her? Is she nice?  Is she pushy? Is she stern? Is she strict

What is their availability?

Can she do the days that you require? How flexible in times is she? Is she going away/on holiday? Does she work during holiday seasons?

How do you provide insurance of safety?

Look around the place !

Childminders qualifications

Is she Ofsted registered? Are they doing any courses? What is the training they have done? Its great to know they are putting effort and learning new skills to look after your child. Where is their experience?

What activities do you provide?

Is there plenty of good quality toys, equipment and resources?

How do you discipline?

Are their policies and rules? Is positive methods used?

How do you support learning & development?

What type of interactions is used? Praise, encouragement and laughter? Are themes used? Are the activities engaging and able to develop the child? Is the Early Years Foundation Stage met?

Do you have a routine/follow a child’s routine?

Is the days planned and structured? Do you know where your child will be and what they will be doing?

How many children do you look after?

Childminders can care  for 6 children under 8 years old, along with only 1 under 1 year old.  Check on the days you would like how many they would look after and if you were happy with the age range.

Do my child and I feel comfortable?

Its so vital that both will get on!?

How do you keep me informed?

When dropping and picking up your child, sometimes these are rushed moments and there isn’t always time for a catchup.  How else can the childminder update you?  And in turn how can you update them?  Notebooks? Emails? Childcare app on phone?

Sick/holiday

Whats the process and what happens when either the childminder, your baby or other babies are sick on holiday?

 

Click below for your free printable!

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what to pack in your hospital bag

What to pack in your hospital bag.


 

 

I highly recommend preparing your hospital bag early.  Can you imagine your partner, or family member trying to pack your bag whilst you are in hospital? At 33 weeks of pregnancy, this happened to me which is all described on my previous post A taste of what is due to happen.  Martin did well, I must add! But that’s with the help of knowing what to pack.  Then at 36 weeks I ended up in hospital again and gave birth to my little Joshua. Download the free printable at the bottom of the page. So here’s a helping hand:

Mum bag

Bag I found it helpful if the bag has wheels and pockets.  I’ve been moved to different rooms throughout the stay, etc – so it just made it easy to drag the bag rather than carry it.  When you have a big bump, and wobbling, you just need things to be easy peasy.

Pregnancy notes/birth plan Please please please carry your pregnancy notes everywhere you go.  You just never know when you need it.  Trust me!  It takes longer for doctors to check you if you don’t have them.  (Like me, you may just feel stupid not having them).  I actually had a great memory and remembered everything so when Martin went all the way back home from a different hospital (poor bloke) I was impressed with what I recalled.  However the doctors did need to read everything, so it did delay being examined.  As for the birth plan, it’s not imperative.  (Ours went completely out the window) but it is handy.  Your partner and doctors can try to do everything as close to your wishes for the birth.

Clothes  I cannot stress how comfortable clothing is needed- it’s a requirement.  Don’t bother with pretty tight little things!  You are stuck on a hospital bed before and after labour.  Obviously it’s great to walk around (if you can) but how you look is really not a priority. As long as you’re healthy and your baby is the cute munchkin, then no –one gives a crap about your looks. Your vagina or your stomach may be in agony too. Comfy clothing ladies! Breastfeeding? Then accessible to boob clothes are key – ie vests, and nursing bras.  .

Straws I was incapable of holding a drink during labour so Martin gave me water through a straw.  Then afterwards, when you are holding your little bubba or feeding him and your lips are quenching for a drop of water – your partner can help with the straw!

Maternity pads The docs actually provide this for you but if you are longer than a day or 2, you are kind of expected to have your own.  Plus you don’t want to be in that awkward situation where you need to change but have to wait for them to give you some.

Throw/Pillow Of course the hospital has these but having the throw helped because I got cold easily, so an extra layer was brilliant.  Also it’s a great way to act as a shawl when nursing and still keep you warm.  The additional pillow just made the bed more comfortable along with aiding in nursing.

Large knickers It is not about getting thongs, or pretty frillies on,  Downstairs has been through alot!  Enough said!

Phone/camera/charger Papparazi on JJ like crazy.  You will just want to be snappy happy! And of course, more than likely you would want to tell your nearest and dearest the good news!

Baby onesie/hat I’ve added this because when your little cute bubba enters this world, you will want to clothe your baby. This will be the first clothing, of which I would suggest a onesie/all in one sleepsuit.  Temperature of babies is regularly monitored, so include a vest just in case.  You don’t need to bring their wardrobe just yet, that’s in another bag.

 

Baby bag

Clothes Sleepsuits/onesies, mittens, booties, hats, cardigan/jumper, and tshirts/vests. We didn’t bother with bottoms.  Joshua didn’t get a chance to wear too much clothes as he had to be under the ultra violet light most of the time.

Cotton wool Again, the hospital will have these but it’s always handy. Cleaning your baby’s poo and urine with these are great.  You don’t need wipes just yet as water and cotton wool will be sufficient.

Muslins Make sure you have several of these.  You can wipe anything that comes out from your baby’s mouth.

Baby blankets Babies like to be swaddled when they sleep.  They like the warmth and it makes them feel secure.

 Partner

Loose change Bring a lot of loose change. It’s needed for parking if you have a car and for all those vending machines.

Blanket/pillow It’s not comfy for the partners, so try to make yourself comfy.  Some hospitals allow partners to stay the night and some don’t.  During the day, when you both need a nap, it can come in handy.

Snacks Not just for your partner but for you too!

Hospitals provides the basics for the first few days.  If for any circumstances you are in hospital longer, you need to ensure you can get refillable’s from a family member, or friend, such a nappies, formula, cotton wool, maternity pads, and nursing pads.

Click the below image to download the free printable below.

screenshotbag

 

What did you pack in your bag? I would love to hear from you.

Drawing by Martin Southam, my other half 🙂

mums helping mums

#Mumshelpingmums

mums helping mums
This morning, tears flowed out on the thin film over my eyeballs and then dripped onto my cheeks. I wanted JJ to sleep so he could be his bubbly self throughout the day.  Obviously the selfish part was I wanted a snooze, or a small break.  I’ve been up since 440am rocking his heavy body to go back to sleep with my arms aching.  Then came nap time, and JJ was screaming to go to sleep but he kept arching himself going crazy, throwing his arms and legs everywhere.  So I continued with the gentle rocking and finally, the little monster turned into an angel sleeping.

All mums (and dads), go through a whirl wind of emotions such as above, extreme fatigue, unbelievable multi-tasking, and nonstop organising.  A never ending unpaid job! We all get hell days or even minutes which can seem everlasting. So a little help from other mums is a welcome! From a mum to another, every small gesture goes a long way, so maybe some items that can be borrowed, a playdate arranged, advice given or a smile from afar.

From other mums; my mum, cousin, friends, NCT group and Babycentre group have all lent me a handful of items.  From sleepyhead, Moses basket, sterilisers, clothes, toys, seats and books; all these items add up.  I’ve also received used clothes but in great condition! Absolutely amazing!  For little babies, clothing and items can be so ridiculously priced! Items for Sale in the local area on Facebook groups is money saving! I’ve bought loads from there.

The time has come, and I get to pass items on.  Maybe they will return once I have another child but that will be quite some time!  Ahahaha! This was a huge box and I don’t think the receiver was expecting this much goodies!  I think it came to around £400 worth of mummy and baby stuff! WOW!

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Share the love and help where you can.

#Mumshelpingmums

 

 

Joshua 2016

A reflection of 2016

Joshua 2016

How has your 2016 been?  What are you wishing for in 2017?

I started this blog January this year, and boy has it expanded to 53 posts! Never could I have imagined the amount of followers on WordPress, Facebook and Instagram that has been achieved.  I’m pulling a lovely grin at the moment 😉 A reflection on these last 12 months is definitely required. This year has brought pretty little things wrapped up, annoying body problems, pushed my baby out, loss of my dad and promised with forever diamonds. There’s been long miles of travel in the UK with a new born, to sleepless nights and days, baby attached to boob, and confused minds.  Whilst this has all gone on, I am constantly trying to adapt to the change of life, without going skitso!

At the start of the year, it was incomparable to now – I hadn’t entered my world.  Normally each year is the same-ish, but this one has had drastic changes.  Let’s begin with me being in a well-paid job, to then looking after JJ at home. Work was my life.  They say you are meant to work to live but I loved working.  It consumed a lot of me.  I would take the company mobile with me on holidays and respond to emails and calls.  On the way to work and returning home, where these hours were unpaid, I would still be tapping at the phone replying to mail.

martin and joshua

My inbox at work was one of the largest in the company – lol!  Putting on my pencil skirts and fancy blouse, hopping onto the train, sipping any type of caffeine and walking across Vauxhall Bridge to work was part of my routine for years.  Keyboard typing, bossing colleagues about and solving, helping and improving anything within work was, just me.  As sad as that may seem – I was a work a holic.  I even said I was going to come back early to work during maternity.  Oh what being a first time mummy can do to your world! I quickly realised I was not ready to go back to work and would take the whole maternity year.  It changes everything! LOL! I just wanted to spend as much time with JJ.

My mum worked all the time – she meant well and worked her socks off, but I didn’t see her as much as I wanted to.  Years pass so quickly and JJ won’t stay little forever.  Putting my career on hold for however long is what I want to do because I really want to be involved in JJ’s milestones, even if he does have his crazy moments !

Everyone warns you about enjoying being you, enjoying moments with your partner, enjoying the freedom because it’s much harder to achieve.  I struggled with the idea that it was not about Martin and I anymore.  I have to put my little JJ first.  He is my world but gosh can he test me to my limits.  From doing whatever I wanted whenever I chose to, to now being limited – or just for things to take sooooo much longer!  Crikey – it is such an impact.

I’ve lost my morning lie ins in my cosy bed, my late nights going to bed, randomly going out with family and friends, putting time into things I love, like cycling, reading comics and painting. Let’s not forget the small things, like having a shower, a pee or poo without being disturbed or rushed. I miss coffee not quietly getting cold, driving without hearing screams, a decent run of sleep hours, nipples not leaking, covering boob clothing and time for being me.  This is not a moan at all – I’m just trying to show I have found it hard.

From office work to a mum, a cleaner, an organiser, multi tasker, aerobics,  a body guard, a teacher, a chauffeur, a sports person, best friend of google, for me an absolute achiever.  A damn hard worker.  I am not on holiday! I’d like to see you be covered with pee constantly, smell the poo that comes out JJ’s ass, grow muscles you never knew you had, constantly every day.  Strangely, it’s all freaking worth it! I love making JJ laugh – his laughter completely melts me away.  Even though it can be tiring, every new leap he goes through makes me know I’m doing something right, and that is what is so rewarding.

Now factor this in with my dad passing away.  I don’t even know what to write here.  I have an emptiness of words on this matter.  When you love someone, and then their presence is gone. How does one feel?  I still go to my mums and dads place expecting him to be there, to say a not funny dad joke (but others find funny).  I long for those random calls that my car needs an MOT even though I know it does.  I miss our competiveness about the latest products.  I crave on getting annoyed easily when teaching him how to work his phone or laptop.  Then to see my mum continue without him, her love of her life, not sharing the same bed any more, the morning awakenings and daily talks disappear – is another struggle.  I try my upmost to make sure she doesn’t feel so alone, but I can’t be there with her every moment. That makes me feel utter helpless.   Through this, I feel she is strong.  She doesn’t think so – but to continue and get on with everything  – that is a strong minded woman.  I love you mum.

I feel on top of the world as diamonds are really a girl’s best friend.  Hahahahahaha! Knowing there is a promise to death do us part, is reassuring.  I was never the type to be bothered about marriage until I met Martin ahahahaha! Just the fact that I am still loved through all my ugly moments and stupid moments, just creates a big smile! I know that we have so much to experience together and cannot wait for the ‘I do’. He’s been so supportive, (95% of the time – hahahaha) that I really couldn’t get past this year without him.  And dealing with all my demands – wow!

I have come to know some great mummies and without them all, I would feel so lonely.  They have been such an amazing supportive group about everything.  Having those coffee meet ups and play dates are greatly needed so I don’t go insane!

What have I learnt from this year?  That I truly can cope – that I am strong when I thought I was weak, mentally and physically.  I get on with things because I have to; I want to.  I am not as selfish as I thought – (except with snacks and desserts with Martin).  I can love a little human being as wide as the galaxy.  I understand why mums do what they do – they are trying to make a good home, and in order to do that things need to be done their own way.  It’s really something that I didn’t grasp before.  I’ve never lost someone so important to me, so I know I just want to enjoy every moment with everyone I cherish. Family and friends means much more to me now than ever before.  I know that a lot can change but I can make it work to the best of my ability.

Through this here are my wishes that I will upon for 2017:

  • To be the super duper fun mum and not get annoyed so often (Very hard to do ahahaha)
  • To continue with the little craze of exercise the last 2 weeks. It will really help with my back issues and hopefully will help trim down all the chocolate I’ve been eating.
  • To spend more time with family. The last couple of days I’ve made more of an effort even for a short while – so really glad!
  • To cook more often for Martin coz I’m really not a chef!
  • To keep up with more collateral for the blog!
  • Have a new family home. (It’s going sooooo sloooooow)
  • Get cracking on planning for our wedding.
  • Normally I would have a career goal but that’s not gone, it’s just on hold.

New Year’s 12 Circular Fruit

There’s a lot of Filipino superstitions for New Years Eve, such as filling your pockets with coins, putting coins around the house, jumping, and turn on all the lights.  What do you do? 

A tradition within Philippines is to have 12 circular fruit ready for the New Year to welcome prosperity into the home!  Each fruit represents each month, and the roundness symbolises coins. The more different they are from each other, the better. I might swop one later for a pineapple! In order to fulfill this superstition some extra money, all the fruit need to be consumed before they go off. (Not everyone does this)  A bit of a challenge! You may laugh, but every time I have done this, it has worked!

Decent salary increase, bonuses, gifts, and PPI claims between Martin and I within the last few years has given us the extra dosh! I’m not a traditionalist but this one is the exception!New years 12 circular fruit

 

There is always more than 12 circular fruits in the supermarkets.  A lot of them come in packs, so I always end up giving the spares to family so they are not running around looking for 12 fruit on the day.  I have Cantaloupe Melon, Grapes, Mango, Pear, Kiwi, Peach, Pomegranate, Plum, Peach, Passion fruit, Apple, Persimmons.  I might swop one for a Pineapple! then to use them up – I just make smoothies and have some for breakfast!  Also handy to give some to JJ.

I hope the New Year exceeds all your expectations sprinkled with loads of love and joy !

snowman onesie

Christmas Baby Fashion – Snowman Onesie

Snowman Onesie

Christmas is a few starry nights away, and with this is the need for some baby Christmas gear at the ready!

snowman onesie

 

This very cute spotted bow tie with red braces long sleeve bodysuit is designed by Agg Crafts from London.  From £22.00 with leg warmers (not pictured). Agg Crafts is passionate about special handcrafting items, treating each item with love and care.  I cannot wait for when JJ turns 1, so I can dress him up in one of their cake smash outfits!

snowman onesie

JJ is rocking a Christmas themed harem pants with large snowflakes.  Small stars are scattered around to create a more fun filled look.  Each square comprises of a shade of green.  The waistband can be foldable to cater to your baby’s height. The pants closes in with a white elasticated ankle . JJ is totally relaxed in these pants!  Priced at £18.00. Schnuki, meaning sweetheart, nicknamed after their daughter is a modern and unique brand of handmade baby items.  You really need to check out their ponchos too!

snowman onesie

My little snowman JJ – he just melts my heart.  Ahaha! Keep your baby warm with this baby snowman onesie from John Lewis , retailing from £19.00.  Crafted from a faux fur finish, the typical snowmans scarf, buttons and carrot nose has adorable embroidery detail.

snowman onesie

5 Minute Fun

Today Martin and I got a chance to play with JJ with using 5 Minute Fun activities. These are simple free ideas to engage children and develop their learning.  I’m quite keen on this concept as some days it can be hard to think of new things to do with JJ, that doesn’t involve money or a new toy.  It’s nice to be able to provide new changes that he can interact with.

Immediately reading some of the activities on the website I knew it was not aimed for young babies.  However this did not stop us!  We adapted some of the ideas or showed JJ how to do them.

The first activity I tried with JJ was under the Maths section.  Play a clapping game together.   Roll a dice and clap the number it lands on.   JJ is 8 months and hasn’t clapped on his own accord yet, but I think this is a fun idea to correlate numbers and clapping.  (As long as he doesn’t go to near the dice and try to eat it, which luckily he didn’t! Hurrah!  Now, it’s making me think if I should get a large sponge dice! Hahaha!) I used a dice from a board game I had, showed JJ the dots, counted and clapped his hands with him.

Within the lets move section the task was You’re both superheroes! Stand with your hands on your hips, run in slow motion, then pretend to fly. Martin altered this and made JJ fly by lifting him in the air.  We love super heroes so this is perfect!

The other task was Get building together! Find some tins or boxes in your cupboard and stack them up to build a tower.  I think Martin enjoyed this more..ahahaha but JJ was watching him using the playmats to create a box. JJ even got to wear the box! Hehehe!

I also downloaded the Sporty reward chart. Again this is aimed for older kids, but we still managed to do some of them our own way.  The idea behind this is to do each task each day but we preferred to do a few all together.  Dance to our favourite song was fun! We do this a lot already but it’s a fab way to get JJ’s legs strength in standing.  As he loves going on the Jumperoo, he does a lot of bouncing to his dance moves.  He’s too cute. When Martin dances with JJ, he holds him which is so enjoyable for JJ. Another one on the reward chart, was Pretend you’re driving a car. JJ tried to eat the ‘wheel’ when I gave it to him! Ahahahahaha! But what Martin did was brilliant!  I loved it.  JJ just looks so cute in the box whilst Martin pushes him around the room.

The ideas  are simplistic, and easy to do.  It saves me of thinking of brand new fun games to play with JJ.  It does not take long to do any of the tasks.  No money involved – perfect as I’m on maternity leave and need to save every penny. I would definitely use their ideas again but use it more often if there was a section aimed for younger babies. However as you’ve noticed, nothing wrong with adapting some of them, especially as JJ kept smiling through them.

Check them at:

Facebook

Website 

Instagram

#5minutefun

 

create a comic

Help create a comic..

create a comic

 

JJ has inspired Martin to get back into drawing, and start a comic.  The concept derives from the many outfits of what JJ wears each day.  It’s still in the making but we would love to get your ideas of costumes that we can use!  Challenge Martin to draw JJ as any character, and if we like it, we will use it!

Here is a few samples so far of JJ’s day as himself and some superheroes…and just totally loving them.  Please get commenting!

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JJ as Superboy

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JJ as Wolverine

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JJ as Spiderboy

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JJ as Batboy

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JJ as himself eating

baptising Joshua

Baptising Joshua

baptising Joshua

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The Catholic Church recommends babies to be baptised within a few weeks of birth.  It’s also pushed within the Filipino community.   However, due to the circumstances of the first few months after Joshua’s birth it was not something I could comprehend, especially as Martin and I are both not practicing any faith.  I have complete respect for those that follow any religious faith and have sincerest admiration for those that practice their beliefs.  However, there has been so many opposition questions that I have faced, wondered myself and certain aspects within my life that makes me choose not be a practicing Catholic. Does this make me a hypocrite? Probably so?  Nevertheless, being brought up with Catholicism has provided the great values within me that I would want to bestow onto Joshua.  It is not so much about the belief of a God, sacraments and rituals but providing the love to show upon another, to be kind to a neighbour, to have morals and be strong willed.   I would love Joshua to be mindful of all religions and respect their ideology.  With that in mind, we as parents prepare Joshua for his welcome into the Christian community.  It is not just us as parents that Joshua will follow and learn from, but his extended family, his friends, colleagues and his Godparents.  Where I’m trying to go with this is, with an excuse for a party as well, this baptism brings both Martins and I important people in our lives together, family and friends.  Unfortunately, this is not an often occurrence.  This means the world to me, that we can have everyone we dearly love together sharing the joy of our son.

baptising joshua

Thank you to mum, who has contributed to this celebration, to our family far and local who attended and our dearest friends. Thank you for the hard work,  Eclektik Design – your decorations were amazing! Lola Catering for delicious food.  Mimi’s Munchkins for the balloon modelling, Aira for the photographs  and Old Rut Rugby Club for the venue and St Josephs Church for the baptising of Joshua.