What The Contents Of My Hoover Say About My Life

I hoover my house almost daily. If I don’t, after just one day, it looks like I never have.

A few days ago, I was cleaning out the bagless hoover, and amid a cloud of dust, I began to giggle to myself as I realised that the contents of my hoover are a direct insight into my life.  Read more here…. 

For a long, long time now, I’ve wanted to start another blog, something that resembles what this blog used to be a few years ago, but it’s taken me almost a year to come up with a name I liked. Well, I’ve done it now… and in walks Not Quite Granola.

I’ve shared a few posts from Diary of a First Child over there, but also some new content. If you’ve enjoyed my attachment/natural/gentle parenting posts, please pop over to Not Quite Granola. I’d love to see you there!


How Much Time Do You Spend Playing?

I received this infographic in an email a couple of months ago and have been pondering it for ages.  I remember reading an article in 2010 about how parents found playing with their children quite boring.  I find that tough, really. I don’t find doing things with my girls boring – in fact, it can be really fun – but unstructured play or going to the park, or just ‘being’? Yes. I find that dreadfully dull, largely because I’m always thinking about what I could or should be doing!

I was reading through the information below and trying to see  where my thoughts and I fit in compared to the rest of Jo Public, and well, it’s a little stark.

It’s reminded me again to say no less, and yes more.

What do you think of these stats?

Not sure how to play? Just start! Included in the Mindful Nurturing Home Learning Bundle this month are two books with hundreds of play learning activities for children – all easy, simple, fun: (find out more about the bundle here)

Love Bombing With A Three Year Old

There’s been a distinct disconnect between my almost four year old, Ameli, and myself lately. We just aren’t working well together. We’re not cooperating. I’m shouting at her, she’s shouting at me. She ignores me. She tells me I’m not her best friend anymore. She doesn’t listen to me… and the number of times I’ve said the words ‘you’re  not listening to me’ made me realise that maybe, just maybe, the disconnect is because I’m not listening to her, either.

By listening to her, I don’t mean paying attention when she talks, or doing what her three year old demands insist. I mean really, deeply, listening to her, to what her words are not saying.

This post has moved. Read the rest HERE

A Look At Each Item In The Mindful Nurturing eBundle

On Tuesday I told you about the Mindful Nurturing eBundle, and what was in it, but I thought I might go through the bundle and tell you more about each of the 22 items. Hopefully a description of what’s in it will show you how fabulous a resource it is!

Click on the Buy Now buttons throughout to buy the whole bundle for US$24.95/£16.49/AUS$25.90.

The total value of these, if you bought them all individually would be US$236/ £155.95/ AUS$245.05.

This whole bundle is for sale between 28 May and 10 June 2013

relaxation meditation

Relaxation Meditation

AUDIO – Amy Phoenix (Presence Parenting), value $50 USD/lifetime access

Relaxation Meditation helps you access inner awareness and resolve, cultivating the space for true, lasting transformation. Relax into parenting as you enhance your relationship with yourself, your child, and life at the same time.


Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting

Becky Eanes (Positive Parents), 30 pages, Value $4.99 USD

The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting is an introduction to the philosophy of Newbie Guide to Positive Parentingpositive parenting. It addresses what positive parenting is, and what it is not (permissive parenting). It discusses how to change your mindset from the traditional paradigm of control and fear to the positive parenting paradigm of connection and love. It gives you teaching tools and discusses the differences between consequences, punishments, and problem-solving. Finally, it goes over enforcing limits without punishments and 10 alternatives to punishments as well as 10 things that are more important than discipline.

This eBook will give you clarity on positive parenting and offer you tools and skills that will strengthen your relationship with your child while teaching values and instilling the self-discipline that will benefit your child for a lifetime. The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting provides several scenarios so you can see how positive parenting principles are applied in everyday situations.


play grow learn - cover imagePlay Grow Learn

(Childhood 101)55 pages, value $4 USD

Bursting with ideas for playing inside and outside, with activities for moving, talking, cooking, creating, thinking, singing, imagining and constructing, Play Grow Learn is a downloadable e-zine that provides both inspiration and information for parents and educators of children from birth to 5 years. Issue 3 includes over 100 playful activities including play suggestions for toddlers, an outdoor math hunt, ideas for exploring science in the kitchen, woodwork activities perfect for kids, an exclusive full colour set of printable puppets to get you singing with your kids PLUS art projects, book reviews, toy suggestions, playful parenting ideas, tips for making pack away time fun…and more!

Getting Back on Track! – Why We Explode and What We Can Do About It

natural phenomena

AUDIO – Genevieve Simperingham (Peaceful Parent Institute), value $7.58 USD

Listen to this audio to gain lots of insights into the tendency to meltdown, why it happens, how to see it coming and what to do instead of yelling or otherwise acting from a place of overwhelm and frustration. You’ll gain reassurance that it’s much more common than you thought, that it’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility. You’ll learn that there are psychological triggers going back to childhood at the core of your tendency to lose your cool. And most importantly you’ll gain lots of great tips and strategies from Genevieve and Patty that will make it so much easier to be the peaceful parent that you know that you really can be.

Stress Relief for Parents

AUDIO – Genevieve Simperingham  (Peaceful Parent Institute), value $4.05 USD

stress relief for parentsWhen you’re at your wits end and need to rest and recuperate, this CD is a fantastic resource ~ Grab yourself fifteen minutes or so, choose your track and let Genevieve’s calming voice and supportive words guide you back to your self … back to your centre … back to balance … back to you at your best … back to peaceful parenting!

The track “Bliss” takes the listener through a 15 minute deep body relaxation. Genevieve’s soft Irish lilt backed by the celtic harp offers a soothing balm to their feelings and played at night next to their bed will ease their transition into a deep and restful sleep. Other tracks offer guided exercises that guide and teach the listener to centre and return to a calm balanced state and a warm connection with their child.


Creative Play Workshop

EMAIL COURSE – Gina Kimmel & Katherine Lockett (Connecting Family and Seoul and Creative Playhouse), value $25 USD
creative play workshop

Mindset for Moms

mindset for moms - cover imageJaimie Martin (Mindset for Moms), value $4.99 USD

Mindset for Moms: From Mundane to Marvelous Thinking in Just 30 Days is a guide for better thinking and increased happiness in parenting and in life. Lessons about positivity that took Jamie years to learn, you can learn in days–30 days, to be exact. She’s consolidated the concepts in this e-book into short entries–perfect for busy moms to read and apply for immediate results.

Moods of Motherhood

Lucy Pearce (Dreaming Aloud), value $9.99 USD

1-cover of moods of motherhoodA compilation of her best-loved posts on motherhood from her popular blog, Dreaming Aloud, columns from JUNO magazine and many new pieces, never before published. According to one reader, “This book puts the mother, back in motherhood”. “It is no ordinary parenting book” but full of her trademark searing honesty and raw emotions. It will make you laugh, cry and feel deeply accepted – wherever on your mothering journey you may be.

Topics include: pregnancy and birth, happy days, anger and fierceness, sleep, playfulness, grief, love, patience, tenderness, homemaking… it is illustrated throughout with beautiful black and white photographs.


42 Rules for Divorcing with Children (Doing it With Dignity and Grace While Raising Happy, Healthy, Well-Adjusted Children)

Melinda Robertsvalue $10.29 USD
42 rules for divorcing with kids42 Rules for Divorcing With Children offers practical ways to manage a healthy divorce, build a better team in two houses, minimize stress and anxiety on all fronts, and construct relationships with open and consistent communication. In this book you will learn:

  1. What putting the children first really means.
  2. How to preserve marital assets for you and your children.
  3. How to set reasonable ground rules for the divorce and going forward.
  4. How to set a respectful communication example so that you can divorce with dignity.

Use this book as objective advice, refer to it often, share it with others, use it as a reality check, and realize that divorce is not linear and that damage is not permanent or irreparable. If you do this well, the other parent will always be in your life. Find a way to make that tolerable for everyone, because no matter where you go or what you do, your children are tethered to both of you in an incredibly delicate and important way. Learn to accommodate each other as a gift to your children while they grow. Share others’ success stories for simple, practical advice and insights. See how taking care of yourself will help you take care of your family and prevent divorce remorse and divided loyalties. Set good examples that will help them make their own relationship choices wisely by drawing on your positive experience. And for you, know that someday, somewhere, you will almost certainly find a partner with whom you can have a mutually respectful, loving, and responsible relationship.


nurturing creativityNurturing Creativity, Guide for Busy Parents

Renee Tougas (Tougas Café), value $3 USD

Nurturing Creativity: A Guide for Busy Moms is a book to help you growcreatively.Nurturing Creativity is about embracing the seasons of motherhood and appreciating where you are while helping you to make creativity a priority in your life.

It will encourage you to let go of perfection, to start small, and to find inspiration in everyday living. This little book will challenge you to make the most of the time you do have. Time you can spend creating beauty and meaning – with your head, heart, and hands.

the playful family - coverThe Playful Family

Shawn Ledington Fink (Awesomely Awake), value $4.99 USD

The Playful Family encourages and challenges busy parents to slow down and spend quality time together with their children, regardless of their age. With nearly 100 ways to connect, engage and play together this easy-to-read e-book is a must-have resource for any parent interested in becoming more playful and happy while raising children. Each chapter includes dozens of ideas as well as a challenge to motivate families to put their own ideas to work in real life.


Poetry of a Hobo Mama, The First Three Years

Lauren Wayne (Hobo Mama), value $9.37 USD

Poetry of a Hobo Mama -front-cover-kindlePoetry of a Hobo Mama is a collection of poems by Lauren Wayne, inspired by the initial three years of parenting her firstborn son, Mikko.

I sling my baby like a bindle on my back,
tramping along the tracks
countless feet have worn before.

Poetry of a Hobo Mama contains three years’ worth of parenting poetry, written from the time Lauren and her husband, Sam, were preparing for Mikko, through watching him grow to three years old. She has included poems that speak of their natural parenting journey — breastfeeding, the family bed, elimination communication, and natural birth among them.

The book is a combination of free verse and more traditional poetry forms, and the topics and tone run through all the variations the poet felt when writing them: the grief of miscarriage, the anticipation of trying to conceive, the upheaval of the newborn months, the joy of parenting, and the balance of motherhood and personal passion.


Parenting for Social Change

Teresa Graham Brett (Parenting for Social Change), value $8.97 USD

parenting for social change - coverParenting for Social Change: Transform Childhood, Transform the World(2011, Social Change Press) is a powerful parenting book that isn’t about children, but about the harmful cultural messages we, as parents, perpetuate in our relationships with children. It addresses the work we as parents must do to free ourselves, the children who share our lives, and our world from those harmful messages.

The author, Teresa Graham Brett, uses current social science research to debunk the myth that controlling children is necessary to ensure they grow up to be healthy and responsible adults. She demonstrates how changing our parent-child relationships plays a critical role in creating social change. More importantly, it gives parents strategies and tools for letting go of harmful control of children.

  • read a review of this book


encouraging words for kids - cover

Encouraging Words for Kids

Kelly Bartlett (Parenting From Scratch), value $2.99 USD

Encouraging Words for Kids gives parents over 150 examples of phrases to say that inspire a child’s confidence and self-motivation. Encouragement is about drawing forth a child’s own drive to work hard and do what’s right without being told; this book shows you how to get there. It is a guide that parents can turn to again and again whenever they need a dose of inspiration in creating positive communication with their kids.

  • read a review of this book


Raising a Creative Kid, Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing That Creative Spark

Raising a Creative Kid - cover imageJilian Riley (A Mom With A Lesson Plan), value $7.99

Raising a Creative Kid:  Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing that Creative Spark  is just what you need to transform your environment into a creativity growth center. With creative exercises following each of the  sections I have made moving into a creative lifestyle as easy as possible. Just like I do with everything else on amomwithalessonplan.com, I use and recommend materials that are inexpensive or free.


Children and Food

Tara Wagner (The Organic Sister), 72min audio + 39 page workbook, value $25 USD currently only available as part of The Organic Sisterhood

children and food - cover

This mini-toolkit helps you recreate the whole family’s experience with food. No more fighting at dinnertime. No more forcing or bribing. No more worrying about your child’s ability to make good choices. You’ll have the tools necessary to begin to release control, lean into Trust, and make mealtime a joyful and fun experience. But it starts with your own relationship with food. It includes:

  • 72 min audio: Describes the most important principles in raising healthy children and how to begin practicing them (Value: $200)
  • 39 page workbook: Packed full of exercises to help you DIG IN and put new traditions and experiences into place (Value: $40)
  • Covers everything from: how your experience with food affects your children and how to change that, how to meet the varying needs and tastes of the whole family without feeling like a “short order cook”, as well as tips, ideas, strategies, recipes, and more from me and other mindful mamas.


Coming Of Age: How To Stop Worrying About ‘The Talk’, and Start talking with Your Girl! (audio)

DeAnna L’am, 41 min. audio, value $27 USDtalk to her

  • Remember “The Talk” you received from your Mom, or your school’s nurse?
  • Remember how awkward you felt listening?
  • Wonder how you can do a better job with your girl?

If you would you like to feel relaxed, confident, and at ease when speaking with your girl about becoming a woman – this is for you!
You will experience a sense of CALM and PEACE within yourself; An INNER EASE about the girl YOU once were; A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING of what your girl is feeling; SELF-TRUST going into any conversation with your girl; And a growing EASE in your relationship with her.
This down-loadable recording will deepen trust between you and your girl, and lay a foundation for lifelong openness between you!


The parenting primerThe Parenting Primer: A Guide to Positive Parenting in the First Six Years

Michelle Carchrae (The Parent Vortex), value $6.99 USD

The Parenting Primer is a guide to the main ideas and strategies used in gentle discipline. It will show you how attachment works to create harmony in families, empowering you to parent in a positive, creative way.

The Parenting Primer begins by looking at how love and limits influence our parenting, then explores other topics that affect our relationships with our children, such as information on brain development or personality, communication skills, lifestyle choices, creativity and self-discipline.



Mommy Overwhelm, A Holistic Approach to Parental Stress and Depression

Mommy overwhelm

Laura Schuerwegen (Authentic Parenting), 27 pages, value $2.99 USD, first-time opportunity, launch sale!

Mommy Overwhelm is a step-stone guide for parents who want to overcome daily overwhelm, stress and depression.

In this book, Laura draws from her own experience overcoming a longstanding depression to hand you the tools to heal. From strengthening foods and herbs to exercises and activities, this guide will kickstart your journey to happier, balanced parenting.


Unique Parenting Tool: Sleep Talking Set

Marcy Axnessvalue $13.95 USD

sleep talking

This set includes the Dr. Marcy Audio Coaching Session “Speaking to Your Child’s Subconscious” and companion eBooklet, A Unique 7-Step Parenting Tool: Sleep Talking.

Throughout my recent talks all over the world, what were SO many people interested in learning about? After hearing about the power of prenatal imprints, they wanted to know what parents could do when things didn’t go so smoothly in pregnancy, birth or around conception. I make it clear that repair & healing are ALWAYS possible at ANY age, and mentioned an somewhat out-of-the-box approach I’ve developed over my years of coaching parents — which includes talking to your child in his or her sleep.

They were so keen to learn, that I put together this primer in the power of the subconscious mind — and how to use it to create healing change. This 75-minute presentation includes a powerful guided imagery to use the power of imagination in making positive changes to parents’ own inner lives and childhood history. (It is an excerpt from / preview of the “Calm Authority for Parents” series.)


Mindful Mother CoverSpecial Bonus Freebie

The Mindful Mothering Challenge

Jennifer Saleem (Hybrid Rasta Mama)

This 57 page eBook takes mothers through 20 small steps designed to help them become more mindful mothers. Follow along with Jennifer’s journey as you begin your own. The Mindful Mothering Challenge will awaken your mothering, push you beyond your comfort zone, and deepen your connection with your children.

Just Added: API Live! Attachment Parenting International Teleseminar Series: “8 Principles of Attachment Parenting”

Teleseminar – (Attachment Parenting International), 2 hour teleseminar; value $38 USD

261656_4987606051246_1652354271_nAttachment Parenting isn’t new. In many ways, it is a return to the instinctual behaviors of our ancestors. In the last sixty years, the behaviors of attachment have been studied extensively by psychology and child development researchers, and more recently, by researchers studying the brain. This body of knowledge offers strong support for areas that are key to the optimal development of children, summarized in API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. Enjoy the exchange among the world’s leading experts in AP discussing API’s 8 Principles of Parenting, listen to their responses to questions of our time, and hear their answers to questions from the audience.

Panel experts include:

  • Dr. William Sears
  • Martha Sears
  • Dr. James McKenna
  • Ina May Gaskin
  • Dr. Isabelle Fox
  • Mary Ann Cahill
  • Barbara Nicholson
  • Lysa Parker

“AP is learning to read the cues of your child and responding appropriately. Open your heart and mind to the individual needs of your child. Let your knowledge of your child be your guide.”

~Dr. Bill Sears

— I will receive an affiliate fee if you purchase through my buy now buttons. You will not pay any more, but will be helping me maintain the website. Thank you for your support!

Getting Into Gardening

For the last two years, I have had the worst luck with  my garden. What pregnancy didn’t take out of me, sickness and a newborn did, and then, to top it off it rained so much last year that even my mint died. Do you have any idea how hard it is to kill mint? Well, it drowned. And got moldy.

Of course, this year, what with being in Australia and all, I came a bit late to the planting season, so I had to get a bit of help from the garden centre, but overall, it’s gone okay. This is the ‘before’ photo of the garden. To be honest it’s not all done yet, so there’s no after photo just yet, and the before photo was taken after mowing the lawn and hacking away the foliage, but oh well.



As well as planting an envelope of tomatoes from seed – thank you very much Heinz for sending us a gorgeous wheelbarrow and gardening equipment for Ameli, as well as a bag of seeds – we also planted some sun flowers as I figure they’ll grow quickly and maintain the girls’ interest.  Interestingly, both of them really enjoyed digging about in the ground.


And including their little friends in the process.

As I said, since we’re quite late in the season already, we got some help from the local garden centre and bought a few ready to plant out courgettes, marrows, shallots, kale and a few different herbs.


Well… I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s been fun, but I really do hope we get to eat from our garden this year!

P.S. If we happen to get tomatoes off this plant, Heinz have promised us a hamper of goodies, so here’s hoping we get a double bonus for our efforts! I think Heinz are still giving out grow your own tomato kits, so head over to their Facebook page for some to grow yourself.




How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer

I’ve often said that I’m not very ‘crafty’ and don’t really enjoy too much ‘messy’ play, but any parent to a toddler knows that that just comes with the territory – either that, or your child’s not having much fun. It’s been a learning experience for me, and I must admit, it’s growing on me. Now that Aviya is getting a little older and is able to do real crafts, it’s almost fun.

I started a series recently called Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home. It came about when an old friend of mine, who now lives in Canada with her two boys, aged 5 and 2 decided that to survive the 12 weeks of summer holiday she would need a plan. Others quickly jumped on board and soon Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home was born.


Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



There’s a theme for each week, which has been awesome, and an activity for each day, and the best part of it has been the flexibility. We’re really enjoying it.

Here are some of our activities from week 1: Ice Cream.

Our home made ice cream truck, painting with water beads in the bath, decorating ‘ice cream’ cupcakes, (Bottom left:) making ice cream balloon shakers, cut and paste water bead ice cream cones and glitter pen ice cream, coloured popsicles. 

And here are a few activities from week 2: Wild Animals  (We actually did very few of the week two activities, and added a few of our own out of our craft box!)

Home made playdough, painting toilet rolls with glitter glue, decorated and drying, (bottom left:) painted frog, looking at the frog through the now dried binoculars, give a child two cups – one with animal shapes, one with bells – and sit back and watch what they get up to. Amazing. 

We’re now in week 3: Ocean theme and so far we’ve had two fishy-dinners this week. I work the first half of the week, so crafty fun has to happen towards the end of the week, but we’re looking forward to it. You can see what we’ll be doing though and feel free to join in! If you want more information on ASCAH, read the first post about it. You can join in at any point, too!



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!
  • Making Glasses from Children’s Art — Mandy at Living Peacefuly with Children used her children’s artwork to make some very special glasses for her husband for Father’s Day.
  • Preparing Family Meals Together — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares how she started the tradition of creating meals together with her children, which makes family gatherings more fun.
  • It’s a trap! — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares the innovative snares her son and husband have set for her.
  • How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shows us the first few weeks of the Summer Camp At Home project for keeping boredom at bay.
  • Creating with… well, what do we have? — If necessity is the mother of invention, Momma Jorje thinks perhaps boredom is (or at least can be) the mother of creativity. In a pinch, she got creative with a household item to entertain herself and her toddler.
  • Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and other Fun — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle started creating Felt Counting Fish and then fell down the rabbit hole of fun with a number of other games.
  • I Am Going! (A Code Name: Mama Homemade Theater Production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie book) — This might be the finest example of child and baby acting ever recorded. Enjoy this Mo Willems treasure via video from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.
  • DIY Summer Sleep Sack for Baby Tutorial — Shannon at GrowingSlower made an organic summer sleep sack for baby, and you can too with her easy tutorial.
  • Chalk It Up! — Amy at Anktangle recounts how an impulse buy has turned into a fun collaborative activity that she hopes will continue to foster creativity in the whole family.
  • The Family Garden — Excited that her son has been a big help in the garden this year, Ana at Pandamoly shares how her garden grows and offers up some secrets on how a toddler can be a great assistant in the garden.
  • Getting my craft on — Jona at Life, Intertwined takes a trip down memory lane — and finds it in stitches.
  • Easy DIY Sandpit for Toddler Play — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her easy DIY toddler sandpit tutorial.
  • Building Without Nails — Laura at Laura’s Blog builds a swinging bar using just sticks and twine.
  • Family Talent Show — Erika at Cinco de Mommy holds an after-dinner family talent show.
  • Ar matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play. Positive Parenting Connection is sharing lots of really fun Pirate-themed learning activities for the whole family.


Activity Pack Ideas For Older Siblings At A Birth

Preparing for childbirth is a huge hit and miss activity. There’s only so much planning, reading, preparation and thought you can put into it, and then you have to step back and let nature do her thing. Now throw a toddler in the mix and you have a whole new ball game.

I’ve been planning and preparing a home birth in the hope of having my two year old daughter present. We’ve read books to prepare. We’ve spoken about it. We’ve watched birth videos. I tried to do yoga with her in the room. She rode me like a donkey.  Really. There’s just no accounting for a two year old’s frame of mind. So really, when it comes to planning to have a toddler at the birth of a sibling, it’s taken every ounce of my pre-child project and event management professional experience to come up with a plan. And in true project management style, here’s a graph to show you what I’ve realised:

Jokes aside though, that 1% that I have ‘under control’ includes having someone here to keep Ameli entertained when I go into labour and need my husband by my side.  As I write this I’m having random contractions, and my ‘person’  – my sister – is still six days from arriving to look after Ameli!

I have, however, done what I can to prepare. I’ve prepared a Birth Activity Bag with some things that I know with supervision and attention will keep Ameli busy for some time. Since I have no idea how long labour will be, and I have no idea whether she’ll be awake or not, I have no idea if there’s enough here, or too much, but whatever’s left over will be great to share together and keep her entertained while I’m learning to breastfeed a new baby. (By the time you read this, I may have answers to all these questions!)

In our Birth Activity Bag, we have:

  • A colouring book of trains with wax crayons
  • A colouring and sticker book – Ameli loves stickers and they can keep her busy for hours. There are only about twenty stickers for this book, and I’m still tempted to buy her another, bulkier pack of stickers.
  • An unusual ‘pop out’ book. She can pop out all the pieces and build a 3D carousel. This one will need a bit of guidance, but once it’s built I imagine she’ll have great fun playing with it for a while.
  • A six-in-one box of puzzles I’ve taken out and individually wrapped so that she can be given them separately over time.
  • A construction kit which will require supervision, but should be fun too.
  • Dyed Pasta for threading
  • A sticker pack, which I’m sure will end up all over the pool, lounge and house!
  • A prepared jar of cake mix, so you can bake a birthday cake together for baby in early labour.

These are all things we’ve bought new for the occasion, but in reality, they don’t have to be.

  • I’ve also put a few LEGO pieces in a baggie as LEGO always provides a few minutes of fun
  • I will also add the homebirth books we’ve been reading so she can look at them during the birth, for comparison, so to speak!

Some other suggestions I’ve been offered or thought of, but haven’t yet put together are:

  • a digital camera (for a slightly older child – I’d worry Ameli might dip it in the birth pool!)
  • a photo book of the older child with plenty of pictures of them with mama and daddy – something to look through together.
  • a paddling pool next to the birthpool for her to pop in and out of.
  • a favourite DVD, a bag of ready made popcorn and refreshing drink.
These are my currently totally theoretical ideas for keeping a toddler entertained during a homebirth.
If you’d like more ideas for Activity Bags, whether for birth, travel or just rainy days, it turns out there’s a world of activity packs to explore.  Check out my Pinterest board for  Toddler Activity Bags. You’ll (all) be busy for hours!
If you can think of anything else that would work well, please share your suggestions below!

Learning Colours – Make A ‘Book Of Colours’

Continuing on our current theme of colours, and learning colours, we decided to make a ‘book of colours. This took a little bit of ‘setting up’ on my part, but it wasn’t too hard.

  • First I had to make a ‘book’. You could use a ready made one.
  • Then I had to prepare each page, which I simply did by writing the names of the colours in the right colours on each page. (Children learn lower case letters first, if I recall, so I wrote it all in lower case).
  • I cut loads of pictures of different colours from magazines. Ours are a bit dull as we’re not magazine subscribers, apart from one natural parenting oriented magazine, Juno, which doesn’t really have masses of pictures and I don’t want to cut up, so we just used catalogues that come through the door and pile up in the recycling.) You could print pictures, but this seems a waste of resources to me.
  • Our first colour was red so I found all the red crayons, pencils, markers, and pens (and a paint, which hubby vetoed at the last minute!) and laid them all out, ready for use.
  • Daddy sat with Ameli and for about an hour, they drew and coloured and pasted together, using and repeating the name of the colour red a myriad of times. They dug through all the cut out pictures looking for red pictures, and glued them, and coloured around them. (Daddy doing most of the drawing, of course!)
  • And over a number of days, we’ve introduced a new colour each day, and repeated the process. (Not consecutive days though – we’ve been alternating the Book of Colours with other colour based games too as we don’t want it to seem like a chore!)

Aside from being a good indoor activity, a great way to stay entertained, and a fun thing to do together, it’s made a vast difference to Ameli’s recognition of colours.

For other colour book ideas, check out these then amalgamate the ideas to suit your own needs!

Play And Positive Interaction

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice‘ and in the first chapter Sarah Chana Radcliffe talks about the 80/20 ratio of how we talk to our children.  She says:

“Eight out of ten parenting moments should be pleasant ones from the child’s point of view. Ideally, 100% of parental interactions are meant for the well-being of the child; however, not all interventions feel good to the child….Typical good-feeling interactions include smiling, hugging, touching, giving compliments, praising, using affectionate names, verbalizing love and affection, listening, playing, joking, giving treats, showing interest, sharing ideas and helping. … Typical bad-feeling interactions include yelling, criticizing, correcting, looking angry or displeased, complaining, ignoring, reprimanding, threatening, punishing, nagging, lecturing, interrogating, insulting, supervising, commanding, directing, and instructing.”

Read more: Play And Positive Interaction

How Do I Learn To Play?

I made an alarming and dreadful discovery recently: I don’t know how to play.

I’ve been trying to think about the games I used to play as a child, and I simply don’t remember any. What I do remember is running drills with my younger sister and brother, timing them to see how quickly they could be safely nestled in the bomb shelter with their creature comforts. Or when we no longer lived on the border and the war was over, I’d do timed drills with them to see how quickly they could get into their pre-approved hiding places at the top of the cupboard, just in case someone came into the house with the intent to do harm – we didn’t even have TV then, so who knows where my imagination came from!
Read more: How Do I Learn To Play?