Back to School Dos & Don'ts

It's that time of year again, Back to School! (Although a lot of stores seem to have started their Back to School campaigns before the schools even broke up for the summer!!)  So I thought I'd put together some of my hints & tips to help prepare for the first day back at school.

  • Don't leave uniform purchasing until the last minute.  It's surprising how many people do, then have to trawl around multiple shops trying to get the uniform bits that they need.  
  • Be realistic about what you need to buy.  Do you want to constantly be washing uniform?  If not then it's wise to buy multiples of things to save trying to get jumpers dry in the middle of winter, ready for the next day.  Does your child really need 4 jumpers right now?  While it's still relatively warm it might be worth putting off buying lots of jumpers- in my experience they soon get whipped off at school and shoved into bags/drawers/a box because they get too warm.
  • Label your child's uniform. Especially if they go to a school where uniform with logos on is part of the uniform.  I have spent far too much time sorting through 15 identical jumpers trying to work out which belongs to which child.  You can go as basic as writing your child's name with biro on the washing label, up to buying personalised iron/sew in labels.  The same goes for polo shirts, PE kit, bags, shoes even!  There will often be multiple children with identical clothing to your child, and it's a lot more likely to come home if it's labelled!  (I once went through a stage where everytime a child took a jumper off I had to write their name in it.  It just wastes valuable time.)
  • Make sure you know what time your child starts and finishes school on the first day. Especially important if your child is just starting school and has staggered days where they may not be attending for a full day.  There's nothing worse than being late on your child's first day, or being late collecting them on their first day.
What are your best Back to School hints and tips?

Potty training Dos & Don'ts from a Nursery perspective

Do send your child in clothes they can pull up & down themselves. There's nothing worse than a potty training child coming into nursery in dungarees. Yes they look cute, but when it comes to potty training they are the devil's plaything!  90% of children I've seen who've come to Nursery in dungarees cannot undo them by themselves.

Don't put your child in a pull-up for months & expect potty training to just happen.  I'm not a fan of pull-ups, they're basically nappies shaped like pants. A child needs to feel the wetness from having done a wee and pull-ups just don't achieve that.  Plus some children can be lazy and would rather do it in their pull-up than walk to the bathroom and use the toilet.

Do send your child into Nursery with lots of spare clothes- underwear, socks and bottoms are your best bet.  (I've seen far too many children with 10 tops in their bags but 1 pair of pants & 1 pair of trousers!)  You can pick up packs of underwear, socks and leggings/tracksuit bottoms cheaply in Primark/supermarkets.

Don't yell at or belittle your child if they do have an accident.  Accidents happen to all, even those who may have been toilet trained for a while.  Telling your child off makes them feel ashamed of what they've done, and they're less likely to want to admit when they've had an accident in the future.

Do be prepared for having extra washing.  Again, accidents do happen.  One parent I know off will automatically throw clothes in the bin if her child has done a number 2 in them rather than wash them!

Don't send your child to Nursery in their favourite pants/trousers/skirt/dress.  I've had to look after several completely distraught children when they've had accidents and wet their favourite clothes

Sunday Introduction- Cassie and Light Up Zander's Life

Time for another Sunday Introduction post.  This week I'm talking to the lovely Cassie about her fundraising work inspired by her amazing son Zander.

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself and Zander 
I’m Cassie, Full time SAHM & Carer for our middle child Zander. Zander has just turned four.  He was born with heart defects, has had open heart surgeries, eating issues, has a pacemaker, has been diagnosed on the Autistic spectrum. He is an amazing little boy & is very unique.

Zander after his first open heart surgery

A happy chappy Zander home from hospital

2)Tell us about Light up Zander's Life, what prompted you to start it? 
Light Up Zander’s Life was initially thought of & set up by my good friend Kim Richardson. She knows how much Zander struggles with sensory issues & how expensive sensory items are. But we are doing well promoting LUZL & we have decided once funds are raised for Zander to continue fund raising to become a registered charity lighting up Children’s lives with disabilities.

Zander in his last week at Nursery

3)What is your initial aim for Light up Zander's Life? What sort of impact will reaching this have on Zander's life?
Initial aims is for sensory Hides, indoor & outdoor, bubble tubes, and other sensory Items. He will have a much calmer, less stressed daily life.  He will feel safe & secure and be able to be alone as he pleases. 

The first item funded by LUZL, a magic teepee

4) Once you've reached your initial aim, what will come next for you? 
Becoming a registered Charity & help others like Zander. 

5) How can people find out more about the Zander and your fundraising efforts? They can look up our page on Facebook: here Also our auction page: here They can follow me or Kim on Twitter: Cassie and Kim

6) How can people help Light Up Zander's Life? 
Contact myself or Kim, donate items to our Auctions, to a fund raising event themselves, buy a LUZL wristband £1.50 plus P&P. 

LUZL wristband
 A big thank you to Cassie for taking the time to answer my questions.  If anyone else would like to take part in Sunday Introduction and talk about their business/blog/charity work then please get in touch.

Thursday Throwback- Sibling love circa 2011

Back in 2011 I was working as a supply teacher, so I had the advantage of having the summer holidays off so I could spend as much time as I liked with my friends and their kids.  Fast forward to 2014 and I'm working in a Nursery and having to book leave to do things!

In 2011 I spent a lot of time with Vicky and her kids, and being snap happy with the camera managed to snap quite a few photos of Sophie and Ryan's exploits!  SO my Thursday Throwback this week is reliving some of the fun.

Exploits on the local park

Such a look of adoration here. :)
Quietly contemplating how to copy the big bro

Anything Ryan can do...

See-saw...the harmony didn't last long if I remember right!

Offering a helping hand
Other exploits...

We're lucky enough to have the National Space Centre here, and this was out first visit with one of Ryan's friends.  Sophie was a bit young to appreciate everything, but still had fun!

Feeding the goats in the rain at Gorse Hill City Farm.  Hopefully something we won't be repeating in a few weeks at another farm park!

Bus friends!  They used to love the novelty of riding a bus somewhere instead of going in the car.

Not entirely sure what they're doing here, I have a vague memory of Sophie ending up sat on Ryan's head!

What memories do you have of playing with your sibling/s?

Wednesday Wishlist- clothes!

Now, if this was a completely idealistic wishlist I'd be looking at all the skinny minnie clothes websites to match the skinny minnie body I'd need to wear said clothes.  But I'm not, I'm cuddly & look more like an apple than a stick insect.  Nevertheless, I'm a bit of a sucker for clothes!  Mostly nice casual stuff, as I have to wear smart trousers for work.

Evans black straight leg trousers  £25. Sadly the website is highly irritating and won't let me either save the photo or get the url of it, as it only lets me rolls over the image for a zoom!  I'm sure everyone knows what black trousers look like.  These are my go to work trousers- I did have 3 pairs but had to have 1 pair cut when I injured my knee (and a right mess the A&E nurse made as well!).  My other 2 pairs have seen better days, so 3 pairs would be ace!

Evans floral print swim dress  £25.  Another Evans item so no image, which is a shame as this is such a pretty one! Evans is one of the only stores I've seen that do swimming costumes by dress size and cup size.  I'm a 24 but quite busty and when I've looked elsewhere at costumes that are just done by dress size, I'm in danger of popping out and giving everyone nighmares!  I used to love swimming and haven't been for a few years now, so maybe a new costume would get me going again?!

Converse Star Player Re-mastered Trainers £45 from Schuh.
Hurrah, a photo!  I love Converse, although they don't always love me!  (I'm quite flat footed & they don't have a massive amount of arch support)  I already have 3 pairs in grey & turquoise, lilac & navy, but could do with a black pair.  I like the slightly different styling on these.

Purple cropped trousers £15 from Yours. 

I've pretty much lived in cropped trousers since injuring my knee, they're comfy, they help to keep you cool and I could get them on over my plaster cast!  I've got a range of colours in my cropped trousers, but no purple.  In fact 90% of my cropped trousers are from Yours- they last well and the staff in their stores are always lovely!

Floral top £15  from Yours.

I'm such a sucker for a nice top- I think tops outnumber pretty much everything else in my wardrobe!  I love the floral detail on the shoulders of this one, very pretty!

Sunday Introduction- Lisa from Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bitz

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm Lisa. I live with my partner Micky and our 6 month old baby girl Sophie. I work in a call centre on a sales team.
2)Tell us about Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bitz, what prompted you to start the business? 
Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bits is something I set up after having Sophie. I got her a dummy clip and realised I'd be able to make them myself. The glitzy bitz is jewellery, which is something I used to make and decided to get back into again. 

3) What has been your biggest success so far? 
My biggest success has been having to make 15 dummy clips in the space of a week.

                              Examples of Lisa's Dummy Clips

4) What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the business? 
My favourite part is knowing that there shouldn't be any dummies going missing! Least favourite part is waiting on new stock coming and hoping it doesn't get lost!  
Author's note: we've all been there with lost mail!!

5) What do you have planned for the next few months? 
In the next few months I will be bringing some jewellery lines in as we will be in the run up to Christmas soon. 

6)Where can people find out more about the products you're selling?
People can find my page on Facebook -  Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bitz   

A big thank you to Lisa for taking part.  I've still got plenty of space for anyone else wanting to share their business/charity/blog.

Thursday throwback- leg gate

So those of you who are regular readers may have noticed me mentioning an injury I recently suffered, so rather than just alluding to it I thought it was time I actually shared with you all what actually happened!

The short version is I dislocated my knee.  The long version is slightly more interesting and involves me getting slightly high on gas and air!

It was a usal hectic morning at work, I'd had an apprentice not turn up for work and my manager was at her daughter's assembly so I was holding the fort.  I sorted out pre-school ready to take my kids through, dashed off to get them, and as the gate opened the doorbell rang (late apprentice!) and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor.  I could feel some pain in my left knee, so I put my hand out to feel it to find it wasn't quite where it should be.  Calm as anything I called for one of my colleagues for help, then everything went into super speed!  My manager was called- luckily only a few minutes away.  The kids were ushered back into the room they'd been about to come out of, and a pillow was found for my head as I couldn't even attempt to get up without an awful amount of pain shooting through my knee.

Unsure what to do, one of my colleagues called 111, I answered the same questions several times and they decided it was probably best to send an ambulance for me.  My Mum was called (handily working at home that day) then it was a waiting game.

The lovely lovely paramedics turned up, took one look at my knee and decided it was time to get the trolley and the entonox.  They took my vitals, then stuck me on the gas and air.  It gets a bit hazy from here on out- I know the entonox made me dizzy so I closed my eyes.

They somehow got me upright, without any swearing, and somehow got me onto the trolley, again without any swearing.  I then remember getting worried my mum didn't have my bag or trainers, so asked about those about 10 times!  They whisked me off to A&E, into a bay & the next thing I knew there was a doctor there, who popped my knee back in with a small tug.  Then it was down to x-ray to have it x-rayed, then up to A&E again to have it plastered.  At this point I'd come down from the gas and air and was anticipating being told to rest for a few weeks.

Wrong!  They put dislocated knees into plaster to stop them popping out again!  I could've cried at this point!

Fresh home from hospital, plastered from ankle to mid-thigh & sporting a pair of massacred trousers!

 I spent nearly 4 weeks in plaster, which were a nightmare in terms of personal care and getting to sleep!  I ended up having a total of 10 weeks off work, but reached the point where I was going completely round the twist being stuck at home, so went back as soon as my GP would ok it!

I'm still having regular physio, my knee's still quite weak and I get tired easily walking without a crutch.  (Apparently that's my body working harder to get my knee to work 'normally') But I'm heading in the right direction, albeit slower than I'd have liked!

My slightly more colourful 2nd cast

Wednesday wishlist- Outdoor Play

One of the things our last Ofsted inspection picked up on, was the use of the outdoor space and our need to improve it.  We're hampered a little as we don't have a large space- we have a narrow concreted yard, with a small astroturfed section.  I'd love for us to invest in some more equipment, but funds are tight at the moment as we don't have a lot of space to store things.
But a girl can dream, so I've been having a browse on the Toys R Us website for some inspiration!

Little Tykes Climb and Slide Playhouse, £69.99, suitable for ages 18 months+.  Find it  here
This would be ideal for our younger children, it would give them chance to safely explore their climbing skills (as opposed to climbing on chairs and tables, yes I'm looking at you Mr A!!) and who doesn't love a good slide?!  We already have a large wooden playhouse, which the kids love.  They often turn it into an ice-cream shop when role-playing!

Stats Funny Tunnel, £9.99, ages 3+. Find it here
Something else that would be good for physical development, something to crawl through.  Plus it works well as a little hidey hole.

My First Swingball, £14.99, ages 3+.  Find it here
More physical development, and the perfect opportunity for the kids to practise their hand-eye co-ordination and their bat and ball skills.  Plus the ball's attached to the post so no having to annoy the neighbours with repeated requests to fetch the ball back!

Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Water Table, £49.99, ages 2+.  Find it here
The kids LOVE water play, and this has the bonus of having some toys in-built.  I like the ball spiral in the middle too.

Plum Premium Wooden Activity Table With Benches, £219.99, ages 3+.  Find it here
I love the idea of this table, it has covers so it can be used as a regular table, which can be removed and used for sand play. Plus the seating is built in- bonus!

This post is not affiliated with Toys R Us in any way, I just like the products I've seen. :)

Terrific Twos

Normally when people talk about two year-olds the mind tends to leap to the 'terrible twos', and forget about the positives.  Believe me, I've seen my fair share of terrible twos- we have a lot of two year-olds at work so we get to see the whole range of your typical terrible twos!  (My current favourite is A who throws a cracking tantrum if she doesn't think she's said goodbye to her Dad in the morning.  We have screaming, crying, kicking, dragging her feet along the floor, banging her fist on the floor and drooling!)

But going back to the positives, two year-olds are undergoing a massive amount of change and development- 80% of a child's brain cell development takes place by the age of 3.  80%!  They're developing on all fronts- language, cognitive, emotional and motor development is going haywire.  Their sense of curiosity is high as they try to explore the world around them and learn as much as they can as fast as they can.

Physical Development
This is a key stage for large/gross motor skills-rolling, walking, jumping, running, climbing.  They go from being wobbly just-started-to-walk-ers to developing a real finesse in their movements.
They're also developing their fine motor skills- beginning to hold a pencil correctly, dressing and undressing, doing up and undoing buttons, using cutlery and turning handles.
The biggest aspect of physical development is potty training and self-care.  If you think about it, we only spend a tiny fraction of our lives unable to deal with toileting independently!

Social and emotional development
Two year-olds begin to develop trusting relationships outside of their own family, with adults and children they see regularly.  They are also starting to see themselves as individuals (hence the word 'no' becoming a key part of their vocabulary!)
They are beginning to play with other children, as well as learning to understands the feelings and emotions of others.

Language development
By the time they turn 3 a child will often know around 300 words, or more.  They will be able to put 4/5 words together into simple sentences.  They will be able to understand a lot more in terms of instructions and questions.  They will also ask a lot of questions- this is where their sense of curiosity comes into play with wanting to know what EVERYTHING is.

Terrific Twos is also what a lot of Local Education Authorities are calling the programme for offering free nursery places for two year-olds.  (Not sure if the name's an overall government thing or not.)  I think two year old nursery places will be a topic for another post though!

Sunday Introduction- Emma and The Osborne Trust

Today's Sunday Introduction comes courtesy of the lovely Emma and The Osborne Trust.  Emma has been incredibly inspirational to a lot of people over the past year, although she will most likely argue against that!

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I'm Emma, 37 and live in North Wales. I'm married and have 2 young sons. I love my handbags, shopping and these days smiling

2)Tell us about The Osborne Trust? What prompted you to start it?
The Osborne Trust is a newly formed charity to offer children whose parents have cancer some time out. This can be a trip to cinema, play centre, nature walk, etc whilst parents are undergoing operations and treatment.
I started the trust after I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year when I was 36 and my boys were 7 and 4. Operations and treatment is not only hard on your body but hard for your family to see you going through, kids need be reminded cancer isn't everywhere and you can still have some fun.

Emma's boys, with the sons of another cancer sufferer.

3)What would you say is the trust's greatest achievement so far?
Greatest achievement so far is the future fundraiser pink tie event in Oct where we hope to raise over 1k so we can support helping local families during their cancer journey.

4) What's next for The Osborne Trust?
The main aim in the first 12 months is fundraising. We are currently running a holiday tombola to win a 3 night stay at a holiday home in Caernarfon North Wales. £2 per entry. We have bag packing and donation bucket days at local football grounds, someone running a half marathon for the trust, the pink tie event, my eldest son whose 8 and his football team walking up Snowdon next year. We need to raise 5k to be able to register as a charity to move forwards. Long term I want the trust to be UK wide helping all families going through cancer where there are children under 16 years.

At the official launch of The Osborne Trust

5) How can people find out more about the trust? 
We are on Facebook- The Osborne Trust

Twitter- Osborne Trust
via our donating page here

6) How can people help The Osborne Trust?
They can share the page amongst their friends on Facebook , Twitter, do a fundraiser, donate via this lovely website
Bald and ill from chemo, but still got a smile on her face.
A big thank you to Emma for taking part, I cannot encourage people enough to go and donate, or at least share the Trust's page with your friends and family.

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Welcome to my blog. I'm Sarah a 30-something Nursery Officer, formerly a Primary School teacher, based in Leicester.