Tag Archives: routine

Slowing it down

Manic. That’s how I’d describe the life of our family.

We’re busy. No more than any other family I guess, but we seem to lurch from one activity to Problemthe next without much time for a breather between – the rushing between school pick-up to home, getting homework done, making and then eating dinner, bath and then bed gets me down especially. There’s just no time for fun stuff and proper one to one quality time. Some say ‘5 minutes late to bed won’t hurt’ or ‘MAKE time’ but it’s not that simple when my little one needs a strict routine to feel safe and secure. And just 5 minutes late to bed has a massive impact with refusals to sleep, excuses to come downstairs etc and any slight deviation to the above routine (e.g. doctors appointments, heavy traffic on the way home) causes uber anxiousness or meltdowns.

On top of that is my little one’s manic behaviour. It’s like living with the Tasmanian devil, which probably doesn’t help with the feelings of rushing around. There is mayhem, mess and chaos all around and it’s exhausting.

Has anyone got any tips that won’t leave me with evenings full of preparation (when all I really want to do is rest and restore my energy for the next day), to help slow things down around us – and also to slow down my 9 year old? Both in terms of physical busy-ness and the thoughts whizzing around that devilish brain.

Can you identify? Any advice for this busy mum? Please comment below with your tips, support and advice…

Creating down time during December

Today Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour shares a tip for finding some calm time with younger children through December…

I want to start by saying yes, I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, but this one requires a bit of organisation and time hence the little bit of notice. And I was in a shop yesterday that was playing Christmas music – if they can do it, then so can I!

Christmas can be a difficult time for our children – lack of routine (or certainly a change), excitement, difficulty regulating feelings, missing birth family, preparing for school plays, the pressure of being good so Santa visits, along with a whole host of other reasons.

I want to share something that we do in our house during December that acknowledges Christmas every day, whilst allowing us to take 15 minutes out of the hectic schedule to sit and connect with our children.
Lot of us read everyday with our children anyway both for school and bedtime stories; this activity can be done in place of a bedtime story if you like, however and whenever you choose. And if nothing else, it creates a traditions – and I found that making some of our own traditions, together, has been important.

Each year I wrap up 24 Christmas themed books – I try to buy around four to six new books each year so there is a surprise for the children, and this allows me to remove those that they’ve grown out of. I’ve also found charity shops are wonderful for finding new festive books.

I buy two packs of identical stickers, and put a sticker on each wrapped book, and then the corresponding sticker on a slip of paper in their refillable advent calendar.
The books sit in a box in the living room and the children take turns to find and open the book each day, then we sit and I read to the children.

When we pack the decorations away after Christmas, the books get packed too until the next year.

We’ve done this for 3 years in a row now and it’s a lovely way to spend time with the children but more importantly that 15 minutes of sitting together, calmly, quietly, cuddling and breathing slowly helps my children chill out.

I can’t tell you what books we have, because they’re still packed away, but here’s a list of some of our favourite Wintery books that you might like to use to create your own readable advent calendar…some suitable for the very young…some suitable for primary age children…

  • Stick Man by Julia Donaldson
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
  • Father Christmas Goes On Holiday by Raymond Briggs
  • The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter
  • A Very Crabby Christmas (Cat in the Hat/Dr Seuss)
  • Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps by Nicholas Allen
  • Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allen
  • Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman
  • The Smelly Sprout by Allan Plenderleith 
  • The Silly Satsuma by Allan Plenderleith
  • The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett
  • How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow
  • Mr Men and the Night Before Christmas by Roger Hargreaves
  • The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis
  • The Christmas Bear by Ian Whybrow
  • Santa is Coming To <Our Town> by Steve Smallman…perhaps you could find your town?
  • Zoe and Beans; Zoe’s Christmas List by Mick and Chloe Inkpen
  • The Christmas Show by Rebecca Patterson
  • The Very Snowy Christmas by Diana Hendry
  • How Many Sleeps Until Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • Dear Father Christmas by Alan Durant
  • The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet Ahlberg
  • Dear Santa by Rod Campbell 

It doesn’t have to be an costly thing either. I popped into The Works today, and there were plenty of inexpensive Christmas books – quite a few in their 4 for £5 selection too. It just takes a little time to find a nice selection.

Do you have any favourite Christmas books or stories? What other things do you do to calm the Christmas chaos?

Tips for Settling a New Placed Toddler into Family Life – Part 1

This post been written by @LauraLikes2Read  and she is also one of two mums at the blog Two Mums? Two Kids?

2mums I was recently talking to someone on twitter about tips for settling a child into your family. It has been 6 months since introductions ended, and my daughter moved in, so I wanted to reflect on what I felt had worked for us. I am writing from the perspective of a working parent, whose partner is the full-time carer. Our Daughter was roughly 20 months old when she moved in. I recognise that not all of these tips will work for everyone, especially where there are specific needs from particular abuse or neglect, but I hope that some of the advice might be useful.

We kept routines as strict as possible, taking a lead from her foster carers, but amending it slightly to suit our day. The main things we changed were adding a bath every night and adding an extra snack in the morning (she is more active with us than she was at the foster carers). We Kept mealtimes and snack times consistent, we kept the bedtime routine the same every night (bath, stories and milk, saying goodnight to her toys, musical wind-up bear).

At night we always say to her “Mummy and Mama love you very much, sleep tight and we’ll see you in the morning when you wake up”.

We would plan visits and activities to ensure that she would always be able to eat and sleep at the same times. As she has settled in we have been able to flex things a little around the edges.


After the first two weeks, I had to return to work. I am lucky that my job enables me to be home every night to eat dinner at 5 (apart from the odd day where it hasn’t gone to plan). Mummy and Squiblet enrolled in a couple of classes and started regularly attending playgroups.

Squiblet likes the routine of specific activities on certain days of the week, and there are days free for other fun with friends or relaxing(?!) at home with Mummy!

Closeness and Separation

Initially, our daughter dealt with her recent separation by clinging on to her (new) Mummy for dear life. With the help of a hip seat  Mummy soldiered on with day-to-day life. It meant that Squiblet could be carried around, and a few chores could still be done. She became noticably calmer when on the hipseat. Cooking from scratch went out of the window – but we had a well-stocked freezer!

 We really made an effort to be with her as much as possible in the early days. If we left the room we would make sure that we always said “goodbye, I’m just going to the bathroom, be back soon” often we would need to actually count “I’ll be back in 10 seconds: 10…9…8…”bricks

If people visited we always made sure she said goodbye to them before they left – which meant on a few occasions holding people hostage until she had woken up from her nap! We would also ensure that when she said goodbye to people she was aware that she would be staying with us – and not leaving with them.

 She didn’t really play with any toys, she wanted to be carried, or walk with us holding her hands. We worried that she wasn’t “playing on her own enough”, I’ve heard other parents express similar worries with their newly placed children.

We consistently and repeatedly met her need for closeness, and after a few months (about 3) she started to engage in more self-directed play.

It makes sense that if her world had just been torn apart she would need to feel safe again before being relaxed enough to play.  It might feel tough to have to give that much of yourself in the early days, but we have found that it has paid off.

We coped by sharing duties and always ensuring that one of us could have a shower without being interrupted (difficult though, when she was shouting “LOOK MUMMYYYY!!!!” and knocking on the door). I think those small episodes of leaving and returning were necessary to reassure her that we would always come back.

bedtimeWe felt it important that Squiblet could transfer her attachment to Mummy as a priority, as Mummy would be the primary carer. At first, Mummy did the majority of dressing, nappy changing and putting to bed. Squiblet would often push me away and didn’t want me to put her to bed, or be left with me to have a bath.

She was dealing with making her attachment to Mummy, so I patiently waited and didn’t take it personally. It wasn’t always easy, but I had faith that I would grow on her eventually!

After about 3 months I noticed that the cuddles she gave me were genuine affection, not the “clinging on for dear life” that had come before it. We ask her who she wants to put her in her cot at naptimes and bedtimes – it’s almost always me now! She reverts to Mummy when she’s poorly.

She also went through a stage of not wanting to say goodbye to me in the mornings and would pull away or hide her face.Again, I tried not to take it personally (in fact as a good sign, that she cared that I was going) I would kiss her and tell her I loved her and would see her again at dinner time. These days when I turn the key to come through the front door after work I am met with happy squeals of “It’s Mama!! It’s Mama!!”, so it was worth waiting for.

Part two of this post will be published next Monday 29th of July.