Essential Guide to Returning to Work

Returning back to work after perhaps after maternity leave? Here are some tips…image

  • Only clean clothes are acceptable, Weetabix smeared attire is a no go.
  • You have a name, people will use it and expect you to respond, you are no longer known as “Archie’s mummy” or whatever.
  • Wear a necklace, nobody will rip it from your neck I promise.
  • Wear make up, even lipstick you won’t be meet with raucous laughter (well perhaps from the office cow).
  • When you arrive don’t automatically go to get your buggy out of the boot.
  • Beware of hot beverages, you probably have not had one for months and it won’t have half a dissolved rich tea at the bottom.
  • You don’t need to take baby wipes, breadsticks, hand sanitizer, raisins, and bibs, your work colleagues are self-sufficient.
  • Shut and lock the door when you go to the toilet, this is common practice amongst adults.
  • When your colleagues discuss films at the cinema, they don’t mean Disney ones.
  • Your lunch is all your own, just yours, yes really!
  • Computers and iPads are used for work not for watching CBeebies/Peppa Pig.
  • It is not acceptable to sniff others bums to discover who has done one.
  • Don’t bore your colleagues with the constant updates of your little pride and joy, they see it all on Facebook/Twitter they don’t want to hear it all day as well.
  • You don’t have to bribe anyone when it’s time to leave, well unless your boss is a douche!

Good Luck

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Things that drive me crazy as a mum!

A list in no particular order of things that drive me crazy as a mother of little ones.

  • People without kids in the car, parking in the parent and child spaces. This actually drives me mad!
  • Filthy highchairs in restaurants. Little people deserve clean places to eat.
  • People who let dogs poop in parks and don’t pick up. Just gross.
  • Unidentified object in bagging area. It’s my kid, Arrggghhhhh.
  • Putting a pound in the swimming pool locker. Freezing cold, screaming baby/toddler, wet clothes, always drop the pound and it rolls away.
  • Chocolate at the supermarket tills. Reasoning with my child at a packed checkout is not fun.
  • Half hour of ad’s before a film at the cinema. By the time the film starts my kids are fed up already.
  • Random people touching my baby bump when I was pregnant. How about I grab your bum? See if you like it?
  • Rude receptionists. I have not made an appointment to be judged by you love! 
  • White clothes. Starts off white usually ends up orange, sigh. 

 

3 little kids went on holiday, over the hills and far away!

We have just come back from a pre-easter  weekend at a Haven caravan park.

My husband missed out on all the fun as he had to work this weekend, so we took the long suffering grandparents along for the ride.

We took two cars and they were both filled to  the roof racks with children, food to keep us going, extra duvet, pillows, buggy, bumbo, playpen, an extra heater, everything except the kitchen sink really. I picked up my son early from school (against the rules I know) to make a head start on the traffic. The journey was bearable, although  a lot of screaming, ‘she hit me’, my two year old wailing when her brother makes eye contact with her, we had a petrol stop, ‘i need a poo’ stop and a ‘ive dropped my teddy’, I can not bear to be without it stop.

We arrive at the Haven caravan park around four pm and check in. The caravan is pleasant, clean, very beige and quite spacious considering we thought that we are  going to be playing sardines for the next few nights. However I was caught short for supplies considering I brought half my house. Haven do not supply you with anything by the means of loo roll, washing up liquid, dishcloths, tea towels or even salt and pepper! So £25 later after buying the basics in the local shop then we were ready to explore with the kids.

The site had a lovely park which all the kids throughly enjoyed and we were lucky enough to be able to go onto the adjoining beach to kick a football about and collect some stones off of the beach. The swimming pool looked nice, but we avoided it though, as it looked like a scene from titanic, stuffed with people thrashing in the water (sorry!)

The evening was spent pumping money into the 2p machines and grab machines with obvious little success! However the children enjoyed a great soft play area and children’s disco whilst mummy and nanny nursed a much needed glass of rose or two.

Be warned though caravans in March are freezing, I had been warned by a friend before hence the extra heater but seriously take extra fleecy pj’s/onsies/sleeping bags for the whole family! I even contemplated putting the baby into her snowsuit before putting her in her growbag!

We headed back today with the kids very tired happily snoozing in their car seats. They had a great time and really let off some steam. I enjoyed it too, although my husband seemed to think I had run a marathon when I came bundling through the door with kids under each arm, ‘you look like you need a holiday’. He is not wrong a week in the sun with a cocktail in my hand sounds more like it to me!

Before I had Children

Before I had children;

1. I would not have been seen dead in Clarks, now I fork out £100 each time I go in for my kids feet.

2. My weekly shop for both me and my husband was usually about £40 including a decent bottle of wine, now its well in excess of £100 and usually all gone by Wednesday.

3. I could put something on the sideboard/dresser/kitchen counter in my house, and a couple days later I would still find it there.

4. I would happily spend a whole saturday afternoon at the salon and pay well over a £100 for a colour,cut and blow dry, now its a £7 box dye and I trim my fringe in the mirror.

5. Baths usually lasted an hour, with a glass of wine, latest tunes on my ipod with some Molton Brown bubbles. Now lukewarm water sitting at the tap end, washing my hair with johnsons baby shampoo, with some bath toy poking me in the back, and a child at the other end.

6. I did not need to check my toilets ‘just in case’ before a guest used them. 

7. I went to bed a night and slept straight through until the morning.

8. The films I watched were not animated Disney films over and over again.

9. My handbag was small.

10. I used to take loads of pictures of myself and my friends and post them on facebook, now its full of my kids! 

Choosing Childcare

I am a childcare professional, and was in the first cohort of students to gain the Early Years Teacher Status. I previously have worked as a nanny, but spent the majority of my career in the private sector managing pre-schools, after-school clubs, and managing a large day nursery. In between studying for my degree in Early Years and working, I also met my husband and had three children. So when it came to choosing childcare for my children, as an industry insider I knew what to look for. The majority of my friends who  have had children, also came to me asking my advice on choosing the right nursery for them, in this very competitive market. Therefore I thought I would share my tips with you all to help you find the perfect nursery/pre-school for your child.

Do your research

Firstly ask around, friends, family or even Facebook for any recommendations. You will hear mixed reviews, but that is to be expected, as every family has different experiences of the same setting.If you have a nursery already in mind, please still visit others within the local area or near where you will be returning to work. As a manager I always recommended parents to view other local nurseries, to get an over view of all the different types of layouts, indoor and outdoor environments. This will give you some insight into comparing the nurseries that you have seen.

Check out the latest Ofsted report and Parent View ratings. Please remember though that the judgement made on the setting was a reflection of the nursery on those days that the inspector visited. The date of the inspection is important, if more than six months has passed I bet there will be a lot of changes that would have taken place. Outstanding nurseries can rest on their laurels, and a setting that requires improvement may be progressive and making positive changes.  Also when reading your inspections check the providers at the same post code tool. This will give you a clue if the setting has changed name or shut down and re-opened for any reason. If this has happened ask why!

Book a viewing

Call the nursery for a ‘show round’. A setting that has an open door policy for viewings shows transparency, which is good. However if you have to book an appointment to view make sure it is at a time convenient for you. I have known settings to orchestrate viewing times when it suits them, and they prepare the setting for your arrival and the hard sell. It is a good sign when you arrive if the staff are dubious to let you in. If they leave you on the door step to confirm your appointment, or to ask for some form of identification from you shows they take safeguarding and security seriously. You should be issued with a visitor badge/label and be asked politely to sign in and not use your phone at any point. Again all standard safeguarding measures.

Looking around

If it is too clean and tidy be suspicious! You know how messy looking after young children can be so expect toys out, paint splodges and staff covered in cornflour. These are all positive signs that the children are joining in with fun and stimulating activities. Look to see that all the children are engaged, as in doing something. If they are all wandering about aimlessly could be a sign of boredom. Are the majority of children happy? There may be some unsettled children again to br expected but again th majority should be happy. Some staff maybe observing children in the room and making notes  but they should stop if a child needs some assistance. If you are able to talk to children, ask them a few some questions ‘what do you like doing best here?’ The children should also be accessing the outdoor areas everyday come rain or shine. The outdoor space should be a reflection of the indoor space. A good setting will have overhead shelter, books, writing equipment outdoors as well as the usual climbing equipment and bikes.

If the nursery is providing meals for your children check out the Food Standards Agency star rating. They should have a sticker outside just like you see in restaurants. If it’s not displayed ask to see what it is or even have a tour of the kitchen.  Check out the menus and ask who are the suppliers to the nursery. I have heard of settings choosing cheap value products including meat to keep overheads down.

The Staff

You are most likely to be shown around by a member of the management team, and they will have their show round speech down to a fine art. However stop to speak to staff in the room, are they positive, happy and can they answer your questions? Ask them about first aiders, planning activities and ratios. At the end of the day it will be them that will be the ones caring for your child the majority of the time. A sign of a good staff team will be a mixed aged group, more mature staff will perhaps offer experience and knowledge. Younger staff maybe more energetic, and be full of new ideas and intitatives from recently completing their qualifications. Do ask the management team about the staff as they are the key to any nurseries success. Believe me when I say happy staff make children happy! Staff turnover is a key indicator of the morale and atmosphere of the nursery. If the room based staff are inconsistent and the turn over is high this could indicate poor management and care will suffer.

Making your choice

Once you have made your mind up, book another show around again, and take your partner or a friend. They might spot something you missed the first time. Again look for consistency of the staff in the rooms again. Ask the manager if they have a parent forum or committee that you can talk to. Existing parents often join a forum to share ideas to improve the day-to-day experiences. They can often act as a go-between for management and parents. Parents of children who already attend will be a valuable source of information.

It can be a daunting process choosing childcare but hopefully this guide will help inform you on making the right choice for you and your child.

Technology Toddlers 

Technology, love it or hate it, is embedded in our daily lives. I must admit I am a bit naive when it comes to the latest technology, and it takes me a while to get to grips with it.

As I have ventured into blogging, I am trying to navigate a new world of using different apps, links, widgets etc.. I can just about manage to upload photos and post on my social media sites, hence my blog looking a bit bland at the moment (sorry!).

However it seems my almost five-year old is an absolute natural in navigating his way around the iPad. We share an iPad as a family, my husband has set all the relevant parental controls and we limit our sons time on it. At first he loved just the simple apps appropriate for pre-school aged children, but now he is wanting to play games such as angry birds etc as the children in his class do. I have let him play but when he gets stuck, he gets frustrated and upset. So now I have been researching apps, i like the educational ones but he is not a fan and prefers more games.

My fear is that when he grows up his knowledge of tech will soon surpass mine, and he will be able to out smart me in accessing things that I would want to prevent him from. In the media we are constantly hearing of cyber safety for children online, and the horror stories of those who slip through the safety net. I am a nursery teacher in a school, and have recently attended a safeguarding briefing about cyber bullying, sexting and other online threats to children.I was aghast at what dangers and humiliation that  children could potentially face in their lives.

As a child of the eighties, my memories of using computers at school involved me and at least two other friends huddled over the monitor, grappling over the mouse to draw a picture on paint, or bashing each others hands off the keyboard to contribute our little piece to a short story. The printer always sounded like a small jet taking off when it started to print out.

Now things are so much different, we are slowly introducing iPad’s into the EYFS in the setting I work in. But already those innocent two and three-year olds know how to swipe that screen! A friend of mine told me that her 13 month old got hold if her mobile swished her chubby finger across the screen, managed to access her music and was sitting on the carpet wiggling along to it. She said she had to lift her chin off of the floor.

Over time technology is going to become even more integral to our lives. Even my eighty-two year old Nan told me she got her first debit card and a mobile phone last week, (I have yet to introduce her to online shopping!). As a parent though I totally believe it is my responsibility to keep up to date with the developments and would be delighted if the government/schools/police or any other children’s organisations provided parental training on keeping our kids safe online, and I would pay to attend. Because in this instance ignorance is not bliss.

Eenie Weanie

It seems at the start of the weaning process I have had my vegetable peeler glued to my hand. Yes we are beginning weaning. So I set off to the farm shop and came home with a beautiful array of organic, locally grown veg for my 7 month olds first few meals.

I have washed, peeled, boiled, mashed and blended, then had the tricky task of spooning the puree into my ice cube trays (That task certainly exhausted my own fine motor skills). I balanced them all in the freezer in anticipation of seeing it all being enjoyed by my daughter. As it turns out she is not interested in green mush in any shape or form. She passed on the puree!

 I have known about baby led weaning from my nursery nurse training, many years ago. However when it came to weaning my four year old son, who wanted to be fed at an eager five months old I would not of dream of giving him anything thicker than sloppy veg that just slid of the spoon. I was also aware of the advice from my own mum and mother in law. Both were petrified of giving him soilds in my absence, or gave me disaproving looks when he had finger foods, in fear of him choking. My son seemed to quite enjoy the puree I tendly fed to him. The same applied to my second bundle of joy, she again seemed to love the aeroplane and train impressions I gave at dinner time. But third time lucky… No way! 

My baby is miss independent, she wails at the sight of us at the dinner table without her, stuffing our faces without her. So I sit on her on my knee trying very skillfully not to drop my spagetti bolognaise on her head. One night she could not resist it any longer and grabbed a fist of spagetti and sauce then shoved it in! I was horrified worrying that she would gag on it, but nope she was in her element. My husband told me to let her do it and relax. So we have been following her lead now when it comes to feeding, and to be honest it is quite liberating.

Fast forward a few weeks and we have had tried a selection of cereals, toast, hard boiled eggs, soft fruits, cooked veg, yoghurts, grated cheese. At dinner time she is now in a high chair at the table with us, with a meal for her not too different from our own. I give her a spoon to play with and already she is bringing it into her mouth after banging it into a bowl. 

It seems baby led weaning is not so scary as it seems. After researching baby led weaning and good eating habits I learnt that chewing lumps before the age of ten months is good practice to get those muscle moving ready for talking, and can prevent them from becoming fussy eaters later on.

So if you are embarking on weaning soon good luck in whatever way you choose is right for you and your baby.