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10 things I said my kids or I would never do……….

My kids are older now and after a conversation with @Liparazzi on Twitter last night, it got me thinking about the things I said I’d never do as a parent, but actually ended up doing……

I do have to laugh at how naive I was, right up until quite recently.  I was determined that my kids wouldn’t do some of the things I’ve let them do over time.

Parenting 101

1. I’ll never leave the house without make-up on or my hair done.

Oh how naive that was.  With three kids, none of whom want to get up on a school day any more, it doesn’t matter what time of day I get up – there never seems to be time for me to get ready.

Yes – there really are days that I do the school run with may hair not even brushed, let alone wearing make up and styled hair…..

2. My kids will never misbehave in public or in a restaurant.

Hahahahaha, who was I kidding.   As much as I’d like to have three poker straight, beautifully dictioned kids with respect for everyone, three ADHD kids sitting together is a recipe for disaster.

We’ve had screaming abdabs, full tantrums and not always in a shop either.  I did stick to my guns on the not buying them what they want as an excuse to keep the peace, but that did lead to some spectacular store incidents with other shoppers tut tutting into their sleeves.

3.  My kids won’t eat crap or fast food.

Hey, who am I to judge if crap or fast food gets the kids to behave in public.  There comes a point that I’ll do almost anything for a bit of peace and if a bar of chocolate means I get to do the big monthly shop with three quiet kids in tow, I’m not going to complain.

A bit of fast food did nobody any harm and I cringe now to see kids who NEVER get anything of a treat.  Watching the other kids in my boys years at school, I’ve learned that while they are little, kids might kow tow to it, they tend to break out and want it even more when they get older and are no longer under mum and dads beady eye.  I’m all for moderation now, but before my kids hit the near double figures in years, I was a sanctimonious witch.

4. My kids will do as they’re told, first time, or else.

Almost everyone with more than one kid will relate to this one being a complete load of codswallop.  The teen needs about a million and five tellings to get up in the morning, and there’s a full negotiation in force to decide what time they have to come in if they’ve been out playing.  Who knew that negotiation was a far better skill than just being browbeaten into submission pre kids?

 5.  My kids won’t watch TV.

In my naivety, I used to say this all the time as a young adult.  Now, I only wish I could get mine TO watch TV.  Mine have never done it and although I got my youthful wish and desire on this one, I also NEVER EVER got any free time during the time any of my kids were present.

Now, I’d say rock the TV, it makes a great babysitter so you can do housework if kids will watch it, and apparently almost everyone else’s kids do like it.

6. My kids won’t have a mobile phone till they’re about 12.

Oh my god, what a load of piffle this is.  It dawned on me quite early on that kids need freedom.  Who knew that they’d want to go out to play minus their parents, ever!!!  It got to the point that I couldn’t see the point in holding myself to this ridiculous rule after watching how parents of older children called it.    Their sometimes 5 – 12 year olds disappeared after school and were never to be seen for hours on end, while streams of mums walked, run or drove the streets hunting down their little cherubs for supper.

Come the magic age of 12, they suddenly have a mobile phone and have to check in or be at the end of the phone for every beck and call of mum and dad.  That’s just bonkers.

Nobody is saying kids must have a smartphone, but an old fashioned call maker is a good peace of mind bit of kit at any age when they’re out on their own.

7.  I will never shout at my kids.

I think I lasted two days on this one.  The two year old broke away from the buggy and headed towards a busy road.  I bawled at the top of my voice, hanging onto the buggy with one child still in it for dear life and reaching for the escaping bullet.

Enough said.  It’s impossible.

8.  My house will be immaculate and my kids will always be perfectly turned out.

From the outset, three kids under 4 and food money to be made scuppered this one almost instantly.  The nice tidy house looks permanently like a bomb has hit it, no matter how much it gets tidied and cleaned.

Middler with the special needs has a tendency to race around the house at top speed, gather bits and bobs to him like a magnet on fire, and drop them randomly around the house as he goes.

9.  I will protect my kids from the Internet.

Mwahahahahah.  Impossible.  Kids from the age of 8ish or more can get round any parental control you can think of setting if they really want to.  You might think they don’t watch those 18 movies, or play those killing games, but rest assured, that someone else’s mum will make sure that your cherub has access to more junk and violence than you can probably even imagine as an adult.

I’ve written about this a lot.  It will depend on the nature of the child as to what they decide to take on board or act out on, but they’ll all get access in some shape or form – whether we like it or not, so start the conversations at age appropriate levels early on.

10.  My kids will trust me and never lie or steal.

I was cuckoo, really I was.  Some kids might not, but I’ve learned over time that almost ALL kids lie, steal or manipulate at some point.  We might never know, or we might catch them and nip it in the bud, but it’s not the end of the world.

For most kids, it just needs a chat about why it’s wrong and then move on, but for others it can be a bigger problem.  As for lying, well we all do that, don’t we?  There surely can’t be a person alive who has told the truth about everything their whole lives.   It’s only natural for kids to try and work out what is an acceptable lie and what isn’t.

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A Week In France

We’ve just moved on from a week in France, and although we chose a small town to visit, we’ve been impressed by the supermarkets here.

We drove down from Aberdeen, taking three days to get there for the 1100 mile journey and took the P & O ferry as it was so much cheaper during the night than it was during the day.  £38 as opposed to £150 was a deal maker.  Sadly though, the food courts were a bit disappointing and they charged the full kids meal price for this for one of my boys.  I’m glad there was a £10 onboard voucher for spending as it made up for the kids meals, but if I was paying full whack, I’d have felt cheated. The kids did prefer the ferry over the tunnel and it added a little more adventure to the holiday.

PandO Ferry Kids Meal

We popped along to a Yellow Village site – Les Pins.  They must have thought we were reserved stupid Brits as they tried to put us onto a pitch at the very front, right next to the open toilets.  Yes, it’d have been handy for the football pitch and the pub if you like going out every night, but the deal breaker was that it was completely shaded, 6 feet from the bank of recycling and refuse bins.   We’d have been looking at them all the time from the van, and sitting by them if we’d decided to sit outside at all.

Original Pitch

Original Pitch View

I walked to the pitch before we drove in to pace it out and when I saw it, I said no.  The man, on the other hand had just driven the equivalent of 1100 miles and was in no mood to be placated.  He donned his best French outraged impression and said we’d move on if the pitch wasn’t changed.

In the end, we were put onto a pitch right in front of the water park which wouldn’t have been ideal for everyone but suited us down to the ground.  The pool was open from 10am to 7pm and my water babies could go in as much as they wanted.  The new pitch view was fab.

New Pitch View

I’ve noticed that some French campsites (actually a fair few) seem to have kerbs up onto their pitches.   If we’d had our old twin axle caravan with us, we’d not have got onto our pitch, even with the help of a motor mover.  Another British motorhomer had pitched three down from us and then was basically trapped in from then on as the next pitch didn’t leave enough room for him to swing round and get out.

The road round the campsite wouldn’t have taken our old caravan either, so if you’re planning French sites with a twin axle caravan or high motorhome, I’d advise calling the site to find out about kerbs, road width and tree clearance heights.

There’s a snack bar at the side of the pool that’s adequate.  The prices are about what you’d pay at home.  Smoking is allowed almost everywhere and the snack bar is no exception.  Even dogs are allowed into it.

The shower and loo facilities at that part of the pitch are disgusting.  I wouldn’t wash my dog in there, but apparently people do.  The ladies and gents are in the same door although they are some signs that seem to show segregation of sorts.

To get to the ladies, you have to walk past the row of gents urinals and plenty men seemed to be using the ladies as it was a confusing layout.  Be smart, walk two minutes up the hill for a lovely clean toilet block among the statics that hardly anyone uses.

We’d a pleasant week here, but it’s nowhere near what I’d class a 4* campsite should be.

The food in the supermarkets was different from ours.  I couldn’t stomach the tanks with live crabs and lobsters trying to escape, but the fresh food / fruit & veg aisles were fabulous, although food was the same or more expensive for most basic items than it is at home.

France Fruit and Veg 1

France Fruit and Veg 2

France Fruit and Veg 3

France Fruit and Veg 4

France Fruit and Veg 5

We all ate much more healthily, but I hope the kids will eat fruit and veg so easily when we get home.

France Good Food

Calais at night is actually very pretty and in the past we’ve avoided it, but I think we’ll spend some more time there next time we come through.  We’ve had glorious weather, sunburn and the kids have swum themselves tired daily.  We’ve not seen much of France apart from the motorways, so lots more to do on future road trips.

Calais At Night

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Featured Guest Post: 7 Steps to Keep Your Child Safe Online

Baby Computer

The internet is a wonderful way for our children to learn and play.  But as every parent knows, it can be a dangerous place too.  Even if you lock your security settings as tightly as possible, you can still download viruses and be targeted by spammers and scams.

There’s an even riskier human element to the web as well.  People target families to steal identities and money, and predators often pretend to be children and teenagers to target kids in chat rooms, games and social networks.

The best way to protect children from this is to supervise them whenever they’re online.  But with so many devices now able to access the internet, it’s impossible to monitor children all the time.  Even children as young as 3-5 years-old are now going online independently by using the family laptop or tablet.

So what can you do to teach your child how to be safe online?  What should they do to protect themselves? Here are seven steps which should help…

1. Thinking about the internet as a place

A great tip to help teach your child about the dangers of the internet is to imagine the web as a physical place.  You don’t have to go into specifics, but try to make them realise that there are bad neighbourhoods online the same as there are in ‘real’ life. What are bad neighbourhoods? You’ll often recognise them by the ads for gambling sites, drugs and even pornography. Make sure they’re aware that it’s bad to end up on these sites, and they shouldn’t wander off there on their own online if they do end up unsupervised.

2. Giving out personal details

Teach your children that they shouldn’t hand out personal information when they’re playing games or chatting to other kids online. It might feel natural for them to post instant messages explaining where they live or what their phone number is, but explain that this is dangerous. Even if the person they’re communicating with is genuine, these personal details may not stay in the right hands.

3. Accepting online communications

If your child starts using a social gaming site and begins striking up friendships, they may start sending instant messages, emails, texts and photos to each other. Children need to be very careful about this. An innocent-looking message could contain bullying messages, or messages from adults pretending to be a child. And both kids and their parents need to careful about downloading and opening attachments containing viruses that will harm your computer – downloading the latest virus protection software will help protect against this.

4. Meeting up with strangers

It might feel normal for children to arrange a meeting when they’re been playing games together or chatting online. But make it clear that your kids should meet up with people they’ve only talked to on the internet. It’s vital that your children understand that online friends are still ‘strangers’ if they haven’t met them in real life.

5. Deciding if something is reliable

Young children are incredibly trusting and honest. While this is an admirable trait that many adults wish they’d held onto better, it means that kids aren’t equipped to judge whether people or information they encounter online is reliable or not. Teach your kids how to check out whether things are real or lies by reading other websites, in books or by asking someone who knows.

6. Telling adults about online concerns

It’s important for kids to tell adults if someone is being bullied or feeling worried in the physical world, and the same principles apply on the internet.  It’s even easier for bullies to target victims online, as they can harass other children anonymously and from a distance.  And sometimes other children or profiles will talk to kids in a way that seems suspicious or makes them feel uncomfortable.  Again, it’s vital in this situation that children know to tell parents, teachers or other responsible grown-ups that they’re worried.

7. Talking about the online experience

The internet doesn’t go away just because you power down the laptop, and children’s experience of being online can stay with them long after a session has ended.  Sometimes kids might be upset about something that has happened online and not let on, so it’s a good idea to talk with your children regarding how they felt about their time online.  You don’t need a blow-by-blow account, but this is a good way to get a handle on whether anything is concerning them online – or whether they’ve been doing anything risky.

These steps are in many ways just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many in-depth guides to help you keep your children safe online, but this advice should help give you a foundation to start building safe internet behaviour.  To read more about internet safety for kids go to

This is a featured guest post.  Although this content of this post is one that I have received compensation for my time in editing and posting, the content is a very real issue that our children face on a daily basis.  We’d do well to consider the content and remind ourselves of the obligations we have to our children and keeping them as safe as we possibly can.

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The Tweeny Teen Effect with Social Media

Teens are infuriating, and tweens and teens who don’t follow house rules are even more infuriating.

angry kitten

There are times when I wonder if I was hit with a forgetting stick the day that I decided having kids would be a good idea.  In among all the good and the not so good comes the infinitely worse growing up stage where they assert their growing limbs with the determination of a dog with a bone.

Arriving home late every night doesn’t stop them deciding that parents came from outer space with ten heads, geeky glasses and the uncool stick strapped to their heads as babies.  They never remember that we were once kids ourselves, and know EXACTLY what it’s like to have peer pressure, little crushes and huge anxieties.

Watching eldests Facebook is how I keep tabs on what he is doing.  Yes, I allowed Facebook because the alternative was to say no, and have him set one up at a friend’s house that I had no knowledge of at all.

I’ve mentioned this before, and have been pilloried for allowing my child to be on Facebook at all, yet, I look at his friends list and see very few kids who don’t have an account.  Even children whose parents have told me their kids aren’t allowed Facebook are there in all their self taken seductively photographed glory.

What worries me most is watching how some scenarios play out.  I delete inappropriate things and I can talk him through some of the things that happen, and I think we’re doing quite well with it.  Kids seem to be going online earlier and earlier and I’ve seen some very young children online.

I’ve spoken to parents recently who think their kids don’t have any social media accounts, but the reality is that if we don’t allow them, the parents of other kids will make those decisions for us and allow them to use it there.

I’ve heard too many parents say they don’t understand it all, or totally blast social media without the slightest idea of what it’s all about.  By law of averages, anyone reading my blog is likely to be reasonably technically aware and responsible, but how sad that so many don’t take an interest in their kids online activities.

Do you allow your children to use social media?  If you don’t, how do you know they don’t have accounts that you don’t know about?  Do you approve of social media for kids?  These are questions that all parents who are able to need to tackle.

I think our schools should be teaching our kids about the Internet from a much earlier age than they do.  We can’t stop our kids accessing inappropriate content, but we can help them to deal with it when they come across it.  The Internet and it’s good and bad points is not going to go away.  We all have a responsibility to all our kids to help them cope with it.  We tell them not to talk to strangers on one hand, but many of us let them talk to anyone they want to online.

From an early age our kids can negotiate parental controls, history deletion and sneaking on with smartphones on friends wi-fi systems.

Isn’t it time that parents who don’t use social media, or don’t approve of the Internet got with the programme and actually learned what it’s all about so they can help their kids with it instead of burying their heads in the sand and thinking it will all go away.



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A Trip Down Memory Lane. It’s Messy.

My boys are fine for pictures of the early days of their adoption going online.  I don’t mind as they are completely unrecognisable now and they love to look through some of them.  I will always regret not having a decent camera when they were little and always being so busy that I rarely found time to take any pictures.

The kids arrived and we just got on with it.  They were foster children as a last minute favour placement while we looked for our own family children and we thought they would be moving on.  They settled in really quickly and just took over.   When social services and the courts decided they were to go up for adoption, it just didn’t seem right to ask them to move on.

It took the dog a while to adjust and I love the picture of her sizing up the noisy thing in front of her.  They used to cuddle up with the little one fast asleep in her stomach and I so wish I had managed to get some pictures of that.

Kids 1

There’s not much difference here is there?  How much effort does it take to use the spare room for a cat before the kids arrived, and then sleep anywhere you drop once the kids arrive.

Kids 2

Those were the days that the animals were young, fit and healthy.


And the last time that mum was a fit healthy gym bunny with plenty time on her hands that evaporated with the arrival of the boys.  I have no photos of me at the moment and I hate meeting people who knew me a few years ago.  I look nothing like this now, but you won’t see a pic of me online 🙂


The early days when we had a party with sweet treats, before the days we knew they were laden with bad stuff that send you bananas.  Yes, I know that colour is well out of date, those walls are almost white now and the wrecked table and chairs saw the skip long ago.

Kids Chocolate

What that sugar rush led to.

Kids Mess


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Children And The Music Machines

Who really stops and thinks when they’re passwording their Internet and thinking they’re being clever by saying their kids can’t get access to anything untoward in our homes?  I remember duly locking down my kids Facebook, our browsers and the Apple gadgets, only to be faced with an afternoon of gyrating by way of our TV music channels.

The idea amongst our Film and Music video producers seems to be focussed on selling sex to our minors as a way of enticing them to spend money and time on their music.   Watching the videos and children gyrating in time to the beat in discos and kids parties is sometimes enough to make me gag and feel like throwing up my dinner.

The artists demean themselves by promoting junk while they pretend their music is not for anyone under a certain age.  Why then, can I turn on the music channel any time of day and be confronted by scantily clad women and men pouting and birling to the tune of suggestive content?  Most of these artists made their name from the kids who they now profess not to be singing for, and wouldn’t be far short of being thrown off the top shelf in a newsagents.

In 2011, the Guardian reported that music videos faced a “crackdown over sexualised content with a Government report into sexualisation of childhood set to propose tougher regulations on retail, advertising and video industry.”   Rhianna was reported to allegedly be “unrepentant for filming a music video in which she shoots someone who raped her.”

How on earth do you explain the likes of her S&M Video to kids who have no idea that grown ups even have a sex life?  I remember a friend running from my kitchen to the family room like a demented banshee when she heard the opening bars to Sexy and I Know It coming on to the TV early on a Sunday afternoon.  It’s not one of the worst videos I’ve seen, but no parent should have to feel like that when it was the kids who bought that music in their droves.

While there may be some inroads into the regulations and ratings for music videos, I’m not fully aware of how far these have gone, and I still feel uncomfortable watching the world of usually female artists plying their wares and looking for sales on the back of the sexualised content of their videos.

As a child, I don’t remember any of this type of thing, and music channels and videos were usually restricted to Top of the Pops and not much else.

Turn on music channels now and we’re likely to be faced with as much content that would have gone on behind closed doors and been tagged as adult content a few years ago.  How do we explain the coverage of 50 Shades of Grey and what S&M is to our kids when they’re not that long out of nappies?

It’s not like kids even have a choice.  They might like a tune, and they might want to listen to an artist without having sex rammed down their throats.  Do artists and their publicists not realise that kids shouldn’t be exposed to pornographic content over their marshmallows and cake pops?

It’s all for money, but our artists really are selling themselves short.   In a fad for Rhianna and Eminem, the explicit versions were downloaded by more than a handful of kids at my boys schools, yet these are the same kids that keep their wallets fat and their platinum albums spinning on their precarious tops.

It’s done deliberately.  Why else would Madonna still be gyrating to music and wearing clothes fit for teens, while she’s old enough to be the grandmother of most of the people buying her music?

I don’t let my kids buy anything with explicit content, but their friends will let them see it anyway.

Aren’t we meant to be the adults?

Aren’t the adults meant to be the ones protecting our young and keeping them safe, comfortable and protected?

If we stop buying the music from artists who seem to be promoting gratuitous porn, maybe our kids will be more protected with videos that are more suitable for both granny and child to watch in comfort.  I want to choose what my kids watch, and not have it rammed down their throats by the music industry, whichever dentist surgery has MTV on while my kids sit in their chair, or the shop in town bumping out the tunes to show how great the clarity of the new HD TV’s are.

Our music industry certainly seems chained to values that are designed to maximise profit, but is it too much to ask for our kids to just be kids, and for parents to know that our kids aren’t watching things they shouldn’t at young ages?


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Featured Guest Post: How do you get kids to brush their teeth?

Featured Post:

My kids recently had the dentist and all three of them had to get fillings.  Sadly for my youngest, who religiously brushes his teeth twice a day, he needed the most fillings.

The problem with the other two kids, is that they’re not keen on brushing at all.   They’re both past the age of letting mum wield the toothbrush, and I do think that tips to help our little ones brush their teeth, and keep them wanting to brush their teeth is important.

My kids are adopted, and eldest came to me with a mouthful of rotten teeth.  I have no idea if that has caused damage to his adult teeth as the baby ones fell out, but his teeth seem to be very soft enamel.  The dentist said that some kids are just plain unlucky, so I guess he’s had a double whammy of misfortune, or the early experiences of not brushing impacted on his adult ones.  Who knows?

Thankfully, after the last visit to the dentist, he seems to be easier to persuade to brush his teeth.  I can say with honesty that my kids do like Aquafresh, so I didn’t hesitate to take on this campaign.

I am very aware of how difficult it can be to brush the teeth of a little one.  I’ve spent many a day wrestling with a totter while they clamped their jaws firmly around the toothbrush and refused point blank to allow it to touch those pearly whites.  I could have used some tips to help with the brushing, so this campaign seems like a sensible one to me.

It’s not surprising that Aquafresh found that out of a survey of 1,500 mums of children aged 2 – 12, that the results who more than one million under-fives have at least two fillings as mums struggle to get kids to brush their teeth.

After the survey, Aquafresh produced a video with handy tips to make brush time more enjoyable.  Have a look and see if it can help you.

For more information, or to sign up to The Club for fun tips on how to get kids brushing or for a free sample of Aquafresh Fresh & Minty, please visit 

Go on, what do you have to lose by trying a free sample from the Aquafresh club.

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Country Kids and the Army Cadets

I keep meaning to do more of these, but time always seems to find a way to slip past me, and I love Coombe Mill’s website, so I’ve finally managed another Country Kids post.   We had a drive through to Huntly and the river Deveron at the weekend, and the kids spent ages skimming stones on the river.

The photos are from my old iPhone 3GS so you really do have to forgive the lack of quality, but hey, it was a weekend away, so I guess that means I was allowed to relax the good photo rules.

So, where do the Army Cadets come in.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Two of my boys spent a fair time with an army cadet, asking her all about it.  By the time they had finished talking, they were all up for joining the cadet force in Aberdeen to get their hands on some guns (heaven forbid).  Suffice to say that I’ve been asked to check it out for them as a hobby to add to their karate.  Somehow they’ve got the impression that being in the cadets is a reason to be seen as a “hard nut and shooting perfectionist.”

Needless to say, I’ve requested the information about the battalions in Aberdeen and there are several to choose from, so one of mine might get a chance at getting his hand on a gun and marching in time.   It certainly will mean getting involved, plenty of activities and some face paint and guns.  Discipline will also be at the front of it all, and respect for others.

What’s not to love for a boy by doing it, and the benefits for me as a parent could be quite high?

Over and out.

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Unpicking Parenting Ideology: understanding the power of ‘memes’, by Shanta Everington

A guest post today from Shanta Everington.  I know what I think of the methods of some parenting gurus, but we all have to make up our own minds without influencing others, don’t we.  An interesting piece, from a writer who is passionate about choice.

 Shanta Everington is the author of four published books, including non-prescriptive parenting books, Baby’s First Year: A Parent’s Guide and The Terrible Twos: A Parent’s Guide with Need2Know Books.  She runs a parenting book blog at and a writing website at


Unpicking Parenting Ideology: understanding the power of ‘memes’
by Shanta Everington

This week, there was a heated debate on the BabyCalm blog about the rights and wrongs of controlled crying, following publication of (some say flawed) research that indicated that it was not harmful.  Parents on both sides of the fence wanted to convince the other side that they were right.

We all know that people are individuals, right?  With vastly differing temperaments, likes, dislikes, values, beliefs systems and world views.

So why do we have to agree that ‘one size fits all’?  Similarly, many baby care books will have you believe that all your life experience – all those years spent building a unique frame of reference from which to view the world – is meaningless, because THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY.

“it is every mother’s responsibility to create her own unique version of motherhood”
from The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson

When my son was fifteen months old, Channel 4 aired its controversial series, ‘Bringing up baby’, which compared techniques which were popular in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies via six families with new babies trialling three different approaches to baby care under the guidance of three mentors.

Here are the three approaches and the captions from the Channel 4 website:

  • The 1950s: Dr Frederic Truby King’s Strict Routine Method, ‘Routine, fresh air and show baby who’s boss.’
  • The 1960s: Dr Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Childcare, ‘Chuck out the rule book and shower babies with love.’
  • The 1970s: Jean Liedloff’s Continuum Concept, ‘Sling in your baby and join the tribe.’

The Truby King method, although created in the 1950s, seemed to be making a comeback when I became a mother six years ago. When I’d visit the health centre, some professionals spoke to me like there was only one way to do things.    ‘Put the baby down.’  ‘You mustn’t give into him.’ ‘He’s just trying it on.’ blah blah blah.

The idea that babies are somehow Machiavellian for wanting to be loved and held is frankly scary.  I knew my parents had the Dr Spock book (the biggest selling book in history, second only to the Bible) and I was reassured by Dr Spock’s advice, ‘Trust yourself; you know more than you think you do’.

I’d never heard of the Continuum Concept, which is based on the lifestyle of Yequana tribes, but I was interested in it for the very reason that suggesting that mothers hold babes ‘in arms’ until they can crawl was the extreme opposite of the ‘put him down or he’ll get used to being held’ propaganda.

I never missed an episode.  What I loved about this programme was the acknowledgement (at last!) that there are different approaches and that they are all based on underlying belief and value systems.  Each approach offered vastly different advice on every aspect of parenting.

Continuum Concept parents carried babies in slings twenty-four-seven and slept with them at night.  Truby King parents put the babies in their cots and shut the door, discouraged from picking up a crying baby.  Continuum Concept parents fed on demand, at least the mothers did, from the breast, of course.

Truby King parents fed from the bottle according to a strict timetable and with minimum cuddling which would ‘only encourage them’ to expect it.  Dr Spock parents, in the absence of any rules, just did what felt right.

In Winning Parent, Winning Child, Jan Fortune-Wood explores the origin and power of parenting ideas and discusses the Darwinian concept of ‘memes’, ideas that, like genes, self-replicate.

She says,

‘Some of the most powerful and deeply ingrained ideas we have as parents are not just single ideas, but groups of ideas that work together.  These have been called “memeplexes” and examples are religions, ideologies, languages, alternative therapies and lifestyles.’ 

She explains that we need to have a critical eye on such memeplexes, which as well as containing useful ideas, may often contain harmful ideas that inhibit our thinking about parenting.

So-called ‘progressive’ parenting ideology can be as unforgiving and rigid as the fifties methods. Although a  lot of The Continuum Concept principles corresponded with my own instincts, I also found the assertion that the deprivation of the ‘in-arms’ stage is the root cause of all evil (we’re talking drug addiction, mental illness, criminality, the lot) and that the Yequana’s way of life is the only ‘right’ way to live is frankly ridiculous. Some parents and babies love ‘baby-wearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand’ and some don’t. Is it not possible to want to breast feed but not co-sleep or vice versa?!

As parents, we need to decide for ourselves what we are comfortable with, what style of parenting fits our own set of beliefs, our value system, our world view and our babies’ temperaments. We don’t have to buy into any particular ‘parenting religion’. We CAN pick and choose!



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What to do about head lice and nits.

You know the feeling when your child comes home from school, or club, with a nits and lice letter.

Your heart sinks as you know that you need to give their heads a good going over to make sure they don’t have headlice. At the same time, you smugly know that someone, somewhere in their life has a good head of lice and you instantly start to scratch at your own scalp, even though you know there’s nothing there.

Okay, it’s not a very nice subject to talk about, but I see parents looking horrified and holding their hands up in shock and disbelief if a child’s classmate ends up with any sort of head lice. I’m not sure what kind of prejudice that holds, but head lice like any head, so don’t feel awful because your child has ended up with lice or nits, as they have simply been a nice new head for them to live on.

A head louse is usually a small greyish insect that clings to hair and lives on blood from their host. The biting of the scalp and moving through the head tends to make the scalp itchy. An itchy scalp might be what makes you notice that there is something wrong.

I remember sitting in front of a girl at school and seeing her hair move on its own, which freaked me out as a ten year old, so I think it’s important for us to let our kids know that head lice are common, and it doesn’t mean the other kids is dirty.

Head lice can lay eggs that settle very close to the scalp and are difficult to remove. They can hatch about a week later and the leave a gluey shell (nit) that site along the hair.

Last year, Boots gave us one of their Electronic Head Lice combs for use in children of 3 years plus. We’ve not had the chance to try it out, but with a friends two children getting head lice, we actually had a chance to see if it worked. It did, – pretty well, although she did still use the shampoo, just to make sure.

More about head lice

Schools are common places to pick up head lice, as are buses, shops and anywhere that there are crowds and children might touch heads. Lice can’t jump or fly, so when kids huddle up close, lice can walk along the hair and transfer to a friend’s head. Lice will live on clean or dirty hair, so it doesn’t mean children are dirty.

How do we know a child has head lice?

The itching from bites is a tell-tale sign, but by the time that happens, the lice might have been there for quite a while.

It’s worth checking children’s heads frequently. I used to look regularly when my kids came over for a cuddle when they were smaller. The lice will hide away, but the little eggs might be noticeable if there are any.

I suspect my child has head lice so what do I do?

I remember when I had head lice as a child and my mother had me sit with my head over newspaper to catch any lice and nits as they fell off my head while she combed my hair. I was thankful that she took the time and made the effort to find them, and shampoo my hair as some friends who were infected had their hair cut off to get rid of them.

  • Brush hair to take out tangles.
  • Use lice comb to find and shake out any lice and nits onto the sheets of paper.
  • Start at the top of the scalp and work out and down from roots to tip of the hair.
  • Check the comb for nits and lice at every pass and clean them off.

Getting rid of head lice – What next?

Check everyone in the family to make sure they haven’t already got head lice and nits.  Let the school and clubs your child attends know, so that other children can be checked. If you don’t, your child could easily be infected again.

Shampoos and lotions

Chemical shampooing is recommended if there are live lice. There are prescription and chemist strengths. Make sure you use enough shampoo as a child with thick hair will need more. The instructions on the bottles are very good, with step by step methods.

If you only use chemical treatments, you will have to let the hair dry naturally and repeat the process at weekly intervals for a while to make sure that no lice survive.

Wet combing

Using conditioner on wet hair allows the nits to slide off the hair more easily. Using a fine toothed comb for about 30 minutes every few days for a few weeks will remove lice and eggs until they are all gone.

Electronic lice comb

The electric lice comb says it destroys lice without chemicals.

The principle is that it uses a small electrical charge to kill all head lice that come into contact with the comb teeth. It has to be used on dry hair and gives out a buzzy noise that lets you know the unit is working.

The comb gives a moment of silence when it has found a louse and destroyed it, which is slightly disconcerting, but also reassuring to know one has gone.


From talking to parents and people who have suffered head lice, they prefer a mixed approach to getting rid of any infestations.

The electronic lice comb was indeed helpful, but to get kids back to school quickly, using it in combination with a chemical shampoo would be how I would move forward if my kids get lice.

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I Demand a Parent Contract – Full and Binding

Image: maple /

I had to go shopping for a birthday card this morning.  After wandering endlessly looking for one that the little mister might not think was too gauche, or too girly, or too boyfriendy for his gal pal, I eventually found one that looked plain enough to be boring, but sensible enough not to be misconstrued as anything remotely resembling a card that someone who has a crush on you would send (phew).

Thinking about the ensuing afternoon and future possibilities kept me in a daydream as I imagined fussing about as mother of the groom, and pointy finger wagging in his direction if he dared to so much as divert from his route to have a pint half an hour before the ceremony.  That led me on to thinking about what clothes we should wear, what other people would think – and a lightbulb moment ensued.

Why, just why on earth do we care so much about what other people think?  Ok, so they might raise their eyebrows at the potential of an 11-year-old groom having a pint on his way to his wedding, but come on, I’m allowed to daydream.   My little mister is just not caring in the slightest about how the future is going to turn out, as he’s not even on very good terms with most of the women of this planet (myself included).

So, all this planning and scheming and wedding attire drooling is all about me.   I can’t be the only one who thinks that the rollercoaster rides to get that far are just too much to live with.  Oh the pressure.

I’d love to set out a parental contract for rules between parents.  It would have to be signed and witnessed by all classmates mums and noted by a qualified barrister (free of charge of course, it’s for mums).


1 – Attire
All children under 10 years old must attend any function, party or playdate with mandatory ripped jeans, dirty shirt, messed up hair, egg dribbling from chin, and a big cheesy grin.  Parents must come straight from doing housework with no make up and scraped back hair.

2 – Birthday Parties
Bring a small gift – what on earth makes people think it’s ok to give anyone under 90 a voucher, or a ten pound note, it’s a child’s party?   Smile when you enter the room, and for goodness sake, don’t let the gossipy ghouls put you off from going over and dipping your hand into the party food.  Size issues MUST be left at the door, and any parent partaking of party fare must eat 4 chocolates and 3 sausage rolls as a minimum.

3 – Playdates
Do not spend 5 hours pre-cleaning your home for 4 pre-schoolers to run around and mess up.  You’ll only regret it.  I promise that I will only clean my house to the degree that you will not be sitting in a pile of hair and fluff when you take a seat to watch the proceedings.   Dirty dishes may be hidden in the oven, and mucky clothes make very good cushion stuffers.

I will light a candle bearing the smells of filtered coffee and freshly baked double choc chip muffin, so be ready for a  watery latte and supermarket cake.

I will only provide clean activities without water, colour or squeezies and I expect you to do the same if a playdate is reciprocated.

4 – After Playdates or Parties
We agree to a mutual verbal thanks for any presents received.   Thank you cards – pored over by bored tinys and tweens that get ripped up 5 minutes after they are received must be banned by mutual appreciation.  Arrive on time to pick up your offspring if you have dropped off and run for the hills, and you must agree to actually come in and help put rubbish in the bin before you go.   Visit my toilet and clean up after your own child if they poop in my toilet and I will do the same for you.

That is about all I can think of just now, add any more that you can think of below.

Please don’t read and run, leave a comment to let me know you’ve been here.  We all love a bit of comment love, and the back-link won’t do you any harm either 🙂


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Internet Safety Day & Online Games for Children

It was Internet safety day yesterday, and while I didn’t get to writing a post about it, I came across something that is aimed at children which worried me.

I am pretty vigilant with my boys lives online, which is probably a bit hypocritical considering how large my own online footprint is these days, but that probably makes me more aware of the possibilities.

My two had joined the growing army of young children who were playing Roblox.   I would ask that all parents whose young children use it to exercise caution.  Please research the reviews well and use the forums before you decide to allow your children to use it.  I would recommend that this site be used for over 16’s and possibly over 18’s.

Obviously it is up to each parent to decide what their children have access to online, but I would stress to do your homework around the online world style games offered to children.

When I first read the access request, I felt reassured that it was similar to the Penguin Club style interaction which keeps it safe for children, but it is very different indeed.

Moving on to the positive, there is a yearly campaign that helps promote safer use of the Internet among children and young adults.

This year they ran with the tagline:

“Connecting generations and educating each other, with the slogan: “Discover the digital world together… safely!”

This videos I have attached to this post are quite powerful.

Our children and young adults can be easily led.  We wouldn’t open our front doors to children and let strangers in, yet we don’t monitor our children enough online to ensure that they don’t open a portal to their safety bubble through the online world.

Be aware – check what your children are accessing, and who they are talking to.   Try it out for yourself when they ask for access to a new Internet game or craze as that is the only way you are going to know if it is age appropriate or not.