Sunday, May 29, 2011

Outside Play Ideas for Winter

Winter brings different outside play opportunities to Summer.  Today I thought I would brainstorm lots of outside play ideas for toddlers and pre-schoolers for winter (and the older ones too!).  As we live in a nice warm part of Australia, most of our outdoor play has involved water (swimming in the pool or water play of some sort) or climbing in trees (the joys of boys), but really there is SO much more you can do outside, even when it is cold or wet.  So, some of these play suggestions are favorites of ours, and some are things I want to get out and do with my boys.
  •  Number one is definitely ball play.  Fun as well as teaching gross motor skills.  Toddlers you can sit and roll the ball to each other, and older kids progress to throwing games.
  • Do you live in an area with deciduous trees?  Autumn and winter are wonderful times for playing with the fallen leaves, collecting leaves for collages, or even comparing the different types of leaves.
  • Get in the car and go playground hopping.  This is great fun for kids as its somewhere fresh to play (and free too).
  • Buy those big sticks of chalk and let your kids go mad drawing and writing everywhere outside.  Another fantastic gross motor activity, and one that can build up strength and dexterity in hands.
  • Bubbles!! What child doesn't love bubbles.  Either blow the bubbles for the smaller children and let them catch them, or let the older kids have their own bubble blowers.
  • If you have the time or energy create an outside obstacle course.  Place things to climb over, climb under, balance along, and the list goes on depending on your space and resources.
  • One of my favorites from my childhood is to lie on the grass and look at the clouds.  This is just such a lovely activity and really stimulates the imagination seeing what shapes you can see in the clouds.
  •  If you are able, provide a sand pit.  Whether one built on the ground or one of those clam shell type things, kids adore sand play!
  • Do I really need to mention bikes and trikes?  These are such favorite past-times of Aussie kids and great fun whether it is Summer or Winter.
  • When the boys were little I also had an 'outdoor play' basket.  In it were old books, shoe lacing activities, chalk, skipping ropes, and any other bits and pieces I thought would be fun outside.  Most times we headed outside in the morning for our outside play I would also take the basket and let them sit and read and play as they wished in the sun.
  • Spider or butterfly hunting through the garden.
  • And last but not least, if you are brave enough, let your kids get out in the rain and mud and play to their hearts content. 

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I have to congratulate the Teach/Learn participants this month, due to all the insane things happening around here there weren't little reminders sent out. It's nice to know people remembered on their own! But they have come up with some great ideas for getting outside while you teach and learn.
Have you been getting outside? Add some ideas in the comments or check out these great posts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not putting a name on it

I think I must be a bit of an abnormal parent.  Everyone seems to label the type of parenting they follow or believe in, natural parenting, attachment parenting, strict parenting, slow parenting... the list really does go on.  I've been thinking about this lately for some reason, I never read any parenting type books after my boys were born (don't get me wrong, I love reading and read squillions of books, including lots of birth and pregnancy books) but I just felt I wanted to feel my own way along without someone telling me what to do, or rather, someone telling me everything I was doing wrong.

In hindsight, I found for me personally that parenting style has more to do with the child's personality than the type of parent I was trying to be.  While both my boys were treated in the same way - fed on demand, carried lots in a carrier rather than using a pram, etc, my oldest son was quite normal in regards to the amount he cried, his sleep patterns and so on.  My younger son however couldn't have been more different, he was extremely difficult from birth, cried incessantly no matter what you did.  He just seemed to be stroppy whether you held him or cuddled him or put him down, and he never wanted to go to sleep.  I have to admit, there were times when I just had to put him down and let him cry.  Does that make me a bad parent?  NO.  Looking at his personality now though it all makes sense, he is just an active, demanding and difficult person (but totally loveable and cheeky too).

But babies do cry.  That's how they communicate.  And quite often, they have a bit of a cry and whinge as they are settling down to sleep.  That's just what they do.  And I feel parents are made to feel guilty when their babies cry.  I quite often see a baby having a grizzle because they are tired and just want to go to sleep, but the parents panic and try and feed Bub, or pick him up, etc.  Then baby just gets over-tired and harder to settle themselves.  While I am a great believer in always being there for your baby, there does come times when your baby needs your HELP to learn certain things - they need to learn night from day, they need to learn how to settle themselves to sleep (this is a huge one for me, and one of the most important things not only for them but for you too), they need to learn that the people around them can be trusted.  You can do all this in ways that are kind, and those ways might be different for each child in your family.

So I think what I really wanted to say is don't feel guilty if you are not following the trend with a type of parenting, put down those books, ignore other people's judgements and do what feels right for you and your baby (and their personality).  No-one knows your baby better than you do and believe me when I say - You are a Wonderful Mum and you are doing a Fantastic Job!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5 Reasons Why I Love to Network

Are you in business for yourself?  Do you ever take time to network with other business owners?

Since going into business for myself 3 years ago, one of the unexpected joys has certainly been the networking I have been able to participate in.  Females (in particular) are essentially social creatures, and working from home in a one person business can have some downsides.  So, in my book, real life networking has many multi-faceted benefits, of which I thought I would have a ramble about today.
  1. Running your own business, especially a home based one, can get quite isolating and lonely, especially if you have young children too and don't get the opportunity to socialise much.  Networking creates opportunities to meet other like-minded business people, quite often on a similar path to you in regards to family circumstances and understanding the stresses of running your own business (with sometimes no other income).
  2. You get to meet the 'faces behind the businesses', and they get to meet you. How much more likely are you to support a business that you know and trust?  Lots more!  So be confident when you are out actively networking, meeting people, and making a good impression, you are also giving your business a good name, and creating consumer confidence for future business.
  3. Friendships always develop from networking events!  This is just the most amazing consequence of networking, I have met some absolutely amazing women that have surprised me with their friendship and support, and while you might not get to see each other face to face very often, you know they are only a phone call or email away. 
  4. You realise you are not the only one struggling with different issues with your business and family.  When you have no-one to talk to about things, it can feel like you are the only one having problems.  This is definitely not the case, and it is very strengthening to know others are going through similar things.  On the other hand, its also nice to have someone to share your achievements with as well!
  5. You create the opportunity to brainstorm and think outside the box a little.  You can ask advice from others that have been in business longer than you, and it is also a great opportunity to set in motion some reciprocal advertising or joint ventures with businesses with similar target markets.  Most small business count every dollar when it comes to advertising and marketing, and when you can set up some co-promotion that doesn't cost anything, it benefits everyone involved.
Well, there is a little of my personal thoughts and experiences about networking... is there anything you would add?

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    A Mothers Day Meal to Remember

    On the weekend, I had a delicious meal cooked for me by my husband and 2 gorgeous sons (under my direction of course, I'm not sure if I'd let them in the kitchen unsupervised hehe).  We had some absolutely gorgeous chicken from Lenard's, along with roast vegies and greens.  I thought I'd share our meal with you, and just how easy it is to not only cook a meal with practically no dishes to clean, but what a great idea it is to get your kids helping in the kitchen (no matter how young they are!).

    All the ingredients, ready for the kids to help prepare.  Oops I think I just dobbed myself in, I left my glass of wine on the bench!

    My 4 year old helper - he loooves peeling vegies and helps out every chance he gets (note to self - need to start cooking dinner 1/2 hour earlier than normal when kids peel as it takes absolutely ages!  Frustrating, but the only way they learn... I wouldn't mind my own little masterchefs in a few years time hehe).

    With this meal we had to cook it in stages, however note the one oven tray (hot tip - put a layer of foil then a layer of baking paper on the tray and then you don't even need to wash it when the meal is cooked!!).  The vegies were put in for 15 minutes, then the Risotto Stuffed Quarters were placed on the tray and cooked for another 15 minutes, then the Parcels were put on last and the whole lot cooked for a further half hour.  Broccoli was cooked separately in the microwave.  With other Lenard's products such as the Chicken Cordon Bleu (one of our faves) you can put the vegies and chicken in all at the same time, just make sure the vegies are not left too large.

    YAY our finished meals.  This type of meal (of which I cook about every second night) is extremely easy to dish up for any age person in the family.  For my boys, I chop in bite size pieces, and for younger babies you can just mash with a fork.

    Proudly serving up dinner for Mum.


    I have to admit, our meals pretty much never look like these gorgeous photos, but really, who cares, because they taste fantastic and that's pretty much all my household full of males cares about!

    And finally, a big thank you to Lenard's for supplying their new products for us to try out on Mothers Day.  We are already very regular shoppers at Lenard's and can't speak highly enough of their range and freshness of products.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Happy Mothers Day and a Winner

    Happy Mothers Day to each and everyone of you, I hope you have a very special day with your Mums, Grandmothers and Daughters today!

    The winner of the Romantic Flair Original Personalised Mug has now been drawn.  A big congratulations to Joli, I'm sure you will just love the Mug Marthese makes for you.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Today..

    Today I am having one of those 'Mummy' Days, a day of cleaning up from a vomiting child in the night (why is that horrid smell so hard to get rid of?), and trying to get what work I can done.  I have to be honest, I think I'd rather them catch just about any bug except the vomiting gastro.

    Anyway, on a much nicer note the winners of the $50 Lenard's voucher were bento mum and A Dose of Dannie, congratulations!

    Don't forget the Personalised Mug Giveaway is still running, click {HERE} to pop over and get your entries in there if you haven't already done so.

    And hope you are having a better day than mine ;-)

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Lenards Chicken GIVEAWAY - Be Quick!

    Wooohooo who wants a $50 voucher to spend at Lenard’s (Australia’s largest chicken retailer) so you can hang up your chef’s hat and let the kids do the cooking this Mother’s Day? Well, Lenard's is kindly giving 2 Mummy readers of the Your Cheeky Monkey Blog a $50 voucher in time for Mothers Day!

    To enter, simply leave a comment here on this post and tell me if you have shopped at Lenard's before, and why/why not.  If you are unable or do not wish to leave a comment just have a look at my About page for email details.  Giveaway will be drawn in 24 hours time!  If you are a winner, please ensure you are available to respond straight away with your postal address so your voucher can be express posted to you to reach you on Friday.

    Giveaway Conditions (please read):
    ~ Australian Entries only 
    ~ Be sure to leave your email address in your comment if your profile is protected - if I draw you as a winner but have no way of contacting you I will re-draw the prize.
    ~ Winners drawn randomly and notified here on this blog and by email.  
    ~ Giveaway closes in 24 hours time on Thursday 5th May 2011 at 10am (EST).

    ps.  Keep your eyes peeled for my post next week of my boys cooking up a storm with our Lenard's Mothers Day Feast!!

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Winner of Stubbies Voucher

    Congratulations to Emma, who was drawn as the winner of the Stubbies voucher.  I'm sure it will come in handy for those school uniforms :-)

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    10 Things to do in the First Trimester

    It's so exciting seeing all the pregnancy announcements from friends and through social media at the moment.  But it has got me thinking that usually by the time most people announce their news, a whole third of the pregnancy has passed!

    The first trimester of pregnancy can be a bit of a funny time for Mums.  While knowing you are pregnant, most don't like to share the news with others until after the first trimester ends (and the risk of miscarriage sharply decreases).  Even though you know you are pregnant and might be suffering pregnancy issues like morning (or should I say all day) sickness, sore boobs, etc, no-one can tell yet that you are growing a little baby inside you.  Having said that, why not take time out to enjoy this special time, and cherish your secret for a while before you tell the world.

    Once you find out you are pregnant, there is lots you can do to start enjoying your baby and preparing for the months ahead.

    1. Find a nice organic herbal tea especially for the first trimester or morning sickness, and drink instead of your regular tea or coffee.
    2. Start a diary of your pregnancy journey.  This could include starting to make lists of baby things you will need.  There are basically 3 types of things you can list - Essentials/Safety items, the maybe items, and luxury items (check out one of my other articles What products do you really need for your newborn baby?)
    3. Start using a massage oil each day on your tummy to help combat any stretch marks and dryness that may start appearing.  There are some really lovely organic ones around these days especially for pregnancy (be sure to use one that is definitely safe for pregnancy).
    4. Start using a prenatal multi-vitamin and mineral supplement if you are not already.
    5. Buy or borrow from the library some cookbooks and nutrition guides especially for pregnancy.
    6. Start looking for maternity clothes on sale, and pick up a bargain here and there.
    7. Read a good book or take a nap if you feel like it.
    8. Sign up for some pregnancy week-by-week email newsletters.
    9. Buy a couple of comfy new bra's with no underwires to support those poor aching and rather larger boobs!
    10. And finally, just enjoy everyday and don't wish the time away.  Pregnancy is such an amazing precious time that really does go by so very quickly.

    And if you are reading this because you are indeed pregnant, I wish you all the very best for your own pregnancy journey and the exciting months ahead! 


    Click here to shop online at Your Cheeky Monkey for all your newborn baby needs!