How to stop siblings fighting – with six words.

how to stop siblings fighting

We all want to know how to stop siblings fighting, I think I’ve found a brilliantly simple trick. Disclaimer – I should say conflict is normal and healthy and part of life, you won’t stop it completely, but recently we changed one thing about the way we handle fighting and it made a massive difference.

I think you might like to know about this technique too, because it doesn’t involve massive changes to your routine, sticker charts, bribes, money or exhausting days where you don’t see your other half/have a moment’s peace/manage to talk to another adult, because you are hell bent trying to keep the kids apart.

The biggest thing I was doing wrong was jumping in and taking sides. I didn’t even really think I was taking sides, just trying to solve the issue quickly and fairly with my adult wisdom hat on, but what I was actually doing was playing judge. And it was back firing hugely. For example…

We picked up my 5yo from a party, he wouldn’t give my 7yo anything from his party bag. So I asked him to, immediately and without realising almost, I had taken sides. So he dug his heels in more and things got nastier. He ate all the cake and the sweets in one gulp (alright well not quite, but it was fast) and he threw the wrapper at my 7yo. She grabbed him by the collar, and they were fighting.

After a bit of googling ‘how to stop siblings fighting’ I saw the error of my ways. All it takes is six words, ‘How can you make this better?’.

Sounds too simple, but what you are doing is giving kids the chance to sort the problem out for themselves. This is amazingly effective in that it means they learn to problem solve and deal with conflict, you don’t get stuck playing judge and things don’t escalate so fast.

It puts the ball in their court. So when my daughter refused to let my son have a go on her new roller-skates, he started shouting. They were about to start physically fighting, but all I said was, how can you make this better? They both suggested deals, they were both a bit unfair to start, I mediated a bit, but didn’t judge.

Then, as if by magic, they struck a deal they both loved. He got to go up and down, to the lamppost 10 times, but she would give him lessons. It was amazing to watch her help him.

Then a massive storm came, so we ran for shelter together, my 5yo on rollerskates in the middle of me and my 7yo. We laughed so much. When the storm passed he kept skating, on his own this time, through puddles, and my 7yo didn’t ask for them back, instead we just giggled and smiled at the rollerskating ninja.

DSC04341

What works and doesn’t work for you? Have you got any wisdoms on how to stop siblings fighting?

Moshi Monsters at the Sea Life Centre, Birmingham

DSC04320

Looking back at the photos, I am not sure, even for my Moshi Monster Mad kids, that having Moshi Monsters at the Sea Life centre, was the main attraction. Beforehand my husband and I debated, over a cup of tea, about how to ‘pitch’ the day to them. Was it about Moshis or was it about sea life?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Moshi Monsters, I videoed some children recently talking about their favourite toys and I was really amazed by the way they suddenly came alive on camera when talking about their Moshi Monsters.  They were so verbal and full of their own stories about the characters, so full of play ideas. I think they are a great toy for encouraging imagination to develop.

There’s a Moshi swap shop where your kids can swop figures, there’s a Moshi trail where you can hunt the Moshis in the tanks and there are Moshi characters available for photo opportunities. You can also have a photo taken against a Moshi green screen. If you’ve been before its a new way of looking at the exhibitions and a great chance to swap a Moshi figure too.

My 7yo had a good crack at finding Moshi Monsters at the Sea life Centre, there are six hidden in tanks around the centre and diligently filled in her quiz questions too. She learnt a few things from answering the questions, we now know what mermaid’s purse is and what it contains for example and how many seahorses babies are born each time.

moshi monsters sea life centre

My 7yo completed this quiz, but lost interest when she realised the prize was a Moshi token for the online game, as did I, as we have been trying to avoid paying out for it, maybe I should, what do you think, is it worth it?

My 5yo was happy to forgo the Moshi hunt on paper and just steam round looking at the tanks. My daughter had eagle eyes and spotted all six.

I think they were more interested in the sea life at the end of the day, and whenever museums have quizzes I sometimes think they encourage kids to rush rather than just take things in. Although, it is lovely to see my 7yo take charge and own a new space like a museum full of confidence and ready to tackle the clues, it slowed her down too, so we could take in more.

penguins

Last time we went there weren’t any Gentoo penguins. I was in two minds about this. It was an utterly incredible privilege to watch, Gentoos are the fastest swimmers of all penguins – Mr A was awestruck by the way they leap out of the water a spilt second from the edge,  I loved watching the way the penguins interacted with the keepers and the children, watching them is fascinating, they are clearly very cheeky and curious. They are from Antarctica and it is easy to replicate their climate in a tank. But I just kept seeing that scene in Happy Feet…

penguins swimming

Then the 3D film was a ten minute version of Happy Feet, with its message about working together to make the world better for sea life. Sea Life centres are involved in conservation and in education, they definitely got us thinking about important messages like dwindling penguin colonies, conservation, recycling, picking up rubbish at the sea side.  Ultimately the penguins looked happy and healthy and protected from harm of predators, rubbish and losing their land to humans. I would love to see them have more room though.

I have been looking up more facts about where all the sea life in the centre comes from, I know The Gentoos were bred bred together at Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Centre in Auckland. Over 150 turtles and seals were rescued by Sea Life in the last month. I found an article explaining one of the turtles in a centre was rescued from a meat factory with horrible conditions, to go from this to having your own tank must be incredible. I discovered the penguins are part of the Breed, Rescue, Protect programme, they are also studied by PhD students. The centres also breed enough seahorses not to take them out of the wild and discourage visitors from doing so.

My kids were really enthused by what they saw, getting so close to nature and wildlife is a real privilege and an inspiration.

Moshi Monsters at the Sea Life Centre, Birmingham until 31st August 2014.

How The Sun grooms children

the sun exploits children

I saw this on Facebook recently via the charity Child’s Eye and No More Page Three. For me it epitomises everything that has gone wrong with this newspaper. How on earth can we have a model showing her bum, a ‘sex killer’ and Frozen freebies all on one page? I know the world is a mixed up juxtaposition of influences, but this cover of The Sun is just irresponsible journalism and editing.

Firstly, as Child’s Eye, the charity preventing children from sexualisation, point out, we need to be talking about child abuse, not sex. We need to be using language that isn’t sensational to discuss child abuse. This article next to an image of a woman’s bum presents a very different view of sex, it shouldn’t be placed next to this article.

Throw Frozen into the mix and you’re actively encouraging children to pick this pornography up, whilst actively training boys and girls to accept that girls are sex objects.

This newspaper is on sale where kids can see it, it gets left in public places, in homes, and kids can see that? It’s all wrong.

It sends out completely warped messages about our society.

People are buying into this paper on the basis of the freebie culture, holiday discounts, Frozen sticker albums, which further legitimises its shabby view of women. I understand freebies are great and holidays are expensive, it puts a lot of readers in a difficult place, but really, the Sun need to sort this out. We need to make them.

How to make a difference

Support No More Page Three

Child’s Eye suggest the following simple actions:

Write to or email your mp http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Ask your local shop to ensure it is on the top shelf. Contact retailers, it takes seconds on the internet:

Sainsburys http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/sol/contact_us/contact_us.jsp

Tesco
http://www.tesco.com/help/contact/

Asda
http://groceries.asda.com/asda-webstore/landing/home.shtml#/ContactUs

Morrisons
https://your.morrisons.com/Help-and-information/Contact-Us/

Spar
http://www.spar.co.uk/aboutspar/contactus/

Nisa
http://corporate.nisaretail.com/contacts

McColls, the Frozen sticker book is redeemable here.

http://www.martinmccoll.co.uk/contact-us.aspx

Co-op (they do in many stores now but worth checking)
http://www.co-operativefood.co.uk/contact-us/

Its porn, The Sun grooms children and its not okay to put this where children can see, and I don’t want to see it either.

Easy to grow plants to brighten up your home

Easy to grow plants to brighten up your home

If like me, plants are a wonderful but daunting prospect on top of the other living things you already care for,  but you would love more in your home, then today’s guest post on easy to grow plants is perfect for you.

Houseplants can brighten up any room in your home, but unless you have green fingers then you should select specimens that are easy to grow and don’t require too much looking after. Some plants grow better in certain locations, so we at More Th>n have selected some easy to grow plants, for different rooms, that shouldn’t let you down.

Bathroom

Some of the best plants to grow in your bathroom are orchids. You can buy really beautiful exotic orchids for not very much money, but often they bloom for a little while then when their blooms die after a few weeks they are over. However it you grow them in your bathroom they will go on and on; once the blooms are over just leave them for a few weeks and a new shoot will appear followed by a new crop of blooms.  Bathrooms provide just the right amount of humidity to keep the orchid happy, and the secret is to avoid over-watering it; the roots should be kept just very slightly damp and never drenched with water.

Kitchen

The conditions in most kitchens tend to be quite variable being quite hot and humid when things are being cooked.

Begonias tend to do very well in kitchens, and there are many different varieties of these plants with their bright and colourful blooms to choose from. In nature they grow in tropical forests, so they prefer warm shady conditions and do not do well in full sun; perfect for a kitchen location. African Violets and Busy Lizzie are also excellent choices.

Bedroom

Bedrooms tend to be cooler rooms and even on hot summer days we generally try to keep them cool by closing the blinds and opening the window. The types of plants that tend to thrive in these conditions are those that generally flower in the winter. Cyclamen is an excellent choice and is definitely one of the easy to grow plants. There is a wide range of colours; a dwarf Cyclamen can make an attractive addition to your dressing table.  Azalea is another excellent choice, and if you want to want to create an oriental feel and wonderful scent you could grow winter-flowering Jasmine over a trellis.

Living room

We have deliberately left the living room to last as it is the place that most people think of putting their houseplants, but as living rooms tend to be warm and dry they tend to also be the least plant-friendly room in the house. Cacti are a good choice for living rooms, and there is a huge range to choose from. Christmas cacti are a popular choice and grow very well; Bunny Ears and Peruvian Apple are also excellent choices. All of them are very easy to grow plants and need virtually no attention as long as you don’t let they dry out entirely; water them once a week in the hot weather.

Collaborative post. Photo credit Bill Gracey.

Camping with Kids: What to Pack?

DSC03793

Today’s guest post couldn’t be more well timed, as we look to the summer holidays and start to think about what to pack. Here are some useful camping with kids packing ideas.

Is there anything more fun than a camping with kids? Some people may not agree, but the prospect of nipping off to a campsite (or pitching up in the middle of nowhere) for a few days fills many families with glee. Camping gives families a chance to spend some real quality time together, with no television or mod-cons to distract them – just conversation, games and all-out family fun!

Packing for a camping trip is very different to packing for a holiday abroad, though. You have to think about the cold nights wrapped up in a sleeping bag with only a little canvas for shelter, rather than sweltering bedrooms with air-conditioning. If you’re planning a trip away this summer, give the tent a clean, roll up the sleeping bags and take a look at this list of things you should pack, for both you, and the kids.

Warm clothing – make sure that you pack plenty of things that can be layered. Roll clothes up so that they stay wrinkle-free, while also taking up less space in the rucksacks.

Underwear – You can buy great value adult, boys and girl’s underwear from George at ASDA if you’d prefer not to take your finest undies. Make sure you take a couple of extra pairs, just in case it rains and you get soaked right through. They don’t take up much space anyway.

Waterproof jackets for when, inevitably, the clouds open! If you’re driving to a campsite where your car will be nearby, a pair of wellies in the boot would be handy too, just in case!

Some waterproof, comfortable shoes that will stand the tests of the weather, and also be supportive, warm and breathable for any activities that you choose during your stay.

Try to avoid jeans, because they are heavy and take ages to dry if they get wet. Opt, instead, for leggings or cotton trousers and shorts, which will not only be comfy but will be more suitable in any downpours.

Something warm to sleep in – some pj or tracksuit bottoms, thick socks and a hoodie, just in case it’s really cold! The beauty of having plenty of layering options means that, whatever the weather, you’re sorted, day and night.

A basic first aid kit, including plasters and Paracetamol. Take some antihistamines, Imodium and mosquito repellent, too.

Entertainment, just in case you have a rainy day. A book, some family-friendly games or a pack of playing cards would be perfect.

If you’re camping in a random spot, where there aren’t many facilities, a bin bag for your rubbish, and toilet rolls, are essential.

A torch, for those late night toilet calls.

A penknife can often be invaluable; as can gaffa tape (an instant fix for a punctured tent!)

Try and ensure that whatever you take will fit into your backpack, and take some carrier bags for dirty washing. Remember that you have got to carry it all, so don’t overpack – stick to the basics, and enjoy!

Heading to a festival? If you want more specific ideas on festival packing check out my Camp Bestival Packing list. Or if you have a car and fancy more home comforts at your camp, get some family glamping inspiration.

Collaborative post

My top ten budget travel tips

Top 10 Family Travel Budget Tips

 

See my travels!

I also blog at A Residence, you can see all of my travel posts, which inspired my top ten budget travel tips here:

We’ve worked with:
UK Youth Hostel Association
Visit Wales and the Welsh tourist board:
With the tourist board in Bologna, Italy via Twitter and Instagram:
And as Carnival Cruise Lines funnest family

My budget travel tips entry for CaxtonFX #holidayplannerMums

How do you weigh up your children’s saving needs?

camper van t 25

Last week my husband read something about research that concluded that rich parents giving their kids money actually limited their ability to achieve in life. We’re talking lots of money of course, and just lavishing it on them, without making them earn it or learn the value of it, but it got us thinking about our children’s saving needs.

It made me remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, needs he argued, start with the base of the triangle, once you have met the bottom layer, you can move up.

maslow1

My husband’s inheritance from his grandfather paid for the deposit on out first flat. It gave us a really solid foundation in adult  life. We often wonder if things would have worked out very differently had we had to work harder to save for that. Would we value our house more, would we have made more sensible decisions about money, would we have developed better saving habits in general, or even viewed our home differently?

I hope my children learn to spend wisely. When they were small we started to save for their future, there have been big gaps, savings rates have been variable, but that money is slowly creeping up.

My husband’s grandfather was a teacher and a wise man, he made it very clear in his will at what age my husband was to inherit the final and largest sum of money, 27 was the age he deemed old enough to do something sensible with it. I think he was probably right.

I think he knew that it would be the right time to settle down and buy a house, as we hit our late twenties that’s where we were heading. I think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs a lot, I think that having that base allowed us to focus on moving up the the triangle to focus on relationships, happiness, self esteem and dare I say it, reaching out for self actualisation.

But I also think about the amazing time I had at university – psychologists say 17 is the age at which you begin to develop your preferences in life – I think it is a critical time and one I go back to in my head a lot when I lose track of my true self. Who was I then and what did I want in life?

So I hope my children have enough money to spend on a period of developing themselves, whether that’s university, a gap year or other kinds of work experience or training. Something that gives them the tools to self actualise, to become who they are meant to be, to find themselves and to be happy.

Then I wonder if perhaps starting at the bottom of what Maslow called the ‘hierarchy of needs’ is equally important, by building shelter.  And I am back to square one. I guess as parents you are trying to cover as many bits of the triangle as you can, while teaching your child to think, spend wisely and to save, for themselves.

I should also throw in at this point, how I spent the savings I inherited from my own grandmothers. Both were small amounts, but with the savings past to me from my maternal Gran I bought my first computer, which as a trainee teacher was an essential piece of kit and development for that career, and for the work I do today. At this point my parents were still very much funding the bottom of the triangle.

My paternal Grandmother died when I was in my 30s, and her savings went towards our camper van, which we eventually traded in for a caravan – both of which I would argue cover all of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. From shelter, to freedom from the fear of be driven mad in suburbia, to a feeling of belonging as a family, to the self esteem of mastering new skills to the huge sense of fulfilment travel, and being in nature provides. I think that was a rather amazing way to use our savings, I feel fortunate we could make that investment.

I guess the main thing is to save, to future proof our children’s tomorrow, because university and houses are becoming more and more expensive, and because you never know what journeys they will want to go on. We still have a good ten years to fathom it out before the oldest hits 18, although the last 8 flew by. At the moment we’re working on teaching them the value of money with pocket money and trying to put a bit away for their future.

Do you have any words of wisdom on children’s saving needs? What are you saving for?

Collaborative post

Picture credit

 

 

 

How to make money from blogging

How to make money blogging

I sat at the back of Britmums blogging conference 4 years ago in a session about how to make money from blogging, thinking it was a very distant possibility. On Saturday I sat in the same seat, this time it was me preparing to talk about how to make money blogging, and how blogging became my job.

My blogging journey has been slow and organic, but just as my youngest started school full time I found I was really able to make money from blogging and my freelance income was verging on full-time. My income comes completely from blogging or related activities and opportunities that arose because of blogging. I blog here, at my main blog A Residence about family lifestyle which is now part of Wayfair, and at Little Legacy about the art of memory keeping.

I outlined at Britmums that I make money from blogging though:

  • Paid Ambassadorships
  • Sponsored posts
  • Consultation with brands on working with bloggers
  • Blogger Outreach freelance for an agency
  • Making videos for brands and Netmums You Tube
  • Competition prizes
  • Travel and other review opportunities

Here are the things I think that helped me along the way, I think they could help whatever you are doing though!

Have a Hire Me page and an email signature

This blog needs one, but over on A Residence I have one and it is the most visited page, I also share what I can offer on my About Me page. I try to keep it up to date with examples of recent projects and achievements.

Use your email signature to link to your blogs and social media, if appropriate, and why not add a link to awards, successes of examples of your work.

Have a trophy cabinet.

Whether it is a page or in my case part of your about page have a place to celebrate your achievements. From awards and press coverage to screenshots of comments, tweets or interactions that show you are an important online influencer. Do ask people’s permission to include them.

Have a media pack.

You can’t master every platform, especially if your blog is only a small part of your time. But share the stats for the platforms you are proud of, you can add the others later as they grow. Don’t forget testimonials, influencing people and engaging people is often as powerful, if not more powerful than numbers.

Keep involved in the blogging networks and forums for your niche.

For parent blogs, Britmums, Netmums, Mumsnet and TOTS all connect brands with bloggers, all have been really great in terms of opportunities to work and to promote my work. Keep an eye on their newsletters for new opportunities.

Talk to the Universe, be your own PR

It sounds a bit hippy, but asking the universe works. Social media gives you access to much a much bigger universe, so do use it to let people know what you can do or what you are hoping to do next.

Make creating a successful story about your blog, yourself, your achievements and your skills part of what you share on social media. No need to brag, be humble and thank those you’ve worked with and who have helped you on the way. But don’t be shy, people love good news!

Several opportunities have come about from non blogging friends on Facebook seeing what I am up to. Twitter is also a great place to strike up conversations with brands and I am working on my LinkedIn now!

Celebrate your success

Invest up to ten percent of what you earn in rewarding yourself, or simply creating a celebration, this will motivate you to earn more.

Invest in your skills

Its rare to make all your money out of blogging, but blogging related activities can be really lucrative and you pick up a lot of skills as a blogger. Video making, design, writing, blog writing for a brand, copy writing, photography, presenting videos, blogger outreach, social media account management, social media consulting.

Your blog can be the perfect place to advertise your skills.

Focus on the skills you enjoy and pay or trade with other bloggers for help with the ones you don’t enjoy.

The medium is the message

It can be a creative challenge to develop content that appeals to both readers and to brands, but it is worth taking the time to create some really strong posts that demonstrate the kind of skills brands will want to see when deciding whether to work with you and that really engage your readers. Here is one of my favourites.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 21.32.11

Killer posts. Knockout photos, video snippets, punchy, carefully checked writing. Video is so easy these days, you can make a short Instagram video on your phone in minutes.

Build up your portfolio of great content across the topics you love so that you have examples to share with PR companies and brands, and don’t be afraid to send over relevant examples of your work. Put together a pitch document which you can edit and tweak when new opportunities come along.

Competitions can be lucrative

I love the creativity of blogger competitions, and the odds are often incredibly good. I always weigh up the amount of effort, against the prize and how well the content fits my blog. Like many bloggers, I have some reservations about brands working in this way as those who don’t win are promoting a brand for free, so you do have to feel really happy about your time and the content you create here.

Super Lucky Di is a real inspiration to me in terms of the creative output, her work really shows that an inspiring brief, fun and creativity alone can be reward enough, but she makes a good living from it too.

As my Gran always said, you have to speculate to accumulate. Same goes for blog opportunities, the bigger they get, the more work you have to put into applying.

 

Consider working for free/less if money couldn’t buy the experience/skills/exposure

I chose to get more involved with Comic Relief and Team Honk after an incredible trip to Ghana. I worked for free on fundraising and awareness raising and did it with no agenda. But when I reflect, the skills I picked up, the people I met and the opportunity to really show what I am capable of is both personally rewarding and has definitely helped me professionally. I’ve had job offers based on people seeing what I am capable of, Team Honk was an incredible opportunity to create a campaign ourselves, to collaborate with a brand, yet be really self directed.

I’ve done unpaid ambassadorships, for the perks and they were also a good way to learn about working with brands and to network with other bloggers. They’ve led to paid ambassadorships.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 22.01.56

Sophie spoke after me, from the agency Propellernet, she agreed that having a sliding scale and flexibility in your approach and expectations of brands, rather than a fixed rate card, is key to getting hired.

We joked about how the apple tree I accepted in exchange for a post on Waitrose apples is now bringing a whole lot of joy to our garden. I reckon in 10 years it will have paid for my time on that toffee apple recipe many times over and has led to more work with that agency.

DSC03596

I’ve learnt not to say yes to stuff I really don’t need/want/have time to write about –  but do ask to be kept in mind for other opportunities.

Collaborate with other bloggers.

Collaborating with Annie and Tanya to raise over £40,000 via Team Honk for Comic Relief over the last two years, and to get 200 people to pass on a baton from Lands End to John O groats taught me anything is possible if you work as a team, ask for help, set deadlines, apply some creativity, time and problem solve. There is no way I could or would have done any of that alone. We are three very different bloggers, but our combined skills made so much happen.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 21.34.21

You don’t have to travel half way round the world of course. In Nottingham I have worked with a small group of other bloggers, we called it blog clinic and it was all about setting measurable goals, helping each other identity ways to achieve those goals and holding each other accountable. All four of us have gone on to exceed those goals, whether it be the amount of money we made, our stats, awards or rankings.

Take a risk and jump

It was necessity that finally kicked me into action, there was a cash emergency and to make money from blogging was the quickest and easiest option, but it is too easy to put your goals aside unless you are under pressure. So set goals and get someone to hold you accountable.

Nurture your contacts.

Becky taught me all I know about this, and I interviewed her here:

If you’ve enjoyed this please do subscribe to my You Tube channel, thank you.

 

Embrace change, blogs, like babies grow up

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 21.21.36

My first post, why did it take me 4 years to work out I loved travel blogging so much?

When Wayfair wanted to buy A Residence, my first blog, and to employ me on a freelance contract I wasn’t sure in my heart. I’d built up a blog over years, as I had ‘built up’ my own babies. But in my head I could see it was an amazing opportunity to really grow the homes and lifestyle elements in that blog.

Having grown in confidence and technical skills I felt confident enough to move the more personal content out to Little Legacy and to build up parentshaped, this blog too. All three sites now feel like slightly different homes, but all of them still very me. I am really enjoying collaborating with Wayfair’s creative team and building new skills.

Creating awareness online

I summarised some of what we learnt about creating awareness online for charity in this video, but it applies generally too:

 

Hope you find these insights useful, it was hard work to make money from blogging and it took time, but it really snowballed.

Good Luck with whatever you are currently working towards. If you have any questions, please do leave them below, or seek me out on Twitter @AResidence. If you have enjoyed what you read please subscribe for more updates from parent shaped:

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

Or for a monthly round of of food, interiors and gardens from A Residence:



Are you a split screen family?

Narnia Mr Tumnus

Smartphones are a lot like Narnia…

Yesterday my daughter was ill, I had been at Britmums blogging conference all weekend and wanted to collapse on the sofa, so I promised her a PJ party where we would watch Narnia. We got out the DVD, found some sweets, snuggled up with a blanket and put on the film.

I was entranced for a few minutes, we got through the wardrobe and into Narnia, but all too soon I was reaching for another world, via my smart phone, twiddling between social media apps and googling random things. All too often in our house TV viewing involves the kids watching something while my husband and I play on our smartphones – split screens. It feels as if neither activity, or our kids are getting our actual focus, and it worries me that we have lost the ability to really enjoy the big screen.

This is backed up by research by LG which shows when it comes to the football this summer, 84% want to watch at home, but 96% will be chatting about it on social media. All fine for grown ups, I think watching football can get tedious and my mind can wander, but that has to be really frustrating if you are a little kid!

So with the football on, and England out, it seems like a good idea to support Brazil. Both kids have expressed a desire to get into football. So I think it is time to think about making TV football watching an occasion. With the right snacks, themed with whoever country we happen to be supporting at the time, a party atmosphere and smart phones put away in another room for 90 minutes I am hoping my  family might feel the benefit of single screen family event.

Perhaps we will wander off the football and end up making a lego football pitch or playing some indoor football, drawing the countries flag, talking about where that country is and getting a map out – so much better than adults and children being split by the second screen?

I am convinced enjoying and event together and giving it our unified and complete focus is a really important part of family life, and that split screens not only increase our stress, but they distance our children. What do you think? Do you have any rules or approaches around split screens in your household?

6 ways to teach your child about spirituality

6 ways to teach children what spirituality is

For some people religion and spirituality are synonymous, but regardless of whether you have a faith based in a religion, or in wider spirituality, teaching children that everyone can have spirituality regardless of whether they believe in a god is important.

Spirituality is often confused with spiritualism, which can of course be part of some people’s spirituality. Sprituality is also sometimes assumed to be something those who don’t believe in a god don’t have.

When my mum died she had a humanist ceremony and it was full of meaning, joy and spirit and it finally helped me to see what spirituality meant to me. I don’t always get it right and it can be hard to teach something you are discovering for yourself, but here are six ways I have found to teach your child about spirituality.

Describe your family spirituality to your children, let them own it

Family mottos, sayings or collages of important beliefs have become a trend in interior design, but with good reason. Declaring your family’s beliefs and values can teach your child about spirituality and help them verbalise it.

Just as an atheist can struggle to find the words to describe religion, describing a spirituality that isn’t based in religion can be a challenge. My own spirituality took a long while to define, I don’t believe in god, but atheism always seemed like an absence not just of god, but like a kind of vacuum of beliefs, values and spirit too.

Children who aren’t raised to be religious can feel that they are missing out by not going to church or calling themselves a particular religion, I know I whined to my parents endlessly about not being christened, mainly because I was teased about it at school – but often it is just a case of explaining what families have and believe and celebrate in place of religion.

When my daughter asks about ‘not being christened’, instead I will tell her long stories about the processions of people who turned up to greet her, I will show her the cards they sent and the twinkly diamond necklace my best friend gave her, a star to guide her through life. My son already loves to unpack his baby box and talk about the photos, socks and hats.

Find your happy places

The first time I encountered the word spirituality I was training to teach, my mentor was leading a PSHE session with a GCSE group. He defined his spirituality as at is strongest when he was in nature. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. I realised being outdoors really made me feel in tune with the world. I’ve gathered more since, staring at the stars always helps me to realise that I am just a tiny piece of the universe and that my problems might seem huge, but they aren’t really, not in the big scheme of things. Spending time gardening with my kids is one way that I encourage them to value nature, whereas my husband likes to talk to them about Space and the universe.

Ask questions

I think its important to raise children to be inquisitive, to have questions and to be philosophers, one of the best ways to do that I find is to model asking lots of questions. Visiting places that encourage questions about the world, museums, historical sites, exhibitions can keep their minds wondering and encourage them to ask more questions.

Model emotions and positive thoughts

Talk to children about what is going on inside your head too, its incredibly powerful for them to gain these insights. From explaining you are feeling worried or sad, to telling them you are sending positive thoughts to someone, letting them hear how you think about others and care for them teaches them to have a caring spirit.

Donating to charity, fund raising and thinking about others is a big thing I try to model.

Create rituals

We do celebrate Easter and Christmas, they have largely become Christian festivals these days, but they haven’t always been that way. I make sure to explain to my children what different religions are celebrating at these times and to discuss what we are celebrating too. For me Easter is about new life and nature bouncing back. Christmas is a festival to see us through the darkest days of Winter and a time to really share with friends and family.

We have our own rituals too, from pizza Friday to the annual climb up the hill to the tree where my Mum’s ashes are scattered, to lighting a candle to signal the start of family time at the weekend, or retreating into nature without technology in our caravan. Big and small, rituals are a big part of defining a spiritual family life.

Read

Books can take you to so many different places and help children understand other people’s perspectives and develop empathy. One of my favourites is the Soul Bird, by Michal Snunit, it’s a lovely story about how a bird processes different emotions.

sb8

How do you teach your child about spirituality, I am always on the hunt for new ideas?