That Little Thing Called Sleep

Teddy has always been a night owl. He frequently wakes in the night and will often be in our bed before morning. I do enjoy my morning snuggles with him- especially now I’m off work but it is tough.

I tried different sleeping strategies but hadn’t found one I got on with. I even tried the cry out one but gave up very quickly as both me and Teddy ended up crying! So we kept him in with us longer than lots of people would. It was getting to the point that Teddy would start off in our bed and we were properly co-sleeping. Phil (my husband) often ended up at the bottom of the bed because Teddy likes to sleep in a starfish fashion. We kept saying we will change it when he turned one, then when I was on half term and so on. We ‘sleep trained’ a dozen times but in the end gave up.

Then came the day when we had him in the cot for most of the night. Result. He wasn’t in his own room but he was in his own bed and that was something. Then Teddy broke the cot. He had started trying to climb out, throwing himself around and stamping.

So when he was 15 months, we bought him a toddler bed. Phil chose a fancy Thomas the Tank one and Teddy loved it. We kept it in our room for one week to monitor Teddy in case he fell out etc. He didn’t. Then we moved him into his own room and the little monster started to sleep. I mean actually sleep. Like he would go down at 8am, wake at 12 for a drink then sleep until 5am. No training. No fuss. Just a ridiculous bed and a new environment. He goes to his bed when I say bedtime now and sits and waits for his book. Three blissful weeks then the teeth came…

I’m not kidding. Every single tooth seems to be coming through at once. Now every hour he wakes up needing to be resettled and yes…. often ends up in our bed. The second baby is due in November and at this rate I think we will end up with two in the bed.

It is strange how little sleep humans actually need. I used to get 7-8 hours sleep (undisturbed). Now I get about 4-5 broken hours and am alive still. I can’t even drink copious amounts of coffee at the moment.

Advertisements

Jump into a Book

Teddy adores ‘The Hungry Caterpillar.’ No matter how many times I read it, he never gets bored. My lovely cousin bought him a copy of the book before he was born so it was one of the first books I read to him.

In addition to the book, he also enjoys the animated version and sometimes it is the only thing that will calm him down. I am a massive book worm and love nothing better than losing myself in a book. My husband likes books too so we have lots around the house. Teddy will often be sat looking at a big text book upside down. Teddy is building up quite a collection himself (non-textbook books). He loves going into Waterstones and choosing a new book- he always comes away with at least one. Two if Daddy takes him.

Reading is so important to children early on. The more they read, the better they become at writing. Their imagination grows and they expand their vocabulary.

I read to Teddy every night and I love it. I put on silly voices and make growling sounds etc and Teddy laughs and smiles and stays engaged for the whole book. I started to wonder about other ways I could engage him and remembered small worlds.

Today I created a ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ one. I made the caterpillar out of egg boxes (seen this done before on pinterest). Then I went through the house to find as many items as I could that are mentioned in the book. I added rice and lentils to the base for a sensory element. I set it up so it would look like a page in the book.

This evening, after dinner, I showed it to Teddy. His whole face lit up. I don’t have photos of the event as my husband and I were so engrossed with watching Teddy’s reaction. I read him the book whilst acting out each part (for example the caterpillar munching on a pear etc). I added in big burps after each feed- Teddy laughed a lot at these points. After the book was finished, he explored the world for 15 mins. He was totally immersed. He touched the items, played with the rice, tasted the pear and role played drinking out of the cup. It just shows how powerful play is to learning and how useful books can be as a tool to unlock opportunities for play. I’m thinking we might do ‘The Gruffolo’ next……

Junk Model Fun

As a teacher I have learnt that it is important to be a magpie. Collect anything and everything because it will have a use at some point.

Even though Teddy is young, I thought it still worth beginning our collection of junk modelling crap. By this I mean: egg boxes, toilet roll tubes, milk cartons etc. I’ve been hoarding them away waiting for the right moment.

Today was one of those days where plans change. We had thought we would be out all day but instead found ourselves free. This meant I hadn’t thought of any activities. Toddler groups are still closed for the summer and a whole day spanned before me.

I quickly googled egg box ideas and lots of green crocodiles appeared. Fab! So this morning at 9am after a failed breakfast (no to weetabix, toast, banana or crumpets) we began. Out came the trusty tuff tray, egg boxes and green paint. I didn’t even need to demonstrate to Teddy what to do. He was stuck in there. Once green, we left them to dry.

Bathtime was next- always a winner and can last 20-30 mins! Then we went for a walk to the park. This always kills 1-2 hours. Teddy made a new friend (a human, not a moth!). He collected some pine cones, tried to eat a rotten apple and had a tantrum when it was time to leave.

A failed lunch follows (someone is teething!). Then we assembled our master piece. You have to see his little face in the photo below. He loves his crocodile. It is a fantastic prop for ‘row, row, row your boat’. Which we had fun acting out about 10 times.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of a nap, we made banana and raisin muffins, played mega blocks and read some story books. There may have also been an episode of Peppa Pig whilst I cooked dinner…. and an incident of black crayon on the coffee table.

Daddy came to the rescue at about 6pm so I could tidy the kitchen whilst hearing Teddy’s squeals of delight.

Today was my first official day on maternity leave and I loved it. I got to spend it with my beautiful boy. I got to watch him paint, climb, laugh, cry and moan. I got unlimited cuddles and kisses. I can’t wait to spend more days like this.

My Little Nature Lover

As a child, I loved nothing better than being knee deep in algae and catching frogs. My nan had a lovely deep pond and I spent days in the summer observing and catching frogs. I had an ant farm, collected snails and was always rescuing birds. My mum will probably remember the time I brought an injured crow home. It was huge! Whilst pregnant with Teddy, I would often said that I hoped he would be a nature lover who enjoyed bugs and mud. Well I got my wish!

Teddy LOVES wildlife, animals, bugs, nature. Basically anything living! He squeals with excitement when he sees a dog, waves at wasps and has even caught an unsuspecting duck. He has picked up a stag beetle, tried to catch flies and stroked locusts. My family are animal mad- my mum has a guinea pig shed and an animal room and my brother has five or six different lizards and snakes living in his room. It is like visiting a zoo.

I try to keep Teddy engaged with wildlife by going to feed the ducks, pet the goats at our local farm and visit the butterfly house. Now, I love butterflies. But…. for some reason I don’t like moths. I will be honest, I’m scared of them. I really freak out when they are near me. No idea why.

I’m sure you can guess where this story is going… the other day, Teddy found something on the floor. He picked it up and brought it to me.

“Looks like a bit of fluff,” my husband said as I opened my hand for my gift. It was not fluff. It was a huge, live moth which was flapping and vibrating in my hand. I let out a shocked screech before dropping it to the floor. Teddy picked it up again, wanting to give it back to me.

“Daddy wants this,” I said in a high pitched voice. Since then, we’ve had loads of moths. I think Teddy has issued an invite. Anyway, the activity we did today was inspired by his love of moths and butterflys. The activity was butterfly painting!

I grabbed the tuff tray, some paints, paper and a brush. I then folded the page and showed Teddy how to paint one half. I folded it over, splatting them together. I got him to rub over it and then revealed the surprise. He squealed with excitement at the magic of a whole butterfly. We kept repeating the process and each time he was just as excited as the time before.

As Teddy is only 15 months, this was very much an adult led activity but he painted the butterfly with me and folded and unfolded the paper. A lovely way to spend an hour in the morning.

Play Dough Fun

I was really lucky that as a child, my mum was a play school leader. This meant she tested all her new activities on us! I remember watching her cut out little paper dolls and paper outfits, making glue from flour and water, baking gingerbread men and making playdough! She let us help her with activities and we loved it. My mum doesn’t mind mess and loves glitter so we were always encouraged to get stuck in.

As a mum myself now, I want to give my children the same childhood I had. I wanted to introduce Teddy to playdough but as he is only 15 months, he still puts lots of things in his mouth. I then remembered that my mum used to make playdough out of ingredients in the kitchen so would be harmless. I phoned her for the recipe, expecting it to be extensive and complicated but to my delight it was simple, easy to make and I already had everything in my cupboard.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
  • Food colouring

Method:

  1. Heat up water, salt, oil, food colouring and cream of tartar until warm.
  2. Take off heat, add one cup of flour then knead.
  3. Keep in air tight container for 6 months

So easy! I have to admit, kneading hot play dough is an amazing experience. Really good stress reliever.

Teddy loved playing with this dough. We made shapes and then pressed his sensory balls into the dough to create patterns. He did attempt to put it in his mouth once but spat it out quickly once he tasted salt.

I cannot recommend making playdough enough. It is cheap, non-toxic and easy to make.

Creating a Little World

I think I have a good imagination. I used to love writing stories and making up worlds for my toys. I hope Teddy will be the same. This activity was to inspire him to play with his toys.

Teddy is lucky enough to have two Noah’s Ark toys and so I wanted to bring them to life for him. Whilst he took his nap, I set up his tuff tray on the sitting room floor. I filled it with blue tissue paper to create a stormy sea. I then added a back drop of a starry night (a scarf of mine). I wanted to add texture so dyed some rice blue and sprinkled it onto the sea. As I was doing it, it struck me that this would be fab rain! It even made a pittar, patter sound as it fell. I saved some in a cup. I set it all up and waited impatiently for him to wake.

Anyone who knows Teddy, knows how animated he is. He has the most beautiful grin that lights up the room and when he sees something he likes, he makes the cutest squealing sounds. I couldn’t wait to see his face.

Finally, he comes in. He does indeed squeal and smile when he sees his activity. He climbed straight into the imaginary world and started moving the animals around. Because he is still young, I joined in. I showed him the different noises the animals made and which ones could be in the sea and which ones on land. We then made it rain! I sung “If all the raindrops” whilst making it rain. Teddy continued to play for another twenty mins or so and then got bored and started throwing rice across the room… but it was great while we were in the moment.

As they get older, you can be more creative with your tuff tray world ideas. You can make lands made up of many different materials. This enables the child to not only play with the toys in their environment but they also have the sensory element of the materials. Why not make a dinosaur world or a farm?

Sensory Fun

Having worked in various educational settings, I have seen sensory bottles used a lot. They are a fantastic aid when encouraging children to calm down.

When Teddy was starting to hate being in his high chair, I thought a sensory bottle might be a welcome distraction. What are they? Quite simply an old bottle filled with objects to keep a child amused. Some have sand, some have liquid, some have tissues. The idea is that the child cannot open the bottle once finished. It is for shaking and looking at.

The sensory bottle we filled for this activity was an old squash bottle. I peeled the label off and added water. I then found an assortment of pretty objects I thought might look nice in a bottle. I found pom poms, confetti and glitter.

Next step was to fill it. I sat Teddy on the carpet in front of the bottle of water and objects and showed him how to push the pom poms through the hole. This activity is a great one for fine motor skills. He had to pick up the pom poms using a pincer grip then push them through the hole. He did the same with confetti then I added the glitter.

Teddy was chuffed with the end result and happily played with it in his hugh chair. A lot cheaper than some of those high chair toys!