10 Xmas ideas to the keep kids busy over the festive season

Read time: 3 Minutes

The countdown is on, and the wee’uns are bouncing off the walls in great form. It can be exhausting (and highly frustrating) to keep them busy while you get on with your Christmas preparations.

Yes, the Christmas shows are played on the telly 24/7 and as great as sitting in watching Christmas classic after Christmas classic does sound, we’ve composed some fun activities for you and the kids to do over the holidays.

  1. Make your own Christmas cards

Stock up with some paints, glitter, card, glue, cotton balls and colouring pens/crayons. You can create some footprint Reindeer!  Encourage the kids to use things from around the garden, like twigs or leaves.

DYI-Cards.jpg

  1. Visit Santa

We all remember visiting Santa as a child – they are the memories we never forget! Why not visit the Santa Experience at Croke Park?  Take a trip to Santa’s Grotto, through the Ski Patrol Room -which is manned by Santa’s very own elves. Your ticket also includes free admission to the GAA Museum, with two floors of interactive exhibits. Or how about Claregalway Castle in the West of Ireland? Take part in a snowball fight, meet Santa’s pets and enjoy story time with Mrs Clause. They are both popular events, so remember to pre-book as they fill up fast.

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  1. Paper plate Christmas elves

Another craft idea for the house. Use some paper plates and create a little army of elves! Encourage your children’s creativity by empowering them to make whatever they please. You can even add some string and cut out some holes for eyes and a mouth to make masks!

4. Shoe Box campaign

There are many vulnerable children in the world who will receive no other Christmas gift than the one given to them in the shoebox appeal. Teach your child the gift of giving, and to be aware of how lucky we are by encouraging them to create a box of their own to fill for a child.

5. Christmas Pantos
Why not take a trip to see Polly & the Beanstalk at the Olympia this December? Don’t pretend you don’t enjoy it! Or cheer the goodies and boo the baddies at the Three Musketeers Panto, which is on at the Civic Theatre from the 14th of December until the 7th of January.

  1. Ice Skating

Do you fancy yourself in the 2018 winter Olympics in PyeongChang? Then get your skates on!  If you’re feeling brave, take the kids to the ice rink. It’s a sure way to tire the little ones out. Ice rinks pop up all over Ireland; in Blanchardstown, Dundrum and a few in Cork.

  1. Make your own tree decorations

You can never have too many crafts! Use empty toilet roll holders for the top of the Christmas tree, and create unique angels for the top. Use everyday objects to come up with creative new Christmas decorations for the tree.

crafts with paper plates

  1. Get out for a walk – stay active!

Sure, it’s cold outside. But winter is a beautiful time of year. Ireland is treated to some of the prettiest skies we witness all year round. Remember to encourage an active lifestyle even in these cold months, as tempting as it is to stay in front of the cosy fire with some sweet treats.  It’s a great idea to get on the wellies and take a stroll through the forest and appreciate the lovely scenery, and while you’re out, remember to bring some pinecones home for all those arts and crafts you’re going to do!

  1. Pinecone Christmas trees

Those pinecones collected on your winter stroll will come into good use when it comes to making some pinecone themed Christmas trees! Get your little ones to create their own little Christmas trees.

  1. Spend quality time with granny and grandad

Christmas, it’s family time. Take the kids to see their Gran & Grandad this year. Remember, that Christmas can be a very isolating and lonely time for some elderly folk, and it’s easy to forget with our hectic lifestyles and busy schedules. So, please pay attention to your elderly relatives who would be delighted to have the wee’uns around.

We want to hear what you do to keep your kids entertained over the festive period. Use the hashtag #MyIrishLife on social media to let us know!

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21 Things You’ll Only Know If You Have Twins

Read time: 2 Minutes

Parents of twins – do you remember what life was like before you had those little bundles of joy? No, of course you don’t.

When they arrive, your whole life is turned upside down and inside out. Everything as you knew it has transformed, you’re no longer you – you’re a parent of twins.

Having twins is an incredible experience that you could never have imagined in a million years. There’ll be more joy in your life than you thought possible but, of course, having twins does come with its own unique set of challenges…

        1. People will say ‘oh any day now!’ when you’re only 26 weeks pregnant.
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        2. You can not count the amount of times people have asked if they are twins. ‘No, they’re tiplets. Oh God, I must have lost one!’
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        3. People want to know everything – do twins run in your family? Were they conceived naturally? How long was your labour? How much weight did you gain?
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        4. You finally realise why human women were made with two boobs and two arms.
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        5. When you meet a mother of triplets, you want to bow down in her honour.
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        6. They won’t sleep at the same time.
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        7. People in shops will give you odd looks for buying the same toy or baby outfit twice.
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        8. There’s no such thing as a quick trip to the shop.
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        9. Having to avoid certain places because your double pram doesn’t fit.
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        10. When you only have one baby for the day it feels like an absolute breeze and you begin to disbelieve any mother of one child who says she doesn’t have time to do anything.
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        11. You’re pretty sure you can tell the difference between your twins….Pretty sure.
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        12. You get really excited when you see buy one get one free offers.
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        13. If you had a euro for every time someone said ‘oh, double the trouble!’
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        14. You have accidentally changed the same nappy twice.
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        15. You feel like master of the universe when you’re able to breastfeed both at the same time.
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        16. No, they don’t share toys.
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        17. Your life feels constantly loud.
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        18. They will ‘speak twin’ and you will understand and suddenly realise that you too now speak twin.
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        19. You’re not sure if you’re delirious all the time because you’re so used to seeing double of everything.
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        20. You’re constantly frightened that you’re giving one more attention than the other.
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        21. You become a referee.
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      Are you a parent of twins? Let us know if you agree in the comments below!

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How Your Smartphone Usage Is Damaging Your Children

Read time: 3 Minutes

We can all be a little guilty of it. Scrolling through our social media feeds, reading a news story, watching a bid on eBay, only to realise that our child is standing right in front of us, mid conversation and we haven’t heard a word they’ve said.

In Ireland, 90% of us use the internet on a daily basis, spending an average of 5.5 hours per day attached to our devices – that’s a third of our entire days.

It should come as no surprise to day that using our smartphones so regularly has an impact on our children.

A new study published in the May 2017 issue of the journal, Child Development, has shown a strong link between a parent’s smartphone usage and a child’s bad behaviour.

The study asked parents to rate how problematic their device use was, based on how difficult they felt it was to resist checking messages and worrying about calls and texts. The study participants also reported how often their devices diverted their attention when otherwise engaged with their children.

Of the 300 parents who took part in the study, around half said that technology typically interrupted their parent-child time three or more times a day, with 24% reporting twice a day and 17% reporting once a day.

Child using a tablet

The author of the study, Brandon McDaniel, concluded that children were likely to act out and behave badly as a result of being ignored for screens.

Parents answered questions about how often their children sulked, whined, became easily frustrated, threw tantrums or showed signs of restlessness and hyperactivity over the prior two months.

The findings showed that even low or seemingly “normal” amounts of technoference (the term coined by McDaniel to describe the phenomenon) were associated with more behavioural problems in participants’ children.

He said: “Even minor, everyday intrusions of technology that are likely happening to all of us that have and use smartphones can begin to influence our children’s behaviour.”

How to limit ‘technoference’ with your children

We all know that we should try as hard as we can to spend quality, device-free, time with our children but tearing ourselves away from our phones, laptops and tablets can be easier said than done.

Our devices have almost become part of us; for some we feel like we need them there constantly for work purposes and for others, picking up and scrolling has become an unstoppable force of habit.

But if you are determined to break that habit, there are a few things you can try to minimise the ‘technoference’ between you and your kids.

  1. Talk more

Even if you aren’t able to reduce the time you’re spending on your device, use the one-to-one time that you do have with your child wisely. Engage and listen to them, ask questions about their day, their interests and their hobbies. Make them feel listened to and appreciated to minimise bad behaviour.

Parent spending device free time with child

  1. Make meal time device free

How many times during a family meal, have you looked around and realised that everyone around the table has their face glued to a screen? When having meals together, encourage everyone to participate in conversation. Studies show that children who regularly eat 20 minute meals with their family are also less likely to be obese.

  1. Observe behavioural changes

Pay close attention to your child’s behaviour when there are screens involved. Be aware of how your screen time impacts them and if their periods of acting out can be directly attributed to being ignored for devices. Note that children learn by example and if they see you ignoring others to use phones or tablets, they will follow suit and believe that this is acceptable.

  1. Treat all devices equally

The average family these days can have 10 devices or more in the household. If you are trying to decrease your use of phones or tablets, don’t just sit in front of the TV instead. Use this time to engage in completely screen-free time.

  1. Use your brain, not Google

One of the main excuses for using devices, is that they are educational. But as they become more entwined with our daily lives, we can often use them as replacements for our own knowledge. If you constantly turn to Google to find the answers to questions, your children will begin to do the same; diminishing the value of personal general knowledge. When questions arise that you don’t know the answer to, spend time as a family figuring things out or analysing the answer to continually learn together.

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  1. Avoid hard rules

It can often seem like a good idea to set hard rules like ‘no devices after 5pm’ but when there are unintended slip ups, this can lead to the rules being forgotten altogether. When parenting, routines are key but when it comes to device time, which is a relatively new phenomenon in parenting, it’s best to play it by ear and find what’s right for your family.

  1. Don’t use the work excuse

If your child is begging you to pay attention or put your phone down, don’t use the ‘mummy/daddy is doing some important work’ excuse. Once you get home for the day or close the laptop, all work should stop, which means no replying to work emails or taking calls from colleagues. This can be harder if you run your own business, but it’s still up to you to create that work/life divide. Although kids should know the value of working hard, they should never be made to feel like they are less important than a work email from your boss. When this happens, your children will be much more likely to feel shunned, frustrated and behave badly as a result.

How do you manage ‘technoference’ at home? Let us know using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

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20 weird and wonderful things only mothers do

Read time: 2 Minutes

Being a parent is a wonderful, joyous, lifechanging experience. It’s also weird, strange and even disgusting at times, leading you to do things that you never in a million years thought you would be doing – like catching your child’s vomit with your bare hands.

Below is a list of things that only mothers do. If you have kids, you’ll probably chuckle ‘yep’ at each of these, if not, here is a taste of what to expect if you ever do decide to have children one day. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  1. Not having a name anymore. Being known as mammy, referring to yourself as mammy and having others (including your partner) refer to you as mammy.
    Mom mom mom
  2. Running away and hiding to eat a snack so you don’t have to share it.
    eating a snack
  3. Teaching another living human how to use a toilet.
    Teach babies how to use a toilet
  4. Not thinking twice about going outside the house with a baby puke stain/pee on your top.
    baby puke on your top
  5. Being a master of the ‘lift and sniff’. For those who don’t have kids, this is the practice of lifting your baby’s bum to your face and sniffing it to check if their nappy is full. Which you know it is.
    Check nappy
  6. Tasting a brown stain on your child to check if it’s chocolate or poo.
    regret choice
  7. Finding yourself watching your child’s cartoon after they’ve left the room and being genuinely interested in what’s going to happen next.
    Watching cartoons
  8. Rocking yourself back and forth to soothe the baby even when you don’t have the baby and you’re completely alone.
    Rocking yourself back and forth
  9. Cheering when your child poos. And then sending celebratory pictures of your child’s poo to your partner.
    Baby poo
  10. Picking your child’s nose.
    Ewww
  11. Eating their food scraps. Sometimes even the half chewed up ones.
    Nom nom nom
  12. Fishing a poo out of the bath.
    Baby in the bath
  13. Fishing toys out of the toilet.
    Fishing toys out of the toilet
  14. Cherishing time alone in the toilet.
    Time alone in the toilet
  15. Cleaning your child’s face with your own spit.
    Child eating chocolate
  16. Dancing and singing in front of your child in a way that you would never do in front of another human.
    Woman dancing
  17. Not really caring about getting peed on.
    Disgusted woman
  18. Using your hands as a bin for your child’s chewed up food or something they’ve put in their mouth and decided is yucky.
    Thi is yucky
  19. Cleaning a dirty dummy by sticking it in your own mouth.
    Bby and dog
  20. Taking a drink of your child’s drink even though you know it’s 95% backwash.
    This is not poison

What weird and wonderful things do you do as a mother? Let us know by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

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