Do you practise present parenting?

I am jinxed when it comes to phones. Seriously. I’ve lost more than I can even remember, and once dropped a brand new phone down the toilet two weeks into a two year contract. My latest tech failure comes in the form of a severely cracked screen on my iPhone, which is less than six months old.

It’s left me phone-less these last few days, and you know what? It’s been bloody liberating.

More than that though, my kids have articulated that they prefer their mummy phone-free. Ouch!

There I was thinking I had a grip on this. I know that I spend a LOT less time on my phone than I used to. I also know that I spend a crap tonne less time on it than almost every other blogger I know. Not that it’s a competition, but sometimes it’s good to compare and contrast.

present parentingThe truth is, not having a phone to divert my attention elsewhere is great for my present parenting abilities.

Because even with the best will in the world there will be texts to reply to. Quick chats to have with friends going through a hard time. A sneaky look at Instagram to see how well that latest post is doing. A brief look at gmail to make sure I’m not missing anything important. 

And all those five minutes, add up.

Being glued to a phone is not conducive at all to being a present parent. It’s just not. Especially with my spectrum children

I can convince myself all I like that my kids need to get better at letting me have a little bit of a life outside of them, but is that fair on them?

I used to think that their inability to see me on my phone and not try to grab my attention by kicking lumps out of each other was a fault on their behalf. I can see now though, that it’s completely unreasonable of me to expect this from them.

They didn’t ask for this life did they? They didn’t ask to be bullied and unsupported at school, and have to be home educated. As a family we go up and down and round in circles on this matter. Some days we win, and it’s amazing, but often we struggle.

Me being on my phone certainly doesn’t help. So once again I am going to own this as something I have control over, and react in a positive way.

I’m sure the world will still continue turning.

I absolutely refuse to look back on this time and feel guilty for anything. Present parenting is definitely top of my agenda this year. What’s on the top of yours?   

What is the EDF Energy Pretty Curious campaign, and why is it important?

When EDF Energy got in touch about their Pretty Curious campaign, which encourages girls to go into STEM related careers, I was naturally eager to learn more. As a home educating mama, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get the children interested in new and exciting things. It doesn’t get much more exciting than STEM – which stands for science, technology, engineering and maths. 

The hard core truth is that STEM related careers have been traditionally dominated by men. Which is why EDF Energy launched the Pretty Curious campaign in 2015, to try and bring some balance into the field. They set themselves a target for 30% of their STEM graduate and apprenticeship intake to be women by 2018, and in 2017 it was already at 35%.

As a large energy company EDF Energy are reliant on STEM skills, and put the utmost importance on recruiting from a diverse talent pool. Pretty Curious will be continuing its mission to encourage girls to pursue STEM based subjects at school, and hopefully go into STEM related careers. They even joined forces in 2017 with Star Wars: The Last Jedi to spread the word to even more girls and women. Take a look at the video below for more details.

Polly, 8 and Clara, 6 were Pretty Curious when they were told they’d get to build a robot which they could then control with an app  

To whet our appetite for STEM, EDF Energy sent us a droid inventor kit to create. Being the main home educator, I like to give my husband the fun jobs. Plus he’s a huge Star Wars fan, and was probably as excited as the girls were about building an actual R2D2. 

I loved watching the looks of deep concentration on their faces when they were working on this task. To be honest, we don’t have a huge amount of situations where we have to follow instructions to the letter, but it’s great for us to all do from time to time. Myself included. I find it therapeutic to tune out absolutely everything else, and focus my attention fully on one thing.

They all had a great time putting the droid together, and controlling his movements through the app. We’ve done a few of the challenges now, and the kit has been a brilliant addition to our learning schedule.

Activities you can do with your own girls

The campaign has given girls a real sense of what it might be like to work in STEM careers by providing realistic experiences and digital content. You can take part in a number of activities on the Pretty Curious section of the EDF Energy website.

You’ll be asked a series of questions when taking the Future Me Quiz and get to create a shareable, personalised avatar who has a STEM-related career.  The idea is for your kids to picture themselves in potential future roles, ranging from a biologist to an electrical engineer. Taking the personality quiz could help them see what careers they might be suited to later on down the road.

The hard core truth is that STEM related careers have been traditionally dominated by men. Which is why EDF Energy launched the Pretty Curious campaign in 2015, to try and bring some balance into the field. They set themselves a target for 30% of their STEM graduate and apprenticeship intake to be women by 2018, and in 2017 it was already at 35%. Read this blog to learn more. You can watch 360º virtual reality videos like Clara is doing here. In the videos you get to experience what life would really be like as the architect of the Shard. Or what it would be like to work on a wind farm. Or you can explore the offices of a software developer. There are plenty to choose from starring everyday amazing women.

Be the first to take the new parents quiz to see what STEM related career would best suit your child(ren). Identify their strengths to discover information and guidance on pursuing roles based on their results.

To learn more head over to the EDF Energy website, or follow #PrettyCurious on social media

**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post, please click here for my full disclosure policy.**

When London based bedmakers Warren Evans offered us the opportunity to review one of their super king sized beds, with a TEMPUR® Mattress, I literally punched the air!

Regular readers will already know that sleep deprivation has been a major feature in mine and hubby’s lives the entire time we’ve been parents. I almost don’t want to say this for fear of jinxing us, but our children are currently sleeping better than ever (more on that very soon). There is one catch though – Freddy, who is almost four, sleeps in our bed.

Every. Single. Night.

We’ve been through several cycles with him now, and for the last six months or so he has been very averse to the idea of sleeping in his own bed in any capacity. Co-sleeping certainly has many pros, but the obvious con is that I often end up being shoved to the bottom of the bed by a wriggly child. I’ve also woken up hanging out the side, with a terrible backache, more times than I can remember.

Drastic action was needed, but we don’t do sleep training or crying it out here. I figure that if Freddy needs the comfort and security of sleeping next to us then I’m not going to deny him. As we experience more stress than most families, I do everything and anything I can to counteract it. Hence the air punching at the opportunity to upgrade our old bed and trade it in for a much bigger, much better model. We went for the stunning Borneo frame, which you can view here

I’ve never slept this well

warren evans

The quality of a Warren Evans bed is undeniable. We fell in love with their beds after having a sleepover at our friends house, and now we have our own it has not disappointed. They are beautifully designed beds, and one the best things of all is that they are handmade here in the UK.  

We chose the TEMPUR® Original Deluxe mattress which moulds to the exact contours of your body giving optimum support and comfort. It also has the added benefit of TEMPUR® Soft-Touch quilted into the cover for a more luxurious feeling. This mattress contains pressure relieving properties that can reduce tossing and turning at night.

Sleeping in our new bed is what I imagine sleeping on clouds would feel like. My backache is a distant memory, and I’m getting quality uninterrupted shuteye for the first time in nine years. A good friend of mine bought a similar bed over a decade ago, and travels a lot for work. She said no hotel bed has ever been a match for her own.  

Don’t just take my word for it though, here’s what international tennis ace Serena Williams says about TEMPUR®:

“I’m really able to just get a deep sleep. It makes a huge difference.”

A little bit about TEMPUR®

Developed by Nasa in the 1970s to cushion and support astronauts during lift-off, TEMPUR® material distributes weight and pressure evenly, so all you feel is weightless. Today, TEMPUR® material lies at the core of all their mattresses and pillows and is still the only mattress product recognised by NASA and certified by the Space Foundation.

In my opinion, a TEMPUR® mattress is worth every single penny. They come with a ten year guarantee as standard which tells you everything you need to know. Warren Evans also offer interest free credit, and a price match.

A little bit about Warren Evans

Warren Evans has 38 years of award winning experience handcrafting beds, mattresses and furniture from their London workshop. Their superior service and quality products, at a fantastic price, means you get great value and a perfect night’s sleep.

I was super impressed with the delivery service, and was kept informed every step of the way. They sent an email and text message to confirm the order. Then on the day I had a phone call to tell me they would be with me within an hour. The drivers turned up on time, were polite, professional and efficient. They were in and out of my house in just under an hour, and that was to install this bed as well as the girls new bunk beds.

It does not surprise me one bit that Warren Evans was the highest rated UK mattress shop in the Which? Members “Best Mattress Retailers” Survey 2017.

Overall an outstanding service, and I cannot recommend Warren Evans or TEMPUR® highly enough! If you’re in the market for a new bed, and are feeling a bit tempted, now is a great time to take a look.

Warren Evans have many beds on sale, and I have an exclusive discount code just for you. Enter ‘WETEMPUR’ for an extra £50* off!  

Follow Warren Evans on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

Follow TEMPUR® on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

*The discount code will expire on 5th March, and the minimum spend is £1000*

**Disclaimer: This is a collaborative article, sponsored by Warren Evans. Click here for my full disclosure policy.** 

We’re one week into the new year, and still suffering from the Christmas comedown in my house

This year we did things differently. We didn’t go overboard with Christmas related activities. There were no trips to see Santa. No mad dash to visit every single friend we have beforehand. No so-called treats in the way of milk and glucose syrup dressed up as chocolate.

There was no advent. No mass hysteria counting down the days, minutes and seconds until the 25th arrived. Rather than get caught up in what other people were doing, we did what was best for us.

And you know what? We had the best Christmas as a family yet

It was a far cry from the way things have been over the last few years. I spent Christmas eve 2014 sitting on my bed, feeding Freddy, crying my eyes out while all hell broke loose in different rooms. The excitement and sensory overload had well and truly got the best of our then undiagnosed Polly (who is high functioning autistic). She was only five at the time, but the misery that was inflicted upon us all – especially her sister – was undeniable. Little did we know back then that her poor little brain just could not handle what was happening.

I spent that evening sobbing into my phone, desperately searching for answers. Reasons why our child was so difficult when everybody else we knew were posting cute photos on social media. I looked at numerous blogs, websites and book excerpts on the Kindle store that night. I found a book which filled us with hope, and we ploughed the rest of December and much of January into implementing the strategies it suggested.

Christmas comedownWe were still playing the ‘lets treat her the same as everyone else’ game at that point, you see

So although some of the advice was helpful, a lot of it wasn’t. Now that we know Polly isn’t the same as everyone else things are very different. We create our own rules. We play our own game. Life is incomparable now to what it was three years ago.

“Isn’t that just what happens around Polly’s age?”

This is the question I’ve been asked a few times recently. Perhaps for neuro typical children who fit a standard mould, this is exactly what happens as they get older. For autistic children though, life can start getting much harder as they get grow. 

So, for all of my positivity, and delight about the end of our year and festive season, my stomach is once again tied in knots. The Christmas comedown has come along and sucker punched me this week. 

We’ve argued. A lot. There has been much resistance to getting back to learning. There have been many tears and screams of I hate you.

I’ve been physically and emotionally battered by the Christmas comedown

I haven’t written about Polly’s autism for a while. I am desperate to write about all the positives. To pass on tips and help other parents who were in the depths of despair like we were three years ago. 

I have articles in draft about getting sleep on track, about home education, about helping my kids get on better. 

But for now, I’d like to dish out some huge virtual hugs. For anyone else feeling a little bit low right now. Feeling the January blues with a side of autism. For those like us, who are feeling the Christmas comedown, and hoping beyond hope, that it doesn’t last much longer!  

We’re just over halfway through winter and it’s feeling pretty chilly here in Blighty. As we head into the coldest part of the year, I’ve been thinking about ways to sneak vitamins and minerals into my children to ensure they have a head start to stay healthy.

To help fend off the dreaded bugs and to support their immune systems, they’ll be taking their Haliborange supplements every day, as well as eating a varied and nutritious diet. Here are a few extra creative ways I’ll be boosting their immune systems even further.

Why is calcium important and how can we eat more of it?

vitamins and mineralsCalcium is vital for teeth and bone health, especially for growing children whose bodies are achieving peak bone mass. As a family we don’t eat a huge amount of dairy, so I’m always on the hunt for extra ways to get calcium into us all. Did you know that a cup of cooked kale, or a tin of sardines (with bones) contains more calcium than a cup of pasteurised milk? It’s quite fascinating once you start looking into it, check out this article for more info.

Although most of us throw them away, egg shells are an excellent source of calcium. They are mainly calcium carbonate, made up similarly to our bones and teeth. A simple way of preparing the shells is to boil them (to remove bacteria) then roast them in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes, allow to cool and grind to a powder in a blender. When the powder is added to soups and smoothies it’s undetectable. I call that a win!

Why is vitamin D important and how can we eat more of it?

We need vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium, and deficiency in children could lead to bone disorders such as rickets. Unlike many other vitamins and minerals, vitamin D is largely made by our own bodies by converting chemicals it receives from exposure to sunshine. Unfortunately, when you live in a country like the UK, you can’t rely on the sun making an appearance every day, so it’s vital to boost vitamin D where possible. Check out this article for signs of deficiency.     

Red meat, oily fish and eggs are all great sources of vitamin D, as well as certain mushrooms (especially maitake). As long as they’ve been exposed to UV light, these mushrooms are exceptionally high in vitamin D because their skin absorbs it from the light the way human skin does. Even my ridiculously fussy eater Freddy can be persuaded to eat mushrooms that have been sauteed in coconut oil and sea salt from time to time. 

Why is iron important and how can we eat more of it?

vitamins and mineralsIf you don’t have enough iron in your system, your body won’t be able to make enough healthy oxygen carrying red blood cells. This could lead to iron deficiency, also known as anemia, which is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Thankfully we can avoid it by eating lots of iron rich food. Red meat and liver are high in iron, as is spirulina, a type of algae. Check out this article for the top ten best foods to eat for boosting iron.

Other great iron sources are raisins, pistachio nuts and dark chocolate. The children love making bark in our house, and it never lasts longer than five minutes. Simply melt dark chocolate (I use 85% cocoa solids, the higher the better as it will be lower in sugar), then stir in a handful each of raisins and pistachios, then allow to set in the fridge. It’s absolutely delicious, and also makes a fab gift. 

What are your favourite ways of sneaking vitamins and minerals into your children? Tweet me @mummytries

**Disclaimer: this post has been sponsored by Haliborange. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Vitamin A: helps support normal vision | Vitamin C: helps support the immune system | Vitamin D: essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children | Vitamin B12: contributes to normal energy release.

Food supplements do not replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.