As we brace ourselves here in the UK for a hot days, we are getting the paddling pool prepared, water squirters are at the ready, drinks are in the freezer, sun cream is applied….let the fun commence!!
We don’t often experience heatwaves here, but when we do it can really change our sleeping patterns. We for one had an uncomfortable game of musical beds last night, our youngest really struggled to settle in the heat.
So during all of these moments of fun, it’s worth considering prepping the home for this evenings sleep!
As featured in an article on the BBC, here are some top tips for sleeping better in a heatwave as suggested by Prof Kevin Morgan, former director of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit at Loughborough University, and Lisa Artis of the Sleep Council.
During the daytime, draw all of your blinds and close the curtains to keep the sun out. Keep the hot air out of your home by closing the windows on the sunny side of your house. Once the sun has gone down, open all of the windows to let in a breeze.
During this weather it’s often tempting to wave goodbye to any routines you may have. It’s advisable not to change your little ones bedtime hour too much as this can really disrupt sleep.
Stay hydrated! Drink loads of water, but not too much just before bedtime.
Replace your duvet cover with thin sheets as they will absorb the heat. Keep your duvet handy though in case you wake up cold!
Use a fan!! If you don’t have one, fill up a water bottle with icy cold water.
So, during these worrying of times, we’re back with a lip-smacking bang to keep the kids thirst kept at bay. This really is a treat in our house, not for the every day but a recipe the children love to make on sunny days.
Inspired by Allegra McEvedy who has written a cookbook inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton, why not give the kids a lesson on the art of making Lemonade? It really is so simple and I can promise the results are totally worth it! My kids delight in reading out and copying down the ingredients and method, the measuring and weighing and the jolly good shaking!!! Most of all, they love the outcome and it certainly quenched our thirst during these warm days in the Uk. Let’s get going!
100g caster sugar
Start off by quartering the fruits and then let the kids squeeze out the juices into a jug. You should end up with about 150-200ml of juice. Place the skins to one side.
Next up, place the juice into a jar, add the sugar and 250ml water. Place the lid on top and get the kids to give it all a good old shake until the sugar dissolves.
Add 1 litre of cold water and the squeezed out lemon and lime skins. Give it all a jolly good stir!! Add ice and Enjoy!!!
Looking for something quick and easy to knock up this evening? Look no further than these Pork & Egg burgers. It’s been a busy week here at Mums In Real and as a result, I resorted to trying a food delivery company called Gousto. I wasn’t convinced as I like to make everything from scratch when possible, but a friend convinced me of the benefits. I’ve been very impressed! My order arrived in a big box, all of the produce was super fresh and from an environmental perspective, there was very little plastic. Big plus from me already!
The meal still needs preparing from scratch, Gousto (others are available) provide you with almost all ingredients and a step by step recipe card on how to prepare and cook the food. It’s also really easy to replicate (if you already have the provisions to hand) so I can use these recipes in the future. Also, my children had a great time looking at the recipes and helping me pick out 4 days worth of dinner. It’s a thumbs up from them! It really is a great alternative for busy parents and whilst I can’t see myself ordering on a weekly basis, I certainly recommend it. Plus I received a really nice wooden spoon, which I wasn’t expecting!
Let’s get cooking!
500g Pork mince
2tsp dried sage
2tsp dried oregano
30ml soy sauce
50g panko breadcrumbs
20g fried onions (I used shop bought but these are easy enough to make from fresh)
Salt & pepper to season
Mix the mince, herbs, soy sauce and breadcrumbs together and season well. Separate the burger mixture into 4 generous patties and place on a baking tray. Refrigerate for until needed (place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes as this helps them hold together when cooking).
When ready, place a non stick frying pan onto a moderate heat and drizzle with oil. Pop in your burgers and cook on each side for 5-6 minutes. Once cooked, place into a plate and cover. Meanwhile, add a bit more oil to the frying pan and cook the eggs.
Whilst the eggs are cooking, lightly grill the burger buns. Now plate up! Spread some sauce of choice onto the buns (I used mustard ketchup), pop in the burger and place an egg on top. Sprinkle the fried onions over the top and enjoy!
Ever put the washing out in glorious sunshine and an hour later it’s chucking it down? Go to work and come home to soaked washing falling off the line? You and me both. Isn’t it the most annoying thing in the world. EVER. Well, this is a really simple hack and it works.
You know those plastic backed picnic blankets? Well, get yourself the biggest you can find. And when you put the washing out, then put the blanket upside down on top of the line. Peg the corners and – voila!
Any little showers, and your washing is protected whilst it dries, snug as a bug under a rug!
Just make sure that the blanket overhang is clear of your washing, so it doesn’t drip!
Here’s a handy tip from my lovely Mum (thanks Mum!) on how to juice a lemon.
Whenever you need lemon in a recipe, isn’t it always a pain? Trying to stop the pips going in to the bowl, whilst getting all the lemon juice out is a pain! Yes, I could buy a lemon juicer, but you don’t need one – there’s a really simple hack to juicing a lemon!
Pierce a hole in the top of the lemon, and pop it in the microwave for about 60 seconds (check, if it’s not too hot to touch, try again for another 10 seconds at a time). When it’s really hot, set the bowl aside and let the lemon cool down.
Then, just tip the lemon upside down and squeeze – easy!!
So, we’re nearing the end of term and my middle baby, Pip is excitedly preparing for a residential trip tomorrow. I’ve done my stuff, rustled up the kit list and bought a few surprise snacks to stash away when we’re packing. Trouble is, I’m not sure I’m ready for it. Three days away from home, and two whole nights.
Over the last few days, we’ve been tentatively discussing the details, mostly to work out whether Pip is mentally prepared for what two nights away from home looks like; we’ve discussed the sleeping arrangements, running order for the day and the activities on offer each day. We’ve talked about hygiene, reminders to change knickers and things, and also what will be on the menu for the days. I’m hoping that chatting through the whole plan, and addressing any worries now will help pave way for a smooth drop off tomorrow morning, without any tears (well, until I drive away, that is).
It reminds me of those early days when my babies started nursery; that awful feeling of dropping off a crying child (number three was particularly known for the emotion drop-offs) and then driving down the road, with tears streaming down my face, feeling like the worst mother in the world ever for the entire day. Meanwhile, baby has got over the trauma in approximately 4 seconds after the door was closed.
It’s made me think of other ways to help foster independence in the children (and maybe, just maybe make my life a bit easier?). Here’s what I came up with:
Giving the children responsibilities
So recently, whilst buried under my own personal avalanche of washing, something somewhere snapped and I decided to get the children (and husband) to put their own washing away. Now, it worked to varying degrees – some was beautifully put away as it was handed over, some was stuffed into the cupboards, and some moved rather annoyingly from the pile on the bed to the floor several times (husband’s). Once child also relishes in pairing socks for me (hooray!). Carly takes a slightly different tack, in that she plays beautiful rags to riches princess stories to encourage her children to help clean the kitchen, so I’m going to try that one next. Point here is, ask the children to take responsibility for something, and don’t wait until they’re teenagers (and therefore disgusted by the idea they might actually have to help). We might just be pleasantly surprised.
Step Back and Let Them Do It
Ok, so this one is HARD. Especially when they’re trailing toothpaste across the sink, or spilling flour everywhere, or putting their pants on back-to-front, or refusing to get out the damn car when we arrive at school, but they need to learn. I have a child who refuses to conform to norms of dressing, but in reality, walking down the road with a child wearing a headdress, jogging bottoms and princess shoes isn’t actually going to hurt anyone (and will also provide plenty of entertaining photographic evidence – my personal favourite combo was a read velvet dress, gorilla mask and red wellies). Also, the thought of not being a pack horse, laden with bags, coats and ‘junk models’ aka ‘junk the teachers couldn’t fit in their recycling bins’ is quite appealing.
Also, think about whether it’s really a problem to say ‘yes’ instead of the default ‘no’ – pick your battles, and try to take a step back. I try and ask myself every time “Is this fight really worth it” and then roll with the scary outfit, or lack of coat, or flour coated kitchen. Just please don’t be judgy if my children look like the Village People next time we bump into each other.
This leads me on nicely to the next one…
Let them make mistakes
In a scary world, where the pressure to be perfect is crushing, teach them it’s perfectly normal and ok to make mistakes. Psychology suggests that learning about the consequences of action and reward at an early age helps lay the foundations for coping mechanisms as they grow older. It also suggests that they only learn negativity in making mistakes from their parents and other people: ‘Children only dread making mistakes as a result of their parents’ responses,’ says family psychologist Dr Randy Cale. ‘For example, if we show anger or disappointment.’
Teach the problem solving, don’t always give them the answers
Sometimes it can be so easy (and quick) just to give the children an answer, instead of listening to them whilst they rationalise it in their own minds. I can think of so many examples when I’ve just done that or when the older children have jumped in with the answer, before the littlest gets there. I’m going to make a real effort with them all just to take more time out (with homework, for example- no more Sunday night rush-jobs) so that they can ponder on in more time, and more 1:1 time to talk about things they are learning. Just need to work out where to squeeze that one in.
Anyway, there’s my waffle about how I’m going to try to encourage independence in my lot. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you nurture your littles’ independence, and any tips you might have. This parenting lark is HARD. Anyway, just off to finish packing for camp tomorrow…I’ll try not to cry at drop off (but I’m not promising anything).
I wanted to share this with you, because I’ve been so amazed at the results.
Set the scene, three children to juggle at bedtime. Each has a 15 minute cuddle and story. Smallest Little, out like a light within 5 mins. Next, Middle Little – 15 minutes cuddle, story…moans for more time…asks for water/wee/hair up/ new pjs. (You get the picture?) Have to abandon so that Big Little has 15 mins cuddle and story. Meanwhile Middle Little is coming in to the bedroom, trying to think of any possible excuse not to go to sleep. Then screams the house down, totally buggering up my well-planned bedtime routine (and most importantly disrupting the others time alone with me at bedtime – which seems to be a desired outcome).
I can quite honestly say I was tearing my hair out at this point. The other two were knackered, grumpy, and fed up with having their alone time with Mummy derailed. Middle Little was refusing to wake up for school – at points we almost went to school in pjs. My ‘me’ time (ok, my clean the kitchen, sort the school bags/shoes/PE kit and then sit down, frazzled for half an hour and then go to bed time) was being impacted. Everyone was pretty fed up.
As I’m sure you know by now, Carly is my go-to friend for advice. She’s always got a suggestion (and sometimes tells me to stop being neurotic which also helps). So, we spoke at length about bedtime routines, and how things work in her house – she then suggested we give sleep meditation a go.
Now I’ll let you into a little secret. I bloody love meditation!! I’ve used it in times of self doubt to help calm my mind and strengthen my self belief, and I’ve also used it to help me sleep during a very difficult period of anxiety (not many people know that).
Of course, I cried, what a great idea! And off I popped to find myself some sleep meditation to try out on my Middle Little…
So, with the help of trusty Google, I found some sleep mediations on YouTube by New Horizon Holistic Centre UK. One was called ‘The Sleepy Sloth’ and had good thumbs up ratings (who doesn’t love a sloth?) so we gave it a go.
Firstly I approached the idea with Middle Little who seemed interested (particularly because it was on YouTube I suspect). We agreed to give it a try after her bedtime story. I pressed play (with trepidation) and laid with her for 15 mins. So far so good. Then I went in to see Big Little and read a story – uninterrupted. 15 minutes later, I went back in to a very sleepy, heavy eyed Middle Little. Quick kiss goodnight, tuck in, and off I went. Seemed a bit too good to be true!
I went downstairs and sat on the sofa (ready to jump up and go upstairs at any minute): that moment never came! Middle Little was fast asleep, and stayed asleep all night.
Night two, we did exactly the same thing – same result. Fast asleep! It’s been two weeks now, and even with a few days away in half term where they all shared a room (we played it on holiday too) and everyone went down to sleep like a dream.
I can’t promise it will work for you, but it’s been an absolute revelation for us! Add it in to your bedtime routine and see what happens. Let us know how you get on.