Friday, 23 May 2014

The importance of a child’s routine

As your toddler begins to grow into their own person, they soon begin to become more self reliant and will want to exercise their own free will. Often this can conflict with a parent’s needs and can cause problems in the home, so encouraging a child to maintain frequent habits through routine can help to establish discipline and prepare them later in life.

Why does my child need a routine?

The transition from young baby to toddler is a troubling time with lots of big changes, from weaning off breast feeding to sleeping alone and learning to walk and talk. With so many developments, many beyond your child’s control, change can be frightening, and so introducing a routine with the same everyday tasks occurring at the same time will help your child to adjust.

Encouraging your child into a routine can also help them become more self reliant, from brushing their own teeth to doing their own homework without needing to be nudged. An organised household is likely to produce an organised child, who can take better control of their day to day activities under the influence of routine tasks.

What activities should I schedule?

From birth through to school age, a night time routine is an essential part of a child’s development. Encourage your child to go to bed every night at the same time, whether it’s a baby who goes down after a feed and a bath, or a child who goes to sleep following a tooth brushing and story time routine. For older children, encourage them to go to bed by providing a comfortable sleeping environment, from comfort blankets to child friendly mattresses.

Meal times are also very important for both younger babies and toddlers. Arrange your baby’s meal times around their sleep cycle, for example, feed them during the night if they cannot go back to sleep by comforting alone, and feed them whenever they wake from a nap. Older children will benefit from a regular evening meal time, especially after becoming used to regular breakfast and school lunchtimes. If your child’s dinner time is too early for you, prepare a smaller, lighter meal for your child and cook for yourself once they have gone to bed.

For older children, make sure in particular that their evening is well scheduled – providing a routine ‘play time’ will give your child a good incentive to do their homework after school, while bath times before bed will calm and relax your child and encourage them to sleep.

Whether you've a baby or a school age child, a regular routine will encourage him or her to develop good personal habits and further their independence later in life.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I'm a #MorrisonsMum for the Bank Holiday

I don't usually shop at Morrisons as my nearest store is further away than all of the other big supermarkets names so I was delighted to be given the chance to find out what it's like to shop there as part of their #MorrisonsMum campaign with Britmums.

I love doing the weekly shop as I leave the children with hubby and get to go off all on my own.  No nagging, shouting or random goods ending up in the trolley (and that's just the other half!).  I had visited this Morrisons in the past so had some idea of my way around.  I went late Saturday afternoon and it was fairly quiet.

When I walked into the store I noticed lots of yellow signs everywhere.

Morrisons have cut their prices on over a thousand products, so if something is marked as 'I'm cheaper' then the price is staying down.  This type of campaign appeals to me far more than the short term offers as I haven't got to worry about stocking up when the offers are on, but instead can be safe in the knowledge that the prices are going to stay low.

I usually complete a meal plan every week and shop to a budget, but I have to admit to getting a bit excited at a new shop with vouchers to spend ahead of a bank holiday, so I did pick up a lot of the offers that I saw when walking around the store.

I loved all of the fruit and vegetables on Market Street and got lots of great offers there.  There were lots of items for 69p each, or 3 for £1.50 and I got a bag of baking potatoes, a tray of tomatoes and a big bag of carrots at this price.  Fantastic price.

The fish counter looked beautiful and so fresh, and though I didn't buy anything from there on this occasion I definitely would in future.

I got my whole chicken and the rest of the items to cook a bank holiday roast for the family.  I did have to ask a member of staff where to find the goose fat (a must have for my roasties), and was really happy with the service I received.  I found a member of staff quickly, she was polite and chatty and took me to find exactly what I needed, before asking if I needed help with anything else.  

The product pricing was very clear in most cases, with lots of products having the price clearly indicated on the packaging, though there were just a couple of items that I picked up where I couldn't see a price on the packet or the shelf, and that put me off buying.  I like to have some idea of what I'm spending as I shop so won't usually purchase an item if I can't see a price.  

I was pleased with the layout of the store, and other than the goose fat, was able to find everything I needed easily.  I went to the checkouts and only two of the larger checkouts were open so there were some queues building up.  I was disappointed that no other checkouts were opened, as though the store was quiet, everyone must have headed for the checkout at the same time and people were starting to queue into the aisles.  I waited to about five minutes before being served myself.  

I was served quickly and efficiently, and was offered help with packing.  Again, the service was great.  The customer behind me was using a mobility scooter and when she asked to help with unloading her items, and packing, a member of staff came quickly, which was great to see.  The standard of the service alone would make me want to return to Morrisons in future and I think that Morrisons in Neath should be proud of their staff members.

I did spend a bit more than I normally would on a weekly shop, though part of this were that some offers were so good that I thought I'd stock up, so it's unlikely that I'll have to do a big shop for two weeks.  I normally shop around to get the best offers from different stores, but found Morrisons to be of a good price overall, and it was nice to do all of my shopping in one store for a change.

Our Bank Holiday Roast

1 large whole chicken
2.5kg white potatoes
1 heaped spoonful Goose fat (for the roast potatoes)
1 tbsp Cornflour (for the gravy)

I roasted the chicken according to the clear directions on the packet and it was so tender that it fell apart when I was trying to carve it.  Delicious.  I parboiled some potatoes before roasting in the goose fat.  The remainder of the potatoes were boiled and then mashed, and the carrots and broccoli were steamed.  To make the gray I added a tablespoon of cornflour to the chicken juices, some chicken stock for flavouring, the water from the potatoes and some gravy browning to add colour.  A beautiful bank holiday roast dinner that all of the family enjoyed.

This meal worked out at cost of £9.18 which is just under £1.84 per person (family of 5).  There was also a good portion left over and hubby had two servings so this could be reduced even further.  That is amazing value for great quality food.

The children finished off their meal with a bowl of Morrisons Mint Choc Chip ice cream and a glass of cloudy lemonade and I think it's easy to see that they all enjoyed it.