Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. It could be argued that there are many “most” nerve-wracking times in a parent’s family life, from your child being born, to their first steps, leaving them with someone else and now, waiting to hear about school places for both infant and senior school (I didn't plan that very well did I?)

    LLP - Playing the school place waiting game

    Aside from having two new lots of uniforms to buy, the stress of actually getting the school place we want hasn’t exactly made us go grey overnight, but it has certainly added to my husband's silver stripes, as my youngest calls them (thanks, princess!) So. Much. Pressure. Will we get our first choice, or even our second or third? Are the horror stories from parents of previous years about massive oversubscription true? Is that red rated school really as bad as Ofsted say and, if so, can we afford private school, because I am quite certain my sanity can’t afford home schooling.

    Private School

    Fed up with the stomach-churning sensation that surely means an ulcer forming, I have come up with a variety of distractions.

    1. Play School Brag Bingo. Score points for every time you hear a nursery parent confidently name drop a governor they know. Score double points if they know a head teacher.
    2. Look into the cost of private education. Sit down. Debate whether avoiding a poor school is worth paying off a re-mortgaged house for the rest of your life.
    3. Investigate the process of home schooling.
    4. Investigate the cost of hiring a tutor to home school.
    5. Give evil looks to every old person you see living in catchment area.
    6. Consider moving.
    7. Write a list of reasons that “bad” school may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. At least you won’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds for school trips each year.
    8. Eat cake. Not a new distraction, but a good one all the same.
    9. Start running. The endorphins exercise release feel almost as good as the smug satisfaction you get from arriving at the school gates in running shoes that have actually seen some action. And it will help negate the effects of that cake
    10. Try to avoid turning too much to wine for solace. Actually, do what you like - I’m not going to judge (though I bet you a bottle of Prosecco that there will be a parent at the school gates who will. It’s ok, you don’t want your child to play with theirs anyway).

    Keep things in perspective. Your child’s life won’t be over if they don’t get into your first choice of school. Life is all about rolling with the punches. Who knows, your child could turn out to be the next Muhammed Ali.

    Speaking of keeping things in perspective, I love this letter Harmony Hill Primary School sent pupils recently, reminding them that they are worth more than a grade. Whether or not your child is accepted does not come down to how good a parent you are, but factors largely outside your control.

    And in the end, while education IS a serious matter, don't take this blog post too seriously .... well except the bit about cake, I am very serious about that!


  2. I’ve talked about the many benefits of baby swimming before. It’s a pastime I love sharing with my girls but I know that not all children are keen on going in the water. For example, my friend has a son who had an inexplicable hatred of water – even baths. Baby swimming sessions for them were fuelled with stress, and it wasn’t until he was older that he came around to the idea of swimming for pleasure.

    What can you do if you have a child who hates the water? Should you encourage them to swim and if so, how do you do it? Here are five effective ways you can turn your stubborn swimming hater into a frolicking fish.

    Lose the Structure

    You don’t have to have a formal process to swim. If swimming lessons are the worst half an hour of your week, stop. Take a breath. Start swimming for fun. Forget lessons and go when your child feels like it, just for pleasure. Take a pool noodle and have fun races, or tow them around the pool as if they were a speedboat.

    Play with Water

    I learnt this trick from my friend with the water-hating son. When even bath toys wouldn’t encourage him into the water she turned it into a game by incorporating it into their daily routine. He would “help” with the washing (some face cloths in a tub of soapy water), and get involved in his older brother’s water pistol fights.  A paddling pool in the backyard in summer was the bridge she needed to encourage him into a bigger pool, and now swimming is a highlight of their weekends.

    Try a Different Location

    It might be something as simple as a cold changing room, or a too-large pool, that puts your child off swimming. Try a different location, lots of baby swimming schools have a variety of locations that make this easier for you. Make the most of available swimming pools on your summer holiday, when they may be encouraged by seeing other children having fun swimming outdoors in the sun.

    Make it Social

    Peer pressure can work wonders with encouraging reluctant children into the water. Take them to watch older siblings, or arrange to go swimming with a friend who has children of a similar age.  Go into the water with your child so you can stay close to them and show them it’s nothing to fear.  Older children may feel awkward putting their changing bodies on show. Don’t make a big deal of it, just occasionally float idea (no pun intended) that they go swimming with a friend, and be sensitive to their feelings.

    Try Someone Else

    If you have tried all of the above and still can’t encourage your child to swim, get someone else to take over whether it’s a specialist swimming instructor who excels in teaching reluctant swimmers, or your dad who has endless patience where yours may wear thin. Though you may want it to be, especially if you love the water, it doesn’t have to be you that gets your child to enjoy swimming. We love our children more than anyone else on the planet, but I’ve learned that we’re not always the best people to convince them to do things!

    Have patience. Swimming is such a healthy pastime that it’s worth persevering. 

    LLP - 5 Clever Ways to Encourage Your Reluctant Child to Swim

  3. With two children of school age, Ofsted is a word that we know well so we were interested (and a little horrified) to learn that following an Ofsted-run review of UK children's services, 19 out of 74 were found to be "inadequate" and none were classed as "outstanding", Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to take action. A number of high-profile deaths of at-risk infants over the past few years has seen children's services thrust into the public spotlight and the latest announcement, which will allow high-performing local authorities, trusts or charities to take over failing children's services, is seen as a landmark reform. What, however, will these changes mean for those working in social work jobs who deal with vulnerable children and their families on a day-to-day basis? Let's try and explain: 

    Unwelcome news

    Bridget Robb, the CEO of the British Association of Social Workers, has stated recently that, although government involvement in child protection and children's services is a positive step, the effective "privatisation" of the sector is unwelcome. She affirms that, rather than seeing children's services as failing and wading in heavy-handedly, the government would perhaps do well to scrutinise funding cuts within the sector and investigate the reasons why social workers are increasingly stretched as a profession. Read Ms Robb's comments here.


    Vital children's services cut

    Shadow Education secretary Lucy Powell waded into the debate last week, warning that Mr Cameron's proposals are merely smoke and mirrors, attempting to take focus away from the government's slashes to early intervention programmes, which play an important role in the prevention of young people entering care in the first instance. She pointed to the budget for children's services in the north-west, which received a shortfall of £160 million during the last five years. This directly impacts on the working conditions of employees in front-line social work jobs, who are dealing with closing children's centres and cuts in children's mental health support. Read her interview with Buzzfeed here.

    Outsourcing children's services

    The proposal to outsource children's services to trusts, charities and other bodies is not a new one. In education, David Cameron's "academy" brainchild is already being rolled out in schools up and down the country and is being heralded as a huge success. From this model, we know that management structures will be centralised and more graduates will be recruited into social work jobs. It remains to be seen whether these reforms will provide the investment that vulnerable children and their families so desperately need. The Guardian is wary; you can read Patrick Butler's commentary here.

    What do you think?

  4. Last week I read a blog post over at about turning resolutions into lifestyle changes, as many of us fail at New Years resolutions by the middle of January. It was interesting to learn about the Change4Life app that Emma talked about which allows you to scan a barcode and it will tell you how many sugar cubes are in the product. We do love a good app in our house, so my daughter was keen to download it and no sooner did she have it on her iPad, did everything start being snapped for sugar content. The results were really surprising!

    My husband is extremely disciplined in his diet and is rarely swayed from his healthy eating lifestyle and I have been trying to improve on this, especially as I am getting older and so I made a resolve to cut down on the amount of sugar intake I have (two sugars in a cup of tea IS particularly naughty). I have been swapping to herbal cleansing teas and fruit squash, to increase my water intake too, so I was therefore HORRIFIED to learn the amount of sugar that is in my favourite cranberry juice ..... I may aswell have eaten a huge chocolate bar on a daily basis since Christmas!! 

    Do you know much sugar do you consume daily-

    Change4Life, is the government's biggest obesity-tackling initiative and this new campaign encourages parents to get ‘Sugar Smart’, following revelations that four to ten year olds consume over 5,500 sugar cubes each year – which is the average weight of a five year old. The campaign will educate both parents and children in avoiding lots of the ‘hidden sugars’ found in foods that are commonly available and enjoyed by children, so that they can make healthier choices as a family.

    My daughter has loved going round the kitchen and checking the sugar content of all our favourite foods, on the plus side there are now foods that she won't eat (and she quotes the sugar content to me confidently) but on the flip side, it has meant that I have had to look at a whole new range of alternative breakfast options!

    The Change4Life Sugar Smart app is a free download and it has really got us thinking as a family about what we are eating every single day. No matter how many times we have tried to tell the 10 year old that she needs a more balanced diet, she hasn't listened so it is amazing to see her reaction to the results on the app. 

    I can't promise that we are going to cut sugar out completely but the app has certainly changed how we think about the food and drink we are consuming! 

    How much sugar do you think is in your favourite food and drink?