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. I have a pre-teen. I am not even sure how that happened. Wasn't she a baby only five minutes ago? Now I am worried about her hormones more than mine and the inevitable body and personality changes that will ensue. 

    If you’ve ever suffered from bad premenstrual syndrome (PMS), you’ll understand how irritating and uncomfortable it can be. From bloating to mood swings, the weeks before your monthly period can cause a great deal of discomfort and interfere with your day to day life. As a mum to two girls, the good news for them is that I have plenty of simple ways to keep symptoms under control so that they can continue with normal everyday activities (and hopefully not be in too much discomfort!) 

    How to deal with PMS (1)

    Medical treatment 

    Let's be honest, if you genuinely suffer from severe PMS, there is a range of medical treatments available that may be able to offer some relief. For example, over the counter painkillers like paracetamol can be used to ease stomach cramps, headaches and muscle pain. There are also different contraception options (which as a mum, I am just going to stick my head in the sand about right now) I used the combined contraceptive pill to ease my PMS symptoms long before I was actually using them for the reasons they were intended. It is obviously important to make sure you consult your doctor before starting new contraception as they will be able to recommend the most suitable type for you based on the symptoms you experience and possible side effects. It is also worth bearing in mind that you may have to try a few different treatments before you find something that works for you.  

    Alternative treatments  

    I am a big advocate for alternative treatments and there are natural supplements that some women find to be effective at treating PMS. For example, supplements of magnesium, calcium, vitamin D and a herb called agnus castus have all been shown to alleviate troublesome symptoms. Again, it is a good idea to speak to your GP or a healthcare professional before starting any complementary treatments, as taking them too much and too often, or alongside certain medicines, can have adverse side effects.   

    Behavioural therapy  

    If you suffer from psychological symptoms during the weeks before you get your period, you may benefit from attending cognitive behavioural therapy sessions. This type of therapy is designed to help you cope better with emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, anger and frustration. A cognitive behavioural therapist may be able to suggest new ways of thinking and behaving to help you manage some PMS symptoms.  

    Lifestyle changes 

    Sometimes, all it takes is some simple lifestyle changes to stave off symptoms of mild to moderate PMS. For example, doing a small amount of physical activity every day can increase your energy levels, reduce feelings of stress and release endorphins that lift your mood. Eating a well balanced diet can also help minimise symptoms and boost your overall health, while having smaller portions and avoiding salty foods can prevent bloating and swelling. You should also try to steer clear of caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes as much as possible, as they can have a detrimental affect on your mood and energy. 

    I "hopefully" have a little while longer before my eldest goes through all these changes and while there is no single solution that will work for everyone, trying some of these self-help techniques and medical treatments has helped me in the past to deal with my PMS but if after all this, you are still finding it difficult to cope with your symptoms, it is always best to speak to your GP for further advice. 

  2. After a stressful few weeks worrying about school selections, we have our places and this now means I can look forward to some of the more exciting dates in the calendar ahead. Ladies Day at the races is always a favourite of mine, especially when a day at the track has always been about more than a horse race. It is a place to see and be seen, and that means wearing the sort of clothes which will get you noticed for all the right reasons. Online newspapers and magazines love showing photos of Ladies’ Day at the races, highlighting the fabulous and the faux pax. So here are my top tips to ensure you don’t fall into the latter category! 

    Dress Code

    Before you even think about what you’re going to wear check whether the racecourse you’re attending has a dress code. For example, Ascot encourages smart formal dressing during all their racing seasons, with more formal attire being required during Royal Ascot week. Ascot does not allow fancy dress or football shirts, however Cheltenham has no such restrictions as long as the costume is not offensive. Newmarket and Ayr have similar guidelines, as do other racecourses around the country. A good tip is to dress for the races as you would for a smart wedding. 

    Weather

    The unpredictability of the British weather is shown to perfection when looking at photos of Ladies’ Day at Aintree in April. Some years it is freezing, other years it is like mid-July. Plan your outfit to take into account the conditions you may face, like rain, wind, and bright sunshine. In other words: layers.

     LLP - IF THE SHOE FITS

    Shoes

    Even if you’re lucky enough to have a pass to the Royal Enclosure, It’s likely you’re going to be on your feet a lot during the day so wear shoes that won’t cripple you. I always go for an amazing pair of heels like those above but if you are more practically minded, wedges and platforms are fantastic for the races as they are easier to stand on for long periods of time, and won’t get stuck in the grass the way skinny heels will. Not only will you be standing, you’ll be walking a lot - from the car to the track, from the track to the bar and the bookies so bear this in mind if you have your heart set on a pair of Angel Wing Leather Sandals

    The Perfect Race Day Outfit

    The perfect outfit for the races is a dress or skirt that is knee length or longer to avoid any embarrassing mishaps with the breeze, and to keep your modesty intact when you sit down. Add a smart tailored jacket on top - something thick enough to keep you warm, but light enough that you can carry it if gets hot, and finish off with a pair of mid-height wedges. Trouser suits are fine - just make sure you don’t look like you’ve come from the office.  There are so few occasions when you can legitimately wear a hat these days that it would be a shame not to. Look to Kate Middleton for inspiration. 

    Men can also go to town with their outfit. Whether they wear a classic grey or navy suit, or choose a modern look of mismatched trousers, jacket and waistcoat, they should at least consider wearing a hat like a trilby or fedora.

    The three main tips to remember when dressing for a day at the races are to dress for style, consider your comfort, and wear layers to accommodate dithering weather. 

  3. Just as we have relaxed after our secondary school selection, we are now awaiting the primary school places. We all know that it’s a big world out there, and one of the first major hurdles for your child is the transition from pre-school to reception, or in plainer terms, the move from structured childcare into formal and compulsory education.

    So just what can a child expect to face when starting this new and exciting chapter?

    LLP - Dealing with the change from pre-school into reception

    Reception is a year that is specifically engineered to introduce a child to school but without making it a huge trauma (or in our case a drama!!). Let’s face it, there’s a minimum of 12 years in education ahead so any damage done at this stage could be hugely detrimental. (no pressure here!!) So the emphasis in a reception class is on ‘structured play’ – we are told that it is along the lines of lining up cars and counting them, dressing up but with a relevant theme or playing with a boat in water but discussing how it floats. The idea is for children to learn without necessarily realising they are doing so.

    Mixed in with this of course is a subtle introduction to a mainstream curricular education. Maths, English, Computer Skills and Science will begin to be embedded and the seeds for a love of learning very firmly sown. Add also social skills and respect. Assemblies are a good way of young children seeing how older children behave and ‘show and tell’, where your child can bring in an item from home to show their class, encourages confidence in talking in front of others as well as teaching them to be patient and respectful as others talk. Friendships are encouraged with no differentiation for race, religion or disability. Or to put all this into a condensed way, reception is the year when a child learns the skills that will help them to have a successful education with a hope on exceeding expectations.

    It was also launched last year that children as young as five will be learning programming skills in the classroom, as teaching programming skills to children is seen as a long-term solution to the “skills gap” between the number of technology jobs and the people qualified to fill them. We are already quite a tech savvy family but with more and more emphasis for online learning, it is important that you make sure you have the right package for your children's needs (and also at the best price). We are always searching for the best deails and Broadbandchoices makes finding the right package easy as you simply input your postcode and it then informs you of the best deals on offer, so whether you are looking for a faster service or better value, it is certainly worth a look. 

    The changes ahead can be a myriad of emotions for us parents too (and that is without the talk of algorithms, debugging and Boolean logic). Firstly, there’s the first experience of ‘school-gate competitiveness’, where eager adults move house, use grandparents addresses and even find religion in order to get their child into THE school. Remember that this is just the start, so now is the time to think ahead and assess where your child will move to next.

    Us parents also often feel a mix of excitement as well as deprivation. The little one is growing up, freeing up time and often money, and returning a portion of our lives back to us. I know that she needs to grow, spread her wings and make new friendships but I will miss my little buddy and I suspect there might be a few tears come September (just not sure if they will be hers or mine!).

  4. We have the "dreaded" SATS coming up but SATS- just what does this acronym mean? Is it ‘Simple Addition Tests Sanity’ or ‘Severely Analyse The Schoolchildren’?

    Apparently it actually it means ‘Standard Assessment Tests’ but since their phased introduction starting in 1991, they have become far more than something that can be described as ‘standard’, to the point that nowadays, only the year 6 SATS remain, with KS1 and KS3 tests having been archived to the bad memory file. But despite the science SAT being dropped for our current  11 year olds, it seems that for year 6 students, these tests are definitely here to stay. And with this years SATS (2016) being more rigorous than ever before, just how do we reassure our children that they are nothing to get their knickers, or indeed boxer shorts, in a twist about?

    SATS Educational pleasure or educational pressure- 

    Whether we like it or not, year 6 is a hugely important year in terms of education for our children. We are not talking particularly in terms of academic results, but more as it is the end of an era, and as those parents who have witnessed a primary leaver’s assembly will vouch for, as they all leave for secondary school, your children do go through their own emotional trauma with the overwhelming and very genuine tears to match, and as much as they will miss seeing their friends every day, a lot of the upset is also anxiety about what happens next. Suddenly after being the oldest at school, they will now be the youngest again, but also the way that they work is about to change dramatically. And the point of me telling you this? As much as it is good to protect them from worrying about SATS, actually some anxiety may be healthy and help to prepare them for the next stage in their educational life.

    This also neatly leads into the point that going forward to GCSE’s, qualifications matter when it comes to our children’s future employability chances. The government are placing increasing importance on all of the current youth generation having a qualification in Maths and English and very definitely this can help our kid’s chances of getting a job in an increasingly tough job market. So getting our children used to taking tests can be seen as a good thing. The cleverest of children can get the worst exam grades simply as they are not skilled in taking exams and as harsh as that is, it is reality. My daughter is a Maths whizz but I can see her already becoming anxious about the SATS (which is made worse by the fact that they fall on her birthday week!)

    Exam Stress

    But we can’t forget that SATS are for 11 year olds, and at that age, kids are still very much kids. With hormones starting to whizz around their bodies at a rapid rate, they are very susceptible to panic and stress. However, the biggest reason for children getting anxious about SATS is more often or not the fact that parents are putting them under pressure to do well.  Whether due to their greater importance historically, or parents inevitably comparing their child’s results with others in their class, we are most definitely prone to getting the whole darn thing way out of proportion. We have talked about tutoring recently and how this additional support has been good but I am always conscious not to pile the pressure and try to down play the fact that they are measuring ability!

    As such, my plan is to treat the SATS week just like any other school week. If she is worried, I am just going to play the whole thing down but being mindful that a little bit of stress can enhance performance. If she wants to revise and do extra work, I will let her – it can never be a bad thing. But I plan to give her something to look forward to at the end of the week, like a takeaway or sleepover with friends. Hopefully this will let her know that I understand without making a huge deal out of it.

    Fingers crossed!