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 very entertaining) daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or my gorgeous sister in law as part of our baby blog 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) and baby swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. My husband says that our morning school run is more like a catwalk show and he has never known parents look so glamorous driving their "chelsea tractors" for what is essentially a taxi service for a small person. Whereas my best friends children go to a school where it has been known for children to be delivered to school on an actual tractor, complete with wellington boots. So it really is funny how people can make judgements based on the car you drive or how you arrive to school each morning.

    We live about 7 miles away from my children's school so walking to school isn't really an option, not in this weather or these heels for that matter, and unfortunately there is no local bus service for the girls, so we rely on the car to get us to where we need to be. My husband has always been a biker, so has no real interest in cars, other than making sure they get him from A-B but I spend a lot of time driving the girls from one place to another so I have to admit that I do like a car that has some creature comforts in it but what does that say about me? Apparently a lot! I entertained myself by taking a car personality quiz and was shocked at the results.

    Car results

    How does it know my shopping habits?

    Do we really sterotype ourselves with the cars that we buy? 

    Do you think people make a judgement of you based on the car you drive?

    Do you want to know what the personality quiz says about you?

    Just click below and come back and let us know the results because I am genuinely intrigued to see how accurate it is for everyone else! 

    Click Here



  4. Christmas is the only day of the year you’re allowed chocolate for breakfast - why else would we stuff the toes of our children’s stockings with chocolate coins? Many parents will testify that excessive sweets and chocolate can have a detrimental effect on their children’s health and behaviour. You don’t want to limit the fun of indulging over Christmas however few days of splurging should not turn into a fortnight’s binge. We’re not talking about diets for kids, but we are starting a new year of healthy eating, so here are our top tips on how you can get the entire family back into a healthy way of eating after Christmas.

    How to Give Your Child a Healthy New Year


    Buy Less

    Supermarkets are savvy and drop the prices of tubs of chocs in October and November so that we start stocking up early and then we still buy more in the sales ..... because it is just too good to leave at that price. Don't! Limit the amount of junk coming into your house and you’ll have an easier time getting rid of it afterwards. My kids always get spoiled by school, Santa, and relatives. They bring half a year’s worth of junk food into the house in the space of week, so I don’t need to buy them any more.

    Exercise Control

    Don’t make the mistake of letting kids keep their goodies in their bedrooms where you can’t see what they’re eating. It can lead to them guzzling in between meals, having massive sugar crashes, and picking at their plate because they weren’t hungry. Try storing their chocolate in the kitchen, somewhere it is out of sight but where you can see (or hear) when they are helping themselves and can stop them if it’s inappropriate.

    Two Days, not Two Weeks

    Research carried out into children’s eating habits found that they eat nearly four times their recommended daily calorie intake on Christmas Day, which is quite a shocking fact when you consider it. Give your kids one or two days where they can scoff sweets but then bring things back to normal. Dilute the influence of the sugar they are ingesting by making meals vegetable rich, and giving them water or milk to drink instead of sugary, fizzy pop. 

    Get Active

    All those extra calories children ingested over Christmas need to go somewhere. Channel the energy in a positive way through family walks or other physical activities. You don’t have to go outside - playing Twister, dancing around the sitting room, or even pillow fights will have the same effect.

    Moderation is Key

    Ditch the feast-or-famine mentality about Christmas eating. Lead by example - if they see you gorging non stop for a week before going on a strict diet you end in disappointment after ten days, your children will assume that an all-or-nothing approach is normal.

    No one is telling you to be a food-Scrooge, but you’re not doing your child any favours by encouraging - or even allowing - them to eat their body weight in Quality Streets. Reign back on the amount you bring into the house, keep an eye on what they’re eating, and gradually bring their diet back to normal once Christmas (not the Christmas holidays) is over. 

    Mu husband is always telling me that eating shouldn't be about diets and cheat days, it should be a healthy way of eating EVERY day, so how do you manage to get your children eating healthily? We would love to hear your tips for keeping your family healthy.