Entries Tagged as 'family time'

how to teach kids to tell the time

Have you taught your kids to tell the time or are you relying on school to teach them?  I was having this conversation with a friend a few weeks ago when she said ‘oh they can’t read the time yet because they haven’t done it in school’.  This got me thinking that we as parents should teach our kids more life stuff than always relying on school or worse, not doing it at all.  Things like tying shoelaces, telling the time, simple cooking skills, tidying up and all that kind of stuff.  

Continue Reading "Friday chat: Have you taught your kids to tell the time?"

intricate colouring books for adults

As you probably know, adult colouring books have become really popular in the last year or so.  There have been many detailed and intricate colouring books popping up all over the place.  The whole ‘adult colouring revolution’ has kind of passed me by as I never even considered trying it out.  In December Anya was gifted Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure for her birthday.  I barely glanced at it until Anya asked me to colour with her.  She often asks me to do this with her but up to now it’s been with her kiddy colouring books which I would colour in for about 5 minutes and lose interest.

Once I started colouring in this book, I couldn’t stop.  I loved it!  I think it re-awakened the inner child in me but yet it was so much more interesting to colour than a regular kids colouring book.  And not only me but Anya is loving this book too.  Even though these books are sold more as adult colouring books, I think they are for any age over around 5 years old.  When I first saw it I thought the patterns may be a bit too intricate for Anya but I was wrong. In fact it’s the minute details that capture her attention and mine.

colouring books for adults

I think the best thing about the Animal Kingdom colouring book for me was that it was a shared activity that both Anya and I enjoyed doing together.  No screens, no distractions, no thinking – just me and Anya colouring together and chatting a lot.  We both switched off from the world around us and were immersed in colouring and talking about anything and everything.  So much so that when it was time to go out for lunch, neither of us wanted to leave and we even started thinking up excuses to cancel our plans!

Have you got one of these books?  If not, do you think you will give colouring a go in 2016?

snoopy and charlie brown peanuts movie review

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a private screening of Snoopy and Charlie Brown – the peanuts movie. Growing up I was never much in to cartoon characters but there were two exceptions – Miss Piggy and Snoopy. With snoopy & charlie brown I particularly remember reading the comic strips in the newspapers and really enjoying them.  But as the years went on I forgot about Snoopy and Charlie Brown because you didn’t see much of them.  That was until I received  an invite to see the film and really wanted to go almost for old times sake.

Continue Reading "Snoopy and Charlie Brown – The peanuts movie"

tips for cooking with kids everyday

Do you cook with your kids?  I don’t mean the odd cake or planned baking time but involving them in everyday cooking, everyday?  I love cooking and cook most days but I just didn’t enjoy it as much with Anya because of the mess and slowness that it brought.  I used to despair at the extra cleaning up, the extra time, the extra everything.  A simple task that was supposed to take 10 minutes would take five times that! 

Then I started thinking about it and realised that cooking with Anya could be a lot of fun if I changed the way I looked at things.  She is interested in cooking (as most kids are) and it would be a real shame not to develop her interest especially when we all know that there are so many benefits of cooking with kids.  So I thought about how I could make our cooking time in to something that we both looked forward to everyday.  Here’s what I did and what anyone can do to make cooking with kids a daily thing that fun for everybody.

tips for cooking with kids

My tips for cooking with kids everyday (without killing them 😉 )

1. Make up your mind to remain patient no matter what.
Before you start, make up your mind to stay patient. This has helped me no end. Taking  a minute beforehand to decide that impatience isn’t an option has made for much happier cooking together times, for Anya and for me.  And after a while,  like me, you will naturally be more patient.

2. Only cook with kids when you have time.
Cooking with kids is always going to take a lot longer than if you did it by yourself.  There will be days when you need to be somewhere or you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry, so just do it yourself on those days.  But when you know you have more time, that’s when you can take a slower pace, keep your patience in check and enjoy the process together.

3. Expect mess.
This used to drive me insane – poor Anya would barely spill a drop and I’d whip out the cloth and clean up after her every move.  I put myself in her shoes and I couldn’t think of anything more irritating than someone cleaning up after you every five seconds
!  So now I accept there will be mess, sometimes a lot of mess and when I feel like reaching for that cloth, I just remind myself of the decision I made before I started cooking – see point 1.

4. Let them lead where possible.
Give them a task that they can be in charge of, without any help from you.  This makes kids feel happy and proud – the look of pride on Anya’s face when she has done something completely by herself and the concentration while she’s doing it is priceless.  It can be as simple or as involved as your child can manage, depending on their age of course.  Things like pouring all the ingredients in to a bowl and mixing or breading homemade fish fingers which is one of Anya’s favourite jobs.

5. Let them express themselves.
If you’re a fan of cooking, you’ll know that it’s one of life’s great pleasures for so many reasons. For me cooking is fun, it’s relaxing and it’s so creative.  This is exactly how kids should be allowed to feel about it too if they are going to enjoy it.  The only way they will feel like this is if they are allowed to express themselves freely, without you giving instructions the whole way.  Let them give ideas on what to cook, suggest extra ingredients that may not have been part of the plan or give ideas on presentation.

6. Think of it as bonding time.
Cooking together with your kids is a great time for bonding but only if you view it as this.  Once you view it as this, cooking becomes such a fun part of your time together and you will come to look forward to it everyday.  Anya and I chat about her day, tell jokes and laugh at the mishaps and spills.  And then when Richard comes home, she excitedly tells him about what she helped make.

These are a few things I’ve done but I’d love to hear from you too. Would you involve your kids in everyday cooking?  Do you have any tips for cooking with kids everyday?

P.S. If you’d like to check out some recipes perfect for kids to get involved with, take a look at these soba noodles or these homemade pizzas or homemade fish fingers

tips for getting to school on time

Lately (ok if I’m honest it’s ever since Anya started school) we were always in a mad rush to get out the door. No matter what, it always seemed that the last 10 minutes were a crazy panic to get to school on time.  We usually ended up arriving at school about a minute late or at best, bang on time.  It doesn’t matter if you have one child or four, I think so many of us have manic mornings.  And that got me thinking – why can’t we be just that 2-3 minutes earlier so that we aren’t running like crazies.  After 2 years plus of trying to beat the clock, I decided to make some changes to our morning routine.  Some worked and some didn’t – so I thought I would share the tips for getting to school on time that worked for us and helped us have less stressy mornings (maybe not stress-free everyday but definitely less frantic):

1.  Get up earlier than everyone else
This has been a game changer for me – maybe you all know this secret but I didn’t.  I started doing this at the start of this school year and I feel so much less stressed for it.  I lose around an hour of sleep, but it’s so worth it  – and yes I get up at least an hour earlier sometimes a bit more. Especially if you’re a working mum, that hour in the morning before everyone else is awake is a godsend.  I check my emails, think and plan the day ahead both work day and any family chores/errands that need to be done and most of all just get my head ready for the day.  Before, I got up with everyone else and tried to do this alongside everything else and it was mayhem. Now I really look forward to my hour of solitude in the morning – if I ever oversleep I feel cheated!

2.  Make a morning routine chart
We made a morning routine chart just over a month ago.  It simply lays out the order of what has to be done when so it saves me shouting out instructions and nagging every two minutes.  And I was doing a lot of shouting before this chart!  Now Anya looks at the chart every so often each morning and she knows what she has to do when.  I also built in ‘golden time’ which is a little play time in the morning if everything is done on time.  This has turned out to be a good incentive – even though Anya hardly ever manages to get golden time, she tries which makes her more likely to stop daydreaming and start getting ready.

3.  Sunday evening planning
There’s always something happening in school – from mufti days to bringing in autumn leaves for craft projects and so much more.  I have started spending just 5 minutes on Sunday evening reading school emails and putting reminders for the week in my phone.  I always set two reminders – one for a couple of days ahead in case anything needs to be bought or organised that requires time and one for the morning of the day.  In the past I have forgotten mufti day and the crestfallen look on Anya’s face when she was the only one in uniform at school taught me a lesson.  So plan ahead and know what’s in store for you for the entire week.

4.  Make a game of it!
Kids love games and love winning. Anya gets dressed at the same time as Richard so I have made a game of this – I challenge her to be dressed before he is.  She always wants to win so the speed at which she now gets her uniform on is amazing!  Before, getting Anya to put on her uniform could take upwards of 10 minutes.  Not any more.  This kind of challenge or any game can really speed things up in the morning so think about where you can do something like this in your morning routine.

6. Check the weather
Nothing is more frustrating than spending precious time in the morning madly hunting for things, while stress levels are climbing high because time is ticking. We live in London and that means we can have summer one day and winter the next so by checking the weather the night before I can get umbrellas’s, raincoats, wellie boots, scarves, hats etc ready and by the door instead of scrambling around in the morning.

7. Prepare your kids things the night before
An obvious one but I thought I would include it anyway as we all know we should do this but do you do it?  I didn’t because I would leave it till last thing at night by which time I was too tired so I always put it off till the morning. But then I started getting everything ready in the evening and this has made me much more inclined to do it.  So by around 7-7:30pm I get book bags ready, any PE/swimming kits packed and uniform hung up outside the wardrobe so it’s ready to be grabbed and worn.

These 7 tips have helped us get to school on time and avoid last minute scrambles and they’ve also made me feel calmer in the mornings.  Not every day – we still have those manic mornings but they are far less than they used to be.  What do you do to in the mornings?  Any tips – please share!

Have a wonderful weekend a hopefully a calm Monday morning!

cooking with kids

Do you cook with your kids?  There are so many benefits of cooking with kids and involving them in the kitchen.  I am on a mission to involve Anya in the kitchen as much as I can.  Everyday when I cook dinner I get her to join me and help.  I give her tasks like making marinades, peeling garlic, getting all the ingredients together or anything else that doesn’t involve knives or heat.  What I love most about this time is our chats.   We have lots of fun conversations where she tells me stuff about school, about her friends and I’ve found she chats to me much more during our cooking time than if I sat down and asked her lots of questions.  Similarly on weekends, Richard loves cooking and I can see what a great father/daughter bonding time this has become.

how to get kids involved in cooking

So, when Abel & Cole offered to send us their kids Summer boxes, I agreed.  I tend to make more complex food on a regular basis so while I involve Anya, it is me who is very much in charge.  But these boxes contain recipes that are super easy to follow, allowing kids to read the instructions and take the lead.  Most of the recipes have 3-4 ingredients like this vanilla ice cream Anya made – just honey, vanilla pod seeds, cream and egg yolks.  This box also contained ingredients to make a strawberry sauce and banana ice-cream which we will try over the weekend. 

The recipes are very simple and so your kids aren’t likely to make you the most delicious meal you ever ate but what I love about them is that kids around 5 and older can totally be in charge and you are there just as a helper.  We’ve had a few boxes now and Anya is so excited when a new box arrives as she thinks of it as hers and can’t wait to see what she’ll be cooking next.  I also love the convenience of pulling out a box and knowing I have all the ingredients to get started.  Abel & Cole are doing kids boxes throughout the Summer with different recipes each week so if you’re in need of ideas, check it out.  Also it’s a fun way way to keep kids occupied over the Summer holidays.

how to involve kids in everyday cooking

Here are some simple tips to help get kids involved in the kitchen:

1.  Start involving them by making foods they love – maybe baking some cookies or muffins.  One of Anya’s favourite things to make is pizza which would be fun for any kid to be involved in making even for kids as young as 2 or 3.

2.  Go food shopping together and once in a while let them choose what meal they would like to make or if you can, go to a pick your own fruit/veg place and they will be so keen to cook and eat what they’ve picked.

3.  Make a very simple recipe where they can be in charge – this can bring such a sense of pride and achievement as I saw when Anya made this simple ice-cream.  Kids love to help especially with adult tasks as this makes them feel good and appreciated.

4.  Even if you’re making an involved meal, give them small tasks like stirring or measuring ingredients.

5.  Involve the kids in the cooking when you have time.  Everything takes longer with kids so as long as you’re relaxed they’ll enjoy it much more.

Above all make it fun.  Play some music, be silly and if you’re anything like me don’t worry about the mess like I used to – it used to actually put me off cooking with Anya but I’ve learned to put my fear of mess asisde 😉   It takes a few extra minutes to clean up but it’s so worth it.  Do you cook with your kids?

P.S. I moved all my kitchen clutter to one side when I took these pics – my kitchen doesn’t normally look this tidy even though I wish it did! 😀

{All photos by ebabee.  Anya wears frankie fox print shirt from the ebabee shop}

How to get your kids to talk about their day | ebabee

Ever since Anya started school I’ve missed her a lot while she’s out (but of course I enjoy the quiet working time too).  It’s dawned on me that she spends so much time at school and that’s a whole chunk of her life I will miss out on – oh how I wish I could be a fly on the wall!  Since that’s not happening, the best I can do is to really chat to her about her day but up until recently when I asked her questions I was only getting answers like ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t remember’ or ‘I’m hungry’.  Then I read an article (I can’t remember where) that was pretty much saying be very specific with your questions and avoid general questions.  Questions like ‘how was your day?’ or ‘what did you do in school today?’ are far too vague for a small child to answer.

So now I have gotten very specific with my questions and I get so much more from her.  I also space out the questions over a period of time so that she doesn’t feel like she’s getting the third degree! I usually ask her things like:

1. What was the best thing you did today?
2. What was the worst thing about today?
3. Who would you like to have over next for a play date? (this usually changes on a daily basis but gives me an idea of who she played with on that day).
4. What was the yummiest thing on the menu? And the yuckiest?
5. Did you hear a new word today? What was it?
6. Did you fall over today? (this gets her telling me all the details if it happened but if not she will tell me about her friend who may have fallen over).
7. Who was the naughtiest in class today?
8. Did you do anything kind today? Was anybody kind to you?
9. Which lesson did you like the most?

With questions like these, Anya really starts thinking about her day and coming out with more and more little bits and pieces and we end up having a nice long conversation.  I not only find out what she’s been up to but also how she felt about it all.  Some days she’s full of laughter and comes out with the funniest little things and other days she’s more serious or subdued – but each day I get a little glimpse in to her world, how she sees things in it and how she’s feeling about it – what could be better than that?  It’s probably the best bit of my day.  We all want to know the smallest details of what our kids are up to while they’re away from us so I’d love to hear how you get your kids to tell you about their day?  Do you have a creative way to get them to talk?  Does it get harder as they get older?  I would love to hear in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend filled with happy little conversations – nomita x

New beginings

December 4, 2014

"moving house ebabee"

Today I say goodbye to my home of 8 years plus – by far the longest I have ever lived in any one home.  Growing up I never lived in any house for more than a maximum of four years but usually less as my father had a job that was transferable.  I was born in Mumbai then moved to Prague then on to Hong-Kong.  After Hong-Kong it was back to Mumbai then London and next New York.  After that it was back to Mumbai and then I moved on my own to London to pursue my career in advertising.  I always planned to go back home to Mumbai but it never happened.  At the start of my life in London I moved homes a lot.  Then I got married and Richard and I bought this place a few years later and we’ve been here ever since.  I still remember the moment when we picked up the keys; the sheer excitement we felt.  It was our first proper home together which meant the world to us.  Three years after being here Anya came along.  More joy and more memories were created in this home.

Each room, each wall, each floorboard here has a story to tell.  Everywhere I turn in this home it’s full of wonderful memories – from the hand drawn height chart on the kitchen wall to each and every mark on my off-white carpet (yes I was over optimistic).  Many crazy fun parties have taken place here with secrets shared between friends over too much wine and many a night have Richard and I sat awake and watched the sun come up while agonising over a big decision in our lives or celebrating a positive moment.  These walls have heard a lot.  Perhaps the greatest memory this home holds is the birth of Anya.  This is the place where we welcomed her in to the world with equal amounts of love, awe and trepidation (being first time parents).  This is also the last home of mine that my father will ever have seen.  But these memories are etched in to my mind and I will always have them.

I guess I needed to write this post as much like this blog, this home is so much a part of my life, my story.  That living room in the top two pictures has been my home-office too.  That is where this blog began and where I hit publish on my first ever post.  That is the room where I conceived the idea for my new shop and packaged the very first order from.  But now it’s time to move on.  Our new home has everything we could want from a home but it needs a lot of work.  It’s exactly the place we imagined living in so we are really lucky to have found it. Once the work is done, in a few months time, we can enjoy our new space as a family and start making new memories there – I can’t wait.  As I close the door on this place I look forward with huge excitement to the change and the huge challenges ahead.  But while a I do that, a small part of me will always miss this home.

Do you feel sad when you move home or is it pure excitement for you? Any tips for quick settling in to a new place?

I won’t be posting tomorrow as I’m not sure I’ll have internet but hopefully I will be back to normal posts soon.  You have a wonderful weekend and see you next week.

A huge thank-you to Abigail Fahey for the beautiful photo’s she took of my home.

I have linked up to Pouting in Heels All About You and Honest Mum’s Brilliant blog posts.

It’s that time of year when many of us start thinking of new year resolutions.  I never make formal lists or even scribble down my resolutions but I do think of a few things in my head.  Recently I’ve been thinking that I’m not having enough family time even at the weekends as we are crazy busy with a house move, work and everything else.  So one of my top priorities for next year is more quality family time.

One way to ensure that we switch off and really have quality time together is to go away somewhere for the weekend which I want to do a lot more of next year.  But in the past whenever I’ve thought of getting away, I always think of going abroad.  It never occurs to me to get away within the UK which is so much more do-able even at short notice.  A little while ago we wanted to get away and of course I started thinking Berlin, Paris or Venice.  But as we had only a couple of free days and couldn’t manage a trip to the continent I almost gave up on the idea of going anywhere when I remembered reading about some wonderful UK breaks over at my my friend Honest Mum’s blog.  That inspired me to think closer to home and after a quick search I thought about visiting Woburn.  It’s not too far from London, has a lovely safari park which I knew Anya would love and some great places to eat which Richard and I would love.

"Woburn family trip giraffe""Woburn family trip zebra""woburn-safari-park-family-trip

We only managed an overnight stay in the end but that was fine.  We got there and had a quick but delicious lunch at The Black Horse.  We would have preferred a slightly more relaxed lunch but someone was desperate to get to the safari park!  So off to the park we went.  And it was fun; really fun for all three of us.  The park has a mixture of animals most of whom roam freely within very large enclosures that you drive through.  You have to stay in your car for obvious safety reasons but it was still so fun to see animals like tigers, bears and lions up close.  No photo’s of these as of course we couldn’t put our car windows down to snap any.  The highlight for me was definitely seeing the big cats which I love.  But for Anya it was the drive around the monkey area.  The monkeys jump on your car and sit there for ages which was really exciting for her.

"kids on the moon Summer""Woburn Abbey family trip ebabee""woburn family trip ebabee"

The next morning we headed to Woburn Abbey and the surrounding gardens which are stunning.  We walked around the place enjoying the gardens and the beautiful architecture.  Anya got to run around, climb on rocks and just enjoy being outdoors as kids do.

"wobirn abbey trip"

After visiting Woburn I knew that next year I would make a conscious effort to get away within the UK more often.  Just quick weekend trips that really allow you to spend quality family time together away from the stresses of everyday life and you get to enjoy the wonderful sites that England has to offer.  With inexpensive hotels like Travelodge dotted around the country and so many wonderful places to see, eat at and relax, there really is no excuse not to.  This short trip really opened my eyes to getting away within the UK and having a burst of pure family time without any distractions.  I can’t wait to get away again and would love some recommendations on where to go as a family?  Where have you been that you think is a must go to within the UK?

This post is brought to you in partnership with Travelodge.  All ideas, words and images are my own.  Thank you for supporting my work with partners that support this blog.

"kids say the funniest things"

Of late, Anya has been coming up with some random and funny things during our conversations.  She’s nearly six and the way her mind works is quite hysterical sometimes.   I’m so glad I’ve started writing them down because they’ll be such fun to look back on in a few years time.  Do you keep a note of what your kids say?  Here are some of Anya’s latest thoughts which I thought I would share:

Me: You know, one day you’ll grow big and you’ll probably be even bigger than me.
Anya (looking delighted): That means one day I’ll be 35 years old and you’ll be 30. Wow! (I wish)

On our walk to school earlier this week
Me: Anya, I’m really cold. Are you cold?
Anya: No mama, I’m fine.
Me: Oh well, at least you’re not cold. I wish I’d worn a scarf so that my neck was warm at least.
Anya (in all seriousness): At least your boobies are warm! (what?!!)

Anya was going to a teddy bears picnic at school
Me: You can choose a teddy bear to take to your teddy bears picnic
Anya: Are you allowed to bring a different kind of teddy bear?
Me: Like what?
Anya: Like an Octopus?

Anya: Mama, when will I have babies in my tummy?
Me: Not for another 25 years at least.
Anya: That’s too long. Can I have them in 25 minutes?

What are some of the funny things your kids have said?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

Have a lovely weekend full of laughter – x

{Photo by ebabee.  Anya wears cute friends sleepsuit}

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