Technology and kids

Do you remember those heady days before mobile phones, tablet and games consoles? When the world was paved with gold and the sky full of rainbows? Ok, maybe the rose tinted glasses need toning down a little! There are so many advantages to all of the advances in technology and it’s often a life saver having so much power in the palm of our hands. I have an old diary entry about trying to meet up with a friend when I was a teenager, I was going to be late and there was no way of contacting her to say so. We found each other eventually, but there were at least a couple of hours lost through no available method of communication. Even so, sometimes I miss those days of no social media, limited modes of communication and a clear cut off between different social circles and situations. A never ending stream of information can feel overwhelming sometimes. If I feel this way then there’s every possibility that my children could feel the same. With so much potential power within smart phones and the like, both for good and plenty of not so good, it leads to a lot of considered thought into how to manage it effectively.

It’s something that’s on my mind as my children are getting closer to the age of having their own mobile phone. I’ve often wondered if the associated symptoms of addictive behaviour linked to technology are grounded in absolute fact or are, as yet, just theories. Listening to this feature helped bring a little light to the subject, with discussion about addictive behaviours and technology in childhood. In summary, the rewards gained from engaging in games, social media etc are the addictive element rather than the devices themselves. Due to the relatively recent advent of modern technology, our children are venturing into the unknown, with potential negative side effects that may be experienced from overuse of phones and tablets etc still a bit of a mystery.

I feel ok about erring on the side of caution and sticking with limited time on iPads, whilst still thinking how I’m going to negotiate the coming years and the challenges they will inevitably bring.

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December Highlights

January just snuck up and appeared right out of the blue! So here’s the best bits of December, that was full of wonderful memories, happy experiences and of course the occasional meltdown…as is typical of every Christmas period.

  • D had the lead role in the school nativity and she was amazing (of course I am completely bias). She was so confident and capable…I am envious that I wasn’t blessed with such confidence when I was that age!
  • Watching D and E perform their ballet from the previous term was a real treat. It was E’s last lesson as she’s moving onto climbing this year, which she has definitely shown an aptitude for when out and about.
  • Christmas traditions of choosing a tree, decorating the house, making gingerbread houses, listening to Christmas music and generally eating way too many treats have all been enjoyed copiously (the big jumpers are out for me to hide my indulgences!?).
  • We had fun at our village ‘carols around the Christmas tree’, with the added bonus of a visit from Father Christmas!
  • We got snow twice!!! Once before and once after Christmas, that almost never happens and really added to that Christmas feeling. The girls made a little tiny snowman (which became predominantly ice and accidentally rolled in a cow pat…resulting in a distinct lack of interest in ever touching it again!).
  • Going to the pantomime was so much fun! It was the most hilarious show I have ever seen, we were all rolling about with laughter. The girls got a double whammy that day, as they had a School trip to see a pantomime during the day too!
  • School holidays arrived very early this year! This seemed to add to the frenzy of excitement leading up to the big day! So it was a big relief to get to Christmas Day! We filled in the time with some baking, making and essential preparations.
  • We made it to Christmas Day, with an earlier than anticipated start (why do I forget this every year?!). The following week became considerably calmer…phew!
  • A visit to Scotland topped off a busy and exciting month to see family, with beautiful views into the bargain.

Now it’s back to school, work and essay writing! Plus healthy eating and exercise to add into the mix!

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A New Year

I’m not much of a party animal on New Year’s Eve, in fact this year I was fast asleep by 10 o’clock…which was bliss. But it’s always nice to feel like there’s a fresh new start to reinvigorate commitments previously set and somehow lost between the folds of life.

Looking back over the past year I think I actually did ok. It was full of new challenges, some chosen but many not, and everything was pretty much ok. Life doesn’t always work out quite so neatly, but we had a couple of pieces of unexpected good news before Christmas which really brightened up the season. Finally somethings are beginning to unfold and life can move on rather than standing still. After waiting for so long it actually feels incredibly strange for things to change overnight, but I’m happy to take it.

I chose a word for last year…’brave’. It was certainly relevant and significant and utilised frequently. I learnt that bravery isn’t the opposite of being afraid, fear is a necessary part of bravery…how can you be brave if you were never afraid in the first place? Fear is embedded within the heart of bravery, not as a negative element, but as a protagonist to push towards the realms of bravery and self-belief. Maybe the key is not to be afraid of feeling fear and instead see it as a natural collaborator with its close associate, bravery.

I don’t really feel the necessity of creating some new year goals this year, as I already have some in place…but I did enjoy having a word for the year, kind of like a little mantra. So I’m going to continue with that but moving onto ‘acceptance’…of myself, other people and life. Rather than fighting against the things I cannot change or control, I’m going to aim for feelings of acceptance…I already feel this is going to make life happier (with lots of practice!).

Have you got any New Years goals for the year ahead?

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Hooray! I’m so pleased I managed to keep up with posting a photo of the kiddos each week…first time ever! And probably the only resolution I kept going all year, I’ll take that as a win!

This is the day we got a total surprise of snow, it was truly magical and we had the best time admiring it in all its glory! What a fantastic end to the year.

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I absolutely love our Christmas tradition of making a gingerbread house each year, although it can be challenging and a little stressful…I think this year’s was the most successful yet! I made 3 small ones last year so they could have one each, but I learnt that wasn’t a great idea for stress levels so we went back to one big one…much easier!

We even had spare dough to make ginger biscuits (getting a ruler out to measure the depth of dough was definitely worth the effort!). I’m a bit gutted I can’t try any of it, but it smelt delicious!

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Christmas Traditions

When I was little I had The Snowman on tape, one of my favourite Christmas presents from my nan and grandad. I used to listen to it over and over again on my Walkman. Now I’ve upgraded to a cd, but I still love listening to the story and music, it really makes it feel like Christmas. It’s a story, that as a child, I half wished were true and encapsulates the magic of Christmas (although my children don’t agree!?). So this morning I took some time to enjoy listening to it again, before cracking on with making mince pies and gingerbread…for a gingerbread house to bake and construct later.

The Elf is also in full swing at the moment, although he has been a bit sporadic this year!? We seem to only remember him just before or once we get into bed. We need to up his game and think of some more naughty things for him to do…we’ve had complaints he’s too tame this year.

Settling down to some lovely Christmas films and listening to Christmas music by the fire have been a staple in our house since the beginning of December (if not slightly before), with plenty more to squeeze in over the next few days.

Then some carol singing and eating ourselves silly and the Christmas season will be complete!

Do you have fun Christmas traditions you do every year?

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Trying to, rather unsuccessfully, squeeze in a selfie with the rather tiny snowman we made! A pretty good effort seeing as we had just a dusting of snow…there may also be a bit of cow pat stuck to some of the body – the perils of making a snowman where the cows have been!!

It really made it feel even more Christmassy! Can we have some more next week please?

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On our annual outing to choose a Christmas tree, so much fun!! This year is the first year we have actually chosen a tree that fits the space we have (it will probably never happen again!?). Usually we go way too big!!

The additional fun is in the wrapping and carrying to the car, when the girls are eager to help. Luckily the staff are more than happy with their assistance!

I loved how E just held onto the tree and got dragged along for the ride on her heelies!

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Patience is a Virtue….

….that I probably don’t possess!? Still working on that one!! That in itself is an exercise of patience. It’s something that is hanging out there somewhere in the ether, something that is rumoured to make life so much better and something that we spend quite a lot of energy trying to instil in our children.

But here’s the thing, if the concept of patience gets changed into the concept of waiting…this doesn’t feel so unattainable. I can do waiting, I’ve managed it lots of times and it didn’t seem too painful (depending on how much of a rush I’m in of course!!). I’ve had lots of practice at waiting, I’ve been waiting for some things for years…some things will happen eventually, some maybe not.

Sometimes the waiting can be painful, frustrating, never ending…but if I manage to sit back and accept it, rather than fighting what, essentially, I have no control over it all becomes much more bearable.

Of course, sometimes the waiting is the best bit! The anticipation, the excitement and the build up. That’s the bit we’re in now, with the run up to Christmas. I look back on all those years of stomach turning excitement, and I think that that was one of the best parts…the waiting! I love all of the Christmas traditions we have in the weeks towards the big day, gingerbread houses, advent calendars, Christmas tree choosing, parties, cards, crafts…the list goes on. For me that’s where the real joy comes…waiting for Christmas is not so bad.

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November Highlights

  • I finally completed 30 days of Yoga…it only took me 2 months! On to the next challenge.
  • I’m very late to the party, but I finally watched La La Land and absolutely loved it! Although the ending broke my heart a little…wasn’t expecting that!
  • Made and consumed a delicious gluten and dairy free orange and chestnut cake, from River Cottage Gluten Free.
  • Listened to a really interesting documentary on Radio 4 about adoption, definitely worth a listen to understand how it effects everyone.
  • Finally used my birthday voucher from last year and had a fantastic massage, just need one everyday!
  • Assignments galore this month! And still more to do! At least some of the vocabulary and concepts are beginning to take root!
  • Lots of lovely celebrations with birthdays and bonfire night, with my first attempt at making Parkin…a veritable success, we may have begun a new tradition!
  • More recipe firsts…making dahl (which the girls thought must have originated from Roald) and homemade waffles.
  • The woolly jumpers are out, alongside crackling log fires…it’s feeling very cosy around here!
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