Handy Tools & Advice, Parenting

How do I know my child is safely strapped in?

Anyone who knows me can vouch that I’m pretty intense when it comes to car safety for littlies, especially Caitlin and her car seat who seem to have a love/hate relationship… This mama does not allow any form of back seat (or worse, front seat) driving when mom’s around! Blame the anxious, paranoid parent in me – or the fact that I love my child to absolute death and trust no one when it comes to her safety (yes, I’m that bad!).

It’s funny how we purchase a safety product, have a quick run-through the manual and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ you now know how to manoeuvre this exceptionally intimidating contraption (at least that’s how I felt when first having to deal with an upright carseat…?) So, you strap your little one in, they absolutely hate it (Caitlin doesn’t enjoy it…as you can see from the picture… haha!) and yet you explain to them that it is for their safety and look, mommy and daddy are wearing their safety belts too! They get used to the car seat and you continue with the knowledge you know on how to use the car seat, but do you really know, I mean REALLY KNOW that the pinnacle of your existence (I’m referring to your child, btw ;D) is 100% safely strapped in?

I sure thought I did! Yet, sometimes we are in a hurry (man are we in a hurry!) and you think you securely locked the buckle with no knots in the harness and somehow a piece of clothing or part of a toy gets stuck and manages to jiggle out the buckle. YES, this has happened to me once or twice where I ended up being completely freaked out at the thought of what could’ve gone wrong!!!

Since then, I try to take it slow when buckling up for a drive out; ensuring that Caitlin is fully buckled up before I get into the car and do the same for the driver (aka this MAMA).

Now, as a firm believer of turning to ‘the GOOGLE’ when in need of help (as we all tend to do when we feel uneducated about a certain subject or matter), I tend to research things in order to better equip myself with the required knowledge so that I do not make the same mistakes time and time again.

A few tips that I’ve found useful by incorporating them into our drive out routine to ensure that the little one is safely buckled up in her car seat:

  • Ensure the harness isn’t twisted and is correctly placed in front of the body

At a certain age, toddlers tend to try their luck by ‘unstrapping’ themselves as they remove their arms out of the straps, even though the buckle is still safely secure. This is a big NO-NO! To avoid this from happening, try the BeSafe Belt Collector – a nifty add-on that ensures your little one’s belts remain in the correct position (along with their body posture) whilst blocking them from removing/escaping out from under the straps.  

  • Once the buckle is locked, pull back on the harness without unlocking the buckle to ensure it is safely clicked in. 

Since my mistakes of not checking the buckle post locking it, it is part of our ritual and Caitlin knows that no toys are allowed on her lap whilst we buckle up. This is mostly due to the fact that it is usually her ‘teddy’ that gets caught in the buckle causing it not to click in 100%. By pulling on the straps/belts post locking the buckle, you can see that it is locked properly and also evaluate if any clothing or toys or blankets may or may not block the mechanic from working properly.

  • Check for any unwanted items that may block the car seat’s safety mechanics ie. buckle, straps, harness

As mentioned in the previous point, any unwanted items (by you as parent, they are usually very wanted by your child at that point) must not be in the way of buckling up for a drive out. That means all toys, clothing, blankets… anything.

  • In winter, avoid too puffy coats/jackets

Extremely think/puffy jackets or coats may keep your little one all snuggly and warm in winter, but it can also cause the car seat to not work properly. We tend to use a blanket over Caitlin once she’s buckled up safely in her car seat to ensure that she stays warm and put her jacket on after we’ve reached our destination and unbuckled her.

  • IMPORTANT! Do a test – the upside down test

This is probably THE best advice to ensure that the car seat you own is safe for your little one – no matter what may come your way whilst on the road. The main aim of a car seat is to protect your child in the case of an accident – guarding their little bodies as the car flips, rolls or hits an object. It cannot do this job 100% if you do not use it properly – I cannot emphasize it enough! No matter how much you paid for that car seat – whether its a fancy 6-digit car seat or an el’cheapo that was a hand-me down from a family member or friend – always check that it is in its best working condition by doing the upside down test.

How to do the upside down test:

  1. Take the car seat out of the car – yes, OUT of the car.
  2. Buckle your child up safely and properly as you would do if you were going for a drive out. No less than a 1 to 2 finger space between their bodies and the harness straps!
  3. Now, pick your child up as they sit in the car seat and hold them upside down.
  4. Your child should remain safely in their car seat. This is how you know that it’s a keeper (the car seat, of course!).NB! Always have someone for an extra pair of hands when doing this test. Accidents happen quite quickly.

 

And that’s my tips to a happy, fun and safe driving experience for both parent and children. For more information on car seat safety, follow #CarSeatFullstop on social media platforms and join in the conversation by liking, sharing and commenting on this post (and others)!

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Much love,
C xx

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Life Right Now, Parenting

The Potty Training Games

I have to admit something: so far, this whole parenthood thing has been quite easy. I mean, easy in the word that it could have been way harder – we’re lucky in that way. I’m only saying this because raising a child, as challenging as it may seem, can be a thousand times harder than what we think our current situation in parenthood is. (My current situation is struggling with a stubborn toddler that refuses to go to sleep) But somewhere out there in the world are other parents, just like us that are facing other challenges, some that we cannot even start to imagine, of raising a happy, healthy and loved child. We’re not alone in the hood of parents.

Yet somehow, it can feel that way. I tend to feel this way sometimes. Especially when my anxiety, fear of failure and fear of disappointment gets the best of me. This usually happens after a long day at work, having to try my best to get through household to-do’s and suddenly ending up with a screaming toddler that refuses to ‘to-go’ poo-poo on the toilet or potty.

I call the current phase of our journey in parenthood: The Potty Training Games.

I call it this for a very valid reason. Potty training, to date, has been the hardest part of parenthood for this mama. We’ve been at it since Caitlin turned two years old. That’s a whopping 18 months of on and off trying to get her to “be a big girl” and use the potty. “Babies don’t wear diapers”. Well, she reckons that she’s my baby, so it must be okay then to still use diapers. I’ve tried what seems to be all the tricks in the non-existing manual of raising a child and so far we’ve only managed to get half way through the process. Sometimes it feels like we’re never going to get it right.

And then I feel like I’ve let my daughter down. Failed as a parent in successfully teaching her something that surely should come naturally to her to grasp. 

We’ve had a rough ride in the potty training games that may have contributed to our struggles. Constipation, diarrhea, medication to treat the two, unwillingness to eat fibre and veggies, as well as changes of a new teacher, friends and school – they all play a part in why we haven’t managed to get a handle on it yet.

Potty training can be done in many ways. There’s no set time as to how long it can take, no set methods to success as each child is different.

In Caitlin’s situation, she’s a bright little girl that easily gets shy when it comes to ‘doing her business’, she’s an extremely sensitive soul, thus get’s easily upset and all of this makes the process so much harder, frustrating and quite frankly exhausting.

We’ve managed to accomplish certain stages of potty training:

  1. Acknowledging that you need to-go
  2. Ask or tell an adult you need to-go
  3. Use the potty to-go pee-pee

The stages that we cannot seem to crack:

4. Acknowledging that you need to-go poo-poo
5. Use the potty to go poo-poo before making an accident in your underwear

Something you need to know about me: I always worry. And in this case my mind tends to run away with me. What if she can’t get it right? What if they start to tease her at school? I don’t want that! No parent wants that!

In the world of motherhood, it can feel like everyone’s children are perfect – Instagram perfect! – so why isn’t your child? The fact is that they are perfect… perfectly human. Little human beings that are learning. And learning takes patience. Something that I’m not good at and learning along the way. It’s a process and something that I’m hoping that we get through soon (before my nerves give in!).

Tell me moms: Did you have any challenges like ours when potty training your little one? If so, how did you manage to successfully potty train? I’d love some of your tips! 

Much love,
Cxxx

Life Right Now, Parenting

How-To: Teach your child about money values

When Caitlin was born, I handed over the pink piggy bank that I grew up with over to her by placing it in her room. Every so often, we clear out the small change from our wallets and throw them in there for her as a start to a savings account.

Fast forward a few years and Caitlin’s grown accustomed to putting money (small change, mostly) into her piggy bank. Every now and then her father will help her to count her money and place the high values in a safe place, starting the filling up ‘piggy’ process all over again.

Whilst Caitlin is probably still too small to understand the full value about working hard for your money and reward yourself for it, we’ve started to slowly explain the fact that if you behave, mommy and daddy will give you some money that you can either save in your piggy bank (which is what we prefer) or alternatively, you can buy yourself a sweetie the next time we go to the shops.

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So this whole process got me thinking about how I was taught money values and how it influences your approach towards money, spending, saving and so forth. Whilst I was one of those very fortunate kids growing up in a home where there was never a shortage of anything necessary, I still had the value of hard work entrenched into me. My parents are entrepreneurs by default, which means that shop-talk was always present and there was (and still is) always work that needs to get done. Whilst my kid-self didn’t understand why they were constantly working like all…the…time, my adult-self understand that raising four kids and maintaining a functioning household takes a lot of extra hours and hard work.

To me, understanding the values of hard work and the value of money totally goes hand in hand. So, the basic steps that we follow in teaching Caitlin the value of both are as follow:

  1. Entrench that money doesn’t grow on trees. We don’t usually carry a lot of cash on us, but it also provides the opportunity to show Caitlin that money isn’t always readily available and we need to work well with what we have.
  2. You can’t have both; sometimes you need to make choices. There’s always that moment in the shops when there is more than one item that Caitlin would like. Now, whilst the easies option would be to buy both for her, it also gives the opportunity to teach her that you cannot always get both that you want, you need to choose what you’d like most.
  3. “I need it” vs. “I want it.” The difference between need and want is still a difficult one for little ones to grasp, however we’re trying very hard to teach her the difference (especially when it comes to sweets and toys)
  4. Include her in the paying process when going to the stores. We always give her the opportunity to hand the items she wants from the store to the cashier and give her the opportunity to hand over the card (even if it’s just the store loyalty card) for payment.
  5. Combine money, math and chores. If you help mommy with the washing or picking up of toys then you are rewarded and so it adds up.

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There are various other ways of teaching money values to kids, however the above, I’d like to think, is currently appropriate for Caitlin’s age. As she’ll grow older, we’ll include her in decisions like:

  1. Setup a savings goal. 
  2. Decide which item is the best buy. 
  3. Making money in fun ways. 
  4. Giving to charities. 

Ultimately, we hope that teaching Caitlin the value of money and hard work will equip her for adult life.

Why not share how you teach your child(ren) the value of hard work and money?

Much love,
Chantelle
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