It’s the Summer Holidays!

Child's Play, Parenting

It’s the summer holidays! Shout it from the roof tops!! This is my first real summer holiday with a little toddler in tow (last year I worked throughout – and while I plan to work a fair amount this summer I will be limiting it to 2/3 days a week and giving my little one my undivided attention the rest of the time).

So we’re one week in and already having so much fun.

The funny thing is that we haven’t actually gone out and done a lot yet, but we have just really really enjoyed each other’s company.

We’ve planted some little flowers in our garden, re-organised her toy room and nursery to make them the ultimate play spaces for her, done some drawing, cooked dinner together, gone out for coffees, seen friends (old and new!) and family and played, played, played!

Violetta’s language skills are changing every single day and it is truly incredible to witness. She takes absolutely everything in and suddenly comes out with something totally unexpected. Today, for example, she came and asked me for a cup of tea. I was in fits of giggles, but she must have heard the adults around her talking about having a cuppa and decided that she wanted one too, at a later date in a totally new context. When I declined the cup of tea, she just said ‘ok Mummy, sandwich please’. She’s got a seriously fun little personality on her and a really wicked sense of humour.

I’ll keep you updated as to the fun and games we get up to over the summer, but for now here’s a pretty little picture of Violetta with some of my favourite flowers.

My Little Water Baby

Child's Play, Local Things to Do

We started taking Little V to swimming lessons when she was 12 weeks old. We found a wonderful little swimming school called Turtle Tots, which ran classes in a local hotel’s swimming pool. It was such a lovely introduction to the water; building up our confidence and hers, understanding good ways to play in the water and a lovely environment with small classes and a clean and classy changing room! Not only did V find her feet in this class, learning to love the water, hold onto the side, kick, splash, go under water and blow bubbles, we also made some amazing mummy friends with similar aged children. We only did two sets of these lessons, but they were such a valuable learning experience for us all.

Ever since her swimming lesson days V has been a huge fan of the water. Whether it’s a swimming pool, the bath, a shower, a fountain or the bubbles in Mummy’s washing up sink, she can’t get enough of it.

She’s absolutely fearless too – loving it when the water is poured all over her face or she gets splashed by her over-zealous Papa!

This summer we are hoping to spend lots of time swimming at Nana and Grandpa’s house. We will practice everything we learnt at swimming lessons (V can independently hold onto the of the pool for nearly a minute!) as well as having lots of fun with balls and inflatables.

I was never especially confident in the water growing up, so it’s even more important to me that this little girly is happy in the pool from a young age.

 

The Baby Show – Photoshoot

Child's Play, Parenting

A couple of weeks ago we were in Italy on holiday and one evening, while in the apartment earlier than everyone else thanks to a sleeping baby, I started browsing Facebook.  Scrolling through a lot of noise, my attention was drawn to a post from The Baby Show (who I have been following since falling pregnant with Violetta) regarding a competition they were running to find the face of The Baby Show 2018).

We’ve dabbled a bit in baby modelling and Violetta is represented by Kids London Ltd. She’s attended a couple of professional shoots for Baby London Magazine and Children Salon and was down to the final two for the new John Lewis advert, but we don’t push it and just take things on as, when and if they come up.

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Photographer: Sue Greetham

This competition seemed like a fun one to enter; simply sending off two photos of Violetta with a little story about her. I checked hubby was happy for me to enter her and sent it off. To be completely honest, I didn’t give it another thought as out of all the entries they were bound to receive, I doubted Violetta would be noticed.

I was wrong!

I received a call saying that she had been selected as one of nine finalists and we were asked to attend a photoshoot from which the winner will be chosen.

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Photo Credit: The Baby Show instagram account

This was such an exciting phone call and I was beyond excited to take Violetta along for her big opportunity. I was also acutely aware that the last time she had a photo shoot she could only just sit, there was no fidget-bottomed, dance loving, into everything toddler to contend with!

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Baby London Magazine Photoshoot

We had an early start and had to ride a rush hour tube across London. Violetta decided to start her shmoozing early; making choo choo train noises, waving at all the commuters (and lavishing big smiles on those who waved back) and saying ‘bye bye everybody’ every time we pulled into a station. It was pretty amusing. After a false start getting on the wrong train and then ending up on a platform in the wrong direction, we made it to the studios and headed down to meet the lovely team.

There are a lot of people involved in a baby photo shoot; more than you’d imagine! After introductions to the ten or so team members we were invited to make ourselves comfortable. We were given a wonderful goody bag with a toy dragon from Mamas and Papas (which on the train home I discovered Violetta had named Peter, I’m guessing after the photographer1), a Mam bottle, a railway book, a flannel and a huge bottle of aloe vera moisturiser. What a lucky girl!

Violetta made sure everyone said hello to her on a cheeky little set walkabout and then it was time to see the stylist. Fitted out with a super cute JoJo Maman Bebe outfit which fitted into the theme of the shoot (top secret at the moment, so I promised not to share that bit!) she was ready to go.

Now, as I mentioned, I had no idea how Miss V was going to behave on set, but I had my fingers crossed that my usually well behaved girly would be on top form for the lovely photographer.

Thankfully, she was, although we had great difficulty trying to get her to sit still in the middle of the set and smile. Who knew toddlers find it somewhat tricky to do that when surrounded by new and exciting toys, a white canvas and a very flashy camera!

We had 45 minutes to see if we could get a good picture and believe me when I tell you that Violetta tested out every single part of the set; the toys, the props, the adult sized hat, the tripod, the backing and even the photographers very expensive professional camera. He was incredibly kind and they had the room in fits of giggles when she worked out which button took a photo and then went on to take a whole series of selfies!

About half way through the shoot she snuggled down with a pillow and said ‘ni-night everybody’ before pretending to be asleep. A cheeky snack break was in order followed by more fun and games, songs, dances and twirling. I had a little peek over the producers shoulder and saw a fabulous photo of her reaching up to the sky (something she’s learnt to do in Mummy’s Tiny Feet dance classes).

Photo Credit: The Baby Show instagram

We were made to feel so welcome and involved and I absolutely loved the positive attitude of the team who were running the shoot. Believe it or not, I was even asked to take part in an interview for The Sunday Times news review magazine about parenting in a digital age. Who knows whether I’ll make the final piece, but what a wonderful opportunity to be given nevertheless.

If you are thinking of entering your little one into a competition or pursuing some baby modelling for them, I would say go for it! Violetta loved her experience today and had a fantastic time meeting new people and experiencing something very unlike her usual everyday. Whether she wins or not, I’m proud of her for being the sweet, fun, cute, giggly and forthright little toddler that she is and for confidently playing up for the little crowd of onlookers at the shoot.

If you are wondering where I stand on bringing my child up in a digital age of parenting, I’ll blog about that another time and I’ll let you know if I make it into the article and how Violetta gets on with this competition too!

Feel free to ask any questions, especially if you are thinking of getting your little one involved in something like this!

 

 

Let them be Little

Child's Play, Parenting

There’s been a huge hype in the news and online this week about the letter that has been sent home from a London school, requesting that the children do not dress up as footballers, pop starts or famous you tubers for their ‘My World of Work Day’ as these are ‘great ambitions, but so hard to achieve’. Instead they would like the children to ‘think of their Plan B options for future jobs’.

This has really set me thinking.

When I was at primary school, we didn’t have a My World of Work Day, but whenever we did projects / creative writing about what we’d like to be when we grow up, I would always say teacher. This evolved and grew as I went through secondary school and realised that my passion and skillset was in the arts and that I would like to teach dance and one day own my own school. Throughout primary school my train of thought was encouraged: role play of classrooms and pretending to be ‘Miss Jordan’ were recurrent themes in the playground and at home. Admittedly I never understood what you had to do to become teacher, but I was always helping my friends and loved nothing more than being around younger children and showing them how to do things (some call it bossiness, I call it leadership!).

When I was in secondary school, we were taken to the Careers Department, where the “Careers Advisor” would listen to what you wanted to do and tell you which university to apply to. The problem I had, is that you don’t need to go to university to become a qualified, respected and brilliant dance teacher. That doesn’t sound like a problem, does it? But trust me it is a huge problem when your school only takes notice of future careers that mean you attend the best Uni that you can get into. I found this narrow-mindendness as frustrating at the time as I am finding thinking about the school who has asked the children to come as their ‘Plan B’. I didn’t have a Plan B. Nor was the job I was aspiring to unattainable or in anyway not respectable. I had worked hard throughout my teens to qualify when I was only 18 as a dance teacher. I had started reading up on business models and their implantation and making business plans. None of this affected how hard I studied at school – but it was my dream and I was most certainly going to make it happen, with or without their support.

Talking of this Plan B, do children really see ‘Footballer’ as their Plan A and then devise a back up plan for if it doesn’t work? No. Not in my experience. Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and they will give you one solid and confident answer. Often a highly bemusing one that you will remind them of repeatedly when they are older. In a world where schools are no longer making sports days competitive so as not to alienate the less sporty children, why is it OK to make children think of a Plan B career and then action it in their role play, as, implicitly, their Plan A will fail or be unattainable.

So why has this news lit a fire inside me that has made me want to share my opinion on it so much?

Who are we to stop children dreaming!

Soon enough they will go to secondary school and learn that they must match their job to their skill set. They will be encouraged to study subjects that are within their achievable academic reach, to apply for college places/apprenticeships/university places that are for every day jobs that we all have to do. There is a time and a place for this, granted, but I do not believe that it needs to start in primary school.

I love the idea that our children are learning about so many different job roles. I understand from my friends with school aged children that parents from all different fields of work go into schools and talk to the children about what they do. This is how we open our children’s eyes to the many roles that are out there and help them understand the paths that must be taken to reach the dizzying heights of grown-up employment. None of this was done when I was at school, and I naively entered year seven thinking everyone was a doctor, nurse, dentist, teacher, policeman, fireman, banker…. you get the gist.  Educating our children by introducing them to real-life people in a whole variety of roles is vitally important and will enable them to make a much more informed decision as they grow up, based on a more in depth understanding of the world around them.

However, does this mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to dress up as a footballer, pop-star or youtuber?

In my opinion, it does not.

Children are only young once and they say that youth is wasted on the young – so why are we trying to take this away? We should embrace their wonderful imaginations, allow them to dress up as whoever they aspire to be (a friend of mine told me today that her little boy dressed up as King Elizabeth for his equivalent day at school- the sky’s the limit when you’re 5!). We all know, from experience, that this doesn’t mean that they will all go on to be the next big football star, sign the biggest record deal of the century or make their millions from a youtube channel. But in the same vein, how many of the children who dress up as doctors, firemen and vets will go on to do those jobs. As adults we know that every career choice requires such a specialised skill set and uniquely achieved qualifications that only people who want to go into these areas of work will make it and I’m not just talking about the careers I’ve mentioned. Amongst my friends I can name a pathologist, risk manager, shipping lawyer, auditor, accountant, life coach, paediatrician, personal trainer and hedge fund manager. Did any of us even know these roles existed in primary school and would we really have dressed up as them when our imaginations were so free that we truly believed we could train to be the tooth fairy if that’s what our heart desired?

I say let them be little.

There’s plenty of time to grow up and take informed choices later.

 

 

 

11 Months: Time for Tea

Child's Play

And just like that, my baby has turned into a little play-mate! She has started to understand imaginative role-play and it is so much fun!

For Christmas we gave her a beautiful little play kitchen, but didn’t buy any bits and pieces for it, so I stocked it with her bowls, cups, spoons and an empty porridge box.

My parents then gave her a little teapot and cups for Christmas and the play began!

Violetta, after being led by her auntie, quickly got the hang of the teapot and the teacups; pouring everyone cups of her imaginary tea and saying ‘cheers’ with chinking cups to anyone who would stop for a drink!

This has led to a realisation that she also has a new level of understanding instructions, as we now go into my kitchen and I ask her for a cup of tea. She promptly crawls off to her kitchen, sources the tea pot and (most times – although sometimes we’ve imagined them) the teacups, and brings them over to pour me tea!

Following this, we have started ‘making’ porridge, cups of water (from her little sink) and all sorts of other food and drinks. She even chews her imaginary food after putting it in her mouth.

I think it’s time for the real playing to begin and I am so excited.

I’ll be popping some play ideas up here on a weekly bases so feel free to tune in to see what we’ve been up to and what you can try with your littles.

Love Victoria and Violetta x