In line with everything else in life, the cost of having a baby is only going in one direction, and that's upwards. It's estimated that the cost of preparing for your baby is approaching £2,000 - that's the total for all your baby equipment such as cots and car seats, as well as your initital stock of nappies and clothes etc. Of course there are ongoing costs too, with the lowest estimates for caring for a baby coming in at £1,000 a year. These costs may be very conservative for parents who want to treat their baby to high end equipment - the upper costs associated with raising a baby can virtually be limitless!
All of this comes at a time when your earnings are likely to fall because of maternity leave. It's so important that you plan for this lifestyle change. Luckily we get good notice of a new baby arriving - typically nine months! Start putting aside a little bit of money as soon as you know that you are expecting, or start to spread the cost by buying pieces of equipment as you go along. Prepare your new baby's bedroom in this time and start kitting it out with the furniture that you'll need.
There are ways that you can save money - look out for secondhand equipment at boot sales, on eBay or at NCT sales. Look for good value alternatives such as supermarket branded goods. Don't feel that you have to buy one of everything that is available - make pragmatic decisions about what equipment you may be able to survive without.
There's no arguing that having a baby doesn't come cheaply, but hopefully you'll find the joy of having a new member of the family more than reward enough to see you through these early years. Costs don't necessarily decrease with time, but hopefully your budgeting will be more used to a larger family in time...
There's no doubting the fact that if you are the baby of a Prime Minister, you will grow up with some pretty remarkable stories, but perhaps none more unlikely than the story that emerged last week that David and Samantha Cameron's new baby Florence sleeps in a cardboard box! That'll be some boast at school - that she used to sleep in a cardboard box in Downing Street!
Florence's early arrival into the world caught the Cameron family out; they were holidaying in Cornwall and didn't have a cot for their newborn daughter. Six year old sister Nancy came to the rescue by decorating a cardboard box as a fitting crib for sister Florence. When they returned to London, they decided to keep Florence in the cardboard box!
Nancy and four year old brother Arthur are reported to adore their new sister. We're excited for the family too and wish them all the best, and hope they are able to find enough private time to enjoy being a family despite the pressures of dad's rather high profile job!
As 2012 approaches, we can reveal that a family ticket to the 2012 London Olympics will cost in the region of £25,200 - but the good news is that kids go free! Well, nothing's been finalised yet, but former Labour MP and possible future London Mayoral candidate Oona King has come out with a pledge to allow London's schoolchildren free entrance to the Olympics. Current Mayor Boris Johnson has promised 100,000 tickets to 'young people' and believes that City Hall's contribution of £625 million to the Olympic fund entitles him to 50,000 free tickets. So assuming that an adult ticket can be secured for somewhere in the region of £100, a family of four should get in for £25,200, with two, worth £12,500 each, being provided free to the children. That's after every family has already contributed £20 a year for 12 years (£240 in total) in their council tax.
Of course, we're all delighted that the 2012 Olympics are coming to London. We are promised that this will rejuvenate an interest in sport in this country which can only be a good thing for national health overall. However, we do remain slightly sceptical that the Olympic arenas hosting popular sports will be packed with executives, whilst minority interest sports will be left for the children to enjoy. Don't complain if the much talked of Olympic legacy will be to generate a generation of minority sport fanatics!
A report published by the government has suggested that family holidays, once considered as an essential, is now considered as a luxury. A couple of years ago, parents questioned thought that an annual vacation was a necessity but now believe it is something they can live without. Other items now being described as luxuries rather than staples include expensive birthday parties for children, fashionable toys and expensive clothes.
Areas which are now considered important are having a healthy diet, getting exercise and having access to a computer at home. These findings are published by the Department of Work and Pensions, who suggest that families have become more frugal since the economic downturn. It adds that families consider a nice weekend away as a sufficient break rather than a two week annual holiday. Days out, nights away and short breaks where families can share an experience together were more important for the family than the length and cost of a holiday.
Having enough space for children at home (ie. a bedroom for each child) was important for parents according to the study; also the notion of having somewhere to sit and eat that was away from the television. Naturally, cookers, washing machines and fridge freezers were thought essential, and indeed a bicycle and how to fix it!
National Family Week runs from 31st May - 4th June 2010 and is the biggest and most publicised celebration of family life. It's an annual event and it aims to celebrate all things family, promote the idea of spending quality time together and it also advocates an active lifestyle. ... as does ToucanLearn!
National Family Week is backed by all major political parties, and it works with hundreds of partners and supporters to help support family life. There are restaurants, retail companies as well as charities that support the project. David Cameron, Terry Wogan, Amanda Holdon, Sally Gunnell and Ester Rantzen are amongst many all lend their support.
Thousands of events will be taking place across the country - many of them free of charge for children - in all sorts of venues. The deals on offer cover all sorts of venues that want to encourage families to enjoy eating, learning, playing, exploring and getting out and about together. The project runs throughout the whole of the half term week, see the official website for information on events, and access to lots of special offers throughout the week.
ToucanLearn is all about spending quality time with your children... after all, ToucanLearn (two can learn!) better than one. An annual subscription is just £16 a year for hundreds of activities, games, crafts and ideas about how to entertain and inspire your children. All the activities are age specific and great fun for everyone!
Having friends and spending time with family is important for a child's development, not just because its fun, but because it's a great way for them to learn more from different people who do things in different ways. Grandad knows all about birds and nature, Granny is great at cooking, Uncle Joe is funny and makes us camps, Aunty Caroline is brilliant at horse riding and lets us try. When children and toddlers are with other people, they watch and learn just as much as when they are with you and its good for them to experience other homes and families.
Try and find out what special skills or interests family members have; especially older generations. Encourage them to teach your children or just spend time with them telling them stories about how thinkgs used to be! It's so valuable to learn about different cultures and people that spending time with our families can be interesting and beneficial for you all.
Similar Aged Children
When they are with other children the same age existing skills can be developed or new things discovered. They communicate, and understand and negotiate. They may squabble but try to find a solution and come to a decision. Try not to interfere and leave them to work out their problems. Obviously if they start fighting, then intervene!
When they are with older children, they may be nurtured or guided by them and can learn about new things and games. Older children can be very caring towards younger ones and can be great teachers. The younger children see this and copy. Older children can also be great academic teachers. See the 5 year old teaching a younger 3 year old how to hold a pencil and do a "loop-de-doop" in order to learn and write an "o".
Encouraging siblings to teach and help each other:
- Get them to read to each other. The younger can look at the pictures and tell the story. The older can try and read the words.
- Leave them! Try not to interrupt - even if it's to say well done! Let them get on with it.
- Praise them! Say well done, especially to the child who is teaching, as it will make them feel very proud of their efforts and encourage them to do it again!
- Encourage imaginative play: allow them to make a camp or splash around in water outside.
- Try not to jump in as soon as there is a squabble. Keep a distance and they will sort it out!
It has been said that Grandparents are taking the lead when it comes to teaching our children traditional values and standards of behaviour. Over half of those questioned said they learned good manners and values from their grandparents. Many considered their grandparents to be like second parents, and said that they considered the parents to be confidants.
As the structure and dynamics of families change, it seems that grandparents are now playing an even greater role in children's lives. Grandparents provide more and more childcare, support in financial or emotional ways and seem tp play an increasing role in the family life.
However, the role of grandparent changes as the children grow. They may be carer in the beginning, baby sitter as they are older and friend and teacher as they grow up. Here are a few ideas of the roles a grandparent can play.
Respected ancestor: grandparents are our link with the past. They are the head of the family and living proof of the family's history. They can talk about 'the old days', share stories of how life used to be and create a whole new world for little ones who love to listen to their grandparents (often embellished!) tales.
Friend: children feel happy to discuss things with grandparents who often appear more relaxed and permissive than parents. Children seem more likely to discuss things freely with grandparents and even talk about injustices that they feel with their parents.
Hero: being older, wiser and having lived for so many years, children can see grandparents as their heroes, full of stories and experiences of days gone by.
Teacher of practical skills: they can teach how to polish shoes, how to skip, how to knit, how to do the washing-up. Grandparents have so many skills and the time to teach them! They therefore become a role model for children. They can can be a mentor and guide children in a spiritual way.
Constant, reliable focus: in a world where divorce and separation is becoming more and more common, children look to grandparents as a constant in their life. They provide a nurturing and reliable place to go and feel wanted and cared for in an unconditional way.
Teachers of social skills: teaching children how to behave in public, how to look after themselves and how to communicate with adults.
Playmate: the magic that a grandparent can bring to a little child's life is priceless! The simplest of tasks become an adventure with a bit of inspiration and the fresh take on a situation that a grandparent can have. Children adore the excitement that grandparents can create and the games they have together.
In short, the role of grandparent has many layers, and indeed changes over time. Being a grandparent is what you make it and with a bit of time and thought it can be such a positive inspiration and a vital part of a child's life.
You don't need fancy toys or equipment in order to be a good grandparent, though. You don't need lots of brilliant ideas and complicated activities lined up for a visit. You just need some time, a little creative thinking and be willing to listen to what your grandchildren ask you for. The most important thing a grandparent can offer is a friendly ear and someone to listen!
Lucky for us, when we want water, we simply turn on the tap and with a gurgle and a whoosh out shoots fresh, clean drinking water. It's simple, its easy and it's free flowing. However, that doesn't mean we should waste water and its the same for our children. Their instinct is to turn the tap on, and leave it running throughout the duration of washing teeth. But, we should guide them while they are young to respect this valuable commodity.
Bathroom: Turn off the tap when washing teeth! Have a shower instead of a full bath! Don't flush the toilet more than you have to - put paper tissues, cotton buds and cotton wool in the bin!
Kitchen: Don't run the dishwasher or washing machine unless its full. Don't rinse fruit and vegetables in running water, use a bowl. Don't wash dishes under running water, use a bowl. Keep a jug (or reuse a bottle!) of cold water in the fridge instead of running the water until it gets cold each time you want a drink.
Garden: Get a water butt for watering flowers in the garden rather than using a hose.
It can be easy and fun to save water if you do it together! And, did you know:
- only 2.5% of the world's water is freshwater: all the rest is salt water
- only 8% of the world's water is for domestic use: 70% is for agricultural use
- in the developing world, water-borne disease is responsible for 80% of illnesses and death
- we can go without food for about a month, but you won't survive longer than 7 days without water