Tips on babysitters

Leaving your baby in the care of someone else can be extremely stressful for some parents, particularly me!  So I thought I would put together a list of tips to make you feel more comfortable about leaving your children in the care of someone else. Whether you are leaving your child with a family member, a friend, a neighbour or a relative stranger here are some ideas to make the whole process go smoothly.

If you are hiring a babysitter there are a few steps you should take:

* Ask your friends for recommendations of who they use, or look out for advertisements in your local paper.  You can also use a nanny/babysitting service who have done all the hard work for you.

* The general rule of thumb is the younger your child, the more mature a babysitter you want.  A 16 year will probably not be mature enough to handle a newborn or toddler (unless they have them in their family), but will be great with a child over the age of 8-10.

* Have a phone interview, check their rates, their availability, and ask for some references.  Discuss what you expect of them when they look after your children and your parenting style (gentle parenting vs. hitting, naughty corner, etc.).  Ask them about their experience with children of a similar age.  Ask if they have had first aid training, and if they have a working with children check.  If their answers don’t match your expectations move on to someone else.  Remember this is the time to ask as many questions as you want to assess their suitability to look after your kids.

* Make sure you check references.  Ring other parents and see how they like the person you will be hiring.  If something doesn’t sound right, move on to someone else.

* Have a face to face meeting at your own home so you can see how your child interacts with the babysitter.  It is very natural for your child to be a bit shy at first so this meeting will help bond your child to their new babysitter.  If your child really isn’t bonding with this person or the babysitter seems disinterested you have two options, ask them if they would be willing to come back and try again, or move on to someone else.

* Discuss the rules you expect them to follow – in particular anything on drinking, smoking and having guests over (this is particularly important if you are hiring someone young).

* If you are happy with all of this confirm with them their rates (take into account the number of children they will be looking after and extra fees for after 10pm or midnight – depending on the babysitter) and the first day and time you would like them to look after your child/ren.

On the day of babysitting (whether it be a babysitter or a family member):

* Be organised!

* Make a list of emergency contacts and leave it somewhere accessible (fridge or by the phone).

* Write your routine down so that they know exactly what should be happening and when.

* Charge your mobile phone so your contactable in case of a problem and so that you can ring to check in if you need to.

* If you are going to be gone for meal or snack time, put out what you would like your child/ren to eat.

* Leave out any clothes that they might need (eg. sleep suits, change of clothes in case they get dirty if they will be doing activities or playing outside).

* Make sure you leave water bottles and/or milk bottles in an easy to find spot.

* Leave any special toys, blankets or dummies out.

* Let your babysitter know if your child is unwell, teething or is just out of sorts.  And any strategies to deal with it!

* Tell your babysitter where you keep your first aid kit (if you don’t have one, where do you keep the childrens panadol, bandaids, etc) and if they need to call you before they administer it.

* Any lastly reinforce any rules on bed time and TV watching with your child in front of the babysitter before you leave – that way everyone is clear.

IMAG3892

This was breakfast and lunch for our twin boys, their water bottles and milk bottles all left out for my inlaws who babysat when we did the market

Advertisements

Routine

One of the things that having kids has taught me is how to stick to a daily routine.  Although my routine isn’t complicated it has certainly helped me in the last year to be able to manage my time a bit better and to always know in my mind what was coming next.  It also helps me avoid some of the meltdowns that occur when the boys are over tired or hungry.  I think whether you have one child, twins, or a whole bunch of kids that you need to find what works for you and your family.  I am lucky that the boys were almost always on the same schedule from birth and I was able to work out a routine from what they wanted when.  I did let them dictate in the first 6 months – they were my first children, I honestly had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t have anything else to do other than look after them.  It worked for us but I know a lot of people try to make their babies fit into their own routine which can be difficult.

Although we do go out quite a bit, when we are home we stick to the routine and I do plan our trips out quite often around nap time.  Routine keeps me sane and it has certainly evolved over time.  The boys have been on this routine from about a year old when they decided that they no longer wanted two naps a day.  At the time I was devastated as I loved the break both in the morning and in the afternoon.  We tried to get them to stick with two naps a day for longer but it just wasn’t working.  Some keep two naps a day until 18 months, but I’m just hoping that we get to keep 1 nap a day until at least the age of 2, hopefully even longer but who knows.  I’m not strict on our routine but we do follow this generally (give or take half an hour) and it really works for us.

8am – time to get up (the boys often wake at 7.30 and will chat quietly until 8am, sometimes they even sleep in!)

8.30am – breakfast

9.30am – milk

11.30am – lunch

1pm – nap for 2hrs

3pm – snack

4.30pm – dinner

5.30pm – milk

5.45pm – bath & brush teeth

6pm – story & bed

They are days when we skip the bath and the boys go to bed earlier as they are just too tired.  Most days I can still hear someone talking at 7pm but I’ve found that keeping them up any later just results in them getting frustrated and upset.  They seem to enjoy the quiet time in their cots, listening to their music and chatting with themselves and each other.

Tips on having a successful market stall – part 2

Yesterday I shared with you all the things you need to do before having a stall at a local market, you can view that post here.  Today I can share with you how our market day went and some tips on how to make your market day a success.

We actually did walk away with some cash but didn’t sell as many things as I would have liked.  I still have a mountain load of items to sell, and will need to decide whether we do a second market or sell via another means.  So my tips for you, from my experience are…

* Get there as close to the designated start of set up time as you can – it can take a while to unpack your car and then set up your stall.  Remember there are lots of other people you will need to navigate around so you need to allow as much time as possible.  You will generally have over an hour to set up and you will need it!

* Try to have two people for set up and pack up – it would be very difficult to do it on your own if you have a large number of items, as you will be in and out and will also need to move your car from the unloading bay to somewhere preferably far away.

* Put your sheet down over the table and set up your clothing rack first.  Do this before you start looking through and unpacking your boxes.

* Don’t overcrowd your table as your are setting up – you can always bring out more items as you go.   If your table is too full people will just walk straight past you, onto the next stall.

* The same goes for your clothing rack – people need to be able to easily flip through what’s on the rack and take items off to inspect them.

* Use the space under your table, as well as the space on top of your table.  The space under your table is perfect for large toys, as well as tubs of smaller toys or extra items (eg. bibs, socks).

* Take your large items to their designated area, making sure you have all the pieces together.

* Price everything clearly, it’s easier for you as the seller and much easier for the buyers if they can see prices – you can either price items individually or put all items in boxes and put up a big sign saying something along the lines of “All items in this box $2.”

* All the items that don’t fit on your table or clothes rack keep close at hand, buyers may ask you for other items and if you can quickly look through and find something you may make an extra sale.

* Try to make friends with the people around you, if you are on your own and need to run to the toilets they can watch your stall.

* Be willing to negotiate – remember a dollar in your pocket is better than going home with the item again and letting it continue to sit in a box.

* If you have a problem with adding or working out change use the calculator on your phone.  Less stress for you and quicker for the customer!

* Keep changing over your items – when things sell you can pull out the extra items you have with you.

* Stay happy – people are more likely to approach your table if you seem happy, rather than grumpy!

* Remember to take into account that you need to cover your costs – so the cost to be at the market, and the cost of any clothing rack, etc.  Anything above that is profit!

Below is a picture of our market stall at the start of the day, we changed it several times during the event.  I hope these posts have helped you if you are planning to do a market in the future.  Feel free to ask me any questions you may have and I’ll see if I can help.

IMAG3895

Tips on having a successful market stall – part 1

So today is our market day.  Selling off a large number of used (and new) baby items, including clothes and toys.  It has been a long process to get organised and we are really hoping it pays off – only time will tell.  I thought I would do this in two parts – the first part being the organisation and all the things we did to get ready for this day.  Part 2, which you can find here, will focus on how the day went and what worked and didn’t work.

So here is my tips to preparing for a market, whether it be a baby and kids one, a trash and treasure or something else.

* Start organisations early!  I mean really early, we started months in advance when the idea first popped into my head.  And with the boys its taken me this long to get myself organised.

* Check out your local markets as a shopper and decide on the ones you would like to have a stall at (look at the number of visitors, how the stalls are set up, how much space there is, etc.)

* Check out the markets terms and conditions – there will be lists of what you can and cant use (sticky tape, pins, etc), set up times, finishing times, refund information in case you need to cancel last minute, the number of helpers you can have, what you will be liable for (eg. scratches on the floor).

* Get all your items together and decide what size stall you will need (many markets now only have one stall size option so you can look at the option of having two stalls side by side)

* Pick your market based on what suits your needs and book early.  Markets book out a month or more in advance for selling preloved items.  And the earlier you book, the sooner you get to pick your stall.

* Look at the markets stall holder information – check out the list of what you need to bring, read the information on selling large items and check out any hints or tips they have.

* Purchase a clothing rack if you would like to use one and your market does not provide them.  They are available quite cheaply from stores such as the Reject Shop, Bunnings and Ikea.

* Sort your items into lots – eg. clothing, toys, etc.

* Go through all the clothing and sort into sizes (this will save you time on the day), checking items for any stains or tears (these are not suitable for anything and realistically should be used as rags or thrown away)

* Go through each size of clothes and start pricing (I used coloured dots) – try to choose fair prices, people want to get a bargain but you also want to walk away with some money so try to take both into consideration.

* As you price put items onto hangers (if you are using them – completely personal choice), and then put them into boxes.  I sorted them again into t-shirts, pants, onsies, etc. before boxing them.

* Label the boxes so you know what’s in them!!

* Price all your toys as well – if your not including batteries, write on the item if it works and any problems with it.

* Help promote the market you are attending – talk about it with your friends and family, post about it on your facebook or tweet about it.  The more people you can tell, the more people they will then tell, which means more potential buyers for your items!

* Either start saving your change or head to the bank to get some.  The more you have the better, you will need a mixture of coins and notes (because some people will come with a $50 for a $2 item) – we priced everything in full dollars so we didn’t have the need for any silver.

* Save all your plastic bags from shopping – you will need these to put peoples’ purchases’ in.

* Make up some signs, either by hand or on your computer, advertising exactly what items you have (eg. boys clothing sized 000 – 2) as well as any other important information (eg. more items available, discounts – buy 4 get 1 free, $1 off all items, etc.)

* Organise a baby sitter for the day – you need to leave the house early for set up and it will be a long day by the time you’ve packed up and gotten home so try and prepare your childrens’ meals for the day the night before to save you some stress.

* Pack everything your selling into your car the night before.

* Make a bag of all the odds and ends you might need – markers and labels (to reprice items if needed), sticky tape to attach signs, your signs, your change and your plastic bags.  You will need to pack a sheet to cover the table and a clothes rack if you are using one.  Also take a bottle of water for yourself and some snacks – you will need to keep your energy up.

* Try and get a good nights sleep

Tips for buying in bulk

So yesterday we made our trip to SPC Ardmona and came home with a full car load.  So I thought I should share some tips on how to shop in bulk.  These tips work for places like SPC and Costco, where you buy things by the case (eg. 12 cans of the same product).

  • So to start with you need to know what you have at home.  I generally have a fair idea of what we have but I always ask hubby to double check just in case there is something hidden in a back room that I’ve forgotten about!!
  • Have a budget – we actually have a seperate budget for trips to SPC, and this is not part of our weekly shopping budget (or our meat budget), for us it is much easier to have these seperate budgets because I then know where I am at on a weekly basis.
  • Know what products you use a lot of and what you only use a little of – there is no point buying something that is on super special if you only use it rarely or you’ve never used it before.  It will sit in the back of your cupboard using precious space and collecting dust for a year or more, trust me.
  • Have an idea of product prices.  Things may seem cheap but honestly they aren’t always so know your prices!!  If you don’t know your prices I recommend giving yourself some extra time and taking your phone, jumping onto coles or safeway online and look up to see whether you really are getting a good deal
  • Go with an empty car!!  We don’t even take the pram these days, we could and it would fit, its just not worth the hassle when you have to try and fit it all in the car at the end of the shop
  • Go with two adults if you can, particularly if you have children.  We put one boy in each trolley, grab a couple of boxes from the front to pack small things as we go around, so the big things go into one trolley and the small things into the other.  This also makes it easier to pack as the check out ladies speed through the mountain of purchases – its like Aldi, you have to pack quick!!
  • Take your time.  I cannot stress this enough.  These places can be very big and it can be overwhelming, particularly on your first time.  Don’t try to rush this kind of shop, you will buy too much and spend more than you should.
  • Compare products and prices with each other.  These places have several different brands of items – for example we saw different brands of toothpaste, don’t just look at the price, you need to compare the sizes – the companies are very good at putting things in similar size packaging but I always check how many grams I’m getting.  I then work out which is the better deal.  I often see people just going well thats cheaper so we’ll take that – you need to make sure your comparing the same thing.
  • Be aware that stock changes regularly.  Just because you got something there last time does not mean it will be there this time.  If you see something and you want it and you will actually use it, seriously you should just get it.  There is no point regretting not getting the kids those fruit sticks you saw and having to pay twice as much for a third of the amount at the supermarket the following week.  And don’t get disappointed when they don’t have something you wanted.  We walk in having a basic shopping list, anything else is a bonus and anything they don’t have this time I know I can still get at the supermarket.
  • Last but not least have a bit of fun.  It should not be a stressful experience.  If your taking the kids (which we do) take some snacks for them, let them hold a bag of something, let them pick something off the shelves.  If you walk in with your plan of what you do not need, what would be great if they had that you do need and a budget it will make it much easier.

Hope that helps someone out on their first trip or their next trip to one of these stores.  They are fantastic if you shop smart.  And below is the boys at the end of our SPC shop.  Their trolleys are both full and they were still fairly happy.

IMAG1622

And this is my car all packed up.  Yes it is full!  There are several boxes at the back filled with fruit that we picked up elsewhere, so I didn’t buy it all!!  And yes the boys each got a Bitty Bin which are just slightly shorter than them – just happened to be at SPC and I thought they were super cute and great to put the boys mega bloks in.  I actually filled the bins full of stuff to save space for the way home and my intention was to empty them this morning but my rugrats are actually to busy pulling and pushing them around the house, lifting the lid, checking whats inside, putting some of their bowls in, toddling off, coming back, taking their bowls out and moving the bin to somewhere else.  Its rather cute!!  I think I will empty them when the boys go to bed tonight and fill them with their toys so they get a surprise tomorrow!  🙂

IMAG1634

Lunch ideas!

So lunch time can be a pain in my house.  It’s a busy time of day for us – the boys are in a transitional stage where they are starting to only have one nap a day.  Some days though they still have two.  Either way is fine, it just makes life a little tricky as we never know when we get up what kind of day it will be and this can often limit our lunch choices as hubby leaves for work around this time too!

As the boys are now approaching 14 months they generally eat what we would eat.  I say generally and what we would eat for two reasons.  The first being that I am a crap eater!  I have ALOT of issues sorrounding food and am more than likely not a good role model – I skip meals constantly and eat emotionally.  Unfortunately this is what I learnt as a child and I am trying very hard to not pass these traits onto my own kids.  The second being that due to my husbands hours it is very rare that we will all eat a meal togther.  Hubby eats dinner at work, I eat dinner long after the boys go to bed, and lunch is much the same!

With lunch I try to make it an item that the boys can feed themselves.  They love to feed themselves and it can be a struggle to get a spoon in their mouth (more tips on this later).  So lunch in our household can consist of any number of things and here is just a few ideas.

* Last nights dinner – I often make my dinner with enough for the boys to have the next day for lunch or their own dinner

* Omlettes – its the end of the week and the vegetables are starting to look a bit sad, cut them up, put them in a bowl with some eggs and make an omlette.  Cut into slices its a great fingerfood!

* Fried rice – another great way to use up a few leftovers, including the rice that didn’t all get eaten the night before 🙂

* Chicken or beef strips – these can be marinated and cooked under the grill, in the frypan, or steamed.

* Hard boiled egg – cut into pieces

* Cold meat – ham, turkey, silverside, all the stuff from the deli

* Baked beans or tinned spaghetti – quick and easy!

* Cooked pasta – my kids will sometimes even eat it cold and plain, or you can mix it with some veggies, or add some sauce.

* Vegetables – my boys love being able to pick up the individual peas, corn kernels and beans (this is great at dinner time too!)

* Zucchini slice – or any other vegetable type slice

* Cheese rolls – these are messy and a bit more expensive than a sandwich but its a nice change and great when your out and about

* Rice cake / corn cake – topped with just about anything!

* Sandwiches – you can put anything in them, but to be honest the boys don’t have these yet, but lots of their friends do

* Sausage rolls / party pies – I make my own and they are filled with veggies, but you can buy them

I’m sure theres lots more but that all off the top of my head!  I’d love to know what you feed your little ones for lunch.

Snack ideas!

When the boys first starting having snacks on top of their main meals and milk I was at a complete loss as to what to give them.  So after scouring the internet and finding the same old things over and over, I spent some time really browsing my local supermarkets to try and find ‘appropriate’ things to give the boys.  This is what I have come up with, if you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them!

* Fruit – banana, apple, pear, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, apricots, peaches, plums (my kids love it all!)

* Cheese – cut into cubes or strips, depending on what stage of teeth and chewing your little ones are at

* Rice cakes / corn cakes – we get the really thin ones and I spread them with avocado or vegemite (this is sometimes lunch too with some fruit)

* Jelly – you can make it from scratch, buy the packet stuff (which I still love!) or buy the baby jars of ‘gel’

* Custard – home made or jars

* Roll ups – you can make them yourself from fruit if you own a food dehydrator (I will post more on this later), or I got this tip off another mum of multiples – Cut crusts off bread and flatten it, put some cream cheese and vegemite (or cheesymite) on it and roll it up.

* Sultanas, and other dried fruits – I buy in bulk 2kg bags and switch between sultanas and the dried fruit mix

* Museli bars / fruit sticks – my almost 14 month olds love fruit sticks as they can pull and bite bits off but museli bars are still a bit too much for them.

* Pikelets – yum, yum!  You can make the standard and have them plain or put a bit of jam on them, or you could make flavoured ones – banana or apple – I have also been told to give quinoa ones a go as a lunch alternative.

* Muffins – store bought, packet mix, or make from scratch.  Apple, apple and cinnamon, apple and raspberry, blueberry, raspberry and white chocolate, orange and poppyseed, banana, I could go on and on but you get the idea!

* Biscuits – again home made or store bought.  You can buy kid ones or just buy the normal.

* Yoghurt – again store bought or make your own.  We use the easi-yo system which honestly I love!  It means I can make yoghurt whenever I feel like it and it lasts alot longer.

* Ice cream – my boys have had store bought one day while we were out, but I also make them a yoghurt based version which I either spoon feed them or put on sticks for them to eat (with daddys help) like an icypole.  This has been great on the recent hot days!!

I’m sure there are lots more, but these are what I feed my little ones.  I try to mix it up and make sure they get lots of fruit and dairy but the odd treat here and there doesnt hurt them.

Check out my recipe for Apricot and Coconut Balls and Apple Balls, perfect for small hands!

For meal ideas try here.