The more you read, the more things you’ll know…

…The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. That very popular Dr. Seuss quote, and isn’t it the truth?

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll see I’ve been posting in my stories quite a bit about reading with Israel over a long period of time. Reading, for me is an essential part of learning. Growing up, I read so many books and as I was born in Nigeria and migrated to England at a young age, it was important I learnt good English really quickly, I honestly believe reading is what helped me learn quicker and made it a lot easier for me. Nowadays, I don’t read as much as I’d like to but I do spend a lot of time reading to and with Israel.

Reading is an essential part of learning for everybody, but for children it’s even more important because this is how they learn new words which leads to the development of speech, gaining confidence in saying new words and being able to concentrate for longer periods.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

I try to read to Israel every night but of course sometimes we have a late night and he’s too tired to stay up for a story. When we do read, he loves it, we usually read a minimum of 2 books per night, sometimes we can have up to four, which honestly I don’t have a problem with because he learns so much from them.

Sometimes it can be difficult choosing which books to read to your little one and there have been days where he’s just not interested in the book I’ve chosen lol. So now, I let him choose, I get a collection of books and he picks out which ones he wants to read, this way I know he’ll enjoy our time reading.

I also try to read one book a few times in the week, so he really gets to know the story and by the end of the week, he repeats some of the words and ends some of the sentences. It is important to have books with rhymes and a little rhythm in them to encourage that, also pay attention to the length of the story (too long and they lose interest) touch and feel books are great too, for interaction. I also have books all over my flat so he has access to them throughout the day, I know sometimes as busy parents we don’t always have the time to sit down and read to our children so having books around is a good idea, then they can look at pictures themselves, talk about what they see and just show interest in books in general.

Because Israel’s been brought up on reading, he does bring me books to read to him even during the day, and we share stories whenever, not JUST at bedtime, so technically there’s always time for a story in our house!

Research shows that children who are read to are more likely to exceed in school which tells of the importance of reading to your children from a young age, even simply looking at the pictures in a picture book and discussing them will encourage some learning, reading shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun! A chance to escape reality!

Here are a few essential books for toddlers, that I’ve used in teaching my kids at work and also some of Israel’s favourites;

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? By Bill Martin Jr.

Ten little fingers and ten little toes by Mem fox and Helen Oxenbury

The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle

We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Goodnight spaceman by Michelle Robinson

Where’s spot? By Eric Hill

I want my potty! By Tony Ross

Owl babies by Martin Waddell

There are so many books I haven’t even listed on here! But gosh I do love a good picture book myself, just thinking about all the picture books I’ve read over the years, there are too many to name! Now I’m also quite big on representation in stories, tv programs, media in general because it’s important for all children of all races and social backgrounds to see themselves being represented. Being able to relate to a character in a story is so important in this generation that’s literally being taken over by social media right before our eyes, so here are a few that we love:

Peekaboo morning by Rachel Isadora

Please, baby, please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

Handas surprise by Eileen Browne

My mum is a supermum by Angela Mcallister and Alex T Smith

So much by Trish Cooke

Let’s have fun by Pamela Venus

Mad in the back by Michael Rosen and Richard Watson (I find this story so funny and relatable lol)

To name a few…

The next step in our reading journey is to visit the library more which I want to try and now incorporate into our routine but I really hope you’ve found this post helpful and if you have any books or know any authors you think we could do with reading up on, leave a comment below!

Happy World Book day!

Indoor fun for toddlers – A Christmas series 🎄

I’m back with another fun Christmas activity you can do indoors! Easy to make and so much fun for babies, toddlers and even the older kids!

This week I made a Christmas themed sensory tub for Izzy, with some coloured pasta and some Christmas props. It was so fun for him to play in and he loved all the different things he could feel and hear. This sensory tub is good for their sensory development, fine and gross motor skills and communication and language, as they learn about some colours, talk about what they feel, see and hear. It can also be used to discuss and explain the meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it to older children, who are able to understand.

It’s so easy to make and really doesn’t take long at all, although mine did because I made a silly mistake, haha! I’ll explain as I go along…

What you need:

A small tub/messy play tray

Pasta

Green and red Tempera paint

A dash of PVA glue (so the paint sticks)

Carrier bags/ziplock bags

Christmas props

E.g.

bells

Christmas felt shapes

Tinsel

Snowflake confetti

Pine cones

(All these things can be bought from Poundland or you can even use decorations off your tree.)

The process:

Put pasta in two separate bags; now I’m all about inexpensive ways to entertain my kid so I used food bags that I had lying around in the house. Then, put green paint in one bag and red in the other, add a little pva glue in both and shake shake shake! Make sure all the paint is mixed in well with the pasta and all of the pasta is covered.

Let the pasta dry overnight by pouring and spreading it out onto a flat tray, put some foil paper on the tray first, again, another thing you can find lying around in your kitchen. It should be dry after leaving it overnight. However here’s the mistake I made, I laid all the pasta out on a tray but didn’t spread them out enough and it took three days to dry! Three days! I think I might have put too much red paint on the pasta too because it was the red pasta that took the longest. I usually use rice for sensory play and it dries in a few hours so this was highly annoying that it took so long to dry but we got there in the end!

When the pasta dries, pour it in your tub (I used a bowl I had at home) both colours on either side and throw in your Christmas props and, voila! You have a Christmas sensory play tub. I placed the props in and made the tub look pretty and inviting so Izzy would play in it, I also put in a cup for him to place the bits in.

Izzy wasn’t too sure of the tub at first, so I let him hold the pasta and I told him what colours they were, he repeated them after me, then obviously tried to eat them! I quickly told him they weren’t for eating and once he saw me playing with them, he didn’t try eating them again. **there is a baby friendly way of making the pasta with food colouring in case you have any little nibblers!**

The bells were his favourite, he loved putting them in the cup and shaking it, listening to the sound they made, he eventually added some of the pasta and continued shaking the cup, listening to the sounds. It is safe to say his favourite sensory experience were the sounds.

The good thing about this sensory tub is, you can keep it for as long as you want until your child gets the full play experience from it, after they’re done, you can still store the pasta away for the next time you want to play!

Have a go with this indoor fun idea this Christmas season and let me know how it goes!

Hannah xo

Love your (new) self!

Hey guys,

I decided to write this blog post because I myself have been struggling with loving my new body and self-confidence in general. I’ve never been ‘skinny,’ always been chubby, and I definitely went through a fat period when I was younger lol but even then I had so much confidence! You think I cared about what people thought of me? Nope. Growing up, I’ve gotten a lot more self-conscious, and I can honestly say it’s probably because of the huge role social media plays in my life these days.

Before I got pregnant, I didn’t mind my body, I was doing all the right things, trying to eat healthy, exercising and all that good stuff, when I got pregnant I loved my body! I carried quite small and it took ages before I actually started showing and even when I did, I loved my bump and I loved how the rest of my body was just ‘together’ everything looked good.

Now?! Gosh, now I’m really struggling, I went through a period where after I gave birth, I was pleased with myself, the weight shifted pretty quickly, but now I feel stuck. Not because I want to look how I did before, but because I just want to get to a place where I’m content, and just happy with myself. I’m usually one for self-love and self-appreciation but recently I haven’t been feeling myself, and I recently posted a picture on Instagram saying I’m learning to love my flaws and all, because life is too short, but it. is. hard.

Harder more so because I’ve actually birthed another human and I’m allowed to look like this but I just can’t seem to accept that LOL. Like now, I have ‘problem areas’ that I worry about all the time, when I look in the mirror or at pictures and I’m so picky with what I wear because I don’t want my belly to show or I don’t want my arms to show, or my back rolls, or my double chin, the list goes on… LOL *sigh* Then my cousin said something to me one time that really just made me think, ‘yeah you need to get a grip mate’ she said, “NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM AREAS BUT YOU.” And you know what? It’s true, so why do we find it so hard to be confident in our own bodies? Why are we always comparing ourselves to other people? We are our own enemies you know.

Body confidence is so important especially in this day and age where all we see are ‘perfect’ women and men all over our screens, but what is the definition of perfect?

It depends on how YOU define perfect, we live in a world where we are so hell bent on living for everyone else, but the most important person to be confident for is yourself, so if your ‘perfect’ is number one by all means go for it, if it’s number two, then focus on making yourself happy, be complete, be real to yourself, don’t worry about anyone else, stop comparing!

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ – Theodore Roosevelt

This is the realest saying in all reality because it is so true! Comparison is a horrible, horrible thing, if we keep doing it we’ll never be complete, and that is my definition of perfect, to be complete, to feel whole, to love one’s self. And honestly this is what I strive for, this is what I want my ‘perfect’ to be, I just want to be happy in my skin, this person I am now. This body I have now, just be happy at wherever I’m at, at whatever point I’m at in my life and not worry about what the next mum who got ‘snatched’ a week after giving birth looks like. It’s a journey I think most women (even men!) are on and I do love how I’m seeing more and more people bang on about self-love because it is so important.

So guys, love yourself, love the new you, as I strive to.

All my love,

Hannah x

A prayer for my One-year-old

I’ve been racking my brain for a while now, trying to figure out what to do for Israel’s one year update. He turned one a while ago and I still hadn’t blogged about it lol. It was between the regular update, on how he’s developing or I was going to write a letter, as I’ve seen a couple other blogger mums do. But each time I sat down to write something, nothing would come. It’s funny because, there’s so much I could put in a letter and even more I could write about his development but literally every time I went to write, I just couldn’t put my words down. Until today where I’ve just gotten this idea to just write a prayer for him, I pray for Israel all the time, I’ve done it since before he was even born. It’s something that’s very important to me. Obviously I’m not perfect and I do forget to pray sometimes which is exactly why when I do remember it’s so important to me.

As a Christian, I’ve grown up with a very prayerful family, and my Mum’s always prayed for me growing up and she still does till this day, and I believe a lot of the time when I forget to pray for myself it’s her prayers that keep the blessings and protection of God coming. God hears our prayers, he really, really hears a Mother’s prayers for her child, but not only that, a prayer is like a positive affirmation to your child, it reminds them how special they are and tells them all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

A prayer for my one-year-old…

Israel you are one year old now. A year that has been a blessing beyond doubt. I prayed for you before you were born and I continue to pray for you because that is the only way I know that God who has watched over me all my life will also watch over you for all the years to come. He has kept me and guided me and I pray He does the same for you.

You are truly a blessing, and I pray that you always remember that.

You are a born leader, and I pray that you’ll always be just that.

You are loved, and I pray that love radiates from you.

You are a special gift from God and I pray that you remember that too.

Israel, I pray you will be just as powerful as your name but remain humble, peaceful and joyful, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I pray that you remain protected under the shield of the almighty, that society doesn’t reject, use or neglect you.

Although storms will come your way (and I tell ya, they will!) you will overcome them because you are strong, you are brave and there’s nothing too hard for the Lord I pray you one day will serve.

I just pray that you will always be happy.

Israel you are one! And I pray you live to see and celebrate many, many, MANY more years!

Even though he may not be able to read this right now, he’ll always be able to hear my prayers and understand them more as he gets older, and one day he will be able to read this, understand it and pray it for himself!

My prayer to my one-year-old.