Monthly Archives:

July 2018

All You Need To Know About Starting Primary School


Starting primary school for the first time can be a daunting experience for both parents and children.

In this post, we will be supplying the skills you need to help your child start preparing for school activities.

We will be giving you some suggestions on how to manage the first day of primary school and get your child excited about their first day of school 

We will provide you with a school ready checklist to help you get organized and to take the guesswork out of starting primary school. 





Preparing for school activities: self-care 


Taking responsibility self- care is a massive step in your child’s readiness for school, it teaches responsibility and gives your child an opportunity for self- improvement and higher self-esteem. 

  • Teaching your child to brush their teeth will be fundamental to keep your school mornings running smoothly and also teaches your child responsibility and motor skills. 


  • Getting dressed independently: Your child will be taking PE from the first week of entering primary school. They should be able to get dressed from head to toe by themselves. Consider this when buying a uniform. Young kids struggle with buttons,  opt for zipped or over the head tunics, and elasticated waists. Velcro shirts instead of buttons, and velcro shoes or pumps rather than laces. 


  • Using the bathroom: there will be no one to help your child with this basic skill at school. It is important your child is potty trained, can use the toilet independently and clean themselves properly. 


  • Washing hands: Your child will need to be able to wash their own hands, before meals, after messy play and after using the toilet. 


  • Using a knife and fork: Your child will need to master this skill, especially if they are going to be eating school dinners. Teach your child the easiest way to cut up their food. 


  • Drink from a cup: It is easy to neglect this skill, with many kids using water bottles these days, however, they will need to be able to drink from a cup or glass at lunchtime in primary school.


  • Tidy away toys: Right from the first day at primary school, your child will be expected to tidy up after themselves, make it easy for them to master this skill by starting with clearing plates after dinner, toys after play and keeping their bedroom tidy. To learn how to introduce tidying up routines into your day click here


  • Follow simple directions: this needs no explanation, they’ll be told what to do at school and they need to be able to follow the teacher’s instructions, remind them how important it is to listen and to do as asked the first time!


  • Put on their coat and gloves: This is super important for your child to be able to do, as they will be responsible for getting their coat on at each play time and each evening before home time.  A top tip is to teach your child to put their hood on first, then put their arms through the sleeves, it’s much easier as it keeps the sleeves in place.  


  • Unwrapping their own food and snacks, opening lunchboxes and packets of food, opening drinks bottles, so they don’t struggle at break times.



School readiness checklist for pre-schoolers


starting primary school checklist

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School readiness activities for pre-schoolers


Learning new skills is a rocky road for little ones, we can do many things at home to prepare our children and help them when they are starting primary school. 


  • Learn phonics. I would say that this was the singularly most important thing I did for my kids. Phonics is the building block of all stages of reading and the quicker your children master this the quicker they will learn to read. With just a few simple songs my kids were reading before they started school. I used the jolly phonics system and just spent half an hour each day singing the songs with my kids, we coupled that with the biff and chip reading oxford tree reading books, both my kids loved this time we spent together and didn’t even realise they were learning. Once they can read their school day will become a lot easier and their writing and spelling will improve.




To check out the jolly phonics songs watch below!


For the full set of Biff and Chip books, I used for helping both my kids to learn to read, click on the link below to be taken straight to Amazon.




Starting primary school checklist



  • Practice writing and colouring, this doesn’t need to be perfect but it will help your child get skilled at holding a pencil. Practice writing your child’s name and get him to copy it until they can do it without looking. 



  • Teach your child how to use scissors and glue and how to build a model. 
  • Read and read to your child; this is one of the most important things you can do to help your child’s reading skills.  


  • Practice the journey to and from school so they get used to the route and how long it takes.



Everything to buy for a child starting primary school 


  • Uniform: I start shopping for school uniform in June as by the time July is over the shops stop stocking uniforms and it’s very difficult to find what you need. I tend to prefer to buy my kid’s uniform from the supermarket as  I’d rather have ample supply to avoid the Sunday washing and ironing panic. The jumper with logo should be bought from an approved supplier. 

for tips on how to stay on top of the laundry click here 


  •  Name tags: I have tried the iron on type of tags but found they soon peeled off, I’ve tried a stamper but found that it wasn’t too good on their property and soon faded on clothes. I now use stickers which seem to hold well and don’t fade. I get mine from My Name Tags you can personalize with pictures for your child, so they can easily recognize their items when getting changed for PE. Make sure every single garment they are wearing to school gets labelled, you’d be surprised what they come home with that isn’t theirs!


  • PE kit and pump bag: This should include a t-shirt, shorts and pumps. For the winter I pack my kids a sweatshirt and joggers as hey still go outside for PE on freezing cold days! Again make sure all of this should be labelled including the pump bag itself!


  • Bookbag: this should be supplied by your school approved store. 


  • Lunchbox and water bottle.  , and also any Tupperware or cutlery should be labelled. In my experience, Tupperware and cutlery rarely make it back home so I would avoid packing it and would use tin foil and disposable spoons instead. I would also include a small ziplock bag in their lunchbox and teach them to put their rubbish in there, unless you want a box covered in stale yoghurt when they get home!


  • Shoes: I spend the most money on my kid’s school shoes out of all the uniform as their feet are growing and they are wearing their footwear for numerous hours each day. 


  • Coat: this needs to be thick and warm enough to withstand the bitterly cold winter playground. 



Starting primary school checklist


Starting primary school checklist

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At most primary schools, children are discouraged from bringing in their own pens pencils and books to prevent any arguments, don’t be tempted to buy stationery or toys for your child to take to school as it is likely they will have them confiscated.




 Preparing  your child for primary school


There are many things you can do to make the transition to primary school as smooth as possible for your little one.


  • Talk to your child about school as much as you can. Chat with your child about their day,  what time they start, what time school finishes and who will pick them up,  do this with a positive vibe!

The more a child knows the less they worry, it’s a bit like us starting a new job. 

  •  Ask your child how they feel about starting school and talk them through any worries they may have.


  • Use sentences like these when chatting about school :

 ” You’re so lucky to be able to stay at school all day today; you’ll have so much fun.” 

“Because you’re a big boy they might let you have school dinners.” 

“It’s very exciting because there are so many new and exciting things to try.” 

“Guess what; you’ll be able to make lots of models at the after-school club “ 

“Oh, how exciting its only four days till you start school, I bet you can’t wait!” 

” You’re so lucky, I loved school, I wish I was going to primary school again it was so much fun!” 

“I’m excited for you.” 

“I can’t wait to see…….. ”  

” I can’t wait to hear about………” 



  • Do not use words like these: 

“I’ll miss you.”  

“I’m sad,” 


  • Meet the teachers: some schools arrange a home visit where the teacher comes to your house and has a chat with your child before they start school, I highly recommend you arrange this if at all possible. 


  • Use your child’s teachers name during lots of conversations to create familiarity.


  • Go to the welcome meeting: there should be a welcome meeting for you to attend at school, to inform you of anything you may need to know about your child’s class.  


  • Make sure your child attends the transition days especially scheduled to help your child settle into their first day at primary school.


  • Chat with your child about lunchtime and ask them if they’d prefer packed lunch or school dinners, talk them through what happens at lunchtime. 


  • Arrange a playdate if you know of another child starting in the same school. 


  • Make sure all your child’s clothes are fully labelled.


  • Make sure your child is up to date with immunisations, eye tests and dental examinations.


 The night before your child starts primary school 


  • Get your child to bed super early


  • Layout uniforms including underwear and shoes, explain to your child that they need to get dressed to shoes before they come downstairs on school mornings.  This will make your mornings 100% smoother, especially if you are likely to have multiple kids in primary school in future years. 


  • Put book bags and coats in a spot at the door and let your child know where it is.  Use this spot every day so your child knows where to pick up their things before they head out of the door, this will save lost items and a major scramble to find stuff on the hectic school mornings.



 On the first day of school 


Hopefully, after the months of preparation, you have been doing with your child they should be confident and happy about starting school, however, its human nature to be scared. There are still some things you can do today to keep your child calm. 


  • Plenty of pep talk and positive reiteration about how amazing his day is going to be, when you wake up,  at breakfast and on the way to school. 


  • Arrive early, so your child is not overwhelmed by lots of children in the playground, if you are one of the first ones there, your child will arrive in a calm, serene environment which will steadily become busier rather than arrive in the chaos of the first day back! 


  • Hold your child’s hand in the playground if they seem nervous, they need your support today more than ever, remember to stay positive no matter how you feel! 


  • Focus on your child rather than making friends with other mums or worrying about how you feel, your child needs you to be there for them. There will be plenty of time for small talk at pick up! 


  • When leaving your child,  give them a quick cuddle and kiss then direct them in, no looking back!  If your child sees you looking back with a sad face, they will sense that there is something wrong and come running back out to you and you’ll never get them back in without a fight! This will be traumatic for both you and your child and may set them off in the habit to do this every morning!


  • As hard as it is, if you linger with a cuddle, they will suddenly panic and get clingy, and you’ll start their day off to a bad start.  


  • Do not cry!  This is the hardest thing to do, but wait until you’re in the car for a sob! 


  • When picking your child up from school, make sure you arrive early and stand where your child can see you when he’s gathering his belongings at home time, don’t be the parent who’s kid stands terrified at the door worrying that you’re not coming! 


For advice on how to create a calm school morning and a free before school checklist, click here!

 If you’ve got a little one starting school this year, I hope you’ve managed to pick up a few tips from this post. 

It’s going to be a harder day for you than your little one, as soon as the bell rings your child will have forgotten all about their nerves and probably won’t give you a second thought until home time!


If you feel you need help staying calm and would like  to try some mindfulness techniques, click here

or head over to Help Mama  Meditate for more suggestions on how to be a more relaxed parent


If you have any advice for other parents about starting school or have anything to say about this post, drop us a line below in the comments!


For suggestions about how to organise the vast amounts of school paperwork, you will be receiving in your child s book bag, click here 


  starting primary school

How To Quick Clean Your House Before Unexpected Guests



We all know that when your house is freshly cleaned and polished that no one visits right?

And we all know that when we are overwhelmed with chaos and haven’t had time to clean, we get a phone call to tell us that someone is dropping by in five minutes.

Whether you’ve got five minutes to dash about or whether you need to pop upstairs  to do a quick clean as your guests are arriving,  I’ve put together a quick list of super fast things to clean in a hurry!






It is important to get your house to smell clean, as this can trick a visitor into thinking you’ve been cleaning all day!

  •  Get your home smelling clean and fresh,
  • fling all the windows open to get some fresh air to circulate.
  • Fill sinks with disinfectant and allow to sit to disperse a fresh scent
  • Wipe areas near the front door with disinfectant, so the house smells clean as guests arrive.
  • In winter, wipe radiators with disinfectant to help smells circulate into all the rooms.
  • My favourite go-to disinfectant for emergency cleaning is Dettol  I always carry  this in my cleaning kit 

how to quick clean




 Quick Clean The bathroom


If your bathroom is dirty, unexpected guests will assume the rest of the house is too!

It’s challenging to keep the loo clean when you have small kids but keeping a toilet cleaning routine helps avoid the emergency toilet cleaning in a hurry!

To learn the best way  to clean your loo click here



how to quick clean your house


  • Wipe down the toilet, sink and shower doors
  • Put out fresh towels
  • Pick up anything from the floor
  • Spot clean mirrors




Close doors

Close any doors to which the unexpected guests will not be entering, don’t worry about the rooms they won’t be going in, use your time to clean the rooms the guests will be using most, such as the kitchen, bathroom and communal areas.



Tidy up


Apart from the bathrooms, tidying up is the thing which will have the biggest impact on your cleaning and tidying efforts.

A house will never look clean unless it’s tidy,  pick stuff up off the floor and put stuff away!

  • Straighten cushions and books


  • Discard magazines


  • Put away toys.


how to quick clean your house


If you’re struggling to find motivation to clean regularly click here





Serve some nibbles!

I always keep a jar of olives and some cheesy crackers and crisps to serve if I’m caught out by visitors, this helps people feel welcome and at home.

Some garlic bread slices in the freezer are also great for serving in a hurry!




 Quick Clean The kitchen


The kitchen is a priority to clean or at least to tidy before anyone comes round.

Try to get into the habit of keeping your kitchen clean all the time, find out how to keep your kitchen clean and tidy here , so it’s one less thing to clean in a hurry!


  • Put away dishes
  • Empty rubbish
  • Sweep floor
  • Change dishcloths and tea towels.


how to quick clean your house




Keeping your house guest ready.


The easiest way to avoid having to do a quick clean before guests arrive is to try to establish daily routines which will help you stay on top of the housework, so if you are caught out by visitors, a quick tidy round and straighten up will be all that is needed.

Read how I use my daily routines to keep my house guest- ready here





Try to get your kids to help by setting a timer and getting them to put away as much as they can in ten minutes for a prize as the timer goes off,  if three people are tidying for ten minutes each then you’ve got 30 minutes of tidying done!




how to quick clean your house







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how to quick clean your house

Seven Mindful Ways To Be A Less Angry Parent

Why do we get angry?

Anger can arise from various triggers like a feeling of being attacked, powerless and vulnerable. When we have low self-esteem or have had a bad day and don’t feel great about ourselves it’s easier to react to certain triggers. It’s more common to snap at your child for having an untidy room when you’ve had a bad day at work than it would be if you were having a fabulous day and were in a great mood. Common factors that can contribute to us becoming an angry parent are:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Low self esteem
  • Being overwhelmed
  • Being over tired and exhausted
  • Having had a bad day
  • Lack of support
  • Lack of time and an overly-busy schedule 
  • Unresolved emotions from childhood
  • Financial worries

 It is important to know what your triggers are and how to recognise some of the common signs of anger such as:

  • Faster heart rate
  • Clenching teeth
  • Sweating
  • Tension in the body
  • Breathing heavily
  • Feeling out of control and agitated.  

With our overpacked schedules and lack of parental support, it is difficult to carve out time for ourselves to recharge, and it is easy to find ourselves getting overwhelmed and angry at certain situations.  You can learn how to control your anger with your child by learning how to practise some mindfulness techniques, which will help to feel better about yourself and help you deal with your parenting anger in a much less reactive way. This post discusses seven mindful ways to be a less angry parent and touches upon some anger management tips for parents to help you parent mindfully.

It’s always a pleasure to find like-minded people to share these pages with. Jennifer Mazzoni is a respected writer, meditation coach, and authority in mindfulness techniques. When she accepted my invitation to share her knowledge, information and wisdom with my readers, I was thrilled and I know you will be too. In this guest post, Jennifer discusses seven ways in which mindfulness can help you become a less angry parent. So without any further ado here’s Jennifer!

Ways To Be A Less Angry Parent

Parents yell at their children…sometimes on a daily basis. Parents may yell for good reason, such as when your children are being unsafe, but most parents yell for various reasons: we react out of instinct or we feel overwhelmed and stressed. We may feel awful after we’ve yelled, not wanting to be that angry parent we never thought we’d become.

Practising mindfulness does not make us perfect parents. Mindfulness is about “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn, source)

Mindfulness is not a cure-all for the stress and wide range of emotions that we experience as parents. But there are many opportunities for us to practice mindfulness each day to help us find joy and contentment in everyday life.

1. Pause, Breathe, and Respond

Temper tantrums. The phrase alone can cause tension and stress in parents. When your child is having a temper tantrum or misbehaving in general, the parental instinct is to react by shouting and doing your best to get your child to stop. However, reacting is not always the best option, because we are allowing emotions and our fight or flight instinct (which increases our stress levels) to guide us rather than the logical part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex. (source)

When we pause and take a breath while our child is throwing a tantrum or misbehaving terribly (as challenging as this may seem), we can become mindful of the situation and form a response instead of relying on a gut reaction.

Our responses do not need to be perfect or right every time, all parents make mistakes and handle things poorly, but pausing and taking a breath before responding to a stressful situation with our children is better for everyone involved. Being mindful reduces the parent’s stress level: deep breathing works wonders for activating the prefrontal cortex, reducing cortisol, and activating the parasympathetic nervous system- the one that calms down the flight or flight reaction. (source) Our children will appreciate not being yelled at or scolded constantly on a daily basis, as well.

2. Clean mindfully

Washing dishes, doing laundry, dusting, and other household chores can become daunting for parents trying to juggle work, caring for children, hobbies, etc. When we feel overwhelmed it can cause stress, which can lead to becoming easily irritated and snapping at our children. It’s all about mindset when it comes to cleaning. When we call something a chore it may send a message to us for the chore be perceived as a drudgery, something we must do that we won’t enjoy.

Mindfulness helps us become more aware of our sensory experiences as we complete a household task, such as washing dishes. First, we can use several of our senses: feeling the warmth of the water, watching the soap bubbles pop and expand, smelling the dish soap as it mixes with the warm water, and admiring the shine and sparkle of a clean dish.

We can also take mindful cleaning a step further by thinking about the purpose of washing the dishes, laundry, dusting. We are providing a clean and healthy environment for our families when we complete these household tasks. And perhaps we will not be thanked by anyone for this, it can be helpful to express self-gratitude and acknowledge our actions to care for others. Mindfulness can help the angry parent to take the first step towards in acknowledging parental anger issues, and towards seeking help to be a less angry parent.

3. Enjoy a Mindful Meal or Snack

When is the last time you tasted what you were eating? Meals can become another part of the day that we try to “get through” as we rush through our routine. If we want to practice mindfulness, we can use mealtime as an opportunity to observe and be aware of what we are eating (but not necessarily from a health or dieting perspective).

Choose the meal or snack of your choice, and take the time to create a beautiful display on your plate with your food. You don’t have to be all Gordon Ramsay about it but have fun “plating” your meal or snack. As you arrange the items, notice the texture of the food with your fingers, and take a moment to smell what you will be eating. Smelling our food helps enhance the taste.

Finally, chew slowly. Take your time eating, and actually taste your food. Observe the textures of the food in your mouth, noting any crunchiness or smoothness.

If you want to take this a step further, try a mindful snack with your children. They’ll enjoy the opportunity to “play” with their food by creating a design on their plate.

4. Practice Gratitude

Another way to be a less angry parent is to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Instead of focusing on what we want or what we don’t have, we shift our attention to all we do have.

One way to practice gratitude is to keep a journal. At the end of each day, perhaps before you brush your teeth, write down one or two things for which you are thankful. Some days it may be a challenge to think of one, and other days it may be hard to narrow it down. But the point of the exercise is we always have something to be thankful for, which can help us experience greater happiness and contentment when parenting.

5. Meditate

Despite the many benefits of meditation and its positive impact on the brain, it can be challenging for parents to find time to actually sit down and meditate. My rule of thumb for taking time to meditate is if you have twenty minutes to scroll through social media (or whatever you enjoy doing on your phone), you can carve out five of those minutes to sit and focus on your breath.

Meditation can be practised first thing in the morning (before the children are awake), during part of your lunch break at work (if you have privacy and enough time to do so), or in the evening after the children have gone to bed.

Taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on the feeling of your breath as you inhale and exhale can be a refreshing way to start your day or a reset button for the middle of a stressful (or ordinary) day. Meditation with eyes closed can also provide a sensory break from the visual stimuli we are bombarded with in our daily lives.

6. Social Media Detox

Social media is fun and engaging, and it’s a wonderful way to make new friends and interact with people from all over the world. But, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing, and there are parts of social media that are pretty toxic (for example, the comments section of most news articles – even ones that are about a positive topic).

Social media may connect us to a virtual world but it often disconnects us from the people who are directly in front of us. It’s not easy to disconnect yourself from social media. It can be quite enjoyable to have people comment on and like what we post, but it can take away from quality time with our children.
As a family, you can work together to set some social media/phone use guidelines, such as:
Agreed upon “phone away” times, such as during meals, family time, and/or an hour before bed
Using a basket with your family’s name on it or decorated in some way to collect all phones (parents too)

Less social media/phone time can lead to more quality time with family and friends. Children require attention, not just for behavioural reasons but also for their social-emotional growth. Thich Nhat Hanh has said that “the most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” 

7. Finally, Don’t Forget to Have Fun

There are so many daily activities that can go from ordinary to extraordinary when we do them mindfully.
A nature walk can become a scavenger hunt using many of the senses. You can turn on music for your children and have an impromptu dance party.  Join in when your children are colouring. There are so many ways we can pause, be aware,  enjoy the present moment and appreciate being a less angry parent.

Thank you, Jennifer, for such a wonderful insight into mindful parenting and how to be less angry parents. Being more mindful with our kids is something we could all benefit from, and your tips on how to be less angry when parenting has given us all something to work on, throughout our own parenting journey.

Frequently asked Q&A

Can meditation teach me how to be less angry?   Mindfulness and meditation teach us how to be present and pause before we react as Jennifer mentioned above, creating a pause before we react gives us time to think through a situation rather than reacting straight away and regretting our response. It can certainly help us on our journey to be less angry.

Can meditation and mindfulness teach me how to stop anger in my child?  Sometimes children get angry due to frustration and an inability to communicate or they may feel that they are not being listened to. A child as young as a toddler can be taught some breathing techniques to help them calm down during a tantrum. Mindfulness techniques can also be useful to help teenagers learn how to be less angry during stressful situations at home and school.

How does an angry parent affect a child?  Being constantly shouted at can shatter a child’s self-esteem and confidence and can leave a child feeling anxious and worried. Learning how to stop being an angry parent is crucial to your child’s long-term mental health.

What can I do if I’ve lost my temper with my child?  The first thing to do if you’ve shouted at your child is to apologise for your parent anger. This lets them know that you are sorry for yelling and that you could have handled the situation better. Explain to them that you’ll try not to react that way next time and that you want to set a good example.

Parenting a toddler is hard, are there any tips on anger management for parents of toddlers?  Parenting a toddler can be one of the hardest things you can ever experience, I found it an incredibly frustrating and difficult time. firstly try to make sure you have plenty of parental support from family and friends so you don’t get so overwhelmed. Try to remember that your child is not deliberately pushing your buttons!  Take some deep breaths and remember that they haven’t got the skills to cope with their situation and you need to help them through it no matter how difficult they are being. I found that if I gave myself twice as long as I needed to get ready to go out with my child I remained a lot calmer when they refused to budge! so for instance, if you think it will take an hour to get your child dressed and ready for preschool, schedule two hours to account for all the ups and downs along the way! This can help you practice being a calm parent instead of the angry parent you can turn into when you’re faced with an uncooperative toddler!

If you have an angry preschooler and are at a loss as to how to help them through the hitting and biting stage, read how changing the way we reacted to our child made all the difference to my son’s aggressive behaviour, and how we helped him become calmer and happier, just click the button below!

Often anger can be made worse when we feel overwhelmed and tired. It can be difficult to take care of ourselves due to lack of time and money. I have created an amazing self-care sheet specifically aimed at busy parents who are both short of time and money.  The self-care checklist starts with five minute self-care suggestions and also self-care suggestions for when you have up to an hour to spend. Most of them you can practice at home spending little or no money at all. If you’d like to read my self-care post and download my free self-care checklist click on the button below!

To read more about meditation for busy parents and how this helps with calm parenting hit the button!

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What do you do stop yourself from being an angry parent?  Contact us below in the comments!

how to be a less angry parent

About the Guest Blogger:

Jennifer Mazzoni, Founder of

How to be a less angry parent
Jennifer Mazzoni

Jennifer created her blog Help Mama Meditate to help others find balance and harmony in their lives, as she herself learns how to practice mindfulness as a mom of two young daughters.

She is currently enrolled in the Unified Mindfulness Foundations program to enhance her mindfulness and meditation coaching skills and resources.

Jennifer provides meditation and mindfulness advice through her blog Help Mama Meditate. She leads weekly guided meditations via Facebook Live. recently named Help Mama Meditate a top 40 meditation blog.

Jennifer was also interviewed on the Moms Who Know podcast regarding motherhood and meditation.

A writer at heart, Jennifer also contributes to The Tattooed Buddha and Sivana.

A rehab speech pathologist by background, Jennifer began meditating during the stressful times of graduate school ten years ago. Jennifer lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

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How to be a less angry parent