I love having a little sneak into my childrens minds. While their tastes seem to change ever so often, this is still a wonderful way to document their likes and dislikes for the moment. It happens to be very interesting to look at previous years and see how they have developed and changed over time. I have included a free printable link below to download the birthday interview I have drawn up to use. It is in monochrome, invite them to doodle and decorate it!!!
I have waited patiently to write an article on this topic. I wanted to be certain that my opinion is based on experience.
At the beginning of last year we decided to start giving the kids an allowance. There were many reasons why I assumed it would be useful. Everytime we would walk into a store, the kids would ask me for 99% of the things they would see. Often I would say yes to buying them things I thought they “needed”. And then, when I cleaned out their rooms and cupboards (quarterly/seasonally) I would find forgotten items, duplicates and sometimes items that broke because they sat right at the bottom of the drawer. I also started noticing that my kids started thinking that when something was misplaced or broken we simply had to go back to buy another. I certainly didn’t want them to lose value for things and neither did I want them to feel like everything was just easily replaceable because the truth is that in the real world it isn’t so!!!
Another reason was spending money for school lunch break. I do make every effort to give the kids a wide variety in their lunch bags, however they often would still want to buy something at the tuckshop. And while I am in no way against them doing so, I do feel that they ended up buying too many sweets or fizzy drinks.
I sat them down one afternoon and explained to them that they would be getting an allowance. By starting them on an allowance I was hoping that it would teach them responsibility. Responsibility with cash, responsibility for what they bought and responsible spending.
An allowance meant that when we visited a store they were allowed to buy something – with their own money. If they didnt have enough they would need to save up until they did. If they visited the school tuck they were also allowed to buy what they liked. And if they spent all their money on treats they would have none left to save towards buying a toy/novelty.
At this point I am sure my readers are keen to know how much of an allowance I do give to each child. Each one receives R50 per week. Total of R200 / month.
Now when we started off I would give each child R50 on a Sunday (in R10 & R20 notes) so if they wanted to take any to school it was already split into smaller units. After a few months of witnessing a responsible 11 year old, I started giving her the full R200 at the beginning of the month. My 7 and 8 year old needed a bit more time. Initially when they received their weekly money they would spend it in no time, either at school or on little things like putty, pranks, cheap toys etc, but the turning point was when they seen their older sister buying a big set of Lego with money she saved over 4 months. That was a beautiful moment for me yet a very very tough one. Beautiful because I had seen her show responsibility and pride in her efforts, and certainly value for her new purchase. Tough because I had 2 little people begging for some Lego too. I had to be stern about it though or the lesson wouldnt have been learnt.
Now I know there will be varying opinions about the amount of money I give to my kids. There are people who are totally against the idea of an allowance at this age and others who may feel that a parents responsibility is to provide. While I dont entirely diasgree with either set of opinions I do feel that each household needs to implement strategies that work for them. Yes a parent is responsible for providing- but that is providing the needs of a child (food, cloth,safety, education and love). The extras should be controlled and in moderation to teach our little people value and resposibility. Often my kids would ask me for things in a store that they really didnt need and very often really didnt want either. And I discovered this when thay started getting an allowance. They would still ask me for 99% of the things they would see. Only my response differed now, I would tell them you can buy it with your own money if you’d like and I cannot begin to tell you how many times they would reply: “no I dont really want it” and I would chuckle silently.
So YAY! An allowance has certainly worked for us. Birthdays are still celebratory splash-out days. And I still offer advice to my kids on how to spend their money. For example: my son asked for an XBOX for his next birthday. Which we have agreed on. But I suggested to him that he start saving up to buy games for his console. So every month he has been keeping R50 for tuck and R150 towards a games fund.
My 7 year old really wants a Hatchimal and since her birthday is close to the end of the year, and she is too impatient to wait for it, I suggested she save up for a few months to buy one. She is already on R700.
An allowance has taught them to compromise certain things for others. They value their purchases alot more because it was bought from “their own money”. And not “free” from mom and dad.
It has also improved the math skills of my 7 year old. She is always counting up her money.
They have also learnt to spend less on sweeties because they preferred saving towards something more concrete. I know I may be cheating here but I did also tel them that if they bought too many sweets and their teeth went bad they would have to save up all their money for the dentist. Altho I think this one worked. Hehe!!!
Mind you it did take a few months to get into the routine of an allowance. For them and me. I learned to say no and stick to no! They learned to spend more wisely!
I would like to invite my readers to comment underneath and let me know your opinion and thoughts on an allowance. Xoxo
School holidays is primarily a time for us to relax and unwind and personally i don’t always feel like we need to go away to a resort or the seaside. Yes, without a doubt our seaside holidays are always a heap of fun in the sun and the breakfast buffet is always more than welcome. But being at home and in your comfort zone can give you pretty much the same after effects of a holiday away. Provided that you have at least made some plan on how you are going to spend your days. We follow almost the same plan every holiday. Its not at all rigid though and we go with how we are all feeling on a particular day. Basically to enter the holiday with excitement we usually draw up a list of things everyone wants to do. And that list usually comes from another list that i drew up a few years ago (plus of course some new additions). Below i am going to give you some ideas of activities you can do at home.
This is a layout of our day routine during the holidays (again i must mention that its not at all rigid but its nice to have some sort of time allocation). Our meals, bathtime and bedtime are usually fixed so that it doesn’t stray too much from their usual routine. I like the kids to continue sleeping on time during the holidays so it does not disrupt their usual sleep patterns. I have come to notice that if they sleep late or eat late it tends to affect their mood and i end up with less than happy kids.
Wherever you see arrows is usually when we are actively (or passively) involved in some or other activity. I dont expect all 4 kids to conform to each activity i have planned for them. So if one is feeling like reading instead of building puzzles then that is absolutely OK. I really want them to enjoy their time off from school. Although at the very same time i do like to have all 4 of them joining in on our activities so that it enhances our bonding time and is of course a lot more fun-usually that does happen 80% of the time.
Here is a list of things to do at home:
- Puzzle Day This used to be a day we dedicated to building ALL the puzzles we have. Right down from 2piece puzzles up to 250piece puzzles. More recently my 6 & 8 year old prefer to race and see who can build a puzzle the fastest. I suppose that makes it all the more exciting. My toddler builds the smallers puzzles and often also enjoys helping place the pieces of her older siblings puzzles.
- Lego Day We love Lego here and have a beautiful collection of favourites that we continually adding to. Our favourite themes so far are Lego Friends and Ninjago. Often we break up the set and rebuild them or sometimes just build new sets. The Lego Creative boxes have been a more recent favourite because of the multitude of little creations you can make.
- Games Day We tend to dedicate an entire day to our board games. Sometimes we end up playing a particular game over and over without actually realising that 3 hours have passed. Some of our favourites are Chess, Pictionary, 30Seconds Jnr, Disney Cupcake party, Disney Spuzzle, Disney Who Shook Hook?, Cluedo Jnr, Snap, Uno, Memory, Zingo by Thinkfun etc.
- Baking My little ones always enjoy a good bake-off. Icing, decorating and licking the bowl (hehe).
- Camp–Out this seems to be a favourite right now. All the blankets and duvets from all the rooms down on the sitting room floor, pillows galore, a mini tent, popcorn and snacks and lots of movies.
- Dress–up and Video Lots of memory making here. I set up my camera on a tripod while the kids dress up in their favourites and come and do a show for me. Often we include fun things like face painting, makeup, masks and wigs too.
- Picnic either inside or outside when the weather is warm.
- Swimming my kids can swim for hours so for us that pretty much means the whole day in the garden.
- Hire a jumping castle or water slide. Most places would hire them out for 2-3 days mid week so we make the most of the outdoors when we do this.
- DIY Science activities
- Arts and crafts (have a look through categories and see some fun things to do)
- Scavenger Hunt
- Obstacle Course draw up an obstacle course with visual/verbal instructions with jumbo chalk. Add in some chairs to go ‘under’, some bean bags to ‘throw into’ a bin, a mini trampoline if you have one and any other creative ideas. Keep treats at the end for when they complete.
- Minute to Win it Draw up a few “fast-paced” activities and time them as you go.
- Memory Box we enjoy spending a day looking through each ones memory boxes at all the art, certificates etc
- Photo Day looking through photos saved on my computer, i usually try to connect it to our tv so it shows up bigger and turn it into a slideshow. We also watch and have a good laugh at our home videos.
- Movie Day Either at home or at the cinema
- Orphanage we try to spend a day each holiday at the end of the season taking out clothes and toys. And then plan a day to visit an orphanage to distribute the items. Sometimes, if we know the ages and gender of the kids we visiting we pack little hampers into gift bags so that we can gift them individually.
- Spa Day this has got to be one of my favourites. We whip up homemade masks, light up candles, take out all the yummiest smelling lotions, nail polish, nail files, colourful headbands and give each other facials, manis and pedis and massages. My son usually ducks out in front of the tv when we do this.
- Treasure Hunt this is more like a rewards day. I usually hide little clues for each child that lead them to a present (usually something i know they like or asked for) and i usually have this in the last quarter of the holiday
Remember though that kids need to also learn to keep thenselves busy with activities other than TV. Often i present the idea to them, enjoy playing with them and also allow them to explore and play on their own. This gives them an opportunity to be creative and you will be pleasently surprised. I tend to sit down, have a cup of coffee and watch from a distance, and im always amazed….
I felt the need to share this indoor swing idea with the mums out there who also experience their little ones constantly wanting to be carried. When no other activity seemed to draw her attention i would put her in the swing.
We installed this one when my little one was 9 months old. She is now 2y4m and still uses it. We placed it between our kitchen and dining room interleading door, using heavy duty bolt hooks above the frame, available from Builders Warehouse. I specifically used hooks so that the swing is removable when not in use and can easily be adjusted to face in both directions. These swings are available from Crazy Plastic Stores for around R199. They have a harness for safety and are suitable up to age 3. Parental supervision is essential.
Looking for indoor playparks and entertainment for your kids during the school holidays and over weekends?
Here is a list of some of the fun and exciting things to do this holiday:
- Irene Youth Theatre Pretoria.The youth theatre offers exciting live plays for kids 3 times a year. Subscribe to their mailing list for the latest shows firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bounce indoor trampoline arena for little ones upto adults. Bounce Website
- My Soul Space Arts, crafts and pottery for a relaxing and creative space My Soul Space Website
- Spur Restaurants Nationwide. Personally my most favourite family friendly restaurant with great menu options. Spur Website
- Ice Skating at The Ice Rink Pretoria and Johannesburg. Offers guides for beginner skaters too. The Ice Rink Website
- Bowling Pretoria (Forest Hill Mall, The Grove Mall) Johannesburg (Montecasino)
- Yeesh Johannesburg Indoor Jungle Gyms for babies/toddlers upto to 12 years. Art and craft section. Yeesh Website
- Sterkinekor Prestige cinemas at select locations www.sterkinekor.co.za
- Indoor Laser Tag Johannesburg Montecasino Indoor Laser Tag Website
- The Magic Company Johannesburg Montecasino, games arcade and x-rider The Magic Company Website
- The Planetarium Johannesburg Wits University The Planetarium Website
- Gautrain Take a ride on the Gautrain to Sandton or Rosebank Gautrain Website for times and rates
- Jimmy Jungles Centurion Mall at Reds, undoor play park for toddlers till 12 years old. Sit in with your kids or drop and shop.Jimmy Jungles Website
- Sci–Enza University of Pretoria for a hands on science experience forbthe little scientists. University of Pretoria Website
- Annie Teatro at Montecasino Johannesburg Starts 12th October 2016
The purpose of this experiment is to show how water moves through the parts of a plant. We know that water from the ground is absorbed by the roots of a plant, moving up the stem and then into the flower/petals. By colouring the water we aim to show how the water travels along a continuous column until it reaches the flowering part of the plant. Water is necessary to keep a plant rigid and alive.
You will need:
- Fresh white flowers (preferrably carnations, chrysanthumums or sprays)
- Food colouring
- 4 vases or tumblers
- Fill each glass 3/4 full of water
- Colour the water nice and dark
- Trim the stems at an angle and place them in the water.
It is necessary that your flowers are freshly cut and not wilted as this will cause obstruction to the column of water that needs to rise up the stem and may interfere with the results.
If possible cut your stem under water to prevent air from entering the stem.
We used sprays in pure white that hadn’t bloomed yet.
You can expect to start noticing results within 1-2 days. For older kids it might be a good idea to keep a diary documenting any changes daily. You can also keep a control (flower placed in plain uncolored water so that you have something to compare the coloured flowers to
Some points of interest to pose:
- Which color was visible first?
- Did the control bloom first or at the same time as the colored flowers?
- Do you think if you used colored vinegar or colored soft drink the results would be different? (You can even test this out is a different experiment)
Are you always looking for places to take your kids over the school holidays? Or family outings for the weekend?
I have compiled a list of favourite outdoor places to visit in Gauteng.
- The Elephant Sanctuary (R104 road) Hartebeespoort Dam. (012)258-0423 / 0833063770 Elephant Sanctuary Website Programmes:feeding, petting, touching and elephant rides into the mountain
- Hartebeespoort Dam and zoo visit the cable way or have a picnic or braai. Restaurant on premises. Hartebeespoort Dam and Zoo Website
- Lion and Rhino Park this reserve has cheetahs, lions, rhino, and a number of other game species. Restaurant as well as picnic area and braai facilities. R28 Highway towards Krugersdorp Rhino and Lion Park Website
- Lion Park in Muldersdrift Lion Park Website
- Strawberry Farm picnics and strawberry picking (012)207-1116 Tangaroa Strawberry Farm Website
- Zoo Lake outdoor tea garden, lake to feed ducks and picnic and braai area.
- Garden World Garden World Website R28 Highway. Tea Garden, kids parties. Sunday arts and crafts.
- Willow Feather Farm Irene. Plant nursery, tea garden, animal farm, swings and play area for kids. Willow Feather Farm Website
- Wondercaves (011)957-0106
- Groenkloof Nature Reserve Pretoria biking trail, picnic area and fountains. Groenkloof Nature Reserve Website
- Acrobranch Pretoria and Johannesburg Acrobranch Website
- Pretoria Zoo Pretoria Zoo Website
- Johannesburg Zoo Johannesburg Zoo Website
- Lory Park Zoo Midrand Lory Park Zoo Website
- Montecasino Bird Gardens Johannesburg Montecasino Bird Gardens Website
- Cest la’ vie Centurion outdoor playpark. Area for babies and toddlers as well as an area fpr older kids C’est La Vie Website
- Irene Village Mall Outdoor Fountains (remember to carry costumes and towels) Irene Village Mall Website
- Quad Bikes R55 Laudium/Centurion Zwartkops Quad Rides Website
- Serendipity Rosebank. Outdoor play area, arts and crafts and tea garden Serendipity Website
- Rooihuiskraal Terrein Pretoria Centurion Rooihuiskraal Terrein Website
- Horseriding at Cornerstone Equestria (R55 Laudium/Centurion) 0843507238 or Peppermint Park (Raslouw) Peppermint Park Website
- Lasertag and Paintball at Crywolf Irene. Crywolf Website
- Zita Park 0724282408 MenloPark Pretoria wonderful paddle pool and slide, picnic and braai area as well as jungle gyms.
- Irene Dairy Farm see the cows and buy some freshly delivered milk. Play area. Tea garden Irene Dairy Farm Website
- Honeydew Mazes wonderful for kids aged 6+ a must visit. Honeydew Mazes Website
- Crocodile Farm Johannesburg Crocodile Farm Website
- Gold Reef City Theme Park Johannesburg theme park rides for all ages Gold Reef City Theme Park Website
I made this sweet little baby family photo album when my now toddler was around 11 months old. She was absolutely fascinated to see pictures of herself. In fact she was simply fascinated to see pictures of all of us.
To make one of these (and i promise it is worth it) you will need:
- Everyday Photo paper
- Laminator and laminating pouch
- Key ring
- Some teething links
Select the pictures you would like to use and paste each one into a word document (preferrably each one on its own page). I used 3 pictures of my toddler and 1 of each of the other family members (mum, dad, grandma and siblings).
Add in a text box under the picture with each persons name and relationship e.g My Sister – Iman underneath Imans photo.
I then proceeded to print on some everyday photo paper.
These sheets are A4 in size and i chose to print 4 pictures on each page. So basically each picture with caption resulted in being A6 in size perfect for little hands to hold comfortably. I laminated the pictures before cutting them. And then punched a single hole in the top left corner. Put them onto a key ring and then attached the teething links. I clipped the end onto her stroller while we were out and about.
This very same album can be made for older kids too by continually adding favourite photos to the key ring.
Crunchy stifry mix from Woolworths
(Or u can julienne the following vegetables: red onion, cabbage, spinach, red pepper, carrots and add in aome tenderstem baby broccoli)
Egg noodles (ready and refridgerated or prepacked both from Woolworths)
Coarse sea salt in a grinder
While black peppercorns in a grinder
Sweet indonesian stirfry soya sauce
Simmer the prepacked noodles with water and some salt and drain
Seperately melt a spoonful of butter and coconut oil in a wok. Add the vegetables, some freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, a spkash of soya sauce and a drizzle of the sweet indonesian stirfry sauce.
Toss for 2-3 minutes.
Add in your drained noodles and another splash of soya sauce. Toss and serve.
School Lunch Organiser
How do you plan your kids school lunches? Is it impromptu, planned a day in advance? A week? Or monthly?
Ive put up a wipe-clean board for each school-going child on my fridge with a list of their preferences: main, fruit and snack. Under each ive written in what they like and i try to make sure they get 1xmain 2xfruit and 2xsnack or 3xsnack. There arent that many preferences that are common to all 3 of them. So having this list makes it easier to prepare their lunches without asking them each day what they would like and without confusing the one who likes pasta arrabiata with the other 2 who prefer pasta and cheese.
I also aim to pack snacks and fruit portions the night before. And main portion in the morning (unless of course it is somethin that will stay well if packed the night before too)
In an effort to pack a rainbow lunch for them i have kept a pie chart with the food groups right next to lunch menu. I sometimes fail but try to make it up by offering them those foods for after-school lunch or dinner.
Mac and cheese
Baked baby potatoes with cheese
Chicken pita with cheese and lettuce
Chicken sandwhiches or rolls
Peanut butter sandwhich
Toast with jam and butter
Creamy spaghetti with brocolli and corn
Cut corn with butter