We're Going On A Nature Hunt

It may be cold out and it may be an expensive time of year, but that doesn't have you mean you are stuck in the confines of your home - especially if you have children. Noah and Ava crawl the walls if they are stuck indoors so we are always out and about - no matter the weather!

There are countless free and exciting things you can do with your children, right on your doorstep. A favourite of ours is an activity that I like to call "nature I spy" and although it's pretty self-explanatory I decided to write about it as it was very popular on my Instagram stories on the day.

This activity is suitable for most children as it's easy to adapt it to your child's age and what level they are at - you know your own children and their capabilities. For example, Noah had written words and mathematical questions, whereas, Ava had simple hand-drawn pictures with tick boxes. I chose to use cardboard that was in our recycling bin as I like to reuse where I can, however, I'm sure others would prefer to print lists from the internet. You can also make this into a quick activity, or make a whole day of it.

So, all you need is a few bits of cardboard, a couple of pencils, your wellies, hats, gloves and coats and you are ready to go. It's a quick, easy and free activity - one which is fun, educational, and ideal for all the family. It can add more excitement to regular walks, is great for stretching your legs, getting fresh air, and creating fond memories with your children.

Classic Wooden Games from Jaques Of London - Review

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As a parent, in this fast, ever-growing digital world I'm always striving to take things back to basics - back to the way that I remember it. My childhood revolved around me using my imagination, making my own fun, and playing classic games with my parents and siblings - these are the childhood memories that I truly treasure. They are also experiences that I want my own children to appreciate and enjoy so we often have screen-free days where we dig out our favourite board games, books, and toys and just enjoy one another's company.

With this in mind, when Jaques of London got in touch to collaborate with us I think I emailed back within 2.5 seconds. Their website offers a plethora of incredible wooden toys and games suitable for all ages - at affordable prices. We chose the Tumble Tower and Four in a Row game to review as I knew they were games that my children were familiar with and would enjoy playing with together.

Four in a Row was the first game on the agenda. It came packaged in an eco-friendly way - in a reusable cardboard storage box, and paper. It was very easy to set up, simply open up the box by sliding out the wooden frame, separate the wooden discs and voila - ready to play! It's made to the utmost quality and I appreciate how each wooden disc is thick and sturdy - they won't go missing easily and will stand the test of time.

The instructions for this game are pretty self-explanatory and I think most people have played it. Taking turns, the first person to connect four discs in a row wins. Don't forget that you can go vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. I forgot the latter and then lost my first game, whoops! 
Four in a Row - Home Edition costs just £16.99 and would make the most wonderful Christmas gift.

Next, we have the Tumble Tower - which retails at just £13.99. Just like Four in a Row, it was packaged in an eco-friendly reusable storage box. It was so refreshing to open two games and have zero plastic to contend with - thank you for that. You can get large versions of this game, however, we opted for the smaller, indoor version to keep us busy when indoors during the winter. It contains plenty of sturdy wooden blocks, some printed with the Jaques of London logo, and others not. I had the task of setting up the tower ready for play and let me tell you, the kids were buzzing with excitement for this one. What is it with children and knocking down towers?

This was by far Ava's favourite out of the two - she's spent so much time over the past few weeks, stacking with extreme precision and exhibits such pride and confidence once she's completed the tower. She has also, somehow, become with family champion - much to Noah's frustration. I keep telling him that practice makes perfect and let me tell you, he's been practising hard ever since! It's been a joy to watch their faces when they are studying which block to remove next and it makes us all laugh every time the tower takes a tumble. This game is so much fun.

I cannot recommend Jaques of London enough - so much choice when it comes to games, and toys and the website is so easy to use. I'm already looking at what to buy next and will be reusing all the games at our wedding next year. These traditional family games are both such bargains and are available to buy on their website now. Please use this link for 15% off for you and your purchase https://jaques.games/15off.

Which game would you play first?

How Your Baby's Gut Health Affects Their Sleep

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As a parent, you want to make sure your baby is as healthy as can be. That includes their sleep health. Just like adults, babies can suffer when they don't get enough rest. Sometimes the problems keeping an infant from sleeping aren't environmental, but internal. When you've tried different calming methods and nothing works, it may be time to look at another issue.

What Is The Brain-Gut Axis?
For some babies, the problem could be in their stomachs. Although we don't think about it often, the stomach and intestinal tract are filled with nerves. These nerves mean that the gut and the brain can communicate. Unrest in one area can lead to unrest in another.

For instance, a lot of stress can lead to an upset stomach because some of the communication between the brain and gut is not happening as it should. The upset stomach can then cause discomfort that makes it hard to sleep or rest. You may not realize it but babies can experience some stress that could make it hard to sleep. Try lavender sleep spray for baby and other calming products to help them.

Seratonin & Dopamine Production For Sleep
The gut also plays a role in helping regulate the neurotransmitters that influence the sleep cycle. According to Medical News Today, the collection of bacteria and other microbes in the stomach can affect cognitive function as well as circadian rhythms.

This is because some of these microbes help produce serotonin and dopamine. Both of these chemicals are important neurotransmitters for your health. Many people associate these chemicals with mood and happiness, but they also play important parts in regulating REM sleep cycles.

So what does that mean for your baby? Simply put, if they don't have the right mix of micro-organisms in their bodies, they have a harder time regulating their sleep. Without the right amounts of serotonin and dopamine, it becomes hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Parents can use probiotic drops for infants to encourage a healthy gut biome.

Growing Pains That Interrupt Sleep
You may also have another issue that disrupts your baby's sleep: teething. When a baby starts getting their teeth, they tend to be very uncomfortable and that makes it hard to sleep. While teething is not directly related to gut health, it's not uncommon to have the two issues coincide for your baby. The time when they start getting teeth is usually about the same time whole foods are introduced, so the little body is thrown off. As you work to improve their gut health, you should also learn how to relieve baby teething pain at night. By addressing all sleep problems, you can get some peace for your child (and yourself).

Helping infants sleep can be tricky since your baby can't tell you what they need. Talk to your doctor about what you are seeing and ask if their gut health could be affecting their sleep. If it is, get a probiotic specially formulated for little stomachs so everyone can get some rest.