Saturday, 19 April 2014

5 reasons why I'm not eating chocolate this Easter.....

5 Reasons why I won't be eating chocolate this Easter...One Mum's weight loss journey by Mummy Musings and mayhem

As I sat down at the start of this Easter long weekend munching on a lovely bit of chocolate given to me by the day care children I became uncomfortably aware of my big butt squeezing into the chair and the ever present tightness of my waistband.

Hello...My name is Jodie and I am overweight....well that's being polite isn't it? I'm fat.

Ever since having the twins I have let lack of time and emotional eating become my excuses....i can't use pregnancy as an excuse because I pretty much threw up for the whole 9 months, pregnancy does not agree with me unfortunately. 

I've wasted a lot of money on weight loss schemes over the years which is a testament to my laziness with the whole dieting thing as I know what I need to do, I think I just want some miracle product or group to do it for me. At least I'm honest about it...although I could have a whole lot more money in the bank if I hadn't wasted it on the holy dieting grail over the years (Do you like how I say 'more money' like I actually already have some in the bank account?)

Working as a family day care educator is a pretty physical job, you are on your feet all day lifting, carrying, dancing, getting down to the floor and back up again (why does that now seem harder after 40?)moving indoor and outdoor furniture around, mowing and gardening...anyway you get the point and let me tell you it's a whole lot more punishing on the body at the end of the day when you are also carrying around a lot of extra weight. And I do mean a least an extra 50kgs on this short little frame. Yes, I know, that's why you rarely see photos of me . Not a great role model for my 3 girls am I?

So, as I sit here with chocolate in one hand and a glass of red in the other (Yeah, sounds great doesn't it....hmmm...where was I?) I've decided that Easter is the time I need to get serious. Yes, when I am surrounded by people eating chocolate and hot cross buns smothered in butter and family BBQ's and desserts I decide to make a change. That's the sort of silly thing I do when I make up my mind.

Did you notice I didn't say diet? I hate that word, it sets me up to fail immediately in my opinion because I suddenly feel deprived. I need to forget about all the dieting rules and plans and restrictions. I just need to start eating smaller portions, less alcohol (yes I know no alcohol would be better but ain't going to happen while I have twin 3 yr olds...just saying...) and move a little more. Simple right?

No, it's not, for some people yes, for me it's a struggle and I think it is more to do with my mind than my physical self. Working at home is also turning me into a bit of a hermit which makes it easier to listen to the excuses in my head and hide away. Which is why I am going to ask lovely group of virtual friends and followers to help me on this journey I am about to undertake.

Perhaps you are struggling with your weight and could do with some support too. Let's work together. Even if you don't have weight to lose I'd really love if you could visit my facebook page once a week where I will be posting my progress with a weigh in. I need to be accountable and since I can't get out of the house for group support meetings I'm hoping to find some support with the regular readers of this blog and facebook page. If you want to join in with me each week I am making Wednesdays 'Weight Loss Day' on the page. You can post your highs and lows, gains or losses (we don't need to share actual weights, just the gains or losses...let's not get tooooo personal hehe)or just call out for some support or encouragement. 

Each Wednesday on the blog I will share some blogs, recipes and facebook pages that have inspired me during the week and let you know how my week has gone. Which will of course be riveting reading I'm sure!

So this Easter I'm asking for your help. I need to lose this weight. I need to be held accountable to a weigh in each week. I'm pretty much housebound with long hours and children and I fear I might not be around to see my girls grow up if I continue on this current path.

I'm ashamed of my current self and want to find the girl I know is still inside this fat suit. She deserves to come out and have some fun again. She deserves to be proud of herself and not disappear from every family photo. Perhaps you feel this way too? 

Here's 5 more reasons why I want to lose this weight....

1. I want to walk into a clothing shop and actually choose something I want to be seen in rather than just looking at the tag to see if it will fit first. I also want that perky little shop assistant to not look at me "like that" as I slink back out the door

2. I want to be short. Not short and fat which is obviously worse. Actually I want to be tall but one dream at a time people.

3. I want to wear shorts in Summer without carting around a container of know where i'm going with this don't you?

4. I want to look in the mirror and recognise the person looking back at me. Not the bloated wrinkly old lady I see in there now. Although she does have her good a nice set of boobs which I would be sad to see disappear if I am to be honest. As would His Patient Self probably.

5. Most of all I want to proudly appear in photos with my family or even shock, gasp...on my own. I fear my girls will look back at photos of their childhood (or whatever the techies invent to see pics by the time they are teens) and wonder if they had a Mum because she wasn't in any photos with them. I realise if they are teens they probably won't care because they are teens but they might! Heck, by that time I just realised I am going to be really old so I will probably wonder where I am too!

I don't want to be skinny, I just want to be comfortable in my own skin again, wear clothes I like, feel healthy and not have everything ache all the time. 

I want my family to be proud of me but more than that I want to be proud of myself. I want to move forward. How about you?

Can we do this together? I know i'm not alone in feeling this way which is why I am sharing this journey. 

I hope I can do it......feel free to kick my butt into gear any time you notice me slacking off...I promise to love you for it!

See you Wednesday! I'm off to give the choccies away...just as soon as this turkish delight one is finished...seems a shame to let it go to waste and it's so little anyway....Oh ok, I hear you, I hear's gone! Now you do one!

If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!

Warm Wishes

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Documenting in Home/Family Day Care Part 2 - Finding your programming style.

I must say a big thank you to all those who commented on the Part 1 blog in this series....I had no idea it would prove so helpful to so many and was therefore certainly worth the weekend it took to write for you!

This week I want to focus on finding your programming 'style' or 'rhythm' and I will also be discussing the fortnightly plan I use in more detail since I have had many requests for information on how I use the 'boxes'.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

What is a programming style?

This is just a term I made up actually (I can do that because I am an educator ;) so perfectly acceptable obviously )but seriously, I have found it useful over the years when trying to help others find their groove as they begin to document their planning.

Consider these five factors when searching around for program templates or when designing and editing your own....

1. Do you like to write a lot when you plan things ?(anything)

2. Do you write lists often? (I love lists, my twins now hand me paper for Mummy's lists!)

3. Are you an organised and methodical person or do you prefer to go day by day and see what happens?

4. Are you confident on the computer or do you prefer to work with hard copies of forms?

5. Do you feel more comfortable planning for a weekly, fortnightly or monthly program? Does your scheme have an expectation of the time frame you should work to?

6. Do you like to use apps on the go or prefer the use of pen and paper to keep notes throughout your day? Perhaps you prefer a combination of both?

7. Do you like to take lots of photos of the children engaged in play and activities throughout the day?

8. Do you seek and value parent/coordinator input within your service?

9. Do you like templates or do you prefer something more organic that can build as you progress through your week/month?

10. Do you understand how to link child observations effectively to your program plan or do you just put something because you 'have' to.

How did you go with those questions? Can you see where I am heading with this?

Everyone is different in the way that they understand and plan their program for their service. It's important to recognise this because you can have the best program template in the sector but if you don't fully understand how to use it or feel comfortable doing so then I have to be very honest with isn't going to work for you or the children in your care.

I'm not a fan of schemes that hand out templates that all educators must use for their planning. People have different strengths and levels of understanding for certain areas. What works for some may not suit others, no matter the best intentions. In my experience many educators give up on the planning side of things because they aren't sure about the process or what is expected of them with templates that are perhaps handed out with little communication about how to use them effectively.

So, think about the answers you gave to the questions above and consider the following....

If you are a methodical person who often writes lists and always plans ahead in your everyday life then you are probably going to be suited to a more structured plan, perhaps something like mine with box categories and clear areas for definition/linking and forward planning. There is more writing and planning with a program like this but that probably doesn't faze you as you prefer to have everything sorted before your week starts and doing it this way helps you to feel more in control of your week and able to deal with spontaneous events more confidently. 

If the thought of all that boxed in planning ahead makes you shudder then you need to take a different angle. You will probably prefer to start with a few focus areas and expand upon those as your week unfolds and incorporate focus activities and children's interests as they arrive. If it doesn't concern you that you can't see ahead to far into the week or plan accordingly then that is perfectly ok. There is nothing wrong with that approach as long you are able to EXPLAIN your method and how you are covering the bases.

To be really honest with you...That type of planning is  actually my worst nightmare because as you may have realised I am a bit 'Type A' in my personality and planning and organising make my day! I love a list and a box. (Yes, I am truly an exciting person!) and I always write to much (as you may have noticed!) But it is the way I make sense of things and help others to understand my vision or thoughts.

I know that most parents won't have time to read this type of program but some do and for the others I always ensure I have plenty of other methods of information and communication available to them so they can gain an understanding of the direction of their child's play and learning. You can see more of my parent communication examples here.

If you would like a blank printable version of my 'Our Day' parent communication and daily reflections form just click on the picture below.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You don't need to solely rely on your program as a method for communicating your planned activities, play and learning to parents. Too many educators (just in my own experience) seem to feel they are writing a program for parents and coordinators and get awfully deflated  and frustrated when they don't stop and take time to read all that hard work

"What's the point, it's not like parents read it anyway!" Yep, I have heard it many times and what I reply is "But that program is to benefit you and the children first and foremost and I'm pretty sure you read it and the children get to enjoy the activities and pre planning! Perhaps time to rethink who you are planning for and who you are trying to please, you might be surprised at how much simpler the process then becomes!

Hopefully now you have a bit clearer  understanding of the direction you want to take. I'm not going to go through all the different templates available, i'm sure you have already got a collection, it's a matter of figuring out what works best for you or perhaps modifying it until it does suit you. Don't just settle with something if you don't fully understand it or find it way to much work just because everyone else you know is using that one...even mine!

I know many educators have expressed interest though in how I use my program plan since I mentioned it in the part 1 article so I'm going to try to briefly (stop laughing now) describe the main areas for you and then you can decide if it really is the template for you. I don't mind you using it at all but I actually do think you will find it easier if you modify it a little bit to suit your own personality, comfort level and individual service.

You can find a blank printable version by clicking on the picture below.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

What time frame does this program cover?

I write a fortnightly program (but if my Coordinator is reading this I am maybe doing weekly ;) ) I don't mind weekly programming but for the children I have at the moment and the days that I work I find that fortnightly allows me to plan more effectively and complete the planned activities while leaving room for spontaneous and child led activities. That might change depending on the children. It's all a matter of balance. If you were using this template for weekly planning then obviously you would write less.

How do I include parent input?

I speak with parents about our activities, what's happening in their child's life at the moment, what they did on the weekend, what they loved doing today and have they done this at home too? I use my parent communication books to also inform my program. There is a box on the program template just for parent/coordinator input and I will usually fill this in at the end of the week or during the week if I feel there is something I have discussed with the parent of a general nature that can be included. I don't expect them to write in the box but they are more than welcome to!

What are the box headings for?

The headings are my way of making sure I am planning to cover all areas of the EYLF and meet outcomes without needing codes, numbers, colours or tick boxes everywhere which seriously do my head in and makes the planning process very lengthy in my opinion. Don't make work for yourself if you don't have to (like the way I think?). I have developed these headings after much reading of the eylf document and calling upon everything I have previously been taught in early childhood. I didn't see the need to throw away all that I was comfortable with, it was just a matter of finding a way to incorporate my own style together with the new expectations and wording of the eylf.

But what do the headings mean and how do they relate to the EYLF Outcomes?

Well, as usual this post has become way to long so I'm not sure I can cover all of the thinking behind my box areas. I'll try to add a few dot points under each to give you an idea but as you can see from my example one below, the areas also crossover and link well together at times for certain activities - I add arrows sometimes for my own benefit, there is no need really as coordinators or assessors will be able to see the links for themselves I'm sure!

I haven't included the detail I normally do for focus activities due to privacy reasons but I normally include the planned focus activity from my individual forward planning sheet with the date of relevant  initial observation/collage/reflection.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Here're still there aren't you?

Intentional Teaching Opportunities

This is the section I list  a few activities that I would like to really focus on encouraging and initiating learning experiences. They are usually planned experiences and will quite often crossover with other areas but I don't always need to be involved, I might set something up and then observe the interaction and play to further extend upon later.

Children's Ideas & Interests

This box I use to write down a few activities directly related to the children's ideas and interests from the previous fortnight or sometimes during the current fortnight. These may come from direct observations, photo collages or the 'our day' reflections sent home to parents. They may be planned in advance or come up during the week and I extend from there.

Individual Focus Activities

The activities I list here are from my individual forward planning sheet and previous observations. They might also be activities that stem from things I have seen in the previous weeks but not actually formally documented.

You can get a printable version of the individual child linking form by clicking the pic below (I hope....)

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Exploring Our World

I mainly include activities here that will encourage an exploration and understanding of the environment around them... food, pets, gardens, land, sustainability, recycling, natural and man made materials/environments, technology and research in these's one of my favourite boxes as there are always interesting ways to learn in this area no matter how young the child!

Inviting our Imagination In

Another area that can incorporate many different activities. It really is about anything that might encourage children to explore their imaginations. Props, invitations to play, opportunities for role play, dramatic play,communication and creative self expression. They might be indoor or outdoor activities.

Let's Get Moving

This is pretty self explanatory...any activities that get the kids moving indoors or out and more aware of their bodies and the movements they can do. It's about offering activities that challenge those gross motor skills and muscles! It might be with music & dance, games, stories or songs.

Manipulative Play

This is where I list planned activities that will encourage strengthening of fine motor muscles, problem solving, spatial awareness, you get the gist! I include puzzles, blocks, tong games, some craft and anything fine motor here.

Creative & Sensory Play

This area often overlaps with many of the other areas obviously but I still find it useful to have a separate section so I can see at a glance our crafty and sensory activities as they are the ones that often require more set up and pre planning. I quite often write the days beside them that I want to do them as this works in with the ages I have on those days currently. No need to do that, I just find it helps in my planning.

Encouraging our Identity & Independence

This is the section I include group and individual activities to encourage and promote self help skills, a feeling of belonging, pride in achievements, respect for diversity, understanding and managing of emotions, feeling part of a community,and an increasing responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. 

This area can be pretty broad so I try to just incorporate a few activities for each program.

Connecting through Communication

This is where I list activities focusing on verbal and non verbal communication, media, technology, music, singing, puppets, dramatic and social play prompts,stories,group games, language skills....basically any activity that will invite discussion and communication in some way.

Spontaneous Moments

Moments recorded and added to the plan during the week that were initiated spontaneously  by the children or myself - I try to add a few sentences about who led the activity and how it came to be.

Parent/Coordinator Input

Don't really think I need to explain this one...ask your coordinator to add a little input next time they visit and you can let parents know it is there to add to but I usually just write in a few relevant comments from discussions with parents at the end of the week.

Ok, I think you might possibly be glazing over about now and personally I'm falling asleep (programming will do that have you noticed?) so let's leave part 2 here. I hope it has been a little helpful to you .

I'd love to hear your feedback or questions below in the comments section. You can always comment under anonymous if you feel more comfortable asking questions that way.

In part 3 of this series I will be sharing some tips for understanding the outcomes and how they apply to planning, programming and your activities. Let me know if there is a particular outcome you are finding difficult to decipher.!

If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!

Warm Wishes...

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

You know you are ready to be a home educator when.....

I think you have to be a special sort of person to work as a family day care educator...You really do have to love kids and not be especially fond of holidays, sick leave or a big income!

There are many articles on the web that will tell you what you NEED to do to become a qualified and professional home based educator but today I'm going to share with you a few things you might not have considered but I personally think are just as important. might need to smile as you read this list....and yes I am being serious, you need to know these things before you make your decision...TRUST ME ON THIS!!!

Are you ready to be a home educator?...a few funny things you might not have considered! By Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You know you are ready to be an early childhood home educator when......

  • You have superior bladder control and the pelvic floor muscles are in tip top shape because trust will never get a toilet break when you need one again. If your bladder isn't that great then get used to having your toilet break to the sounds of banging on the door and little fingers sliding underneath as they hope to snare you by the ankle.

  • You stop in at the shops quickly shops after work to pick up some essentials and then realise as you hand over the money that your hands are a lovely shade of red and green after dyeing pasta and painting with the kids that day and the checkout operator is looking at you rather weirdly and then you remember you were doing handprinting today and the kids were grabbing at your bottom....and there are probably some lovely red handprints you are displaying to everyone behind you. It's at that moment that a work shirt with a logo explaining you work with children seems like a good idea.

  • You have mastered the acquired taste of every cup of tea or coffee being lukewarm...or to be honest...cold, stone cold....but you will drink it anyway.

  • You are fine with no lunch, morning or afternoon tea breaks. No seriously, who do you think is going to come in and cover your butt while you sit and relax and munch on that sandwich you lovingly made last night 'to save time'.?

  • You are able to change what seems like your 100th pooey nappy in a day and no longer wonder how such a small child can poop so much and what parents actually  feed their kids!

  • You are able to pinpoint the exact time in the future week you will be sick after correlating the number of direct sneezes and coughs into your face as well as snot wiped on your hands and legs from children in care that 'seemed fine at home'.

  • You don't need actual adult conversation or someone who understands what you are talking about in your workplace each day because you like the sound of your own voice anyway and hey, you even crack yourself up sometimes! Hehe, see?

  • You walk into the budget friendly $2 shop for some paddle pop sticks and paper and come out with two full bags...large bags! $100 poorer but your mind is already buzzing with the activity ideas and smiles you will receive from the kids for your bright didn't need to do food shopping this week really anyway, that rainbow foam was too awesome to leave...and you NEEDED it.

  • You can justify your own children not really needing a bath that night or a nutritious dinner because frankly you are too tired and you have been looking after other people's children all day...and you don't get paid to feed your own.....they will learn to eat well at lunch times obviously ;)

  • You sit down at night finally after finishing the endless paperwork and realise you have half filled a kiddy plastic cup with wine...and can't be bothered changing it as you are too tired. Tastes the same anyway, you can only afford the cheap stuff now that you are an educator ;)

  • Late at night you find yourself in a dark, quiet corner rocking as you savour no one touching you, asking 'why?' or 'Can you wipe my bum now'...Ahhh the serenity....except now it's late, very late and you have to be up early in the morning....but the serenity pulls you's a trap that can be hard to pull yourself out of.

  • You're happy for your conversation skills to revolve around poop, wee, bottles, sleep, poop, smiles and wee even when you do get to talk to an another adult.

  • You're ok with having to constantly clean, vacumn and mop your house and pack away toys. And then listen as friends and family tell you it must be great to be able to 'stay home all day and get your housework done' Even though you barely have time to scratch yourself during a busy day. And you will tire of trying to explain that you are actually WORKING at home, you are a qualified professional and not just 'playing with kids all day'.....except when doing messy sensory play....that's a great stress reliever and a little bit fun but don't tell anyone.

  • You don't mind paperwork, and computer work and accounting and paperwork. In fact, you are so good at it you enjoy it now ;)

  • You are ok opening the door to the postie or courier dressed up with a funny hat and scarf while leading everyone on a Bear Hunt...I'm sure they've seen it before anyway....

  • And the biggest indicator of all that you are ready to become a home educator is that you don't mind coping with all of the above because you love working with children and their parents and enjoy the challenge of offering a professional and quality child care service for the most important little people in our world today.

You know you are making a difference to their childhood and it doesn't matter that perhaps this isn't recognised by others because that isn't the point. It would be nice but those smiles and hugs and breakthrough moments are too special to ignore.

You are ready....You are an educator , be proud of your role in a child's life.

Keep smiling and enjoy the laughs that will come your way! 

Warm Wishes.....

If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!

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