Happy Tracks in the Snow

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Storytelling clothes July 29, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - general info,parenting articles,storytelling — paulabrown @ 9:21 pm


I wanted to share with you my find! I’m doing some storytelling at Babington House, a swanky hotel in Somerset which is very family friendly and wanted a cool outfit. I was going to sew something but since the days, as a child, when I tacked my clothes together and they fell off rather promptly, my sewing has won no prizes. So I found this top, a story of its own!


They come with their own ideas

Filed under: parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 9:18 pm

I seem to have come across lots of co-sleeping parents lately and sent me back to my early days as a newbie. When Gabe (my firstborn) was born I was determined to co-sleep and carry him in a sling etc but it turned out he had his own plan. He hated sleeping with us and the first decent night we had was when he was in a moses basket by our bed. He’s been like that ever since and really considers he doesn’t even need parents and he’s probably right, never such an independent child did I meet.

When #2 arrived I was fully into the swing of fairly strict naps, taken by getting yourself to sleep, all fairly Gina Ford really (bar her fatal flaw – that newbie mums need time for Home and Away and a natter with their mates). But no, Jude had obviously read the Contiunuum Concept and had planned to be carried for at least 12 months, sleep with me, eat with me, be adhered to my side until he felt the time came to crawl or maybe even walk (only at 18 months). I wasn’t in that headspace at all and it came as a bit of challenge, one we’ve made our way through but a challenge nonetheless!

There’s a moral in this tale but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is! They have their own personalities and it helps to go with that a bit, I guess!


Liddle musical taster for the Whole World…

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 11:56 am


Tatty Bumkpin at The Big Green Gathering! July 27, 2007

Filed under: parenting articles,Tatty Bumpkin — paulabrown @ 10:29 am

Come and see me at the Big Green Gathering next week, every morning at 9am in the Kid’s field! I’m getting ready to get all the camping gear out, all the stuff for Tatty Bumpkin, raingear, of course and the mandatory face paints, fairy wings etc. I’m looking forward to it but also have the sense of intrepidation you get when you used to get head lice checked at school. The kids are so looking forward to it: I think the vibe of festivals suits kids – there’s plenty of stuff for their manic moments and a lot for their chilled moments too…

My boss has texted from WOMAD to say she’s in yet another mud field (she recently took the gear to do sessions at Glastonbury) and my only consoling thought is that the Big Green is high, high on a hilltop on the Mendips near Wells. Anyway, I’ll post as things progress and will definitely let you know how it went!


little boys July 23, 2007

Filed under: parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 8:33 pm

So I was chatting to a dad in a coffee shop today and it seems I’m not the only one who’s spending some time thinking about how society treats little boys. My Tatty Bumpkin sessions take me into a lot of settings and in all of them you hear the same moans about boys being so active / wriggly / noisy / competitive etc as if these qualities are unpleasant. Having two very wriggly boys myself it saddens me as I hadn’t thought of their wriggleness as negative (tiring, oh yes but not negative).

It strikes me, and there is much written about this from Sue Palmer to Steve Biddulph, books about gender and reading, gender and literacy / schooling etc, that it is the institutions which aren’t really geared up for small boys. Often this is a question of goverment policy or economics – the sheer ration of adults to children means that there isn’t really the capability to have children running noisily around so girls generally more sedate, calm and co-operate behaviour works well in these settings and is encouraged.

There is also the issue that many of these environments are driven by woman and that we don’t always understand the needs of small boys. I am only just beginning to work out some of the stereotypes I had set – a recent revelation was that it is not so much that boys are competitive, wanting to win and be first, as that they need the challenge of e.g. racing with other boys to push themselves to their limits.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for tonight but be careful not to be too deprecating yourself about boys natural attitudes and abilities!


Tips for taking kids to festivals… July 22, 2007

Filed under: parenting articles — paulabrown @ 9:49 am


Taking kids to festivals can be great fun. Here are a few tips on how to manage the festivals with children this summer: (c/o the Independent)

1. Make sure you really do want to take your child/children with you. Remember that you are going to miss out on a few things if they go with you and there is no point in going to all the trouble of taking them if you are simply going to feel frustrated at the end of the day. You’d be better off trying to arrange a babysitter (even if it means going for less time) and having a blast on your own. The idea that you can do everything you want to with children in tow is a misnomer, unless you are prepared to let your kids suffer. One of my worst child experiences was at a Whirl-y-Gig at WOMAD many years ago where some poor kids had been laid down to sleep at the edge of the tent where loads of barmy ravers were dancing and prancing to some hard house music. The poor kids got trodden on and whacked by the crowd while their parents partied on. If you’ve got the sort of children who are able to stay up really late and party, then great. But remember, they are still only kids (even young teenagers) and are therefore more vulnerable to all the dodgy aspects of a festival site: big crowds, loud noise, drugs, alcohol, drunks and weirdo’s.

2. Pick the right festival. On eFestivals we cover all sorts of festival occasions, but only some of them are suitable for kids to attend. The best festivals for kids are those which include more than bands alone – so look for events that are more rounded with arts and crafts or world music. Often these events will have specific stuff for kids laid on – see the WOMAD, Guildford and Glastonbury kids reviews.

3. Be prepared. Take anything to the festival that your child is unhappy without. Most babies through to 13 year olds are pretty flexible, but if there is a dummy, teddy, pillow or toy that your child relies upon, then take it to ensure plenty of relaxing times. Having said this, you should never take anything to a festival that you are not prepared to lose (unfortunately there are thefts on sites).

4. Chill out – remember that you are on holiday, having a break, trying to relax, and so are your kids, so let the kids have a good time. Forget about those normal rules and planned days and let the festival and your kids guide you. Children will lead you into spaces that you have never dreamed of visiting before which is great – it makes the festival experience fresh.

5. Take a potty – the loos can be too much for kids of all ages to cope with, so a potty can be invaluable.

6. A young child is best transported in a ruc-sac baby carrier as a pram is tricky to push over fields and rough roads. Also the baby can see from this vantage point.

7. It’s a good idea to play some of the music your child will hear at the festival before going. Then they will recognise it and enjoy it all the more – we realised this when our one year old was manically waving his arms at Morcheeba at Glastonbury, clearly recognising the music and enjoying the whole experience.

8. When seeing bands with smaller kids don’t go too near the front of the stage as they will be put off by the loudness of the music. If you stand a bit further back the kids will enjoy it all the more. Also be aware of the fact that kids can’t see whats going on on the stage and they have little patience with listening alone. So, be prepared to lug even bigger kids up onto your shoulders for a birds eye view.

9. Make time for your child and they will be much more tolerant of the things that you want to do. E.g an hour in the kids make-it tent followed by a band followed by an ice cream will hopefully mean that your child is fulfilled and so are you.

10. Do all the safety things you would normally do going out, but be aware that there are lots of things to attract your child out of your sight. In case they get lost make sure that you know what they are wearing and have told them what to do if they get lost – find a police officer, steward or a ‘mummy with kids’. It’s a good idea to put a mobile phone number on the child somewhere (a wrist band, or sticker on t-shirt), so that if they are found you are easily contacted. Contact festival welfare and the police on site if you have lost your child and they will help you get reunited.

11. Take plenty of sun block/hats and light coloured t-shirts for a hot event or wellies/waterproofs and spare clothes for a wet one.

12. ENJOY. Festivals can be great places for kids and adults together, so relax and have a great time.


Thirty-three Things a Child Should Do By the Age of Ten

Filed under: parenting articles — paulabrown @ 9:00 am


This is c/o Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It (Paperback) by Sue Palmer (£3.99 on Amazon and well worth a read) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Toxic-Childhood-Modern-Damaging-Children/dp/0752880918/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/026-6860913-0913229?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185094433&sr=8-1

  1. Roll down a grassy bank
  2. make a mud pie
  3. prepare a modelling dough mixture
  4. collect frogspawn
  5. make perfume from flower petals
  6. grow cress on a windowsill
  7. make a papier-mache mask
  8. build a sand castle
  9. climb a tree
  10. make a den in the garden
  11. paint using hands and feet
  12. organise a teddy bears’ picnic
  13. have a face-painting session
  14. bury a friend in the sand (but not completely!)
  15. bake some bread
  16. make snow angels
  17. create a clay scultpure
  18. take part in a scavenger hunt
  19. camp out in the garden
  20. bake a cake
  21. feed a farm animal
  22. pick some strawberries
  23. play pooh sticks
  24. recognise five bird species
  25. find some worms
  26. cycle through a muddy puddle
  27. make and fly a kite
  28. plant a tree
  29. build a nest from grass and twigs
  30. find ten different leaves in the park
  31. grow vegetables
  32. make breakfast in bed for Mum and Dad
  33. create a mini-assault course in the garden