A ripe-melon-like “Thud”!

It all started in May 2009 when Roan, my very active 7 month old son, started to crawl.  Not slowly and cautiously like other children but with incredible speed and with absolutely no sense of danger.  Had we still been living in Scotland I may not have been so anxious as my house there had carpets but no we now live in Germany and as the norm our apartment had stone tiles throughout the whole living area.  A child of that age has very weak muscle control and their centre of gravity is in their head (an adults is in their bottom). So when Babies fall their head hits the floor first. BANG!  Horrendous pictures of Roan smashing his head off the floor flashed through my mind and wanting my child to learn with confidence and explore his new surroundings without me fretting behind him or having social services visit me, I started my search for some kind of head protection he could wear around the house.  I had no idea what I was going to look for as I had never come across any examples of head protection for Babies.  Therefore, it was a complete coincidence that the very same week The Apprentice was being aired on TV and the contestants tasks were being filmed at the Baby Show in London.  Low and behold the winning task was in association with The Thudguard Baby Safety Helmet.  There it was, the answer to my worries.  I had found the very thing I was looking for.  I immediately ordered the helmet online from the UK and it was full steam ahead for our little express train.

Check out the cute Mickey Mouse ears

I loved the helmet so much that I called the inventor Kelly Forsyth-Gibson to tell her how much I loved it and the difference it had made to Roan´s development.  Roan was standing up and starting to walk at 9 months with great confidence and without my help.  It was from this conversation that Kelly asked if I would be interested in selling it in Germany.  The helmet is sold in over 40 countries worldwide but there was no distributor or retailers in Germany.  What an opportunity.   So in June 2009 easytoddler was born selling the Thudguard Helmet.  Over 2 years later I decided to turn my small pastime into a full-time career, increased my product catalogue and I am about to relaunch under a new name with a new website along with many more lovely Baby & Toddler Products from around the world.  I can still hardly believe that one phone call to compliment someone on a brilliant invention has led me to where I am now.  The acceptance of the helmet in Germany has been a lengthy process but in time and with more focus and publicity on the research being carried out on the long term effects of head injuries in Babies I know that the Helmet will be as successful here as it is in all the other countries.

Lesley is doing the Ultimate Blog Challenge throughout the month of January.  I would love your support and to hear from you so please send me all your comments on my posts.

Travel Tips for Car Journeys with Children

It can sometimes be daunting and very stressful when travelling with small children.  I know this from first hand experience.  We used to live in Stuttgart and had to travel over 900km 2-3 times a year up to the North of Germany where we have a holiday house.  Thankfully we now live a lot closer and only have a 2 hour car journey in which to keep our son entertained.  It was the experience from these long journeys that made me choose some of the products that I sell on easytoddler.  Here are my top 10 travel tips for car journeys.

1. Keep first aid kit, wet wipes, sick bags, change of clothes, toilet roll and liquid antibacterial soap together in an easily accessible place in the car so they are readily available in case of car sickness, spillages, accidents.  We found the Potette 2 in 1 Travel Potty a must for unplanned toilet stops and it also adapts into a hygenic toilet seat when using public toilets.

2. Have a rubbish bag handy in the car as well as some large sealable sandwich bags which can be used for storing snacks, small toys and crayons.

3. When driving at night try simulating sleeptime by changing the children into their pyjamas, pillow, slippers and blanket.  The 5 in 1 BundleBean can be used as a sleeping bag for your child without having to unstrap them from their seat. You can then either read them a bedtime story or put on an audio tape to settle them down for the night.

4. Keep a torch handy for older children to read or play in the backseat of the car!

5. Children can still get sunburnt in the backseat of the car so remember to apply suncream as well using a sunblind to keep the sun out of their eyes.

6. Pack a cooler bag or lunch box full of healthy snacks as services can be expensive with a limited choice of healthy food.

7. Plan your stops so the kids can have a run around every couple of hours and bring a ball so everyone can have a kick about or game of catch.  If possible try and leave a few hours free for relaxing at the end of the day!

8. Ensure your child has easy access to water during long journeys particularly in hot countries.

9. Have a bag of small toys and treats individually wrapped up and let the children have a lucky dip as either prizes, good behavior treats or simply as a form of distraction, some ideas could be… window stickers, window crayons, scribbling pads.

10. The snack n play tray can be attached to the carseat and gives the kids an area to put their toys on, eat  from, and be used to do activities on.

New Year, New Me?

I’m feeling overwhelmed reading other peoples´New Year resolutions.  I’m overwhelmed and they are not even my resolutions. Some say 2012 is going to be the most amazing year ever.  Of course each to their own.  If you like New Year Resolutions, well brilliant, if it works for you then go for it. I didn´t actually make any this year as nothing came immediately to mind and I thought well why should I make one up just for the sake of it!

I know change does not happen overnight.  This year being a prime example when starting easytoddler, my online business.  If I set too many goals to aim for then I start to fall at the first hurdle. I still haven’t caught up on a list of things I was hoping to get done before the end of the year, but I have relished every single moment of time spent with my family and away from my laptop.

Something that I do need to focus on this year is resilience, to handle all that 2012 has in store. There will be some great moments like when I relaunch my new Website and Blog but realistically I know there will be some not so great ones. I want to accept how I feel at any given moment and not beat myself up over my own feelings or failures.

I would like to thank every single one of you personally who has interacted with me this year, Blogging friends, Twitter friends, Facebook Likers and new friends made in the virtual world who I’ve never met in the real world.  Thank You for listening to me.  Thank you too for all your help, advice and for being there just when I felt like giving up.

Thank you to my son, Roan.  I have learnt so much from you and been given back so much love and laughter.  You are simply my world.

To my hubby thanks for listening to me prattle on about subjects you know nothing about but were prepared to listen to me anyway and nod accordingly. We´ve had a wonderful first year of marriage.

To my friends, I’ve either hardly seen or spoken to this year I’m sorry but I’ll try and be more available this year.

Did you make any New Year´s Resolutions?  No matter how quirky I would love to read them.

Ultimate Blog Challenge – Starting January with a Bang!

This month I have embarked on a major challenge, and decided to join a host of others in the Ultmiate Blog Challenge; to write 31 posts, one a day for the whole of January.  I must have been sipping the Christmas Sherry when I agreed to do this!  However, I´m going to look at it as the push I need to inject some life and consistency into my Blog.  There´s a long way to go till the finishing post and I hope I can think of a new topic to write about each day.  The past year has been a very steep learning curve as I set out to establish my online business, easytoddler, in a world that  I was totally unfamiliar with.  I have met some incredibly motivated mums who have inspired me to keep going when I have felt like giving up.  So this challenge will give me the opportunity to review my accomplishments from 2011, the challenges that lie ahead of me and my goals for 2012.  So join me in my mission to write a new post every day for the next 31 days.

I would love you to show your support by commenting, sharing or any other way that you choose.  I will need all the encouragement I can get to do the 31 days, thank you.

Santa kommt zweimal zu uns!

I posted a question today on my easytoddler Fan Page on Facebook asking if we should open our Christmas presents on the 24th in German style or on the 25th following the British tradition.  For those of you not already familiar with my story I am Scottish,  married to a fantastic German guy and live a couple of km south of  Berlin.  I love Christmas and the traditions that come with it but since meeting my husband, Marco, there have been many (too many) that I have had to forgo and some new ones that I have welcomed but I want my son to grow up experiencing both cultures.  Is it possible to combine the two and for how long?

Still waiting for the roasties to be served!

My biggest lost is Christmas Dinner.  What I would give now to have an overloaded plate of turkey, roast potatoes, chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon with chestnut stuffing and gravy.  This was always preceded in our house by prawn cocktail followed by homemade soup and finished off with a choice of sweets including the grand entry of the flaming Christmas pudding and of course, upon immediately sitting down at the table we would jostle with each other as to who pulled whos Christmas cracker, don our paper hats and read out the usual unfunny joke.  Every Christmas morning my younger brother and I would wait excitedly outside the living room door urging our father to hurry up and unlock the room that would make us hold our breaths when we entered it. Is this your Christmas day memory too?

It is this excitement and joy that I want my son to experience.  Leaving out a plate of mince pies, a glass of whiskey for Santa and a saucer of milk for Rudolph. Trying to stay awake all night to catch a glimpse of Santa filling your stocking which hung at the end of the bed.  I must admit Christmas Day is slightly flat for me now.  The 24th is a lovely tradition in Germany when my son will be visited personally by Santa and given his presents at home surrounded by his grandparents and some of our neighbours and I always love going to the late night church service with my husband.  But then what, we still open some presents on the 25th and have dinner with my in-laws but it´s just not the same for me without the present opening, the crackers, the turkey dinner and of course the obligatory left over turkey sandwiches later on after having watched the Wizard of Oz for the 100th time!  Regardless of which traditions we decide to celebrate in our house I know that my son will still have fond memories of his childhood Christmases.  How do you celebrate and what are your fondest memories of Christmas? I would love to hear from you.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year xx

Work/Life Balance

In the past, I had never thought about setting up and running a small business as I was happy with my career in the UK as a Health & Safety Manager. However, I ended up starting a new business when I left my job in Stuttgart  and moved to the other end of Germany. I was at home with my son thinking that I wanted a good work/life balance – wanting to have something that I was clearly interested in while wanting to be at home with my son.

The choices for women with young children are to work full-time, (can be managed but essential to have good family support in time of illness, school holidays etc), work part-time (great but well-paid part-time work is difficult to find) or be a stay at home mum. When my son was 7 months old, I was offered a fantastic opportunity to work on a part-time basis for an international company as a Health & Safety Manager. It sort of worked, but with a few issues along the way.  The job was originally full-time and what transpired was that I worked 4 hours each day in the office and once my son went to bed at night I had to squeeze the rest of my job into the remaining hours in the evening which also often extended into the weekends.  When I look back on this I realise the enormous pressure I put my self under.  A first time mum with no family support, a new job which transpired not to be part-time and dealing with a foreign language in a Business environment.

So the perfect opportunity arose when we moved and I had to give up my job.  Once I knew which business I wanted to set up, and after doing some research on Baby & Toddler online selling and writing up a business plan, I thought that this, for me, is the perfect way to have that all important work/life balance. I could be there for my son in the afternoon when he comes home from Kindergarten, enjoy doing extra curricular activities with him, and start to build a business that would hopefully in the coming years give me enough profit to sustain myself.

Over the past year since I started easytoddler, I feel like the work/life balance is right and it is perfect to be at home working on the business as well as being there for my son. However, there are times when work does take over a bit (although I know now how to limit that). I now put times in the diary when I need to do certain things and make sure that I try to do things with my son when he is at home and not keep sneaking off to check my emails. The business can get to be all-consuming if you let it but I am working on that and I am trying to do enough of the right type of marketing to grow the business year on year with a new launch planned for 2012.  So please watch this space!

Have you had a similar experience?

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