So, you decide to have a family.  Great.  You are given maternity leave.  Great.  You are then told you need to go back to work or you decide to continue with your career.  Great.  You then search for childcare that you can afford.  Not so great.


The UK has the most expensive childcare models in the developed world.  It costs on average £218 a week for full time care.  The cost is every increasing, yet wages don’t keep up.  This has forced many parents (particularly women) to reduce their hours at work or leave work altogether.




In Scandinavia, access to childcare for younger children is a formal right.  They also have restrictions on the maximum level parents must pay which is set by their Government.  Not in the UK though.


The difference between the countries is plain and simple.  Public support.  Public support for reduced childcare in Sweden, Norway and Denmark is high whereas in the UK it is low.  I am a mother and maybe I would say this, but I strongly believe in publicly-provided childcare for everyone.  My reasoning is that childcare is an investment.  An investment in children no matter where they live, no matter what the socio-economic status of their parents, no matter what their abilities.  Good quality childcare has a proven track record of setting children up for the best start in life.


It is disappointing then that Westminster decided to scrap the childcare voucher scheme.  Over 450,000 parents use the Childcare voucher scheme.  Employees can receive vouchers worth up to £55 per week in lieu of their salary making it very tax efficient.  They have had a reprieve though by six months.  This is because of the glitches in the HMRC website which has meant people haven’t been able to set up their accounts for the alternative system.


This is just one of many problems that parents are experiencing as they try their best to keep a job while providing the best support for the children.


There is one other issue that we also need to be aware of.  How we treat women and mothers.  Affordable and accessible childcare allows mothers to take part in or continue to take part in the labour market.  After all we are all told to be part of society we must work!  Yet the lack of affordable and accessible childcare means mothers often must reduce their hours or leave work altogether.


I would therefore like us all to learn from our Nordic neighbours and treat children and young people as valuable members of our society and continue to improve gender equality for women who want to work.







Only 7.7% of the UK population can speak another language fluently. Second languages are best learnt from early childhood when the brain is already in the process of learning new words and phrases. Here are some tips to get your child speaking another language.

kids learning a second language

Start early


Studies have found that children are more easily able to pick up pockets of grammar simply by hearing them repeated, whilst adults may struggle to learn these grammar rules. You don’t have to wait until they’re in secondary school to start the language learning process – in fact, primary school might be the best time to start learning. The language is likely to be picked up more naturally, just as we pick up English from a young age.


Use language learning resources for children


There are lots of language learning tools out there, but not all of them are suitable for children. Use sticker books and language-learning video game apps and interactive audiobooks. It’s worth reading reviews online before paying for such language tools so that you know your kid is going to want to get involved. There are lots of free language learning sources out there that can also be worth trying out.




Expose them to foreign films, TV and music


Media sources in another language such as foreign films, TV and music can all be used to further help your child pick up another language. These are best used from a young age. Consider playing animated films in another language and foreign music aimed at children that will capture their attention. You can consider also using English subtitles for films and TV shows as an aid.



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Inspire them by travelling abroad


Travelling to another country can help your children to test out their language skills in a practical setting. This could be something as simple as letting them order their meal when the waiter comes to the table. Children will also be able to test their reading skills on signs and menus. It could be a fun family holiday in which you can all get into the swing of speaking another language. For older children and teens, there are other options such as residential trips for schools and foreign exchange programmes. These can be great for allowing your child to learn another language, whilst also giving them a feeling of independence.


Consider hiring a tutor


If you yourself are not fluent in the chosen second language, it could be worth hiring a language tutor to help. They can come round your house for an hour a week and help to teach your child in a fun manner. There are other options that may be available in your area such as language learning clubs for kids. Choose an option that’s kid-friendly so that you know your child is going to be motivated to learn.



Humans are fragile things. Having a few small things out of place in life can have a huge impact on your health. Eating too much or not getting enough sleep could make you gain weight. Or, lacking stimulation could make you get depressed or bored. This issues only get bigger when they’re applied to kids, whose needs are much more important than an adult’s. So, when you have kids, the small parts of their overall health have to be a huge concern. To help you out, this post will be going through three areas to help you ensure that your kids are as healthy as can be.


Child's health

(Image Source)


  • FOOD

This all starts with food. Experts suggest that our overall health and fitness is mostly affected by our diets. And, this is no different for kids. Having the wrong food can make it hard for their bodies to grow. But, having too much of things could make them unhealthy in other ways. A balance has to be found here. And, usually, this balance has to be changed regularly. Thankfully, there are loads of resources on the internet to help you to make sure the whole family is eating properly. In some cases, the food that your child has at school may not be good enough. So, you may have to send them in with some food you make at home. This can save some money while making your child healthier. So, it’s a win-win.



Next, it’s time to think about exercise. Thankfully, kids digest food in a different way to adults. A child’s digestive system is best at absorbing sugars and other things that are required for growth. This changes as they get older. But, when they are young, most of the food they eat will be transferred into unbridled energy. This energy has to be used. One of the best ways to ensure your child gets regular exercise is by signing them up for sports practice at school. If your child doesn’t like this, though; you’ll have to start taking them out for walks and other activities.



Sleep is very underrated by a lot of parents. Sleep gives your body a chance to refresh itself. During this time, your body works hard to digest and metabolise your food. Along with this, it also gets other essential jobs completed during this time. Without enough sleep, a child can get very unhealthy. It will impact their education, by making it hard for them to concentrate at school. And, it could make them sick. You have to make sure you have the right bed for your child. Companies like Cuckooland offer loads of choices to help you sort this out. But, along with this, you also have to start working on a good sleep routine with your child. Once you have made this into a habit; it will be very easy to make sure they go to sleep early enough.


Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what needs to be done to handle the smaller areas of your child’s health. A lot of parents fail to take these considerations. But, this will usually result in a negative effect on your kid; even if it’s in later life.




Healthy kids



I wanted to share with you my thoughts about smacking children.  I have read so much over the years and as a parent I have tried my best to steer my children in a positive direction and use the likes of putting them in their room for time-out.  There were times when it was a challenge to remain calm – as well us parents know.


It was important as a mummy to provide the best start in life for my children and provide them with a nurturing and loving family setting.  It was also important to encourage them, to point out why it was unacceptable to throw a tantrum because they couldn’t get crisps etc.  My role as their parent was also about protecting them from danger and being supportive to them as they pushed the boundaries and wanted more independence and wanted to explore and see where their place was in the world.


Unfortunately, for some children they don’t get a good start in life – in fact for some children physical punishment is still part of their upbringing.  Looking at the law, dog owners would be prosecuted for hitting/punishing a dog, a domestic violence situation would be prosecuted under the law, indeed if an adult assaulted another adult it would be illegal.  So I guess my question is why doesn’t the law protect children against assault?


It is my view that the law does need to change to allow equal protection for all children.  The international evidence could not be any clearer – physical punishment has the potential to damage children and carries the risk of escalation into physical abuse. There is also a great deal of evidence to show that corporal punishment is ineffective in the long term as a method of disciplining children.


The results from Sweden, which outlawed physical punishment against children in 1979, are encouraging and conclude that after the ban on smacking “parents have not been criminalised for minor infractions, the social authorities have not become more coercive and the youth have not become more unruly”.


I guess it would be like the smoke free legislation in that we need public attitudes to smacking children to change and as Sweden has found – it would never be about criminalising parents but to help redefine what is acceptable in how we treat and allow our children to florish.


Elf x



child protection