… to wait for a sunny day!
The big Ps have been really enjoying learning about where energy comes from, so I thought it was the perfect time to tell them about the solar powered toys I’d bought for them to make.
In some ways it was the best time as they were so enthusiastic about making something that is ‘green’ after they have been learning all about renewable energy. In many ways it was the worst possible time: I have been feeling under the weather today; Piccalilli was having one of those days where she just wanted to be picked up (not easy when you’re trying to make an intricate robot!); one of our hens has been poorly so she’s in a box in the dining room requiring regular water from a syringe; there was no sun!!
Anyway, we did it and it looks great, but we have no idea if it works or not!! Let’s hope for a sunny day tomorrow 🙂
Recently Poppet has mastered the art of tying shoe laces. She’s been able to tie knots for over a year but bows were a write-off at that point! Last week she learnt to do her bows in about 10 minutes!
‘How is this possible?’ I hear you cry. Well, here are my three top tips to make this challenging task a lot less stressful (for child and parent!)
1. Wait until they’re ready!
Over a year ago Poppet first asked if we could teach her how to tie laces. So we dutifully bought her a fake wooden shoe (well, she didn’t have any real ones with laces – they’re all velcro these days aren’t they?!) and showed her how to do it. After a lot of tantrums (from her and us!) the wooden shoe was relegated to an under bed storage drawer and forgotten about. When she said last week that she wanted to learn to tie laces again we had a little hunt and luckily retrieved the shoe!
2. Make it fun 🙂
There are lots of ways to make learning fun and with lace tying it’s actually remarkably easy:
- Before getting on to actual lace tying, spend some time playing lacing games – cotton reels or beads on laces and lacing cards are great. You don’t have to buy lacing cards as it’s easy to make your own (although the Early Learning Centre ones are strong, cheap and colourful), but the most important thing is to have a firm, fray free end to your laces.
- Try tying on a large scale – we had a go with skipping ropes in the garden. It was fun and we had a lot of laughs getting out of the knots we found ourselves in!
- There are also some cute rhymes (some of which I remember from 30 years ago when I learnt to tie laces on a cardboard picture of a shoe with holes punched in it!) The rhymes mainly seem to revolve around bunnies but, with a bit of imagination, I’m sure they could be adapted to suit any child’s interests. We stuck with a version of the bunny rhyme from my childhood: Over, under, around and through, meet Miss Bunny, pull her through.
- If you need to model the process it can be best to sit behind your child with your arms around them – Poppet found this hilarious!
3. Stay calm!
I know this can be easier said than done, but I would say that if things are getting too stressful then maybe your child isn’t quite ready.
Good luck and let me know if you beat our 10 minutes!
So I’m usually writing about the fun aspects of home educating, with the odd traumatic day thrown in for good measure, but I don’t often write about the days where I lose my cool and wonder why on earth we are doing this! Last week I had one of those days and have avoided thinking about it too much since. However, I kind of see writing as therapy and figured it was time to get it off my chest…
Our mornings are generally slow and steady as it’s rare that we have to rush out of the house before 10ish. This is one of the lovely aspects of home education (although on those occasional days when you really need to be up and out it’s definitely harder!). So the day I lost my cool was no different to usual; we didn’t have to be anywhere in a rush so the Ps played happily upstairs while I sorted things in the kitchen. Little Piccalilli came down as she wanted her breakfast, but the big Ps continued in their contented play.
As it neared 10 o’clock, and I remembered that we had to be out in half an hour, I called upstairs that it was time to get dressed. Well, you’d have thought I’d just thrown a grenade up there and declared war by the reaction that followed… Suddenly the calm, peaceful morning turned to chaos and the happy siblings turned instantly into enemies. The screaming started, followed by a lot of banging, followed by loud shrieking (which I think was meant to be crying in an attempt to get me to go up). I tried to ignore it initially – isn’t that the done thing? Let them sort it out themselves? Don’t get involved in every sibling battle? Well, after a few minutes of screeching and obvious physical fighting I thought I’d better check that nobody was truly hurt…
When I got to the top of the stairs, Poppet was standing in the middle of the room naked and screaming – Pickle was nowhere near her and I couldn’t work out what the fuss was all about! I lost my cool instantly… I screamed at her to get out. She screamed at me that Pickle had been sitting on her and hurting her (which seems to happen a lot!). I screamed at Pickle that that was inappropriate behaviour. She screamed at me that Poppet had taken her clothes away. I screamed, they screamed, we all screamed… and no ice cream was involved at any point!
I completely lost it; I told them I was leaving; I told them they were going to school the next day; I really lost it…
Thankfully I had a tiny bit of self control left and on hearing Piccalilli downstairs calling for me “Mummy stop shouting”, I realised I had lost it and went downstairs. Piccalilli got me a tissue and we had a big cuddle. When the big Ps came downstairs they were very remorseful, as was I, and we talked it through. We discussed why getting dressed and other transition times always seem to be so difficult and we discussed the types of behaviour that we all displayed that was negative and how we should have behaved. We wrote and signed a new family contract and agreed to have another meeting in a week (tomorrow) to discuss how we were getting on.
I am not proud of losing it. But I am proud of how we dealt with it and turned it around. We are all doing pretty well at sticking to the new family contract but transition times can still be tricky… we’re working on it though!
I don’t often bother with resolutions as it feels like setting yourself up for a fall! I do like to set myself little challenges though so have given myself a few challenges for the next few months.
- Mindfulness – The lovely Stinker gave me a beautiful colouring book for Christmas. I plan on using this regularly and doing lots of colouring and relaxation with the 3Ps
- Meat-free – We have decided to avoid buying meat throughout January for a few reasons including the high cost of good quality meat. I’m not at all daunted by this as I’m not really bothered about meat, although I might miss bacon! I have a feeling this challenge will extend further than January…
- Dry January and February – I read recently that unless you’re an alcoholic it’s pointless having dry months, but I think this is a silly statement to make. We are doing it for health reasons (to lose a few excess kilograms!) and to save money.
- To write another blog – Don’t worry I plan on continuing to write this one on a personal level but I am thinking of writing one giving advice about different aspects of home education and healthy living… I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on!
So, for us Christmas was over on Sunday – the big girls went to the Panto with their Nanny and Daioo (Granddad) and while little Piccalilli slept, the Stinker and I took down the decorations and tree (which was practically bare by the time we’d pulled everything off, so it’s a good job Christmas is done for another year!). Since, Piccalilli occasionally disappears off and returns to tell me that the Reindeer had gone – this has bothered her more than anything else as he was filled with chocolate coins most days by our Elf! I love the Christmas break, but I’m also happy when the house gets back to some level of normality… Saying that, I don’t enjoy the holiday coming to an end!
I love holidays mainly because we get to have the Stinker around more (the biggest bonus of him still working as a teacher!) and relax together. It’s definitely not all smiles and happiness though… So here is my roundup of the highs and lows of Christmas and New Year 2015-2016:
- Piccalilli’s enjoyment of the whole Christmas period – she’s the perfect age for the magical moments and watching her little face light up every time she realised that more chocolate coins had been delivered really made my day many times!
- Lazy mornings in bed – ok, so as we home ed we often have slow mornings but these are always missing the Stinker who leaves early for work. So lazy mornings with all of us present are lovely.
- Quality time with extended family – we see some members of our family often but to spend quality time chatting, playing games, and just being together is great.
- Three happy little girls – well, they weren’t happy all the time (see Lows below!!) but on the whole they enjoyed the excitement of Christmas and the lovely presents they received.
- Feeling proud – Poppet made us very proud on a couple of occasions. Firstly she played her recorder and cornet (both of which she’s only been learning for a few months) in a concert with the home ed band she is a part of. Secondly she sewed us all Christmas presents – I became an emotional wreck and cried when I opened the pillow she’d made for me!! I’m expecting floods of tears next Christmas when she makes me something even more intricate with the sewing machine she got from Father Christmas 🙂
- Laughing lots – Pickle is turning into a fantastic comedienne and often has us in stitches. Her little impromptu sketches can be hilarious and I particularly love watching Poppet and Piccalilli laughing uncontrollably at her!
- Theatre trips – we were very lucky to be taken to see Annie (thank you Auntie Krusty and Uncle Big Dan!), which was amazing, although the constant singing of Annie songs since is starting to grate on me (and I can’t get them out of my head!). The big Ps also had their annual Panto trip with Nanny and Daioo which they always love 🙂
- The weather! It would have been lovely if it had snowed, or even just stayed dry – the rain really does make things more difficult, although we did still get out as much as possible and the New Year’s Day walk was great fun, especially when the big Ps (who had not been getting on well for a few days!) decided to roll in the mud.
- The bickering – I know it’s normal and I live with it daily but I do wish they’d stop during the holidays!
- The trip to Hospital – luckily nothing major but of course I felt awful because it had been me who had opened the door and trapped Pickle’s finger in the hinge ripping her nail half off (but her fault really for standing behind the door to have a strop!)
- The end – as I said earlier, I really don’t like it when holiday times come to an end 😦
This time of year can be pretty stressful for everybody, but when you’re trying to juggle getting organised for the big day (and beyond) with keeping three hyper girls from exploding… well, let’s just say I’m in need of a break!
The past week or so we’ve spent a lot of time either walking to (the long way!), at or walking home from our local park – it’s nothing to shout home about (and even less so since the council removed the house and slide to stop teenagers’ shenanigans!) but the fact that it’s a stone’s-throw from home makes it the perfect escape on damp days when we need to get out.
Our last visit resulted in a huge paddy by Poppet about the fact that Pickle wanted to swing higher than her! But at least we were out getting some fresh air – positive thinking and all that 🙂
Poppet’s paddies – it could be the name of a book, although I’m not sure who’d want to read it! Joking aside, her ‘moments’ are currently more regular with more gusto and I don’t know if it’s an age thing or something else…
Yesterday evening Poppet was due to be invested into Beavers. She’s been going since September and even went on camp last month (see Different Directions…); she was so excited about saying her promise and the Stinker and I were invited to watch. As soon as we arrived I saw her demeanour change – it’s hard to describe but it’s like she goes into herself, physically shrinking away from a situation. The next thing I knew she was over with us, crying and trying to clamber up on me. It’s difficult to know the best response in these situations so I often find myself trying to cajole her to do whatever it is she is shying away from: “You’ve been so looking forward to it”, etc. But Poppet is very stubborn so that was that – no promise.
However, five minutes later the tears started again (as I thought they would) when the realisation set in that she had lost the chance to do something she did really want to do! Luckily the leaders are fantastic and waited until the end, when nearly everyone had gone, to do Poppet’s promise with her.
The Stinker is understandably concerned that she needs to overcome this issue, but my thinking is that, no matter how stressful I find her paddies, we need to find another way of dealing with them. We’d both predicted that it would happen last night so maybe we could have altered the outcome by changing our behaviour (or just not turning up to watch!)
Does anyone else have any experience of these sorts of issues and any golden nuggets of advice you could share?
Sunday was all about making the house as Christmassy as possible with lights and decorations. It also involved Christmas crafts that all the Ps could do together while I cooked dinner and the Stinker felt sorry for himself (after a night out on the razzle dazzle!)
Spiral Christmas trees
You need: green paper or card, Christmas stickers, felt pens, scissors
- Draw a spiral on your green paper or card
- Decorate with stickers or draw pictures, ensuring they stay between your lines (I was amazed by how well Piccalilli did hers!)
- Cut along the lines carefully
- Decorate the other side (we did this after we had cut out as otherwise wouldn’t have known where our lines were!)
- Hang up 🙂
We all (yes all five of us!) enjoyed making these trees and they look very effective. We are planning on making lots more!
Oh, and if you like the look of the little Father Christmases hiding above, have a look at my post on Loo Roll Father Christmases!