When ‘Me time’ results in punishment -7 tips to help prepare children when you go away.

I was lucky enough to have five days of ‘Me time’ in Malta a few weeks ago… Since returning I’ve been ill, hence the delay in writing. I’ve also been punished for going away!

I went to Malta with my sister, where we stayed with our Auntie and Uncle (who spend some of the year living over there – lucky them!) We had the most fantastic 5 days, mainly just chilling out and enjoying the sunshine, with a Music Festival and Spa Day thrown in 🙂

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Photos courtesy of my big sis – ta Krusty 🙂

Coming home was bittersweet – of course I’d missed everyone, but I could have happily stayed in the warm, slow-paced world for a bit longer. The Stinker surprised me by bringing the Ps to the airport to meet me. Seeing their little faces when I came through the Arrivals gate and I immediately burst into tears! (Cue lots of cooing from the onlookers) Hearing their voices again set me off again; Piccalilli sounded so grown up – how does that happen in such a short period of time?!

We sat and had a welcome home drink (tea of course!) before everyone needed the loo and I was back in Mummy-mode and ushering the Ps in the right direction. In her excitement (well, her usual state!) Pickle ran round the corner and cracked her head on the corner of the Coffee Shop counter (a sharp, marble corner at that). Mummy-mode went to the next level when I noticed the blood gushing out of her head. To cut a long story short, the First Aid and Health and Safety team at Bristol Airport were fantastic and we left about half an hour later thankfully without needing a hospital trip (it was just another knock to the head so it might sort Pickle out?!)

The journey home was lovely and everyone was telling me about the great things they’d been doing with Nanny and Daddy, and enjoyed listening to some of the things I’d seen and done in Malta.

Now, I’m sure most of the parents reading this will recognise this scenario…

The following day the punishment began! The Stinker was in work so we were back to a usual home ed day. Well, everytime I asked anyone to help out with anything you’d think I’d asked them to jump off the building! Everything I offered was not what they wanted. Whenever I tried to comfort them I was pushed away. I had known this could happen from previous trips away and the reading I had done, but I didn’t expect the resentment to be so bad!

When the Stinker came home from work you’d have thought he’d been the one who had been away for five days from the welcome he received! Luckily I was expecting this, but it was still a bit upsetting when Piccalilli wouldn’t let me near her 😦

I guess it took about five days (so the length of time I’d been away) for things to return to normal, but the main thing I had to do was not push them while letting them know I was there for them and not planning on going anywhere else.

I know that Piccalilli is still a little worried that I might go away again after an interesting conversation this week, when I was going to vote:

“Mummy, don’t go away”

“I’m not going anywhere”

“But you said you were going to a boat.”

Every family is different, but here are some ideas to make a trip away, without the little people, run smoothly:

  1. Prepare them for the fact that you will be away for a short time, but don’t tell them too far in advance of the trip. I told the Ps a couple of weeks before I was going, despite the fact that I’d known for months. “Warning children 3 years old and younger too far ahead of time does not help them, especially if the focus is on talking about the parent being gone and for how long,” says Julia Heberle, an associate professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa., and a developmental psychologist. “Children this age have barely mastered time vocabulary, so ‘tomorrow’ can just mean ‘not now,’ or ‘forever away.’ ”
  2. Make home sound more exciting than your trip – I made sure I talked a lot about the fact that Nanny was coming for a sleepover and all of the exciting things they would be doing with her and Daddy while I was away missing out!
  3. Follow their lead and only talk about the trip if they raise the subject. Poppet wanted to know what I’d be doing while I was there, Pickle wanted to help me to pack my case, whereas with Piccalilli it seemed the best option to not discuss it too much!
  4. Keep Goodbyes short and sweet (but always say them and reassure that you are coming home). I was lucky in that I left home at 3am so my proper goodbyes were said at bedtime (although I did sneak kisses and cuddles before I left the house!)
  5. Leave or send little love reminders. Whether you leave notes, a special toy or secret messages on the bathroom mirror or send messages and photos, make sure your children know you will be thinking of them while you are away. I knew that my phoning would have upset the Ps but I still sent photo messages so that they knew what I was getting up to (and I also received photos of them!)
  6. Keep everything as normal as possible at home. This can be hard to do, but it minimises their stress levels. Even though my mom helps out weekly with the Ps, I still left her a run down of the days. I know that Pickle struggled while I was away, but think this would have been even worse if her routine had disappeared too.
  7. Be prepared to be punished when you return! It’s natural to be angry when you love being with someone and they have left. Sometimes children don’t understand how to verbalise their anger at your having gone. If your child ignores you when you come back, you could say something like, “It’s ok to be angry with me for going away. I will always love you.” ❤

 

 

Blood, Blogs and Brownies :)

This week is my chance to have a break as the Stinker is off work. But, of course, I’ve packed it almost completely with trips away and activities to keep the Ps busy!

After a fun-filled, hectic long weekend away with family and friends, I was quite glad when today brought minging weather and an excuse to just stay at home for the day.

I spent the morning painting (Our whole house needs an update so still loads to do!) while the Stinker amused the Ps with retro computer games! It all ended in tears when Poppet pushed a chair into Pickle and split her eyelid open – apparently blood everywhere but I was luckily in the shower so missed the whole event! Luckily it had stopped bleeding by the time I got downstairs (after being screamed at hysterically by Poppet that I was needed – cue end of relaxing shower!) so I still managed to get out of the house to do some shopping and sitting in our local cafe on my own…

… almost.

I knew I would see someone I knew, as that’s what happens when you live in a tiny town, but I was lucky that the person I bumped into was a good friend (and actually the friend who had given me the voucher for the cafe as a birthday present last month!) So we enjoyed a cuppa and catch up together and when she and her daughter left I had another cuppa and a yummy piece of gluten free raspberry chocolate brownie – yummy 🙂

I enjoyed just sitting quietly (while other people had to deal with their children), thinking about friends and family and our current journey in life. I doodled a bit and made a few notes relating to my plans to start another blog. But mainly I just drank tea, ate cake and relaxed.

I returned home to a very relaxed scene (all watching a film), so left them to it and made dinner. It’s been a very relaxed day, despite the ‘Attack of the Poppet’ incident, and I hope we can have a few more days like it before the Stinker goes back to work next week!

 

New Year, New Challenges…

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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…
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

Feeling thankful…

If you’re American you are probably celebrating Thanksgiving today and although this tradition is not part of our culture I am still feeling thankful today for:

  • The Stinker – I spent my morning out shopping while he was at work… It doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen to make our lives happier for now (not me shopping all the time I hasten to add!) I’m thankful that he’s happy to support me and the Ps in every way possible.
  • My parents – I’ve said it before (in Mum’s the Word…) but if it wasn’t for my mum and dad we, literally, wouldn’t have the life we have now. They help us out in so many ways and we are eternally grateful for their support and guidance.
  • My big blister – As I’m sure is the case with all sisters, we have gone through stages where we weren’t close, but my sister is my best friend and I trust her implicitly ~ she would be the one, along with her lovely husband Uncle Big Dan, to become the Ps guardians if the need were ever to arise; in the meantime we really appreciate the time they give to them, and us! (We had a lovely surprise visit from her today when she was extremely lucky to meet Father Christmas and Rudolph!)
  • Extended family – As I’ve said before, I’m lucky to have a small close family and we love spending time with Grauntie Jane, Gruncle Jim and cousins Marie and Joe. Their time and support over the years have also helped us to get where we are and I have many happy memories of the younger me having lots of fun with my lovely cousins 🙂
  • Old friends – Today I spent the morning catching up with an old friend (not old old, but you know ‘old’!) Despite moving away from each other (we used to live one street apart and now it’s close to 45 minutes) we try to meet up as much as possible at our halfway point – shopping, cuppa and cake anyone?! Don’t mind if I do! Old friends are so important – they know you from a time before and it’s always good to reconnect with that old you and to share fantastic memories with fantastic people. Last weekend I also saw some old friends and despite the conversations being interrupted often, by the children who now outnumber us, it was just nice to spend a few hours in their company.
  • New friends – Over the five years since we left the city to live in the country I feel lucky to have made lots of lovely friends through different areas of life: dancing and exercise, craft groups, baby and toddler groups, school, home ed groups, neighbours and now blogging! I’m very thankful for the friendship and help of these lovelies in many different ways over the years: from childcare to the loan of a wheelbarrow to the delivery of some 3p sweetcorn (you know who you are!)
  • The Ps – They are all I ever wanted (as I wrote about in Stop, I want to get off!) and despite the challenges they bring, I am so thankful to have them, and their bonkers ways, in my life.

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So today I have been thinking about all of the wonderful people who enrich our lives, therefore this post is dedicated to everyone who knows me – thank you 🙂

Nothing Days…

Do you ever book a date in your diary to do nothing? No matter what comes up, that day takes priority in the same way as if it was a friend’s wedding or a trip away… Today was one of those days for us, although we definitely didn’t do nothing!

We actually spent nearly all day in the garden, my happy place. The sun helped, but mainly being with my little family made me feel all warm and cosy.

We had lots of fun chopping down a tree – then the big Ps used the trunk as a tightrope and the branches to make dens (sadly most of my photos haven’t worked as I forgot to put the memory card in the camera, but we have a few from the Stinker’s phone!)

Piccalilli had a lovely time playing with the water while I cleared the allotment for winter and the Stinker chopped logs.

Everyone worked and played happily alongside each other until it started to get dark, when we came in for a yummy dinner cooked by the Stinker 🙂

The Stinker commented on how happy I am this evening, but of course I am – I’ve had a day in my garden. Our nothing day has been a huge success for reconnecting with each other and mother earth. Now I’m ready for whatever the next few manic weeks throw at me…

Weekly Review!

Today has been a hectic day of going to a baptism, followed by afternoon tea and then fish and chips at a friends house with the 3 Ps. The Stinker stayed home to play footie, but didn’t ’cause it was called off, so did jobs around the house! I’m exhausted so I thought I’d follow in my friend at Too Long Didn’t Write‘s footsteps (who is also doing the 30 Day Challenge of writing daily) and give you a round-up of my week…

So  Last Sunday it was all about how our lives seem to be going in Different Directions more and more these days, with Poppet heading off to Beaver camp while the Stinker spent time with Pickle and I spent time with Piccalilli.

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On Monday I reflected on Piccalilli’s language development in Language of love or hate?! and considered the need to begin assessing kids so young!

On Tuesday we had another visit to the fab museums in the city (Adventures in the City Take 2!) which thankfully went to plan with no illness or accidents 🙂

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Wednesday was all about thanking my wonderful mum for all her help over the years, in Mum’s the Word…

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On Thursday I enjoyed thinking about how I’m Feeling the love again… with teaching.

Yesterday was fantastic Forest School Friday… so I shared my thoughts on the importance of rewilding.

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I hope you’re enjoying my ramblings as much as I’m enjoying writing them (most days!!)

 

Feeling the love again…

It’s over a year since I left my permanent, part-time teaching job (after teaching for 16 years). I’m sure lots of people thought I was mad, as these sorts of positions are hard to come by, but I knew I’d be happier out of the profession…

Initially the plan was for me to do supply teaching for a day or two a week, but then Poppet’s experience of the education system started to go horribly wrong. I felt hypocritical about continuing to put her through something that I, as both her mum and an educational professional, did not agree with and had to leave myself due to stress and exhaustion ~ so to home ed.

Now the idea of spending my days cooped up in a sweaty classroom (I taught hormonal 11 year olds!) fills me with dread and, despite the fact that nanny is on-hand to help out with childcare (see Mum’s the Word), I can’t face the thought of supply teaching! Of course we could do with the money, but we can also live without it.

I am feeling the love with teaching again though and particularly enjoy researching and planning topics for the Ps (see Seven tips for ‘planning’ a topic), so much so that I’d even consider doing it for other people!

I am finally starting to feel again like that enthusiastic, 20-something teacher starting out ~ what I do is worthwhile; I am making a positive difference for the children I teach (mine in this case!); I have something to give. It feels good, but does it make me want to return to the classroom? No way!

Mum’s the Word…

For me, family has always been the most important thing. I don’t come from a large family and I often think this makes it easier to be close, as there are less people to share yourself between!

When we were kids, although we lived nearly two hours from grandparents and cousins, we saw them every holiday for extended periods of time. I always hoped that things would be the same for my girls and, despite having no cousins of the same age to play with, in some ways things are better. We only live an hour from family so the Ps get to see them regularly, particularly their nanny (my mum): she has visited us weekly since Poppet was born, helping out with childcare when I had to return to work after maternity leave with all three girls. Many of my friends comment on how lucky I am to have such a superstar for a mum, and I realise this is the case.

Since we began home edding, my mum’s visits are often my saving grace! If we’ve been having a busy week and I’m tired (That’ll be most weeks then!), I know I can have a bit of a break when nanny’s here – I’ve even managed to fit in child-free cafe visits with friends and long hairdresser appointments! Or I get to spend one-on-one time with one of the Ps, often Piccalilli, while nanny does baking  or sewing with the big Ps.

I also get to revert back to the rare position of being looked after by someone else, which can be a lovely feeling, especially when she likes to shop, cook and clean for me (or that’s what she tells me anyway!)

For me, the best thing about my mum’s visits are the chats – we’ve always got on well (even when I was a slightly rebellious teenager, I still enjoyed spending time with my mum) and I trust and respect her knowledge and opinion.

I can only hope that one day my girls will have their own children and will want me in their lives too.

Thanks Mum, love you xxx

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Adventures in the City Take 2!

After our previous visit to the City Museum going horribly wrong (see Good days, Bad days), we thought it was time to give it another go!

So today we headed into the city (in the car this time, just in case!) to visit the Folk Museum with our home ed friends. We arrived with no dramas and had the whole museum to ourselves – despite it officially being closed they still take educational visits, which officially we are!

20151117_113303 (2)As soon as we entered the door, the big Ps were whisked off by their friends to the very top of the beautiful Tudor building. After following them up slightly more slowly, to marvel at the amazing wooden structure, my friend and I sat (on a flight of stairs), observed and chatted. Initially the big girls wanted our attention – something they are all used to having fully in both our home ed households – but they soon organised themselves into a fantastic game of dressing up and playing home in the Tudor times! Piccalilli played around us with toy animals and food, occasionally requesting our input, mainly to retrieve an animal that had been borrowed by a bigger girl!

We laughed lots about the teaching and learning that was happening on our educational visit! Seriously though, I do think the girls all got a sense of what clothes and beds were like in the Tudor times 🙂

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We headed downstairs for some lunch, followed by some chocolate biscuit treats, followed almost immediately by five hyperactive girls… The rain had stopped so it was definitely time for a play and run around in the garden. More learning took place – playing with Victorian style toys, hiding in the Anderson shelter and discussing why the word ‘shop’ was spelled ‘shoppe’. We’ve covered so many eras today and we didn’t even make it into the retro rooms at the museum (so we’ll be heading back in a few weeks for a further educational visit!)

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Everything was going so well until tidy-up time, when Poppet decided that, as the oldest child, she should be in charge (as the photo above captures so well!) and so didn’t like it when Pickle started to put things in the wrong place in the shed! We heard a lot of screaming and their friends exited the shed very promptly with worried looks on their faces and it turned out that Poppet had punched Pickle (a regular occurrence at the moment sadly). Time to go home…

… But thankfully a less stressful experience than our previous visit and we’ll definitely be going again soon 🙂

 

One of those days…

It really has been one of those days… You know the ones where everyone is at each other and nothing goes right?

It started with me waking up exhausted… how does THAT happen? The two big Ps woke up getting at each other and the little P woke up whinging. The Stinker left for work as usual but,  following a request from Pickle, had left the Lego box out on the dining room table… Most days this wouldn’t be a problem but today it riled me! It scuppered my plans to get loads of learning activities done in the morning while it rained and I ended up looking like the evil parent (as usual!) when I asked if we could hold off Lego until we’d finished something we’d started yesterday.

The day didn’t improve. That’s not to say it was all bad – we spent a lovely hour in the garden raking leaves and playing with water (it is unseasonably warm right now!) – but on the whole we all wound each other up!

As soon as the Stinker got home I requested a pass to get out for a few hours. Of course he didn’t mind, but the problem with living in the back of beyond is that there is nowhere open (apart from pubs and as I’m off booze and feeling in need of a gin and tonic it didn’t seem like a good place to go! 30 Day Challenges)

So I got in the car and I’m currently sitting in the coolest motorway services ever! You think I’m joking but no, these services are relatively new and only sell local produce and just have a really cool Artisan feel to them… I plan on coming back often!! (Check it out!)

I’ve been drinking tea, eating chocolate brownie and reading a crappy magazine. But mostly I’ve been reflecting…

I realise that the reason today went wrong was completely down to my inflexibility, which is quite ironic considering I wrote yesterday how the best thing about home ed is the flexibility (A ‘Typical’ Day…).

So I’m feeling ready to return home and give everyone big kisses and cuddles and apologise for being a grump!