Let the countdown begin…

So last night I booked tickets for me and the Ps to go to Berlin to visit our lovely home ed friends who moved there this summer.

To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement! I’m also slightly apprehensive about taking the Ps on their first flight without the Stinker. But mostly I’m excited!

I was going to wait to tell the Ps until nearer the time but I just couldn’t hold the excitement in… so I told them this morning expecting shrieks and jumps, but they were so cool about it!

After I explained about the flights they started to get a bit more excited, then we looked at some pictures of the Christmas markets and the level of excitement definitely increased. When I told them we were staying with our friends the shrieking and jumping started! So we are all most excited about the same part of our trip 🙂

Let the countdown begin….

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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.” ❤

 

 

Now and Then…

This week is half term in these parts. Of course this makes no real difference in a home-schooling household – the only difference here is that the Stinker is also home for the week, taking the pressure off me slightly. It means I can spend some quality time with all three of my girls separately. But most of all it means I can spend some quality time with… me!

As I wrote about in Stop, I want to get off! there are some days when I feel like screaming this and having a break. But then I actually get to spend some time alone and it’s not long before I miss everyone.

About a month ago (when we first started home schooling Pickle as well as Poppet) I was desperate for some time off. I actually went through my Facebook friends (it’s a good way to ensure you don’t forget anyone!) to find out how many people I know without children. I was craving some time as the ‘me’ pre-kids.

So, when I realised I had less than a handful of child-free friends I was slightly shocked; it was also a wake up call to the fact that I should stop moaning and be grateful for what I have (as most of the child-free friends would rather like some – have mine!).

After our weekend away, as good as it was, I can’t help thinking about the things I really don’t miss about my pre-kid life:

  • The most obvious is the longing feeling that was always within me – even when I was in my early 20s enjoying singledom, I still desired more.
  • As much as I enjoyed spending time socialising with friends I’ve never been one for small-talk, so I really don’t miss the nights out at noisy pubs trying to shout over the music to be heard by someone you’re really not interested in!
  • Drinking… Last weekend the Stinker and I had a few drinks (he got drunk; I know my limits but definitely drank more than the usual couple of glasses of wine at home). I don’t miss feeling drunk or the costs involved!
  • I love peace and quiet (and certainly crave it at times!) but having it all the time can become quite lonesome. I’ve never been keen on tv (Back to Basics) but I often used to have it on just for background noise – I don’t miss crappy soaps!
  • Worrying about what people think – I’ve always been a bit of a worrier but the more settled I become in my life the less I worry!

So this week I am mostly feeling thankful for what I have 🙂

Stop, I want to get off!

Having children was all I ever wanted. I always remember those conversations at school, then college, then university, where people asked about your future ambitions.  It always felt like they were expecting an academic or career based answer rather than my response – to have a family.  I often felt that this was not a good enough answer, that I should have been striving for more, but I always stuck to my guns knowing that this was everything to me and no career could ever top it.

I was right and having my three girls in a loving partnership with the Stinker has been everything, and more than, I ever dreamt it would be. If course that does not mean it has all been easy or plain sailing (as I have written about in Feeling Fragile and Back to Basics).

I have to admit there are days when I feel like screaming “Stop, I want to get off!” and wonder what life would be like if we’d chosen less or no children… but I always come back to the simple fact that they complete me.

Since homeschooling I’ve obviously been spending even more time with all three girls.  This was part of the pull of doing it but I’m sure you can imagine how full-on it can be at times! Some days the Stinker returns home from work and I just give him the look and disappear upstairs for some time out! My Saturday morning ‘me time’ is always much needed, even if it is often spent holed-up in our bedroom, like a student, with my music playing and a book with more words than pictures on each page!

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Last weekend the Stinker and I went for a much needed break together to Brighton. We dropped Poppet, Pickle and Piccalilli at nanny and daioo’s house and off we went. Getting stuck on the M25 didn’t even matter because, as I kept reminding the Stinker, of the lack of whinging coming from the back of the car. In fact it was quite a treat to be able to sit ‘shotgun’ for once!

The highlights of our weekend away included:

  • Staying up until 3am knowing no small people would crawl into our bed and punch/kick us in the head in three hours.
  • Eating out not just once but for every meal at the times we were hungry.
  • Playing the 2p games at the amusements ourselves, not having to share the money out fairly.
  • Wandering around with nowhere to go and nobody asking where, when, why?
  • Actually being able to enjoy the extra hour in bed when the clocks went back.

All this said, I did miss my girls and was excited about seeing them when we returned to collect them.

I feel completely refreshed and reconnected with the Stinker, ready to get going again (but I am hoping for another break again soon and I’m sure I’ll need it!)