The day before New Year’s Eve, I sat down and started writing out my resolutions for 2017. I came up with a list of 16 (yes sixteen!) goals which included everything from running, reading and writing more to less shouting at the kids, drinking less wine and spending less time on my phone. After a good five minutes, I decided to scrap the lot and save myself from the depression of never being able to live up to such high expectations.
But I did decide to set myself some writing goals for both my freelance work and for my blog which I hope are a little bit more achievable.
So it’s a new year and I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back at the best of my blog posts from 2016.
It was a mixed bag for me, I can remember in the spring feeling really motivated and driven to write loads and grow the blog. I was posting regularly and my stats were doing well. Then during the summer and into autumn my freelance copywriting business picked up. I was busy and struggling to juggle this along with childcare and as a result, the blog suffered a bit. It meant that over autumn and winter I’ve been posting far less regularly with an obvious effect.
Before you all think I’m a complete Ebenezer, let me start by saying that I adore Christmas. I love spending time with family, seeing the kids faces as they get excited by the tree, the presents, the advent calendars and what not. I love the fact that it’s an excuse for more drinking, eating and partying with friends. BUT there is no doubt about it, this season is, quite frankly stressful! So here’s my list as to why this season sends me slightly crackers:
It has dawned on me recently that along with the big changes that happen in your life after having kids – you know, like a permanent lack of sleep, being suddenly responsible for the life and survival of a new human being and err… watching more kids TV than your own programmes, there are other smaller changes that affect us as parents. Things that used to embarrass me, no longer bother me at all. And likewise, things that I never thought about much, now seem to take on a new meaning in the embarrassment stakes.
Things That No Longer Embarrass Me
1. Doctors – I used to cringe whenever I had to go to the doctor and reveal certain body parts. Now I couldn’t care less. They’ve seen it all before, I’ve had to pretty much show everything off before so let’s get on with the job shall we?
We have just had a fantastic half-term break. The first part of the week we were in South Devon and then we went to stay with relations on a farm in South Wales.
I’m not sure if it was down to the mild, sunny weather, perhaps it was because we packed in so much stuff, or it could be due to the fact that the kids were so well-behaved with hardly any tantrums and playing up like we had back in July, but we all had an amazing time.
We arrived in Devon late on Friday night and over the next couple of days managed to enjoy some beautiful coastal walks. We’re lucky to be able to stay at my mum and dad’s flat and so we know the area fairly well. But walking any kind of distance is something we’ve never really attempted with the kids before as Eva has always moaned on about her legs being tired. Strangely enough if there was any complaints this year it was from Alice! Anyway it was fantastic to get out and explore some of coast by foot. We also took a day trip to Dartmoor and took the girls to see a miniature pony centre which the girls both really adored!
On Wednesday we moved on to Wales. My husband’s aunt and uncle run a farm near Usk and again, we’ve been lucky to be there before last October half-term. The kids love getting involved with the animals as well as the tractor and quad bike. And we all love being outside in such a beautiful place with amazing views. I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing those views of the black mountains from the farm.
Coming Home and Back to It
We got home on Friday afternoon and it felt like we instantly slotted into our old ways. The kids were arguing and fighting. There was a mountain of washing to be done and even The Husband and I were bickering! It felt like the holiday had suddenly come to an abrupt halt!
Monday morning brought more clouds. Alice was suddenly anxious and worried to be going back to school. She clung on to me like a limpet at the school gate and I had to physically hand her over. I suppose this has been amplified by the fact that she changed schools 4 weeks ago. I had the holiday blues and was dreading getting back into work and even Eva who normally loves pre-school was saying she didn’t want to go.
Back in the Routine
Like Alice, I always used to dread the going back to school after any kind of holidays and even now I get a slight pang for getting back to normal, even if it is nowhere near as bad as it was when I was working in London. All this got me thinking about how I now best cope with getting back into the routine after a holiday:
2. Write a list. I’m a stickler for a list but after being out of the loop for a week, I need to have one even more than usual so that I know exactly what to focus on.
3. Treats. It seems only fair to ease yourself back into the grind with some biscuits and chocolates doesn’t it.
4. Get writing. Working as a copywriter means that like blogging, if you take time off, you get out of the practice of writing. It can seem harder to think of ideas and to let the writing flow. I try not to get wound up about it and just start writing. Even if this turns out to be a complete load of rubbish, I can always go back and amend the earlier stuff.
5. Have things to look forward to. Even if it’s a takeaway, or seeing some friends, I find this helps. At breakfast this morning I was listing all the things the kids had to look forward to as well to help them ease back into the routine (“Halloween, fireworks, birthday parties, Christmas etc. etc.).
How about you? Do you dread getting back into the day to day after a break or do you love the return to a routine? How do you cope?
The last blog post I wrote 2 weeks ago was about changing schools for our daughter. We knew that if we were going to move schools for Alice we would have to it before we applied for a primary school for our youngest daughter Eva in January 2017. So when the chance came up 2 weeks ago to move her to a lovely little village school a couple of miles away, we didn’t hesitate.
We thought that would be the end of it and we’d all be hugely relieved that there would be no more blog posts mentioning any issues with schools again.
Just 8 days after moving Alice into her new school, just 8 days after stressing myself out about the transition to the point where I couldn’t eat or sleep, the unthinkable happened. We got the phone call from our local primary school down the road to say that a place had become available. This was our original first choice of school. The one I’d fought hard for a place for, the one I’d written countless letters and emails to MPs, councillors, school admission team members and even the Department of Education about. The school that all my local neighbours and friends go to. The one we were seemingly excluded from. The one I’d given up ever getting a place at before the all important January deadline.
Primary School Gods
Holy Crap! You literally couldn’t make this sh!t up. I could not believe my ears. Some primary school God was literally looking down on me from his playground of alcohol and debauchery and pi$$ing himself laughing. At us.
The timing absolutely stank. Just a week earlier I would have moved Alice to this local school like a shot. I would have been jumping for joy and over the moon. But now that we’d already gone through one transition, as a family we came to a fairly difficult decision to not move her again because a) she had settled in so quickly and brilliantly seemingly loving her new school and b) we couldn’t face the upheaval of going through it all again. It just didn’t seem right to unsettle our 5 year old for a second time and risk the fact that this move may not be so good second time round.
I THINK we have made the right decision.I certainly hope we don’t live to regret it like some people have suggested.
Since this phone call last Tuesday I seem to have had Alanis Morrisette’s Ironic’s lyrics going round in my head. You know the one that goes.
“It’s like raaiiin on your wedding day. It’s the free advice you just didn’t take.”
With me adding the line in “It’s the local primary school you’ve always wanted, get offered just days after you’ve already switched.”
Or something like that.
A few people have since said to me “That’s sod’s law.”
Which got me thinking. What exactly is this term and where does it come from?
Wikipedia defines it as being “If something can go wrong, it will.” And the British culture have added “that it will happen at the worst possible time.”
Well yes, that sounds about right to me. The timing on this couldn’t have been any worse.
I’ve also been pondering what other notable (if less stressful) circumstances of Sod’s Law I have experienced recently? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Spending an afternoon making a lovely home cooked dinner for the kids only for most of it to go nowhere near their lips and a huge proportion end up on the floor.
2.Trying to get the kids to bed early because of having loads of work to do in the evening only to have one or both of them up and down the stairs refusing to sleep.
3. Meeting up in London with some friends who I hardly ever see only for them to get lost and be very late so that we had far less time to catch up.
4. Queuing for a taxi to get home on a night out to find out that our cab driver was going on a break.
5.Thinking your child is potty trained so removing the last pair of spare knickers from the handbag only for her to have an accident that same very day.
So there you have it. The classic case of Sod’s Law! Always lurking around threatening to bite you on the bum when you least expect it.
Have you got any tales to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
In a nutshell the whole starting primary school thing has been incredibly shit. But despite all that and some initial upset with Alice settling in last year, she now loves school and really enjoys learning as well as being with her friends.
We found out last week that we had a place at another school. Not our local school which is in walking distance (I’ve given up on ever getting in there), but our original second choice which is a lovely old village school, very small and friendly.
I was completely amazed to get the offer and almost immediately my husband and I felt it was the right thing to do to move Alice. It will still mean we have to drive to school (always one of my biggest bug-bears) but the biggest advantage is that if we move her now she will get a place at the local secondary school which is in walking distance of our house. I can’t believe we even have to think about this when she has only just turned 5 but the thought of going through what we went through last year in another 6 years’ time is unbearable.
This Past Week:
I got the email last Friday and have spent this week in turmoil. I’ve not slept and barely eaten for worrying about how Alice will handle the move. Whilst I feel deep down like we are making the right choice, it doesn’t stop me feeling like the biggest bitch ever for separating her from her friends and the teachers that she loves. She is so happy and settled at the current school. Can I really upset her all over again?
Like most things in life I also got incredibly bogged down in the detail of the process. When would I tell her teacher? When exactly would we tell Alice? When should I mention it to the other mums? All this and more were keeping me awake every night.
On Wednesday after school we took the girls out for Pizza and before we got out of the car I pitched the idea about moving schools using my most excited, super confident voice wearing my most calm mask.
For a moment Alice seemed quite taken with the idea until she realised it would mean giving up her current school, and she then wasn’t too happy. We managed to distract her with dinner and shopping but at bedtime – reality had hit. As she lay sobbing in her bed I couldn’t help wonder, “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?”
I also can’t help but feel incredibly resentful all over again. Why are we seemingly the only people going through this? Why am I putting my daughter through all this again because the local schools and authorities can’t cope with the pressure of too many people living here and not enough schools? Why does no one seem to care that the individual school rules are unfair and do not join up.
Alice’s last day at her current school was on Thursday. She took it all in her stride and seemed happy to be handing out sweets to her friends. I on the other hand was an emotional wreck watching her wave goodbye to her teachers and friends as they gave her a fab send off. It really did feel sad and unfair to be uprooting her.
We took her to meet her new teacher and the new school. We were anticipating some upset but was totally surprised that Alice enjoyed looking around the school and talking to her new teacher. After an hour and half we had to drag her away from the amazing outdoor space and play equipment. Sometimes, kids do surprise you. It doesn’t always end up as bad as you think and maybe, just maybe I have totally underestimated how she will handle this.
I know we are not out of the woods yet and I know that we are bound to have some upset next week when we start at the new school and a new routine.
I know it’s natural for all of us, not just kids, to dread and fear change. I know we need to push ourselves to do things sometimes that are hard and out of our comfort zone. I need to keep telling myself this next week. I need to remember why we are doing this. I need to keep wearing my happy face and practising my bright and breezy voice. I need to remember that it will get worse, possibly a whole lot worse before it will get better.
Wish us luck for Monday.
Has anyone else changed schools? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Kids. Don’t you just love them? They’re inquisitive, curious and speak their minds with absolutely no qualms about feeling the need to censor anything.
A while back I wrote about some of the bizarre and strange questions that my eldest asked me. She was obviously going through a curious phase with lots of pressing questions on her mind like what farmers wear.
The youngest has always been a bit of a chatterbox, but it seems that lately anything that comes into her head will then proceed to come straight out of her mouth in a monologue of verbal diarrhoea. Sometimes this can be cute, sometimes funny, but other times it can be completely mortifying and embarrassing.
Here’s 5 things that the 3 year old has mentioned recently which all have an element of the truth to them.
1. “Daddy is the Beer King.” Well I did warn my husband that if he insisted on drinking beer so frequently that the kids would start to pick up on it.
2. “What do you do all day Mummy?” This was said to me one morning as I dropped the toddler off to pre-school. “Daddy goes to work, Alice goes to school, I go to pre-school, so what do you do?” At which point I stammered and spluttered as if I was being quizzed by a teacher or boss about how I do writing work on my computer at home and how I also do all the cleaning. “Oh yes,” said the toddler, “You do the hoovering don’t you.” Yep that’s right, that’s me.
3. “Why are you ALWAYS drinking wine?” Errr… In my defence, this was said to me whilst I was making a slow cook casserole with some red wine. I honestly wasn’t swigging from the bottle (at that point) at all. Why am I often made to feel like a naughty school girl by a toddler? But note to self: don’t drink wine too much in front of them again.
4. “You’re a bit scruffy today aren’t you?” Interestingly, this wasn’t actually said to me which I could have taken on the chin. More embarrassingly this was said to my neighbour’s husband. To be fair, the toddler was as usual telling it like it was: He was in his jogging bottoms and hadn’t shaved, but STILL, I was a bit embarrassed and had to make a show of feigning mortification.
5. “Daddy do you have a baby in your tummy?” Closely linked to point number 1, my husband has a bit of a stomach. When we explained that no, there wasn’t a baby in daddy’s tummy, the toddler wanted to know why daddy’s tummy is big and if it will will “ever go down?” Whoops. Time for some exercise (and cut down on the beer) methinks.
It’s funny how kids can talk and talk with no sense of holding back or being less blunt. I wonder at what age we start to censor our speech? I wonder at what age do we begin to realise that telling the truth in all situations even when we might hurt people isn’t always a good thing?!
I’d love to hear any home truths that kids have told you, let me know in the comments below!
On Monday the eldest daughter will be back to school and the following week the youngest will be back at pre-school. September signals the end of summer and getting everyone back into some sort of routine.
There’s something that lurches in my stomach at the thought of going back to school and it’s not even me going! As a kid I used to dread the end of the summer holidays and I used to get holiday blues as an adult going back to work so maybe it’s just the thought of the summer being over. Maybe it’s the thought of losing my kids back to school and pre-school when we’ve (mostly) had a great summer together, or maybe it’s the changing of the seasons and I know that the nights are drawing in and autumn is almost upon us.
So here’s a list of things that are going to keep me going once the old routine of September kicks in over the next couple of weeks:
1. Crack on With The Day Job. I’ve had a fair amount of copywriting work to do over the summer which has meant a bit of juggling with childcare and more late nights. So with the kids back in their routine, it will give me a chance to follow up some important leads, plough on with getting some work done and growing the freelance business.
2. Get Back into Blogging. What with the summer holidays and juggling work, the blog has been a bit neglected. I want to get on with writing more blogs and updating the site too.
3. House Projects. Now that we’ve made the decision to stay put rather than move house, there’s a lot of projects going on ranging from buying new furniture and decorating to plans for extensions.
4. Photos. This one seems to permanently be on my list of things to do. I snap away all the time with my phone and camera, but I never sort them out. I need to get on with the backlog and put some photos into frames and finish my year books.
5. Clothes Sort Out. The change in seasons call for a clear out of the wardrobe! I need to see what I can salvage and what I need to buy for the coming cooler months.
6. Get back into Running. December last year, I did something I never thought I’d do: I started running. For various reasons and many excuses, this has totally gone to pot over the summer. I hope to put my trainers on and get running again in September.
7. Book in Some Treats. Having something to look forward to always cheers me up! We’re already concocting plans for October half term and have some days out pencilled in the diary for a couple of weekends too.
Do you mourn the end of summer or are you glad to see the start of a new season? Do you dread that “Back to School” feeling or are you glad to be back in some sort of routine? What are you up to when the kids head back to school? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
It feels like it’s taken an absolute age for you to get to this point. We’ve seen so many of your friends reach this milestone, often as some of them are now about to turn 6, and it felt like you’d never get here. You are the last but by no means the least to turn 5 out of your school friends, the last in your class (and indeed your year at school), the last of your NCT friends and the last of your old playgroup friends.
And I whilst I know that there has got to be some sort of cut off; that someone has got to be the youngest in the class, at times I have noticed just how big a gap being a late summer born child can be.
What a year it’s been. Other than perhaps your very first year when babies change practically daily, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a year where you’ve changed so much.
Just 2 weeks after your 4th birthday – almost a year ago, you started at “Big School.” It was a bumpy ride. We’d had a lot of family and emotional upset over that summer and looking back I can see that you had really picked up on the tension in the house. When the novelty of school wore off after a couple of weeks, there were serious issues; you were absolutely exhausted and emotionally stressed. I look back to last October and November with absolute horror. You were waking up every night screaming. You had to be physically carried out to the car every morning crying and fighting trying to remove your school uniform. You would come out of school every afternoon kicking me and your sister. On a daily basis we were pretty much all in tears.
I frequently talked to the teachers and SENCO support at the school for advice, begging and pleading for help, to be told in astonishment that you were an angel at school. They couldn’t believe the problems I was telling them. It seemed you were taking all your frustration and anger out on us at home.
I remember the school nativity last December where you nervously stood at the back of the stage and had to be comforted by a teacher half way through because you became upset and my heart ached for you. I seemed to spend so much of my time worrying about you!
You’ve always had a cautious personality. You become upset about any change in routine and whenever you’ve had to start something new. Starting nursery, pre-school, even swimming lessons, has always been a big deal for you and I’ve often wondered if this is just part of who you are or if it’s something to do with being the eldest child because unlike your sister, there is no one to pave the way for you.
Christmas and Summer
Things changed after Christmas. I was dreading the “Back to School” week in January but you’d completely turned a corner and seemed to suddenly enjoy school. I still couldn’t get much information out of you about what you were getting up to, but you were happier. You weren’t waking up in the night, you seemed to have completely settled down. You enjoyed writing and reading and even maths!
In June I came to see you in a summer dance show at school and could not believe the complete difference from the nativity just 6 months before. You were dressed up in a superhero costume at the front of the class, dancing to your (now favourite) One Direction song whilst singing loudly along. I couldn’t have been more shocked or surprised.
It was about this time that we noticed your growing interest in music. Your teacher had an influence on your love for One Direction (specifically Drag Me Down and History) and Justin Bieber (especially Sorry), but we’ve watched in amusement as you’ve enjoyed singing and dancing along to Uptown Funk, Happy by Pharrell Williams and Ready for The Good Life by Paloma Faith.
Just like this birthday, you were born on a Saturday when the local V Festival weekend was happening and your birthday is now forever linked to this. So when I made the mistake of mentioning that Justin Bieber was headlining this year, it seemed hilarious that you were most insistent about going.
Your love of colouring and arts and crafts has grown this year, you can spend hours carefully perfecting your pictures and get really frustrated if you make a mistake or “ruin” a drawing, often demanding to start all over again. You’ve also learnt to ride a bike without stabilisers and seem to enjoy this!
Your relationship with your sister Eva has changed too. As the eldest you have taken to winding her up more and there have been a lot of arguments. But I love the fact that you’re still incredibly protective over her and whenever we go somewhere new, you will look out for her and make sure that she is OK.
Your summer school report just made me want to weep, because despite all the emotional problems from almost a year ago and despite being the youngest, it seems to have had no impact on your ability. We’re all so proud of how you’re doing, but more than this, I couldn’t be more grateful for how hugely improved your confidence has grown.
So happy birthday my sweet, sensitive, cautious Alice. I hope you enjoy it for as long as you can before all your friends rapidly start turning 6. I’ve loved seeing your personality develop and how your confidence has grown so much this past year and only hope that this continues now that you’re finally 5! xx