Why I Fail as an Arts and Crafts Mum

Bank Holiday Monday. The weather wasn’t great and as The Husband was playing golf I decided to do some arts and crafts with the girls. Alice had been saving up a lot of cardboard boxes and bits and pieces with the idea that we would at some point “make something.”

I always get mixed feelings about starting on arts and crafts that stretches beyond the realms of just colouring. I see the look of utter excitement in my eldest daughter’s eyes and think to myself “Come On! You Can Do This!” Which is mixed with a feeling of dread about “Doing It Right,” and “Not Failing.”

Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts flowers from egg boxes. So far, so good

I scoured You Tube for some easy to follow ideas for absolute dummies and found one tutorial that looked fairly simple – turning egg boxes into flowers. I cut up the egg boxes, and let the kids paint an individual egg holder cup thing. This all worked out rather well despite Eva getting bored after a few minutes and deciding to paint her arms instead. I should have got a photo of this but I was too busy trying to stop her touching the walls, chairs, tables, cupboards, EVERYTHING!

Making A Castle

Feeling a bit more confident, I agreed to Alice’s request to then go on to make a castle. Again I found another tutorial on YouTube and tried my best to follow it. The thing is, and my husband will absolutely agree with this particular personality trait, is that I get a bit impatient with things like this. I just want to get it done. So instead of measuring out to the exact centimetre the spacing of those little window type spaces on the castle walls (not sure of the exact terminology here, could it be battlements?) I instead just ploughed ahead Gung-Ho and hoped for the best. The obvious result, a wobbly and uneven castle wall.

I set the paints up again for us to start painting the shoe box and tea box that would form the main part of the castle. We were all having a lovely bonding time over this until I looked round and saw this:

Arts and Crafts Eva
This one can’t be left alone for even a few minutes

After clearing up this mess, I realised that despite our best efforts, the paint was never really going to completely cover the branding on the shiny cardboard boxes. So the logos of PG Tips Tea Bags and Puma Trainers were clearly visible on the castle. Is this so bad I thought to myself? My daughter doesn’t seem to mind that there’s a Puma leaping across one part of the castle and a weird looking monkey sitting on the another. And maybe, I could even make this work in my favour, perhaps there might be some brands out there that would want to work with me – I could make this a regular thing to do poor arts and crafts sessions over the boxes of brands I’d like to work with.

Castle Junk Modelling
Sponsored by PG Tips and Puma? No we’re just rubbish at arts and crafts

At about 3pm, I’d just about had enough of arts and crafts. I’d precariously managed to balance some dodgy looking turrets made from painted loo rolls on top of the boxes and crowned them with some poorly rolled up cones of paper. Minutes after this photo was taken two of the towers collapsed. I was keen to bring an end to this art session and move on to reading a story, playing a game of Frozen, watching some TV or anything else.  But Alice was having none of it. “Let’s add a drawbridge,” she said.

We ploughed on with bits and pieces falling off and me trying to stick them back on as we went along and still Alice insisted on adding more “features.”

Finally, when it looked like the end was in sight and I thought that the castle made from recycled rubbish might well end up back in the rubbish bin, Alice decided she wanted to keep it for her dolls to play in. I’m not sure what size doll would ever fit or want to be part of such monstrosity.

Arts and Crafts Fail
Looking pretty pleased with herself!

After almost an entire day of fiddling about with pieces of cardboard, we’d succeeded in making a dodgy looking castle, some passable flowers and a great big mess which took forever to clear up.

Arts and Crafts Fail? In my eyes, pretty much, yes.

But at the ages of 2 and 4, minor details such as obtaining perfection are, luckily for me not really the main concern. It’s more about the actual MAKING. (And in Eva’s case, decorating herself). Long may this continue. I dread the day that will surely come when they turn round and say “Mum that looks rubbish!”

 

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9 Types of Mum I’ve Spotted On The School Run

I can’t believe that my daughter has  been at primary school for almost 8 months! How on Earth has that happened?  It seems like just a blink ago we were first experiencing the joy that is the school run. We’ve thankfully moved on from the hellish autumn months of having to forcibly drag her into the class room and she now does actually seem to love it.

So, seeing as I’m  now so experienced at getting out of the front door every morning and safely getting my child to school (aherm), I thought I’d share with you 9 types of mum that I’ve noticed on the school run:

  1. Gym Mum

Gym Mum

Dressed in the tightest lycra outfits, mostly in flamboyant prints and colours with fluorescent trainers, these mums are always in a hurry to drop off their kids and get on with their run / aerobic session / weight lifting session.  I’m never sure whether to feel in awe of these athletic creatures or intimidated by them.

2.  Mystery Mum

Mystery Mum

High powered business woman who has only been spotted once at the school assembly. Never seen at the school drop off or pick up because she’s busy running a company.

3.  Organised Mum

Organised Mum

This one is super organised. She is always the first one outside the door waiting for it to open. She’s remembered all the homework, PE bag, lunch box, book bag and lunch slip AND she’s had time to do something fancy with her daughter’s hair in the morning. Not only that but she’s organising nights out and play dates with everyone left, right and centre. Hhhmm. Again, not sure whether to feel in awe or slightly irritated in comparison.

4. Forgetful Mum

Primary School Results

Can often be heard saying “Oh is it Welly Wednesday today?” (Err… The clue is in the name?) Or “I’ve forgotten his book bag again.” Unlike Organised Mummy, this one forgets everything including lunch box, homework and drink bottle. Could be a disorganised dreamer or could just be living the life of most parents on the school run.

5. Scary Mum

Scary Mum

You can hear this one bellowing to her child before you’ve even entered the playground. If she’s not screeching, she’s telling everyone about how drunk she was the other night and the fights she got into. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of her. (Or her kid).

6. Tiger Mum

Tiger Mum

Identified by the constant updates on little Johnny’s progress at school in reading, writing and maths as well as all the extra curricular activities including football, gymnastics, swimming, music, etc. etc. Will not listen to what you have to say, but insists on turning the conversation back to her and little Johnny.

7. Late Mum

Late Mum

Barely get to see this mum let alone have a conversation with her because she’s always running late. She’s late in the morning drop off practically dragging her children in through the gates as most other mums have already left, and she’s always the last one to pick up. Can’t work out whether she’s genuinely disorganised or trying to avoid seeing the other parents.

8. Stalker Mum

Stalker Mum

Your new best friend who will hunt you down on the way into the playground and proceed to share her whole life history with you (and expect you to do the same in return). Woe betide you if you dare turn up slightly earlier or later than usual or if you park your car in a different spot.

9. Harassed Mum

Stressed Mum

Normally turns up with one or multiple kids crying, kicking or screaming. Tries drastically to get kids into the classroom with least possible fuss and meltdown before turning to make a quick exit and avoid pitiful looks by just about everyone.

In case you’re wondering, over the past 8 months I seem to be a cross between Forgetful and Late Mum with a lot of Harassed Mum thrown in to the mix too. If I haven’t had to contend with carrying my eldest over the threshold of the classroom, I have been dealing with meltdown and tantrums from the toddler of epic proportions. I hate to think what the other mums are saying about me!

Which mum are you? Any others types of mum on the school run that I’ve missed? Let me know!

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Personality or Position?

It occurred to me the other day just how very different my two girls are. As you can see, they’re physically different with the eldest having thick blonde hair and blue eyes and the youngest inheriting my fine brown hair and dark eyes. But more than that, it’s interesting to see how different their personalities and their behaviour can be too.

Position or Personality

Differences

Alice, my eldest, lacks confidence. She is cautious, especially in new situations and will only really come out of her shell when she starts to feel comfortable in her surroundings. She used to cry when I dropped her off at pre-school and would cling to my leg. She had a terrible time settling into school last year. She’s tactile, emotional and likes lots of cuddles.

In contrast, Eva is extremely confident, talking happily non-stop to people she’s only just met and has no problem going into pre-school. She is completely fearless, throwing herself into the swimming pool and always climbing far higher than I’d like. She is constantly on the go not stopping from the moment she wakes (between 5.30 – 6am) to 7pm when I have to (usually by force) make her get into her bed.

Personality or Position?

I’m not comparing my kids, just noticing their differences. It has made me wonder whether they have inherently different personalities or whether they are affected by their position in the family; that of the oldest or the youngest child.

Is Alice lacking in confidence because she is naturally more cautious, or is it because she has to do everything first? She has to pave the way and be the first to attend pre-school primary school and even swimming lessons! As the eldest of 3 sisters, I can completely relate to this. I was always nervous especially when it came to starting school.

Could Eva be overly confident because she’s already familiar with the surroundings of pre-school and then school which makes it easier for when it’s her turn? Could her complete lack of fear be down to her constantly wanting to keep up with her older sister or is determination going to be a big part of her personality?

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Worry

I find it really interesting and yet I know there’s not a lot you can do about it, someone has to be born first!  But as a mum, I have been watching and noticing these differences and try not to worry.

Try not to worry that Alice’s lack in confidence will somehow hold her back.

Try not to worry that Eva is pushing herself to grow up at a faster rate than Alice did. Despite what she thinks, I’d like her to enjoy being a toddler for a bit longer yet!

Nurture

I guess as parents all we can do is take note of these differences and nurture and support them as best we can.

Do you notice big differences with your children? Do you think it’s down to personality or position in the family?  I’d love to know what you think!

 

 

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4 Tricky Questions from A 4 Year Old

Perhaps it’s her age. Do 4 year olds suddenly become much more inquisitive about the world around them? Or maybe it’s because my eldest daughter is now at school, but Alice has suddenly become a lot more curious, with a constant stream of questions about what’s going on around her. I love that she’s so inquisitive and want to encourage this, but I often get asked things that I find difficult to answer. Difficult because they might be complex topics to understand or explain. Difficult because I truly don’t know the answers or difficult because the question itself is just too bizarre!

Here are just 4 of the trickier questions she asked me last week:

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1. Death. At the moment Alice seems to be fascinated about death and dying. Last summer my father in-law sadly died and we were in a quandary about what to say to our daughters. All the best advice told us to be honest and talk openly and plainly. But let’s face it, death is a subject that even adults don’t have the answers for and we spent a fair amount of time trying to answer such questions as “How did Grandpa get to heaven without any wings?”

Last week Alice found a dead ladybird in the lounge and without thinking about it, I threw it out into the garden. This was probably not the best thing to do because for the next few days she kept asking me why I did that. She wanted to know if the ladybird was dead why was he in the garden and not up in heaven……..

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2. Divorce. After a recent play date with a friend whose parents are recently divorced, Alice announced that Mia (not her real name) “doesn’t have a daddy.” Apparently Mia had told Alice this directly. I explained that yes she still does have a daddy who she sees regularly but that her mummy and daddy don’t live together any more. This created a lot of intrigue, puzzlement and quite a few questions over why some parents are together and others don’t live in the same house any more.

 

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3. Science. At 4, I guess Alice is trying to make sense of the world around her in the physical as well as the emotional sense. Last week she asked me “Mummy, why is the sky blue?” Errr…… I felt like I should really know this one. Put on the spot like that, it was almost like I was back at school. I mulled it over in my head. Is it something to do with the light? Or is it something to do with the reflection from the sea?  In the end I was honest and said “I’m not sure why the sky is blue, but let’s look it up when we get home.” As soon as we got home she was off busy with something else and we both forgot about it. I’ve just Googled the question and the answer is enough to bamboozle an adult let alone a 4 year old! I have no idea how you would attempt to explain that to a child!

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4. The Downright Weird. In amongst all the serious questions, I get some bizarre ones thrown into the mix too which makes you wonder what on earth is going on in their heads. Last week Alice asked,”Do farmers wear the same clothes every day?”  I had to refrain myself from saying “Whaaat?” or try hard not to laugh too much. Where on earth did that come from? Has she seen a particular farmer wearing the same clothes more than once? Is it something she’s watched on TV?  Who knows, but at least I could easily and truthfully answer “No they do not!”

 

These are just 4 of the questions that I was asked last week. It really does make you wonder what children are thinking about and strange to think that this is all part of the process of them growing up and questioning the world around them.

 

Do your kids ask you difficult or random questions? I’d love to hear what they are!

 

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What to do When You Don’t Get Your Choice of Primary School (By Someone Who Went Through This Last Year)

Primary School Results

On Monday 18th April, thousands of parents all over the UK will be waking up to discover if they have secured their choice of primary school for their child. A bit like getting exam results, some will be relieved and delighted. Others will be slightly disappointed and perhaps a small minority will be in shock, howling with complete disbelief.

This was me a year ago. My husband had checked the email very early in the morning, I had laughed when he read out the name of a school that I’d never even considered, assuming that he was joking. This soon turned to total shock. Not only had we not gained a place at our first choice of school, but we hadn’t gained a place at the other 3 choices either.

Shock, Upset and Fury

I spent the day in tears and utter shock. We live just 0.3 miles away from our first choice of primary school. It is less than a 10 minute walk away, all of our friends and neighbours who live in our nearby roads send their children to this school and I’d naively assumed that we would be joining them in sending our eldest daughter to this school too. I’d even been TELLING her about going to this school when we’d walked past it!

We bought our house expecting to walk both our children to the local school, sent both girls to the local pre-school, forged links with the local community and then we were being told that it was all for nothing and that I’d have to drive my kids 2 miles away to another school where she would know no one.

I was furious! Furious with the school, furious with the system which makes you go through a ridiculous process of listing 4 schools for nothing and unfairly furious with everyone else who had managed to get in!

WHY?

So why had this happened? What had gone so disastrously wrong that for the first time ever we had been the first family that lived so close to the school but who had not obtained a place?

  • Siblings. Children with older siblings understandably take priority for places. We had been completely unlucky in that a huge proportion of last year’s intake had older siblings.
  • Adopted Children. Whilst I agree that fostered children and children in care should definitely take priority, I don’t agree that adopted children who have permanent parents should also take priority over other children. Last year adopted twins who live 2 miles away in another village secured a place before us.
  • Housing. The biggest problem that is affecting the competitiveness for primary school places up and down the country is the development of new housing. I understand that new housing is vital, but it is being built at such speed with no real thought to the supporting infrastructure including doctors, transport and schools. I truly believe that this problem will be exacerbated every year unless something drastic is done to address the problem. Despite living in the centre of our village for 2 years, children living in houses built last year on an estate outside of the village were giving precedence for places at the school because they were classed as being nearer “as the crow flies.” Don’t even get me started on the fact that these people actually have a longer walk to the school than us, I mean who “flies” to school??!

Preparing for Primary School Appeal

What to do Next

If you find yourself in a similar position to me, there are 2 courses of action that you can take to try and obtain a place at your preferred school.

  1. Waiting List
  2. Appeal

 

  1. Waiting List
  • This is your strongest case for getting into your choice of school. When the waiting list opens, (the admissions department at your county council will tell you when this will be, you may have to wait an agonising couple of days), be sure to phone and request to be put on the waiting list for ALL of the schools that you want to be considered for.
  • You can ask to be put on the waiting list for other schools outside of your 4 options and bizarrely, you will be judged on the original criteria (i.e. siblings as a priority and then distance rather than being sent to the bottom of the waiting list).
  • Be prepared for the long haul. Phone the admissions department to find out where you stand regularly but understand that you can move DOWN as well as up the waiting list. I was near to the top of the list but to my disbelief and outrage, went down 2 places on the list when 2 other families moved into the area. This is because they either moved nearer to the school than me or had older siblings that were already at the other school.
  • You tend to remain on the waiting list until Christmas and then you have to request to stay on it. We are still on the waiting list for our preferred school.

2. Appeal

  • Let me be honest with you, very few appeals are granted. This is because councils are bound by the law to not exceed the legal class size limit which in most primary schools is 30. Some primary schools which are very old and small may have an even lower restriction. You will need to build independent appeals for each school that you want to be considered for.
  • If like me, you want to go ahead with the appeal and give your best shot at getting your preferred choice then you will need to do research. You will need to read up on all the primary school admission documents and school admissions policy legal documents in order to quote it back in your appeal. I practically turned into a solicitor last summer, spending hours reading and researching documents. You will have to submit a written document and later on, in the summer, you’ll be invited to present your case before a panel of judges as well as the school. This is scary stuff, but the judges are independent and will be looking to back the parents up.
  • There are 3 main areas in which you can appeal:

1) Legal class size limit. As mentioned above, most appeals are bound by this. But if you can show that the school hasn’t exceeded their legal class size limit or if they are capable of taking more pupils, then this is your strongest argument.

2) A mistake has been made in the application of the criteria. For this you need to know firstly what your school bases their acceptance criteria on. For example, our preferred primary school based their criteria on a) “Looked After Children” (fostered, adopted etc.) b) Children with older siblings already at the school. c) Distance to school.  Has a mistake been made? Consider how the school and council classifies distance. Our school chose as the crow flies from the school front door to the nearest point of your property. You will need to check as some schools use “safest walking distance”. Use online distance calculators to determine if other people that have been allocated a space actually live further away. Keep your ears open!  I discovered that my preferred primary school had made a mistake by accepting a family who lived further away than us because they thought they had a sibling, so the school had to admit another family from the waiting list to compensate.

3) A case for Unreasonableness or is Unfair.  You can’t just say it’s not fair that you didn’t get your local school. You need to use strong arguments for why you think it is unreasonable. A medical reason or a disability will be the strongest case. Consider also your journey to your allocated school.

Ultimately, you can do your best with the appeal but the rest of it is a waiting game.

Gosh, this has turned into a very long post and has brought back many memories from last year. It has been cathartic writing this but also got me slightly fired up again! But I hope it brings some help or comfort to anyone that is going through what we went through.

Whilst it’s very hard to do, I would say be very careful what you say and how you act in front of your child. Children do pick up on your behaviour and mood no matter how much you try to hide it from them. This can bring all sorts of problems for when your child does eventually start school in September. We spent months agonising over whether we would get into the local school, stressing about the appeal which, when combined with the devastation of losing my father-in-law, meant we had a very distraught and unhappy house over the summer. I’m sure this is the main reason why my daughter had such a hard time settling in over the autumn.

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Thankfully our daughter has now settled into school and enjoys it. I’m not sure what we would do if a place ever did come up at our local school. There would be a lot to weigh up and consider.

I’ll be thinking of all the mums and dads waiting on primary school allocations next week. I hope there aren’t too many families going through what we did. xx

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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In Honour Of National Sibling Day

Today (Sunday) is National Sibling Day, so I’m writing this in tribute to my 2 lovely sisters and for my two sibling daughters.

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3 sisters
3 Sisters

I’m the eldest of 3 sisters and I can’t imagine being without them. There’s only 18 months between me and my middle sister and then 2 years between her and the youngest. Of course like all other children, we squabbled and fought when we were growing up. But from our teenage years, we got on a lot better, went out to pubs and clubs together and now remain incredibly close.

From August 2008 we were all married within 14 months of each other and then suddenly we were all pregnant together in 2011. My youngest sister and I were pregnant with our first babies and my middle sister with her second. We all gave birth to 3 girls within 4 months of each other! It was seen as such an unusual story that Gurgle Magazine interviewed and photographed us.

Copy of Gurgle pic 4
Interview with Gurgle Magazine 2 newborns and 1 baby still due!
I was so lucky to have my sisters in those crazy early days with a newborn baby. I remember texting my youngest sister a lot whose baby was just 6 weeks older than mine to compare notes on sleep, feeds, moods and anything else that was bothering us. It was so lovely to have such a support system with whom I could talk, ask questions and and share experiences, I really felt it created an even stronger bond. We were all on maternity leave at the same time and so we met up every week to talk and compare notes. We still meet up fairly regularly now and I think the cousins will be close too.

Sibling
3 sisters with 3 daughters
Sibling Daughters

With 22 months between my two daughters, I really hope that they will grow up to be friends and to look out for each other just as I did with my sisters. Alice is 4 and Eva is 2 so they are at an age where I can see them being really loving towards each other. Alice will especially look out for Eva if they are in a new place or situation, like a children’s party. They have moments where they are fighting and squabbling, but I especially love that they are now old enough to amuse themselves for good chunks of time on their own.

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My two girls who love each other really!
They share a room and have bunk beds which is lovely as I think this has brought them together. I love hearing them chatting to each other at night!

Disappearing Siblings?

Siblings
My Nan with her 4 children including my dad
My great grandmother had 9 children. My Nan pictured above had 4 children (my dad and 3 sisters). My parents had 3 daughters and I’ve gone on to have 2 children. Are siblings in decline? I know of a lot of people with 2 kids, but I now seem to know of a lot more people who have one child and hardly any that have 3 children or more. This made me think about why siblings might be disappearing:

  • Women having children later. More women than ever are having children later in life and I guess this affects the amount of children that parents now have. I was 36 when I had my eldest. I quite possibly would have had more children if I had started earlier.
  • Work commitments. Most women are now going back to work after having a child and to ensure they don’t lose their position at work are often taking time to have their second child, if at all. This is unlike previous generations where the woman’s place was in the home and so she continued to churn out 6 or 7 kids at a time.
  • Practicalities. There are more issues to think about when you have more than 2 children. I’m thinking primarily about car seats and the size of the car. Possibly also families will consider needing a bigger house. It didn’t seem to be too much of a problem when I was a child, we were all piled into the back of a car and squashed on to the floor!
  • Money. Whilst generations ago people like my Nan and Great Nan would have ‘made do’, there’s probably too much pressure now for people to have a very comfortable life with nice house, cars and holidays. Some parents I guess think they’d rather have fewer children and give them more.
  • Don’t want them.  Whether they’re put off by horrific births first time round or worn out from crazy toddler days, some mums and dads have simply had enough after the first one. I also know of several couples where the wife would like another one but the husband does not.
  • Can’t have them. I also know of several couples who would love a second child or more but it simply hasn’t happened for them.

I know everyone and every family is different. We can’t chose whether we have siblings or even if we get on with them, I’m so grateful to have had mine growing up and grateful that I still count them as my best friends.

 

Pregnant Siblings
Pregnant Sisters!

 

 

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Laissez Faire or Neglect?

let to

An  interesting conversation came up over dinner on holiday in Norfolk last week.

The Good Old Days

My mother-in-law was telling us about her years growing up on a farm in Wales. It sounds idyllic. Lots of fresh air and running around the huge amount of land that the farm owned. She told us how she and her 2 brothers and 2 sisters were often left to their own devices during the summers to roam the land. This tradition continued with my husband, who used to stay at the farm during his school holidays. He and his older cousin would spend all day outside, only venturing into the farmhouse kitchen for food. My husband started to glaze over as he remembered happy times of building dens in the woods, playing in the fields and venturing down to the river.

“Was no one keeping an eye on you?” I wondered aloud.

The answer was a proud “No.”

Apparently the naughtiest thing they got up to involved trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

What If?

I must admit, it sounds fantastic, having free reign to run around and spend the entire day exactly as you like out in the sunshine. I’m sure it must be brilliant for a child’s imagination and has obviously given both my husband and my mother-in-law some wonderful memories, but I couldn’t help thinking throughout all of this reminiscing “What If.” What if they fell down a ditch and couldn’t get out? What if they fell into the fast flowing river and were carried off downstream? What if someone nasty was lurking in the woods? What if there was an accident?

A Question of Age?

I can remember being allowed to play up and down the street at a fairly young age and I know that my brother-in-law (a Norfolk boy) also went off with his brothers in the morning and wasn’t seen again until tea time.

All this got me thinking. Have things changed that much that we don’t now allow kids to play alone at all?  At 4 and 2, I appreciate that our girls are a lot younger than my husband ever was when he was left alone. I can’t yet even imagine leaving my kids to play out in the garden on their own in case “something” happens. But I don’t know if I would have the courage or conviction to allow my girls when they are older to run wild all day.

Over Protective or Over Scared?

Let’s face it, throughout history there has always been nasty odd people out there that want to hurt children. The fact is that with the likes of social media, mobile phones and instant news bulletin updates we are more aware of what happens now. More aware of what happens in a sensationalist way as the media cotton on to a “good story” and thrash out every little detail before our very eyes. I think this makes us more scared, more terrified of what might happen to our children to the extent that we hide them away and perhaps over protect them. Because of this, I think this type of laissez faire where kids disappear off for the entire day, isn’t seen very much any more.

When Does Laissez Faire Parenting Become Neglect?

I bet 30 odd years ago, none of the parents who left their children out all day (my mother-in-law included) would never have dreamed that they were being neglectful. But just a few years ago, a mother lost custody of her children after a judge heard that her children were left to their own devices for up to 3 hours whilst she did her own thing.

What would happen today I wonder if a couple of kids aged 12 were left to wander the acres of land in a farm and ‘something’ happened to them? Would their parents be charged with neglect? Perhaps laissez faire is only deemed neglectful if kids are left to their own devices in front of TV, iPads and X-Box games?  Perhaps it’s not considered neglect if children are outside playing their own games and using their imagination?

Balance

I think there’s surely got to be a balance. Parents have got to let their kids be children, to explore and grow and run free with their imagination, but there has to be boundaries. Obviously older children, especially in groups will have more freedom than the young, but at this stage, I have no idea when that tipping point should be. For now, I will continue to watch over my kids and worry about that later.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Would you consider letting your children run free all day?  Are you parents to older kids and let them do this?

 

laissez faire parenting

 

 

 

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Norfolk Family Holiday for 10

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Last year was terrible, we lost my father-in-law to cancer in July and at the end of the year, my mother-in-law decided that we needed something to look forward to, and so booked and paid for 10 of us including my husband’s two sisters and niece and nephew to go away over Easter.

Barn Accommodation and Pool

We had high hopes about the accommodation – Great Barn Farm in west Norfolk after seeing the pictures on the website, but as soon as we arrived, we knew that it had exceeded expectations;  the place was amazing.  As a working farm, some of the out-buildings had been converted into self catering accommodation. We stayed in The Cattle Sheds which was the biggest. A huge open plan lounge and diner which managed to easily fit all 10 of us and an extra 5 guests on Easter Sunday round the huge dining table.

The decor was very  effective mixing the old barn building with new simple interiors. The bedrooms were spacious and comfortable, but best of all there was an indoor pool, jacuzzi and steam room which we shared with the other guests who we rarely saw meaning most of the time we had the whole place to ourselves. We had trouble keeping the 4 kids out of the pool for the entire week!

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Family Tribute

Knowing that the entire family, complete with my husband’s visiting three aunts would be together over the Easter Sunday, my mother-in-law took the opportunity to scatter my father-in-law’s ashes at a nearby beach. We chose Brancaster beach for its beauty, lovely coast-line and nearby golf club which seemed a fitting tribute. We took my father in-law’s beloved classic car – an MGC to the beach and despite the aftermath of storm Katie, the skies remained sunny and blue. My brother-in-law read a beautiful poem out about the sea. It was a little emotional, but lovely.

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Brancaster Beach

Horse Riding

My husband’s cousin and one of his aunts live in Norfolk and so we took the opportunity to visit them on our break. They own 3 ponies and so much to the excitement of all kids, they were allowed to sit on and walk round the paddock. It was the first time both of our girls had sat on and ridden a pony and they both loved it. I was surprised as Alice, our eldest, is scared of dogs, cats and flies but seemed completely at home with the ponies. We’ll definitely be visiting again this year!

Days Out

After a few days of doing family activities we had a couple of days left to explore. I’m not overly familiar with the north Norfolk coast but from what I saw, it seems beautiful:

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There’s a mini train which takes you from the car park down to the beach which the kids loved even if it was a bit pricey. The beach is beautiful and as the weather was warmer, the kids were in there element building sandcastles, collecting stones and shells and running around letting off steam.

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Wells-Next-The-Sea

Blakeney and Cley

Blakeney is a beautiful little quay with some quaint little shops. You can do trips out to visit seals or spend some time crabbing. If we were visiting without the kids it would have been great to walk the couple of miles round to the next beach (Cley). Instead, we wandered around soaking up the atmosphere and sunshine and then drove over to Cley. It’s a shingle beach but this didn’t matter to the kids who continued to collect stones and dodge the rather turbulent waves. There’s also a stunning windmill nearby which is now a luxury B&B, I quite fancy staying there sometime!

Food, Drink and Family Bonding

As with most holidays, we ate and drank a lot! Red wine, gin and tonics, ice creams and the inevitable Easter eggs all played a heavy part. I need to to focus on being a bit healthier now that we’re home! We had a few late nights up talking and one very funny drunken dancing night where my sister-in-laws and I even managed to get the aunts and mother-in-law up dancing.

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Next Year?

I feel like we’ve all had a good break as well as a fitting tribute to my father-in-law. We’ve had a good mix of family bonding, swimming at the pool and days out, but still feel like there’s a lot more to see of Norfolk. My mother-in-law has already said she wants to book the accommodation again for next year, so here’s hoping.

Have you been to Norfolk? Any tips or recommendations for our next trip?

 

 

Mummascribbles

Super Busy MUm
Cuddle Fairy

Blogging Beyond The Stats

Reasons to Blog

I’ve recently read a few posts about bloggers feeling down and fed up about their stats not increasing. I had a week like this as well where I questioned what I was doing and why my stats were staying flat.

I think it’s a common theme amongst bloggers, with many having feelings like this. So I thought I’d list the reasons to blog beyond the stats. Why you should keep going even if no one (or few people) are reading:

  • Better Writing – By blogging frequently, you are honing your writing skills and becoming a better writer. All serious writers (my mum is an author!) say that you need to write on a regular basis to keep your skills fine-tuned.
  • Keeps Your Brain Active – Blogging and writing regularly keeps your brain active and improves your creativity. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on the look- out for new topics and subjects to write about. It makes you look at things differently. I’m always thinking about different angles and how different news items or the things my kids say might be used for a blog article.
  • It’s Cathartic – If something’s on your mind or bothering you, it can be very cathartic to write it down and get it all out! I wrote this piece when I was having a bad week and I know of several other bloggers who write about very emotional topics which seem to help with their healing process.  
  • Meeting & Networking – Blogging involves a lot of reading and commenting on other people’s blogs. This leads to networking and even friendships that you wouldn’t have necessarily made. Networking can in turn lead to : 
  • Opportunities – Blogging can create opportunities. It can open doors to possibilities that range from reviewing products or the chance to speak to some of your favourite brands about writing for them. I started my blog as a way to showcase my writing style and skills to potential freelancing clients.
  • Read More – Through the blogging community you read more. I’ve read so many interesting and different blogs. Reading more is not only a good thing but you tend to read and consume faster. Reading widely can lead to more ideas for your own posts. I’ve written a couple of blogs after reading other people’s posts that have inspired me to write my own take on a subject. 
  • Developing Your Style – By reading other people’s blogs and writing your own posts regularly you are developing your own style and your own voice. I’ve read some very funny and sarcastic blogs, others which are chatty and informal and others which are serious and informative or advice driven.

 

I’m sure there are other benefits that could be added to this list. The point is, that there are plenty of reasons and advantages to blogging which we should all take time to remember  when we get a bit bogged down and focused only on the number of people reading our work!

If you can add to this list of reasons, do let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

 

You Baby Me Mummy

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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My Random Musings

Interview with Eva Aged 2 Years 8 Months

Eva Interview 2

After the recent success of the interview with Alice (4), I thought I’d try the same questions to Eva aged (2 yrs 8 ms).

1. How are you feeling today?

Fine.

(As with Alice, eyes me suspiciously whilst answering!)

2. What makes you happy?

Bunny.

(A near dish cloth type rag which she’s had since she was a baby. It goes EVERYWHERE with her.)

3. What makes you sad?

Nothing!

(Errr.. I beg to differ based on the number of recent tantrums!)

4. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Mummy!

(Well that is rather nice, but I think she could perhaps aim a little higher..)

5. What is your favourite food?

Rice Krispies.

(Said possibly because she’s just had a bowl of Rice Krispies.)

6. Describe Mummy?

Nice.

(As with Alice, I must try and coax my kids to use more adjectives.)

7. Describe Daddy?

Hatty.

(Daddy tends to wear Eva’s toy bunny / dish cloth on his head like a hat.)

8. Who created the world?

Daddy.

(In his dreams. He’s going to love this.)

9. What is the queens job?

Knitting.

(I’ve no idea.)

10. Who is the prime minister?

Is on telly.

(Well she’s right – he usually is!)

11. What did you dream last night?

Bunny.

(She really does love it.)

12. What would you like to do tomorrow?

Go to Oscar’s house.

(And actually she is!)

13. Where in the world do you want to go?

Oscar’s house or stay here.

(Oh the ambition!)

14. Why do we celebrate Christmas?

Because we do.

(Fair enough.)

15. Where does the tooth fairy live?

In a toadstool.

(Another comment the same as Alice and again influenced by a jigsaw.)

16. What is your favourite animal?

Rabbits. Because Bunny is a rabbit.

(Yep.)

17. Who is your best friend?

Bunny.

(Sigh.)

18. What makes you laugh?

Mummy tickling me!

(Which I do now!)

19. Are you going to get married?

No!

(Emphatically said.)

20. Tell me a secret?

I made an Easter egg at pre-school.

(Whispers this.)

21. Where do babies come from?

Mummies tummies.

(Another comment the same as her older sister’s.)

22. What do you like to watch on television?

Peppa Pig.

(And don’t I know it.)

23. How much money do you have?

None. Daddy took it all back.

(Eva has taken to stealing money from daddy’s change pot which he finally cottoned on to recently.)

24. What do you do that is naughty?

Nothing. (Grins). Alice is naughty ‘cos’ she took my necklace.

(Here we go.)

25. Describe yourself?

I always drink hot tea.

(Well she’s partial to the odd cup of tea. Just like me!)

26. What is the best job in the world?

Climbing trees.

(I’ve no idea where she got this from, especially as she’s never climbed one, but why not?!)

27. Where does Father Christmas live?

In the “Norn” pole.

(She’s always called it this!)

28. Who is Jesus?

Errr…. Merryweather?

(No idea about this. The only Merryweather I know is from the TV programme Sofia The First, but not sure what the link is to Jesus.)

29. What is your favourite vegetable?

Carrots.

(Yep and pretty much the only vegetable.)

30. Are you bored of this quiz now?

No!

(Mostly because I had to stagger the questions over 2 days because she was getting bored!)

Eva Interview 1       Eva Interview 3

Eva Interview

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

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