For Alice on Your Sixth Birthday

Dear Alice

On Sunday you will be six!

This year will always be remembered for how much your confidence started to bloom. Last October, almost ten months ago – you changed primary schools. I can still vividly remember being a nervous wreck the week before we broke the news to you. Knowing what a shaky start you first had at primary school almost two years ago, I was dreading the move. I couldn’t eat or sleep and wound myself up in knots about it. You weren’t very happy once we told you, but on your first day you practically skipped into your classroom with the two girls who were watching out for you and you never looked back! Yes there were some off days, but on the whole I couldn’t believe how smooth the transition was. I guess it was eased by the brilliant staff and school as well as some fantastic new friends.

Still smiling after your first day at the new school

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The Importance of Downtime

We’re all so busy these days aren’t we? Trying to balance, family, work and kids can be a nightmare (especially in the summer holidays), but we seem to have passed on our busyness to our kids. And with stats and research saying that more kids than ever are stressed, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

We’re now three weeks into the six week holidays (how’s that going for you?!) and I’m really trying to get a healthy dose of activities and downtime into the mix. Don’t get me wrong, childcare for many parents means kids have to be at holiday clubs or activities for a lot of the week. I get that. But are we putting too much pressure on ourselves and our kids to do too much during the other times too?

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12 Cheap Activities for The Summer Holidays

Are you pleased to see the arrival of the summer holidays or does six weeks with the kids around feel you with dread? I’ve got to say, I always look forward to having a break and having the girls around even if they do drive me crazy. But I know a lot of other parents I’ve spoken to recently are dreading it. Why? Because the thought of six weeks trying to fill days with activities sends them into a tail spin.

Charlie at Mess Merlot recently did this great post about planning for the holidays . It’s a way of making sure you get a good balance of “Out” days and “In” days as well as keeping an eye on the cost. I truly believe for the sake of kids’ mental health, that they shouldn’t always have back to back activities planned in. It’s important for them to have some down time and a rest. This brilliant article highlights how kids need to have some moments of boredom in order to ignite their creativity. To find their own things to do.

We are lucky that we are having a two week break in Devon this year. After that, the girls and I have started making a list of the things we want to do over the remaining four weeks. Here’s some of our ideas and they shouldn’t break the bank!

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For Eva on Your Fourth Birthday

To be honest Eva, it feels like a miracle that we have reached your fourth birthday. When you turned three, I thought we would be over the worst of the tantrums. I thought the feistiness and the attitude would calm down. But if anything, this year has been harder work than I ever imagined. And even as we approach your fourth birthday, we have experienced, just in the last few weeks, some of the most difficult behaviour yet.

Ever since you followed Alice into pre-school, two years ago, you’ve loved it. You wanted to be with the “big girls” playing the grown up games. But in the last few weeks, there’s been a huge change. I’ve had to coax and plead with you to get your shoes on to go and then finally end up half carrying and half dragging you down the road whilst you’ve been screaming at the top of your lungs. You enjoy it once you are there, but the performance we seem to go through most mornings is wearing and I dread to think what the neighbours think. Some bedtimes have been no better either!

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Why Most Kids Struggle with Starting School

We’ve had some really bad behaviour going on with our youngest daughter Eva these past few weeks. She has been aggressive, demanding and during time out periods, continues to wet the floor or her bed deliberately.

At my wits end with how to deal with these situations, I spoke to the staff at her pre-school, who were incredibly helpful. They did some one to one sessions with her and essentially, discovered that she is anxious about starting school. Eva told them and she has since told me that she is scared about making new friends, which breaks my heart.

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5 Ways My Kids Have it Better Than Me

Like most children (and perhaps like many adults), my kids will be quick to complain about the terrible things going on in their lives like homework, being made to get dressed or having vegetables for dinner, but they won’t often see the good.

I realised with a jolt this week that there are several things that they have where they’re better off than me! Here’s a tongue in cheek look at the injustices us parents face with what our kids have versus what we (don’t) have.

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Growing Pains of Eva Barry aged 3 and 3/4

The other night at about 1am I was woken by my 3 year old crying out.  I rushed in to her bedroom to see what the matter was and she immediately stuck her leg out of the bed, thrust her foot into my face and demanded that I rub it better.

I spent 10 minutes massaging her foot, which seemed to ease her pain enough to let her drift into a sleep, but every time I tried to back out of the door, she woke up, yelling “Owh my foot, keep rubbing it mummy.” This continued for another 10 minutes before I eventually gave up and ran downstairs for the Calpol.

This is not a one off scenario. I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night many times in the same way. She always wants her feet or legs rubbed and it always ends in me giving her medicine.

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Bribery. What’s Your Weapon of Choice?

My youngest daughter, Eva will be 4 this summer. She can be sweet, affectionate and charming. But when she’s tired or determined to do something on her own, she can turn into a monster and things can get hellish.  If she’s in one of her moods, time outs don’t do anything. Just last night, I tried shutting her in her room so that we could both calm down after bath time went wrong. She howled in protest and when I refused to open the door then she called out, “I’ve done a wee on the carpet.” She’s done this before – using this tactic to provoke a reaction in me to open up the door which of course I did.

So what’s a mum to do? When threats don’t work and time outs are ignored? How can we discipline and encourage good behaviour?

Why, bribery of course!

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It’s Just A Phase

How many times, as a mother, have you heard these words?

Probably, just like me the answer is countless! At the age of 9 months, my youngest child went through an extremely clingy stage that lasted for months. I couldn’t even leave the room to go to the toilet without her screaming blue murder. She would become hysterical whenever she was left with another person even my husband or mother-in-law. We had to actually leave the childminder because she spent the whole time screaming for me to come back and the staff couldn’t work out what to do with her. “It’s just a phase,” said practically everyone as I almost drowned in my own tears of tiredness.

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How NOT to do The School Run

You might think that the trick of getting your child out the door and into school should be a relatively easy one right?

On the good days it can seem effortless to get everyone fed and dressed without too much whinging, out the door on time and deposited into school without any clinginess or crying. Then there are the more hellish weeks where everything goes wrong.

school-run-problems

 

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