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.

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When I first started doing the school run a year and half ago, I found it really stressful and difficult because my eldest struggled with starting school. I wrote a post called Wine With Your School Run? Things have moved on. Alice has grown up a lot, she has changed schools without too much trouble, but on bad weeks, the school run can still be a nightmare. Here’s what went wrong for us this week:

1. The Alarm Did Not Go Off. I don’t usually set an alarm as I have an Eva that will come and wake me up anywhere between 6 and 6.30am. On Thursday she didn’t wake up until 7.20am – cue a big panic and mad rush to get ready.

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2. Eldest Refused to get out of Bed. Despite begging and pleading, shouting and cajoling, Alice refused to get up and in the end I had to half drag her out where she then refused to get dressed. The problem other than tiredness was that school was “boring”.

3. Forgot to Make Packed Lunch for Youngest. Eva has to have a packed lunch every day that she goes to pre-school. I should know this by now. An efficient, organised mummy would have had this made the packed lunch the night before. My defence lies only on the fact that it was the end of the week, I was tired and I’d become engrossed with House of Cards Series 3 to bother making it and so had a mad rush to do it in the morning.

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4. The Kids Do Not Listen. This is quite normal at the best of times, but for some reason in the mornings recently it’s like I don’t exist. I have to ask at least 10 times for them to get dressed and then end up shouting or “helping” them to get into their uniform.

5. Tantrums about clothes. In the midst of trying to get the pair of them dressed, the youngest will inevitably have a tantrum about what to wear or refuses to get dressed at all. Last week, exasperated after fighting to get some clothes on her, I sent her into pre-school in odd shoes at her insistence.

  

6. Forgot the Book Bag. Just as I’ve congratulated myself on getting everyone’s shoes on and out the door into the car, I remembered half-way down the road that I forgot to pick up the blasted book bag.

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7. Kids are Fighting or “Too Busy” to get ready. Siblings! There’s been a lot of fighting between my two lately and they seem to choose their moment to carry out a lot of their scrapping in the morning. If they’re not tearing each other apart, then they suddenly find a lot to do. They choose 8am to go through their jewellery box or want to start colouring or empty their sock drawer to find a particular pair of socks.

8. They Don’t want to Leave You. Bizarrely even though I berate myself about the fact that I’ve been shouting at them to get ready for school or end up in a horrible showdown, they can still have moments of being a bit clingy about leaving me. The eldest is the worst for this and this week clung on to my leg proclaiming she wanted to come home with me.

9. Drank too Much Wine on Sunday Night. OK this is my bad. I started the week off the wrong way by having an extra glass of wine on Sunday night. I knew it would have repercussions and sure enough, when Monday rolled around, I was even more bleary-eyed than usual and not my normal efficient self. (Aherm).

Red Wine

Do you have any school run woes to add to my list?!

 

 

Pink Pear Bear
Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

What The Comeback Kids do to Our Memories

Memories are a funny thing. Triggers like songs, films, people and even smells can transport you to another time, another place from years ago. It’s amazing to think how strongly memories and emotions are re-called over something so fleeting.

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Music is a powerful reminder. We all have certain songs which instantly spark a memory of what we were doing or where we were and who with.

Here’s just a few songs which bring back instant memories for me:

  1. Groove Is In The Heart by Deee-Lite and Rhythm is a Dancer by Snap – These songs always makes me think of driving around in a battered car with my school friends after we had passed our driving test.
  2. The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield – Was the first dance at our wedding and always makes me smile.
  3. Time to Say Goodbye from The Phantom of The Opera – I always found this song emotional but will never be able to hear it again without shedding a tear as it was played at my father in-law’s funeral.
  4. That’s Not My Name by The Ting Tings – This reminds me of the summer before I got married and how it was played constantly at the festivals I went to as well as on my hen weekend in Bath.
  5. Anything by Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man album – This CD was played continuously on family holidays to Devon and Cornwall. They bring back happy memories of us on holiday as well as fighting in the back seat of the car with my sisters!

Making a Comeback

But what happens when these hazy slightly rose-tinted memories are brought crashing back to life, when they are forced upon us? What happens when the original artists want to resurrect these memories for you in the form of a comeback?

In the past few months, I’ve been hit like a bull-dozer by various Comeback Kids, some evoking good, and others not so good memories. And it raises plenty of questions too. Will their revival be a good thing or a bad thing? Will they be as brilliant as you remember them or will drugs, booze and partying hard have taken their toll on the original creators?

And then there’s the question of why they are making a come back now.  Is it because they genuinely miss the creative work of writing / singing / performing or is it because the money has dried up and they need to make a quick buck to pay for their survival into and beyond retirement? I can’t help feeling sceptical. I worry that the Comeback Kids will make a fool of themselves and mess up the rosy memories I have of them from 20 odd years ago. I worry that they’re going to look old and be crap and in turn make me realise that I’m just as old (and crap).

Bros

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Fresh-faced Bros in the early 1990s

Apparently Bros are reuniting for a European tour 24 years after they split. When I first heard this I was stunned. It brought back a barrage of memories of my sister and I worshipping the fresh-faced good-looking twins. I can remember discussing who would get which brother (As the eldest, I got to choose Matt and my sister had Luke). We spent a long time trying to work out how could we get hold of some beer bottles (we were 13 and 11) and how could we fix them on to our shoes. Another memory hit me – of my sister and I having a heated discussion with my parents about how Bros were just as good (if not better) than The Beatles and trying not to lose our rag as mum and dad simply laughed at us. The memories of us singing along to their “Push” album and posters up on our bedroom walls didn’t stop spilling out of my head.

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Not so fresh-faced and approaching 50. Can they pull it off?

My next thought once the memories had subsided was – Surely NOT?! They’re no longer young boys. They must be approaching 50! Will they still be able to get up in their leather jackets and belt out “I Owe You Nothing”? Or will they be hobbling around the stage with bad knees getting out of breath?

They’ve been out of the public eye for so long that they can’t possibly make a comeback can they? And yet, we’ve seen it before with the likes of Take That who admittedly didn’t leave it quite so long to reform. Their comeback was hugely successful and the reason is because they relied on their original fans – armies of 30 and 40 year old women to go and see them on tour. And it worked. Will women in their 40s and early 50s turn up to cheer on Bros when they haven’t seen them for 25 years? The answer is yes, they probably will.

Trainspotting

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Trainspotting 2 is being released into cinemas on Friday. And I have a mixture of feelings about it. I think this comeback will work because the storyline along with the actors have all moved on to show what’s happened 20 years after the original film.  I would like to see it. But I’m scared about what memories this film will fuel.

When I first watched the trailer a few weeks ago, I was in shock. I didn’t realise that a sequel was on the cards so when the advert played out on TV I was again hit by powerful memories.

I was transported back to early 1996. I’d met a bloke at a party and we’d got on well. He suggested taking me out on a date to see Trainspotting. All went well but at the end of the night when he went to say goodbye, disaster struck! He turned out to be the worst kisser I’ve ever known. He was literally a pigeon pecking at my face. And as I tried to escape from his clutches (or should that be claws?), I realised that I couldn’t possibly see this guy again as he made me feel just like a packet of bird seed.

The memories from watching the trailer alone made me squirm with embarrassment. Those excruciating feelings of being uncomfortable in your teens and twenties when you go on a bad date, actually make that any date.  So who knows what memories and feelings might be unleashed if I go and watch the entire film?

Others

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I could go on listing these Comeback Kids. The 90s pop group Steps are due to reform in the summer. Rick Astley has popped up again recently aged 50 with a new album 30 years after his first hit. Pop band KLF are set also to return and U2 are this year touring to celebrate 30 years of their Joshua Tree album. All of them bring back memories for me from different eras. And I’m still holding out for The Spice Girls and Oasis to get back together so that I can re-visit my memories of being at university.

Why We Love The Comeback Kids

Whatever their reasons for reuniting or trying to make a go of it again, you can’t knock the Comeback Kids for their bravery in doing it. The potential for it all to go wrong is huge and so publicly humiliating.

And yet, whilst some of us may have bad memories linked to these comebacks, there are so many more of us who will remember the good times associated with these Comeback Kids;  our original idols. Does it really matter if they have lost their hair, can’t sing as well or struggle with their fitness?

No, because in truth, we love to feel young again. We love to remember times when things were so very different. When we had a carefree life beyond babies and nappies and mortgages and bills to pay. For one night at the cinema or at the O2 stadium, we can belong to a different era and a different place when all that mattered was trying to fix beer bottles to our shoes and avoid being pecked at by a boy like a pigeon.

 

What do you think? Do you love or hate it when your idols make a comeback? Who are you most hoping will make a comeback. I’d love to know your comments!

 

 

Pink Pear Bear
Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Dealing with My Lack of Patience

Let me start by saying that generally I am impatient about most things. Impatient to get the kids out to school, impatient to hear back from a client about work, impatient to get the kids to bed, impatient to get the sodding decorating finished!

I may or may not have inherited this particular trait from my dad who is  not the most patient person I know either. But this week has seen my levels of impatience reach a new high (or should that be low?!).

Refusing to Get Dressed

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For some reason the youngest, who has always been chatty, over confident and loves pre-school, has now decided that she doesn’t want to go. Her avoidance tactics this week has ranged from refusing to get dressed, to hiding around the house when it’s time to leave the house. I’ve tried to deal with this calmly. I wish I was one of those jolly mums who laughs at such behaviour and joins in the game of hide and seek, but I inevitably end up losing my temper and insist on her getting dressed and going to pre-school because “I’ve got shed loads to do today!”

Sibling Fisti-Cuffs

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They’ve always had arguments or bickering, but this past week or so has seen the arguments ramped up to such an extent that the girls end up in physical fights with at least one of them getting hurt.  I have been dealing with this in the following way:

  1. Listen, but don’t get involved as I want them to sort it out
  2. Realise that one is being smothered or struggling to breathe
  3. Step in and break up the wrestle
  4. Ignore wailings of “She started it” or “Alice hit my nose.”
  5. Lose my sh!t and shout my head off possibly followed by sending them to different rooms
  6. Feel extreme guilt that I’ve once again lost my temper, handled it badly and that I’m a terrible mum

Yesterday – An Impatient Day

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Yesterday was a busy day. I had to do the school and pre-school run and then negotiate public transport into London to meet with a prospective new client. Why is it that the days you need to go smoothly always work out the worst? (At this point I salute all full-time working parents who have to deal with this kind of stuff every single day. – How do you do it?).

After I’d had various “discussions” with the three year old about how she WAS going to get dressed and go to pre-school, I then had to deal with squabbling about which car seat they were going to sit in. Both then decided that on this particular day they didn’t want to go to school and made a huge scene about going in. I gritted my teeth and coped fairly well, all the time thinking impatiently about what time the bus was leaving for the station.

The train was delayed and the client was late for the meeting – cue more impatience (but actually an enjoyable kind of impatience as I had a cup of tea, a newspaper, a croissant and no children to ask me “Is he here yet?”).

Later, I picked the kids up and was hoping to spend some time before dinner playing board games, but this lasted five minutes as they were too busy fighting each other which led to more inevitable shouting from everyone. We calmed it down with a book, but when the youngest started throwing her food around the kitchen and declaring that “it was my fault for making a horrible dinner.” I lost it again and sent her upstairs.

At this point it was 5.30pm and I was wondering if I could put them to bed. Time for a gin and tonic I thought. Got the ice into the glass before realising that not one but TWO bottles of gin had been put back into the cupboard empty! Proceeded to phone the husband and give him what for. Sensing my rage and general demeanour he promised to bring back wine.

Red Wine

When he finally arrived and I had a large glass of red in hand, I poured out my worries to him about how I was losing my mind because of losing my patience. I seem to be stuck in a cycle where I’m shouting at the kids and then feeling guilty about it. Then the kids act up and it starts all over again. I worry that I’m responsible for sucking all the joy out of this family with my complete lack of patience.

We realised that the endless decorating and having the house turned upside down these past few weeks has made us all grouchy. Plus the kids are missing out on time with Dad because he’s been busy with DIY. So this weekend he has promised to spend some more time with them both.

I’m not sure if this will help, but hopefully with more adult support, I might find I regain some more of my composure and have a bit more patience with the kids. A bit.

Failing that, the gin needs to be re-stocked pronto.

Are you a patient person or do you regularly lose it like me? If you’ve got any tips, please do let me know!

 

 

Pink Pear Bear
Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Books I Want to Read This Year

I love reading but in between managing two small children, trying to keep on top of my freelance writing business and keeping up to date with the latest boxset viewing (currently catching up with House of Cards Series 3), there’s precious little time left. I often collapse into bed too tired to read at the end of each night.

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In my recent post – Writing Goals for 2017, I said I wanted to read more and I’m determined to do it. Not only is it a great way to relax, but reading widely and regularly helps you to become a better writer too. So I’ve made a list of the books I want to read this year:

 

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1. The Gift by Louise Jensen – I’m cheating with this one a bit as I downloaded it a week or so ago and and am already reading it. I chose it as it was was at the top of the Amazon charts and thought it looked like my kind of book – a fast paced thriller. It tells the story of Jenna who is given a new heart in a transplant. But after meeting the donor’s family she discovers some dark secrets. I’m already gripped and racing through this so that’s a good sign, plus you can’t go wrong for £1.99 on Kindle can you?!

 

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2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – This one has been recommended to me by several people who say that it is very moving. It has also won numerous awards. The story is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastating consequences of World War II.

 

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3. I See You by Claire Mackintosh – Another psychological thriller by Claire Mackintosh. I read Claire’s debut novel – I Let You Go last year and was gripped from start to finish so I’m looking to see if this is just as good. It tells the story of Zoe who sees her photo in the classified section of a London newspaper and tries to find out who put it there and why.

 

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4. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon- This Sunday Times best seller is set in a suburban cul-de-sac during the heatwave of 1976. When Mrs Creasy goes missing, ten year olds Grace and Tilly takes matters into their own hands and get more than they bargained for. It seems intriguing!

 

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5. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent –  Billed as another Gone Girl, it tells the story of Lydia Fitzsimons who has a perfect husband and son and lives in a perfect house. There is just one thing Lydia needs to make her life complete though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder…..

 

mad-girl

6. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon – This book , written by a successful Telegraph columnist is all about the author’s OCD. It tells of how Bryony first realised she had the condition and how she has coped throughout her life from teenager to now mother. It is billed as being shocking, funny and heart-wrenching and sounds like an interesting and insightful read!

 

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7. Sisters 1,2,3 by Nancy Star – A tragic accident forces 3 sisters to hide a secret. But years later a whispered comment is overheard by one of the sister’s rebellious daughter. With the secret forced out into the open, the story focuses on how the family deals with the consequences. As the eldest of 3 sisters, this book appeals to me and I love the idea of how a family deal with a big secret.

 

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8. Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton – One of the best books I read last year was Little Black Lies, a clever thriller with lots of twists and turns. I’d like to read more by this author. Daisy in chains tells the story of Hamish who is charming and charismatic but facing life in prison for murder. When he asks for lawyer Maggie Rosie to look at his case, she thinks she is immune from his charms……

 

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9. The Ballroom by Anna Hope – Set in 1911 in an asylum close to the Yorkshire Moors, the men and women are kept separate except for once a week where they come together to dance in the ballroom. This story focuses on John and Ella whose lives are changed forever when they meet at one of these dances.

 

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10. The Vets at Hope Green Part One Escape to The Country by Sheila Norton – I’ve got to include this one as it’s my mum’s new novel and I can’t wait to read it! Available from the 19th January, I’m looking forward to finding out more. Working as a receptionist in a London’s vet, Sam’s life is far from ideal. She’s constantly broke and her career is going nowhere. When her parents suggest visiting her nan in a small village, Sam thinks the rest could do her good. But rest and relaxation is not what she gets.

 

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11. Mindfulness – Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams – This is the last one on my list and one that’s a bit different to the rest of the books! My sister bought me this for my birthday back in July. I started reading it but stopped when I realised that there were daily meditation exercises in here along with other tasks that required time and effort. It all seemed like too much trouble. But I picked this up again two weeks ago and have so far been managing to do the exercises as well as slowly making my way through the book. I’m determined to finish it as I think (hope?!) it could help to organise my chaotic mind. I’ll report back on what I think of the Mindfulness results later – that’s for another blog!

 

There you have it – my list for this year. You can probably tell that I enjoy reading a good thriller, but hopefully there’s enough of a mixture in here. Now I just need a vat of tea, some peace and quiet and to get on with reading!

Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know what you think of them. And if you have any recommendations, then do let me know and I can add them to this list!

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear
Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Bah Humbug! 9 Reasons This Season Sends me Crackers

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:

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1. School Notes. With the eldest at primary school and youngest at pre-school, there’s always a steady stream of messages and requests to deal with. But this week has seen a new record – I’ve had over 12 messages including such things as buying tickets for the school play, costumes for the pre-school nativity, oranges for Christingle, Christmas party, requests for cakes for the Christmas bazaar, dates and times for Christmas term break up and more randomly a note about a pen knife being brought into school. Can we stop now? I need a new diary or calendar for the school messages alone.

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2. Arts and Crafts. Everywhere I turn someone is making something fantastic. Whether it’s festive biscuits, amazing new Christmas decorations or gingerbread houses, everyone seems to be creating something and usually involving their kids in the process. I start to feel the pressure creep in. I too, should be doing something or organising things for the school holidays. But as some of you know, this isn’t my particular forte.   I have this lovely idea of the girls and I making gorgeous Christmas decorations to hang on our tree. Instead the reality of me doing arts and crafts is this:

Where as this kind of thing sends me into a cold sweat:

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3. Nights Out. Back in September and October, it seemed like a good idea to say yes to every invitation and Christmas event going, after all December is miles away. It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that in saying yes to everyone I was out FIVE weekends on the trot. A few years ago this would have been no problem. Call me an old fart, but for now, my ideal Saturday night is watching Strictly Come Dancing with the girls, a glass of red in hand and a curry in the oven.

4. Feeling Old. This leads me nicely on to point 4. All these nights out take their toll. I’m in my 40s now and with two small kids waking up early and causing havoc it’s not the best way to recover the next morning. I’m tired. I got dressed up to go out last night and my daughter told me I looked lovely but then proceeded to ask what the lines were on my forehead. That sums it up really.

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5. Elf on The Shelf. Am I the only person out there who doesn’t get this?  As if we haven’t got enough to do without carefully manipulating a doll into a new position every night. And why must I see a daily updates on Facebook from a dozen people about where Eric / Fred / Arthur / Christophe is hiding that night? Do I really care?

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6. Madness at The Shops. Yes, I know we all have to buy Christmas presents, but shopping becomes a bit ridiculous. I do most of mine online now, but a trip into town last week saw queues for the car park at 10am and hundreds of people lining up to pay at Primark.

7. Expense. I dare not add up the amount of money I’ve spent on buying presents and going out. It is ridiculous. As December starts to plod on, I begin to start panic buying. I must get the “best” or “right” present for people and start going a bit crazy. It really isn’t necessary to buy yet ANOTHER stocking filler, but yet I do – just in case I don’t have enough!

8. Travel. Ok so this  one is my husband’s biggest moan. We spend a good chunk of the Christmas period on the road, visiting family and friends. And whilst we want to see everyone, it does feel like by the time 2nd of January is upon us, we need a break to recover from it. Next year, we are hoping to stay put and get people over to us.

9. Decorations with Kids. I had this romantic notion of decorating the tree and the house this year with the kids now that they’re a little bit older. We would all be happy, singing and dancing to Christmas songs and carols whilst hanging bits and pieces up around the house. The reality was that I spent most of the time refereeing fights over baubles and having to carefully undo the kids’ handiwork on the tree which somehow had every item from The Christmas Box literally thrown at it. I love having a real Christmas tree and making it look pretty, but remind me next year to do it once the kids have gone to bed and I can do it on my own with a glass of something in hand.

 

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The tree once it had been re-decorated after the kids had blitzed it.

 

There you have it! Sorry for the moan people. Reading this list, I think most of my bah-humbug moments come from the amount of pressure I put on myself. Pressure to spend, pressure to make arts and crafts, pressure to go out and socialise with every single person I may have met since I was 15. Surely there’s a lesson in here somewhere. If only I would listen and just relax a bit!

Do you have any gripes about the festive season ? Let me know if there’s any I’ve missed.

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Mummuddlingthrough
Pink Pear Bear

Sod’s Law

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.

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But NO!

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

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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.

Sod’s Law

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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.

Spaghetti Bolognese

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

Mummuddlingthrough

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

How to Beat The Back to School Blues

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.

Back to School Blues

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.

Freelance Copywriting

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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41 Things I’ve Learnt in 41 Years

This week I turn 41. It sounds old when you write it down, but I’m still a youngster at heart!  I’m no wise woman, but I thought I’d write a list of the things I’ve learnt or think I’ve learnt so far in my near on 41 years.

41 things I've learnt in 41 years

1) You need to be able to laugh at yourself. My dear old Nan will always be remembered for her many sayings and this is one of them. I completely agree. No one likes a person who can’t laugh at themselves, so it’s better to laugh along with others.

2) You care a lot less about what other people think as you get older.

3) All Mums suffer with guilt. Whether it’s working too much, not working enough, being too strict or not strict enough, I don’t know of a mum that doesn’t suffer with mum guilt. I doubt it will ever change, but we need to be kinder to ourselves.

4) Life is too short to read crap books. I recently got sent a free Kindle book from Amazon. There was a reason it was free. I continued to plough on with it even though it took me an age to finish it. I’ll never get that time back, so won’t be making that mistake again!

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5) Marriage is hard work. Enough said.

6) Be grateful for everything you DO have, and worry less about the stuff you don’t have.

7) Stay away from people who make you feel bad. Toxic, negative people only bring you down.

8) Love yourself. If you don’t like you, how can you expect anyone else to?

9) Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone who has more money, a better job, a nicer house etc. But you need to concentrate on you.

10) Social media lies. OK maybe not lies, but it doesn’t give the entire picture. You only get to hear about the good stuff on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, very rarely do you get to hear about the bad side of people’s lives.

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11) Get outside every single day. Fresh air and a bit of a walk can clear your head and do wonders for your soul. (It also quietens down arguing kids).

12) Smile! Everyone is attracted to someone who is smiles, it makes you look friendly and more approachable. Failing that, it makes them wonder what you’re up to.

13) Let kids be kids. Some structure is good for children, but too many classes, groups and schedules can cause stress. Kids need some down time to just play.

Kids Playing

14) Only you can change your life. You want something? You have to be the one to make it happen.

15) Your husband will always be your other child.

16) Friendships come and go. There’s not enough time to stay in touch properly with everyone. It’s just the way it is that some people will come into your life as others move out. But some true good friends will remain forever.

17) Your initial instincts are normally right.

18) It’s best not to discuss politics or religion with most people unless you want to end up in a fairly heated debate or have a few hours in which to stick around for the ensuing discussion. I’ve found this one out with a few different groups of people recently over Brexit.

19) Never judge another person’s circumstances or lifestyle because you just don’t know what might happen to you in the future. A friend of mine recently told me how another girl was quite judgemental about her situation when her marriage broke down but then went through exactly the same thing a few months later.

20) Do what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about. If something makes you happy it shouldn’t be a chore to do it; you’ll always find time.

21) A lot of problems can be solved over a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat with a good friend.

I love Tea

22) Failing that, there’s always wine …… or gin.

Red Wine

23) Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. Most things seem a lot better in the morning!

24) Everything in moderation. That goes for booze, exercise, work, rich food, late nights, pretty much everything!

25) Whether it’s work, parenting, social life or dating, most people are WINGING it. The most successful people are those that have an abundance of confidence. They look like they know what they’re doing (but probably don’t).

26) Make time and save for holidays. They’re not only good for re-charging your batteries and spending quality time with those you care about, but holidays are essential memory makers.

27) Your close friends are your saviours, your sounding boards, your secret keepers.

28) Put your phone down occasionally and enjoy what’s in front of you. 

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29) Children, even very young children can hear and understand what’s going on around them, far more than you care to think. I totally underestimated the negative impact last year on my eldest daughter of losing my father-in-law as well as the problem with schools. Watch what you say and when you say it.

30) Try to always see the good in people. If you only see the worst, that is what you’re likely to get.

31) The days are long but the years are short. Whoever wrote that was totally spot on. It’s very cliche, but kids grow up too fast, they might drive you mad on a daily basis, but they’ll be 18 before you know it. Cherish them.

32) A good cry is very cathartic. As is writing things down either in a notebook or blog post!

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33) A new outfit and some make up will always give you confidence to go out and knock ’em dead.

34) Mindfulness has some very good tips. I’ve just had an introductory session in mindfulness and really enjoyed it. The basic premise is that we need to spend more time in the present and less time worrying about the future or the past. Whatever is going to happen will happen anyway and worrying about it will only waste more of our energy.

35) There’s ALWAYS someone worse off than you. Another great saying from my lovely Nan, but it’s so true and often gives me a bit of a wake up call if I’m anxious about something.

36) Some truly painful things never really ever go away. But you can learn to deal with them and cope a bit better with the support of those around you.

37) Be nice to people! As well as being generally a decent thing to do, you never know who might end up being your boss or in your social circles in the future.

38) What’s the worst that can happen?! This is one my mum used to ask me a lot when I was younger and a big worrier.

39) Everyone needs to go out and let their hair down once in a while. Drink, dance and be stupid. It’s a necessity to appreciate life!

40) Don’t feel bad about saying no to people. It’s impossible to do everything. Sometimes you need to say no and to not feel bad about it.

41) Some time spent alone is good for you. If like me, you spend a lot of time with the little people and very rarely get any time for yourself, you know how heavenly half an hour can be just to spend time alone reading, listening to music or just to savour the silence! It not only does you some good, but helps to improve your relationships with others when you’ve had a break!

So there you have it my 41 things in 41 years. That took some thinking, let me tell you!  Is there anything you’d add to this list? I’d love to know.

 

 

 

Pink Pear Bear

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International Cousins Day 24th July 2016

Apparently 24th July 2016 is International Cousins Day. Who knew?!

I was lucky to grow up with two sisters. We are close in age so despite the usual fighting and bickering when we were very young, we were good company for each other. Despite our parents having siblings, we only had a total of 2 cousins who were born in Australia. We’ve seen them a few times over the years, but we never really experienced the joy of growing up with cousins that we were close to.

Cousins for Our Children

My children have got a whole new experience of cousins that we never had. They have 6 in total. The 2 on my husband’s side live a fair distance away and so we don’t get to see them that often, but now aged 7 and 4, they are close in age to my two daughters (3 and almost 5) and so they always get on very well whenever we do meet up.

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The other 4 cousins belong to my 2 sisters and they are all very close in age – the eldest, (the only boy bless him) will be 7 in September. Then there’s 2 other girls just turning 5, the same age as Alice. (Yes my sisters and I were weirdly all pregnant together)! The youngest cousin is 2 and a half; 6 months younger than my youngest, Eva.

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Seeing as my sisters and I don’t live excessively long distances apart, we get to meet up fairly regularly and one thing I’ve noticed, especially recently, is just how BRILLIANTLY they all get on. They seem to have reached this magical age where we can now, on the whole just leave them to get on and play and amuse themselves. I’m astonished that there never seems to be any arguments or foul play (at least that I know about).

It’s so interesting to watch them and see who is playing with who, which ones are taking the lead and being bossy, which ones are happy to sit back and be told what to do, who is looking out for who. It’s also really interesting to see all their little personalities and quirks and preferences develop.

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Last Year’s Holiday

Last April, my mum and dad took my sisters and our families away on holiday for a week. What could have been utter carnage and mayhem, fuelled with arguments and fallings outs, was instead a fantastic week away where the kids just LOVED being together. It felt sad to come home and split them up from each other!

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Who knows how they will be when they’re older,  I’m bracing myself for the day when they all start going out drinking and clubbing together, but for now,  I’m so happy that they seem to all be good friends and are there for each other.

Happy International Cousins Day! Another excuse for a get together.

Do you have cousins and if so, do you have a strong relationship with them? I’d love to know.

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The Ongoing School Debacle

For the past 15 months we’ve been mulling over a problem in our family. A dilemma about what we should do. It’s something that has been gnawing away at us for so long that it’s had a fairly toxic affect on all of us.

Primary School Results

The Initial Saga

15 months ago we were completely shocked and distressed not to get any of our 4 choices of primary school for our eldest daughter. The local school, less than 10 minutes away, which we’d naively assumed we would get into was hugely oversubscribed, to the extent it has never been seen before.  Despite going through an appeal and being on the waiting list, nothing changed. Alice started at our allocated primary school in September. It took her a long time to settle in, but she now seems happy and to be enjoying school for which we are truly grateful.

You might say, well good for you that’s that then. But then came:

The Latest Saga

A few weeks ago, I found out that our local secondary school which is perhaps a 15 minute walk away from our house, has just THIS YEAR decided to change their policy to only admit children from local “feeder”primary schools. Our local primary school counts as a “feeder” school, but our allocated school where Alice now attends is not.

To add insult to injury the secondary school near to where Alice now goes to school confirmed that their policy is to only take children who live in the nearby catchment area (which we are not).

WHAT THE ?!!!  

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

This leaves us once again falling down the gap not fitting into any one particular set of rules or meeting any particular criteria. It means in 5 years’ time as it stands, we will be shunted to a random secondary school miles away.

Whilst it might sound a bit neurotic to be thinking 5 years ahead, I can’t help feeling upset and cross that after all the trouble we experienced last year, we are potentially going to face all again in 5 years’ time.

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Alice on her first day of school Sept 15

The Options

1) We looked at moving house. Drastic? Yes. But needing to take the control of the situation rather than let fate decide where our kids should be educated, we started exploring other areas. I’m not convinced this is the right thing to do. Why should I have to leave my friends and family and start again? And there’s no guarantees that we can move somewhere and get both our children into a school.

2) Move to another feeder school. I’ve given up phoning the local school down the road to find out where we are on the waiting list. It was literally driving me mental to find out that I had on several occasions moved DOWN the list. By chance, I discovered that one of the lovely little village schools on our original list was expanding their school and could take on an extra 10 places per year group. We applied and found out we’d got a place! Woo-Hoo! We were all set to move Alice until I read the admissions policy and found out that they (unlike most primary schools) do not give priority to siblings.

What The ?!!!! 

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

And so because we are out of catchment for this village school and the council have confirmed exactly how many children live in catchment for when our youngest daughter starts school next year, it looks like we are going to have to turn the place down.

We have stressed ourselves out over this for 15 months now. I have been upset and depressed about the situation as well as feeling  bitter and resentful about the neighbours and community all being able to go to the local school except for us. It particularly hurt when our next door neighbour managed to get a place for their little boy this year at the local school because the sibling and birth rate this year is much lower than last year. We’ve really felt like upsticks and leaving. But every alternative seemingly has more problems to bear.

I’ve written to the local MP, the local authority and the department of education as well as the schools themselves to complain about the situation and the lack of consistency in the admissions criteria. But no one wants to know. Everyone has passed the buck and I’m utterly exhausted and fed up with thinking about and fighting it.

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Alice with Eva in their matching uniform

Trying to Retain some Positivity

About a week ago, I felt a shift in my mood. I don’t know whether it was because we have been fighting and stressing about it all for so long and the fight has now gone out of me. I’ve grown tired of being negative and bitter about our situation. It’s not had a good affect on any of us and I’m particularly aware that our stress could well have been taking its toll on our children.

Or I don’t know whether my mood has changed because I’m aware of just how happy Alice seems at her current school and even better, excited to be going into Year 1 in September, her confidence seems to have come on in abundance since last year.

Whilst I’m still UPSET about the initial and latest saga. Whilst I still WISH we could walk to our local school. Whilst I’m still willing to EXPLORE other possibilities that come up, and whilst I’m still SCARED about what will happen to us in 5 years’ time – being shunted to a random secondary school, I’ve decided to focus on what is important:

That Alice is in a good school

That she is thriving both in terms of her learning and education as well as her confidence and friendships.

I’m sorry for the huge rant! I realise that this post is quite selfish in that it’s cathartic; I’ve totally offloaded but I do feel strangely better for it.

If anyone has any thought or advice, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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