What’s your view on the ‘Junior kids strike’?

  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36149850

In the occasional moments of internet freedom between child and household chores as well as work, I have been intrigued to read about the ‘Let our Kids be Kids’ campaign. 

My eldest is aged 6 and in year 1. He hates school. He hates it with a passion which causes me alarm. He is reasonably bright but is not meeting his full potential by any stretch of the imagination. My view? He is 6 years old. 6 years ago, he was struggling to work out how to attach himself to my boob and drink milk from it, having excelled in his biological instinct to push his way out of my body in the first place. Now, he is being asked to spend hours at a time sitting on a patterned carpet answering questions about castles, spelling and shapes. Joined up writing is his nemesis. Frankly, if he and I came across Biff, Chip and Kipper crossing the road while in the car, I think my foot might accidentally slip onto the accelerator rather than the brake. 

I know that girls and boys are different as I have 2 of each. My girls love to read and spend time concentrating. My boys love to spend time running riot outside and learning practical things like that water only runs downhill and not uphill. 

What baffles me is that this has not in any way been factored into our curriculum. If my eldest boy is tested next year, he will do badly. This is not because he is not capable, but because he is too busy wanting to learn about his world and this earth to want to read what others have written about it. He just wants to be and do. My daughter (my second child) will be different when her time comes. 

I grew up in Northern Ireland where your post primary school education was determined by your 11 plus results. This blighted my childhood as although ultimately I did well, I spent most of not all my primary school years preparing for this one exam. 7 years preparation for two days 

The pressure on a primary school child was so great, it has never left me. I have only just seen this campaign, but I must say, it has my full support. Let my boy come round to learning in his own way. Support and nurture his talents, and help him with the things he finds more difficult. Whatever you do, don’t test his abilities aged only 6, and judge him on that going forwards. Don’t try to justify it as assessing the need for ongoing support. If those who have the power are listening at all, please just let our children live, grow, explore their world and be children. With a likely life expectancy in the future only increasing, let’s leave these babies to their play. 
After all, life is long enough to fit it all in. 

#Letourkidsbekids

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Trolley rage РWho is in the wrong? 

  Am I doing something wrong? 

Today was one of those days where nothing quite went to plan. By 5pm, I still hadn’t made it to the supermarket, and the list of everyday essentials we had run out of was growing by the second. 

Having dropped the boys at grandmas for a quick play, I dashed to the shops with the girls. Needing to fit a weekly shop into a trolley dash I popped Emily (2) in the trolley seat, and put Lucy (4) standing in the end of the trolley. Off we raced ‘beeper'(self scanner) being fought over all the way. As I threw food into the trolley, the girls giggled and chatted between themselves. I have to admit that this was one of the easiest shopping trips I have been on in recent years. I was actually quite enjoying myself. The girls asked for apple juice, and so we beeped it together and put it in the trolley. Then a treat of trifle, some milk, yoghurts. I was really pleased about how quickly we were covering the shop. As we headed off down the bread aisle, Lucy touched a stand with special offer bread items on it. There was a lady on the other side of the stand who glared at me, obviously affronted.

I assumed Lucy had nudged what she was looking at, and apologised on her behalf. We carried on, the girls trying to spot our normal loaf. Suddenly a voice shrieked from behind me. It was the lady from the end of the aisle. “I am sorry, but don’t you think that is absolutely disgusting?!” I quickly looked around, but was unable to find the source of her disgust. She repeated it again “That is totally disgusting!”. She carried on, and pointed directly at Lucy who was standing in the end of the trolley “Letting that child stand in a trolley where people put their food! “.  The voice in my head muttered something about the fact that it didn’t worry me as I take my food home and eat it off a plate. Biting my tongue, I simply stated that I didn’t see it as a problem. She rudely informed me that it was indeed a problem. She herself had raised 5 children and would never have dreamed of doing anything so disgusting. I think I must have thought rather than said out loud how sorry I was to hear that she had not only bred once, but 5 times, as she carried on with her abuse and insults unhindered. Bearing in mind I had two small children in the trolley, I decided to brush her off and carry on selecting the bread with the girls.

As the lady eventually departed, Lucy said to me, “Mummy, why was that lady talking to you?”. I replied, “Oh she is just some batty old lady”. At that moment, a man came along behind me and announced that she was not indeed a batty old lady, she was his wife. By this time, I was becoming stressed about getting back to collect the boys before grandma’s  goodwill ran out. I offered him my commiserations for the fact that she was his wife, to which he responded that everyone knew it was totally disgusting to let a child stand in a trolley. Slightly less bolshy than his wife, he then scuttled off. As he did, another family came past, one child in the seat and one in the trolley, Dad moving quickly. I finished the last few aisles in reasonable time, and got back to pick up the boys and get home for pyjama time. 

The more I thought about it, the more irritated I became. There are lots of disgusting things that kids do in supermarkets. I know because between my 4, they have pretty much covered them all. These include:

  1. – Filling their nappies with leaky pooh. Now that is unhygienic (cue purchase of large box of baby wipes).

– Taking bites out of the fruit and then putting it back (don’t worry, if I see it, I buy it!)

– Punching holes the meat packets ( yes, again I buy it!)

– Licking the freezer doors (weird, I know!)

– Not quite making it to the loo for a wee.

Now I do not condone any of these things, but these are behaviours by my kids which I have felt embarrassed about. Standing in a trolley, however, is not something which had crossed my radar. Had I not put the second child in the trolley, my shop would have taken at least double the time, time I really didn’t have. 

As I sit here, I am wondering I am I right or wrong. Obviously there were other parents in the supermarket at the same time as me doing the same thing, so at least I don’t feel like I am totally alone. I do feel a bit shaken though. Is this something which shoppers as a whole find inappropriate? Do you do it? 

Mummy, what are we doing today?

You have been up for 2 hours, made an endless round of breakfasts, sorted out the arguments over whether it should be Dennis the Menace or Team Umi Zumi on TV, boiled the kettle at least 6 times for a cup of tea you have yet to make….and then they ask the dreaded question.

On a day when we don’t have any of our regular classes on, the answer is usually googling, or scratching around to find the copy of the Grapevine magazine I grabbed last time we were at Mums and Tots. Up until recently, we had a fairly full schedule of regular activities. The trouble is, though, that as the little darlings grow, they get bored of what was once the best Mums and Tots, or toddler dance class. For me, making sure the twins don’t get bored is a major must. Unless fully entertained, they start to amuse themselves by causing as much trouble as they can find, acting as a duo and laughing to themselves at their own cleverness. 

This summer will see the release of a free app called Club Hub UK. It is intended to allow you to locate children’s clubs and activities around the U.K. You will be able to input your location, your child or children’s  ages and interests to view results related to them. 

Our family activities will be changing a lot from July as the twins are starting pre-school. If this app delivers what it promises, then I know that I will be a regular user!

I will let you all know when it has been launched. In the meantime, if you would like to check out Club Hub UK’s own pages for more info, the links are below. 

Twitter: twitter.com/clubhubuk

Facebook: facebook.com/clubhubapp/

Instagram: instagram.com/clubhubuk

Website: club-hub-app.com

Keeping up appearances.

I have always been pretty houseproud. It is an unshakable throwback to my upbringing. Obviously when I first moved away from home, I lived in a complete slummy shit pit for a year or two out of a combination of sheer laziness and late teenage rebellion, but after that, I settled down.

The values instilled in me through an Irish childhood were firm and unfaltering. Your house should be kept so that if anyone dropped by unexpectedly, you were never embarrassed to show them in. There was always a packet of “posh” biscuits in cupboard for visitors, and any laundry hanging where it could be seen should be in no way compromising. As my husband and I set up home together, I reckoned I was doing rather well at the whole ‘homekeeping’ thing (obvs just copying my Mum). I set the rules, and hubby and I¬†followed them.

The only blip was when my mother in law came to stay. I returned once from a shopping trip to find that she had kindly hung out the washing on the line. This included my underwear. As we lived in a garden flat, this left open the possibility that at least 4 separate households may have seen my undies. Much to the bemusement of my husband and his mother, I screamed, wailed, and vowed to leave the county, so impossible would it be to live down the shame.

We moved (not, I hasten to add as a result of the undies issue), and I had my first child. Aside from some initial difficulties relating to working our how to remove vomit and pooh stains without shrinkage, the home was kept passable, and we were generally presentable. Then my second child arrived. Obviously I had to juggle even harder, but the house was presentable, biscuits were usually in stock, and visitors could always safely be ushered in.

Then, I had twins. When I gave birth to the twins, my other children were aged 3 and 1. No longer were my days spent working part time, keeping the house tidy, cooking meals, and hosting well catered play dates. Instead the house seemed to spiral into some kind of home from hell.

The twins arrived, and  my days thereafter were spent slouched  on the sofa, boobs hanging out, and twins latched (or not!) in various ridiculous positions in a desperate on my part to attempt to tandem breastfeed. There was no part of my person the baby vom missed. Even if they tandem fed, they did not tandem pooh. They did that in relay, just to keep me on my toes. Meanwhile, the 1 and 3  year old tested the limits of their new found freedom. Favourite games included tossing the entire contents of their bedrooms over the banisters, climbing in and out through the kitchen window using a variety of climbing materials, and drawing on the walls with whatever came to hand. The cereals were re-located in an easy toddler reach cupboard, and the kids just helped themselves, obviously decorating the house in shreddies as they went. Toys were strewn high and low, and laundry piled up in every corner of the house. Microwave meals were the primary food source, and tears were frequent. The antics of the older two gained momentum as they fought harder to gain attention, positive or negative.

I dreaded the doorbell ringing, even though what I wanted most was some company and understanding. When the doorbell did start ringing, I was horrified. Opening it a crack, I would peer out, twin under each arm, boobs a dangling, hoping that the caller would not insist upon coming in. They did insist upon coming in. All of them.

I confess that I was entirely taken by surprise. I was not immediately labelled a social pariah due to the squalid conditions, mountains of laundry and lack of any biscuits, let alone “posh” ones. No-one even mentioned the boob thing.¬†Instead, my¬†friends set about working out where everything was kept, making tea and coffee, sticking on loads of laundry and tidying toys. So great was my exhaustion, and relief at the help, that I just let it happen, while quietly telling myself that I had probably irreparably failed on some deep social level.

As the children grew, it got gradually easier. Play dates were arranged, although the house was always far from pristine. It turns out no-one cared that much, or in fact at all. Most friends brought their own biscuits as they knew that even if I had made it to the shops, the kids would probably have long since eaten any snacks I had bought. One day, during a particularly difficult time, a friend dropped by to hand me a bag. In it was a pizza, garlic bread, bottle of wine, chocolate, and some baby food puréed for the twins. Never has a gift been so gratefully received, and frankly, never will it be forgotten. That night, I cried at the fact that I had such bloody wonderful friends.

Another friend realised my struggle in getting all 4 dressed and out for the school run, so kindly collected Patch and delivered him to school every day. This saved me literally around an hour a day getting everyone up, dressed, coated, booted, prammed and to school.

The older kids are 6 and 4, and the twins are now 2 1/2. I am now able to help others out. I take friends kids after school and at weekends (frankly, once you have 4 very small people, a few extra don’t make much difference). I insist on making my friends meals at any given opportunity, often much to their bemusement. If I can help them out, I will, although it feels like I will never be able to repay the loyalty I was shown.

What I can’t do is keep the house clean and tidy, and the laundry under control. The thing is, although it does cause me some stress, it is nothing like it used to be. I have learned that true friends do not judge you by the state of your home, or even your “posh” biscuits (although they apparently help!) They are your friend because you are yourself.

Last week, my husband and I were off work with the kids, and decided to undertake a major gardening project with the help of a mini digger, stump grinder, and some friends (gluttons for punishment and all that!). It was fun, but¬†fucking hell¬†was it messy. Obviously it rained for the first 3 days. The kids fell in mud, we fell in mud, there was more mud than I have ever seen, and most of it seemed to be inside my house. The kids went through at least 10 changes of clothes each per day, and helped themselves to food if I didn’t meet their demands quickly enough. The result was a scene of complete devastation. As I surveyed the damage late one afternoon, concluding that it was probably easier just to move house than to try and tackle the mess, I saw a brush whizzing past me round the kitchen with one of my friends attached. Next I saw the dishwasher open, and dishes start clinking into it at a rate of knots. Momentarily, it was like a scene from a Disney movie. Then I realised that my friends, despite having given up their day to help work in my garden, were not just going home. They were cleaning.

This gave me the impetus I needed to join in. It did take a good hour and a half, but between us, we got the place looking clean and tidy before crashing on the sofa with a bottle of wine (or 2, or 3!). As we did so, I felt so truly blessed to have such amazing friends. Of course I am still houseproud, but I have come to accept that I cannot do it all. I have 4 small children and work part time. My house is a bit of a shambles, but I know that my real friends will not judge me by that.

The moral of this little tale? Parenting is really tough. Some people will have nice clean houses, nice clean kids, and look like they are in ¬†control. Good for them. If you are not one of them, so what?!? No-one is going to refuse a cup of coffee and a playdate because you have a backlog of laundry or your floor is not swept. They will¬†probably¬†be¬†thinking “Thank fuck someone else finds it as hard as me!”.