Home schooling, lockdown vol.2 – the winter edition

Four days in to January 2021 in the UK, any hope was slashed by the Prime Minister’s announcement to return to life in March 2020, you have every right to feel the emotions you do; whether you are fearful, angry, bored, or nonplus *or perhaps like me fly between them all like a Meerkat on look out. It’s perfectly normal to not feel normal, that’s the new normal.

However, hope is on the horizon and that’s why I have popped this midweek post together. This time we have several super powers within us and we should unleash them…well it could make all the difference to us and our families thriving in 2021. Although I write as both a parent and teacher, I would also like to highlight that everyone is in their own personal battle at present and hopefully non parents can take some joy from this post too.

Super power one: knowledge: Volume two means there was a volume one. I know you know that, I know things aren’t exactly the same BUT we lived through volume one! Knowledge is power, something I never had last time. This time I can see an end, volume 1 was six months of ‘maybe next week’ a blur, a really long Sunday…this time I know it will end because it did before. Maybe we didn’t all thrive, but it’s well worth taking time to reflect on the things that did work, adapting them where necessary and making them work for the winter edition, hindsight is a beautiful thing – use it. For example, a paddling pool in January probably isn’t going to go down well, but we as a family in vol.1 took the time each day to come together and watch a film, it was a calming time (it was always Disney) and it added a drop of structure to an otherwise chaotic day.

I took the time to ask my son what he wanted to do, sure home schooling was usually part of the day but actually with no commutes we did have time to bake or build some Lego. We went for walks, okay if I’m honest I’m a little walked out but I also know that nature always makes me feel better…do the things that served you last time.

Superpower two: Know your child isn’t behind: You are giving them an experience. Like most adventures in life it comes with highs (we uploaded work to the school site) and lows (no work was achieved and my son claimed corona stole all of the pencils in the house) but it’s how we look at them that counts. My child is where he is academically; I can’t rewind 2020, I can’t push knowledge into his brain, but I can make sure that no matter what he is safe and healthy. Today the juggle was real. My full time job, our home, my sons education, our families sanity, our mental health all rolled into one and it was messy…but it was also good too….

Super power three: Hold on to the gratitude: Being thankful, for whatever small glimmer of hope, joy, love, appreciation you see or feel…it matters. I’m eternally indebted to frontline workers, I’m pleased my family is healthy, that today we are ok, that the internet connection works, that I have the skill set to break down tasks set for my child and can make them applicable to him, that the dog didn’t bark when the postman came and I was on a Teams call for work, that we did our best.

Super power four: Small steps are mighty: This may be part of your existing super power one, but I know that small steps, low expectations and being kind to myself is the only way I can manage at present. I didn’t do all the work tasks I had the intention of completing, by 10am I prioritised them and spread them out over the next few days. I can only do what I can. I did take a few minutes to do a facial this evening so that tomorrow I wake feeling topped up with self love, I also treated myself to a hot chocolate because this life is precious. Small steps with treats along the way make unstructured time’s a little easier. Also, a technique that works well for most children and age groups is Now, Next and then. It works like this: Now we are doing maths, next we will read and then you can play. Forget the rest of the day for a few small steps, when they are heading off to play, remind them that now they are having play time, next they can read and then we will have lunch. Those three small words can give enough knowledge to make your child feel safer. If you have multiple children it might be that time is divided and your ‘Now i’m helping Bethan, next we will go and play and then we will revisit your history work together’ feeling heard is so important and often grounds us far more than Mummy spending 5 hours the night before creating a complex rota that due to a tantrum and a high temp from the baby has all gone out of the window before 7:30am

I hope by reading this you maybe remembered how awesome you already are, that you’ve got this and that with a few super powers under your belt you can achieve anything.

Did you finish the game? I finished the season.

This quote comes from an interview between Pat McAfee and AJ Hawk (American football) that the Mr shared with me earlier in the week. This quote incorporates endurance, determination and resilience.

The conversation was around an injury that AJ had sustained…well multiple injuries. Whilst this blog isn’t about ignoring pain or medical advice it is about having to push ourselves and overcome barriers in order to succeed. It’s important to remember that we can often give more than our negative mindset would let us believe, particularly when like AJ we are keen to see the ‘season’ through.

Are there any goals or accomplishments that you’ve fallen short of completing? If so, was it really important to you? Perhaps the timing was wrong, or maybe stepping back and analysing what you didn’t do might help you succeed in the future. We often miss our target due to missing one or two small steps.

Sometimes we aim too small. As an adult life can unfold on you, pushing your dreams to the back of the airing cupboard where you swear to totally look at them another day, week, year…after the kids go to school, leave school, move out…too late? I should say I also believe our dreams can shift and alter, what was once important is often laughable as we age, but for dreams that make you still feel sparkle in your toes it is never to late.

Take some time this week to jot down your dreams, goals and things you’ve generally never completed. Laugh at the ones that make you cringe, work out where you’ve gone wrong if you’ve tried before and finish the season.

Trust the timings of your life

Quote Anon

It’s September and part of me still believes its March? Many children have or will return to school this week. As parents and as a teacher I’m not sure what that looks like but I know it looks different, perhaps you find yourself anxious, worried or concerned. Thats understandable, after the year this world has thrown at us, the unknown doesn’t feel any easier. This post is to remind you that you’ve got this.

September in the UK isn’t just a new academic year it also welcomes Autumn, leaves falling, evenings draw in and change afoot. The seasons remind us that contrast is good – the leaves need to fall, in winter they need to pause so that come Spring they are ready to burst and thrive. Whether you’re a summer girl like me or a winter warmer like my son – change will happen anyway, whether we are ready or not. The good news is that the seasons don’t happen over night and neither will any changes we see in our lives. Slowly the green trees of summer will become burnt ambers, crimsons and siennas…allowing us to adjust.

As parents I know we are all blagging each day as it comes, personally I am perplexed at what school in 2020 -21 will look like for my son…how will socialising happen? will he come home worried or scared?…the list of concerns is endless BUT I have one super power. Just like I trust the seasons will change, I trust myself. I am the only person who has been with me 24/7 since birth and whilst I’ve let others down and learnt lessons along the way, I rarely let myself down and when it comes to my child’s welfare I’m nonnegotiable.

If I’m not happy – I will speak out, if I need to make educational adjustments for my son to be able to thrive as we as a family see fit – I will. The lioness inside of me can be fierce (and frankly I can scare myself) and the love to protect my baby…who is nearly taller than me, is mighty. Whilst I can’t trust the media, can feel let down my governmental policies I know I can trust me. As I hand my little dude over, I also know as a fellow teacher that this profession isnt for the financial reward – his teacher will greet him and guide him with her moral judgement….I trust in the knowing that she has his best interests.

Like the trust I have in the leaves falling and alter slowly and with artistic flare I too will take the return to school in my stride…day by day, make amendments when necessary, trusting where I can until proved otherwise.

I don’t doubt you either, anxiety is a behavioural reaction that shows you care, you’ve got this. Its human nature to question change – its instinct, yours is well placed and comes from love.

Whether the change you face is ‘back to school’ or a new job, a different place to call home…small steps, big breaths and talk from a place of love – you can’t go wrong. I’m rooting for you.

Hope is being able to see the light despite all of the darkness

Quote by Desmond Tutu

We all have our moments of darkness, some come and go much like the sun and moon, others seem much heavier and forever shape us.

I have had my share of darkness and have also had the honour of supporting teenagers as they face trauma and often actions out of their power. I’m no expert but I have learnt a few things that’s I’d like to share – the first is simple. No two dark nights are the same. Just because you are grieving or have experienced death doesn’t mean you know how someone else feels, sure you can empathise and much like this blog tries to do, you can share your ideas and positive sparkles but ultimately everybody feels and reactions are individual.

That’s the good bit, that’s what makes us unique. If you are currently facing a dark time, I urge you to reach for the light switch. It’s often just out of grasp but you can ask for support, loved ones or perhaps your GP this link is full of amazing experts and advice, it’s literally and A-Z of services.

I’d also urge you to see the light in the darkness, much like one of my favourite children’s books ‘The owl who was afraid of the dark’ there is always a positive to see from a negative experience – in the children’s books the owl learns that fireworks truly shine at night, that the stars can’t be seen by day…often our own joys or darkness are us becoming more empathetic to others, better listeners or perhaps have experience in a specific type of darkness.

However, I have seen and felt myself how impossible the long nights can be an I urge you all to create a tool box of light. *no batteries needed – these are a few of the things that I’ve felt have helped me and others around me. You can create your box to suit you. Loved ones to talk to

  • Talking to loved ones
  • Drinking more water – it sounds simple, but us humans are just complicated plants
  • Go for a walk
  • Make your bed when you wake
  • Help others or volunteer your time
  • Make plans, these can be small to begin with and within your comfort zone
  • Self care: this doesn’t need to be candle lit meals but can again start with brushing your teeth and having a shower.
  • Look at positive content online
  • Clean and declutter: my favourite is the cutlery draw as it only takes a minute to wipe it over but every-time you open it you feel a sense of achievement
  • Take it slow – life isn’t a race

I hope as you read this you can’t feel any shadows, I hope your life is lit up like a Christmas tree… but I promise that finding light in the darkest of time’s can be rewarding, just nobody said it would be easy.

Much love x

Nothing can hold you back without your permission.

Quote by Trent Shelton

Permission to treat ourselves is often absent. We think of reasons why we can’t, get home and wish we had…also, if you’re like me then when you go back to the shop it’s always been sold. It’s like the universe is rubbing salt into the wound.

Whilst we are on shopping dilemmas and as it’s back to school shopping season, I’ll share a lesson I learnt when I was a child…always buy the first pair of shoes. Despite my love for those clicking, prancing, stepping creations of joy now, as a child shoe shopping could be hard…for my Mum. Ultimately, after trawling the high street and trying on every patent princess cut, cute but edgy pair of shoes, we’d always return to the first shoe shop and the first pair of shoes I tried on.

The reason for this quote today was I wanted to share a story I overheard on a recent shopping experience. A little old lady was in my favourite crystal shop, currently it’s appointment only and so I was waiting outside. She was purchasing her items and ecstatic at what she was taking home, she explained that she had won £50 on the premium bonds and wanted to treat herself to something special. At this point I told her how beautiful her stones were, basking in the joy whilst waiting outside, as she passed me outside of the door she winked and whispered “of course I’ve spent the £50 several times already”. I smiled back and she shouted “you can’t take it with you”.

She’s right, of course you’ve got to have the funds available to keep spending. However, this blog has never been about financial advice instead I’m interested in her attitude and as I spoke to the shop owner as she walked away we discussed how the £50 win had allowed her the permission to enjoy spending, treating and indulging herself.

Over the years I’ve often spoken about self love, care and worth. I truly believe that just as we invest in things we care and love; our children’s well-being, health and happiness, presents for loved ones, our home…we often forget to invest in ourselves.

Of course, I reiterate that if you haven’t got it then you can’t spend it. If you can and it will bring you joy, happiness, a growth in wellbeing or improve your health – do it. Material goods often don’t bring us as much happiness as we think they will, many of my friends have wardrobes full of clothes and many still have the labels on…

However, buying with a sense of joy and a conscious intention for the item can often increase our level of wellbeing. So if you have the money and need a sign to buy that item – here it is. Enjoy

Escaping is not changing

Quote from Ross Welfords book ‘Time travelling with a hamster’

You may of noticed I didn’t publish anything on Sunday, I just couldn’t find my writing flow (which is very unusual for me), so instead I have 4a handful of half written posts that I’ll deal with another day. This afternoon I saw a quote in the teen fiction book listed below and my inner blog danced like the world was watching. I’m also a huge fan of Ross’s work.

2020 the year pretty much nobody is going on holiday, no escaping and yet so many changes. I think travel offers both a quick escape get away or a profound change. I remember my friends brother returning from Australia and as he walked in the door he didn’t look like the boy that left?

Escapism has its place, I personally find mine in books and creative outlets that allow my imagination to explore momentarily.

However, when things go wrong in life we often as adults find quick fixes to dull the sense, from drugs to alcohol or we pack and leave certain that the grass is greener. Of course lawns are complex organisms and need the right level of sun / water ratio…very quickly we learn that all grass has the ability to die and look dishevelled (ours is green thanks to the high ratio of moss) and our old patterns we attempted to escape from reincarnate with new relationships or jobs.

Change is usually beneficial but comes with sacrifice and hard work. Change requires bravery and a trust of instinct which can be hard to summon. So often we go for the easy option; in lawn maintenance this would be the artificial option.

However, the ebb and flow of life requires change. Nature changes seasons and it’s sometimes brutal, things die back and then grow again with a new depth. Natural disasters have a way of destroying but also rebuilding.

I think a combination of both is always is useful, sometimes we just need a brief chapter of escapism but sometimes we need to put the work in, be brave and make huge changes so that our lawns of life can thrive. There is often more reward in change than the temporary delay that escapism brings. How do you escape and what would you like to change?

Whatever makes you find the sun from the inside out chase that

Quote from Gemma Troy

Multitasking Mummy is currently in my sons piano lesson. Whilst I wait for him to find the middle C and test the patience of his teacher I had a thought. As someone with no musical talent – I feel super inspired to see a teacher pour out passion. He is a classical pianist and as a teacher I’m enjoying watching the sun in him shine.

When my son was first born, we as parents were his entire sun, moon and everything in between. As he learnt to talk, walk and move away he looked for his own light. As parents I see one of my priorities (beyond keeping him healthy and safe) to give him as many opportunities as possible. What he decides to do with these is entirely up to him.

I think allowing him to be himself and not projecting my sun light on him is hard. Motherhood gave me permission to be his spokes person, to voice what was best when he couldn’t speak. As he grows I need to learn when to speak and when to step back, allowing him to grow in his own truth.

However, despite its difficulties seeing him light up and finding his own sunlight is the largest reward. For myself I know where my inner light shines; good food, cuddles, yoga, beach walks and house plants are just a few. Writing also activates my internal light.

Make some time this week to shut out the world – the bright lights from everybody else’s joys and the chaos of sirens can often lead us down false pathways, to step inside yourself (although not literally as that would be really messy) and ponder the sunbeams that you hold inside, sometimes they are long forgotten activities – like sitting on a swing or colouring, you may be surprised in what you relearn about yourself, but I promise if you make time to chase the sun inside yourself, the outside world will glow with joy.

Don’t make change too complex, just begin.

Quote Anon

When I was a child and had to revise for exams or complete homework of little interest, I would procrastinate like my life depended on it. I’d sit down, stand up, get a drink, go back for a snack, doodle…anything to delay the revision, until I was so tired or it was too late to bother.

Luckily along the way I grew a little more patience, a cup full of endurance and a scattering or resilience to help me power up as an adult me…but I still have my moments.

Currently across the nation / world the majority of children are still home schooling, well meant to be. In the last few weeks I’ve met with children and their parents and similar messages were echoed out “She started off well but…” or “Unfortunately we never found a routine” others have thrived, particularly without social pressures lifted from them or the demand of being up early and ready to learn in the classroom before 9am.

The great news, I promise from a teacher to you, is nobody is behind. We’re all in this together and come a time when our classes are back to bursting the magical skills of a teacher will prevail. Every child is unique, learns in different ways about a range of different things to a future carved out specifically for them.

However, as the quote above suggests some momentum is needed. For pupils that have lost their way and are overwhelmed with deadlines – I’ve emailed support by asking them to complete one piece of work and then to show me…a sense of completing something, recognition in making progress and a step (no matter how small) towards the never ending mountain is sometimes enough to take another step…a few more and change occurs. It’s a magical moment between and idea and a result. It can’t be pinpointed but it’s a sweet spot of success that occurs before the challenge or change is complete.

Better still, it can be applied to anything at any age; learning a new skill, stopping a bad habit, altering your life to align with your dreams, it all begins with a tiny thought and a small gesture – the rest is called living.

*Best of luck if you are a home schooler or are the adult with no idea what you should, shouldn’t be doing and perhaps even google can’t tell you how to do it…you care enough to worry and that’s all you need to do. Keep them safe, loved and healthy. Nothing else matters.

Labels are for jars not people.

Quote anon

A quote that says so much more. I could leave it here…but that wouldn’t be what this rambling blog is all about. I relearnt this lesson today after a person claiming to be enlightened told me in the same sentence that she didn’t judge ‘however’ it reminded me of when people say “I don’t mean this offensively but”…it can’t be done. I quickly realised that I had triggered her and although she believed the conversation directed at me was coming from a place of non judgement, her frustrated emotions were stirred in for extra joy. A quick conversation with a dear friend reminded me that her words weren’t aimed at me, they were a reflection of her and where she was at. It ended well, I killed her with love.

Then my thoughts begun to spiral and I realised that this was a life lesson. Don’t label people, it puts expectations on them that can’t consistently reflect – we’re all only human after all. Perhaps more importantly be cautious when labelling yourself. The business world loves a lanyard – we adore to give humans titles and when we meet people we often begin by introducing ourselves by our profession and round the conversation off with a bullet point twirl of our lives.

We assume that all doctors want to heal, all postmen like early mornings and walking, all runners are fast, that lifestyle instagrammers have it made, that celebrities love the fame…we also know, with a blink of refection that this isn’t true. Just because someone goes to university doesnt mean they are more intelligent than those who haven’t, but yet we often as a society judge those vey things. I can see why.

Labels bring a level of comfort, particularly towards someone we have just met. I can imagine the chaos of my larder if the tins were all label-less, in fact it would make evening meals like a game of Russian Roulette. Tonight we might have a chilli with kidney beans…or it might have peaches in it, tasty.

Food labels are really handy, they can inform you of sell by dates, ingredients, allergies, cooking directions but tinned food is consistent in its weight and ingredients …human are a little more complex, thank heavens. We can be skilled in one area, but not another. We can be vegan on Monday and choose to eat cheese on a Wednesday. We aren’t static. We weren’t manufactured on a production line. We can change and alter, we can make mistake’s and then realign.

If I were fully labelled like a jar of pasta source, my label would be huge! It would contradict itself, be as thick as a thesaurus and ultimately wouldn’t serve me or you the reader. So, lets all stop claiming to be a simplistic as the jar of pasta, open the lid of life and tip out the contents into a mixing bowl of love.

‘Written by Lucy; Teacher, quote lover, house plant addict and mother’…oh the irony.

Set the tone, love you first

Quote by me. Yes seriously I couldn’t find a quote that I liked and then BOOM I thought, why don’t I just write my own…ta-da!

Okay, today I’m rambling about self care because it’s so important. I schedule ‘me’ in to everyday. I work full time, I do pretty much all the house work, I’m a mum and I’m exhausted BUT everyday I plan time for me.

Why? Am I selfish, arrogant or living in lala land – probably. However, I’m of the opinion that if I don’t take care of my body, soul and mind then who’s going to do all the things I do everyday? Also, I do them better when I’m not stressed and ready to kill. ‘Me time’ gives me time to reflect, love, listen and realign.

How do I do it? Well I have a mini diary that lives in my clutch bag it has any little dude appointments (seriously seven year olds have the best social lives), family events, late night commitments from work anything that we as a family are doing. On a Sunday evening I look at the week ahead and schedule something in that’s time appropriate around the day we have planned. For example tonight I got home early so I committed to a 45min yoga session, writing this post and lighting an incense stick. Yesterday was crazy busy so I planned to paint my nails. The day before I had a cup of tea alone with a new book for company.

I plan ‘me time’ because otherwise I get caught up in the world of everybody else’s needs, plus if I’m having a horrendous day I know I can look forward to something that I enjoy.

On a Sunday evening before I launch in to the week ahead I usually take a long bath with some sort of luxury products, a face mask or hair treatment. I light candles, lock the door…take a glass of something with me for company and breath.

I first did this planned approach after I became a Mum. I’d lost my body, my soul was too tired to care and felt like me was disappearing. Only I like me, I’ve been with me for well…all my life, I wanted to be a Mum, evolve and seize new adventures but not at the cost of becoming someone I didn’t recognise or like very much. I also wanted my son to have the best I could offer. How can anyone fill other peoples cups of needs if their pouring jug is empty? So I fill my cup and keep it topped up daily. I plan events to look forward to that I enjoy, usually theatre trips or travelling and most of them happen either with friends or once little dude is in bed. Working full time I don’t like missing further time from him. But every now and then, he needs a break from me and it makes me a better Mummy for him when I return.

So, if you haven’t used nail polish since 2012, if you use to have a hobby that got lost along the route to that new job…seize it back, be a positive and balanced role model for your little people and those watching. Set the tone and always love you first, you’re worth it and so are those around you.