When my son was three I began to ask him a series of twenty questions, except for when he was six (unsure what happened?) As a result I now have a collection of his opinions on the basic ‘favourites’ in life. Somethings have remained steadfast and I don’t see them ever changing (his favourite colour has always been green, I blame Hulk), others bounce around like his food preferences and some alter like the wind blows. This year we reread them together and he laughed at some of his responses. I will continue this self indulged thread until he refuses to play, a little part of me hopes he is 45 years old and still playing the game, as what we now have are a collection of memories – things come and go, but memories are often free have a priceless value.
(If you’re interested in reading his 7 year memories as a comparison Click here )
1. What’s your favourite colour? Green
2. What’s your favourite toy? Orco (giant cuddly Orca whale that’s also a puppet)
3. What’s your favourite fruit? Mango
4. What do you like to watch on TV? Mickey mouse and friends (shorts)
5. What do you like to eat at lunch? Plastic rolls (basically, for all the organic and homemade food I prepare – the boy adores a supermarket sandwich??)
6. Who’s in your family? My Mum, Dad, Pearl (our dog) stick insects, Burple (leopard Ghecko) and Nathaniel (tortoise) , fish.
7. What item of clothing do you most like to wear? My green dinosaur head T-shirt (it’s from Boden and gets a lot of love
8. What game do you like to play? Hungry sharks evolution (haven’t a clue?)
9. What’s your favourite animal? Crocodile
10. What song do you most like? Anything by stick figure – World on fire (he loves chilled music in the background when he’s reading or playing)
11. What’s your favourite snack? Raisins (This was news for me?)
12. Favourite book? Beast Quest (he loves the series)
13. Who’s your best friend? Luke
14. What’s your favourite sport? Judo
15. What’s your favourite holiday memory? Going on the cruise to see the whales
16. What do you sleep with? My teddies
17. What do you like best for breakfast? Waffles
18. What do you like to do outside? Play the game ‘it’
19. What’s your favourite drink? Mocktails
20. What’s your favourite dinner? Margarita pizza , no macaroni, or burgers, or steak, or tortellini, maybe a cheese board with grapes? I can’t pick and now I’m hungry.
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.
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.
If you had been watching me this morning and was wearing your judgement pants you may have concluded a different perspective to my current reality. You may of said this Mum wasn’t engaged in her son and consumed by her mobile device.
Little dude had Judo, Mr F and I sat on the sidelines and whilst Daddy looked on I marked thirty GCSE papers…well half marked (seriously marking takes FOREVER), then it was swimming time with Daddy. Little dude is now 75% fish and Daddy has been a pro at teaching him. They are currently working on a new stroke and having a blast…I’m typing this from the gallery. On my mobile phone. I glance up every now and then, but I am writing. For me. This is my time. Swimming is their time.
Judgement pants may conclude I’m disengaged and not interest. I’m one of ‘those’ Mums. It’s true and I’m going to tell you why.
This Mumma doesn’t care what anyone other than her tribe thinks of her. This parent works full time, blogs for her own sanity, lives life to the full…manages her time to the minute. This time isn’t mine to watch my son swim…it’s my writing time. It’s Daddy and little dudes time. It means that with my marking done (well more done) and my post is written, in twenty minutes I will help little dude to dress. My cup will be full and I’ll be able to give him my attention, full attention – not planning in my head, stressy Mum writing a mental list kind of attention. My phone will barely be seen and we will fill our day with cooking, visiting loved ones and a dog walk. We will create memories and giggle.
It’s clear to me that perspective is needed. On lookers don’t know me, don’t need to judge me and I don’t need to judge them. We all do, obviously – it’s human nature. Sometimes, like my image above, we need a new perspective to read it. We need to step back, to not attack, judge or be quick in response.
In friendships, with work colleague and with your tribe add a filter before you make a remark. Breath. Step back. You’ll be wiser for it. Much like the swimming pool my boys are currently in, a filter is essential to prevent them from swallowing pure wee. Don’t let your life be poisoned by other people misunderstood perceptions.
Thank you for blessing me with a healthy and (usually) smiley boy. You gave me nine months to prepare and then the clock began to tick…how did my baby become three?
He has imagination that can take him to worlds where time cannot go, he can spend hours reading and making up songs that make me giggle and he always knows when it’s bedtime. Since birth he had slept like a king (thank you) and he wakes wide eyed and ready for more minutes of delicious adventure and every second brings more funny sentences from his ever developing vocabulary and expanding mind.
He is like an alarm clock of questions through out the day as he bellows ‘why, how and who?’ As he takes it all in I can see in his eyes the cogs are turning, exploring and fine tuning just as a fine pocket watch might.
What makes him tick is easy; simple delights in his trains, cars and his plastic crocodile, Spotting the moon and telling me with pride when day turns to dusk and the calendar pushes forward.
So time, many thanks for the blessed memories and the opportunity to be called Mummy, the pride in watching him grow and gift to see a much more exciting world through his eyes, one that acknowledges emotion with giggles from the belly and tears from the soul.