Babies No More

I’ve loved every (well almost every) moment of being a Mum so far. The laughs, the loves and the challenges it brings, but with my youngest turning 7 in just a few weeks and my eldest about to turn 9, it’s suddenly dawned on me that they’re not babies any more. They’ll always be my babies of course, and although I still want to cherish every moment and freeze time at every given opportunity, I wouldn’t want to go back in time any more.

Some may be sad those baby days are over, others may see this as proof there is light at the end of the tunnel. For me, I’ve realised that this is just another stage that I would like to freeze in time forever, but there are definitely some aspects of parenting that I don’t miss!

You can structure your day without having nap times blocked out

We were always very disciplined when it came to routine. As teachers, we were used to our lives being governed by timetables and found that our children were as predictable as clockwork too, so when we suddenly realised that we could accept invitations at any time without having to worry about when they were going to nap, eat, poo, it was so liberating!

You can have a shower while the children are awake

This was actually my prompt for writing this post. Yesterday, the children were at gymnastics, and rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to drink some tea while it is still hot as I would have done until quite recently, I decided to go for a run (yes really, read about my mission to get fitter here!). When we got back, I quickly got some tea for the children, and asked if they minded me having a quick shower while they ate it. And I did! They may have walked in several times for emergencies, such as needing to know if Qatar is the only country in the world beginning with Q, but I was able to shower and then have some unstinky (me not them!) snuggly time before bed.

A ‘family film’ might actually be something that you genuinely are interested in watching

Going to watch the new Star Wars film was the defining moment here. All four of us equally excited. We didn’t even have to miss any of it to take the children to the toilet every five minutes!

You can wear jewellery

My sister in law recently had a baby. She’s gorgeous in every way and I love my cuddles, but how do 4 month old babies instinctively know which of your bracelets are most likely to break or choke them and then choose those ones to try and eat?! Nowadays I wear my jewellery with pride and for the most part, manage to keep it saliva free!

You can go out for an evening meal

The first time you can book a restaurant for an evening meal – as in actual evening rather than the 4:30pm type of evening meal you’ve had to endure in order to be back for bath time for oh so long – is amazing. A 7pm meal where you can wear nice clothes and aside from a few colouring pencils (and perhaps an iPad for emergencies), nothing else is needed!

8pm is not the middle of the night!

My daughter now finishes Brownies at 8pm. Sometimes we nip into the shop afterwards to pick up a few bits. Nothing exciting here, apart from the fact that 8pm exists again!

Homework is for the children

This term, my daughter has had to complete column addition and subtraction, giving her answers using hieroglyphics and complete a 500 word original story. My son has had to learn his times tables and find interesting ways of displaying them and create 3D models of Tudor houses. Obviously I’m on hand to help with homework, but essentially it is work for them, to extend their understanding and develop their ability to work independently. Which leads me nicely on to the next one…

You don’t have the pressure of having the class bear to visit

This is tongue in cheek, but who can honestly hold their hands up and say they didn’t feel the pressure to get out and do exciting things when Billy the Bear came home for the weekend?! The last time we had the class bear, he’d been to Paris the weekend before and climbed the Eiffel Tower. Aaaaargh!

Babysitting can be free

Older children don’t just pop round for lunch or tea – they have sleepovers – the holy grail for the children concerned and the parents alike! Until of course you realise that you haven’t returned the favour yet and it’s your turn to host a handful of 9 year olds…

You can wee on your own

Yeah right, just kidding – did you really think I was serious?! I’m still waiting for this day, will it ever happen?!

So, moments to cherish or light at the end of the tunnel? You decide, I’d love to know your thoughts!

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Booked!

As a young child I loved reading, but when I started secondary school, my enthusiasm dwindled. For me, a reading homework translated as ‘no homework!’ As time went on, reading became research and so I equated sitting with a book as studying and working, not relaxing. Then came children, and reading became oohing and aahing, touching and feeling. It’s only actually in the last couple of years that I’ve started reading for pure pleasure, and would rather sit with my head in a book than watch TV.

I’m very lucky that my children love reading, and through the way it is encouraged in school too, they both devour a great deal of books, and going to the library or Waterstones for a browse (and inevitably purchase!) is a treat they really treasure. I recently stumbled across this post by Melissa Taylor, and although as a teacher it was content that I was pretty much aware of, I was shocked that only 17% of parents of 9-11 year olds read to their children. I guess many assume that once they can read for themselves, children no longer have the need to be read to, and perhaps their desire to be read to becomes something that isn’t voiced on either side. If you asked my daughter (who is in this age category) what she would like to do, she would have a long list of requests that would probably not be related to books, but every evening we read, and every evening she just checks:

“Have we got time for you to read to me too?”

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When we read together we cuddle, she listens, asks questions, responds and most importantly enjoys the activity. She also enjoys snuggling up with her younger brother and doing the same.

It’s through this reading together that I’ve rediscovered how much I enjoy it too, by reading books again that I loved as a child (never diss Enid Blyton in my presence!) and for the first time in many years I’m finding the time to read for myself too.

I set myself the challenge last year to read 20 books over the course of the year, and I did achieve it (with 3 days to spare nonetheless!) but I found myself choosing books which I thought I could finish in time. I also chose a lot of free books making the most of my Kindle Lending Library, but reading shouldn’t be about numbers, so although I have a hunger to read every single book in the world ever, I’m making a really conscious effort this year to choose carefully and if that means I don’t read as many books, so be it. Reading time is quality time, so a mug full of Chai Latte tea in my Cath Kidston bucket mug, a comfy cushion and a good book is my idea of bliss right now. Rock and roll me! Send me your suggestions people!

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Our current selection!

 

Back to Basics

As my husband and I are both teachers, the school holidays are always a special time for us, and we well and truly caught the travel bug a couple of years back. We love going places  and like to have a trip booked. This half term was the first school holiday in a long while that we decided to stay at home. At first it felt like we were wasting an opportunity, but as the children seemed to get more and more tired as term went on, we realised that actually it was a sensible decision.

I have no problem whatsoever with lazy days, in fact, I get a real buzz out of knowing that I have a day ahead where I can eat breakfast at 10am in my pyjamas if I want to, but 9 days straight with no plans?

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I saw this photo on my Facebook feed the other day. It could be either of my children, I’m not going lie – they love their screens, but I think in all our business, I’d forgotten some of the basics which the children still enjoy doing. They seem so grown up compared to the little bundles I gave birth to, but they’re still children, and there’s so many things that children still love:

A trip into town…

We’ve lived just outside Bath for over 4 years now, yet we’ve never visited the Roman Baths – famous history on our doorstep! Although we ended up having a nice lunch too and it therefore wasn’t a particularly cheap day, it was something we’d never done – no need to drive for hours!

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Cooking…

The routines we live by during the week really limit the luxury of taking our time to prepare meals. Working together to create something yummy was so much fun, especially as I am now aware that they can work almost completely on their own now.

Swimming…

My husband takes the children swimming most Sundays, but this week, I got out with them and enjoyed it too – having lost a bit of weight which you can read about here, I felt a lot more confident venturing out in my swimsuit, so hopefully I might get invited along again soon!

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This was taken last year in Turkey  – the only photo I have of the four of us swimming together!

Playing independently…

My husband and I were both talking the other day about how much time we spend doing things together, going away, even watching a family film or playing a game together – something that I’m sure many families try to do more of, but actually there were times this week when the children were quite happy to play together and it was lovely to see! Those toys that they got for Christmas came out of the boxes, the Lego got built, and despite how unimpressed they were at going this morning, they got all the cuddly toys out and played schools nearly every day! That imaginative, make believe play is something I want to bottle up and keep forever!

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All ready for register and assembly!

So if people ask me what I did over the school holiday, my answer will most likely be “not a lot,” but actually we did do quite a lot, it’s just we didn’t go away and with how refreshed I feel from having a rest, I’m ok with that!

 

Getting There (The Dukan Way)…

I’ve never been someone who can eat what they like, and I’ve never been someone who is happy with what they see when they look in the mirror. I’ve had lots of success on various eating plans – I lost over 4 stone after I had my son, and have pretty much tried every plan out there in a bid to show the body I know I have underneath the rolls of fat!

I’ve also never been one to actually talk about it before – I’m quite happy to laugh at myself over the many hapless things I do, even turn my utter diet fails into a joke, but I’m far happier not speaking out about the actual process of losing weight.

Last year, we went on the best holiday of our lives – 2 weeks in Turkey. Amazing weather, precious family time, and unlimited food! Everything about it was perfect, except the way I felt about how I looked, and let’s face it, when you’re living in a swimsuit, there’s no easy way of hiding the bits you don’t like is there?! It didn’t stop me eating all the nice food. Not much stops me from eating nice food – I guess that’s why I am where I am!

When we got back, I did my best to curb my eating habits, and lost a little bit of weight but before I knew it, Christmas was upon us! Just before Christmas I had to go for a check at the docs, and when I stepped on the scales, that was the moment I decided I had to sort myself out – somehow, my weight on the doctor’s scales seemed so much worse than on the scales in my bathroom – it’s just a number then and I kept telling myself it’s not about the number, but how you feel. The trouble was I didn’t really feel good either!

On January 2nd this year, I started following the Dukan Diet – as a vegetarian for nearly 20 years it had never been an option for me before as it’s a high protein diet – pretty much meat and veg forever, but I’d had a couple of friends from different social circles who had been really successful doing this plan. I was completely determined to lose weight but was unsure about following an actual diet – I’ve always been a firm believer in eating a healthy, balanced diet, but clearly it wasn’t working for me, so I gave myself 3 months to see what happened.

I bought the book and wasn’t sure what to expect, other than that it was probably going to be very hard and require lots of willpower! If you’re not familiar with the diet, it basically comprises 100 foods that you can eat – mostly meat and vegetables, with some fat free dairy products thrown in for good measure. With the exception of a small amount of oat bran, the plan is carb free – something I’ve never tried before!

This post is not a complete journey – I’m only 6 weeks in but I am 20lbs down, so it’s definitely working! That’s obviously the biggest positive, and I lost a whopping 9lbs in the first week – I know some will criticise this, but anyone who wants to lose weight will understand the satisfaction that this brings, whether or not it is the ‘best’ way to do things! The 2 other aspects that I feel this plan does well are the compulsory requirement to drink a minimum amount of water each day and move a minimum amount each day. I’ve actually started running again and managed to accomplish 37 km last week. If you know me, you will wonder if it is actually me writing after a statement like that!

We went out for a family meal this week and for the first time ever, I was so stuffed I couldn’t eat all of my dinner, which I hope bodes well for me changing my eating habits as this has never happened before! Luckily I had three willing individuals to prevent any wastage!

It isn’t an ‘easy’ plan to follow, especially at first, but the results I’m seeing are enough to motivate me to keep going. I know it’s not all about the numbers on the scales, but for now, they are a good measure of my progress. In another 3lbs, I’ll be the same weight as I was when I got married nearly 11 years ago and pre children – that’s my next goal so watch this space…!

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Not a great difference yet, but I’m hoping there’s a bit!