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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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!

 

Little Miss Chatterbox?…

When my daughter started school I was proud, happy and excited. I blogged about her first day, and how I couldn’t understand why I would ever have wanted to cry or mark this milestone in her life as negative in any way. How could I feel like that when she was just so enthusiastic and optimistic about the whole thing?!

Even when she did her first play, or I was met with “Just stop asking me questions!”, “I can’t remember.”, or “Nothing.” In response to the “What have you been up to at school today?” question, my positive outlook on the whole thing remained.

But last week, I finally got my “She’s growing up so fast, she’s not a baby any more!” moment, when we had Parent’s Evening and her first school report! It suddenly hit me! While I was still very proud and smiley, this made me realise that I was going to someone else and they were going to tell me about my child. They may have been going to tell me things I didn’t know about my child. She now has a whole other life when she is at school and I’m not really a part of that life.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be part of that life, I think independence is really important, and whatever happens at school must be good, because we’ve not had a single day where she’s ever complained about going to school, or not wanted to go to school. She loves it. She woke us up at some unearthly hour (well actually it was 8am, pretty good for any 4 year old, but it didn’t feel it at the time!) because she was so excited about doing her homework. She can read and write and loves to learn.

As it was, her teacher confirmed pretty much everything that we already thought academically, and it also turns out that she’s not a chatterbox or a bossy boots which we thought might come up, she is instead “Always very eager to share her opinions, and her opinions are always very definite!” I wonder where she gets that from?!

So I’m not infallible when it comes to emotion after all! My daughter might not be a baby any more, but she’s my baby and that’ll never change!

The Price is Wrong…

“I’m the one who goes out to work and earns all the money, and you’re just frittering it away on pointless, unnecessary things!”

Yes these were the words my husband, who I love very very much (it’s a good job!), uttered the other day. It’s the one argument he will always get me with. It’s a sore point, but it’s true. He is the earner, and I am the spender. When it comes up in an argument though, I hate it and it upsets me, because I used to earn some money, but we made the decision to move for his job and for me not to work. Admittedly I was overjoyed at the prospect of not working, but it is neverthess difficult for me to be financially dependent when it’s the first time I have been in my adult life.

However, I can totally see why he got wound up. We just have different views on how to deal with it, and I think I need your help on this one, because I know there’ll be lots of my Twitter friends who will be able to help me! My children have had one birthday party a week minimum since the start of January, 7 parties so far. They also have invitations to 6 more in the next month. It seems to be that you invite your whole class to your birthday party, so between the two of them, we could potentially be talking more than 50 parties a year, not mention how scared I feel at the prospect of hosting a party for 30+ under 5s, eek!

The trouble is, you can’t really turn up to a birthday party without a present, and presents cost money. Money that we didn’t budget for in our very comprehensive financial planning we did when deciding whether or not we could afford a new house! Last week my son was invited to birthday party where they wrote on the invitations that they did not want presents, but I couldn’t bare to turn up empty handed, so bought a small present anyway. This was how we started disagreeing, my husband saying I shouldn’t have. At this point, I did remind him of the fact that even if I said there was nothing I wanted for a birthday or Christmas, should he decide to not get me anything he would be in so much trouble! Had I turned up to the party without a present, I would have been the only person who did. Even as we were I felt stingy!

My children don’t have their birthdays until later in the year so I have no experience of this whatsoever. My head and my bank balance tells me I should just be buying a very small, token present, but my heart and my expensive taste tells me that I shouldn’t be! I don’t want my children to be labelled as cheapskates!

And having spent a morning scouring the supermarkets, I’m really struggling! Even a magazine can be up to £5! So how much should I be spending on birthday presents for a child I don’t know? What’s the protocol?! Help me please, any tips and present ideas welcome!

The ‘Star’ of the Show? (Or maybe not!)

You’d think the fact that I was a music teacher for ten years, and that all the way through University I performed as a soloist and as part of a choir that went on all sorts of foreign tours, that this would have been as a result of all my hard work and successes at school, taking part in every extra curricular activity going, leads in all the school plays?

Well, as it happened, school plays just didn’t seem to be my thing. I loved them, and wanted with all my heart to have a good role, but I was never chosen *sob*. I guess the fact I recited lines in a monotone manner, lisping through my braces, not even making eye contact with the floor through my 6 inch thick glasses, and my plump figure and E cup boobs by the time I was 13, which made it impossible to dance a single step, in retrospect, might have had something to do with it, but at the time I just didn’t get it!

By secondary school, I’d kind of given up on my dreams and opted instead to sit in the orchestra pit tootling on my flute, but in primary school, everyone had a role. Everyone was important. Without the 6th angel, I’m pretty confident Jesus would have been doomed and the entire nativity would have needed rewriting! One year, on the day of our school nativity, the girl playing Mary was too ill to play her part. Being the slightly geeky child that I was, I knew all of her lines, and volunteered to step in and take her place. How deflated I felt when the teacher decided that (despite clearly hearing me offer) the best option was to have a big doll play Mary, held by Joseph, with the teacher shouting her lines from the side!

As I progressed through primary school, my roles in the play kept coming: a workhouse boy in Oliver, a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz, and 2nd Owl in Toad of Toad Hall among but a few.

At the time, I really thought it mattered that I didn’t have a big part, but the letter came home from my daughter’s school on Friday to say that she’d been chosen to be a ‘dancing star’ in the nativity. I’m presuming this isn’t the big, main star that guides the shepherds to Bethlehem, otherwise with my daughter’s dancing, they will definitely be taking a detour en route, but I can’t wait to see it! Every day, she sings me the songs, and amazes me at how a four year old can remember all those words, she’s even learnt to skip with both legs, rather than the one legged lunging she’s been doing until now, and I have a daily countdown as to how many days it is until she does the school show. I don’t care if she’s a dancing star or a tree trunk, as long as she’s having fun! I’ll be going to the performances, probably secretly blubbing with pride in a darkened corner somewhere. She can’t wait for Mummy and Daddy to come and watch her, and I can’t wait either, and I think I’ve got away with the whole costume making thing quite easily too, I just need to find some black leggings and gold tinsel, I bet ‘Mary’s’ mum is quaking in her boots at all the stuff she’s got to make!

Disco Diva?

Last night was the night – my daughter’s first school disco! Apparently it was all in the preparation.

Stage 1: Straight after school we had the hairdressers (Ok, I’d booked this oblivious to the fact there was a school disco, but as far as she was concerned it was all part of the getting ready!), where a trim and a fairy princess sticker completed stage 1.

Stage 2: Selecting a range of potential outfits. My favourite was Exhibit 1 (see below), but clearly I had no say in the matter.

Stage 3: The hair. My daughter has mad curly hair, and we have no idea who she inherited it from! Luckily, the hairdresser had already put some taming spray on it, so she opted for hair down. Choosing the clips however was not an easy task. Eventually pink, glittery bows won.

Stage 4: Practise those moves!

Stage 5: Eat dinner. This one was my idea. I feel terrible for putting this completely unnecessary inconvenience on the itinerary!

Disco time! There was me thinking this was the part when all the preparation became justified. When she ran into the hall and showed off those moves as she danced to Katy Perry. However it appears, that in any hour long disco, the first 40 minutes have to be spent dancing with Mummy. I really wasn’t prepared for that! All of a sudden my confident disco diva was shy, completely freaked out by the ‘big’ Year 1 and 2 children. She didn’t even have the confidence to go and ask her friends from her own class to dance. When the DJ started a Conga, she just stood there and it looked like she was the Farmer in a very big den!

She kept asking me to dance, but I’m so bad at dancing that at one point, my husband tried to talk me out of doing a first dance at our wedding! In the end we had a Divine Comedy song so we could make out that the bad dancing was for comic effect! So my poor daughter didn’t get much dancing from me. I just about managed the Macarena, but only got away with it because she didn’t know it! However, I think my appallingness was what forced her to take the plunge and join in with the others!

Eventually, she took the plunge and was very brave, taking to the floor just in time to play Musical Bumps, and eventually win the ‘Trophy!’ Well even better than a trophy for a four year old…

34 and Counting…

No it’s not how old I am, I’m not quite there yet! It is in fact how many more get ups until the Christmas holidays! I thought once I’d given up teaching, the school holidays would be less of an excitement to me, but having just experienced my first school holiday as a non teacher, I’ve suddenly realised that those holidays aren’t put there for the teachers!

School holidays will always be a special time in our little family, because it’s a time when we are all together. We’re very lucky in that respect, as my husband will always be off work when the children are off school. It was so much fun to be able to do things together, sometimes planned, sometimes completely spontaneously, and after seven weeks at school for the first time, it was lovely for our daughter to finally be able to catch up on the sleep she was so desperately in need of. We had a full of week of no meltdowns over the smallest things!

In fact, even though I barely left the house the whole time due to the fact I was potty training our two year old, I still feel like I had a rest!

So now, as the husband and daughter go back to school for what used to be my favourite part of the school year, in the run up to Christmas, I’m already counting down the days until the lie ins and family time can recommence!

On the downside, that 1 1/4 mile, uphill walk to school this morning was an absolute killer, the lack of my 5 mile daily walk and overindulgence of yummy ‘we’re on holiday’ treats, have not done Project Doing up my Jeans any favours, so I’ve dug out my Slimming World manuals and today begins Project Lose a Stone before Christmas – unless there happen to be any Trick or Treat goodies left over of course… 😉

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