Here Goes…

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve joined a gym!

When we lived in Dorset we were members of a David Lloyd health club – I thought this therefore made me healthy! I used to enjoy going there several times a week making good use of the children’s activity classes, the Costa, the Sunday carvery…

I did use the swimming pool too but as the children were very small, I spent most of my time keeping them afloat rather than exercising. I had a programme in the gym, but to be honest I think I genuinely did think I was being fit and active just by being a member!

My husband is fanatical about exercise and goes to the gym most days. I’m not, but if you follow me on Twitter or read my blog regularly, you will be aware that 2016 is the year I’m determined to get fitter, healthier and more active. Having lost (almost) 2 stone since the start of January, I am starting to see results a bit now and I’ve been walking and running on a regular basis. The trouble is, there are times when I have been motivated enough to do exercise (note how I didn’t say that I wanted to exercise!) but it’s simply been too cold or wet to make it viable. Add to that the weird allergy I have which has stumped doctors and ophthalmologists alike which cause my eyes to water uncontrollably from March through to September the moment I step outside giving me very unflattering eczema all around my eyes if I’m not careful, I know that my days of running outside are numbered, and having come this far I don’t want it all to go to pot!

So after thinking about it, we decided to upgrade my husband’s gym membership to a family membership as this will mean the children can swim for free too – they lost this right after they stopped their swimming lessons last year (a decision you can read about here).

This gym however is no David Lloyd – the closest one is 30 miles away unfortunately. This gym is just that – functional, good equipment but no Costa or Sunday carvery in sight!

I didn’t think I would ever find myself joining a gym, but although it’s more money, once we’ve factored in the children’s swimming now being free, I only actually have to go for 7 minutes a month to make it financially worthwhile – even I can manage that right?! Wish me luck!

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Gym-tastic? Or not?!

The other day was a very icy morning, so when I went out to the car and saw the frozen windscreen, I told the children we’d have to wait a bit before we could leave. Eventually, we got in the car but as I got onto the road, I realised that although the ice had melted, the windscreen itself was completed misted and I couldn’t see, so I told the children I needed to pull over.

At this point, my 6 year old son was flabbergasted:

“Mummy! Don’t stop! Sometimes things are difficult but you can’t just give up. You need to PERSEVERE!”

My children attend a Church of England primary school, and each month has a different Christian value as a focus throughout school. This month it was perseverance! After I’d made it clear I wasn’t ‘giving up’ but rather waiting for a chance to be safer, it was all ok!

However, perseverance is a funny one isn’t it? There are many things that frankly, children don’t have a choice over – their entire school days are made up of a curriculum they have to follow, and for many, home life operates with military precision to squeeze everything in that needs to be done – children and adults alike!

Clubs are one decision that my children have always made for themselves. Each term, they choose which school club (if any) they would like to do, and they have regular clubs outside of school too – both do gymnastics, my daughter goes to Brownies and my son is on the waiting list for Beavers, but I have been told that he’s unlikely to get a place before he’s too old to go! They’ve also had ballet, football and swimming but it’s difficult to know when is the right time to let them stop doing an activity – when it’s not ‘giving up’ but rather deciding something isn’t for you, because let’s face it, these after school activities aren’t kind to the bank balance either!

The swimming was the first activity to go – I was adamant that my children would have swimming lessons because I didn’t want them to fear the water, but I also wanted them to know its dangers and how to be safe, however they were so unenthused by their lessons that after a year of begging to stop, I gave in and now they go to public swimming sessions weekly instead – the enjoyment they get from these sessions has completely transformed the way they are around water – it was definitely the right decision, but only because they still swim regularly. My son on the other hand decided to stop going to football, because he didn’t like the fact that some of the other children kept trying to get the ball off him (we had a chat about some of the basics of the game)!

At the moment, Brownies and gymnastics are still happening, but I think the days are numbered with gymnastics as they don’t seem quite so enthusiastic about it as they were, it’s just such a tricky thing as we’re trying to encourage these activities as hobbies, yet when the children aren’t having fun, can they still be hobbies? Sometimes I think the answer can be yes, as my daughter is proof of…

If you follow me on Twitter or read my blog regularly, you’ll know that in my spare time I’m a primary school teacher, music specialist and I also teach privately at home. A couple of years ago, my daughter, aged only 6 at the time said after I finished teaching one night:

“Okay Mummy, I’ve been listening to you teaching through the walls and I think I know the songs now. When can I do my Grade 1?!”

I’ve never put any pressure on the children to choose music lessons just because it’s what I do, and any of you who have seen the amount of work the children need to put into getting ready for an exam will understand the concerns I had when my 6 year old daughter announced she wanted to have a go! It’s not just about performing the pieces accurately, the children also get assessed on their ability to read traditional music notation at sight and answer questions about music that they hear. The ABSRM exams are also very traditional and formal in their approach.

Nevertheless, my daughter was determined that she wanted a go, so I helped her prepare. She loved the performing but we had many tears over the sight singing until one day it clicked. Thankfully this day was literally the day before the exam, but I think both of us could have quite happily given up at times – in fact I went up to bed and found this once:

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When the results came out, not only had she passed her exam with Distinction, age 7, she’d only gone and got the highest mark I’d ever seen, not just in my career as a music teacher, but also in all the years I’d been taking those exams, and was subsequently invited to take part in the ABRSM High Achievers Concert! I’m so glad we persevered, and since then she’s got Grade 2 Distinction under her belt, and is getting ready to do Grade 3 next term!

 

So should we be pushing our children to carry on, or, if it’s supposedly a hobby, should they be able to make the choice not to if it isn’t something they enjoy, to give them the chance to find their niche? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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!

 

Mummy’s Little Swimmer!

Apologies but I have to warn you that this post is purely indulgent! One of the reasons I started blogging in the first place was because I’d read other people’s blogs and I thought it was a really good way of documenting your children’s development. Somebody’s blog always managed to brighten up my day or make me realise that in the grand scheme of things I probably was quite normal. I really enjoy blogging but I don’t do a new post every day because my life really isn’t that interesting, so I only blog when I have a purpose. My purpose today? To boast – my 3 year old daughter has learnt to swim!

I couldn’t swim until I was nearly 11. I only remember this because I went to a primary school with its own swimming pool so we had lessons every week. Those students who could swim wore a white swimming cap, while those like me who weren’t able to stay afloat for a whole length had to wear a red cap and bob around in the shallow end while the teacher taught everyone else – I know this could never be allowed to happen now! I got my white cap in my final half term of primary school.

This meant that I did miss out on quite a bit though, I never went to water parks, rapids, or even the diving boards, so I always wanted my own children to be confident around water.

I had a perfect water birth with my daughter and I’m sure it’s been said somewhere that if you’re born into water, you don’t fear it. I’m not however sure where I read this or if it’s true. I had the same intentions for my son, but didn’t quite make it to the maternity unit in time and had him on a toilet floor in the hospital foyer – I’m not sure this counts as a water birth technically!

My daughter has been having swimming lessons since she was 13 months old and we go swimming as a family at least once a week, and she is confident around water. This was evident on holiday last summer, when she was so keen to just get stuck in with all the other children, no fear at all! This was her first swimming outfit bought as a joke by her Godmother, but it still makes me smile even now!

She then went through a phase of only wanting to wear her swimming costume around the house…

Until recently, the thing that had been stopping her from swimming properly was a fear of getting her eyes wet. I bought some goggles that a friend recommended and I have to say that if you have the same issues, these goggles worked a miracle. She was diving down to the bottom of the pool fearlessly, instantly! I’m just so proud that last week, in her swimming lessoh, she swam an entire length of the pool, front crawl, no arm bands, no floats, just her. She was putting her head in and out, with the correct breathing technique (something I haven’t mastered even now!) and her glow of pride as she realised what she had done, made me well up like I haven’t it ages. It’s a moment that’s ingrained in my memory, that I wish I could have filmed.

We haven’t been swimming since yet, but she’s so excited about showing Daddy her new skills, so here she is trying to demonstrate in the bath – that’ll have to do for now!

Thank you for indulging my proud Mummy moment!