It doesn’t matter where we go!

The River Lune

We went on holiday over Easter. We hadn’t been on holiday in what seemed like forever and I was looking forward to it so much. The Lake District was our destination of choice and the children had requested their favourite things to do whilst we were there. Walks along the river, trips to the park and lunch in a cafe were among the top requests. The car was tightly packed with more stuff than we actually needed, the children were buckled in, the sat nav indicated a straightforward journey and we were off… “muuuuum, she stuck her tongue out at me”, “muuuuuum, he hit me”, “muuuuuuuuuuum, she is a poo head”.

We hadn’t got 2 minutes down the road before the arguments started. We had an hour and 40 minute journey ahead of us and I wasn’t sure that all 5 of us would make it intact! One of us was going to lose their hearing from the screaming or at the very least lose their mind from the constant bickering. I don’t know why, but my children can’t seem to be in the same space as each other without an argument starting out of thin air! Many threats of informing teachers and grandparents of this behaviour, a few bribes of sweets upon arrival, numerous cries of “I need a wee” and 1 projectile vomiting incident later and we were finally there. I don’t think that I have ever needed a large gin more in all of my life.

When we go up to the Lake District, we stay in a 1 bed flat owned by a family member. We realise how lucky we are to have access to this place in such a beautiful part of the world but being a family of 5 in a rather confined space has its downsides. For instance, all of us sleeping in 1 room! It sounds kind of fun when you first think about it. It feels like a bit of an adventure when you first do it. However, when you end up having to go to bed at the same time of the children so as to avoid WW3 and when you are still muttering “FFS, will you please go to sleep” at midnight, it soon loses its appeal. Another issue we had was trying to get the children to understand that the people who lived in the flat below did not wish to hear thundering footsteps and banshee wailing at 6am. I seriously spent most of the time that we were indoors telling the children to stop running or to stop screaming or to stop jumping off the bed. It was exhausting.

Now don’t get me wrong, the whole holiday wasn’t awful. We did have nice walks along the river and trips to the park. We even managed lunch in our favourite cafe without too much arguing or misbehaving. However we also had tantrums whilst walking around the gorgeous grounds of Allan Bank (even though we were doing a fabulous Easter trail at the time), cries of “you are the worst Mummy ever” because M couldn’t have my phone to watch YouTube whilst we were admiring the stunning Coniston Lake and the surprise of the RAF jets that roared above it and more threats than I can count of “if you dare do that again we are packing up and going home”. I could sit here and show you the Instagram worthy pictures of a family having fun and make you think that we had an idyllic break away from everyday life. Or, I could tell you that our holiday was just as stressful as being at home, just in a prettier location.

At first I was disappointed. I had been looking forward to our holiday for a long time and had built this perfect image in my head. But I soon realised that I was putting too much pressure on myself and the children. I had forgotten that my children were not going to magically change their normal behaviour just because we were in a different location. I am not excusing their behaviour by any means (there is a reason that I am the worst Mummy in the world and it usually comes in the form of a technology ban) but just because we were on holiday it didn’t mean that they were automatically going to get along with each other and turn into angels. I had to let go of my vision of the perfect family get away and make do with the fact that it doesn’t matter where we go, my children will still behave like they always do. I could take my children to paradise and one of them still wouldn’t like the way another one looked at them!

Next time we go on holiday I demand an all inclusive hotel with a kids club!!

Do your children behave better than usual when on holiday?

A child of two halves

This month we have been to two very positive parents evenings. Mr K and I have sat there and listened to how our 2 eldest children are polite, friendly, hard working and good listeners. We have been told that they have excellent manners and they try their best. They may, at times, be rather talkative and S (formally baby boy but now that he is 8 it doesn’t seem quite so fitting) needs to remember his capital letters and full stops, but they have settled in brilliantly at their new school and are a joy to be around! I honestly couldn’t wish to be told anything better. I do have one question though… where are the children that I know at home?

Ok, so I obviously know that my children do have those good qualities and I do see them. My children are friendly and kind. They do have good manners at times and they are very talkative. But goodness me, how I sometimes wish that I could have the school version of my children when at home! Instead I get the tantrums, the screaming, the fighting with each other, the “I hate you”, the “no I won’t tidy my room”, the “you are mean”, the refusing to go to sleep and the not sleeping in their own beds. It seems like school get one half of my children and I get the opposite half! I am glad that my children are well behaved at school, don’t get me wrong. I used to teach and I know first hand how hard it can be to have a disruptive class, but I just wish that my children could continue with their school persona when at home.

We had literally only just finished S’ parents evening today and weren’t even home before S started to shout at his sisters because of a small, insignificant misdemeanor. M retaliated by mimicking S in a silly voice which almost caused an accident when S tried to reach over E in, what I can only assume, was an attempt to recreate a recent scene from The Oscars! On arriving home, the fact that tea was going to take 30 minutes to cook made me the “worst mum in the world” followed by E being the “worst sister ever” because she was, admittedly, being extremely annoying and trying to take M’s place on the sofa, kicking and elbowing M out of the way in the process. Requests to do homework are frequently met with eye rolling on a good day, flat out refusal most of the time or a full blown meltdown¬† if I am really lucky. If I dare to ask one of my children to pick up a toy that doesn’t belong to them (or even a toy that does belong to them) it is the end of the world and God forbid they are not allowed time on the PlayStation!

I talk to other Mums in the playground and they laugh when I tell them what my children are like at home.¬† I am met with “what, really? Surely not! They couldn’t possibly be like that. They look like butter wouldn’t melt”. Oh believe me, those little angels were screaming blue murder and trying to decapitate one another only 2 hours ago. Only the other day, a fellow Mum told me how nice it must be to have 3 children as they must entertain each other and be so close. Yep, it is a day at the park… Jurassic Park!

I know, I know… I am their safe place. I must sound ungrateful. My children are my world and I wouldn’t trade them for anything (well maybe uninterrupted sleep). I have done the research and read the reports. At home is where they feel safe and secure. Here they are free to let out their feelings because they are loved unconditionally. And they honestly are loved unconditionally! But seriously, why can’t they feel safe, secure and loved without being little twats!!

Do your children have dual personalities?

Image Credit – Moms Got Ink on Facebook

Messy bedrooms – the bane of my life!

I am not the tidiest person in the world. I fully admit this fact! I have my reasons for this that I may go into further another time but it is safe to say that I am no domestic goddess. I do however try to at least be a little bit organised. When we moved into our new house last year I was determined that the bedrooms were going to be calm, organised and tidy spaces worthy of Instagram. Bedrooms, in my opinion, are safe spaces and I suppose I had an idealist view of how they would look. Fast forward 5 months and it has become apparent that I was clearly off my head when I imagined that scenario! The girl’s bedroom currently looks like there was an explosion in a toy factory.

I had such good intentions when we bought our first house (we had previously rented). I wasn’t going to allow our home to be overtaken by clutter and mess. With 2 girls sharing a room, I knew that I had to have an organisation system and so a friend of mine made me some vinyl stickers to go on the storage boxes that we already had. It was a genius idea! Every toy had a place and the girls would know exactly where everything belonged. Call me naive but I honestly thought that it would work. I honestly thought that a 6 and 3 year old would actually give a damn about putting toys away! Yes, I admit it… I am an idiot. At this exact moment in time those carefully labelled storage boxes are strewn carelessly across the floor. Barbies lie in a heap, their arms and legs akimbo, a silent scream of desperation on their perfect faces. Jigsaws are scattered around the room, now forever missing that final piece. Toys, so thoughtfully chosen by family and friends, disregarded and forgotten about. It honestly makes me want to scream!

I may not be the tidiest person in the world but I do care about my belongings and so I don’t understand why my children appear to view their toys and other items as disposable. I am forever being heard to shout the famous last words “you won’t be happy when Father Christmas doesn’t bring you any toys this year because you don’t look after the ones you already have”. It is an idle threat though and everyone knows that! Come Christmas morning my living room will be covered in wrapping paper, the same as every other year and no amount of threats will change that. I do however need to change the outlook of the children with regards to their belongings. I do not want to raise spoilt brats who think that it is ok to discard possessions and leave them in a heap to be stood on and broken just because they can’t be bothered to tidy them away. Taking away toys and technology doesn’t seem to work and no amount of coercion or bribery has any effect. After a week of asking them to tidy up the mess themselves and then offering to do it together, I just end up admitting defeat and tackling the destruction myself.

I have been told that my children are too young to tidy up themselves and that I am expecting too much from them. I have even been told that I am mean! I do not think that they are too young though. They are old enough to get the toys that they want out of the box that they live in and so, in my opinion, they are old enough to put the toys back in that same box. I am not asking them to sweep the chimney (we don’t actually have a chimney but you get the point)!

Now I understand that there are worse things in life than a messy bedroom but right now the messy bedroom is stressing me out. I need to get it sorted and not be back in the exact same position 3 days later because believe me, if I stand on one more lego piece I am going to lose my mind and the neighbours won’t appreciate the language or blood curdling screams! I thought that the organisation I had in place would be enough but I didn’t factor in the world’s most stubborn child and a 6 going on 16 year old. What is the return period on your own children? Have we passed the full refund stage? I guess that until I find a fool proof way to keep my house tidy or my children, by some miracle, dramatically improve their attitude, I am stuck muttering “for f**k sake” under my breath whilst throwing naked, plastic bodies into a box.

Do your children keep their rooms tidy?

Failing Working Mummy

You can have it all, they said. A fulfilling career, a loving family and a beautiful home. You can be a successful woman. They lied!

Juggling. Balancing. Trying. Failing.

That is probably the best way to describe how I feel at the moment. I’ve never been in the running for Mum and wife of the year and I’ve definitely never been able to call myself a domestic goddess but my children have been happy and Mr K has been safe in the knowledge that the house, if messy, has not been harbouring a deadly disease under a pile of washing. Since returning to work however, my just about balanced life has tumbled over, my spinning plates have come crashing down and my life raft has deserted me (it was probably eaten by the large stuffed animal shark that baby boy has developed a new attachment to). I am sinking.

Of course I can handle a job as well as raise 2 young children and keep the house in a liveable condition! Those infamous last thoughts when I accepted the full time teaching role have played on my mind every day. Well fair play to you life, the joke is on me. Was I being too cocky? Did I need bringing down a peg or two?  Whatever the reason, you have certainly done your best to knock me off balance. Well played, life, well played!

On a typical week day at the moment I probably see my children for a grand total of an hour and half. It’s not quality time. That hour and a half is spent getting them up and dressed, giving them breakfast whilst preparing their packed lunch, driving them to the childminder, picking them up from the childminder, giving them a bath and putting them (with firm opposition from baby boy) to bed. Not exactly the fun family life I dreamed of. The weekend is slightly better. I at least get a day with my family, amidst trying to get semi on top of the housework, before spending Sunday doing planning and marking ready for another week at school. I am missing out on so much. I am missing out of the fun and laughter, on trips to the park, on collecting conkers, on jumping in muddy puddles, on learning to wave, on kicking leaves and countless other small things. Don’t get me wrong, my children are still doing all of these things. They are doing them on a daily basis but with a bunch of lovely ladies who look after them with fantastic care and love. I know that my children are doing these things because I get to read about them on the information sheet that comes home when I pick my children up each evening. My relationship with my children has become an hour and a half of necessary tasks and a daily log!

At least I have a great job, right? Well maybe I’m the most ungrateful person in the world but I am really starting to resent spending more time with other people’s children than my own. Teaching was my dream job and maybe my dreams have changed or the reality of staying up past midnight every single night to complete the necessary marking and paperwork is just unfeasible since the children arrived but I am feeling the love slowly dissipate. The daily stresses and insane workload that a career in education bring seem to have trebled since I qualified just 6 years ago and I am just not sure that I am cut out for the totally life consuming dedication that is required and expected from today’s teachers.  The bills still need to be paid though and despite regularly applying for jobs in other sectors, it seems that I am now only qualified to teach. I just don’t know how to escape!

Life has a way of throwing everything at you all at once and then adding in that extra little kick whilst you are down. It happens to all of us but that doesn’t make it easier. In fact, the knowledge that others around us have their own problems just pushes us to keep our own struggles to ourselves. Not wanting to burden our loved ones we push on through the daily grind, burying our true feelings. It’s just the way it is. Ok, so maybe I am generalising and that is not true for everyone. Maybe there are people out there who openly admit that they need support and not let themselves be bogged down. I applaud those people and if I’m honest, I’m a little jealous of them. I myself, just try to plod on through with a fake smile and a nod of my head when asked if everything is well. I’m just not sure how long I can keep it up this time.

Image credit – http://www.thebackoffice.eu/lisas-top-tips-for-working-mums/

 

Car Seats – know the law!

There are certain topics that are always sure to start a debate (or argument) amongst parents. Forward facing car seats is one of those hot topics. Now I am a keen advocate of extended rear facing car seats (my first post on the subject). Baby boy has a car seat that will keep him rear facing until roughly the age of 5 and baby girl will have the same. These car seats have been shown to be 5x safer in the event of an accident and the crash test footage, for me, just confirms my choice. That being said, if a parent chooses to move their child to a forward facing seat at a younger age then that is up to them. No one should judge or condemn them as it is a valid parenting choice – AS LONG AS IT IS LEGAL!

Over the past year I have heard so many parents say that they don’t understand which car seat to use. There are countless posts on social media and parenting forums asking for car seat advice and twice as many answers giving bad advice! I am shocked at how many parents don’t know the law with regards to car seats!

On 1st April 2015, i-Size (a European safety standard – ECE R129) became official UK legislation. I personally don’t feel that this law has been properly explained to parents and it certainly hasn’t had the media coverage that it needed. There are far too many people who either have no idea of its existence or just don’t fully understand it. The i-Size law means that children using a height based car seat (i-Size car seat) must stay rear facing in this seat until they are at least 15 months old. At the moment this only applies to i-Size car seats so don’t start to worry if your 12 month old is forward facing in a non i-Size seat. However, if you do have an i-Size car seat and your child is facing forward earlier than 15 months old then you are breaking the law.

Some i-size car seats:

Maxi Cosi Two Way Pearl, Maxi Cosi Axissfix, BeSafe iZi iSize, BeSafe Modular, Joie iAnchor, Nuna Rebl, Concord Reverso.

http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com

If you don’t have an i-Size car seat then the ECE R44/04 law still applies. This law allows your child to use a forward facing car seat once they weigh at least 9kg. If your child is in a forward facing car seat below this weight limit then you are breaking the law!

It really is that simple. If you have an i-Size seat your child stays rear facing until 15 months and if you don’t have an i-Size seat then they must rear face until they weigh at 9kg.

Now as I said, I am a firm believer in children rear facing until at least age 4 and if you want your child to stay rear facing for longer that’s great. There are some fantastic extended rear facing car seats on the market now and they are becoming increasingly budget friendly!

However, if you choose to have your child forward face that’s fine. It is completely your decision. Just know and follow the law!

Image credit – http://www.mylittlecar.fr/lhistoire-hallucinante-du-siege-bebe/