How to Help Your Child Catch Up at School When They’ve Fallen Behind

How to Help Your Child Catch Up at School When They’ve Fallen Behind

*collaborative post*

Hands up if lockdown massively impacted your child’s education? I am sure every single one of you have your hand firmly in the air right now. My eldest has really struggled in school since returning ‘back to normal’ in September. Homes schooling didn’t go well for us and my eight year old is now having to relearn his times tables and basic spellings. He’s fallen behind like many of his classmates but I know in time he will be back on track. If you your child has fallen behind at school, today’s guest post is full of advice on how you can help them to catch up.

View Post

5 signs you’re burnt out from pandemic parenting

5 signs you’re burnt out from pandemic parenting

Does anyone else feel like they have a hangover? Not a hangover from drinking too much gin last night but a sort of jet lagged and jaded feeling from parenting through this pandemic? The last year has completely wiped me out. Lockdown 1.0 was hell, wasn’t it? Attempting homeschool for the first time, only leaving the house once a day for a walk around the block and trying to keep all three kids happy and entertained whilst confined to our house that felt like it was shrinking by the hour. It was a lot. And don’t get me started on the stress and anxiety that we were all drowning in every day.

Doomscrolling was at its peak during the first lockdown and every day we watched the death toll rise on the news like the victors seeing their dead rivals faces flash in the sky each night in The Hunger Games. Oh, and of course many of us were also trying to work from home whilst being a full time teacher, kids entertainer and snack bitch 24/7.

Then life went a bit back to normal, then we locked down again, then things started opening back up before we were thrust into the most depressing lockdown of them all over the bleak winter months. And now everything is opening up again, apparently for good this time and fuck, I am exhausted! The stress of the last year has left me feeling like I might never recover from parenting through this pandemic. I feel like parental burnout is a pandemic with a life of its own, we’re all dog tired and frazzled, right?

Do you feel like you’re permanently hungover from the events of the last year? Here are 5 signs you might be burnt out from parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

5 signs you’re burnt out from pandemic parenting.

1 You’ve dropped your parenting standards and you don’t have the energy to care – Your kids are still clean and fed and loved but you exhausted all your energy doing PE with Joe and daily crafting and impromptu living room dance parties during lockdown. Pre Covid you may have had strict screen time rules in place but now? Well now the kids electronic devices may as well be permanently super glued to their hands because they never put them down anyway. You baked so much banana bread during lockdown you can’t bear the sight of a mixing bowl and wooden spoon and the glitter and paints now live on the top shelf in the tallest cupboard because the daily craft sessions have left you feeling like you never want to see a single speck of glitter ever again. After months of intense parenting at home you no longer have the energy to be fun CBeebies mum anymore and will happily let the TV babysit for longer than is probably acceptable.

2 You’re always tired – Whether you get five hours ls broken sleep or a solid eight hour stretch, it doesn’t make any difference because you’re always tired. If the kids would allow it you would take a nap after breakfast, another after lunch and another while Peppa Pig takes over for half an hour and it still wouldn’t be enough sleep. The stress and uncertainty of the last year has left you both physically and mentally wiped out and you feel like the only cure for this intense fatigue is to sleep for a whole year. Being a parent is tiring anyway, that’s not a secret, but parenting through a pandemic is a whole other level of exhausting and I could be caffeinated up to my eyeballs and still feel like I could fall asleep at any given moment throughout the day.

DSC_0275

3 You’re touched out – Cuddles from your kids are the absolute best thing ever, agreed? Before the pandemic my answer the this would be yes and whilst I still do love cuddles with my little ones I do find myself craving personal space a lot more these days. After a year of being used as a human climbing frame, having family meetings in the bathroom while I try to use the toilet and just having kids under my feet constantly, I now sort of want to look myself away for a week where no one come anywhere near me. I want my own mama style quarantine, I want to hide up in my bedroom with all the snacks and coffee and books and Netflix all to myself where no child can find me and try to climb up my legs like a little hyperactive monkey. I am craving peace and quiet so much I feel like an eighty year old librarian. Do you feel the same? Like you have been fully accessible to your kids for so long and now you need a little staycation in your bedroom to recover from it all? Kids please give me all the cuddles but also please understand that when I ask you not to hang off me and clamber all over me it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I’m exhausted from you all using me a piece of play apparatus for the last year.

4 You’re patience is wearing thin – My patience is running so thin lately it is almost invisible. I have patience in abundance when it comes to my kids and it’s one of the areas of motherhood I always feel like I cope really well with. Calm voice, deep breaths, get down to their level and be kind and understanding, I have always had it down. However parenting through all the lockdowns and dealing with the shit show that was homeschooling, I can feel my patience starting to ebb away. Shouty mummy has started to show up more often than I’d like and sometime all the yoga breathing in the world isn’t enough to stop the mama rage from starting to bubble beneath the surface. I am just so tired and the strain and pressure of the past year as started to chip away at my and big chunks of patience are starting to fall away.

5 You need a holiday, like yesterday – I need a holiday sooo bad! I want a lovely family holiday, of course I do, but before that I want to go away by myself. It doesn’t even need to be a fancy five star all inclusive holiday. Give me a caravan on top of a cliff or a single bed in a budget hotel or even an air b&b somewhere just an hour away. I need to spend time alone to decompress after the pandemic and a hot bubble bath in the evenings just isn’t enough to cut it anymore. I need some real me time where no one needs me and the only persons wants I have to answer to are my own. Of course Mother Nature will undoubtedly be cruel and make me miss the kids within an hour, but I don’t think I’ve ever needed a holiday more in my whole life. I guess Oli could come for a few days too as our relationship has been seriously neglected over the last 12 months. Mostly though I want a week to myself, ideally somewhere with room service but I will settle for a tent in a deserted field if that’s my only option.

***

Do you feel like you haven’t recovered from parenting during the pandemic? Do you feel more exhausted from ever and think you might be burnt out too? What are your plans for testing and recovering this difficult year?

How to encourage your child’s creativity

How to encourage your child’s creativity

*collaborative post*

Were you creative as a child? I have always a had a little creative spark I think, I can remember exploring my imagination often when I was a little girl. I was always drawing and colouring, I loved to create complex storylines and games with my Barbie dolls and I was forever scribbling in fluffy covered diaries with scented gel pens (do you remember those?). Now I am a mum and I try my best to encourage my kids to be creative too. We do crafts, we draw and play dress up and make believe. Of course sometimes I let the TV parent for a while but for the most part I try to help develop my children’s imaginations and creative sides. Do you want to learn how to encourage your child’s creativity? Today’s guest post is full of ideas to get you started.  View Post

5 tips for entertaining kids at a wedding

5 tips for entertaining kids at a wedding

*collaborative post*
Confession time, I have only taken my kids to a wedding once. And when I say kids, I mean kid. And when I say kid I mean a 9 month old baby. It was fine, it was my sisters wedding and Leo was still small so could easily be distracted by a quick stroll in the pram or a feed. If I got invited to a wedding now I would be way too terrified to take all three kids along. Sometimes you can’t get childcare though and other times you want your kids to join in the fun, but how do you keep kids entertained at a wedding? If you have a wedding coming up and the kids are tagging along for the nuptials then today’s guest post shares 5 top tips for entertaining kids at a wedding. View Post

How to sleep better as a parent – the frazzled mum’s guide

How to sleep better as a parent – the frazzled mum’s guide

*collaborative post* 

Before I became a parent I took sleep for granted. I mean, I really just didn’t appreciate at all how lucky I was to just go to sleep for as long as I wanted (and needed). As soon as you have kids sleep completely changes and a good night’s sleep is no longer a sure thing. There is lots of advice and guidance on how to get your baby to sleep better, but what can you do as a parent to get a more restful sleep? This guest post has some sleep tips that you may not have tried before. I hope the advice here helps you on your mission to sleep better and feel more rested.  View Post

Normalising screen time – you don’t need to feel guilty if your kid loves screens.

Normalising screen time – you don’t need to feel guilty if your kid loves screens.

I used to be the perfect parent. This was back before I actually had any kids of my own, of course. When I eventually decided to have them, my kids were going to be great sleepers, they were not going to be let within a mile of a dummy and all their food would be fresh and homemade. I wouldn’t shout, I would have a bottomless well of patience to draw from and there would be no need for tantrums as my kids would just happily go along with everything I said. Also, no one would ever judge me for letting my child have screen time because their precious little eyes would not be allowed to look at any kind of electronic device until they were at least five and they would be 100% onboard with this rule. View Post

Finding a babysitter with childcare.co.uk

Finding a babysitter with childcare.co.uk

*sponsored post*

Having children is amazing and I love being a mum. You know what though, sometimes I need a break. We all do, don’t we? We spent a few years living away from all our friends and family and during that time we had zero childcare. Let me tell you something, having two kids and not having anyone to look after them every once in a while was hard. I wish back then I had known about childcare.co.uk , a website that helps you easily find hundreds of babysitters and childminders in your local area. Now we live in Swansea and pre-pandemic my parents would look after the three kids in the evenings for us sometimes so Oli and I could have a date night or they would be there if we needed some last minute childcare. Not everyone is lucky enough to live close to family though and may not know anyone who can recommend a babysitter, this is where childcare.co.uk comes in. I recently reviewed the childcare.co.uk website, read on to find out just how easy it is to find a babysitter near you by using their website.  View Post

Covid testing school aged children – is it just a cough or is it coronavirus?

Covid testing school aged children – is it just a cough or is it coronavirus?

Can we talk about Covid testing and school for a minute? My eldest started back at school on the 3rd of September and Alex, my middle one, started back on the 14th. It is now the 24th and today I have had to pick them both up because Alex has a cough. The school gave us a home testing kit and when we got home I held my breath and swabbed the back of my three year olds throat, trying not to make him sick when the bud touched his tonsils. He gagged, eyes bulging and I nearly cried. It was not a pleasant experience for either of us. View Post

5 lessons I’ve learnt in the first week back at school

5 lessons I’ve learnt in the first week back at school

It’s Friday and wow does it feel like a Friday! I am EXHAUSTED. Leo has just completed his first full week back at school and he has smashed it. After so many months off I was worried that there may have been lots of overtired meltdowns this week or that the novelty of being back in the classroom would fade fast. At the end of week one in year 3 though, Leo is happy and smiling and doesn’t seem tired at all. As Leo settles back into school life, I have been trying to get back into the rhythm of the school run mum routine and I have learnt a few things in this first week back. I thought I would share my lessons of being a parent of a school aged child during a pandemic (still can’t believe we’re living through a pandemic!) with you all. Let me know how the first week back has been for you in the comments.  View Post

Back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic – a letter to Leo

Back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic – a letter to Leo

Dear Leo,

You did it! Your first day of year 3, your first day in juniors and, most unbelievably, your first day back in school after six months off. Yes, that’s right..six months. Not six weeks, six MONTHS!

Yesterday was like Christmas Eve, you were so excited, asking me all day if it was nearly bedtime as you couldn’t wait for today to arrive. I am so proud of you. I thought you might have been anxious about going back to school after so long at home, I was worried you might get upset at the school gates and not want to go in. I had no reason to worry – you smashed it!

You were up bright and early this morning, there were none of the usual grumbles over breakfast and instead of protesting, when I asked you to change into your uniform, you did it with an enthusiasm usually reserved for when I say you can play on Mario or get a biscuit out of the biscuit tin. There was a bit of a blip to our otherwise organised morning when I discovered your drop off time was twenty minutes earlier than I thought but we still all made it out of the house on time.

Standing in the socially distanced queue along the pavement outside school you were excited. Chatting away to me like it was just another day, not phased at all that you were heading into the same school building you’ve always known, only now you would have lots of new rules to learn and follow. Year 3 were called to go in and I saw your face drop, I felt your hand grip mine more tightly than before and for the first time I heard you say, “I’m a bit nervous”. We hugged, I told you it would all be fine and I walked you – probably closer than I should have – up to the gate so you could find your line. Another quick hug and off you went, off to start your year 3 adventure, finally about to be reunited with all your friends you have missed so much since the schools closed in March.

Me and Alex missed you so much today Leo. I’ve felt so lost! I won’t pretend that I haven’t been desperate for this day. It has been really difficult looking after you, Alex and Tilly over lockdown. You know I love you to infinity and beyond but parenting you all during this pandemic has been challenging. I hope looking back on this time you can remember all the fun we’ve had: picnics in the garden, watching films and eating popcorn at 10am, rejoicing when the playgrounds reopened and running around on the beach once we were allowed to venture further from home again.

I hope you forget about the more difficult times: the times I’ve shouted a bit too much because I was so stressed, the times I’ve cried through sheer exhaustion, the times we’ve had arguments and you’ve cried and screamed and we’ve not been very happy at all. I hope you forget those times but understand why they happened too. Whilst lockdown had lots of positives – I loved not having to rush you around everywhere and just enjoying your company – there were some negatives too. Mummy’s and Daddy’s are supeheroes (of course we are!) but even Batman likes to chill out in solitude in the Bat Cave, doesn’t he? It’s been hard not having anytime for myself, I need peace and quiet sometimes to recharge. As you like to point out often, I am outnumbered by you kids massively when Daddy is at work! So that’s why I have been a bit more shouty than usual, I hope you can forgive me. This is also why I was excited for you to go back to school, you could see your friends again and get back to your education and I could have some much needed time to decompress after a full on six months, and be a better mummy again because of it.

But today when I got home with the two little ones and you weren’t here, I felt so sad. I hadn’t expected it at all. I thought I would feel a weight lifted off my shoulders but instead there was a different weight, the heaviness of the silences that filled the house without you in it. You know what Alex is like, he’s a boy of few words and was happy to just play by himself for the first few hours. I tried  to get involved with his games but he may as well have swatted me away like you would a fly. He didn’t want to play with me, he only wanted you. Tilly decided to nap for hours and hours today and that only made your absence more noticeable. Honestly Leo, I knew I would miss you but I wasn’t prepared for just how much.

So when it was time to pick you up we, of course, left early. I stood in the awkwardly distanced crowd outside the gate, Alex was eagerly looking around for you and Tilly munched on some crisps (I can’t be sure but I think she was excited to see you too). Then you appeared! You were smiling, happy and running towards me with your arms wide open and as you crashed into me I felt whole for the first time all day. Alex jumped down from his buggy board and pushed me out of the way, desperate to get his hug too. “I missed you so much Eo”, he said as he wrapped his arms perhaps a bit too tightly around your neck.

There we all were, the four of us back together again after a day where time managed to feel like it was standing still and flying by simultaneously. Shockingly, you told me aaall about your day on our walk home. I was privy to information I never got to hear prior to lockdown. You told me who you sat by, what you did at playtime, what work you did, what topics you have coming up and you even spoke animatedly about all the things you will be doing for Christmas (it’s too soon for that chat, by the way).

You’ve been a dream since you got home, playing happily, not arguing over snacks and you even waited patiently for Daddy to get home before you had your screen time. I’m under no illusion that this will all last. Once the novelty wears off I am sure you will go back to grunting at me when I ask how your day has been, refusing to reveal any information , keeping your stories held close to your chest like cards in a poker match. As the term goes on and the frequent early starts and busy days start to catch up with you, I am sure there will be more after school tantrums and arguments with your brother. I hope this won’t happen as often as it did before, but I don’t expect this unpleasant part of our weekdays to have completely vanished either. For now though, I am going to soak up all your joy, listen intently as you spill all the details of your day to me and savour all those giant hugs you give me when I pick you up at home time.

What about the virus? You might be wondering. Well, obviously I am worried for you but I am confident you are in safe hands. School have got all their covid guidelines in place and I know that keeping all you children safe is their main priority. If I need to keep you home because of an outbreak then I will, I won’t complain as I know it will be the best thing to do. You’re a good boy, you remember to cough into your elbow, you’re a hand washing expert now and I know you will have no problem doing as the teachers ask.

It’s weird, we’ve waited so long for this day Leo and now it’s over! You’ve made Mummy and Daddy so proud. It’s made this transition into the ‘new normal’ so much easier for us knowing how much you have wanted to be back in the classroom with all your friends.

I hope you’re ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Love you Leo,

Mummy xxx

 

How to enjoy the motherhood experience right from the start

How to enjoy the motherhood experience right from the start

*collaborative post*

Being a new mum is such an overwhelming and emotional time. I can remember being absolutely besotted with Leo but completely terrified at the same time. I had an actual baby, a teeny tiny human I was responsible for and it felt pretty scary at times. It can be hard to enjoy every moment of new motherhood, there are so many changes happening at once and so many new things to get used to. For many women, those early days as a mum aren’t always as they had imagined. Today’s guest post is full of advice on how to enjoy motherhood right from the start, featuring some really practical and actionable tips. View Post

4 ways to beat the lockdown blues – tips on survivng lockdown for mums

4 ways to beat the lockdown blues – tips on survivng lockdown for mums

*collaborative post*

Lockdown is over! Or isn’t it? Anyone else finding it hard to keep up? More businesses and places are opening up to the public and lockdown is definitely easing but Covid-19 is still lurking amongst us and no one would judge you for wanting to stay safe at home for a little longer. We are going out more, the kids have been to the playground a few times and Oli and I have been out to the pub and for a meal in a restaurant but I do still feel uneasy when we have been out a lot in a short space of time. If  you are still staying at home more often than not with the kids, then it is totally understandable if you are feeling down and a bit miserable. Lockdown life as a mum is hard, I still don’t know how I managed to survive the strictest weeks of lockdown with my three kids! If you are finding life at home tough, today’s guest post is full of tips on how to boost your mood and feel better while staying at home with the kids. View Post

10 things to consider when looking for nurseries for your child

10 things to consider when looking for nurseries for your child

*collaborative post*

Sending your child to nursery or childcare is a BIG DEAL. I remember looking around nurseries when Leo was a baby and finding the whole process really emotional and overwhelming. I ended up getting a job in the evenings so he didn’t have to go but he did eventually go to a play school and Alex goes to a nursery school. There’s a lot to consider when choosing  a childcare setting for your baby, today’s guest post is full of advice to help you on your quest to find the perfect nursery for your little one. View Post

Do other mums find lockdown this hard?

Do other mums find lockdown this hard?

I’ve just finished getting the kids to bed, I am sat with my sleeping baby in my arms and I am crying. Everything feels too much today. Everything feels too much most days, actually. Before lockdown I think I was doing ok, just about managing to keep my head above the water. Now, 6 or 7 weeks in, the weight of all the changes and the fear and disruption the virus is causing are starting to pull me down. A lot of the time I feel moments away from drowning. It’s just too hard.


View Post

The importance of not comparing yourself to other parents during school closures

The importance of not comparing yourself to other parents during school closures

I’ve just made myself feel really rubbish. It’s the first official day of school closures due to the Coronavirus outbreak and I’m already beating myself up for not doing enough. I’m sat feeding Til off to sleep and having a scroll through Insta – the usual – and I’ve been bombarded with other mums posting everything they’ve been up to today with the kids. (I would like to stress that the current time is 12.18pm before I continue typing the rest of this post.) So, I have so far seen posts from parents who’s children have already completed work sheets for maths, reading, arts and crafts, been outside on scavenger hunts and played shops with real money and real snacks. Lots of people got their kids jumping around for PE with Joe this morning on YouTube, this is one activity I can also tick off the list. Everything else though? No, we haven’t done anything educational so far today.

The importance of not comparing yourself to other parents during school closures

I feel like everyone is going at the homeschooling thing with their feet pressed down to the ground on the accelerator while I’m lagging right at the back, still getting seat belted in for this bumpy ride. Seeing everyone far out teacher/mum me over on Instagram has made me feel like a failure so I had to stop my scrolling thumb in its tracks and write this blog post instead.

I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way? If you haven’t already achieved a full school day worth of work, or done any at all, by midday then don’t worry – nor have I! It’s ok to already have succumbed to screen time, it’s ok if you haven’t so much as found a pen and paper, let alone asked your child to practice their hand writing on it. It’s ok if the paints and PVA glue are still firmly tucked away in the craft drawer. The children are going to be at home for four weeks at the very least, you’ve got time.

It’s also really important to remember that the kids aren’t at home because teachers have suddenly decided us parents could do a better job. Schools are closed to help stop the spread of a deadly virus that is on a killer rampage across the globe. Our children are home with us so we can keep them (and others) safe, they are not home because we suddenly have to teach them everything they were learning at school.

Social media makes it so easy to compare yourself to others and these comparisons can make us feel inferior and like we are letting our kids down. You are not doing your children any harm if you don’t have a colour coded timetable stuck to the fridge. My approach to ‘home schooling’ is going to be very laid back. Why? It’s not because I’m lazy or because I can’t be bothered. It’s because this is a scary, stressful and totally overwhelming situation and I don’t want it to be any more challenging for myself and my kids than it already will be. I have a list of things we are going to do, there will be reading and writing and worksheets and arts and crafts and everything that everyone else is doing, it just won’t all be today..maybe not even this week.

I don’t know about you but my brain is full of the news at the moment and it’s stressing me out no end. I don’t want to feel more stressed and if my six year old doesn’t want to do something and I’m trying to make him then I can tell you now, that situation is going to get really stressful, really fast. I’m not saying I’m not willing to deal with some challenging behaviours, I’m just saying I don’t want to be upsetting my child unnecessarily at an already upsetting time.

If you are one of the mums who have had your kids learning all day already and have a star chart and a schedule and maybe even a blackboard set up in the living room then please don’t think I’m judging you. I know you’re not posting everything you’ve done to boast or make others feel inferior. You’re just sharing your home schooling/self isolating journey and that’s totally your rite to do so. I think in situations where people are struggling with comparison, it is up to that person to distance themselves from the thing that is triggering them. For me, today at least, Instagram has pressed my ‘compare and despair’ button so I won’t be looking at it as much for the rest of the day.

It is important for us all the remember that none of us have been in this situation before. None of us know the best way to do this self isolation/social distancing/homeschooling thing, we are just trying our best to follow guidelines whilst keeping ourselves and our children safe. Now is not a time to be beating yourself up over the fact you haven’t done as much home learning with your children as others have. This is the first day of missed school, it’s fine to ease yourself in gently and take baby steps into your new life as a teacher and mother. Now, when anxiety levels are high and positive mental attitude may be running low, you need to be kind to yourself.

As with every little thing in parenting, do what feels right for you and your family. For me, right now, the thing that feels right is cuddling my baby close as she finishes her feed and then I am going to go play on the floor with the boys. Be kind to yourself mama, please.

View Post