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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard Princess Dianna had died? Or when you first heard the news of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York? Or when Michael Jackson died, or the Manchester Arena bombings happened, or when our future king Prince George was born? These were all big news, and if we all think hard enough we can probably remember what we were doing and who we were with when the news broke. I don’t remember the first time I heard the word Coronavirus, or who I was with or what I was doing. Yet, now every time I turn on the television, pick up my phone or speak to a loved one, it is the only thing being discussed. Not only is Covid19 big news, it is global news. It is life changing news. View Post
I can remember dreading potty training when Leo was a toddler. I just didn’t understand how my baby was going to go from doing all his toilet business in a nappy to suddenly figuring out how to use a potty. When it actually came time to take the plunge and there was no ignoring all the signs Leo was ready, I discovered that potty training wasn’t as stressful as I’d expected it to be. With all things parenting, you have to figure out yourself what works best for you and tour child but it’s always beneficial to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. If you are about to embark on mission: potty train the toddler then today’s guest post is a must read. This post is full of potty training advice, I hope you find it useful. View Post
Half term, it’s something I spend a lot of time wishing for. On those weekdays when I’m trying to get little people fed, washed and dressed and out of the house by 8.30. It’s a week of reprieve from evenings spent packing lunch boxes and mornings consisting of me searching through piles of washing and pulling everything out of the tumble dryer on to the floor in search of a school sweatshirt or a pair of grey trousers. Half term is a break from spelling test practice, arguments over homework, the weekly search for the missing book bag and there is no pressure to be anywhere at a certain time. Term time is so hectic and busy so when half term arrives the kids and I are so excited ready for the break, we welcome the rest from routine with open arms. Sometimes, the joy of half term arriving can be short lived though. Sometimes after only a few days I find myself longing for those manic mornings as I miss the peace that’s comes with having two out of three children in school. Sometimes, and I really wish it was actually never, half term feels like survival. View Post
Online safety has been on my mind a lot lately. Leo (and Alex, actually) is getting more and more interested in mine and Oli’s smartphones. He has progressed from just wanting to play games, he now likes to watch videos on YouTube as well. I don’t mind him being on YouTube when we are with him but I do not like him going and watching it alone in his bedroom as it is all too easy for him to stumble across something he is too young to see. With smartphones being literally EVERYWHERE it feels impossible to keep our children out of the online world for as long as we would like. Luckily for anxious parents like me, there are lots of tools and resources available out there purposefully created to help keep our children safe when using the internet. Today’s guest post is full of tips and online safety advice, I hope you find it useful. View Post
As I draft this post I am sat in the car feeding Tilly while Alex sits and plays in his car seat in the back. We are parked up outside a private clinic where Oli is currently having a vasectomy. Yep, he’s having The Snip, that operation that just at its mention has men everywhere protectively putting both their hands over their crotch. In a matter of twenty minutes or so, Oli and I will officially not be able to have anymore babies. View Post
In the six years we have been parents, my husband and I have only braved travelling abroad as a family three times. The first was a holiday to Majorca with just Leo and then we went on holiday to Italy and France with both boys after Alex was born. We haven’t even considered taking all three kids away yet as we find it hard enough just taking the family up to the in laws for the weekend, let alone navigating an airport or train station with two excitable boys and a baby. Travelling with kids doesn’t have to be difficult though, there are ways you can make the experience a lot easier and enjoyable for everyone involved. Today’s guest posts is full of so many useful tips and tricks for travelling with kids, definitely read on if you have a family break booked soon and want to prepare. View Post
In the past four years we have moved three times. The first of those moves was a big relocation to Hampshire in 2015. It was difficult packing up our whole life in Wales and moving four hours away but we did it, somehow! Leo was only two then, it was difficult trying to pack and organise everything around his daily routine but we managed it. In 2017 we moved 15 minutes down the road to a different house in Hampshire and then in the spring of 2018 we relocated back to Wales. The last two moves were the most difficult as we had two children by that point and Leo was in school and this made the process a little bit more complicated. There is so much to think about when it comes to moving house but it is important that you try to keep everything as stress free as possible for your kids as well as yourselves. Today’s guest post is full of lots of useful tips on how to make moving house easier when you have kids. View Post
I’ve noticed something recently. When I am out and about with my three little ones I seem to be getting lots more comments from strangers than I ever did when I only had the boys. There’s been a shift since Tilly arrived, not only has my family life changed but now the things people say and the judgements they make on me as a mother have changed too. The jump from one child to two felt big but it was a manageable leap, like stepping stones placed just close enough apart across a river. Going from two to three? Well, that felt like just hurtling myself off a cliff and hoping for the best. Life has totally changed now I have three children, Tilly has slotted right in but also breathed a sense of total chaos into our days too. And, wow, other people sure seem to love commenting on my growing family and giving me their thoughts on being a mum of three. Here is a list of just some of the things people have said to me now I have three children View Post