New Year’s Eve

Traditionally in our house, we don’t celebrate the New Year a great deal. Even as a child, my family were never big on the New Year. My husband and I have never seen the appeal of all the fuss and in our house, it really is just another day. Our children have always been in a bed time routine that certainly doesn’t involve staying up until midnight. If we were to try keeping them awake until then, I suspect we would have gremlins on our hands! When the boys were very small, it didn’t make a difference as they had no concept of the new year, so we carried on as normal and put them to bed on time without a fuss. Last year, with a 6 year old in tow, the concept of new year made a slight appearance, with him asking a few questions about what the new year means. So, we compromised slightly and had a “party”; my sister came over for the evening, we had some party food, some music and played twister. But as we suspected, the children didn’t cope so well with staying up beyond bedtime, so my husband found a YouTube video of the previous new year fireworks in London, played it on the TV at about 8.30pm and we took them to bed after that! It worked well, it got the concept across, the boys enjoyed “staying up late” and everyone was happy. Up until yesterday, that had been our plan for this year too. However, somewhere between exploring a castle and buying bags in Ikea, we found ourselves in a WhatsApp chat with family that has led to us spending the new year in my mum’s house – complete with a sleepover!! Whilst I am dubious this will go very well (excited boys getting a sleepover at nana’s + being up later than mummy and daddy would allow + sugar from all the treats their auntie has bought = an interesting night and subsequent grumpy day tomorrow)! However, it will be interesting to see exactly what happens and a new tradition is always a good idea right?!

How are all of you celebrating the new year? Do you let the children stay up until midnight? DO you go out and celebrate? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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Willfulness

Willfulness is described as “a stubborn persistence in doing what one wishes, especially in opposition to those whose wishes or commands ought to be respected or obeyed: that willful child who disregarded his parents’ advice.” (www.dictionary.com).

My 3yo could definitely be described in this way. He is the most stubborn child I have ever met and he definitely has very strong ideas about what he will and will not do. I fear this is being compounded at school, where the nursery class follow the foundation phase philosophy of children being in control and getting to decide what they do and when they do it!! It is giving my child the belief that listening to adults is optional and that what he wants over rides anything else. Whilst I am all for children having choices and strongly believe that children have just as much right as adults to have their emotions/opinions expressed and listened to, I do believe there is a time when children must do as they are asked for their own good. Life isn’t always about getting your own way. Sometimes we do something because it is the right thing to do. Other times we do it because it is our job, even though we may not necessarily want to do it. Sometimes we do things because it helps another person. Sometimes we do something because that is the law/a rule and we have no choice but to abide by it. Children must learn this  and I firmly believe their expectations should be managed from as early an age as possible. Children have so much to learn and sometimes they just need to get on with things. Still, I started this post in relation to willfulness. Dealing with a willful child is hard work. It is exhausting and frustrating. I feel like I spend my days repeating the same things and I hear the word “no” so many times I want to delete it from the English language! Every time I hear the word no, I want to scream and shout and reprimand my child for being rude. Sometimes that is exactly what I do. But other times I try. I try to stop and think and breathe. I try and remember that the very quality that drives me insane with the 3yo is the very quality that I will be proud of him for having in 10, 15, 20 years time. It is the very quality that will lead to him being a leader not a follower. It will allow him to stand up for what he believes in and not be easily swayed by those around him. It will help him to stand out, to be focused and loyal. It will allow him to commit to things he truly believes in. And I can’t ask for anything better. There are temptations for children around every corner and I comfort myself with the knowledge that one day, this very difficult trait will become a core character of my son that will serve him well. Providing I am still sane in 10 years time of course!!!!

What are your experiences of willfulness? Do you have a willful child? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Elf not on the shelf

So, elf on the shelf has been around for a few years now, but until this year, our boys were not really interested so we haven’t given it a second thought. This changed a few weeks back when elves arrived in their school classrooms and they eagerly went to school each morning to see what the elf had been up to. Our eldest has been having a tough time of late and during a conversation at school, he mentioned how much he would love an Elf called Snowflake at home. And can you believe it, the next day, our Elf Snowflake arrived (NB this was NOT an expensive Elf on the shelf, but a lovely cuddly Elf sent directly from the North Pole (the card factory)). Our Elf is different though. As I understand it, Elf on the shelf is all about control and having an extra pair of eyes to watch children’s behaviour – with the aim of getting children to behave in the run up to Christmas. Elf on the shelf must not be touched – according to the Elf at school, they lose their magic if they are touched. But that didn’t sit right with us for our home. Children have so many rules to abide by in daily life and at this time of year, their excitement levels are at an all time high. Their routines are completed up-ended whilst they practice for school plays and carol concerts, there are Christmas jumper days, parties, advent calendars and a whole host of other things going on. To then add to that another exciting thing – a new toy – that they can’t touch is just asking for trouble in our house. Therefore, we got an ‘Elf not on the shelf’. Our Elf hasn’t come to watch them or judge them or keep them in check – that is our job as parents. Our Elf has simply come to play with them and have some fun! He isn’t naughty – something our eldest (7yo) questioned about his school Elf – “Mummy, if I threw glitter on the floor, I would be in trouble, but the Elf is allowed. Why?”. Instead, our Elf sets up games, brings little treats, leaves notes or drawings for them and has even brought a friend. It is magical! They have taken to his presence with gusto – they love waking up and hunting for him, they include him in all of their games and have even bought him a small present!! He has been amazing at helping them with things that worry them and he has the cleanest teeth I have ever seen on an Elf!! Our boys feel they can join in now at school with the discussions about Elves, but we feel we are giving them a magical experience and emphasising the positive aspects of Elf on the shelf.

 

What are your thoughts on Elf on the shelf? Do you have one? Do you follow the rules or do you have your own approach? I’d love to hear!