The simple things

This weekend has been lovely for no big reason but simply for enjoying the simple things. Yesterday we had a lazy start to the morning before heading to town for a walk to buy some freshly made Welsh cakes followed by a trip to visit family to share our cakes. We then spent a lovely few hours at a friends house where the boys had a wonderful time playing with their friends and I got a chance to have a lovely chat with my oldest friend! Hubby had help from a lovely friend to move things and we ended the day with a trip to look at Christmas decorations (more of that another time). Today we completed school tasks, made a start of Christmas lists and spent the rest of the morning on scooters at the park. We even managed to play some ball, where my husband got to see my awesome basketball skills (his exact words, “you played netball didn’t you?”). We were then fortunate enough to have Sunday lunch cooked for us by wonderful family – we thoroughly enjoyed the food and the company! We ended the day with a trip to the seaside. We had intended to go for a long walk, but instead, the boys began collecting sticks floating in the sea and turned them into a floor tree (see pics). As always in these spontaneous trips, someone ended up falling in the sea and soaking themselves, leading to a car ride dressed in just a coat!!  I usually don’t put so many details into a post, but I wanted to show what I mean by simple things. We didn’t spend a lot of money. We didn’t go anywhere extravagant or out of the ordinary. Yet we’ve had a brilliant, fun and happy weekend. We’ve enjoyed food and family and friends and local outdoor places. The boys have made decisions about what they want to do and have played happily together. Sometimes we need nothing more than each other and fresh air.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything special or have you had a quieter time like us? I’d love to hear all about your time!

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Collecting

Does anyone else have children (or partner) who likes to collect things? I have 4 (3 children and 1 hubby). Darling hubby likes to collect mugs. And pens. And key rings. Whilst the latter 2 are small (and the pens always useful), his obsession with mugs is a little more problematic – especially when 5 people live in a small space. He likes quirky mugs, one example being we have a wonderful “mad hatter” mug – not very practical as it isn’t stackable and cost a pretty penny. My eldest son collects cuddly toys, from dinky, key ring size ones all the way to giant, adult size ones! His obsession with them is already well ingrained and shows no sign of abating. And there’s no “passing on” ones bought, for example, 2 years ago – he remembers each and every one of them and has formed significantly attachments to each of them! The middle child is more loosely a collector – he doesn’t collect specific objects, he merely collects what I call trinkets. Anything could take his fancy – a little notepad, a tiny box, little gems, a keyring size figure. It has to be said, however, that his at least take very little room and he doesn’t form long standing bonds with his, so as his collection evolvedms, it is possible to remove earlier pieces! My final collector is my almost 4yo. His item of choice is….. stones. Yep, random stones, picked up from anywhere and everywhere. You only have to walk from the house to the car for him to find several stones to treasure. It doesn’t matter their size or colour (or cleanliness). As far as he is concerned, all stones are there to be collected. I am, however, supremely grateful that his collection is super small – because 5 minutes after finding and collecting the all imported stone, he puts it down and forgets about it. Silver lining to everything right?! 20170831_113507

The night before nerves

I get these. Badly. Watching my child struggle with anxiety over going to back to school is heartbreaking. I wish I could take his place. His fears well up and consume him and it literally breaks my heart. I tell him it’ll all be OK. I tell him he has to go. Then I sit and wonder whether that’s even true. Does he really have to go? Is he really better off in someone else’s care than mine? Do I not teach him enough during our time together? Then I look at his brothers who are the opposite. Who have been looking forward to the new term and went to bed excited for tomorrow. They thrive in the school environment, playing with friends learning in different ways. My heart aches in a different way – they don’t need me quite so much. They’re all so different. Even though they are siblings, they’ve all had different life experiences already. They view the world differently. One of my boys thrives on social interaction, loves connecting with people, new and familiar. One is just as happy in his own company as he is with others and will adapt to either environment quite easily. And one is so scared, so lost in social situations with new people, and often with familiar people too. There are reasons for this, but it really doesn’t matter when they are clinging to you and wanting you to keep them safe. I’ve considered home schooling and right now, on the cusp of a new term, the idea of keeping them with me is so appealing. But would it actually be help? Or would I be encouraging the fear? I’m not sure either way, but for all those parents out there with children who are afraid, I’m with you. I empathise completely. For all those little ones starting a new term, or a new school, or school in general, I’m praying for you. Thinking of all of you.

Woohoo summer holidays!

I absolutely love school holidays and the long summer ones are almost my favourite (can’t beat Christmas!). I love the nature of something different everyday and not being tied to a schedule. No pack lunches organise or uniforms to prep. No homework to fuss over or clubs to ferry the children too. Simply taking each day as it comes and enjoying down time.

It’s not always been this free and easy. Most summer holidays since the boys started school, I have made plans. I’ve had a theme to get them to learn about (last year it was the seaside) and I’ve tried to have some structure to our days. I’ve made the boys read, write and complete some form of maths before letting them play or go out. Not this year. With my eldest about to start juniors and knowing his free time will be limited, I decided not to plan. To encourage reading and writing, but not to make it compulsory. My boys do well at school and enjoy learning so I decided to let them take the lead and to embrace what I’ve always believed – children learn through play and exploration.

Another I change I made this summer was around our summer scrap book. I buy one every summer with the intention of filling it with memories of our summer. I always intend to fill it with information about where we’ve been and what we’ve done, supported by drawings the boys have done during the holidays and adding photographs in to. The problem is, we’re so busy that I usually print photos at the end of the holidays and nothing every makes it into the scrap book. So again, I took a different approach. I bought the scrap book, explained the purpose of it to the boys and have left it out for them to add things to it as and when they want to. I’ve been surprised! It’s almost full without me having added anything. Of course I will add some photographs, but I love it. It is entirely their memories of summer and they have drawn pictures and written things about their summer, the things that have meant something to them. It makes it even more special and will be lovely to look back on.

I relaxed one other rule too – although admittedly not everyday. When it comes to technology, I can be quite tough – 20 minutes of the Ipad is the usual limit. However, I do acknowledge that they can be tools for learning too. So, instead of being so strict, I relaxed the rules a little. I allowed them free access to various screens during the day when we were at home (we go out a lot). What did I find? My eldest used the screens a lot – for a couple of days. But, with unlimited access, his desire to play it dwindled fairly quickly. Playing the same thing for a long time over a couple of days leads to it becoming boring. It wasn’t exciting anymore. My middle boy isn’t AA big fan of screens anyway, but he did play a little more frequently at the start of the summer – again it dwindled fairly quickly. However, he has used it as a tool in the last 2 days to learn to tell time – something he is picking up quickly! The youngest one loves a screen, just like his eldest brother, but following the others, his interest dwindled in 48 hours. I learnt something here that I should have already known. Having something freely available takes away the excitement. In our case, it has taken away the need for me to monitor screens all the time (except on long journeys when the 3 have to take turns!). I’m not sure this rule will stay relaxed during the school week, but it will definitely be around on the weekend and other school holidays.cropped-20161002_145652.jpg

We’ve spent a lot of time outdoors over the summer, even with the torrential rain we’ve endured! We’ve explored museums, parks, castles and beaches. We’ve visited jungle gyms and had a couple of mini breaks. We’ve met with friends and spent lots of time with family. We’ve been creative and had lots of fun in the garden. Some of our best days have involved nothing more than splashing in the paddling pool. I’ll be writing some individual blog posts in the near future about the places we have visited too. And even with no advanced planning, they’ve all still read plenty of books, written things and kept up with maths like times tables. I’ve learnt a lot this summer and more importantly, I’ve had a blast! I’m so sad to know my boys will be back to school in 48 hours, but before I can dwell on it, I have a little boy turning 8 in less than 24 hours! But more on that another time!

How has your summer been? Have you learnt anything new? I’d love to hear all about your summer!