Goodbye pre-schooler

When you know, you know.

I’m ready. She’s ready.

Today was the last time I will take either of my ‘babies’ out for a day during term time.

It was odd. My baby was the tallest, oldest child at the miniature steam railway park (Yeh, we know how to roll).

Our last day before big school calls has come and gone.

We looked a bit out of place if I’m honest. Both of us walking hand in hand while Buggaboos fought for space in the icandy and Maclaren fast lane.

The lunch area resembled Heathrow bag drop. Travel light toddlers don’t. My ‘baby’ was the one having a conversation with me – and eating solids.

She’s grown up, and today I could see just how much.

But I didn’t pang for my empty buggy.

I didn’t lust over the shiny new Buffalo model next to the swings.

Dare I say I have reached a stage where the sight of a baby no longer floods me with tsunami-sized sleep-deprivation shudders. I simply smile and wave.

Appreciating their toothless balding cuteness.

And think, phew. With a sweet nostalgia rather than a sense of pity that the person before me chose to pro-create.

To top it all, I no longer have my pre-school mum gang.

We are all now back at work. The paid kind.

Today Lila and I were just two. Wading around in a sea of mum-squads doing what we used to, swapping weening tips, drinking coffee by the bucket load and playing ‘knackered Trumps’.

But.

I like it in our new place.

It’s comfortable.

Not in a ‘boring-Brenda’ way.

In a ‘I’ve-been-waiting-for-this-bit’ kind of way.

We are ready to hustle at the weekends for a piece of the park.

To compete for post-5pm Tesco delivery slots.

To juggle school trip permission slips and navigate the school’s innovative ‘parent-pay’ for the girls lunches.

However.

There is one thing I am absolutely not ready for.

Helping our youngest learn to read fills me with a dull dread.

Memories of the infamous book ‘Rat Naps’ or, ‘cat sleeps’ as Darcie used to say it (over and over and over), still haunt me.

I’ll be pouring a gin this evening and toasting the seven and a half years of pre-schooling we have had between our girls.

Here’s to the next chapter:

-Two kids at school.

-Two parents at work.

-One dog in desperate need of a walking service.

And one cat oblivious to the seismic shift that is upon us.

We are taught to question everything.

From why a council-run leisure club is spending hundreds of thousands of tax payers money on new equipment, whilst running at a loss. To why a homeless man living in a tent isn’t deemed ‘homeless enough’ by the people who have the power to secure him a roof over his head.

We are taught to recognise when a case switches to ‘active’. To not disclose that the man just arrested for allegedly burgeoned his mother to death with a spoon has a history of violent crime. Or that the green grocer saw a 6”2 dark haired male with a spliff-smoking rat tattoo on his neck, fleeing the scene with said spoon. It’s a little case of TMI.

We are taught to be fair. To give the council-tax dodging councillor the opportunity to reply. To defend himself. Despite the evidence on the magistrates charge street, despite the overwhelming urge to do the complete opposite.

We are taught to be reactive. To watch a situation unfold and instinctively understand that this is news worthy, and the public gotta know.

We are taught to have a thick skin. Even when a someone wants to throw you under a bus in a public Facebook group for ‘not doing your job’ when in fact, the shoe was steadfast on the other foot.

We are taught to understand the legal restrictions and allowances placed on journalists in a court of law. To understand that we cannot include in our report the heckling cousin of the alleged murderer in the public gallery, unless Mary-sue has given evidence. We must understand a section 45, and an 11. Never forget an 11. We cannot record, but we can tweet.

We are taught to observe-only. Keeping our opinionated brains on sleep-mode. Record the facts, but more importantly, record the balanced facts. Don’t judge the woman who stakes out abortion clinics with posters of unborn foetuses to ‘help’ pregnant women. Don’t judge, but listen. And tell her tale too.

We are taught that we are the voice of a community. And we must not take advantage of that position. We must be approachable, and take the time to listen to Barbara tell us her life story. And as we listen we discover Barbara climbed Everest, blindfolded, and won the Nobel peace prize. Because you just never know.

We are taught the mechanics of the country. From how the queen is funded, to which council organises grass verge cutting. Elections and by-elections. District, county, borough and parish. Committees and Select committees. Political parties and independents. We learn it, so that we can translate the minefield of bureaucracy.

We are taught to protect our source. M15 style. Don’t give up their identity, keep mum. Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights will back you, it backed the other guy.

We are taught that shorthand is gospel. A dictaphone can only do so much, and in court or caught out on the hop, it is useless. Teeline is gruelling. It takes dedication, and hundreds of hours of practice- just to get good enough for our CV not be ignored by potential editors. It is a mountain to climb.

We are taught accuracy, honesty and integrity. To maintain our reputation by recording the facts, just as they are. “It’s Mandy with an ‘ie’”

We are taught that donning a wig and specs combo to catch the taxi firm that has reportedly discriminated against blondes with aviators, is a last ditch resort only.

Above all we are taught to be brave. To have faith in our direction.

To tell people’s stories is a privilege, and we are taught never to loose site of that.

Secrets of a Reception Veteran

I’ve done the time..
Darcie and I began ‘big school’ last year. We were rookie novices back then; eyes wide, shoes polished (her) make up always on (me) all ready and uncreased for every drop-off. Well my friends, times have changed, let me tell you. We are now old hands, reception veterans, if you will. And, as we are coming to the dying days of the summer term I am getting ready to pass the Newbie baton on to those unsuspecting preschoolers.
As part of this reception graduation I’ve compiled a list of my 5 essentials every Muma needs when entering the murky world of BIG SCHOOL…
1) Sharpie Marker pen
Yes, I did it too: ordered meters and meters of fabric and Iron on name tape. Of course when I was getting ebay-happy with my order I never once stopped to consider that I have never sewn anything in my life (the frog in yr 4 doesn’t count). I was trying to be The Perfect Muma. How I intended to sew on a name tape to every pinafore, polo shirt, jumper, PE kit, and apparently pants and socks too, I’ll never know! But I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Surely these Muma skills arrive with the name tapes. They didn’t and the result wasn’t pretty. Don’t fall for the ‘easy’ iron-on variety either. They peel, burn a bit and don’t survive the spin cycle. You heard it here first!
So step away from the bastard name tapes. This is all you need:
It’s Sharpie to the rescue.
2) Costume design degree
As you can tell from the above point, I am not a dab hand with a needle and thread. However you are about to enter a 10 month stretch of your life when you will be regularly challenged, often at short notice (that’s their favourite) to make some sort of costume. And of course ‘the children’ get a prize for the best one. What the actual F?! I sat up and safety pin a costume together while dream boat sleeps on and SHE gets the prize. Ok then…
I made an entire angel costume using just safety pins for the oh-so-sweet Nativity: thank you very much.
Please Note: World Book Day is the biggie, this is the Met Ball of the Primary school world. Big prizes are at stake here. Do not be fooled by any facebook chit chat which might suggest Jimmy’s Muma is just ‘throwing something together last minute’. NO SHE AIN’T. You know the story about the shoe maker’s elves… uh huh.
Find out the date your school is showcasing it’s World Book Catwalk and get over to ebay or Amazon pronto. (Unless of course you are blessed with talents like my amazing friend Holly at Oh Sew Dinky check her page out!)
3) Sunglasses
I’m not sure how to break this to you, but you’re going to cry. Possibly within the first few minutes of meeting the parents you are about to share 7 years’ worth of school runs with. Actually it took me a couple of weeks to shed a tear. I may have been in a euphoric state at first, as a result of relinquishing control of our little girl who was by all accounts a teensy bit of a handful: something along the lines of GOOD LUCK MISS SCOTT. After a couple of weeks it dawned on Darcie that this school gig was pretty repetitive and showed no signs of fading away. It made her bottom lip tremble, her face screw up and big tears fell from both of our eyes as we realised we would be saying goodbye at the same time everyday for a very very long time.
Anyway as luck would have it I was caught completely off guard no sunglasses- or my toddler to hide behind. I had to walk through the playground, thankfully flanked by my Muma Squad, sobbing. Save yourselves the ugly cry face, take sunglasses, ALL TERM!
4) Patience
This is a bit of a tricky one as you can’t just ‘add to basket’. Particularly for someone like me who lacks patience with ya know – most things. So this is an important one to practice over the summer hols: your patient face.

Here is mine. What do you think? You’d never know that inside I’m screaming any of the following,
“It says RAT EFFING NAPS not MOUSE SLEEPS. Please, for the love of god attempt to sound out the words before I loose the will to live”
Or
“I have marker penned several 4 letter words across your forehead with my eyes and If I have to listen to you harp on about how little Zachariah is far too clever for the class or that little flossychops is just plain bored due to her natural level of intellect I will reach for the Sharpie. And I will not be accountable for my actions.
5) Flexibility
I’m not talking leg above your head stuff, it’s trickier than that. I’m talking diaries. All of a sudden one of 20 Parentmail emails will hit the inbox inviting us to attend a once in a lifetime rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a ‘recital’ (in the loosest sense of the word) of various shaky hitty noisy instruments. Of course you don’t want to miss such delights. It’s a drop everything situation. An understanding boss / Toddler / friends and family is what’s required here.
So Reception sounds super fun right? Bet you can’t wait…!!

Sports Day’s a comin’… 

Sports-Yey. Or Nay. Depending on your point of view. 

Tomorrow is my daughter’s Sports Day. We are coming to the end of year 1 and although we have been travelling back and forth from ‘big school’ for almost 2 years now, I still don’t count myself as a veteran parent when it comes to The Events.

I’ll cut right to the chase here, sport’s day is making me feel a little bit sick. Perhaps because it brings back horrendous memories of never coming 1st, 2nd … or 8th. For a die hard competitive bugger like me, this is all kinds of torture. 

My body just never backed up my Desire to mow down the opporsition.

And now it’s my daughter’s turn. 


I remember last year being gobsmacked as parents – who for the rest of the year had quietly collected their child, perhaps dressed in paisley or a navy stripe, never daring to say boo to a goose, had morphed into some kind of crazed Barmy Army. The screaming cheers and fist pumping that was going on as their beloved treasure struggled to stay on course to collect the right coloured bean bag did lead me to raise an eyebrow. Huh?! What.Is.Happening?!

I had no idea that we would need to be donning our ‘game faces’ at the school gate. Even the kids who were mid-run were looking over as murderous cries of encouragement with a few choice coaching tips essential to a 4 year olds performance continued to erupt from the sidelines during the 25m hopping finals. The slightly awkward thing was that the majority of the kids don’t have fog-horn parents, and that majority had to run along to the burning screams of the same name again and again. I couldn’t keep a straight face. My husband and I sat there wondering if we had been transported back to the 1966 World Cup final. 

This is serious stuff. Do not be fooled. The results of these races really matter. Honest…

For the next couple of weeks your FaceBrag feeds will be jammed packed with the likes of little Johnny’s skipping triumph, and Freddie’s 4 times sack race champion certificates. You might even have the benefit of video footage if the Mumatron has husseled her way to the front, for best cheers n views. Super! Something to look forward to folks. 

I’ve heard some schools quite literally make an entire day of it, with underhand picnic wars and a stealth ‘best dressed’ race. Can you even imagine! I think this must be the pay-for schools. I must count our blessings that no such wardrobe codes exists at my daughter’s school. In this weather, in our seaside town, anything goes! And in this weather God only knows what we shall all manage to bare wearing as this blazing only-fit-for-nakedness weather sucks the life blood from us.

I’m just going to mention the parents race. Does anyone actually look forward to this?! Apart from there being an air conditioned Pimms tent strategically placed at the finish line, (which there isn’t by the way) I can’t imagine why anyone would want to take part in this stenuous humiliation.

I cannot tell you how much I was actually bricking this last year. For the entire Sport’s ‘Hour’ I sat wondering when the horrendous moment was going to dawn on us, and the parents were going to be invited to the start line. As someone who makes a point of never exercising (until now that is -but more of that another time), this race hanging over me was all kinds of hell. 

Thankfully the moment never arrived. Health & Safety. Apparently during the previous years race there was a broken ankle situation during this ‘bit of fun’. Can you even imagine. Well this parent was my new hero, they took one for the parenting team. Ensuring that no one else need ever fear making a total tit of themselves in front of their offspring again. 

Instead the pre-schoolers were all tanoyed over to the start. 

Health & Safety hasn’t got to them yet… 

10 reasons why your child should join an after school club

I’ve linked up with a company called Izully  this week to raise awareness about keeping our kiddliwinks fit, healthy and active. Izully are an online platform where you can search after school clubs in your local neighbourhood, in the London area. Go and check them out if you live in the Capital!

After school clubs along with sports in general are a popular talking point in our house. My husband is a sports obsessive and also runs a tennis club, teaching lots of children for a living. However, our 5 year old is very anti after school activities. The roller disco on a Saturday evening is the only ‘sport’ that she has stuck too. Swimming, gymnastics, tennis, and dancing have all come and gone, money for classes and uniforms have slipped through our fingers.

However, I WILL NOT GIVE UP promoting different sports and clubs to Darcie. I will continue to offer and introduce her to every activity I can think of, and club I find. Because I think it’s important, so important to have the opportunity when you are young to discover another dimension to yourself. School is such a strict machine, curriculum is so tight, there is limited opportunity for our children to really spread their wings. It falls on us, the Mumas n Papas to open their eyes to the world of extra-curricular.

Here are my top 10 reasons why children should join an after school club:

  • Exercise. This is obvious I guess, but I was surprised to read that the recommended daily exercise for a child is an hour a day. Whilst the majority of schools can only manage to fit in 2 hours a week of physical activity.
  • Making friends! You can never have too many friends can you? Widening your child’s circle of friends can only be a positive, mixing with children who share the same interest in that chosen after school club, means finding common ground should be easy!
  • Discover new talents. Did you know your could do the splits? Did you know you could do a cart wheel? Paint an elephant? Sing a song on a stage? You won’t know until you try. Get them to try.
  • Improving a child’s ABC’s: Ability, balance and co-ordination. Never a bad thing.
  • Keeping them occupied for that ratty bit of the day; The part of the day where they are often irritable and whingy. Get them to that club and avoid an hours whinge-a-thon.
  • Release those endorphins. Exercise makes you feel good, it’s a fact.
  • Shake of excess energy. If school wasn’t enough to ware them out, then an hour of rugby or dancing will surely do the trick! Sweet dreams kiddos.
  • Maintaining a good level of fitness will help your child function better on a day to day basis. Keeping alert and ready to learn at school.
  • Another dimension. As a family you could begin to play this sport at the weekends together. It could be the start of a whole new way of life!
  • Achieving badges, grades and certificates. Taking part in recitals, matches and shows, all add to a child’s confidence. You CAN do it, you have done it. A big fat CONGRATULATIONS and a clap will bring the biggest of smiles to our munchkins. And a new found confidence in themselves.

 

So there you have it, 10 whole reasons to get researching on after school clubs today!Izully have written a great article asking ‘Are you are a pushy parent?’ Do have a read. They raise some really interesting points. (and yes, before you ask, I am guilty of this label!)

Mummuddlingthrough

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of a Reception Veteran.

I’ve done the time..

Darcie and I began ‘big school’ last year. We were rookie novices back then; eyes wide, shoes polished (her) make up always on (me) all ready and uncreased for every drop-off. Well my friends, times have changed, let me tell you. We are now old hands, reception veterans, if you will. And, as we are coming to the dying days of the summer term I am getting ready to pass the Newbie baton on to those unsuspecting preschoolers.

As part of this reception graduation I’ve compiled a list of my 10 essentials every Muma needs when entering the murky world of BIG SCHOOL…


The first 5

1) Sharpie Marker pen

Yes, I did it too: ordered meters and meters of fabric and Iron on name tape. Of course when I was getting ebay-happy with my order I never once stopped to consider that I have never sewn anything in my life (the frog in yr 4 doesn’t count). I was trying to be The Perfect Muma. How I intended to sew on a name tape to every pinafore, polo shirt, jumper, PE kit, and apparently pants and socks too, I’ll never know! But I didn’t sweat the small stuff. Surely these Muma skills arrive with the name tapes. They didn’t and the result  wasn’t pretty. Don’t fall for the ‘easy’ iron-on variety either. They peel, burn a bit and don’t survive the spin cycle. You heard it here first!

So step away from the bastard name tapes. This is all you need:

It’s Sharpie to the rescue.

2) Costume design degree

As you can tell from the above point, I am not a dab hand with a needle and thread. However you are about to enter a 10 month stretch of your life when you will be regularly challenged, often at short notice (that’s their favourite) to make some sort of costume. And of course ‘the children’ get a prize for the best one. What the actual F?! I sat up and safety pin a costume together while dream boat sleeps on and SHE gets the prize. Ok then…

I made an entire angel costume using just safety pins for the oh-so-sweet Nativity: thank you very much.

Please Note: World Book Day is the biggie, this is the Met Ball of the Primary school world. Big prizes are at stake here. Do not be fooled by any facebook chit chat which might suggest Jimmy’s Muma is just ‘throwing something together last minute’. NO SHE AIN’T. You know the story about the shoe maker’s elves… uh huh.

Find out the date your school is showcasing it’s World Book Catwalk and get over to ebay or Amazon pronto. (Unless of course you are blessed with talents like my amazing friend Holly at Oh Sew Dinky check her page out!)

3) Sunglasses

I’m not sure how to break this to you, but you’re going to cry. Possibly within the first few minutes of meeting the parents you are about to share 7 years’ worth of school runs with. Actually it took me a couple of weeks to shed a tear. I may have been in a euphoric state at first, as a result of relinquishing control of our little girl who was by all accounts a teensy bit of a handful: something along the lines of GOOD LUCK MISS SCOTT. After a couple of weeks it dawned on Darcie that this school gig was pretty repetitive and showed no signs of fading away. It made her bottom lip tremble, her face screw up and big tears fell from both of our eyes as we realised we would be saying goodbye at the same time everyday for a very very long time.

Anyway as luck would have it I was caught completely off guard no sunglasses- or my toddler to hide behind. I had to walk through the playground, thankfully flanked by my Muma Squad, sobbing. Save yourselves the ugly cry face, take sunglasses, ALL TERM!

4) Patience

This is a bit of a tricky one as you can’t just ‘add to basket’. Particularly for someone like me who lacks patience with ya know – most things. So this is an important one to practice over the summer hols: your patient face.


Here is mine. What do you think? You’d never know that inside I’m screaming any of the following,

“It says RAT EFFING NAPS not MOUSE SLEEPS. Please, for the love of god attempt to sound out the words before I loose the will to live”

Or

“I have marker penned several 4 letter words across your forehead with my eyes and If I have to listen to you harp on about how little Zachariah is far too clever for the class or that little flossychops is just plain bored due to her natural level of intellect I will reach for the Sharpie. And I will not be accountable for my actions.

5) Flexibility

I’m not talking leg above your head stuff, it’s trickier than that. I’m talking diaries.  All of a sudden one of 20 Parentmail emails will hit the inbox inviting us to attend a once in a lifetime rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk, or a ‘recital’ (in the loosest sense of the word) of various shaky hitty noisy instruments. Of course you don’t want to miss such delights. It’s a drop everything situation. An understanding boss / Toddler / friends and family is what’s required here.

So Reception sounds super fun right? Bet you can’t wait…!!

Ideas welcome for the final 5 items…post in the comments below pretty please x

Mummascribbles</div

Mummuddlingthrough

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Confessions of a dyslexic Muma.

dyslexia

Trying to teach your 5 year old to read, write and spell when you are still mastering the art is quite a tall order.

I am 32, a Muma, and I am dyslexic. Very Dyslexic.

I had subconsciously buried this teeny tiny fact once I had finished the gravy train of education. I sat my last exam at University, which I took in the same separate room just like I had taken all of my exams, with my allocated extra time, far away from the rest of my peers. This was the last time I really gave my dyslexia any thought.

I applied for jobs never mentioning it. I worked in sales and soon learnt to use the gift of the gab to cover up my rather chronic lack of organisation and close to zero order approach to the current role. I blagged and I sold. My admin was atrocious, my spelling so bad that the spellchecker often gave me the ‘no suggestions’ message as my attempts bore no resemblance to anything. Impressive! But I just about got away with it. No one knew. My secret was safe.

It’s been just over 5 years since I was last employed, and I honestly haven’t given my dyslexia a second thought.

Until now.

Our eldest daughter started school in September last year, and of course within the first few days proudly brought home her first reading book and flash card words to learn. I’m not going to lie, I found it a bit like pulling off a plaster really really slowly sitting there willing her to recall the word PAM and NAPS from one page to the next. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right.

The trouble is it wasn’t long before words like Digraph and Trigraph were appearing on homework phonic sheets. What the…? Dia-who?! Things have clearly moved on from Robber red and Kicking king back in the eighties. I’m not blaming my dyslexia for my ignorance of having absolutely no clue what these words mean, I can use google. But no matter how often I try and absorb the method by which Darcie is being taught, I just can’t seem to grasp it. It is like I am learning to read all over again. I struggle to make sense of her homework instructions, I have to read it slowly several times before I will have any real understanding of what is being asked. Even then I am constantly referring back to the instructions line by line. It’s frustrating and makes me feel like MumaDunce.

I’ve also discovered another little blip: I had forgotten that I can’t spell words out loud. I have to write them down. Even the most basic I find I have to write down or it comes out totally skewed. Of course I had a gentle reminder of this blackhole in my brain now that Darcie is into her writing. She will often shout out “Mum, how do you spell…?” Action stations. DROP EVERYTHING. Focus the mind. Locate scrap paper, scribble the word down. Read it back.

It’s a long winded process, it’s like having daily spelling tests! My fear is the word requests are just going to get more complex, the assistance with essays and other English assignments will be more frequent and I’ll let her down. My fear is that Darcie, and Lila soon, will think that their Muma is an illiterate buffoon! It’s not even like I can make up for it in the Maths department…

I have hope that writing this blog is good exercise for my dyslexic mind. I’m sure I don’t always make sense, my sentence construction isn’t always logical, my grammar is probably way off – I’m massively relying on the spell check paperclip doing his bit…But I’m tackling my nemesis head on, well, why not. I might write a book next, you never know!

Run Jump Scrap!