The school run

I’ve experienced around 10 years of school runs so far with my brood, and I have observed many different scenarios. I’m quite the people watcher. I often wonder what happens in peoples lives. What do they do outside of the school run? what are their normal day-to-day lives like.

The tired mum

Now this is definitely me , I just about manage to drag myself out of bed each morning, throw toast or cereal at the kids. On a good day I can brush my teeth and hair. I have 4 of my kids at 4 different schools so getting them all there on time can be a bit of a mission. I leave my house around about 7:45 with Harry and Ellie. I drive to Harrys school drop him off before heading to Ellies school.

This usually involves me trying to force some sort of conversation out of Ellie and being met with grunts and groans of some sort. It can and quite often also involve an argument over why she is ignoring me and how I don’t actually have to drive her there when she is perfectly able to walk and I do it out of the goodness of my heart. The least she could do is acknowledge the fact that I am speaking to her.

Then it’s time to make my way back home where Gareth has gotten the smaller ones  dressed and ready for the next part of my school run.  I’ve normally sent him some sort of grumbled grumpy message involving a request for a cup of coffee. ( Thank god he still comes to help me, I would be stuck otherwise)

I then proceed to plait Annabelles hair. She ALWAYS goes to school in a french plait in an attempt to stop any unwanted visitors ( this rarely works might I add)  by which time it’s around 08:35 and time to go and take the others to school. First I drop Annabelle off before driving round to Freddies nursery to drop him off. Then it’s back home with madam Bethie and to put her down for her nap. By this time I’m pretty tired myself!

All of this is done after I have given myself at least 2 coffees. With massive bags under my eyes, whilst just about dressed. I’m not going to lie I’ve usually got some sort of breakfast from one of the kids over me too. So how on earth do other parents do it whilst looking so glamorous?!

The fully made up mum

If this mum is you I want you to come to my house in a morning and show me how on earth you do it! Seriously I do! I mean, I have seen a fair few of these ladies and I am in complete awe of them. Like I stated previously I just about manage to get myself dressed in a morning let alone anything else yet these women are pictures of beauty. Not an eye bag in sight. Their clothes always look perfectly ironed, their make-up is always immaculate. Not only that but they always look so happy. HOW!!!!! just how?

I am in no way at all putting these ladies down, I am just purely jealous. I wish I had that motivation and I was that organised that I could do this. I still wear the same make up I wore when I was 15 , and I’m not even slightly joking about that. I still wear my white eye shadow, my black eye liner and my heather shimmer lipstick. I wouldn’t have a clue how to rock a colourful blouse. In fact I wouldn’t even know how to fake looking like I’ve got my Sh*t together let alone actually having it together for real.

The popular mum

This mum is the one that every seems to hang around the school gates and wait for. I’ve NEVER been this mum. Don’t get me wrong in my time of doing the school runs I have made friends with other mums and had a chat on the playground but there always seems to be one mum who everyone goes to. Whether it’s for advice, a general chatter or just to invite round for a morning cuppa. She always seems to be surrounded by other mums laughing and chatting. She seems to be the mum of all the mums.

The stressed mum

This is a mum that I have been on more than one occasion. The mum who always looks like she could just do with someone going over and giving her a hug and offering her a nice cuppa or a glass of wine. Her toddler is giving her a nightmare and she just needs 5 minutes of peace. I have been this mum, especially when Ellie was smaller and what I wouldn’t have given for someone to just come over to me and ask if I was OK. See if I wanted a chat and say hello instead of looking down at me.

The thing is as another mum who now watches I never know what to do. As much as I want to go over and help I equally don’t want to make the other mum feel uncomfortable. I want to go over and offer a bit of reassurance that she’s definitely not alone. Ask if she wants a coffee and a chat but does she want that or does she just want to get out of there as fast as possible and get home?

The working mum

Now these are the mums that I feel for, I have been both a working mum and a stay at home mum and I think both are equally stressful. As a working mum dropping your kids off to school can be a rare treat. Even then you are usually on a strict timetable where you are rushing to drop them off so you can get to work. You miss special occasions and events at the school and it can be heartbreaking.  If the school closes for things such as snow or your child is ill you have to rearrange absolutely everything.

 

Anyway which mum are you? More importantly it doesn’t matter which one you are, I just want to say, You are doing a fantastic job and as long as you are doing the best you can that will be more than enough for your children. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.

Keep going girls. YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Invisible Illnesses – Ar’s Story – Narcolepsy

Every Friday I will be highlighting an invisible illness, we all know they exist but exactly how much do we know about these conditions and the people that suffer from them? I myself have an invisible condition and it is very easy for people to assume that because I look OK and I walk,talk and act OK that I am fine when quite often this is far from the truth.

This week brave and incredible Ar shares with us what it is like living with the neurological condition narcolepsy.

Please could you introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself. What you enjoy doing.

I’m Ar, I’m 34 (ugh) and have a 4 year old daughter. I’m an artist, writer and teacher. I live up in the North-East and work for myself, running two businesses and a blog, so it’s a bit full on! I’m also an amateur rugby player and am currently working hard on building my physical health up as part of that. I love to write and do design work when I’m not busy running around after my little girl, and I’m a bit of a Twitter addict.

What is your invisible illness?

I have Narcolepsy, which is a rare neurological condition that affects the brain’s ability to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. It’s most commonly understood as a sleep disorder. There are two typical forms.

The first is narcolepsy with cataplexy, which is the involuntary loss of muscle control which leads to sudden bouts of sleep, wherever you might be.

The second is narcolepsy without cataplexy. The symptoms and effects of narcolepsy include disturbed (very fucking disturbed in my case) night-time sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and other neurological issues that occur as a knock-on effect of the condition. Imagine having a sleep-deprivation hangover every day and you’re halfway there.

I have the second form of it, which I feel fortunate about, but that’s not to say I’ve got away with it lightly.

When did you first notice your symptoms?

I didn’t really start to notice things until I was 26. It was a really frightening experience for me, to be honest. I had always had bizarre dreams and a feeling of exhaustion,but I just assumed it was teenage stuff, young adult angst at a push. It peaked about two years into my first job, when I suddenly just hit the wall mentally and physically. I couldn’t get up. I could barely string a coherent sentence together without bursting into tears.

I started seeing things. Horrific, nightmarish vision. Of course, there was nothing there. I began to think I was losing my mind, whilst trying to hold it together in my daily job, being responsible for classes of children. A tired mind plays horrendous tricks on you, and when you don’t know what’s wrong, it’s very easy for people to assume that you’re losing your grip on reality.

What was it like getting diagnosed?

Terrifying. Purely because I was misdiagnosed at first, and spent six months of my life confused out of my mind, thinking I had a serious mental health condition that in truth I didn’t have. My world turned upside down as I took drugs I didn’t need to and basically wrote off an entire year of my life. It didn’t sit right with me though and so I pushed the doctors to send me for a brain scan – to rule out any possible physical cause such as epilepsy, for example. I knew in my gut that I didn’t have a psychiatric issue, and I was frightened about how easily labelled I’d been without any proper test having been carried out.

Eventually I went for the scan and they discovered the anomalies in my brain that the neurologist recognised as signs of narcolepsy. That man changed my life for the better when he assured me he knew what I was actually struggling with. A sleep disorder, NOT a mental health issue. I had to have further tests in hospital, a couple of which were a bit strange, but to be honest I was just so relieved to get an answer that finally made sense, and to get the medication I actually needed to help me recover and live a normal life again.

How does it affect your day to day life?

I take medication twice a day to help me stay awake and alert, and it really works well for me. As I said earlier, I’m lucky to have a milder form of the disorder, it’s a real spectrum condition and some people are really adversely affected by narcolepsy, it really hinders their ability to function. My biggest symptoms that can’t be treated or cured are the dreams/terrors and poor-quality sleep. My brain dreams much more intensely than others, and I can remember everything in vivid, start-to-finish detail. My own ones are particularly upsetting – sometimes I wake up crying, or sometimes I can’t actually wake myself out of it until the dream is complete.  So my body might go to bed, but my brain never fully switches off, so I wake up shattered most days.

I look like a normal person but my eye-bags tell another story!

Do people treat you differently because of your illness?

Not really. Not many people know about or understand narcolepsy that well really in my experience, and it’s not like it’s something people can see. Sometimes, even the people who know I have it forget that I have it, and that can be hard. Sometimes I forget, and then I have a really bad night and the next day is a really tough reminder that it’ll never fully go away. I don’t want to be treated differently anyway really, just a bit of consideration for my tiredness is all that’d be helpful at times.

What advice would you give to somebody else suffering from your condition or perhaps to somebody who may have symptoms?

To do your research, talk to your doctors and don’t let them make assumptions. You know your own body and your own mind best of all – don’t be fobbed off with a one size fits all diagnosis if you’re not happy with it.

If you do have a sleep disorder, know that there are more of us than you might think! Narcolepsy is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in the UK, something that’s estimated to affect about 1 person in 2,500. That means that in the UK there are approximately 30,000 people who have narcolepsy, though it is believed that the majority have not been diagnosed. All those people, probably a lot of them just like me – who maybe haven’t the correct level of investigation into their conditions.

Do you know of any good groups or organisations of support for people with your illness?

Narcolepsy UK is a good place to start, and also there are some Facebook groups that aim to support you and your loved ones as you adjust to life with narcolepsy.

What are your goals for the future?

To continue writing and designing and building a success of my businesses, stay healthy and get physically stronger. I’d love to be able travel some more and hopefully one day I’ll be able to take my little girl on adventures to other countries so that she gets to experience the world as fully as possible and not feel restricted by anything.

 Visit Ar’s Blog

you can also find her on Twitter

Thank you so much Ar for sharing your story with me and all of my readers, I can’t imagine what it must be like to suffer with something that must be at times so terrifying.

Gut instinct is very rarely wrong and you was right to disagree with the doctors and their first diagnosis. I hear quite often that the doctors are quick to diagnose one thing and it turns out to be something completely different, it’s a constant reminder that if something doesn’t feel right then you should ask for a second opinion.

Thank you again.

 

 

A letter to my daughter Ellie as she approaches her teen years

You may remember around this time last year I wrote a letter to Harry as he approached his teen years, well crazily it’s already time to write one for Ellie. So Ellie this time it’s for you!

Dear my beautiful Jel

I can’t believe how fast it has come round to the time to write your letter, I’m not ready! Can you not just stay my little girl for a tiny bit longer? I guess now is the time I share my mummy words of wisdom with you as you transform from a child into a young lady.

You are incredibly beautiful and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise

As you make your way through life people are going to do their very best to put you down. Unfortunately throughout life not everybody is going to like you. Some people will be jealous of you and that isn’t surprising, you are extremely intelligent and very beautiful. Not only that but you have something many people lack , integrity. I am so proud of the way you handle yourself in difficult situations and how you keep yourself at a mutual level, refusing to take sides. I truly hope that you keep this about you as you grow older.

There will be times where you will doubt yourself and who you are. This is all part of growing up. You will learn about yourself and the kind of person you would like to be. What is most important is that you remain true to yourself. If people don’t like you then the problem lies with them and not you.

Hormones are on their way and they actually suck

I am not going to lie hormones actually suck, they made you moody, spotty, sulky. They give you aches and pains and will turn you into a raging monster at times.  Just remember that when you’re screaming ” I hate you” at the top of your voice and slamming your door that I was a grumpy , miserable hormonal teenage girl once too and my voice is louder than yours 😉 Oh and don’t think that I don’t know that you’re sticking your fingers up behind your door either!

Boys smell! 

Boys smell, you are banned from boys until you are at least 45 , they smell, they’re ugly and you don’t need them .. got that?

No seriously , If and when you are ready to get a boyfriend I want you to remember that you are in control of what and when you are ready to do anything, from holding hands to anything else. You are able to say no to absolutely anything you want to and if you need a helpful ear I will be right there ready to listen ( and to be nosey)  but please don’t ever put a boy before making sure that you concentrate on getting a good education and career. If they’re worth it and they’re worth your time they will be happy to put what you need first and wait for you to do what you need to do.

I am so proud of you

You are growing into such an incredible , strong , well-mannered , beautiful young lady. The other day when you wrote your Mother’s day message to me you described me as your best friend and I genuinely mean this when I say, those words meant the world to me. I will be more than happy if in a few years time you are still saying it.

You’re about to go through some pretty big changes both in body and mind and I would be lying if I said it was going to be easy because it isn’t but I am very confident that you will handle it the way you handle everything with complete dignity.

I want you to promise me that if you find yourself in any situations that you feel you can’t handle you will come to me and you will talk to me about them. As you get older you will meet some people and situations that maybe you never thought you would come across.

You will be offered things and tempted with things that may seem like a fantastic or cool idea at the time but I can assure you that 99% of the time the idea will be pretty stupid.

I can also tell you there isn’t much this old mum hasn’t seen or done herself so this means there isn’t very much that you will be able to get passed me!

I know you aren’t overly happy about the fact you have to grow up, you’ve already asked me if we can stop it and my god I wish we could. It only seems like yesterday you were my naughty little toddler who was driving me insane, kicking and punching me but despite how sad I am that you’re growing up I’m equally excited to see what you do with your life. What you will become and what you will achieve.

I have absolutely no doubt that you have big things in store for you if you continue the way you are going.

I love you my princess Jel

xxxx

 

 

The UK’s best campsites to visit in 2018

The UK’s best campsites to visit in 2018

With Christmas and New Year celebrations now feeling like a distance memory, thoughts are starting to turn towards the spring. This season will see a lot of families and couples choosing to go camping as a perfect opportunity to escape their working lifestyles.

Whether you are looking to go on your very first camping holiday or are hoping to find a new location to explore, then Flogas is on hand to help. This is because the camping gas bottles supplier has researched the best campsites to visit across the UK throughout 2018…

Hooks House Farm

When is it open? Between March and October

How to find the site: Whitby Road, Robin Hoods Bay, North Yorkshire YO22 4PE

Contact number: 01947 880283

Upon arrival at Hooks House Farm, one of the first things that you will notice is that the campsite sits high on a hill away from the town near Robin Hood’s Bay, so it provides spectacular views. Therefore, you will be able to relax on a grassy field and choose to look out to sea, along the neighbouring fields, woods, rolling hills or moors.

If you’re looking for something to do instead of being at the campsite during your entire stay and you’re feeling adventurous, it is advised that you take up the challenge of the coast-to-coast walk that will take in the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and parts of the Lake District.

Key amenities:

Caravans & campervans permitted | Dog friendly | Electrical hook-ups

Size: Pitches for 50 tents and 20 caravans or campervans.

Further information: https://www.hookshousefarm.co.uk/

Baysbrown Farm

When is it open? Between March and October

How to find the site: Great Langdale, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9JZ

Contact number: 01539 437150

Baysbrown Farm is a relaxing campsite that is nestled within the middle of an 800-acre farm. It also lies underneath the rocks which make up Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and the Langdale Pikes — three sights which should already be making up your list of places to visit while here.

A quirky feature of this campsite is that you don’t book a designated pitch, but instead choose the spot that appeals most to you and then visit the nearby farmhouse to let them know about your arrival.

Key amenities:

Caravans & campervans permitted | Remote location | Forests & mountains nearby

Size: Around 200 pitches, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Further information: http://www.baysbrownfarmcampsite.co.uk/

Lee Valley Almost Wild Campsite

When is it open? Infrequent dates, though mainly weekends between March and September

How to find the site: Nazeing New Road, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire EN10 6TD

Contact number: 03000 030 632

The name of this campsite should give you a big clue about where it is located — it’s based just off from the River Lee but is hidden within a collection of ash and birch trees.

Once you’ve found the Lee Valley Almost Wild Campsite, you can choose to take a walk or cycle along from Stratford to the Olympic Park, try your hand at some canoeing or simply relax on hammocks that swing from the trees at the site.

Key amenities:

Campfires permitted | Dog friendly | Waterside campsite | Woodland camping

Size: 17 pitches altogether, which includes 12 riverside and 5 woodland glades.

Further information: https://www.visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/where-to-stay-and-short-breaks/lee-valley-almost-wild-campsit/

Deepdale Backpackers & Camping

When is it open? All year round

How to find the site: Deepdale Farm, Burnham Deepdale, North Norfolk Coast, PE31 8DD

Contact number: 01485 210256

Head to the Deepdale Backpackers & Camping campsite and you should keep your fingers crossed that you manage to enjoy a stay in one of the tipis located there. As well as being well-maintained, each tipi comes with a stove — perfect for heating — as well as comfy faux fur-clad mattresses, a barbecue and a lantern.

Away from your sleeping arrangements, you can also take part in a wide variety of events around the campsite. Why not take up one of the cookery classes which sees meals being prepared using local produce? Or enjoy some stargazing once the sun goes down.

Key amenities:

Campfires permitted | Campervans permitted | Short walk to a nearby pub

Size: 75 grass camping pitches, as well as 7 hard-standing, fully serviced pitches.

Further information: https://www.deepdalebackpackers.co.uk/

Pleasant Streams Farm

When is it open? Between Easter and September

How to find the site: Pleasant Stream Barn, Lower Sticker, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 7JL

Contact number: 01726 74837

Situated beside a lake in a rural part of Cornwall, Pleasant Streams Farm plays host to an entertaining summerhouse that’s filled with exciting games to play and books to read should the

weather take a turn for the worse. The site is also home to ducks, goats, hens and pigs — perfect if you’re an animal lover then!

When it comes to exploring away from Pleasant Streams Farm, take note that there’s a beach within a 10-minute drive and you’ll also be in close reach of the Roseland peninsular, where even more picturesque beaches and peaceful villages can be found.

Key amenities:

Caravans & campervans permitted | Campfires permitted | Electrical hook-ups

Size: Pitches for 50 tents within the site’s main camping field, as well as five vintage caravans available for rent.

Further information: http://cornwallfarmcamping.co.uk/

The Secret Campsite

When is it open? Between March and October

How to find the site: Brickyard Farm, Town Littleworth, Cooksbridge, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 4TD

Contact number: 07730 525560

You really will be returning to a natural way of living when you visit The Secret Campsite. This is because this campsite is for tents only — no cars or pets allowed unfortunately — and is based on a stretch of land that was once occupied by rail tracks but has since seen countryside foliage reclaiming the land.

You’ll be met with a wild feel to camping when you arrive at The Secret Campsite as a result, though you’ll soon feel relaxed as you sit around a campfire pit in a scene that is surrounded by a beautiful collection of ancient oak and hornbeam trees. Just be sure to keep an eye out for a passing deer, as they are known to live close to the site.

Key amenities:

Campfires permitted | Disabled facilities | Perfect for a romantic retreat

Size: Pitches for 15 tents, as well as a Tree Tent and the Gridshell facility.

Further information: http://www.thesecretcampsite.co.uk/

Ninham Country Holidays

When is it open? Between May and September (though ‘Willow Brook’ camping area is only open between July and August).

How to find the site: Ninham Farm, Shanklin, Isle of Wight

Contact number: 01983 864243

The fact that the Ninham Country Holidays campsite is situated within the ‘Garden Isle’ part of Isle of Wright — found to the south-east of the island — should instantly make this a place that you need to book a spot at.

You have a decision to make upon arriving at this campsite though; do you choose to pitch up in the ‘Orchard’ fields with its ultra-modern eco-facilities and both solar and rainwater-harvesting tech, or select a spot on the ‘Willow Brook’ field with its more basic facilities but which are still very

functional and well kept? Whichever option you go with, you’re guaranteed to make so many wonderful memories at this family-run and award-winning campsite.

Key amenities:

Caravans & campervans permitted | Children’s playground on site | Disabled facilities | Dog friendly | Swimming pool on site

Size: Pitches for 140 tents in the ‘Orchard’ camping area, as well as pitches for 80 tents in the ‘Willow Brook’ camping area (though only between July and August).

Further information: https://www.ninham-holidays.co.uk/

Aberafon

When is it open? Between Easter and September

How to find the site: Gyrn Goch, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL54 5PN

Contact number: 01286 660295

You’d have a really good argument for stating that Aberafon is based at the most fascinating location of all the campsites on this list, as you will find a scenic, private sandy beach on one side of the site and the mountains of the Llyn Peninsula in the other direction.

Are you a fan of extreme sports? Then you’ll also be pleased to hear that the surroundings of the Aberafon campsite is perfect for canoeing downstream and paragliding. The nearby Glas Fryn Park sports facility even accommodates wakeboarding lessons too!

Key amenities:

Campervans permitted | Children’s playground on site | Dog friendly | Waterside campsite

Size: Pitches for 65 tens and tourers.

Further information: http://www.maelor.demon.co.uk/aberafon.html

Cleadale Campsite

When is it open? Between March and October

How to find the site: Cleadale Campsite, 13 Cleadale, Isle of Eigg, Scotland PH42 4RL

Contact number: 01687482480

What better way to start hyping up the Cleadale Campsite than to state that renowned author JRR Tolkien used to spend some of his holidays there! Inspiration for the fantasy landscapes that he created in such well-loved series as The Lord of the Rings can certainly be seen all around the site, from the imposing mountains of Rum that serves as a stunning backdrop, to its grassy vantage point that looks out towards the sea.

Even the journey to reach the Isle of Eigg where the Cleadale Campsite is based may be filled with amazing sights, as it’s not uncommon for dolphins, minke whales and an orca to all be spotted during the ferry crossing.

Key amenities:

Dog friendly | Wi-Fi available on site | Remote location

Size: Pitches for 10 tents.

Further information: http://www.eiggorganics.co.uk/index.html

Gimme Shelter

When is it open? All year round

How to find the site: 2 Dales Farm Cottage, Duloch, Nr Dunfermline, Fife KY11 7HR

Contact number: 01383 417 681

Environmentally friendly is a common theme throughout the Gimme Shelter campsite. You won’t find any showers or access to hot water at this site, while the toilets are of a sawdust-composting style.

Before you begin to think that this is a bit too I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here for you, take note that everything at this campsite — based in the meadows and hills, just a few miles away from the Forth Bridge — is self built and sublimely improvised. Just wait until you’re feeling at your calmest around a campfire that is set amid rich woodland and playing host to fantastically designed hand-carved wooden furniture.

Key amenities:

Campfires permitted | Woodland camping | Forests nearby

Size: No size given, as the site consists of a campsite and a holiday cottage.

Further information: https://coolcamping.com/campsites/uk/scotland/near-edinburgh/fife/1094-gimme-shelter-campsite-and-holiday-cottage

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/camping-holidays/coolest-campsites-in-britain/ https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/may/01/10-best-cool-campsites-britain https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/top-10-cool-campsites-in-england/

*** This is a collaborative post

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What age is the correct age to allow them to babysit?

I was chatting to Daddy G about the kids. We were discussing the fact that Harry is almost 14 and Ellie is almost 13 and what age we should allow them to start looking after their younger siblings and we should allow them to babysit.

When I was a teenager I used to babysit all of the time, I would babysit for my sister, her friends. My mums friends. Work colleagues. In fact as a teenager I made a pretty penny by babysitting.

One new years eve I remember looking after quite a few children and making myself £150 , I wasn’t overly old I think I was around 15. All of the children were in bed apart from maybe 2 of them that were a little older who just sat and watched TV with me. There were no problems and in fact when the parents got home I was possibly the only sensible one left when the parents were drunk.

So what is the correct age?

Daddy G and I had a little debate over when it would be OK to leave them.  At the moment Bethie is far too young to even consider leaving in the first place as is Freddie , However I am confident that if I need to nip to the shops Harry and Ellie are sensible enough to watch Annabelle whilst I nip the younger 2 in the car with me to go.

Sitting down and chatting I said to Daddy G how maybe it was just us being extremely over protective. Many siblings help with their younger ones. We have friends whose older children take their younger children downstairs in a morning and give them breakfast for example. But we would never allow that just in case they fell down the stairs whilst holding them. Even typing that out loud sounds a little silly particularly when I remember carrying nieces and nephews downstairs much younger than 13 & 14.

I decided to do a little research on it and found quite an interesting article on the BBC that showed a mother had been prosecuted for leaving a 14-year-old in charge of their 3-year-old sibling despite nothing happening and both children being completely safe.

There are no specific guidelines to say when you are legally allowed to leave your children to care for a sibling, nor are their guidelines to state at what age legally a child is allowed to babysit. What the guidelines do say is that no child under the age of 13 should be allowed to be unattended for long periods of time. Does this then mean that a child under the age of 13 CAN be left for a short period of time? It also says that any child left in the care of another child under the age of 16 would not be legally responsible of any child they would still remain the responsibility of the parent.

It is down to the parents discretion whether or not they believe that their child is mature enough to take care of another child.

I’m really interested to hear other people’s views on when they think its OK to allow children to babysit? Are we being overprotective by saying no and still going to be using babysitters even though our eldest is going to be 14 next month and is extremely sensible?

What age did you babysit for other people?

Do you think by being overly protective these days we are stopping our children from learning key skills when it comes to becoming parents themselves?

 

 

My First Mother’s Day Without You – What’s It Like Mum?

It’s my first Mother’s Day without you and there is so much that I could and probably should be writing to you but instead all I can think about is what’s it like Mum? I have so many questions that I would ask you if I could.

Where do I start?

Does it all stop? When your heart stops, does everything else just stop or is there more? Does everything just go black and that’s it? Or do you move onto something else. There are so many theories, so many different explanations but nobody actually knows for sure do they.

Let’s start with the light thing

Did you actually see a bright light? The reason I’m asking is when I had that scary episode, you know the one I’m talking about, the one I was told I was lucky to be alive. I didn’t see anything, I didn’t dream. It was just emptiness. So it made me doubt whether there was anything afterwards. So did you see a bright light?

Did your life flash before your eyes?

They say that your whole life flashes before your eyes don’t they? Did that happen? Did you play out scenes from your life like they show you in films or TV shows? Did you remember your wedding vows or when we were all born? Did you relive my first steps or the first time I said ” Mummy”

Was you scared?

Did you know it was going to happen? Was you scared? You always told me about your mum and how young you was when she passed away. Was she waiting for you? I really hope she was and that you wasn’t scared and instead that you was excited because at last you had a chance to be with your mum again.

Was anybody there waiting for you?

I’ve already asked about your mum, but what about Grandad was he there? Was anybody else there? Uncle Richard? Your own Nan and Grandad? What about your Aunties and Uncles? Were there people excitedly waiting to see you, or was it just nothing? Did the world just stop?

Your Funeral?

Did you like it? I know, that’s probably a stupid question right? I’m guessing nobody likes their own funeral but Dad did so well didn’t he? He chose amazing songs for you. You would be so proud of how well he has done, He’s got a job, a new place that he’s decorated. He keeps your grave beautiful and tidy. He has his sad moments and he misses you so much but he really would make you proud with how well he is doing.

Did you see Harry’s speech to you? We were worried that people weren’t going to make it but were so proud when we came around the corner to see so many people stood on the path waiting for us to arrive. It just showed what an impact you had made on so many people. There were people there that we hadn’t seen in years. All of them had so many nice things to say. A lot of stories about going on nights out with you before you became so poorly.

The old fun you that everybody knew and loved. It’s such a shame that the kids never really got to meet that version of you. The one we all knew before you got so poorly. The one who liked to have a great time and knew how to have fun.

That’s all the questions I have for now

Well all I’m willing to publicly share anyway, I will ask the rest privately when I come to the grave to wish you a happy Mother’s Day.

I miss you Mum, You always said to me that the best friend you will ever have in your life is your Mum and I always shrugged it off. I guess that was because the person saying it to me wasn’t the amazing lady who bought me up, cared for me, kept me clothed, fed, made me laugh, cuddled me when I was sad. Made sure that I had everything I needed.  That person was lost towards the end hidden behind the poorly lady that you had become but she was still inside there she was just covered by pain.

But you were right. Things have been hard recently, really hard and the only person I wanted and needed was you. The only person who could possibly give me the right advice, the only person who would truly understand me and know what to say or how to go about things was you.  I didn’t know how to deal with things and nobody understood but you would have because you’re my mum and as much as I never admitted it, what you said was right. Your mum really is your best friend and the only person in the world who knows the real you.

If I could say anything at all to you right now, it would simply be Thank you for raising us all the way you did. You taught us all to be well-mannered, respectful, kind and courteous. You made sure that we always had nice clothes, a home we could be proud of and that we were never embarrassed to bring friends home to. You took us on amazing fun-filled family holidays and we all knew that we were loved.

Happy Mother’s Day Mum

I Miss You

xxx

I want to do something with my life! – Somebody give me a chance

I have mentioned this several times previously on my blog but it’s really playing on my mind at the moment how much I want to do something with my life.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve recently hit 36 , the harsh reality of having to claim benefits for myself or the passing of my mother but this is not the life I want or desire! Now if you know me personally you will know that I have this hang up about benefits. Don’t get me wrong they are a god send to those who need them and they have helped me massively whilst I have been helping Gareth with his mental health and right now but they are something that I strongly believe are there for people who need them and not for people who physically can work.

Yes I have 5 children, yes Bethie is only 1 but there is no reason why I can not work. I have an invisible illness which can at times make it difficult. Most days I struggle to lift my head off the pillow and my eyesight isn’t fantastic but the fact of the matter is I CAN lift my head off the pillow once I have adjusted and I CAN see enough to do a job and work. More importantly than that I WANT to work.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will have seen my posts asking about work, something I have found is that the second you express an interest in working you get many people trying to recruit you into marketing and working from home with things which is fantastic, If that is the kind of thing that you want to do but it just isn’t for me.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I never wear make up, so I’m not exactly the greatest candidate for selling the stuff, I can just about tell the difference between eye shadow and eye liner let alone concealer and foundation! I’m going to be honest my 12-year-old knows more stuff about it than I do and probably more than I will ever desire to. But it isn’t just make up people are trying to get you to sell, there is all sorts out there. The problem is I can probably tell you 20 people I know personally that have tried these things already and have not made anything and maybe 1 or 2 people who have actually gained anything from them.

Don’t get me wrong I am more than sure that there are people out there who do very successfully in these kind of things but for me, I need and want something more.

So what am I going to do with my life?

I have a plan, I have had many plans and it’s no surprise that they have never worked out. I have some incredible ideas but for some reason they just don’t seem to go very far.

I have no intentions what so ever of staying on benefits. I still firmly believe they are there for those times where you are in desperate need. Not only that but I want my children to grow up believing that in order to get nice things you have to work hard for them. I quite often use their Uncles as examples of what happens if you work hard. I always say to them if you want nice things then don’t be like me, be like your Uncle Neil or Uncle Paul because they didn’t waste their brains like I have.

With my blog I have found something that I am actually good at, something that people enjoy reading. It is something that I know I can do successfully and that can lead to greater things. It is a great community to be in with mountains of support but unfortunately it is also a very tough area to work in. Despite the way it may look to the outside it isn’t all glitz and glamour and you don’t make a fortune from it. In fact I’ve been blogging a year and can tell you I haven’t really made anything from it despite hours and hours of hard work and dedication.

But I am determined to not give up. I know that I want to do something with my life.

I will show my children that yes I have struggled and yes it has been tough but I CAN be as successful as their Uncles.

I want them to see that if you put your mind to something and really try your very best that you can achieve anything.

I have a brain, I know I am wasted by not using it. I just need an opportunity to shine and to show that I am capable of doing something worthwhile. I need somebody to look at me and say ” I can see potential in this girl”

Yes I am 36, I’m not a 19-year-old but I am still able to learn new skills, I am still able to adapt, I am still capable of becoming something and making my children proud.

I know I can do it I just need somebody out there to believe in me too.

Learning outside the classroom

How can you extend learning outdoors past the classroom?

When you think of a classroom, what springs to mind? Most likely it is a room, indoors, with desks and chairs facing a whiteboard on the wall. It’s important to remember, however, that this isn’t the only environment that a child can learn in and, as research has shown, it may not be the most effective.

Many children are going home after school and spending time on their tablets and devices instead of playing outdoors like previous generations. Introducing outdoor play at school provides them with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and engage with nature. Together with Infinite Playgrounds, creators of sensory playgrounds, we look at the benefits of learning outdoors and how to adapt lessons to teach outside.

What are the benefits of learning outdoors?

In addition to encouraging children to appreciate the outdoors, there are many benefits of learning outside of the traditional classroom.

One benefit is the opportunity for children to exhibit some physical activity that wouldn’t be possible indoors. In the school yard or in a sensory playground, there is lots of space for the children to run around and play — raising their heartrate and keeping them active.

Another benefit is the encouraged use of imagination. There is plenty for children to discover outdoors; from plants they may not have seen before to minibeasts that catch their eye. Before the children learn what these are, they might use their imagination with their peers to guess what a certain animal is or what one of the plants is called. This stretch of imagination will become useful when they begin to write creatively or during drama exercises.

When children are learning about how plants grow, for example, it will make the lesson much more memorable for them when they can touch the plants and the soil. 92% of teachers surveyed said that their pupils were more engaged with learning when they were outdoors.

85% of teachers reported that they saw a positive impact on their pupils’ behaviour when they were being taught outside. This could be down to the children finding more enjoyment in outdoor classrooms — 92% of pupils said that they preferred their lessons outdoors.

It is possible that the introduction of outdoor classrooms could improve school attendance rates, too. If children are enjoying their lessons more, it is likely that they will have more motivation to come to school.

How can you adapt classroom teaching to the outdoors?

Teaching outdoors does not have to massively disrupt your curriculum, there are many ways that you can alter your lesson plans so that you can take them outside. The main thing about outdoor teaching is that it shouldn’t be overly teacher-controlled — it is important for children to be aware of the safety hazards outdoors. But apart from this, they should be encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones.

There are many new resources that become available when a lesson is taught outside, as well as all of the extra space. Teaching outside can be beneficial for the teacher as well as the children, 90% of staff found that outdoor teaching was useful for curriculum delivery.

Maths

Depending on the age group of your class, there are many ways that you can teach maths outdoors. For the younger children, consider bringing shapes and counting outdoors and asking some of the following questions: How many petals does this flower have? How many circles can you spot? How many legs does the picnic table have? You could take pictures of the shapes to have a look at when you get back into the classroom.

For an older age group, encourage them to measure each other doing the long jump or provide stop watches and let them time each other running a certain distance. When you get back to the classroom, teach the children how to plot these numbers on a graph.

English

For English, consider allowing the children to explore the area around them and draw some minibeasts that they can see. When you get back to the classroom encourage the children to write down a short story involving their pictures. For younger children, they could colour in the pictures when they get back and talk about a made-up story.

Science

There is lots to do with science outdoors. You can teach children how plants grow and even allow them to plant their own seeds, visiting them regularly and explaining the scientific processes behind the plant’s development. Children can also learn about heart rate through exercising outdoors.

It appears that most lessons can be taken outdoors and the benefits are hard to ignore, the next time you are planning your week ahead consider taking the class outdoors and allow your pupils to push their boundaries.

Sources https://www.gov.uk/government/news/englands-largest-outdoor-learning-project-reveals-children-more-motivated-to-learn-when-outside

** This is a collaborative post

I’m scared!

Whilst I was away I received some news that I chose only to tell family and a couple of close friends and I am scared! I shared the news recently with my followers on Instagram and I have decided that now is the time to blog my feelings on what is happening.

I’m losing my sight

Last year I noticed a dramatic change to my eyesight. I have always had poor vision in my left eye as when I was younger I was stabbed with a fence panel by a girl in my street, luckily it didn’t really cause much damage and I was able to carry on as normal.

The first thing I noticed was that when I was driving at night I struggled to see the signs on the roads. During the day I was fine but on a night-time I really struggled. I also struggled to gauge the distance between the car and the curbside.

Then I noticed that if I was sat in the kitchen and Bethie was in the living room I couldn’t quite make out the full features of her face. I brushed it off as nothing as I had always struggled with the vision in my left eye and had regular check ups due to being diagnosed with Benign Intracranial Hypertension.

I had a bit of a wake up call one night when Gareth was taken ill and was rushed to hospital, as I made my way home from the hospital I got lost. You need to bear in mind that I have grown up in this town and know it like the back of my hand and there should be no reason what so ever that I would get lost but I did, it took me twice the time to get home and when I did make it home I realised that the reason I had got lost was because I really couldn’t read the signs at all and I had taken a wrong turn. This was the kick I needed to get myself to the opticians and get my eyes checked.

The optician appointment

When I went to the opticians I explained to them all about what had happened with the hospital and how I was struggling especially at night time when I was driving. Previously I had been told that there was little point in having glasses as they wouldn’t really help but the optician agreed to have a look and see if he could help.

After going through a series of tests he told me that my sight was extremely bad but he thought that wearing glasses could help me and wrote out a prescription. He also explained that because my sight was so poor that I qualified for a special voucher. I supposed I was a little naive at the news and just glad that it wasn’t going to be so expensive. The person fitting my glasses then said how he was amazed that I had managed to get by so well up until now because I could only see for 1 metre! just 1! I must have just adapted to what I could see and winged it.

The day I collected my glasses

Gareth said he wishes he had recorded it the day I collected my glasses because it was incredible to watch. He likened it to the videos you watch where babies hear for the first time. I remember putting them on and just saying WOW! initially they made me a little bit dizzy, I had spent so long walking around in a blurred world that being able to see clearly was just insane, things had outlines and definition.

The doctor’s appointment

In January I went to see the doctors for a medication review for my headaches and whilst I was there he asked about my eye appointments, I explained that I had been for my eye examinations and that when I called for the results they had just said I had been discharged but hadn’t explained why. He looked back through my notes and then what he told me next I really wasn’t expecting and it really shook me. As he said the words, he said them in such a way that were so matter of fact I really didn’t know how to process them.

He said ” The reason they have discharged you and don’t wish to see you anymore is because there is nothing more that they can do for you”

I asked him what he meant by that and he explained that the test results showed that my brain had switched off my left eye and it was never going to improve. I asked him if I was going to go blind and he wouldn’t give me a straight answer. He simply said that everyone’s sight deteriorates as they get older and mine will never get better, and that luckily for me I still have my right eye.

What the doctor didn’t know was that since those tests I had been to the opticians for that eye test where they told me that my vision was just 1 metre and that my right eye had started weakening.

The realisation.

A couple of weeks ago there was an event in our local town, I had forgotten my glasses and as we walked towards the entrance I noticed that I couldn’t read the sign at all. This sign wasn’t small or in pretty colours, it was a white piece of paper with large writing in black and I couldn’t see it. As we continued to walk around with the children I couldn’t make out the different stands or peoples faces. It wasn’t until people were right up next to me that I could see who they were. It scared me, not just a little bit but enough to shake me up.

The other night I was stood outside in the dark and I noticed a white bag moving, it took a few minutes to process the fact this white bag was being held by somebody and if it wasn’t for the fact that they were holding that white bag I wouldn’t have known they were there.

If that had been somebody trying to attack me I wouldn’t have seen them coming and I most definitely wouldn’t have been able to identify them if I needed to. This has made me scared of being out on a night time alone.

Everyday I am noticing my eyesight is getting worse and it is so scary, I am worried that I won’t see Bethie start school, I won’t see any of the kids graduate. What if I never get to see my grandchildren. Now to people who know me this may seem a bit extreme but in the last 12 months I have gone from being able to see absolutely fine to not being able to see further than a metre.

I need to book an appointment at the opticians to be retested because I know that they are worse than they were when I went last year, but I don’t want to, I don’t want to admit defeat.

I had so many things that I wanted to do. Gareth wanted to book me onto a nail course so that I could work from home without having to worry about childcare but the other day I had to sit him down and tell him it would be a waste of time as I wouldn’t be able to see clear enough to do it.

I’m so scared of what the future will hold, I’m only 36 but there is absolutely nothing I can do, the eye specialists have said they can’t even operate or do anything to help. The doctor even said I don’t know why you’re wearing your glasses, they’re pointless.

I want to get married, I want a good job, I want a nice home and time is running out fast for me to be able to do these things whilst I can still see!
I’m hoping that the doctors/opticians/ ophthalmologists come up with something to help me and save what little bit of vision I have left

 

Am I a bad parent?

I’m sure that I am not the only parent that has sat and questioned myself and wondered if I am a bad parent.

I went through so much to become a mother, you can read my journey to become a Mum on a previous blog post of mine but let me explain to you why I am writing this now.

From an early age I have tried

From the second my babies entered the world I wanted nothing but the best for them. I wanted them to have a happy family home. Days out, holidays. I have always tried to have an open and honest relationship with all of my children and I have tried to teach them right from wrong.

As soon as they are able to understand I have taught them how to talk, with many people complimenting on how well-mannered and polite they are. They have all also excelled in school and whilst this makes me very proud I am far more interested in knowing that they are well-rounded and kind human beings. I like to know that they have morals and are in general good people and up until now I have felt that I have done a good job of doing that.

So what has changed?

Recently I have been having problems with Annabelle. It all seemed to have changed when she was having issues with bullying at the beginning of last year. I wrote and told you all about how my beautiful and happy little girl had changed. She was no longer happy and smiley, instead she always seemed sad. We spoke with the school and they sorted out the issues very quickly and we thought that was the end of it.

However we were wrong. Recently she seems to have become somebody that we don’t even recognise. I checked her school bag and found some letters. There were letters from a parents evening that we had missed, there was a letter from a meal at school that parents could go to. When I asked her why she hadn’t told me about the letters and the words that came out of her mouth broke my heart.  She told me that she didn’t think that I would care!

My beautiful princess, my baby , my world didn’t think that I would care about what she was doing at school. I have never in her entire lifetime missed a single thing that she has done. From school plays to parents evenings, special events to craft days I have never missed a single one and I never would. I love going along and seeing how she is doing.

When I asked her why, She told me that I had been so busy with the issues that Harry had with school, Ellie and her thumb and running around after the babies that she didn’t think I would be interested in what she was doing.

Sitting her down I told her just how amazing she was and just how much I loved her and was proud of her and that I would never want to miss anything that she does. I loved her just as much as the others and that it made me sad that she thought that I wouldn’t care.

I’ve never felt like such a failure as a parent than in that moment, I would hate to think that any of my children would feel like they didn’t belong or that they didn’t matter. All of them are absolutely my world and my everything. I would be lost without any of them.

School

We called the school after the discovery of the letters to speak to her teacher and express our concerns about her and her behaviour. The teacher explained to us how they had noticed a change in Annabelle at school too. All that she is interested in is singing and not very much else. She has started to give an attitude to her teachers and kicking off when she doesn’t get her own way.

She has started working slower and her handwriting has become messy and sometimes unrecognisable. If she isn’t allowed to sing at the end of the day it causes all kinds of problems.

Recently I went to the doctors and the doctor asked me if anything else was playing on my mind and I told her about Annabelle, she suggested to me that maybe Annabelle maybe struggling with grieving for her Nan also and that she could benefit from going for a visit to the doctors for a chat and to see if they can help. I suggested this to Annabelle, she wasn’t very keen on the idea and wanted to try to work on it at home first. For a short while she seemed much happier so I decided to leave it. Now she seems to have gone back into the Annabelle I don’t recognise again.

Last week I was away for 24 hours and whilst I was away for those 24 hours she was horrible to Gareth, she had given him a really hard time. It was so bad that he was genuinely hurt and upset by it.

I’ve tried so hard with all of my children and I am at a complete loss as to where I have gone wrong. I try hard to make sure that I spend time with her and talk to her about any problems that she has.

Every week I spend hours doing her hair and I use that time to talk to her, we discuss school, home, life in general, we laugh , we giggle and if she has any problems we work through them.

I’m going to book her that appointment at the doctors but I really just want my beautiful, polite, well-mannered little girl back. I love her more than I can ever put into words.

I must have gone wrong somewhere, I just can’t figure out where ….