Tag Archive | family life

Back to work…screwing up courage

My little break away with Chelsea went far too quick – isn’t it always the way with holidays and loved ones. We tramped the city, visited the Fringe events (her production amazed me – so proud) and hugged a lot.

Too soon it’s time to say goodbye and the missing begins again. I imagine you’re with your little ones twenty four seven so you don’t get the missing yet, but although I swap the pavements back for the lush green and bursts of blossom I also love it doesn’t make up for the missing.

And the prospect of work is not made easier by returning to a caustic comment, on the blog before last, accusing me of arrogance. That hurts.

I try my hardest to offer a balanced perspective here. Why is it arrogant to say it how it is? I don’t think people realise what courage it takes for writers to put their work out there and how easily it’s broken!

I swap the cityscape for this view from my bedroom window on my return

I swap the cityscape for this view from my bedroom window on my return

Anyway, smoothing ruffled feathers I have other things to look forward to; new books to come out next month (more soon on that) and an event to think about where I’ll get to meet some of you which is always so inspiring.

And breaks in between will mean roaming out among the greenery and bloomery to sample the season’s delights.

It’s what helps my heart survive!

A visit and a tribute

The lovely Chelsea – not often I get a picture!

Getting all excited about having a few days away and visiting my eldest tomorrow.

It’s so long since she’s been under this roof and we all miss each other. Although we speak regularly on the phone there’s nothing like sharing moments in physical space close enough to hug!

I was thinking the other day how little blogging there is about older kids – if kids is the right word for grown up ones. You read of all the beautiful babies and of mums paying tribute to their gorgeous little people, nestled as they are under the muddled motherhood roof. And shining out of the muddle and challenge of early parenting you read about the love and the intensity of feelings we have for them that accompanies it.

Is there anything so deep and consuming as the love parents feel for their children. anything that feels so complete as your baby’s head under your chin or that circle of love and protection that you can surround these small beings with as you enfold them on your lap.

Well, that feeling is just as strong when they are grown, when you can’t enfold them quite as easily and they don’t always want it anyway. But it’s not something that’s often written about. So with mine in mind I thought I’d equal that up a bit for parenting doesn’t just finish with age!

Although the children and the love matures, it is still there. And so is that loving connection even if it isn’t connected by a roof.

When you start with small kids, especially when you home educate them, you’ll no doubt have the hope, as I did, that your love will stay as precious even after you’ve inflicted your parenting on them! That your relationships will stay strong as it always was and you still stay friends.

Well, I’m just paying tribute here to my two closest friends, my two beautiful children who’ve grown into amazing twenty-somethings, who are just as revered as all those babies you read about, whom I admire and respect as never before. And with whom I perhaps have an even stronger bond simply because you have to let it go and trust that now you have no control over it like you did when you could keep them with you, wherever they go and whatever they choose to do, the bond becomes unbreakable simply because it is their choice – as much as it is mine – unlike when they were little.

My two continue to amaze and inspire me in the way they grow and grab at life, as much as they did when they were toddlers, in the way they work and laugh and love, their courage and their strength.

Toddlers teens or twenty-somethings, they have never ceased to amaze.

So I thought I’d write something about the adult children as they are just as precious and surprising as babies and toddlers, and remain forever awesome!

More when I get back!

Bank holidays are always better outside

I just had a short trip to Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire recently. Nice to be in the hills after the flatland walks I usually take. My poor legs were totally shocked when I took them for a clamber. It was snowing and sunny at the same time but it didn’t stop me – I love a good clamber! And it’s just so good to be outside.

As you walk round there are lots of little prompts for activities for you to do with the kids – such a great idea as I know it’s hard to think up activities all the time. And this is what prompted me to prompt you to get outdoors with your youngsters this bank holiday whatever the weather. Because whatever mood they’re in it will be improved outside – even if you’re all a bit reluctant.

You also don’t have to be in a specific reserve to enjoy many of the activities that were suggested; you’d be able to engineer some of them on your doorstep. Things like:

  • building a den
  • rolling down a hill
  • climbing a tree
  • searching for creepy-crawlies
  • making an insect home
  • looking for treasure from feathers to stones to owl pellets to bits of pot

And you also don’t have to be rural to find paces to enjoy them either; a park will do, or riverside, – most cities have a river going through. Or a wood or a bit of wasteland. And you can find all sorts or wildlife in a churchyard or cemetery!

Just be spontaneous, get outside and go to whatever places are local to you and get some space, some weather, some learning about the environment and some physical activity. And if you can do it on foot you beat the bank holiday traffic too!

You’ll come back feeling better – trust me!

The gift of weblessness and the wonder of ‘wasted’ time

DSC06009

Typical spring; sunlit blossom against a stormy sky

We call Spring a fickle bitch in this house! That’s because it’s brazen and hot one minute and blasting your face off with gales and ice the next.

It doesn’t take much bad weather where we live to put the internet off – there are several times a year it disappears. And of course the landline phone.

Who needs a landline phone in these days of mobiles? People like us who live in places of no signal!

I can pace about in anger and frustration – again – it happens quite often. Or I can just be stoic and remind myself that I did actually happily exist without the Internet at one time. And do other things like reading, or walk – always available, always free.

Since I couldn’t work I drove to town, partly to get enough signal to ring BT, mostly to have a long browse in the library, an oft forgotten pleasure. I brought home a stash of books. And did some writing with pen and paper, ready to be blogged when service was restored. It was quite nice really – once I could get my mind turned in that direction and stop fretting over time wasted.

Time ‘wasted’ is a state of mind I reckon. I could look at it as time ‘gifted’ instead.

My mum, the loving character you may have met in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ Untitled-1 copywould have considered time on the Net as time wasted, in complete contrast to how we view it now. In her lifetime it wasn’t the facility it is now, more of a hobby. And anyway, time wasted is a point of view – she could spend/waste hours by her fire with a good book and a cat on the knee. Wasted? She enjoyed every minute, how is that a waste? But she wasn’t sucked into a lifestyle that depended on the Net and an image obsession of busy-busy on Social Media like we are today.

When we first came to this old house of hers, which we now occupy, I was a child in the seventies. It had no electricity, no phone of course. No heating except the coal fire. And it was NO problem – it was just how it was. And I consider myself lucky that I have memories of that because it reassures me that life can exist without it when necessary. And I have the skills to cope for a while.

It pays to have this kind of resourcefulness. Will our kids have it, so pampered and cosseted are they? Resourcefulness is a life skill that is invaluable. Can you imagine, we even started home educating without the Net? But the access it gives us to information and community now means parents can home educate with confidence.

There were some great programmes recently called ‘Back In Time for the Weekend’ that showed life in a family pre-technology, did you see any? They’re not available at the moment but similar programmes about existing without it are, that provoke some great historical discussions with the kids about this concept, which enriches their education. (Bit alarming to find I’m now history!)

Meanwhile, I kept reminding myself that the Internet would only be off for a while. It’d be back. Work would be back. Networking would be back. So instead or ‘wasting’ my time and energy fretting I decided I might as well turn my attention to the other things I value and enjoy this little gift of Weblessness.

So later that evening I visited a friend instead of being on the Net and had an evening of happy natter which I’d never have done if the Net had been available.

Gifts indeed!

Acting wild!

20151231_105913Heck it was wild out there at times this weekend. I keep up my daily walk in the wilds even when it’s blowing fit to knock me over.

Yesterday I got a ducking. And the day before I got my cheeks bitten with the stinging cold.

There will be a time I go out there and it’s all soft and gentle and hanging sweet with birdsong.

Doesn’t matter what the weather I always go. Because with all these years of going I’ve learnt the importance; it changes my mood, it gives me inspiration, it keeps my mind and my muscles fit – the heart being the most important one. And besides, despite my complaining and not always wanting to go when it’s a real challenge out there, I know it’s the answer to a sense of holistic wellbeing. You see articles like this about it all the time.

Even though we’ve tried to tidy it all away and ignore it, being out in the natural world is something we naturally need.

We all need it. Me, you, families, kids especially, young, old. Everyone does. We need it to be regular and ongoing. Only then will we reap the benefits. Being shut away from it is affecting our overall and longer term health dramatically.

Which is why the Wildlife Trusts have started a 30 days wild campaign. To get people, especially families, to reconnect with nature. Doesn’t matter where you live, there’s ways to do it even in urban areas.

Check out the link – and sign up for the inspirational pack. And go act a little wild for yourself, each day, and see if it puts you and the children in a healthier frame of mind. You might also find that, not only do you reconnect with nature, you reconnect with each other better too.

You won’t ruin them on your own!

Chelsea’s working so hard at the moment. She’s initiated a new production for the Brighton Fringe

A bold and thought provoking production

this year and is working on it with friends. It’s an impressive undertaking and I so admire her, tinged with concern of course at how busy she is.

I look at our two young adults now and wonder how they got to be the wonderful people they are – it’s something you always worry about as a parent, particularly a home educating parent.

I know all our experiences shape us; from childhood, school, home education, family, work, whatever. And although we can control some of the experiences our youngsters have we’ll never control all of it however much we want to keep them sweet. And we certainly can’t control how they respond to those experiences – that response is inherent in them. We won’t be able to determine that entirely.

For it is never nurture (or nature) in isolation, as the debate leads us to believe, it is the interaction between the two that determines the people our kids become. It is the youngsters’ reaction to their experiences which determine how things turn out. So that is never entirely the parents’ fault. A lot is genetic.

That’s a comforting thought when you’re parenting, particularly if you’re a home schooling parent and worrying you may be ruining the children.

Be reassured; if you are ruining them – you won’t be ruining them on your own!

In fact, I’m sure you won’t be ruining them at all, it’s far more likely that by parenting with care and respect – and I guess you care and respect otherwise you probably wouldn’t be the type of parent visiting here and reading this – you will be developing those qualities in them. And this will in turn nurture caring and respectful responses to the world from them, thereby influencing a little how they respond and what they will become.

But mostly they do it for themselves, even if they make decisions based on our attitudes.

Chelsea is inherently who she is on her own. Maybe with snippets of attitudes she grew up with here in her early years, but mostly she’s chosen what she reckons are the best of what she’s seen for herself. That’s what they’ve been educated to do.

And seeing the choices she is making I can only be proud!

Managing a moody homeschool monday

It’s been one of those Monday mornings. You’ll know the ones; where you want to stick your head back

A bit of blue sky for Monday brightness

A ray of sunshine for a Monday morning

under the duvet and pretend it’s not happening.

You get those whatever you do.

I got them when I worked full time. I got them when I was a SAHM – even though I felt it was the best thing I’d ever done and was besotted with the little ones. I got them home educating, even though that then became the best thing I’d ever done. And I get them now, even though writing full time was something I always wanted to do.

It’s the nature of our human psyche more than it’s about what we’re doing. And however much we love what we’re doing, overkill can sometimes prevent us from feeling that. It’s quite normal. It’s how it is. Accept that and it gets a whole lot easier, because once you accept it, I’ve found, you can then do something about it.

I thought that might bring a little comfort if you’re waking up as a parent or home educator who doesn’t want to face the day and are feeling guilty about it. Don’t! Guilt is irrelevant. Planning how to deal with this very real part of all family life is more practical.

Some of the ways I’ve found to deal with this are:

  1. Take it slower with the children this morning. Nothing wrong with doing things like reading stories in bed together or watching films or just letting them play. Playing is an enormously valuable developmental activity anyway. And a less directed day will give them time to practise the essential life skills they need to take charge of themselves.
  2. Explain you need a little time to recharge this morning and they can sort out their own activities. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re not up to much today – they’ll only worry if they suspect something’s wrong and you pretend it’s okay. They’ll be better people for understanding you’re human and they have to cope with that.
  3. Do something different with the day. Change your routine. Swap things round. Look at photos. Have a de-clutter. A change is as good as a rest.
  4. Get out of the house. Walks – city or rural, picnics, parks, playgrounds, explorations of areas you’ve not been before, all change the tempo of the day. Get out under the sky. Find some space.
  5. Phone another parent/friend and get together with their kids.
  6. And don’t worry – it’s not going to scar the children. You’re not going to look back in ten years time and say I ruined their education and their life with this moody Monday, are you? I had plenty of moody days and I’m pretty sure my kids aren’t ruined. They’re intelligent young people who understand what it is to be human, how to be compassionate when others need it and that life isn’t only about their needs!

And one last thing – it helps to think of all the teachers who’ll be going into school in a horrible mood this morning. Because they’re human too and many of them will feel this way and the children probably won’t be getting a very inspired day either, could equally get shouted at, and are stuck with it. At least yours can go in another room!

Lighten up and let go and the day and the mood may very well change itself.