Tag Archive | love

No Lockdown on Love

The Pandemic feels heavier than ever doesn’t it? Or is it just me?

I’m finding this winter Lockdown much harder to weather than I did last summer when the climate was kinder and there were more light hours to help lighten the spirits. I used the outdoors and nature as a strategy to help me through, especially when seeing friends and family was so limited. Whilst my love of nature burgeoned, loving those close to us felt like doing wrong somehow.

I know there’s no lockdown on love but it certainly feels like it when you can’t grab your loved ones and hold them in a big embrace, that’s if you’re lucky enough to see them!

Lockdown is certainly inhibiting our expression of love as well as access to many of the things that bring us joy. Not only the hugging and holding, but the meeting, community company, social pleasures, get togethers; all those things that dilute the intensity of everyday concerns.

No wonder we’re all suffering. Adults and children alike, however much we try and keep the cheer going. But keep it going we must in order to help the kids through such difficult times. Our responses, ideas, strategies for dealing with it will be a toolkit you’re passing on that they’ll always be able to draw on.

So what strategies have you developed? How can we keep going?

I think it’s important to keep contact with community as much as possible, making digital dates do for now.

It’s important to get out of the house daily, take advantage of what little natural light we have during winter – even cloudy light is beneficial. Walk out!

It’s important to find contact with nature in whatever way you can because nature can be so healing. Do this through walks, gardens, parks, planting your own seeds in hope for times beyond the now. Visit the same bit of nature every week and watch it change, even if only the front gardens you pass on your walks. Watch for bulbs coming, buds changing, colours returning on the trees and shrubs. It’ll help us remember different times will come.

Don’t forget the Big Garden Bird Watch

Don’t forget the Big Garden Bird Watch coming up, take part, and check out the other activities on nature sites for even digital nature can help.

Eat well. Cook. Move. Look after yourself.

Whatever you herald as important the kids will too. The strength you show in dealing with these personal hardships will become their strength. And it will improve yours too, as helping others always does.

Parenting is already hard. Parenting through a pandemic makes it much worse.

But we have to remember that actually; there really is NO LOCKDOWN ON LOVE. Love for family. Appreciation of the things we do have. Being grateful. We must find other ways to express those things if we can’t hug etc. And a strength and determination to see this through and come out the other side.

It will happen. We just have to keep on loving till it does.


Less stuff – more love

December already and I’ve only just started my Christmas shopping. 20161129_103846

I don’t like to make a big thing of it. I don’t do present overload. I prefer to give less stuff, but more love.

Love is more important than shopping – more important than stuff. The best present you can give is your time and attention. Time to be engaged.

Nothing worse than being with someone who is only engaged with their gadget. Hope you’ll remember that this Christmas! As parents;  remember it for all the times you’re with the kids. There’s times for gadgets and times for kids; exclusively.

Talking of love, if you’re short of a pressie for a Home Ed friend this Christmas you might like to give them my newest book A Home Education Notebook. Because I wrote it as an offer of love and support for all those home schooling families since I can’t be in the room giving them a hand. This is my hand of help. Reviewers tell me it really does the job when they’re feeling wobbly! (Read some reviews here)

And if you are looking for a loving family read for a mum you know, you might like to offer them my story; ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ guaranteed to bring tears and laughter, folks say! (Lots of lovely reviews on Amazon)

Meanwhile, I’ll get back to my own small Christmas list. Always hoping I’ll get a book for Christmas!

Will harmony and peace be well and truly Trumped?

A picture for peace and harmony

A picture for peace and harmony

It takes much tolerance to live together. Anyone who is living with others knows that. Family life is a bit like negotiating sea changes; sometimes it’s smooth, sometimes it’s choppy.

All parents know this. Couples know this. Families know this. In fact, my single friends know this too, as they listen to my dilemmas and family challenges and count their single blessings.

But I know my own blessings come family shaped. And when my two delightful family shapes are home again, as they recently have been, my blessings are rich despite the inevitable choppy bits.

These take some negotiating. There’s times I’m trying to calm rippled feelings and no doubt times I’m causing them! Mostly though, they are just ripples of laughter that permeate the house.

This is what family life – in fact all life with others – is about; storms, ripples and rainbows as we accommodate living together, whether that’s on a family scale, a friend and colleague scale, or population scale. In order for us all to live together we have to tolerate each others differences, learn to give and take, build understanding of and empathy for those with different ideas from our own, educate ourselves to be compassionate, curious, considerate and kind. Above all practice respect for one another.

So I rather fear for peoples when we have someone in charge of a major populace who lacks most of those characteristics, instead who openly practices racism, sexism, bigotry and a disrespectful style of communicating with others he fails to understand.

Is that the family climate Trump grew up in? And is it the kind of global togetherness he endorses?

I have to not concern myself too much with it; it’s too depressing a thought.

What I can concern myself with instead is the practices which I believe perpetuate love, respect and togetherness, as we all can. Right from our family doorsteps, throughout all our relationships, both online and in the flesh, so that these actions spread out from us and make our world a more loving and inclusive place.

I believe that always starts at home. With our relationships at home. It certainly should be part of our parenting and education.

Learning to love and live well together is the most important part of our human existence. You can look up any knowledge on Google – you can only learn about love and peace through experience. It should be the most important part of family development, education and politics – but I don’t bear to think about that right now.

I’ll just continue to go on loving and respecting my precious family shapes so they can in turn pass that on around.

A hug from me

20161012_175742 Sometimes I stand on the step so I can be taller than my daughter.

This is not for egotistical purposes, honest!

It’s just so I can put my arms around her shoulders in an all enveloping hug. And she can put her arms around my middle like she did when she was a child.

Doesn’t matter how old they are or how tall they grow, or even how loving the arms of boyfriends, they still know there’s nothing like a mum-hug to help ease the stresses of adulthood.

And how lucky I am to be looked to still to provide it.

No one is ever too old for a reassuring hug. But sometimes we get too busy to prioritise them.

No one is ever too tall or too grown up. And it doesn’t matter what gender – boys need them just as much and everyone needs to be tactile. Technology can’t do tactile, that’s one thing at least we still need to be human to provide! Lets not be on our technology so much we forget to be tactile. Life could easily become totally virtual.

Even grown up friends and I swap mum-hugs when that’s what’s needed and there are empty arms needing to be filled. We have the need both to receive and give hugs. Nothing shares an empathy or love like a hug does. Nothing soothes as much or feels as good.

My youngest popped back for one earlier. I see how many I can get in before she goes again. And I did stand on the step!

Someone said recently that my books feel like a hug. When life is challenging and they dip into them, that’s what it feels like they tell me. I think that’s one of the most endearing compliments I’ve ever received; I feel truly honoured. Couldn’t wish for anything better when that’s what I’d hoped they’d feel like, along with the odd tip of course, but perhaps that’s not as useful as a hug sometimes!

So if you’re in need today consider this another one. I’m just sorry not to be giving it in person!

Precious moments

20150604_144804When they’re little, it’s important to spend as much time with them as you can. This is the groundwork for their development and education.

When they’re older those times all together become increasingly rare. And very precious.

Which is why this is substituting for a blog post. I’m spending a bit of time with these two and making the most of precious moments! 🙂

Do it like the sparrows!

001It’s only a touch milder and the birds are thinking Valentines.

As I walked through town last night the Blackbird was singing his heart out on top of a chimney pot. This morning there is a chaffinch bursting with song. And there is a chattering of sparrows jostling for the next boxes and showing off their assets.

Being sociable birds we decided to build them a semi. A two-side nest box to be shared with neighbours. They keep popping in and out, first one side, then the other, like estate agents showing a prospective client round rooms. Swapping over, having a bit of a squabble, then carrying on as if nothing had happened.

Then occasionally one will bring a tuft of nesting material to impress his mate and earn him the right to bonk her on the roof!

I love the carnal stirrings of the natural world. It’s not that I’m pervy or anything, it’s just that it really means spring is on its way when there’s pairings in the wild. And it’s so beautifully removed from the the commercial hype that showing our love has become around Valentine’s day.

It seems far more fitting to bring your Valentine a token of your togetherness and love in the form of an act or a gesture that you’ve put some effort into – even if not nesting material – than buying a pre-packed, prescribed and generic box of something dictated by consumerism which is polluting the natural world and all the other living things in it.

Many of our garden birds are on the decline because of our pollutive habits and the way we farm is destroying habitats. The places that support them are destroyed or disappearing all together as we grab and greed and lust for far, far more than we ever really need to support us.

Just thought I’d mention it so you can think about loving the earth’s creatures as much as you love your Valentine and be mindful of the way in which you show it. I’m not suggesting you go out and bonk on the roof (although if that’s your thing…) I’m just asking that you also think about the world’s roof as you celebrate a day of love!

Together again and home educating the dog!


home educating the dog!

Aw! We’ve all been back together again and I didn’t get a picture.

Charley snapped this one of Chelsea educating the dog about what’s in Vogue – I wonder where she got the concept of that from – and we had a good laugh over it!

We’ve just had a few days all together and it’s been so lovely. Not something you can ever imagine when you’re immersed in raising little ones; that one day you’ll be all adults together, rather than adults and children. I’m not so sure who’s the more adult now, to be honest!

How different from when the four of us were growing up here all those years ago, which I described in the story ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. I say the four of us growing up because we parents did as much growing as they did.

Well, you do as a parent, don’t you? You do as a person really. You grow and change throughout your life – all experiences teach and change us. If we’re open enough to them, of course.

I’m having to be open enough to brace this new stage where my children give me as much inspiration and advice as I give them. For I’m still growing too even as I watch my two younger family members do the same.

We have to keep adapting as parents; we have to keep adapting as family, as the dynamics constantly shift like the silt on the marshland where I walk, carving out new channels as the tides of life come and go and alter our direction.

Nothing ever stays the same; an idea both comforting and nostalgic.

Whatever life throws at us – it won’t stay like that.

I watch these two amazing young people so full of energy and ideas and am inspired. I remember the little people they were and how we negotiated our way through tricky stages as we all have to do all the time with all relationships – negotiate the tricky stages, whether personal or circumstantial.

So this is just a little post to remind you of that.

Nothing stays the same – ever! And it’s worth making the most of each stage of family relationships, however tricky.

And enjoy yourselves, learn, be inspired and keep love up high on the agenda! Your family now will be a different one by tomorrow, by next year, in ten years.

And I hope, like mine, it just gets better and better.

Know what love is

christmas 2012 011

A cracker lovingly made just for me!

You can tell I’ve been feeling rubbish with this head cold because I now know pretty much every advert on the telly right through. In fact, I’m even singing some of them. It’s a sign I’ve been watching far too much, but my head’s been that fluffy it’s akin to being pregnant!

There’s one on at the moment that breaks my heart every time; have you seen it? It’s the singing toys to a rendition of ‘I wanna know what love is’.

Watch it here.

I may be a bit rosy rimmed but I could cry my heart out at the thought of all those unloved toys every time – is there a word for the anthropomorphism of animals which refers to toys? I need one – that’s what I’m doing when I watch it.

I grew up with parents whose lives had been so harsh (think North East, post war), that even one single bought toy in their childhoods would have been treasured and loved, respected and appreciated, and they passed that approach onto us. There’s something terribly sad about unloved toys.

So when I look at the mountains of stuff bought for kids at Christmas I have to wonder how they manage to appreciate it all. I’m not saying either a little or lots is good or bad, but I do know that appreciation, and lack of it, can become a habit that spills over into other aspects of our lives, even into the way we appreciate love. It can seem that the more we have the less we appreciate – love too.

‘I wanna know what love is…’ the song goes. I’m very lucky; I feel I know what love is, have been loved, are loved and have others to love and it’s something I truly appreciate.

I also know, having watched news of the awful Sydney incident and destructions of war, that some lose their loved ones in tragic, unexpected dramas, others have long drawn out illness. Some seem unfairly heaped with tragedy.

The loves in my life has been constant and run a more natural course, although we do, of course, all endure bereavement as the organic way of things.

But I don’t want it to be loss that dictates my appreciation. I so appreciate my normally robust good health even before I got this dratted cold!

And the singing toys make me aware of my other particular blessings, both material and more especially of knowing what love is.

May your life be filled with love too.


Mum’s lessons for Mother’s Day

March; the time when mums are most in my mind.

Not because it’s Spring and there’s nesting going on. Not only because of Mother’s Day coming and I have lovely charleys photo wkend spring14 006people in my life that I am mother to. But more because it was the day before Mother’s Day and in her favourite season that my own mother died. Unexpectedly.

When we discovered her, my own two girls and me, she just looked as if it had come upon her, unexpectedly. And she’d sat down in the chair irritated by the inactivity. She had her gardening trousers on and would be going outside as she did most days. Even at eighty five.

But not that day. In the split second I looked upon her silent face I knew that she had left, even if her outer shell in gardening trousers remained.

What I didn’t know at that shocking time was that although her soul had left, she had left me much behind.

She had left me and my children that innate capacity for giggling and mischievousness at times.

She left us with a slight sense of rebellion against fitting neatly into round holes. In fact neat was not much in her vocabulary. She taught us that creativity was more important than neat – or convention – and busy was more important than tidy. That being yourself was more important than image and not to be too precious to have a wee behind a hedge when necessary. A mouse in the living room didn’t matter too much as nature had a license to be here too; we didn’t always have to tidy it away.

When I was little she walked me round the city on Spring evenings to listen to the bid song. And when she moved to her rural idyll she proved that contentment came from an inner source not an outer trapping. It’s being resourceful that creates solutions – they don’t always have to be bought.

She left us knowing what it was like to have a rotund tummy to hug and what it felt like to be unconditionally loved, thus teaching us how to love in return. She left us with a compassion for all living things, even those that frightened her to death flapping round the lampshade whilst she hid under a tea towel.

She also taught us that the beauty of a person comes from what’s in their heart not what’s plastered on their face. And even at eighty you can stand up straight and not give in to the conventions of age.

But by far the most wonderful lesson my mother left me was a lesson that didn’t need to be taught at all. That the way to pass things onto your children was not to ‘teach’ but to be what you believed in. And the way you demonstrate which thoughts and actions you believe are right and good and useful comes from the way you are and will be passed on that way. To be a loving mum was more important than anything else you could teach.

And now I see her in my own two lovely daughters through a smile or a gesture or their wonderful loving minds. And know that as a mum I am still truly loved as she loved me.

(If you’d like to read a little more about her she features in my book ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ with gardening, mouse in the house and all!)

New best friends

A serious moment – there won’t be many of those!

I’m getting to see one of my two newest and bestest friends next week and I’m as over excited as a little child. Because she also happen to be one of my daughters.

Your children can be your best friends too. That’s a lovely thought isn’t it; that you’re not only raising children you’re raising new best friends!

That doesn’t mean cloying or possessive relationships – best friends are not like that anyway. It’s just about relationships and you’re sowing the seeds and building the skills for good ones right from when they’re tiny.

While many parents – and teachers too – often want to be the best friends of the children they are looking after, they sometimes forget what it is about friends that makes them so, what makes for that special relationship.

Sometimes it’s interpreted as all give and no take – that’s not a healthy way to forge relationships. Sometimes it’s misunderstood as making the other feel all-important to the sacrifice of the self – that’s not right either. Some people think that if they always give in to what the other demands it will secure friendships – nope!

That special relationship – in fact all relationships – are built around reciprocation. They’re two-way. Both give and take.

Take respect. Respect is essential in relationships. But it has to be mutual – demanded as well as given. This happens through behaviour. We have to behave in ways that others will respect – always – no short cuts. And we show respect for others if they behave in ways that command it. That’s important whether those others are adults or children.

And this mutuality works whatever it is we are giving and receiving within a relationship; with compassion and empathy, loyalty and support, understanding and trust, honesty and communication. All these are fundamental to good relationships, to good parenting, to good friends. They’re all necessary for relationships to properly work.

And they are demonstrated by the way you behave towards your children and the way in which you guide them to behave towards you and others. Everyone is as equal and important as each other in relationships. It’s never about competition or being boss or one-up. It’s a mutual demonstration of behaviour.

The other thing this approach will show your kids as well as how to be best friends, whether that’s to you or others, is how much they are valued.

Your children will feel as valued and important by having the chance to return that love and support and friendship you give, as they will receiving it. Children feel valued by knowing what they give to you, as well as by what they receive. You’ll know for yourself as an adult that it is lovely having friends you can turn to, but it’s also a lovely feeling knowing that you are a valued and trusted friend to someone else.

These things show children how to be good friends to others, an important part of their progress towards happy and enduring relationships. And one day they might become your best friend too. How lovely will that be!

It is – take it from me!

And I’m off next week to spend some time with one of mine. Hugs will be shared, chat will be endless and cake will be involved! Here’s wishing the same for you one day too!