Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Monday, 5 December 2016

It's OK

Parenting is a tricky business. Full of wonder and joy and......doubt. But SCREW THE DOUBT. It has no place here.

It's OK to feel guilty about conceiving easily when your friends are struggling. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful.

It's OK to have really struggled to conceive and still think FML a lot once the baby is here because CHILDREN ARE HARD FRICKING WORK. And it doesn't mean you're ungrateful.

It's OK to be ridiculously smitten by your children one minute and want to ship them off to Nanny's the next. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you can't stand to be near them.

It's OK to want a large glass of gin once the kids are in bed because CHILDREN ARE HARD FRICKING WORK. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. And it doesn't mean you're an alcoholic.

It's OK to sob uncontrollably when your 18 month old still wakes in the night and you are exhausted by the constant broken sleep. It's OK to hold him close out of all consuming love but to be slightly resentful at the same time. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you're depressed.

It's OK to be annoyed at your partner because 'they get to go to work everyday' or because 'they get to stay home with the kids everyday'. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you hate them. It doesn't mean you want what they have.

It's OK to mutter obscenities under your breath. It's OK to not want to read The Gruffalo AGAIN for the seventh time that day. Its OK to want to remember who you are It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you hate spending time with your children.

It's OK to feel what you feel. Its OK to say what you feel. You are feeling what a billion others are feeling, or have felt, or will feel, at some point during their lives. Don't be scared that you'll sound ungrateful or depressed or hateful or like an alcoholic.

You might be some of these things. But keeping it to yourself will NEVER help - whether you are or you aren't. And the people that want to listen are the people who'll want to help. If they're not listening, they're not worth it.

Sometimes you just need a glass of gin, or a good nights sleep. And sometimes you need to say "THIS IS HARD" out loud and have others say "I TOTALLY AGREE," just to feel like you're not failing.

You're not failing. You're parenting. And if you care enough to say "AM I FAILING?"

Then you definitely aren't.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Price We Pay For 'Great'

Before I go on, I totally understand democracy and I totally respect it. I wrote about the importance of respecting the rights of everyone to vote, based on their own opinions and judgements, just after Brexit was announced. We all have different ideas and opinions and we all have the right to vote and express these views. It's what makes the world so wonderful. It's called diversity.

A diversity soon to be potentially depleted in America in Donald Trump's bid to make it great again.

He is not a fan of immigrants. So much so that he suggests building walls to keep them out. Obviously there are exceptions to the immigration rule. Women who are attractive enough are obviously allowed in. Like his wife.

He's actually a big fan of women so I suppose gender diversity will still be strong in the great US of A. Any women fancy working at the White House now, with a president who can, by his own admission, 'do what he wants' to women? I suppose one perk would be that you'd probably get your dry cleaning paid.

He's 'for the people' of course. And there are a lot of his voters who opted for him over 'Killary' because they believe she sacrificed American troops and covered it up. If these people truly believe that Donald Trump will never sacrifice anyone physically, politically or emotionally for his own gain, then they have fallen hook, line and sinker for his ability to 'talk the talk' on the news and social media.

But what strikes me most about all this is not the ridiculous promises to build walls and imprison women who have abortions (but not the men who helped make the baby obviously - they're exempt from blame). It is not that the Democrats chose the wrong candidate and did a piss poor job of trying to gloss over Hillary's obvious shortcomings. It is what struck me about Brexit.

It is this notion that we can only be 'Great' Britain or that we can only make America 'great' again by being self sufficient. By 'standing on our own two feet'. By making all of our own decisions.

That's not how life works. There cannot be complete autonomy and independence of everyone in the entire universe. We HAVE to co-depend. Otherwise, as a species, we'd have died out years ago. Complete, individual autonomy would result in anarchy. We can't all just go about doing as we please. Nor should we. It'd be chaos.

Every job description I have ever read for any job (and I scoured A LOT of job descriptions as a penniless student), has included one key criteria: teamwork.

Why? Because nothing works effectively when people don't co-operate with others. Sometimes your team love your ideas and implement them. Sometimes they don't. It's called compromise.

A lot of people voted during the US elections and during the Brexit referendum out of fear. Fear of terror. You know what makes people a really easy target for terror? Being alone. Unsupported. Without allies.

When did everyone become so egotistical that they are so intent on absolute power for their ideas? When did it all become about greed? About wanting everything for ourselves and nothing for anyone else. About negating a treaty between America and Europe and holding the American military to ransom if we are attacked unless we pay for it? When did we forget how to compromise? To co-depend? Or are we simply refusing?

As a teacher, I can see a growing trend of young people who have a misplaced sense of entitlement. A misplaced idea that the world revolves around them and only them. Is it any wonder?

Donald Trump wishes to Make America Great Again. I wonder if he thinks America was great in 1861 at the outbreak of its Civil War. Because, if so, he may just get his wish.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Motherhood is not all beautiful

It is ugly. It is feeling on top of the world one day and down at rock bottom another. It is crying so hard in the difficult moments that your face is puffy and red and you think you might never stop.

It is scary. It is losing control. It is feeling anxious and nervous and terrified at that loss of control and your simultaneous need for it. It is lying awake at night with your heart racing and a nauseous feeling in your stomach, anticipating being woken up yet again.

It is vulnerability. It is having your heart opened to so much love that you can't bear to think of losing it or using it wrong. It is sobbing into a cup of tea at 5am because you feel hopeless and you wonder when this phase will end. It is feeling guilty for being angry and for wanting a moment for you. It is the guilt of neglecting everything else in your life a little bit more.

Motherhood is not beautiful. But it is extraordinary. It is knowing unconditional love. It is being a role model. It is being reminded, in the moments of hopelessness and ugliness that it's also pretty amazing. It is first steps, first words, first kisses. It is a miracle. Sometimes miracles are messy. But they're miraculous all the same.

Motherhood is not beautiful in the traditional sense. But there is beauty in ugliness. In fear. In vulnerability.

And there is beauty in miracles.

Pink Pear Bear

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Sometimes You Just Need The Shoes...


But sometimes?

Sometimes you haven't bought yourself anything nice for four years because your children need new shoes and they have ruined your cheap couch with a delightful concoction of bodily fluids, milk, play dough and felt tip pen.

And sometimes you see some shoes and they remind you that there are other things in life to spend money on instead of stocking your kitchen cupboards with crap like Dairylea Dunkers and Fruit Winders, which masquerade as calcium and 'real fruit' laden snacks but which are so full of sugar that they immediately begin to decay your children's teeth on impact.

And sometimes, because you spend so much time couch-ridden of an evening, listening with baited breath to the baby monitor, desperately praying the children remain asleep ALL EFFING NIGHT, you realise it might be more comfortable to 'relax' on a couch which cost £2000 rather than £200.

And sometimes, because you basically spend almost every penny you earn on your children bar paying for petrol and wine, you decide that sod it.

You will buy the shoes and you will buy the couch (it's on 0% interest free credit and you pay nothing for a year anyway) because you realise that you can actually make life about people and love and warm fuzzy feelings like that. But you can do it all on a fancy couch in a shit-hot pair of heels.

Pink Pear Bear

Kidloland App Review

Me before kids: "I will not use electronics to entertain my children."

Me now: "Me before kids was a very na├»ve person."

The thing I have discovered about electronics - namely apps for children - is that they can be so educational.

I remember taking the Big One on holiday when he was two years old. I had an app of puzzles on my iPad. He loved it. He had the choice of ten jigsaws - I would never have been able to take that many actual jigsaws with me. I needed room for nappies, swim nappies and other essentials needed when taking a toddler abroad.

Ok, so he didn't develop the fine motor control he would have done with actual jigsaws (and we did take a few in our case) but trying to do a jigsaw on an aeroplane tray table would have been extremely stressful anyhow and as it was a 6am flight, I thought I'd be frowned upon if I ordered gin from the refreshment trolley to calm myself as I watched jigsaw pieces going everywhere.

So he used an app. The aspects of spatial awareness and problem solving were still being developed, not to mention the key skills of using technology (which, as a primary school teacher, I know is a key part of the curriculum and is becoming more and more challenging with every academic year - infants are now expected to program and code).

So when I was asked if I would like to try out the Kidloland App, I jumped at the chance. I read another review of it and checked it out as it sounded fab! The review said that there was so much within the app. Well I completely underestimated what they meant by 'so much'!

It is packed full of stories, songs, games, phonics, puzzles - and every aspect is interactive. There is tons my children have not yet discovered or explored which of course keeps it exciting and fresh for them.

Image result for kidloland

The Little One loves the stories and the songs. His favourite is Insy Winsy Spider - you can tap the spider and he moves around the screen - if you tap him at the right time, his movements will match what is happening in the song. That's one of the best things about this app - children can of course explore it independently but there are loads of ways an adult can help support them with it. I like to sit with him and show him what happens when we press the characters and explain cause and effect; "If we press him now, he will climb up the water spout" etc.

The Big One loves the games and there are some of varying degrees but all educational in some way. You will see in the video below that there are simple 'tapping' games where you burst balloons or bubbles. Of course, this develops hand-eye co-ordination which is where the Little One is still at in terms of development. But it also tells you shapes or colours or animal sounds or countless other things. There are more complex games (you can see them both playing Train Adventure in the video - they love trains - in fact any vehicles - so the whole section on Vehicles in the app is very popular!) which combine different skills - tapping, dragging shapes to fit (matching), and picking objects by initial sound - to name just a few.

I was a bit dubious about the phonics initially because it is an American app and I was unsure about whether it would focus on letter names rather than sounds and I know how important learning the sounds is. However, the phonics section is structured brilliantly with a song for every letter which explains how the letter name makes a particular sound. You can then follow each letter through and play games like recognising the letter and selecting initial sound objects. The only thing I'd like to see here is more lowercase letters as this is what my son is learning primarily at the moment. Having said that, he seems to have picked up the relationship between letter and sound with the uppercase letters on the app and it is having a really positive effect on his sound and letter recognition and, as a result, on his reading.

We are really enjoying this app - there is so much more to explore. I think the eldest is probably just getting to the point where it wont challenge him for much longer but he's four so I suppose that's the be expected. The youngest however, will have loads of fun with this - it can really grow with him and he can develop different skills as he gets older. There is more than enough content for him to do something different every day for a year I reckon!

Have a look at the boys exploring the app below:

If you want to check out Kidloland simply search for it in the App Store or on Google Play as it is available for both iOS, Android and on the Amazon App Store. Click below for the appropriate link. It is £29.99 for a year's subscription but it is something I will definitely consider updating when ours runs out as I think the youngest will get another few years out of this!

iOS (KidloLand)

*I was given a year's free subscription in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and experiences are strictly my own*