Thursday 30 June 2016

Summer Pointers

SUMMER HOLIDAYS are upon us.  Yesterday, Day 1, was not good.  It just wasn’t.    I threw them out of the same room I was in at least 7 times before midday.   They went upstairs several times and I honestly thought they were trying to stamp their way through the ceiling. When the noise levels became too much for me, it was my turn to go upstairs -  several times - and lie on the bed.  Complete with fainting Victorian lady, dramatic hand over eyes pose and all.

And now it is Day two.  I realised I had been distancing myself mentally for the past two weeks.  Probably not a good idea as it has caught up with me.   There are hourly reminders that this is only for 8 weeks.  Only 8 weeks.  Only 8 weeks.  Before we know it they will be back in school again and another routine begins.  

I am sluggish as I haven’t been running regularly.    I am sleeping well at night but still wake tired and heavy.   So my first pointer is we need to look after ourselves.


Our kids need us.  They will always need us but remember, their routine has been turned upside down too and they are also adjusting.    If I am a big shouty, frustrated and hormental mess it will not help things by shouting and losing my temper at the least little thing.    Look after yourself first.   If you can’t exercise in the morning, see to it that it gets done in the evenings.  It doubles up as an hour away from the kids as well.  Aside:  I have yet to accomplish this.

The first day feels like a special gift from hell.  But even the worst day is still only 24 hours long.   12 if you don’t count the ones where you are all asleep.   I was that soldier yesterday.   Our screen time rules of nothing before 3pm has not changed.  This did not go down well but as lax as I am about other things – choose your battles – this one will not change.  It meant lots of shouting, fighting, complaints of being bored and several large messes being made.   But today, already, they are settling out.   They chanced their arm once or twice and asked did they really have to wait till 3pm to use their devices.  I remained strong.   I got this.   Proviso:   It is only day Two.   Things could change yet.

It’s kick back time.   We all need some kick back.    The kids and their time do not need to be micromanaged.  Most weeks this month, my boys came home from school with flyers for yet another summer camp.   I am in favour of summer camps but they don’t have to go to them all.   Particularly if there are a few children in the house.  These things are expensive.   If my boys go to one, we usually select one for late July/ early August to let them have a few weeks to decompress beforehand.   We do take out a family membership at our local leisure centre for July and August.   This allows us unlimited access to the pool and the adults can use the gym plus whatever evening circuit or spinning classes as it is all included.   It’s a fantastic offer at €93 each month for our family working on the basis that one child is free with each adult.    

Let them be bored.  Yes, it is a different time now and you wouldn’t open your back door, kick them out with instructions not to come home until the church bell strikes 6 o clock.   But we all have a garden, a box of Lego knocking about somewhere, a bag of carrots that need to be peeled.   Kids love pushing the hoover around.     Give them water guns, a cloth and ask them to wash windows.   Ditto re parking the car near the hose pipe.  They will find something to do soon enough.   Patience is the name of the game.  Disclaimer:  I never said I had any.

Breathe.   All the time.   Make a conscious effort to do it.   Walk away when you need to.  Go and sit outside in the car if their noise follows you upstairs.    A very wise woman once told me that it’s ok to be a little bit blind and a little bit deaf when you are a parent.   This will be my mantra for the next 8 weeks.  The next 8 weeks.  The next 8 weeks

Oh god.

Friday 24 June 2016

Starting Big School. Check List With a Difference

Disclaimer: I am not an expert.  In anything.  Lookit, I still can’t tell if it’s chocolate or………………..something else.   I thought I might take this opportunity to point out a few things that may or may not be pertinent to you now that your 4 or 5-year-old is starting big school.  I’ve been there a few times.  This August 28th will see my fourth boy march (he’d better!) through those gates.     It might be my fourth time around this particular block but I am very confident that he will do something new to add to this list.  In other words, if my child hasn’t done it, yours probably will.  And vice versa.

They will be excited and terrified at the same time.   I know you will be too, but this is a big deal.  In every way.   They think they know it all but really have no idea what to expect.  Montessori is a different animal.    And oftentimes their Monti mates will go to another school entirely.  So instead of seeing their Best Bud’s face on the first morning of Big School, they see 28 Totally Different And Strange Faces.   Cue panic and complete discombobulation.   And in the event that all of their Monti mates are in the same class sometimes that excitement is too much to handle and they burst into tears.    Emotions are big and they’re high.  Our kids are little and can only process so much in a short space of time.         

The wearing of the uniform 24/7.  This is a Big Deal.   A Very Big Deal and they will become surprisingly attached to that expensive new school jumper and refuse to take it off.  Don’t worry about it.  Go with the flow because precisely one week later they won’t want to put the damn thing on. Suddenly it will have become too scratchy/hot/tight/boring/something.  

Homework rules.  So you thought “are we there yet?” was the most annoying question, did you?  Get ready for the homework one.     When they get wind of the fact that Teacher will be dishing out homework in a few weeks, they will have you tormented asking when are they getting homework.   Be prepared for them to come out of the place with a face like thunder because they didn’t get it today. Again!    

They will want to do all of the homework.  Finally, the day arrives when they have some homework to complete.   See the joy on their little faces.  This makes them feel like the Big Kids, see? It doesn’t matter that it is a page of colouring with perhaps a blue sticker to place on the blue square, it’s homework time and their excitement will know no bounds. Literally.   I pity the fool who tries to stop them from completing the next dozen pages in their homework colouring book.   Go on – I double dare you!

They can’t handle the truth.  “Mary/Billy/Joe/Sally down the back ate their lunch/pinched them/has 47 dogs/lives in Spain at the weekend/hates them/knows BeyoncĂ©/one of their parents plays for *insert football team here*/knows how to drive a car/stole their pencil/stabbed them with a crayon/drew on their face/tripped them up/and said they can’t come to their birthday party next year.   Be prepared for all of the meltdowns!

Reading.  Words like “this” “that” “there” and “then” will swim before your eyes.    Trying to get a 6-year-old to grasp how “ing” at the end of a word works will have you slugging wine at 5pm of an evening.    Biff, Chip, Kipper, Floppy, Mum and Dad will break you.   Be warned.  Be very warned, it is highly likely your child will go into school one of the days and “pram” becomes, “fucking pram.  It’s fucking pram!”   *Thanks Dolores*

They will be exhausted.  Watch how they fight like WWF champions not to go to bed.   That’s if they don’t fall asleep in the car on the way home after their first morning – like my oldest did.  They won’t be able to keep their eyes open.   After they talk incessantly about the best day in their life and talk about all the friends they made, their speech will slow down and eyes will droop.   Scoop them up and tuck them into their bed.   

Teacher doesn’t do it like that. Duh!   Once upon a time you enjoyed being All Knowing.   All of that’s changed now there’s a new figure of authority in town.  Teacher.   You will be compared and contrasted to Teacher and come up seriously lacking.  Contempt, scorn and utter derision will emanate from your child.   You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Lost and found.  When you spend a small fortune on your child’s uniform and they (a) lose it (b) rip the knees/elbows out of it in the first term (c) take home someone else’s.   The jumper with the crest might be mandatory but it’s Tesco and Dunnes Stores all the way for the rest.  

Miscellaneous.   The man and lady teachers are all married to each other.  Because they are!   The teachers do so live in the school.   Start collecting jam jars/shoe boxes/toilet roll tubes now.  Your child will come home with a teddy bear of some description for the weekend.  This bear will accompany you everywhere.   You will be required to take pictures and keep a diary.      There will also be dress up days, sports days, sponsored days, book fair days, cake sale days, immunisation days, birthday party days, chicken pox and vomity virus days that stretch into weeks, no homework days, tin whistles, school tours, swimming, look I’ll just leave it here, shall I?   

You have entered another zone.  One that is inevitable and wonderful and scary and annoying and unavoidable.   Suck it up has never applied so much before. 

Is misé le meas

Thursday 23 June 2016


Hotspots can appear in many places.   Dogs, the poor devils, can suffer, did you know that?  Quite sore and irritating by all accounts.  I believe it. 

Microwaves are notorious for creating hotspots.   It is so important to stir any food that has been reheated before eating.  What is cool on the outside could very well give you a nasty burn when you bite into it. 

This next hotspot is quite handy.   A physical location where people can obtain internet access. 

Next we have volcanic hotspots.   Magma, lava and extreme discomfort spring to mind. 

Currently I have a nasty hotspot on the side of my face.  Not pretty.

However, the hotspot I am talking about today involves the end of the school year as we know it.  Lest you might be wondering about what was going on at Halloween and even Christmas, know that hotspots can occur at any time.   I should mention random moments in between times as well.  

From chatting to other parents at the school gate and on my Facebook groups, I know I am not the only parent who is experiencing these damn hotspots.  They will present themselves in various different guises but I feel like elaborating.  I have a need to vent!

General narky-ness.    Granted there is nothing general about it.   Brushing up against your child on the way to the fridge can induce a meltdown on a scale of anything from severely distraught to sounding like you have used a branding iron on their sensitive skin.   Asking them to get dressed in the morning is another one.  But to go through the steps involved with this one, you first have to get them out of their beds. Which brings me swiftly onto the next manifestation.


Extreme exhaustion.   The frustrating thing about this is bedtime can still be the utter nightmare that marriages could break up over is they just won’t go.  And when they are finally tucked in, shenanigans o’clock rolls round.   Morning sees them welded to the pillow with duvets pulled up over their heads.  The temptation to leave them there is real but so is awareness that they will be at home all day pretty soon.  That one wins. 

All of the bickering.   So far this last couple of weeks we (my boys) have fought bitterly over fingerless gloves, the last of the cheese strings, someone going up the stairs first, someone spending too long in the bathroom, someone breathing too hard, someone being in the room and being told not to lick their hands instead of washing them properly with soap and water.  They are killing each other.   And it is killing me.

   Complaining.    I am a broken mammy.   I have listened to grievances about a “crap school tour” and how he wished he’d had a day in school instead.  How a best friend is “gone to Spain and I have no-one to talk to.”  Each day they come home with completed workbooks and copies which of course makes their school bag way too heavy.  All of the colouring pencils are gone.  There’s still too many days left till summer holidays.  And then they start griping about the weeks we have to wait till we go to Rosslare.     

It doesn’t matter that the swipe cards for our pool membership will be activated on the first day of July.  Mere days away.   They care not a whit that they haven’t had homework for the last two weeks, that the dreaded uniform has been stood down in favour of tracksuits or shorts and t-shirts.   That the entire summer, eight whole glorious weeks, stretch before them.   Later nights and lie ons in the morning.   Here’s hoping for the second part at least.  

It hasn’t crossed their minds that school runs are almost done with.  No more rushing and racing out the door in the morning.   No more shouting.  Oh ok then, less shouting.  
They haven’t rejoiced in the fact that school lunches are almost a thing of the past.  No more squishy bits of fruit in the bottom of school bags.  No more leaky bottles.   How about my grocery list?  I regularly have little day dreams about Stuff I Will No Longer Buy When The Boys Move Out.  I get a little reminder of this each July and August when my trolley will be poxy processed ham free.  No more shitty tiny yogurts or Nature Valley bars.   Nutella will still feature.  Can’t have pancakes without the stuff.  No more cheese strings.   Those blasted rice cakes!   Ok, maybe this paragraph refers to me and my shopping trolley joy.

Why can’t they see that this is a great time to be alive?   A fantastic time to be a child of the 21st century?   Why can’t they leave me alone and lock themselves into the bathroom to complain?  

The way I do! 

Probably because they are too tired.   Damn hotspots.  

Thursday 16 June 2016

School's Just Around the Corner

Smallest Boy will be donning his bright yellow school bag (this is subject to change) in a matter of months and marching (I hope) through the school gates with his three older brothers.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t been waiting for this day for a long time.

He stayed with me for more than four years.   When he was “of pre-school going age” he expressed a strong preference to remain at home.   I listened and he stayed.

Then his ECCE year rolled round and I thought it best that he goes as to send him into school fresh off the plate would not be a kind thing to do.

I like to think the fact he stayed with me for the first four years of his life has a lot to do with his confidence and his ability to get on with others. 

Basically he is ready to go to school.

Ultimately I am ready for him to go.

I am a person who likes and needs her own space.  Others, when they experience an upset, might comfort eat or enjoy alcohol a bit more than usual.  I am the opposite.   In order to cope with whatever life throws at me, I need to retreat away and into myself.

Not so easy to do when small children are about and being incessantly demanding.

However, I am very thankful that in this, our rollercoaster, have it all world, I was the one at home with my four boys.   Yes, I was frustrated at times.    The boredom knew no bounds and this too shall pass became my mantra.  But I am very aware of how lucky and privileged I am to have been in that position.

I already know I will not be shedding any tears when this, the last of my children goes to school.

I did not shed any tears when my first went through those gates and I know I will not shed any when my fourth follows suit.

Because I have cried enough. 

There were very early parenting days when I was crying before my husband had reached the front door on his way to work.  There were evenings when I mentally screamed, “where are you?” when 6pm rolled round and he hadn’t walked through the door at that exact moment.

I sought out shopping centres where I spent a fortune on take out coffee which was gulped down at the ride on toys.   Some days I was lucky and another parent was also standing there.  We would chat.  Compare notes.  It was glum and made for depressing eavesdropping but I always came away feeling much better and sometimes even smiling.   Thank god, I would think, thank god I am not the only one who feels this way.  I spoke to a younger mother in a park once who told me she woke up that morning and lay there crying as she asked herself how she was going to get through the next 12 hours.  I often think of her and wonder how she is doing today.

So, he’s off to school.   I get asked at least once a week, “what will you do with all that extra time?”

Well, here’s the thing.    For the last 9 months I have become quite used to starting a task and getting to finish it without being interrupted a gazillion times.   I have enjoyed many, many cups of scalding hot coffee.   I wrote a lot.   I went for a run most mornings.   I did the usual cleaning and tidying before preparing a lunch time meal.  Then it was almost midday and I needed to be off for a Montessori pick-up.

I will carry on in that way.   I will run.  I will write.  I will tidy the house.  Maybe.    This is a new stage in my life.   A new stage for everyone.    I will once again be flung into the world of a junior infant who misinterprets social signals in the playground and believes the other kids are out to get him.  I will have to listen to his complaints and wipe away tears as I do so.   I will have to contend with establishing new school gate relationships.  New friends mean new mothers to meet.  There will be a settling in period for us all but having been there three times before I know each child has their own way of doing things.

Once again I will most likely just go along for the ride.  Because none of us really know what’s ahead until we’re there.

It is all onwards and upwards in this mad, crazy, never-ending, always changing world called parenting.  

And a big little part of me likes it. 

Tuesday 14 June 2016

This is Me

Today I am linking in with a lovely blog post by Awfully Chipper (Objects of Me) in which Maud chats about the everyday objects that make up her.   She begins her post with a beautiful paragraph describing items that her mother wore, little rituals that were so intrinsically her mum, Maud still can’t help but call her to mind when she sees or thinks about them. "Pieces of my childhood landscape and they bring with them a sensation of warmth safety and security.   They are the elegant and the everday; small, simple, ritual objects."  It’s worth a read for that alone.

As I read the other posts, I was pleasantly surprised at how many “me too!” items were in there.    Scarves, elephants, shoes, paintings and books.   I asked my boys on the school run home what things in the house make them think of me when they see them.

That was over and hour ago and they still haven’t answered!

Never mind.   I have a few ideas of my own and I know they will nod their heads in agreement when (or if) they ever see this post.

I like notebooks.   I’ve always been drawn to them.   Never any good at keeping track of things electronically I prefer to use a pen and paper.  This is where notebooks come in.  I keep them everywhere.   In the car.   The kitchen.  In my bag.  On the table beside my computer.   I love the look of an empty notebook just waiting to be used.   I record ideas and thoughts in them.   Random things.   Shopping lists.    Contact numbers and ideas for articles.  No wonder I can’t ever find anything when I want to. 

Some of my growing collection!

I am a big fan of Penney’s.  Which is a good thing because I enjoy a good pair of runners.   I like to purchase my cheap as chips everyday footwear in Penney’s and keep any saved money for running shoes.   The “shocks” have gone on two of these pairs so I need to get to the sport shop before the boys get their summer holidays.    I love Asics even if my big toe tends to go through them in a matter of weeks.   They do the job.

Coffee wasn’t something I enjoyed in my twenties.   Like wine, for me, it was an acquired taste.   Now I love it.   This machine is probably the most used item in the kitchen.   It takes no time at all for the water to heat up and a perfect strength coffee is born.  The boys are also pretty good at making coffee from it as well which is always a good thing.

I love an owl cup of tea (sorry) and I love a good owl owl joke (sorry again)  Here’s one to make up for my shite sense of humour.    A man at the cinema was surprised to see an owl sitting next to him.   “Are you an owl?” he asked.  “I am,” said the owl.  “What are you doing at the cinema?” the man wanted to know.   “Well,” replied the owl, “I liked the book.”      I love owls the way some people love dolphins and elephants.   I love those too but owls to me are very majestic, wise and beautiful creatures.   

I spent the first thirteen or so years of my life gnawing my nails.    It took me approximately four more to quit properly but even today if I am stressed or nervous I will attack my cuticles.    My nails are weird - they swing from being concrete strong to breaking really easily.  I like a nice squared off nail but more than that I love a red nail.  I have a little cookie monster tin lunch box in the fridge and it houses my bottles of polish.  Nails are my thing.

These are a few of my favourite things.  The things that make up me.   Head on over to Awfully Chipper to read the other links.  You might even like to add one of your own.