Half-term stress no more

We’ve only just had the Christmas holidays with the kids off school but next week they’re at it again, being at home and not in the hands of their teachers for a week. A whole week.

I think I’m a bit of a stressy person and being a wheelchair user I find there are a lot of things I can’t do with the kids that I wish I could, and would certainly do if I was more able. Our kids don’t go without exciting adventurous activities, but when it comes to half-term I try and think of simple things that we can do at home, or cheaply out and about which will keep them entertained and my sanity intact.

1. Cook things. Cakes, biscuits, the evening meal, anything really. Get the kids involved in chopping food, measuring and pouring. Cooking with kids can indeed be very stress inducing but if you resign yourself to the fact that it may all go wrong, you’ll get very messy and they will undoubtedly lick their fingers and then touch the food again, anything good that comes from it is a bonus! You are not obligated to eat the food that they have helped make.

2. Go out for a colour walk. Get outside either to a park or the woods or even just into town and get the kids to collect things of every colour. A green leaf. A brown stick. A pink shell. A read leaflet. You get the idea. Make a collage at home. Channel your inner Blue Peter goddess.

3. Write a story. Each day of the week write a paragraph to a story. Have a character each that you can name and draw. Even do one story each but don’t read anything aloud until the end of the week. I think my almost 7 year old will love this. You could even type them up or scan them in if you can work a piece of technology. Scanners never work though do they.

4. Have a charity toy sort out. This is really decluttering sugar-coated as a fun activity. But your kids will probably know better which toys they still play with and which they don’t. You can even explain to them that some children don’t have money to buy toys and so we can give up some of the things we no longer need so that they can be loved by someone else. Take the children with you to the charity shop, or a local hospital to donate the toys. They’re more likely to want to help people if they can understand why it’s needed, by seeing for themselves how it is appreciated by others.

5. Make mosaics. Cut up bits of magazine, newspapers or junk mail and make beautiful coloured pictures. You could even buy some blank cards that they can make into birthday or greetings cards for their family, friends and teachers.

6. Make sock puppets. There are ALWAYS odd socks at the back of the drawer that you’ve put there in the hope that one day they will be reunited with their twins but let’s face it. It’s not happened for 6 months. It’s not going to happen. Get out the sharpie pens, glue, scissors and coloured paper and make sock monsters.

7. Make smoothies. Grab the fruit that’s going a bit brown, chuck it in the blender with some milk or yoghurt and get the kids to press the button (they always want to press the bloody button). Snack sorted.

8. Go to the beach. If you live by the coast, that is. Throw pebbles into the sea. Build rock towers. Bury your feet. By a box of 4 supermarket own-brand Cornettos for £1 and act like you’re the best parent ever for getting the kids ice cream at the beach even though it’s February. (And not been robbed of over £10 on 4 ice creams from the counter). Discreetly steal some pebbles and take them home to draw on or paint. They have now made a paperweight for Nanny’s birthday.

9. Get the kids dusting and polishing. Seriously they love it. My kids squeal with excitement if they get to ‘do the spray’. Of course, this needs to be supervised so they don’t end up spraying Mr Muscle in their eyes or drinking Dettol, but kids enjoying cleaning can only be a good thing. Just remember to keep the products out of reach of very little ones, but they can certainly use a cloth to do some questionable wiping. My parents used to let me and my brother tie dusters to our feet and slide around the French parquet flooring in our hallway. Great fun.

10. Read books! It’s the simplest thing ever but I remember being at my Gran’s for half term as my mum had to work still, and we’d walk to the local library and pick up a few books and I’d lay back fully reclined in my Granddad’s La-Z-Boy arm chair and reading entire Babysitters Club books in one day (I was very proud of myself). But there was no Sky TV or Netflix or apps to play on. There were real books and my brother and I loved it, despite trying to claim we were bored. Having said that…

“But Mummy I’m booored”

11. Let them be bored. Like I’ve just said, I remember being bored as a child. But in hindsight this was definitely not a bad thing. I think kids need to be bored from time to time. They don’t need constant entertainment and amusement all day every day. I do most of my best thinking and mental planning when I’m bored in the car on long journeys (if Rafe is asleep and the girls aren’t arguing). But I think a bit of ‘boredom time’ is good for their brains. It gets them thinking. It gets them inspiring and motivating themselves to do something else and use their imagination. Kids have fabulous ideas of their own. If you let them get a little bored every now and then, they’ll access those little sparks of ingenuity.

12. Put a movie on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting trashy TV or a cheesy film on for the kids whilst you get the proper housework done or if you need to sit and chill for a bit or feed the little one. Children won’t turn into vegetables just because they’ve had a bit more screen time than in their usual week. If they are really into a funny game on the ipad then let them indulge themselves. There are also loads of apps available that look like games but are actually teaching little ones basic maths, phonics and music skills. My daughter uses Times Tables Rock Stars at school and also at home on the iPad and it is very game-like whilst also getting her maths up to speed, and more.

13. Open a home beauty salon. This is where you cover the house in newspapers and allow the children to paint your nails. Or let them loose with the hair-stuff box and attack you with 3000 hair clips, which you’ll still be pulling out of your own hair at 9pm. Look how pretty…

I think those are most of the things I’ll be doing with the kids in half term. Of course there will also be the inevitable food shop with children that I can’t avoid, and because of the stress that might cause, we will probably also go for brunch in Wetherspoons on one of the days. Who would’ve thought pancakes and maple syrup in a gastro-pub would be such a good bribe for good behaviour.

Follow me:

Instagram: @Lizzybuntonvlogs

Twitter: @shopgirlygm

YouTube: Elizabeth – Lizzybuntonvlogs

Advertisements

How to survive Christmas with kids

Christmas as a child: TOYS! CHOCOLATE! PLAYING! NEW CLOTHES! YUMMY FOOD! GAMES! A NEW BIKE! ENDLESS FUN FOR SEVERAL DAYS.

Christmas as an adult: Responsibility. Refereeing. Regretting all the tat you bought your kids.

Christmas is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Well, sometimes it can also be very stressful and make you want to jump out of a window. Here are some tips I hope will help keep the festive period running a little more smoothly as a parent.

1. Let them eat junk. They will want to eat whatever yummy foods they see and unless you fancy hiding everything that isn’t broccoli and saying similar lines over and over and over all day throughout the Christmas and New Year period, it’s sometimes easier just to say “by all means, have chocolate for breakfast”, and secretly hope they feel a bit sick after gorging on too much sweet stuff. Try and make sure they’re given other, more regular savoury food so they’re not peckish and reaching for chocolate, but it’s Christmas. Who are we to deny treats? We’re only the parents.

2. Bedtime can be a bit later. I say this knowing full well it’ll get to 6.50pm at my in-laws’ house and I will have had enough of the constant moaning and arguing and snatching and pooing and I will want them banished to the land of nod. But, if it’s been a good day and they’re behaving favourably, I think it’s okay to allow them to stay up a bit later. By that I mean 7 minutes.

3. Find a room. Whether it’s a room to send one or two of the kids into with the iPad and free-reign on YouTube so you can have half an hour’s peace, or a place of solitude where you can go and sit in the dark and reminisce about quiet Christmasses pre-children, it’s good to have a room for these purposes.

christmas-2971961_1920

This poor lady has lost the will to live, and has escaped Christmas. Lucky cow.

4. Use the threat. Even after Christmas Day has been and gone, you may still use Father Christmas as a threat. He can retract new toys you know. He keeps them in a black bag in your room until you feel guilty enough and want to give them back. I mean, Santander will, obviously.

5. Don’t feel guilty. Whatever you have or haven’t bought them, it’s enough. Even if they wanted a specific sodding LOL Doll and you refused to spend over £10 on what is basically a glorified Kinder Egg, without even the bloody chocolate, and couldn’t find them in stock anywhere when you actually tried, the stuff you did get is enough. I can’t really remember specific ‘big’ presents that I asked for as a kid.What I do remember are the silly, random stocking filler toys my brother and I used to get and ridiculously complicated family games we’d play around my Gran’s dining table. What I mean is, kids remember the traditions, the people and the silly things that make them laugh, not necessarily the ‘popular’ toy of the year that they wrote on their letter to Father Christmas. So if you couldn’t buy it, they won’t hate you. If they do, send them to ‘the room’.

6. Have a ‘toy purge’. In the fortnight before Christmas, spend a few secret sessions chucking out or sending to charity shops, all the crap they never play with. Go through toy boxes and ditch any broken stuff, eject anything which sits there month after month untouched and offer it to other parents with kids, or flog it on eBay if you have the energy. Otherwise, you’ll drown in a soup of old toys and new tat they have acquired come January. I may have just thrown away an awful Play-Doh dentist head thing. Awful thing. Evil toy. Hopefully they won’t remember it. Who am I kidding – they love that stupid thing and I am going to hell.

Look at those perfect children behaving beautifully and acting like they love each other. Must be being paid.

7. Have a bit of alcohol. As long as you aren’t needing to drive anywhere and you can still safely look after your own children and make semi-sensible decisions, it’s okay to have one or two drinks. If you can’t string a simple sentence together to make them go to bed, you’ve gone too far.

8. Watch lots of Christmas movies. This is another great way to make kids sit kind of still for an hour or so, and all in the name of nostalgia. Parents and children alike can enjoy Home Alone or The Grinch, and also you can threaten your children with your disappearance next Christmas if they misbehave throughout the year. They’ll see how remorseful Kevin McAllister is and promise to get on better with their siblings in the coming months.

9. Teach your children that they need to tidy up their own crap. There’s nothing worse on Christmas day than not being able to walk through your own front room because of the sea of brightly coloured plastic strewn all over the place. They are perfectly capable of picking up toys and packaging and putting them away after. Although if I can suddenly walk on Christmas day, the toys scattered everywhere would be the least of my concern. (I am a wheelchair user and cannot stand, if you didn’t know).

10. Above all, try and enjoy it. I’ve said all this stuff ^ and I know my kids’ Daddy and I will probably still be the most stressed-out people in the house and will constantly be ranting at the children and wishing for peace and quiet and more sleep. But the hyped-up, spoiled-rotten, and grubby kids (why are they always so grubby at Christmas?) will, hopefully, go back to normal daily behaviours by just after New Year. Just keep reminding them that this chocolate-for-breakfast thing is only going to last so long, then it’s back to linseed and pearl barley for breakfast, strictly 7pm bedtimes and regular tooth-brushing.

Me with the John Lewis penguin three years ago. Just because.

It’ll be Christmas again before we know it.

Follow me on Instagram @lizzybuntonvlogs, YouTube at Elizabeth – lizzybuntonvlogs and Twitter @shopgirlygm.

Reasons I love half-term

Well firstly I mean, is it really necessary? I’ve only just got over having Bertie the class bear to stay for the week in October half-term. They’ve only been back at school for about 6 weeks after having just had 2 weeks off and loads of presents and chocolate, I actually think being at school is a break for them. Calm and routine and less chocolate and movies. And they listen to teachers. They don’t bloody listen to me. They don’t even work as hard as us, why do they get a week off ‘work’ to do everything else, where is my parenting half-term? I work a lot harder than my kids and I don’t get a break. It’s just unfair.

  1. It’s 5 whole days. FIVE. Surrounded by 2 either side of the 5 days. That’s NINE days. 2 days at a time I can handle, and by Monday it’s a beautiful thing to wave to your kids at the school gates knowing they have to listen to someone else’s voice for an entire day, asking them to perform tedious tasks. Comeuppance, I say.
  2. Any sentence from a 3 year-old which begins “Shall we play…?”. Clear your throat and get ready to say ‘NO’, before the 6 year-old gets a chance to respond.
  3. Any sentence from a 6 year-old which begins “Shall we play…?”. Clear your throat again and get ready to say ‘NO’ before the 3 year-old works out what the 6 year-old wants to play and responds unfavourably.
  4. The sight, smell or mear mention of the term ‘Play-Doh’. The devil’s belly-button goo. My sister just bought a set of the bastarding pots for our now 6 year-old, and she is yet to hear what I will do to her as punishment. I haven’t decided yet but it will be harsh and she will learn never to do that again. It might start with me smearing it into her bedroom carpet and bedding.  When she has kids of her own and I get to buy them gifts, I will have the last laugh. (6 year old loves it, so that’s all that matters, apparently) 
    FullSizeRender[1467].jpg

    Play-Doom

  5. The requests for food throughout the day. They begin at 6am when the 3 year-old requests breakfast literally as soon as her feet touch the bedroom floor, we try and hold her off for at least 30 minutes after which time she will sit in the kitchen for an hour, and eat precisely one spoonful of cornflakes. Snack requests begin immediately after being dressed. They don’t stop until they go back to sleep in the evening. Nobody can afford these kind of children. I exist mainly on tea and Aldi digestive biscuits so I don’t see why they can’t also.
  6. The sight of other peoples’ facebook updates, photographs and love for half-term. No one else needs to see how #soblessed your week with the little darlings is. Stick them in front of a movie with Nutella on crumpets and get over yourself.
  7. The sight of other peoples’ holiday photos which show that these people are just not good with money. I refuse to spend 300% more on a holiday abroad booked in the half-term week when I know that holiday destinations will be littered with other holidaying families taking up poolside loungers with more irritating children and their verrucas. If we decide to go on holiday with three kids, it will be in term-time and I will happily sacrifice their education for a week or two. I’d find court quite exciting too I think.
  8. Teachers who say “oh but children need a week off to chill out at home, they get so tired and really need it, and so do we”. THINK OF THE PARENTS PLEASE. If you care about these kids, you’ll keep your watchful eye over them so I don’t have to say “go to the bloody toilet then!” 13 million times a day. They’ll listen and pee on demand for a teacher. Also, if one needs a week off one’s job every month and a half, maybe one is in the wrong job? *
  9. When a child mentions “Mummy, can we do some cutting/painting/sticking”. RUN. RUN FOR THE HILLS.
  10. The weather. It always rains in half-term week. It’s the rule and it’s stupid. It means we can’t really go out and do anything because getting wet sucks. Kids are obsessed with wearing wellies and wellies are stupid because kids trip up in them and fall in puddles and cry. Wellies should be reserved for river-wading only, the house gets covered in streaky wet muddy marks, and then if we stay indoors all day somebody goes insane and it’s me, always me.
  11. Another half-term gem has to be the older ones waking up the 6 month-old one. He’s taken to napping for about 7 minutes, so on the rare occasion it approaches the 8 minute mark, if another child so much as exhales near him I will scream. And cancel Christmas.
  12. Needing to get out of the house to relieve the steam building up in your head through stress, but dreading the thought of walking through anywhere with other people when your 3 year-old will definitely shout out offensive observations at passers-by. Like for example when we walked past an older lady with water retention and the child exclaims “Mummy look, fat legs!” and you look, because you’re a parent and when a child tells you to look, you look, or they will shout louder.

    img_13001476

    A very reasonably priced child I thought.

So I propose to the schools of this country, or at least my daughters’ school, that half term consists of just 2 days. A Saturday and a Sunday beginning immediately after the last Friday of term. Then by Monday we can all be okay again and Mummy doesn’t lose her shit.

*Disclaimer: I know teachers work ridiculously hard and do amazing things for our children, despite the growing pressure they are under. And despite kids being arseholes some of the time, their teachers still encourage them.

img_13141472

Cute baby – hates sleep.

If you’d like to hear more from me, please follow my blog and find me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

I heart half-term

What is it about half-term, that induces this feeling similar to when you realised you forgot to do your essay and hand it in at college, you know, the dreaded sensation that feels like your stomach is about to fall out of your bum? I haven’t planned anything specific for my children to do every day, other than to save money by not sending them to holiday club at nursery, which would have enriched their week no end, I guess, but instead, they are at home with me whilst I am on maternity leave. We are on I think maybe the fifth movie of the week. They’re sat watching Arthur Christmas, it’s October ffs and it’s not even 10am yet. Do I win at parenting this week?

So far the week has been peppered with arguments about whose bed of cushions is whose, who can do a better forward roll, and drawing on each other’s paper because “she’s not given it any hair so I’m doing it for her.” And then saying ‘sorryyy-a’ because she means it so much she gave it an extra syllable.

To add to the pressure of giving my children a fun-packed week of wonderfulness, we have an extra house guest for the week. Bertie the bloody class bear. Bertie has his own personal journal where’s he all braggadocious (thanks Donald Trump) about the delightful things he’s been up to since his holiday started back in September. Seriously Bertie, get a job -stop exploiting children’s weekend freedom by insisting they pose with you for photos in front of the Eiffel Tower or whatever other parents do with their little sweethearts on their time off. He really has been up to all sorts. Well I’m sorry, Bertie, your extended holiday with us might not live up to your high-society expectations. We won’t be visiting the aquarium so you can pretend that you’re interested in learning about freshwater sting-rays, and I refuse to spend £8 on a ham sandwhich and a tiny yoghurt in an imitation happy-meal box for you in the cafe. You probably won’t even eat it, you’ll just sit their sulking like when you bring a friend home from school and your parents have got the wrong kind of ketchup. Then you’ll down the fruity drink of doom in 1 long gulp and refuse to admit you need a massive wee ten minutes later.

img_0331129

Bertie on the way home from school to begin his excursion. Refused to wear a seatbelt.

Bertie has so far, however, enjoyed watching his hostess go swimming with Daddy and her sister. I say watched, he napped in the bag with the towels after the obligatory photo-opportunity but after swimming he enjoyed drying under the hand-dryer after the humidity got to him, and I’m pretty sure he found this quite invigorating. Made him feel all macho and bear-like. He’s since had a ride into town in the pushchair basket, and was very content unlike his hostess, who complained about having to walk ‘for ages’ and questioned whether we were in town yet every 90 seconds even though she knows the frigging walk into town like the back of her hand, and the traffic lights at the cross-roads is not town, is it darling.

img_0363

IMG_0340[123].JPG

After drying his lustrous tendrils, Bertie let Amélie dry her hair too.

Later on today we plan on walking to the newly refurbished park so Bertie can be thrown gleefully down the slide and span round on the roundabout. If he pukes I will not be impressed. But I’ve already made a large parenting cock-up by suggesting that we might walk to the park later, while the girls were getting dressed. “Might”? What the hell was I thinking? Do I not know my own children at all, and realise this will start a cascade of ‘when are we going to the park? Can we go to the park yet? Are we actually going to the park? What time are we going to the park?’ So I’ve nipped this in the bud by stating that anyone who queries when we are going to the park, will not be going to the park. Not that I will follow through with that threat, because the idea of staying in all day and policing altercations over who lost Anna’s cape and winter fucking snow boots, is quite frankly hideous (I beg you, dearest doll manufacturers, glue the sodding stilettos, boots, crowns and other garments onto these princesses, please, they don’t need to come off. At no point in Frozen, did Anna remove her boots before frolicking in the snowy mountains with Kristoff because cartoon snow is still bloody freezing) and anyway Bertie must have a lovely lovely holiday and he really wants to go to the park and have a super time.

img_0359127

Bertie didn’t have anything off the menu yesterday, I didn’t know if he had any intolerances and I don’t want the blame for bear diarrhoea.

It is really going to be a wholesome and adventurous week, honestly. For all you know we might have taken an overnight trip to London yesterday and have been to the Natural History Museum already this morning, and after lunch we are nipping for a quick go on the London Eye and then cruising the Thames before catching the train home. I just can’t prove it because we left the sodding bear at home by accident which is such a shame as he would’ve loved the Big Smoke. I could’ve taken photos of the girls but we didn’t want Bertie to be jealous, we just told him we were popping to Aldi and would be back in an hour.

I know children find school exhausting by the end of half a term and they need a break, and I know half-terms are really for the teachers’ sanity so they don’t end up tying children to their chairs in their class. But I think it should be that schools send home a parenting care-package for the week, which I suppose can provide some good old-fashioned phonics fun, but really it should include daytime essentials like extra-strong PG Tips teabags, or a giftcard fot Costa, pre-made BLT sandwiches and chocolate, and also post-bedtime necessities such as a good white wine (not Chardonnay), Dominos vouchers for when our brains can only cope with phonecalls rather than trying to decide what to cook, and a list of activities to revise for tomorrow when they wake up and expect you to be all parenty and organised again. Or Netflix works just as well.

I’ll let you know if I survive the rest of the week.. Only had two cups of tea this morning so far, the girls are currently not arguing/crying/sulking/playing too loudly for my liking, and the baby is sleeping. For now.

img_0365

Bertie may have gotten a slight concussion.

img_0373

You can see how much i enjoyed the roundabout. Made my eyeballs feel like they were falling out of my skull.

Follow me on Twitter @shopgirlygm, and Facebook