Thursday, 30 December 2010

Goals, and why I don't set them.

I am married to a man who loves goals. Thrives on them. He loves making his little (or long) lists and tick boxes, and now Toby is the same.

I, however, am quite the opposite. I hate new years resolutions, and I hate the fact that people make goals at this time of year., motivated by guilt. So, here are my reasons why I don't set any new years resolutions.

  1. They are often motivated by guilt, and produce guilt when not achieved.
  2. I do not know anyone (but am happy to be proved wrong) who has achieved all the goals they have set in any particular year.
  3. They can create legalism instead of grace-filled living.
  4. Most things that we might set as our goals are unachievable in a specific time frame, and should be aimed for during the whole of our lives and not just one year - for example healthy eating.
  5. I do not like lists.
  6. I do not like tickboxes.
  7. If you have to set goals, why not do it in March or October? Why now?
  8. I do not like hearing 'motivational' people talk about how you need to aim for something or you will hit the target of nothing.
  9. I am a realist.

I am not against change. I am not anti-improvement. I understand the need for accountability and for consistently aiming to be more like Jesus. I just do not like goals and new years resolutions.

There we go! I've said it now! I will not say it again, or is that a goal?!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Snow Trapped Day Ideas

The snow continues.

Last night we realised that we had spent 4 days waiting for something to happen, instead of making it happen ourselves. We were frustrated that we had not achieved anything we'd had planned for the holidays, and hadn't had any time in between refereeing to even finish a conversation.

So, ever the survivalist (and I don't think even Bear Grylls himself would survive days on end imprisoned in a house with my boys), Jared made a plan.

Today, while Jared has de-cluttered the junk room, sorry, utility room, I have attempted to keep the boys entertained. It took supreme effort of the will when all I really wanted to do is curl up with my Jodi Picoult book in front of a fire, but I gathered together all my wits and went into battle. I thought I would share some of the ideas here...... Please feel free to add to my list - I know there are alot of mothers driven to desperate measures in creativity out there!

  • Jigsaw puzzle (harder with a toddler, but keeps them going for a while)
  • Make biscuits - if you have more than one child wanting to 'help', you can make the dough yourself, sit them at the table and give them a 'splodge' of it to make their own designs. We made the nativity scene (sort of).
  • Make a room dark, make a dark den inside it and collect together all the torches in the house. Make up stories inside the den - scary stories are really good if you tell them while holding the torch under your chin, shining up into your face.
  • Get the children to make reward charts for each other and be responsible for looking out for good things and rewarding their sibllings.
  • Play games - you know, the good old fashioned ones before xboxes and wiis were invented.
  • Send them off to make up a play / dance / news report / song and film them performing it.
  • Collect icicles, and smash them up. It is fun actually being allowed to throw something so it smashes.
  • Make snowflakes (but beware of all the snipped white paper that will end up on your floor).
  • Snowball fights always go down well, but I hate them (make a very important note to NEVER throw a snowball at me please), so Jared does that with them. All boys v Dad - they can't help but join in.

There are lots of Christmas craft / making activities available on the internet, but if your children are anything like mine, they will not want to sit for hours on end making things. Mine have to have spurts of energy releasing activities interspersed with the sitting down, creative times.

Come on Mums (and Dads), take a deep breath and wade into the boggy, murky waters of entertaining the children. Even if you don't feel like it, it's so much easier than sorting out fight after fight after fight after fight after fight. Then, when 4pm arrives and you need to get started on the tea, you won't feel one ounce of guilt in turning on the TV and letting them blob in front of it.

Please feel free to add your ideas..... Mothers of the snow-ridden world, we need to unite!

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Snow. Snow on snow on snow. It looks magical, spreading its white glow across towns and countrysides, creating the illusion of purity.

Purity, however, is far from the thoughts of my boys who are cooped up the week before Christmas when their hyperactivity levels are at their highest. We cannot drive our car - we tried yesterday and had to be pushed back up the hill by two angelic men (well, Max thought they were angels anyway).

We have taken them out to play in the snow, built igloos, been sledging, trudged our way to the shops and had snowball fights but they still seem to have more energy than a duracell rabbit. Wearing them out seems an impossible dream. They are stuck together, doing what they do best - fighting. Unable to see their friends, they are irritating each other (and me). Each time they go outside, they come back indoors with dripping coats, hats, gloves, clothes and wellies, which are dropped in a pile all ready for me to pick up and spread across radiators.

I may sound bah humbug-esque, but I hope this snow doesn't last too long. It looks beautiful, but if I have to pick up another icy, wet glove from the floor or sort out another fight after Toby has thrown a snowball in Max's face (again), then I will be forced to get out my hairdryer and melt all the inconvenient white stuff myself.

On the plus side (and my glass is usually half empty, so it will be a squeeze for me to think of the positives), life becomes simple. We cannot make long trips, we see our friends who live nearby and we don't have to rush from one place to the next. Anyone else think of any positives? Help me out here.....

Friday, 17 December 2010

Outdoors Unlocked

Some of you will already know that my very own Bear Grylls of a husband is attempting to set up his own business promoting, teaching and training Forest School and Bushcraft skills to anyone and everyone, but particularly in schools. Today he has an interview with some people who very kindly give out money to worthwhile causes.

The trouble is, we have to convince them that it is worthwhile.

If I am honest, when he first began with his business idea I didn't think alot of it. I am married to a dreamer, who is constantly conjuring up new ideas, businesses and ways to save the world. I have heard so many of them that now I tend to ignore as much as possible, knowing that they will never come to fruition.

However, as I have helped him write funding applications and listened to his passion I have realised that this idea might actually become a reality. This isn't a business plan that will make us money, this is a business plan that will improve society. Children who have been shunned by traditional academia will have their confidence restored. Families who only spend time together when sitting in front of a screen will explore the outdoors together. Businesses who want to build teams can go back to basics with fire lighting and shelter building. Boys will be able to climb trees and scrape their knees again without being frowned upon. Girls will be able to make 'fairy dens' and collect flowers to press (I know, girls like climbing trees too... but most boys do not like building fairy dens and pressing flowers). Families will be able to forage for food for their dinner, make a fire and cook it. People, including children (sharp intake of breath required for all health and safety activists), will learn how to use axes, knives and hammers safely. The outdoors will be opened up again. The doors will be unlocked.

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you will know that I find the traditional education system difficult. Jared's venture will enable us as a family to make a difference to that. My heart weeps when I hear 9, 10 and 11 year old boys talking about how they are 'no good' at reading and writing. I want to scream and shout when I read articles that report their surprise in the fact that boys lag behind girls substantially in schools. I see a great injustice in our system and I want to be part of the change, even if my part is small.

We want to open the doors and pave the way to the great, marvellous, exciting, inspiring outdoors and make it a way of life for people who have never even considered the opportunities and adventures that can be had out there. Is it worthwhile? I think so.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Bad Mother Day

The conversation I had with Jonah whilst wiping his bottom this afternoon sums up the whole day:

Me: "Sorry, I haven't been a very good Mummy today Jonah."
Jonah: "No, but Daddy is."

Today has been 'one of those days'. How do we diagnose a 'bad mother day'? What are the signs and symptoms you would discover if you googled it?

1. Instead of making an adventure and experience of going to Tescos, I openly bribed Jonah to behave himself.

2. When he rolled around the floor in Tescos, I carried him instead of standing my ground and making him walk.

3. Driving home from Tescos, I went the long route so that he would fall asleep in the car, knowing that I would pay for it at bedtime but desperate for a few minutes peace.

4. When we arrived home, having woken him up, I put on a dvd and tried to make out that sitting on the sofa quietly was an exciting activity.

5. Secretly, I had chocolate spread on toast for my lunch whilst he was watching said dvd.

6. Eventually I made him lunch, which I let him eat whilst walking around the house (standards have dropped extremely low at this point).

7. After lunch, I put the dvd back on for him.

8. When he was bored of the dvd, I bribed him with a chocolate bar to play quietly on his own for a while.

9. After we had picked up Toby and Max from school, I turned my music up loudly so as not to hear them fighting and throwing things around at each other.

10. When Max tried to explain to me about an art competition at school, I ummed and ahhed in what I thought were the right places, until he walked away saying "You're not even listening to me".

11. And now? There is screaming and loud banging coming from upstairs and I am sat here on the computer instead of making the arduous journey up the stairs to discover the carnage.

Anyone else have any 'bad mother day' symptoms? I challenge you to have worse ones than mine!

Sunday, 12 December 2010


I am writing amidst the chaos of helicopters being thrown at heads, backflips off bunkbeds and general tarzan-like behaviour (and that's just Jared...). Apologies if this doesn't make alot of sense, but amongst the bedlam I am trying to find calm.

I have a job. This has not quite sunk in yet, There are so many levels on which I would like to write about the fact that I have a job, and I expect they will pour forth eventually. The first is that I wish to categorically state that my principles on working whilst having small children have not changed. (And here comes the opinionated bit - look away now if you don't wish to see it). When small children are at home, they need their mummy (or daddy). In January, Jonah begins his 15 hours of free nursery sessions, and my job fits exactly in with these times and with school terms. I would not have a job that meant passing my children from pillar to post just so that I could work. This does not make any sense to me at all. Whilst I have had a 9 years full of nappies, yoghurt stains, mindless twittering (otherwise known as conversation), playing the same games over and over again, loneliness and other undesirable things, I would not give up my time with my boys when they were small for anything - certainly not for the money to have an extra car or nicer holiday. (And here I would like to state that I know some mummies have to work, and do not do it for extra luxuries. I do not judge you at all).

Whilst the last 9 years has been full of all those perhaps unpleasant parts, I have also had immense joy and satisfaction as I have been there to witness the first time they take their tentative steps across the room; I have always been there to kiss the sore bits when they have a bump (or a fight...); I am the one who ensures they eat healthily and I know what they eat and when. I have taught them to dress themselves, to clean their teeth, to put on their shoes and coat, to eat with a knife and fork, to use the toilet, to cross roads, to handle money, to switch on the tv (best thing I've ever taught them!) and to share and play with others. I have been there to see their first nativities, the first time they draw a proper face with eyes, nose and mouth, the first time they write their name. I have taught them their first words.

Would I have given this up to someone else? Absolutely not. There is no way I would let someone else have the joy of having my children. It is my job, my responsibility, my delight and my wonder to have.

My time of pre-schoolers at home is coming to a long, drawn out close now and so I start to find jobs that will fit in with having slightly older children. I will still be there for them, will continue to put them first and will not be drawn into the career / mum 'have it all' game. I have it all, and they're at home.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

It's Just A Phase

Poor little Jonah. Not only have we seen everything he throws at us before, but instead of getting flustered and panicking, we just catch it and smile at him.

His latest phase will be well known to all parents who have any children over the age of 2. The "I am not going to stay in bed because I have extremely important things to tell you which I will think of as soon as I get out of bed and see you" phase.

So far the conversations about the 'important things to tell us' have been along these lines...

Friday Night: Telltale footsteps heard upstairs 2 minutes after putting him to bed.
Me: "What's the matter Jonah?"
Jonah: "I need to tell you something."
Me: "What is it?"
Jonah: "We've got lots of stairs."
Me: "Yes, I know. Now go to bed and don't get out again."

Saturday Night: Telltale footsteps heard again.
Jared: "What's the matter Jonah?"
Jonah: "How much does my bobby (his muslin which he takes to bed) cost? Is it three pounds or is it six pounds?
Jared: "Three pounds. Now go to bed and don't get out again."

Sunday Night: Telltale footsteps...
Me: "What's the matter Jonah?"
Jonah: "I need a spoon in bed with me."
A spoon?! He NEEDS it in bed with him?!

He doesn't get the opportunity of being able to blind us with his wise words or his cute little pyjama clad body because we have seen it all before. He is so transparent that we can't help but enjoy a little smirk and a laugh to ourselves when he's not watching (when he is watching, we will of course have our sternest face on). However much he tries it on, we have an answer. He'll still try though. Because he's three, and that's what three year olds do.