Back to school – Living Arrows week 37 2020

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

Can you hear that? Yup, it is the sound of silence and it is bliss!

This weeks photos were both taken this morning (in a rush of course) just before both Bess and Moose left to go to their respective schools and approx 30 minutes after MrG left to go to the office. It has just been me and the dog for the whole day for the first time since April and honestly, I could get used to this!

It feels like we are waiting at the moment though. Not sure for what exactly but just waiting. For normality? For it all to kick off and close down again? I don’t know, just waiting. At least I get some peace and quiet for now though!

I think my lot have gone back quite late compared to some schools. Either way, it was worth the wait.

Looking at these photos and then back at old ones (obviously we do this every year, we have to now we have been doing it so long) it          is astonishing how much Bess especially has grown. I do miss the littler version of my girl – even if she did chop herself a dumb and                dumber style fringe just days before she started reception class at her primary school!

Living Arrows

 

10 things I hate about soft play – and why we are rushing back

Hey. It’s me, Tasha. How ARE you?! You may not remember me, it’s been a while. Like most of you I have been staying at home and self isolating where possible! I’m still going nowhere except my weekly outing to do the grocery shop. Fun times.

This, however, is about to change. It’s Moose’s birthday today and just when I was feeling super guilty about having absolutely sod all planned.. A Facebook post popped up informing me that a local indoor soft play place, Safari Adventure Play was about to re-open 2 days before my darling offspring celebrated his 6th journey round the sun. Admittedly over the course of my (thus far) 19 years as a parent, soft play has never been my favourite place to be.

boy in ball pit

Historically my biggest memories have been:

  • Sweaty kids
  • Other peoples kids vomit (never had the dubious pleasure of it being mine – thank God)
  • Other peoples kids being absolute dickbags
  • My kids being absolute dickbags
  • Stickiness. Play equipment, kids, tables, floors. Sticky is never a good sign is it!?
  • Having to be prepared to fight other bleary caffeine needing parents for somewhere to sit
  • ‘That smell’. You know, the one which is a bit of a cross between ageing rubber, old urine and feet and hits you like a train upon entry to soft play.
  • Absolutely disgusting and shockingly overpriced coffee. I was once charged £3.40 for a cup of straight-out-of-the-sachet Nescafe which bore an unsettling similarity to used washing up water. Rough.
  • The frayed nerves of nearly every single adult there – not just parents but grandparents, childminders and the usually bewildered teenage staff members found hiding behind the counter. We once arrived at a soft place just as a shirtless man came charging out offering to rearrange the face of a man who as it turns out was another Dad. Madness! But at soft play, all bets are off.
  • One particularly memorable woman who changed her toddler’s stinky nappy IN THE SOFT PLAY (and then, of course, left the dirty nappy there for the poor staff to deal with)

Nonetheless the news that soft play centres were once again going to be throwing open their doors has had me positively giddy with excitement!

Yes of course it’s great that pubs and restaurants are letting us in again but oh the pure joy of waving my darlings off while I sit and chit chat and enjoy hot cuppas. Ah bliss. Of course, right now we are still having to wear face coverings except when we are eating and drinking so expect me to drink. A lot.

Is it safe?

I have to admit that it did cross my mind that maybe during a pandemic is not the time to be visiting somewhere we all think of (in normal times) as a bit of a germ factory – but, hear me out!

Right now they are running at much lower capacity. The one I am off to with Moose today is limiting admittance to 40% and they are recommending booking online. That’s far fewer people to have to deal with. A good start. On top of that they are cleaning like their jobs depend on it – because, you know, they kinda do. If we want indoor soft play to stick around then we have to use them. It’s as simple as that. There is a daily clean anyway on top of them wiping down the high touch areas throughout the day AND some kind of super anti bac they are spritzing everything with which protects for longer than the usual cleaning stuff.

So these places are about as clean and safe as they are EVER going to be right now. As part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme the lovely food and drink this particular place sells will be half price. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to quickly scoff your cake while your kid is busy in the ball pit. Sorry. No help for that.

Plus, in about 3 weeks time Moose is going to be going back to school. I don’t believe for a second that they will actually be able to socially distance a whole primary school effectively and this is a kid I had to tell off once for licking his mates shoes. HIS SHOES.

So, if anyone wants me between now and September there is a good chance that you will find me sipping tea and enjoying the air conditioning while Moose gets some much needed exercise and learns how to co-exist with children his own age before school starts again.

See you there?

 

 

 

Water fights and Caterpillars – Living Arrows Week 26 2020

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

My first photo this week was taken during a really hot day. We are still trying to learn at home but the temperature hit 86 degrees (I always use Fahrenheit during the summer and Celsius over the winter, it’s more dramatic) and I made the executive decision to stop “homeschool” for the day in favour of an old fashioned water fight. Every single one of us was utterly drenched! It was so much fun though, which, in my opinion, is just as important for Moose and Bess as school.

A little while ago I decided that it was about time we made use of the Butterfly Garden we got at last years STEM fair. We ordered the caterpillars but there was a super long wait. Now that we have them we are making Butterflies our summer project! Moose will be learning all about their life cycle. I am on the lookout for activities to do with him which ties in with the Butterflies theme. Feel free to comment with your ideas if you have any!

Living Arrows

Getting outdoors and tempting fate – Living Arrows Week 17 2020

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

The first photo this week is from one of our walks this week. We haven’t been getting out as much as we really ought to. I am trying a bit harder to make the most of our local area. It’s hard though, when you have 1 child at primary school and another at secondary. Their workloads are completely different and it makes finding a time to get out as a family a bit tricky.

We did manage to get out though and the children and I explored a local woodland. We are quite lucky to live so near to such a space. Inside the wood, Moose found a great little den that another family had started creating so we added some branches to it.

The second photo this week is of my beautiful Bess. I am so proud of how she is conducting herself throughout this lock down. She is 14 and I know she is missing her friends like crazy but she hasn’t complained about having to stay at home even once. She has lent a hand by occasionally watching her little brother so I could get work finished and making up games for them to play together. We have had the occasional day of bad moods but frankly, I think we are all allowed those at the moment and children/teens really are no different. As a treat and to tempt fate I said yes to her dying her hair with an Ultra Violet packet dye we found in a cupboard. She LOVES it!

 

Living Arrows

Social distancing? No spend ideas for families stuck at home in isolation

Hands up who has no idea how they will cope for the next ( number as yet undisclosed) few weeks? I am facing the prospect of school closures with massively mixed feelings. All I have wanted since Moose started school last year was just a little more time with him. I have missed our days together so much.

However, I also have to think practically. I am lucky that I work for myself from home but I work in the wedding industry and the CofE limiting wedding gatherings to 5 people and nobody having the dosh to plan weddings for next year means I am a bit stuffed financially. I’m 99% sure you are probably in a similar boat. Buying an endless amount of toys and games is absolutely off the menu for us. Whatever we do is going to have to be either low or (preferably) no spend.

We all know that bored children equals headache stricken parents so I thought I would chuck together a few ideas to (hopefully) get us through. Obviously my ideas are based on what we have laying around (hello to my fellow hoarders, this is what we have been training for forever – not hoarders of loo roll though. You can gtfo)

Log on

  • Visit the zoo from your sofa! Remember when we all watched the baby giraffe being born a while ago? Zoos still have web cams installed and you can log onto them for free. I think this will be a favourite for Moose and I am hoping we will spot an animal that we can follow for the duration of the school closures and maybe write about? The great thing is that you are not confined to UK zoos!
  • Let your child be the teacher. At Christmas I bought Minecraft for our Nintendo Switch. I really don’t get the appeal but Moose LOVES it. We have agreed that if he tries his best with learning at home then sometimes we can swap roles and he can teach me how to play Minecraft. If there is something that your child loves why not do the same? If nothing else it will give you a chance to have some bonding time on their terms.
  • There are a LOT of websites offering free downloadable or printable resources for learning from home. The Knight Tribe has created a great post illustrating this. I have a feeling I will keep coming back to this one!
  • Get moving indoors. Moose has recently been practising yoga at school. He loves showing off the poses he has learnt and so as part of our “school day” I have decided that we should start with this. We will be using Cosmic Yoga on You Tube. Their channel is great! I have promised Moose that I will do it too and I think that starting the day like this will be really good for the both of us.

Use what you have

  • Just lately Bess has developed a keen interest in sewing. We had a mini sewing machine buried in the shed and I just sorted out our airing cupboard and my wardrobe and instead of throwing out the stuff I no longer wanted, I gave it to her to play with. I can’t wait to see what she decides to do with it all. I wish I could sew and I love that she is teaching herself via You Tube and blogs!
  • Go through your child’s bedroom and find all of those craft kits they got for birthdays and Christmases. If yours are anything like mine you will find a fine array of paint your own money boxes, scrapbook kits and more.
  • Have your child keep a diary. It will be nice to show their teacher and classmates when they return to school.
  • Create a treasure hunt using clues. You could use learning questions as clues perhaps?
  • Make pasta collages. I’m kidding, who has pasta to spare right now?! But I bet you do have things you can use for crafts. Make salt dough, create street art with chalks on your patio, upcycle something old, decorate plant pots.. and if you really cannot think of a single thing then go and visit Kiddy Charts for some inspiration!
  • Get the kids in the kitchen! If you happen to have baking kits then great! If not then teach them age appropriate kitchen skills. You could have your very own sous chef in the making…

boy making chocolate cakes

Garden fun

  • You know the phrase “jumpers for goal posts”? Well, er that! If you have an outdoor space then get out there, create a makeshift goal and have a penalty shoot out (or if you have enough children start coaching your own team)
  • Create a crazy golf course using plant pots and toys.
  • Time to clear out the shed. I have just remembered that we have a Swingball somewhere in the back of ours which I will definitely be digging out!
  • Start planting. I know absolutely nothing about gardening but I think that we can learn together. It would be great to have a nice garden by the end of all of this that we can enjoy over the summer. Plus it is great exercise! Check out this post from Whinge Whinge Wine for some great tips for how to get started.
  • If we get some nice weather you could move your learning outdoors. A makeshift outdoor classroom (Pimms for the adults is optional), create a bug hotel or a hedgehog house. Unless like us you have a dog who has decided that hedgehogs are her nemesis. Your dog is probably not as twatty as ours though so you should be good to go.

Remember what is important

  • You are not a teacher, you are a parent. Be a parent first and don’t be too hard on yourself when you or your child hit the proverbial wall. Very few of us have received any kind of training for this sort of an event so a lot are winging it. There are Facebook groups out there to help. Go and look them up!
  • Connect with friends. One of the worries I have about Moose missing so much school is the social factor. I am quite happy to play the hermit for weeks but he will miss his friends. I am hoping that I can organise regular video chats for him and cousins and friends.
  • Have a Netflix party! I think this is quite cool. You can install it for free and it allows groups of kids, teens or in fact middle aged women to watch tv and chat together without having to leave the house!
  • Write a letter. You could have them write it to a school friend or maybe someone elderly who otherwise wouldn’t have much interaction socially?
  • Take some time off! School at home doesn’t have to be rigid so if your child wakes up and neither of you are in the mood to do any formal learning then delay it. Reshuffle your day and don’t feel bad about it. You are in charge! Your children probably won’t have much of a memory of  why they had to be out of school but they will remember how they felt when they had this time with you. Make those memories as good as they can be but don’t feel pressure to be ON all of the time.

 

I hope you get something from this post but I will be adding to it as we go and if you have any suggestions then please do comment below – it takes a (virtual) village after all!

Good luck x