The anxious mothers guide to… the first year at school

Here we are approaching the end of reception year at school and guess what… We survived! But for every mummy patting herself on the back for a job reasonably well done (well they don’t have to be on time EVERY day, do they???) there is another one bracing herself to take the plunge. So I have put together a Bear Grylls style survival guide to help those with pre-first year jitters get through it.

1. Stock up on vitamins…

I learned this one too late. Whereas parents of preschool children would keep a sick child at home the fearsome rules surrounding school absences have made our kids’ head teachers and attendance officers even scarier than they were “in our day”. All too often this year I have heard the phrase “if they are that ill the teacher will send them home”. This is true, but sadly not before your pooey, sickie, rashy child has spread their germs all round the classroom. Each time I have been told so and so got sick in class I know what is coming next. The following week my eldest has her head in a bucket, followed by my youngest, followed inevitably by my good self! And what happens when my child gets sick, has a temperature or has tonsilitis and is only capable of sleep? I keep her off (obviously) and then get really nasty letters home about her absences. So my first piece of advice is a lesson learned the hard way – get those immune systems toughened up or face the consequences!

2. Invite friends over early on

When September kicked off my first fortnight was spent listening to regularly repeated names which were then invited over for a playdate with a princess doll cake, dressing up and football. Friendship was established and while some drifted off into their own new cliques others have remained steadfast – either way my little girl’s first month ended with friends having been made and I ended her first month assured that she did not sit in the playground alone.

3. Learn the teachers names!

We have been through three teachers this year and nothing gets me moaned at more than getting the teachers name wrong (in fairness she now has two part time teachers and nobody has told me which days each of them work so how am I supposed to know who said what and when???)

4. Accept your child is growing up… Too fast

I have listened to my daughters friends saying “Bye mum” and “Mum where is my lunch box?” and it occurred to me only this morning that I may have limited “mummy” time left before I too am shortened to the lesser cute moniker of “mum”. It clawed at my stomach but I know it is coming. It is just a matter of when.

5. THERE WILL BE SCHOOL TRIPS!!!

Yes, your baby is going to be going places without you, sometimes on big scary coaches and miles away. Repeat after me… He/she WILL be fine. I SUSPECT, given my current tailspin about this one, that this particular fear is ongoing, at least while they are small enough that you still expect them to hold your hand (after all they aren’t taking 70 adults along on the trip with 140 kids so there will definitely not be enough hands available!) but remember your munchkin is undoubtedly nervous too and the first time has to happen some time so it might as well be <gulp!> in two weeks’ time…

6. Not every child is a genius

That’s right, I am talking to you. Your child will get their letters back to front and upside down, they will add together 4 and 5 and get seven and when they pick up a recorder it will sound… Well, horrendous, obviously (though I suspect even a musical genius couldn’t make that particular instrument sound good). That is fine, just be happy with sociable, happy, well adapted and on target for this year. We can work on the genius bit later (or if that fails there is always the second child to fall back on!).

7. Prepare for attitude

It is inevitable they will meet someone with a big mouth inherited from their gobby mother or father and they will undoubtedly try similar lip on you to see how it goes down at home. Rise above it. The rules of combat are the same throughout – terrible two, thoroughly-horrible three, fearsome four. Whatever has worked in the past will work now… Eventually. Just remember more is more. More time out. More trips to the naughty step. More sitting down and explaining why it is unacceptable behaviour and, thanks to their new school child status, more understanding of why it is unacceptable as well. Hopefully this stage seems to be the shortest lived (don’t quote me on that just yet, it is early days still!) and rarely involves children rolling around on the floor screaming so us veterans of the terrifying toddler years will find this bit a doddle!

So that is my survival guide for now but anyone who wants to add their invaluable advice is more than welcome to… After all, we are all learning on the job!

TTFN xxxx

A crafty baby hat tutorial… by a beginner and for beginners!

  1. 20150727_093947

It is no secret that I love to make things although I rarely transcend beginner status because I have a short attention span. For me half the fun is in the learning and to that end if the girls are quiet, the dogs are groomed and the hubby is washing dinner dishes you will often find me scouring the Internet for some tutorial or other. It is also no secret that we are expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet once again and so the sewing machine that I bought two years ago (and has been left to decorate the loft ever since) has finally moved back into my life, so I thought I would do a little tutorial of my own :).

This is recycling, upcycling or just plain old reusing an old t-shirt into baby hat and scratch mitts and it is a first attempt so bear with me!!!

Step 1 is to look longingly at the old t-shirt that will no longer go near you due to bump and rides up to expose stretch marks when you are back to bumpless hehe. It is also to grab an old baby hat from one of your previous kiddies (or a new one if you have begun preparing for your new arrival). Once you have those it is all about scissors, pins and sewing machine.

20150727_085526

Step 2 is to turn your t-shirt inside out and draw the shape. Using your existing baby hat as a template and leaving a good margin, line up the bottom of your hat with the hem of your t-shirt (saves a job later!) and draw around it. I didn’t want an exact copy of my old baby hat so added some ‘ears’ to knot at the end.

20150727_085914

I think step 3a might vary in importance depending on the stretchiness of the fabric and your patience but I pinned it before cutting it out to keep the two sides of the t-shirt together and matched up. This was a pretty stretch fabric so I knew as I cut it the two sides may cease to match up. 3b is the cutting. Take it steady and if any pins slip make sure those sides are still matching before you carry on snipping!

Step 4 is the sewing. Keep the right sides of the t-shirt facing together (that is the two bits you want to see on your baby hat because you will be turning it inside out once you are done. I used two stitches for mine, first a straight stitch a quarter of an inch in from the edge and then to finish it off a zig zag stitch just to strengthen in up and stop any fraying (I have no idea how frayable this fabric is so I am erring on the side of caution)

.20150727_092912

That is your hat done so it is time to move onto the mitts! I have learned that mittens rarely remain on hands and it is for that reason I didn’t bother looking for an old one to use as a template because quite simply I could look forever and never ever EVER find one! So here we go again.

Step 1. Using your inside out t shirt, draw your shape a bit bigger than you would want your mittens to be to accommodate the stitch margin and the space to slide the little hand in. Again use the hem of your t-shirt as the hem of your mittens to save messing around more than necessary :).

Step 2. I totally cheated and folded the t-shirt over so I didn’t have to cut twice (short attention span, remember!?), pinned it and snip snippety snip!

Step 3. Again with the two stitch sewing – with right sides (outside of the fabric) facing together, straight stitch to secure and zigzag to neaten, strengthen and prevent fraying. This literally took me about five minutes for both mittens.

Step 4. Turn everything inside out so the stitches are hidden. If you did the ears like me on your hat you will probably need a pen and some pins to work those out of themselves, but once that is done the knotting is simple (pun alert: “knotting is ever simple!” lol, sorry) and you are DONE! Half an hour project even if you are a first timer with a kiddlywink asking “why you doing that?” every ten seconds.

20150727_093947

You could add your own embellishments if you wanted to carry on – bows, buttons, patches etc. I am looking at this and desperately wishing I had some googly eyes to put on the front of the hat for a bit of fun to make the knots look like tiny antennae (silly mood apparently!). Since these are practical items rather than dressy ones (baby is due December so hats and mitts will be required!) it doesn’t matter if it is a bit rough round the edges. If you want perfect go and buy them, if you want home made then prepare yourself to fall in love with flaws!

TTFN xxxx

The thing about girls…

Anyone who believes all little girls want to be fairy princesses should see the delight on my two’s faces when daddy gets his old action men (and camo jeep) out of the loft. We once spent a couple of hours setting up higher and higher zip wires to see if we could get him to knock down a dvd wall and land in the drivers seat of the jeep (and we came close, we really did! Just his weight let us down… Maybe a career in engineering awaits one or both of them?). Barbie did get involved once, but not to be the girlfriend or eye candy- oh no! Action Man was stripped of his army uniform so that Barbie could wear it instead “because girls can go in the army too can’t they?” (maybe – though please God no as don’t think my nerves could take it! – one of them will be a soldier?). Their favourite tv programmes are Scooby Doo (we seem to like Velma a lot, Daphne is derided due to always getting kidnapped) and Fireman Sam (a lot of “rescues” get carried out in our house these days – maybe one of them will be firefighter or coastguard or something?). They both like doing hair (maybe a hairdresser?), dancing and tumbling (gymnast?), checking their teddies are well (doctor?), pretending to have babies in their tummies (mummy?) and “working hard” on the toy tablets and laptops and – when they are lucky – playing on our tablet with supervision (techie support analyst?). They LOVE to climb (to the detriment of my nerves yet again!) and run around with the football, but will spend as much time in the garden helping to clean out the numerous animals (farmers?) and nurturing the young ducklings (vets?).

So our girls have so many interests they can’t be easily pigeonholed into a category and I can’t fathom from one day to the next what they would like to be. I asked the eldest (age 5) and over the months wherein school has introduced them to to the concept of ambitions and careers she has given a variety of responses ranging from shop keeper, to pilot, to mummy, but this time her answer was less definite. She said she wanted to do what made her happy but she didn’t know what just yet because she was busy at the moment. “Why, what are you doing sweetheart?” I asked.

“Being a kid” she shrugged.20150415_164348 20150504_180053 20150405_123124 20150320_162511 20150302_152159┬áMy little princesses are no angels lol!!!