Saturday, 27 September 2014

Homework For a 4 Yr Old

This week has been tiring, to say the least.

J’s second full week at full-time school – he’s bound to be tired. Like me, when he’s tired, he’s irritable, short tempered and moody. He’s four, so I have to take this into account as well as the fact that I’m just as bad! He’s had homework, too, which surprised me for the first full weeks – they went from mornings only for a year of nursery, then mornings only for a week, then straight into full days and homework!

The problem I’ve found, is that not eating dinner by 6pm means a huge battle with J about eating it. By that point he’s too tired; he’s fussing, he’s whinging, he’s distracted. It’s a nightmare. So, I started giving him his dinner earlier and earlier til it works – he’s now eating around four / four thirty. This means by the time we’re home from school, and he’s changed out of his uniform and gone to the loo and is back downstairs with a drink, it’s time for me to start cooking. It takes him up to an hour on a  good day to eat dinner, so you’re looking at it being at least five o’clock before he’s finished, normally half past. At that point, Daddy P comes home so naturally J is distracted talking to him and whatever, so then time gets round to six or half past and it’s time for our dinner – if I don’t do it then, we won’t end up eating til ridiculously late.

While our dinner is cooking Daddy P will try to sit with J to do his homework.
This week we’ve been practising writing letters each night, and there was maths homework to do over the week and finish by Friday. By this point in the evening J just wants to relax. Getting him to knuckle down and do the homework is difficult. Most times it’s only half done by the time they have to stop for Daddy P to have dinner. After that, it’s time for J to go upstairs and get ready for bed – I aim to have him in bed between 7.30 and 8 or else it’s a nightmare with him being too tired and screaming / crying / yelling.

Daddy P and myself have had several very trying encounters with J over almost anything and everything, from brushing teeth and going to the loo before bed to scribbling in the homework book and throwing things. J has been tired and frustrated and lashing out. It’s been tough.

Just how are parents expected to manage the juggle of homework on top of schoolwork at such a young age? I’m trying to do my best by getting a decent dinner into him and trying to ensure he gets a full nights sleep – which at four years old, he generally sleeps from 8.30 / 9 til 7.30 in the morning, and I think that’s reasonable. It makes me wonder, is four too young to be in full time school? Is he really ready for this, emotionally or physically? I could have deferred him for another year, due to where his birthday falls, and had him doing nursery now and reception next year – but last year he was so ready to start nursery, and to be honest I think he’s benefitting hugely already from being in reception – in two weeks he’s learned the A, B, C song as well as counting to thirty (he could do to 10 before) He’s reading me books – not because he knows how to actually read all the words, but because he’s memorised all of them, which is to me a basic step toward reading, and to my absolute delight he loves reading. At the moment, What's In The Witch's Kitchen remains a firm favourite but has been joined by The Hungry Caterpillar and Whatever Next, stories I remember reading to my brother when he was a child.

I’d like him to go to bed a bit earlier, but Daddy P says then he’d never get to spend any time with J. He has a point, but most families surely must find the same issue? Myself, when I was at school, my mum was a hairdresser in a salon til I was 8, and then worked from home, and my dad worked as an ambulance technician. If both of them were working I would be looked after by either my nan and granddad or my cousin. My dad’s shifts meant that sometimes he would be leaving for work before I got home from school, finishing after I’d gone to bed at night, and would be asleep when I left for school the next morning. During shifts like that, sometimes I’d go three or four days without actually seeing him at all. I don’t know whether it was more ‘normal’ then because of the whole ‘role’ of each parent in the nuclear family, or whether because both Daddy P and I work and have always worked such odd hours, but it certainly seems to me that it can’t be something that no other family finds.

And how about families with more than one child’s homework to get through? If one or both parents is working shift work, or even if they’re not – there never seem to be enough hours in the day as it is. You’re torn between cooking a nice fresh meal, doing housework and helping everyone get their homework done on time as well as trying to deal with a full time job. On top of shopping, cooking, cleaning, feeding the animals, there’s e-mails, unhappy customers, product launches and meetings. Several of my friends have partners in the armed services, and have to cope as a single parent effectively for weeks on end while their other halves are away – I also know several single parent families. That must be even more difficult to get everything done. How do people do it? I suppose you just have to, but still!

One thing is for sure, J is definitely tired today – we had a wonderful afternoon with friends, but he wore himself out so much that he had a major meltdown when we left and then another two once home! He was in bed by 8 but I’m not sure when he fell asleep as it was Daddy P’s turn to put him to bed and he fell asleep up there himself!

Tomorrow we have nothing planned; I need to pop to the shops and get a couple of bits but apart from that I’ve done loads of work hours this week already so not much more of that to do which means I can enjoy a nice lazy day with my family.

Bye for now!

Mummy P x

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Don't Take Over! Teach Don't Tell.

Does anyone else’s other half do that really unhelpful way of helping where they take over and do it instead of showing you what to do / how to do it so that next time you don’t need their assistance? I know Grandma P will agree with me on this one because we’ve had conversations about it in the past and in fact the other week I was quite upset with Daddy P for the way he spoke to her when she asked for his assistance and he tried to take over. He does it all the time – he’s not the only culprit – my cousin also has the nasty knack of doing it as well. The worst part when Daddy P does it is that in his mind, doing it himself is showing you, so next time when you’re still no wiser to what you’re meant to do and you ask him again, you get the eye roll and the huff and it’s such a big deal to show you again because after all he showed you last time.

If that were the end of it, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so annoying, but to add insult to injury it’s the way he’ll talk to you that really grates. Like he’s the only one with enough brain cells to be able to deal with this particularly difficult task (EG building a Lego elephant …) and so this gives him the right to talk to you like an idiot (which, to be fair, while I know I’m not the most technical minded of people, I’m not as dumb as soup, either …) He says it’s not the way he talks to me in those instances, it’s the way I take it – once again placing the blame firmly at my feet. It can’t possibly be his attitude that’s wanting – it’s obviously my fault for being such an idiot. And he wonders why, time and time again, it results in me eye rolling and getting annoyed with him. I find the easiest way to avoid a row is to walk away and try to figure it out myself at a time when he’s not around – but I’m noticing now how he does it with J and I’m not very keen.

I like to try and talk to J as an equal. I’ve never been one for baby talking and ‘ducky-wuckys’ and all of that nonsense. So when Daddy P starts talking to J in a way which makes me bristle it really presses my buttons. He doesn’t do baby talk but he talks to him sometimes in the same way he talks to me as if J’s stupid. He’s four years old, don’t talk to him like that. I want this child to be confident, have self worth, know that he is an intelligent being with valuable thoughts and valid emotions and not feel stupid every time he needs to ask a question, which is exactly how the reaction comes across most of the time. I ask Daddy P to take a deep breath and stay calm rather than snapping but then all I get is the “I can’t do anything right” comment which is normally followed by a huff, an eye roll and him leaving the room.

He always used to be such a patient man. Endless, boundless, limitless patience and I used to think he’d be such a laid back, patient father. I don’t know where or when his patience departed, or even why, but he can be short, snappish and impatient even over the smallest, simplest and most straightforward of things. I know how frustrating it is when you’re in a rush and J is taking forever to brush his teeth – trust me, I do. I get him ready four mornings out of five for school, remember? But of course I’m not allowed to voice my opinion on this matter, because it seems to me that parenting is a competition rather than a team sport as far as he’s concerned. However tired I am, he’s more tired; However badly I slept, he slept worse; However busy my day has been, his day was busier, and so on. Along this line, regardless of how many times I reasoned, argued, explained, bribed and talked to J about something for five or six out of seven days, the one or two times he did it was a million times more dramatic.

Yesterday I wondered if the Guitar Hero games on the PS2 would be something J could play now he’s a bit older, on the basic level, now he understands better how to play games like that. So Daddy P got the system and the games down and set it up in the front room, but it’s still a bit advanced for J and he ended up getting the hump with it (Daddy P ended up playing it and J watched) Then we tried racing games where the point is to crash – but again J wasn’t entertained. We had a part time winner with Crash Bandicoot but the novelty wore off for J after he’d died a couple of times. Instead of moving on to doing something else (get off the computer for a change, maybe?!) Daddy P instead tried a game where you’re a giant ape destroying a city (which he took over because J couldn’t make it do what he wanted) and now he’s loaded up Sega Bass Fishing on the Wii. Again, to ‘show’ J how to play it means he’s standing there playing it and to be honest J doesn’t seem overly fussed about it though he is watching (as he lies on the floor in his onesie, as is Sunday lunchtime tradition in this house) Once he’s tired of this or wants to concentrate on his own thing (at the moment he’s playing Clash of the Clans a lot on his mobile) he’ll get the hump because J won’t be able to play alone as he doesn’t quite understand what he needs to do / hasn’t quite got the hang of it but he’ll complain about J complaining he’s bored.

Yesterday I got ready all of the equipment J will need to do his homework and told Daddy P it was all sorted out but he’d need to do the homework with J. He acknowledged this comment but so far he has not made any mention of the homework, doing the homework or even thinking about the homework. I wonder if he will remember to do it or whether he’s deliberately leaving it for me to sort out, the same thing it would appear he does for most other things that need doing. EG his washing – I keep saying all he needs to do is bring it down from upstairs and put it in the washing box and I’ll sort it through. He says yes regularly yet time and time again doesn’t bring his washing down. More often than not he’ll have a mad rush on Monday while I’m in the office and he’ll cram everything into two loads and hang it to dry either in our bedroom or in the airing cupboard in order for it to be ready to wear on Tuesday. For some reason, mid-way through the week, he’ll run out of underwear or socks and ask me if I’ve washed any. I’ll ask if he’s brought any downstairs for me to wash and he’ll say no, and come to the realisation that he must have about 20 pairs of dirty socks lurking about upstairs.

I suppose I’d better go to the supermarket then, as despite the fact he wants to cook a chicken roast dinner this afternoon he’s made no move to head to the shop and get a chicken so looks like I’d best do that or we’ll be going hungry! *sigh*

Love, Mummy P

Friday, 19 September 2014

19th September 2014

It’s Friday evening. I’ve got a film on (but I’m not really watching it) I’ve just finished work for the evening and Daddy P, both the Hairy Hounds and our Dragon are all asleep around me in the front room and my baby boy is asleep upstairs.

Except he’s not a baby boy anymore. He’s a whole, big, grown-up four years old and today was the end of his first week at full time school. We’ve had a good week, on the whole – I’ve moved dinner time up for him from 6 to 4.30 / 5 in order for him to get in from school and have dinner quite early, meaning by the time Daddy P is home from work he just gets to play with J before bedtime. J gets very ratty and we have issues getting him to eat when he’s tired – as I’m sure is the same with many other children – and so this works better as it means he’s eating before he gets to that tired point where he’ll argue about eating and it all ends in tears.

Every morning he cheerfully woke, got dressed in his tiny little uniform that makes him look far too grown up, and we walked the two or three minutes down the road to his school. We went into his classroom, and he quite happily waved me off each morning. Each afternoon I collected him he was full of excited chatter about what had happened, the t-shirt that I’d put on him first thing bright, white and tucked into his trousers now looking smudged and rumpled and untucked from his trousers. Each afternoon his shoes were a bit more scuffed on the toe, his hair was wild and damp with sweat, and I found his sweatshirt crumpled in the bottom of his locker.

I made friends (sort of) with some other mums in the playground – you know how you see the same group of people all the time, and you start off smiling, then it’s a good morning, a hello and a wave as you cross the playground and then you’re standing there chatting to them and someone else they know comes up and joins in and before you know it there’s a group of you stood there nattering first thing, the only thing you have in common the fact that your kids go to this school.

He’s got homework again this weekend. Last weekend his homework was to cover his homework book, which Daddy P did on Sunday night after J had gone to bed. This weekend we’ve got to draw a set of numbers from 0-10 and add images to them like four ducks, five balls, six cakes and all of that,l colour them in and peg them up on a length of ribbon or string over J’s bed. I’m dubious how much of this I will end up doing but I’m going to make a start with him tomorrow anyway. Maybe if I spread it out over a couple of days the interest will hold and he’ll finish it off.

I used my new found freedom this week to my best advantage – on Tuesday I drove to visit some good friends in another village, which takes about an hour to get to, but we had a lovely morning drinking tea and gossiping – last time I saw her was on her wedding day so I looked through her beautiful wedding photographs and then her husband went to pick up their two boys from nursery school.  The following day I did a serious turf out of the kitchen. It’s been desperate for it for ages but I just haven’t had the time – I started at 9.30 on Wednesday morning and didn’t finish til 2.30 in the afternoon! I felt so much better for it – I’m not a fan of housework but if I have chance to do it properly and just crack on and do it I’ll have a mad blitz which is exactly what I did.

I know all mums say it, but time is going so quickly. It doesn’t seem possible he’s four already. It’s not been plain sailing but I’ve honestly not enjoyed anything else as much as I enjoy being his mum. Whatever else happens in my life, I achieved at least that one perfect thing. I got to be a mum to a brilliant, fantastic, amazing little boy so it wasn’t all bad!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

11th Sept 2014

I apologise for the delay in any updates on the page. I must try and make more time for writing, though heaven knows where I’ll find it! Time seems to flash by so quickly … There’s never enough hours in the day, or days in the week, for all I want to do!

The summer holidays weren’t as jam packed with adventure as I’d hoped it would be. I had high hopes for lots of days out with J, visits to the coast and adventure parks, visits to friends and stays at the caravan. Partly due to my work, partly due to the lack of much sunshine over the summer and partly due to money issues we didn’t get round to doing half of what I wanted to do. Still, we did have fun and celebrating J’s 4th birthday was just one event we enjoyed. We did manage a stay at the coast (just me and J) and a couple of days out but nothing like what I’d hoped. I aim to get more time off work next summer hols so we can have more time to do more!

As he is now a ‘big boy’ of four years old, this year he started Reception. He’d been attending nursery at the local school for the last year, so I was hopeful he’d get a place in Reception class at the same school but of course you’re warned that this isn’t guaranteed. He did get a place though, so last week he had his first afternoon in his new class, with his new teacher. This week they’ve been doing mornings only, and starting on Monday next week they’ll be doing full days. Personally I think this is a bit of a slow development for them – I think it would have been better to do Monday and Tuesday half day this week, then Wednesday and Thursday have the kids stay for lunch hour and eat their lunch at school so they get used to that idea, then have a full day on Friday so they then have 2 days off to recover from the shock! But instead of that they’re doing mornings only again tomorrow and then from Monday it’ll be full days.

I’m nervous for him, of course, and I’m scared and excited and proud as well. He’s generally a very well behaved child, with maturity beyond his age, but then he has these moments of complete hellishness that leave me feeling completely useless. For instance, because he didn’t want to go into class this morning when the teachers came to the playground for the kids to go in, he ran away. When I tried to get hold of him by the hand to bring him to the classroom he screamed at me and started hitting out. This is becoming too regular for my liking – he becomes upset, or frustrated, and he lashes out straight away. I don’t know why he thinks it’s the thing to do as I’ve never hit him, and every time he does it and I tell him off and tell him it’s not nice he’s remorseful and says sorry and that he won’t do it again, but then he does. However his teacher from nursery never once reported him hitting her, or the teaching assistant, or any of the other kids, and after his kick up this morning his Reception teacher said she’d take him through into the classroom if I would like her to (as it’s first week we’ve been walking them all the way to the class) J was happy enough to go with her, so off he went, and when I went to collect at lunchtime she said they’d had no issues and he even got an “Excellent” sticker! I don’t think he’ll have any issues at school really, his biggest issue is going to be his concentration – particularly if he isn’t interested. If he’s interested in something he’s very single minded and will devote hours to it; if not, then he’s simply not interested at all, whatsoever. My brother was very similar as a child, and so was I – hence in subjects I liked and enjoyed I got OK grades at GCSE and for subjects I didn’t like or enjoy I got rubbish grades. I just turned off!

One of the main things that occurred over the summer was that our household was increased by one rather small and scaly extra. The adoption of a bearded dragon wasn’t something that I had a lot of time to think about – Daddy P discussed with me at Christmas the fact that a work colleague was looking to rehome her sons dragon, and we sort of had a little chat about it and decided yes on a preliminary basis but then it was never mentioned again and I all but forgot about it. The next thing is he comes home from work in June and says they’re bringing the dragon round tonight! So we adopted Oscar, and so started a new journey finding out more about bearded dragons, and the care they need.

It’s been excellent for J, because it’s not a ‘normal’ sort of pet that everyone has and he’d never seen one before Oscar arrived (come to think of it, I don’t think I had) He greets everyone who comes to our house now by pointing at the vivarium and saying, “That’s our dragon Oscar but he doesn’t have wings or breathe fire!” Part of my education about bearded dragons has included finding out that they go into brumation around September time which is kind of like hibernation and prior to them doing this you should have them tested for parasites. So for a week I had to collect samples of Oscar’s waste and send it off for tests. It turned out that there were pinworms found, so I popped off to the vets with Oscar for treatment. There I found out that Oscar is not an Oscar at all – she’s a girl! So we re-named her (in a way) Lady Oscar. One thing I never anticipated with owning a dragon was how affectionate they are, and how without you really noticing you become very attached. I love sitting on the sofa in the evening having cuddles with Lady O (as I call her) She gets  a bath in the bathroom sink every other night (every night if she’s shedding) and her favourite foods are locusts and dandelion leaves. She’s totally my baby girl and I can’t imagine life without her now, even though she’s turned into an expensive pet so far (as well as the vet treatment for the pinworms there will be cost for a new vivarium and lights set up as the one she came with is not right) It’s been a steep learning curve, that’s for sure!

In other news, there’s much excitement building at work with the preparations for the launch of the 2015 Collection. The Cologne trade show in October is the showcase for most 2015 products so make sure you check out any images and information from that if you’re due a baby in 2015! Sounds like there will be some brilliant new products being launched – I’ve training coming up in a few weeks on some new items – I’m looking forward to the company launching some fab stuff. What interests me is that so much is based on customer feedback – when a company says “thanks for your feedback, we’ll let the design team know” you kind of think it’s a cop out, but that’s one thing I’ve learned is that customer feedback really is listened to – at least within this company – and that will be reflected in some of the 2015 products really clearly.

Well it’s time for me to cook dinner for my hungry boys now, so I’ll sign off for now but I’m going to make it my mission to devote some more time to writing and keep this blog much more up to date in future!

Love, Mummy P