Mid Term with the Monkeys

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It is our first mid term which means a bit of jiggling with days off and camps etc but after after the last couple of months settling into school and not doing very much in the afternoons we have an action packed week ahead.

First up we kicked off our weekend with the yummy Halloween themed offbeat donuts.. no better way to start a weekend I say.

 

Then today we were very excited to head to Lugwoods Halloween Adventure-we loved the Easter event so we were really looking forward to this. I think there are tickets still on sale and it runs until next Sunday. See my stories for more!

Tomorrow we are going to go up to the Halloween House of Horrors which is in aid of the charity Debra.

Then Monday we are off to our fav Scalpwood Pumpkins Patch-this has gotten bigger over the years but we love the simplicity of it and it is a bonus that we can get our pumkin carved there too. There is still some availability for the weekend and early next week here too.

 

Tuesday I am off to a cute Halloween Biscuit Decoration Class in Arboretum Kilquade with Josh-I think this might be booked up but worth calling them for later in the week if it sounds like something you would like to do. We are then off to Airfield’s Halloween.

 

Wednesday is the ‘big day’ so Max has a party in playschool and Josh is with his granny so they will make colcannon for dinner and later we will get dressed up for a fun trick or treat around our estate and the excitement of seeing the trick or treaters arrive to our door. Where we live is full of kids so there is always a lot of fun to be had and the houses are brilliantly decorated each year.

On Thursday my husband is off with the boys so is bringing them to a spooky storytelling in Dundrum Library to finish off a fun filled week!

 

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2 years parenting 2

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Max is 2 this day next week. Well that was a whirlwind and I have no doubt the years ahead will be too.

I love seeing their bond grow and as an only child myself it is magical to watch. I have found it quite the rollercoaster and the jump from one to two quite a mountain to climb but I almost don’t want to say it but it is starting to get a littttllle easier. Max is starting to come into his own and Josh is turning into an independent if a little stubborn young boy and I have learnt some things to make it a little easier along the way.

 

Birthdays are always a time for reflection I find and looking back on the last 2 years I can see how a few small changes as we transitioned through parenting 2 has helped. Here are a few of the things that have helped me personally with a lot more to learn I know for sure.

 

Acceptance-I think this is the biggest thing when you suddenly realise any semblance of your old life or whatever life you had left with one child is most certainly changed and will not be reverting back with that glimmer of hope you had with your first child. However this is not all doom and gloom, it is just a different way of navigating and finding alternative ways.

 

Letting Go-As the saying goes-Don’t sweat the small stuff. As life gets busier what has helped me a great deal is just letting go a little and realising that sometimes ‘it’s just not possible’ and being ok with that.

 

Lowering your standards-Again this isn’t a negative thing, for me it has been positive. Whilst I still and always will have a base line standard on some things I have definitely learnt to let go of perfection and have realised sometimes by doing that it is just perfect.

 

Saying No/Making Less Plans-I have definitely said no to things more in the last 2 years than before for a number of different reasons but I have learnt that planning too much into a week or even a day usually does not always end well.

 

Stop Chasing the Sleep-I got this nugget of advice from my return to work coach over a year ago now. At the time I had one almost 4 year old that was still regularly waking and an almost one year old still waking for feeds during the night. Now one year on I am not getting significantly more sleep, my now almost 5 year old takes ages to finally drop off these day which drives me insane and my almost 2 year old still wakes for a bottle ( I know, I know)-my husband has mastered this turnaround in record time but I am accepting that this blurry tired haze that sometimes hits you like a train is just part and parcel. I’ve stopped chasing and just embrace the extra hour or two when I can whether that be an early night or the odd extra hour at the weekend.

 

Keeping things Simple-This has been adopted more and more in recent months in our house and its working well. Of course we still like to go on exciting adventures and I hope for the day that my sons will eat a rainbow worth of food but sometimes a trip to the local park and fish fingers with a waffle is just fine.

 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up-It’s impossible to be the perfect parent and each person makes different choices for different reasons. Sometimes the boys have too much screen time as I get the dinner done or put on a wash, sometimes I shout when I shouldn’t have but we are human and we can only do our best with what we have got. Once a child is fed, loved & happy that is all they really need and some of the mistakes you make along the way is most likely not going to have a big impact on those basic needs.

 

Enjoying it-Last but by no means least, enjoy and embrace the madness. 2 boys is busy but it is wonderful too. You can be so caught up in the madness of it all and then you catch them together playing or having a cuddle on the couch or even sometimes having rough and tumble and your heart almost bursts with love and you know that for every year that passes it’s just going to get better and better.

Childminder Checklist

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In my last post I spoke about the chaos of September but one real positive was us finding a super Mary Poppins style minder for the boys two afternoons a week.

It was a big change for us and I’m not going to lie I was quite apprehensive. We’d come from creche life for the last 3 years for both boys and despite a few bumps along the way we had an overall great experience with our chosen creche dimples. There was an ease and a security in that route that we were both familiar with and felt comfortable with.

Finding someone was one of my major initial concerns. It was only 2 afternoons a week and most seemed to be looking for more work..

Where to start, what to ask etc etc. A midfield really. So I started with the basics-a printed sign. I searched a little on Mind Me and registered with Rollercoaster and a few texts came back but nothing that suited. The final 2 we interviewed actually came about from a sign I had put up in our local supermarket-one started with us and the other lovely lady has gone to work for a friend. So here is my little guide on how we and you might find looking for a childminder a little easier!

 

FIRST STAGES:

·         Don’t look too soon-about 4-6 weeks in advance is about right

·         I’d hold off registering with any of the paid sights-you can look at them but not make contact-try free options first-Rollercoaster, Word of Mouth and Signs in local Supermarkets/Notice Boards

Sample Sign Below:

Childminder Wanted

Childminder required for Thursday and Friday afternoons from mid-August. 2 boys aged 4.5 & 1.5. School picks ups local-****

Contact ***** if interested.

 

SECOND STAGE:

·         Have a standard response text ready for people enquiring with your main requirements-do they drive, hours/days of work etc

·         Shortlist your responses-2/3 is plenty to meet

·         For the potential minders first arrange a phone call & ask the main questions ({see below}

·         Once you are happy with one or two then it is time to meet the kids and see how they interact-in an ideal world they are only meeting your main contender so they do not get confused. For us this meeting was key.

FINAL STAGE:

·         Once you have decided on your minder agree some settle time-one of these hours should be free of charge and I would suggest another hour or two that you add onto the first payment. You will also  need to consider showing her/him the workings of your house during one of these meetings-simple things like alarm/oven/where stuff is kept/tv where applicable etc. At this point I would also talk through food for the kids, general rules, nap schedules, homework duties, clearing of kids food and toy items at the end of the day etc.

·         Summarise via text/email or in writing if you prefer some areas of agreement: working hours, days off they take, days off you take, payment, holidays-the boring but also important stuff to clarify from the beginning.

·         Arrange a start date and expect the first week or so to be a time of adjustment for you all and then you should fly it.

 

Questions for your childminder:-use in an order you feel is appropriate and some you may leave out or add some of your own but this is a guide to get you started!

 

1.       What are your interests outside of work?

2.       What is your experience previous to this? Are you currently working for another family?

3.       Are you first aid trained and garda vetted?

4.       What type of activities do you like to do with the kids you mind?

5.       Talk me through a typical day.

6.       Do you prepare food or should we provide meals to be heated?

7.       Are you happy to bring children to afterschool activities?

8.       How do you deal with discipline when required?

9.       Are you a non-smoker?

10.   Did you do housework for your previous employers?

11.   Do you work mid terms/holidays and are available for full days at this time?

12.   If you are requesting all day or there is a school drop involved you may want to talk about punctuality.

There are probably a few bits that you would include or take out and as I said above it can be a bit of a mind field but a few weeks in now and all the routines have settled down, it is working well for us. To be honest all the questions in world will not outweigh your instinct when you meet someone so put any natural reservations you have aside and go with your gut!       

September Saviours

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So we survived September, but jaysus-tis a bit crazy isn’t it when you have a big school person in your life! It seems like another of those things that parents knuckle down and do but never really expose…

Now this September we managed to get through a school start, a creche change, a new childminder-all so positive but changes nonetheless and then the daily lunchbox conundrum, a neck spasm that stopped mama in her tracks and a completely exhausted 4.5 year old has definitely added to the mix..

I’ve spoken to mums further down the line since and we are all in agreement that it is nothing less than chaotic. I mean I would like to think that next year and beyond I’d be a little more prepared but I think just the getting back to routine is enough to shake up any household.

What I did learn is to slow down, take it easy, don’t plan too much and in fact, think too much and sleep when we all could. Rest up, eat well and just chill as a family as much as possible.

However I did want to share some of the things that really helped me survive September.

So the first item I know has been doing the rounds for a long time and I picked mine up in ikea-the apple cutter. You would think what different does it make to a knife but I definitely find it super duper handy with an avid apple lover in the house.

Next up came about when I was in the queue in Tesco-I mean who has time to chop garlic and this is at your disposal in the freezer whenever you require-genius and also picked up chopped onions but I am yet to try those!

I pay delivery saver from Tesco and 10 Euro a month for someone to pick my food and deliver it to my door every week is a winner for me.

Also I got sent some of the range from Mash Direct and with no hidden nasties these are great for quick dinner and to get veg into the boys, well Max-Josh just throws any sort of veg back at me!

Next up a recent discovery is this magic eraser-genius! Dampen and pretty much removes an scuffs from walls/doors etc that is a must for busy boisterous boys.

Finally my keep cup, I finally invested and I love it and let’s face it this has basically been the thing that has kept me upright this final week of this mad month!

I miss you…

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Well I put it to the vote and just over 80% of my followers felt the same way-phew! I had many messages of solidarity, people who really struggle with this element of parenthood…but almost 20% said no and off very valid reasons too.

Sometimes it is hard to articulate but as you move through the days/weeks/years of parenthood it is very easy to lose the essence of both yourself and your relationship.

You can miss people for many tangible reasons-working away, working long hours etc etc but when they are home every evening but you still ‘miss them’ there is something amiss,  if you excuse the pun. I will be honest and say I didn’t find this as much when we just had just Josh but it certainly seems that way lately with 2 busy boys and on the hamster wheel of life. There is lots of messaging out there about ‘me time/mama time’ but it is also crucial to get ‘together time’.

We are in a pattern now that Max goes down by 7.30 but Josh is after 8.30 most nights, by the time dinner is done, he is settled, jobs are done and lunches made we are normally fit for bed or Netflix at best. On a good day we actually get to converse about how our day has been or what is going on in the week ahead ‘life admin’ as one person responded but sometimes even this is done via text on commutes to and from work. I work part time so that helps somewhat with the balance of home life but leaves no surplus time for ‘us’ and I don’t mean mushy ‘first love’ us just 2 people engaged in each others lives and not just ships in the night essentially. Are we doing something wrong? Or I thought recently are my expectations too high? We all know these ‘trench years’ are not meant to be a breeze, they are set out to be busy but it just about managing it best as you can. We will miss the madness of these years in years to come, I just know it but in the thick of it sometimes it can be hard to get perspective.

And we do try, we meet for the odd lunch time coffee, my mum babysits occasionally for a quick drink out when she can but as we work through how better to manage the ‘balance of life’ I think like everything it will be consistency that is key. Ad hoc ‘date nights’ are great but having something regularly in the diary I think would be a winner for us. A career coach once laughed when I said I would love just one hour a week with my husband and I don’t mean knee deep in prepping dinners while he clears the bins, I mean just sitting in front of eachother having ‘the chats’.

Let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day, so much energy in the depleted tank but it also so important to remember where your family that grows around you started and nurture that too, finding pockets of time, bedding down a plan that works for you, your family and each other…

Answers on a postcard please!!!!

Back to School Part 2

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Well with almost a full week is behind us albeit shorter hours with a full proper week next week.

I’ve had to do lunches for Max since he started in his new playschool late August and now Josh has had snacks this week with lunches starting next week. I haven’t had to think of this before with them being in creche so lunchbox packing is all new to me! I am going to try and do a list at the start of the week so there isn’t a rush in the morning or a race for bread the night before. If I find the work of doing that outweighs the good of being organised I’ll just dump the idea, as I sad learning as I go..

I am now regularly on the hunt for good healthy snacks to accompany the standard sandwich.

The general idea is:

    Sambo/Wrap/Bagel 🥪
  • 1/2 pieces of fruit 🍎
  • Savoury snack-*treat on a Friday 🥨
  • Yoghurt/Pouch for Josh as he is not allowed yoghurts in school {due to mess/opening I think-as I got asked about this a lot the other day when I popped it up} 🍶

It seems so boring to me but I am told this is standard fare and I suppose you just want them to eat well and as nutritiously as possible.

One other thing I’ve noticed is certainly for Josh they only seem to have a very set time they get to eat so not over loading the lunchbox is key too.

I’ll be popping up my lunchboxes sporadically over the next little while as when I reached out for any tips it seemed that many others were looking for some too. Any inspiration is good I reckon even if it is a sandwich cut to a shape you hadn’t thought of before!

Various sambos of what they will eat I can do, yogurt and fruit is good as well but come up with an extra snack or two is something of my mission at the moment.

Kelkin had sent me info about their back to school snack range a couple of weeks ago and we are already a fan of their snack pack rice cakes when out and about as a treat. Today they then sent me some of their products and these were definitely the ones that caught our eye. The rice cake bar went down well so will be handy for ‘Treat Friday’

I popped these up on my stories during week as Josh isn’t allowed standard yoghurts {explained above} so I thought these would be very handy.

I do plan on baking little snacks/treats and these went down well. I used a standard banana bread recipe and divided into little buns.

These are my first couple of attempts so over the next few weeks/years hopefully I will become a pro!