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!

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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!

Back to School Part 1

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Or start of school for us. My eldest started school on yesterday and as cliches as it sounds I really cannot believe it!

My first pic was when I met him is below and now I have to let him go a little into a whole new world, a big leap into learning….

Since mid summer we started collecting the bits we needed for school. We got the book list and worked through that. We started one random day with picking up a pencil case and a few stationary bits and bobs in Bookstation which I found great.

Next up was the school bag, it had to be a certain size and power rangers was the request so Amazon is was for that. Thanks to ‘ga ga’

We then got our books from the list locally, now this was a bit of an oversight -a great service from opening minds but I’ve heard brilliant things since about schoolbooks.ie and that they cover the books for you too-with a discount-wins all round.

Josh’s school does not have a uniform so I wanted to pick up a capsule wardrobe. We had been told he needed velcro plimsoles to stay in school for PE day’s so we picked up those in Penny’s. I decided on jeans, a few trakkies, a few long tops, t shirts, sweatshirts and 2 good versatile jackets. I picked up these items between Leigh Tucker in Dunnes, H&M, Gap and Pep & Co with a few Penny’s bits thrown in too. I got 2 more pairs of good velcro trainers in Lifestyle.

I found a great lunchbox in Dunnes with a top and bottom section which I think will work well but when I continue onto part 2 of the post and lunches are underway I’ll be able to see if it’s as suitable as I think as a novice now!

Final stationary bits were picked up in Bookstation and Easons for the more specialised pencils etc.

I got my stickers from Stuck On You-again probably could have gone with a slightly cheaper option but they seem really good quality and they are needed for everything so well worth it.

I found the run up easy-organising all the bits together but facing into the unknown of what exactly to get etc seemed a little daunting at first so whilst all the school bags are packed up for this year hopefully this will be a handy reference guide for Junior Infants 2019!

Reflection-Perception V Reality

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Summer all the regular routines go out the window and with the recent spell of good weather too even more so!

Being on holidays earlier this summer and with new routines about to take hold with school starting for Josh and a change of school and times for Max it got me thinking.

I work part time and we chose to make this change when we knew number 2 was on the way. We have no retired parents to pick up the slack or a big family for support and it was something we both wanted for the boys too. But part time is not always the ideal solution for balance either. For the full time ‘other parent’ working-they get the ‘jobs’ done, dinner on the table and happy kids but the person at home, because they are at home can be expected to ‘do’ a little more but still has to work too. Sometimes in our house that can end up with a seriously frazzled mama.

It kind of means you never get a ‘break’ but then does anyone?? I find my days in work I get some of the ‘break’ I need more than my days at home but that is only because my job us not overly full on but it is client facing so I cannot ‘fall asleep on the job’ per se or wander away for a coffee on my tireder days…Sometimes I think people look on and think part time is the easier option but having done both, it is the option for all that I prefer but is it easier, I don’t think so..

I think social media can have an affect on people’s perception of snippets of your life. Most people choose to share happy moments online and whilst I do try and maintain a realistic view I also like to exude a positive tone across my platforms. I share a lot of what we get up to through my stories and a little less so on the main grid but I use it both as a family ‘album’ of sorts and also for the blog.. I don’t ever recall people putting the crap pics in their family picture albums and I suppose this is the same… On the blog side of things I get a lot of reaction to my outings with the boys so will be focusing a lot more on that and make it easier for people to view and engage with. It’s our favourite thing to do, get out and about so if I can inspire ideas for someone else then I’m more than happy to.

There is a common theme going back the couple of years I have been writing my musings on this blog that really there is no right or wrong way-no easier way just a way that somewhat works for you and your family. It works now so I am about to see what the school set up and logistics will bring, from what I can see there seems to be mostly full time or stay at home but not that many in between.

It’s an ongoing to discussion/debate amongst my peer group and never do we conclude if anyone has found the perfect solution so my conclusion is there possibly ain’t one. I think for most the grass is greener or can sometimes feel that way but ultimately it is about finding your own way and the things and circumstances that work best for you.

Another part of being with the boys that can be tricky is that Max DOES NOT nap, I mean he dozes occasionally but at no set time and this can make the days long and frankly tedious at times. Josh was a good napper-12-2  pretty religiously. To be fair with collections for Josh now etc Max is dragged around a little more but he is busy so a nap a day would help a lot just to get a little concentrated time with Josh and generally get sh*t done. Any advice would we welcomed but I fear it’s the being dragged around and pick ups etc that doesn’t help!

I am hoping come September once the new routine is bedded down some of these elements fall into place but until then I really hope to see out the rest of the summer ‘hashtag making memories’ and just going with the flow while we can…

Childcare Conundrum

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We have just chosen our new childminder for the boys who will be minded in our house on Thursday and Friday afternoons from September.

Getting a childminder was a daunting experience for us as both our boys have been in creche care since a young age and the creche we chose all those years ago has almost always given us all great joy and reassurance. Of course with any relationship, never more so than when it comes to your children we’ve had one or two issues but only small and always resolved with professionalism.

With 6 weeks to go until they both leave we were starting to get ready to say goodbye to the lovely environment and people we have gotten to know through the years. They have been great and cared for our boys so well. You will have seen me refer to the oversight on our and maybe a little on their part that josh didn’t move into Summer Camp when perhaps he should but we all thought we’d come to a resolution and Josh was so excited to be back with his friends. Then it all turned sour… now before I tell this story, I am a big creche advocate and almost more so in a way because of the outcome.

Josh had been very upset the first day he went in, this is a child who adapts well to change and was excited about all the new activities etc so it seemed strange to me. He was inconsolable and didn’t want to go in the next day.. we’ve never had that with him. Even at the beginning he’d cry a bit as kids do but be fine 2 minutes later. This was different.

A few days past and little snippets of information started coming from Josh that raised alarm bells… he wouldn’t return to the class, his behaviour changed at home, night terrors and the days he had school, the crying started the minute he got up. We were communicating regularly with the creche and one incident and name kept coming up with more information coming through from Josh as the days went on. Management knew Josh’s reaction and what we were relaying to them was not right so they investigated further. I got a call in work, the teacher he had mentioned was dismissed with immediate affect. Our brave little boy had been strong enough, in his own way to know right from wrong and communicate it in the best way he could. We listened, the creche listened and action was taken.

It’s not ideal this happened at all, Josh still has issue with going to school now-6 weeks before his change into big school and he is left in the younger class with less stimulation and more cotton wool which is what he needs right now but not for the preparation of junior infants and what that will bring.

We’ve met with the managers and owners of the creche who we have a good relationship with. We got the details, nothing extreme or awful happened but a situation was handled with little or no sensitivity-they deemed it too strict, the teacher didn’t, they agreed to disagree but they felt they could not have someone continue working there who had this approach. It all started over Pokemon cards… it seems to trivial and yet the outcome is a mess we have to clean up and try and settle and solve. We have a plan with them to build his confidence back up and hope he leaves with happy memories of a place that has cared well for him for over 3 years.

It gave me confidence that whilst one person mis handled a situation and as a result upset, embarrassed and compromised our child there were plenty of good people and carers around him that rectified it quickly and validated Josh’s concerns which I think was very important for him to see. It was a hard lesson for us all but what I hope he saw was mean people don’t rise to the top and brave people do.