Saturday, 2 August 2014

How to survive the school holidays

To many parents, the prospect of 7 weeks of school holidays causes mixed and conflicting emotions. For working parents, on one hand there is an opportunity to spend more time with the children than the two day weekends usually allow, assuming, that is, you can book some leave. On the other hand, most working parents get less than 30 days annual leave a year, so the school holidays present a logistical childcare challenge.

You are torn between wanting to be delighted that the children are not at school, but actually feeling fairly gutted that the children are not at school.

This is also because the working parents amongst us don't get nearly as much childcare practise. We are just not used to entertaining the children, or indeed pointing them in the right direction of the garden/playroom/bedroom (delete as appropriate) so that they can entertain themselves. We spend our time getting very good at filling school bags with the right letters, prepping lunchboxes, prepping and distributing breakfasts and evening meals, bathing, stories and bed time. That bulk of time in the middle of the day that needs filling with other stuff? Well that's something of an enigma to us.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The New Hobby Dilemma

The New Hobby Dilemma: how many classes should you take before knowing it's not for you?


Children come with a host of undiscovered talents. We don't know what they will be good at. We don't now whether they will take to swimming like a duck to water, or if they will splash and cry and splash some more and scream the place down and try every trick in the book to convince us they don't need to learn to swim.

Whilst swimming is a non-negotiable for us (being a life saver it is compulsory attendance for our girls), other hobbies are all up for debate.

Ballet dancing, horse-riding, singing, piano-playing, rugby, karate, street dance, gymnastics, cheerleading....... They are some of the many childhood activities on offer for our children and our children may be brilliant at them.

They may also be rubbish.

So how many classes do you insist they go to before allowing them to say, "I don't want to do it anymore"? Should we insist they make the effort, as not everything will necessarily click straight away. Or do we assume that if it's their talent then they, and us, will magically know straight away?

Is there such a thing as "being a natural"?

And if they are brilliant at it, but hate it, what then?

What do you think?

 

You can also read the debate about the gender-specific nature of some childhood activities at "Why is it OK for little girls to love dinosaurs, but not OK for little boys to love Barbie?"

 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Parents: please stop pleading with your children

When did parents stop telling their children what to do?

Walk into your local supermarket and you'll discover parents not only asking their children to behave, but pleading with them.

I nearly called this post "stop saying please". But it's not really the "please" bit that's the problem, though it doesn't help. Indeed you can't expect your children to grow up saying please when they ask for something if you never use it with them. However, there's a difference between saying to little Charlie, "keep hold off the trolly please" in a matter of fact tone when it's an instruction with manners and "darling, pleeeease keep hold of the trolly. " using best pleading voice. In fact, to give that the right tone I was forced to add the "darling" to that second version making it far more accurate. Some parents can't say a sentence to their children, even when supposedly reprimanding them, without saying darling. I'm not sure why. Don't their children have actual names?

I feel like slapping them. The parents, not the children. Becuase it seems like only that would bring them to their senses.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Is spelling a lost art?

Autocorrect visual
Is spelling a lost art?

Why can't she spell?

I was completely shocked this week by a colleague who couldn't spell. She is an intelligent, capable girl in her early twenties, but when, during a team training event, she took over the role of writing down the group's thoughts on a large sheet of paper, we discovered she couldn't spell.

Not even slightly.

The words she had to have spelled out for her included; 'communicate', 'relationship', and 'development'.

I must admit to being shocked. I have always assumed, possibly naively, that everyone that's gone through the school system and is working in a pretty good job can read and write, and when I say write, I also mean spell.

Remember in school when there was a weekly spelling test alongside the weekly times-table test? My daughters now come home with pretty much the same homework as I did 35 years ago... Spellings and Tables.

The theory is presumably that if you know your tables off by heart, other mental arithmetic is invariably easier and you'll find passing tests, counting change (when using cash on those rare occasions these days) and working out how much you'll pay back in interest if you borrow money for a car, an awful lot more manageable. And let's be honest; when someone calculates something in their heads quickly we are all impressed.

They are that little bit sexier as a result. Or is that just me?

Monday, 28 April 2014

Lego Storage boxes: how to organise your expanding collection

This week we have been debating; yes, debating; the conundrum that is 'how to store our increasing collection of Lego sets.'

I came to the conclusion; after working out that if I was to invest the £39.99 it would cost for a Lego Sort and Store head, which look amazing but seem horrifically over priced for what is essentially moulded plastic; that I would need to actually buy at least 3 storage heads. One for Princess Peppa's 'Friends' range, one for Little Miss George's Marvel Hero and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ranges and three for my shop. Yes three. Apparently they only store 1000 pieces and if I ever do demolish the shop (which is unlikely) it had 2,182 pieces.

It seems a hugely extravagant solution to a basic storage problem.

So what about the Lego storage heads that just store, and don't sort?

For my money the space for storage is just too big. How do you rummage through and find the small pieces in such a deep container?

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