Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Growing up fast...another mummy challenge

The other day when I collected Ellie from her weekend with Daddy I found myself engaged in a rather grown up conversation with my little girl. It went like this:

  • Ellie ‘I feel a little bit sad'
  • Me ‘why Ellie?’
  • Ellie ‘because I want to be with Daddy’
  • Me ‘oh, I know’
  • Ellie ‘I’m a little bit happy too, because I’m with you’
  • Me ‘oh I see’ (pause whilst I thought what to say…) ‘well we both love you very much’

It wasn't the most constructive answer…but it was quite frankly the best I could muster in the moment. Whilst the conversation inevitably prompted a range of thoughts (material for several posts I feel!), but one thing it did remind me of yet again was that my little girl is growing up.

As we move towards Ellie’s 5th birthday I realise just how grown up she’s getting, most specifically how much she’s changed since starting school. I remember lots of people saying that they grow up suddenly when they start school and they aren't wrong, although I don’t think it’s quite that simple.

There are many things about Ellie growing up which I love. I love her growing independence like getting herself dressed and doing her hair. I love that we can have a proper conversation and that she’s growing into a little girl who is keen to learn and knows her own mind. It’s fair to say that I do want to encourage her to grow up and help her navigate that journey.

On the other hand I can’t deny that I do love the fact she isn't all grown up quite yet and I don’t want it to happen too fast. I love that she still watches cbeebies, that she still wants cuddles from her mum and that she still goes to bed at 7.00pm.

Of course if I could pick and choose then she’d grow out of any and all tantrums, be able to get her own school bag ready and choose to eat vegetables every time I cook them. Alongside that however she would continue to want bedtime stories, need magic kisses from mummy when she bumps something and still occasionally let me do her hair and choose her clothes for her (ones that match!).

Joking aside, watching my beautiful girl grow up is amazing but I don’t think I’m the only mummy that also feels just a little sad that, as exciting as it is, I’m losing my baby.

The biggest challenge for me in all of this though has to be making sure that I balance the demands of life so that I get to enjoy Ellie growing up and remember to savour each and every moment.

So I’m making three promises to help me do just that:

1.      Make sure that we aren’t always in a rush for story time and cuddles before bed
2.      Try not to say ‘hang on a minute’ more than 75% of the time when Ellie asks me for something (it’s important to be realistic!)
3.      Sometimes just take a minute to simply stop and watch Ellie…literally a moment to see her growing up

As always, I’d love to know what you think so please do get in touch either via the comments below or on twitter (@sharonmsmyth)

Friday, 22 February 2013

Our moving adventure

So it’s fair to say that I've moved houses a few times, but it’s also fair to say that I've always done the moving thing whilst Ellie has been elsewhere – at nursery, with her dad and so on. This move was going to be different though.
This move was a big event…a big family event. The plan was to do this move together, with all of us involved. This was a declaration that this was a new stage in our lives, this was our new family home and for our still relatively newly joined family this was an important moment. This was an exciting thing to be doing.
Unfortunately and possibly predictably, Ellie didn't seem to get the gravitas or excitement of the whole thing at all to start with. One night as I repeated my now well-rehearsed line of ‘so remember what’s happening on Saturday Ellie?’ I received a reply of ‘yes mummy you told me a hundred times, we’re moving house’. Conversation closed. There was no excited tone and no opening for further discussion. Well that firmly burst my bubble but…I wasn't giving up.
My next push was the night before moving day. As I tucked Ellie into bed I told her that we would really need her help tomorrow and her first job would be to pack her own room up into some boxes which I’d give her. Quite suddenly without any warning Ellie’s face lit up and there it was, for the first time, a real show of excitement. Oh yes – that’s my girl…not excited about the new house with the space we need, not excited about her new room, but excited about packing her own things into boxes. I do wonder why I didn't think to say that sooner, after all Ellie is a regular tidy up, sort things, take control kind of a girl.
Anyway, after the initial warm fuzzy feeling of that moment, the next morning didn't start at all well and I found myself tweeting in frustration that Ellie had quite frankly woken up a grump. I quickly received a reassuring reply from @entertainizzy (huge thanks!) that this was: 'Always the way. It’s like they know when something important is happening!' Clearly normal but annoying. I took a deep breath and vowed to carry on regardless – handing Ellie the promised boxes for her room. When just a very short while later Ellie seemed to get into the swing of things and started doing the packing with considerable enthusiasm, I breathed a sigh of relief.
In fact what I found was that Ellie was happy when she had jobs to do so I duly found her jobs to do throughout the day. (I should particularly note that Ellie very much enjoyed sorting her room in the new house when we arrived too. By sorting I mean spreading her toys and belongings around her room, but it helped her to feel at home and entertained her for quite some time, so who was I to argue?)
At the end of the day both children had been generally helpful, patient and incredibly well behaved. They had packed, carried and sorted boxes and my earlier sigh of relief was repeated tenfold. With a great deal of help from our wider family we had done it – we had moved into our new family home and we had by and large smiled whilst doing it.
Now it wouldn't be a fair picture to paint to suggest that it was all easy and carefree because it wasn't – both children did get bored from time to time, we all got hungry at points and the next day when us adults were exhausted, so inevitably were the children. Despite the obvious logic to that final statement I hadn't seen it coming...the day was much less an adventure into wonderland and much more a hard slog of a trek through the jungle. Nonetheless we got through it – as a family.
We've now been in the house just under a week; we have the essentials sorted and only a few boxes left to unpack. It’s been a VERY busy half term week and not perhaps the fun yet relaxing week we might want for half term, but here we are…in our new family home and quite frankly it feels fantastic. I will however leave it to the kids to have the last word (just this once) and share with you their thoughts on the new house:
Ellie: ‘It’s the best house, not just in Great Britain Mummy, everywhere’
Ellie’s step brother’s (forthwith known as N8): ‘it’s cool’.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A special post for #TeamHonk

It's my great pleasure to share this very special blog post in support of #TeamHonk and Comic Relief 2013.  


Just in case you hadn't heard yet, these three amazing blogging mums (collectively known as #TeamHonk) have been all the way to Ghana in support of Comic Relief 2013. They've been sending digital postcards of what they've been up to and I'm really excited to say that they've sent this postcard for me to share too. 

This photo was taken at the Virtuous Women's Bakery in Accra, where women make, bake and sell bread to earn money and make themselves financially independent. This benefits a large number of families including single mothers to support themselves. Here you can see a mother making lunch for the women in the bakery - she worked so hard bending over prepping and cooking - all the pans and bowls were on the floor - most of the work she did with a large sleeping baby on her back.

This is a digital postcard sent from TeamHonk (www.mammasaurus.co.ukwww.aresidence.co.ukwww.mummybarrow.com ) during their travels with Comic Relief in Ghana celebrating #goodwork.
For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Let’s Keep Up the Good Work. Find out how at rednoseday.com
For other digital postcards please do check out the linky on www.teamhonk.org

I'm incredibly proud to be part of the blogging community supporting TeamHonk and Comic Relief 2013. If you haven't already seen many of the other amazing postcards why not pop over to their site by clicking on the image below:


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Private Investigator Mummy

In recent weeks, since Ellie started school, my journey of being Ellie’s mum has required me to develop a number of new skills – interviewing suspects (well Ellie), finding clues (most frequently in her school bag) and generally the skill of ‘investigating’ (acting like a dog with a bone).

I am therefore proud to introduce you to my newest persona – Private Investigator or PI Mummy and I’m pleased to share with you my first two investigations.

PI Mummy and the mystery of the school lunch
Ellie has school lunches which cost about £70 per term and has done since she started at this school. It works because when I get home from work it’s too late to start cooking and making sure she eats a proper meal. Instead she can have something quick and light. (I make no apologies for this – I’m a working mum, so I’m afraid it’s life). The problem I have is that I have no idea how much Ellie eats of the school lunches, because I’m not there.

I was obviously therefore pleased when Ellie came home one day not long after starting school with a stamp on her hand and stated that the dinner lady gave it her because she ate most of her lunch. To be honest her explanation did vary from all of my lunch to most of it so it wasn’t entirely reliable but was at least consistent in that she was eating well.

A few days after Ellie came home and proudly showed me two stamps – one on each hand. She announced that she’d eaten all of her lunch – hence her stamps. Now I don’t know the portion sizes at all but I figured that’d got to be a good sign and whilst my investigator nose was slightly twitchy I accepted what she said.

Several days later I was chatting to one of the other mums at the school and I decided to broach the lunch stamp subject in order to verify what I’d been told. (I note this as good investigator practice.) I started by saying that the stamps were really helpful albeit a little confusing and I was pleased to see that she clearly recognised what I was saying – nodding and smiling. Then just as I was about to relax she continued with ‘they are funny though - sometimes they get one stamp on each hand because they get one dinner lady to stamp one hand then hiding that hand they go to another dinner lady and ask for another stamp – that way they get two’. Oh - that’s my girl.

As you can imagine PI Mummy kicked into action and that night I confronted Ellie with my new found knowledge in order to elicit a confession. Ellie for her part didn’t even try to deny it but giggled loudly and said ‘we all do it’. She even proudly explained the process to me! For my part I’m afraid to say that on this first outing of PI Mummy I was totally wrong footed and quite simply speechless.

PI Mummy and the mystery of missing PE bag
My second investigation was prompted when Ellie came home from school one evening and clearly announced that her PE kit was missing at school. My investigator instincts sprang immediately into action and I quizzed Ellie:

  • Where did you look? ‘everywhere’
  • What part of your PE kit is missing? ‘all of it’
  • When did you see it last? No comment
  • Did you ask a teacher? ‘She said she couldn’t find it’

Term hadn’t long started so I was somewhat confused but Ellie was quite clear it was lost- the entire kit and bag. I instructed Ellie that she had to go back into school the next day and look for it…properly. I used my stern investigator voice and repeated the instruction again in the morning before school.

The next evening Ellie reported that it was nowhere to be found and even the teacher had looked.

PI Mummy was of course not going to be beaten so the next time I was collecting Ellie I went straight up to the teacher and asked if I could please come in to look around and check lost property. I would find the kit.

Ellie and I duly looked around the entire classroom and the other reception classroom too. Even Ellie’s teacher walked around and looked with us. Now I didn’t have my magnifying glass but Ellie’s PE bag is bright pink with Hello Kitty on it and a huge name label saying ELLIE so I don’t believe I missed it. I got on hands and knees several times and looked extra carefully around the pegs where every other child’s bag was hanging happily but alas, there was no sign of it.

Ellie and I went around to reception to check lost property and ask for their help – the loss was noted down and they would ask everyone to have another really good look. There was nothing else to be done so we retreated back home and I licked my wounded pride at the fact I had failed to find it.

After another week we hadn’t heard anything from the school so I admitted defeat – marked the case file as MIA and sent an order into school for a new uniform. Message received back (via Ellie’s child minder) was that the new kit would be available the next day.

Now you can already tell that this isn’t the end of the story and the final blow came the next morning. I was mid-sentence, handing over the required cheque to the child minder so she could collect the new kit when Ellie looked up and simply said ‘I found my PE kit’. That was it – nothing else, she just turned and continued with what she was doing.

The file has since been marked closed case but I can’t help but feel slightly aggrieved that I can’t credit the find to my investigator skills…ah well next time.

So there you have it – the first ever PI Mummy investigation reports. I hope you like it and as always, I’d love to hear from you (@sharonmsmyth or via the comments box on this page). It would be great to hear from other mummy and daddy investigators and how they’ve dealt with similar mysteries.

Just before I sign off, I will not mention this again, but if you’ve enjoyed reading my blog I would be immensely grateful if you would consider nominating it for a MAD blog award. Most relevant categories are best new blog and best schooldays blog so if you’re happy to nominate (it takes only a few minutes) then please do! http://www.the-mads.com/vote/