Monday, 24 September 2012

The best kind of treasure hunt

As you know I've waxed lyrical about Endcliffe Playgroup many times before. They were instrumental in preschool fun and chaos as well as helping my daughters to grow up enough to move on. Despite school starting I'm still on the committee and this weekend it was our treasure hunt in the Botanical Gardens.

It was the usual simple strokes of genius that little ones love - rushing about following picture clues, chasing pigeons and terrorising squirrels. They collected stuff of course like feathers and sticks and our lovely treasurer ignored the cries of her 7 year old ("you look ridiculous mum") and dressed up as a pirate. Just a week too late for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Phoebe loved seeing her friends again, as did I. And the sun even shone.

It made me think once again about why all this stuff is important. This group let me have time off to myself each week. But it also allowed me to be involved in the childcare of my preschoolers. Whether it be as an extra pair of painting hands on playgroup days, raising money for the group or messing about at spin off sports days in the park.

It has a sense of community and friendship for children and adults alike. Phoebe has several little friends she loves to see outside school now, and some of my closest friends were met through playgroup. (They are wonderful even if they are terrible at pub quiz questions).

The structure and routine for my two to four year olds was invaluable to me (and the kids) and at my hardest moments the time away from the girls playgroup gave me for a few hours a week was a godsend. Plus it didn't cost the earth.

So if you are a Mum or Dad who needs a little time and space to themselves during the week but doesn't want to commit to whole days in nursery, I urge you to think about Endcliffe Playgroup in Sheffield. The Playgroup would love some new 2-4 year olds to join the lovely children who go every week, and I know there are parents out there for whom this would absolutely fit.

This isn't about signing up, this is about joining in!

Monday, 10 September 2012

My little girl is growing up

This post is going to read as pretty dramatic I suspect. Most people don't quite understand how emotional I get about things. I am highly strung. Paul says it's that everything matters to me.Which could be described as "easily stressed and soppy" but at least it's never a dull moment.

I used to cry regularly. I don't cry so much anymore. Probably because my life is in general much happier. But it does occasionally happen. And when it does I go fro broke and do it in front of the head teacher usually. Just to make me look like a complete numpty.

So my reputation as dramatic sop is due to be reinforced in the morning because my youngest daughter starts school tomorrow. It's the first time I'm felt so very sad in a long time.

I can understand if people think I'm being dramatic. Yes it's sad but come off it, she's four now and growing up, and think of all that spare time I'll have. I can finally lose a stone and write a novel. Or at the very least set myself some unachievable targets and clean the cooker.

But it goes without saying really that I'm going to miss her. We have fun and she hugs and kisses me all the time. It will never be quite the same again. She is my youngest and final child (I couldn't go through that again) and therefore my days of being a stay at home mum are numbered. God help us if my title changes to "Housewife". I'll be dismissed for poor performance.

I have never been embarrassed that I chose to stay at home with the girls, and feel proud that I have done it. It has been hard at times and more recently easy and downright fun. I wouldn't have missed a moment of it. There were times when I didn't believe people when they told me how fast the time until school goes by, but wow does it zoom.

So here we are. I just hope I can get out of the room tomorrow before I start turning red and blotchy. It won't help either of us (or the teacher, other pupils and parents) if I start blubbing in the book corner. Sunglasses aren't an option inside in rainy September so my only option is a quick hug, kiss and a fast exit. Maybe this is the time to begin my running regime.

So Phoebs, maybe one day you'll read this. Know that I've loved staying home with you and you're wonderful. Tomorrow is a new chapter for both of us. I imagine I'll embarrass myself on the way out, but that's nothing compared to how embarrassing I'll be for you in the years to come.

I love you.

Love Mum.

P.S. Pass me the tissues and no you cannot have a go on the Ipad.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


I'll be honest and admit that I wasn't entirely easy with the idea of looking after other people's children initially. Largely in case I didn't like them. Let's face it some children are horrible. Or in case they didn't like me and spent the time screaming and throwing stuff. Or worst of all that my kids wouldn't like them or they wouldn't like my kids. Because how do you handle that? I mean I'm allowed to not like my children sometimes but other people aren't (see irony of my first point).

The desire to run screaming from other people's kids conflicts with the large part of my personality that desperately wants to help people out. This is highly fortunate as it forced me out of my comfort zone  and, do you know what? It really isn't that difficult. Although to be fair I've probably only been exposed to pretty lovely kids. And nowadays it's even easier because after school they take themselves off to play and barely need me.

Obviously there is the mess to contend with but I'm not exactly a neat freak (you're kidding right?) so I make do with picking up the camouflage blanket off the lawn and occasionally emptying out bottles of perfume onto the flower beds. The rest I mostly step over.

School started back on Tuesday and things are going pretty well already. I think this afternoon shows clearly how far I've come:

Tilly: "Mum can we have some flour? We want to do an experiment"

Me: "Yes, provided you are playing with it outside"


Tilly: "Can we now have some plastic bottles and some water?

Mum: "Erm yes certainly (raids recycling).

"Mum can we have some pizza dough?


"Ok what about some butter and yeast?"


Ten minutes later

"Mum can we have a cheese grater?"


So there you have it. I feel like I'm getting the hang of this...