Posts Tagged ‘childcare

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I haven’t checked out since, um, before the end of term.  And I was doing OK before that, thanks to the heaps of exercise I was getting at various classes.


It’s fallen a bit flat.  Classes have been a no-go; they no longer accept kids over five years old in the creche (and I don’t blame them, really – would you want a bunch of school-age kids rampaging over the babies?).  I’ve also been revelling in no routine.  Which is good for feeling rested and relaxed, and blooming awful for getting anything done.  (I’m also heavily behind on my laundry.  Previous posts boasting of conquering Mount Washmore are shamefully inaccurate right now. We haven’t quite got to the inside-out underwear trick, but we have come close.)

Anyhow, I suspected I had put on a fair bit of weight when we went camping (marshmallows, beer, etc.), so I hid from the scales for a while.  Then, when I got back on the scales, they generally said the same thing for a few weeks.  Somewhere between 12 st 1 lb and just over.

I’ve been watching what I eat, but not particularly carefully.  I am trying not to make it feel like a diet.  Of course, that generally means I’m not losing any weight; it’s a fine balancing act, but at least I’m not gaining at the moment.

Of course, if I don’t get a move on I won’t lose any weight at all this year, so I think I’m going to have to keep the status quo for now and return after the holidays with a vengeance.   I know, I should be out there, enjoying the outdoors with my family. I just never seem to get round to it at the moment. (Current excuse is the house move – I’m constantly on the laptop either dealing with admin or trying to find somewhere to live.  I am relieved that the kids are quite good at entertaining each other without constantly resorting to the TV.)

Anyhow, watch this space.  I shall come back in September with half a hope of being fighting fit before the end of the month.  Maybe.


As you may have gathered from many of my previous posts, I am nuts about singing.  I especially enjoy acappella, but I’ll sing anything just so I can get my singing fix.  The kids are at that age where me spontaneously bursting into song is just a little embarrassing; I can’t possibly imagine why.

There are loads of opportunities to sing out there, but I haven’t found a single one that doesn’t require a childcare solution; that’s why I decided to set up a once-a-month Saturday singing group.  People come for the day, the children run around playing with each other, it’s all very informal but a lot of fun.

Trying to get a bunch of other parents – and non parents for that matter – together on a sacred Saturday, is tricky to say the least.  Let’s face it; most people have plans for most of their Saturdays. We have so far managed just the one Saturday, and since then either I have been busy, or everyone else has.  (And you do tend to need a certain number of people if you want to sing acappella.)

I am struggling with this issue.  I can’t see a way through.  Sundays are also sacred in a similar way to Saturdays – you might even say more so – and weekday evenings require childcare.  I can’t plan long-term until after we have successfully moved house, and until that happens we are at the mercy of short-notice viewings anyway.


I think I am going to have to revise my ambitions a little.  What I’m going to do is keep holding one Saturday a month for singing, but not worry about the numbers – I’ll make it an open house instead.  Whoever we get, however many we get, we’ll just sing along either to my guitar (or piano once we eventually move) or one of many backing tracks I have, jointly, individually, whatever people feel comfortable with.  And on those occasions where we do get enough people to come along, then we can have another go at the acappella stuff.

That sounds to me like it has considerably more chance of success.   I get to spend time with friends and sing at the same time.  A vast improvement from having to cancel all the time.

Yeah.  That should do it.  I feel better already.

Today’s journal will be unstructured; much as the models of reflection give you something to work with as a start, once you know what you need to get out of reflective practice, you can do nearly as much with an unstructured journal, and it often flows more easily that way.  I’m going to talk about returning from time out, since it has brought with it a new set of challenges.  Be warned, though, reflective writing tends to be long!

Thanks to for the image

I originally went on time out for two reasons.  Firstly, smallest one was getting to be a distraction.  Cute, yes, vocal, very, and not exactly ideal for bringing along to tutorials.  Since she was still being breastfed I didn’t feel happy arranging childcare.  Secondly, loved one had recently lost his job.  It was time to focus on the family for a while.

I had ambitious plans through my time out, though, mainly because I wanted to be done by Christmas 2011.  If I made it to February 2012 before finishing, I would have been going for five years on the same course, and it’s fairly frowned upon, if not outright forbidden, to take more than five years to finish.  Of course, being on time out meant I could add eight months to my finishing time, but that wasn’t the point.  I wanted to get on with my life and actually be a fully fledged antenatal teacher.  So I made plans to do as much of my written work as possible during my eight months out of circulation.

Being me, of course, that meant that two thirds of that work was done less than two weeks before my first tutorial.  But, now, it’s done.

I am now trying to fit regular study time in around a cute but demanding baby who needs my attention the whole time, and screams non-stop if she doesn’t get it, and it is challenging to say the least.  Not to mention the plan to get up early and study being scuppered by her waking up just as early.    I do have Friday mornings to myself, but as often as not I tend to use that as ‘me’ time, such as hair cuts.  With this screaming phase smallest one is going through, I just need to have some quiet time once in a while.

So there is still the issue of when exactly to get my study time in.  Most of her nap time is taken up with the mountains of ironing that piled up while I finished my last two pieces of work.  As I type I am surrounded by heaps of laundry that all needs ironing, and there’s more hanging on the line outside waiting to be done too.

Making time to study, it seems, is always a compromise.  I can frankly say that being a stay at home mum to three children is a full-time job in itself, and even when I’m not studying it seems I’m taking regular shortcuts to save my sanity.  (I really don’t know how working mums find the energy, and take my hat off to them.)  So when I do study, the family life suffers.

Also, my preferred method of working is to just knuckle down for a few days to do nothing but read, write, think, breathe, dream the topic I am working on, but this of course just isn’t possible if I’m looking after small people.  As a result, when I have a study deadline, everything suffers; I take short cuts with my work to get it over and done with as fast as possible, nobody gets fed properly, nobody gets to bed on time, and I don’t want to hear anyone’s problems till it’s all over.  Not exactly a shining example of parenting.  Or studying, for that matter.

Is there a solution?  Well, I can think of one or two, but they tend to involve the goodwill of others.  Loved one is under a lot of pressure at work, so I don’t particularly want to add to it by dumping the children on him while I go to the library on the weekend (though it might help me get a little respite, since screaming babies are not allowed in the university library).  I could request help from the grandparents, but they are in their seventies and I feel bad dumping three children on them for a weekend.  It’s a bit too big an ask, really.  Also, until we move house it would be cheaper to pay for childcare with fuel costs the way they are.  Which leads me to option three – paying for extra childcare -but right now we’re trying to tighten the purse strings in the anticipation of the house move, so it’s not really likely to help.

A solution is starting to form in my head, though, now that I’ve stewed on this a while.  If I were to ‘book’ one weekend a month with loved one where I hibernate in the library for forty-eight hours and am around the other three weekends of the month, that might not be so terrible.  It’s also a fairly realistic anticipation of how things will be once I qualify and teach regularly, so it would be good for him to get used to it now.  More than one weekend a month would be too much, but I feel this is a reasonable request.  He is their father, after all.

I think I’ll give it a try.  Now all I have to do is catch loved one at a good time and tell him of my plan…

Time out

Posted on: 30/04/2011

I have technically been on time out from my studies for the last eight months. Mainly because smallest one’s needs (mostly identified by noisy, attention-grabbing gestures of the cute but extremely distracting variety) were not going to comply happily with the needs of an all-day tutorial group.

As it happens, I’ve got a fair bit of work done anyway.  Knowing that I didn’t want to hang around forever, I did my best to get completely up-to-date, if such a thing can be said for a no-deadlines distance learning course.  Unfortunately I’ve got a lot more to do before I return to tutorials once more in a fortnight’s time.  Yes, it’s a self-imposed deadline, but my tutor may delay my teaching plans (and quite rightly so) if I don’t get it done.

Giovanni Sades /

So I’m just trying to get my head around how to get any work done around the needs of  baby and the rest of the family. Here are my thought processes…

Idea one: work like mad every nap-time.  Very tempting.   Not enough, though.

Idea two: work in the evenings after the kids go to bed.  What, and lose any time to blog?  I barely know what a TV looks like any more.  Not only that, but my brain is fried by eight o’clock at night.  Yes, it probably explains a lot about the kind of blog I have here, I know.  Even more reason, then, not to try and study at this point, not even to get you all off the hook.

Idea three: work at the weekends so that loved one can take care of the kids.  That would be fine, but for two major issues. This weekend he’s away. Next weekend we’re busy.  Oh, and a third issue: being a man, for two full days of childcare while I lock myself in the library, he would of course require an extremely large medal.  (And another one if he worked out how to use the washing machine, of course..)

Idea four: get up early.  I did this for a stint in the past when middle child was this age and I had a presentation to prepare.  It worked a treat.  Not sustainable long term, though, and really, really bad for getting to school on time – I get carried away with the work and am still typing in my pyjamas at half past eight.

Two of those ideas are manageable, though.  If I work during nap time , and I get up early for the next two weeks, I reckon I might actually get it all done.

There’s just one thing. Housework, laundry and cooking, and to an extent childcare will be as good as abandoned for the next fortnight while I am in the throes of essay-writing and presentation-preparing.  (I may be female, but I just can’t multitask when it comes to studying.)

Neglect?  I dare use the word? No, but the terms ‘fobbing off’ and ‘putting off’ may be pretty accurate by the time I’m done.

As you may be aware, we are trying to move house this summer.  So far, all is going as well as can be planned.  We have made a final offer on the house we would like to buy.  We have our own house on the market. We are now playing the waiting game.

krishnan /

Of course, my nutty anxiety dreams are not letting me off that easily. Each morning I wake up way too early thinking house thoughts.

But, at least the rational part of my brain can ignore all the what-ifs and get on with life.  Admittedly it’s tricky trying to do anything when you are trying to stop a baby smearing food all over your pristine kitchen (the easy answer is to go out to eat, but it does seem excessively indulgent) and keep the rest of the house from degenerating back into its usual mess.

However, I have got to the point where I will go quietly mad (OK, quietly madder) if I don’t try to focus on something else very soon.  So I’m thinking of the two other priorities in my personal life.  That is, the ones that are not specifically family related.

Firstly, I am going to go spare if I don’t get any exercise.  So my first call tomorrow will be to book a place at the municipal pool’s crèche for smallest one with a view to getting to the gym for the first time in nearly a month.  Hopefully they won’t be out of spaces.

I do need a back-up plan on that one, however, so I’m going to consider – eek – Power Pramming.  Basically you turn up with your baby in a buggy and go running.  I’m not a big fan of running.  But I am a big fan of (a) getting some exercise, (b) not having to worry about childcare and (c) not having to pay anyone for it.

My second priority is to get a move on with my next assignment.  I’ve managed, by the skin of my teeth, to observe a class so I’m back on track for the moment.  Now I just need to put a plan together (and research it so that what I say is definitely true rather than probably true). Ha.  Probably easier said than done, but I remain optimistic.

I hope to be in a better position to report back successfully with both these items before long.

I wonder what’s going to happen soonest?  House stuff, exercise or studies?  All bets are off as far as I’m concerned; I don’t want to jinx any of them…

Salvatore Vuono /

So.  Here I am, trying to make essay notes.

Smallest one is sitting happily on her mat (yes, at 9 months she has conquered sitting up), with her toys around her, enjoying a bit of all-too-rare baby TV.  One thing I’ll say for cBeebies, they have the perfect mix of educational and fun.  She loves it.

I’m sitting on the sofa.  Not making essay notes.

I’m being sucked into baby TV.

Even though most of the programmes are mind-numbingly boring to an adult.  I can’t help it.  Boring TV or even more boring essay reading?  It’s the TV every time.

I could leave the room, but I know that if I do that, I’ll ignore smallest one completely.  And though she’s not yet crawling, she is still more than capable of getting herself into trouble.  Last time I tried to do that she rolled right under the dining table and banged her head on the crossbar.  And I didn’t realise for several minutes as I was ‘in the zone’ and not listening out for her.

What I should have done was take the opportunity to study when she was in childcare.  But I was in the mood to blog … and ended up blogging all morning.

Oh, procrastination, you outwit me every time.

Once upon a time, when my older two offspring were tiny, I did a stint as a childminder for a couple of years.

I really enjoyed it. I got to spend quality time with both my own children and another lovely baby. (If I hadn’t been trying to complete my studies I would gladly have kept doing it, but that’s another blog for another time.)

Anyhow there was only ever one thing I didn’t like doing.

Changing other babies’ nappies.

Don’t ask me why, but, unpleasant though it is, changing a stinky nappy from your own child’s bottom is no problem. Easily handled. You just make sure you don’t breathe through your nose.

So why is it so much more unpleasant doing other babies’ nappies? There’s nothing so different there that wasn’t in the one you changed a minute ago on your own child. And you’re not breathing through your nose anyway, right?

Nevertheless. I have a sneaky suspicion there are a lot of people out there who want to go into childcare but are put off by nappy changes for children who are not blood relations.  It’s just downright unpleasant.  Almost as bad as cleaning loos in a nursing home, which is so horrendous I try to block it from my memory.

Which is why, when my super duper home placement student actually volunteered to change my smallest one’s stinky nappy, twice, without comment or complaint, I was pretty impressed.

This is me. Impressed.