Posts Tagged ‘studies

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…


Suat Eman /

Last night I sorted out the laundry whilst watching a little TV, and left a couple of the piles on the sofa to deal with in the morning.

This morning I was trying to get some work done – prior to dealing with said laundry – and I was mildly distracted on several occasions by the sound of long, pitiful yowling.

Oldest child comes wandering in, wondering what to do about having put both pairs of school shorts in the wash and having nothing left for today, when the third bout of yowling occurs from somewhere upstairs.

‘Socks,’ I mutter, engrossed in my work.

‘Socks?’ queries oldest child?

‘Yeah, socks.  That nutty cat has stolen the socks again.  Do you want to have a look?’

Oldest one giggles and runs off, shorts temporarily forgotten.  Reports back to confirm it was indeed socks.

We have two cats.  Silk, the boy cat who doesn’t realise he’s been neutered.  And Velvet, the girl cat for whom the word ‘neurotic’ was invented.  All cats have their idiosyncrasies, and Velvet has so many she is an entertainment show in her own right.  The Sock Thief persona is one we have enjoyed since she was a kitten.

Every time I wash socks – particularly small baby socks, but any will do – she hunts them down (off the line on occasions), finds a special place for them, and yowls loudly and at length about her triumphant capture.

Today is the first time, however, that she has actively hunted down three pairs of socks in a row.

As if they were a trophy kill, she displays them in prominent positions.. as if to say, ‘You’re my top human. You let me tunnel under the duvet at night. This is my gift to you.’ She has kindly left one pair on the landing, one pair on the bed and one on the stairs.

I have to admit, I do prefer the socks to the live/freshly killed alternative.  And there is something immensely reassuring about a neurotic cat who brings you trophy socks stolen from the laundry pile.

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…

Filomena Scalise /

I’ve been having the same dream on and off for months now.

I dream that I’m asleep in bed.  And then I realise I’ve forgotten one or two children somewhere.

I wake up in a panic and am halfway to the kids bedroom before the sane part of me kicks in and makes me realise that I didn’t leave any kids at the shopping centre, in the car, downstairs playing, at the park or wherever.  The children are where they are supposed to be. In bed asleep.  And I gave back any other children I had earlier in the day.

It takes me a while to calm down from these dreams.   To be honest, it took me a while to recognize these dreams and acknowledge that they are not real as soon as I wake up.

I looked it up on a site called Dream Moods.  They tell me the following:

To dream that you are forgetting things, signify life’s anxieties. You are expressing an overwhelming amount of stress in your life. You feel the need to tend to everything and everyone’s needs. Alternatively, forgetting something may represent your unconscious desire to leave that something behind.  On a more direct level, the dreamcould just be your subconscious telling you or reminding you of a forgotten appointment or date.

To dream that you forget where you live, suggests that you do not want to go home. Is there a domestic conflict or argument?

To dream that you forget the baby, indicates that you are feeling burdened by the responsibility of taking care of someone else.

So I’m under an overwhelming amount of stress, and I’m feeling burdened by the responsibility of taking care of someone else.

Well, thinking about it, there’s a fair bit of stress.  Studying, moving house, and trying to take care of three kids can be stressful.  But there is good stress and bad stress, and all these things are mostly good stress, since they all have a positive outcome, and thankfully, in spite of what the Dreammoods site says, I don’t feel overwhelmed.

Well, not quite.

And I’m feeling burdened by the responsibility of taking care of someone, am I?  Well, nobody said it was easy.  But I wouldn’t call it a burden so much as a self-inflicted injury that brings as much joy as it does anything else.

I suspect I’m going to keep having these dreams until something eases up.  Let’s see when that will be, then…  Studies – hopefully 9 months.  Moving house – hopefully within 6 months.  Babies and children – umm…

Yep.  I’m going to keep having these dreams for a while.

I’ve just come off a phone call to my tutor.  We have agreed that the essay giving me so much grief would be best left on the back burner for a while.

I like it when my tutor agrees with me.  This essay has been doing my head in.  I can’t find enough relevant information to answer the questions I want to answer.  So I’m a bit fed up with clunking my head against a brick wall.  So it’s going on the back burner, and just as well.

graur codrin /

Somehow nothing gets burned on the back one.

This back burner of mine is incredibly versatile.  In spite of being only one imaginary thing, it can happily store all my half-finished projects and plans until I feel ready to deal with them once more.  Currently I have three potential houses, one weight loss plan, about one thousand un-sorted photos, two un-organised bookshelves and an eye laser treatment on there – enough to keep me going for a while, though I bet I’ll add more before I remove anything.

And now I have an essay sitting there too.

What do you have on your back burner?

This post, as you may have gleaned from the title, follows on from my New Year’s resolutions, where I promised myself that this year I would (a) get healthier, (b) complete my studies and (c) keep my temper.

Catherine Hadler /

So if I want to stay healthy in the long term, this is probably the wrong way to approach lunch.

It’s one month in, and, as you’ll see from my Friday Fatchecker part 5 post, I’m making slow and steady progress so far with (a).

Yes, snails would get there faster than me, but I don’t want to do anything that I can’t sustain permanently, so snail’s pace is just fine.  (I was tickled by this photo – it seemed to sum it all up nicely!)

So, one healthy resolution still intact in February.  A good start then.  Go me!

On the other hand, (b) is my stumbling point.  I just cannot get motivated to do the essay that has been looming since November.  Three months of procrastination?  That’s not a good sign, really….

And I had promised myself to do it by the end of January.  That’s a big thumbs-down there, then.  I know that once I get into it, I’ll keep momentum on it till it is done (usually by neglecting everything else, unfortunately). But the topic is a sticky one and there don’t seem to be any decent texts around.  I sincerely hope that I have caught up by my March update…

But!  Would you believe it?  (c) is still intact.

photo by EA /

I feel some synergy with this mummy duck calmly leading her little ones across the water..

The one I thought I would be least likely to keep up.

Actually I feel extremely proud of myself for not shouting at the children once in over a month. Considering I used to lose it nearly every day, this is my greatest achievement so far.

Can you see my halo shining?

And it has made an incredible difference to the atmosphere at home.  I don’t know if anyone has said it before (they probably have), but just as negativity breeds negativity, so too does positivity breed positivity.

What a revelation!

What a resolution.