You got this Mama, even when you feel like you don’t

MOTHERHOOD
*You got this Mama, even when you feel like you don’t*

This photograph popped up on my Facebook memories. An exhausted Mama and a 17 day old baby. My friend had come to see us and this is what she got to hang out with.
I had a chicken pox ridden 2 year old absolutely covered in itchy, painful spots and little did I know, Rocco would end up with it at 4 weeks and we were both in for a stay in hospital for IV antivirals.
Rex had just finished his paternity leave, Christmas and New Year had been and gone in a whirlwind of illness and exhaustion and we had only left the house about 3 times since he had been born.
I was a mess in more ways than one. Physically in pain post birth and on top of that, those breastfeeding fake contractions they neglect to tell you about!! 👀
Emotionally all over the place with my attention constantly divided between my poorly toddler and my needy newborn.
Exhausted through lack of sleep and claustrophobic with cabin fever and always being needed by someone.
But Mamas…you know what? Things changed. The boys got older and I actually missed those midnight cuddles from Rocco. We got through the illness, the chickenpox, the gallbladder removal, the hospital stays, the constant need to be touched (ok, ok, that still happens some days).
Motherhood isn’t easy.
Motherhood is full on and ugly at times.
Motherhood can make your heart feel like bursting with pride, whilst simultaneously breaking for your children when they are going through rough times.
But to those Mamas in the newborn stages – it is ok to not feel like you are enjoying every moment, like you feel you should. It’s normal to crave time to yourself and to hide in a cupboard to get a minutes peace. There will be days that your children decide to get on and you can drink a hot cup of tea and maybe sneak a biscuit. You won’t fall asleep on your friends when they visit and you will have days when you laugh so much you cry (there will also be days where you cry so much you laugh!)
Surround yourself with good people. Get out to the baby groups and have the courage to talk to other people. You need each other!
You got this Mama! Even when you feel like you don’t.
♥️
Lucy

(Originally posted on our Insta page)

Botley the robot review!

We were thrilled to be sent the wonderful Botley from Learning Resources UK who are based in Norfolk. Initially we were asked to feedback to them how the boys got on, but we loved it so much I thought it would be helpful to our readers to have a more in depth review on here…so here it is!

WHO IS BOTLEY?!

Botley is our new family pet! Well, technically he is a robot, but he’s so cute and very loved, so from here on in, we are considering him a pet that won’t get us in trouble if we leave him in a box for a few days!
In reality, he is a coding robot who is clever, cute, educational, challenging, fun and captured the boys’ attention before we had even taken him out of the box. We loved how he was peeping out at us when we opened the front flap of the box – a lovely touch!

Botley peeking out of his box!

WHAT DOES BOTLEY DO?

Botley has two settings: ‘Code’ and ‘Line’.

Change the settings underneath Botley.

LINE MODE:
On line mode, Botley can follow a black line using a sensor underneath him. There are some puzzle type card squares in the box that are white with a black wiggly line on one side. Botley will follow this line until he gets to the end, when he turns around and follows it back again. The boys enjoy moving the pieces once Botley has travelled over them to see how long they can keep him going for. You can also make your own course for Botley with white card and a pen. This is something we are yet to do, so more fun is yet to be had on this mode!

Line mode.

CODE MODE:
On code mode, Botley will move anywhere you tell him to go. There are 4 directional buttons on the handy sized remote: forward, back, rotate right and rotate left. There is also a late transmit button for when you are ready to send the instructions to Botley.
This mode can be where children can be challenged at different levels.
Once confident with manoeuvring Botley, your child can set or be set certain challenges. There are some in the booklet that come with Botley, or you can come up with your own.
Botley also has OBJECT DETECTION, meaning children can start to learn the principle of ‘if/then’, so you can tell Botley to do something, but in the same piece of coding, you can tell him what to do if he sees an object. This is a bit more challenging for children and it was something that my eldest (age 6) was able to grasp, but at the moment is a little bit over my nearly 4 year old’s head.
Another feature in this mode is the LOOP button. For this feature you can tell Botley to follow the same instructions more than once.
You can go all out on CODE mode and use CODING, OBJECT DETECTION and LOOP all at the same time to further the challenge!

Botley’s remote is the perfect size for little hands!

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

As well as Botley, you receive a 77 piece accessory set including hands for Botley, balls for him to carry, flags for him to travel around and in and out of, a ‘goal’ hoop, double sided puzzle card type pieces for Botley to travel around on, code cards to remind you what instructions you have programmed, blocks and sticks to create courses and a really well written instruction booklet with lots of hints and tips.

Challenging Botley to score a goal!

HIDDEN FEATURES

If you look in the booklet and on the Learning Resources website, you will find a couple of sneaky Easter Eggs. For example, you can make Botley say his name, say hello and get super dizzy amongst other things. The boys LOVE these hidden features and already remember some of the coding for them!

WHAT WE LOVE

What’s not to love? We all really enjoy playing with Botley and seeing what we can do.
Personally I love the different levels of challenge that Botley can provide as the children grow and learn.
The children love how cute Botley is and challenging themselves to try new things and they really enjoy the hidden features.

ANY ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT?

As a coding toy, we think Botley is pretty fantastic, however if we were to suggest anything it would be a cut back in the amount of plastic. Botley is obviously made of plastic, but also inside the cardboard box, he is housed in plastic which could maybe be reconsidered?

WOULD WE RECOMMEND BOTLEY TO YOU?

Absolutely!

I really hope this review has been helpful to anyone who may be considering a coding toy or even a Botley for their children. Please do get in touch if you have any questions that I have not covered in this review!

Lucy

To my village…

It’s been a week since we made our move to our new home and I have been sitting on this blog post for a while. I thought now would be a good time to share it before it is too late.

This one is for my village. You know who you are.

It has been said many times that it takes a village to raise a child. But the problem I have found since having my children is that community is so broken down these days. The ‘village’ just isn’t there in the way it used to be. The early days of parenthood, once the visits have fizzled out and the husbands or partners go back to work can feel like more of a wilderness. A lonely time of sleep deprivation, pans piled high by the sink, trying to work out what’s best when it comes to your babies feeding, sleeping, crying and even trumping.

For me, this just wasn’t going to work. We were first time parents, away from my family and if I hadn’t dragged myself, eyebags and all, out to meet people, I could easily have slipped into a very dark place.

So off I trundled to our very first Music Bugs class with my 4 month old (the waiting list was long because it was so popular) and found myself singing to my sleeping baby, trying to build up some courage to talk to someone and instead rambling on to Archie about where we would go next.

Fortunately for me, I had sat next to Amy, who turned to me and invited me out for coffee with her and a couple of others and I am so glad I plucked up the courage to go. These people and gradually more lovely Mummies became my village…

The ones who look out for each other.

The ones who accept each other in whatever state they rock up in every Tuesday.

The ones who rearranged their working patterns at the end of maternity leave to protect spending Tuesdays together.

The ones who scoop your baby up when you end up crying alongside your over emotional toddler in the middle of a soft play centre.

The ones who change their plans to help you out when you or your baby are sick.

The ones who are there for each other through everything that life throws at them. Even the really messy stuff.

The ones who genuinely care for your children and you for their’s, as if they were family.

The ones who can stay up until midnight on Whats App, discussing towel washing or musicals or babies’ poo habits or more important stuff than that.

The ones who you would drop everything for if they or their children needed you.

The ones who you can sit on every farm park tractor ride with multiple times and still have fun.

The ones who you can totally be yourself around and not feel judged.

I feel incredibly honoured to have made such brilliant friends over the past 5 years and have made it my mission to be a ‘bit more Amy’ when I see someone who may need a friend. Someone who looks lonely, or overwhelmed, or new.

So…my village…I love you all, I miss you and I am so grateful for the friendship we share. You and your children have shaped the past 5 years for the better and I look forward to adventures of a different kind in the future.

And anyone else reading, don’t let yourself get swallowed up by the potential loneliness of early motherhood. Be brave and step outside your comfort zone. Get out to meet new people and if you see someone looking a bit lost, remember – be a bit more Amy.

Lucy x

Instagram – @thelifeschoolers

thelifeschoolers@gmail.com

This is Life Schooling…

A few weeks ago we went on a trip to CBeebies Land with some of our absolutely favourite people. Archie was sat in the back of the car with one of his besties who he has grown up with, who does go to school. P asked Archie if he could count in twos and his automatic response was “No”. P was a little surprised that he couldn’t, so she told us about it.

It wasn’t until I gave Archie an example of counting in twos, that he realised he could in fact do that and also he could count in tens, it’s just that he has learnt it so naturally, that he didn’t know that this skill had a particular name!

This happened a couple more times that day when they were having their little chats in the back of the car and their conversations were so sweet to hear!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to yesterday when we were sat at dinner and a conversation came up about numbers. I thought I would take the opportunity to ask Archie a couple of questions. I started with “Do you know what double 3 is Archie”, to which answered “yes, 6!” We went through many other doubles which he loved and answered all of them correctly, only having to use his fingers to work out one of them.

This may seem normal for a boy of 5, but the thing is, I have never…and I really mean NEVER sat him down and taught him how to double numbers, or what a double is. It has ALL come through play and natural learning opportunities that have arisen in our daily lives. I have a feeling that his recent love for the game Shut the Box has helped too!

Fast forward again to today and Rocco, our 2 year old turned to me and correctly told me “This is my right hand and this is my left hand!” He showed me his right and left hand as he said it. I thought it was a fluke, but every time I asked him which was his right or left hand throughout the day, he got it right. Now, I’m sure you will all know by now, that I have never sat him down to teach him about his left and right either, but again, he has learnt through practical application and every day experiences. This particular piece of knowledge, he picked up when he was feeling particularly grumpy in the woods and Rex was telling him which way we would need to go next. He told him ONCE which hand was which, to help him know which way to go and it stuck!

It amazes me daily how much knowledge and skill these boys soak up every day. They don’t even realise they are learning most of the time! One day, Archie may need to know that it is called ‘counting in twos’, or whatever else it is he needs to know, but at least then, he will already know what to do and it will just be a fancy name to give to all of his many different skills and pockets of knowledge!

This is life schooling. Learning through the every day. The mundane. The adventure. The daily problem solving. The play. And do you know what?…It’s working!

Thanks for reading, please do get in touch either in the comments on here, through our Instagram page (@thelifeschoolers) or drop us an email at thelifeschoolers@gmail.com!

Lucy

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Changes

The change in this kid in the last year is just phenomenal. From bright and bubbly, carefree and crazy, to withdrawn and unsure, emotional and unsettled. But wow, we are coming back fighting.

We have been out of school for over 7 months now. Longer than we were in school in fact and I could honestly burst with pride.

7 months ago, this warrior wouldn’t have asked for something he needed from anyone other than myself or Rex. He would spend days shouting at his little brother, out of sheer frustration, confusion and jealously. He would shy away from standing out in any way and would strive to blend in and not be noticed. He wasn’t eating, or sleeping and he just lost the Archieness of Archie.

But now…well let me tell you… He boldly and bravely talks to any of the many people we meet every day, asking questions and talking to them with such a genuineness. He picks his outfits, without fear of standing out (I had the pleasure of having dinner at the pub with Archie the elf a few days ago). He makes friends everywhere he goes, no matter what their age is. He learns from those who are older than him and helps those who are younger. He has shown such courage walking on to a pitch full of strangers when joining a hockey club, just occasionally giving me a wave or a smile, to make sure I’m still there, cheering him on. You bet I am. I always will be.

This kid will go far. The boldness, bravery, courage, inquisitiveness and kindness I see in his heart daily show me this.

We may be doing life a little different to the norm. But I love it. And so does he. And loving life is high up on our agenda! Sorry for the ramble, but it seems fitting to share, even a day late for mental health awareness. I hope, more than anything, that we have prevented any long term mental health issues that Archie could have suffered from, having stepped in when we did and listened to his cry for help. ♥️

(Originally posted on our Instagram on 11/10/18)

I’d love to hear from anyone on a similar journey to us, or anyone who feels their child is going through what Archie did. Do get in touch on here in the comments, on the @thelifeschoolers Instagram page, or by emailing thelifeschoolers@gmail.com. Lucy x