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

Painting the Rain

After nearly two long hot months of glorious sunshine, we have been so happy to see some rain to soak our parched garden! It did, however, leave me feeling a little bit stumped as to where to go today, after spending pretty much every day outside somewhere recently!

After deciding to stay at home, I thought I would make the most of the weather and set up an art provocation for the boys to explore. Rocco (aged 2) had genuinely forgotten what rain was, which was slightly hilarious yesterday when the heavens opened. He just kept staring at the sky and saying “What? What?” in between little squeals of delight!

So, just in case you have a rainy day at home, here is a now tried and tested art project for you to try with your kiddiewinks.

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Set Up

The set up itself is pretty simple. All you need is a shiny surface to catch the raindrops on, some blue watercolour paints, a paintbrush and some thick white paper or card. We had planned to use real rain water, but by this point, the rain had stopped, so I included a cup of water and a pipette in our set up, to create our own rain. We also used a mirror surface placed inside a tray for extra intrigue and sensory exploration.

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Catching Raindrops

The next step is to catch the rain on your shiny surface, until you have enough raindrops for your artwork. As it had stopped raining, we plopped our pretend raindrops out from our pipette. This is actually great for fine motor control and general self control when trying not to squeeze too much water out at once!

Once you are happy with your collection of raindrops, which should collect nicely onto the shiny surface, it’s time to add some colour. We recently found some brilliant watercolours in Aldi that you can take out individually, so we had all of the blues out and ready to go! You need to get plenty of blue watercolour paint onto your brush and then dip it into each individual raindrop to add the colour. Once the boys had got the hang of it, they started experimenting with mixing the different shades of blue together.

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Creating Your Art

Now you have created lots of lovely blue raindrops, it is time to create your artwork! Take your thick paper or card and lay it very gently on top of your blue raindrops for a couple of seconds. Lift it off and voila! Some lovely rain inspired artwork! Rocco enjoyed exploring the watercolours so much, that he decided to add extra raindrops to his artwork by painting them straight on with a paintbrush.

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The Finished Artwork

The possibilities to explore further are also there for this activity. We will definitely be trying it again with real raindrops and may even make some watercolour clouds this way too. This activity just came from a little idea I had this morning and I had no idea how it would work out, but I think it has turned out to be Rocco’s favourite way of painting ever!

If you give it a go at home, let me know how it goes! Get in touch on here, or over on @thelifeschoolers on Instagram. Tag us into any posts, so we can see your beautiful artwork too, it is really great to hear from you!

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Exploring Shades of Blue

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Learning to imagine and be free…

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Fighting dragons, talking to bears, battling villains, saving the world, climbing aboard pirate ships. The possibilities were endless.

Imaginary adventures and jumping into role were the norm. The ability to lead the play, or follow the lead of someone else. Using voices and expression to make our characters come to life. A plethora of imaginary friends.

It was play.

It was adventure.

It was FUN.

Then, something unexpected happened. Our adventurous, creative, bold little boy with a big imagination endured a complete emotional turmoil through 6 months of school. As mentioned in previous posts, he developed some anxieties and became a shadow of himself. Read more about this by clicking HERE.

Since we have had him back at home he has been reluctant to say the least. Unwilling to suspend his disbelief, not wanting to ‘look silly’ or get it wrong and boisterously trying to manipulate the play to follow and fit into certain rules set by himself.

This came as a bit of a shock to us, as we both have a drama and performance background and have always encouraged him in this area. To play, to imagine, to create and to dream.

Our 2 year old has an incredible imagination and his play often amazes us; how much he understands and how accurately he conveys emotions through his role play. This has caused issues between the two boys whilst engaging in play together and many times it has ended in raised voices and tears.

Fast forward 3 months of home education and I am so happy to say that we are beginning to see glimmers of his imagination bubbling up and returning. Pretending, initiating play and talking to puppets as if they are real. He even went to Asda a few days ago caped up as a superhero and didn’t even think twice about anyone looking at him.

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This may sound small and may even be the norm for you and your children, but for us, this is a huge turning point.

I remember one particularly cold day at school where he didn’t want to wear a bobble hat in case the grown ups looked at him. Non-uniform days caused him to panic and the Christmas play brought on so much stress and worry. He wanted to blend in. To be unseen. To hide.

I just pray that this courageous, adventure seeking, imaginative side to his personality sticks around now that he is shaking off the feeling of being watched and ridding himself of a self-consciousness I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, let alone a four year old. I hope it grows again like a watered seed inside his soul, allowing him to feel free, to be creative and to PLAY!

I have written this because I know we can’t be the only ones and I want to offer hope to anyone in the same boat. There were days when I wept for him. When I could see the inner turmoil written all over his face in a mellow sadness. But here we are, rejoicing in the small moments and seeing our little boy growing in confidence and learning to be free.

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Not every day is easy or perfect and we still have our moments when he expresses his feelings through certain challenging behaviours, but we are getting there and we are hopeful.

If any of this resonates with you, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Lucy x

 

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