assorted childrens sweets

I have now had the job of being Alistair’s Mum for five great years and now that he is old enough to entertain himself more I have time to reflect on my progress so far.  On the outside I am relieved to say that I look like a pretty competent parent, as Alistair looks and acts as normal as a five year old can be and I can pull off a certain degree of serenity and togetherness.  The truth however is a completely different story because my approach to parenting seems to be somewhat unconventional and lax to say the least.  I am going to share my short comings with the hope that I am not the only who is not perfect!

#One:- I Tell Lies

Not big sticky dark ones but light fluffy white ones that will make my life easier and stop that pneumatic drill noise that can accompany a situation. The lie I like the most is telling him that his sweets and chocolate have gone off and had to be thrown away – when in fact I have eaten them myself.

#Two:- I Let Him Cut Up His T-Shirts

I have always believed that the clothes a child wears should not stop him from learning and exploring the world so I buy second hand clothes and make use of hand me downs.  This means that he can get as muddy as he wants and paint all over him without me having any kind of funny turn.  Recently he cut up a couple of his t-shirts so he looks as if he has been attacked by a lion and I didn’t batter an eyelid.  he now realises that if he cuts his clothes up they are no longer wearable so he doesn’t bother any more.

#Three:- I Don’t make Him Eat Vegetables

As a vegetable hater myself I consider it hypocritical to make life hell by trying to force Alistair to eat food that he doesn’t like so I let him make the choice of whether he eats them or not.  Fortunately this has resulted in him trying vegetables because he wants to and my heart wells with pride when he happily eats tomatoes during family gatherings.

#Four:- I Let Him Stew At The Top Of The Slide

Alistair has always been more slight than the other children and is very baby faced so can get away with a great deal of sympathy from everyone.  At the end of term he had the irritating habit of climbing to the top of a very scary slide in the playground and being too afraid to slide down it – resulting in me having to help him down the steps.  Occasionally I would leave him at the top of the slide with the hope that he would come down himself but that never seemed to happen so eventually I had to show compassion and help him down.  I think he has been down the slide once and hated it!

#Five:- I Let Him Have A Messy Bedroom 

Alistair’s has a craft table, book corner, computer, television and lots of puppets in his bedroom and he plays in his room a lot.  Amazingly he enjoys drawing maps and writing stories either by hand or using the computer as opposed to mindlessly watching television.  His craft table is covered in boxes decorated with beads and other embellishments on them and he is very protective of his artwork.  His bedroom is one big creative mess most of the time and tidying only occurs when it becomes a health and safety hazard. I do not nag – every so often I lock myself in his room with bin bags and tidy up while watching his television and eating his sweets.

I have learnt over the last five years that parenting is hard work but rewarding at times and I don’t think I will ever get the hang of it!


So I recently read an article about ‘Incredible Lessons in Parenting from around the World‘ and I have to admit it was pretty interesting. We are so used to what is classed as ‘normal’ parenting wherever we are that you sort of forget other people do it differently. Some of the things on the list are almost funny but then I’m sure if we did some of them in the Western world it would cause a stir and most likely get a parent in trouble.  It was numbers 4 and 6 that really got me thinking.  They are both about giving their children a lot independence and trusting them (and other people) to behave as we hope they would.  I can’t imagine (and I’m sure a lot of other parents couldn’t either) letting my four year old go out and ride the subway or train by themselves.  If we saw an unaccompanied child of that age out alone it wouldn’t be long before they were picked up by the police or some concerned passer-by but that is what is considered normal in Japan for instance.  


Nowadays children don’t have as much freedom to run around the streets as we used to as things have changed.  It’s even quite unusual to see children allowed to visit the playground by themselves, yet in some places they roam free around the city or are left in the street while their parents go about their business, though that probably leads to them being pretty independent grown-ups pretty fast.  It’s just very interesting to see how the world’s attitudes to these things differ so much depending where you are and what you are used to. 

…I have to say that number 2 on the list – training babies to pee on command – would be very helpful indeed!

Having a child who eats everything would also be wonderful (number 9), meal times would be much easier!



So we have reached the halfway point of the summer holidays in the UK and exhausted many of the local attractions for children. It is important, especially during the summer holidays to make an effort to do some new, fun things with children without the pressure of the classroom. We’ve had a busy few weeks (and not a lot of blogging time) and so wanted to take a day trip out somewhere. All phones, computers, televisions and tablets were turned off and we headed out, not that the weather has been particularly good this week, what with hurricane Bertha! I wanted to do something different and creative (although was fairly certain a playground would be involved at some point, and sure enough it was)!

So we headed up to Penrith where I had heard good things about Crafty Monkeys – a craft studio for all ages. Unsurprisingly, being the school holidays it was quite busy when we arrived but with no time restraints we were happy to wait our turns. It was great fun! We painted a dinosaur, a mug and tried mosaicing (not quite as successfully though, it proved to require more patience than first thought) It was a great experience and all the kids there were loving being allowed to get messy and creative.

After we got cleaned up, I was begged to find a playground. Unfortunately it’s not until they get a bit older that they realise mums aren’t capable of just magicing a playground out of thin air. Luckily though, after asking another mum at Crafty Monkeys, I found out there was a playground not too far away, just outside of the city.

This was in fact the Great Salkeld play area. It had quite a lot to offer including slides, swings, a wobbly bridge, a small timber climbing frame with ropes and ladders as well as a big play area in the middle for basketball etc. It was a big area where the equipment isn’t too crammed together which I prefer as more space means more running around which means a tired out child at the end of it! The favourite piece of equipment was the wobbly bridge which, although met with some hesitation to begin with, was responsible for a lot of laughs.great salkeld play area

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I don’t know about you but the thought of entertaining children for a whole six weeks can be pretty daunting to even the most dedicated parents. Not only do you have to consider what on earth you are going to do with your little darlings you also have think about how much money you are prepared to spend on entertaining them.  Before you blow all of your hard earned cash this summer here are some ideas that will help you to keep your offspring happy and leave you solvent at the end of the holiday.

A Walk in the Park or Country


If you live in the countryside then any wide open space is a potential natural playground, if you live in the city parks are just as good.  Children are most manageable when there are few restrictions on them and plenty of natural things for them to explore.  If you have a young child be prepared to take a carrier bag with you so that you can fill it with a large collection of stones, feathers and twigs – for some reason little ones love to collect them.  Older children will enjoy the challenge of longer walks and more difficult terrain – if you find a lake or patch of water on your travels then that is a bonus because water will keep children busy for hours.

Fifty Things to do Before you Reach 11 3/4

50 things

Supported by the National Trust in order to to encourage children to explore and learn how to appreciate the world about them.  If you click on the link you will be able to visit the dedicated website and down load the full list as a tick list.  The, ‘Things’, include tree climbing, rolling down a big hill, building a den, set up a snail race, make a daisy chain, walk barefooted, camp in the wild and many many more.  In fact you may find that it keeps you entertained because you can fulfil anything that you may have missed out on during your childhood!

Put on a Puppet Show


When your children are quite young they have a wonderful imagination that can take them into amazing worlds just by giving them ideas.  You don’t need a puppet theatre or puppets – just toys and something that can be like a puppet theatre.  Chances are children will have been learning about story telling at school and will love to tell you an epic story using their toys.  The stories tend to be epic and pretty repetitive at first and you can rest while they are performing making sure that you laugh when you are supposed to and are able to comment when they ask you questions about what they have been doing.

Visit Different Playgrounds


You will be amazed at how varied different playgrounds are even in a small area.  The type of playground equipment is different in playgrounds even in a small area.  Children just love the opportunity to play with other children and meet new friends.  If you go to a different playground everyday you can enjoy different experiences and the walk to get there.  If you live in the country try to get to a more urban playground and vice versa if you life in a town.  The great thing about going to playgrounds is that you can walk their and generally buy treats at the local shop and make the occasion last as long as you wish.

Get Crafty


Children love making things and are as happy sticking old boxes together as using expensive craft equipment from a shop.  You can choose to either have a structure approach where you have a lot of input and the end result looks pretty good or risk letting your child experiment themselves and produce something that is not as aesthetically pleasing but  has involved a great deal of learning in the process.

Your Children Want You!

What ever you decide to do with your children this summer remember they love being with you more than anyone else in the world so just enjoy spending time with them talking and reading and just being together!

So as I sit here typing this, the sun is shining and the view out of my window is glorious.  School is nearly finished for the summer and I’m sure many other people will be in the same situation as me and starting to question how am I going to keep a small child entertained all day every day for a whole six weeks?  It is a thought that is partly exciting when I think of all the new experiences and all the new things he will learn before starting school again in September but then the other part is wondering what are we going to do and how many times am I going to hear “I’m bored!”    We can’t be doing grand activities and trips every day as that’s just not feasible so sometimes it comes down to making staying at home fun and exciting.

Thinking back to my summer holidays as a child I only really remember being outside, riding around on bikes or doing somersaults down the steep slope in the front garden.  Nowadays it seems things have changed a bit and kids can’t play out as freely as we used to be able to. I’m hoping though that if the weather stays as it is right now, the garden will be the place to be.  We have a plain and simple swing out there at the moment but I’m wondering whether a small climbing frame or slide could be a good addition for the summer. Of course there are plenty of other games and activities for the garden that don’t have to involve any fancy equipment. Maybe a paddling pool could be a good idea? Actually, yes, I think I’ve just convinced myself of that, a paddling pool with some toys and maybe a water gun could lead to hours of self initiated play and if that means I can read the paper and enjoy a cold drink outside while I’m supervising then I will be happy too, though no doubt a splash here and there will also be included!  I’m always looking for ideas of simple games or activities that don’t involve too much preparation or equipment. I found a little list here of garden games which are the sorts of things I think I will be doing this summer – something creative, fun and involve a lot of running around to tire them out! Any other garden play suggestions would be greatly appreciated!



Deciding that the computer was getting too much attention we decided to give Alistair a sabbatical from it for a while.  Expecting him to find it a hard ship we thought that we had a bargaining tool to enable some kind of control over him – but no my crafty son decided that he had enough of playing Cbeebies  games and quite like the old fashioned activities that require the input of an adult or an other unsuspecting grown up who couldn’t a valid excuse as to why they couldn’t play with him.

This is when I was introduced to the new craze of Loom Bands – now obviously my five year old son was not going to sit for hours trying to work out how to loop these teeny tiny bands together to make a bracelet – no that was my job.  I looked at the instructions and held the tiny crochet needle in my hands and decided to discard them and do them my own way.  Now Alistair has twenty bracelets and keeps ordering that I make more so that he can have more than his friends, needless to say I am looking forward  to the school banning the pesky things so that I don’t have to keep looping elastic bands together for the rest of my life!

Another thing that my son enjoys over any pieces of technology is playing with other children, he thoroughly enjoys the time we spend in the king George V playground next to the school in Allithwaite.  The playground is cherished by the local community and has a very active committee that keeps it well maintained and safe for the children to play in.  Just recently they organised a Cross Bay walk to raise money to replace a basket swing destroyed by a fallen tree.  Hopefully the money required will be raised soon and the local playground equipment company Playdale will be able to replace the swing for us and fill the empty space in the playground.

cross bay walk

Alistair is really god at climbing up things but seems to require my assistance when it is time to get down and it attracts the attention of all of the other children who think he is cute and needs rescuing.  Luckily he is a slight child and still light enough for me to catch – I don’t know what I will do when he develops a huge appetite – I will just have to put a sleeping bag at the top of the slide and feed him until he is big enough to get down himself.  The issue is that he doesn’t like the green and red tube slide in the playground and refuses to come down it – if he did it would only take a second for him to get down without all of the unnecessary fuss.

allithwaite playground

I must stop procrastinating as I have orders for three bracelets and have to go and get my pesky son from the top of the slide – why can’t he be just a little bit more fearless instead of anticipating potential dangers?

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September 2014
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