Archive for November 2014


Is it my imagination or does Christmas seem to get earlier every year?  As a child I used to get so excited for Christmas that I would be sick while waiting.  Now of course I can hold my nerve and the passage of time has made me much less excited about the big event.  Now Christmas is one big to do list that must be completed by the 25th of December or else.

At the moment I am ticking off the PTA Christmas Fair list and have discovered that who ever devised the way we contribute to the stalls must be really good with money because we buy; three items for a hamper, a prize for a tombola and sweets to fill a plastic cup.  Then we buy; tickets so we can try to win a hamper, tickets to win a prize on the tombola and buy our sweets back.  On top of all of that we have to bake cakes – I think I will just buy some and sprinkle them with icing sugar.

Another to do list is making sure that I have organised Alistair’s Christmas presents so that he gets everything that is acceptable for him to have without either spoiling him or ruining his life because he didn’t get the desired piece of plastic he forgot to ask for.  I think I have got it sorted – it is just a matter of tying up lose ends. He is having more inside presents this year and maybe we will look into buying a child’s climbing frame for him next year, but you just never know what the next big thing may be.

I am in the process of trying to be really inventive with Christmas presents I buy for family members and have gone down the home made route in the past but I think people actually prefer mass produced stuff from China or really expensive items that I am not prepared to buy.  I will get there in the end and we will all pretend that we like our presents and put them away until the next Christmas Fair to be used as a raffle prize – only joking!

Christmas cards are one of those things that are becoming increasingly expensive to give – certainly you can buy loads of cards for a cheap price but the cost of a stamp just makes sending cards remarkably expensive.  Am I sounding like Scrooge yet?  I also manage to think about them in good time and then get a guilty conscience and send loads out.

Buying a present for my husband has to be the most difficult task on the planet, not only is he difficult to buy for he is also difficult to please and finds it virtually impossible to hide his disappointment when it is a bad choice.  No doubt I will probably miss the mark and choose something wholly inappropriate.

This Christmas we have decided to have a toned down affair and spend it quietly as our small family so thankfully Christmas day will not be too frantic and I will be able to spend time with my boys.


Up until last week I had never heard the phrase helicopter parent before.  Actually, that’s not strictly true. I hadn’t taken the time to really think about the term until then. Watching daytime television (if I ever have a moment to, and more often than not it’s a better idea not to) it always seems that I am bombarded with parenting advice and explanations of different parenting techniques (some extreme, some not so much). When in between doing some other odd jobs around the house I passed the TV for a moment and  heard someone say ‘helicopter parent’. It sounded like quite a lively debate so I stopped and sat myself down to hear some more for a moment.

Just in case you are unfamiliar, helicopter parents are basically mums and dads who find it very hard not to get involved with every single aspect of their child’s life. You could describe them as ‘hovering’ around their little ones (hence where the name comes from) finding it hard to take a back seat. That’s putting it quite politely I think. In other words (which the woman in opposition on the TV used) they are controlling, overbearing and overprotective.


A few helicopter parent symptoms to look out for –

  • You spoil them
  • It pains you to drop them off at school
  • You think your child is perfect in every way and take every opportunity to tell people that
  • You’re like their security guard
  • You help a bit too much with their homework (i.e do it for them so they get top marks)
  • You are the germ police
  • You try to hand pick their friends
  • You often feel guilty and give into their every desire to shelter them from negative experiences
  • You’re over prepared and plan to every last detail


It’s fair to say that most of us will have been guilty of some of the things on this list from time to time. But I know that I am not a helicopter parent. Doing a lot of the things on this list will stop your child from learning valuable lessons.  Failure and challenges are important and teach kids  new skills and also that they can indeed handle failure and challenges. They need a certain amount of independence to develop and grow in the ways they need to. I’m a pretty big believer in letting kids get on with what they want to do (within reason of course) whether that’s playing outdoors, drawing and colouring, dressing up and being creative and making choices for themselves. This builds up their confidence and is, as they say, all part of being a kid.

Anyway, that’s my little lesson learnt to keep avoiding daytime TV! I stayed watching long enough to hear that apparently helicopter parents have now been replaced by snowplough parents! We’ll save that for another post…

Sitting in a still and controlled manner can be a challenge for any young school child as you may well know yourself through personal experience (if you can remember back to your first years at school) or through having your own child whose teacher is often telling you that your little one can not sit still in class. So why can’t some kids sit still in class?

Over recent year the number of diagnosed ADHD cases has increased dramatically. Through doing some research this is due to a couple of main reasons; we are now more aware and educated about the condition and children are also now expected to sit for perhaps longer periods of time, which inevitably leads to lapses in concentration. However, some people are too quick to push the blame towards ADHD for a child’s seemingly bad behaviour. It is also the case sometimes to blame genetics or the arguably less disciplined approach to parenting nowadays compared to times past, it could be blamed on sugary breakfasts and snacks, sleep deprivation or the fact you just have a so-called ‘naughty’ child.


But could some of this be down to the fact they simply aren’t expending enough energy at other points in the day?

It is highly important not to diminish recess time in favour of classroom time, and not all schools will be getting the balance right. Nowadays, kids may not get to play outdoors as much for a number of reasons such as; parental concerns, educational pressures and restraints and also now of course we have so much technology and screen time which can often become like babysitters. But hours of television or computer games can be a bad idea, sensory over stimulation can be just as much of a hindrance as under stimulation.

Basically, children are not moving enough. Restriction of movement and not enough time spent running around and getting rid of energy can mean more fidgety children with below normal core and muscle strength. We all know the health benefits that come from playing and exploring in a playground that will stimulate their imaginations and improve their skills – physical, mental, emotional and cognitive all included. It can definitely be more difficult in these Winter months to muster the enthusiasm and energy to tear yourselves away from the TV or computer screens in favour of getting outside into the cold, puddles and wind, but even some time spent in the garden or the school’s own playground at the end of the day may make a big difference and help a child concentrate more, and not only just in classroom.  Schools need to make sure that they are allowing enough unstructured playtime during the day. And if they aren’t? Well, that can be a difficult thing to change as many will already be feeling the time pressures of fitting in all of their curriculum in the allotted lesson times. But playtime deserves to be shown the same regard as academic time.

So I guess the bottom line is if your child is coming home from school with warnings for not sitting still in class, it is by no means a reason to panic and try to get a medical diagnosis ASAP, it may be as simple of a solution as a little more playtime!  No one solution will work for every child, as we are all well aware, but it’s definitely worth a try.

These images really are incredible and go to show just how important and meaningful getting an education is to these families! Definitely makes me think how we take it for granted. Both terrifying and inspiring.

children-going-to-school-around-the-world-35 children-going-to-school-around-the-world-54 children-going-to-school-around-the-world-42 children-going-to-school-around-the-world-55 children-going-to-school-around-the-world-28

For the full set of photos click this link.

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November 2014

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