Friday, 6 September 2013

End of Holidays and Back to School


I overheard a snippet of a conversation between two mums from school this morning as I was stomping back home, the black cloud that was following me matched the ones spitting rain down on me and Pip as we walked. It was a snippet that lifted the black cloud instantly from my shoulders and put a little spring back in my step. This is what I heard:

"It gets to a point when you can't see any of the good anymore and you just hear yourself moaning all the time. It's just "Clean your teeth" or "Tidy your room". It just feels like you focus on the bad all the time"

I heard this conversation after a stressful morning which involved Katie systematically irritating everyone in the house for some reason known only to herself and we were late for school because Pip decided to do a poo in his nappy at 8:43am. I had virtually dragged an annoyingly slow-walking Katie by her hand to school and we arrived dead on 9am. Phew! I have not yet been so late that we've had to sign the late register. I felt irritable, sticky and grumpy as Pip and I left the school playground.

Hearing regular mums having this conversation isn't a revelation really. We know that we are not the only ones having a difficult time with our children.  We know we aren't the only broken record in the street, hearing our voices say the same things over and over again, but hearing that sort of conversation at the right moment, on the right day, can feel like a breath of fresh air on an otherwise rainy and muggy day.

I will confess that I am glad that the school holidays are over.  The holidays felt at least a week too long if I'm being honest.  We aren't a family that thrives on a lack of routine and "going with the flow" and I'm not someone who thrives on having no "me" time at all (my back almost seized up from lack of yoga). Katie's behaviour has regressed since Pip joined us so having free time for her means finding as many ways to get into trouble as is humanly possible.  I thought we had moved on from this behaviour.  We had a few blissful months earlier this year when she would sit quietly and draw, the need to find naughty things to do having left her mind in favour of finally learning how to occupy herself with her imagination.  Sadly the arrival of Pip has regressed this particular new found joy (on my part) back to her former "can't leave her alone for a second" method of self occupation.  Katie thrives on gaining attention, any attention will do.  At her worst she will spend her entire day just finding ways to annoy everyone.  It's like she's on a mission.  She gets a glint in her eye that means that the day will end in tears, for everyone.  She loves to annoy Pip and is testing her strength against him. He seems to cry very quickly if they are left alone together for even a short time so I have to watch them all the time.  Sometimes she will be really helpful and sweet.  She will go and get his toothbrush and put toothpaste on it without me even asking or she will give him a little cuddle and tell him she loves him but it can turn on a dime and, before you know it, she will be pushing him over.  Much of this is normal sibling stuff but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with and the intensity of the holidays left me with a knot in my stomach that was making me feel physically sick and making me feel like a very miserable Mummy.


This was our first holiday period as a family of four and the most time the children have spent together since Pip arrived.  Katie hasn't really had a lot of time with Pip because she's been at school since he arrived.  It's all a big adjustment and we are still very much in our early days stage.  We couldn't do our usual overseas holidays because Pip is not yet legally adopted and is unable to have a passport.  Daddy had some time off but it is difficult finding entertainment that suits a 10 month old baby and a 5 year old girl.  Pip is crawling and walking around the furniture. He is happy just spending the day doing that and he also needs his naps.  I would have liked to have spent more time at home but I find Katie easier to manage if we're out of the house and doing something energetic.  Katie can influence the mood of the house enormously both positively and negatively so it can feel like the walls are closing in on me if we're home all day and she is in what I call a "pickle belly" mood.  Pip, bless him, has to fit around what works best for the entire family. He's being rewarded this week though with a week totally at home with lots of crawling and exploring the house.

Don't get me wrong, we've had good times over the holidays.  We've had lots of days out with friends and been to country parks and had picnics; we've looked after my neighbours kittens (one of which will be joining us at the end of this month - yes I know, I know, I'm totally mad!); we've sloshed in wellies in the local lakes; we've had playdates; we've done the reading challenge at the local library; we've baked cakes; we've snuggled and watched films. It was a real juggle with the age gap though.  We've crammed a lot in but there has always been the start of an argument just sitting there, waiting for its moment to pounce. Like the mothers were saying, it's easy to lose sight of the good stuff and just focus on the negatives.

I booked Katie into a couple of camp days.  I wrote about her experience at gymnastics camp during the holidays and she also attended a street dance camp which she thoroughly enjoyed.  I have learned that I need to book her into activities for part of the holidays, for both our sanity. I love my daughter but we need time apart from each other. I need time to rebalance myself and access my calmer parenting techniques.  I found myself shouting far too many times over the holidays. I don't like shouting or feeling aggressive but, boy, does parenting bring that out in you.  As a result I spent most of the holidays feeling like a crap parent.  I don't really have many people in my life that I could access support from; things like some childcare time, so we have to pay for any time off and as the holidays progressed I started to feel overwhelmed and in need of some support.


As a result of all the angst I feel like I missed how Katie was feeling about starting Year 1. I noticed she stepped her challenging behaviour up a notch over the last week of the holidays. Sadly I was so hormonally challenged during that last week that I was focusing on just getting through the week. I missed that she was anxious, because children just don't come out and say "Hey Mum, I'm really worried about starting Year 1". No they get grumpy and stressy and drive you to the point of explosion.  They decide not to go to bed; they refuse to clean their teeth; they run away and hide every time you call them; they are rude and belligerent; they thump and kick and shout.  I'm obviously supposed to be able to read all the sub-text in this behaviour and think "Aaaaah she's worried about starting Year 1!".

The penny did finally drop after a big argument and Katie cried in my arms.  She was worried about being in a new class away from some of her friends (they've all been split up because they are little buggers pickles together) and she was worried about her wobbly tooth coming out at school.  It's all been OK though.  She has been to school for the past 4 days and come home smiling.  I've made sure she was with friends and sat at the table with paper and pencils etc to join in with the drawing. I've had a chat with her teacher and, as luck would have it, one of her friends lost a tooth yesterday at school so Katie is feeling a little less anxious about the whole tooth coming out at school thing.

I've had a lovely 4 days with just Pip.  He's been exploring the kitchen and I've been running behind him slowly Pip-proofing the space. I've also done yoga every day whilst he naps and I feel like I'm healing a bit. My head feels a little calmer. The migraine that developed last week is slowly diminishing.  I've got more patience again for the times when Katie is home and being challenging.  I feel like I'm giving her more quality time when we're together.  I feel like I'm regaining some perspective over everything and. just as the autumn is arriving and the country starts to prepare for its annual hibernation (or maybe an Indian Summer if the weather reports are to be believed), I feel like I am coming out of a self-imposed shell and am rebuilding myself.

And on that note I can hear my yoga mat calling me.......






16 comments:

  1. Sounds like you're starting to catch up with yourself and get on top of things again. Sorry to hear it's been stressful over the hols, but pleased things are coming back together now.

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    1. I had the best yoga session in a long while yesterday and felt like I connected with myself again. I'm hoping that I can build on that and find my smile again. A visit to the hair salon helped that a bit as well xx

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  2. Ooh it does sound like you're having a stressful time. I love how you are so honest with your posts. All I've heard and seen at the gates and on Facebook is how mummies are missing their little darlings so it was a relief to hear from a mum (who as it turns out is becoming a really good friend) that she was very relieved to get the holidays over with and that her little girl (birth child) is behaving like a stroppy teenager - made me feel much better.

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    1. I've decided that all the mums that say that they miss their little darlings when the holidays are over are either liars or in denial LOL

      OK only joking but it is nice when we find other people who aren't skipping in the daisies singing "tra la laaaaaa" during the holidays!

      I've come to realise that I'm not the most creative person especially when I'm tired and these holidays exposed all of that a lot. I am only just starting to feel myself again after the adoption process and I could have done without the holidays when they arrived because I was just so tired and uninspired. It didn't help that we have few childcare options and leaving Pip at the moment isn't really an option anyway because he's struggling when I'm not there. I think I'll just chalk it up to experience and see what the next holidays brings.

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  3. I'm so like you, I am by far the best parent I can be when we are not together all the time. I dread the holidays and this last one has not been great. It sounds like you've managed it all brilliantly, organising things and keeping you all occupied. Enjoy your yoga now you have a bit of time back.

    Thanks for joining in #WASO x

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    1. Thank you for saying that Sarah. It's good to hear other people say that. I do need some "me" time otherwise I find all the less desirable aspect of my character start to manifest. The holidays really highlighted that for me. I'll need to think how I manage that over the next big holidays. x

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  4. Wow your description of Katie here sounds just like baby girl. She will irritate everyone on purpose, will find something naughty to do if I take my eye off her for even 30seconds! She's been like this for over a year now, it's exhausting isn't it!
    I to am glad that schools back on, I also need some 'me' time, and in 7 weeks i've have about 10 minutes! So glad to know I'm not alone but sorry you've struggled to:/

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    1. You're right, it is exhausting. We've had another morning of it this morning and I felt like I could barely speak to her on the way to school. Early bedtime for missy tonight I think.

      I've realised that I need to build some "me" time into the holidays. Now I just need to work out how..... LOL x

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  5. Once again I have enjoyed reading your blog. I am glad that you are (in your words) rebuilding yourself and I hope this continues over the coming days and weeks.

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    1. Thanks! I felt almost human yesterday. Shame I came back from the hair salon at 7:20pm to a hyper Katie who was waiting for me (she'd normally be in bed before then) so the evening degenerated. Still it showed me that I just need to keep going with the quiet time for a while longer. x

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  6. Sounds like a busy and exhausting and great...and exhausting! summer:)
    Glad you are getting back to yoga and taking some you time. (That last quote is one of my favorites:)

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    1. I've learned not to underestimate the power of yoga over the years. My practice hasn't been so good this past year after a bout of anaemia which left me tired but I do feel so much better after even 30 mins. It's the best "me" time I've found I must say. x

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  7. I'm pretty sure that every parent in the world secretly looks forward to the end of the holidays . . . those facebook posts about how much they are missing their darlings are written through the rose-tinted spectacles of hindsight :) It's so much easier to miss someone when they aren't actually there, iykwim! I have plenty of friends who home educate and even they will admit to relishing those times when the kids are off somewhere else from time to time. We love our children, but everyone needs a break sometimes.

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    1. I think you've said it all very well indeed and I totally agree with every single word! I've learned that I'm not a mum who can spend every second with her children. That was a hard lesson after 15 years of infertility and dreaming about the sort of mum I would be. Lesson learned though and now I'm working out how I can get the best of both worlds without winning the lottery ;) xx

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  8. well done for surviving the holiday marathon - enjoy your me time when you get it and hope Katie settles quickly in her new year group.

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    1. Thanks you! She seems to be settling down a bit now. Big transition for her and she's been really missing her friend. We didn't realise just how much until term started again. x

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