23 July 2014

The Final Curtain

As the final curtain falls on another school year, I've spent a little time reflecting on the last 10 months. Like most homes, we tend to start every school year full of enthusiasm for the new teacher/classroom/friends/pencil case (remember that simple pleasure?!) that September brings. There's usually a lull somewhere in the middle (the February slump) and we return for a final crescendo of craziness towards the end. This year was no exception.

For The Tween, September 2013 began with the introduction to a new school - secondary school no less. School has never been The Tween's favourite place. Right from those early days, given the choice, she would prefer to stay at home with me. The one and only thing that has ever drawn her to school is friendships; they mean everything to her. But when those close relationships hit a bump in the road or the form teacher is not to her liking, her enthusiasm plummets through the floor. 

One advantage for The Tween is that her older sister has always gone before her. But that's such a 'parent' thing to say isn't it? For a younger sibling, this is never seen as a good thing! Right from the off we were at loggerheads - The Tween was adamant that she would be making the secondary school decision, her main criteria being it would be wherever her sister wasn't!  

Respecting her right to the same experiences and choices as her sister, we trawled all of the secondary schools in our area. She was drawn to an all-girls, high-achieving school which some of her friends would be going to; I wasn't keen. I had already witnessed the after-effects of those pre-teen girlie fall-outs and adding hormones into the mix seemed like a recipe for disaster! To cut a very long story short, she finally chose her sister's school and we were all happy.

The summer holidays came and went and as September loomed, I wasn't at all sure how The Tween would fare at secondary school. I had no worries about her making friends or being able to stand up for herself but I was having recurring nightmares about the fight over getting homework done, forgotten PE kits and the early morning grumpiness. Being a rather anxious child by nature, I watched closely as the countdown drew nearer to 'lift off'.

Ten months on and I have been completely astounded by the way she has coped with year 7. So much so that I wanted to write a post dedicated to The Tween, more as a memory than anything else.....

  • She has grown up beyond recognition. We have watched her take full responsibility for everything to do with school: homework (suffering the consequence if she forgets it), possessions (she has surprised us all by only forgetting her PE kit once!) and behaviour. 
  • She has embraced all the opportunities available to her: attended gardening club (for which they won the local 'School in Bloom' competition), survived two terms of rehearsals for the school musical (performed for 5 consecutive nights in July), sung in the school choir several times and last but not least, received a prize for outstanding effort throughout the year.
  • On the few occasions that she has experienced anything slightly negative, she has confronted it head on. The most memorable instance being a well-crafted letter addressed to her form tutor. Having found the rough copy at home, it both amused me and filled me with pride when I read through all of her grievances. I really have created a mini-me here - any sniff of an injustice and she's on it immediately! 
  • She seems to have completely conquered her fear of sleepovers. Something which up until now, has had a very negative impact on her life. In the last 3 months she has attended more sleepovers than I can count on one hand, something which I honestly couldn't imagine ever witnessing. 
  • Her one aim has been achieved. The Tween has never particularly shone academically, mainly because she can always think of something she would rather be doing than knuckling down to school work! A few weeks ago, she mentioned that she had one aim: to move into a top set for at least one subject (she has been in the middle sets for Maths, English and French this year). Last week she brought a letter home, informing us of the excellent progress she had made in English this year, so much so that she would be moving into the top set for year 8! My goodness that girl was proud. And rightly so. It was lovely to watch her celebrate the achievement of a personal goal.

Of course we've had the typical pre-teen meltdowns to deal with and the less said about the early morning grumpiness, the better. But all in all I am one very proud mumma. Hats off to you my girl, you didn't just survive year 7, you well and truly smashed it!

How have your kids 'survived' the school year 2013/14? 
Has it been one to remember or one to close the curtain on and try to forget?

3 Children and It

Loud 'n Proud is with Secrets of the Sandpit this week. Open from Thursday-Sunday.

21 July 2014

Family Days Out - View from The Shard

This title is a bit misleading because actually it was only two-fifths of our family that had the pleasure of visiting The Shard a couple of weeks ago.  Over the years, we have developed a family tradition whereby one day per year, each child gets to spend time with us alone - their choice of venue (pretty much) and no time constraints. This particular day, happened to be the turn of The Teenager and I.

19 July 2014

The Week That Was / Project 365 Week 29

Thankfully, this week has been somewhat quieter in the 3 Children and It household. We certainly couldn't continue at the pace we were hurtling towards the end of term.

It's been another stunning week of sunshine and I'd almost go as far as saying that this week should be entitled 'Fixed' rather than last week's rather sad one of 'Broken'. The car has been fixed, my tooth has been fixed and my grey roots have been fixed - all in one week! I've also eaten out rather more times than I care to admit and whilst it's been fun, my waistline is definitely suffering. No more cake for me this week!

Anyway, here is our week in pictures (don't forget to hunt Reggie down!)....

17 July 2014

Get Good Summer

I'll be honest, the thought of 6 whole weeks (that's 42 days to be precise) without any kind of routine or time to myself, brings me out in a cold sweat. If you're a regular reader, I'm sure that this piece of information comes as no surprise! So how am I going to combat this?

Me Time

With children ranging from 9-14 years, one of the trickiest aspects of having them off school, is that their bedtimes are slowly creeping later than mine. If I'm looking for a kid-free zone it means locking myself in the bathroom or getting up at the crack of dawn, neither of which float my boat.

One way I have found to combat this source of stress, is to book in 1 or 2 evenings out per week, with friends. Nothing fancy, just a spontaneous drink at the pub, a walk or a bike ride. The kids are still up and about but I am nowhere in their vicinity and earning a welcome break.

16 July 2014

My View Right Now

Being a dog owner, I have to go for a walk ever single day. Whilst this forced habit might be good for my waistline, sometimes it is an utter bind. Especially on rainy days when my comfy sofa is calling me.

But then there are the other days. The ones when the sun is shining and I am longing to get out in the fresh air to experience the freedom of walking, to embrace nature and most of all, to enjoy some peace and quiet. On those days it is a pleasure, not a chore and that time alone really sets me up for the day (especially during the school holidays!).