Lockdown Life

Well, what a mixed bag of emotions these last few weeks have been.

I just wanted to write a little about what we’re going through right now, especially as it is so totally unprecedented. People keep saying that we’re living through history and it is so true. What is happening now would have never crossed our minds a few months ago. Even now, living through it, some of it is hard to believe.

On the whole the children are coping really well. They obviously don’t get the gravity of the situation but they do know that it’s not right, that things are out of the ordinary. And even though they are happy enough at home, we are having the occasional outburst or meltdown, telling us that their little brains are trying to comprehend the unusual situation they are facing.

Our quarantine began before the schools closed because Miss C was displaying symptoms. (She’s absolutely fine by the way but we adhered to the rules.) But because the schools then closed while we were off, it was as if they didn’t even get a chance to say ‘goodbye’ to anyone. Their teachers, friends etc.

It was very abrupt and quite a big change for them which is why, I think, I found it difficult at first.

Did I cry a little when I hung their clean uniforms in the wardrobe, knowing they won’t be wearing them anytime soon? Yes.

Am I grateful for the fact that we’re all here, together, safe? Absolutely.

But this variety of different feelings is what I’m experiencing at the moment and it can change from day to day.

We’re all fine, we have each other and a nice place with a garden to live. But we are missing our friends and family so much, it’s very difficult.

And I’m having to tell myself frequently that on bad days it’s ok to feel a bit down. Because at first I felt guilty for feeling anything but grateful as there are so many people worse off than us.

I think that’s true in everyday life though, even before this situation. Whatever you are going through, there is always someone better off and there is always someone worse off.

We are who we are and we have what we have. And despite what other people think and say, my feelings are completely valid! It’s what I would tell anybody else and it’s what I have to keep telling myself!

This also includes the children.

When one of them is struggling and having a bad day, I’m trying so hard to remind myself that no matter how loud or frustrating it is, their feelings are still valid. We’re still encouraging channeling it correctly, ie, not lashing out and hurting, but of course they’re going to be struggling from time to time with everything that’s going on! If we are, they certainly are.

I’m not saying I always get it right either. When my patience is tested to the absolute limit I can lose my temper as well but luckily if I’m encouraged to walk away and take a breath, it helps. In that way my husband is very good and we are doing well at spotting each other’s triggers.

Myself and my husband are both doing roughly one day every 2/3 weeks in work so we are literally here most of the time. He works from home whereas I don’t but he still has a lot of time to spend with us.

In some ways it’s been brilliant, obviously, quality time, family games etc. But then we are physically together all day long! So to say that sometimes we get on each other’s nerves would be an understatement. That’s where we have to be aware and make sure that each of us gets some time to ourselves, even if only for ten minutes.

Learning-wise we’re pretty much doing what we’ve always done in our family which is to follow the children’s lead. We’ve always encouraged independent learning as much as possible and lots of learning through play. If the girls suggest an activity or express an interest in a particular theme we go along with it. Our role is to try and provide an environment full of music, culture, art, books, household responsibilities, technology, easily accessed toys and tools etc

I know this is not for everyone, and it’s nothing to do with the lockdown, it’s just how we’ve always done it and I’m a firm believer that it works. The more interested they are in something, the more they’ll want to do it and it’s always proved true with us. It hasn’t ever affected their schooling, in fact in some ways I believe it’s enhanced it. I want them to have a love of learning and not be fearful of it or find it too much of a chore.

Having my husband here means they are getting access to things that they probably wouldn’t have with just me. I’m ok with arts and crafts, baking and books etc but he sometimes takes it to the next level and him and Miss A actually built a pretend plane in the garden using bits of old wood last week. It was big enough for the three girls to fit in and they loved it.

We’re spending lots of time outdoors and when we made a little list of ‘lockdown rules’ it included making sure we get fresh air every day, whatever the weather, and we’ve stuck to it. Although we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather so far. The first week of isolation (in March) gave us an early summer.

I don’t know how long this will last and I don’t know what problems it will pose for us as a society. I do know that focussing on those kinds of questions all the time isn’t healthy, though, and we’re trying to take it one day at a time.

I also couldn’t finish this post without mentioning social media and the positives that it has brought to the lockdown. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like living through something like this and not seeing or speaking to our friends and family at all. The virtual kindness and community spirit that I am witnessing on an almost daily basis is so heart warming.

People are reaching out more than they ever did during their usual busy lives and families are in better contact, even if they can’t be with each other physically.

Yes, it is hard, but phone calls, video calls, group chats, online quizzes, group activities and games nights etc are definitely helping. Sharing family projects, videos, dances have all been really good fun too and are forcing us to make time for things that we may not have done before. We are still, thankfully, in good contact with people, in some ways more than ever.

So until we know what will happen, until the lockdown ends and things start to change, I’m going to embrace this weird situation as much as I can.
Even with their little annoyances, these are some of my favourite people in the whole world so if I’m stuck with anyone, at least it’s my lovely little family.

I’ll encourage, love, comfort (and probably annoy them a little, too) each day and try and remember that when the world stopped, my little family thrived!

A Protective Hand

We were taking a walk through the park this morning and I thought it would be good for baby to stretch her legs. She’s been ill for over a week now and just starting to recover, she definitely needed a bit of fresh air.

Little Miss A was happily skipping ahead and taking in her surroundings, as befitting her character. The rest of us were strolling along behind.

The path we were on was relatively safe and after we took her out of the pram, we let baby walk completely by herself. She loved it!

A few minutes later Miss C, our little mother hen was by her side and holding her hand. She was so patient with her as she was guiding her along.

It was only after I suggested that we let baby walk unaided again for a few minutes that I noticed a change in Miss C. She suddenly became anxious.

Off baby GG went, happy as anything but the first time she looked even slightly unsteady, our eldest was there holding her hand. We reassured Miss C that the baby would be ok and asked her to let go again but it only lasted for another two seconds and she was back by her side. She kept saying things like, “oh, she’s going fast”, and “I just don’t want her to fall!”

We kept asking her to step back, explaining that that’s how babies learn. She kept jumping towards her and grabbing hold of her.

It was a side to her that we’d never really seen before. We know she loves her and we know she is caring but this was real protection. This was a genuine fear of her sister hurting herself and, while we mostly don’t like seeing our children worry, something about this struck a chord.

It was a tiny glimpse into what kind of big sister she is going to be in the future.

Protective, loving, possibly a little worried. A kind and caring role model and friend.

And for all their bickering and falling out, I do know that when it comes down to it, she’s the same kind of protective sister for little Miss A as well.

I truly hope that it lasts for always. That the sisterly bond and fierce love follows them through their lives.

Today was about not falling over and bruising a knee. I hope they will all carry on through life protecting each others hearts in the same way.

One minute more

I nursed you and you fell asleep
Nestled in my arms, not making a peep
I pictured your bed in the room next door,
But I held you, for just one minute more

When you were sick and feeling low
You asked me to carry you, gentle and slow
We walked upstairs to your bedroom door,
But I held you, for just one minute more

On days when I’m busy with lots to do
You often ask me to play with you
I should always try to get down on the floor,
And be with you, for just one minute more

When bedtime looms and we’re tidying up
When tiredness hits and we’re all fed up
I promise I’ll try to stay calm and sure
And chat with you, for just one minute more

On days when the house is just falling apart
And the big list of jobs is ready to start
I need to remember as you implore
To be patient with you, for just one minute more

For you are growing in front of my eyes
Times with babies and children just flies
I’ll cherish these times when you’re two, three and four
And hold onto you, for just one minute more

For no matter what happens, I want you to know
You’ll always be loved, despite how much you grow
And there is no problem on earth, I am sure
That we cannot sort with just one minute more

So please just remember, my beautiful child
The joy that you give me, the way that I smile
For you will remain in my heart evermore
As I cuddle you now, for just one minute more

Capturing the moment

I was on Facebook last night and I saw one of those posts that ask you to ‘share the 9th picture in your camera roll’, and out of sheer curiosity, I found mine.

It was a picture taken yesterday morning of our Miss C. The picture summed her up completely, in one shot.

She was sitting in front of the Christmas tree in her new onesie reading one of her new books. It made me stop and think as I looked at it.

We sometimes take for granted these children and where they are. We’re with them every single day and their interests and talents are our normal. We barely notice the changes, the ‘new’ because it’s a gradual process but when I looked at the picture I realised how much I wanted to celebrate where she is right now and write it down.

This time last year she wasn’t reading little novels by herself, in fact it was around last January that we started reading them aloud to the girls, a chapter a night. This time next year she will have changed again so as we begin to say goodbye to 2019 I just want to capture my three babies right now, right where they are.

It would be fair to say that Miss C is somewhat of a bookworm. She often takes herself off somewhere quiet and reads. She reads aloud to herself and sometimes to her younger sisters but these last few months she has also started silent reading in her head.

New books as presents for her is always a winner.

She also loves to write. Her writing is one of her passions. She writes stories, plays, songs, and fills notebooks with her creative ideas regularly.

Miss C does still play with her dolls and her toys, her imagination is one of the things that makes her who she is and most of the time there is a narrative, and plots and characters. These sometimes run so detailed that it’s hard to pull her out of them and consequently we have houses and tea parties and shows set up in her bedroom for days.

She is enrolled in a dance school and has so far done three shows/showcases with them which she absolutely loved!

She is so creative and her ideas are wonderful. She constantly amazes us with what she comes up with.

But mostly, Miss C is a very kind girl. There is a kind of natural maternal instinct there which makes her instantly attracted to younger children, particularly babies and toddlers and she has a lot of patience and time for our baby GG.

She is sweet and calm and it is never really her first choice to engage in noisy or physical play, but she does from time to time with her sisters or cousins.

I would definitely say that our Miss C is caring and creative. Those two words sum her up perfectly.

I then wondered what the first picture in my camera roll of little Miss A (on her own) was, and when I found it, that also was a typically perfect picture of her.

It was on a family walk from four days ago and she was wearing her all-in-one waterproof and fully embracing the wet and the cold.

That’s the thing about her, the elements don’t bother her, they never have. She loves being outside, in any weather.

Little Miss A is adventurous, fun and extremely independent and although she can be shy from time to time when surrounded by lots of people, in other situations she is still fearless.

She enjoys being able to do things for herself, including her new accomplishment of washing her own hair. Little Miss A takes pride in mastering new skills and only asks for help when she’s in a particularly cuddly or affectionate mood.

She likes to be physically active, goes to a gymnastics class and can usually be found doing forward rolls and handstands in the living room at least once a day.

She, like her big sister is very creative but in different ways. She likes to make models and pictures using things from her craft box. She can easily spend hours sitting at the table engrossed in her latest creation and really works hard down to the finest little detail.

She is very loving and gives the best hugs with her arms wrapped tightly around our necks.

Little Miss A is adventurous and pretty awesome really. That’s the way we would describe her.

Finally, we come to our gorgeous little baby GG. A pure and absolute joy!

Honestly, the most recent picture of her is from last night, when she woke up and I brought her downstairs and she fell back asleep on me. She is the most cuddly little baby and such a mummy’s girl. She has also slept on me and in our bed much more than the older two ever did! Maybe it’s because I know she’s the last one and I know they’re not babies for long. But I’m enjoying her so much.

That’s not the picture I’m going to share. It’s beautiful but doesn’t sum her up. I’m going to use one from boxing day when we were visiting family and she got one of her new toys. I just want to try and capture the complete and utter happiness she brings us.

Our baby is at that adorable toddler stage where her language is starting to develop and we have a lot of cute ‘uh ohs’ when she drops things and ‘quack quacks’ and ‘all gone’ and sweet names for her sisters etc. She also regularly hugs toys close to her chest with an accompanying ‘ahhh’ noise, so sweet.

Little traits of personality are creeping through daily and she is a playful and happy little baba.

She will sit with you and build with blocks and do jigsaws but she’s happiest when she’s being chased or when she’s chasing someone else. Her laugh is infectious and her squeals of delight just heart warming.

She’s our bundle of curiosity and although her inquisitive nature makes her exhausting at times, we’re laughing more and have bigger smiles, just because she’s here.

Baby GG, our gorgeous and giggly girl.

Who knows what this next year and next decade will bring. I know there will be changes and I know there will be highs and lows. But right now, this is where we are.

We have three girls, aged six, five and one. This is who they are at the moment and I just wanted to mark it down so we’ll remember in years to come.

Happy new year to everyone from the five of us!

Thank you for reading. Xxx

And then there were five…

This is the first post I have written in around ten months. Lots of things have happened to our family recently, some good, some bad, some heartbreaking, but I’ve decided to write a post about the most positive one; the birth of our third baby girl!

Yes, our Miss C and little Miss A are now the proud big sisters of our little baby GG.

We are now a family of five.

We have suddenly been thrown back into the world of nappies, night feeds and prams. We have rattles and baby toys in the house again and have just bought a new high chair.

A way of life that we haven’t seen in four years is back, and yet, more familiar than we thought.

It all just becomes second nature again really, even though it has been a while. You forget how little they are when they’re first born, that’s for sure, but everything else isn’t that foreign at all.

The one thing that’s different this time around is the fact that this baby has two very helpful, very interested and very affectionate older sisters. A five-year-old and a four-year-old who just adore her and find everything about her fascinating.
(we do have to reign them in at times, I think they forget she’s not a doll, but for the most part they’re great with her).

I know little Miss A had an older sister when she was born but at eighteen-months-old, Miss C wasn’t really aware what was happening and she didn’t interact with her as much, other than to occasionally stroke her face and say ‘baba’.

This time it’s different. This time has been a great learning experience for them, from the pregnancy and when we first told them, the scan pictures and baby kicks, from the feeding, the cuddles and baby cries to now, sharing their lives with a beautiful five-month-old sister who is learning and changing every day.

I also now have a different favourite sound and it’s baby laughter. Not just any baby laughter, but the kind of giggles that you hear when you’re not even in the room and you know that it’s her older sisters making her laugh. It’s beautiful to hear!

And now we’re just on the cusp of the weaning process which Miss C and Miss A are very excited about. They’re already talking about who will sit next to her at the table and who will feed her. Which finger foods of theirs they’ll be able to share with her etc and I’m as excited for them as much as I am for baba. (though I do also realise each mealtime is going to take twice as long to clean up once we get going!)

We are walking with a pram again which is great, going out with a girl holding on to each side is lovely. Also, great for storing coats and bookbags when it’s time for school run!

Night times are still hit and miss. Baby GG has her first tooth now and there are definitely more on the way. This doesn’t make for uninterrupted nights, however, I am reminding myself that she is only very small, nearly six-months-old and for the amount of time she does sleep through for her age, we really can’t complain. Plus I’m back to that stage of sitting up in bed with her and feeding her in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping and feeling like it’s the two of us against the world. As if me and my baby are the only people awake and it’s me that she’s looking to for comfort. These days can be so tiring yet comfortingly beautiful.

We feel like Baby GG is a little miracle and such a lovely blessing in our lives, especially after everything that happened to us last year. I, for one, am certainly not taking her for granted.

So now begins the next phase in our family. Now begins a life with three children and even more stuff to remember each time we leave the house. And I’ll hopefully, even with less time, be able to share our adventures on here.

In the meantime, our noisy home is louder, our bedtimes are later, our list of jobs is bigger than ever, and we feel like we’re richer than we’ve ever been before!

Welcome to the world, our beautiful baby girl. I’m sure your two sisters are already filling it with sunshine.

Little Hands 

Little hands playing hard, grasping, grabbing and turning 

Little hands exploring things, practicing and learning 

Little hands that do things that maybe they shouldn’t do

Ripping and drawing, messing up, learning like me and you

Little hands holding mine, gripping with such affection 

Little hands trusting me, strengthening our connection 

Little hands getting dirty, investigating outside 

Little hands getting stronger, letting children expand their minds

Little hands creating, covered up with paint and glue

Little hands imagining and designing something new 

Little hands gripping, pulling little bodies up high

Little hands giving confidence, just as if they could reach the sky

Little hands eating, taking food up to mouths so small 

Little hands working to allow bodies to grow up tall

Little hands loving, gently holding precious things 

Little hands looking after and enjoying what new life brings 

Little hands lying still, all cosy in their bed

Little hands so quiet and calm, resting by a little head 

Little hands that one day won’t be so very small

Little hands that grow and change, right in front of us all

Little hands that I treasure, holding on while I have the chance

Little hands that swing and twirl, sharing in another dance 

Little hands and little hearts, children that I adore 

Little hands and little smiles 

Little girls that make my heart soar

“When she grows up…..” 

I often look at my children and think, ‘I bet they’ll be (insert adjective here) when they grow up’, or, ‘she’s going to be so….’. I’m sure you get the idea. 
I do it all the time. 
I say it to my husband, to my family, mostly to myself, but I’m actually trying to stop saying it quite as frequently. The reason being; I’m trying to enjoy their childhood. 

I think it’s fairly natural to think about their future. As parents we want what’s best for them and a part of that is trying to lay the groundwork now. Their character and their personalities, although innate, are still being slightly moulded by us, their parents and caregivers. Their interests and their talents are encouraged and their early education is everything they know from home. Of course we ponder upon how it will affect them. I know I certainly question the things that we do and wonder if it’s enough. 

I also think about their physical appearance. Miss C is getting taller and taller by the day, she has quite long legs, it stands to reason that she’ll be tall as an adult. And their hair. I wonder if it will change colour again and will it stay curly or straight. Will they like it or will they change it? 

Some of this may resonate with you, some of it may seem crazy, but it’s what I do. 

I realised earlier though, if I’m thinking about their adulthood now, then they’re going to be adults in my head for a lot longer than they will be in reality. When they’re all grown up (because let’s face it, it’s going to happen) I’m sure I will be trying to remember them as small children. 
So instead of thinking about what is to come, what will be happening but hasn’t actually happened yet and won’t for a while, I’m going to try thinking of them now. 
As they are. 
My two girls, aged two and four who are chatty and imaginative. My little helpers, my little painters, my messy, mucky, playful and inquisitive little girls. 

Why wonder what they will look like in years to come, they’re beautiful now. Their hair is crazy in the morning and messy at the end of a day full of playing and running. One girl lets me tie it up and doesn’t touch it, the other takes bobbles and clips out within minutes. 

These are the things to concentrate on and enjoy so I can remember when they’re not so little anymore. 

Yes, they’re both getting taller, but they still fit on my knee. They still fit in my arms when I carry them upstairs at the end of a tiring day. They may be growing out of their clothes but it’s still me that will choose the replacements. I’m sure their own shopping days will come, but not yet. I can enjoy taking them now and buying little shorts and summer dresses with them. 

I don’t want to wish this time away. People say it all the time, “it goes so quickly, before you know it they’re leaving school”. 

I’ve realised there are certain things I can do to make the time with them not go as fast, and enjoying the ‘now’ is one of them. Taking in their smiles, listening to their questions, laughing at their little jokes and funny dances. 

I don’t know when certain things are going to stop, either. The other day we were sitting around the table eating our dinner and I suddenly realised that both girls were on chairs. No high chairs, no booster seats, just simple dining room chairs. When did that happen?! 

Things change before we realise, missing the past and anticipating the future means we don’t appreciate what’s right before our eyes. It’s true, childhood is so short in comparison to the rest of our lives, growing up is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy how they are now, as grumpy or as giddy as they may be. 

So I’ve started taking a few minutes during each day just to stop and take in the scene. I’ll turn round and look at them in their car seats, I’ll sit for a moment and watch them play. I peep round doorframes as they’re engrossed in their games and I close my eyes and breathe in the scent of them as they wrap their arms around me. 

Just to witness them in those moments helps me to realise exactly where we are, exactly what our little family is like and exactly how blessed I am to have them. 

(the tantrums, the tiredness and the messing around at bedtime, I’m not sure about hanging onto those moments. But still, I guess it’s still a picture of where we are right now) 

‘When they grow up’ I hope they have happy memories of their childhood and their time spent at home, and I hope they have a mummy who savoured every second of it. 

They are children, they are four and two. We have a lifetime ahead of us yet.