Week 1 of Lockdown

So it is Friday. We are on day 5 of having the kids home full down and 4 days since the lockdown became official and I thought I would share how it is all going. There have been some definite highs and lows.

From the start I set up a bit of a rough routine for the kids and I to follow so they have time to do their school work, time to pay and time where they are left very much to their own devices while I try to get some work done. For the most part I would say this has gone ok, though we have moved things around a bit.

Doing schoolwork

In terms of doing the work set by school, the kids have been pretty good and mostly got on with it. There have been some lovely activity suggestions that have worked for all of us and they’ve not struggled to do the work they’ve been set. At one point Leo moaned about his English and I had to show him the email from his teacher to prove it was the work he had been set!

Some activities school suggested

We’ve not only done things suggested by the school though and have done some other activities through the week. We’ve also been getting out for a walk or bike ride first thing every morning which has been lovely. The sunshine has also helped us play out in the garden a lot.

Getting out and about

Wednesday was the low point of the week. We had a lovely morning, we went out and then came back to do school work. I was trying to fast (I normally do the 5:2) and thought I was ok but then around lunchtime all went to pot. While the kids were having their lunch I set up a den in the garden and some toys and suggested that the kids play that while I was upstairs working. I also set up a short film for them. But I was met with a flat No from Leo about both and tonnes of whinging. I think hangry-ness was not helping and I completely lost the plot at them.

I had been working my bum off to get some fun activities for them and they just didn’t appreciate it. I know, I know, they are 5 and 7, and children aren’t exactly known for their empathy. Liberty wanted to play with Leo but he wouldn’t play with her so it then turned into a full meltdown from her about missing her friends and wanting to go to a playpark. Poor love is by far the most sociable of us all so she is struggling with the lack of socialising.

They both went on their kindles for a bit but when they stopped that, working while they bickered and screamed wasn’t fun. After I gave up I tried to sort a video call with her friend, which I think she enjoyed but it wasn’t the same so didn’t last long. The rest of the day just wasn’t great and I couldn’t get Liberty to enjoy anything we did so I ended the day feeling really rubbish. I did not fast successfully that day!

Thursday was a better day. I changed things around a bit and went to work later in the afternoon to see if that would help us all. We went for a long bike ride in the morning and went past a favourite playpark that is all cordoned off, and I think that helped Liberty understand I am not just being mean when I say no, we literally cannot go on a playpark. We then did loads of drawing pictures for her friends and then some baking biscuits.

Some other activities..

After lunch we got a big box out of the garage and the kids did such beautiful teamwork decorating it and turning it into a shop (ready to play with and do some maths with the following day), Liberty then splashed about in some water outside and after a shower sat on the sofa in front of the TV while I went to work. It was a much better day and a relief as Nic was at work from before 8am and didn’t get home til nearly 9pm. Solo parenting and working from breakfast to bedtime was full on. I know many parents out there are in the same boat and worse as I only have to work a couple of hours a day, but it was def full on!

Today we all woke up tired and started off as another emotional and less than ideal day. But we persisted. We have done some schoolwork, been out for a walk and sat in the garden drawing flowers which was lovely, though it was chilli this morning.

This afternoon Nic was able to spend some time at home with the kids so I could pop to the office and also to the shops to get some antibac supplies for the office. It’s a weird old world out there with 1 in 1 out at some shops and very spacious queues to get in to the shops marked by cones etc!

We’ve also been keeping active indoors by using you tube and online videos. Leo’s Karate club are doing live interactive classes every day via Zoom which has been great. There’s a lovely ballet teacher doing online live classes on instagram that Liberty has been doing too. It’s nice for them to keep up with some of the activities they would normally be doing. We also got my old Wii out of the loft for them to do dancing.

So yeah, ups and downs but very busy! It may seem like I have filled every day but there has also been times when they just played. Leo is better at doing that then Liberty is though.

Looking forward to wine and takeaway tonight, hope you’ve had a good week?

Lockdown begins

Well things certainly change quickly in these crazy days, hard to believe how quickly some times. Yesterday I was writing about the fact that we were heavily restricted compared to our normal way of life but that we were thankfully not on lockdown.

At 8.30 last night, an announcement from the PM changed that. We are now on lockdown. The rules now are:

Stay at home

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

We are allowed out once a day for exercise, which for me is a huge relief as I need time outside. I’ve heard the lockdown in Spain includes not going further than 50m from your house and the thought of that concerned me.

Otherwise, this does’t really affect our life that much, not compared to the changes we’ve already made. I am working from home so I can look after the kids and home educate them as much as possible. We have been going for a walk once a day and can still do that. Nic is going to work but otherwise we are’t seeing anyone in person. We are just seeing people on video.

It is a weird time though. Some people are scared of getting ill so don’t want to leave their homes. Some people are scared of the loss of freedoms and so are chafing to be out and living their normal life. I guess I am somewhere in between. I’m not in the at risk group so in theory shouldn’t be affected too badly by the virus, but you never know and there are young healthy people who survive it, but are hospitalised first.

If I allow myself to think about it, I’m scared of Nic and I both being hospitalised as I don’t know what would happen to the children in that scenario. It’s very unlikely but it is possible. I’m scared that one of family members or friends will get it and become seriously ill or worse. Everyone who is vulnerable is self isolating so we have to hope that is enough to prevent that.

I try not to spend time thinking about what I am scared of though, because they are largely out of my control. I am focusing instead on the things I do have control over. I’m focusing on following the rules. I’m focusing on the children, trying to keep them busy, vaguely educated, healthy and happy. I am focusing on staying in touch with our friends and family and supporting them from a distance. In my role at work I am focusing on supporting my colleagues, trying to make sure they are healthy and happy whether working from home or still in the office and making sure they have what they need.

I’m also focusing on me and Nic keeping us healthy. Hence I am so relieved we can still get out and about every day! Even though I really want to eat loads of crisps and chocolate, I am trying to carry on eating healthily. I’m trying to make sure I keep exercising, even if I can’t do the normal hikes I do with my friend (the kids would never manage one of those with me) and even though my yoga class is cancelled. Last night Nic and I found a great Pilates class on Youtube so Monday evenings we doing Pilates after the kids go to bed. I did a fab Yoga video that a friend recommended and Thursday evening is our Yoga evening (my abs need a few days to recover from these workouts lol).

At the moment we have enough food to keep us going. We have a delivery booked in for next week, but there are restrictions on the amount of certain things that you can buy, which will force us to go to the shops too. We eat a lot of eggs and because of all the panic buying of them, are only allowed to buy 3 packs of 6 at a time. On a normal day we eat 7 eggs every morning because we have scrambled eggs for breakfast. We obviously don’t have to do that so if we have to have toast or cereal for brekkie we can, but would like to keep things as normal as possible for the children and for the sake of our health. Nic’s IBS means he can’t eat bread and cereals so his breakfasts rely heavily on protein to keep him going through the day.

It’s hard to balance everything. There are restrictions on what you are allowed to buy when you go to the shops, but also restrictions on how many times you are allowed to go to the shops. It’s to make sure there is enough for everyone and I know that everyone is facing the same challenges. I guess my point is that we are trying to keep things feeling normal, but something simple like trying to buy food reminds you that things aren’t normal. At all.

Anyway that’s enough ramblings for me for today. Let’s see what the rest of today/tomorrow brings.

Life in the time of Covid-19

Sometimes life feels normal, you are doing the washing up, or playing with your kids or reading something, then something reminds you that all is not what it seems. In some ways life is the same as ever, but in others, it is barely recognisable.

Yesterday was Mothers Day. A day we have always taken for granted really. A day for families getting together, hugging, laughing end just enjoying spending time together. Not in 2020. Yesterday morning I dropped off a present on my Mum’s doorstep and stood back a few metres. They took it in with instructions to wipe it down and wash their hands. We chatted briefly across the driveway which was quite upsetting, before heading home again. Once home we had a video call where the kids gave their grandparents virtual hugs and kisses and we tried to chat as if we were in the room with them as normal.

In the afternoon we were out for a walk and popped to the bath behind my in laws, where we had a chat over the fence, maintaining a safe distance. Anything to avoid the risk of infection from this unseen enemy known as Covid19.

On our walk we also had to explain to our daughter why we couldn’t go on a play area. Not easy explaining to a 5 year old why we can’t go to a playpark, especially when we aren’t 100% sure ourselves on the guidance!

In various countries across Europe and the globe, they are on total lockdown. Not allowed out unless in emergencies or for food. Being fined for breaking the rules. We aren’t on lockdown here but we are advised to stay away from friends and family, particularly the vulnerable. We are told not to gather in groups and to stay 2-3 metres away from other people. Parks and open spaces are generally open, but now that pubs, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, clubs, cafes and shops (not supermarkets) are all closing, people are getting out where they are allowed to go. It’s a bit crazy, people should be avoiding each other but are all desperate to be out and go to the places they are allowed.

The media and social media are crossly telling people to stop being stupid and selfish and to just stay home and watch TV! Most everyone I know are staying away from everyone, then all you see on TV and in the news are pictures of incredibly busy parks and countryside. Seems bonkers!

Schools are now shut too, only opening to provide childcare for those with parents who are key workers. The government definition of this is broad but the advice is to only send your kids to school if you have no other choice. So this means that most of us are now trying to educate our kids at home while many of us also need to work too.

Social media is full of varying opinions about whether we should be trying to educate our kids or letting them have a break, with a tonne of judgement on either side. Whatever you choose will be wrong according to someone. What started off as lots of positive support online, with people sharing resources and ideas, has become a place to criticise as is so often the case on social media.

we are trying to balanced here. The school are sending work through for the kids everyday but there has to be time for play too, and exercise as at school there is a lot of playtime running around. I also have to work ad I’m fortunate I am only part time so it means I just have to do a couple of hours a day. A couple of hours where the kids are allowed their tablets, TV or whatever else they like while I work. Some days this will no doubt go better than others!

Across the globe you are hearing all sorts of things, canals and waterways in Venice turning clear, emissions being reduced across the globe. Panic buying in the UK has been mainly related to toilet roll and pasta, while in the US there has been panic buying of guns! There are humourous memes, interesting stories and downright lies spreading on social media. People are coping in such different ways to what is just a huge change to our normal way of life!

It’s a strange old time and I’m aware this is a bit of a ramble but I just want to take the opportunity to get some thoughts down while the kids are busy doing some cosmic yoga on youtube!

Ideas & Resources for being at home with the kids

I am a planner and an organiser. It’s who I am and so the thought of having the kids at home with me for an indeterminable amount of time with no plan, scares me, er, quite a lot. My pair are 5 and 7, by the way, in Reception and Year 3.

I don’t want to go mad and plan every second of the day but I know my kids and if they aren’t busy, they are bickering out of boredom. Being bored every now and then does them no harm but too much of it will stress me out. So I’m coming up with a loose plan for each day. I’ve made it changeable because I don’t know the kind of things school will send for them to learn from home, and there are online tutorials and online classes we may join so things will move around a bit. But this is my vague plan for Monday.

As for what we will do during each of these segments, some will be stuff the school sends, but here are some of the ideas I have , with links to resources where relevant.

Maths

  • Workbooks, sent from school and shop bought ones.
  • Playing shops, using change from around the house
  • Board games
  • TimesTables Rockstars. (Our school uses this so we have a log in from them, not sure if you can access without that)
  • Activity Sheets from Twinkl – you can get these for free using CVDTWINKLHELPS
  • Top Marks
  • Baking – good for measuring and weighing
  • Measuring themselves, each other, and things around the house
  • Orchard toys Activity Sheets they have Maths, English and just colouring and all sorts that you can print out

PE

  • Go Noodle Zumba
  • Joe Wicks PE at 9.30 every morning
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga
  • Walks
  • Bike Rides
  • Running laps of the garden (they run laps of the playground at school for The Golden Mile so hoping they will find this more fun than it sounds lol)
  • Ball Games in the garden
  • Other online videos on social media. I think Leo’s Karate club are doing some for members and I’ve seen a ballet teacher on Instagram doing short ballet classes. @theballetcoach

English, Phonics & Reading

  • Workbooks from school
  • Oxford Reading Owl free ebooks of colour band books
  • Phonics Play username March20 password, home – good for younger ones
  • English with Holly live tutorials all week for various ages covering
  • Activity Sheets from Twinkl – you can get these for free using CVDTWINKLHELPS they have various story writing sheets and sheets for all ages with writing, phonics and more complicated activities for older children.
  • Writing letters to friends (even if we just take photos and emailing them or messaging them if you can’t get to the post)
  • Orchard toys Activity Sheets they have Maths, English and just colouring and all sorts that you can print out
  • Scholastic has some free resources too

Art

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Chalking outside
  • Water painting outside
  • Making pictures for friends and family
  • Junk modelling
  • Virtual tours of galleries
  • Look up a famous painting and make your own version of it
  • Make mosaics
  • Sticker pictures
  • Orchard toys Activity Sheets they have Maths, English and just colouring and all sorts that you can print out

Science/Geography

  • Making Slime
  • Baking
  • Home experiments using activity sets we have in the cupboards
  • Explorify
  • Watching animals on Zoos that live stream
  • Watch some documentaries

Coding

  • Purple Mash we have a school login so again not sure if you can use without that
  • Scratch
  • BeeBot App – not sure if only Apple

This list is by no means exhaustive, I’m sure I will add things to it. there are so many groups on facebook sharing tips and ideas and resources too. Please also feel free to let know of any you find.

We are all different and for some people a much less planned approach to this situation will work best, but for me I need a plan and some ideas for what to do, and if this helps anyone else out there than that is great. I’m not going to focus on educating them all the time, I am no teacher and I want to have fun with them at home. But I do want to keep them occupied as well.

Good luck everyone!

Bringing the blog back

When I originally started this blog, way back when, it was to try and find some sanity when I made the choice to be a stay at home parent to my little ones. I loved it, but as the children grew and went to school, and I started working part time, it just wasn’t needed in the same way, so I stopped blogging.

Now, here we are in March 2020 and becoming a stay at home mum has a whole new meaning to it, thanks to the corona virus, covid-19. As of Monday I will be a mum staying at home again but also working at home and attempting to educate my children at the same time. I’ve decided to resurrect this blog again, partly to once again try and keep some sanity, but also to keep a record as these are weird and interesting times we are living in.

For the sake of posterity and for the me of the future looking back and reading this, this is where we are at.

A coronavirus, called Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. It transferred from animals to humans and affected respiratory systems, particularly in the elderly and for people with underlying conditions.   To most of the world, it seemed to be China’s problem, then it started spreading. Still, most of the world (myself included) were incredibly blasé. Then it started spreading more. Italy was particularly affected. A week or so ago (I am writing this on 20th March 2020) Italy went on lockdown to try and contain it. More and more countries have now followed suit. France has the military on the streets and is fining people who leave their homes for unauthorised purposes.

In the UK, we are not at the same levels of infection or deaths yet, however in the last week more and more measures have been taken. Anyone with a high temperature or a cough has to self-isolate for 7 days. If there is more than one person in your household you all have to self isolate for 14 days if one of you has a cough or a high temperature. The government has recommended people work from home as much as possible. We are advised not to go to bars, restaurants, clubs. Not to meet up with friends and family. The elderly, vulnerable and pregnant are being advised to self isolate for 12 weeks.

The reason for this makes sense. It is protect the healthcare system by slowing the spread of the infection. There’s a great video I will try to link to here which explains it way better than I can.

The measures have been drip fed to us over the week and now, as I think most people expected, schools are being closed to all children except those of key workers. Doctors, nurses, supermarket workers, delivery drivers.

In all honesty, it’s a scary time. I am trying to stay positive but it is hard. People have been panic buying and there are horrible stories out there of the abuse supermarket workers and schools are facing. The truth is that noone really knows where this is all going to lead and what the heck is going to happen. What is to become of the economy? All the businesses that are temporarily closing. When will children go back to school again? Exams have been cancelled, theatres closed, clubs shut down.

No-one knows so I guess panic is inevitable. But there is positivity too, so much support is out there and for my part I am trying to stay positive. I have come up with a chart to try and schedule our days, though I have made designed it to be flexible so I can move things around (I’m already thinking of ways to adjust it, and we haven’t even started the new routine yet!).

So there we are. This site hasn’t been maintained in years so there is a lot that is out of date. I’ll try and update various bits as we go and I’m not sure how much I will post but this is just a record for us really!

Anyone out there who does read this, feel free to comment and stay in touch with how things are going for you in this crazy new world.

Wray Castle in the Lake District

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will probably know that we love a good visit to a National Trust property and make the most of our membership. On our recent trip to the Lake District we visited a number of National Trust properties, and one in particular was unlike any I’ve been to. Wray Castle.PhotoGrid_1494495988682

It’s a really unusual place as unlike most National Trust properties, it was never anyone’s home. The original owner inherited a ridiculous amount of money and built this incredible mock-Gothic castle purely as a showpiece. It was used as a sort of holiday home I guess, Beatrix Potter and her family even summered here when she was a teenager. So people brought their furniture with them, and then took it away again. It was eventually inherited by a teenage boy in Lincolnshire and being wealthy already he didn’t want it (can you imagine that? Bonkers) and it was very much unloved. It has been used as offices (there are sockets all over the walls, what a fabulous place to work!) and all sorts.

So unlike most other National Trust properties it came to them empty, with no family furniture or family history, and I adore what the Trust have done with it. It is probably the most child friendly National Trust place we’ve visited, and that’s saying something as most National Trust places are quite child friendly. There is some history downstairs but as soon as you go upstairs it is all about the kids. There is a colouring room for them to colour their own crowns and the walls are decorated with framed children’s drawings. There is a story room with lovely children’s books where the walls are decorated with lovely fairytale murals.PhotoGrid_1494497213531

The next room is all about dressing up as Knights and Kings and Queens and Princesses. Most  costumes were far too big for LM but they were perfect for Monkey and we did find one dress that just about fit LM (and she does love a pretty dress), aren’t they adorable? Good childhood fun!PhotoGrid_1494497319431

Continuing through the house you come to The Peter Rabbit Adventure. A whole wing of the castle dedicated to the stories of Beatrix Potter. The kids adored this area and we could have stayed there for hours. Playing cooking and tea making in Peter’s burrow, planting and watering in Mr McGregor’s garden. Then upstairs is squirrel Nutkin’s Tree house, and Jemima Puddleduck’s nest, with yet more dressing up, as Peter and his sisters.PhotoGrid_1494497580614

It didn’t end there as there was a room filled with soft play bricks for you to build your own castle (which we all had great fun with), a room with a table tennis table, a room with a billiards table, a room dedicated to the local area with stones to build your own stone wall, and magnifying glasses for you to investigate the rings of a tree.PhotoGrid_1494497880398

Honestly, there was so much to do! When it was time for lunch we were unsure about eating our picnic outside (as it was pretty chilly) but thankfully there was an indoor picnic room on the top floor. Set up as a tea party you could play and eat in there. So after eating our yummy lunch we had fun with yet more dressing up and all enjoyed trying on the various hats available.PhotoGrid_1494498185738

With our energy restored after lunch we headed outside. The castle has some lovely grounds and woodland to explore…PhotoGrid_1494498472575

… But of course we were drawn to the fantastic adventure play area. The kids (big and small) all had a whale of a time outside.PhotoGrid_1494498631817

I think you can probably see what I was saying in terms of it being all about the kids! It is a spectacular place to see from the outside and a fantastic fun-filled place to visit. I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the Lake District with children.

Little Miss starts pre-school

Our little miss has started playgroup. Playgroup/preschool /nursery whatever you prefer to call it, 2 mornings a week LM is now in the care of some lovely childcare professionals.

I’ve known the day was coming for a while as our local playgroup take them from age 2 1/2, but then it has suddenly snuck up on me. With being away on holiday last week we have been away from a normal routine, then on his first day back at school today, Monkey has gone on a farm trip (his first proper school trip which is a big enough deal in itself), then he got a bad cough on Sunday and was quite poorly so I wasn’t 100% sure he was going.

So last night lying in bed I was suddenly thinking about the fact that my little girl, my baby, was starting preschool the following morning. It’s not like we were completely unprepared for it. She had her trial before the Easter holidays and loved it. We’ve been reading “lulu starts nursery” at bedtime and talking about how she would be going soon and she has been excited. I just don’t think I fully processed it until last night. So I had all sorts of dreams, dreams where we were late, dreams where she was upset, honestly all sorts.

But of course this morning dawned and all was fine. We weren’t late and she was excited to wear her playgroup t-shirt. She adored wearing her backpack too!PhotoGrid_1494249234077

We took (a much less poorly) Monkey to school for his trip then walked over to the playgroup. The ease of the location in relation to the school is one of the reasons for choosing this playgroup. It makes pick up and drop off so easy but also means a lot of the friends she makes here will go on up to school with her. One of her friends (who is actually about a year older) already goes here and I think that helped this morning.

We arrived and LM went straight in with no fuss. She sat down to play puzzles with her friend then we said we were going. We gave her a kiss and she waved us off quite happily with a “bye mama. ”

It did feel odd walking away without her but I have known for some time we were both ready for this. I got home and did some exercise and some cleaning and pottered about. There are always tonnes of things I can keep myself occupied with for a couple of hours. It was lovely though, too, actually. To have the house to myself. Some time to myself. It’s not like I’ve never had that, since Monkey was born, but it certainly hasn’t been a regular thing. Now it is. Now I get to have 2 mornings a week to myself, and still have the rest of the time with my girl.

I picked her up and they said she had been a star. She hadn’t been upset at all! Yippee! She played with her friend a lot of the time, but not all and took herself off to play with others and on her own too so that’s nice. It’s lovely she has her friend to play with but also that she isn’t dependent on her, if that makes any sense.PhotoGrid_1494249299585

It’s the first day so I know there could be upset to come but I’m so pleased of how well she did and so proud of her. Love my fierce and independent little lady so much.

Lakeside Aquarium, Lake District

We visited some amazing places on our recent trip to the lakes, and I was so impressed by how child/toddler friendly many of them were. One place that I was particularly impressed with, was the Lakeside Aquarium, which was wonderful and fantastic value for money.

We’ve been to numerous sea life centres which are amazing but are also really expensive. When I saw the flyer for the aquarium, and how low cost it was, to be completely honest I assumed it wouldn’t be that amazing. But oh how wrong I was! There was just as much as at some of the smaller sea life centres. True it didn’t have a play area outside or water play area like at Weymouth, but it had it’s own unique exhibits.

I had thought that there would only be fish and animals from the lakes area but in fact there were exhibits and zones of animals from all over the world, in addition to the local wildlife.PhotoGrid_1493976063557

One of the favourite exhibits for us was the incredible display of leaf cutter ants. I was a little nervous for LM as it was almost entirely open to the touch, but we managed to keep her from touching any ants. The incredible thing about the display, was that you could really see the ants carrying leaves and bits of food up and down the ropes back to the nest. There were also panels meaning you could see inside the nest to see the different ants doing all of their jobs. I won’t go on but it was incredible and Hubs, Monkey and Pops were well and truly transfixed! PhotoGrid_1493975678598

We also loved watching the otters being fed and I was very pleasantly surprised to find an underwater tunnel which was really lovely. Above this were some ducks, which LM loved, and we were all fascinated by some of the male ducks showing off for a female!PhotoGrid_1493975847572

There is a lovely coastal area with open pools containing star fish and anemones. There was a great fun dress up area with some sea animal costumes for adults as well as children. With everyone busy looking at the animals I snuck on a crab outfit (daft as I am) and amused myself by sneaking up on my family members and giving them a shock lol! Hubs then dressed as an octopus, Monkey as a shark and LM was so cute dressed as a starfish haha (she wasn’t hugely impressed though I’ll admit!) PhotoGrid_1493976558814

I was so surprised with how many animals there were as there were also Marmosets, Piranha fish, Terrapins, a big Tortoise, Rays, Clown fish, Frogs, Snakes, and literally all sorts. Under 3s go free and there were a variety of family tickets for 2 adults and different amounts of children. So for us, a family ticket with 2 adults and 1 child was only £15.95 and I believe there are discounts if you buy tickets online. It really was such good value and I would highly recommend it.

I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. We paid to visit and was so impressed that I wanted to share my thoughts.

Our Lake District Holiday

I love to travel. I’ve travelled the world (literally) and can get quite itchy feet in between holidays so am always planning our next adventure. Much as I do like a bit of a relaxed holiday from time to time, I do prefer a bit of an explore. Hubs isn’t great at sitting still either and with active kiddies we, in general, prefer to be out and about a lot on our holidays. We have been abroad with the kiddies but we love our UK holidays too. There are some stunning places in the UK, and our recent holiday took in one of my favourites, the Lake District.

It’s been a bit of a cheeky one as it is in term time. Monkey isn’t yet 5 so as he’s not yet of “compulsory school age” we can get away with doing it without getting a fine. As the timing worked better for my parents, and little brother and fiance to join us, we decided to do it. Plus of course it was much cheaper.

We rented out a lovely, and very large, cottage for the 8 of us in Lakeside at the south western edge of Lake Windermere. I have been to the lakes a few times before and just love the lakes and mountains.

In short we’ve had an amazing week. I will write some more posts about some of the specific places we’ve visited over the next few weeks but on the whole we’ve done so much! Here’s a brief rundown (with tonnes of photos, obviously!)

We’ve seen a castle and an aquarium.PhotoGrid_1493882977216

We’ve been on a boat trip up Lake Windermere, visiting Ambleside and Bowness along the way.PhotoGrid_1493883143705PhotoGrid_1493883339332

We’ve been to Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top and had afternoon with a gorgeous view at the hotel next door. We’ve been to the Claife viewing station on the edge of Windermere and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead.PhotoGrid_1493883804827

We had a day close to the cottage, with a nature trail and adventure play area followed by a yummy lunch at a nearby hotel, before taking an amazing walk through the stunning woods opposite our cottage.PhotoGrid_1493885272383

We visited Coniston and Tarn Hows where we saw some stunning waterfalls and amazing scenery before stopping at the Bobbin Mill to learn how bobbins were made. (This was actually fascinating and the tour was much more interesting than I thought it would be!) PhotoGrid_1493885452370PhotoGrid_1493885857985

PhotoGrid_1493885628737Finally we visited another lovely castle with the most amazing gardens I have possibly ever seen, and a lovely wild adventure trail. PhotoGrid_1493916051487

So it has been a busy but amazing week. We have seen and done so much… and yet we’ve barely touched the surface in terms of things to do up here.

Have you ever visited the lakes with your kids?

My daughter likes pink… And it bugs me!

My daughter likes pink (Or Kink, as she calls it). Big surprise in our culture eh? So why does it irk me? I don’t want her to ever feel limited by the fact she’s a girl (and nor do I want Monkey to ever feel limited by being a boy) or that it means she is unable to do something. I want her to have and do whatever she wants, and she wants pink. So why am I uncomfortable about that? Is it just because it is so stereotypical?

I have to admit that I have tried to stay away from the predominantly pink clothes that are available for girls. Yes she wears pink (mainly because we have a lot of hand me downs from friends but also because I like pink and don’t want to avoid anything completely) but actually she wears all the colours of the rainbow. Her choice, though, is always pink. She prefers her pink coat, her pink shoes etc. So she does wear pink quite a lot at the moment.pink clothes

The same goes for toys, she has pink toys but she also has a lot of more multicoloured things and a lot of boys toys thanks to her older brother. I got her a red balance bike rather than a pink one… But she won’t go on it and I have to admit I am wondering whether she would be more inclined to use it if it were pink?

She shows such a preference for all things pink that it drives me crazy at times. With Monkey he was always about red and yellow when he was little, though he has moved over to blue and yellow as his main faves recently. With LM it is pink and purple. Anything pink or purple and she coos over it. I’ve just bought her a pink drinks bottle to stop the tantrums she had whenever she saw a friend with a pink cup and I tried to get her to use a blue or clear one.

It’s not that I want either of my kids to be brought up ‘gender neutral’ as I don’t really agree with that. We are born a gender and I don’t see any problem with identifying as that gender, to a point anyway. I also disagree with the boys will be boys mentality or that girls have to wear dresses and be graceful and dainty. As with most things I tend to like the middle ground. I’m a girl and I do like some pretty things and to look nice. But I also like to not bother with looking nice sometimes. I enjoy mental arithmetic, and I like cars. I want my son to know its ok to cry sometimes and for my kids to know that there aren’t different jobs for men and women.

So what does it matter what my little girl’s favourite colour is? Really? I’m a big fan of the “let toys be toys” campaign and I dislike the pink aisles for girls toys. But with a girl who loves pink so much without any prompting… I wonder if there is something about pink that girls love and that’s why the toys are pink and they know the will appeal to them? But then I am reminded of the fact that in the 19th century pink was more associated with boys than girls so it must be cultural, right? That even though I haven’t encouraged her to like pink, so much that she sees associates pink with girls.

I like Skye in the paw patrol as she is as much a part of the team as the boys, but again why is she pink to show she’s a girl? Dora wears pink, Millie in Umizoomi wears pink. Again is this because girls like pink or do girls like pink because of this constant reinforcement that pink is for girls?

Does it even matter? I have no idea. I’m going to continue to do what feels right with my kids. To play with the same things with both of them. Because girls can build and play cars and boys can play with babies and cook. To let them be who they want to be, and play with what they want to (within reason obviously, not kitchen knives lol) even if that means swallowing my own opinion or ideas. To guide them to be adults who know that men aren’t better than women and women aren’t better than men. That we have our differences, but that they don’t make either one less than the other.

And I imagine that while I am doing that, my daughter will be wearing pink.pink 1