Day 1 of Work-From-Home Mummyhood

September was a very long month

Day 1 has been fantastic, although the amount of ‘working’ done needs to be improved on! To be fair, I had to sort out a couple of things before I could really settle into it – landlord visit and dentist appointment for a start. Tomorrow, though, I become a machine!

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I’ve been taking my daughter to school now since the first day, and it’s been great to be able to do it. Other than the fact that she hates going, cries and clings to me, and wants me to tell the teacher a few thousand things before she is willing to let go of me just enough for the teacher to grab and run. It’s not a pleasant experience, but it’s something that I need to be doing.

Picking her up, on the other hand, is brilliant. She comes bouncing out of school, unable to contain her excitement at seeing me! Today was only the third time I have been able to pick her up but she is over the moon that from now on it will be no one but me. It’s so nice to be loved!!

I made sure we had new paints and play doh for her to come home to, so we spent around 2 hours making masks and crowns with paint and glitter. After being at work all day there is no time or energy left for doing these things, so it was awesome being able to give her all of my energy and attention without the distraction of cooking, cleaning, or prepping for tomorrow.

mumpreneur

There was a reason I needed to give up work…

As for school though, there are a few things we are having to work on. I know there are a lot of parents out there who are dealing with anxiety in their children and I would love to hear what you all think of my little one’s situation. She has started asking bizarre questions and taking a lot of things you say to her very literally, to the point where she has become afraid of dying. She is three and a half years old and is scared that she will get old and die, or fall over and die! She is afraid that ghosts will fill the room and say wooo wooo. She is afraid of her eyes falling out, or all her hair falling out, her skin coming off, or of mummy turning into a skeleton.

Sometimes it’s as though she is saying

things because she knows she gets attention if she does, but other times you can see the fear in her eyes. She chokes up and her eyes go wide.

It’s not a fun conversation, talking about death with a three year old. I don’t want to lie to her and say no, she will never die, so I’ve tried other things. Everything scares her, no matter how magically you put it.

Advice anyone?

In school, she is interacting well a lot of the time, but holding back a lot of the time too. She is particularly unhappy having to sit on the carpet with the other children, but we’ve no idea why. In this case, it would seem that she is trying to keep a level of control over her own situation. So when the teacher asks me if allowing her to sit on a chair near the carpet, rather than on it, is the right thing to do since she is getting her own way, I don’t know what to say.

Despite having a good day, most of which has been spent with me doing lovely fun things, she has had trouble this evening worrying about death and remembering a nightmare she had last night (my hands turned skeletal). With the help of her melatonin, she has fallen asleep comfortably, but since she was up at 1:30am after nightmares, it’s no wonder she is tired! We’ll just see how tonight goes…

Big question – have I done the right thing???

At the end of Day 1, I am absolutely sure I have made the right choice. I felt trapped and useless in the office, doing something I didn’t enjoy and paying someone else to do my real job. They got the chance to enjoy her and see her run around and have fun, while I sat in the office wishing the hours away. I’ve not earned one penny today, and I will have to work my backside off during every free minute I can find to make ends meet, but it is definitely worth it!!!

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Anxiety and Liberal Parenting – The Positive Aspects

Since this is my third blog post, equivalent to a third date in my mind, perhaps a more in-depth explanation of my blog-writing motives can be explored.

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I have developed a discreet (or not so) theme in my first two posts – control. I want to take back control. I am a bit of a control freak.

It explains my fear of flying. I hate the sensation of not being in control, and there are very few people I would trust to be in control, especially where my child is involved. Hence my distrust of schools. It’s funny, though, that I really can’t control my child! She’s too much like me, too stubborn and strong willed! And I wouldn’t change it for the world…most of the time…

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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take control of your own life. Some people function well under the control of others. I assume a lot of people barely think about it otherwise we’d have a revolution on our hands. Up until I had my daughter I was able to deal, to some extent, with being told what to do and where to be much more easily, but it’s different now that I’m responsible for her as well.

Don’t be fooled into thinking I’m an overly picky  and controlling mother. If anything, I’m quite the opposite, and my daughter gets away with murder with me! But since she is my daughter, I will only allow her to be brought up the way I (and my partner, when I’m feeling pleasant…) think is right.

It really bothers me when people say what ‘normal’ child development looks like. My child is extremely well-developed in most ways but she still doesn’t like to sleep in her own bed, loves a bottle of milk and has a dummy. Yes, we would prefer her not to have a dummy but her speech is better than a lot of 10 year-olds and her teeth are perfect so I personally don’t see the harm in it.

As the title suggests, both my daughter and I have problems with anxiety. This is very likely to be the reason we both like to be so much in control and it has contributed massively to my recent choices.

Because of my own anxiety, I am able to see the causes and symptoms of my daughter’s, and I know that it is something we can all work through together, as long as she has me to kick against. As a parent I work by instinct more so than anything else, and my anxious mind feeds my instinct. It doesn’t control it – I have dealt with these feelings for so long now that I have learned how to rationalise things in my mind and balance them out to a great extent. I am happy to take advice from others with regards to parenting, for example, but if my gut says I don’t like it then that’s that, I don’t like it.

A good example is the ‘cry-it-out’ method that so many people are so enthused about. I hate it, and I will NOT practice it. I will not go against every instinct in my body and leave a young child to cry and cry and cry until they fall asleep exhausted. Doesn’t the whole idea of ‘sleep training‘ seem ridiculous to anyone else? Do you see any other mammals putting their young children 20 feet away from them and ignoring them when they are in distress?

So I think I am a liberal parent. This does not mean that my child is in charge and I let her do what she wants without caring. That is absolutely not what I mean. There is a lot of bad press about this but it clearly doesn’t mean to me what it must mean to a lot of other people.

What I mean is that I let my child grow and learn as naturally as possible, giving her opportunities to learn and make her own decisions about things based on what she has learned. It means that if she wants to dress in a princess costume with a fleecey pyjama top and a tutu, she can. It’s all within reason, I obviously wouldn’t let her go to school like that.

It also means that despite what society likes to tell me, if my daughter is scared at night and doesn’t want to be in her bed alone, she can sleep in our bed, or I will sleep in hers. It means that whatever question she asks me I will do my best to answer her honestly.

It means that, although I would like to think I have things planned out, her personality and her talents may not be what we expect. We will give her every opportunity to find out who she is and what her talents are, and we will encourage her in whatever she chooses to do in life. Again, all within reason, I’m not going to encourage prostitution and the like!

I never expected to have such an intelligent, strong-willed, imaginative, hyper-active child. She’s got a crazy temper and she really knows what she wants.

But in the last 3 and a half years I have learned the following:

  1. If your child won’t eat, you’ll give them what they want just to see them eat something.
  2. When your child refuses to sleep and you can no longer keep your eyes open, putting ‘Tangled’ on TV on a loop is extremely helpful.
  3. Sometimes discipline is hard when you love someone so much you’ll let them wipe their nose on your trousers.
  4. When you love your child to the point of madness, you spoil them sometimes. It happens, and it’s ok.
  5. Your plans are irrelevant.

We must have done something right, though, because although my child can throw the tantrum from hell, hates sleep and will argue her point until you are all blue in the face, we have so far brought up a child who,

  1. Won’t take any crap from anyone.
  2. Absorbs information like a super-sponge.
  3. Is immensely loving and has an amazing sense of empathy, especially for  a three year old!
  4. Her imagination has imbued her with enviable confidence, despite underlying anxiety 0- her super powers, her magic, and her guardian angel combined mean she can do and be whoever and whatever she wants.
  5. Can win any argument.

Going back to the issue of control, I cannot truly ‘control’ my child and I wouldn’t want to. But I can’t help wanting to control the things around my child so that she can continue to thrive. I want to be absolutely sure that everything around her provides the best possible environment for her to carry on on this path towards awesomeness.

 

The failings of education: Why I don’t like school

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Misplaced Pride?

I’m sure all parents suffer the ailment of excessive pride in their children. It’s absolutely justified, in my opinion. Everyone should be immensely proud of their offspring. It seems to have resulted in a new issue for me however –  an issue with formal education.

My daughter is clever, although she is also pandered to, a result of guilt on my part. She still has her dummy, has trouble sleeping, doesn’t like to sleep or play on her own (I’m told she suffers from anxiety and is currently seeing a consultant to help us with this). But she is still extremely clever.

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For my partner and I, what seems to have happened is that we have become very disillusioned with our own lives. All of the things we had the potential for, and the things we have always worked hard for, have passed us by and wandered into the arms of others. It is probably because of this, amongst other things, that we are worried about and skeptical of our education system.

“The country spends less on education, tests more, excludes more children and promotes elitism. We’re miserable – and languishing at the bottom of the pile.”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/feb/23/england-schools-extremists-europe-tests-excludes-elitism

It’s a well-known fact that if you want to excel in politics, just as an example, you need to have money and a private education. Perhaps if my partner had had both of these things growing up, he would be in a much better position than Mr. Corbyn is today. But he didn’t, and he isn’t, so here we are.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/12200268/Alun-Ebenezer-Tomorrows-leaders-must-come-from-outside-gilded-cage-of-fee-paying-schools.html

Jeremy Corbyn thumbs up

Our daughter has so much potential, and she’s not the only one! I don’t believe that our schools cater to our children as individuals. Not one bit.

 

I think my partner and I are interesting examples here. Although both of us have first class honours degrees in History, we both started a couple of years late because neither of us had any confidence in our abilities or any sense of direction. I had gone through school doing well but I hadn’t discovered any particular talents, so although I was intelligent I had nothing special to speak of. My partner, on the other hand, went through school a joke and a failure, put into low-ability classes and not given the opportunity because of this to even attempt a History GCSE. It’s taken us until this point in our lives to finally decide what we are really good at and to attempt to use that for something worthwhile.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. It’s amazing that curiosity survives a formal education” – Albert Einstein

It’s all about “leveling the playing field,” but what are we playing? No matter how level the playing field is, not everyone can play the same game and successfully compete.

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I see the difficulties, don’t get me wrong, and I’ sorry to say I don’t have a sufficient answer to offer. If all parents saw the importance of educating their child, encouraging them, providing for them, then the government would be void of responsibility. There are bad parents out there, and there are good parents out there who pass the buck when it comes to their child’s education.

I’m not blaming them either. We are made to feel as though a school education is the only one worth having. But the truth is that it is just one option which can work for a lot of people, but which certainly doesn’t work for everyone.

Theresa May wants to bring back grammar schools, and I am surprisingly tempted by this idea, despite the fact that The Independent seems to hate the idea.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-grammar-schools-lift-ban-education-bring-back-grammars-no-champion-of-social-mobility-a7177216.html

But having spoken to the font of all knowledge that are my grandparents, I am not completely convinced that grammar schools are really that bad. My grandparents came from working class backgrounds, went to grammar school, and had excellent carers in teaching and nursing. They may not have been politicians, lawyers or revolutionaries, but they were made to be what they were and they did well in those roles.

I, on the other hand, have no idea, at 28 years of age, what I would be really good at. What is my ‘calling’? Dunno.

The 11-Plus

Is this where it all goes wrong? Would I want so much pressure put on my 11 year old? One test that could map her future out for her?

I don’t know at this point how she would react to tests. I for one hated them and they terrified me, and I was a clever enough child.

http://www.theweek.co.uk/65930/pros-and-cons-of-grammar-schools

I am so torn on this issue of education! I want my daughter to be challenged and engaged without pushing her so far as to take away her childhood, her freedom and her individuality. I believe that as a stay-at-home mum I will be able to add to her education. I’ll be able to see for myself what my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses are, without having to rely upon what a teacher tells me. I’ll be able to supplement her school education with all the things it lacks.  Hopefully.

Any teachers our there who think they can argue the point that they are better qualified to teach my daughter than I am are welcome to try….

Here’s the truth of it – schools have become all about numbers and targets. So many kids have got to hit some target in numeracy to change the right number of cells on a spreadsheet from red to yellow. A child could be gifted in Art or Technology, but this is of little to no importance when it comes to the school’s data (and funding). I’m talking more about secondary schools here, the great evil in my opinion. A child is only really ‘gifted’ if they excel in Maths and English, things my first-class honours partner did not.

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God forbid if they want to to a brick-layer or make-up artist or a chef. A lot of people that I know that have gone on to do things like this – my dad for example, a brilliant plumber and very talented wood-turner – spent their 12 years of school being failures, struggling to meet unrealistic standards. Last I heard, the government offers schools less funding for pupils opting for vocational courses at GCSE level. Because of this, some schools are limiting the number of vocational courses a pupil is allowed to opt for.

Children are forced, then, to do courses that they aren’t interested in and may never do well in.

This is when I wonder if a grammar-school system could be worthwhile, or at least a system that allows for children to have an education more suited to their own interests and abilities rather than sticking to a very specific National Curriculum. My grandfather was a teacher during the transition to National Curriculum, and from what I gather it certainly didn’t do anyone any favours, especially not the teachers!

So what’s the answer here?

I don’t believe there is an answer here that everyone could agree on. You cannot provide the perfect education system because people’s opinions of what consists a perfect system will always vary.

Home-schooling is something I will definitely consider, but I realise that this does not provide the valuable social experience and discipline that comes from going to school. Primary school, at least, is a burden I am willing to bear for the time being in order to assist in my mission of bringing up a well-rounded, open-minded child. Primary school teachers are more focused on the individuals they teach then secondary school teachers are able to be, and I’ve seen this first-hand.

When it comes to secondary school, however, we will see what the next eight years brings!

 

 

Apologia

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Plain “apology” may also work here – I mean to both justify myself and perhaps cause offence.

I have quit my job, I apologise to my employers for this. I have done so, however, for justifiable reasons, or so I believe. 

We certainly do not have so much money that my working becomes pointless. In fact, we are, for want of a better word, skint, with or without my meagre income. But here goes…

Multi-skilled mummy

As a young mother in modern-day Britain, there are a few things I have needed to get of my chest for a while now. I am not just a young mother.  Up until the end of September, I will work full-time. I am a PhD student. I am a teacher, a nurse, a housekeeper, a counsellor and, most importantly to my daughter, I am an exceptional voice-actor. The problem here is that we have heard this story so many times before that the point fails to cause a reaction any more.

What I have discovered is that although the battle for women’s rights is no doubt a positive one, things seem to have taken a strange turn.

The basic, natural and fundamental differences between men and women, and the differences between women, are somehow overlooked. In theory at least, I have all of the same opportunities as a man (of equal intellect, social class, upbringing and financial status) but we have removed ourselves so far from nature that the natural instinct that lies in many women, that is, to be a mother above all else, has become an afterthought, if it is considered at all.

It is no longer just our right to be working mums, but it has become an expectation for women to be and do just about everything. There is nothing to encourage a woman to stay at home with her child rather than returning to work – would it be considered somehow sexist to do this? Is there a woman out there who would be offended, who would think that such encouragement suggests that a woman’s place is in the home? Of course there is.

I am certainly not suggesting that a woman’s place is in the home. What I am suggesting is that some women would like the opportunity to be mothers to the point that feels natural. 

Consider this – the local council by whom I am currently employed gives a mother 5 “emergency” days off for child sickness over one financial year. These must be 5 non-consecutive days, because apparently you should be able to find alternative childcare provision by the second day. 

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As I want my blog to remain vaguely professional, I will  not utter the words that come to mind every time I consider this. Needless to say, I think it is disgusting. If my child is sick, whose job is it to be with her? Some women think differently, some women are happy for grandmothers or other family members to be there if they have work commitments. Fair enough, that’s your choice. But where’s my choice? When I have to tear myself away from my crying child almost every morning, where are my choices?

I had to ask permission of my boss to be able to start work later in order to take my daughter to her first few days at school. I don’t like asking permission. (On a side note, I happen to have a lovely boss who is more that happy to let me do that, but the point still stands!)

Having my fill…

There are so many reasons that I have made the decision to give up work, despite the negative financial implications. I’ve had enough of paying someone else (albeit a very lovely, reliable and hard-working someone!) to look after my child and I am even more fed up with people telling me that that’s just how it is these days. I’m fed up with having to ask permission of another adult to do things that I absolutely should be doing above all else. I am fed up with listening to government standards of what my daughter’s education should be (spoiler alert) and I am going to take back as much control of all of this as I possibly can.

Following my instincts

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As a young mother in modern-day Britain, I believe it is my right to be a mother, first and foremost, if my instincts tell me that is what I should be doing. If I want to kiss her on the lips, I will. If I in any way encourage gender stereotypes by telling her she’s a princess and buying her dolls, whose problem is that? If I want to give up a mundane office job to be a stay-at-home mum, chasing my dreams of being a doctor of History and an author, I shall. And to really rile all the true feminists out there, I’ll say this – I’m able to do this because I have a good man, who works hard to look after us and wants nothing more than for both my daughter and I to reach our full potential.

For more inspiration on becoming a “Work at Home Mum” see these links

http://www.parenting.com/article/the-new-stay-at-home-mom

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3634473/The-job-makes-happiest-Housewife-Survey-finds-stay-home-mothers-satisfied-profession.html

http://www.parenting.com/article/working-vs-staying-home

https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/eric-bettinger-why-stay-home-parents-are-good-older-children