Taking the leap

The end of May brought a lot of changes for parents. Those with teenagers learned of the cancellation of the leaving cert, those with children in primary and secondary school learned of the school closures extending until September and those like us with children in preschool and Montessori learned that creches will remain closed until the 20 of July at the earliest as such preschool and Montessori were finished for the year. 

As a parent I really struggled with this news, more so for the impact that it will have on our four-year-old than the impact it will have on me.

Olivia found it hard at the start when the creches were closed, back at the beginning of lock down and we all felt her pain and she spent most of her day talking about stuff she would do when “my crèche is back” and how she needed to marry her friends so that she could stay with them like mummy and daddy because we are married. 

There was some regression in her behaviour too, an indication that no matter how ‘normal’ she seemed and how much we tried to help her adjust, this change in her little world was having a profound impact on her. We tried not to place much emphasis on her getting back to Monti, but her eye was firmly on that prize.

When the news broke about the schools not reopening before the summer holidays, we sat on it for a little while as we wanted to figure out how to tell her. It might seem trivial but Montessori and all that it entails, plays a huge role in her small world.

When we told her a few days later I won’t lie, she was upset, there were a lot of questions around why. Promises of big school helped, talking about how she will be going to the Educate Together with some of her pals from Montessori and she will get to make new friends. However, I can’t help but feel sad for the friendships she has with those not in full daycare going to different schools. No little graduation to mark the next big step. Her little class will be split amongst the various primary schools in and around Skerries, something that was always going to be the case but under normal circumstances it would be happening very different. Those in her education setting would already be laying the ground work to help with the gradual transition. Now it all is very sudden. Very rushed.

And very rushed and sudden for us too. Our next big step was the end of Montessori, a stepping stone before primary school. And now that’s been taken. With that stepping stone gone there seems to be a huge leap now. Even more so considering the world in which we currently live in. Her world, while not exactly huge, has shrunken dramatically to exist within the four walls of our home, her immediate family members.

 The upheaval of losing Montessori and going into lockdown was hard, staying away from family and friends has been so difficult but now I worry about the upheaval of going from a lockdown scenario into her first year in school as a Junior Infant.  Our little ones are so resilient but this must be the equivalent of their world being in a tumble dryer. For all children it must be hard but for those missing their ‘lasts’ it must be that little bit harder.

For the time being we are turning our attention to try and get her ready for school in whatever way we can. She is a little social butterfly so that should help! In fact, I can envisage the letters that no doubt will be sent home to us on the topic of her constant chatter. A friend who is a teacher has given us some great advice and tips on what we can do with her at home with the emphasis on ensuring she is socially ready rather than making her learn letters and numbers. 

That involves building resilience- practicing solving problems for herself and learning how to react in situations where she will have to share, or she can’t get her way. 

Ensuring that Olivia is able to communicate her needs is so important. Having the awareness of what she is feeling and also the words to vocalise it. Patience in getting what she wants is a big ask at her age but something we can be working on.

In practical terms she needs to be able to recognise her own name on labels, put on and take off her coat (zips are tricky but that’s what practice is for), and be able to recognise her own coat. Over the summer we are going to practice opening and closing lunch items and her drink bottle.  She advised that toileting can be stressful for little ones outside of their normal space so to make sure we do plenty of practice using the toilet independently.

We will make sure to take a good few walks past the school and have a good gawk in the gates! 

For now, we are trying not to make too big a deal of it, she has had enough to process in the last few weeks. The reality is it given everything she has gone through in the last few months, no matter how ready we think she is, come September it can go either way. The focus now is to take it as it comes and not to let my own worries become hers.


A new normal in extraordinary times

A normal reality in extraordinary times

What is normal anymore? This way of living, our new normal is a strange way of living, and a change that came so quickly. New ways of being, new ways of interacting, a new way of life, all arrived overnight, the opportunity of spending A LOT more time together, whether we wanted it or not was suddenly here, suddenly… normal.

Working from home with the two smallies, while not easy, has become our normal. We barter and negotiate and trade time alone for work meetings as though it is a more valuable currency than bitcoin. We burn through craft supplies and have restocked at the Bubble Room three times already, plus there are only so many times in a day you can exclaim delight at a rainbow and a mound of scribbles on a page. I prepare about 1,396 380 snacks before lunchtime alone – for such small people my kids sure eat a lot. Olivia and Thomas are on a first name basis now with most of our colleagues, waving hello and showing off those fabulous drawn rainbows in front of the camera in the middle of video conference calls. 

Virtual grandparents, while heartbreaking, has become our normal. We don’t live close to either set of grandparents. This is the longest we have gone without Olivia and Thomas seeing them. Both our parents are in their 50s and 60s but unfortunately Olivia is deemed high risk and so we have been ‘cocooning her’. On the bright side we have Whatsapp and Facetime and we have written letters, painted and drawn pictures and sent them by post. In these tough times it’s been lovely teaching them about a slower way of life. Olivia was truly mesmerized that these envelopes we posted into the box at Skerries Point magically made their way into Granny’s house in Co. Down all the way on the other side of the Mournes.

Showing love with waves, winks and a loud shout, while unusual, has become our normal. One of the most difficult things for us is seeing Olivia miss her friends, especially her Little Rugrats family. She asks daily if she is going to Monti and tells us she misses them and then our days are filled with her plans of baking them berry tarts, picking flowers and marrying her varying suitors. We take our once a day walks and friends on the street, call and wave from the window, she shouts up that she misses them. In short breaks on the street alone, the odd neighbor arrives back from the grocery shop and we all wave, safely, from a distance, looking somewhat awkward and hoping not to appear rude.

Questions, so many questions, are always the normal in life with kids…why do stars shine, why does my poop smell, why does the sun come up, why do you and daddy kiss, why can’t we watch more Paw Patrol, why do I have to wear socks, why are carrots orange, can I marry Luca with these daisies. You get the picture. But suddenly those innocent questions are loaded with insecurity and pressure to get the balance right between informing and not scaring. Why can’t I play with my friends, why are we not going to Monti, can I visit Nanny, when can we have a sleepover with Granny, why is the playground still closed, can we go to the big beach with sand, when are we going for bambi chinos and teddy biccies (they miss Olive as much as they miss creche), is it the bad cough?

We have chosen not to pretend it isn’t happening, but to inform them in as simple a way as possible. It is difficult for Olivia, because from the get go in this crap thing we have had to keep her apart so what most people are experiencing now, she has been experiencing since early March. We talk about the need to wash our hands and keep apart because there is a bad cough and we want to stay well. She and her pals in Rugrats were already learning about how germs spread and we did the pepper test (take some water in a bowl, sprinkle black pepper, have a little one put some antibiotic soap on their finger and touch the water and see the pepper spread away) and we avoid listening to news bulletins but keep ourselves informed.

There are lots of new normals and who really knows what normal is anyway and when we come out the other side of this life will be so different that we will all need to adjust to a new normal once again. One thing I have learned in this temporary normal is that cartoons have much more relevance than I ever thought possible, and so in the words of Anna, from Frozen 2 I leave you with these words of wisdom 

“I won’t look too far ahead

It’s too much for me to take

But break it down to this next breath, this next step

This next choice is one that I can make

So I’ll walk through this night

Stumbling blindly toward the light

And do the next right thing”

Jeez, I miss the days I quoted Seamus Heaney but that dude never endured a pandemic with kids so Elsa and Anna will have to do for now.

Podcasting in the time of Coronavirus

Our latest episode of Parenting Pobal is live. Blame Derek on the title.

Does all the negative #coronavirus coverage make you want to curl into a ball?

Switch off that and switch on to the latest of Parenting Pobal which is live: Podcasting in the time of Coronavirus. We talk the positives with tips for working from home and how to talk to littles about what the hell is going on.

Podcasting in the time of Coronavirus

You give me (cabin) fever

The latest episode of Parenting Pobal is live!

47 episodes in and sure who knew we’d still have things to waffle on about. In this week’s episode we talk about some stuff you can do with the kids when the weather or illness means you can’t leave the house. Little tricks on how to survive Cabin Fever with two little humans that have the attention span of a gnat and the patience of a … gnat (look, they can’t all be winners).

There is also the story about how Derek thought he was dying after returning home from the pub one night – laughter ensues.

If you have a listen and have a few seconds to spare consider giving us a review on iTunes or Spotify 😁

You give me (cabin) fever

Trust us, the photo makes sense

Seven weeks out

A somber celebration. Ahead of Thomas turning two at the weekend I’m so proud to say I am seven weeks out since finishing medication for Postnatal Depression.

It has been a slow and careful process that started just over seven months ago (the theme of this post is seven) and in this episode we talk about the symptoms, this difference in my first bout of PND and my second as well as what partners can do and what supports I found.

For now, the future is bright and I am so pleased to be out the other side and hopefully no U turns but I am lucky to be surrounded by an amazing group of family and friends that will help me steer straight.

Seven weeks out