To all my lovely followers… I think I have to admit defeat – for the time being at least. I have so many other topics and themes about children and parenting that I wanted to cover but I am not getting to them. I don’t want to say I will never get there – I might! But for the time being I need to be realistic and I find caring for three children, working 20 hours a week and a myriad other commitments means that I don’t have time to write regularly on this blog. I am very pleased with the topics I have covered which in included ‘Why am a stay-at-home mum’, The Parenting Course, birthday ideas and lots of craft ideas, especially the Christmas crafts.

I have always had another blog which is my creative arts blog (tessacase.wordpress.com) – so if you wish to continue following me here, please do.

atworkThanks to all for your encouragement about being not ‘quite’ a stay-at-home. I thought it may be interesting to write some notes about going back to work.

  • Enjoy your time at home and don’t worry about the future as it wastes this special time. Read my previous posts about ‘Why am I a stay-at-home mum’.
  • Use your time wisely at home. Pour your energies into your children but keep on eye on the future (without worrying of course). Can you do courses to aid your occupation or add depth to it? Helping with charities and committees can provide you with new skills and maintain your self-confidence. It is also a way to fill gaps on your CV! I chaired my local pre-school for 5 years and learnt a lot about negotiation, people management, interviewing and it looks good on a CV when there is a gap from formal work.
  • Have some idea of when you think you would like to return to work – you can always review this decision but it helps you to focus on being at home and enjoying your children if it is some years away.
  • Keep clothing, shoes and accessories up-to-date otherwise you need to replace everything at the same time when you return to work.
  • Look for work by thinking about what you want to do as this helps to clarify and focus what you are looking for. You could write out a ‘dream job’ or even consider doing something totally different. Keep your options open and don’t feel you can only do the type of work you did before.
  • Research the types of jobs you are interested in and sign up to relevant job sites. When you start looking for work set aside a regular time each day Monday to Friday to do research, search the internet and write a CV. There is nothing worse than vaguely worrying about it all day. Just do a bit each day and then set it aside physically and psychologically.
  • Write a very clean, simple, well-laid out CV. There is no need for it to be more than one page no matter how qualified you are. Write a covering letter to accompany your CV and be honest about the work break but give it a positive spin.
  • Be confident and relax during your interview. Be prepared for tricky questions such as ‘What will you do for childcare?’ Have some solutions or good answers.
  • Phone and research ideas for childcare. Check your local council’s website for lists of local nurseries and child-minders. Many nurseries take school age children during the holidays. Some schools and many leisure centres offer holiday clubs. Talk to friends and find out what they do. Consider employing a trainee nanny or a teaching assistant if you just need child care during the school holidays.
  • The day before you go back to work, put out everything you plan to wear right down to tights and jewellery and double-check it. Mornings are manic and you won’t have time to sew on buttons or find new tights!
  • Be organised with the children and have all their school kit and clothes ready.

Going back to work has proved okay so far although it has its own stresses but I am so glad I had this time off with my children.

allchangeI have recently gone back to work as a part-time graphic designer. By accident really. I was considering returning to work when my youngest went off to school this September 2013 and I had decided to spend January to September doing research into what was available and to update my CV and my design portfolio. I sat down to start research feeling nervous about looking for work but decided it was best to bite the bullet and start. I typed in ‘local graphic design work’. Up came the perfect job – part-time and it sounded so interesting that I thought I had nothing to lose by applying. Instead of taking 6 months to sort out a CV and portfolio, I took 2 days and before I knew it I had secured an interview and was offered the position.

It is exciting but it does feel premature as Ella is still at pre-school however my hours are short and am only working while she is at pre-school. I knew I would not be a stay-at-home mum forever and I have been able to spend just over 7 years without working and it has been so precious.

But my blog – it is all about staying at home – and I still had so much to talk about and most importantly I have loved connecting with mums out there. Am I ‘allowed’ to continue a blog called ‘Stay-at-home mum’ if I am working albeit it very part-time?

 

ready for schoolSometimes I can pull out my hair, I get so frustrated trying to get little children off to school on time. Keeping them on task is quite a battle. So I came up with the morning chart which photographically reminds Sophie step by step what she needs to do. It hasn’t solved all our problems but at least I can remind her to check her chart. And it has helped me to realise that there is quite a lot for a little person to do each morning.

running boyI saw the list below on Lisa’s fridge and I thought it was a great idea as sometimes eliciting information from my child can be like squeezing water from a stone. But don’t ask all ten questions every day – it is not the Spanish Inquisition!

Ten questions to ask your child about his day at school
Get a sense of your child’s life at school by asking questions that provide more than a one-word response. The trick is to ask about things that are specific with open-ended questions and invite your child to describe his world. It’s also great to start the conversation with an anecdote from your own day. Try one of these conversation starters:

  1. Tell me about the best part of your day
  2. What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
  3. Did any of your classmates do anything funny?
  4. Tell me about what you read in class.
  5. Who did you play with today? What did you play?
  6. Do you think maths (or any subject) is too easy or too hard?
  7. What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
  8. What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they’re fair?
  9. Who did you sit with at lunch?
  10. Can you show me something you learned (or did) today?

buntingCreate your own special family traditions as this builds a strong family identity and helps children to feel that they belong. It also makes rich family memories. Birthday traditions may include a birthday chair decorated with balloons and streams, choosing the evening menu and piling into bed together to open gifts. One of our traditions is ‘birthday bunting’ and I have a few different types depending on the time of year and the bunting goes above the window during the birthday week. Bunting is easy to make and using pinking shears you can cut triangles and stitch (or staple!) the triangles onto cord or ribbon.

We have also introduced a ‘Golden Ticket’. As each child turns seven, they receive a ‘Golden Ticket’ for a day out in London with one parent. We wanted to give each child glorious memories doing classic London activities. Our son chose to visit Hamleys and have a bus tour with lunch in Mayfair (at Pizza Express) and our daughter is debating the merits of the London Eye and Battersea Dogs’ Home as she plans her day. It was so special when the actor dressed in a frock coat greeted James at the door of Hamleys saying, “Welcome to the best toy store in the world.”

Birthdays are an opportunity to create memories that will last long past childhood. Enjoy them!hamleysThis post is the last in a mini theme on children’s birthdays. Feel free to share your ideas as comments.

caterpillar partyAs I said in an earlier post, we alternate parties and treats each year so that parties remain novel and I don’t grow weary. Treats are fantastic too as we make an outing extra special and buzzy especially as the birthday child can invite a friend. Below are a few more party themes and treat ideas.

Party Themes
A teddy bear party (bring your bear – and play ‘musical bears’)
A teeny tiny tea party (perfect for a very little child)
A hungry caterpillar party
A tractor party (especially if your child is fixated – and your neighbour kindly allows the children to climb on his antique tractor)
An underwater party (hang streamers from the ceiling and cover the floor in bubble wrap)
A pink pig party (borrow as many soft toy pigs as you can and play ‘piggy’ games)
An African party (dress up in bright colours or as if you are off on safari)

Treats
Visit a local zoo – we love Cotswolds Wildlife Park, Marwell Zoo and Bristol Zoo
Visit a local petting farm
Visit  Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – this was fantastic fun and good value including a boat trip and ‘action stations’ climbing wall in the ticket.
Visit Legoland - expensive, but had to be done once for a lego mad boy before he was too old.
Paint a plate – a lovely party for younger children and you can use your china plate for years after.

And our next party… when my son turns 10 we plan to camp overnight at a local youth hostel and the boys will be under canvas.tractorThis post is part of a mini theme on children’s birthdays. Feel free to share your ideas as comments.

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