Parenting a tween

28 November 2018

Dear friend,

Life has been a bit hectic lately. I’ve started working more. We’ve had new routines to get to grips with, big lad started his new secondary school, little man’s been struggling to come to terms with Opa’s death. We’ve been stuck in the merry-go-round which is our life going through the day-to-day just getting on with things, you know, like you do, just keeping on going.

Occasionally things happen to bring you back down to earth with a big bump. I guess that’s what’s happened now because the last couple of weeks, when illness knocked me off my feet, it gave me time to think. Pressing the pause button has enabled me to recognise that I’m feeling stuck.

My safe and cosy family bubble has changed. It is like I went to bed one night with my family and woke up the next morning living with another. Okay maybe I’m being a tad dramatic. But living with a pre-teen is pushing me to the limit.


As I hear the words; Oh my God how embarrassing, I’m not singing to Sinterklaas, coming out of my son’s mouth I question my parenting skills. Now that his belief in Sinterklaas is over, have I built a lasting memory, have I given him the best childhood I could? Did I do enough, make it fun enough, was I enough?

Shopping trips are boring and going into the city can’t compete with a Fortnite tournament with friends.

Every day begins with the question; What are we doing today? And then; Do I have to come?

I dangle a carrot in front of his nose; Let’s go to the zoo, have dinner at your favourite restaurant, go and see that movie that you wanted to watch. I’m desperate to keep the connection alive. Only to be brought crashing back down to earth with one simple question; How long will we be?

When he deigns to come along, he is with us but at the same time not. Focusing more on the world held in his hand, tapping away expertly on his mobile phone.

I’m left mourning the days when, we jumped in the car and headed off on weekend adventures. It didn’t matter what we did as long as we did it together. Now we are stuck in arguments. I’ve heard myself yell; Put the bloody phone down, are you part of this family?

I’m hurting from the rejection. With every barked, angry retort my best by date is looming. I can feel my parental shelf life dwindling like a bargain item in the supermarket.

I am also confused by the conflict of interests I’m feeling. Whilst I am mourning the end of family time as we knew it, I am also delighted that it is happening. I wanted him to have friends, to have independence, to have a ‘normal’ life. In the early days of his autism diagnosis I could never have imagined this moment. I am proud of his rebellion.

Nobody tells you when you become a parent that it’s all consuming. When they are small you are their world. They need you, want you, can’t live without you. But equally no one prepares you for the time when you are not. Did you know that they grow up?

What will this new parenting phase mean for me? I want to be a good mum. I am prepared to put my feelings aside to give him more of the freedom that he craves. But that doesn't mean I won't miss what we had, won’t miss being needed.

I am an imperfect mum but I love unconditionally. I hope that is enough! 

A Glimpse into our Autism: The label

21 November 2018

Dear Friend,

Yesterday she asked me why I labelled my child...

It hit a raw nerve.

The dilema, to label or not to label, started when we began the diagnostic process. Family and friends were quick to offer support and advice, most of which was meant to reassure but actually often lead to heated discussions as well meaning people told us;

There’s nothing wrong with that kid or he’s as bright as a button or don't label him too early.

I put their reactions down to embarrassment or denial; like autism was something to be ashamed of or that they believed he would grow out of.

Autism is not a label it is a diagnosis. Would people have had the same reaction if my son had been diagnosed with an illness or a visible disability? Would you tell someone not to use the term diabetic or downs syndrome?

I can honestly say that I did not begin chasing a diagnosis but that nursery and preschool nudged us in the direction of professionals because our son was having significant difficulties and we needed help. I simply could not ignore my son's needs.

I am sick of hearing the unsolicited advice; You don't want him to be defined by his label. Of course, I don't want my gorgeous boy to only be known as the boy with autism. I agree that we need to see the child before the diagnosis. But he is autistic...

If we hadn't accepted the autistic diagnosis then surely we wouldn't have been accepting our son for who he is?

Yesterday she asked me why I labelled my child...

I didn't. He was diagnosed with autism.

A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore the impact autism has on our family on a day to day basis. Disclaimer: this is our experience not all autistic people are the same. 

20 signs that you are addicted to blogging...

17 November 2018

Dear friend,

In celebration of 4 years of blogging I wanted to reshare this tongue in cheek post about blogging. A huge thank you for all of your support over the last 4 years! 

20 Signs that you are addicted to blogging:

  1. You go into a panic when you don't have wifi
  2. Your iphone/ipad/macbook is always within reach
  3. You check your twitter feed last thing at night and first thing in the morning
  4. Every conversation is blog fodder
  5. Your house work routine is sporadic (related to the post your working on)
  6. You have a detailed linky list
  7. You take your camera everywhere and even have a mummy photo pose
  8. Your kids make comments like - Mummy take my photo on the seal, that will be good for your blog
  9. You have even got your kids involved in blogging
  10. You constantly have a blogging narrative in your head
  11. When not blogging you are reading other people's blogs
  12. You mentally blog and then kick yourself for forgetting the brilliant snippet you had created...
  13. You wake in the middle of the night and go downstairs to write because you've remembered the idea you mentally blogged earlier
  14. When talking about your friends you qualify with 'my blogging friend'...
  15. You know more about your online friends lives than your 'real' ones
  16. Your real life friends don't understand half the things you say (linkies, tribes, Klout, DA) it's like you are talking another language
  17. You check your page views/followers/klout/DA religiously
  18. You can't go on holiday before scheduling everything
  19. You have a laptop shaped indent on your thighs/Carpal tunnel syndrome from holding your phone. 
  20. Your blog is your home page

Are you an addict too?

Are there any signs I may have missed?

This is a revised post 

Encouraging children to write

14 November 2018

Dear friend,

Want to help your child at home with their writing but not sure how.  There are many easy activities and things you can try to support your children without being too heavy going. The worse thing you can do is force your child to write if they really don't want to. It should be fun! Here are a few simple things you can do to promote a love of writing at home. 

Encouraging children to write

1. Read together!
Read read and read some more. The best activity to improve writing is reading. If your child reads good books, they will be a better writer.

2. Talk about their drawings. 
This is the beginning of story telling.
Label the drawings as they tell you about them (check first as some children don't like you to do this!)

3. Use lots of different materials.
Foam, chalk, paintbrushes (various thicknesses), aquadoodles, a variety of pens, pencils and paper, draw on the shower door etc 

4. Make writing or mark making a game or use games
There are numerous games and puzzles that help children with spelling while increasing their vocabulary including crossword puzzles, hangman, word games and anagrams.

5. Make Books. 
Turn your child's writing into books. Act as scribe for your child.

6. Be a good role model
Make sure your child sees you writing

7. Write for real purposes together
Shopping lists, letters, birthday cards, thank you notes, messages, have a chalk message board in your kitchen. Send e-mails to relatives or friends.

8. Encourage keeping a journal
Become a mini blogger or reporter write photo stories or recounts of days out.

9. Connect writing to your child's passion. 
Write a report about a favourite animal, game, character, Skylanders figures.

10. READ!!!

Yes I know I've already said read but it is so important that I am saying it twice. 

This is a revised post.

Over Protective

7 November 2018

She told me I was
Over protective.
I listened, I heard, I tried to explain
but she did not listen...

We fought for this appointment
We waited for an eternity...
The anxiety crept into my throat
Strangling my vocal cords.

I am mum, mummy, mama.
It is my job to protect,
To worry about my son.
Isn't it?

I sought specialist help
I attended every appointment.
I challenged the ignorance of those
Who only ever saw the negative.

I cried tears of frustration
behind closed doors
when he was struggling
to do what his peers found easy.

I fought for early diagnosis.
I fought harder when the diagnosis came.
I educated myself about autism.
I became the reluctant expert in my child.

I ignored the whispered slights at the school gate.
I calmed him after unkind words from friends.
I held his hand when he wasn't invited to the parties.
I listened night after long night when he couldn't sleep.

I reassured when he didn't want to be different,
I encouraged as he picked himself up again and again.
I cheered as he made new friends
I applauded as he exceeded all expectations.

I challenged the deficit model.
I failed to accept people
telling us what he couldn't do
And made them see what he could.

I battled against the stereotypes
And confronted the false beliefs.
I taught him that he is enough,
Autistic doesn't mean less.

I am proud to be overprotective,
I have earned my stripes.
I asked for help not judgement,
We won't be back...

#PointShoot November

6 November 2018

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 

You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.

This Month's featured post comes from susankmann.

Feel free to grab your featured blogger badge!

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A photograph is the pause button of life.

Link up your pictures!

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Photo Diary October

5 November 2018

Dear Friend,

I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus. Here I take a look back at some of my favourite moments from the month. 

We have packed lots into October with beach days, zoo visits, a trip to Amsterdam, Leiden, bowling and I even dashed over to the UK to see my parents.

 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!

  • A huge highlight of October was getting to see the Pandas at Ouwehands zoo. Little man had a presentation on Pandas at school so we took him to do some hands on research.
  • Saturday afternoons in Leiden, enjoying the Indian Summer with a drink on the terrace.
  • Beach time. Anytime spent at the beach is my favourite time.
  • Sharing a beautiful sunset.
  • A fabulous, fun filled morning bowling with my boys.

  • Walking Nova at the dunes, check out that amazing sky!
  • A morning with Rembrandt, Van Gogh & Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum. 
  • Exploring the stunning grachten in Amsterdam. 
  • Photos on the I Amsterdam sign.
  • Drinking cider in an Irish Bar. 
  • Halloween fun

See more Photography posts...

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My Sunday Photo

4 November 2018

The energy we put out is the energy we get back!

Enjoyed this post? See more My Sunday Photo posts here...

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