Its Pantomime time in our house….yes before you say it …on no it isn’t….oh yes it really is. What that means is that for the last few months, I’ve had at least a couple of hours a week where I go off to our local lovely, but antiquated, play house and make up dances and sing along with the pantomime chorus, 15 children aged between 11 and 15. I’m the choreographer, general chorus supervisor and chaperone. This is right up my street, appealing to my love of theatre and dance, both of which I adored and was quite good at, in my youth. It’s my “me time”.
What it means to my family is they lose me for a minimum of two hours a week, escalating to quite a few more around the time of final rehearsals and performances. It a bit of a balancing act, sometimes I take one of the children with me, if it’s not going to be late, sometimes I have to leave early. Luckily the people I work with generally understand and I always try very hard to ensure they are left with something to do under someone else’s guidance. I think only once during this production, have I had to phone and say, at short notice, that I was unable to come due to things going on at home.
It’s my fifth year of doing it and actually last year I also produced a youth play with some of the children, well teenagers, that I work with in the pantomime. We did Danny the Champion of the World, rather superbly, even if I do say so myself. Sometimes it’s stressful, sometimes I feel like a grumpy grown up repeatedly asking the kids to concentrate, stop talking, put their phones down, but, the majority of the time, I thoroughly enjoy it. I get a great sense of achievement from it, it’s a sociable activity and for however long I’m there I don’t get a chance to think about home. For me the switch off time is what is really important.
Parents the world over think lots and lots about their children, worry about them, contemplate how to solve their problems and give them the greatest of opportunities, so they can reach their maximum potential. I’m no different, whilst drinking my morning cup of tea, then as I sort the washing, go for a run, make the breakfast/ lunch/diner, food shopping, occasional bits of house work (very occasional) and worst, in the middle of the night. All this thinking, contemplating and mulling this and that over, even during the good times, can be mentally exhausting. Throw in some extreme behaviour, a bout of depression, a husband facing stresses at work and the processing of thoughts can become crippling. So switch off time or “me time”, has become crucial to my survival.
So this weekend will be the last of the Pantomime performances, and after Saturday night my family will have me back. I know one of my boys particularly finds it hard when I go out in the evening; he is sometimes still awake when I return. I do feel guilty knowing this and it is hard to deal with at times. However, I’m also acutely aware that without creating some space to “switch off” I really cannot be as good a parent as I would like to be. Realising this has been a hard slog but I think I’ve accepted and understood it more this year than ever before. Pantomime this year really has been a life saver some days. After a few hours away I return feeling able to take it all on again.
So making space for my mind to be creative and stimulated, outside of the home, is an important thing for me to do. My family might not find it easy, and juggling the home time and me time is a fine art, however the pantomime might be over but I’m already plotting my next “me time” move.
I’ve linked this post to #TheThingsWeDo
I decided not to do it this year, make resolutions. The beginning of last year had started with lots of beaming good intentions and turned into the year from hell. So to avoid setting us/ me up for further disappointment, I thought I’d set the bar exceptionally low and expect nothing from myself. That was until I came across a post last week on The Weekly Adoption Shout Out. The blog on the Braveheart Education site talked about setting one word goals for the year ahead.
The idea is you choose “A word that encompasses all areas of your life. A word that can be looked at in many different ways and that puts your intentions out there so that you focus on that one thing” I was instantly drawn to this idea and the many positive connotations focusing on a single optimistic word could bring to my life. One word to implement into everyday life, to remind myself of what I am hoping to achieve. So the big question is what should that word be?
Many and none spring to mind, none that stay long enough to be seriously contemplated. All seem too vague, too ambiguous or too obvious. What is it that I really want more of from my life, I ask myself? And then I realise, what not just me, but all my family need to work on….. confidence. So my word for the year is…
For me I want to be more confident in knowing that I know my family best and the decisions I make for them are right.
I want to be confident that at my core I am a good person, too often layers and layers of self doubt manage to persuade me otherwise.
I want to help and promote greater confidence in my children, because I know too many of the things they find hard are centred around low self esteem. I hope that if I can emanate greater confidence, it will rub off on them.
I want to be the support that enables my husband to regain confidence in himself and our life. Too often, in recent years, post the loss of his business, I know he struggles to believe in himself. I think he’s amazing and I want him to believe it too.
I want to have the confidence to move forward with our lives, the last year has felt too much like a rut, a ditch into which we’ve fallen. I know we all have the ability to climb out and move on, we just need the confidence to do so.
On days when it all seems too much and the darkness moves in, I want to be confident in the belief that the moment will pass, that brightness will shine again.
I want to fill my life with confidence.
So there is a new weekly link up on The Adoption Social, it’s called The Things We Do. It’s an opportunity for us to share those small or big things that we’ve found help support and make life within our adoptive families easier. When I sat to think of some of the things we do in our family, I found my mind drawing a blank at first. I know there are lots of things we’ve done in the past, and still do today, but because many of them are now sewn into the fabric of our family life, it’s hard to identify them as special or even different to what everyone does.
I thought a lot about this whilst out on my run the other morning, and I’ve now mentally made a note of a few to share over the weeks. I thought I’d start however with something that we did for the first time just the other day. We’ve only done it once, and so I actually have no idea yet if it will work so well next time, but instinct tells me that it was a good move and we should try it again.
We’ve been receiving some support from something our local authority call a Multi Agency Team. I won’t go into the ins and outs of what they have (or haven’t) done for us, but the lady who’s been our support worker kindly offered to take the children for a half day outing, just before Christmas. The event came and went and until the beginning of this week I had received no comment or feedback on how it had gone. The children had just said they’d had a good time. So it was with some dismay I discovered that, in our workers opinion, the children had behaved very poorly. Fighting, not listening and answering back is what she told me, “welcome to my world” is what I felt like replying. Anyway it is to be discussed at a meeting next week and that will be another blog post entirely.
I relayed this information to my husband and we decided to have a talk with the children about it. Now often a family conversation will happen around our circular kitchen table but, for whatever reason, we invited the children to come to the lounge to talk. They sat on the sofa and Mr H and I sat on a banquet stool we have in front of it. This meant we were all at a similar level and there was openness between us. We shared with the children, what we had been told and asked them to talk to us about how they felt they had behaved. Now I know that our children find this difficult to do, but from behind cushions we got a confirmation that there had been some fighting and yes they had been told off.
With cushions still clutched to their faces, I reached across and reassuringly rubbed their feet, and thanked them for their honesty. As we talked a little more, the cushions gradually came down and then to finish off we all had hugs. Everyone then returned to whatever it was they were doing before and no heaviness or anxiety seemed to hang in the air.
What I realised, on reflection, was that this less formal and physically more open arena for family discussion, no table between us, had allowed our conversation to be less stressful for all involved. Mr H and I had taken a less authoritarian and disciplinary approach, as the setting had induced a more relaxed style in both of us. The removal of the barrier of the table between us, had allowed the children to see the open posture we both adopted and they therefore more willingly accepted the discussion and what we were saying. The lack of barrier also made it easier for us to physically reassure them throughout and encouraged the hugs we had at the end.
It ‘s a reminder for me that when addressing our children, a physical openness in our stance and being physically at the same level, so as to not appear domineering, is really important. Very often, with small children and toddlers, we kneel or come down to them to communicate but, it’s easy to forget, as they get older to do the same.
So the things we do for us this week is a fresh approach to family talks, instead of the table we shall try the sofa.
As I said this is a post written for a new link up on The Adoption Social called The Things We Do, click on the badge to find out more and read more post.
This last weekend we had a very special first meeting in our family. My cousin and his wife have also adopted a little boy. He’s been with them for nearly 6 months now and we hadn’t as yet met him, rightfully so he’s been settling in. However this weekend, a family birthday gave us all an opportunity to get together. My boys have been very interested and pleased to have another adopted child in our family and much discussion was had as to how he might be feeling and how best to approach him during this meeting.
We need not have worried too much as this adorable little boy seemed to take it all in his stride and was chatty and engaging with everyone. I suppose the knowing eye recognises the other side to his familiarity with those he’d not met before, but he still managed to very much charm everyone. I must admit I found it all a little overwhelming, meeting him and seeing them together as a family, it brought a tear to my eyes.
So an enjoyable lunch was had seeing family, my boys coped well, although Stig had a little wobble at the beginning when lots of people were arriving, but we managed to pull him through. So to let off some steam, after holding everything together for a couple of hours, we visited a favourite stomping ground after the meal.
This National Trust property and grounds has been a favourite over the years, with plenty of different things to do, varying walks and a great adventure playground. We always take the woodland walk to get to the play area to ensure we’ve had a bit of a run out first. The weather had obviously put a lot of people off, but a slight drizzle, cold wind and dark skies doesn’t discourage this family, so the children had a lot of the apparatus to themselves. A relief really, means I’m less likely to have to apologise to some other parent for Tink’s bad language or blatant rudeness.
So here it is in pictures, our Sunday run out, and as a fantastic bonus to end the outing, the park deer came bounding over a hill very close to us, a really wonderful site to behold.
I’ve linked this post to Country Kids