Going with the Flow

We’re well and truly off the boil now and drifting towards the summer break.  Ideally we’d stop now and take ourselves off to beaches and cliffs of Pembrokeshire to clear the muzzy heads and cleanse the soul. Humidity and hayfever is no good for any of us. Unfortunately with one in school and sitting a combination of mocks and real GCSEs then escape is a distant dream at the moment.

Days are still passing pleasantly and productively if less follow the plan and more roll with it. Just crashing of an evening so expect blogging to get more erratic. We’re close to the end of what I’d planned for us any way as I know this dip is coming. I’d hoped to keep momentum up until half term but hey ho, lesson is that a nice day in the woods isn’t worth the week long headache after, need to try and persuade nature loving home eders that the beach is better, we can do that ūüėČ

I say it a lot I know, but I think it is easy to take for granted the positives of home ed when you’ve been doing it a while but every now and again get a mental reminder that really do love it. 

Had a good example of the benefits on Thursday. We were reading a book about Japan together and looking at a picture in the book with lots of different flags on. Sam started pointing out ones he knew and it turned out to be quite a lot more than me and this is something I pride myself on being good at.  So we decided to do a jigsaw that I’d bought on spec a few weeks before and we spent the rest of the morning on that and quizzing each other about it.  We did pause to consider where he’d gained this knowledge as not something we’ve really done formally or informally, not one of his pet subjects that he’s taken up him self either. We could only conclude it was all the hours playing military strategy games on the computer ūüôā  Knowledge he’d probably still have gained if he was going to school but whether he’d have the same time for the hobby or the time and scope to spend the time demonstrating what he knows is questionable. Also to be honest whether he’d have the same pride in knowing these things or whether it would have been displaced by shame because he doesn’t know what a subordinate clause is, or kicked out of him on the playground for being geeky, I wonder.

Friday and I fancied a day out. Actually it was more I didn’t want a day in. Sam was very amenable, although he did point out that we’d been out Monday, Weds and Thurs to home ed activities.

We decided that the main aim was to get sushi for lunch as he was keen and we’d been reading about Japanese food this week. We were a bit flummoxed as I was sure there was one at Gunwharf but apparently not any more. So we headed to Southampton instead, quite happily as we quite like Southampton and really, really hate Portsmouth.

We spent an hour pottering in the art gallery. Quite pleased to find a Lowry and there was a very intriging Mounties and Geishas picture that we spent an awful long time discussing.

  Then lunch in Yo Sushi! Sam even had raw fish, I didn’t!

Finally a bit of shopping. We found an oriental shop that sold us some Japanese sweets and biscuits. Sam also found a man willing to teach him how to play Warhammer.  He’s teetering on the brink with this one as he could fall headlong into it as a hobby as ticks so many Sam boxes but he is seriously put off by the price (phew!)

 

A Short Note

I am not really in the mood to spend long reflecting on home ed today so much more to reflect on.

Positives of the day are Sam just getting on with stuff this morning not taking the excuse of lack of internet and my distraction.  Good habits obviously well ingrained.
Plus another lovely home ed group session.  Lots of Shakespeare and playing in the garden fun had.  I can’t share the photo I took because a friend was centre shot and she doesn’t do photos. So here are some of the crafts.


We did have our first science fail for a while.  Sugar cube arch that I don’t think will ever come off tray and was supposed to be a lot bigger and upright.

As to the rest of the day, while that has been spent watching the news. As you know we nip up to London fairly often, and will continue doing what we always have.  Events like this don’t make me fearful they make me sorrowful, for those whose lives will be forever scarred and for the hate filled reactions in response that will help no one.

 

The Whatever Works Approach

Part of the #100waystohomeeducate blog hop from Jax’s Making It Up blog. You can read about how Heidi unschools in yesterday’s post on Tending the Vegetable Patch.

Sometimes I think we’ve tried 100 different ways to home educate ourselves at least ūüôā  When I speak to new home educators one of the things they sometimes need reiterating is that there is no magic ‘correct’ way to home educate.  You have to be prepared to find a way that works for your family.  Every child needs different things, every family has different dynamics, every parent has a different skill set and philosophy, every area has its own varied home ed community.  You need to marry all of that and then be prepared for it to change, often!  Our weeks now with a nearly 15 year old in school and an 11 year at home are very different to when I had a 5 yo just reaching compulsory education age and a toddler causing mayhem.

Before I try and explain where we are now I suppose I had better explain where we came from.  I enjoyed primary school, secondary much less but not in a ‘it was awful’ way. If you asked me at 6 what I wanted to be when I grew up it was a primary school teacher, at 18 the wish was just as strong.  However the shutters started to be lifted from my eyes pretty much immediately and by 18 months into the course I quit.  It was the National Curriculum that stopped me carrying on, I couldn’t bring myself to teach to a scheme that I truly believe fails most children.  To be honest I would still really love to teach just not the NC.  My thoughts on the NC are a whole other post, sufficient to say I was disillusioned with the system at 20 and had mentally already noted that I would be looking in to alternatives should I have my own children.  About 6 months after I quit my sister raised the idea of home education for her children as she didn’t want them to go to her local school, it wasn’t something she did in the end as she moved but the idea that it was possible had been planted.
2 1/2 years later I had my own children.  One day when the eldest was about 2 my husband said ‘I wish he didn’t have to go to school’ and I said ‘well actually  he doesn’t’ and that was pretty much decision made.  I asked my husband if he wanted to look around schools, state and private, when the time came and he didn’t.

We read lots of books and websites, joined the local and national groups which were all Yahoo in those days and tiny by today’s standards.  Because we knew no one locally we did 2 mornings a week at preschool (pre EYFS) alongside 2 home ed activities a week.  When the time came to drop preschool it wasn’t a big deal.  While swayed by the idea of unschooling I can remember being so excited to do a ‘project’ in our first week.  I can still see 4 yo Jack interviewing passers by on their favourite chocolate bars for a chocolate lapbook (I have developed a hatred of lapbooks over the years, too much cutting out).

In the early years of home ed our patterns were very seasonal, we’d do some projects over the cooler months, some workbook maths and more computer based education programmes.  In the warmer months we’d do bits of maths and reading set by me or more often Pete for 20 mins max and play for the rest, outdoors a lot of the time.  We gradually slipped into more structure as it seemed to suit better but how much and how that structure worked has changed a lot.  Slipped makes it sound like it was a lot smoother than it was but in reality lots of doubts, soul searching, mistakes, changes in a approach, swinging one way then the other was more like it. 

Fast forward about 6 years which have seen a fair few about turns in home ed approach, lots of wobbles along the way and one child decide to go to school for the social aspect.  The wobbles and doubts have long since receded.  Partly seeing what J covers in school means what little respect for the system I had is pretty much gone, there is very little that J has done that we can’t do better.  I worry far less about home ed than school.  It is also partly that I have been doing this nearly 12 years if you count from when we made the definite decision at preschool age and 10 years with a child of CSA and I have the confidence and evidence that I am doing a good job and the trust that we’ll adapt and fit around the challenges that the future will bring.

So how do we home educate?  I commented a few weeks ago somewhere that if there is a continuum from radical unschooling to school at home we would probably be as close to the centre as it is possible to get.  Labels are pointless. We could be called semi structured as we do have a structure to the level of spreadsheets and being able to tell you what maths we’ll be aiming to be doing in any particular week, but neither of us like to feel constrained so we aim is the key word and plans are always seen as a framework of ideas rather than something to be rigidly adhered to.  An unschooling friend commented that my approach was some serious strewing which made me smile as I had never thought of it that way.  In my opinion Sam ‘needs’ structure, he doesn’t necessarily want it but he is more relaxed, less anxious and happier for it.  The deal I have with him is I need to feel like I am providing an education, I need to see positive steps and him being engaged in activities, he gets a lot of input into the practicalities but I have non-negotiables. 

The biggest impact on our home ed has been the need to fit around J being in school so as time has gone on it has become easier to adopt school terms and school days.  Very little of that is what many would think of as traditional schooling, but idea is we spend 9-2 every day actively engaged in projects of some type.  I try to make sure I am about at this time, that I don’t work or do more than 5 min put the washing on style housework.  Friday’s do tend to wind up at lunch time though ūüėČ

Day to day lessons are short we use lots of different resources for variety.  What I call our core work takes about 1hr – 1 1/2 hours max 4 morning a week.  This is Maths, English, Spanish and Latin.  Other subjects get covered by a combination of read alouds, documentaries, trips and hands on projects.  I am starting to introduce recording his work and more writing projects as we’d left them for years as they caused unneccessary stress.  While still along way off I feel we need to baby step towards essay writing and exams as keen that they don’t take over and become huge causes of stress, but important to me that we do some. 

We use an online planner and Sam is able to structure his days as I add jobs to it on a weekly basis.  If jobs are left at the end of a week either they carry over or we delete depending on how relevant/important we judge them to be.  Maths and English are planned annually in August, other projects are pencilled in and fleshed out in holiday’s closer to it.  We find we drop some stuff completely as do tend to find August always makes me over ambitious.

Social activities take up a lot of our week and could take up more easily we have a huge thriving local community.  

Roughly our weeks go like this

Monday – Home of a morning doing jobs from the planner. In the afternoon we have a science group with a small group of friends very close in age fortnightly at our house, or we’ll do a big hands on activity or now the weather is improving we’ll go out geocaching or slot in one of our rarer activities like laser quest.
Tues – PJ day.  This is our designated day at home, only something very special can intrude.  Work from planner usually followed by some sort of strategy game.
Weds – This is our social day.  We spend nearly every Weds afternoon with friends either meeting at a local hall, a trip somewhere or sometimes just coffee and play.  If we’re home we work from planner of the morning.
Thurs – Work from planner of a morning. Afternoon with Grandad, either boardgames at home, park or beach in summer or fortnightly trampolining with the local HE group.
Fri – The most flexible day.  We might have work left on the planner to do if we’ve been out for a full day earlier in the week, often though it’s a free day.  Once a month I run a craft group for the younger ones and Sam potters about town.  Pete is usually off so sometimes we take opportunity of it being a good day to grab a lift to the station and go up to London.  Other times we play games, go out geocaching (alone or with friends).  It is the day that if we have errands or appointments I try to stick them on.  A whatever comes up day.

Which takes us back to our whole educational philosophy which is basically to do whatever works at this particular time and if it isn’t working change.

Some photos of this week.
   

A Good Problem, But Still a Problem

That old chestnut, socialisation, is starting to rear it’s head as a problem again but not in the way outsiders might expect.  Actually been an issue in this way for some time just happens to be in my mind.

The problem in our local area is actually the sheer scale of numbers of people home educating.  Once upon a time I probably knew nearly everyone home educating with in a 30 mile radius of our house by face or at least by online presence (well on the mainland).  Now I am aware I almost certainly don’t know everyone in a 3 mile radius!  In fact there are probably similar numbers in that 3 mile radius now that there were in the 30 mile radius 12 years ago.

How can this possibly be a bad thing? Well obviously in many ways it is wonderful, there are many more people to gel with and many more activities to chose from.

I do worry about new members though.  As the groups have grown people understandably separate out into smaller groups (I hope not cliques although can see why people would say that).   People don’t see the same people so regularly so at events new people get missed as it’s not obvious they are new or just someone you don’t know. Plus people are often distracted, catching up with someone they have known for 3 years but haven’t managed to cross paths with in 6 months, and despite best intentions might not make it over to talk to that person on their second visit. 

Also where do you start?  When I started out the local HE group had 2 activities a week and if you wanted to meet home eders you went along to them.  I can only imagine what looking at this whole long list of stuff on offer does to people and how scary it is to try and find your way in.  Because there is so much on so easy to put it off to another day if you are nervous about going along.  Sadly for shy/anxious children, those with ASD, or those newly deregistered the scale of numbers must be off putting.  We regularly get at least 25 and can be 50+ children to social activities, the group that runs tutorials gets many, many more.  That many children even when actively engaged are noisy.

As an organiser the biggest problem is how do you cap numbers without guilt (lots of guilt)? I find myself frequently booking more than one workshop from the same people just so we can fit in more but that is still not enough.  In the middle of a set of two workshops where we will end up accommodating around 70 children. The same activity was offered on a drop on basis a very easy trip away only a month ago and still I ended up with a waiting list.  Not just me doing it either, virtually every local trip/activity fills really quickly.  I can imagine running a trip/activity is a scary prospect for many now.  The organising is a much bigger job than it was.  Invite only stuff makes me feel uncomfortable, we’ve been left out and hasn’t felt nice but when you can only accommodate a handful I get wanting to make sure it is your child’s friends.

One real positive of the growth is after a few years where every activity was dominated by younger children and the only way to ‘socialise’ with over 1o’s was to attend tutorials is we do have a real thriving group of 11-14yo out and about at trips and social activities, which is very nice to see.

I am not sure where I was going with this (started it too long ago!) more a general observation and wondering what the next 5 years will bring. Already we see moves where organisations are taking responsibility and creating events for home educators to book with them. Wonder if that is the future? More organised with services provided professionally/semi-professionally? Is it the death of every one bringing an activity to do at a church hall table style of group? What will all this mean for the feeling of ‘community’?

For us personally we are happy, we get a good mix of big group socialising with lots of ages, time with friends, time with family and time just us. We don’t have anywhere near enough time to spend as much time with each friend as we’d like unfortunately, but have accepted that we can’t do it all.

Puberty is Done!

Part of me would love to completely unschool I completely and utterly embrace the idea that children learn what they are interested in.  However, ignoring the fact that both Sam and I are creatures of habit and life is a lot happier when we have a ood routine, I major reason for not totally embracing the whole unschooling thing is a lack of faith they will learn everything they need to this way and a feeling that waiting for children to show an interest is limiting to them.  Sam has embraced many things that aren’t his natural interests and he probably wouldn’t have got to on his own but by presenting something to him in the right way to grab his attention it has sunk in.
The reason for this is that I have been waiting for ever for Sam to ask ‘those questions’ I don’t believe in the birds and the bees talk I believe in answering questions when asked to the level they can understand and need to know.  Only child number 2 has been flatly refusing to ask questions about things he probably needs the answer too in the not too distant future.
Hence opting to do a human body project for science this year as a route in.  Normally I let Sam choose the projects but I felt this one needed doing.
So we’ve read books and answered questions from scientific point. I expect more questions but at least it is now planted in his mind.  This is the book we have – highly recommend – they have a girls version too.
Dealing with reproduction from a scientific perspective meant that we spent a lot of time discussing dominant and recessive genes.  I have a lot of recessive genes and Sam has a lot of dominant ones! 
I learned the name for the lump some people have on their ear – it is called Darwin’s Ear Point. I love how much HE teaches me. Sorry for sideways photo.

In a not really anything to do with home ed more a pointless pottering thing to do, we filled a balloon with water beads.  It is great fun to squish. 

Life Skills Day

One of the criticisms levelled at home ed is that it encourages clingy children, that parents are being selfish and indulgent and irresponsible by not sending their children out there.

In my experience the opposite is true.  Don’t get me wrong I’m pleased that mine can read, know their tables etc but what I am proudest of is who they are.  Free thinking, confident and capable human beings.  We’ve got to where we have by letting them have the independence to do things when they were ready.

Some of the independence at home came about purely through my, I was going to say laziness but that is not right, busyness is actually more fitting.  I get up before the kids so have usually had breakfast and am in to doing something else before they are up so from about the age of 5, I’d get down the bowl and leave them to make own breakfast.  As they asked I showed them how to make things like toast, porridge, scrambled eggs.
From about 8/9, they make their own lunch and occasionally mine about 1/2 the time.  If they want something different or on a weekend to eat at a different time then they make it.  Has never been a decision made “now they should do this”, just as they have become capable of doing stuff I leave them to it.
Untidyness aside they are both pretty capable around the house.  Never been an allocating chores person, more we’re a family so please muck in.  Being around in the day means that no housework fairy ever comes when they are out so they have always been a part of it. 

Sam rarely strayed far from me when he was young.  Even now he’s not that keen on groups unless I’m running them.  Not so much because he wamts to be with me,  I think it’s more that he’s comfortable in the expectations and boundaries.

I am sure some people looking in see Sam as quite over protected. Yet yesterday he confidently headed off round town with money to buy a birthday present for his friend and card, giftbag etc so he had it prepped to hand over.  He usually does go round the shops now while I run a group for younger HE children, this is town not our village where everyone knows us.  He decided what he wanted to eat and took himself to Subway to buy and eat lunch.  So was able to order (and budget – I’d handed over some cash for present and lunch).  Then be back on time to help me pack up.
After that we headed to Gosport where without a backwards look he was off on the ferry to Portsmouth to meet a friend for a sleepover. 

We did have some discussion about whether he even wanted me to meet him at the ferry today for the return leg. He did think seriously and decided he’s seen me have too many issues with bus drivers not understanding what ticket I wanted lately to feel confident buying a ticket. Sympathise with that one!  It is lovely to see them confidently stepping away, knowing they have the freedom to take steps when they feel ready for steps no problem with saying no I’m not ready; no heading off to a strange environment at 5, no having to catch a bus for school at 11, no class residentials where they are made to feel a baby if they don’t want to go.  All those things will come when they are ready if they are left until they feel safe.

2016

Can I admit that 2016 was a good year? Enjoyable and productive, full of family, friends and fun.

Personally I end the year over a stone lighter (even allowing for Christmas) than I was back in May and feeling better for it.  I managed 9 big sewing projects. Ones below were my favourite.  I met my Goodreads challenge of 52 books (probably will make it 53 before the night is out) and used the challenge from Modern Mrs Darcy as motivation to read some different choices/ones that have sat on the shelf for years.   I even managed War and Peace and quite a decent quota of Shakespeare (still too many I don’t kno as well as I’d like).  I managed 30 – yes 30!!! – FutureLearn courses.  To be honest that was too many and made it in to work, there was a few more I didn’t finish/left.  That said there were some really, really good ones in there – Shakespeare in his World, Teaching Literacy through Film and A Royal History of Food and Feasting stick out.

As far as HE goes we’ve had some fantastic trips and lots of making use of what is on our door step, lots of fun project work and chilling at home too and regular HE groups that work well for us.

January – Romans were the order of the month and we seemed to be out a lot! This time in Wales.
February – I could have picked from loads of photos of hands on projects to show us being busy and productive at home, brilliant geology project but St Paul’s was the stand out trip of the year I think.
March – 2016 was the year I finally found a venue that I could run the HE group I have always wanted from. Here was an Easter session.
April – lots of time out but we were having huge fun in with lots of geology experiments and Surrealism themed art projects.

May – Spring had sprung and lots of photos of us hanging out by, in and on rivers for our geography project and in lots and lots of parks just because we could.
June- with our Dockyard pass due to expire we ended up there lots! Just as the’d put in an indoor assualt course (we bought a new pass!)
July – Summer meant work was set aside and the beach (and dockyard) embraced. The second half of the month was spent in Wales enjoying the peace.
August -bought many more days on the beach. My oldest friend visited so we had fun showing them about.
September – New academic year and new projects – lots of making food related models of human body parts.
October – Studying Queeen Victoria and having fun with friends seems to be the order of the month.
November – One of the real hits this academic year has been adopting a day that is pj day every week. We’re both thriving on it.

December – HE groups have gone from strength to strength this year. Lot of fun making bath bombs.

Balancing Act

We’re in a stage of transition at the moment home ed wise, there’s a feeling that on the horizon it all gets a lot more serious and less ‘fun’.

There’s mixed emotions of trying to keep the fun, flexibility and following our own agenda as long as we can while at the same time starting to work on skills that he’ll need in the future.¬† I know not all home educators think the same but to me if at 16 the same doors aren’t open to Sam that would have been if he’d gone to school then home ed has failed.¬† Realistically that means at least 5 GCSEs inc Maths and English.

I don’t think we need to cover the KS3 curriculum but to move from where we are now to where we need to be is quite a jump.¬† Small steps are what we need.¬† Essay writing and following a learning agenda set by others are something quite alien.¬† We are not textbook, worksheet, writing things down, curriculum following people, just isn’t us.¬† We do some but tend to adapt a lot and outside of Maths and English tend to abandon things very quickly as so much feels like ‘busy work’.

The other motivation is that Sam needs more than sticking and gluing now.¬† I want things to stay fun but they also need to be a bit challenging.¬† I am thinking mainly of workshops we do.¬† I think we’re close to giving up on KS2 ones, they are not holding interest.¬† The one we did today that was planned particularly for us was nice.¬† Not much is capturing my interest when I look about of KS3 though and there aren’t that many children of that age into the whole workshops thing.¬† Days out and seeing and doing are not something I’m going to let slide though I just think there will probably just end up being less ones with the group. Which is a pity as it is how we’ve forged our strongest friendships.

Last Thursday was a day that felt like we were doing education.¬† We were doing our own spin.¬† We didn’t do the worksheets that went with the slideshows we watched on Indian rivers and mountains.¬† He wrote up reports on his blog instead.

We also have a history textbook for KS3.¬† The intention was never to follow it as a course but there is precious little about for looking at the British Empire.¬† The idea is to use the relevant chapters for information, picking and chosing the activities we do from them either as written or discussion exercises.¬† Our first dabble worked well.¬† It’s a nice enough book.¬† Activities are thoughtful and relevant.

The key point of all that drivel is Thursday wasn’t the most exciting day to blog about but it was busy, productive and pleasant enough and probably a sign of the slow drift of change.¬† I am sure that one day this blog will just be a memory as I have nothing of interest to note.¬† I’ll miss it.

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Community Support

Making your way in the world today 
Takes everything you've got; 
Taking a break from all your worries 
Sure would help a lot. 
Wouldn't you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 
Where everybody knows your name, 
And they're always glad you came; 
You want to be where you can see, 
Our troubles are all the same; 
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of belonging and community lately. ¬†Various conversations on and off line have made me realise how important it is to have a place that you are accepted and comfortable. ¬†Where people sympathise, advise and help when there are problems and are genuinely pleased and celebrate alongside you your successes.

I know how lucky I am to live in an area with a huge thriving local home education community where pretty much any activity you want is on offer and you can go to something most days. ¬†A big community though may make things harder. ¬†When I joined the home ed social scene there were only a couple of local activities on offer and if you wanted to meet people that is what you had to do and new people were relatively rare, everyone knew you were new and made an effort to welcome¬†you. ¬†That isn’t so easy now, not that people are less welcoming but new people don’t stick out the same way as there are so many more groups in the area with so many more people. Unfortunately means people¬†can¬†get missed. I am often unsure if someone is new or just I’ve just never crossed paths with them. The emphasis is more on newcomers to say I’m new and need help which I imagine is very daunting.

It is interesting how many of us (not just new home educators) admit to finding the socialising part of home ed very, very hard. ¬†For me personally I’m great on social media, and always the first to go and chat and welcome new people, I find that part easy. ¬†I am not good at normal conversation though, slightly deaf and generally lacking the knack. ¬†I struggle with the 75% of people at groups that fall between genuine¬†friends (just clicked with, the inner circle ūüėČ ) and complete strangers. ¬†I tend to avoid the large playmeets that go on for hours unless with friends as find them painful. ¬†Luckily there is enough on that I am comfortable at to keep Sam happy as that is the important bit.

I think what I am trying to say is please don’t let anxiety and nervousness hold you back. ¬†There will be plenty of other nervous people there. It isn’t just home ed children who need friends (actually some don’t) it is the parents who do. ¬†We all need somewhere where we can moan about a bad day and not be told ‘well if they were in school…’ or get ideas on how to help with a problem and not get ‘well if they were at school..’ or just some adult company and a good laugh. ¬†The support is often practical too, I am not the only one to babysit for hospital appointments, watch children in workshops, lend resources etc.

I think social media and the move to Facebook is wonderful. ¬†It makes groups more chatty. ¬†For the cripplingly shy like me it helps make acquaintances into friends as you recognise kindred spirits, identify common interests away from home ed and children and get to know people better than constantly interrupted conversations allow. ¬†I’ve Facebook friends that I’ve never met but we’ve chatted online in various forums and followed each others blogs for years. ¬†My advice is to embrace it, post on groups local and national, reply and share stories, send friend requests to people (I am rubbish at this, starting to try to be more proactive but please feel free to add me). ¬†Even if you can’t get there physically that community support is there and when you do make it you’ll ‘know’ people.

I’ve heard a few people say lately that they’ve found home ed lonely and it breaks my heart as it really shouldn’t be, be brave come join the village ūüôā

I will just add we have done stuff the last two days; trampolining, Maths, English, Latin, Spanish, history (including most of today on Civilisation 5) but not really interesting blog stuff. ¬†We did do a lot of drawing this morning including this pretty butterfly by me (every blog needs a photo ūüėČ )- always learning with him.

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Bit of Self-Indulgence

A long time a go I wrote a post about how hard it is to maintain your sense of self when home educating and in many cases juggling work and other responsibilities. It was something that clearly resonated with others.  Several years down the line all I can say is it gets easier, much easier, to find time as the children get older.

The trick is to keep yourself safe during those hard years. ¬†Let your children see you as a person with wants and needs of your own. ¬†Don’t be afraid to say no occasionally to them in order to do something you want. ¬†Learning to compromise and balance needs of others is a valuable skill. ¬†Keep up with hobbies even if it is very ad hoc. ¬†When life is busiest I am known to write 1/2 hour sewing or read a chapter on my to do list. ¬†Keeping myself sane is just as important as doing the laundry. ¬†Talk about things other than children! ¬†Hard sometimes as it can seem they are the world and in home ed spheres they are the link that binds, but talk politics, food, fabric, pets, what you did at university, any complete rubbish that fills your head¬†don’t be just so and so’s mum. ¬†One day you will find yourself with space to be you so don’t forget who ‘you’ are.

Anyway where this was coming from was the trip to Wales saw me with more time than ever on my hands, it wasn’t a case of grabbing half hour here and there but having hours where I could fill my time as I chose. ¬†I’d left tablet behind so no work or home ed admin or even Futurelearn courses (spent a lot of time on these this year) could intrude.

I read a book on 70’s politics, one on a family of Maharanis, Wolf Hall as have been meaning to read that for a long time and a rubbish book on someone’s travels tracking down Doctor Who filming locations.

I finished the last in the series of season trees I have been cross stitching. ¬†To get this done in a fortnight says exactly how much time I had ūüėČ

20160803_188 While sewing I worked through documentaries on Coast, human evolution and the behind the scenes one at the Commons.  Sam joined me for most of Coast.

There was time for jigsaws (of maps, love maps). ¬†Didn’t get a photo of the football club one we did, this is Cardiff.

20160803_132There was walking, book shopping, family games and pottering about in the kitchen playing with making mug cakes.

There was list writing Рalways planning :).  Plus some time for drawing (Sam looks evil), not well but I do enjoy it, could be better with practice and more patience but not something I find the time for that often.

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And the reason for the self indulgent post really is that I spent a lot of time playing with a new camera so wanted to dump the photos somewhere ūüôā

Playing with settings

Random photos

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