The Christmas Pressure.

As soon as November hits we are BOMBARDED with things that we simply have to buy/do/make/book etc etc to make Christmas absolutely spectacular.

Is it just me, or does it seem to get bigger every year? We’ve always had the nativity costume and the presents under the tree and the carrot for Rudolph but nowadays it feels like we have to do all of this PLUS elf on the shelf, a Christmas Eve box, personalised pyjamas, glitter adorned hot chocolates, a festive photo shoot and a partridge in a pear tree.

I hope you’re not thinking that I’m just a complete Grinch, honestly I could not love Christmas more. I ADORE this time of year. A hint of jingle bells and I get the excited jitters. If you want to do all of that stuff and more then you get the tinsel out and go for it. My point is, I think it’s so easy to feel pressured into doing so much that we run ourselves into the ground and then don’t find time to actually soak it all in.

Last year I ran myself ragged trying to make everything ‘perfect’ for everyone. This time I’m consciously making the effort to just enjoy it. I’ve really stripped back on the Christmas shopping and started it much earlier so that I’m nearly all done now. I don’t want to be pushed around in the busy shops anymore, it just makes me feel frazzled when I can’t park and I always regret not sorting things out sooner.

You should have seen the amount of presents our daughter had for her first Christmas. It was HUGE. It took 2 days to open it all and I had to do most of it as she wasn’t bothered. I honestly feel so embarrassed whenever I think about it. We promised we’d never do that again and we haven’t even come close. I would much rather spend our money on festive days out or things to enjoy together. My children obviously still get a bit spoilt at Christmas, but it’s a fraction of the monstrosity of 2014.

We’re lucky enough to get cooked for at Christmas so I only need to think about a starter. Christmas Eve will involve making a huge batch of spicy parsnip soup with my daughter, watching Elf with a tub of celebrations and leaving a glass of milk and carrot out for Santa and Rudolph. And honestly that’s it. My children are almost-2 and 4 so we don’t need anything else to make it magical.

I never take a photo of my children’s presents. I know a lot of parents do, and there will be countless numbers of these photos on Christmas Eve I’m sure, but it’s just not for me. I would hate for anyone to to see it and compare.

I don’t talk about money very often. It’s so subjective and it just makes me feel uncomfortable but there really is no escaping from how expensive this time of year is for everyone. SO! Here is a list of my absolute favourite things about this season that cost little or nothing:

  • The church carol service.
  • The school nativity.
  • Writing Christmas cards.
  • Decorating the tree.
  • Swapping my autumn candles for festive ones.
  • The school fayre.
  • Mulled wine.
  • Writing a letter to Santa.
  • Driving around to see the Christmas lights.
  • making it look like Santa has been on Christmas Eve.
  • Wrapping presents with a glass of Prosecco and Shakin’ Stevens.
  • When my husband breaks up from work and we have a solid week of family time ahead.
  • I said mulled wine, right?

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This Christmas, just do what you want to do. If you love Elf on the shelf, go for it. If you hate him, that’s cool too. (I’m in the latter camp!) It really doesn’t matter if Laura from across the street has better lights than Blackpool. Only you have your family and that’s all that you’ll really remember in years to come anyway!

Now, don the sequins, cry at the nativity and record all of the festive movies. It really, really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!

Knight Mummy x

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Struggling to settle.

I don’t even really know how to start this; it’s been that long since I’ve written (well, uploaded, my drafts folder is pretty full…). My last post was about getting my daughter ready for starting school in September and I intended to follow it up with an update a few weeks later when we were all settled in.

Only it didn’t really go like that. We anticipated that it would take her some time to find her feet and that there would be some tears, but nothing could’ve prepared us for how tough those initial weeks were.

Our poor, poor girl was a big ball of anxiety. She would pace the room, she was crying and worrying all the time, even at the weekend, she was waking up upset throughout the night and yet when she was at school she was mostly fine, but at home it was awful. Having to take her there and leave her sobbing everyday was absolutely heartbreaking.

If any of this sounds at all familiar to you, or if your child starts school next year and you’re worried then please don’t despair! It took a long time but by week 7 we were making improvements and as we got up to half term she was no longer crying at drop off and honestly, it felt like we had our little girl back.

I tried to do a few things at home to help her. I made a ‘worry box’ (loads of ideas on Pinterest) for when she was feeling anxious which contained some books about feeling worried, pens and paper, a windmill to encourage deep breaths and some slimy putty to keep her hands busy. I’m not sure how much it worked to be honest but I felt like I had to do something proactive to at least try and comfort her.

I spoke with her very lovely teachers but obviously there wasn’t anything that they could do for her at home and she was settling quicker and quicker each day for them. It was always such a relief when they’d say she’d been happy at school after I’d been worrying about her all day. It was the anxiety about leaving me and the length of the day that was troubling her.

We tried that sweet idea that was going around on Facebook of drawing little hearts on our hands but then she was worried about washing her hands and it coming off so that didn’t really work.

Here are a few things that actually made a difference to us:

  • Lots of consistency. Every weekday morning was basically the same so that she could adjust to our new routine. I got a wall planner for her room where she could tick off the days so that she could see when she was at school and how long until the weekend. She was becoming obsessed with counting the days and this really helped to stop that, once she could visualise her week she became much calmer.
  • Positive words. I NEVER tell her I miss her when she’s at school. I really, really do, but she’s 4 and does not need to be worrying about my emotions as well as hers. Even at the start when I was fighting back the tears I would have big smiles and just talk about how exciting it was and how I couldn’t wait to pick her up and hear about the lovely things she’d done. I would then often cry all the way home after dropping her off but that’s fine, she had no idea.
  • I get her to make her own decisions as much as possible, even very trivial things, so that she still feels like she has some control over her life. It wasn’t long ago that it was the summer holidays and she just played all day then all of a sudden she’s going off to school for 6 hours. Every morning she chooses her breakfast, how she’s having her hair and which clips she wants, she picks her own pants etc etc. There is so much that she has to do now so it’s important that she can dictate as much as possible.
  • Chat to other parents at the school gate. The chances are, they are having some struggles with it all too and you’re definitely not alone. It’s a big adjustment even for the most confident of children. I know you hear a lot about the ‘cliques’ at school but I’ve honestly never witnessed anything but true solidarity and have met some really, really lovely women. So don’t try and soldier on alone!
  • The most frustrating one, TIME. It seemed to take her so much longer than a lot of her classmates and I can’t lie, it was so difficult reading about how well everyone else’s children were doing and how everyone just loved school (not that I would wish this struggle on ANYONE, it was just hard to not compare). There were many times when it all felt too much and I wondered if we’d ever get there. But we did. And it feels absolutely glorious. Seeing our girl skipping off with her friends every morning is such a joy and I feel so grateful.

I was worried about her going back to school after half term in case it set us back a bit but she’s settled straight back in and is always happy to go. I mean, she’s exhausted by Friday but she always says that’s she’s had a good day and Parents Evening has confirmed that!

I don’t think I can put into words how difficult and upsetting those initial weeks were, for the whole family, but we’re so proud of how well she’s coped and can’t wait to see how she evolves over the next year.

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x

The next chapter.

I’ve been putting off writing this for ages (maybe in the hope that it won’t be so imminent?!) but we’re over half way through the summer holidays now and it’s time to accept that my big girl is going off to school. *sob*

I’m feeling every emotion imaginable about it; excited for all of the fun she will have, nervous about undergoing such a big change, scared that she’ll hate it, proud of how ready she is and in complete denial that we’re even at this stage in life already. I mean, I don’t feel grown up enough to have a child in school!

I know a lot of parents who are also in this position so I thought that I’d share how we are getting prepared for the big transition to Reception. I would love to hear if you are doing anything that I haven’t thought about, whether you’re doing it now or your children are older and you’ve done it all before.

  • I’m encouraging her growing independence as much as possible. We’ve been practising things like coat zips and drying her hands properly and other practical things so that she won’t rely on the already busy teachers quite so much and I want her to feel confident that she can do things herself. She’s having Velcro shoes instead of buckles as it’s just one less thing to faff with.
  • We have some lovely books about starting school. There are so many to choose from, just do a quick Amazon search. We find that books are the best way to introduce her to new things and they worked really well with potty training and becoming a big sister. It gives her chance to go over the stories again and again and they often lead to her asking some great questions.
  • We play ‘school’ with her toys. Which, I must add, she LOVES and often initiates. Obviously if your child is nervous about starting school then you won’t want to upset them by banging on about it constantly but you know them best.
  • I ALWAYS talk about school in a lovely, positive light… even if I’m not talking directly to her. They really pick up on everything, don’t they? In all honesty, I’m feeling really anxious about it all but I would never insinuate that when she’s around. They are MY issues that she doesn’t need to be burdened with. When people bring it up I just say how excited we both are.
  • We have zero weekend plans once she starts. I’m anticipating that she will be completely exhausted and her weekends will need to be about relaxing and recharging for another week.
  • Obviously we’ve sorted all of the practical things too. Her uniform is all ready (just picked bits up as and when I saw them on offer, always a sale somewhere!) and I’m going to put her name in every single thing she owns. We’ve always used name stickers which you can personalise so we sat and designed them together. She was so excited when they arrived in the post and it’s just something else to make it all feel fun.

I am confident that she will thrive and have the best time. She is ready. Since she started preschool last year, the difference in her has been phenomenal and I cannot wait to see her continue to transform in Reception.

… obviously we all know that I’ll still have a big, fat cry after dropping her off. I just cannot help it!

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x

We own a FOUR year old.

Don’t you think four sounds so much older than three?! It’s like she was a toddler and then LITERALLY OVERNIGHT she has become this proper child who you can chat to (and argue with…) and has her own opinions and ideas. It honestly blows my mind and at least once a day I think ‘HOW are you so grown up?’.

Anyway, she ended up having a whole birthday weekend. We were on holiday in Devon last week so we celebrated a day early and went to the beach which is honestly her happy place. If we could pick up our whole family and bring them with us then we would love to move to the sea.

We all went out for a late lunch at a cafe on a boat and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun eating chips and ice cream. Perfection.

Her big present was her first bike and she was so happy with it. Hopefully she’ll have a lot of opportunities to get out on it with Daddy over the Summer and practise. She also had Trolls and LOL dolls which is just a four year olds dream.

This kid LOVES a party so she had her first proper birthday party on the Sunday where she invited who she wanted, helped choose the decorations, chose her own outfit and selected all of the music. We had face glitter and temporary tattoos, there was a table where the children decorated a flower pot and then planted a seed in compost and then we had Grace’s favourite songs (an album I entitled ‘The Gracest Hits’… thank you very much.) playing with some disco lights. Oh and a mandatory pass the parcel. It’s a classic for a reason.

I won’t lie, it was a lot of work. I always make a massive deal of the kid’s birthdays so it was never going to be a few balloons and a cake… I just can’t help myself! She loved it though so it was more than worth all of the late nights and long eBay searches. (I’ve done a few ‘DIY’ parties now so if you’d be interested in a Top Tips kind of post then just let me know.)

It was so special to see her playing and laughing with friends that she’s made herself. It definitely made me feel more confident about her starting school in September, which is a whole other blog post in itself.

It’s been a lovely (and exhausting!) few days. My girl has been completely spoilt and I’m completely touched by how much love she has around her. We’re now heading towards the end of preschool and she’s definitely ready for a rest!

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x

Current beauty favourites.

A child-free stroll through Boots is my idea of bliss. My dressing table is heaving with beauty junk and I’m always have my radar looking for what’s new. That said, I’m now a busy mum of two so I have much less time to ponce about in front of the mirror so I need products that are easy to use and work hard. I did a beauty and skincare favourites post a couple of years ago and I’ve had a few people request an update so I thought I’d share a few of my current hero products with you.

  • No 7 Radiant Results Nourishing Cleansing Balm. This stuff feels so luxurious and smells lovely. It melts away all of my make up with ease and I really think my skin looks brighter since I’ve been using this.
  • Benefit Rockateur blusher. Admittedly it doesn’t look very exciting in the box but it is the absolute perfect colour for me. I use it everyday and it works with any look. I’ve tried a few other blushers since but I always gravitate back to this one.
  • Schwarzkopf got2b glued hairspray. I’ve been using this for years and years now and I just won’t buy anything else. I spray it on my curls and they last until I wash my hair again (… which is often nearly a week!) I also use it in my daughter’s hair when she has her ballet class and it keeps her wild curls contained in a bun whilst she’s dancing, which is remarkable really!
  • La Roche-Posay Effaclar duo. This little pair have not only cleared up my skin but also faded the scarring I had from past break outs so it’s a complete winner with me. It’s not the cheapest skincare out there but if you keep on eye on their website they often have discount codes on.
  • Paradise Extatic waterproof mascara. This is a complete dupe for the Two Faced Better Than Sex mascara but half the price. I love it!
  • L’Oréal Hydra Genius aloe water. This is the lightest moisturiser I’ve ever used and perfect for the summer months. It absorbs really quickly but still stops my skin from feeling tight for the whole day.
  • Garner Skin Active BB cream + blur. I don’t have very long to put my make up on in the morning so this is perfect for me. I just apply a thin layer with my fingers and it blends it easily and smooths over my skin covering up any scarring or redness whilst not being so thick and cakey that you can’t see my skin beneath it. Ticks all the boxes for me.

I could go on forever but these are just my current ‘must haves’ that I always repurchase. Please let me know your top beauty products or quick tricks! I’m particulary in the market for a so-easy-an-idiot-could-use-it fake tan so that my ghost legs can match the rest of my body so please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x

Holidays: pre vs post children.

We’ve just returned from a few days away in Spain which was just what we all needed. We go to the same resort every year and always have the best time. I was sorting through some photos when we got back when I found some from holidays that Mr Knight and I went on before we had the children and it made me think about just how different getaways are now. We always say ‘it’ll be nice to have a good break’ but the only thing we’re actually getting a break from is the office and our house! The parenting actually kicks up a few notches as you swap lounging on the beach for ALL OF THE ACTIVITIES.

Holidaying Before Kids

  • Cocktail at lunch? OH GO ON THEN!

    2011

  • Late late nights. If you’re tired you can just have a nice long nap by the pool.
  • You can go from beach to bar in half an hour which includes a shower and some ‘pre going out’ selfies.
  • You go home with a gorgeous tan and everyone remarks at how fabulous you look. You make sure to wear white for a week after you return to really show off that glow.
  • You end up on first name terms with the local bar staff.
  • Travelling involves mooching around duty free and having a leisurely breakfast before sleeping through your flight.

    2012

    2012

 

Holidaying With Kids

  • You will need the biggest beach bag the world has ever seen to contain everyone’s sun cream, towels, snacks, drinks, hats, sunglasses etc. which you will have to lug around all week.
  • Early nights are essential as you know that you’ll have an early start! (Just like at home but with time difference to factor in. Every morning you wake up and work out what time it really is.)
  • Despite being awake from 6am, you won’t actually get out of your accommodation until at least 10am once you have got everyone prepped for a day in sun and packed the bag.
  • You spend all week nagging your children to have more suncream on, drink more water and for goodness sake will you just KEEP YOUR HAT ON!
  • Travelling is a complete logistical nightmare. Essentially you are just trying to occupy your children whilst you wait in various queues for hours.
  • You go home a little bit burnt as your focus was solely on keeping the kids covered…

Relaxing the ‘rules’ feels so good. Ice cream at 10am? Of course! We’re on holiday!

  • Getting to spend quality time together whilst seeing your children discover new surroundings is GOLD. Watching your children jumping in the waves is like nothing else and makes all of the other things more than worth it.

 

Thanks for reading!

Knight Mummy x

Off to school.

A week ago we received our confirmation email about Big Knight’s school placement.

It felt like an eternity ago that we applied and as the day creeped up my stomach was in knots. We had applied for 3 schools, all in our catchment area, but had actually only been on a visit to our 1st choice as our tour of our 2nd choice school was cancelled due to the snow. We just thought we’d worry about looking at the other schools if it came to it.

We were in love with the school we had chosen though. She already attends the preschool so I was desperate for her to stay there to make the transition a bit easier and hopefully stay with some of her friends. We then went on a visit around the school with the head teacher and we had such a great feeling from it; great outdoor space, bright classrooms, lovely staff etc etc. It just had everything that we wanted and we felt like she could really thrive there.

So Monday FINALLY rolled around and I spent the morning refreshing my emails like mad. Like, I’d go to put the kettle on, check emails, get a tea bag, check emails, walk 5 steps to the fridge, check emails… you get the idea! I was driving myself insane so I quickly bundled us up and went into town.

Just like how a watched pot never boils, sure enough after we’d been playing in the library for half an hour, I checked my phone and there it was. I felt a bit sick but gathered the kids up so I could read it without losing them!

She was in.

I did a little happy dance in the middle of the library! I was ecstatic! It’s hard accepting that my big girl is already going off to school but at least I know that she’s going somewhere where she will flourish and be happy. I called my husband at work and then we went to buy celebratory cakes.

I know that during this term, she’ll be going into the Reception class and meeting the teachers and just getting to know the new surroundings which will make such a difference in September. Big Knight gets so anxious about anything new so we’re talking about it a lot and trying to build the excitement. I’ll also get some books for us to read together as they seem to really help her.

So there we go. Soon it’ll be time for uniform buying and parents evening! Please let me know if you have any tips or stories about settling children into school. Big Knight only turns 4 in July so she’ll be really young so I want to help her to be as prepared as possible… I’ll make sure I buy her some really easy school shoes!

Also, I want to make the most of the next few months so let me know if you have any suggestions of things that we should be doing or things that you have planned, like a summer bucket list!

Thanks for reading,

Knight Mummy x