You were all right - it's an exercise bike - a digital one, and I couldn't let it go at £2.42 could I?
The children were delighted and my colleague who dropped it off said they were acting like he had a van load of puppies rather than an exercise bike! It is definitely an eyesore in the sitting room but while it is being actively used by the whole family it can stay there.
I've been reading Soulemama's blog again over the last few days. I haven't read her for years because I stopped when I just got overwhelmed by how lovely and perfect her life appeared to be. Reading it again has reminded me of how inadequate I feel about my parenting skills - while I find myself loving what she is doing and wishing I could recreate it in some small way. It even made me long to buy wholesome handspun wool in shades of brown to knit something homely!
I know every parent has times of feeling inadequate - I know I have ALWAYS felt that way but looking back on when the children were little I think they probably did have a lot of fun and creative play. Dorothy is still very creative and spends most of her time reading, sewing or knitting when she is not doing GCSE work but Daisy and Fred seem to have got into a rut of watching telly and playing on the computer and they admit they are bored by it! The other day I was delighted when they broke out the Playmobil again but I know those days have really passed. Daisy has picked up knitting and finished her cowl and is now tackling purl stitches and rib before moving on to a pair of legwarmers. She even came to Knit Group with me and Dot on Saturday :o)
I just really feel like I need to make some particular effort to re-engage with the children - play games with them more often, encourage reading and crafting - all things they love - and switch the telly and the computer off at least sometimes. But it is so easy to get into the habit of letting things slide and it can be hard to find the right balance of "chill out time" and activity. I'm probably being a bit hard on myself really - but I do need to do more.
One good thing is that Fred has joined the Scouts. He used to be a Cub years ago but got bored with it (and we were struggling to pay for all three to attend) so he stopped and I wasn't really sure how positive he would be about joining again - he really does love the telly and the computer and something that would take him away from them for a couple of hours in the evening wasn't necessarily going to be welcome especially as it would be almost straight after coming home from his childminder. But he seems to be really engaging with it and enjoying it. So far this month he has made "junk" musical instruments, been rock climbing and is having a visit from the Police tonight then next week he is going scuba diving! He has even agreed to go on a two day camping trip in March which will involve quite a lot of that horrible activity - walking! (He and Daisy have been fairly allergic to the idea of walking for a good couple of years and will never come with us when we go - it has been rather liberating now that we are able to leave them at home in Dot's care and go out by ourselves!)
How do other parents with children over 10+ keep them occupied and engaged? What can I do to do things better?
And the only photograph? Evidence of one big improvement I've been making lately - getting up early enough to have a family breakfast together rather than the usual morning chaos - fried eggs from our lovely hens.