Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Reflecting

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.

18 comments:

anne bebbington said...

Lucy - STOP!!! - and I mean stop beating yourself up, you have three lovely kids who are lucky to have you as a mum - ok it might be the case that the younger two need distracting from the screen occasionally but in this day and age with all the screen orientated activities there are whose kids dont - I have no doubt that your kids will look back on now in years to come and remember lots of lovely times you have together as a family

Gina said...

All I have to say is that you sound like a great Mum with fabulous children and are doing nothing wrong!

mrspao said...

I think the fact you are worrying about it says that you probably are doing it right. Your children all sound fairly balanced and happy from what you've written!

I think you'd enjoy my friend Susie's blog - she has two lovely children and she is an active member of our WI and has a job too. http://ridgewaycottage.blogspot.co.uk/

itsjustperi said...

I don't read blogs like Soulemama either, c'mon seriously as nice as it all sounds nobody has a life that perfect and if they do then they are 1 in a million. I agree with what Anne said and I think most of us in some way feel slightly guilty about time spent on computers/ games / TV etc but life is different from when we were younger and these items are everyday things now, even Gabe has IT lessons at school and he's 5! You are a lovely lady, a great mam and have smashing kids and to me it sounds like you are doing just fine. Hugs xx

Quinn said...

Gosh, Lucy, all I can say is I always enjoy posts about your family life because the caring shines through.

Ali said...

I rushed over to your comment box to find out if people had any words of wisdom to offer, because as the parent of similarly aged children, I find myself wondering the exact same thing.

How to get the level of engagement that the hours at the play dough table or in the garden seemed to provide when they were tiny.

But perhaps it is just this stage in life. Your children always seem totally delightful to me, for what it's worth. My main activity with my two appears to be ferrying them around so they can conduct their social lives. Not sure that's quite what you had in mind...

Thomasina Tittlemouse said...

It's not easy being a parent ever but it certainly doesn't get any easier as people get older, just different! Don't worry - what you're talking about sounds very normal to me and persuading my teenage son off his computer screen has become, well, a leitmotiv of my life! I try to mix in other stuff sometimes rather more successfully than at other times! I think anything that is generated from outside as an activity that is committed to is a very good thing so Scouts sounds perfect. My son grumbles like anything about having to row on the river all Saturday afternoon with his school but he's committed to doing it so it's not optional and actually he comes back invigorated and cheerful and I think to myself well he may never be a champion rower but if rowing means he's out on the water, getting exercise in the company of his peers, it's time on a Saturday afternoon not on a screen and very well spent! So seize any opportunities that come your way - they do help get over heavy ground lightly and mean that a bit more energy is in reserve for when there isn't any outside claim to do something else and parents just have to do their best to convince sceptical and scornful offspring that perhaps a break from the computer for a walk or something would be a good idea! Yes the oats are like Ready Brek - I've put a reply comment to your q on my blog in case anyone else wants to know the same thing. E x

Mitzi said...

Unfortunately no child comes with a manual and no matter what you do you will always worry that you did enough and made the right decisions. Mine were all sporty and did either swimming or gymnastics training 20+hours per week at one stage way into their teens so my worry was that they had had enough of a childhood memories or would it all be about swimming pools and gymnasiums. These days they are grown and flown and doing their own thing. Two out of the three are still very into sport and as one is now an RAF Gunner the fitness levels he acquired through the gymnastics will have given him a good start. So in conclusion having been told by a colleague recently that feeling guilty is a very wasted emotion as you cannot rewind the clock and change things but you can learn and move forward that is the stance I have decided to take and maybe this could work for you too. They all eventually grow up and no matter how much wringing of hands that you do their lives paths are set from the moment they arrive into the world and all you can do is guide them and hope they stay on the right path.

Hope that helps.

Mitzi said...

Goodness I sounded like a wise old owl in my last comment, must be because I've recently hit a milestone birthday and therefore some of what I say now actually make sense. After that I need a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

Thimbleanna said...

Gee, that's funny, I've always thought you had a rather more perfect life than Soulemama! I stopped reading her years ago because a) I'm well beyond that phase, and b) no one's life is perfect -- even theirs. IMHO, her children are missing some important things that your children are getting. So THERE, Miss Lucy!

Your parenting years are about to get harder. ;-(. When the children are little, they follow all of your suggestions. As they get older, they'll spread their wings and it's hard to watch them become more independent. That's the objective though, isn't it? Your job is mostly to keep them safe and to always be there when they're having a bad day. Don't sweat the small stuff Lucy -- you have wonderfully creative children and that's more than a lot of Mums can say!
XOXO!!!

WendyBee said...

I had to chuckle when I read your post, because I recognized myself and my own "Mum anxieties". My children are a bit older (21,19 and 16) after this last round of birthdays. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't fret about each one of them.
And I only read SouleMama on occasion, and only as long as I can simply enjoy and *not* compare. I actually live sort of nearby (speaking on a global scale), but lead quite a different lifestyle -- not nearly as wholesome! I do not share all of her values and I am sure she would say the same of me. What she definitely has is the courage of her convictions, and that confidence in her principles is what comes across.
It's okay to question if what you're doing is effective and healthy, kind of like checking compass bearings as you sally forth on the course you have chosen. But it's so important to have basic principles you can believe in and stick to. And recognize all the rest as optional. Martha Stewart taught us that anyone whose lifestyle may appear *perfect* may not be all that it seems, and certainly, no lifestyle comes pre-packaged in "One Size Fits All".
Your children have a benefit no other children in the world have. They have you and your love and the home you have made for them. They would want no other, and when they get out into the big wide world, they will come to feel sorry for all the people who didn't have what they had. And they'd rather have had what you give them than anything else in the world. I know this is true. And you know it, really, don't you? Don't listen to the voices that tear you down and create "Mum anxiety". Stay in the moment and do your best, and you will have given your children everything they need.

Leanne said...

Hey Lucy they are great kids they are not out robbing old ladies and tagging every wall in site so you are doing something right. Life with kids goes in circles and I think it always will. I think if your children grow up and remember there child hood as fun you have done well, as a family we laugh a lot together. Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back. Now to the exercise bike. I had an exercise bike and when ever I rode it I logged my miles and on a map I plotted my path I rode from Adelaide around the coast all the way to Queensland it makes it fun.

julie said...

No tips from here I'm afraid - I lost Amy a year ago to the lure of the computer and she mostly spends her time chatting with friends on facebook or watching clips on you tube! I do think that maybe they need a stage of this in their lives and I'm happy to let it slide at the moment, though come summer I do have plans for a few non-technolgy days. Go easy on yourself Mrs, I think we all feel inadequate as parents - it's an impossible job really, but I do know that you're doing a great job compared to lots of parents I know xxx

Plum Cox said...

I so agree with what others have said. Stop worrying about comparing yourself with others, and just (!) get on with doing what is right for your family. I'm sure that lots of us feel that we 'could do better' at reducing screen time (took my girls out yesterday for a lovely walk, but used the lure of the GPS and geocaching, funnily enough, not that we found the cache!) but you are giving them a great example of how to be practical, and it really sounds as though those things are being built into their lives. You sound like a great mum / parenting team / family!

Annie said...

Thanks for this post Lucy, I found the comments encouraging for my own doubts. Love to you

Twiggy said...

You have a lovely family, don't beat yourself up.
Twiglet is a Beaver and loves it !!
I think whenever I read blogs that have a perfect corner of my home - I should show a realistic corner of mine - it would have Lego in it, an empty coffee mug, straw from the guinea pigs cage, an empty PC game box and probably a cobweb and dirty hand print on the wall - you get my drift. Real people with real lives are too busy having fun to bother having `perfect lives'. Read back through your blog and you'll see what a great time you're having - I do it regularly now Twiglet is growing up :)
Twiggy x

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Sew Create It - Jane said...

Such a interesting read both your post and the comments... Having a 10 year old under the roof I can identify with the struggle of quality time and computer time... We are actively looking for activities outside the box and coming up with national trust properties and rambles in the countryside.. I'm not sure we will be popular but at least it makes for a comprise when all dd2 wants to do is play computer games.