Let’s Play

I had tidied up. I had set out the toys. I had made their garden nice, enticing even. 

It looked appealing and, of course, they wanted to play. 

So why was everything that was coming out of my mouth so negative?

I have been through this cycle many times. For the most part, I am fairly chilled. I know that children aren’t deliberately messy just to wind you up, it’s because they’re learning, exploring, it’s what they do. 

However, occasionally they do wind me up. And it’s in those instances that I have to take a step back and remind myself exactly what it is that they are doing. 

Being children!

The other day I got everything ready and then told my girls they could play outside. (Which of course they did, no hesitation) 

  

I sat myself down and suddenly hated the idea that they would mess up what I’d prepared. Sounds ridiculous, I know!

“No, please don’t put sand in the water tray”

“Take those dinosaurs off the grass, they were in the sandpit”

“Why are you taking that out of there?”

“Could you leave those on the table, please?”

Even as I write them down I know how silly I sound. 

Before you judge me, please remember that I am not usually like this. It happens every so often, but not all the time. I sometimes just feel, in my tired, worn-out self on certain days, that everything I have done is being undone. That everything I have so lovingly prepared for them is being ruined.

Again, I ask you not to judge me, it really doesn’t happen that often, but on this occasion I just wanted them to appreciate what was there. 

The whole experience was exhausting!

I felt I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sit still, couldn’t really enjoy anything because I was running around trying to tidy up after them. 

In the garden! 

I must have sounded like a crazy lady to anyone listening. 

  

My girls are three-years-old and twenty-one-months. They weren’t running around the garden spray painting the fences or smashing things up, they were doing what children do best; playing!

  

The whole experience was not fun for me and especially not fun for them.

When it was time to tidy up and go inside I felt like that’s all we’d been doing all day anyway and for what?

The day after I tried a new approach; I left them to it. I was there with them but I didn’t interrupt their play. I didn’t constantly ask them to put things back and I wasn’t the miserable old bore that I had been the day before.

They did nothing dangerous or particularly disruptive, they just played, as children do. They investigated, they explored, they took their shoes off, got messy, stuck empty water buckets on their heads that weren’t actually completely empty. They had fun!

  

  

So what if I had to tip the water tray back into the sandpit or sweep up the paving stones again. It didn’t take that long. In actual fact, when it was time to tidy up, they both loved it. I’d allowed them to just ‘be’ all afternoon and so they were ready to help out. It only took us ten minutes anyway.

Two different days, two different experiences, and I know which one we all preferred.
  

Sometimes it’s ok to let things get a little messy. Sometimes it’s ok to not intervene and just watch from the sidelines. Worrying about mess was fruitless and exhausting, I don’t want to spend my days like that, for their sakes more than mine.

  

Toys are there to be played with. Our garden is ready to be explored. Feeling the difference between wet and dry sand is fun. As long as I remember that, and turn off my ‘panic radar’ when my girls are lost in the land of imagination. 

  

There will always be time at the end of the day for tidying up. But the time for carefree play doesn’t last forever. If I stay in this mindset, our summer will be much more enjoyable.
  

Now, if only I could convince myself of the same kind of thing when it comes to the mess my husband makes.

(And don’t worry, he said it was ok to write that last line)

A Mid-Week Oooops

The familiar chimes and the catchy old song went by outside and I could see my daughter’s’ little faces light up. It was warm, they’d had a good day and I had some change in my pocket. “Come on then!” I found myself suddenly saying. “Let’s go and get an ice-cream”.

I was obviously ready to step outside immediately, forgetting for one brief moment about their lack of suitable footwear. (Ok for the garden but not ideal for walking the streets) So a good two minutes were spent quickly scrabbling around for shoes and dismissing their independent claims so we could just ‘get them on and go!’

Once outside the panic increased, we could see the ice-cream van at the top of our street but trying to run with a one-year-old and a three-year-old isn’t easy. 
I stopped to pick little Miss A up but we didn’t make it. The van’s music began to play and off it went, around the corner. 

Not wanting to disappoint my girls we tried a short cut, running down a little alleyway to meet it at its next stop.

And we did!!
And we were happy!
And I thought we had succeeded.
I was completely forgetting about the journey home.
Miss C managed really well actually. 

  
She can eat and walk, she stayed close by me and is showing me every day how grown up she is becoming. 

I didn’t have enough hands to manage the other one. 
My ice-cream, my change and my door keys in one hand, I used the other hand to hold the outstretched arm of my independent little miss. She must have been saving her cone for when we got home, holding it almost horizontally as she tottered along beside me. 
I stopped many times to straighten it up, having visions of an empty hand, a mountain of ice-cream on the pavement and tears.
(Not to mention if she dropped hers I’d have to offer her mine! Bad mummy moment.)

Each time I tried to hold it for her, she loudly protested. Each time I straightened her little hand up, it fell forward again.
Then I felt a raindrop.

We didn’t have far to walk but it certainly felt like it with those two.

I ended up picking Miss A up to try and get home quicker, which resulted in my ice-cream all over her sleeve and her ice-cream all over my shoulder. 

But we were finally home.
Ice-creams intact, still dry (albeit very sticky and covered in sprinkles) we sat down. 
I think it must have been about five seconds later I heard a little ‘uh oh!’
I turned to look. It had all been in vain. 
Little Miss A’s ice-cream was no longer in her hand. 😦
  

Maltese Meltdowns

  
This is a post that I wrote a few months ago while we were away on holiday. Looking back I’m amazed how things have changed. Our three-year-old daughter doesn’t have tantrums anymore and is so calm in comparison. We have disagreements now instead, and the odd sulk! But reading this has made me remember how she used to be and how much can change in a few months.
(29/03/16)
At the moment we are on holiday in Malta, just the four of us, as in, myself, my husband and our two girls. 
We are loving it, even though the first couple of days have been extremely tiring for all of us. 
I managed ten minutes to myself yesterday (to get a few thoughts together about what to write) because we found ‘Ice Age’ on the television. It was in German, but animation is animation, it did the trick. 
Anyway, our eldest daughter who is nearly three was really looking forward to going swimming today. 
She was so tired yesterday evening and so grumpy, understandably so because of our busy day, however, it resulted in a bit of a tantrum. 

We went through the usual, standing aside initially, then comforting, bribing, tough love, you name it, we did it. 
I think she was past the actual feeling of upset by this point and just liked the sound of her own screams, which in a hotel room with no carpet and wide open balcony doors were very, very loud. 
The only thing that worked in this instance was for us to say that if she didn’t stop, she wouldn’t be going swimming in the morning. 
It worked. 
She calmed down and everything was ok. She knew we’d be going swimming and she was happy again, especially when it was bedtime. 

(We were all happy by that point.)
This morning, I was the one who was tired, and yes, a little grumpy too. We were making breakfast for the girls as we have booked self-catering and my husband and I started arguing. 
I honestly do not have a single clue what it was about. It was something and nothing and we were snapping at each other and all was certainly not very harmonious in our little kitchen. 
Suddenly I heard our eldest speak but I didn’t hear what she said. My husband started laughing and so she smiled. When he repeated it for me, I couldn’t help smiling either. 
She had actually said, ‘stop it mummy and daddy or you won’t be allowed to go swimming!’ 
We were being told off by an almost three-year-old child. It was funny, and it made me realise just how much of what we say to her (and to each other) actually goes in. 
The other thing it made me realise is that I should be a little more understanding of her tantrums, hard as they are to deal with at the moment. 
I had just had a mini one myself. 
I was tired, hot and irritable. Whatever my husband had done that I’d disagreed with was obviously not the end of the world but I over-reacted.
The difference here being, I am much more in control of my emotions and more able to deal with them. If I was snapping because I was worn out then her tantrum was the childhood equivalent.
She is our eldest and it’s completely new territory for all of us, but considering everything, this holiday she is doing really well.
As long as I can remember that she is a human being, like me, with feelings and emotions, and as long as I can find my patience when she does exercise her right to voice her feelings, then we may make it through the rest of the holiday unscathed.
We did all go swimming in the end, we were all calm and stopped the shouting.
I think our daughter was proud of us! 😉
  

Weekend in June

This weekend has been messy and exciting, this weekend has been fun and tiring, this weekend has been everything a sunny weekend for children should be. It reminded me of my childhood.

There is something about sunny weather that seems to make everything that little bit brighter. The neighbours are out, music can be heard playing from other gardens, and children are throwing water at each other and having a ball!
Little arms and legs are shining with sun-cream. Bare feet parading across the garden are getting wet and dirty. Fingers are sticky with drippy ice-cream. Our garden is full of childhood experiences that I remember with such fondness.
A paddling pool full of water creates so much excitement for our girls and their cousins. Grown-ups can chat while children squeal with delight at water splashing in their little faces.
All food is consumed outside, sandwiches in the sunshine just somehow taste that little bit better.
Friendships are strengthened, outdoor experiences are a delight, picnic blankets are out, and children play!
They just play.
They get messy, they get dirty, they get covered. And they have fun.
This weekend has been exhausting in the best possible way. Taking tired children to bed, washing sun-cream, sand and soil off their worn-out bodies, seeing them cry when their friends have to go home, it all matters. It’s all important.
It’s all creating memories!
I remember the feelings, the sunshine, the playing, the tiredness, I remember all of it from when I was little. And I hope my girls will remember too.
I hope we’re creating a magical summer for them. I hope they feel happy and excited.
I hope these feelings stay with them forever.
This weekend has been messy and exciting, this weekend has been fun and tiring, this weekend has been everything a sunny weekend for children should be. It reminded me of my childhood.
I hope it’s shaping theirs.