School!

Just like a whirlwind the summer holidays are over and the new term is upon us!

In most atmospheric fashion the glorious sunny weather we’ve been having broke on the first day of term and it has rained ever since. Reminds me of my own childhood when summers seemed to be full of long, hot, golden, sunny days and going back to school meant wet, damp, autumnal weather…

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Seaside Holiday with the Fam

We’ve just got back from a lovely family holiday by the seaside, although it was slightly fraught by the end!

We went to Deal in Kent where my mum’s partner’s family have been going every summer for years. It was a lovely chance to see lots of extended family members and for the kids and cousins to hang out too.

We were all scattered about in different AirBnB houses near each other so constantly popping in and out of each other’s houses, and there was plenty to do.

The kids swam in the sea almost every day, and we went to the park, shopped in charity shops, spent an afternoon in the penny arcade trying to win crap prizes, spent a morning in the leisure pool going down flumes, had brunch on the pier and gin and tonics at the pub, and ate fish and chips on the beach.

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Going OUT-out

Well now, after the last stressful post things vaguely calmed down a bit.

We had a lovely visit with Grandma and Grandad, even though I was so exhausted I didn’t do a whole lot! The girls had fun and we did some fun activities, and I also got to pick up my glorious new armchair for the living room (it doesn’t go at all with the Curtains of Glory but I have stopped caring about trivial things like that – I’m Reverse Marie-Kondo’ing my life – not getting rid of a thing but buying things that spark joy, and my new chair sparks SO MUCH JOY!).

When we came home I had a very rare, proper night OUT-OUT.

I realised I hadn’t been properly out in the evening without my children since my 40th last July, (except once in November maybe?) and before that probably not for a year or so, so it is a very rare occurrence.

It was a nice posh dinner for my friend’s birthday, at a lovely pub outside of Oxford.

Now obviously I should have driven myself there, but when it’s your only night out in a year, and you’ve paid for a babysitter, you want a bloody glass of wine or three!

However the night did get fairly expensive – taxis to and from the pub were not cheap (although a kind friend agreed to come by cab with me and share the cost). The pub was lovely, did really nice food and wine, but again, not a cheap dinner! Plus the cost of the babysitter and it came in at a really expensive evening!

However I really enjoyed myself, and apart from the odd anxious call from daughter 1 about daughter 2 not going to bed, and worring about what a hard time the poor babysitter was probably having, it was WONDERFUL.

I felt really grown up and relaxed and had a marvellous time and I really needed it just for ME.

Will definitely be trying to have a few more nights out here and there if I can, though probably more local with cheaper taxis next time!

Hot, tired, busy, sweaty, exhausted….

Well it’s been an intense few days!

The heat has left us all knackered and hot and sweaty and grumpy, struggling to sleep and overall pretty tired. I caught A’s cold so that’s not helping either.

We have been setting up letterbox contact for S, which is a managed process via social services where we can write a letter and send up to 4 photos, once a year, to her birth parents and siblings. We have no idea if they will write back or not yet… S was really keen to do this and excited to be able to make contact with her siblings again, but doing it also stirred up a lot of really big emotions for her, and it was quite an upsetting process. We ended up doing her letters on Sunday night, it was so hot that A wouldn’t go to sleep and S was really upset and missing her birth family and so it was a fairly tough night all round. No-one got much sleep and it was quite a tense night in the house!

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St Andrews

We decided to go to Scotland for half term for a proper little holiday, as I haven’t really been away anywhere for almost 3 years and it seemed like a good idea at the time!

We’ve got several friends living in the Edinburgh/St Andrews area so managed to get round and see lots of old friends which was really nice, and I personally haven’t been back to St Andrews since I was at Uni there (I think I went back once in about 2006 but haven’t been since then).

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Schoolmin

I don’t know if there is a word for school-related admin so I’m going with Schoolmin.

At this moment, I have one child at Primary school across town, who will be starting a new Secondary school in September, and another child about to start at a different Primary school nearer to my house in September.

I don’t think I could adequately explain the volume of admin involved – there are THREE separate apps I have to download for parent communications because for some reason each school uses a different app; and there are also THREE different school-based payment platforms for meals and trips etc that I need to sign up to and get passwords and logins for; and then there are the 49 different forms to sign regarding the child’s medical history, Dr’s contact info, allergy info, school meal info, registration forms, pupil premium forms, etc; and the 57,000 letters and emails and messages flying about informing me about transition plans, and end of term activities, and SATs and homework and revision, and tours of the schools, and meet the teachers, and settling-in days for both kids at different schools, and requests to volunteer on the PTA, and requests to bake things for the bake sale, and to help out at the school disco, and reminders to be present and correct at any school engagements like parent assemblies and football matches, and pacts to sign swearing I will bring my child to school on time, in uniform and won’t take them out for holidays during term time on pain of death.

It’s pretty full on.

I have to remind myself that I’m a single mum with two kids and I’m not an evil monster if I don’t have the time or energy to be on the PTA or bake shit for the bake sales that apparently happen EVERY WEEK. Usually I love to join in and be involved but this is a CRAZY amount of admin and emails and communications. Obviously I’m terrified I’ll miss something important as I’ve never done this before, but JESUS CHRIST it’s a lot to take in!

It doesn’t help that A’s new primary school has a terrible website with no useful information (the “Parent Information” page is literally blank), and their transition page talks about a lovely slow transition with lots of visits and half-days for them to adjust to Reception and build up to doing full days etc, but the letter they have sent out to parents just basically says “We will visit you at home on XXX day and then they start full time on xx September” and that’s it. So I am wading through it all to try and figure out what is actually happening and hoping it will become clear