First a wedding dress, then a maternity dress, now I'm just trying to fit into ANY dress.

No home. No haven. No place to call their own – Focus Ireland campaign Blog March

Sister Stan pictured with Rachel Price from Focus Ireland and her two children Aaron and Meabh Compton at the launch of the Focus Ireland urgent Christmas appeal Pic. Robbie Reynolds

Sister Stan pictured with Rachel Price from Focus Ireland and her two children Aaron and Meabh Compton at the launch of the Focus Ireland urgent Christmas appeal
Pic. Robbie Reynolds

I REMEMBER the first time I saw a homeless person as a child. It was in the city centre of Dublin, on O’Connell Bridge and he was sitting on some cardboard, with a cup in his hand, asking for money.

I was about ten years old I think and I remember my Mam dropping a few coins into his cup from her pocket and telling me that we were so lucky to have a home and not to have to live on the streets like this poor man.

She was right of course but for a long time I equated homelessness with this cold man on the bridge, thinking that all homeless people were like him. That you had to be sleeping rough on the streets to be considered homeless

I know now however that this, of course, is not the case. The reality is homelessness is multifaceted, encompassing everyone from rough sleepers to those sleeping on a friend’s couch to those living in B&Bs. You can be homeless even when you have a roof over your head or a bed to sleep in.

And for 1,200 families this Christmas – including 2,400 children – that’s the reality they face every day. Squeezed into hotel rooms or hostels with very little space, no cooking facilities, no room for toys, no privacy.

No home. No haven. No place to call their own.

Yet as Ireland’s homeless crisis deepens, more and more people, families and children are forced into this situation – something Focus Ireland is hoping to tackle.

And for that they need your help.

Focus Ireland recently launched its Christmas appeal highlighting the record number of homeless people now living nationwide – both rough sleepers and those in emergency accommodation. Far from eradicating homelessness, the problem gets worse every day.

Launching the campaign Sr Stan spoke passionately of the terrible impact being homeless has on families and in particular children. She said: “Christmas should be one of the happiest times of year for children and their families. However, it breaks my heart to think that up to 2,500 children will be homeless on Christmas day this year.

“I know from meeting families who are homeless that we support it’s the children who feel it the worst. Many times a family who are homeless are often squeezed into one hotel room – 3 or 4 people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play. There are also many single people and couples homeless and they all need a place to call home.”

Sr Stan highlighted the vital role Focus Ireland has played in supporting families to secure a home, in partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and local authorities, this year, saying however that more funding is urgently needed. She urged people to give as much as they could afford to help the organisation continue its vital work.

One Mam, Gillian, who was homeless but has now secured a home with the support of Focus Ireland said: “When you have a home you don’t realise how lucky you are… my daughter was only two weeks old when we became homeless,  I don’t think I’d even be here now if it wasn’t for Focus Ireland. I wake up every day now and  think ‘I have a home’.”

Focus Ireland depends on your donations to keep supporting homeless people and families year round. In 2016 alone the organisation supported 12,500 people who were homeless or at risk and they need your help to continue that work.

Turning the key in the door of your own home shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a basic right, for all our citizens. For all our children. Please, if you can, dig deep and donate to Focus Ireland. You can do so here or by calling 1850 204 205

 

**This post is part of a Blog March by members of the Irish Parenting Bloggers network, to raise awareness of homelessness and Focus Ireland’s campaign. You can read more posts on the subject by following the hashtag #FocusOnChristmas on social media. Thank you. **

 

Here’s Kate Take’s 5’s take on it: http://www.katetakes5.com/2016/11/homelessness-in-ireland-what-can-we-do.html

Christmas Wish List – Get your gift on!

NOW look. I know. It’s November and I’m already talking about Christmas gift guides. I KNOW! Ok? I know.

But there’s method in my madness. Some of the beautiful little handfuls of gorgeousness below are hand made and limited edition, so if you don’t get in early, you might miss out.

Plus, I’m a parent now, I can no longer browse for gifts in a timely fashion, instead I have to wait for The Beast to be occupied for five minutes and then panic buy on the internet and I want to spare you that. I want you to have a lovely list to hand, for all your gift needs so that you don’t end up with some monstrosity you purchased at 2am. I’m doing you a favour here!

So without further ado here’s my Christmas Gift Guide. (This is my guide for adults, I’ll be doing a children’s version later on in the month. These are all items that have simply caught my eye as lovely things, this Gift Guide isn’t affiliated with any of the companies featured here, I haven’t been sent anything for free, nor paid for this post, or sponsored for it in any way.)

 

  • First up the stocking filler to beat all stocking fillers. A Bite Size Natural Skincare Set from Bia Beauty in County Cork, featuring a cleanser, moisturiser, eye gel and skin superfood. This little set features some of Bia Beauty’s most loved skincare, in a mini set so you can try them to see do they suit your skin, before buying the larger version. Packaged in a dinky little box, this sweet set is only €12.95 and the sample pots contain enough product for about ten days – two weeks depending on how much you use. A friend bought me this set earlier in the year and I just fell in love, I think everyone in the world that I know is going to be getting one of these for Christmas, my poor postman is going to develop a hernia lugging them up my driveway.

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  • Next up we have some beautiful stationery from Emily at The Nest, who is bringing back her stunning Book of Days journal for 2017. Full of brand new illustrations and paintings created in her studio in the Midlands, this gorgeous diary features a full colour velvety feeling cover with the inside leaves being a heavy silky material, with miniature landscapes printed throughout. There’s even a dinky envelope on the back page where you can keep important receipts. Priced at just €20 this is a truly unique gift. As well as the Book of Days, this year for the first time The Nest is introducing lined and unlined notebooks with beautiful original artwork on the front cover, priced at just €9 each, perfect for the stationery lover in your life. Pre-orders for the Book of Days finishes mid-November so if you want one, you’ll need to move fast.

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  • Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some tree decorations and Letter Lane Studio based in County Limerick has created the most gorgeous wooden ornaments which would grace any tree, big or small. Made from birch plywood, the ornaments feature festive sayings like ‘Merry and Bright’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ and they can be bought individually or in a bundle. They’re €4 each or three for €10.

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  • If you’re looking for a small but perfectly formed gift for a colleague or your child’s teacher, look no further than Tara Robinson Designs, based in County Limerick, who has this beautiful slim bookmark available for just €15, which can be personalised with a name or date or even just a favourite quote. Stylish and practical.

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  • Also from Tara Robinson Designs check out this gorgeous leather cuff, which can also be personalised, a really unique gift for the love of your life. Priced at just €30 it’s sure to go down a storm.

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  • Most of us would mainly associate Tesco with groceries, but the supermarket also has a decent homewares section where you’ll find this pretty ceramic oil burner priced at just €5.60, which let’s face it is an absolute steal. Add in a wax melt, wrap it up in some crepe paper and ribbon and you have a really gorgeous gift for under your tree. I’ve already bought one of these for myself!

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  • While you’re in Tesco check out the clothes section where you’ll find Touchscreen Gloves in both men’s an women’s sizes. Both fabric and leather gloves, where the thumb and index fingers have a special kind of material which allows you to use your phone or tablet without having to take off your gloves. Nifty! I’m not really sure how it works, I suspect it’s magic. Prices range from about a fiver for basic gloves to around €15 for leather ones. As far as I’m aware Tesco is no longer delivering clothes etc, so you’ll have to buy in store.

 

 

  • This Christmas give a year long gift with a magazine subscription. What’s better than getting post every month that’s not a bill? Exactly, nothing. Easons has a full range of subscriptions to choose from or you can go direct to the magazine of your choice. For example at the moment National Geographic is offering a year long subscription plus a free world map and a free fleece jacket, for just €39. Not too shabby at all!

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  • Sometimes the best gift is the gift of giving, so consider a donation to charity as a gift for someone this year. You can simply donate some money in a friend or relative’s name, or you can buy a little gift/trinket with the proceeds going toward the charity. You can even purchase medical supplies to send out to disaster zones, for example, with just a few clicks. Pretty much every charity in the world has the option to give a donation as a gift, so just get Googling and find a charity that means something to you. I’d be here all night if I listed off the various charities out there (you might get some ideas from last year’s Charity Guide) but I think this year my main international donation will be going to Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) who are currently operating in Syria and Haiti.

 

Honourable mention: Gifts are all very well and good but for many of us it’s the Christmas cards that make Christmas so I want to give a shout out to Lemon Squeezy, based in County Mayo, who makes the quirkiest, most beautiful hand made cards in the world. She also makes beautiful perosnalised Santa cards as well which are sure to delight your little ones. Check her out, you won’t regret it!

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I already hate that poxy school run

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Dad and son’s school bags ready for the off!

THE Beast has been in preschool for two days now and I already hate that poxy school run.

Can we pause for a minute actually to discuss the phrase ‘school run’. What does it mean? Do people actually run it? Like put on their runners and their sweat pants and jog up the road, children gaily ambling beside them? It’s an odd phrase, it feels weird in my mouth.

Anyway, whatever the origin, I’ve a pain in my hoop with it already.

You belt around the house like a lunatic packing bags and persuading children to eat something, then hustle them up the road, hurrying them along as they stop to examine every single leaf and stick, wrestle them into the school then walk the same way home. And then a scant couple of hours later you drag your carcass back up that damn road again and do the whole thing in reverse? And you do that every day for, oh, the next 14 years? WHO thought that was a good idea? Surely some sort of Star Trek transporter beam would be more efficient? I’ll have worn a path in the road in the shape of my footprints in another few months.

And I’m probably the jammiest mother on the internet right now because I only have one kid to drop off and we live within walking distance to our school, it’s only up the road, so it’s at the lowest end of the ‘Kill me now, Lord’ scale.

I know another parent in a bloggers group I’m in who spends TWO HOURS in the car doing drop offs and pick ups with various children. Others have to wrangle with school buses and staggered start times, or drive to the opposite side of town in rush hour traffic. I can’t even imagine it, they deserve medals.

I remember the long commute from my own school days – up at 6.30am, on a bus by 7.30am at the latest to travel miles across the city and then often not getting home until 5pm or later depending on traffic. Every day for my whole school career and it was the bane of my existence. I had almost forgotten about it, it was so long ago, until this week when I said the words ‘Hurry now, we don’t want to be late for school’ and I started getting flashbacks.

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School run angst not withstanding however, we survived the first week at school and The Beast was a little trooper. There were some tears and a small amount of anxiety, of course. This is his first time away from me and it’s such a huge adjustment but he’ll get there.

He’s already mastered the art of telling me absolutely zero about what he’s been getting up to at school though, only two days in.

Me: So how was your first day? What did you do?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: Did you do colouring?

Him: No.

Me: Did you play with the toys?

Him: No.

Me: Do you remember any of the things you did?

Him: No.

On the second day he came out clutching some pages he had been colouring in and his teacher told me they had done puzzles, of which there is photographic evidence, and he had played with a little boy.

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Here he is, categorically not doing any puzzles.

Me: Look at these pictures! Did you do some colouring and some puzzles and play with a little boy?

Him: I didn’t play with any toys, I didn’t play with anyone, I didn’t do anything.

On our way out we met The Beast’s pal Little Miss who is also in his class and is a veteran of the school having been there last year, so I thought I’d ask her what they had been doing as she’s a great little chatter, always full of news.

Me: What did you kids do today?

Her: *sighing* Nothing.

So there you have it. Our first week of school is done, I already hate the school run and The Beast did absolutely nothing.

Fantastic!

Bye bye baby …

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THERE was a knock on the door the other week and it was a little lad from across the road looking for The Beast.

‘Is he comin’ out to play?’ the child asked, looking disappointed when I said that The Beast was with his Nana that day but would come out to play the next afternoon.

I barely managed to close the door before I burst into hysterical sobs – imagine, a friend calling for my boy. He has friends now. Kids that greet him on the street when we go to the shops, that run over to our garden when they see us out playing with trains on the driveway.

It’s too much for me, he’s growing up too fast, he’s not my baby any more, he’s a boy. A BOY!

DON’T LEAVE ME SON!

I had barely recovered when we got some post from his new pre-school, which he’ll be starting in September. Forms about allergies and vaccinations, names and addresses, boxes to tick. I can hardly believe the time has come around already but here we are, he’ll be heading off with his bag on his back and his lunchbox in just a couple of weeks.

DON’T LEAVE ME SON!

To send me further over the edge – sure why not – then we went to the shop and got all the stuff we needed to turn his cot into a toddler bed, complete with Thomas the Tank Engine duvet, the works. He hops in by himself now, he doesn’t need his little sleeping bag anymore, he has a big boy blanket. He’s delighted with himself while I’m doubled up with grief, sobbing into his pre-school forms trying to remember did I actually get him his 13-month vaccinations or did I forget. It’s all a blur.

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And then today, Yer Man brought him off to get his hair cut in preparation for school, a good tight cut, a man’s cut, to last him until the mid-term break.

DON’T LEAVE ME SON!

Maybe it’s because I’m hepped up on pain pills from a tooth extraction yesterday (fairly brutal it has to be said) or maybe it’s because I’m a sap but I really just want to put a brick on his head and stop him from growing up and freeze him at this age forever.

It’s odd because when he was a newborn, I couldn’t wait for that stage to end. To be fair, it’s a really tough stage, particularly on a first baby as you’re totally flying blind and haven’t a notion what you’re at. But still, I kind of wished it away, I couldn’t wait for him to get a bit more independent, couldn’t wait for the night feeds to end, that sort of thing.

And it did end of course and once he started walking and talking I really found my groove with him and he with me and we’ve muddled along really nicely. And now I look at him and see that the baby stage is well and truly over, I’m sending him out into the world and he is truly a ‘big boy’ now.

It’s too much. My heart is broken. BROKEN! Pass me a few more Nurofen Plus there, go on, they can’t hurt, I AM BUT A SHELL OF A WOMAN!

I suppose I have to let him go, though, don’t I? Keeping him as my baby isn’t really an option. much as I’d like to. And I know that he’ll always be my baby even when he’s 40 and I know that even though he’s a big boy now he’s still only three, he’s still so tiny and still needs me so much. And I know that his having friends and going to school and having his own proper bed are all good things. They bring him joy and make him happy which is the most important thing.

Bye bye baby, baby goodbye …

Where you lead, I will follow

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I LOVE the TV show Gilmore Girls so much that when I got married and my husband wanted to buy me a gift to mark the occasion, I asked him for the box set of all seven seasons. He had been thinking jewellery, but I was adamant, no jewel could compare to the Gilmore Girls.

He duly wrapped up the DVDs and handed them over and I started watching them the morning of our wedding and continued throughout our honeymoon.

I am THAT much of a fan.

The story of the fast talking, feisty single Mom Lorelai and her equally fast talking brainy daughter Rory and their life in picture perfect Stars Hollow circa 2000  hooked me right from the start.

I wanted to be Lorelai, I wanted to live in Stars Hollow, I wanted to eat all my meals in Luke’s Diner, it was true love and the only fly in the ointment was that the series was over and there were no more new episodes to devour.

Until this year, when Netflix announced that filming had begun on a new four-part special called A Year in the Life, something every Gilmore Girls fan had been waiting for since the moment the series ended nearly ten years ago.

And then today a teaser was released which genuinely made me jump up and down in my kitchen.

But, you know …

Ever since Netflix announced the new episodes, I’ve been rewatching the old ones and now that I’m watching them as a mother myself and now that I’m older and wiser I’ve noticed some …difficulties with Gilmore Girls. I know, it’s sacrilege, it really is, but I can’t help it. I’m aged now, I’m a Mammy, sometimes I actually enjoy a nice sit down and I do a great line in folding my arms and pursing my lips. It’s a trial, but I can’t help it.

So I present to you my Top Seven ‘That Wouldn’t Happen in My Day’ Guide to the Gilmore Girls:

1: The Food. So as we all know the Gilmores eat nothing but junk food and fast food. They eat every meal either in Luke’s Diner or from a takeaway place. They eschew all fruits and vegetables and survive on pop tarts and twinkies. Yet they remain enviously slim with perfect teeth. Which sends my Mammy radar into overdrive. If they REALLY ate like that and did no exercise chances are they’d be 500lb and would’t have a tooth in their heads. Here I am trying to get five portions of fruit and veg into The Beast every day and there Lorelai is munching on a Twizzler and sending her kid to school with a McDonald’s in her lunch box. IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT LORELAI, OK? Social services would be at your door before you could say ‘braces’. And speaking of braces, do you know how much dental work from all that sugar costs Lorelai, do you? Because I don’t. I’m Irish, of course I don’t know how much US dental work costs, but I’d hazard a guess it’s a LOT. So, you know, cop on to yourself and all your sugar eating.

2. From the moment we’re introduced to Rory, we’re told that she’s wanted to go to Harvard since the age of three. NEEEEE NAAAWWWW – that’s my bullshit-o-meter going off right there. Since she was THREE? Rilly? Like, rilly? I have a three year old. Do you know what he wants to be when he grows up? A train. That’s right, he wants to be Thomas the Tank Engine. So much so that he now introduces himself to other kids in the playground as Thomas, even though that’s not his name. There’s no way no how that Rory Gilmore organically decided at the age of three that she was going to go to Harvard, it’s more likely Lorelai herself introduced the idea, the college equivalent of a Dance Mom. Hankering after Harvard at age three? Me hoop!

3. Speaking of Harvard, in the episode where Rory has her first day at Chilton, Lorelai rocks up in a pair of Daisy Dukes and a tiny t-shirt as all her other clothes are in the dry cleaners. I don’t even know where to begin with this. First of all, she claims she was going to get up early and go to the dry cleaners to pick up the clothes. But then says her alarm was set for 5.45am. Do dry cleaners in small east coast towns open at 5.45am? I’d wager not. So don’t blame the dry cleaners ok, Lorelai? Secondly, are we expected to believe that someone with a full time job, a grown adult, doesn’t have at least a clean (ish) pair of jeans and a plain shirt to put on her back? Or a pair of leggings and a dress even? In other episodes she seems to have plenty of pairs of jeans, plenty of shirts and sweaters. But on THIS day, buttock skimming shorts is the best she can come up with? Come on now Lorelai, get a grip on yourself.

4. We never really find out exact details about Star’s Hollow but it has it’s own school and there are apartments to rent and shops and stuff so we can assume there are a couple of thousand people living there. Yet Lorelai is the only single parent in the town. Which is really strange, seeing as like 50 per cent of marriages in the US end in divorce so you’d think there’d be at least ONE other lone parent knocking around. (And Mrs Kim doesn’t count, cos there’s a Mr Kim somewhere he’s just never sighted) But no, Lorelai is it, the only one who gets any support and praise and adoring glances. Personally I think lone parents are superstars, so come on Stars Hollow throw a ticker tape parade for ALL the lone parents will ya?

5. And on the same subject, Stars Hollow, is Rory the ONLY young person in the town to have achieved anything? Are there not other youngsters there getting on in life? Nobody else went to college? Or left the town to get a job? How come there weren’t any parties for those kids, huh? How come THOSE kids didn’t get town-wide adulation and surprise bon voyage parties? Why is it ONLY Rory? And why does she have no friends her own age? Except for Lane, she only hangs out with 50 year olds. Maybe it’s because she gets all the glory and attention, maybe that’s why all the other Stars Hollow kids hate her, so she’s forced to befriend the town pensioners.

6. Nobody in Star’s Hollow does any housework, or indeed work of any kind. Well, I suppose apart from Luke who does seem to be in that diner from morning til night. And Kirk, who does every job, but who can blame him when the rest of them are lazy bastards. But apart from them, the rest of the townspeople seem to sit  eating in their immaculate houses, or swan around the neighbourhood in the middle of the day, drinking coffee or gossiping  in the street. Like, what does Babette do, for example? Lorelai is supposed to run an inn, allegedly coming down with paying customers yet routinely legs it to have lunch with Rory or I dunno, look pensively at the camera or whatever it is she does and nobody pulls her aside and says ‘Eh, sorry love, but your wages will be docked this week.’ Sooki spends an inordinate amount of time garnishing dishes but never seems to actually cook anything, Christopher is ‘in business’ but we’re never really sure what sort, while Miss Patty stands on the street all day smoking. Just because you smoke it out of a holder doesn’t mean it’s not going to give you cancer one day Miss Patty, ok?

7. Emily Gilmore is the undisputed star of this show and there should be a bridge named after her. Ok, so she’s obsessed with social status, she meddles and interferes she can be rude and brash and abrasive. But let’s be honest, sometimes Lorelai ain’t no walk in the park either. Emily only asks for one dinner a week with her family, is that really too much to ask? Is it THAT hard to simply eat your meal with out the smart comments, eh Lorelai? And would introducing your mother to the man you’re going to marry – who you were only dating for three months by the way, like what is up with THAT? – be the worst thing you could do? You expect Emily to forgive you after you call her Pol Pot in in a magazine interview, but you can’t go one course without the witty repartee, eh? Hmmmm. *folds arms, purses lips*

Still and all despite everything I’ve said above I’ll be counting down the days until the release of the new episodes on November 25. Who’s with me?!

Purple Haze – Day Out at Wexford Lavender Farm

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WE took advantage of the break in the rain today and went on a jaunt to the Lavender Farm in Wexford to enjoy the sun.

Situated off the N11 just outside Gorey, it only costs €2 per car which is great value if you’ve a few kids or even a Granny to take with you.

There’s the beautiful field of lavender to stroll in, a gorgeous playground, a friendly goat, donkey and few ducks to chat to as well as a cafe/shop and beautiful woodland walks.

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The Beast made a beeline for the playground and we had a hard time dragging him away. As well as the usual slides and swings there’s also a small obstacle course and a wooden tractor to climb on. (The sign says the playground is suitable from age two upwards, but personally I felt it was geared towards kids slightly older than that. Our three year old needed help with the ladder for the slide for example and there’s no baby swing, so it wouldn’t be great for very young visitors, but perfect for pre-schoolers up, in my opinion.)

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There’s a motorised bull train that runs a few times a day (The Beast got on, but then decided at the last minute that he most certainly was NOT going to stay on) and you pay extra for that, but judging by the squeals of delight coming from the passengers, it’s totally worth it.

We had a stroll around the delicious smelling lavender field and then had our lunch in the cute cafe, which has a fairly extensive menu. My open sandwich was delicious, but Yer Man’s roll was just average, a bit dry and tasteless, though he was hungry so he ate it. The cakes and tarts on display looked fabulous and other diners seemed happy though, so one bad sandwich isn’t the end of the world and was probably just an oversight.

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I picked up some lavender honey made right there on the farm as well as some pouches of dried lavender and a pot of fresh lavender to bring home as gifts which were all reasonably priced.

After our lunch we had intended to go on one of the woodland walks across the property (there are 2km, 4km and 6km walks on offer depending on how energetic you’re feeling) but we only got to have a quick stroll as far as the field of sheep before The Beast yanked us back to the playground where he spent another very happy hour whizzing down the slide and staring suspiciously at any other kid who dared to have a go.

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Overall we spent a couple of very happy hours there, enjoying the sun and the peaceful atmosphere and we’ll definitely go back.

Other things to note: The farm is closed on Mondays; dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead; the lavender field and cafe itself is wheelchair accessible but the woodland walks are not; there are baby changing facilities plus a toddler step and toilet seat available in the accessible toilet. There’s a whole lot more information on what’s on offer here.

Eating ice-cream everyday

Holiday blog 2016 1

 

I HAVE a few minutes spare to write this post as I’m waiting for the washing machine to finish.

We’re going on holidays this month you see and that means acres of washing.

And drying.

And ironing.

And packing.

Sometimes the preparations for a holiday can start to feel like more trouble than it’s worth, can’t it? Of course holidays are lovely and we’re so lucky to have the chance to get away but, particularly when there are kids involved, it’s a lot of work.

A fellow Mam pointed me in the direction of this great article on the Huffington Post which declared that once you have kids, particularly in the early years, holidays cease to be holidays and become ‘trips’. And if you’re a stay at home parent, a business trip. And I wholeheartedly agree.

You know the way when you work in a company that sends you off on business trips and people say that you’re so lucky to get to see the world and you smile and nod but the reality is that you mainly get to see the airport and the inside of a hotel conference room?

You get to spend several awkward hours with Keith from Accounts – or worse, your boss – you eat copious amounts of limp BLTs and chips because that’s all that’s on the menu and you spend most of the trip in a security line at Heathrow wishing, frankly, that you were dead.

Well, that’s kinda how a stay at home parent (well, THIS stay at home parent anyway) feels when they go on their family holiday.

You wash and iron and pack and tidy and clean and make sure you have everything that you need, only to set off to your destination and do EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS ALL OVER AGAIN when you get there.

Kids still need to eat on holidays, they still need their toys, they still need naps and nappy changes or to pee 67 times a day. They still cry and wail and get bored and puke and won’t sleep. The only difference is you’re in a hotel room with one tiny overheated bathroom, instead of being in your own home.

Or – as in our case – you go self catering which is BRILLIANT in a lot of ways as you’re not reliant on hotel menus so can be flexible with meal times and dishes, but can be drudgery in other ways as you do the same amount of cooking and washing up as you would at home. Only you’re expected to smile about it because you’re on holidays.

I don’t know if it’s JUST because I’m a moany oul bitch (ah, I am, it’s grand, I know you all hate me) but even the activities that we tend to do on our holidays aren’t filling me with joy mainly because I do a lot of them at home with The Beast all the time anyway.

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Take for example, the playground. Near to where we’re going is a fabulous playground, in the grounds of a hotel, that has a kind of a pirate ship set up with a twirly whirly  slide that The Beast is mad about. You have your lunch and then can run out to play in the pirate ship, which is great.

Yer Man is all excited about this, keeps clapping his hands and saying he can’t wait to play with The Beast out on the pirate ship and won’t it be great, to be in a playground at 2pm instead of stuck at work. And that’s true, of course.

But for me, I go to the playground twice a week at home. Seen one slide, seem ’em all.

Going to the playground IS my work. That’s what I do as a stay at home parent, I cook and I clean and I play and I go to the playground and I feed the ducks, that’s my job. Do you see?

I don’t know why it’s hitting me harder this year, or why the whole holiday thing seems more like a drudge, it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for. I knew when we decided that I would be the one to stay at home that it would be a)an enormous privilege and b)a lot of hard work, but for some reason I’m having a harder time accepting it this year.

In truth, it’s an awful way to feel about something as nice as a break away, when there are plenty of people who would love any sort of holiday and when there’s so much bad news in the world, so I’m trying to change my mindset on it.

I’ve decided to accept and acknowledge that my feelings on this are valid, because they are. Holidays do change when you become a parent. And they change further, I think, when you’re a stay at home parent. You do lose some of the fun, some of the excitement, it’s less of a break than when you were 20 and going on a sun holiday with your mates. And it’s ok to feel sad or frustrated at that.

However, like anything at all, a holiday, no matter what sort of holiday, is what you make it.

Holiday blog 2016 ice cream

Credit: hercampus.com

Fellow blogger Bumbles of Rice told me that what she does in the run up to her family holiday is get her little people all excited about what they’re going to do on their holiday and then in turn, she gets pulled into their infectious excitement. For example she’ll remind them that on holiday it’s the law to eat ice-cream EVERY DAY prompting squeals of delight. So I’ve decided to take a leaf out of her book and do the same thing here.

We’re going to go to the beach at least four times a week. We’re not going to worry about bedtimes. We’re going to go to three places/do three activities that we have never done before. We’re going to bring our raincoats and welly boots and actively go out in the rain and jump in muddy puddles. We’re going to go to the shops and treat ourselves to something new. We’re going to cuddle under a blanket and watch family movies for an afternoon and then say sod dinner and order a pizza.

Mainly, I think, we’re going to switch off and give our poor tired brains a bit of a rest.

And eat ice-cream. Every day. Fuck it, we’re on holidays.