Enjoying some self care

No one will quite understand this unless the are a SEND or LAC/post-LAC parent… but I’ve been a bit pong-y today. I’m now fresh out of an uninterrupted 10 minute shower, where I not only got to shave what could only be described as “manly” pits, but I also washed my hair, quite literally 3 times. 3. Why? Cause I liked the way the suds felt in my hair AND I had the time to… and I used a fresh towel to dry myself. A nice crisp clean one that no dirty hands had dare touch. And shortly I fully intend to thoroughly brush my teeth for 2 whole minutes, instead of the usual flick around, job done.

May seem disgusting or TMI to mention. May even seem so trivial and small, bordering unpostable, to some. But in reality to me, it’s pretty major. These simple things are often overlooked for primary caregivers of SEND or children in/from care. Unless you live it you don’t really see the sacrifices, not even as a parent of children who haven’t faced trauma, or don’t have SEND. So I thought I would post, to reassure those out there with compassion fatigue, approaching caregiver burn out, you aren’t alone, I stink and am too hairy most of the time too… and to take your moment when you can, to enjoy that 10 minutes if and when you can, to destink. You’re worth it.

Review: National Trust The Firs (Elgar Birthplace Museum)

The property is situated just outside of Worcester about a 10-15 minute drive from another National Trust property we visited on the same day (Brockhampton Estate). It is set just back off the road and is a relatively small property and has a relatively small car park and overflow.

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The entrance to the property itself is via the visitor centre where you can find a lot of information about Elgar, book your time slot to visit the cottage itself (they have to control the numbers in the cottage due to its size) and find out what’s happening on site that day. I shall not reproduce information about the property, details of it can be found here. I have to say, I really wasn’t expecting much out of this trip, but actually I was pleasantly surprise by how much was on offer, in terms of to see, learn and do.

 

 

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Like many other National Trust properties there are summer activities here for children. They had storytelling in the garden (free) and also puppet making in the foyer (£1.50/puppet). The lady, I forgot her name, running both of these on the day was lovely. Logan was really struggling with boundaries that day (as in restrictions on what he should/shouldn’t do and personal space), and she was very patient with him.

 

 

We also had quite some hunger after our little jaunt at… so I got me a pea soup and the children shared a cheese sandwich, between us we shared 2 slices of Victoria sponge and the children had a juice each whilst I had a Sicilian lemonade. The bill came to just over £21, 1 sandwich, 1 soup, 2 slices of cake and 3 drinks. I felt the prices for the drinks were on par with high end prices elsewhere, and the price of the soup/sandwich was reasonable. But the cake, at £3.25/slice; I was expecting more than just a dry sponge with a thin layer of jam. It really was quite stale.

However, was too tired to argue it and face the wrath of the children after the promise of cake. It was dry enough for me to need to go and get a glass of tap water, which is on offer in a dispenser. However, it was empty so I approached the counter to be met with an expression of displeasure and inconvenience. I had already paid for drinks, but nonetheless the feeling I got when I approached for tap water was very uncomfortable.

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It’s definitely worth a visit.

This is a genuine review and all opinions are based on my own experiences during the visit. The National Trust are not funding my visits, we have a year annual pass that was gifted by a family member as a Christmas present, hence our numerous National Trust visits. 

“When are you sending them back to school?”

  • “You’re getting more settled into a permanent home, the kids are more confident than they have ever been, they are actually learning now and thriving in the life you have given them… when are you sending them back to school?”
  • “How are they gonna do their SATs?”
  • “Well, what are you going to do at GCSE time?”
  • “How can you be sure you aren’t going to ruin their futures by refusing to send them to school?”

Common themes of conversations now that we are in our permanent space and settling.

Well let me put it this way, I can’t actually know for certain what they will achieve in their futures, but I can say with conviction that right now it is the best (and only) option. Their therapists have put it in black and white that with their combined issues “neither child can be in a classroom at present”. Not from my pushing, but from their personal assessment, observations and findings. A school institution cannot have a positive affect on their development, health and well being right now. But guess what? Home life does.

Right now they are trees with broken roots, replanted into healthy soil, being nurtured and encouraged to grow and develop. They need time for the roots to establish themselves and grow. Then they can flourish. And who knows, at some point in the future that may involve school. But if we put them into school right at this moment, they’d be unhealthy trees, overshadowed by taller, more established trees, unable to get enough sunlight through the healthy canopy towering above them, but healthy enough to not just topple and die. Existing, but never truly flourishing.

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I have days where I find it hard, but I am never ever in doubt that this is in the best interest of the children. Bruce is the same, he has days where he doubts whether this is the best thing for me (given that I never get a break), but there’s never any doubt about the children’s best interests. School is not in the vision. But our lives, as ever changing as they are with the children’s needs, are ever changing.

30 Days Wild – Day 21

“Our birds”.

It’s kind of strange, having only owned our new house for only 2 months, actually 2 nights away means we really appreciated the sound of being woken by “our birds”. I don’t mean, we have birds as pets… we don’t. I mean the birds that visit our back garden (we really should make an effort to identify them) but they have their own song, and it seems to have settled into us. Being woken by them this morning was so much more gentle and inviting than being woken by the foreign sounds of the nature at the campsite.

They are officially “our birds” now. No other bird song can suffice. We love you birds. Keep up the good work.

30 Days Wild – Day 12

Late posting for yesterday: it was a tough day which involved hours and hours of form filling (that’s what happens with children who need lots of intervention, every assessment requires form after form after form).

But we took sanctuary in hearing the birds all having fun, even if we couldn’t!!!

30 Days Wild – Day 11

Due to Caitlin’s aches and pains today, we have just been at home. We did manage to finish the painting of the playhouse porch (we laid a new floor on it). And managed to sort the toys to go in the playhouse. So the kids now have a play area outside, that is fully operational! WOO… we just have so make it safe for them to take the walk up and down.

However, we did look out at the garden for a while and watch the birds coming and going in the shrubbery lining the fence (the neighbours have suet balls there). It’s a rubbish photo as it’s taken through our extremely dirty window (cleaning them is on the list, but I only have 1 pair of hands).

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We also spent some time quite amused by a fly who refused help, guidance and encouraging comments in getting out of the house, and instead proceeded to seemingly get fed up with flying into the same door frame on repeat.

So today, our widlife has been birds and flies.

What do you mean you don’t do formal learning?

I don’t understand why, as adults, it is so hard for people to get their heads around us not sitting down to scheduled formal learning. Our children are not at school for a reason. Well, many actually. But the pressure of expectations is definitely one of them. Formal learning scenarios imply an expectation. An expectation where the response could be of failure, or approval. Both of which can be difficult for someone with attachment issues. I can write a couple of posts at another time about why both can be so bad for children with attachment issues; I write extensively on this topic and can easily amount to 2000 or more words. Whilst it is related, it’s definitely not the focus so I’ll just say: the consequences of both can be devastating. Actually in ways that parents of children who aren’t adopted, don’t have regulations issues or something similar, or haven’t experienced trauma may not be able to always comprehend.

Now, back to topic.

No, we don’t schedule, and sit down to, formal learning, worksheets most definitely happen, they have access to them year round (even if we are on holiday, even if it is Christmas Day). We don’t need to. We aren’t (yet) bound by law to follow a set curriculum. However, I most definitely do teach my children things daily. They have specific, age and ability appropriate chores. They have access to a curriculum program on an app (which just feels like a game to them). They have a Mum who’s a bit of a book hoarder and lover, so access to so many books (moving house is hard work with our collection I tell you) and reading solo, with someone and read to every day. The have a whole cupboard dedicated to craft supplies which is replenished and topped up regularly. They have pen pals. They make presents at Christmas and each card, for each celebration, is made by hand. They have their own bank accounts and now bank cards, so from the very beginning of living with us they have been learning about saving, budgeting and spending. They have hamsters so they are learning the values based around responsibility, compassion and commitment. They learn math and storytelling along our daily adventures.The list goes on and on.

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However, that’s not the stuff that’s important to us. First and foremost, they are being taught they are cared for, loved, worthy. They are being taught how to regulate emotions; how to ask for help; how to seek comfort; how to recognise that they are tired, need the toilet, are hungry, hot, thirsty; how to trust adults; how to attach and separate from someone healthily; how to socialise. Things that other children their age are likely to take for granted. Things that they weren’t given the opportunity to learn. They can’t be ‘like’ other children, until they have experienced and learned what other children have had.

So no. I won’t sit them down and demand they do work. I will build them up until they are at a point where they are open to that challenge. And in the interim, I will nurture them, encourage their creativity, provide an outlet for their emotions over the events of their life, provide a safe space for them to push boundaries and learn what is acceptable or not. And most of all I will be their parent, and will not bend because I am told by onlookers that, from the small window of our life they have seen through, I am not doing right by the children. Our curriculum is tailor made, by an amazing woman who sacrifices and fights more than you know to make their life a better one. Me. And I am the only person who sees everything. I am the only person with them 24/7. I know them. I love them. And I will do what is right by them. Not what is right by the majority.

 

30 Days Wild – Day 10

I bet you can’t guess what we did today… oh yes… that’s right. Another day in the garden.

But today, patience and tolerance of being exposed to the “what’s going to be… once the work is done” was too much for the children. It was awful. I mean, with attachment issues, change is never easy, but when it’s prolonged and exposed over such a long period it’s very difficult. Both of us are working it to try and make it go fast, but today there was a lot the kids couldn’t help with, and they simply cannot do unsupervised/safe even 10 feet away from us at the moment. You have to give them full attention or be prepared for things to turn ugly… it got ugly.

However, we did encounter spiders, flies (many of the biting variety too – our legs look like we all suddenly broke out in chicken pox somewhat). And we did take a break to picnic outside Tesco, on their benches near the river, eating sandwiches from the deli fridge (they now have a vegan range which means I can finally have a sandwich and not be concerned about dairy – many cheers for that). We of course remembered to take some seed with us, to feed the geese. Caitlin was very (loudy) annoyed, once again, that there was someone feeding them bread “and not just a little bit Mumma, they are giving them the whole loaf. They need to stop!”.

I think the children will feel rewarded though ultimately. As they now have a standing playhouse, a couple of places had fresh ply so need a couple more coats of paint… and then they are in… 35026336_10155362688681246_257758901741551616_n