Mother's Tales

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Review Frenzy

A while ago I decided it would be a good idea to broaden the usual range of books I like to read and offer my services as a reviewer whenever possible. I have had more luck with this than I thought possible. Other emerging writers may like to consider this as a possibility of expanding their knowledge of other authors and styles of writing.

Up till now I have got most of the books from a bookseller’s website but recently I have had some from other sources too. Generally, I am given about a month before a review will need to be typed up onto the website. Sometimes this can be longer whilst at other times it can be much shorter.

This is the problem I have now. I currently have three books waiting to be reviewed. The first one has actually been started now but I have less than a week to finish this novel of over 500 words! I then have one more week for another 400 word novel and two further weeks for the last one.

Yes, this is all brilliant because I love reading. Trouble is that I have normal life to do as well. I usually only manage to read one or two pages at night before I’ve nodded off with the book on my face. It does help that it’s currently school holidays. As I work from home this means that I don’t have to face normal working hours and can manage a chapter or two in the morning before I get up – my prized luxury of the holidays.

So, how will I achieve this reading marathon? I’ll just have to grab every spare minute I can to read more and more. I still think it’s more than worth it, though. The different genres I have come across since I started this have really made me think.

I’ll sign up to try almost anything and am always surprised when I get chosen. It gives me a frisson of a thrill when I receive an unexpected package from the postman (no rude thoughts now, please!). Try it yourselves and see. It might open up a whole new genre to you, as well as improving the range of your writing possibilities.

Good luck,

Nicky

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Time for Me?

When do you start to reclaim some life back for yourself after having children? I mean, time when you finally feel brave enough to say “no” to them. “Sorry, but I have something I need (or even want) to do first”.

Perhaps I’ve waited longer to do this than most – although it could be par for the course. My children are both well into their primary school years but I find that trying to claim some time to myself is just as hard as ever.

I work all day whilst they’re at school. Then the big story begins – the after school activities. I’m then either a taxi service or a childminder, due to playdates arranged on the rare free evening.

But I want to do an exercise class, or go shopping, or just simply sit down for 5 minutes to read something. I find this almost impossible to achieve. Even when I could fit it in I then feel incredibly guilty for thinking of myself instead of staying in my usual position at the bottom of the pecking order.

Am I allowed to just be my old pre-child self for a very tiny while? I think it would relax me and therefore make me less likely to shout at the children because I’d be feeling so much more chilled out. Would I then actually be a better parent?

There! I’ve talked myself round. Chocolates, good book, foot rest – here I come.

Treat yourself,

Nicky

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So Long…

It’s been ages since I was able to post on here. I have been cocooned in my study, beavering away at my day job. For the last couple of months this has morphed into a day and night job as I endeavoured to finish accounts work handed in late before the dreaded tax return deadline at the end of this month.

This is a really rotten deadline as it means I can’t take much time off over Christmas to play with the children. My daughter, who is now 10, is not so bothered as she has already started to spend more time on her own in her room listening to music on her iPod Touch and Skypeing on her laptop (why, oh why, did we succumb and get these for her?). The teenage years seem to have begun way before time.

My husband took over the household role and made most of the meals, washed up and made the beds. He even did a supermarket shop for the first time since we had children!!

But the one most affected was my 8 year old son. He finds it hard to play on his own sometimes. He’s very sociable and chatty and just wants to play games all the time. This is very endearing but quite disastrous when I just need to be left alone to slog through the piles of jobs I had to get through.

I kept explaining why I couldn’t play at the moment and he did understand. A month or so, however, seems a very long time when you’re only 8. Several times a day I was asked how far I had got through my work and when would I finish. During the last couple of weeks he even offered to do some of the ‘sums ‘ for me to help me finish quicker. Crikey, that almost broke my heart.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say that I’m now out of that black hole that I have inhabited for the past few weeks and can once again raise my head.

Let’s play!

Nicky

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Merry Christmas

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a happy 2013.

After a month’s long bout of illness we just about got ourselves ready in time.

Am now in veg out mode and can’t summon up the energy to do much.

Will post again soon.

Seasons greetings

Nicky

 

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Out Alone

The mummy world is a small one…I used to spend half my life on trains. As a student I was forever hanging around empty, cold platforms on my way to college and back. At work I often found myself on trains for days out to courses, conferences and meetings. I learnt to navigate myself round the rail network and London Underground with ease.

Then I had a family. My world became centred round house, children and then school. After establishing my working from home business my entire existence became even more retracted.

It wasn’t until my eldest turned six that I realised I hadn’t been on a train, or even to London, since before she was born. This came as a shock as it’s only a couple of hours away. So we had a family trip up to stay and show them the sights which has been repeated a couple of times.

But today I’m doing it on my own for the first time in, I don’t know how many, years. And I have to admit it’s been a little bit scary. Suddenly, it seems a really daunting, grown-up thing to do. How will I manage? I’m used to being in control of every aspect of my life now.

Part of me longs to take the easy option and just stay at home and hope the horrible thing goes away. But that’s precisely why I need to do it, isn’t it? Some day I have to start rehabilitating myself to the outside world.

All the time I’m out I can’t stop my mind from wandering back to home. What are the dog and cat are thinking about me not being there? What are the children doing at school now? Did they get there okay? Will they bring home everything they need?

At some point, us mums realise we’re not in control of everything anymore. All of us have an increasing need for independence. Letting go and stepping out are the bravest things we can do now.

Go get ‘em!

Nicky

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NaNoWriMo Here We Go

   I’ve been quiet recently as I am now in fully-fledged NaNoWriMo mode. What’s that? I hear some of you scream. Well…

   NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, except that it isn’t national anymore (it started in the USA). Every year for the month of November hundreds of thousands of people across the world join together to write 50,000 words of a novel.

   Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, maybe if that’s all you had to do all day. But, when you have to fit it around a day job, ferrying children around and looking after them, caring for ailing relatives and your other half has gone abroad for work – it’s exhausting!

   To say I’m finding it a challenge is an understatement but I’m determined to do it this year. I tried it last year for the first time but only did about half the words. Now, I still considered that quite a success for me and was very pleased. I have continued to work on that book and have got about two thirds of the way through (it’s turning out very complicated). I will finish it but you’re meant to start on a new one each year so I am trying my hand at a children’s story I have been thinking about.

   My daughter is very interested and has really helped me gear into this. With her help, I have drawn up a reward chart and this is really spurring me on. I am allowed a reward every time I have completed a 5,000 word chunk. Some have been bought already and she has hidden then in her room somewhere. I won’t get them until I have done the words.

   The rest of my family think I’m barmy but my daughter understands as she has actually started writing a book herself. She’s only ten but has been inspired by me (unbelievably) and English (aka story writing) is her best subject.

   I’m looking forward to the end of the month. Not just for a well-deserved rest but also because, hopefully, by then I will have an almost complete first draft which I can then spend the rest of the year tweaking (or rewriting) with the hope that I can actually do something with it (like show it to other people – yikes!).

   So, I have to stop writing these words now as they don’t count. A scrummy box of chocolates (my next reward) is on the horizon. Let me go get them.

 Write on,

 Nicky

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Find the Time

I’m trying really hard to work on my novel at the moment. It’s hard to find the time, though, fitting it round my day job, children’s after school clubs and caring for ailing relatives. Then when I do find some spare time I have competing writing projects.

When I first realised I wanted to take writing seriously I signed up for a correspondence course that covered all different types of writing. I didn’t know where to start so the breadth of the course appealed to me.

After a couple of assignments my confidence and desire to write soared. I joined a writers circle, bought some writing magazines and suddenly found a huge range of writing opportunities and possibilities opening up before me. My course became neglected and I am now in the position that there are only a few months left for me to complete thirty odd assignments. I don’t want to waste the money so have decided to make a concerted effort to try and finish it.

There are also frequent competitions for short stories and poems set by the writers circle. I feel obliged to enter these as it provides dearly needed funds for the group.

I am also a member of other societies which expect regular short contributions. All this is fun, but all in, they take up shedloads of time. If I spend time writing I then feel guilty I’m not playing with my children or doing housework. Guilt – the mother’s curse.

Get up earlier”, people say, or “stay up late”. These are fine, sensible words. However, I already get up at 6am and don’t go to bed till after midnight (due to working, I might add). Believe me, I have tried to get up at 5am and write for an hour before getting everyone up. I actually manage okay on this until about 4pm…and then I rapidly go downhill. I then find that just putting one foot in front of the other takes logistical planning. This leads to me getting behind in my day job as I don’t have the energy to finish what I should be doing.

So, I’m always trying out different ways of working or doing the same things but in a different order, but to no avail. I carry on with the hope that one day it will all sort itself out. One day, I’ll stop being in headless chicken mode. One day…

 

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Rise and Shine

Why is it that when I have to get up early every day during the week I struggle to wake the children up (I’m not even thinking about getting them up, out of bed and ready for school). Yet, at the weekend, when we long for a well-earned lie-in, they spring up and bound around at the crack of dawn. How can this be?

I’ve never been blessed with children who, out of school time, sleep for ages and lounge around the next morning. It doesn’t matter how late they were up the night before, they never sleep late the next day. This even applies to New Year when we’ve recently let them stay up to midnight for the usual celebrations. There they go bouncing up again at 6.30 in the morning.

So, when school is on the horizon, why are they still asleep at 7.30? Or, if they are awake, why do they burrow their heads under the duvet when I come in to rouse them?

I suppose it could be because I’m up and already on their case. There is a long list of things to do and get ready. Not much time to play or gather your thoughts.

Conversely, whilst we are lying in at the weekends they have the run of the house – to themselves for an hour or so. Computer games, telly – it’s about the only time they get to do what they want unfettered (as it’s the only time I get to read my book).

So, I’ve answered my own question now. It works out well for us at the weekends. It’s just the mornings I still have to work on. My hubby leaves before the children wake so I’m on my own. I’m trying to get them involved in helping with the chores more – it stops some of the arguments.

Now, if only I had a bit more time to read my book….

Toodle-pip!

Nicky

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Going on a School Hunt

So we’ve reached that time when we have to decide which secondary school our daughter will go to. I cannot believe that she is on her seventh year at primary school. Where on earth did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that she was a sweet 4 year old girl trotting past the school gates on her first day. Yet, as I look back I can see that over the past few months she has been growing up fast. I know that she will be more than ready to make that jump to big, big school at the end of this academic year.

We have one school in our catchment area that we were given the prospectus for and that was it. This school has improved a lot recently with a new headmaster dragging them up the results tables and installing a previously non-existent discipline. However, it’s unlikely to be our number one choice. There are others in the area we could consider, depending on how far we could travel. We are not near enough any for her to walk to so car travel would be a factor for them all (public transport isn’t good here either).

Also, there are two church schools in our radar. One is Catholic and nearer and the other is Church of England (like us) but in the next town. She goes to a church primary school so she would be used to their ethos. But these are both really hard to get into. Do we try for one of these schools and accept she may be really upset if she doesn’t get in? Or do we put with the catchment school as that is where most of her friends are going and she’s bound to get a place there?

We’ve been doing to the rounds of Open Evenings. Why, oh why, do they all put them on over the space of a fortnight? If you want to look at several then you have late, disrupted evenings almost every day in a short space of time. The children are exhausted. We have a younger son who will be affected by this too so he comes with us. I really don’t want to have them attending two different schools if we can help it.

What is the conclusion after all of this? It’s taken a lot of research and it’s tiring traipsing round them all. The children like them all as they go round them. Our son always likes the last school he’s been to best. My daughter does seem to have a favourite but it’s one of the difficult to get into ones. I suppose we’ll end up trying for that but there’s no guarantee. We will then be faced with a five month wait until we find out. That’s probably the worst bit.

We’ll never know if we’ve made the right decision but we have to try. It’s quite a scary prospect, though. This will have a huge affect on her life and we want her to be happy and do her best. But, ultimately, almost everyone wants that for their children, don’t they? So, wherever she ends up she should still be with children who have parents who love them and want the best for them. Most of them should be ‘nice’ children who want to be happy themselves and have friends.

So, does it really matter where she goes? She’ll always have us behind her and the rest of her life ahead of her. I think the rest will be mainly up to her…Fingers crossed!

Till next time….

Nicky

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Let’s Go Clubbing

So the new school term is in full swing and the after (and before) school clubs are gathering momentum. So I am, once again, in ‘blue-arsed’ fly/busy bee mode. How much ferrying around, from school to club and home to club again, can one person take? I only have two children, for goodness sake. How do those with more manage?

I suppose the short answer is not to do the clubs. This is exactly what my husband tells me to do – stop all of them. This would give us all a more calmed, peaceful life. We currently only have one evening a week free and this is a very treasured time. It’s also the only time we can invite friends round too.

But they have such a wealth of opportunity out there to try and see if they’re any good at them or if they simply enjoy them. It would just feel mean not to let them try and do their best in as many things as they can.

They did not have anything like the number of these opportunities when I was young. I suppose that is why I want to maximise their chances of choosing what they would really like to do in their lives.

I’m not into ‘hot-housing’. These aren’t swotty clubs where they’re doing main school subjects in order to get ahead. On the contrary, I go out of my way to make sure they keep pace with the right things for their age group. I believe that if they are going to do well in something they will seek to do that thing by choice rather than being forced to do it.

So what do you do when you find that, not by design, your child is doing three clubs outside school in one day which involves an hour and a half of driving time as well? This has happened to my daughter. We didn’t plan it like that but her ballet classes changed days this term at the same time that the very rare opportunity to attend a much longed for acting class came up. She was desperate to do both. What could I do when I saw the longing in her face? And the wheedling!

In the end I opted for what I thought was the long term sensible decision (even if the short term was manic). I said she could do both for one term and then she would have to decide. As it happens, I think she has already decided after two weeks that she’ll stop the ballet she has done since she was 3 (she’s now 10).

But we have paid for a whole term and I can’t stand the thought of wasting all that money in these times when we struggle to get enough to pay for it originally. I’m now in a dilemma. I watch her at the end of this day become absolutely exhausted (she also does fencing early before school) and would like to get her to stop once class completely now. Yet she wants to see it through to the end of the term.

Now as I’m writing this down it seems like total madness to put ourselves through all of this but it’s easier said than done to stop the flow. Everyone expects you to join in with everything – schools, clubs, your children. Try and tell them how much simpler life would be without all this running around and they look at you aghast. It’s as if you don’t do the ferrying around pain then you are denying your children.

I think we’re nearing the time when we’re going to have to make more choices. We can’t just all keep trying to have a go at everything but ending up too tired to do anything properly. I’m the same with the way I work – trying to cram in too much and rarely finishing anything as a result.

We need more calm and a more focused family life. Until then…I’ll catch up when I’ve just picked my son up from football.

That’s all folks,

Nicky

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