Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School Struggles

Starting school for the first time is often quite a stressful time for both parents and children alike. It's a massive change, and can take some getting used to. Of course every child is different, and while some take to this whole school thing like a duck to water, some don't handle the change quite so well.

I really thought Caitlin would be part of the first group. She spent a lot of the summer telling me how excited she was, almost counting down the days until she could go to school. She was thrilled by the prospect of meeting new people and making lots of new friends.

Last year we had a tough home to school transition with Neil, but we had prepared ourselves for that. This year, with Caitlin, I expected it to be different. I expected her to skip in to school each morning without a care, and then come bounding out at 12.30 full of stories. Instead, when I pick her up, I see pure relief in her smile. As children head away with their mummies and daddies, calling 'bye' to each of their friends, Caitlin stares straight ahead, desperate to get away.

We take the car home with one of the girls in her class and her mummy. The little girl often tries to talk to Caitlin, but again she stares straight ahead, without a response. When we get out of the car she won't even say bye to them.  If anyone tries to talk to her at the bus stop in the morning she turns to face the other way. I've tried to gently encourage her to reply but she won't.

I even had her class room assistant pull me to one side on one of the days and say they were concerned that she wasn't well because she had been very quiet and wouldn't speak or join in with anything.

I've asked her what is wrong, why she won't speak to anyone and she says it's because she is shy. It breaks my heart to think of her sitting at school feeling like she can't talk to anyone or join in.

The whole thing seems to be really upsetting her, and the worst thing is, she is too afraid to tell me.
She plasters on a smile and tells me she loves it, but her actions tell a different story. She's been asking if I will sleep with her, and often climbs in to my bed at night, something she hasn't done for a while. She has also been bursting in to tears over what would seem like the silliest of things.
I found her standing in Neil's bedroom one night when I came upstairs, and jokingly told her she had been caught red handed. She ran out of the room sobbing and barricaded herself in her bedroom, which is another thing she has been doing a lot recently.

When I ask her what is wrong she tells me nothing. I've tried to ask if school is upsetting her and she says no. I don't want to push it because I don't want to make a big deal out of it, because it's probably not a big deal. It's probably just a case of Mummy being a massive worrier, as I always am.

Now I know what you are probably thinking, and it's the same as what others have said to me, "Give it time, she's only been at school for a week, she will settle in", and I know these things can take time, but I just hate the idea of her feeling sad or left out.

 I signed her up for singing lessons in school, hoping that will help boost her confidence a little bit. She had her first lesson today, and was so excited that they got to sing 'Do you wanna build a snowman' from frozen. She also has some colouring in, and a little set of instructions of how to stand for singing, which she has to practice at home.

I don't know what else I can do... It's not like I can go in to school with her. I can only encourage her and hope that it's just a confidence issue, and hope that she will come out of her shell soon.

Does anyone have any advice on this, should I be giving her time to find her feet, or should I be encouraging her a bit more? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Word of the Week - Routine

We have almost finished the first week of the new school term. The week has had it's highs and lows, but we've made it. 

It's always tough getting back in to something after 9 weeks away from it, the massive change in routine is something that takes getting some used to, and so my word of the week this week is...

Yes, gone are the lazy mornings in our pj's, we actually have to get dressed when we get up now... imagine that!

The school routine has well and truly started. For me this means 6.45 starts, which in my opinion should be made illegal. Ok, I'm well aware that some children have their parents up at this time in the morning everyday, and I feel for you, I really do, but for us, this isn't normal!

The wee man doesn't like school, and not just in your normal 'school sucks' kind of way, I mean it really stresses him out. To try and eliminate any extra stress, we have quite a set routine in the morning, so he knows what is coming and what to expect.

After getting uniforms and snack bags ready, I wake the rest of the house at 7.30 and we get breakfast. At 7.45 we get our teeth brushed, and then we all get dressed. At 7.55 we check the school bags and everything are ready, and that the kids have everything they need. This leaves 25 minutes free time so that the kids can relax before leaving for the school bus at 8.25. This allows Neil to indulge in his special interest for a bit before school, which helps relax and calm him.

This is Caitlin's first year as part of the busy school routine. She didn't go to nursery, and last year she favoured sitting watching TV in her pyjamas as I got Neil ready. This year things are a bit more hectic, trying to sort two kids uniforms, two bags, two snacks, the two kids both needing to get dressed at the same time, running frantically from room to room trying to sort them both out.

I'm not great at being organised, remembering who needs what, and when for.

God help me when I need to start co-ordinating who needs their library books on what day, and after school clubs, and all that jazz. I may need to re think our routine as the year goes on, or try and organise myself a bit better, or I'll end up frazzled by the end of the year! Also, if someone could add a few extra hours to the night so I could get a bit more sleep, that would really help...

But anyway, we have managed to navigate the mornings as best we can, and despite my moaning we have started to settle back in to some sort of routine. It's now Thursday night, almost at the end of the first week. One more crazy morning rush and then we can relax for two days, and pretend 6.45 doesn't exist before it all starts again on Monday!

How have you coped with the back to school routine. Do you have any tips for managing that morning mayhem?
The Reading Residence

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


Have you ever stopped to listen to the sounds around you, and heard absolutely nothing? I haven't, at least, not for the last five years. Which is why it seems so weird to be sitting here, the only sound coming from my fingers tip tapping on the keyboard, and as I pause to think, I hear nothing.


I don't like it.

The funny thing is, this time last week I'm sure I was hiding in the kitchen trying to drink a cup of coffee, yelling at the kids to give me peace. I've spent the whole summer telling the kids to use their inside voice, to be quite, to turn the telly down, to stop bickering.

And it's not just the summer. I've spent the last five years wishing someone would shove a sock in Peppa Pigs mouth, because if I had to listen to her annoying voice one more time I'd be sticking my foot through the TV.

But today, as I sit here in silence, I'd be happy to hear some Peppa Pig. Or the sound of Caitlin laughing, or Neil shouting "Muuuuum" at increasing volumes until I replied. I'd be happy to hear the sound of them fighting over whose turn it was to pick a movie, or their feet stomping up the stairs like little elephants.

I've tidied up this morning, and a few hours later it is still tidy. I've made myself a cup of coffee and actually drunk it while it is hot. I've gone to the toilet without someone following me. This might sound like bliss, but trust me, it doesn't feel right.

My house is empty, for the first time in five years...

The silence has made me realise, that my family home is not the same without the kids and all of their noises.

So while I sit here and try to accustom myself to this new quiet, I urge you to take in all of the sounds of your house and enjoy it while you can, because belive me, you will miss it when it's gone.

Brilliant blog posts on

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to school / Caitlin's first day

That time of year has rolled around again, yes, it's the start of the school term.

Around the country kids and parents everywhere feel a mixture of emotions, and intense mix of anxiety and excitement. It feels like only yesterday we were feeling those emotions for the first time, when Neil had his first day at school, it's hard to believe that it was a whole year ago. His first year whizzed by so fast, and here we are in September ready to start the school routine again.

Only this year, things are a bit different. This year, Caitlin is starting school, which makes me emotional as she's the youngest, and now our house will be child free during the day, which is scary as hell! The past few days have been a blur, trying to enjoy as much time together as possible before the big day.

Neil started back on Monday. A new term brings a lot of anxieties for a him, and he hasn't been in good form over the last week. You can really tell when something is bothering him, because he starts to stim a lot more. There has been lots of rocking, spinning, swaying and loud noises recently. He's been very vocal about the fact that he hates school, and going back has been really stressful for him.

He was very anxious in the morning, a lot of swaying from side to side and vocal tics. As you can see here, he's not in the best of moods.

We managed to calm him down by letting him watch minecraft videos on Daddy's phone until it was time to go, and I did manage to capture a rare smile.

It was an emotional time for all of us, I hate seeing him in such a state, and first day nerves are intensified when you have a child with SEN, as I'm wondering what the school year will bring and how he will cope.

Once we'd waved Neil off on the school bus, Caitlin and I went home to try and enjoy her last day before school. As a wee treat, we went to the local bakery and got Caitlin's favourite lunch, Pancakes, with a little strawberry cupcake for after. We spent the rest of the day chilling out, before going to collect Neil from the school bus in the afternoon. Neil was in good spirits when he arrived home, and seemed to have had a good day, well, as much of a good day as you can have when you are stuck at school!

This morning it was Caitlin's turn to start. She has been telling me repeatedly over the last few days how excited she is to start, but I could tell she was nervous this morning.

She looks so grown up in her uniform, it actually brought me to tears. My little baby off to school!

Taking her in to her classroom this morning was tough. The excitement had soon turned to fear, and I found it hard to leave, looking at my frightened little girl standing in the big classroom. The school encourage parents not to linger around too much, so I had no choice but to scarper out of the class room. What else can you do? It's not like I can keep her at home forever. I didn't find it as hard this year as I did last year with Neil, I guess that is because I knew what to expect and had prepared myself for it.

So I'm sitting her writing as I wait for 12.30 so I can go and pick her up. I'm excited to see how her day has been and can't wait to hear all of her stories.

Have your children gone back to school this week? I hope the back to school goes smoothly for everyone!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Love the Little Things 29-08-14

I have decided to link up with Love the little things this week for the first time.

It's the last week of the summer holidays this week, it's hard to believe the kids have been off for 9 weeks. I can't say I'm overly excited about them going back, if I'm honest. This week has been a week of chilling, and enjoying our time together before Monday.


I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and read much this week, I've been spending so much time with the kids. I did read this article over at the huffington post by the lovely Hayley from Downs Side Up, which really touched me. It's a letter to a man who made some pretty bold comments regarding children with downs syndrome, and if you haven't yet read it I urge you to do so.


I took Caitlin to the Cinema for the first time yesterday, as a wee treat before school starts. Neil didn't want to come because they didn't sell candy floss (although when we got there we found they they did actually sell candy floss... oops).
We saw 'The house of Magic', a lovely film about a cat who stumbles upon a strange house when looking for shelter on a stormy night. It was a sweet movie, Caitlin hasn't stopped talking about it.
She really enjoyed her first trip to the cinema. She loved the big seats, although she's quite a dainty little thing and they kept folding back up and trapping her, so I spent most of the movie trying to keep her seat from eating her alive.


I've been listening to Ella Henderson's new song a lot.I didn't think much of it when I first heard it, but the more I've listened the better it gets. I absolutely love her voice.


This week we wanted to treat the kids to take away food, but it's so expensive. We decided to make our own pizza instead, it's so much cheaper and just as tasty. The kids enjoy getting the chance to make their own mini pizzas too. If you want to have a go at making your own pizzas you can see my recipe here.


The weather has been a bit funny this week, it doesn't seem to know what it wants to do, is it summer, is it autumn? This changeable weather makes it difficult to dress, as you don't know which season to dress for!
It's certainly feeling a bit cooler, and so I've been wearing light jumpers and cardigans a lot this week.
I've been feeling very plain recently, but have been glamming up my outfits with funky jewellry.
My favourite is this necklace that my friend bought me for my birthday last week..

I love it!

And lastly...

I got a pretty new blog design this week after a few weeks of feeling a bit 'meh' about my old look. I'd been humming and harring over a change for a little while but decided to just go for it and I'm really pleased with it.