My Top Tips for Starting School

I feel like an expert, now I have survived the first four days of both the boys going to school, so I am compiling my top tips for starting school, so I can remember them for next year (oh and look back on them after the each half term break)!


School clothes

I have the boys school clothes hung in their wardrobes in sets and they get them out the night before along with a pair of underpants and socks.  I also get my own clothes out the night before. 

School shoes

I am a big fan of the spray on protector and then we use good old leather polish.  The boys help me clean their shoes every Friday, yes it can be messy but a lot of fun too.

School Bag and Coat

We have hangers at child's eye level and I make the children hang up their coats when the come in from school.  We also have a set place for their book bags too.

Dinner Money

Many schools will accept dinner money, weekly, monthly or on a term by term basis.   I pay monthly, that way I don't have to worry about change every Monday morning.  The same with snack money.

Dates

I swear by my Organised Mum Family Calender, which runs from September until the following December and I love using the stickers that come with it.   I make sure I record the whole school years dates on it as soon as I get them.  I also record class mates birthdays etc the week before they take place so that I get cards and presents sorted.

Exercise, fresh air and sustenance is important after school
I always find that the boys behave pretty well at school (I know I am not sure who they swap them with), but they do need to let off steam afterwards, so I make sure that weather permitting we go home via the park and that I also pack drinks and a snack as the boys are always hungry (but then they are boys).  If it is raining that I will take their wellies and we can puddle jump on the way home.

Sleep, Sleep and More Sleep

I am a sticker for going to bed a decent hour, not only do the boys need their sleep, but I need my down time too.  I had to wake Mini this morning at 7.30, he had been asleep more than 12 hours!

Breakfast

There are studies that have proved that a good breakfast is key to learning.  I have to say I thought I had it covered, as Maxi is a porridge every morning boy, but Mini is another matter, getting him to eat anything is a challenge on a morning!

Don't expect too much after school for the first two weeks.

It is hard to transition back to going to school, so don't expect your children to do much after school for the first couple of weeks.  Be patient and know that they will be tired and ratty.

I would love to hear your top tips for surviving back to school after the holidays.


PS Sorry for the poor picture, Mini stood on my camera!

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Ambling at Amble


Amble is a real gem, a small fishing village on the Northumberland coast, with a brill rocky area, which is great for playing, rock pooling and jumping on and a small secluded beach too.

We had the whole beach and rock area to ourselves and enjoyed a pleasant morning.  I had a great time taking photo's of the rocks, the wonderful amazing patterns that the sea makes on them.  Next time I will be taking paper and crayons to take rubbings of the rocks.



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Our Art Corner in the Kitchen

We have decorated the kitchen this week and I have also rearranged the art corner, with the introduction of the boys small table in to the kitchen are and the addition of some great storage from Ikea for the pens etc.


We have painted the kitchen Willow (a soft soothing green) after MadDad decided that the green I had chosen was too green!


The table is from Ikea and I painted the top with blue chalk board paint ages ago and the boys love to use chalk on it.  


It works really well, as it means the boys can come in to the kitchen and do art or puzzles etc whilst I cook dinner and it is also a great area for showing off their artwork.  It is my favourite place in the whole house.  The whole art corner upgrade was inspired by The Happy Home.

How do you display your children's artwork?



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I survived their first day at school


We were all prepared the clothes were names, ironed and set out last night.


Mini was beyond excited this morning, he has wanted to go to school since Maxi started last year. 


I took these images this morning and have kept myself busy today, MadDad and I are painting the kitchen (he didnt like the colour I chose and I took my upset out on him and then we went and exchanged the paint) and I have taken mum to her COPD appointment at the hospital too.

I really missed having Mini around this morning, most acutely around I0.30am at cup of tea and chat time.  But I also missed our quiet reading time and snuggles too.  However, I was glad to collect him and find that he hadn't missed me at all and he had a brilliant first day at school.


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Bamburgh


Just perfect, made even better by meeting with Crystal Jigsaw and Amy.  Mini has declared his love for Amy to anyone that will listen and is running off with her to some far away place.



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On Monday – A letter to MiniMad

You are so excited, on Monday you start the first of what will be many years at school.  It is not a big step for you as Preschool is in the same building and you have walked the register down to reception and had a lunch with the bigger children too.

You are looking forward to getting your uniform on with Maxi and taking those first steps to adulthood, but I am not yet prepared.  I am following your lead and making sure that I am excited with you and we are busy talking about your friends, your wonderful teacher (who was Maxi's last year) and school lunches.




I have written your name in your uniform and you have been wearing your school shoes for a few hours inside each day to make sure they are comfortable and you are raring to go.  To make a start on the journey that is life.  It seems such a small step for you.

But for me it is immense, for the fist time in four years, I am entrusting you to someone who will spend more waking hours in the day with you that I do, that will have more influence over you than me and Daddy will.  We know you will be safe, well looked after and secure.  Your teacher is a star, one in a million, but it doesn't stop the worries running through my head.

Not only that, but it is the start of a lifetime of pressure to conform, of people highlighting your differences and trying to fit you in to a round hole.  

Me and Daddy have discussed many times what we wish for you.  I want you to be happy, that you take life with two hands and smile in the face of adversity.  I want you to grow up knowing right from wrong, with a good moral compass and the strength to act when you see things happening that are not acceptable in life.

I want you to be able to feel comfortable in your own skin and know that I love your uniqueness and I will endeavor to instill you with the confidence to continue to be the man that you are growing into. Don't worry about your differences, embrace them, I do.
So go on Monday with that big smile on your cheeky face and the song in your heart and sing my baby, but most of all dance to the beat of your own drum.



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Mini Me Puppets – An Idea by Nuturestore

My friend Cathy from Nuturestore has done a wonderful guest post for me all about making Mini Me puppets, which is fantastic.   Nuturestore is a fantastic blog with a wealth of ideas of things to do with children, so please pop over and say hello (she doesn't bite honest).






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The Gallery – One Day in August 2010


Not the best picture in the world, but this was taken on MadDad's phone on Sunday evening after a week of sickness in TheMadHouse.

The reason I chose this is it is in stark contrast to the the images that Josie, Sian and Eva (working with Save the Children) who travelled to to Bangladesh on this Sunday will see.

9 million children under 5 die from illness like my family suffered from last week, just look a this post about the children in Addin Hospital .


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Children’s Craft Showcase – Dying fabric with Permanent markers


Materials

Permenant markers
Surgical Spirit (from the chemist)
Jam Jars
Plain Fabric
Elastic Band
Syringe

Method

Put your fabric over the jam jar and secure with the elastic band.  Using your pen draw a pattern on the fabric.


Circles work best, but any pattern will do.  Leave a gap between the lines for the colour to bleed.


Take a syringe and fill with surgical spirit and then drop in to the centre of the fabric.


Move the fabric to a blank area and repeat as required.


I washed the fabric after we dyed it and some of the colour did come out, but not much and then I heat set it with a hot iron.



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School Shoes from Clarks

A while ago I was asked if I would post a video from Clarks about the six steps to shoe fitting, to which I responded honestly that we hadn't actually been to a Clarks shop  in more than two years due to a very bad experience with Mini and that we used the local independent shoe shop.

I was really surprised when the PR responded with the fact the Clarks would like the boys to go for a fitting and would sent a voucher towards the cost of the boys shoes.

So on Saturday we set off to have the boys feet measured and get some shoes from our local Clarks shop.  Now shoe fitting with the boys is not a great experience any day of the week, but a shoe shop on a Saturday the week before school starts is usually some fresh hell in my book.
We walked into the store at 1.30 in the afternoon and my it was busy, but I was really surprised to find out that there was more than enough staff and we were next to be served.  The boys were measured and fitted by Beka, who was wonderful.  She made sure she asked the boys what their names were and used it throughout the fittings with them.


Before she went to get the shoes from the store area, she checked if there were any that we preferred and I mentioned that I liked the ones with the rubber bumper at the front.  She also brought out trainers and plimsolls for the boys to try too.  Beka returned with two pairs of shoes to try and before popping them on asked which one I preferred.  I have to say that Beka was really thorough with ensuring the fit was correct and showed me the growing room in each pair of shoes.  When she was unsure about the fit she asked for the Manager to come across and check the fit and alternative plimsoll's were tried instead.

We actually came away from the shop with 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of trainers and a pair of plimsolls for the boys which cost a total of £121.00, although we had a £50 voucher towards the cost.
So do I feel confident in posting the video now, well yes I do.  I was also glad that I watched it before I took the boys for their fitting too.




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