Settling In?

4 weeks have passed by since the move, including Christmas and New Year’s festivities, although we didn’t do much for the latter, apart from tidy up the old place the best that we can, which apparently was not appreciated that it was our best effort. Almost got into a dispute about that, but after highlighting a few technicalities the owner had to back down. Honestly, wanted to charge us for moss on the outside garden wall and the alike. Anyways moving on from that saga.

Slowly unpacking more each weekend at the new place, put most of our pictures up last weekend and it is starting to look more homely, even my son said ‘it is really our home now’, like he just got it’s not just a holiday home despite all our boxes being stacked up in it with our belongings. Still yes, it is our home until we can eventually find a proper forever home one hopes.

We have been missing our old playgroup and gymnastics classes, but have tried new ones of both things in the area. The new gymnastics class is run by a smaller club in a school hall building, less coaches and equipment, but my son said he wanted to go back that is the main thing. I am hoping to get him back to a similar club in terms of equipment and more one on one coaching provided at some point, but local waiting lists are long. The playgroup was more craft based than the old one, but think my son is now ready for that as before he just wouldn’t have had the concentration. He can move around from table to table trying various crafts, my OH didn’t like it so much as it was a bit happy clappy, and it was, but I can let that go for the sake that my son liked it there and it is good for me to see how he behaves around other children other than doing something like Softplay.

This leads me on to how he has been settling into school, he was doing fine until last week. They started him on half days/morning only sessions for the first week, they told us they couldn’t see any significant concerns other than he was a bit quiet the first week (I told him he was not really quiet, but just nervous because everything is new), but then they said they wanted to try him on proper full school days, the first 3 went well it seems, but last week there were some incidents. However, which seem to coincide with me complaining to the old school about our childcare refund and their data error about having his parents down living at two separate addresses, not there is anything wrong with single mothers, but don’t insinuate wrong information and expect me to be OK with it! I believe the old school have been in touch with the new school causing trouble again, in fact I have it in writing from them that they have done so, and it just magically coincides with the downturn in my son’s behaviour. I have to say my son’s behaviour was at his worse since starting a reduced timetable at the other school, firstly I don’t think he knew whether he was coming or going, was not burning his energy off as there is only so much my nearly 70 year old mother can do with him in the winter and yes, possibly some feelings of agitation and anxiety with the move.

However, the last week or two we have noticed an upturn in his behaviour at home and think he is settling in his new home here, and not so much the ‘Crisis’ his old school were over-egging it was going to be. Rather do a move like this at his age than when he is older and has more established friendships with children. We have another glorious meeting with his new teachers this week, and hope it doesn’t spell more trouble as it often does.

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The Clique?

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How do things evolve into Cliques?

Does anyone ever wonder?

Even the most sincere intention of reaching out to mummies and making more friends that have some common ground can turn into something exclusive and defeat the initial objectives, and intentions of an individual(s).

I have never really been a part of clique, except once at work and have vowed after that experience to never be a part of one again as things always get ugly. Humans seem to enjoy wielding a little bit of power, no matter how insignificant it may be, eventually imaginary lines will be crossed and sides be taken, a type of experience you thought you left at school has never really disappeared. The nicest ever group setting I have ever experienced was when I studied art at further education level, there was no competition (obviously there was in grades, but just didn’t feel it or any hostility), just a genuine interest in our common subject matter, all unique individuals with different experiences, maturity levels that shared living in a certain geographical location. That was the nicest social grouping I have ever experienced, maybe because I decided never to get involved in petty social politics and had a hunger to do my best in my subject matter and never ever have experienced anything like it again, even when doing some evening art courses (perhaps it just takes longer to get a real cameraderie going).

However, mummy social groups have taken me back to school (maybe perhaps as so many are straight out of school, just kidding, putting my judgemental side away, as seriously it gets worse with age as then sometimes it is about status seeking as well) or even something different than school, some there is just a disinterest in making friends as social support groups have been already established and you never get beyond social pleasantries, others just already have a tight bond with mums they already know and go to playgroups with these buddies, and sit in a huddle chatting more than interacting with their children. Hormones and sleep deprivation probably doesn’t help either in the early days.

The reason I am pondering about cliquey behaviour this weekend as our favourite weekend playgroup has changed locations and runs from a church hall further away from us, which is a little bit of a pain as liked the fact we could just walk to it and now we have to take a bus ride to get to it. I understand the playgroup organisers’ reasons it has made it more simple for them to run it from one location instead of two, the one we originally went to wasn’t getting the numbers, although think we preferred the more laid back feel and bigger space. The playgroup organisers need the numbers to secure further future funding, so understand their decision.

However, obviously we are all getting use to a new setting, including my son, whose immediate thought that the new location was too quiet, it wasn’t in the end, a very busy playgroup, don’t think busy is always better. I am sure he will adjust anyway in time and it is something we only do once per month.

I overestimated the journey duration to get there, so we were the first family to arrive and were early, the organiser as usual was very polite and explained where things were in the new venue for us. The most comic moment for me was my son was happily playing with a toy train set and I was sat down with him on the floor, and then I heard the voices of other children and said to my son ‘look other children and families are arriving’ and my son said ‘where?’ It happened to be ‘mummy nemesis’ who I haven’t seen in the flesh since September last year. My OH gave me a knowing look and I just smiled back and laughed. Killer timing. Anyhow, despite this we enjoyed playgroup and will go again. However, the change in scenery and going to this playgroup for the first time got me thinking about cliques and cliquey behaviour in general.

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Obviously the one group I am using as an example in this blog today is not the only bonded group of friends at this playgroup we attend, but using it as I have met two of the ladies previously (including mummy nemesis) and one I haven’t. Mummy nemesis was more in her comfort zone here as people she knew were there, and one other lady that I previously met at one of the few social meet ups that I tried to organise, but got no where as most people who said they would attend bailed out for one reason or another, or just never turned up and I have to admit I have to cancel my own meet up suggestions a lot due to illness, so much so it probably looked like I had bottled it. However, what’s surprising that the other lady who I will call ‘floaty mummy’ (look up floater and cliques) that I had met up with before and who I suggested the local online meet up group and weekend playgroup to didn’t even recognise that she had met us before, chuckles, bad memory or intentional who knows? Yes, could have said something myself like, ‘long time, no see, how are you?’, but no point making a big deal out of a one off meeting that happened two years ago to get a blank look back and I am happy that my random acts of kindness helped people make new friends (and I still help out where possible now when I see a online plead for relief from isolation with whatever suggestions I can make). It was a bit like blanking the person you wish you hadn’t slept with, it never happened.

However, it wasn’t just the adults I noticed being cliquey, but the children, more understandable as children find it more reassuring with socialising with familiar faces, but first time I noticed my son ever being excluded from play. At first I sat back and observed without comment, second time I stepped in and just said ‘play nicely, the younger children just don’t understand your game’ and then told my son what the children were trying to do and then yes, the children were a little more cooperative with each other and nicer to the younger children including my son and another child. However, I do wonder if the more cliquey parents monitored and interacted with their children’s play more instead of constant chinwagging that their children may learn more from the experience instead of copying cliquey behaviour they see their adults display.

Despite my previous negative experience or failures with socialising with other mums not just at playgroup, I am going to try again to be social with mums I have never met before soon as taking some time off of work and see what happens. Yes, like a mummy date and hoping not to be stood up, although sometimes that is the easy way out haha Still think friendships that develop organically are better, but don’t have much chance of that with working all the time, and if at long last I ever hit it off with someone (God hate how this always sounds like dating), I vow not to get cliquey! I have included some links about cliques, how to handle them for both yourself and your children.

http://advice.doctorbeheshti.com/cliques/

https://nobullying.com/clique/

http://www.themotherco.com/2010/11/little-bullies-when-kids-leave-kids-out/

Playgroup and our trip to York

Sunday 18th September 2016

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Playgroup

Another good start to the weekend by going to our favourite breakfast playgroup with our son, he played really nicely there and even is enjoying getting involved at the song at the end, more than he ever has before. Nice recent touch that they are giving the children a instrument to play, my lo really loved his keyboard xylophone, the musical clamour is great.

However, guess who was there? Yes, my mummy nemesis, if you don’t know why I refer to this particular mum as that it was because of a show down over parenting styles, although I was never being critical over anyone’s style at all, and still very hurt by it. I have to admit I felt a small pang of sympathy for her yesterday, it did look like her friend didn’t turn up or the fact she decided to come again without her. I did think should I be social, but thought no why should I? I was never rude, I just wouldn’t be, but there were a few difficult moments with her two sons, a few accidents and she happened to be away with the fairies at the time. Whereas for any other mum I may have offered more help, but on this occasion decided not to get involve for the mum that apparently knew best. I only have the one child at the moment, so realise it must be even more of a handful with two so close in age. She left early, not sure of her reasons, didn’t notice her go, but doubt the experience would make her rethink she should apply a bit more thought before opening her mouth again.

The rest of our afternoon was filled with travel and visiting my son’s nanny. So while I am on the subject of travel, thought I would return to our recent long weekend trip to York and tell you about the highlights of it.

National Railway Museum, York

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At the National Railway Musuem

We must have a spent at least 5 hours in there. Great for all ages, adults and kids a like, lots of trains on show, including The Mallard and Bullet Train, got to see a turntable in motion experience, and going into several drivers cabs of steam locomotives, and being explained what some of the knobs and levers do as such. In fact as one of the demonstrators said not many kids can say they bounced off of The Mallard, which my son did, trust him to be so clumsy, slip while pretending to get coal to put into the firebox. Also they have a indoor under 5’s play area, as well as an outside play area, model railways and a miniature train to ride on outside. Also no entry fee, but donations accepted, so terrific value. They are a few cafes to choose from here, but also plenty of areas to eat your packed lunch as well. We chose the Dining Car cafe though.

York City Walls, Minster and sightseeing tours

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York City Walls

The very intact city walls are great to walk along and get better views of the city. The Minster is stunning inside and out, got to experience the full glory of the bells chiming, which my son is fascinated with.

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York Minster

Did the usual tourist things like do a boat trip on the Ouse and open deck bus tour around York, got to know all about its glorious and gory past. Normally usually avoid these type of things, but great for kids and my son was literally begging to go on a bus all the time we were there, so might as well go for the open roof upper deck experience, although he snoozed for half of the tour in the end hehe

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The Ouse

The Shambles and York Chocolate Story

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Chocolate tasting

Loved looking around the Shambles and all its unique shops, popped into York’s Chocolate Story, stocked up on chocolate (mainly gifts, honest hehe) and did some chocolate tasting, although my son seemed more interested in our palate cleansers (cream crackers). You can do tours, but avoided it as didn’t think our son would have the patience yet, but ended up being embarrassed in here anyway haha. After behaving himself really well, decided he could have one last treat before going, a hot chocolate, mega tantrum, next time just get one with cream and marshmallows in lol I know shouldn’t always give in, but really tantrum would have been avoided. One final thing never realised York’s connection and history with chocolate so much.

Afternoon tea

Final treat afternoon tea at Betty’s tea rooms, lovely and so proud of my son being well behaved, no huge embarassing scenes were caused, much better than we thought he would be, no crockery broken at all. I hated tea at my son’s age, but he loves it.

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Afternoon Tea

 

Playgroups Saga

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25th August 2016

As I went to our usual monthly under 5’s weekend playgroup not so long ago and yes, bumped into mummy nemesis from playground meet up and online mum group, it made me start to think more about all the playgroups I have ever gone to and what has made them good or bad experiences. So, thought I do a little blog about it.

A few days after we were first discharged from hospital, I was bombarded with lots of information by a female representative from one of the local children centres about playgroups and various other things, and also the fact that most the baby ones wouldn’t be running over the summer as unfortunately I had a summer baby and that term was nearly over for the year. I remember her coming to visit sometime in July and that we would have to wait until September when they all resumed again. At the time I thought no big deal, and hadn’t taken in all of what she said anyway, apart from I remember agreeing to a baby massage course and forgetting it clashed with a holiday we booked, so had to rebook it for later in the year. The lady was nice and calm, although found her a bit stand offish, not sure it was deliberate, but thought she was a bit reserved to run so many playgroups and courses, as I say I am very quiet myself, but then I wouldn’t put myself forward to organise these kind of things, but anyhow.

Anyway what turned out to be no big deal ended up me craving to get out to them, walking round the local shopping mall and stopping for a coffee again was getting boring and repetitive. As I had a back problem I was getting over, the only place I could get out to in the first few months was the shopping centre and it was heaving because of the school summer holidays. I found the whole thing stressful and I craved getting to the park, somewhere more peaceful, but it was too far away. A place that was never that far away before without a newborn or a back problem, but those days I had to start thinking where is the nearest baby change, a place I can sit down to feed my baby and was the journey doable with a back problem as we don’t own a car, and a very hungry demanding baby. In my desperation to get out and to do something before September, I enquired about a Gymboree baby sensory class that was run on one of the upper floors in the shopping centre and I asked whether it was age appropriate for a 2 month old baby. They said yes, so I went along for a trial session with my mum, and I have to say the experience was awful. My son just cried every time I put him down. I remember sitting down in a circle with a few other mums before everything started, and the lady I was sitting next to proceeded to get up with her baby and move across the room when she saw her friend arrive, which is fine I understand she wanted to be with her friend that she knew better or was it the fact because I had such an unsettled baby. I may have been feeling sensitive then, but it wasn’t very welcoming. The person in charge looked like she didn’t have any children of her own, and was probably fresh from drama school, I didn’t know any of their songs, it wasn’t the usual nursery rhymes, the ones from your childhood. My son didn’t want to be put on his back and just wanted to be held, and well, the singing was all a bit too American (sorry it looks like I have something against them), my mum made eye contact with me as in saying let’s get out of here and I did. The lady that obviously wanted me to sign up for more classes protested that it was fine and a lot of babies are like this at first, and that we could stay. However, although realise you can have off days at something and then you might go back, and then it’s a different story, but I agree with my mum, my son wasn’t enjoying it one bit and if I stayed it would have been about me and not him, and the fact was neither of us were enjoying it. I was also glad that I had my mum there as back up as I realise some people don’t have relatives to support them. It was one of those moments where you wish just to be teleported out of there lol Funny thing is my son now attends Gymboree sessions at his nursery and I am lead to believe he enjoys them, so it is funny how things change.

After that disaster I had to wait for September until the usual children’s centres and church playgroups started running again. I decided on two to try out and the first one I went to was at a church within walking distance. The only pain with this playgroup was getting my heavy pushchair up the steps to it. My first experience was something else, the first one I went to was very busy and as a newbie I just felt all eyes were on me, my son still wasn’t very happy and I think I spent most of the session trying all sorts of ways to make him happy and probably feeling judged that I had to bottle feed him, whether I was I don’t know. I remember feeling that I had sweetest grilling by these interrogating mums or should say the Spanish Inquisition. I am not sure the mums meant to make me feel uncomfortable, maybe that was their way of trying to make me feel welcome by taking an interest, but I had so many questions thrown at me about can your baby do this or that, that it just left me feeling like no, he doesn’t yet, is something wrong? Of course, there was nothing wrong, the welcome if that is what you call it left me feeling anxious and if I could have done I might have walked straight into a bar afterwards, but instead I went to John Lewis for a coffee to steady my nerves, after that initial attempt it took me a month to summon up the courage to go there again.

So, I tried another one and persuaded my OH to take the day off of work to come with me after my initial church experience one. This one was located in a community centre and was a short bus journey away. Again it was busy, and the atmosphere seemed nicer and relaxed, maybe because I was with my OH as well. Although I do remember one mum dominating most of the conversation. However, I felt yes, I will definitely try this one again, but I had a baby massage course coming up that clashed with it, so I would miss the next 4 sessions unfortunately. The baby massage was good, and surprisingly the first thing that my son actually started to enjoy. So, I am glad I went with it, it didn’t help very much with his sleep unfortunately, but I think it helped with his reflux a bit and our bond, that is the only thing I did keep quiet about whilst on the course as it was kind of sold on it would really improve their sleep, but no not really for us, but it was nice to put it into our routine and think it helped with my son enjoying his bath nights more as those first few times it was like bathing a cat haha

After baby massage ended I resumed going to the playgroup that I thought seemed promising, but the numbers had dwindled, which was a shame, although domineering mummy was still there most of the time. I think even the playgroup leader was getting bored and tired of the effort to run the sessions. So, she decided to stop running them a month early and resume again next year after Christmas, when they would be moved back to their original location at the children’s centre. I didn’t show it, but was disappointed, one of the things that kept me sane was going out to this playgroup, even when the turnout was abysmal and yes, the conversation wasn’t always that interesting and half the time I turned up my son was asleep in my arms for the first 20 minutes as the bus ride would send him asleep. I look forward to him starting to play with the toys and yes, started to sadly enjoy the sing song at the end as he was beginning to like it. So, I had to rely on just going to the other group, where in truth I found some of the mums a little too nosy & interrogating and maybe a little snooty at the same time. I always had the other one to go to if I wasn’t in the mood to going to both of them that week and if truth be told I just found the other playgroup leader more approachable. However, by this point all these mums had gone, I didn’t end up going every week as sometimes my son was ill and sometimes well, I would change my mind and wasn’t in the mood for it. I did end up like going to it, I enjoyed seeing my son more happy, calmer, developing and taking an interest in their toys and his surroundings, and again the song at the end as he did enjoy it. I never really made any new friends as there was no real regulars and then we were forced in a position where we had to move house just after Christmas, and we spent pretty much the first month of the new year settling into our new place. I think we went two more times to this under 1’s group and then couldn’t anymore as I was back at work.

We struggled for a long time to find a weekend playgroup, although I knew there was a church one just up the road from us once a month. I was put off of it as it seemed aimed at older kids as it was very much activity craft based focus with a monthly religious theme. My partner and I are not church goers, so it was a bit off putting.

Eventually I found a new one advertising classes aimed at under 3’s located in a community room at a local supermarket. We went a few times with an open mind, we tried a texture sensory class, at first we liked it, the lady that ran it seemed welcoming and pleasant. Also we were pleasantly surprised as the first one was a food texture sensory class and my son had a issue with food textures at first, and we had a difficult time getting him to move on from smooth puree food. He never really took to the baby led weaning approach, which is all the rage these days, where as he was willing to give things a go here more than he did at home. So, I think at first because of this we left with positive feelings, despite lack of numbers and a few organisational problems. We returned in a few weeks time, but still the same thing hanging around for longer than necessary waiting for numbers to make running a class worthwhile and time for the preparation of the class. The classes started to become a little repetitive or not age appropriate for my son, and the organisation of them a little haphazard. The organiser then introduced a new idea of stay & play sessions, so we decided we would do that and see if numbers would turn up for a while and if they didn’t we would go home, instead of hanging around waiting for a class that would perhaps interest our son to take place, as a few times I am sure we had been there for 3 hours if not more as we are too polite to say we got to go now. My son never napped in his pushchair that much after he turned 1 and would only nap at home, as he would get easily over stimulated, so needed a quiet relaxing environment to sleep in. After these playgroup outings he would crash out at home as we had stayed there longer than intended, fortunately it was a Saturday, but late naps were not great for his routine. The final straw for us really is that her business idea kept changing as it was no longer just aimed at under 3’s, but all ages seemed to be coming. Her helpers seemed bored, and more forced into it rather than want to be there, one we turned round to see snoozing on the table with her head in her arms. Her husband had a chat with us about our jobs and seemed very money orientated, the straw that broke the camel’s back is when some older kids decided to kick a football really hard against a wall while little tots were running about or taking their first wobbly steps. My partner and I decided to never go again as we thought no one was taking control of the situation and it was just becoming badly run. I even wrote a positive review at first about it as she asked me to, but decided to take it down as I no longer felt what I wrote was true.

Then we found a great weekend playgroup in a church that is a short walk away from us. It is religious, but not in your face, just a short prayer at the end after the song. It was well structured, free play with various toys and usually some crafts, light breakfast and hot beverages provided, tidy up, song, prayer and goodbyes. The people that run it have put a lot of their time, own money and resources into running it and it’s not some just money making scheme like sorry I am going to be judgemental the other weekend group we tried. We haven’t made lots of new friends there, but we respect the people that run it, and enjoy going to it as both my partner and I can’t go to any playgroups during the week, and it is nice to see my son play and have fun in a large space, and now with other children as he becomes more social, especially during the winter months when you can run out of ideas what to do, and we can catch up on how much he has developed. I have publicised this group on my FB page as that is how much I like it and think it is the best one so far that we have been to.

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This leads me back to the thought I much prefer toddler groups to baby playgroups, maybe I am being unfair as I mostly go to toddler ones with OH now, so I go with company I enjoy and feel connected with, whereas the baby ones I had to go by myself more often than not, which leads me to think maybe baby playgroups would be much better with mummy speed dating. Buddy up with local pregnant women on the same wavelength as each other as these groups will always be much better with company. My advice is to make the effort to buddy up with another mother to be or expecting mother before you have your baby, someone hopefully you can see eye to eye with, it won’t stop you from attending groups that are not always right for you and your baby, but might make the experience a little less daunting and more enjoyable along the way.

https://www.popsugar.com/moms/3-Tips-Avoiding-Playgroups-from-Hell-27331729/