Part time parent…

Sorry for the radio silence. There’s not much free time now I’m juggling family life and working!

I’ve been back at work since last Monday following 9 months of maternity leave with my fourth (and final, ha!) baby. The last week and a half have gone pretty well, the children are happy spending time with their grandparents and cousins while we work, and have settled well into their new routine.

I thought mornings would be so chaotic but it’s amazing what getting up a bit earlier does for the morning routine! When I only had to get the big ones to school I would leave getting up until the very last minute and end up all stressed. Getting out of bed earlier is hard, especially after night awakenings, but worth it to have a calm and ordered start to the day.

I’ve enjoyed the last few days of getting back into work. I’m a part timer, on a 0.6 FTE contract, which I feel very grateful for. No way could I cope with the demands of full time teaching along with all my children! There have been ups and downs but, thankfully, the ups have outweighed the downs. Getting to know a new class has been fun, as has taking on a year ten class that I last taught when they were year sevens. They’re all so tall now! Catching up with all the changes that have taken place is hard though. So much has changed that I find I have to clarify everything, I feel a bit like the newbie again.

I feel awful saying it but it’s nice to have a few hours where someone else is looking after my children. I felt my mood sinking in the last few months and being back at work has allowed me to have a valid excuse for getting someone to take care of my children and let me have a break! That sounds mad. It’s hardly a break, going to work, but it’s a break from the endless laundry, the toddler tantrums, the teething baby and the repetition of it all.

Returning to work has given me a new perspective. I am enjoying my children again, excited to pick them up after work, and I’m seeing the world through fresh eyes…although they could still do with a few more hours sleep!

Last week…

Well, what a week that was! Started off wonderfully with the arrival of my sister’s baby girl! We visited when she was a few hours old and again the following day. She’s so cute, I can’t wait for more cuddles!

Miss S is in year 6 and had her SATS exams from Monday to Thursday. She was a bit nervous but after Monday’s tests was quite relaxed about it and even admitted “enjoying” them! Strange child. She was keen to do her best, to show what she was capable of and then to enjoy a lovely Friday with her friends. School had planned to take them to the Whitehaven Home and Garden Show to the Science tent and for a general wander.

On Wednesday she started to feel unwell. She’s had asthma for two years now and it seems this time of year is really bad for her. Following many puffs of her blue inhaler (reliever), she was getting quite distressed and I could see she wasn’t well. I called the GP surgery who told us to come down in an hour. We were seen pretty quickly and the doctor prescribed a course of steroids which, in the past, have kicked in within a couple of hours and made a noticeable improvement. We had the tablets by 6pm and she took a dose straight away.

Unfortunately, by 8pm she was not improving at all, coughing constantly, feeling really flushed and tired. Asthma attacks don’t always present as a sudden gasping for breath, in fact Miss S’s never have, they’ve always been a gradual deterioration over a few days. I had to call the husband home from his rehearsal to look after the other children while we went to A&E. The A&E department was heaving and it took a while to get seen by the triage nurse. Most of the other patients were triaged and then sent back to the waiting area but we were taken into resus. Not because she needed resus, thank God, but because that was the only space available.

Following a couple of nebulisers, she was admitted to children’s ward. This is always the case when we’ve been to A&E so we kind of knew what to expect. By this point it was almost midnight and we were all exhausted. I was also well aware that a certain baby would be waking for a feed soon enough and I would have to leave Miss S. So, at this point I swapped places with her Daddy and he stayed overnight.

The next day involved nebulisers, inhalers, antibiotics, steroids, chest x-rays, blood tests and she slowly started to get better. It wasn’t a quick recovery though and she went downhill a couple of times before being properly well again. She needed another night on the ward and the didn’t discharge her until 5pm on Friday as they needed to be confident she was well on the way to recovery.

We were all so happy to have her home! We’ve kept her close by this weekend and she’s been very sensible, taking her medication and getting plenty of sleep to help her recovery. Back to the GP tomorrow and the consultant in June who can hopefully advise as to how we can avoid these seasonal episodes she seems prone to.

We had a lovely wander round the harbour yesterday, at the Home and Garden Show. There was a lovely atmosphere and lots of lovely food! We also went to visit our beautiful baby niece to deliver gifts and get more snuggles.

Today, the husband has been building the set for Up Pompeii which starts this week and we all spent the afternoon at the theatre, chatting with friends and then watching the start of the technical rehearsal. It reminded me how much I love the buzz of being involved in theatrical productions and I can’t wait to get back into it.

Now, all the children are asleep and I am enjoying the BAFTAs and a well deserved glass of wine. What a week that was!

Activities with four kids

It’s quite tricky to find activities suitable for a large family that everyone will enjoy. My children are 10, 8, almost 3 and 7 months. Over the last few weeks we had a few days out in Cumbria, some went really well, one or two, not so much!

A day in Keswick

We had a lovely time in Keswick just before the Easter weekend. As it was already the school holidays we were expecting the town to be packed full of tourists. Parking wars and massive queues for the chippy and ice cream van were on the agenda. We were pleasantly surprised and got parked quickly. There were loads of spaces which was strange for Keswick in the hols!

We wandered down to the lakeside through Hope Park. It was a pleasant walk with all the children enjoying exploring the park, jumping over little streams and hiding in the shrubbery. We fed the ducks, who were a lot less aggressive than the last time we visited them! They must be the best fed ducks in the country. One swan got all territorial which amused us all!

We then went back to the town for something to eat. Between the chippy and a pasty shop we were all happy and sat on the main street to enjoy our food. Then there was the obligatory (and expensive!) visit to the chocolate shop, to stock up on treats for the way home.

A trip to the swimming pool was next on the agenda. All the kids were really excited, especially the two year old. It was the baby’s first time swimming too! It was pretty good value for a family of six as a family ticket is £16 but under threes are free. Again, it wasn’t too busy and much fun was had by all.

A day in Carlisle

On Good Friday we chose to have a day out in Carlisle. It was a lovely sunny day so we thought we’d book tickets to go to the new outdoor ice rink in the city’s Bitts Park. Before that, we needed some sustenance! The husband did his research and found a couple of nice looking eatieries. We went with one called Hell Below and Co and weren’t disappointed. I can’t find a website for them so here’s the trip advisor page link.

It was a bit of a squash fitting our family around the table, if the smaller two were older we could have taken up two tables which would have been easier. The tables were cute though, and had cinema seats as the seating! The service was brilliant and they were attentive and helpful, especially with things like high chairs.

The kids were drawn to the amazing milkshake menu and chose a Malteser and an Oreo milkshake. I would have taken a photo but they didn’t last very long! Toddler was happy with an orange squash which I was grateful for (hyper child for the rest of the day, no thanks!).

The menu was mainly pizza and light meals like salads or burgers. We chose three pizzas to share between us. I was torn whether to go with 9″ or 12″, we went with 9″ and it was just the right amount. I deliberately chose a parma ham, blue cheese and rocket one for me and the hubby so the kids wouldn’t pinch it. Bad Mummy! It was delicious!

I’m glad we went there instead of the usual, McDonalds, Pizza Hut or Pizza Express. It was better value and great service as well as great food and drink.

We had a little wander around the city too which was lovely as it was a warm day and the continental market was on. Lovely smells and atmosphere.

Ice Skating

Next, we headed to the ice rink. When we checked in it turned out our booking hadn’t gone through on the system but fortunately there were still places available. We paid for the kids but just for one adult as we took it in turns to go on the “ice” as we are the same shoe size!

The older two took to it fairly quickly and were whizzing around in no time. I say whizzing, it’s quite hard to whizz around on plastic ice. It’s nothing like actual ice which was a bit disappointing. The toddler wasn’t keen at this point so did one lap with his Dad and then came off for a drink and a rest. By this point it was really warm and they were all thinking about ice cream and cool drinks.

I then had a go and the toddler did another couple of laps with me. He got a bit more confident and was able to keep his balance and “skate” a little. Eldest child was really good at it by this point. #2 was bored and wanted to go to the park!

The play park in Bitts Park was fabulous! It was really busy but kept the children happy for ages. In fact, they didn’t want to go. I think we could have skipped the ice skating totally and they wouldn’t have been bothered. There’s a wet area, where they got pretty soaked! We’ve promised that we’ll go back in the summer, with cozzies and towels. The baby had his first go on a swing and loved it.

 We also went to Maryport Aquarium but I’ll have to save that for another post. Must make tea!