Emmet – the judgemental lego-man

It’s the Summer holidays and I’m dreading it.
How on earth will I keep my bouncy, full-of-energy children occupied? How will I prevent the arguments? It’s hard enough handling meltdowns in the few hours before and after school, how on earth can I manage them all day long??

Hang on, didn’t you want kids?

emmett 1What? Huh? Who was that? Oh, my inner voice speaking again. That judgemental little lego-man (I don’t know…but go with it) that sits inside my head reminding me that I wanted this. I asked for this. I worked bloody hard to have my family, and now I’m moaning about it. What kind of a person must I be?

I know some mums really look forward to the holidays – an opportunity to spend time with the kids, no getting up to pack lunches or do school runs, meet-ups with friends and their children, and fun days to be had.
I know some mums also really dread the holidays and wonder how on earth they will keep their little darlings occupied, and prevent the ‘I’m bored’ whines that can emanate from our children.

I kind of sit in the middle – worried and anxious about how to keep them occupied. But I enjoy not having to get up to do the school run. Take now – it’s 11.50am, the kids are happy, playing, not arguing, and I’m here on my laptop in my dressing gown, unshowered and accompanied by an empty mug – yes, because I’ve actually had time to sit and drink a whole cup of tea – that’s great. But yesterday the kids woke up at 6am and it was a shit day for us all with tempers high as tiredness dominated our moods.emmet 2

Yet, still I feel something – fear maybe – deep in the pit of my stomach. Climbing up and lurching around, every time I think about that magic date September 4th, and how far away it really is.

But you did want kids didn’t you? And now you don’t want to spend time with them? How cruel are you?

That voice lingers there. That little plastic man and his messages eat away at me.

You should just feel grateful that you have 2 healthy children.
They might be hard work at times, but you love them.
Think about all those other people that haven’t got children – think yourself lucky.
Make the most of it, they’re only young once.

And he’s kind of right. Yes, they are challenging, tiring, angry, troubled, full-on little people, but I love them with all that I have and they turned us from a couple into a family which was what we wanted. Why then, am I so anxious about spending time with them? I wonder if other mums dread the holidays as much as I do?

And then I stop, and I realise that it’s not fear of spending time with the children that’s filling me with this dread. It’s not because I don’t want to spend time with them. My fear is about my expectations of myself – can I make them happy? Am I a good enough mum to make this summer work?
I want to give them a summer in which they can relax, have fun, be children, have days out, make memories, make mess, and it’s my lack of confidence in myself as a parent that’s making me anxious.
But I needn’t worry because the kids have their own ideas of what they want to do, and with some suggestions from me, ideas from the internet, their own imaginations and desires we work together (for the most part) to make this 6 week holiday work for us all.

So now, when that little lego man opens his mouth – I sing to him.
“Everything is awesome” I bellow. “Everything is cool when you’re part of a team”.

Today’s post was from an anonymous adoptive mum. If you’d like to use this space anonymously or not to share a view, opinion, rant, poem or anything else, please contact us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Summer Sandpit 28/7/14

Hello and welcome to the first week of our new Summer Sandpit linky - a place for you to share your summer memories and activities, and perhaps give some inspiration to others.sandpit_zpse4b97af5

Our weeks are themed, but as with all our linkys – the themes are optional. This first week is ‘Nature’ and to kick us off, Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour is sharing some activities that you might like to do with your children…

barny the woodsTruth be told, I’m not an outdoorsy person. I don’t like hot weather, despise wasps and buzzy insects, and see no point in sunbathing. However, I do like nature – I love the smells and colour of the flowers, homegrown fruits and vegetables taste far sweeter than bought ones, and even as an adult, I’m fascinated by seed pods, crunchy autumnal leaves, knobbly twigs and live in hope I may one day see fairies at the bottom of the garden.

With this in mind, I like activities that encourage the children to think about nature, and allow them to bring the outside in – not worms and stuff, but those seed pods, seeds, dried flowers, petals, feathers and such.

Here are a few of the posts I’ve published in the past that explore and encourage thoughts Dirt cupsabout nature:
Dirt Cup Puddings (with jelly snakes, worms or bugs)
Rice Maze and Story Maker (easily adaptable to only include natural objects)
Grape Caterpillars
Nature Paper

And I have a pinterest board full of other nature-type crafts and activities

how to get kids offline

I also recently reviewed a fantastic book called ‘How to Get Kids Offline, Outdoors and Connecting With Nature’ - click through and you’ll see a photo of the Fairy House that Dollop and I made together. And I’ve made a list of other activities from the book that I’d like to try this Summer.

 

We’ll definitely be heading out to explore nature – fruit picking, scavenger hunts, gardening, geocaching, and even painting our own rock bugs, link your post up below so we can see how you’ve been getting nature into your lives…

As usual, no rules, just add your link below. All welcome to link in – no connection to adoption needed, but great summer activity posts only please. Do share your favourites, and comment on posts where you can.
 


The Adoption Social Times 7

Welcome back to another Adoption Social Times, bringing you highlights from our last month…

Taking Care
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This month we’ve published details of Taking Care, the first conference from our friends at The Open Nest. This takes place on 18 October, in York (right next to the train station), and we’re thrilled to not only be speaking at the conference, but hosting an Adoption Social, Social event in the evening – music, food, maybe a dance floor, but a chance to get to know some of the people you have been tweeting and sharing your blogs with…read more about the conference here.

Trustee announcement and short film
Connected to Taking Care, we made the announcement this month about the trustees of The Open Nest charity – these are:
Amanda Boorman: Adoptive parent
Jazz Boorman: Adoptee
Fran Proctor: Adoptee
Sarah H: Adoptive parent and co-founder of The Adoption Social
Vicki N: Adoptive parent and co-founder of The Adoption Social
Sally Donovan :Adopter and writer
Krissi Thrustle: Therapeutic Support Worker
Kayti Boorman: Events and admin manager

Sarah and I are so pleased to have been invited to become trustees of this forward thinking charity. We’ve already had our first formal trustee meeting, and are working hard on achieving the charity’s aims and expectations.
And we brought you ‘The Lost Children of Trauma’ a short film, with a powerful message. Do please take a look and share it if you can.

#WASO
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You lovely lot never fail to bring us your best posts as part of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out – what an amazing community of people you are – some adoptive parents, some foster carers, some adoptees, some birth parents, and many more people besides. We LOVE reading your posts, so keep ‘em coming…

Forthcoming themes for this month are:
8 August – ‘Down time’
22 August – ‘Last weekend we…’

#Memory Box and #SummerSandpit
Memory Box is taking a break over the next six weeks. From Monday we’ll be bringing sandpit_zpse4b97af5you #SummerSandpit instead.
This is our special summer linky for anyone to link up to – involved in adoption or not. We want to hear all about your summer activities – tips, advice, play ideas, games, crafts – everything! Share your favourite things with others, and get some inspiration to keep the children occupied too. We’ve even got some lovely guest bloggers lined up for you too, so make sure you check it out each Monday. Summer Sandpit will open early Monday and close late Sunday each week. Here’s the theme list:
28 July – Nature
4 August – Crafts
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1 August – Cooking
18 August – Active play
25 August – Den building
1 September – Days Out

And finally, here are a few of the posts we’ve published on The Adoption Social this month:

 

- A post from Sally Donovan on the prototype support fund for adoptive parents
- A post on early years provision for adopted children
- A call for information about you and where you’re based so we can try to facilitate some local meet-ups

- We met ‘Single Adopter’ in our Meet The Blogger series
- After listening to the engaging Camila Batmangelidjh at Britmums Live, we shared information about their new campaign – See the Child, Change the System
- Particularly relevant with the Summer Holidays upon us, here’s a review about getting your children offline and outdoors…

 

If you have any posts that you’d like to contribute, then please do send them into us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com. We also love hearing your feedback, so do get in touch.

 

 

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 77

Are you ready? It’s #WASO time!
Week 77We’re well and truly into the Summer holidays now – how are things in your house? Are you going away? Staying home? Lots planned? Nothing at all?

Come and tell us all about your week by linking your post up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. We’ll share as many as we can, but do share your favourites too. Our theme this week is ‘Our Favourite Family Place’ so if you have a place that’s special to you, we’d love to hear about it…



We Need More Room

 Help!

depressionWe need another room! We are in the process of being assessed to adopt a second child (we adopted our son at the age of two. He’s now five). The problem is: Last time we did this we waited until we had been approved through the panel to sort out a room for him. As we waited a long time (over a year) for a placement, that worked fine.

However, this time round our agency is insisting that we have a room entirely ready for a new child before we even go to panel. I’m not keen to do this, because I worry about the awful physical reminder of an empty room if we don’t get through the panel. Aside from this, we’re not very good at changing around rooms and really need some help.

I’ve tried to find an interior designer, but no-one wants to help on such a small-scale project. We can’t extend our house so are looking at creative solutions and really just need some very practical advice and help to sort it out. Pretty quickly! Can anyone help or recommend someone who might be able to help? 

First aid, audio CDs and other things to keep close by in the Summer

Are your children accident prone?
One of mine is. Sometimes he falls over accidentally – he has hypermobility in his ankles so that doesn’t help, but often he hurts himself in the middle of a meltdown, and sometimes he hurts himself on purpose – yes, he’ll throw himself into a pile of stinging nettles, or headbutt a wall repeatedly, and there are the days where he’ll punch something hard, and end up slicing open his knuckles. We’re having therapy at the moment to help, but in the meantime I have to be prepared for many eventualities when at home, or out and about.

So with Summer approaching and days out planned, I thought I’d share the contents of our first First Aid posteraid kit with you…just in case.

At home, I expect most of you have a first aid kit. I have two more – one I keep in the car at all times, and a smaller one that I chuck in the backpack for days out.

  • Tweezers
  • Lanacane for itching/bites
  • Plasters (various sizes)
  • Calpol
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Safety pins
  • Individual square non-stick dressings
  • Bandage
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Triangular Bandage
  • Micropore
  • Small scissors
  • Piriton/Piriteze syrup

I don’t always take Calpol or Piriton, and when I do, sometimes leave them in the car. Bit bulky to carry around with me.

Of course, use your common sense and judgement. If I had other people’s children with me, I’d make sure I had parent’s permission to administer medicines, and check that plasters are OK too.
In the car, I also keep a few bits that make my life easier, and I know then that wherever we are, even if on the spur of the moment, I have what I need:

  • Change of clothes for the children (several pairs of pants for the serial wetter)
  • Suncream
  • Sunhats
  • Clean towel
  • Picnic blanket/doubles up as a warm blanket for in the car
  • Small box with baby wipes, tissues, plastic cutlery, rubbish bag

The boy is now in just a booster seat, with no back, so nowhere to rest his head – he has a beanbag filled ‘pillow’ for leaning on, else he contorts into weird positions to rest, most of which involve the seat belt no longer being where it should be!

And, in the back between the carseats, I keep clipboards with paper and pens, colouring books, some travel games, children’s binoculars, and sticker books to help keep the kids occupied during travelling – even just 10 minute trips.

I also made a CD that has songs on that EVERYONE in our family likes – this helps stop the bickering.
And we also have a couple of story CDs in the car. They’re a bit young for the boy, but sometimes after a long, tiring day out, a little bit of The Gruffalo is just what’s needed.

Travelling with children is a whole other post, so just thinking about days out – what else do you take other than picnics, buckets/spades for the beach, footballs for the park, or bikes for the woods. Any tips?

Taking Care – The First Open Nest Conference.

Today we bring you full details of the first Open Nest Conference entitled Taking Care, a user led approach to adoption Support.

onlogoThe Conference will take place on Saturday 18th October 11am – 5pm at the beautiful Royal York Hotel in York, Located right next to the train station this venue has been chosen for it’s great rail links and the excellent facilities, it is just over two hours direct from London on the train.

This conference is for adopters, adoptees, prospective adopters and practitioners and hopes to offer plenty of practical support as well as lots of time to socialise and network.

Those presenting at the conference are:-

Amanda Boorman, founder of The Open Nest charity and adopter, will open the day with and introduction of the agenda and will discuss the formation of the charity.

Following on will be the presentation of the hard hitting documentary film, Severance.

Al Coates, an adopter and experienced social worker will then present his own personal and professional adoption experiences.

Fran Proctor, an adoptee, will discuss whether we need to change our perception  and our way of “treating” trauma and offer practical solutions.

Sally Donovan, adopter and writer will suggest how we can be a positive advocate for our children, especially in the school environment.

Then to follow, there will be a screening of our animation “The Lost Children of Trauma” developed by adopters and adoptees.

The Adoption Social will present on how the internet can be used to find support and information.

We Are Family, a user-led support network based in London, will talk about how to organise a support group and natural buddying.

The cost of the day including tea, coffee and lunch, is £25.

This is a non profit making conference, in line with the charity’s aim to offer support and advice which is accessible to all adoptive families.

Although the conference will not formally commence until 11.00am, registration will be open at 9.00am giving people the opportunity to socialise with others.

Bookings can be made by debit/credit card via charity patrons, La Rosa Hotel Tel: 01947606981

By Cheque sent to, The Open Nest, 5 East Terrace, Whitby, YO21 3HB

Via Paypal on the donations page of the website for The Open Nest If you are able to make a donation when booking we would be very grateful.

The Adoption Social, Social

We are finalising ideas for the evening event, hosted by ourselves The Adoption Social. We hope to offer a fun and relaxed event with food, drinks and maybe even a dance floor. There will be an additional cost for the evening event but we will also aim to keep the price as low as possible and we will not be profiting from this event. If you are unable to attend the day time conference but would like to come and socialise in the evening then we would be really happy to see you.

Accommodation 

For those staying on to the party, you might need a bed for the night. Here are some options,

The Fort Boutique Hostel prices start at £28

Premier Inn York North West (ring rd) prices start at £74

Other possibilities can be found here Visit York

 

Memory Box 21/7/14

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I love this post that The Family of Five linked up to last week’s #MemoryBox – makes me think of the many funny words and phrases that are now an everyday part of our family’s vocabulary thanks to our children…

Have you got any happy moments to share? Remembering the good times might help your Monday morning go a little smoother… Just add the link to your post below and we’ll share it for you, and give it some love…


Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 76

#WASO 76Roll up, roll up, then scroll down, scroll down…

It’s Weekly Adoption Shout Out time and we’re ready for your blog posts.

If you’re a blogger, then below you’ll see the form where you can add your blog posts. No theme this week so add whatever posts you like.

If you’re a reader, then below (hopefully) you’ll see a growing list of links from the best adoption bloggers you’ll find. (So we’re biased, but they are great!).

Read ‘em, comment on ‘em, share ‘em. And why not join ‘em? If you fancy starting a blog and want some help, then just let us know…


Starving the Anxiety Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly – A Review

Sarah from The Puffin Diaries has reviewed Starving the Anxiety Gremlin available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

I have been using this book with both my children over the last couple of months, a boy aged 9 and a boy aged 10.

anxietyGI initially worked with my youngest son, as he was having a great deal of anxiety around going to school. He has always struggled to verbalise his emotions and often hides his feels and emotions. I hoped the book would help use explore some vocabulary and narrative on what he has been experiencing each day in the school environment.

The book aims to offer a cognitive behavioural approach to managing anxiety, suitable for those 10 years and above (I was aware my youngest wasn’t quite the right age but hoped we could pick the bits out that were suitable).

The book suggests that it can be used by the young person to work through or alongside an adult or professional. I think the child would need to be at least a couple of years older than my children to be able to make good use of the book independently.

My 9 year old and I started at the beginning, reading the introduction. By the second page my son was engaged with the content. Here speech bubbles suggesting different ways a child may feel when anxious offered an opportunity to yes or no to how he might be feeling.

BOOK : “Do you feel like you have no control over how you react when you are anxious?”

SON : “Yes”

So a good start.

The book goes on to describe what anxiety is and what different types of anxiety exist. Some of this content, as throughout the book, is aimed at older children. For example self harming, drinking and drug abuse are listed as behaviours that anxiety may induce. However I did find it easy to skirt around these and lots of the other content was very relevant and useful to discuss.

We did the anxiety word search together and also did a really good work sheet on colouring in the physical anxieties attributes which are relevant to you.

In fact the whole chapter on identifying what YOUR own anxiety is, was a good interactive experience which really helped me to understand a lot more about how my son feels.  

It really highlighted his separation anxiety from me, which previously I hadn’t considered to be the real problem. I presumed that the school environment was the problem.

With my 9 year old we are still working our way through the book, choosing the sections that are suitable for his level of emotional maturity, which really is younger than 9. I think he may not be fully able, as yet to grasp the concept of CBT, however we are still reading some sections and doing the bits he’s happy to do, it can’t do any harm. I’m sure we will come back to it all as he develops.

I have also now started working on this book with my soon to be 11 year old son. He is off to high school in September and whilst he is excited now, I know he will develop anxiety over the prospect over the summer. I think the book will be pitched at a level that he is mature enough to understand; he has a greater emotional intelligence than my youngest son. He enjoys the prospect of discussing his emotions and is asking when we can do more work together.

On the whole I think this book is an excellent tool for prompting discussion around anxiety, explaining anxiety to a child and teaching them how to manage this response to situations.

As yet we have not completed the book and therefore can’t vouch for its complete effectiveness. However, I’m a true believer that even if our children take a small amount of what we’ve worked from and translate it into their lives, then we have had a success. As we have already created a greater understanding of this emotion and prompted discussion, I would say this book is a great success for our family.