Category Archives: Parenting

Unwanted After School Activities

I’m sure I’m depriving my poor darlings of many opportunities by not signing them up to zillions of external after school classes, but the fact of the matter is I don’t drive and I have limited social energy so dragging kids on buses all over the place every evening just isn’t an option.

Besides, their tiny school does pretty well for after school clubs, even if they’re not as snazzy or well equipped as specialist clubs might be. So we have our routines, and we have help retrieving one child when the other child is ready to drop and doesn’t want to walk to and from somewhere to collect her sister.

But Christmas is different, and now Mighty Girl is in Year 3 and Danger Girl in Year 1, it’s been even more packed with after school commitments. Which, as I’m going through a period of quite bad depression, has been quite hellish.

I know many people do things after school as standard, but usually they do have cars to help. It’s dark by 4pm, it’s cold, and we have to walk everywhere, so this diary has not been fun:

Thursday 4th – see Thursday 11th, but in-laws collected MG as Mr Chaos at work.

Friday 5th – School Christmas Fair 5-7pm, both children attending and I went with them. Fortunately managed to convince them to leave at 6.30 as friends were leaving, otherwise it really drags at the end. Or after about 10 minutes in my case. And I was down to my last 80p at the time we left anyhow.

Monday 8th – Gym club for MG & DG finishing 4.15, back to school for 6pm for ‘Christmas Hour’, a mix of mini plays and poems that both girls were in.

Tuesday 9th – MG at friends’ after school, which she should have gone to the week before. Fortunately Mr Chaos can get home early from work to pick her up at 6pm, otherwise DG & I would have to bus there and back to get her.

Wednesday 10th – DG’s Nativity at 6pm. Although that ended up being taken care of by in-laws as we were ill.

Thursday 11th – MG at Art Club until 4pm, then Brownies at 5.30pm. This has been a nightmare all term, as by the time DG & I get home there’s about 20 minutes before we have to pick MG up (and DG will go very stubborn about going out again); then we have an hour before dropping MG off again (and DG will get stubborn about leaving, because she wants to stay at Brownies all the time.) Normally MG’s godmother (and Brownie leader) drives MG back at 7.30pm but she’s on a well-deserved holiday so Mr Chaos had to get back from work to pick her up, and Thursdays are a day he has an evening meeting every week so he’s back and forth to do that, but otherwise DG would have had to do four back-and-forth walks instead of three, which I usually have to carry her on because she gets fed up. I’m not a fan of Thursdays!

Friday 12th – MG’s after school disco at 6pm. Again Mr Chaos got back from work early in order to pick her up at 7.30pm so I didn’t have to drag DG out yet again.

Monday 15th – MG to Youth Club disco with friend. Fortunately no back-and-forth to drop her off with DG this time because MG went went home with friend after school. Disco 6-8pm. Phone call at 7.25pm because MG couldn’t take the noise and busyness of the disco any more. She basically sat in a corner the rest of the time anyway. I’m really proud of how she went to both discos though. Fortunately Mr Chaos was home in time.

Tuesday 16th – KS2 carol service, 6pm. MG is Mary in this one apparently. At least we can stay to this one, although not sure if Mr Chaos can get home in time.

Mr Chaos is the website department for an Oxford college, which involves creating all the content including photos and video and at this time of year he has lots of evening events to attend, which has made things even harder. Plus me being in a slump of depression adds even more strain.

MG and DG are exhausted. Mr Chaos is exhausted. I’m exhausted. We’re late to school every morning. I’m looking forward to the end of term…

Hand-stamped Wrapping Paper

I really like the lovely kraft wrapping paper you can buy at the moment, but we’re having a low budget Christmas and splurging £3.50 for 3m of wrapping paper isn’t an option.

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

So I decided to make my own. Considering the paper is probably just going to end up torn and in the recycle, I’m not making much but it’s quite therapeutic.

All the stamps and ink are from my old ‘stash’ from when I used to do scrapbooking, so my only outlay to make these was a roll of brown paper for under £2 (I got mine from Tesco, but saw some in our local discount store after I’d got it, and probably can get at local post office – if you have one – or online.)

For small children, ready-mix paint and foam (or potato etc) stamps would work, and newspaper is an alternative to brown paper for recycled wrapping. But I wanted a kraft paper look!

Making hand-stamped wrapping paper #therapy

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

Mighty Girl and Danger Girl have had a go making their own paper too, but they haven’t got the idea of wrapping paper as such so mainly end up painting pictures instead. Which is fine.

I also have a couple of plain tea towels and canvas shopping bags plus fabric paint for the grandparents presents…

Full Moon

Technically not a full moon tonight, but looked like it. We were walking back from one of the (seemingly never ending) after school Christmas-related events, just after 7pm so it’s quite dark. MG (7) was walking between me and her dad, DG (5) was walking between her grandparents a few steps ahead, and the following conversation happened:

Mr Chaos: Look at the moon, is that full? There might be werewolves.

MG: I’m scared of werewolves.

Me: Don’t worry, you’re the fastest, just let them eat us and run for safety.

Mr Chaos: There’s probably vampires too.

Me: <carries on thinking>

MG: I don’t like werewolves or vampires, or trees in the dark.

Mr Chaos: <rustles some branches>

MG: <jumps>

Mr Chaos: Sorry <looks suitably penitent>

Me: Basically, only you and Daddy have any chance. You both have long legs. Grandma, Grandpa, MG, and me will definitely be werewolf fodder. But you have a chance…

Mr Chaos: They must be nearly old enough for some Hammer Horrors soon?

MG: Can you swing me?

Luckily we didn’t bump into any werewolves or vampires this time, or get too injured with swinging the tall seven year old between us (I’m too short for her now!)

Published, aged seven

Mighty Girl is going to be published!

Thanks to creative writing club at her primary school (and my lovely lovely talented friend who runs it) who submit the children’s work to a Young Writers‘ competition.

MG, and four of her friends, will be published in “Out Of This World – East Coast Counties”. Okay, it’s probably a book that only schools and parents will buy, but how amazing is our little primary of only 100 pupils in total (and this was a KS2 competition, so less than 60 pupils) to get five of the children chosen? What a talented lot!

Until all the permissions have been signed (and any corrections made) we don’t know if the school has any winners but on 28th February 2015, just after her eighth birthday, my eldest child will be properly published and I couldn’t be more proud.

Here is her winning poem, written aged seven and a half.
(I’m not sure if I’ve got the spacing and capitalisation correct, will have to check with her after school!)

The Tiger

The tiger was burning beautiful orange
The flickering flames flying in yellow
Sparks the wild woods howling
As the night goes through the dark.
The tiger sighed and said
‘It is so bright and beautiful I wouldn’t like it any other way instead’.
The people came and splash,
The water came crashing, splashing
And the water gently and slowly faded away
And the tiger never came back until another day.

Oops, I was so excited I published this without adding thank-yous. Thank-you firstly to Thalia, for general awesomeness. To our lovely little school, for the caring and nurturing environment.

And never to be forgotten, THANK-YOU to all the authors and illustrators, editors, designers and publishers that make (and send us) wonderful inspiring books, and especially to those MG has met in person to be inspired even more. Thank-you.

Glasses to No Glasses in Six Months

Danger Girl had her second eye test today. Her first was just after her fifth birthday in May, after she was picked up on the school eyesight screening. She had adorably cute glasses for close up work but her eyesight has improved and she no longer needs them.

I mostly feel very pleased, because she hasn’t got my rubbish eyesight. But she did look SO cute in glasses!


No Good With Change

I started writing a post for today just before school pick-up time. Having felt cold-y all day, I’d not achieved anything but I was starting to feel better and luckily for me, both children had after school playdates on the same day.

However, I still walked to school for pick-up time, to collect all the book bags and packed lunch bags and related paraphernalia, and because Mighty Girl (7) can be anxious and the person collecting wasn’t who she was expecting.

I thought it was the right thing to do to allay her fears.

I was wrong.

Seeing me, she clung to me and burst into tears and said she didn’t want to go.

She’s known her friend since she was 5 months old. They were at nursery together for four years. They’ve been at school together for over two years. She’s been to their house several times (admittedly with me there too) and the person collecting was someone from nursery who she also has known for most of her life.


But she doesn’t get to go to their house often. But she’s not been to after school club at her old nursery for over two years and had forgotten the people there. But she was worried about people she didn’t know being in their house. But she was worried because she said she’d bring a game to play and she’d forgotten. But she wasn’t ready today.

Danger Girl (5) happily skipped off for her playdate without a backward glance or a wave goodbye, as I dropped all the bags in the mud of the car park to clutch Mighty Girl to me so she didn’t run off.

Short of forcibly dragging her into their car and letting her go screaming, there wasn’t any choice. She didn’t go.

She missed a playdate with a lovely family that we’ve known for over seven years but just don’t see enough of. She missed an afternoon with friends she doesn’t see enough of. She missed out.

Because I was there.

If I hadn’t got to school today, she would have had no choice and would have gone. And she would have been nervous but the nerves would have faded. And she would have had a wonderful time.

But I was there.

So she came home with me. And she cried. And I cried, for being a useless parent, and because I couldn’t hold it back. And she apologised for my crying being her fault, and I told her it wasn’t, and it wasn’t.

But the unexpected change threw me. I’d planned to finish the blog post, and hang up the laundry, and get the packed lunches ready for the next day, and have just those extra two hours of silence.

And I tried but I just felt miserable. I felt that everything had gone wrong because I didn’t get to do what I planned. I felt like shouting at my child just for her existence. I wanted to scream, and cry, and slash my arms with a sharp knife.

How pathetically melodramatic.

How pathetic.

So I stared into space, and cried, and reassured my daughter it wasn’t her fault. Of course it’s not her fault. And I booked a GP appointment online.

And she played quietly at my feet. And we coloured in pictures together. And it wasn’t perfect, and I did push her away more than I wanted to.

All because of a tiny change, and I’m not good with change.

Lazy Cooking

I’m a very lazy cook. I really can’t see the point of spending hours every day preparing meals. For me, life it just too short. Any meal that involves more than 30 minutes of my time will rarely happen.

I am far too slow at preparing vegetables and grating cheese to enjoy the process, and although many people scoff at the use of pre-grated cheese, ready made mashed potatoes, and prepared vegetables, they are my essentials.

We’ve not owned a microwave for several years, we can go for many months without take away food – although to be honest, we’ve been terribly naughty recently – and we don’t have desserts often so actually (most of the time) we eat fairly healthily.

Recently with my depression playing up, and relying on school dinners to feed my children healthily, I’ve not been making much more than sandwiches or pasta. But changes in the school dinner menu have meant that my children end up discarding most of their lunches so I’m going back to packed lunches and cooked weekday meals.

To help me along, I’m starting a series of sharing some of our lazy meals, and my progress at getting back into meal planning.

Chaos Kids Comments #1

I write snippets of things MG(7) & DG(5) say on Twitter and Facebook so I don’t forget them. But Twitter and Facebook aren’t the best place to keep memories so I’m going to start collecting them up here as a semi-regular series. I hope it reminds me to write more of what they say down too. I used to, need to get back in the habit.

[I wanted to post once a day in November but not doing very well at it so am cheating and backdating posts…]

More Ancient Egypt

Mighty Girl (7) is definitely taken with her Ancient Egypt topic at school. She asked to use the laptop at 7am this morning, and this is what I found in a Word document after she went to school:




(It’s unfinished because she had to go to school!)

She also drew this picture of the jackal-headed god Anubis at school.


I thought it was traced at first. I know I’m biased, but I am in awe of what she gets up to on her own initiative. Perhaps home ed at secondary level will suit her best after all…

Also I am a very naughty mummy!



Note: all the colours, fonts, sizing, underlining etc in Word are all Mighty Girl’s own work. The blurring is mine, to hide personal details.

Looming for Charity

I’ve written about my loom band obsession, and a great place to buy loom bands, but there’s only so many things one family can keep and as I find loom bands great therapy, especially making ropes of fishtails, I can sit looming for an evening in the same way some people knit or crochet (I never got the hang of them, nor have I been bitten by that bug yet…)

Fortunately, there are plenty of worthy causes to donate bands too, or to make money for by selling bracelets in charity colours. Here are the ones that I have been creating for.

National Autistic Society

The National Autistic Society (NAS) are the leading UK charity for people with autism (including Asperger syndrome) and their families. NAS provides information, support and pioneering services, and campaigns for a better world for people with autism.

NAS has a #beloomingamazing campaign to raise awareness and funds. They will even supply you with the loom bands in the right colours to use. I’ve used my own bands with card backs (also supplied for free). I’ve not sold any yet, but you can post them to NAS to sell if you can’t sell them.

Little Princess Trust

The Little Princess Trust provides real-hair wigs to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland that have sadly lost their own hair through cancer treatment.

Kay from Brink of Bedlam‘s nine year old daughter is donating her long hair to The Little Princess Trust, and hoping to raise funds along the way including the auction of loom band rainbow art, for which Kay needs fishtail ropes in single colours.

A little girl I know local to me donated her hair and raised over £700 -paying for at least two wigs. It’s a fabulous charity to support.

Blue Skye Thinking

Blue Skye Thinking is a Charity which supports research so that all children diagnosed with brain tumours, will have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life post treatment. The Charity is run by volunteers and all money donated goes directly to the forefront of Research and Treatment.

Skye Hall is a five year old boy, who happens to be local to us, who wants to reach the moon. Sadly his life has been drastically changed by a brain tumour, and the treatment to remove the tumour. He wants to Loom to the Moon, and the family is asking for as long a loom band as everyone can donate. The moon is about 385 million metres away, so my paltry 24 metres (20 in the picture) is a drop in the ocean. Progress updates can be found on the Facebook page. At the time of writing, they’re 3/4 of the way up Everest.

If there are any charities that are using loom bands to raise funds that you would like me to add here, please let me know. And if you’re fed up of loom bands all over the house, maybe see if you can direct the looming for one of these charities? Thank-you.