The end of an era

When your youngest child stops going to the nursery which the older siblings attended too before them, because he/she starts to move on to the next school level, it feels like the end of an era. You know the whole staff names by heart, you remember how each Xmas show went every year, you recall when that class room was painted in green and now those walls are orange… You are so used to the journey from home to the nursery, you cannot imagine you will never do it again (unless you have another baby in the meanwhile!).

It was a difficult choice for us to make, we absolutely loved our kids first nursery and will never stop recommending it. However we feel that our youngest is ready to move to bigger spaces in a preschool nursery for kids from 3 to 5 years old as her older brother did at the same age. And the fact that we are now offered 30 hours a week for free (9am-3pm Monday to Friday) with only lunches and after school clubs to pay the days we are working until 6pm, is also another main reasons that lead us to give our notice to our previous nursery. Not only she will have teaching staff who is more specialized in her age group, with amazing indoor and outdoor spaces and activities; for us it will also feel like we had an increase of salary without actually having to ask for one… When you combine budgeting factor with thriving conditions, the answer becomes quickly quite clear.

 

Dear nursery manager,

It is with great regret that I am giving our 8 weeks notice to remove my daughter from your nursery.

My husband and I want her to follow her brother’s step and have a year at a preschool nursery before she will start reception in Sept 2018.
It was a very difficult decision to take, our children had the best years of their toddlerhood at your safe, loving and stimulating nursery.
Their little personality will have been shaped for ever by the input of the Montessori method and the great care of your staff as a whole.

We wish all the best to the school, the teachers and the kids and we never know, you may have a third little infant of ours attending in the future or maybe not, we will see!

Kind regards,
C.

Remembrance day

You are in every single tear, in every single breath of mine, you are the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, a leaf on a stream, a butterfly on a flower…

You will have never known newspapers headlines with pictures of Syrian kids' little bodies on a beach, the Bataclan massacre, Brexit and Trump USA president, gay people mass murdered in Orlando or tortured in Cecenia…

I hold the phone where your number is still saved, from which I won't be able to call you anymore; my mother sits in the evenings at the same caffe where you won't join her anymore.

Are you really gone forever? Or are you just hiding in a Tibetan monastery meditating and contemplating nature's beauty, far away from the pettiness of the human beings that you despised so much?

Wherever you are, we terribly miss you and we hope you may rest in peace

How to encourage your child’s positive behavior and gratitude at the same time

I often think back to the ‘Raising Boys’ course which I attended 4 years ago as a guidance to understand what could be my next step to help me and my children in a difficult period…. So when I noticed my 6 years old son (who is usually naturally well behaved and gets amazing reports from his teachers about both his learning and his social skills) struggling to respect some simple rules for a few weeks in a row, I came up with a reward chart of my own, since its use was suggested in one of this course sessions. We had some purchased ones in the past when he was only 3 or 4 but this time I wanted it to serve several purposes so I needed more flexibility in its diagram and he loves new family projects such as home made boards and so on!

The above works as follow.

  • My son gets 1, 2 or 3 points depending on the behavior I want to encourage (he hates getting dressed or playing on his own and he has quite frequent fights with his sister lately).
  • The points are represents by stickers (who does not love some good stickers when they are under 10?!) which he can allocate to the different prizes as he wishes (apart from the piano lessons ones, see below).
  • He can get several points in a day (on average 5 which is good if I want him to have 2 play dates a week!) if you count clothes in the morning and pajama in the evening; moments when I need him to occupy himself without a screen whilst I am doing something important for half an hour or so; and all the times I ask him to stop screaming in the car, hitting his sister during an argument or responding to her or us (when he enters the ‘no I am not, yes you are, no I am not, yes you are’ kind of endless useless conversation lol).
  • Prizes relates to activities more than material objects, so that he can appreciates for instance that organizing and hosting (or going with him to) a play date takes up quite some of my time, so he has to earn it by behaving well and helping the family routine instead of giving it for granted.
  • He expressed a strong desire to have some Lego boxes as prizes and I had 2 big ones that I had bought on massive discount a few months ago, so rather than giving those away to him straight away, he is ‘earning’ them little by little, whilst I have not spent any money recently to buy any new.
  • We are spending quite some money on his piano, swimming and football lessons during the year and lately he has shown no gratitude for our budgeting towards those activities, refusing to practicing or attending them regularly, nevertheless he does not want us to stop paying for them: so now he needs to practice 3 times a week his piano during the summer break in order to get more lessons paid in September, and that is the only prize that he can get by earning a specific type of sticker (1 practice, 1 sticker towards piano lessons only).

With this chart I am trying to achieve the best of both worlds: his good behavior in our day to day family routine but also appreciation of the things we do for him every day, his social life and diary, his extra scholastic activities, little chocolate treats now and then, and his passions such as Lego building or books! I hope to have passed on you some ideas out there 😉

 

Update a few weeks later – What I have noticed since using this chart is that an added benefit is also my increased sense of gratitude towards my child good behavior, so now instead of using it as a reward (‘if you do what I need you to do you will get a sticker’ command) at the end of the day I reflect on what positive behaviors my child had in a spontaneous way, so we remark them together before bedtime and notice what a kind and smart boy he is still outlining his positive acts which did not come from my requests or bribes but more out of his personal choice to do the right thing. Maybe that is the best key for the use of this kind of chart, to promote his internal price more than any external motivator (as mentioned in the Raising boys course).

Can we judge a mother’s heart?

In the last few weeks a national scandal has being discussed by literally everyone back in my home country, Italy. I can see it from my friends’ Facebook feeds where several different articles were posted by them regarding a recent tragedy known to the whole nation. A mother had left her 18 months old daughter in her car for 5 hours whilst going to work: the child had died due to the heath in the car left in a parking space under the sun.

Italians can really have some sordid deranged fun with this kind of news. Yes, they can. They like to discuss all the horrible details, make speculations on what happened and start using words such as ‘monster’ in no time. But deep down I am not even sure they really care about the topic, I suppose they are just looking for an impersonal scapegoat for all of their private issues, a topic of distraction to their sad little lives, or they simply don’t know any better, after centuries of catholic sermons, than to easily judge others.

I feel an immense compassion for that poor woman who lost her daughter and will not see her ever again for what was most likely a big mistake. I cannot be sure if she did it on purpose or she just forgot she had not left her at nursery before going to work. Whatever happened, no one in a sane state of mind would do such a thing, it seems so obvious to me that if they really wanted to kill their child they would find another way to hide it at least! I read a very interesting article regarding the matter, whose title was ‘when a mum breaks down’.

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The end of the tunnel (at least for a little while)

When your kids reach an age where:
– They are both invited to the same birthday party on a Sunday afternoon and you can drop them and use the spare time to wonder around in Brixton market, relax and have a coffe with your husband before you pick them up again;

– You can book a babysitter between 6 and 10pm to attend a surprise birthday party on a Thursday night knowing they will be absolutely fine, maybe they will just fall asleep a bit later than usual for their excitement;

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When Mother’s Day becomes more of a personal turmoil that makes you grow out of difficulty

E ancora una volta il mio feed di Facebook si intasa di status relativi alla festa della mamma, leggo di come le mie coetanee trentenni apprezzino il sostegno e la comprensione delle loro madri, di come non saprebbero fare a meno di loro…

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Why boarding schools should be abolished

My son and I are currently reading together ‘The Midnight gang’ by David Walliams. I found the book in Tesco the other day for £5 only and since at the moment he is loving ‘The World’s worst children’ by the same author and I can see how this encourages him to read on his own if he wants to continue the story when I leave his bedroom at night, I had no hesitation to add it in my shopping basket even if at first I had had no intention to buy him a new book that day. The strawberries and bread I had purchased that day would make him stronger and taller but there is nothing like a good book to feed a soul!

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