Thursday, 17 October 2013

M's a Busy Bee

It's tough being a kid these days. Or is it simply tough being MissM?

I have been thinking about this a lot these past few weeks, as MissM struggles more and more with homework, and goes to bed willingly at 7.45pm during the week, and is harder to wake each morning.

Cries of 'I'm tired' are heard a lot more often.

Maybe this is normal as kids grow up. I'm sure it is.

Is it?

Are your kids shattered in the mornings?

ms-havachat's been developing this chat for a while now, trying to work things out in her head before rambling here. In fact, this is my 4th attempt. The previous 3 were very cathartic and had me in tears. They were very quickly deleted. There are times when I think I'm a crap mum, and others when maybe I'm doing OK.

Do you ever question your parenting skills? Or the manner in which you deal with things? Guess it's natural we all do at some point or other. G's working hours haven't improved and I still haven't got single parenting down.

Anyways, amongst all that other crap, is me thinking OMG, MissM's such a BUSY BEE, no wonder she's exhausted. However, weekends are fun, and she's still up for a get together with friends.

Someone had a link to this guy, Matt Walsh on FB a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed his writing so I subscribed. His recent blog,  'Easy? No. Kids today do not have it easy' resonated with me loud'n'clear. It helped me understand a lot, tho still left me wondering.

What do you think of Matt's blog?

So, school days are shorter; 8.40am - 3pm (UK was 8.20am - 4.10pm). It seems our school also has longer holidays than others in Ireland. Daylight hours are shorter and shorter (we are awake at 6.30am and it's pitch black already)

After school activities are all done at school, which is great as it allows M time to get to know other kids apart from the 15 in her class (and I'm not driving all over town).

School offers 32 extra curricular activities a week - that's just the junior school. From hockey, rugby, swimming to chess club, knitting corner, book club, cooking, Lego and more. Some are run by teachers while others are taught by specialists who are brought in.

MissM's extra curricular stuff allows her to continue her singing lessons and drama club. She's still home by 4.20pm at the very latest, which isn't that late, is it? She not only loves these two activities, she's really good at them! G suggested she should stop them and focus on academic stuff, but my argument is she enjoys them and she's good at them - and academic isn't everything at 9 years of age.

We send our kids to school to learn new things, to socialise (and there's a whole lotta learning going on there!), to try stuff, to discover their talents, to be exposed to things they may not be otherwise exposed to and so on. It's not all about the books tho here, as in the UK (and I'm sure elsewhere in the world) school seems to be focused on test results ...... rather than kids being the best they can be; it's what you scored and where you rank.

In addition to coping as an expat kid amongst locals, tho there are lots of expats at school which is great, MissM's LEARNING a whole lotta stuff all at once and she's such a BUSY BEE, that it might be too much for her.

Am I being too soft? Surely your kids are doing similar? Are they coping? How tired are they? Do they snap and have attitude (oh yeah, puberty is next to deal with).

MissM and her school mates choose to learn either French (her choice) or Spanish, plus they have to do Irish - imagine, learning two languages at once plus of course, they are all still mastering English. If English isn't your mother tongue, you are exempt from Irish, which makes sense.

All school age kids in Ireland have to learn Irish. The reason given is that it is the national language and hardly anyone can speak it, so to help revive it, all public signage (street names, road signs etc) are produced in English and Irish. There's two Irish TV stations, and a couple of radio stations, newspapers and magazines, but really not much at all unless you go searching for it.

She's joined the drama club which she says is great fun, and enjoys meeting older kids (it's only offered to years 3-6). Not sure she'll even step foot on a stage, but that doesn't matter.

Oh how she loves her singing lessons! And her teachers again tell us how good she is. As a result, she along with 3 friends have been invited to join the school choir (rehearsals mid week during the school day)

With a choice of violin or cello, clever MissM chose violin and according to her music teacher 'is a natural'.

Desperate to continue ballet, I lazily put her name down for it as an after school activity thinking it'll do til we find a friend who is very happy at their dance school and change. However, her teacher is a RAD examiner and owns a very well respected and popular dance school. There are only 6 kids in the class, so it's as close to private lessons as you could get!

Her teachers has a 40 minute rule for homework. If the child's given it 'their very best attention for 40 minutes' let them be. It's very subjective, isn't it? If MissM's giving it her 'very best attention' she can be at it for upwards of an hour, or more! If we stuck to the 40 minute rule, she'd fiddle and diddle and then go, time's up, oh well.

Moving countries means moving education systems and it's tough.

Apparently MrsA in UK taught math very differently to MrP here.

One school teaches spelling phonetically .... one doesn't.

MadamP in UK sang a lot of French whereas the teacher here talks a lot which makes a huge difference to understanding. MissM's offered to teach them the few songs she knows to 'help them'

We stay positive for her, and say that no one can ever take away what's inside your brain, your experiences, emotions, knowledge is all YOU. Sometimes things are done differently, but you use your references to make the 'new' stuff work. Maybe she's just a bit too young to know this yet. I have to rely on friends who have raised several kids across several countries and who attended/graduated colleges and uni's all over the world as well adjusted happy healthy motivated young adults.

Add to the arts side of her academic subjects and she's a very BUSY BEE indeed - too busy? I'm starting to wonder.

MrsP and I have talked for years about how busy some kids are, and how there's a time and place for chilling out and PLAYING! Kids need to PLAY and be themselves with out the pressures. Just google 'are kids too busy' and see what comes up! Here's one of several articles that make sense, tho what are we, as parents doing about it?

There are lots of people who make sense to me .... Sir Ken Robinson in particular is a very interesting, clever, motivating and resourcful speaker. Listen to him on TedTalks. He often helps me put things back into perspective. In fact, I'm going to make a coffee and listen to him now.

MissM's busy after school a few days a week because the alternative is to come home and hang out on her own, which is fine after a busy day at school with lots going on, but she's like G and unwinds infront of the TV which is so annoying (and probably none of my business). I imagine if there were sibling's they'd be off playing or in the yard, or squabbling.

I'm wondering aloud here, is MissM too busy? If she is, what do we drop? If we drop it, what does she do, or indeed, is sitting at home chilling out how ever she sees fit OK?

I'm confident she'll be fine - they all are in the end, aren't they?

With friendship


  1. Do I ever think I'm a crap mum? All the time. Then I bitchsmack myself and remind me that I'm pretty damm ok at the mothering gig, esp considering I had no training or experience. And by ok I mean fabulous. Like you. Now go have a wine and stop doubting yourself.

    1. Hugs Margarita :) It's horrible when those dark thoughts pop into your head, but you are right. I'm an amazing mum, with an equally amazing child. The wine last night was very enjoyable, and homework was refreshingly pleasurable. xo

  2. hey, you have to do what you think is right for your child. Ask M if you're not sure, see what her opinion is, can you work out a deal with her about balancing homework (so its not stressful for you) and her afterschool activities? Certain behaviour expectations regarding homework for her to carry on with her extra stuff? All of mine have opted out of CCA's but they have each other to annoy in the afternoon & prefer random trips to the beach or park instead.

    They too would watch TV if allowed but it's only allowed in our house after dinner so they know they have to read or play or draw or whatever instead & there's no point whinging at me cos they'll just get sent to their rooms for that. But Tash has plenty of friends who are busy every afternoon and most of the weekend too so its horses for courses.

    1. M would drop homework before anything else LOL. Seriously tho, we have discussed it and she really is enjoying everything and she 'begged' to keep going. If we lived where you lived, and had the right weather we'd probably do random trips to the beach and parks too but sadly Dublin doesn't offer us that. We do go when we can of course. Yes, horses for courses and I guess for now, we're trying to work out what that is. Also being 'new' to school it's allowed M to get involved right away, and meet other kids. HUGS Ms Anonymous (you really need to pick a more original name, I know who you are xo)