Keeping sane at home with children during the Coronavirus

Keeping sane at home with children during the Coronavirus

Tips for keeping sane at home juggling children, homeschooling and working from home during the Coronavirus or COVID-19 lock down and social distancing period.

Keeping sane at home as COVID-19 is spreading through the UK is difficult. We are now asked not to leave home unless absolutely necessary. Schools are closed and we are now faced with having our children home out of education for many months.

Parents are now juggling working from home, no childcare, no family help, and children homeschooling. So how as parents do we survive?

Keeping Sane at Home – Outdoor Space

While we are home bound and only allowed to leave for exercise once a day, this one chance might be our only chance to be alone. For many it will be the only chance to get fresh air. Let’s make the most of it. Put your favourite music on, or an audio book and breath in the fresh air. Clear your mind and try to reset whilst maintaining social distancing. The weather will slowly be getting warmer. Although it might be extremely difficult to enjoy life being in a lock down, let’s try to call out the things we are grateful for. Health if you have it, family safely at home, the ability for us to be together with our children. This terrible COVID-19 virus can perhaps bring us closer together.

If you take the children out for a walk,  collect rocks, sticks and flowers. Use them to play with later at home, make a fairy garden or a dinosaur jungle. If you can, go to your local beach, woods or even just play in your garden. All these activities are going to help improve everyone’s mood and mental health. Both of which may suffer during this difficult time, but keeping sane at home will have to be our priority.

The key is Routine!

The trick to keeping sane at home is routine. Never has a routine been so important for both you and your children. No matter how old your children are, they will still need to have a routine. Ensure that they get up every morning, get washed and dressed as if they were still attending school, nursery or childcare.

Do not try to set a crazy schedule where you have every minute of every day planned out. Be realistic with how much time you will have to supervise activities, especially if you have to work from home as well. Keep it simple!

One of the best schedules I’ve seen is by Jessica Mchale. It is easy to follow and based on her children’s ages. This can be a starting point for you depending on your children’s ages and how manic your days are at the moment.

School is out but not forgotten

Although school is now out for the foreseeable future it does not mean it should be forgotten. But realistically you cannot replace your child’s teacher. During these uncertain times education may look different. Maths may be helping with the weekly food budget or setting up a snack shop at home. Science may be growing your own fruit and vegetables. Let’s not forget to involve our children in daily chores. Now is the best time to teach children life skills like cooking and doing laundry. 

Due to coronovirus many schools are also sending assignments to do at home. These activities will help children keep busy, but let’s not forget that children are also axcious about the unbelievable disrubtion COVID-19 brought to their life. Ensuring they are feeling safe and secure will have to take precedence. Remember, millions of other children in the world are in the same boat. They will be fine if they miss their homework in these crazy times.

Virtual Get Togethers!

Social distancing is going to be the hardest part for many people but especially us parents! We survive by having a fantastic network of mum friends who we can gossip with, vent about your day and have a good laugh at how surreal your life is!

In order to keep your sanity and not go nuts, set up some virtual dates with friends. These need to be when the kids have gone to bed and you can have some alone time to catch up with friends.

Coronavirus is not forever…

Keeping sane at home is going to be difficult over the next few weeks and months. As parents, we are now wearing many new hats that we never thought we would have to. But it will get better!

If we support each other and come together as a nation, we can beat this virus.  We can show that there are still amazing people in this world and as the human race we can grow!!!! 

Stay Safe!!

Elon Musk school, Ad Astra a fresh new curriculum.

Elon Musk school, Ad Astra a fresh new curriculum.

Elon Musk is better known for his electric car than for his school. Ad Astra is the private school available fully funded to his employees.

Elon Musk is the CEO and co founder of Tesla. He oversees all product design, engineering, and manufacturing of the company’s electric vehicles, battery products, and Solar Roofs. You are more likely to know him for the Tesla electric car, although for most of us they are out of our budget!

But what you probably did not know about him is that he also opened his own school called Ad Astra.  Ad Astra is no ordinary school, its curriculum is very heavy on science, math, engineering, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. The original purpose of the school was for Musks own 5 boys to attend but now the school has 30 students aged 7-13.

Elon Musk – Ad Astra

Elon Musk has some very different views on what children should be learning and what he deems to be a waste of time. Ad Astra brought these views to reality. Musk believes that studying human language, music and sport are fruitless. Instead, ethical and geopolitical problems are debated by the children.

In the next breath, the children are constructing weather balloons, battling robots or blowing things up (all in the name of education). The children decide on at least 50% of the c subject matter.

Elon Musk tuition fee

Elon Musk funds the school and there are no tuition fees for those children that attend. According to taxes submitted for Mr. Musk, it shows that he has given $475,000 to the school each year. This seems somewhat extravagant for a school that has only 30 pupils.

Children that think?

Elon Musk has produced an environment in which children can think for themselves. Where they can decide the ethics of each situation and also crucially when to make those tough decisions. 

Are these children better prepared for this brave new world than those that have studied a conventional curriculum? Have they missed out by not studying language, music, and sport? By not studying the arts will these children be devoid of human emotion?

Conventional Education

There is no comparison between a conventional curriculum and that of Ad Astra. A curriculum that is heavily devised by children, will only work for the type of child who is of that disposition. For those children that are not academic, the Ad Astra form of the curriculum would be unworkable.

Access to better facilities, better equipment, and far better entrepreneurial opportunities will set these children apart. Unfortunately, without a complete overhaul of the current education system and some serious financial input, anything like Ad Astra is simply unreachable for most schools.

Convential or Ad Astra?

Can you imagine what a school with 300 pupils could do with the same amount of financial backing as Ad Astra? While the Ad Astra kids are asking for flame throwers for an experiment there are schools that do not have enough basic equipment such as books, pens or pencils.

The world in which this generation of children are growing up in is a far cry from the one that many of us did. With this in mind surely our education system needs to move with the times. It needs to provide more opportunities for our children to think ‘outside the box’.

Ad Astra children will be better equipped for critical thinking and problem solving that is certain. However, how will they fare in a conventional school once they are too old to attend the Elon Musk school? The true test of the unconventional but interesting teaching style of Ad Astra will then be seen.

Our Education system is broken, can it be repaired?

Our Education system is broken, can it be repaired?

The UK has an education system that appears to be broken. Is it able to continue as it is or does it need to be redesigned taking influence from europe.

The British education system was once the envy of many countries. Is this still the case for a system that appears to be failing our children! What other options are available to us? Do we need to look elsewhere for reform and inspiration?

An Education System that is failing

As parents, choosing the schools that our children attend is one of the hardest decisions that we have to make. We are potentially determining their educational path for the rest of their lives. We are determining the opportunities that will be available to them and the culture, friends, and obstacles that they encounter.

Our education system can’t really be that bad, can it? GCSE grades continue to rise steadily across the UK, even amidst claims that the exams are getting easier. Exam regulators have been quick to state that exam pass rates don’t increase greatly because exam standards are kept the same across the board.

With reports that GCSE exams are getting easier, are we not taking away from all the hard work that our children put in. The endless hours of revising and coursework. The stress and worry they endure. Not to mention the extra hours that school staff gives up to ensure that each of our children reaches their full potential.

In the past few years, there have been claims that many children are leaving primary school unable to read. But is this the fault of schools or parents? Teaching a child to read should surely, for the most part, be the parents’ responsibility and not that of our oversubscribed schools and overworked teaching staff.

Other options available in education systems

There are other options available to us as parents. Some are not practical for many parents but there are some that show promise.

Homeschooling is an option that is available in the UK. I have to be honest, in my opinion, I do not agree with homeschooling and believe that children need to be in a school environment with their peers. This helps them with their social skills and gives them the opportunity to experience activities that they would not be able to if homeschooled. But I do have mum friends who either are or intend to take this route with their own children and I admire their dedication to their children’s education.

Another option is the Montessori approach. In these classrooms, you will find children of mixed ages learning through concepts and the use of natural materials. It is very much a child-centered education system based on observations of the children. Designed to encourage children to follow their instincts and interact with the environment around them.

Looking to Europe

Our education system requires some serious reform and reorganisation. But where do we look for this inspiration, it has to be to Europe, specifically Finland. They have one of the top education systems in Europe. A system where children have no formal education until the age of 7. Children attend preschool, kindergarten, and daycare that is free to those on low income and heavily subsidised for others.

The Finnish education system is based on learning through play. This is an aspect that British schools have tried to replicate in the form of the Foundation Phase for younger school children. Creativity and a ‘joy of learning’ are at the heart of their curriculum and they are not ashamed of this at all. Teachers are well trained and respected by both parents and politicians alike. There is no OFSTED-school inspection but instead, they use a system of self-assessment.

Broken or not?

To say that our education system is failing seems to be an exaggeration of the truth. Yes, our education system has problems, faults, and issues. But at the end of the day, we as parents should be taking responsibility for teaching our children the basic building blocks such as reading, numbers, and writing. However, it appears this may not be the case.

Does our education need a change of pace and to be brought into this new decade, of course it does. We need something fresh and different that helps create a generation of free thinkers and entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to make mistakes and fail. This I believe is the only way that we as a country will be able to succeed in this world!!!

Relationship pressure from a dads viewpoint

Relationship pressure from a dads viewpoint

The factors that cause relationship pressure from a dads point of view and how couples need to ensure that they are communicating

Once you embark on the roller coaster of being a parent your relationship with your partner is suddenly redefined. As mums, we often discuss the stresses and strains on our relationship with friends. But we are not the only ones in this partnership. Relationship pressure from a dad’s view is something that we do not talk about so much. Unfortunately, dads can sometimes be very much the forgotten side of the partnership! Yet in a recent study by the National Childbirth Trust, they discovered that 39% of dads suffered from postnatal depression, that’s 1 in 3.

Relationship Pressure

So at a time when mental health is very much in the news why do so many men choose to keep quiet? Included in this would be my partner. He never talks about the pressure on our relationship that having a family has caused. The dads that I spoke to had very similar concerns and worries.

Worries and concerns

One of the biggest pressures that the dads all felt was the concern that they had for their partners. When we as women should be leaning on our men for support, we are actually pushing them away. This, in turn, is causing them to worry about the pressure that we are putting on ourselves to be perfect. What the dads wanted was to be able to take some of the burden off of our shoulders. Unfortunately, our own idealised perception that we have to do it all perfectly and alone is one of the key factors causing relationship pressure for our men!

Lack of control and relationship pressure

The sudden lack of control that dads feel they have over their own lives is another primary cause of relationship pressure. Children make life unpredictable, we all know this. Plans often shelved at a moment’s notice. Men seem to find this particularly hard to deal with. Often it’s their partners that feel the brunt of this loss of control over their lives. Men crave the control to come and go as they please at a moment’s notice. But now there is childcare to arrange or the packing of stuff to take with you on an outing.

Couple time

Before you were a family you probably took for granted the time you spent together as a couple. I know I did! Now even grabbing a simple coffee together takes more forward planning than invading a small country! This puts tremendous pressure on not only dads but mothers too. For the first few months, your relationship really does take a backseat while you try to survive. But once you have settled into some sort of routine, there needs to be time to be a couple. Not only will this strengthen your relationship with your partner but it will also ensure that you are both the best possible parents that you can be

Financial Stress

Even in the 21st century many of the dads I spoke to still felt the pressure to provide for their family. Households are run on the basis of having two incomes and both partners working. The sudden drop in income when one partner stays at home with the children seems to cause men huge relationship pressure. Even at a time when women have broken into almost every male-dominated area and earn good pay, our dads still felt that they had to take on the burden of providing for the whole family alone. They are suddenly thrown back to the 1950s when that is what life was like.

The same

After talking to some wonderful and devoted fathers, it appears to me that both mums and dads have the same worries. We have the same concerns about our changing relationship after having a family. We are scared of losing the partner that we fell in love with long before there was the tiny pitter-patter of feet.

I believe relationship pressure is caused by our need to be perfect and to have a perfect life! The constant bombardment of images on social media of the perfect home, relationship, and family are all we see. Yet what we forget is that these are tiny snippets of these lives. What we need to remind ourselves of each time we look at these images is that the truth is nobody’s life is that perfect!!!

How to choose the right nursery, mission impossible?

How to choose the right nursery, mission impossible?

Knowing how to choose the right nursery can be difficult. Here we look at some top tips to make it as easy as possible.

Any parent can find is hard to know how to choose the right nursery. If you live in a populated area, it’s likely that you have several options to choose from. Even if you only have a couple of choices, trying to figure out which one is best can be a headache. Here we look at ways to make the choice simpler. This will give you peace of mind that your child is going to a great nursery.

Make a list of your needs

The first step that you want to take is to make a list of what requirements you’ll have. This includes the hours that they are open, what time the can be dropped off/picked up and other considerations such as when they close down for holidays.

Location is also important. If you work far from your home then you need to consider whether it’d be more convenient to have them closer to work or home. Before you even start to look at nurseries, have a clear picture of exactly what you’re looking for.

Check their conditions

Once you have a list of potential nurseries, you want to check their conditions to see if you agree with them. What are the rules if you’re late picking your child up? What is their policy on sickness? What do you need to bring into the nursery?

These are all questions to be asked. There are other considerations such as the quality of food they will be serving. Also, what the process is on moving rooms as they go through the age groups? You don’t want to have any nasty surprises after your child has started.

Check the inspections

All nurseries will need to be inspected for their competence. All of these reports are made publicly available online. A good report will give you peace of mind that your child will be in a healthy environment whereas a bad report will ring warning bells.

A nursery shouldn’t necessarily be written off for a bad report. If it needs your needs, then see why they were marked down and what they are doing to improve it. Often a nursery with a bad report will be inspected again very soon. Check to see when a new report would be available.

Give them a visit

There is no better way to get a feel for a place than visiting it yourself. You will be able to see their range of activities, how they educate the children, the staff ratios and how the nursery workers interact with the children and between each other.

It is also a great opportunity to ask any questions to have further clarity. A lot of people don’t like to be nosy but this is one place where you want to know everything that you can. You will also get a feel for other aspects such as security and how the children will be protected.

Find references

As well as the inspection report from the authorities, you also want to check out reviews from other parents who placed their children into that nursery. Often parents will choose a nursery that has been recommended to them.

There are plenty of online resources where you will be able to check out reviews from parents. You can also ask in other areas such as social media for any options. It’s all a part of building up a picture of just how good the nursery is going to be.

Trust your instincts

You can start to stress yourself out if you start overthinking about which nursery would be best for your child. Thankfully all nurseries are inspected and therefore if there are any problems with them, they will be identified.

Your parental instincts will guide you in the right direction. As well as your child’s needs, you also have to consider your own. You don’t want to have to travel too far or pay more for childcare than you’re comfortable with.

How to choose the right nursery? As long as you follow these steps, you won’t go wrong. And in the blink of an eye you’ll be figuring out how to choose the right school!

New Year new beginnings

New Year new beginnings

New Year, new beginnings for parents that are far important than losing weight, dropping a coffee a day or pledging to go to the gym every day!

New Year, new beginnings, the time for change. It’s the time of year when everyone is thinking about big changes for the New Year ahead. These range from losing that baby weight, starting a new business or going back to the gym and sticking to it. But with all that’s going on in the world are these really the most important changes that we can make as parents. New Year, new beginnings need to be different for parents. They need to start off the New year less stressed and more focused!

New year new beginnings for parents

We are all so busy, rushing from one thing to the next. Never is this truer than for parents who are trying to juggle work, school, childcare, and 6 million other things. So at a time when we are pledging to make big changes for the year that lays ahead, where exactly should those changes be made to make the greatest difference to our lives. There are a few things that we can do as parents to ease ourselves into the new year.

New Year resolution of time

Find some time in the day, that you can give your child or children your undivided attention. That means no multi-tasking, no phones, no laptops, no distractions. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, it could be your bedtime routine, family dinner, walking the dog or playing on the floor. Try to find time in the day when you are both at your best and can really enjoy each other’s company. This time should be the best part of your day to strengthen your bond.

Let the small things slide

Our little people often test our patience to breaking point. This is not personal, it’s just their way of finding their way through this minefield of a life. So take a deep breath or several depending on what kind of day you have had and breathe! Try to get down to their level and understand their confusion and frustration. Help them to calm down and identify how they are feeling. If you try to relate you stand more chance of connecting with them and helping them find a solution. This should in turn help to lessen these outbursts and can be turned into a fantastic learning opportunity.

Don’t compare yourself to other parent’s

We are so committed to ensuring that our children have the best lives that we are often unkind to ourselves. But why wouldn’t we when we are bombarded with the lives of “perfect” parents on every form of social media. It’s hard to not compare ourselves but what we don’t see are the lives behind those photographs. What we need to do is stop adding those pressures to our already extremely stressful lives and concentrating on the things we may or may not be doing.

Instead, we need to focus on are WE doing everything that WE can to ensure our children live happy, healthy and productive lives. Priority needs to be given to building great relationships both with your partner and your children.

New Year, new beginnings…

Looking forward to a new year is so important. But being kind to ourselves as we navigate the worries, stresses and endless feelings of never quite getting this parenting thing right is the most important!!!!!

Potty training – The signs to look for and the highs and lows

Potty training – The signs to look for and the highs and lows

Potty Training – First hand experience, signs to look for and the highs and lows of this final frontier to becoming big kids.

Potty Training!

These two words can send cold shivers down the spine of the most seasoned parents. It can be difficult, messy and upsetting. Similarly, it can also very quickly become a competition in a group of seemingly normal adults.

So when is the right time to start potty training? 

Speaking from experience you most definitely have to wait until your child is ready. At 30 months I felt the peer pressure of my son not being potty trained. While his younger friends were and had been for a while. As a result of this pressure, I tried unsuccessfully on two separate occasions. I worried did he have some sort of developmental delay. Honestly, it was very stressful for both of us as my little boy was just not ready. 

It is best to wait until they are giving you signs. These can be things like they are aware that they are going to the toilet or they want their nappy changed straight away. It could even be that they show interest when you go to the toilet. The NHS website will give you more details of what to look out for.

Where to start with potty training?

So once your little one is showing signs that they are ready, you need to choose a method that is right for both of you. My advice is to do your research and decide on one that suits you. There are several different methods from the take them to the toilet every 15 minutes (just not realistic for most parents), the Three day Method to Potty training in a day. Then you need to have all your supplies ready such as potty, pants/knickers (a silly amount), cleaning supplies (lots of them) and a huge bucket load of patience and time.

You have to take the plunge, decide today is the day to start potty training and stop using nappies during the day time. You can not go back and forth between pants and nappies during the day as this can become very confusing for your little ones.

The next step is to accept that there will be mess, accidents and probably tears (mostly yours) along the way. But remember that this is a huge step for your little one. This is one of the last frontiers they need to conquer before finally being crowned a ‘big kid’.

First-Hand Experience

We used a method loosely based on a combination of everything I had read on the internet. He wore his own clothes but started with no pants on. I watched him like a hawk for any tell that he needed to go. His signal was to stand very still and hold himself, so when he did we rushed to the potty. Sometimes we were successful other times we were not. Day 1 of potty training was exhausting and messy but by day 2 to 3 he got it with no accidents. Two weeks on we have only had one accident. We have been on days out and shopping trips without any problems. Although, I am always well prepared with spare clothes and potty in tow.

Success or failure

So what do you count as a success in the potty training minefield? well if any pee or poo actually makes it to the potty- that is a huge win! Do a potty dance, shout hooray on top of your voice, whatever you do to celebrate.

Not every day will be a success and there will be days where accidents happen.  Don’t worry this happens to all children when they are first learning and practicing their new ‘big kid’ skill.

My pre-parent self never thought that she would worry so much about another persons wee and poo as much as I do now. This is one of the lows of parenting, where you realize there are no boundaries as to what you will talk about with another adult and even complete stranger. Yet the joy on their face when they realise they can do it themselves is worth every mess, tear, and frustration that you will ever feel. Remember this is just the beginning…..

How do I know when it’s the right time to have a baby?

How do I know when it’s the right time to have a baby?

Who can say when it’s the right time to have a baby? It’s a very personal question to answer, but by weighing up some of these factors, only you can say when it is the right time. Considering work, your relationship, finances and balancing life and children can be the key to identifying when the time is right for you.

So, when is the right time to have a baby? In the movies, if a woman takes a pregnancy test, one of two things happens. She either cries with joy or falls to the floor in tears of fear and panic. In real life, it’s more complicated than that.

For me, I was about 97% joyful. I was 24, married and living in a beautiful home. It was what we planned for, but I still couldn’t help but think about how a baby was going to affect my career. Was this the right time to have a baby?

I was scared. I hadn’t quite mastered putting my laundry away after washing it, how was I going to be a mom and maintain some semblance of a life? Had I done everything that I should have? Should I have gone on one more big vacation? Should I have secured at least one more promotion? Was I ready to start ‘baby’ chapter of my life?


Women are having babies later in life than ever before. It’s difficult to avoid the fact that biology plays a part in how easy or difficult it can be to have a child.

One question that would run through my head was ‘Do I want to be an older mom?’ Being a young mom meant I would have the energy to enjoy my children. This meant taking a career break. I watched my friends move up in their careers, buy bigger houses, and go on luxurious holidays while I stayed at home and tried to manoeuvre  a 2-year-old with a 3-month-old attached to me!

My friends that waited to have children had secured their positions at work, had beautiful homes and great experiences under their belts. The obstacles they faced were biological. Some fell pregnant easily, some had to wait years and some turned to IVF for help.


While your career may be progressing well, it’s important to consider your employer’s maternity package. Many employers require you to be a permanent member of staff for at least 18 months before employees can claim their maternity packages. Having seniority, experience and credibility can make it easier when you return to work. You won’t be starting from scratch to build their trust in you to work flexibly and manage your responsibilities.

Your relationship

This sounds obvious, but your relationship needs to be in a healthy state. There seems to be an old school of thought around a baby fixing your relationship issues. I can assure you, it won’t. A baby can add an immense amount of stress to even the strongest of relationships. 

If you’re facing issues in your relationship and are looking for some help, this is not the right time to have a baby.  Women especially can fall victim to the pressures of society when it comes to having children. Listen to your voice and be confident that you are making the best decision for yourself and your family.


Having a baby is expensive. While initial costs associated with having a baby seem manageable, childcare can be a strain. Our nursery costs were comparable to having a second mortgage! Do some research into nurseries and nannies in your area to see what this means for you and your partner.


You may not think that a baby will affect your friendships, but being the first in your group to have a child can leave you somewhat lonely. Having a few friends with children can be a great support, especially as a new mother. There are also groups like NCT that can help in making new friends with children in your area. I have been guilty of telling friends considering if it’s the right time to have a baby to ‘go for it’. I love being a mom, and they will too, right? Maybe not!

The right time

Who can say when it’s the right time to have a baby? It’s a very personal question to answer, but by weighing up some of these factors, only you say when it is the right time. Throw away your pre-baby bucket list and don’t expect to be 100% ready. If you do find out that you are pregnant, rest assured that you can make it work if you want to, like you always do!