Lions and Tigers and Bears; Oh My!

Well, what a time we've had these past few weeks.  Things have been difficult to say the least, but I'm hoping a return to normality now the majority of the population are back at work and school will do us good.  Swimming pools, playgrounds and soft play centres will be near empty; getting from A to B will be straightforward without traffic jams full of holiday makers, lost caravan pullers, and the SatNav-dependent; and there will be a rhythm to our weeks with play groups, outings and work times.  At least, I hope it will be so.

I'm not quite sure why things have been so tricky these past few weeks; various reasons probably.  The lack of rhythm, the busy-ness everywhere, the weather, money issues, lack of decent sleep, growing up/changing, and life generally.  The first two will take care of themselves now September has struck; the weather will do as it does - more sunshine and warmth, please!  Hopefully the longer nights and darker evenings will help with sleep, it certainly seems to be already.

And as for the rest?  Money is a bit of a nightmare, but then feeding, clothing and entertaining 5 people on £600 a month always will be!  Finding the funds for the new clutch our poor old car now needs will be interesting, but we'll manage.  We always do!

As for the girls, Sophia has reached the magical frustration stage - a growing vocabulary but still not always understood, and a brain that wants to say, think and do so much, but can't always manage it all.  Cue some major heartrending meltdowns, poor mite.

At the same time, Lara has had to deal with everyone asking her about starting school and keeps checking with us that she doesn't have to.  She's terrified of this great unknown, but quite sure of what she does and doesn't want to do.  I was so impressed the other day with her answer upon being asked what she'll do instead of going to school:

"We'll be going to play group, soft play, shops, playgrounds, nature places, our friend people's houses, reading, making things, and learning at home and everywhere really.  Just like we always do."

I think someone's been listening to us telling people how unschooling works!

BUT whether it's the pressure of all the school questions, her fears about growing up, feeling disconnected from us, age-related, or to do with something/everything else, Lara has been having a really hard time lately.  And unfortunately giving us one too.  We've had full-on meltdowns, the like of which had disappeared long months ago; shouting, swearing (we don't sanction any words other than blasphemy); hitting; and a lot of other attention needing behaviour.  The problem though is that Steve and I have not responded well.  We're tired, stressed, overstretched, and so we've shouted, ignored, sanctioned, threatened toy losses, etc etc.  There are no excuses; we've screwed up.  Badly.  Yep, the advocates of positive parenting, gentle discipline and so on, have done nothing like.  Hash tag ironic or hash tag hypocrite?!

What we all need is a big step back, some serious reconnection, and to sort ourselves out.  Not the girls; us.  We're the problem, in the way we react, the way we respond, the way we have lost our path.  The five of us have taken some serious time out the past few weeks, and it has helped.  No blog posts, few outings with other people, lots of time just us.  Mid-June to mid-August was manic, the last three weeks better, but things need to get even quieter now, and stay that way for a while.  More down time, more cuddles, more fun, more quiet time, more one to one time.  We will get through it, with lots of love, time and effort.

As for the here and now, party tea (for no real reason) and The Wizard of Oz do wonders for family bonding.  We cancelled an HE event today for more down time, and Lara wants a family day out and a picnic tomorrow to celebrate her not starting school day.  Groups re-start next week, the sun's shining again, and when our timetable gets back to normal I might even manage some blog posts.  There are an awful lot to catch up on!  But most important of all is my beautiful little family, send us your prayers to get back on the straight and narrow. Lx