Home Made Play Dough
Chuck everything in a pan and put over a low heat. Keep stirring until it looks like…dough. Allow to cool before giving to children (obviously…)
You can also just add boiling water to the ingredients in a bowl and stir, to avoid having to put it on the hob.
I tend to leave out the colourings and flavourings, cook plain dough and then knead in the colours/flavours/glitter. That way I only have to cook once but can make loads of colours. Beware though that colourings can stain, and are much more likely to stain your worktop (and hands, and clothes, and children) before they are mixed in.
This recipe isn’t toxic, but isn’t exactly edible either, given that it will taste horrible and has loads of salt. Hopefully inquisitive toddlers will just have one taste and then be put off. Hopefully.
Keep your playdough in an air tight container and it should last at least six weeks. Enjoy, and let me know if you come up with any cool ideas!
At worst, unsolicited junk mail just annoys me. Three menus for Mick’s Curry Pot coming though my letterbox in one week may be taking just that – the mick – but the owner of this takeaway isn’t actually hurting anyone (unless they risk ordering anything.) But laying on my welcome mat this week was an innocuous enough looking colour printed, folded sheet that made my girlfriend feel physically sick and chilled me to the bone.
Little could be less welcome than the leaflet headed Abortion: What everyone has a right to know, kindly (?) provided for me by the people at SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.) Although never mentioned in the text, the whole thing stinks of religion, as I can’t credit this comically acronymed organization having taken this crusade upon themselves out of a genuine regard for women’s well-being.
I’m aware, as I write, that in this instance it would be more appropriate if I were a woman. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. As father to any theoretical offspring, my input, although valid, would be overruled by the owner of the body in which it is brewing – the mother. So the final decision on whether or not to abort is a woman’s. Had a woman written this article its points may have been more valid. Just rest assured when it comes to this disgusting pamphlet that I am trying to be of the same mind.
In the guise of being helpful, and very much in the style of the health advice leaflets you can pick up at your GP surgery, the pamphlet features a photograph of a young, anxious looking couple and promises to contain ‘information about abortion’ with the aim of preventing someone ‘making a decision which could end in regret.’ In fact, the whole piece is filled with prophecies of regret and remorse. True, you may end up regretting having an abortion, but you may also regret going through with the pregnancy and end up raising a child you resent. A terminated pregnancy is not necessarily the last chance a woman will have to have children – there’s no medical evidence that having an abortion affects future fertility – a baby is more final.
Within is a time line of significant development dates – the heart starts beating at three weeks, liver forms from six. But at what point does a cluster of cells deserve the label ‘baby?’ I think of it like this: at what point does a bowl full of ingredients become a cake? Not to make light of what is a serious and often traumatic decision, but sometimes ridicule is the best way to combat facile and ill informed arguments.The argument that possession of hair and fingernails makes a tiny, partially formed homunculus into a person, and its termination into murder, for example.
Nowhere does this set list mention the development of the nervous system, which I would use in the argument of equating suffering. Surely, a foetus without a nervous system, that therefore cannot feel pain, suffers considerably less (if at all) than a mother who is forced to go through with the pregnancy. All sorts of what if scenarios can be thrown into the mix here; what if the woman was raped? What if she or the father has a disease or debilitating condition that will be passed onto the child? What if she or they are simply not able to raise the child? The mother, father and child could spend years or their whole lives suffering from the consequences of the decision not to have an abortion. Anyone able to take a balanced look at both sides of the suffering argument would see the burden of suffering is against the minuscule organism that cannot feel anyway.
The analogy of the cake was for comic effect, as I stated. The moment of birth is not the first point at which a developing offspring can be considered a baby. Appropriately, a deadline for termination is set well before this. In the UK this is 24 weeks, although 90% of abortions occur before the 12th week and usually are given after that only for strong medical reasons.
‘Women deserve better,’ we are told by these SPUCers. ‘Evidence points to increased risk in some women of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress and eating disorders.’ Nowhere is this evidence made explicitly clear. These predictions are such that they almost seem like a threat. You will go mental if you have an abortion, they seem to say. Women certainly deserve better than information like this. It’s an insult to their intelligence and a perversion of the facts.
On the rear, some further facts and figures are given. I’ll not question the numbers, as they’re pretty irrelevant in regards to the conclusion they are used to support. There is apparently one abortion in Britain every three minutes, 570 a day (mathematics is clearly not their strong point either, as 24 hours divided by 3 minutes equals 480) and 4,000 every week (again, a distortion of their own figures.) The denouement to this little tally is that ‘if current trends continue, 9 million children will have been killed under the Abortion Act by April 2018 – the 50th anniversary of the law coming into force.’ It is here I have the biggest issue, and it is with their choice of language. Certainly the killing of millions of children would be a tragic and appalling practice. But it is not killing, and they are not children. They are children in potentia. The accompanying illustration of an embryo, with the label ‘unborn baby at 8 weeks’ says it all. Even though the illustration is half the size of a mug coaster, it is still stated that the picture is enlarged. If these people knew the first thing about embryology, they’d know that in no sense can this tiny, barely noticeable life form be described as a baby.
The whole leaflet is a piece of distorted scaremongering. If it’s facts and figures you want, here are some scary ones this misleading organization omit: worldwide, 70,000 women a year die from illegal, back street abortions, mostly in countries where they are not legally available; around a quarter of all pregnancies end in abortion – as the world is over-populated as it is, with resources stretched, can you imagine what would happen if you added 25% to it? Think of the starvation, the disease, the pollution that would ensue. I’m not prophesying doom, but I’m not sure, were these children to be born, they would thank you for bringing them into that kind of world.
The overriding raison d’etre of these kinds of organization is to protect the foetus until the moment of birth, but after that it’s the parent’s responsibility. They care not a jot that the child may be raised in poverty, in an environment of abuse or neglect, subject to disease or disability, hunger and pain. As the pamphlet is keen to point out, ‘every life is worth living.’
Abortion is neither the beginning or the end of the world’s problems. Certainly, I would rather the traumatic and painful decision to have an abortion did not have to be taken by any woman. If SPUC have funding available for such a campaign, it would surely be better spent at the other end of the process – in preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Contraception, freely available to those that cannot afford it, is your friend there. But education about its availability and uses is often blocked and the subject of other negative and misleading campaigns, often by religious bodies, such as the Catholic church, and unfortunately very often from the same groups who are against abortion.
What it boils down to is this: These groups hate the idea of a woman’s sexual freedom. Sex is for making babies, not for fun. If you get pregnant, it’s your own fault, and if you have an abortion you’re a murderer. What I think is this: enjoy your sex life, as long as you in doing so hurt no one else; take precautions and take care of your body; know your own body and know when something is wrong; accidents do happen, and if they do there are options available. Abortion isn’t an ideal solution, but we live in a far from ideal world.
Once this piece is published, I’m going to take great pleasure in ripping this leaflet up, and burning the shreds. Unless an actual dead baby had been shoved through my letterbox, I don’t think I could have been more revolted at an unwanted delivery.
My daughter attends an excellent school. It was the only one in the area with a place, but after a few nail biting weeks on the waiting lists, we were over the moon when it was the school offered. It is also Catholic. We are not.
I have had a few people ask me how I reconcile my belief in separation of church and state with sending my daughter to a school where prayers and church services are part of the school day. I have no problem at all with there being Catholic schools, and with them including aspects of their religion in the school day (as long as the children are not restricted from finding out fair information about other belief systems and are not encouraged to make harmful choices). We could have home educated her, or held out for a school that is less overtly religious. What I have a problem with is the lack of choice for parents who wish to avoid religious instruction altogether.
I start from the general principle that everyone should be free to practice their own religion or none at all. As long as you are not harming anyone, you are respectful of others and you allow members of your religion access to other beliefs, then I don’t see why anyone could object. I also feel that, if you use the facilities provided by a group, you should abide by the rules of that group, and as such you should also be able to get basic services with no special conditions. This is why I do not think that the “collective worship of a broadly Christian nature” in mainstream schools is at all fair.
If we had not been ok with our child going to a school that does not fit with our beliefs as an atheist/agnostic family, we would have had to home educate. There is no option in the state system for a school where no religion or religious practices are imposed on the children. To me, the default should be no religion, as that leaves it to the parents and child to add on whatever they believe at home, or to find a school that does provide religious instruction. As it is, in a country where an active belief in Christianity is very much in the minority, nearly every child is expected to take part in worship at school.
My primary school was a mainstream community state school, yet we had ministers from the local evangelical church in assemblies, holiday clubs and classrooms telling us that evolution was impossible and that non-Christians would burn in hell, which leaves a strong impression on an eight year-old. We also had the standard vicar-with-guitar-and-beard singing hymns at us, and a teacher who told us that global warming is just a test from God. I left primary school in 1996, but websites like Mumsnet are full of the same kinds of stories. Of course, these people are more than welcome to hold whatever beliefs they like and to worship how they feel, but they shouldn’t be able to essentially force children to join in.
Yes, there is the option to withdraw your child from assemblies and religious practises, but why isn’t the default position that of the beliefs of the vast majority of the population? A child is not given the option to refuse to participate, and so is dependant on their parents being aware of the school’s level of religious instruction.
I have no problem with teaching about religion. In fact, call me Gove, but I do think that children should be familiar with the Bible, and the King James version is particularly useful. I also feel that children should be familiar with classical mythology and the stories of other religions too – without religion, much of history and the arts would make very little sense. I would encourage children to respectfully visit churches and other religious monuments, and to meet believers and leaders of all different faiths. I just think that the beliefs of one particular religion should not be taught as fact in the vast majority of schools, unless the parents have specifically opted in by sending their child to a school affiliated to (and partially funded by) that religion.
Anecdotally, it would seem that most schools have very little religious instruction in the curriculum. However, it is something that schools are assessed on by Ofsted, and a parent has no way of knowing if a school will suddenly start singing hymns or having religious talks. If a school is about to start sex and relationships education – in which a child will be told facts about their own body and how to keep themselves healthy – the parents are called in to discuss it and are given the chance to ask questions and raise objections. Why can’t parents be given the same option when it comes to matters of a far less scientific nature?
It’s very hard to be grown up when we’re getting divorced. As parents, we’re expected to share nicely, act responsibly, be the bigger person, put the needs of our children at the centre of every decision. As angry, hurt, vulnerable human beings, that’s hard to achieve. We’ve gone from sharing resources to competing for assets.
First, there’s the finances. Divorce requires us to establish separate households. The more one parent gets, the less there is for the other. Running two households on the same resources as one costs more. So we both end up with less money than before.
Since we’re now living in separate households, we need to agree how much time our children will spend with each of us. Because children need us to support them, one of us usually needs to make a payment to the other, who has primary caring responsibilities. Now we both also have less time with our children than before.
All these things are decided via the same process. Intellectually we know that our children are not a marital asset. But it’s very easy for us both to start thinking of them as one more resource to be shared out in the zero-sum game of the ending of a marriage.
Time spent either with, or without, the children both become points of contention. Is time with the children a benefit or a cost? Are four fun-filled days a month more, or less, valuable than nagging them to get dressed and eat their breakfast every morning? If your ex-partner asks you to take the children for longer, are they ducking their responsibilities or giving you a gift? If you refuse, are you resisting your ex-partner’s manipulations or selfishly prioritising your own needs over your child?
It’s hard for us to separate access and money – especially when we both have less of both than we had before. The parent making the payments might think, “Why is the other person getting my money and my children? Why am I being pushed out of the family like this?” The parent caring for the children might think, “Why do I have less freedom and more responsibility and less money? Why am I doing all the hard work and they get to do the fun stuff at weekends?” The parent making the payments may reduce payments, or stop paying altogether. The parent caring for the children may restrict or withhold access to the children. These events may be in retaliation to each other and can come in either order.
Sometimes, one parent’s behaviour is so dangerous or violent that allowing them access to the children would be unsafe. Sometimes, one parent has abused the other. Should a person who has beaten, raped or mentally tortured another adult be allowed to spend unsupervised time with children? And what happens when the person accused of the abuse denies that it took place? Because all human systems are fallible, sometimes mistakes will be made. Parents who are not abusive will be denied access to their children. Parents who are abusive will be granted access.
I’ve been very careful in writing this not to assign gender, at any point. In practice, we all know how and where the dividing lines are drawn. When it comes to issues of residency, maintenance and access, we can draw the stereotypes (feckless wastrel Disney-parent versus bitter, money-grabbing control-freak) for ourselves. I still haven’t assigned a gender. But I bet you have.
That’s the stereotype. But that’s not how it has to be. There are thousands and thousands of couples who have made divorce work for them and their children. Some of us are divorced couples who co-parent in harmony. Some of us are re-married couples whose blended families are happy and successful. Some of us are single parents who are raising our children ably and well. These are the stories we should be telling. These are the examples we should be learning from. As a society, we need parents to get better at managing divorce.
That’s why the current high-profile battle between Mumsnet and Fathers 4 Justice is such a huge disappointment, and a wasted opportunity. In case you’ve missed it, Fathers 4 Justice are accusing Mumsnet of giving a platform to gender-based hate-speech, committed by women, against men. There are a number of theories about the motivation and timings for these accusations, which – since I have no evidence to either support or disprove them – I don’t intend to review here.
The point is, there was an opportunity here. There was a chance for two groups defined by their parenthood to talk to each other. We could have talked about our grievances, about how to manage divorce and separation better, about how to better draw the distinction between parents who have simply stopped loving each other, and parents who are actively dangerous to their ex-partners and their children. Instead, Fathers 4 Justice took out an advertisement accusing the Mumsnet community of promoting gender hatred against all men and boys as a group, and encouraging the boycotting of advertisers who promote on Mumsnet.
I am one two-millionth of the Mumsnet community, and I don’t speak on its behalf. I am even less qualified to speak for Fathers 4 Justice. But of one thing I am certain: mothers and fathers love their children, fiercely and without reservation, and even when they don’t love each other. This divisive and hateful campaign does nothing to help us work better together at protecting our children in the event of marital breakdown. Children are not a marital asset. They are the people we love the most. We all – men and women, mothers and fathers – need to get better at putting them first.
We could have done all of this. Instead, we’re trading insults. Shame on you, Fathers 4 Justice. Shame on you.
Mumsnet, one of the major British parenting network sites, has always come in for a lot of flak, most of which comes from two points of view:
Now we have a new one – those who think it is a distributor of “man hate”. Sigh. *
So, what is Mumsnet? Why does it cause such a problem?
When people say “Mumsnet” what they usually mean is the Talk section of Mumsnet, which is a huge message board or forum, aimed at parents (although the majority of users are mothers, there are a sizable minority of fathers, grandparents, childcare workers and childless people who also use the site). There are hundreds of sections, covering all aspects of life, not just parenting. Each section tends to have its own “feel” – so Pregnancy tends to be fairly gentle, Am I Being Unreasonable? is a hotbed of disagreements and strong debate and Feminist Activism can be pretty militant. There is a site wide policy of very light moderation, so swearing, heated discussions and pretty obscene conversations do occur (never, ever google anything users of Mumsnet tell you to google…). Members can name-change whenever they like, meaning that posters can reveal secret details on one thread then go back to joking with long term friends on another, under their usual nickname, which does not tend to be related to ‘real life’ identities. There are also no avatars, twinkly tickers, signatures or pictures, and only a very small range of emoticons.
Herein lies one of our problems. Mumsnet is very different to the rest of the parenting forums, and I would say that the main difference is that Mumsnet treats posters as adults. We aren’t mollycoddled, and the only things that get deleted (apart from spam) are personal attacks and hate speech. Mumsnet as a body of posters tends to be self regulating – so a poster coming on who doesn’t follow the rules will get very short shrift. This has given us a bit of a reputation for being bitchy, although, to me, it just means that we say how we feel, like grown ups. Other sites will tend to ban you if you express any forthright opinions, and so there are a good few Mumsnetters who are banned from other sites.
Mumsnet also tends to be a bit more educated than other sites. That’s not to say that Mumsnetters all have doctorates, or even GCSEs, but there is a higher expectation of basic education. Text speak and bad grammar are frowned upon, and there are often jokes about things like classic literature and politics. This is often given as evidence that Mumsnet is somehow elitist, and that “ordinary” people would be pushed out and ridiculed.
To me, there are endless websites where you can post cute little tickers, use vomit inducing euphemisms and tipe lyk u cant speel <3 <3 and I think it is only fair to let one site have its own way of working. Just because the users of the site are mostly women, and mostly mothers at that, doesn’t mean that we have to act like children ourselves.
Because of the general culture of the site, there is a higher than usual concentration of professionals and, in particular, journalists. Mumsnet is often used as a cheap research technique, with posts (usually without the knowledge and assent of responding posters) being used in news articles as the “opinion of parents” (I have had this happen to me, when I posted about an internet joke, and there was one reply – I was quoted twice, as different users, as proof that mothers in general found the joke hilarious). Justine Roberts, one of the founders of the site, can often be found on talk shows giving her opinion – she can’t give the opinion of Mumsnet as a whole, because the 2 million users that use the site every month can’t possibly have one opinion.
However, that, and the fact that the site regularly hosts web-chats with politicians and other movers and shakers, gives Mumsnet a reputation as attention seekers who try to control the media.
Why is it that people hate the idea of a site where women can get together to chat about sex, politics, parenting and culture? Men have most of the rest of the internet, and any woman daring to post anywhere else is often attacked if she dares mention anything feminine in any way. Parents of young children are likely to become isolated, and there isn’t the support network that used to exist to support young mothers.
So, if my baby is acting weirdly, or the cuts are pissing me off, or I just thought up a really good joke about mooncups…I’ll see you on Mumsnet.
*I have deliberately ignored the ridiculous behaviour of a certain pressure group lately. Don’t feed the troll and all that.
As a new mother I have been bombarded by others’ opinions on how I should raise my child, but never so much as when the subject of feeding rears its peach-fuzzed little head.
Like all mums-to-be in the UK I had been inundated with the ‘breast is best’ propaganda issued by the NHS, but a search for for a balanced discussion on the pros and cons of each method drew a frustratingly blank, blank.
I was coming to this debate with no particular leaning, but trying to find unbiased advice out there is really hard. Other than the occasional breakfast news story I had never really been aware of the depth of the breast v bottle debate, but the parenting forums and baby blogs were full of dictatorial ranting, polarised opinions and outright declarations of war.
If I were to believe the pro-breastfeeding extremists all bottle feeders are bad mothers; selfish, uncaring harridans who just weren’t willing to try. However, when I spoke to many bottling feeding mothers they told of the heartbreak over their decision, of the guilt, of the pressure placed on them to breastfeed whilst in hospital and the feeling of failure and inadequacy that accompanied the choice to switch to bottle when they left.
One mother even commented that a mutual friend was “very brave” for saying that she never wanted to breastfeed and sticking to her decision despite the pressure she felt from others.This seemed like a ridiculous thing to say but the further along in my pregnancy I got, the more I understood what she meant. The NHS in particular piled on the pressure to breastfeed, sending me through enough pro-breast leaflets to paper a palace, but not once did they discuss the pros and cons of bottle feeding.
So what did the other side have to offer to the debate? Well according to the bottle feeding advocates all breastfeeding mothers are middle class hippies who are pampered and have nothing else to do but see to their babies. Indeed, even the National Childbirth Trust has been in the news recently for abandoning it’s evangelical breastfeeding stance as part of their push to become more inclusive and attractive to the working classes. (I would argue they’d be better dropping their prices to be honest, but that’s a rant for another day).
There are clearly some out there who feel that breastfeeding is a middle class endeavour and certainly I can see why – the cost of electric pumps, breast milk storage bags and pots, slings, concealed feeding tops and the time taken to feed or express for your child makes it seem that a great investment may be needed.
Reading all this had made me more and more confused. I didn’t really want to be seen as uncaring or as a tree hugger. I’m not middle class and I certainly don’t have the luxury of a lot of time to sit around doing nothing but feed, but by the same token I don’t really fancy a great pile of bottle-fed guilt. Even the statistics didn’t help me; although most women breastfeed immediately after birth, by 6 weeks 53% are bottle feeding. So, still baffled by all the conflicting advice, I did what I do with any decision I’m struggling with, I scribbled away at a pros and cons list. And here it is:
Bottle feeding cons
So what did I do? Well I spoke to my Granny, as the only person I knew who’d fed both ways more than once and she gave me the best advice of all – do what is right for you and baby. As it was my daughter was in neonatal care for the first 15 days of her life and was severely underweight, so what was best for her was breast milk. But as I wasn’t in hospital with her, she had as much breast milk as I could manage and formula when there wasn’t quite enough to fill her up. Having tried both methods, I found I actually enjoy breastfeeding (despite a few problems we encountered) and I hate all the faffing with bottles and sterilisers and powder that formula feeding brings. So although my little girl will still take either method happily, I’m trying to get her off the bottles for the most part.
I think Granny had it right. It doesn’t matter so much what you feed, what matters is that whichever method you choose, it meets the needs of both of you. If you don’t want to breastfeed or you try and don’t like it or struggle and run out of steam, you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for that. As for my little one, she’s lying in my lap feeding as I type, and looking at her chubby chomping cheeks I can’t help but think it is the fact that I am happy with what I chose to do that makes her so happy and healthy today.
good places for support/further reading.
I belong to an online group for photographers, and recently the conversation turned to starting to charge . The comments were supportive and fun until somebody decided to butt in and tell us what he really thinks of people who suddenly decide to become a photographer while on maternity leave. He claimed that stay-at-home mums steal the clients from him (and the other ‘professionals’).
So what is so annoying about a woman deciding to change her career path and give her talents a chance, to bring in some extra money and to spend some time in the world outside nappies and projectile vomiting?
One of the arguments is that it’s not really possible to change career and skills overnight. I changed from teaching to photography, and it took long evenings of reading tons of tutorials, lots of patience, even more practice, expensive gear, and even more expensive computer programmes.
I would never claim I’m a photographer without all the preparation and confidence that I can provide my clients with the quality photos that they paid for. And all my preparation, learning and shooting takes place next to cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping, and taking care of my 3.5 yr old daughter.
I’m not complaining about life and my responsibilities, I’m just stating the fact that being a Mum doesn’t mean women can’t achieve success on a new career path. When a mum goes back to her previous work after having a baby and continues to gain experience and climbs up the business ladder not many people will claim she is rubbish, purely because she is now a mother.
But when a stay-at-home mum starts a new career, making the effort to learn a new skill from scratch, devoting all her free time (there’s not much of it, trust me) on practice and spends some savings to get needed equipment, then this mum is considered a time-waster and unqualified person.
I’ve seen thousands of photos, thousands of photography related websites and designs, and it just so happens that the ones I liked the most were those of women who became photographers/digital designers alongside their maternity status.
One of the things I love the most about their work is the difference between their first photo they took of their baby and the one they took just 5 months later on someone’s wedding as a booked photographer. The transition and development is so outstanding in many cases that I don’t understand why there is any doubt about their skills.
Does it really matter how many years that person was in the business or how many degrees that person can flash in front of our eyes? When we pay for a service isn’t it the end product that we want? And if it happens to satisfy a group of clients, stands out from the crowd and is done by a mum, is that a problem?
We have to give mums more credit for trying to go out there and make a difference in their life. Most of us find our true talents, hobbies and business ideas during those long sleepless nights nursing our babies. Mums starting something new are not trying to take shortcuts and pretend they know stuff. They will put double amount of energy into everything they do. Because that’s what mothers do in life, whatever they do.
A leak from Department for Education has suggested that Michael Gove, Education Secretary, will ban the discretionary up to 2 weeks leave of absence that Head Teachers are permitted to grant during term time, according to the Telegraph. Apparently, this will help cut down on truancy.
Ostensibly this leave of absence is supposed to be for cases of illness, bereavement and bad weather, but is regularly used by parents to take holidays during term time, when it is cheaper. According to a survey by the Travelsupermarket.com website,
‘Prices increase by up to 42 per cent for a family of four taking a two-week trip to the Algarve during the school holidays.’
The justification in this draconian measure is that it will stop parents putting pressure on Head Teachers to authorised holiday absences. As a parent myself, with a child about to start School in September, this is something of great interest to me.
So what are the arguments for and against this move?
Arguments for :
There are holiday periods built in to the school calendar so you should take your holidays then.
If you can’t afford a holiday abroad during the holidays you should set your sights lower and go camping in the lakes instead.
Nobody NEEDS a holiday. It is not a human right to have one.
It disrupts the education process.
It will have no affect on persistent truants. They are the ones who bump up the figures, whose parents never even ask permission anyway.
The biggest cause absence was due to illness, not holidays! Perhaps we should be banning sick days instead as that will have a bigger effect on attendance?
Again it is an attack on impoverished families. I think it sends a very clear message that poor people shouldn’t have holidays. I would argue they need it more, just a week where a family who is struggling day to day can have some quality time together just having fun.
It will affect people who have family abroad. Families generally don’t schedule weddings, birthdays, bereavements and other family events around the school holidays. It may be only time parents can afford to take their children to see overseas families is during term time. Certainly, this is something that I have experience of, seeing that I am half Spanish and my Dad lives in Spain.
Some parents may struggle to get time off work during the holidays, especially if others in their workplace are all wanting time off then – this is something my husband struggles with.
The holiday companies share some of the blame with the ridiculous hikes they put on holidays during the school holidays. Even campsites charge premium rates for pitches during the holidays. The argument is that they are there to make money and it is all about supply and demand. Surely though, if they offered cheaper holidays then more people would go?
To illustrate a typical price rise, I picked a popular UK holiday company, it has caravan parks all over the county. I priced up a 4 night stay for 2 adults and 2 children, in a one up from basic caravan, in a park on the Yorkshire coast.
For week commencing Monday 27th August, the cost was £325.50. Go the following week, and it would cost you £197.50 – a saving of £128! For a family only able to save a couple of quid a week for the family holiday, this is a big difference.
There are times when parents are taking the piss and absolutely this should be clamped down on. No-one needs to take their child on an uber expensive holiday to Disney Land, and Disney is horribly overpriced anyway. I would argue that some holidays can have value to a child’s education, teaching them about geography, allowing them to experience new people and places.
Perhaps an overhaul of terms and holidays is needed, to spread them out, with different schools having their holidays at different times?
All I know is this; once again the government are attacking families. Nice one Tories!
The concept, post university, of marking years by dates and not by term starts took some time to sink in. It was a shock to the system, despite having had jobs since my teens, to have to work a whole year and only get 4 weeks holiday. I was aghast at the notion of the world not working like that, giving everyone regular breaks and a lovely long summer holiday. I’m laughing a lot at my naive early 20′s self, by the way, there’s no need for you to do it for me.
As I don’t have children, yet, the notion of half terms and terms has, by and large passed me by of recent years. I might notice the traffic go up and down, or the fact that a teacher friend is not able to go away somewhere due to term time, but that’s it.
The modern half term seems to be catered for so well. Round here signs have sprouted over recent weeks, advertising activities, play groups, sport activities, a positive cornucopia of opportunities to relieve parents of their children and their cash.
I remember half terms of holidays in the Yorkshire Dales, running about with my brother building dams and climbing hills, usually in the rain, before heading back for cake with Granny. Or going to an arts group at the local college with my best friend, where the most memorable activity was making ice-cream sundaes out of candle wax and washing powder. One half-term we were signed up for a day in Grassington where we were forced to paint our faces green and wander round pretending to be aliens, only ‘beeping’ at each other not speaking. It took a long time for me to recover from that one, I tell you. Or sports camp, which seemed to be made up of never ending swimming and rounders. One big treat was to go to Daddy’s work and play offices, which involved being very quiet for the day and cutting up lots of paper before using half the Tippex supply to stick it back together. A couple of sleepovers usually snuck in there as well, involving much giggling and many midnight feasts, eaten at I would guess around 10pm before we all flaked out.
Yet one of the biggest realisations I have had looking back on all this is that I didn’t make these choices. They just ‘happened’. If the local sailing club had a free day, off we went with a packed lunch and instructions not to drown. If the weather was nice, out we were thrown with our bikes and a promise not to talk to strangers. Being of a less athletic frame of mind and body than my brother, I usually had a book packed in my rucksack and quite happily whiled away a couple of hours with my nose stuck in a story whilst he flung himself down hillsides and slogged back up again. Then we both ate our sandwiches, and returned home.
My parents weren’t complete autocrats, there must have been some element of discussion, but what wasn’t up for debate was doing nothing at all for the week. Both my parents worked, my father full time and my mother part time, and we were very fortunate to be able to do all these activities. It must have taken hours of research and planning to make it all happen, in those pre-internet days. By the time we got to senior school, we were more settled into our individual pursuits.
Who knows what the future holds for me, and what decisions and compromises will be made about work and childcare. I hope I do as good a job as my parents did of trying to give us loads of experiences and then letting us choose our own paths and find our own passions.
One thing is for sure. There will be no beeping alien activities.
*Disclaimer, I am rubbish at maths so this figure may be more than a bit inaccurate
Lost: Sense of Perspective. Last seen somewhere between problems and issues. If found, please return to MmeLindor, c/o CamelsHump
Have you ever lost perspective and suddenly found it again?
I did this week. I was having one of those days, when everything seemed to go wrong. I was cross and irritated, and settled down to see what my friends were up to on Facebook. Distracted, I scrolled through the posts, stopping suddenly when I saw this drawing by an eight year old girl. It’s the kind of drawing that any eight year old would draw. Except this girl was not asking for a Nintendo DS or a fun day out.
All she wants is to be better. To be well. To be healthy.
Aillidh is eight years old and seriously ill. As ill as a little girl can get. She has Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and is going through her third chemotherapy session. She desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. Her parents are appealing, through their Facebook page and elsewhere, to find a donor.
Aillidh is a blend of white Scottish and Mestizo – the mix of European and indigenous N. American peoples (Native American/Indian). Her type is very hard to match so for this reason it is important that her story is shared throughout Europe and America. It is particularly difficult to find matches for mixed race patients. So, the more people who sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register (or in the US Be The Match website), the better chance Aillidh has of finding a match.
Some worry, like I did, about signing up to the register, as the procedure is rumoured to be very painful. I was reassured by this quote from the Anthony Nolan Trust website:
Myth: Donating blood stem cells is painful.
Reality: People who have donated via the bone marrow method compared the after-effects to a hard game of football. Many donors find the experience fulfilling and for some, it’s life-changing.
Donation can be done via surgery or a simple blood transfusion – the doctor of the recipient advises on this, but the final decision is made by the donor.
So this week, I found my sense of perspective. Nothing in my life is close to the horror that Aillidh’s parents are going through. This sense of perspective does not lessen my problems, they still exist after all, but they are manageable.
I ask you to do the same. Sit down and count your blessings.
If you are on Facebook, please *like* Aillidh’s page and pass it on to your friends. If you are on Twitter, pass it on. Email your friends and family, particularly those in the US and ask them to pass the FB page on. The more people sign up as a potential donor, the higher the chance is of finding a match for Aillidh or for one of the other Leukaemia sufferers around the world.
In addition to this appeal, Charlie Brooker, of all people, has urged YouTubers to sign up to the Anthony Nolan Register. Click here to watch it.