Before our babies are born, we are used to making ourselves top priority. We could go to the gym, visit the hairdresser, go to the cinema, have a spontaneous night out and generally just please ourselves. When you bring a tiny human into the world, everything changes. This little person turns your life upside down and suddenly, things are very different. Spontaneity isn’t generally associated with parenting.
Kids bring so many good things to your life but it’s almost impossible for them not to impact your freedom and time for yourself. Most of us don’t mind making these small sacrifices but sometimes you sit and just wish you had some time to just focus on you. It’s so easy to lose your identity as a parent and it’s normal to question who you are and if you’re more than just someone’s Mum or Dad.
I for one have felt guilty about having time for myself but self-care is so important. We can’t be our best when we never let ourselves have some time out. Time to see friends, to have a massage, to read a book or just catch up on our favourite TV programs. You’re so busy looking after everyone else but who is looking after you?
Let’s all vow to make some time for ourselves. Whether it’s a day, an hour or just a few minutes where we’re not cleaning, washing or pleading with a toddler to share, we all need a little space. Like they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup so let’s top ourselves up!
When you announce you’re pregnant, you hear the same warnings. You’ll never sleep again, enjoy the peace while you can, say goodbye to your money, aren’t you scared about the birth? So, when baby comes along, these things aren’t a surprise and are generally what we associate with motherhood. What no one warns you about is what I consider to be the worst part of being a mum…. mum guilt!
Ever since I gave birth, I’ve had mum guilt most weeks and I can’t believe no one even mentioned it. Having spoken to friends who have children, this is pretty universal and every mum I know experiences it. mum guilt is a well-known term but I’m sure there are plenty of dads who experience the same feelings. At work I feel guilty for not being with my daughter and missing out. At home I feel guilty for missing work and colleagues having to pick things up for me. If I have to stay home to do chores or wait for a delivery, I feel guilty for not taking my toddler to do something fun. The guilt just never stops and at a certain point you just have to embrace it and learn to accept it. I always feel like I could be doing more, doing better.
I am slowly learning not to be so hard on myself and hope that by talking about it, we can all learn to do the same. By supporting one another, we can lift each other up when we’re doubting ourselves. Parenting is tough and we are all just doing our best. So please, support the mums and dads around you and if you think they’re doing a great job, tell them!
Don’t judge me if you happen to see my kids eating packaged Ritz crackers for school lunch.
Don’t judge me if they’re on the side lines of PE because they forgot their uniform.
Don’t judge me if they didn’t turn in their homework because it’s still sitting home on their desk.
What some may view as a lack of parenting, is what I deem parenting on purpose, as we work to build necessary life skills in our kids.
I stopped making daily breakfasts and packing school lunches long ago. I don’t feel obligated to deliver forgotten items left behind at home. School projects and homework are not any part of my existence.
How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?
Walk away from doing these 8 things for your teen this school year
1. Waking them up in the morning
If you are still waking little Johnny up in the mornings, it’s time to let an alarm clock do its job. My foursome have been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they started middle school. There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.
I heard a Mum actually voice out loud that her teen sons were just so cute still, that she loved going in and waking them up every morning. Please stop. I find my sons just as adorable as you do, but our goal is to raise well-functioning adults here.
2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch
My morning alarm is the sound of the kids clanging cereal bowls. My job is to make sure there is food in the house so that they can eat breakfast and pack a lunch.
One friend asked, yeah but how do you know what they’re bringing for school lunch? I don’t. I know what food I have in my pantry and it’s on them to pack up what they feel is a good lunch. It will only be a few short years and I will have no idea what they are eating for any of their meals away at college. Free yourself away from the PB and J station now.
3. Filling out their paperwork
I have a lot of kids, which equates to a lot of beginning of
the school year paperwork. I used to dread this stack, until the kids became of age to fill all of it out themselves. Our teens are expected to fill out all of their own paperwork, to the best of their ability. They put the papers to be signed on a clipboard and leave it for me on the kitchen island. I sign them and put them back on their desks.
Hold your teens accountable. They will need to fill out job and college applications soon and they need to know how to do that without your intervention.
4. Delivering their forgotten items
Monday morning we pulled out of the driveway and screeched around the corner of the house when daughter dear realised she forgot her phone. “We have to go back, Mum!” Another exclaimed that he forgot his freshly washed PE uniform folded in the laundry room. I braked in hesitation as I contemplated turning around. Nope. Off we go, as the vision surfaced of both of them playing around on their phones before it was time to leave.
Parents don’t miss opportunities to provide natural consequences for your teens. Forget something? Feel the pain of that. Kids also get to see that you can make it through the day without a mistake consuming you.
We also have a rule that Mum and Dad are not to get pleading texts from school asking for forgotten items. It still happens, but we have the right to just text back “that’s a bummer.”
5.Making their failure to plan your emergency
School projects do not get assigned the night before they are due. Therefore, I do not run out and pick up materials at the last minute to get a project finished. I do always keep poster boards and general materials on hand for the procrastinating child. But, other needed items, you may have to wait for. Do not race to the shop for your kid who hasn’t taken time to plan.
If you are starting work after having children or returning to work, you will want to choose the best childcare option for your family. Whether it’s your first experience or this is your third or fourth child, you can be met with a minefield of confusing and conflicting information. Similarly, after a family separation or union, a new solution might be needed at a time when emotions are running high.
I myself remember not understanding the difference between a nursery and a childminder. There’s so much help available and it changes all the time so don’t assume that what was available when you had your first child is still the same.
Once you have decided what form your childcare will take, you will need to choose a provider. This again throws you into making decisions about something that you may have no point of reference for. Also, the cost of childcare is sometimes scary, but help is available in many different equally confusing forms. This might not be a decision based solely on income or expenditure. Work-life balance, self-worth and aspirations also need to be considered.
So what are the different types of childcare currently available, and which is best for you?
Types of Childcare
What are Children’s Centres? – Children’s Centres offer early learning, childcare, health advice and family support for families with children up to age five
What are crèches? – Crèches provide occasional care for children under eight. For example, leisure facilities or training days. Crèches can also be used for private families for weddings, conferences and events.
What are toddler groups? – Informal groups of parents and carers that meet locally with their children on a regular basis are often called Toddler Groups and usually include children who are under five.
What are preschools and playgroups? – Preschools and playgroups provide playtime and early education to under fives. Normally mornings and afternoons, booked in blocks.
What are day nurseries? – Day nurseries provide care for children from birth to four or five and beyond. Often they’re integrated with early education and other services, Again, it’s normally mornings and afternoons, booked in blocks.
What are out-of-school or kids clubs? – Kids clubs offer school-aged children a safe and stimulating environment in which they can play and learn outside of school hours.
What is a childminder? – A childminder will usually look after children under 12 in the their own home and often collect school-aged children from a nearby school and provide drop offs and pickups.
What is a Nanny? – Nannies provide childcare in your own home and can look after children of any age. They can also provide transportation and overnight/weekend and evening care. Booked as and when you require or in blocks. Nannies can also provide support with household chores that are related to the children. Level of care can vary from mothers help to a sole charge nanny.
What is an au-pair? – An au pair is a young person from another country who are generally in the country for a year to improve their English. Au pairs are generally not qualified in childcare and would require their host family to provide an environment where they are nurtured and supported.
All these forms of childcare are registerable, and you can claim some of the cost back (dependant on your circumstances) through Tax credits and salary sacrifice schemes.
The world of childcare can be confusing but finding the right arrangement for your family is the key. For more information on the types of childcare available to you, contact our dedicated childcare team below:
Freedom are providing support for this invaluable research with creches and childcare professionals. We are trying to help the project by informing families in Portsmouth and Southampton about the milestones this project requires.
Please also feel free to call us on 0800 0851444 if you have any questions.
Plans to end the Government’s Childcare Vouchers scheme will be delayed by six months, ministers have announced.
The scheme – which is operated through employers and allows you to pay for childcare from your pre-tax salary – was supposed to close to new entrants on 5 April this year.
But in a debate in the House of Commons yesterday, Education Secretary Damian Hinds made the concession to extend the scheme by six months.
Childcare vouchers are being replaced by an alternative system called Tax-Free Childcare, but this scheme has suffered a succession of problems, including website issues.
The exact date on which the Childcare Vouchers scheme will now close to new applicants has not been announced yet, but it’s expected it’ll be around October.
For full info on how the scheme works, and the pros and cons, see our Childcare Vouchers guide.
What are Childcare Vouchers?
Childcare vouchers can save many parents with kids aged up to 15 (16 if they’re disabled) over £1,000 a year on childcare as they allow you to pay for childcare out of your pre-tax and national insurance income.
The process will vary depending on who you work for. Yet in short, you need to:
Ask your HR department if they offer childcare vouchers.
If they do, you’ll need to complete a salary sacrifice agreement. Your employer will help you do this. If you’re on basic-rate tax, it works something like this…You give up £1,000 of PRE-TAX salary in exchange for £1,000 of childcare vouchers. As you would have paid tax and National Insurance on that salary though, it would only have been worth £700ish in your pocket. So by exchanging salary for vouchers, you’re about £300 better off.
After your application has been submitted to your employer, it will reduce your salary in the next payroll by the requested amount and arrange for vouchers to be provided to you.
Wedding season is fast approaching and Freedom Childcare will be out and about at a variety of locations showcasing our Wedding Day Childcare Services.
Whether you are booking for this year or in the future we would be delighted to discuss your plans and how our bespoke Childcare packages can enhance your special day. Sandra generally attends the wedding fair as she has worked for Freedom for the past 12 years she can help with any questions you may have. We recently attended a wedding fair at the Concord Club in Eastleigh who offer a variety of wedding packages.
All of our Wedding clients tell us that although childcare was an additional expenses they hadn’t considered it was really worth while and ensured the children were entertained and kept untimely interruptions throughout critical parts of the day to a minimum.
“Just a quick email to let you know how delighted we were with your staff at our wedding! They were amazing! Kayleigh was so professional and the girls took to her straight away! She was better than my expectations of a nanny. Thank you and thank you to your team”
“Thank you for organising Ann Colwill to babysit our 4 year old son on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd April. We were so pleased with Ann. She arrived promptly and immediately took over our son. She was prepared for the evening and how she would entertain him. She immediately engaged him and quickly built a rapport, so much so, he didn’t even look up when we said goodbye as we left! It was so lovely for us to be able to enjoy our evenings out, knowing he was in such good hands.”
The children love them and parents quite like them also! The craft bags are made from 100% natural materials and are fully recyclable.
Throughout the year we attend several events to promote the business and the bags can be bought as a stand alone item. With our hotel partners they are stocking them to keep children entertained during their stay.
If you would like a craft bag please call 0800 0851444 and we will post one out to you, they cost £5 each plus postage and packaging.
Weddings are such fantastic event for the whole family however if you have children attending you do need to consider what they will be doing whilst the adults are catching up, drinking, listening to speeches etc. Weddings are about families fusing creating a day everyone can enjoy is the secret. Providing childcare in the form of Nannies, Babysitters or a mobile creche can alleviate anxious parents, bored children and compromised expectations.
Creating this any day of the year is a challenge we embrace, and time and time again create a bespoke package that meets and exceeds everyone’s expectations—doing this on an annually epic evening such as New Year’s Eve adds an additional dynamic –I am proud to say our Team were again sensational!
Wedding Creche and Babysitting
Rhinefield House – 31 December 2017
I just wanted to send an email saying thank you to you and your staff (especially Emma) for their amazing work and efforts on our wedding on New Year’s Eve. The did a fantastic job, all the parents were so happy that the kids were having such fun and were entertained throughout the day and looked after at night.
My sister especially loved the creche for her kids and I know that Floyd would have stayed in there all day if he could! All the kids benefitted, as well as the parents. My sister really appreciated the contact via text and updates on how the kids were doing, she said it put her mind at ease for the whole day. It just let the parents enjoy the day that little bit more knowing the kids were in safe hands and having a great time.
Please pass on all our compliments to your staff, we cannot fault them and so glad we made the decision to have Emma and the team come along. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the creche in full swing, which was probably a good thing as I may have ended up in there for hours with the kids! But from what I did see, and from all the praises the parents are singing, the service was second to none.
Thank you so much again, you were invaluable.
All the best,