Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Family Activities in East Cork

Throughout Ireland, there are plenty of activities on offer for the family to enjoy, but living in East Cork it’s good to try and find things to do closer to home. I came across this ebook from Chill Insurance  and it got me thinking about the places we’ve been and would like to go. Here’s a list of 3 places to explore right here in East Cork.

Blarney Castle

Children love getting lost in their imagination and what better place to do that than at a medieval castle? Many believe this is simply a place to visit if you like history or architecture but there’s a lot to do.
The Witches Stone, Rock Close, and Gardens all give a feel of enchantment that the little ones will just love, wondering around telling stories and taking in the magical landscapes. The Dungeon is beneath the tower and you can explore this maze of secret passageways, it can be a bit scary for some, especially if you don’t like the dark.
Heading into the castle itself you can discover two differing worlds as the castle was built in two stages.  There are plenty of views to take in too, from different angles of the castle.

Leahys Open Farm

If your children like to run and play all day then Leahys Open Farm is a fantastic place to play and get to know the animals. There are cows, rabbits, birds, and snakes! Don’t worry, they are well trained.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy too, with adventure trails and go karting available. Entry fees are good value at €9.50 per person, and an extra €2 for diggers and crazy golf.
This is a fun day out for the family and the kids are kept busy, as there’s so much to do.

Fota Wildlife Park

This is an educational and fun day out learning about wildlife such as Giraffes, Cheetah and Lions to name a few of the animals that can be found here. There are even wildlife experiences where you can get some behind-the-scenes insight into the daily running’s of the park and feed some of the animals – which apparently is very popular.
These are just a few of the great days out you can enjoy in Cork, but there’s a lot more you can do.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Turning One Of The Many Parenting Corners

I had one of those moments this morning where I realised we'd turned one of the many corners in our parenting journey, a kind of "Ah there it is" moment. 

Up until recently we had been struggling a bit with Luke and his attitude and cheekiness, I put it down to the preschool to primary school transition and the adjustments that come with that. I know he found it hard to adjust in the first couple of weeks especially with the restrictions primary school puts on everything else. He had come from a fantastic, small preschool where they had so much freedom to play, learn and grow to the seriousness of primary school with double, if not more, the amount of kids in the class room so we gave him a bit of leeway to get used to it.

I'll be the first to admit, he's a bit spoiled! He's an only child and the centre of our world, used to having our undivided attention and generally getting what he wants. He would always get something in the shop when we went in, it was normal for him to expect it because we always gave it. Now we try to teach him about earning it and not having money at his disposal to buy something when he wants it. 
 He's not a brat and I'm very proud of his mannerly and kind nature but he wasn't used to hearing No all that often so when we started it was another shock to his system.

Things at home were a bit up the air last month too and I've no doubt that affected him but we couldn't let him use that as an excuse. So myself and the OH had the chats and decided we needed to be firm but fair and be on the same page, reduce the shouting when we get frustrated with him because that does not work with Luke. He responds better to us ignoring him until he can behave. 

So when he's cheeky we would say "We can't talk to you when you're being like this. When you can apologise and speak nicely we will start again". He would sulk for a while but after a bit he would apologise and we would start over. 
When he wouldn't do something he was asked, we would withhold something he wanted to do / watch etc until he did as he was asked. 
We wanted him to realise that if he wants to do things he likes he must earn them and that includes doing as he's told. 

I think the turning point where he realised we meant business was last week when he'd been super rude and cheeky, not just to us but his Nan too which a big No as far as I'm concerned. His Nan looks after him while we are at work and I always try to explain to him just how good and helpful that is to us and he must respect that. So he kept it up all the way home in the car and I just put my foot down and said no books and no bath before bed that night , two things he loves - it would be a top to toe wash and straight in to bed. I didn't shout but I was firm and I stuck to my word. This happened 2 nights in a row and where he'd usually wear me down, this time he didn't and I think he realised we meant business. 

We firmly believe in giving him responsibilities, suitable for his age of course, so each morning and evening he must put his dirty clothes in the wash bin instead of on the floor, he must undress himself before bed and in the mornings he must open his curtains and blinds in his room.
 He'd been doing it the last few mornings but this morning it all just happened so seamlessly - he dressed himself into his school uniform without any hassle (we make it into a bit of game), he opened his blinds and curtains and went downstairs and put on his shoes, then, when asked, he proceeded to go and get his tooth brush and tooth paste himself and brush his teeth. It all just happened in a second nature kind of way, there was no asking numerous times, no one was getting annoyed - he's a bit of a messer and the master of delay tactics - but this morning it all just came together and it was wonderful!

I'm not saying it'll be this way all the time because he's still a feisty 5 year old who loves to test boundaries but if we stand firm in our instruction and expectation of him I feel like we will continue this way and just to point out that our expectation of him is not to be perfect but to be respectful and understanding. My Mum even mentioned it yesterday that he was a lot more calm and a lot less cheeky this week. 

In our experience it's about presenting a united front on this, he knows I'm the soft touch and would try and play us off against each other but when he realised we stood firm and aid the same thing, it changed things for him. 
Kids love rules and boundaries, as much as they try to push them and break them, these boundaries give them security and builds confidence and there's nothing like the pride they have in themselves when they have done as they've been asked and earned their treat. Luke loves the praise we give him and stands proud when he gets the reward, be it a treat, some screen time or a simple high five from us. 

Long may it continue....

Thursday, 6 September 2018

It Really Was A Summer Of Fun

I'm not sure how other parents working full time during the Summer months feel but in my 5 years as a parent and working a 5 day week during the Summer holidays I've put myself under immense pressure to make sure we make the most of the time off we have together and subsequently feeling like we need to compensate for not going abroad.

The mother's guilt kicks in about the boy child spending a majority of his time with his Nan while me and his Dad are at work, his Dad working 3 jobs over 7 days this Summer so a bit tougher than previous Summers.

The mother's guilt over the fact that because our jobs are seasonally busy, means Summer is the busiest time, we can't take Summer holidays during June, July and August. 

The mother's guilt that there aren't enough days out with the boy child, with either him and I or as a family of 3. 

Then there's the daughter's guilt (yes that's a thing for me now too!) that I'm asking too much of my parents, mostly my Mum as my Dad is at work, to keep the boy child entertained throughout the holidays. The pressure put on her of having an energetic 5 year old to look after 9+ hours a day 4 or 5 days a week, depending on our work patterns. 

I was browsing my photo gallery on my phone the other day though and while I thought we didn't get a chance to do much over the Summer holidays, I was mistaken. 

I have numerous pictures of afternoons and evenings on the beach thanks to the heatwave that came our way.

There was numerous play dates with his friends and ice creams a plenty.

There was spur of the moment take away suppers from the local chipper with his best friend which was a big novelty for them.

There was two different Summer camps.

There was day trips to local attractions and an abundance of trips to different playgrounds and play centres.

We got to the cinema twice when the heat became too much.

There was family fun days in local clubs that we went to, places where we always bump into someone we know.

There was quality time with his cousins, impromptu days with his Aunty and some much needed quality with his Dad's side of the family. 

I lost count of the times we'd stop off at the local strand on our way home and he would wade into the water in his clothes, going home in the back of the car wrapped up in one of my jumpers (or the spare towel when I remembered to replace it for times like these!)

There was many an evening in the garden until it got dark and movie nights were almost every night. 

Not forgetting the biggest adventure this Summer, going down town at night for the local Regatta where we watched the fire works from the roof top of the local hotel, ate chips by the pier and candy floss that made our hands all sticky, there was rides on the fun fair attractions and a flashing light saber bought that is now wedged down the side of his bed - the most exciting part of this for him was being "down town" late at night while it was dark - it's the simple things eh?!

And in the middle of all that was some chill time, days where he stayed in his pj's all day, snacked as he was hungry instead of the usual meal times, where he strolled between the house and the garden as he pleased in his bare feet with no rushing and hurrying trying to get to where we needed to be. Just the right amount of rest time for his last Summer as a care free preschooler. 

Someone said to me recently that next year now we'll have to make sure we take him away on holidays as he'll be older and all his friends will probably be going away and he can't be left out, or something along those lines but for us and I'm sure some other's that not what the Summer holidays are always about. 
Not everyone can go away on a holiday during the Summer months for many reasons whether it's financial. time restrictions due to work, illness or whatever, sometimes it's just not possible but that doesn't mean your Summer holidays were unsuccessful and I'd hate for anyone to think like this because they didn't get on a plane or stay in a hotel somewhere.

The Summer holidays for us are about letting go a bit, easing up on the routine and restrictions of the school year, it's about making the most of the nice weather and getting out and about to enjoy our surroundings, it's about taking the foot of life's accelerator for a few weeks and enjoying time with family and friends, making the most of the longer days, spending the extra hour in the garden or going for a walk on the green in the evening, having chips on the beach as our dinner and going for a 99 after.

Maybe in the coming Summers we'll manage to get away on holiday at some point and some day in the future I won't have to work a 5 day week and the OH won't be working 3 jobs but for now these are our circumstances and we make the most of them and the most important thing - we've made lots of happy memories this Summer regardless and the boy child was smiling at the end of it and really that's what matters the most.