Category Archives: Parenthood

A Parent’s Guide to Changing Schools

changing schools

Changing your child’s school can be one of the most difficult experiences a parent can go through, and stands up there amongst sending kids on their first date, leaving them at nursery for the first time, deciding on the right school…you get the drill.

It’s not that deep down you don’t know that things will probably be okay. But as you send them out there into the uknown- knowing that walking into their new classroom their heart is in their stomach, it’s so hard to feel reassured.

Whatever your motivation for moving your child,  – moving house, bullying, academia, a closer school- the initial transition can always feel difficult.

I did that recently- moved my 6 year old from one school to another. Not because I moved house but for a myriad of reasons- reasons she’s probably too young to understand. She was happy where she was. But we moved her. And she’s spent nearly four months adjusting to her new school. And it was stressful. And hard. And, at times we as parents felt like we’d made the wrong decision.

We’re just finally coming out of what we feel has been the most difficult stage of her transition. She’s sensitive and I knew it would be hard adjusting to change.  She struggles with the ‘what ifs?’ and it’s definitely taken a knock to her confidence.

But the best part is, she’s learned a lot about herself and we (she and I) talk a lot. If there is one thing that I hope continues it’s that she knows she’s got an open door to come to me about anything.

We don’t regret it because  the school is pushing her to explore depths of talent even she didn’t know she had. And that’s a good thing. But also uncomfortable.

Staying was easy. Staying was comfortable. But we knew it would only get harder as she grew up. Not underestimating the 3 years she’d already spent at the school (enough time to form some deep friendships), we knew she’d have four more years to make new friends. And we make sure we keep in contact with old ones.

She still has good days and bad. And sometimes she goes into that place where she says she has no friends but we both know that’s untrue and I’ve found it helpful not to let her go there- even if she wants to.

Having come through the experience on the other end and for those parents that may be contemplating change over the summer, here are a few things to consider before moving your child.

  1. Make sure (if you can) to keep up old friendships. It’s important. Just like we, as adults, wouldn’t just cut off old friendships just because we move jobs or move house, we shouldn’t expect this of our children, just because we’re the ones in control of whether they see them or not. We live in an era of Skype, FaceTime, even phone calls if you don’t live local. It’s easy to keep in touch and important for your child to know that they’ve not been forgotten and that they can see and visit their friends.

2) Open communication. This has been one of the best things that has helped my daughter. She’s been able to share her concerns, her worries and all the questions she has about her new school. One of her worries was whether some of her classmates would be kind to her. We talked this through, exploring whether there are some kids in her current class that are nice and some that may not always be and that this will be the same wherever you go. But reassure them that most people are kind when they first meet somebody, wouldn’t she be?

3) Consult with your children but don’t let them decide. Moving our daughter was a huge decision for us and one that we mulled over for awhile having tried different things to work with the school she was at and see if there were ways that we could get from it what we wanted. When we didn’t see that happening, we felt more and more drawn to this new school. Some of the reasons we couldn’t always share with her as they were about things she may not have always understood- long term vision, bigger picture as a family etc. Children think in terms of the short term and their immediate situation. We did share with her slowly some of the reasons but left it open for her to see some of the advantages herself as well. We talked with her at every step of the process getting her ready but ultimately it was our decision as parents.

4) Attitude (yours as well as theirs). The day I stopped feeling sorry for my daughter was the day that she stopped crying. It’s fine to have sympathy but let’s talk about the energy that we’re putting out into the world. Children are smart and will pick up on the attention they get because they make a fuss every morning. That’s not to say their feelings aren’t real. But I remember about 6 weeks in after a couple of weeks of crying every morning but happy faces when I picked her up, I knew she was generally okay. We had a chat about being brave and deciding that this was going to be a good day. It was. And it marked a shift in how she went in. Share your child’s feelings but don’t become so bogged down in being empathetic that you’re both just wallowing in regret and sadness.

5) Do a taster session beyond just a visit. One of the best things we as parents requested of the new school was for our daughter to spend a morning or a day with her new classmates and teacher. This was groundbreaking in that our daughter was able to see that the children were normal (not scary and mean), the teacher was kind and that it was in fact, very similar to what her current classroom was like. Knowing this before the big first day really helps to take away the fear of the unknown.

6) Celebrate the positives when they happen. When new achievements, friends, trips or opportunities happen at the new school, celebrate these and empathise to your child how they might never have had that experience if they hadn’t moved. Our child started a new term in January when the whole school was immersed in a Shakespeare production. My daughter loves performing and was given a lead role in the play. Having this to work towards and to be given such a fantastic starring role was incredibly motivating and a boost to her confidence.

7) Try to make playdates with new school mates to speed up the settling in process and foster tighter bonds- even if it’s just between a couple of new friends. Friends- new and old- will always be the main concern for your child at their new school. Whether they have any, whether they will lose their old ones etc.

The sooner you can solve this issue, the sooner things will settle down. Try to make friendships with some of the other parents and suggest a playdate. It also helps you, as a parent, to form a community and to feel more settled into your child’s new school.

Starting at a new school is hard no matter what. With awareness of what to look out for and how to help the transition become easier, you can weather even the hardest of moves. Change doesn’t have to come at a price.

For more from Mixed.Up.Mama parenting resources, find out Why Walking to School is So Important

Interracial Relationship10 Things Every Parent Should Do When Raising Mixed Race Kids10 Best extracurricular activities for raising successful kidsTalking to children about Racism

SICK KIDS?… HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR SANITY

Sick kids?

Our whole house has been hit with sickness and flu these past two weeks. First it was my youngest two and now, me.

I don’t normally get sick. In fact, I usually manage to avoid it. And yet, even with me being able to stay healthy for most of it, the past two weeks have nearly driven me insane.

I’m pleased to say, though, I think we’re coming out of the worst of it and I’ve learned some things that I think I can pass on to make sure other Mums don’t make the same mistakes as me.

Here are 6 tips for maintaining your sanity when your little ones are sick.

  1. Get out of the house! It’s tempting to stay at home all day everyday until the kids get better for fear they’ll get worse if you expose them to the cold outside. But honestly, my only saving grace was being forced to get out to do the school run for my oldest. The girls liked getting out of the house and though I didn’t keep them out too long, I think their sinuses appreciated the fresh air.
  2. Don’t feel guilty about putting on the tele… When you don’t know how long your kids are going to be sick, you may start out all gung-ho with arts and crafts at the ready, play doh, baking and games. But it will take its toll. In between the whining and clinginess, you’ll just need a break from it all and putting on the tele is the easiest way to catch a break. Do what you need to do get through this and don’t feel guilty!
  3. Leave the cleaning and laundry. Trust me you’ll need every last ounce of energy and patience to deal with two whiny babies so don’t waste it all on cleaning. There’s nobody around to see it anyway.
  4. Arrange playdates at yours. Once the kids aren’t contagious anymore, it’s important that you (and your kids) don’t go insane being around each other all day everyday. Arrange a playdate at yours with one of your child’s friends and their mum. You’ll need the adult conversation just as much as they’ll need the playtime and seeing other children. Just make sure you remember number 3 above! Otherwise, it’s counter intuitive.
  5. Make them sleep! No matter what age they are or how long they’ve been out of napping, when kids are feeling under the weather, they need to sleep. Even if they refuse to sleep, Insist on some ‘rest time’ that means they have to lie in their beds at least for a half an hour. It buys you some time but more often than not, they do fall asleep.
  6. Take advantage of weekends when your partner is home. Let your spouse take over when they’re home. They can help in so many ways and help save your sanity. Even if it’s just to take over the cuddling.
  7. Don’t skip your morning coffee! Coming from experience, you’re going to need this so make sure you get it in early so you can face the rest of the day.

Why #royalwedding2018 Was So Important for our Black or Mixed Race Children

Tale of a Mixed Race Royal Wedding

There has been a lot written about the royal wedding since it aired on over 30 million television sets across the globe. Most of it is positive- even dramatically praiseworthy. Meghan’s dress, her poise, Harry’s nervousness, Prince Charles walking Meghan down the aisle and of course, who could forget Rev Curry’s poignant yet dramatic address. The day was filled with elegance and style but perfectly choreographed to pay homage to both sets of cultures uniting as one.

I watched William and Kate’s wedding with interest seven years ago, having never watched the amazing performance the Royal machine puts on during one of these affairs.

And yet, this one stood out, not just because it incorporated the same pomp and performance that is behind all of the Royal Family events. But because of who it involved.

These six images below captivated my little ones’ faces.

For the same cliche reasons that many black Americans and Brits have been going on about. Let it not be overstated. This was history in the making.

And representation matters. Meghan shook up an establishment that is centuries’ old where black faces are/were rarely seen. (“They were coming out of every stockroom the BBC could find!”- one of my family members joked.)

And to have so many front and centre- to see a ‘princess’ (and I say this knowing that she will not officially get the title) who is biracial and PROUD! marrying into such an old, white and stodgy establishment. Well, what an absolute mind blower.

I cried and laughed for the same reasons  that most others did watching. But I also cried for my children- because IF this is how the Royal Family wish to go forward, they have made a statement of intention that is both progressive and welcome.

Our children will grow up knowing and seeing a woman part of the royal family who is a feminist, an ambassador for growing up mixed race, proud of her black roots and most of all, willing and able to push against even the most stubborn of barriers.

It was a day that will go down in the history books and one that I’m certain my three daughters won’t forget. When they looked at Meghan and commented, “she’s mixed like ME!”, I knew it was a moment to remember….

Next step is for Meghan to wear her curly hair natural!

If you’re wondering whether multiracial families are the new ‘normal’, read on…

 

17 Signs You’re Planning to Have More Kids

Family Planning Getting You Down?

A lot of Mums these days are able to definitively say “I’m done”- after having their first, second or even fifth child. If you’ve never had that feeling and you’re undecided about whether you might have another one, there are some telltale signs you probably will go for the third…

If you’ve said yes to five or more of these, you might as well keep your old baby clothes!

  1. You’re still hanging on to your now 4 year old’s onesie.
  2. You have all girls but you find yourself reading the brochure about circumcision in your doctor’s waiting room.
  3. Your youngest is a boy but you insist on buying neutral everything.
  4. Your husband’s suggestion he get a vasectomy falls on deaf ears.
  5. When looking for houses, the ‘spare’ bedroom is secretly you’re future child’s.
  6. You can take the sleepless nights because you’re resigned you’ll do it differently next time.
  7. You love playdates and lift shares because you get to practice handling more.
  8. You’re not all that fussed about losing all the baby weight because you know you’ll just pack it on again for the next one.
  9. You still track your ovulation cycle obsessively ‘just in case’ you organise a romantic night in.
  10. The first set of school fees shock you because you’ve already multiplied it times 3 in your head.
  11. You make sure you don’t use all your favourite names for your first child ‘just in case’.
  12. You make sure you don’t reveal to friends and family what the other contenders were for baby names ‘just in case’.
  13. You turn into a sloppy puppy every time you see or hold a newborn.
  14. You recite in your head your kids’ and ‘future kids’ names to see if they go together ‘just in case’.
  15. You drop not-so-subtle hints to your hubby about ‘if’ we were ever to have another one, I would definitely do….
  16. You buy a people carrier when you a sedan will actually do.
  17. Finally, you notice how helpful your kids are when it comes to little babies. Who wouldn’t want another one?!

 

 

 

Tips for parents thinking about Child Modelling

Thinking about child modelling?

Did you know the most googled parenting topic is child modelling? That means every other mother and father next to you also secretly thinks their kid is the cutest kid out there and needs to be seen.

With mixed kids, the look is unique and online retailers are increasingly realising their advertising should reflect the world their customers live in. Children and babies litter online and retail advertising.  So inevitably, child models of colour have been included in their search.

I have been meaning to write this post for a while to shed some light on these elusive but highly sought-after opportunities that many parents might hope (secretly or otherwise) their kids could land.

I say secretly, because there are many dilemmas that parents will go through thinking about child modeling and its impact on their kids, what it means in our society and what we are teaching them by suggesting that looks matter. On the other hand, it can offer opportunities for children to save towards their futures and it can be (not always though) a glamorous, enjoyable scene for children. As long as it’s genuinely the child who wants to do it.

Many children, my oldest included, enjoy being in the spotlight. They love being filmed, photographed and performing and even love trying on different clothing. I never engendered that into my dd1, it’s just the way she is. And so, it may not seem far-fetched to try your luck and see if child modeling is for them.

Of course, it’s not always so glamorous for parents. It takes time getting to and from castings and making sure there is childcare for siblings- often at the last minute. Although agencies and clients will try to schedule these out of school hours, it can still be a big commitment to travel across the city with only a day’s notice straight from school.

It’s not just cherubic looks that can score your darlings a paid gig, companies will have set criteria for what they are looking for- ranging in age range, different races, ginger hair, blonde hair, black hair or curly hair, the list goes on. If your little one is not what they are looking for, no matter how cute they are, they are not going to be called back.

So auditions or castings, as they call it, can be disappointing. Agencies will call you and say a particular company is interested. You need to show up, take a few photos and it may turn out that your child is not what they are looking for. You don’t get compensation for those hours of travelling to and from different auditions.

So what about the money? Earnings for babies and tots begins at about £50 an hour (or £300 per day) and rises with age to about £70 an hour for a 16-year-old. Money must be put into an account in the child’s name or in a trust fund for the child so forget about that dream home. Laws ensure the money is for the child. It can be a perfect opportunity to teach your child about the value of money and that earning can be fun.

Knowing that child modeling is not as easy as it may appear, you should also know it’s not always as glamorous either. Child models also need the right temperament to cope with the camera. A friend of mine recently told me about her experience on the client side working for a PR agency that had requested child models for their advertising. The shoot was going well but, inevitably, a 4-year-old girl began to fuss about wearing glasses. Although photographers, agency reps and the girl in question were all familiar with and understanding of the challenges that go along with working with children, at the end of the day, the job needs to get done. Luckily, the child’s parent stepped in and declared she’d had enough. This parent knew that the priority for her was that her daughter continued to enjoy it. As soon as it became a chore, she called it quits.

And that’s the most important thing to remember. If your child loves performing and has a cute face to go with it, being in front of the camera for a couple of hours may be something you’d like to try out. Just make sure it’s for them, not you.

For more parenting tips and shares, read on about Teaching Our Children to Manage Their Emotions.