How is it suddenly the Easter holidays? Every week I start the week with great intentions with a plan of what I want to write about and then before I realise it, the weekend has come round again, and nothing has been posted. We’ve been doing our usual juggling act of the school holidays and work but looking round today it occurred to me that I’d spent all my planning time on birthday parties and none on Easter itself. We’re not religious particularly in our family but I do love to gather everyone together for a good feast. Once again we are headed for M’s parents so I am going to try and gather the whole extended family for some outdoor activities, which will of course have to include what is now our annual egg hunt.

I bought Pip and her cousin the little rabbit bags and we also bought them vintage cardboard egg cases in which we hide smaller eggs (note to self, need to obtain one for Buster) but you of course do not need anything special, as you can see, my niece happily used the striped paper bag that some of the eggs came in as her collection basket last year. A fun activity beforehand could be decorating a little basket with ribbons and little chicks and so on which would make fun and darling photos, but of course is not necessary. All you really need is a few kid free minutes and some wrapped eggs of different sizes. I love that these hunts can be as elaborate or elongated as desired. And even inside as necessary dictated by our glorious English weather…

The Little Pip | Easter Egg Hunt

The Little Pip | Easter Egg Hunt

We often seem to end up using Easter as a recuperation time but if the last couple of years have taught me anything, it is that children want more excitement and anything that is easy to set up but has maximum impact for the kids always goes down well. I’ve also been a little influenced by our continental and scandi friends who seem to know how to infuse Easter traditions with tasteful activities and decorations. We’ve been in Copenhagen this week and everyone seems to be participating in a way that we don’t at home.

I absolutely loved this daffodil roof that we saw at Tivoli yesterday, with Easter Eggs and bows, and olive trees hung with eggs, that it inspired me to give some Easter decorations a go when we get home, and also to be bolder with our egg hunt than simply perching eggs in nooks of trees or balanced on window ledges around the garden.

Last year, we also did a lovely Easter Egg hunt at a National Trust property nearby, which Pip loved, so we will probably try and repeat that if we have nice weather on Good Friday… and which I thoroughly recommend if you have such a thing nearby and want a day out which isn’t too taxing. Pip and her Granddad thoroughly enjoyed following all the clues round the park, doing the challenges and solving the puzzle. Last year I literally waddled round at 39 weeks pregnant: this year, baby Buster will toddle round behind her.

And a couple of tips which might be particularly handy if you have a group of children of varying ages, to ensure the older ones don’t just capture all the eggs:

  • You could plan an egg hunt with a series of clues leading to each egg in turn. It would take a bit more upfront planning but we did it one year and the kids really enjoyed the clue solving element, and also adds length to the timings if you want to string out the activity somewhat.
  • Eggs by colour or style – you can allocate a type to each child and hide according to age. Anything to stop them all spying the same egg at once!
  • Hiding according to child height

Enjoy! I’m hoping to be back soon with some of the posts I’ve had in draft for weeks, and also some of our latest trips to Cornwall and Copenhagen. Happy Easter!

Nearly every day there is a new note in Pip’s school bag. Whilst we do have snazzy apps and tech to keep in touch with the school, like Classlist, and GroupCall somehow the paper in the book bag method pervades. The latest in a long line of health related information has been about the NHS National Child Measurement Programme. Excitingly data is collected from all reception children unless they opt out because:

About one in five children in Reception are overweight or obese, rising to one in three in Year Six. Because the number of children being overweight has gradually increased, we have slowly become used to it. It can be difficult to tell if your child is overweight as they may look similar to other children of their age. By recording their measurements, we can get an accurate measure.

Research shows that if your child is overweight now, they are more likely to be overweight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life. This measurement is an important way of checking how your child is growing.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but it did surprise me that at Pip’s school, they don’t do PE classes in reception. I asked about kit at the beginning of the year and was really taken aback to find that as they are not required to do it, they don’t offer it. When I read that “as a result of extensive independent research commissioned by ESP Play and carried out by Liverpool John Moores University, the average amount of physical activity taking place during PE lessons was remarkably low” I didn’t feel so bad though. The report demonstrated that “68% of a child’s PE lesson is spent stationary”  which seems rather high but then I remembered watching Pip’s gymnastics classes and skiing classes where a proportion of the class is spent queuing for a turn.

I don’t worry about Pip specifically, because she does do ballet (which is active) and gymnastics (semi active) and scoots everywhere (full on active), and spends all playtimes hanging off monkey bars or racing around, but (playground aside) those activities are not just expensive but the logistics of them and work is enough that I can quite see why they are an easy to avoid unnecessary complication in many family’s lives.

Is there an answer? Pip’s school seems to think so – all of the HSA fundraising that we do is going towards building a new playground which will include treetop houses, raised walkways, quiet relaxing areas and all sorts of ideas to get all sorts of children active, cementing the school’s forest school status, and bringing opportunity for physical exercise and interaction to all the children. Which is why I found the time to help (wo)man the bar the other week at an event, and the inclination to make costumes and support fundraising activities – so that all of the children will get increased opportunity, not just the ones who have parents able to pay for extra classes.

Collaborative post

What a difference a year makes… These photos were taken a year apart at work conferences – on the left I am heavily pregnant, on the right, a month back into the swing of a full time job after my second maternity leave. Sadly the necklace on the left is no longer, after the baby finally succeeded in breaking it free from my neck. I was wearing it when he was born and he took great pleasure in grabbing, growing slowly stronger until the day when he finally destroyed it. But I digress…

Things have been super busy round here. I kept toying with the idea of requesting some flexible working when I returned to work and I just kept putting it off. I felt like it would be my responsibility to find a solution to find someone to cover the extra work, or I’d end up doing 5 days work in 4 days, but not being paid and so I returned full time in January when Buster was 8 and half months old. Things have obviously been quieter round here as I got used to being back at work and juggling childcare commitments, alongside being a wife and a friend and an upstanding member of the PTA with cake sales and promise auctions and car boot sales to organise, and then work pressures have built up, and I’ve been staying late where possible, and going in early every morning, and then came the evening events, and it was on the bus home last night after the second evening out at International Women’s Day events, and I realised I’d spent about 30 minutes with the children all week, and even though I’d managed the school run on Wednesday as per my slightly shifted hours agreement once a week, the balance still isn’t quite right.

And yet, I don’t know what the answer is, either. I love my job. I get to write about interesting stuff (and even make the cross over between this blog life and work blog life because my connections are intertwined. About the only thing I can confidently list as a skill is networking, connecting and joining up people, so it is no surprise to me that I can connect with people in a professional capacity that I met whilst in my wedding blogging era, or that I can write things about flex, baby, for my work blog after meeting Anna in the cafe at the V&A back before she was on panels at feminist things.) I like volunteering at the school, being on the PTA, getting involved with the school community and so on. But I also love my kids, and surely even an event with the Lord Chancellor isn’t worth missing bedtime for. Or is it?

Is flexible working the answer? Maybe… would working from home more often help. I don’t know. I feel like my contribution to the #beboldforchange campaign is to raise this, and try and work out how to address this disconnect. Because I can’t be the only one questioning it.  I wouldn’t go so far as the doctor who thinks she isn’t doing a good job at either being a mother or a doctor because I’m actually on my good days pretty confident that I am doing just fine as a parent, and an employee, but perhaps that is because I’ve deliberately stepped away from my previous role as a solicitor and took a conscious step a few years ago to seek something less stressful whilst I had young children. But seeing as I’ve now had my last pregnancy (I think!) I technically don’t need to remain in a junior, less stressful role for more than the next couple of years. Giving up work for the next couple of years is also something I could never contemplate, for many many reasons. Not just for me but for the example I set for my children, not least of which is that earning money is both a male and female responsibility and opportunity. It hasn’t escaped my attention either that Buster loves nursery, is progressing much faster because of his social interactions – how much good nursery did Pip and how well she settled into school. Neither of us see childcare as purely necessary so we can work; to a decent degree, I work so that I can afford to pay for it, as well as working so that I can have half a chance of having a fulfilling future career by not doing irreparable damage by stepping off the ladder altogether.

Last night I sat with a room full of other women in law and listened to Liz Truss calling for more senior women in law to make themselves visible, to be role models, to tell their stories. She asked for senior women including judges to remember that as long as they aren’t discussing their cases or their clients, they can speak publicly about their job and their history, their story, their experiences. And I got thinking that perhaps it is not just senior women that need to do this – we need role models of all generations and experiences, that we can relate to now, not in 30 years time. Not that I am saying I am a role model, of course, just that this is what I am up to, and how whilst I am happy with each individual decision, the whole answer seems to not quite work, and if I’m questioning things I am sure others are too. There is not a straightforward answer mind you, of course there isn’t, or we’d all have shut up about this long along. But whilst it probably doesn’t achieve anything other than adding more noise to the conversation, somehow, just sharing seems to help.