Getting into our stride without the man of the house & ‘Under the Mountain’

Four sleeps since the man of the house went away. Four sleeps till he returns. After the initial shock, myself and the girls are now getting into our stride (with the wonderful help of our friend – and nanny – Frances – who’s been round for a good few hours most days this week). Evenings have been the toughest – as that’s the time we are all used to Dan coming home. He’s such a great, hands on Dad, that his presence was really missed on Sunday and Monday night. The girls – and I – quickly realised we’d have to do things differently (including earlier bedtimes).

So, the past two nights have been much better – and the mornings too. Charlotte is still tired with the cold/cough, but managing to make it to school. Alice’s nose is absolutely streaming and she’s still coughing – but she’s not lethargic and floppy like she was (and thankfully the UTI scare was just that – she’s all good now). I’ve had to sleep with her sat propped up in my arms, but I’m not feeling too bad for it (thanks to Frances again for coming round!).

Yesterday morning I had the chance to put the vacuum round, clean the downstairs bathroom, get a couple of loads of washing done, tidy up in the kitchen and even do a trip to the supermarket by myself (a rare treat!). I felt a lot more in control and organised after that. There is no way I could have got all that done with Sophie and Alice running around the house. Frances was a huge help in facilitating their play, responding to requests for various materials, joining in their dancing and imaginary pirate play!

In the evening I enjoyed a lovely Skype call with my folks, with Alice trying to tickle Grandma and Granddad – and turn them into ‘talking lizards’ with her magic wand! Charlotte and Sophie watched Matilda (they really like that movie).

The girls were all in bed by 8pm and I snuggled up to read Under the Mountain’ by Maurice Gee (a New Zealand classic) with Sophie. A friend had reminded me of the book – and I’d read it a long time ago. It was nice to take it off the dusty shelf, leave it out on the lounge coffee table and wait to see if it would stir any interest. Sure enough, Sophie picked it up and requested we read it. We’re taking it in turns – a page at a time. I’d forgotten what a great page turner it is! It’s set in the North Shore of Auckland around the early 1980’s and it’s really interesting to compare the many changes to how children lived then to now (the absence of technology and a lot more unsupervised freedom for the young characters is very evident).

We read till close to 10pm last night – and it’s moments like that which I really enjoy about natural learning – just going with the moment and having more opportunities to engage in something that is of interest without distraction. I’ve found great teacher notes to accompany the book too – courtesy of Penguin NZ – ‘Under the Mountain‘. Some of the activities will be of interest to my six year old – others not so (but then the book is geared for 9 to 13 year olds!).


This morning Frances has been here again, giving me a chance to put the laundry away, clean up the kitchen after breakfast and even enjoy a brief cuppa in the kitchen with my lovely neighbour. Frances has kindly taken my natural learner out to burn off some energy, whilst I’m at home with young Alice – who is now taking a snuffly nap.

Alice woke very chirpy, despite her cold, and put on her favourite music to dance around the living room (coaxing me into a morning workout too!). We’ve spent some time colouring in too – something I did a lot of as a child and still find relaxing (but my girls don’t do it nearly as much – with technology competing for their attention – along with cool graphic applications!).

I’m feeling a lot more up-beat and looking forward to Dan’s return on Monday morning, as well as kissing these colds good-bye and getting back to normal energy levels! Sophie hasn’t had much of a chance to get out with her natural learner friends – but thankfully Frances looks after a lovely girl from a local school, who is of a similar age to Sophie, and they have a play date planned for today! They get on really well. They played together on Monday after school too.

I’m heading off to pick up my school girl later – and her friend. They are going to enjoy a science fiction play-date – as both Dr Who fanatics!

So, we’re getting there… only a few more days and we’ll be back to normal.

I’ve learned a lot this week – and the girls have too. It’s been good for us really – and we’ll be much better prepared next time Dan has to go away.