Parenting: What really matters on Mother’s Day?

The  history of Mother’s Day is somewhat convoluted in the UK with many differing opinions.  Some sources say that it is the day that one should return to your home or ‘mother’ church, others  say that it  is a day to honour the Virgin Mary, whilst there is also the popular view that it’s really a day to buy your Mother gifts of appreciation. 

Marketing has  been pushing the term ‘Mother’s Day’ but in Britain (for whatever the purpose) it is more traditional to celebrate ‘Mothering Sunday’. This is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent – marking a respite within a time that is usually reserved for austerity. 

When I was small my parents decreed that Father’s day was too commercial (this may have been to do with my Dad disliking presents) but Mothering Sunday was always given heed. As church goers we had an easy gift,  as there was always an opportunity within the service to go collect a small posy and to deliver it to Mum. I think we were likely to buy cards (or rather I would buy a card and my brother would sign it) – but now I’m a Mother myself, I wonder if there’s really much in receiving a card like this.Read More »Parenting: What really matters on Mother’s Day?

The Philosophy series: The Epictetus edition

Today we continue with the Philosophy series – asking what wisdom the second century C.E. philosopher, Epictetus can impart to parents today. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking a lot about returning to work but I think that he has provided a way to look at the world a little differently.

Epictetus based his work on the philosophy of early Stoics – think logic, physics, and ethics – but the teaching we can draw on today (the Discources and the Handbook) largely focus on ethics. The ultimate aim of a Stoic teacher was to help his students reach eudaemonia (happiness). Given that happiness is a good goal to hold both as a parent and individual, I don’t think it’s a bad pursuit.Read More »The Philosophy series: The Epictetus edition

Things to consider when scheduling children's activities

Parenting: Scheduling children’s activities

A question I often ponder is how much I should schedule Katie’s life -or indeed whether she is over scheduled! As I cajole her to get ready for one activity or another, I often wonder why I bother when she would rather stay home and watch CBeebies.

Last summer, as I embarked on maternity leave with Thomas, I realised aside from having a new brother, Katie’s biggest adjustment would be not having full time nursery care. As Mike and I work full-time, Katie had been in nursery five days a week, often from 8am until 5pm. Aside from having a whole heap of children to play with, this also meant that she was used to a lot of organised activity.

Super-Mum I am not. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to match the speed at which Katie had moved from activity to activity, nor did I have the ability to provide the same range. Aside from anything else – I don’t have soft play in my house!

But I also was faced with a big question. Is this much scheduled activity actually a good thing? It struck me that there’s some key things to consider:Read More »Parenting: Scheduling children’s activities

The Philosophy Series: The Seneca addition

This time of year is naturally all about resolutions.  Whether your aim is to lose weight, read more, laugh more, or even continue your life without any new goals, I believe that Seneca can give pause for thought.

Seneca was a Roman Philosopher in the 1st century, who identified anger as a serious problem in the Roman empire and aimed to try to remedy this issue. He had good reason, given he worked for the notoriously mental emperor Nero. That said, anger can be an issue for many people on different levels today too. Sometimes it may be as mild as a simple irritation or perhaps a resentment over something – either way, it’s rarely a positive feeling.  Seneca offered a rather simple solution to dealing with it…

Read More »The Philosophy Series: The Seneca addition

Conversations with Katie (aged 3)

I am feeling incredibly blessed to be having time away from work, not only to look after Thomas but to be able to see Katie grow too. I’m very conscious that both of the kids will have to be in full-time childcare and that I will miss so much. I’m just trying to soak up every minute that I can and not be too sad at what I will be missing in the future.

Katie is a little chatterbox and I love the snippets that she comes out with. I often have no idea where her imagination has picked them up from but there’s certainly variety. Here are a few of my favourites from the past few weeks that I don’t want to forget:Read More »Conversations with Katie (aged 3)

The Philosophy Series: Epicurus edition

Epicurus was a 3rd century Greek Philosopher who is interesting purely because of the way that his ideas have pervaded philosophy throughout the ages. Only small fragments of his writings have made it through the channel of history, yet we know quite a lot about his life and his ideas because of his influence on others.

Epicurus is our philosopher for Christmas because he spent much of his life considering what it meant to be happy. He believed that we should not feel bad about our own happiness and indeed that we should chase the things that give us pleasure. Whilst that may conjure ideas of great feasts, flowing gin and tonic and piles of new books – he actually followed a very simple life, supping on water, bread, and a few olives.Read More »The Philosophy Series: Epicurus edition

The Philosophy series: David Hume edition

An old school friend of mine posted on Facebook that her five year-old had recently posed the question, ‘How did the first person get on this world? There wouldn’t have been anyone for them to be born from.’

Whilst I  found the question amusing, my response was definitely that of a philosophy teacher:

‘David Hume would say that she’s only looking for a first cause because it’s emotionally reassuring, and that you should tell her that ‘instances of which we have had no experience need not resemble those of which we have had experience…’ The existence of man may just be ‘brute fact’.

I was initially worried that my response was overly convoluted but I needn’t have worried as my friend’s response was additionally thought provoking –  pondering the question of why children ask some questions and of course, the observation that they are rarely governed by reason!

It struck me that a number of the philosophers that I talk about in the classroom are applicable to the world of parenting and that it would be interesting to consider what advice they may give – so let’s begin with Hume:Read More »The Philosophy series: David Hume edition

Parenting: gender stereotyping

I have massive issues with the vast majority of marketing aimed at parents today. Any parent who has tried to find something remotely gender neutral in a typical high street store will surely understand my concern.  If you have a boy, then expect him to be dressed in blue, grey or brown garments adorned with dinosaurs or digger trucks. He will play with toy cars or trains, and if he goes against the grain and displays imagination, you can provide him with a toy tool kit.

At the other end of the spectrum, a girl will be typically be dressed in pink or lilac. If other colours are included, then it will probably have some kind of lovely animal or bird on it. Nothing with sharp teeth. Her toys will be dolls, cooking equipment or creative materials involving glitter. If, heaven forbid she picks up something blue or resembling a mode of transport, expect the question – ‘Oh, is she a Tomboy?’ As if choosing something not marketed towards girls somehow renders her masculine.

Read More »Parenting: gender stereotyping