Win The Battle – Lose the Armour

Summer 3

When we heard that we got our first choice school our family and friends were delighted.

I was numb. 

My reaction, “Great, I can now picture where I’ll be dropping my screaming child off. I hope there’s a nurturing person there that will peel him off me and give him a cuddle.”

Lots of people reassured me and I had the usual comment of “He’ll be fine”.  Maybe he will be this time, but maybe he won’t so I’ve been able to think about what I might do if he’s not.

I really thought I would feel better about sending him to school a year later but the reality was I was in a worst position.

I had scars.

The fights you fight for your child leaves scars.

My scars were talking.

My scars were teaching me to be wary, to be defensive, and to be ready for the next fight.

I’d been fighting and defending him for so long that I was constantly ready to attack.  When I realised this I decided I needed to get off the battlefield, smell some flowers and look at all that could be.

It was stealing me from the future.  School might be a place where:

  • My son grows and learns
  • His teacher is lovely and likes him
  • He makes lifelong friends
  • He becomes part of a community where he can make a difference
  • He learns things he’s never leant before
  • I might make new friends and our family might become part of a new community

He might laugh his head off, run to school, win an award, be part of a sports team or get a part in a school play.

For the last year the school has been the enemy, I’m still not happy with everything. I don’t think early years should have homework, I think they still start school too young but if I am choosing (and it is a choice) to educate my child in the UK under my local education system then they can no longer be my enemy.

I am not saying there won’t be other battles to fight. I am a lioness and I will protect my cubs.  But my current attitude is damaging…is damaging me actually.

Just me for now.

Although I am full of dread I am very positive about school to my son but currently my scars are talking.  So, it’s time to have a word with them:

A little note to my scars:

Thank you dear scars for fighting, for risking, for going against the flow.  You did it out of pure love for your child, a selfless act that other’s rarely understood. You stood tall, risked looking foolish and embraced the repercussions of such a decision. We are beyond grateful for your strength. But it is now time to stand down. Rest yourself, bask in the knowledge that you did it, you won. X x x

Today is a new day.

I choose to be excited.

I also know that on his first day of school I’ll still be in tears but I own them, they are mine and they are about me, his mum losing a little bit more of my baby. There is no other woman in the world that deserves to stand at those gates crying for that boy. That is my role. And I’ll do that with pride.

Over to you!

What dilemmas have you got about your family? Maybe you’ve found me because you too are wondering whether to delay your summer born.  Maybe you are thinking about home schooling.  Maybe you want to go back to work or just have some more time to yourself.

I can help you.

I am a Coach.

And if you are struggling with this issue or other parenting dilemmas a Clarity Call with me will help you and here’s why:

  • As you can see I truly know what it’s like to have parenting dilemmas. My role as a coach is not to tell you how I did it or tell you how you need to do it. But my experiences make my compassion for you strong. I will listen with an open heart. You will be heard.
  • I am not connected to your everyday life, although we will become connected. I don’t judge and my only agenda is to provide you with a safe speaking place so you can be empowered to make your own decisions.
  • I will be curious about what is going on in your life and help you work out what you need to do and then together we will come up with an action plan.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had decided what you needed to do AND you had a clear way of making that happen?

Free! Empowered! Excited! Relieved!

If you work with me this is what will happen.

What next?

All you need to do is email me at contact@nicolahughes.co.uk to book your Clarity Call.

Thanks for listening to my story, I’m waiting to hear about yours.

Much love

Nicola  x x

http://www.nicolacoaches.co.uk

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The Fight

Summer 2

This time last year we knew which school we were taking our first born child to.

He was 3.

He wasn’t toilet trained and he hated being a part from me (he’d never left my side when we went to play gyms and only occasionally at play groups, he even followed me to the toilet at friends’ houses and had a hissy fit if I snuck away for a wee!!)

“He’ll be fine!” Was the reply most people gave me.

I honestly didn’t think I had a choice, I was just going to have to turn up and hope some kind person would peel him off me and I’d run away sobbing. I was terrified. Meanwhile everyone put it down to me being an anxious mum or overprotective and message kept ringing out.

“He’ll be fine!”

Somehow I discovered the Facebook group “Flexible Admissions for Summer Borns”. The people on here literally saved my sanity and gave me the strength to accept he wouldn’t be fine.

When I took ownership the problem I was able to find a solution.

We decided to fight the long and unknown battle to delay his entry to school. You are allowed to send your child to school the term after they turn 5 (CSA – Compulsary School Age) but for my child that would mean missing the whole of reception and I wanted him to have a full education-just not yet. So I fought for entry into reception at CSA.  This involves filling in a form and sending evidence to the LEA of why you want your child to be delayed.  For the record we didn’t believe we were delaying him or keeping him behind we believed he would be going with his correct cohort as he was a late August born. Born a few weeks later this wouldn’t be an issue.  But for the sake of using the correct terms in the process we were delaying him.

We were very fortunate that the head teacher and early years staff of the school we had a place at were all very supportive of whatever we wanted to do. They would support our application or they would support our son in school.

I love my children but half the time I’m not sure how good I am at parenting two children at the same time and having a 1 and 3 year old was proving tough. The thought of having them both at home for the next year was awful.  Plus the cost of an extra years childcare and finding a new pre school seemed all too much.  I was reminded that this decision was nothing to do with what was best for me or what I wanted but what my son needed.  I realised that giving him an extra year at home could quite possibly be the best gift ever. (Someone please direct him here when he’s 16 and hates me because he’s got an extra year at school to do!!!)

After two weeks of deliberating, crying, worrying, not knowing what the heck to do. We made the decision to delay him.

And so the fight began

His current Pre school didn’t support us, they said educationally he was at the right level.  They failed to see him as a whole person, they failed to see that emotionally and physically he wasn’t ready.  I was devastated.

Health professionals wouldn’t support us.  Their role was to support children in school, so if they supported our application they were saying they couldn’t do their job

Some friends and many acquaintances thought we were nuts and we had several conversations that felt we were having to defend ourselves.  We were prepared to do this as we believed people needed to understand what we were doing but also the issue was rarely talked about and I wanted others to know what was possible.  But it was exhausting.

It’s a very emotive subject. Many people we spoke to had summer borns in school or had been summer borns themselves and they were fine. I wondered if people felt like we were judging them for their decision. I was so overwhelmed with our unfolding story that I didn’t have time to judge others. We made our decision based on what we thought was right for our child. It was exhausting.

We had a tough decision to make because we wouldn’t know if we’d been successful until December. If we didn’t win he’d have to join school in January or go straight into Year one in September.  It felt like a massive risk but we decided to cross the bridge we were at. He wasn’t ready for school now.  Holding all this in our mind and not knowing the outcome until December ..was exhausting.

One of the hardest things about this was trying to prove to strangers errr I mean professionals that this was in his best interest. When he was a new born I was told by several professionals that “Mummy knows best”. When did that change?  In the last 3 years apparently I know best. And it’s taken me about 3 years and another child to realise that heck yes, I do know best about my child.

Only for it to be taken away from me.

I had a horrid fight with his previous pre-school asking for their support and I actually got the opposite. She said if she was asked then she would have to disagree with me, he was ready. I remember saying to her that she didn’t even know him and had never taught him she was just the poor soul that had been chosen to speak to me (probably because no one else dared!!)

How on earth could a stranger choose his fate?

How on earth could anyone challenge what I know about my son?

Had he been permanently attached to their sides?

Had they watched him meet all his milestones much slower than everyone else?

Did they live with this sensitive and emotional little soul?

The application was written and it was time to wait.

3 professionals would be given our report and they would make a decision.  We were invited to a panel in December to ask and answer questions regarding this. Once we’d submitted the report we were able to get on with living our lives and our mantra really was, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”  However, the week before panel I wasn’t sleeping, I was having panic attacks and generally feeling pretty awful.

Head of admissions phoned me a few days before the panel,

“You need to hear what I am saying, 3 professionals (including an educational psychologist) have read your report and have all unanimously agreed that your son needs another year at home, you don’t have to come to panel. Do you understand what I am saying? They agree with you!”

She really understood what we had been through and wanted to make it clear that my fight was worth it. I am so grateful that she took the time to speak to me.

Leeds LEA are unusual actually. Many LEA’s do not support parent’s wishes to delay and this is a massive issue we are fighting in government at the moment.  If you do get agreement you need to get the head teachers permission of the school you want to go to and many many head teachers do not give their consent.  My story has been a nightmare but there are other parents going through this who have had bigger battles to fight.

But that day we celebrated.

All was left was to start the process of applying for schools all over again and hope we got back into our original school!!!

Don’t go anywhere, Part 3 explains how I got over all of this and how I can help you.

Much love

Nicola xx

http://www.nicolacoaches.co.uk

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What if it’s Not Okay?

Summer 1

Ever been really worried about something and your lovely friends tell you not to worry and that it will all be fine?

I am assuming that this happens to you a lot. I’m also assuming that you say it to your worried friends and I’m also admitting that I’ve said it too.

So there is no judgement in this blog.

We all say it!

Did you realise telling someone not to worry and that it will be fine is disempowering?

We think we are being kind and caring but actually we are minimising their experience of this problem.

Here’s a question:

What if it’s not ok?

What if you tell your friend not to worry about her biopsy and it turns out she has aggressive cancer?

What if you tell your colleague not to worry about the restructure but she gets made redundant?

You took away the opportunity to get strong and make a plan.

There is another way.

You can ask questions that help your friend talk about the problem, face the fact it may be awful and most importantly help her realise she has to do some problem solving.

Life is not a bed of roses and sometimes we have hard decisions to make and dark roads to walk down.

My Dilemma

I was dreading my summer born boy going to school just after he’d turned 4 because he wasn’t ready, he wasn’t toilet trained and he clung to me like a limpet.  Most friends told me that he would be fine.

You can read My Summer Born Story in Part 2.

Deep down I knew he wasn’t going to be fine but I didn’t know where to go with my thoughts because no one believed me.  Whenever I talked about it I was told not to worry. Everyone feels this way, everyone gets on with it, everyone is fine. The end.

When I took ownership of the problem I was able to find a solution.

You can’t solve a dilemma if you don’t truly realise you’ve got a problem.

You don’t know you have a problem if everyone says it’s fine.

Of course it’s never that simple. Many times it is fine and I am the only person I know in real life that has delayed her child from going to school so it must’ve been fine for the 100’s of parents who were worried like me last year.

I’m just asking you to think about how you could help your friends even more than you already do.

Help her open her eyes, listen with intent, wonder what it would be like to be in her shoes, voice that so she knows you’ve heard. Then wonder if there is another way.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I share my summer born story.

And don’t go anywhere until part 3 where I end the fight and tell you how I can help you.

Much love

Nicola x x x

http://www.nicolacoaches.co.uk

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“I Can Do it” – He thinks it’s magic!

I can do it 2

Do you remember being a child and playing on the climbing frames and swings?   I don’t mean last week when you were rescuing your child from the massive spider web thing in the middle of the park or chasing your two year old round the pretend castle.

I mean actually being a child and playing.

Were you careful or carefree?

My son and I are careful.

We were at Centre Parcs recently and my children were playing on the adventure playground.  My 4 year old started to moan that he couldn’t walk across the wobbly bridge. As much as I love my boy and he can be such a delight he can also be the biggest moaner ever! He struggles to try and his first port of call is to get help before he’s even tried.

I decided to try the whole “Positive Mind set” on him and taught him to say, “I can do it!  Before every step he said, “I can do it” and did it. He amazed himself.  I think he thought it was magic.

For a few days we reminded him of his new motto. Now we don’t need to remind him, he tells us and he even created a poster with his motto on.

To my delight (sorry, gushing mummy moment alert) I heard his sister say, “I can’t do it”.  I heard him pipe up. “No you say “I can do it” then you will be able to do it!”

Those 4 words have dramatically changed his life.

And they can change yours too.

It’s simple. They are just words that you need to say…and actually you don’t need to believe it, you just need to say it.

JUST SAY IT

What is it you are struggling with? A potential new job, looking after your children every day, making your marriage work?

These are words that empower you and give you the belief in yourself to do what you can do.

It doesn’t matter if you are carefree or careful we all get wobbly.

So, You can do it

You can do it

You can do it

Love Nicola

PS. Living a fulfilling life is much easier when you have a Coach. I love working with women who want their life to be more from life so please contact me if that’s you because I know I can help you DO IT!!

contact@nicolahughes.co.uk

www.nicolahughes.co.uk

Size Does Matter!

snakes

Snakes & Ladders

(Originally written for www.raise4all.com)

Quite possibly the dullest game in the world. Plod, plod, weeeeee down the snake, plod plod, yay up the ladder!

Repeat.

Unless you play it with my 3 year old. He doesn’t like winning or being last so basically makes sure his counter is on top of mine the whole time. So we are together. The dice gets chucked across the room. The counting is dubious. Basically it doesn’t look anything like snakes and ladders but is a tad more interesting than dull but not by much!

Over the last few weeks, and if I’m honest my entire life time, my life has been like a snakes and ladders board and dull it is not.

Parenting is;

Plod, plod, yay he ate a pea.

Plod plod, weeee, literally all over everything. How can one wee cause such devastation?

Plod plod, <insert minor achievement that means the world to you but nothing to anyone else>

Plod plod <major catastrophe involving food, bodily fluids or the pet dog>

I’m not sure if I play a game of snakes and ladders every day or whether one board lasts a life time. I like to think it’s the former and one day I hope I have a board with less snakes.

Interestingly this all started for me when I was struggling with one particular parenting issue.

Toilet training.

At this point can I say I would rather give birth 10 days running than go through toilet training?

It has been awful. I don’t want to say too much as I want to protect the privacy of my nearly 4 year old. He is a wonderful little soul and I want to protect him from everyone knowing all the details.

The basics: he is nearly 4, he has NEVER asked to go to the toilet, we are under a consultant paediatrician. I feel like the only person in the world dealing with this.

I realised that for him to say, “I need a wee wee” was really hard so I created my own version of snakes and ladders. We played as normal but when we went up the ladder I congratulated him for telling me he needed the toilet. If he went down a snake I would say he didn’t tell mummy he needed a wee wee. And if he landed on a star (planted by me and my marker on several of the squares) we had to shout, “I need a wee wee!” And we used wee wee counters!

I created this board from scratch so I could choose how many snakes and how many ladders. It felt sort of god-like! I even amazed myself with this amount of creativity. Don’t mess with a mummy on a mission.

I speak to a Continence nurse every week and I always think beforehand how hard it has been, what will I say? Why isn’t this happening quicker? What have I done wrong? How can I put it right?

She always says to me, “Nicola, wow you are doing a really good job, you are amazing, that’s brilliant. I’m coming to your house to see all these resources.”

I sob for a bit.

Then we talk about the week ahead.

She is either completely insane or we are doing better than I think.

The reality is that our ladders are tiny. Really small. I am expecting us to climb big ladders so when we don’t I’m utterly disappointed and feel like I have failed.

“Mummy I need a wee.” Said once in one week is a tiny ladder.

Sitting on the toilet without having a fit is a tiny ladder.

Me taking a deep breath is a tiny ladder.

These ladders are so important and I’ve realised that I need to stop minimising them.

Whatever parenting or life thing you are going through I encourage you to see those tiny ladders. Just like the Pokemon they are everywhere, you might not be able to see them. You might need to look everywhere to find them. It might take you on a journey that you didn’t expect.

But those Pokemon – I mean ladders are everywhere.

My gift to you this time is simple.

Draw a ladder with 10 rungs and label the rungs from 0-10 going up.

Answer these questions about a particular area of your life. 0 = struggling to achieve and 10 = on top of it.

Which rung are you on?

Which rung do you want to be on?

How are you going to get there?

Then notice in between the rungs there are some tiny ladders.

I am all for helping people set big goals whether you want to run a marathon or start a degree, I can help you. But sometimes we just need to acknowledge that those tiny ladders contain the hardest steps we have ever taken, are almost invisible to see and quite often are difficult to plan for.

I am pretty sure you are doing a great job. Keep going.

But if you need a helping hand contact me for your FREE session.

You can email me at contact@nicolahughes.co.uk or find out more about me on my website www.nicolahughescoaching.co.uk

I love helping people see their ladders and climb to the top of their lives!

And check me out on Facebook. www.fb.com/nicolahughescoaching

Lots of love

Nicola x x

 

If the X Factor was the Guilt Factor I’d get to Judges Houses!

Guilt

When you’re on your way to work do you feel guilty for leaving your children?

Then guilty at work because you’re only part time and can’t get as much done.

You need to do a tonne of things but they are pulling at your trousers saying in the most divine voice ever, “Mummy do you want to play with me?”

GUILT

Definition of guilt by me, “Big ugly stringy mess that tugs at your heart strings, like a dark version of Mister Tickle but more arms and less smile”

Actual definition of guilt by Oxford dictionary, “A feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation”

Guilt is great if it’s appropriate. If you have hurt someone, gossiped about a friend, been rude to your partner then guilt wakes you up to that and hopefully encourages you to make amends.

I’m talking about the guilt we get when we haven’t done anything wrong we are just trying to muddle through life and keep everything in balance.

We could spend some time psychoanalysing where our guilt comes from. Freud certainly comes up with some interesting suggestions (see the link below). But I really don’t think you have the time right now.

So instead do what I’ve done.

My immediate plan has been to accept that my life will contain a certain amount of guilt. I focus on keeping that at a manageable level.

I let myself off the hook all the time and you can too.

A jar of ready made baby food is ok. Oven pizza instead of freshly prepared food is a life saver. Growing your own veg is not essential neither is owning your own chickens. Children being covered in mud and insisting on wearing their superman outfit to school will amuse everyone else. Crying like a baby as you leave your youngest at nursery for the first time while you go to work is your right as a mother.

Embrace it!

You are a good person, you don’t deserve to be carrying a huge load of guilt around with you.

Just let it go….at least most of it!

If you don’t you’ll end up stressed, overwhelmed, and depressed.

It’s okay if your guilt gets you to the 6 chairs but don’t win the guilt factor!

If you’ve realised your guilt factor is too much and you want help restoring some balance in your life please contact me for your free coaching session.

I’d love to hear from you. contact@nicolahughes.co.uk

Then join me at www.facebook.com/nicolahughescoaching for latest musings on life.

Love Nicola x x

Ps if you want to read more about guilt there are some articles here.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/guilt