Whispers on the Wind – a Bedtime Story

Whispers on the Wind

Two little sisters played on the beach

And just when their parents had stepped out of reach,bwbeach

Wee Sis asked Big Sis in quiet hushed words,

“What’s going on Sis? What’s wrong with the world?

 

Everything’s changed in the last few days.

It seems like all that we do now is play.  

I miss my school teachers and I miss going to school.

I miss all my friends and I don’t feel too cool.

 

What happened to dancing, gymnastics and drama?

I just  want to cuddle my Granny and Granda.

I like it that Mammy and Daddy are here

It’s nice, and I like, but it’s getting quite weird.

 

So what’s going on Sis, what’s wrong with the world? 

I know something’s wrong but I don’t have the words.

I don’t like to see all our grown ups so sad

They say it’s OK, but I know something’s bad.”

 

The Big sister listened and squeezed her hand tight,

And she thought of how she could make all of this right.

For she was scared too and it all felt disastrous,

She missed all her friends and her teacher and classes. 

 

But she closed her eyes tight and for answers she longed,

To share with her sister and make them feel strong

And just as she was going to say “I don’t know”

A voice on the wind whispered into her soul.

 

It tickled her ears and it kissed her cold face

And suddenly everything fell into place.

She turned to her sister, she pushed back her hair,

And started to speak words she magically heard…

 

“The world has gone funny, and everything’s changed

But it won’t last forever, it’s only a phase.

We’ve gone from being busy and rushing and spinning

To not going anywhere, morning or evening.

 

Mammy and Daddy, who work all they’re able,

Are still working hard, from the one kitchen table.

And yes there’s a virus and yes, it is scary, 

But if we stay home and if everyone’s wary

 

We’ll hopefully stop it from getting too massive,

And the Doctors and heroes will manage to smash it.

So don’t you be worried, just know there are reasons

And this too will pass, it’s simply a season.

 

When all this is over, when all of this ends

We’ll get back to normal, We’ll play with our friends.

We’ll go back to our classes and have lots of fun, 

We’ll have parties and playdates and hug our loved ones. 

 

We just have to trust that the grown ups have got this,

And that they’ll do everything that they can to protect us.

Then Mammy’s voice called them with ”Girls, time to go!”

And they looked at each other, and they smiled in the know

 

That they would have lots of adventures together

On beaches, in sunshine, or in rainy weather.

They ran to their Daddy and called to their Mum

And as they were running, the clouds showed the sun.

 

For nature can comfort the fears that we’re feeling

And breezes keep whistling their secrets and healing;

And all of your worries will soon disappear

Like the wind on the faces of two little girls.

 

Maria Rushe 

March 2020 

Is Every Day a School Day?

The pressures of this past week have been immense. Even the most positive and organised of us have struggled.
We still are.

As a teacher, what I am about to write might surprise you.

Stop freaking out about educating your children.

Yes, of course we must try to maintain routine and to keep our children’s minds working. We should be encouraging them to continue with the school work that their teachers are sending home.

But it is NOT YOUR JOB to stress about what they are doing or to provide the curriculum to them.

Let me explain.

Teachers are teaching from home. Secondary school teachers need to stay in touch with their students. Most of us have by now, found our groove and figured out how best to communicate with our second level students. It’s a work in progress and we are learning every day. We can and will, provide quality content for the student to work through independently at home.

Key words here? “The student.”
Not the parent.

Priority must be given to 3rd and 6th year students who are still preparing for the elusive state examinations; who are under serious pressure and who are torn between the uncertainty of when they will happen, and the certainty that they still need to be ready for them when they do happen.

Other year groups simply need to keep on top of the work assigned as if it is classwork. I hope that mine all return to school, whenever that may be, with their folders up to date with the work that I have assigned, so that I can correct it properly and give them the feedback they need.

As teachers, we have absolutely no control over who does or does not do the work. We don’t have all the answers. This is new to us too, but trust me, we’re trying.

For younger kids, you’ll likely have received a list of activities and suggested work from their Lovely Teacher.

Let them work through it if you can.
But take a breath my Dear.

There are so many people online showing their kids doing ALL the activities, sitting quietly at the kitchen table in a classroom type scenario, diligently working and smiling as they carry on their schoolwork, led enthusiastically by Mum or Dad.

And while I take my hat off to these parents, I wonder…

I wonder if little Jacinatabelle didn’t huff “this is stoopid” under her breath just after the photo was snapped, or if little Gulliver-John didn’t have to be told to “just sit still for two minutes” before the snap was snapped.

I am NOT dismissing doing some work with them.

By all means, look at the list of suggested work sent by Lovely Teacher. Choose one or two items from it and tell them what he or she has said to do.

Let them do what they feel like doing and do not get your knickers in a twist if they (or you) don’t understand the task.

You do NOT have to recreate the school environment or classroom situation. You do not need to micromanage their learning. You are not a teacher. (And even if you are, you still have your classes to teach online.)

Yes, their minds need to be distracted and nourished, but reading a book or being read to, is just as effective. Let them make a jigsaw. Let them play a game. Let them help with chores. Let them play together with the toys that they never get a chance to look at from one end of the busy week to the other. Let them make a mess…then let them tidy it up.

librarycorner

Messing up the hall but delighted with themselves

Our children are, like us, living through history.

Their brains are overwhelmed. They can sense our worry and by now, the novelty of not seeing their friends has probably worn off.

When they get back to school, whenever that may be, their teachers are fully capable and qualified to continue with their education.

They are not losing out by being off. They are simply missing out on normality and routine and external communication.

Give them those things.

Give them routine. Allocate an hour for school based activities. Allocate time for reading. Allocate time for outside play. And let them be bored. Let them figure out how to entertain themselves. Let them fight. Let them colour in. Let them watch some telly. Let them be kids.

But don’t put yourself under any more pressure than you already are.

And remember, most parents are now working from home and trying to balance everything more than ever:

🥺We’re trying to fit in 5 – 8 hours of our own jobs under new and stressful circumstances
🥺We’re trying to keep our businesses afloat
🥺We’re trying to adjust to all being in one space ALL day
🥺We’re trying to fit offices, classrooms, playtime and schooltime into one room and in many cases around one table.
🥺We don’t all have printers or money to stock up on activity boxes for our kids.
🥺We’re trying to care for our toddlers and babies at the same time.
🥺Many of us still have to GO to work
🥺We’re trying to not succumb to the guilt when we have to say “Mammy’s trying to work” or “Daddy’s busy” to the child who is used to us being off duty when they’re at home.

We’re all trying to keep swimming right now, so if the Wattsapp group is freaking you out because all of the other parents seem to have their shit together, mute it.

If the creative type you followed on Instagram for ideas is now stressing you out because she’s on activity 38 of the morning and you’re still trying to load the dishwasher and get them to make their beds, unfollow her.

If you don’t have a printer to print off all of the educational worksheets that Japonica down the road is proudly showing on snapchat, calm yourself. Japonica’s fridge is not that big. She’ll soon get bored…

If you don’t understand the work assigned to your children, that’s OK. It’s not YOUR work to understand.

Trust that the teachers will do a great job of picking up the pieces when this shitstorm is over. No one is falling behind. Everyone is in the same boat.

And if you are doing your best, and simply trust that as long as your children feel safe and loved right now, good for you.

You, my friend, are winning at life.
We’re all in unchartered waters; do what you must to keep swimming.

Go easy on yourself my Darlings.
You’re doing a better job than you think.

And as always, if you are managing todo all the everything and disagree with me, that’s perfectly wonderful too.

You do you Mammy.
Only YOU can do what’s right for YOUR kids.

M

homeschool

Creating a New Normal

What a week it’s been eh?

We’ve all found ourselves slowly sliding into chaos. And even for those of us who hoped it’d all pass and gently laughed it off, (yes I was one of them), we’ve suddenly had our eyes opened and our backsides slapped.

The suddenness of Thursday’s announcement left the country reeling.  Yes, we all knew it was coming, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the “6pm tonight” closures.

And so over the past few days, we’ve all had to try to adapt.  We’re trying to adapt to all of the changes that are coming at us faster than Sonic the bloody Hedgehog, while trying to maintain a “calm” in front of our kids.

Personally, it’s been a difficult few days.

We had to pull our run of The Addams Family after only 2 shows.  I had to leave work, saying bye to my other babbies and my colleagues in a weird and eery atmosphere that none of us have experienced before.

And this morning, Emmet and myself made the decision to close the gym for a while, in order to keep our members safe.  A difficult decision, but easy in the grand scheme of things.

And of course, these things are wee buns in the midst of the new reality we fins ourselves in.

So how can we make the most of the situations we find ourselves in?

  1. Routine:  Make a plan for the week, just as you would if you were all getting up to go to work/school.  For me, I intend to get up at 6am as usual, do a few hours of school work before the girls get up and then a few more after they’re in bed.  I’ll allocate a time for Mini-Me to do school work.  We’ll schedule time for us to train together or to get out for a run.  The girls will have playtime and downtime and bedtime will remain as normal as possible. And they’ll know that Mammy and Daddy still have to work for certain hours.
  2. Eating:  If your kids are anything like mine, they’re ALWAYS hungry.  I’m going to try to keep the idea of “breaktime” and “lunchtime” etc going at home.  Otherwise, Princess’s bum will be stuck out of the fridge constantly.  I’ve also chopped up their favourite fruit and put it in the fridge, so that if they do want snacks, they’re getting snacks, not treats.
  3. Get dressed:  seems obvious, and yet it’s so easy to stay in the pjs.  To be honest, I was so upset after Thursday that I spent most of Thursday and yesterday in my pjs.  But from tomorrow, it’s up, shower and get dressed as normal. Just without heels or makeup. See the positives where you can!
  4. Don’t overdo the Mary Poppins act:  I’ve already seen social media influencers who have done 3 weeks worth of arts and crafts activities in the first 2 days of no school.  Calm yourselves.  Let the kids play. Let them be bored. Let them read or draw.  Put on their coats and open the door if you can!  Not every activity needs to be organised or planned. Save those for the really long rainy days where they are genuinely bored or need cheered up.
  5. Follow people who inspire you:  Social Media has been a dark place this past few days.  Don’t allow yourself to become bogged down or overwhelmed. Switch off the phone. And try to have a switch off time in the evening.  And only follow people who are making you smile.
  6. Keep active:  The one thing that has been lovely this past few days, has been the weather.  Get outside with the kids.  Go for a walk. Keep an eye on our pages for some workout ideas that you can do with or without your kids.   And fresh air is good for everyone. Get as much as you can.  walk
  7. Read:  If you’re like me, you’ll have a pile of started and unread books in the house.  Put down the phone and start to read.  Let your kids see you do it.  Have a “reading time” block in the day where you all sit and read. Monkey see, Monkey do.
  8. Cook:  Again, most of us cook functionally and conveniently.  Rather than firing on the slowcooker or  cooking in a hurry, set your inner Nigella alight and get chopping.  Let the kids cook too.  They love it.  And if you have a few of those “Betty” quick brownies in the press for the really long days, you’re winning at life AND you have something sweet and tasty for your cuppa.
  9. Stay in touch:  For many of us who are used to social interaction with colleagues or clients, the sudden isolation and lack of communication can be upsetting.  Talk to each other.  Message friends. Set up messenger groups with people who you would usually see each day and check in on each other.  Make phonecalls.  Pick up the phone and call someone rather than always messaging.  Some people might not hear another voice from one end of the day to the next.  Communicate.
  10. Stay positive:  yeah it’s easy for me to say isn’t it? But it’s hard to do.  But go easy on yourself.  You’re allowed to be scared. You’re allowed to be upset.  Grief and fear are not signs of weakness.  In order to deal with things, we first have to process it; to let it sink in. So allow yourself time to process.  Then, look for the positives and focus on those.

We are in weird times.  We are dealing with disappointments and stresses that are unprecedented.  Much of what we are facing is new. and yet in the middle of it all, we’re seeing glimpses of human kindness and commeraderie that only the Irish can show.

We have a new reality.  We will all have to find a new normal for ourselves.  We can and we will.

How Many Hats are YOU Wearing?

Recently, a ‘challenge’ circulated Instagram where everyone posted four different images; How they look on Faceook, Instagram, LinkIn and Tinder.

It was fun and harmless and I happily posted my own. It was one of those silly, fun, giggle-inducing challenges and most of us enjoyed watching the collages popping up.

We all wear multiple hats. As parents, we have eleventy billion hats to wear in a single day; fun Mammy, strict Mammy, cross Mammy, huggy Mammy…the list is endless.

We have so many different sides to us; so many different qualities that we reserve for different versions of ourselves.

This USED to simply be our personalities, our “Identity” and we only showed each identity to the people who needed to see them. Now however, with social media and the necessity of online profiles, we are ALL of our identities at once, to whoever wants to see us.

Once upon a time, we changed our hats as we changed situations throughout the day.

We were ‘Mammy-Me’ at home, ‘Professional-me’ at work, ‘sassy-me’ with partner or when out, ‘fun-me‘ with friends etc.

As the day progressed, we put on whichever hat suited each situation and while most of us wore many many hats throughout the day, we were usually able to wear one at a time.

We still do this in our “real lives” each day.

But now, online, we often wear lots at the same time. It depends which platform you are using. There is an awareness of how you are viewed.

On LinkIn, it’s ‘Business-Me‘ all the way; Trying to come across as professional, approachable, reliable, intelligent and to stand out without shouting too loudly. Aware that any eyes are watching and that possibilities are constantly coming and going.

On Twitter, it’s socially and morally ‘Vocal-me‘… Trying to make a point without inviting every troll from Trollville for tea, trying hard to be heard in a wave of wit and controversy. Trying not to tag the wrong person or use the wrong hashtag. Most of us aren’t quite sure which “me” to put on Twitter.

On Instagram, it’s usually more ‘Fun-Me‘ for most people. To share or not to share? To filter or not to filter? To care or not to care? It depends on why you use it.

Thankfully, I don’t DO Tinder… I don’t think I’d have the energy for that craic anyway!

For me, I have my blog, so on that, I’m wearing my Mammy-hat, my wife-hat, my writer-hat, my friendly-hat, my honest-hat, my sensible-hat, my opinionated-hat and sometimes my Fancy-hat. 🙂

Then on my business page, it’s my pro-hat, my motivational-hat, my fitness-hat, my marketing-hat…

Add on Facebook, where again, many of us have personal pages as well as blog or business pages, not to mention all the groups we might be in for business or hobbies or kids’ activities.

And yet, once again, popping onto one little app for 20 minutes can be exhausting as we switch our hats over and over again depending on who we are interacting with. Often, we flick from app to app, navigating a few different platforms and therefore many different hats at once.

… and suddenly we can see why we can find ourselves wearing so many hats that our neck begins to crane under the weight and sometimes, it all gets too much.

There’s a lot of falsity on the internet. Lots of “Just Be YOURSELF” and “You do YOU!” (I’m all for these by the way), but hang on a second. We are MORE than just one version of ourselves. It’s completely natural. Someone who is only ever ONE way online, is probably the one who is false.

Being different versions of yourself is not false. We have ALWAYS done it. We always will. We ALL put on the phone voice, or speak in different voices depending on who we talk to. (Who’s a cutey witto baby gurl? Where’s a Mammy’s bestest wittle beebee?”)

We’ve all got different personas that we adopt depending on our physical audience; Boss, friends, clients, students, customers, relatives, neighbours, colleagues, family… everyone who knows you in real life, knows a different version of you.

Online is no different, and it’s not fake to show all of your different sides. It’s a must, especially if you have a business. The difference is however that it’s constant and it can be all at once.

In real life, it’s a bit more simple.

At home, I’m Mum and wife.

At work, I’m colleague/friend.

In my classroom, I’m teacher. (and even that depends on the age of the class in front of me.)

In the gym, I’m motivating Maria, trainer and smiler.

In my classes, I’m strong and invincible and Duracell Bunny.

In my rehearsals, I’m loud and bossy and creative, and all the things a Director must be to mould 60 talented adults into a show.

With friends, I’m… well it depends who I’m with I suppose. We have different friends who bring out different sides of us too, don’t we?

And when you combine all of the real life hat wearing with the online hat wearing, it’s exhausting.

Sometimes, when the hats all pile up, we get tired.

Sometimes, all of the hats topple us over.

For most of us, we have to pick up all the hats and keep them on our heads; all are valuable and necessary. Very few of the hats can be removed completely, (not without HUGE life decisions!)

But what we can do to lessen the weight, is to sometimes switch off our online selves and focus on the real life Me.

Remember that you can switch off. That you don’t have to answer every message immediately. That you can pause platforms for a few hours, or days, or weeks… the internet police are not going to hunt you down.

Keep wearing all of your hats. Wear your favourite hats most and often.

But when the hats get too heavy to wear so many at once, take them off for a while, and just be you.

And remember, every one has their own style and we all wear different sizes. 😉

M x

Vote Vote Vote

It’s almost time to vote.
And the sooner the whole thing is over, the better.
Much like recent ‘votes’, this election is fizzing with emotion and anger and frustration. And so I think that most of us will be glad to see it done and dusted and to get back to normality.
polling station
How you vote is YOUR decision.
How I vote is MY business.
We all have things that we hope for and expect from our candidates, and we all have our own checklists of characteristics and qualities that we want to see.
We all have opinions; strong and valid opinions, but as I have said eleventy billion times, OPINION IS NOT FACT.
For me, it’s simple.
The candidate who stands for the people who live in this country, ALL the people people, not just the freckled few, gets a vote.
The candidate who can voice their opinions with respect for others, and without dictating that anyone who differs in their opinion, is wrong, will get a vote.
The candidate who is knowledgeable and has educated themself on the issues that they will discuss, will get a vote.
The candidate who sees all Irish citizens as equal, regardless of skin colour, physical appearance, profession, ancestry or heritage, will get a vote.
The candidate who recognses that their opinions are ONLY opinions and NOT FACT, and who can tolerate disagreement as a right, will get a vote.
The candidate who stands up for the rights of all, and who I believe will genuinely work towards making things better as much as possible, will get a vote.
I will put a number beside the names of most of the candidate.
[gallery ids=”5211″ type=”rectangular”
Some, I will leave absolutely blank. Some do not deserve and will never get my vote.
I will not vote for the person who stands up ONLY for themselves and people who they deem to be like them.
I will not vote for the person who uses misinformed, exaggerated language to create hysteria and incorrect scarmongering about issues, just because they are uncomfortable with change.
I will not vote for the person who attacks an alternative opinion, or who demonises people who think differently to them.
I will not vote for the person who preaches to be holier than thou and who yet casts all the stones.
I will not vote for the person who thinks it acceptable to write another candidate’s name on their posters to ridicule and criticise.
I will not vote for the person who is spouting racist, homophobic and quite frankly disgusting vitriol about people in our society.
OUR community.
OUR country.
vote1
Many will argue that “they’re all the same” or “They’re all as bad as each other”.
We live in a country where it is hard to trust those in power. Where “jobs for the boys” and “who your father is” has always had a lot to do with who got what and who climbed which ladder.
But today, we must vote.
We, the people, the public… ALL citizens of Ireland.
Whether you have followed every interview, listened to every debate and read every manifesto, or whether you’ve simply been vaguely aware of the political rhetoric which has overcome our airwaves and twitter feeds for the past few weeks, you still must vote.
Our vote is our voice.
A physical manifestation of our being.
A chance to have our say.
If we do not vote, really, we have no ground to stand on when it comes to complaining or commenting on how things go for the next 4 years.
If you can vote, go vote.🇮🇪
If you know someone who isn’t able to get to the polling station, drive them there.
If you have a young adult at home, get them to the booth. Make sure their voice is heard.
(Let them vote with their own mind and their own heart. Remember that how YOU vote is not necessarily how your child will vote.)
To the candidates who have put themselves out there, (for reasons other than imposing archaic and bigoted opinions on the county), whether or not I agree with your general policies, good luck.
It is not an easy thing to do; to put yourself into the public domain, to open yourself and your family and your entire history up to the scrutiny and criticism of the world, to take on such a challenge.
It is brave and it is honourable, and I salute you.
Here’s to an eventful weekend.😘
As with all democratic events, some will celebrate and some will not. Everyone cannot win (and not everyone deserves to), but we all must use our voice.
Reegardless of the outcome, cheers to the future my Lovelies.
Now, use your voice.
Vote.