Here We Go Again…

What a week it’s been eh?

We’re all feeling a bit incredulous really. This past few days, it’s felt like we are slowly sliding into chaos once again.

  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. 

 And with the indecisiveness, “we will , we won’t, we might-iness” of our Government, we can be forgiven for wondering what the actual feck is going on.

Once again, we’re back to working, whether at work or online, all while minding and homeschooling our kids, trying to keep them occupied and fed and generally trying to do eleventy billion jobs from our kitchen tables. 

And this time, we don’t have the long sunny evenings or unusually warm weather to soften the blow.  

And as I try to get my own head around this new situation in my own house, I’m trying to remember the things that worked (and that did NOT work) for me last time we were in this type of lockdown. 

One thing that became VERY clear to us last March, was that Homeschooling was NOT something that we were successful at.  Trying to pivot your business online and trying to teach online for the first time ever, after almost 20 years of standing in an actual classroom, meant that finding time to sit with our girls to “homeschool” was impossible.  

 I felt like crap about it to start.  How is it that a teacher, for God’s sake, couldn’t manage to educate her own children?  Disgraceful… 

And then I copped myself on.  I couldn’t do it.  I was trying to make up a whole new version of my job AND we were trying to keep our family business alive.  And it’s going to be the same this time to be honest. (Also, I could teach Shakespeare to a duck, but 3rd class maths? Nope!)

I will get them to do some of the work their angels of teachers send, but it’ll be done within the realms of OUR ability and only as long as it isn’t adding more stress to our lives. 

Here we go again I suppose. 

One of the biggest mistakes that loads of us made last time, was to think that we had to do it all.  Think about it…

There aren’t enough hours to combine the 6/7 hours your kids spend at school, with the 8/10 hours you work, the few hours you need for cooking, cleaning etc… never mind homework, exercise and trying to stay on top of things.  You’re trying to fit about 30 hours of “stuff” into a 24 hour day.  When do you sleep Mammy?

It’s not physically possible to do it all. 

SO choose what you NEED to do and do that. 

Give yourself a break.  We’re in a global pandemic.  

Here are some things that work for me. 

  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 tend to get up at 6am as usual to do a few hours of school work before the girls get up and then a few more in the afternoon.  I’ll allocate a time for the kids to do some school work.  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.
  1. 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. 
  1. Get dressed:  seems obvious, and yet it’s so easy to stay in the pjs.  But from tomorrow, it’s up, shower and get dressed. Just without heels or makeup. See the positives where you can!
  1. 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.
  1. Follow people who inspire you:  Social Media has been a dark place this past few months.  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. Please learn to use the unfollow/mute button on accounts that make you doubt what a Queen you are. 
  1. Keep active:   We’ll train together every morning with our Rushe Fitness members and most days, I’ll try to get out for a run/walk. Sometimes, just getting OUT is amazing.  While it’s cold and slippy, it’s still gorgeous out there. Go for a walk or jog.  Fresh air is good for everyone. Get as much as you can.  If you’re used to training but can’t do it alone, join us for our online programme which you can follow from your home at a time that suits you.
We run Opti-Mum, Ireland’s leading at home training system for Mums
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Stay positive:  yeah it’s easy to say isn’t it? But it’s hard to do. We all have good days and bad days. 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 bleak. and yet in the middle of it all, we’re seeing glimpses of hope and finally, an end is in sight. 

Mind yourselves.  Go easy on yourselves.  You are not in competition with anyone.  Do what you need to do, for you. 

To-Do and Ta-Dah!

It’s Christmas… I keep reminding myself of that.

Personally, it’s been a crappy week. I can’t pretend it hasn’t. I can’t sit here and write upbeat Christmassy inspiration, when I’m a wee bit broken to be honest.💔

Grief and sadness and disbelief engulfed a community that I’m part of, that has always and will always be my other family.

I’ve missed hugs since March, but never more so than this week.

And yet compared to others and what they’re going through this week, I have no right to be sad. No right at all.

As I write this, my list of things I need “to do and get” sits glaring at me. It’s mocking me I think.

It’s like it’s laughing at me, screaming “Hey Ria. Here’s that list of all the things you thought were important and urgent on Monday. Haha! Not so fecking important now are they?”

I feel a bit stupid now that THAT was the list that just a few days ago, I deemed vital.

OK. Maybe not vital, but important. And in fact, the list IS important. It’s mostly food in fairness, but still.

It’s indulgent. It’s mostly superfluous and it’s far from necessary, and yet, this week, I still need to drag myself to the shops to get it.

Because while I might not feel very Christmassy at this moment, it’s still coming and it’s still going to happen. And it’s my job to make it happen in my house.

And so while I KNOW that in the grand scheme of things, the list is nonsense, I’m going to start to tick it off.

I like lists. They make me feel in control. A good list can make me feel organised and accomplished. The strike of a pen through words can grant the illusion of competency.

A list can make me feel like I’ve actually got my shit together, especially in times where I actually, certainly, definitely, do not.

And so this weekend, I’m making my lists, checking them twice, thrice and then a few more times.

And then day by day and step by step, I’m going to tick things off. And maybe, by pretending I’ve got my shit together, it might magically happen.

My very wise friend Mr Porter, posted last week about his “Tah-Dah!” list and I absolutely LOVE it.


I’m going to look at my To-Do list from last week, strike off the stuff that REALLY doesn’t matter and create a new list of the stuff that I DO want/need to do.

My TahDah list!

And every time I strike something off it, I may sing TahDah! In my most Mary-of-the-Poppins voice. Sure why not?

But seriously, Take a look at YOUR list. How many of the things on that list are absolutely necessary and essential? How many of the things on that list could be deleted? How many of the things on that list are adding unnecessary stress to you?

Start ‘tahdahing!’

Whether you’re easing and relaxing into the Christmas festivities calm and full of the joys of the season, or sliding in sideways, a complete train wreck and filled to the brim with worry and chaos, I wish you the best that you can have.

My best and your best don’t need to be the same. And realising that the only person who needs to be happy with YOUR choices this Christmas, is YOU, is honestly and truly the key to contentment.

Hugs to all, especially to all who need one x

Rushe to Raise from Home!

It’s that time of year again. Rushe to Raise is back!

Everything might be different this year, but Emmet and I are still running their annual Christmas Movie fundraiser… However this year, we are moving it online, with all proceeds going to the Jack and Jill Foundation. 

Usually, hundreds of families and friends meet at Century Cinema to ring in the festive season with the our wee family.  Over the last three years, we’ve shown The Polar Express, Santa Claus The Movie and last year, who could forget the rascality of The Grinch?

But this year, we are simply asking that you join us, VIRTUALLY, to watch your favourite Christmas movie, from the comfort of your own home.

 Anyone anywhere can join in. 

 Simply choose YOUR favourite Christmas movie, donate, take a photo/selfie and post it on your social media using the hashtag #rushetoraise.  Remember to tell us what you are watching too! 

 The photo can be of your family/housemates, of your telly, of the hot chocolate you’re drinking… as long as it’s Christmassy!  

And of course, you can also take part and donate without sharing on social media.  Every little helps.

We are gutted that we can’t meet as usual this year to enjoy the atmosphere, but obviously, an event is impossible.  So instead, we are hoping to flood social media with images of smiling faces and in doing so, to raise much needed funds and awareness for the Jack and Jill Foundation. 

Jack and Jill provides families with nursing care, support and end of life care, to babies and young children.  So many families around Ireland and indeed here in Donegal, have needed, currently need and unfortunately will need the services of this incredible charity. We only hope that we can help them, even in a small way, in the amazing and important work they do.

  Rushe to Raise is always a wonderful family occasion and many people see it as part of their annual tradition now.  We can’t wait for 2021 to bring it back to the town and to celebrate together, but this year, we will celebrate together, apart.

Usually, tickets to our event are €10 per person.  Obviously in the current climate, we could never specify an amount. It’s been a tough year for everyone.  Every donation, no matter how much, will help.  €16 provides ONE HOUR of care to a family, so that might be a guide to people who can donate.   We truly will be grateful to everyone who joins in.

Rushe to Raise will take place on Sunday 29th November and you can post and tag anytime that day. 

 Make it an occasion. 

Dress up. Stay in your Pjs. Have popcorn and hot chocolate. Light the fire.

But most importantly,  enjoy!

We can’t wait to see your smiles and movie choices on the 29th.  Don’t forget the #RushetoRaise

Lots of Love,

Maria, Emmet and our girls.

Play It Again Mam…

We don‘t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw

Over the past 4 months, playing has changed.

Our kids went from playing every day with a variety of other kids, enjoying all sorts of games and having all sorts of fun, to playing at home with the same person or people.

On a typical day, my eldest daughter would have gone from playing with the bus kids, to playing with her classmates in the classroom, to playing with other kids in the playground, to playing with whoever was in afterschool, to playing with her sister at home.

On other days, add in the kids she played with at her drama/gymnastics/dance class and maybe even a play with cousins at the weekend…

It was Play Central really.

Rediscovering the simple pleasures…

But isn’t that what childhood IS? Learning to make sense of the world through play and interaction?

The novelty of playing at home was great for a few weeks. And of course, my girls were so lucky to have each other. For every scrap or fight, there were hours of games and being best buddies. It helped.

It helped both them and us.

They spent most of lockdown outside in the garden. Swings, huts, dens, make believe adventures, talking to the cows in the field… I watched them living my 80s childhood, (with the added bonus of more than 4 TV channels and Disney Plus in the evening.)

I did have to stock up on lego and playdoh and crayons after about 7 weeks… but I didn’t mind. I like that they played so much with these.

It was lovely mostly. And the reality that our previously far-too-busy lives had been denying them such simple pleasures was not lost on me.

But they, like ALL children, got to the point where they missed their wee friends. Mini-Me took part in maybe five Wattsapp calls over the few months we were at home. She was so excited by them and so glad to see her wee friends, but in the final few weeks, didn’t really want to take part.

On the last call she had with one of her wee pals, she was so quiet that we thought the call had ended. When her Daddy looked into the room, she was sitting at her desk, colouring, with the phone set up beside her. Her friend was playing with her dolls on the screen. They weren’t really talking.

When Himself asked what they were doing, she looked at him as if he were stupid and answered, “We’re playing together.”

Simple. They aren’t grown ups who thrive on conversation and empathy. They aren’t teenagers who need laughs and craic and affirmation. They don’t yet know that they need conversation or companionship.

They simply wanted to play. Together.

That broke us a wee bit if I’m honest.

All she wanted to was to play alongside her friend. So when last week, we were able to let her meet said friend for a play in the park, I’m not sure who was more excited, her or me.

The playpark was open. Both of us Mammies looked at each other, trepidation about whether to let them in on both of our faces. We were afraid. The kids were not. We both had hand sanitizer with us and figured they deserved to have fun, so they ran and down we calmed.

We sat watching them and listening to the sound that I never really listened to before; The sound of children playing; of running and laughter and squeals of delight and roars of fun. We listened to parents calling out to ‘be careful’ or to ‘stop that’. We listened to the sound of playing.

And we both agreed that it was just lovely. And that there are some things that can’t be done on a wattsapp call.

As the sun finally sets on lockdown…

As the sun sets on the “lockdown”, our children will have to learn many things over the next few months. They’ll need to learn about social distancing, and how to behave in certain situations, about hygiene and danger and how to go to places with new procedures in place. But they’re faster learners that we adults are.

And one thing they won’t need to learn again, is how to play.

They are heroes and play is their superpower…

The Click between the Phases…Bedtime.

“Goodnight my little darlings!” sings Mammy.

Mammy is hopeful…

Mammy is closing the hall door. The minions are tucked up and have been tucked in after their bedtime stories, kissed and snuggled and are as snug as two bugs.

Mammy has had the glass of grapes poured and ‘breathing’ since before the bedtime routine began.

Mammy slowly closes the door, to a chorus of “Night Mammy!” and “wuboooo!”

In the seconds before the click of the door of phase one, Mammy dreams.

Her mind jumps forward to an evening of feet up, of peace and joyful quiet, of adult conversation and grown up tellybox. Mammy’s muscles begin to relax and the excitement rises in her that she is about to cross the glorious finish line of another day of the race that is parenting.

Click…

Silence.

Joy.



Mammy reaches for her wine, sighs and smiles. She lifts it, smells it, for that is what one does, is it not?

Mammy does NOT whisper sweet nothings or declare love to the glass, for that would be weird, would it not?

Mammy sips the glorious grapejuice and allows the bitter beauty of the grapes to seep into her gums.

And as Mammy allows her muscles to relax, she listens to the silence…

It lasts 0.6433 fucking seconds.

“MAMMEEEEEEEE!”
“MAMMWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

FML

And so begins phase 2 of the bedtime dance.

The “needs” range from a hug, a blanket fixed, a lullaby (wtf?), a wee dwink (you and me both chick), a teddy which has been lost for approximately 5 months, an answer about why white blutac isn’t blue and doesn’t stick as well, a promise of another playdate (she knows I’d promise the Crown Jewels to get them to sleep), among many, many, many other things.

In fairness, these are mostly things that u can and happily do provide. Good Mammy…💙

And so, eventually, they are in bed and are quiet. I am experienced enough to know that they are probably not asleep.
But I am also KNACKERED enough to know that as long as they’re quiet, they’ll eventually fall into the snoozy slumbers.

And so I sit, sipping the rest of the earlier started grapejuice, glad that they are a phase closer to sleep.

Maybe.
Possibly.
Who knows?

They could be back up the hall 629 times before Mammy eventually loses her shit, but then again, they might get bored and just go to sleep.

Mammy too need a hug and a lullaby and a promise of a playdate with MY friends, but tonight, I’ll settle for a wee dwink myself!

Cheers Mammies. You’re smashing it. Bring on phase 3…😘

X