• Tudors Activities for Children

    A trip to Castle Rising which was sold by  as a derelict wreck by Henry VIII
  • Featured Post: That Old Clothing Dilemma!

    girls and boys
  • My House

    household interior
  • Featured Post: Rejoining the workforce as a parent

    Ned in the boardroom with me whilst I was doing some freelance work

Tudors Activities for Children

A trip to Castle Rising which was sold by  as a derelict wreck by Henry VIII

A trip to Castle Rising which was sold by as a derelict wreck by Henry VIII

The highlight of my week at the moment has been the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall. At first I thought it rather slow, but then I became somewhat absorbed in its subtlety. I enjoyed it very much and alongside reading the brilliant Phillipa Gregory and Conn Iggulden books I find myself drawn into this period of history. Incidentally, this comes just after I met and attended at talk by Leanda de Lisle who wrote  Tudor’s; The Family Story at the Literary Festival which I direct. I’ve also revived my interest in certain modern fashion designers who drew inspiration from Tudor clothing in the Victoria and Albert museum. In short, i’m loving this time period.

Of course, if i’m interested it means that  I want everyone else to be interested and therefore my children, my friends children, the Beaver Scout group and Young Archaeologist Club groups i’m involved with had better gear themselves up as the Tudors will be coming their way.

Interestingly Tudors are no longer specifically mentioned on the new National Curriculum, however it will still most likely be taught as post 1066 history or local history. If you want to give your children a great holiday activity, you could do worse than finding out about the Tudors and relating it to your local area through the use of maps, day trips, investigation of on-line museum collections and role play.

Resources

There are some amazing resources on line, for example we really successfully played this medieval cures game at Young Archaeology Club. I wouldn’t have wanted to be ill in those days! A quick Google will bring up endless amounts of worksheets and activity ideas. One of my favourites is this one about the Spanish Armada from the National Archives. Little computer users will enjoy this mini site designed in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Archives. My eldest is looking forward to having a go through this site after school.

Films and Television

In terms of stuff that children can actually watch you are a bit limited, this is a bloody, violent period of history and so its difficult to find appropriate viewing materials. The most obvious port of call should be Horrible Histories which has some brilliant kid friendly songs which are most amusing as an adult. If you can find it, Tudor Monastery Farm might well be of interest and suitable.

Books

My first port of call these days for most topics is the DK Eyewitness series and they have produced a Tudor book

Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors will appeal to even the most reluctant readers

You wont go wrong with the Usbourne Tudor and Stuart Britain book which provides a great overview .

Days Out

Clearly this is limited geographically, but I plan to revisit the following places with my children.

Hampton Court Palace

Hatfield House

The Tower of London

If you want some more suggestions have a look at this map of Tudor places to visit.

Overall, The Tudor period has such a lot to inspire children that its the perfect project to get them stuck into. If you know of any other brilliant resources please point me in the right direction by commenting below.

Featured Post: That Old Clothing Dilemma!

girls and boysWhat do you do when your little girl insists on wearing something like these childrens Barbie clothes  and your little boy wants to dress up like a superhero? For me, this isn’t an issue as I’m firmly of the opinion that children should wear what they choose themselves. I think this has positive effects in so many ways as it allows them to express their individuality and also teaches them basic life skills. So from about 2 and a half years old I’ve let them choose what they wanted.

I have loads of friends who refuse to dress their little girls in pink, favouring purple, green or red. I’ve also a few who let their little boys choose their own clothes, sometimes resulting in them wearing girls clothes. For me, clothing has never this much  been of issue. As a mum of both boys and girls, if anything, I deliberately dressed Fifi in pink clothes as a baby, so that people didn’t think she was a boy and so I could indulge myself a bit after years of navy blue, brown and camouflage clothes. I found it quite joyous shopping for little pink dresses and hair bows and everything girly. Of course, once she could choose her own outfits, more often than not, Fifi liked to wear her brothers outfits.

Things have changed a little now and Fifi is incredibly girly and I find it quite a battle to tone down her outlandish fashion choices (I only do this for practical reasons), usually clashing colours and strappy summer dresses in the snow. The boys have taken to wearing the same clothes, day in day out. I don’t really even need to shop for them, they wear that few different clothes. The only time outfits are changed is through necessity when I haven’t washed the latest outfit over night.

One of the things which I have noticed is the importance of character clothing for the children. I don’t know if its the familiarity which helps, but when freely given a choice the boys will almost always opt for a superhero and Fifi is attracted to My Little Pony stuff. I think as much as anything else it can be useful when they are forming friendships and meeting new children as its an outward sign of interests and helps with fitting in.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, do comment below!

 

My House

I’m in the process of massively decluttering our house and trying to think how to redesign it entirely. I want things to be uncluttered and tidy, probably wishful thinking for someone with three children. This morning I thought I’d have a go at spurring myself on by taking some pictures of things I actually like. Its not something that I’ve ever done before on the blog, but here is an insight into our house and the things I like.

447665003The lampshades are all from Dunelm and funnily enough, they are all ones that I wasn’t all that sure about in the shop and I bought with the intention of changing. The print is a very rare Walter Crane print which I stumbled across for a very very cheap price. The other image is my shelf of stuff, it contains flint tools which I have knapped myself, a T-Rex replica skull and other bits and bobs which I have acquired and like.

Another day I will show you the rest of the mess!

 

Featured Post: Rejoining the workforce as a parent

Ned in the boardroom with me whilst I was doing some freelance work

Ned in the boardroom with me whilst I was doing some freelance work

I’ve written about how I want to go back to work and how its incredibly hard for me to find the right job which would cover out childcare costs for three children in my sector many times. However, one of the things I haven’t discussed is the approaches I have taken to try to get back into the workforce, which ones have worked and what hasn’t. I thought this might be useful.

Working whilst not at ‘work’

One of the best things on my CV is the amount of freelance  and voluntary work I have done. I’ve used it mainly as a way of keeping my brain active and working, a way of trying to avoid getting sucked into a life of daily chores. Until recently though I didn’t keep a meticulous record of all the things I was doing and when. That meant that in order to update my CV I needed to look through five years worth of family diaries and email records to rediscover what I had been doing with my time. However, it does mean that I don’t have a gap on my CV marked ‘parenting’. Lesson: Update your CV with every major project, bit of voluntary work.

Revisiting your CV

One of the best things I have done recently is to get a friend to look through my CV and give me her opinion. This has been useful as I had underplayed various roles I have taken and over emphasised some other things which are not all that relevant to the jobs i’m applying for now. It really helped me to have someone that has known me for a while and works in a similar industry to cast an eye over it. I’m now working towards a much improved CV which has been great for my confidence and will be useful when applying for positions. Lesson: Get a friend to look at your CV before you start applying for jobs

References

One of the things i’ve found is that the people who I used to work for are no longer at work! This is a problem when being asked for references as you tend to need at least one person who has worked with you in a similar role to which you are applying. I’ve taken the approach of providing four references and explaining that the reason is that my direct  line manager is no longer in the role and i’ve lost contact. It remains to be seen how successful that will be. Lesson: Keep in touch with references.

Clothes

I work in a creative and academic industry. Its not somewhere where people wear suits. As a parent I have hardly any smart clothes and so this poses a problem when it comes to networking events and job interviews. Just what does one wear? I sought out the advice of someone senior within my industry and she said that its best to wear a suit to an interview regardless of the role and position. Since I fairly recently gave my suit to the charity shop, I need to find a good affordable suit. Lesson: Unless you have a very unique and distinctive sense of style its really important to keep some smart clothes or a suit in your wardrobe!

The Internet

Over the past few years the Internet has become the place to go to find jobs and to keep updated in your area of expertise. This is really perfect as a mother as you have the resources right there at your fingertips. One of the sites I use is called jobstoday which has loads of resources and jobs. I also use museum jobs which is very industry specific but gives a great idea of the sorts of roles out there and what you need to get them.

Confidence

One of the hardest things about becoming a mother is how it can influence your personal confidence. From once  being able to speak to senior managers you are reduced to a quivering wreck after fighting with the three year old to stop pulling the cats tail whilst changing a nappy. Stop, take some time and think about what you used to do, how you used to approach situations and compartmentalise your work persona and your parenting persona. Anyone who can run a household and look after small children without going well and truly mad should be proud of themselves!

Working Hours

Working hours are a major barrier for most parents, me included. Its not just the endless demands of school from assemblies to parent reading. Its also the need to get them to school and pick them up. School clubs and childminders can take care of some of this, but in many roles you might not be able to afford them. Consider sharing responsibilities between both parents, negotiating working hours for example could you start very early, work compressed hours or work late building up time off in lieu. Progressive employers will be open to suggestions. My friend Jessica Chivers has some useful advice on her website.

Be yourself

At the end of the day someone will employ you for who you are, children or not. Once you have the basics of  the application process right and you are sure that you want to be back in the workforce things will work themselves out. Good luck.

 

 

To Work

Apparently its boring at home with me...

Apparently its boring at home with me…

I’ve been debating about going back to work properly for a while now. I really want to go to work and I have found myself some part time options, however the ideal post has presented itself and I find myself conflicted about it. The thing is, i’d love to go to work, I love my work and enjoy working with people. Its something I have trained for and I feel completely wasted at home wandering about with the hoover trying to busy myself as I feel too guilty to sit and read or craft and enjoy the peace.

I’ve decided to go for it and let fate decide. If I get the job I will do it and make the most of it and if I don’t, well, it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve told the children i’m going back to work and that the solution is that they are going to have a nanny. If they begged me to stay home then that would also be a decision made. The conversation went something like this:

Eldest: ‘What sort of nanny?’

Me: ‘Well, not like Mary Poppins, more like Nanny McPhee. There wont be any more laying about the house watching Cbeebies and Minecraft videos on the iPad”

Unanimously: “Ok”

Me, feeling a bit surprised and bringing out the big guns: “There wont be any of my dinners either, no more fish fingers, just healthy foods. No crisps as snacks, just fruit…”

Them: “OK”

Me: “The nanny wont stand for any of this mess either, you wont be able to throw socks on the floor and leave toys everywhere. No-one would want to live like this…” I had to stop this before I began ranting.

Them: “OK”

Now, to decide if they were actually listening, or they really don’t care whether i’m at home or not. Having repeated this conversation several times i’m starting to think its the latter. Nice to feel wanted. I know this is quite amusing, but I cant deny it, i’m a little bit upset. Having spent the best part of seven years being driven mad and trying my hardest to educate and entertain you would have thought I might be preferable to a nanny. Now, to find the meanest most old fashioned nanny in the whole of Hertfordshire…