A modern take on a classic game.

One of the challenges I’ve faced with my boys recently is: there is always one who feels very strongly against an activity the other two have agreed on.

For many, this wouldn’t be a problem at all – just let them all do their chosen activity. Those of you with multiple under 5s will know that this isn’t always a wise choice. One might request painting (with ALL the colours) downstairs, while the eldest and youngest opt to play with toys upstairs. Watching these two interact is often incredibly proud for me as their parent, but then there are days when it is far from enjoyable. On these occasions, the toy in question is either the type that baby can destroy like a wrecking ball in a building site, whilst simultaneously being hit by a steamroller; or the type that contains several hundred tiny, hazard like pieces, that you can just about save from the grip of a little hand, only to discover another missing and remain paranoid about where it went until it mysteriously reappears a fortnight later amongst the ‘Megablocks’ or ‘Paw Patrol’.

It would also be fair to assume that, with the current lockdown, they’d be keen to get outside. At any given moment in daylight, I would say this statement is true for 2/3 of them. The refuser varies, but the outcome is the same: it’s very complicated getting out for a short walk or scoot. I’ve had all manner of interesting ‘small child’ reasoning in the past week.

“I can’t go out there’s no socks in my drawer.” (Solution: “Have the pair in my hand.”)

“The clouds are the wrong colour.” (I think he was trying to make the point that it might rain.)

“But he got to press the button!” (It would appear that the most exciting part of going out on your scooter is opening the garage door. If you can’t do that, then all the enjoyment of an outing is gone. Absolutely no point going.)

If they wouldn’t go to exercise, the exercise had to come to them. I decided to combine the classic instruction game ‘Simon Says’ with the action game ‘Port Starboard’, I added a modern twist and included some current affairs for good measure. Plus, the new hybrid game succeeded in its mission: to both entertain and exhaust the children. To play, all you need is four pieces of paper. I wrote a word on each (school, shop, hotel and home), then blu tacked each of them to the four walls of your play space. Introducing ‘Boris says’: you run as fast as you can to the location you’re told to go to, but don’t get caught out by running there if Boris doesn’t tell you to. Great fun. For the first time, we are enjoying the rules. By the time we’re done, my four year old may even have learnt to read a handful of new words as a bonus. I believe that’s P.E. Reading and Politics done in the space of 10 minutes. As someone who is finding juggling homeschooling with stopping the 1 year old destroying the house challenging, I’ll take that as a success.

Home was their favourite place to run to, as it meant jumping on the playroom sofa. Very convenient that they enjoy going home so much – at a moments notice too!

Note: Locations can be added/changed as new restrictions come into play. My boys were very enthusiastic to be the ‘caller’. Their early suggestions included: ‘Boris says do a handstand’ and ‘Boris says go to the toilet.’ So glad my children are not running the country right now, or we’d have some very crowded portaloos.

When the harsh realities of life catch up with you.

If anyone ever needed evidence to justify why we have maternity leave, I’ve probably gathered a significant amount in the last fortnight. Home schooling – whilst enjoyable at times – resembles a baptism of fire once you add the baby into the equation. Youngest son has a habit of crying when middle son and eldest son are thoroughly engaged in an activity. Of course, Mummy is not allowed to go and comfort him; that would result in them doing everything in their power to disengage themselves in aforementioned activity.

The boys were excited about about learning at home. There were two reasons for this. 1) They chose their own class name. We are lobsters class for those of you who may be interested. 2) Middle son finally gets to achieve his lifelong dream of being in his big brother’s class at school. Some of the most successful activities we’ve done so far include our senses game and scavenger hunt, our giant mixed media food table, our minibeast hunt (with obstacles), and our making our sequences.

Middle son is still preschool age, so we’ve had to find the balance between basic pencil control and letter sounds and his brother’s investigations that he’s so keen to be a part of. Eldest son constantly insists on ‘harder’ work. Then there’s my youngest one, who grizzles when he wants a bit of a cuddle. Pleasing all three is certainly more of a differentiation challenge than I’m used to. On one occasion, I did attempt to sit baby on my lap at the table so I could interact with all three. Then there was the blue crayon incident. It started when I became aware of a wet patch on my arm. A quick inspection confirmed baby dribble; except this had a significant blue tinge to it. Youngest son has very stealthily selected a crayon and is munching on it. He looks like a smurf with a slush puppy. The hand is blue. The mouth is blue. The tongue is blue. And all this in a time period less than 30 seconds.

How to use your excess toilet roll.

While I was mulling over the ‘chaotic moments’ from the day at school pick up time, another mummy made a very good point, “Today you can get away with anything. No one is going to notice that your child’s cycle helmet is still hanging on the pushchair or that your kids are screaming at you across the street because everyone is too busy enlarging their stash of loo rolls.”

An excellent piece of advice. It led me to contemplate what everybody is going to do with their toilet paper collection in due course. There’s only so much you can use for traditional bottom wiping. I’m thinking, with the schools set to close imminently, people are planning lists of Charmin Ultra themed activities. Maybe these include the following:

1) Building a fort (or possibly full sized palace) using toilet rolls.

2) Making an extra wide pair of toilet roll binoculars to see if there’s anyone queuing outside the local ASDA.

3) Using the stuff as modern wallpaper and get the kids to decorate the entire house.

4) Reliving their youth by screwing up lumps of wet toilet paper and throwing it onto the ceiling to see if it will stick.

5) Using the rolls as valuable currency to gamble with while playing poker.

6) Filming their own Andrex style advert with the assistance of the family puppy.

In the meantime I’m preparing to return to teaching sooner than expected. I’m only going to have a class of 2 (plus a baby), but I’ve drawn up the timetable already. I’m aware this is completely unnecessary for homeschooling but I like planning and my children thrive on routine, so I’m keeping to what they know as much as possible. Eldest son has already told me he’s looking forward to Mummy maths lessons.

In other news: I ‘ve been interviewed about my blogging journey so far. The interview will appear on sophiejoan.co.uk on Monday 6th April at 6p.m. You can follow Sophie on Instagram: @_sophiejoan_ or Twitter: @SophChennell