Do We Push Our Children Too Much Academically?

I recently heard two parents bemoaning the lack of after school revision classes for year 6 SATs tests.  My initial reaction was one of horror and pity for the children involved, who were clearly being worked hard at home to achieve good SATs results.  The concern seemed to be that if their child didn’t get a level 5 or better in their SATs, then they would end up in lower groups at secondary school with less able or more disruptive children.  These children were achieving good, strong level 4s, but their parents wanted to push them up a level for the test.  There seemed to be less concern about the children’s level of attainment on a day to day basis and more with how they did on an individual day.Many schools don’t stream on the basis of SATs anyway, as they prefer to do their own tests when the children start in September, so their concern may have been unnecessary (and I believe it was for the schools they were transferring to).
Clearly, as parents we all want our children to achieve their full potential and we want them to develop good academic skills and a wide ranging knowledge of the world.  The SATs, at their best, are a way of measuring that progress.  There’s also a value in teaching exam techniques early before there is too much riding on the results.  But, do we really need to spend large chucks of year 6 doing pass papers and piling on the homework.  I really question whether it is our children’s best interest to spend long hours, outside of the school day, practising for SATs or indeed grammar school entrance exams. Children need down time too, time to run around, play and even just do nothing at all. 

Reusable Nappies Didn’t Work For Us

We try to be reasonably green as a family recycling, composting, using public transport or walking when we can, etc.  So when we were preparing for J’s arrival we naturally thought about trying reusable nappies.  I attended a nappy morning ran by our local council to see some nappies and get some advice.  I looked online.  Everything I read seemed positive: they’re a good thing, your child will like them, they will potty train early, and so on.  Enthused by all this, I did the research, chose a nappy type, bought nappy buckets and invested a couple of hundred pounds in a birth to potty set of One Life nappies.

I was keen to use them from day 1, but we found that in hospital using disposables was more practical.  Another factor was that even on the smallest setting they seemed a bit big for him.  So we didn’t start using them until a few weeks into our life as parents. 

They did not go down very well with J.  He didn’t like being in a wet nappy or even a damp one.  He seemed to wee pretty often (small bladders at that age I guess and he was a milk monster too).  I was having to change him every half an hour to an hour.  Our 16 nappies didn’t last very long before they all needed washing.  Changing a child that frequently, combined with breastfeeding a frequent feeder, was an uphill task.  I found myself been secretly pleased when they were all in the wash and I was using disposables. 

I started finding excuses to use disposables.  Wearing real nappies at night was not an option if I wanted to stand a chance of getting any sleep.  I started putting disposables on when we were out as it wasn’t feasible to change him that frequently when you’re trying to do the shopping, plus you’d have to cart around a load of nappies.  Next I’d say to myself that I wouldn’t be changing him again before we went out, so I might as well put a disposable on now, that time gradually extended.  Soon we were wholly using disposables.  I was relieved when we made a formal decision to give up on them.

The sad thing was that we’d spent money on the nappies and still had to buy disposables.  Selling second hand nappies is difficult especially since eBay banned the practice.  I tried selling at our local NCT sale with very limited success.  Real nappies were a big mistake for us, both as parents and financially.

That said, I wouldn’t want to put anyone off, but I’d exercise caution.  There are schemes which allow you to try out reusable nappies without buying.  You can also try out a selection of different sorts of nappy this way.  I wouldn’t buy until you are convinced that you will use them and you have tried them out on your child for a while.  Friends, who have used them successfully with one child, have sometimes run into difficulties with a subsequent baby.  Not all children get on with them.  I’m glad that I didn’t have to bring up a child before the invention of disposables.  At least, I had the choice over whether to go for reusable ones or disposables.  

Late Decision To Be A Mum

I was the eldest child of a big family and grew up with lots of pesky, younger brothers and sisters.  I think it was this experience of younger children, particularly during my teenage years, that put me off having children of my own.  When you’ve had younger siblings giggling behind the sofa when your boyfriend is round or making lots of noise while you are trying to revise for exams, you don’t tend to think of young children as endearing or desirable.
In adulthood I firmly maintained that I wasn’t having any.  Friends started to have children and I still wasn’t interested.  I was quite happy with my decision.  I got on well with the children of my friends, but I didn’t go out of my way to deliberately spend time with them. 
I’m not sure what happened, maybe it was that biological clock that started ticking ever louder.  Maybe I was curious to know what a child of mine would be like.  Anyway I decided that I would like a child, but I was already the wrong side of 35.  Luckily my husband was amenable.  He’d always said he was happy to have children and happy to not have children.  So we got to work.
One early miscarriage and several months later, I had a very faint line on a pregnancy test.  I couldn’t resist testing every day and gradually the line got a bit darker until it was in no doubt.  Happiness and relief were the dominant emotions.  I had been worried that I’d left it too late and we’d just been referred for infertility tests.  In fact, I’d had some blood tests done during the cycle when I got pregnant and my hormone levels had all been normal for that month at least.
Now it’s difficult sometimes to imagine a time without my son.  I certainly can’t imagine life without him.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision, even if I left it rather late to decide to be a mum. 

Early Mornings

Don’t know about you, but I’m wondering when children grow out of early mornings?  My son J is 6 and still wakes me before 6am on a regular basis.  Even on a relative lie in day, I’d be very lucky to make it past 6.30.  And it has to be mummy that gets up too, but that’s another story.

Changing bedtime makes no difference.  Even when he went to bed at midnight (we arrived late back from holiday) he was up at 6.30 the next day.  This makes occasional late nights and tiring days problematic as he doesn’t get any extra sleep in the morning to compensate and hence is grumpy for a day or two while he recovers.  We do try to keep to the routine and don’t like to vary from it by more than about half an hour as a result.  Some parents seem to be unconcerned about keeping their children up later on holiday, etc.  Maybe they have children who recover quicker and aren’t adverse to the occasional lie in.

So what happens when children get older and change their sleeping patterns.  Will he change overnight into a teenager like child wanting long lie ins?  Will it be gradual?  Is it in steps and stages? What’s your experience of sleep development in children?  What can I expect for the future?

Dry At Night

My son (J) is still wearing nappies at 6.  We have tried going without a nappy; we’ve tried lifting him; we’ve waiting for dry nappies in the morning; reduced drinks later in the day, but so far nothing has worked.  He did manage 9 dry nights on the trot with no nappy back when he was 4.  On the tenth day he had his preschool MMR booster (I’m not saying there is a connection – it may well have been a coincidence) and after that he was wet.  We put him back in nappies because it wasn’t doing anyone any good having a wet bed every night.  We thought in time it would happen.  Hopefully, it will.

I’ve done a bit of research and it seems that there’s no need to consult a doctor currently.  He’s very reliably dry during the day and has been for two to three years.  If he’s still wetting the bed or his nappy at 7, it would be worth seeking advice. 

Bed wetting runs in families and his father used to wet the bed, so it may well be a genetic thing.

Part of me is happy to wait and let him take his time.  After all a nappy is very easy to use – he’s still able to wear size 6 nappies so no need for expensive pyjama pants, etc.  It doesn’t cost that much to have one nappy a day.  I’m not having to wash sheets constantly because they are getting wet at night.  I think my nerve will hold and I won’t force the issue, but a sneaky little part of me wants to take some action, get it sorted and cross it off the to do list.

When did your child become dry at night?  Did you do anything to make that happen?  Did your child initiate it?  Do you have any tips?