As I sit here waiting for the children to come out of school I’m browsing Facebook and I stumble upon an article which states: ‘the numbers of nurses and health visitors fall for the first time in four years’.
As I say in my bio – I’m a paediatric nurse turned health visitor. My best friends and I started our nurse training 22 years ago (we were all aghast at this realisation!) and have been qualified for 20 years next year.  The majority of my nursing career was spent on Paediatric Intensive Care. It was a job that I loved. It was a challenging job in so many ways. It was hard physical work. During winter, the unit would be full day & night, when a bed became empty there was another poorly child lined up for it. 
We worked 12 and a half hour shifts which started at either 7.30am or 7.30pm. The day would start with a brief rundown of all the patients on the unit and the nurse in charge of the new shift would allocated each nurse to a patient, if we were lucky. Some days we’d be understaffed and there would be a nurse for two patients. I loved the unit I worked on because the team spirit was very much alive. When the sh*t hit the fan we all pitched in, working like clockwork to revive and maintain children’s lives, to ensure a family didn’t lose their most precious people. Sometimes we were successful and sometimes sadly we weren’t. Every nurse I worked with was dedicated to these little lives and to their families who had entrusted their lives with. So much so that meal and toilet breaks would take a back seat in order that we did our utmost to care for the children. 

This is not an unusual scenario in nursing AT ALL. Walk onto any ward or department in our amazing NHS hospitals and you will see it for yourself. The dedication of the staff can be seen in the staff that arrive for their shift, don’t take their breaks and finish late because well, you can’t ‘shut down’ the patient in front of you who needs your care like you can a laptop at the end of the day. BUT these wonderful people are being pushed to the absolute limit, they’re understaffed and working in an under resourced ‘company’ (the NHS). They desperately want to provide the very best of care to their patients, because they are the most dedicated and compassionate of people. Nobody who walks through those doors wants to put their patients lives at risk, not one of them to ants to provide suboptimal care and THIS is why staff are leaving in their droves. They have been pushed too much, they’ve been pushed to the brink and can long continue. 

Hospitals are being MADE to fail because of lack of resources. Services are being cut left right and centre. This includes health visiting services. Various areas have no health visitor service at all as they have been scrapped.  You see health visitors don’t just weigh babies, we support the most vulnerable of families during some of the most challenging of times. There are so so many vulnerable children and families out there. By demolishing the health visiting service you increase the vulnerability of these families. The need doesn’t go any where, the need still exists – in fact the need will increase because these children and families are not getting the support when they desperately need it which will put more children at risk. And so if this is about money, which it undoubtedly is, the cost will be greater as the need is greater.

I’m so so sad for our wonderful NHS, the life is being snuffed out of it taking the wonderful staff with it. 
Emma 

#nhs #saveournhs #nurse #healthvisitor 

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I thought I’d check in quickly. We’ve had a busy few weeks here at King Towers. We’ve pretty much been adjusting to home/school/work life after the holidays.
Firstly, the kids have all gone back to school. Albie started school, something he had been ready for for what seems like forever! He’s grown up watching Oscar & Mabel going into school and being picked up. He’s totally used to standing at the school gates and in the playground waiting for them. So it was now his turn to join them. He was beside himself with excitement leading up to his first day. We bought all his uniform whatnot the week before. I washed said uniform twice on the lead up to his first day because he was so desperate to wear it, bless him! We’re still in the ‘settling in’ phase which is frustrating and we all can’t wait until he’s in full time. The long & the short of it is that he’s enjoying it. His teacher has described him as ‘chatty’!

 

School 1

Albie’s first day at school

 

The return to school has brought about the usual whirlwind that all working parents will recognise. The mornings and their constant ‘reminders’ to get dressed, do their reading & GET YOUR SHOES ON on what feels like loop! Then the reverse of that after we’ve retrieved the children from their both sets of Grandparents which is where they’re going after school pick up; James’ parents for Albie who is doing half days and my Mum (and Dad after he finishes work) for Oscar and Mabel at school home time. We then have the quick bath, play, bedtime whilst we prepare for the next day; lunches, uniforms blah blah blah.   Albie is now FINALLY at school full time so we’re looking forward to getting into the new family routine.

 
James and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary at the beginning of September. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our wedding day! We had an evening out whilst the kids had a sleepover at my parents. We had thought about going away but it coincided with Albie’s first week at school so in the end we decided to go low key. We had a lovely bike ride the following morning to a nearby town for breakfast. Although, me being my clumsy self, wobbled my bike into a flower display in the middle of town!

 

We’ve had another step toward a parental milestone. We’ve started to look at senior schools for Oscar! It’s a bit of a scary and unknown area for us. Myself, James and Oscar went to an open evening at one of the schools this last week. James and I were impressed. The young people that we met were confident and engaging. We walked around moving between the various departments and buildings. One of the first departments we went to was the PE department. Now Oscar is not a sporty boy. He’s tried his hand at a few sports but it’s just not his bag. So when one of the PE teachers asked him ‘which is your favourite sport?’ Oscar replied ‘oh well I don’t really like sport, I like science!’ Bless my ‘little’ geeky boy. The moment we walked into the science labs Oscar was captivated. There were various areas with children demonstrating different scientific principles with the excitement of Bunsen burners and interesting potions!

 

So, there you go…..a whirlwind trip into our life over the last month or so!

Emma

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Birthday present from James -Elbow gig

I turned 40 in March of this year and as many other men and women, I made some promises about the way I would conduct my life. One of those promises I made to myself was to take more care of myself. 

As many many other women find, when you become a parent you kind of loose your identity with it. I’d lost my sense of style, opting for comfy and easy. This came with the lack of time I had to get ready and also the fact that dragging 3 kids around a shopping mall is like the worst kind of hell! My body had changed shape, which I wasn’t comfortable with at all. I didn’t know how to dress or what clothes I liked. My makeup was thrown on with the same colour palate in the same way, day in day out. 

Like many other women (and men), I seemed to hang onto the whole concept of ‘when I’m skinnier/in better shape I’ll be happier/I’ll be able to wear nicer clothes’ etc etc. It’s then you realise that you’re actually living for a day which may never actually materialise and missing out on life whilst you do. How many of us have dodged photos of ourselves with our children because we don’t like the way we look in photos only to find that there is a distinct lack of photos of us with our children? What are we teaching our children? Do we want our children being drawn into the duck pout generation? 

James is a paediatric nurse too (we met over hospital corners when we were students but that’s another story!) and has always worked in child and adolescent mental health. Since James qualified he had a special interest in eating disorders. One of James’ roles was the Eating Disorder Specialist Nurse at Great Ormand Street Hospital for some time.  During this time James would see children (mostly girls) as young as 7 years of age in his clinics who had developed eating disorders.  James is now the Director of an Eating  Disorder service where we live and receives referrals from around the country. 

The thought of my children being burdened with such an illness is too much to think about. Eating disorders happen for a number of reasons; life changing events, media and research now is showing that there may even be a predisposition to developing a disorder (see I do listen James!). Often, it’s an amalgamation of all of these clashing at one time.

So at the age of 40 I made a conscious effort to not place so much stock in the things that really, when you think about it, have no importance in life.  My hair is getting whiter so I started dying it to cover it up. But I wasn’t really dying it because I wanted to, it was because I thought I ought to. Why? I have no idea. I actually don’t really have any beef with my hair changing colour, it’s only natural after all – so I stopped dying it. James laughed at me when I told him that I had bought dental floss as part of my ‘looking after myself at 40’ regime!  I couldn’t remember the last time I had bought new make up or took care of my skin (I always slept in my makeup – shock horror!). 
I was a slim teenager and 20 something but when I approached my 30’s I started putting on weight. I as able to eat what I wanted and not have to think about it when I was younger and all of a sudden that didn’t seem to be the case.  So I hated the way I looked, I wasn’t ‘me’ anymore I was ‘supposed’ to be a size 8 and instead I was a size 12.  I kept thinking that I’d buy the clothes I wanted when I was thinner again and then I’d be happy with the way I was. This carried on until I approached 40.  I realised that I didn’t want Mabel (or our boys) growing up feeling the same way.  I didn’t want the children to think that they would be a better and more valuable as a person when they reached a certain goal, whatever that may be.  

At home we talk about being healthy. We don’t talk about weight or size but we talk about what our body needs for fuel.  We don’t outlaw sweets and chocolate and we don’t refer to food as being ‘bad’ or ‘good’.  We talk about the fact that our body needs everything in moderation to keep us healthy.  We also try to place more value in the personality traits which make them them. We don’t place value in looks or appearance but on things like being kind, helpful and funny.  We really don’t want our children growing up in a time where more and more value is placed on looks. Mabel has her own quirky style.  She doesn’t like dresses or skirts and when it comes to parties her friends usually wear party dresses but Mabel favours a pair of trousers, a checked shirt and a hoodie.  You see Mabel doesn’t worry about what her friends will be wearing, she wants to wear what she wants.  I absolutely love that about her and I want that to continue.
It’s not easy changing the habits of thinking that thinner or younger are the things that we need to hold dear.  I still question whether I should be a different size or whether other people notice my ever aging white hair.  But heck, life is too short.  Let’s not worry about what other people think, if they don’t like it then chuff off! We all need to take note of the ‘Mabels’ in life! 

Live the life you want now, you are the best you RIGHT NOW! 

Emma 
 

#bodyimage #turning40 #selflove #ed #blogger

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Us Kingers

I can now report that we have had a very successful and amamzing trip to France…..the demons of past holidays have been conquered and put to bed!  WHOOOP!

 

We decided on a very last minute holiday to France.  We booked up on the Wednesday and started our journey on the Sunday.  The kids were super excited!  In fact, at the beginning of the school holiday, James asked the kids to make a list of the stuff they wanted to do during their summer break.  One of Mabel’s top 5 things to do was to go to France so she was very impressed that she got her wish!  We spent the next couple of days frantically washing and organising everything we needed to take with us.  I did an Aldi shop so that we could take along the food basics so that we didn’t have to spent out too much on the boring stuff like tea bags and cereal.

 

As I explained on a previous post, we’ve had 2 previous trips to France which were pretty unsuccessful!  If you’re unfamiliar with the story so far then take a look at my last post ✖️Previous Disasterous French Holidays✖️ , this will get you up to speed.  So We’ve had some practice in honning in on the things that were helpful when driving for long jouneys with 3 young children.  I shall share with you some top tips from our experiences which may help you maintain your sanity and family serenity before the holiday even kicks off.  Well, maybe that was a bit of a claim too far?  If you’re anything like our family any car journey is usually punctuated by either kids smacking each other in the head, shouting and screaming or them just getting annoyed by the mere fact that one of their siblings has dared to breathe in their vicinity.  Which then results in one other or both of the grown ups shouting ‘just keep your hands to yourself and don’t talk to each other if you don’t have anything nice to say’ whilst muttering an expletive under our breathe.  I’m sure that’s not just us?!

 

The first part of a our journey took us from home on Gloucestershire to the Euro Tunnel in Folkestone.  I hate ferries, this is mainly due to the fact that I spent a fair amount of my childhood travelling back and forth to Germany where we lived at the time.  My Mum tells a story of a particularly choppy crossing where my sister and I had been playing on the floor of the ferry only to emerge looking very green around the gills! We had taken a picnic lunch with us to eat during our Euro Tunnel crossing.  This meant that we didn’t have to stop for a while once we got into France and the kids were adequately fed, watered and tolieted before the next stage of our journey.

Euro Tunnel train

 
The first time we went to France we naively thought that we could manage big chunks of time in the car.  We learnt from that mistake!  Our eventual destination was to be the Lot-De-Garrone region in South-West France.  If we’d gone straight from Calais, it would have been a 12 hour journey and so we had booked a small Airbnb cottage about half way down.  The cottage was lovely, small but just what we needed to get our heads down and the kids to have a run around for our next part of our car journey.  The kids loved the fact that there was loads of outside space and that the owners had some animals to visit whilst we were there.  We had dinner, the kids had a play and then we all had a well earned rest. We all emerged the next day refreshed and ready to take on the next stint in the van.

Our first Airbnb stop over

 
As we ventured further and further south into France the temperature got warmer and warmer.  We have a VW Transporter Kombi van that DOESN’T have airconditoning which made for an either noisy (with the windows down) or toasty (with the windows up) journey.  The kids moaned about being too hot or it being too windy.  We of course recounted the fact that no cars had air-con ‘back in our day’ and they responded with looks that basically said ‘whatevs’!  We stopped about 4 times on the way down to our next (and main) Airbnb accommodation.  The kids were very well behaved considering we were trying to push on though our journey so that we could arrive in time to meet the owner of the house.  Their behaviour was in part aided by the fact that we had of course taken their Kindles with the them which James had loaded with their favourite TV shows and films before we left home.  We had also very cleverly (yes I will congratulate ourselves on this) bought them headphones so that we didn’t have to listen to their 3 varrying and annoying programs.

 

Part of my Aldi shop also included various snacks to chuck at the kids whenever they threatened to rip each other’s arms off or just generally got fed up with being cooped up in a tight space with each other.  We had also learnt on previous trips that food could be the vital factor between the mother of all meltdowns and harmony, even if it was only between annoyances.  I had also had the forethought to not include anything that would melt in the growing heat!  So our snacks included; cereal bars, breadsticks, rice cakes, raisins, sweets (so that we could bring out the big guns when the going got tough!), biscuits and crisps.

 

We came off the motorway about an hour away from our Airbnb.  This was a very welcome break as the scenery was amazing and offered a chance to distract the kids from time to time.  We arrived at our Airbnb at about 5pm and it was beautiful!  I’d thoroughly recommend where we stayed.  There was lovely shadded areas where you could chill and read and eat but also areas you could enjoy the warmth of the sun with a good book.  We were greeted by the lovely owner who showed us around and told us all the important info and then we beded in. The kids went off to explore and James and I made oursleves at home.

We took a small tent & paddling pool to play in

 

We had almost a week in the Lot-Et-Garrone and it was stunning.  We spent our mornings chilling and lazing around whilst the kids explored and played their games or spent time on the piano at the house.  We’d then have some lunch and venture out to explore the amazing places the area had to offer.  One of our trips was to a Castle called Chateaux De Bonaguil.  As we approached the castle we all gasped!  It stood on a hill, all golden and regal.  Oscar absolutely loved it, he couldn’t wait to see was around the next corner and read the information about each room we entered.  Mabel and Albie enjoyed it too until we reached the dungeons which featured a massive fake bat and Albie declared that he was ‘freaked out’!  Both Mabel and Albie began to enjoy it once again when we reached the gift shop!  Another day the kids and James had a swim in a natural pool.  I had planned to paddle around the edge but when we got there, we were told that you could only be on the pool side if you had swimming gear on as the pool needed to be kept clean by everyone having a shower before they entered the pool area.  James and thekids reported back that the pool was indeed the best pool that they had swum if, if a little chilly!  On our last full day we visited the Bastide town of Tournon D’ Agenais.  James and I loved it here, it was very typically French and had some fantastic views from the walls of the town.  The kids weren’t so impressed and Oscar informed James that it was somewhere that only grown ups like to come!

Chateaux De Bonaguil

 

Once we’d managed to get the kids to bed mine and James’ evenings were spent reading books which we never do at home which in part due to the fact that we have a TV and also that we just zone out after busy days at work when were caught up in the daily grind of ‘normal life’.  We also obviously enjoyed a cheeky wine or gin (or two) whilst enjoying the evening’s warmth.  We loved the fact that we could truly relax away from the boring interuptions of the washing pile and the kids’ messy rooms.
 
My ‘Top Tips for long car journeys with children’

  1.  Electronic devices will be your saviour – yes well all know that children spend too much time in front of screens but for the sake of familial harmony and your relationship remaining in tact, DO IT!
  2. Snacks – Make sure that they are easily transported and are snacks that won’t make a dogs dinner of your rear seats.  Oh and another top tip with regards to jouney snacks is to take some small bowls, again….less mess!  Keep your big guns when you’re in dire need, you know when you just can’t possibly hear ‘are we nearly there yet’ without wanting to rip your own ears off
  3. Break up the journey – I know this seems obvious but I have a tendancy to want to push on through the journey so that we can arrive at our final destination sooner but take it from me, the kids needed to run around at frequent interval to allow them to have more that 20cms space between each other. I’m sure it prevented many a sibling induced injury
  4. Add to your adventure with a stop over – I think this point was good for all of our mental health.  It was good to have some space.  It also added to the excitement of the trip with more places to investigate and explore
  5. Purchase headphones – if like my kids, your kids like to watch some god awful program/film you’ll thank me for this.  James and I could also actually listen to the radio and talk to each other without having to compete against 3 devices

 

We had an absolutely amazing holiday and I came away with dreams of buying a holiday in the South of France!  It was lovely to get away and have some real family time with some real relaxation without any preocupation with ‘real life’.  So the Kingers have managed to have a magical holiday to France and it is no longer a place of disaster for our family!

 

Thanks for reading

Emma

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So we’re in the final throws of preparing to go on holiday to France tomorrow. We made a last minute decision on Wednesday evening that we were going to book a holiday.
We have had two holidays to France in the past; once in 2013 and another in 2015 and lots just say, they were a disaster in one way or another. So this holiday could put to bed the demons of the last two visits OR it could confirm that we should not under any circumstance visit France ever again. I’m hoping that it’s the former! 

So our visit to France was in the summer of 2013. At this time Albie was only 4 months old, Mabel was almost 3 and Oscar was 5. We didn’t realise at this time but Albie was cow’s milk protein intolerant which, as I describe our holiday, will become more relevant. 

The Euro Tunnel train

We set out from home to the Euro Tunnel in Folkestone which is about 3 and a half hours from home. All was well until we got in line to board our train when we were told that there would be a delay in our crossing. The delay was about an hour all in all. This became a problem as we were an hour later getting onto our onward journey which would be about another 5 hours! Our final destination was the island of Oleron which is a beautiful place. However we had booked an campsite part the way down into our journey just for one night to break it up. Well time was getting on, it was getting dark & the kids were getting more & more ratty in the back of the car. We eventually found out campsite at about 1am. All completely exhausted & lacking in a sense of humour we piled into our trailer tent & got our heads down. 


Albie on our first trip

The next morning we woke on a beautiful campsite, which we were unaware of at or very very late arrival time. Keen to get on our way again, we packed up the tent & started the next leg of our journey. That (undiagnosed) cows milk protein intolerance meant that when Albie filled his nappy, EVERYONE knew about it. It was vile especially when trapped in a hot car for hours on end. I should also mention that Mabel had not long potty trained and so our journeys were punctuated by many toilet stops. What we hadn’t realised is that we had chosen to travel on the French bank holiday. The roads were bumper to bumper as French holiday makers made their way to the coast (as were we). The journey should have take us around 5 hours but instead took us…..8 freaking hours! 
Thankfully we were meeting our very good friends and their 2 children on the campsite in Oleron. When we finally arrived, we were greeted by our friends, a beer and a barbecue on the beach. Bliss! 

Looking back, I think that I was suffering with postnatal depression which wasn’t diagnosed for another 5 months after this. I can remember feeing as though everything was passing me by, like I was looking down watching myself in a haze whilst everyone else was enjoying their holiday. I can’t look at the photos from this holiday as it takes me back to the those feelings & makes me feel sad that I couldn’t enjoy it.

Our second holiday to France was  2 years later. We felt that we’d leant from a few mistakes from our first trip. We booked a hotel on the way down  to the campsite we were going to be staying in. The kids loved it & were very excited for a hotel breakfast! The drive from the hotel to the campsite was fairly uneventful, just the usual wee stops. The area we were staying in was so beautiful & we were looking forward to exploring during our week there. 

We arrived at the campsite & we felt as though we’d hit on gold. The campsite was lovely. It had a swimming pool, a bouncy castle, go karts and the kids whizzed up and down on their scooters. We put the tent up and made a quick trip to the supermarket to buy milk etc for our breakfast. We then chilled for the evening. We stayed on the campsite the next day with the kids enjoying the pool and exploring the campsite. We’d decided that the next day that we might go out to visit one of the many nearby castles. 

Once we were ready we readied our van for our venture out. One small problem, we couldn’t get the van key into the ignition. We tried & tried but something was up with it. We had to resort to phoning the AA for help. Luckily James remembered at the last minute that we needed European cover for the van. Many calls back & forth which could only be made from beside our tent because the reception was so bad, revealed that an AA van would be in the area in the next day or so! So we were stranded for the next couple of days. We were stuck on the campsite with virtually no food but that wasn’t the end of the word because the restaurant on site served take away pizzas. BUT the restaurant was shut because of a family bereavement meaning we had 3 kids to feed on biscuits and cereal!!! Eventually the kind owner of the site took pity on us & went for to collect a takeout pizza, bless him! 

The day came for the AA man to come out to us. Phew! He looked over the van & told us that it was something very simple. The ignition lock had dropped down meaning that the key wasn’t inline with the mechanism. Fab! BUT NO! The AA man couldn’t move our van out because the wheels were locked & we couldn’t turn the steering wheel. SO….we were to wait for a pick up truck from a local garage to collect the van & take it to be fixed. It couldn’t be fixed on site as the dashboard had to be taken apart. The pickup arrived, well it was supposed to be a low loader but instead they just brought a van! So they then tootled off & said they would be back the next day to collect the van, that day arrived & they didn’t come! When we knew that our van needed to be fixed we arranged a hire car so that at least we could get out and about. 

The next day arrived & our van got taken away to be fixed. By this time we’d had enough. We had all the camping gear & knew that none of it would fit in the teeny car we had been given (luckily this was covered by the AA). So there was nothing for it but to pack up the tent & all the camping gear so that it could be put into the van. We had also been told that it would be about a week before the van was fixed and that we’d have to come back out to France to pick it up! We were livid but so utterly exhausted from the whole process with lots of tears being shed for the lack of holiday we’d had & the frustration at having to entertain 3 children. 

Once our van was taken with all our camping gear loaded into it, we decided to try to pull back the holiday somehow. We decided to drive to Paris and spend 2 nights there. Again, thank goodness this was paid by the AA! So we stayed in a Raddison Hotel very close the the Eiffel Tower. We also made the snap decision to go to Eurodisney to try to redeem this holiday for the kids sake. So we spent the next 2 days in Paris waking up to the view of the Eiffel Tower. We then made our way back to the Euro Tunnel bit first we had to swap hire cars as the car we had couldn’t go over to the UK. 


The view from our room


Oscar enjoying a room service breakfast!

I have NEVER been so glad to get home from a holiday! The annoyances didn’t end there though. A week later, James had to fly to France (paid for by the AA), pick up the van, stay in a hotel overnight & then make his way home. 

So as you can see, our track record with France is not good at all!! I think I have enough distance between our last disasters to visit again! This time we have booked with Airbnb. 

Wish us luck & keep everything crossed that our luck had changed for the better.

See you on the flip side!

Emma

#standstillmychild #myhappycapture #photosinbetween #oureverydaymoments #ukbloggers #ukparentblogger #lifestyleblogger #france #familyholiday #familytime #thekingersandi #camping #lifecloseup #pnd #postnataldepression #cmpi 

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