Last week I featured as a guest writer on Netmums Blog with a post entitled Playground Games from our Childhood. In this I talk about sharing my childhood games with my girls, games that are in danger of being lost if they are not passed down.
Moving abroad has made me more aware of my heritage. It is a little clichéd that when one moves away from home there is a sudden urge to become patriotic. Yes, I fly union jack bunting, I bake Welsh cakes for the soccer team and feel the urge to re-learn Welsh folk songs but it is not because I need to make a statement, rather that I want my girls to understand what being British means. We love embracing a new culture but I think it would be sad if our own childhoods were completely alien to the girls.
If you’d like to help to preserve traditional games for this generation then I’d love you to join in the link below with any posts about your own childhood games, traditions you have shared with your children or thoughts about modern play.
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I was interested to read today about the latest Netmums survey and campaign regarding mums and part-time work.
Netmums surveyed 1600 mums who work part-time. 70% of the women surveyed chose freely to work part-time and 93% of those had worked full-time before having children.
However, half of the women reported that they had taken lower skilled jobs when returning to work part-time.
Part-time work tends to be concentrated in low paid and low skilled jobs, where opportunities for progression may be limited. Many mums complained about being held back by working part-time:
This certainly matches my own experience. I was fortunate after my first child to be able to return to work part-time on a freelance consultancy basis. I worked as part of a senior advisory teaching team for the local authority, the pay was good and I had the opportunity to spend time with my daughter. However, it was not without its pitfalls. The other members of my team worked full-time and on permanent contracts. This meant that many of the perks were not offered to me (including much coveted trips to Reggio and the Forest Schools in Denmark). I didn’t get a local authority email address meaning my emails often didn’t reach the people I needed to contact and no mobile phone or laptop like the rest of my team. The biggest drawback however was the lack of maternity pay – as a freelancer I was only entitled to statutory maternity pay.
Okay, so many of these disadvantages were because I was a freelancer but I see my desire to remain part-time as a big disadvantage. Since having my 2 youngest children I haven’t returned to work. The freelance work dried up with the budget cuts and I find myself in a difficult position. I could take up a part-time classroom teachers post or become a supply teacher but I would see this as a step backwards. With my experience and qualifications I would expect at the very least to be a Foundation Stage Co-ordinator or a Children’s Centre Lead Teacher. The difficulty is that once you begin to look at senior/management positions it becomes difficult to share that job with someone else and work on a part-time basis.
I don’t think this is uncommon. I meet talented, well qualified women all the time who work on the checkout at Waitrose. Those that try to work full-time or cram 5 days work into 4, only to end up feeling like inadequate mums. Some even give up altogether. I met a mother who had recently achieved a 1st Class Law Degree. When looking for jobs she was told that as a single mum she really needed to question whether this was the right profession for her because of the long unpredictable hours.
I find myself in a position of frustration that all my experience and knowledge is not being put to good use. I chose to be a mum, but I would like to strike a balance between being there for my children and having something fulfilling for me, without feeling like my years of study and experience have been wasted. If I didn’t feel this way I could get a low skilled, low paid job but it would be difficult to pay the childcare for 2 under 5’s .
Am I being unrealistic in my expectations? Do I need to bite the bullet and make a decision to return to work full-time or work part-time in a less fulfilling job?
I’d be interested to hear what other mums think.
The good people at Netmums have been kind enough to let me and my 7 year old daughter review a Lego game. I say ‘kind’ because the original request went out to boys. Strange, I thought, I’ve always thought of Lego as a unisex toy. Having heard good things about Lego games, I thought it was worth asking if they would like a girl’s perspective and hey presto our wish was granted. My daughter has been eagerly awaiting the postman for weeks, especially as I promised she could invite 2 of her friends to test it with her.
The game that finally arrived was Ramses Return. It is described as a memory game suitable for children aged 7+. So far so good, Egypt is a fairly unisex topic and memory games are generally popular in our household.
Before playing the game you need to build the board and the die which adds another dimension to the toy. We had fun building it together and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. It comes with a funny little tool (the red thing in the picture) to lift the tiles from the die if you want to change it around . This is (as are many of the other pieces) very small. In our house this means that tidy away time would need to be supervised to ensure that no pieces went missing or were eaten by toddlers, babies or dogs.
The rules are easy to follow. The object of the game is to move around the board collecting crystals and treasure, some of which are hidden under domes. If the die lands on a colour, you have to check the domes to see if you can find a matching crystal, the domes then can be placed back on the board in any position, so you need to remember where each colour is. If the mummy passes through your space you lose a piece of treasure and go back to the start. The winner is the first to collect 3 different pieces of treasure. The treasure and crystals fit neatly onto the heads of the playing people, my daughter loved balancing the funny hats on their heads.
We have played the game twice so far, once just the 2 of us and again with 3 children plus my 2 year old and myself playing together. When it was just the 2 of us it took about 10 minutes to play. I liked this because often board games are quite long and it is difficult to find long enough stretches of time when the babies are not around for us to play. With 4 players it took considerably longer, one of the boys became bored before it finished and then they all gave up. The boy who gave up playing was younger than the recommended age so this may have been a factor, also because the board is so small with 4 players it is quite difficult to sit around it. We passed it from player to player instead.
The thing that I loved most about the game is that it promotes creativity by encouraging you to change the rules. We changed a number of rules such as when a player landed on your space you had to give them a crystal and if you choose an empty dome you had to go back 2 spaces. It was lovely to see the children negotiating the rule changes.
So was the game a hit with girls? I think that is a resounding yes.