Parental Sick Leave

I’ve been a bit under the weather with a headache for the last day and a half, which is mercifully clearing up now. It isn’t an uncommon occurrence – I’ve always been a bit of a sick parrot. I had more absences from school than the kids in the bad crowd who liked to play truant.

That poses a bit of a problem now I’m a mother though. My kid’s don’t stop being dependent on me; there are still meals needing prepared (although I’m having a very welcome break from cooking the evening meal at the moment) there is still laundry being created and crumbs and mess being spread around.



I have an awesome support network. I live in the area I grew up, and my sisters and sister-in-laws are within shouting distance (quite literally if the wind is blowing in the right direction). And my mother is always swift to come when I really need her. But for mild illnesses, such as I’ve had the last few days, I turn to my reliable (but guilt inducing) babysitter: vidoes.

I try to use them as a reward – so my kids have to do a bit of tidying to get them – which helps keeps some of the mountains of mess we create under control.

We’re a bit picky about what we let our children watch; perennial favourites around here are Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and Shaun the Sheep. I sometimes put on a nature documentary, but I like to watch those with them and help explain as we go: not so friendly for my pounding head.

Inviting all the children into my bed with a few stories they’ve picked out is another pleasant way to spend an hour or two.

But what to do with the chores that stack and stack?

If I’m able to ‘potter’ then I use a software designing paradigm from my former life as a coder; something I often fall back on when I’m overwhelmed. MoSCoW. Well, except I don’t. The acronym stands for Must, Should, Could, Would. When I’m ill I’ll just do the first two. I’ll think of all the jobs that I absolutely have to do to keep my house in vaguely smooth working order and put them under a ‘must’ heading. Jobs that are less urgent but really should have my attention are for the ‘should’ heading. ‘Could’ is for things that would be nice if I get a chance. ‘Would’ is for things that I have no plans to get round to at all and are for another day. But as I said – I only think of the Musts and Shoulds when I’m ill.

In periods when I’m feeling able then I can shuffle about and do a few – sweep under my table, put away the clean laundry, empty my dishwasher.

Of course it leaves a backlog for when I’m well – but I’ve not figured out a way to avoid that yet. It is my hope that someday I’ll be so on top of my house that these bouts of illness will barely make a dent in my ongoing house work list. I can dream…


On Chemistry, Christmas Lectures and Book Collecting

It’s only a few days until we go on our Summer Holidays, so I’m winding down a bit with our schooling. Along with a minimal bit of work we watched an old Ri Christmas lecture from 2012. I loved watching them when I was a child – they really capture how exciting science can be.

Ri lecturer exploding chemicals

The lecture’s theme was the Modern Alchemist – all about chemistry and the elements. My eldest daughter found it enthralling. My son enjoyed it on a slightly different level. He liked the explosions and the ‘sausage man’ going on fire. It has sparked a new interest in the beautiful coffee table book that I bought six months ago.

It’s a lovely book for those who haven’t seen it. Yes, most of the elements seem to be silvery metals, but he has additional pictures that show them in their various uses. The text is short enough to hold the attention of my two oldest. It’s a lovely thing to pull out any time an interesting element comes up in conversation.

I would really like to collect more books. So much enthusiasm for a subject can be generated just leafing through the pages of wonderful, visual tomes. I can see our library, such as it is, expanding rapidly in the near future! Here are some I’ve set my sights on:

Costume Worldwide
There’s nothing that brings history to life more for me than visualising the clothes people wore. I’m not sure if it’s a female preference for fashion and social mores. Nevertheless what a fantastic way to reference each period of history.

Shackleton’s Journey
This is an illustrated account of Shackleton’s expedition across the Antarctic. Searching for images of the inside I came across this review from FrogMom which has certainly has me sold.

The Book of Beetles
There is something terribly fascinating about the colours, shapes and sizes that these abundant creatures come in. This book has stunning pictures of each tiny, living gems, along with a little text on each, a map and a life-size image on each page. It would be worth finding a similar volume on Moths and Butterflies; insects which seem to attract young and old alike.

30-Second Anatomy
This is an illustrated guide to the amazing ways which our body works. Like many of the books on my wish list, it contains a huge amount of information, but is cleverly and beautifully designed so as not to be overwhelming.

Citizens of the Sea
A photography based overview of life in the oceans, both small and massive. There is so much to capture a child’s imagination in the sea and this looks to be a fine representation of it.

Edited by, Adam Heart Davis, one of my favourite television presenters, and published by the kings of visual fact books – DK – this book covers a vast scope. I could see it captivating my young ones.

There are tons and tons more out there – books that will see my children’s interest grow from infants enthralled by the pretty pictures, small children discovering just how amazing the world can be, and young adults wanting to expand and deepen their knowledge. And me – who just wants to curl up on a sofa with a coffee, and sit and read them all.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog! I’m a Christian living in the north of Scotland and blessed with four beautiful children. My eldest is six, so we’re still near the beginning of our homeschooling journey. The rest of my brood are aged five, three and one, so there is rarely a quiet moment to be found in our home.

I’m not exactly a natural at keeping house (though I’m trying), the schooling is certainly more fun (most of the time anyway). But for both I have found so much help and inspiration from the internet. I thought I should have a space of my own to deposit and share my ideas and the things that I’ve found that are working for us.

Sarah at the Short Home xxx