Rugby Championing Women

I always said if I had a girl I would do everything I could to level the playing field, pun not intended, with regards to gender neutrality but from day one I really was my worst enemy.

As a lover of all things pink, frilly and sparkly I have slowly but surely (and completely unintentionally) aligned her to the thinking that pink is a girls colour, make up is something to be normalised and muddy sports are for boys.

Its ingrained in every aspect of life from the clothes choices we make (and pass on) to the TV we watch and allow our children to. Marketing campaigns brandish bright pink themes and girls playing with dolls adorn our screens followed sharply by boys covered in dirt with SAS style weaponry.

As a teacher I have highlighted this many a time when teaching about gender stereotyping, media, advertising and literacy. We have had critical discussions and swayed even the most ‘boyish’ of boys that gender should not be defined by colour, sport or attitude and the ‘pinkest’ of girls that it’s OK to try new things and take a risk.

As a parent I feel that I have really let my daughter down of late by allowing her to see me put make up on (making comments about how how I need it), negatively comment on my body shape/size as if what’s on the outside is all that counts and not giving her the freedom I should to take risks.

Play based learning isn’t only crucial for cognitive development but also for taking risks and developing resilience. Are we vanquishing this aspect to the darkness to be overshadowed by fear of the unknown?

As a parent our role is not only to love and cherish our children but to also raise them as responsible, resilient and courageous adults. I don’t want my child, regardless of gender, to feel overshadowed by sexism or excluded based on gender. I equally want my children to be respectful of all, kind and cultured. It’s such a pressure and responsibility, the thought of not fulfilling our child’s unlocked potential, of creating someone who is afraid to take risks and be bold.

In the midst of gold glitter shows and pink tutus I lost this. I lost the importance of allowing my child to stamp her own identity. Charlotte is only 2 and by no means a walk over but I want her to know she can be who ever she wants to be, judgement free. I want her to engage in all sports and wear whatever she wants. I want her to climb trees and have scraped knees, not because i’m a negligent Mum but because i’m not. I have a duty of care to protect her and this means allowing her to take (safe) risks, test the boundaries and know her limits.

Luckily Charlotte is only 2 and I have plenty of time to regain my original plan. With that in mind we have been focusing a lot on outdoor play, sports and getting messy.

If you follow me on Instagram @mum_in_the_city you will notice that I have been really diving into outdoor play/ learning and have loved following #150housoutdoors to help keep me motived and inspired. Not only does the fresh air and exercise promote a health body but it promotes a healthy mind and gives us both a great chance to bond without the distraction of our regular toys or electrical devices.

I read and inspiring article from the Telegraph recently about how World Rugby has seen a 60% rise in female rugby players since 2014. In fact, the article went on to say that a quarter of all rugby players world wide were now female. Quite clearly this number is still hugely weighed towards male players but for a sport which is often referred to as the ‘gentlemans game’ is there a door opening for gender equality within the sport?

Based on this new found energy to show my daughter she is equal we have also been enjoying a new Rugby Tots class. Inspired by the rapid rise in woman getting involved in Rugby I thought it would be a great sport to get Charlotte into.

Rugby Tots is great for developing gross motor skills, communication and listening skills. In only a few weeks Charlotte has started to throw and catch the ball (a huge improvement), is confident enough to engage independently, takes (and can actually follow) instruction of more than three pattern exercises and has grown so much in confidence.

We use the skills she learns in class to play in the garden, involving my son Lewis, and have so much fun that its hard to believe this in itself is a learning excercise.

We only do one other baby class so I wasn’t expecting Charlotte to engage so well and, most importantly, have so much fun. I worried initially about the boy to girl ratio in the class and if this would make any difference to Charlotte but again, this was me worrying about gender norms. Charlotte absolutely loves the class and Carl her coach.

I am so proud that we are able to be part of this and as a woman and a Mum I would highly recommend this class to anyone looking to boost their child’s confidence, challenge gender stereotypes and contribute to the equality of women in sport.

Well done Rugby Tots for challenging gender stereotypes, supporting women in Rugby and promoting females in sport!

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Play to Learn- little effort games for busy parents.

Last week I shared some fun little activities that we have been enjoying up here in Casa del King.

This week I decided to go a bit more out of my comfort zone, being mindful of trying to reuse, I tried to use existing items to create more fun games and activities. As always, they have a learning intention to fulfil whilst still being engaging enough to create a fun learning experience.

I should also add a good principal I like to stick to: Is it valuable? Will there be a chance to develop their language acquisition? Language is so important to all of the activities I prepare for Charlotte and although most are independent and give me a great wee (well needed) break sometimes, talking about the learning and what happened it so essential for scaffolding any learning.

Enjoy…

  1. This was just one fo those ‘right time, right place’ happenings. I was in the kitchen sorting the recycling when I noticed the holes on the empty capri container. Charlottes craft box was sitting beside it with her coloured straws and boom- a little activity to encompass hand eye co-ordination and colours was born. I started by popping a coloured straw in separate holes (as above) then Charlotte had to match and put in the corresponding hole. This turned into a two man game as I wanted in on the action. It was actually really good fun and we ended up playing this for about 40 mins!! I should add Charlotte would have happily just payed this independently If I hadn’t got involved but sometimes its just nice to play. Skills– hand eye co-ordination, colour sorting, dexterity, categorisation, turn taking and problem solving. language to use– talk about the colours, why you are separating, the shape of the holes is circular, the straws are long and thin, your shot, my shot, poking, finger and thumb.
Find the shape

2. I love a wee jigsaw, as does Charlotte. So with shape in mind I used some old coloured paper that was on route to the bin (it got a bit damp in the conservatory!). I drew around some items that were in standard shape and also a pentagon as I think its important to widen exposure as early as possible (again for language acquisition, maths and literacy can go hand in hand!). I included the learning intention and success criteria here just because this is how its done in primary schools in Scotland so the early she gets used to having a wee checklist to ‘make good’ the better. And yes, I know it’s totally daft as she cant even read yet. I’m obviously just missing school. Skills- shape recognition, dexterity, find motor skills, shape/ word recognition. Language to use– circle, square, triangle, pentagon, rectangle, success criteria, we are learning, fit, too big, too small, too thick, round, sharp, edge, thin, long, corner.

3. Charlotte is still a bit young for this but she loved giving it a go. we just used a white board, some play dough and some letter tiles. We used our fingers to trace the c, we tried drawing it and then tried making it with the play dough. We also tried squishing it down. This was a really easy set up, independent activity which could have gone on for longer. We did 10 minutes before Charlotte just wanted to ‘make a ball’ with the dough. i ALWAYS STOP WHEN i see them losing interest as I want it to be fun, selected and never dull. Otherwise it loses its value and appeal. Skills- sounds, letter recognition, mark making, crocodile grip (how a pencil should be held for easy manipulation), rolling, fine motor skills. Language to use– the C sound is c (its so hard but don’t be tempted to add the i sound on i.e ci or the letter name C sounds like see), singing the jolly phonics song ‘clicking castanets c c c’, draw, write, make, say, shape, bend, squish, words that start with c.

chocolate hunt fun

4. This was a little outdoors treasure hunt. Originally for Charlotte, I adapted this and Lewis and his friend to join in. This was a wee idea I got from @fiveminutemum. I used some of the left over chocolate balls from Christmas and scattered them about. The aim was to count as you find but it all went a bit too quickly and all 12 were found in no time (the big ones!!). In an ideal world I would have explained to count as you collect loudly so the next person who found would then have to should out the next number. I always like to make counting activities beyond 10. 10 is such a definative number and we are sort of brainwashed into a count to ten mentality. There is a school of thought now which recognises that in fact counting over the decade should be an ideal for real life contexts i.e 12 hours in a day, dozen, 12 months of the year etc. Children can sometimes find this hard later on so it’s something to start early. TBH I never did this with Lewis though (or many play based learning activities) and his maths is on fire!!! His school teachers have obv taken on my short fall there!!! Skills- observation, counting, out door play, finding, number order. Language- numbers 1-12, count on, count back, find, search, under, below, above, add on one more.

cause and effect

5. Last but not least, this took 1 second to set up. a wee tub, a splash of fairy and water. I set this out so I could make brekkie in peace and she did it for way longer than I needed. Sometimes it’s just the simple ones that are the biggest hits eh? Skills- cause and effect, water play, fine motor skills. Language to use- bubbles, turn the lever, see the water whisking, thats making bubbles, the soap and water mixed make bubbles, splash, wet, water, mix, blend.

I’m back to school tomorrow so my holidays are officially over (although I am off Wed-Sun really!!). Looking forward to planning some exciting learning activities and sharing anything successful for any SAHM who do some first level home schooling.

If you don’t want to wait for my weekly round up, follow me on Instagram for daily updates @mum_in_the_city

Family Fun at Fairmont St Andrews

Before you read you must know THIS IS NOT AN AD. I absolutely gush in this review because it literally was flawless in every way. I couldn’t recommend a stay enough.

It’s been a week now since we checked in for our Christmas stay at Fairmont St Andrews and Im still smiling ear to ear every time I think of it.

Since the birth of Charlotte, over 2 years ago, we decided that every second Christmas we would spend away from home. Not only because its nice to have someone else cook and clean up on the big day but its also nice to just let the kids play, uninterrupted, all day with their new toys.

This year we decided to head to Fairmont St Andrews, so here is the rundown on our family Christmas staycation:

Arrival- after what seemed like an age of a drive, broken up with spat of Lewis unwittingly belting out Christmas ballads (he had his earphones in!) and Charlotte throwing up, we arrived at the hotel. We didn’t realise you could drive to the door and unload your bags for them to be taken to your room on arrival so instead parked the car and lugged it all (that’s what we usually do so clearly this was a bit fancier than the likes of us are used to!). We went to the desk, door opened by concierge, and checked in within 5 minutes seamlessly. The guy who checked us in (can’t remember his name but he had glasses and an accent?) was so lovely, gave us great advice and also provided us with much needed mulled wine and mince pies (nice touch Fairmont!).

The lobby and reception area itself is quite lavish. You are greeted by a large, roaring fire and rich furnishings with sets a festive and warm atmosphere.

We had booked to see Santa within 20 minutes of check in so it was a quick dash to the room to drop the bags. The hallways were well maintained and the room itself was nice. We had opted for a family room- 2 double beds- and although we had asked for a travel cot it wasn’t there but it was no problem for the housekeeping team who had it up to the room and set up by the time we arrived back from seeing Santa, again excellent service (especially for a stressed Mum on Christmas eve). Nothing felt like it was a problem. The bathroom was stunning. I always feel smug if we land a room with a nice bathroom. I know that sound really rank and a bit weird but there’s nothing better than a wee bubble bath and well lit mirror for preening after a hard day with the kids. This bathroom did not let down. It had a real Gatsby style/ Art deco feel with grey marble, a free standing bath and large separate shower/ wet room style unit. The toiletries were good too, although not the best I’ve seen or used (we once got Elemis at a hotel Dubai!). I had pre ordered chocolate dipped strawberries for our arrival (because I’m fancy like that and actually didn’t realise I had added them on when I was booking- another needless expense, can you tell I’m really bad with money?).

Lets get to the main deal though, Santa. OH MY BLOODY GOD!!!!! ^^^^^ look at this guy. I think he actually is Santa. Where did you find this guy Fairmont?? I think he could be the best Santa I have ever seen, including the big man from Santa Clause the movie. The absolute joy on Lewis’ face as he sauntered down the hallway to the gingerbread house (Santas formal abode whilst in St Andrews). Being the ripe old age of 8, Lewis was teetering on the edge of belief. Well this has definitely bought us another year of magic. What made this even more special, Santa knew Lewis’ name before we even got within 5 steps of the house and greeted us with a warm and genuine smile. Charlotte, as you can see, was absolutely mesmerised and (unlike all our other Santa visits this year- dancing, parties etc) never even cried. The personalised Fairmont teddies were a lovely touch.

In terms of activities for kids, this place has it nailed. There was a craft room, arcade style games room complete with soft play, giant chess board (outdoors) and a great pool. All the restaurants also offered reasonable priced children menus with variety. The kids had an absolute blast.

The pool and spa was stunning. It was also dimly lit which was nice as I hadn’t bothered with a pre staycation diet and have been carrying an extra few tyres this season (clearly won’t be posting swim pics- monkey covers eyes emoji!). The showers has dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and body wash which was really helpful and they showers were really powerful. The changing rooms were clean, didn’t have soggy hairy floors and smelled nice. The pool area was clean, peaceful and well equip. There was the main pool, kids pool and a jacuzzi. There was also a steam/ sauna but unfortunately Steven and I didn’t really get a chance to enjoy that :(. I heard some people complain about having to book a slot but I preferred that because it wasn’t over crowed, the maintenance to keep it clean was clearly manageable and it was a good mix of family vibes but relaxing.

Food- because food is life!!!! We had booked for breakfast both mornings, a meal in the st Andrews Grill one night and the Italian the other night. All were excellent. Breakfast was on par with the likes of Cameron House (wish that place was still going, so sad!) with hot items, cereals, pancakes, omelette station and pastry area. Immense and the favourite part of my stay personally (pig face). The serving staff were also so attentive and offered hot drinks straight away. The hot chocolate with marshmallows in the breakfast lounge is da bomb!

We didn’t really eat lunch as we slept so late and had early dinners. however, Steven did order a BLT from the bar (food in there was a bit OTT pricey for a bar meal, even for a 5* hotel?!). It looked amazing though and Stevens smug face confirmed that it tasted just as nice. Huge portion.

Diner on the first night was amazing. We had the prawns to start, which were tasty. Followed by fillet steak with double cooked fries and soy and chill broccoli, which was so delicious. For desert I had sticky toffee pud which was quite nice but really heavy (possibly because I had gone wild on the started and main?). Our waiter, Max, was so professional and attentive. He took time out to show Lewis the telescope with views over the water and was brilliant with him. Dinner on the second night was the Italian. I had read some questionable reviews on this so was a bit nervous but I really shouldn’t have been. It was your standard pizza/ pasta set up but with nice touches. Great food, great staff and quick service. Brilliant.

One of the nicest things about this stay was that on Christmas morning, whilst we were at breakfast, housekeeping had been in and had taken away all our wrapping paper/ decanted boxes/ cardboard/ waste. I was absolutely ecstatic when I came back to that- totally never expected that at all (I actually forgot to leave a tip for housekeeping and feel so so bad because of that. Won’t forget next time!!!).

All in all, this was the best family short stay that we have had. The service was beyond expectations, the atmosphere/ decorations were magical and even the smallest details were on point. Really deserves its 5 star status. My only regret was that we didn’t get longer to explore as Im sure there was much more to explore at this world class resort.

Well done Fairmont, St Andrews and Scotland for possessing such a fine establishment catering for families. See you next year!!