Tool bar thingy

Saturday 30 December 2023

Dec 30th 2023

 The year has all but gone. Just me and the dogs up. We’ve all got a bit lazier, stretching the mornings a little I’m talking about me Bluebell and Freddie. 

I’ve STILL got that bloody cough I had weeks ago - it reinvented itself and settled properly on that last day of term which was only a week ago but feels like 50 ago! I’m hoping it’s easing again now. She types and sets off coughing. It’s a wonder my eyeballs don’t blow out of my head with the pressure of it. I’m typing with two dogs snoozing their pre breakfast snooze and I’ve got one leg gently being electrocuted with my Revitive machine! My tree lights are twinkling and I cannot understand those who wish to take them down early. They of course cannot understand why I want to keep mine up! I really love it this year. I say that every year hahah. 

So the Revitive is going to try and get me going. I’ve let myself become a blob of jelly. So am now doing all I can to reverse this. It’s a downward spiral isn’t it, walk  less, legs hurt more = walking less etc 

Think it was in September, I was going down into the cellar and stepped off what I thought was the bottom step but it wasn’t - I was on the second step and I jolted onto my knee. Being very very far away from target weight of 2018, meant my poor old knee got a nasty shock and I’ve really struggled to get it right since. Anyway it’s definitely improving so now I need to help it some more. So I’ve got these thigh pads on my leg and it’s zapping them for 10 seconds at 50 then resting for 30. I’ll do the other leg and then do the foot rocking bit. We are taking the dogs out today - I’ve not taken them recently yet due to cough - so hoping this therapy will assist the walk a bit! It’s a flat stroll that’s about a mile in total. A mile for me, 50 for the dogs! 

Am not doing new year new me stuff because it simply does not inspire me and sets me up to fail - like a challenge to self sabotage. I’m going with the thinking that any improvement work on my part is better than none. I’m waffling away here. 

So Christmas was lovely. The Turkey was delicious. I put the raw wings that I wrangled the skins off first, into the slow cooker with some carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash and some zero salt chicken stock. It simmered softly all day and then when done, I stripped the meat from the bones ( a rather surprising amount really ) and we gave it to the dogs! Oh my giddy aunt, the smells those dogs produced in thanks to my loving meal prep was up there with the rankest stench I have ever ever ever smelt! 

I purposely made more roast potatoes and parsnips and glazed carrots than I needed to go in my Christmas pie filling. I made it last year a la Jamie Oliver or John Torode or James Martin, can’t recall, but it’s so good. Basically it’s Christmas Dinner in a pie! I put everything in it last year but this year I left out the sprouts because let’s just say, on a par with the dog’s dinner- these sprouts were particularly vicious! I’ve not cooked my ham yet and have a large salmon cut of beef for new year and there will be plenty for sandwiches and dinners in Jan. I’ve a large beef stew already made and frozen for Jan and after yesterday’s tea I’ve a meal of Spag bol and chilli for the freezer. 

One thing I do want to be better at is using my freezer better than of late where I buy things with good intentions and then shove them in and forget about them . One issue last year was time that I have biggish news about and will announce it here and now!!

Sooooo for the last 10 years, I have worked at the after school childcare club. I first started to supplement my income after giving up the stressful job of HLTA. Mainly stressful because even though I loved it, school would not invest in the role full time so I was class support for the other half of the week. I did that for 8 years. Anyway as I couldn’t afford to just lose that chunk of income, I was able to increase time in classroom a little and as my kids were grown, I started after school club daily until 5.29pm when it closes! Over the last few years where my role again has changed into a full time pastoral mentor and one of the safeguarding leads, the mental strain and secondary trauma they call it is taking its toll, adding my stress of Bluebell and feeling so worried over leaving her ( which she is totally fine with and has been like this her whole life ) working til 5.45pm it was getting to everyday has got to me. The work itself was my favourite thing and I always said to the children who came, my favourite part of the day and that’s true. I ran it like I was their Mum! Freedom, snacks, play, crafting etc 

There was also a load of stressy management committee meetings. It is a not for profit organisation and even with very low prices in its early days it banked quite hefty reserves which were used to buy resources. Then Covid hit which meant it closed but staff were furloughed plus we had a new building, partly funded by the lottery - which I’d applied for - again highly stressful because it was to be used by school, had to be erected by school only firms who hiked the price massively - absolutely milking the system - corrupt Is call it. Anyway it meant that reserves were gone and school were footing the wages. So many meetings to discuss its future and what could be done etc. We put the prices up - only 3 times actually in its 10 year history - and parents still used it. Those fortunate ones who worked full time and lots of parents who gave in to their children’s asking - every single child in school wants to come! Anyway, once again, it is holding its own but I have been getting highly stressed dreaming up ways I could afford to pack it in. I hate getting in so late. 6pm, tea is late then fall asleep - especially in the dark Winter months. Parents who were arsey about paying- audacity of some who booked in with no intention of paying - clashed with my ‘daytime job’ of pastoral support including signposting those in severe poverty, then becoming almost bailiff like constantly chasing for money. The children themselves were starting to irritate me a lot. My colleague put this down to me working none stop with children - very very needy and challenging ones from 8.45am daily with barely an hour child free when I was taking my lunch at 1.30pm after supervising pastoral lunches which are  - safe indoor play and calmer space to eat for children with a whole host of needs - coupled with the constant Mum guilt about Bluebell. I was putting her with the dog walker more which I think stresses her out. 

Anyway when Miss 29 announced her pregnancy I decided to take the financial hit and give up my Fridays at the after school club after Christmas. I knew I could because my colleague had already given up a Thursday 3 years earlier for grandchild duties. I thought if I finish school at 3.15pm on a Friday ( 2.15pm if I work through lunch ) then either me and the HG can be away over in the North East for the weekend or I can get the train up and still be there by teatime. I was also cross with myself for not doing this years sooner. 

Anyway - I sent in my email and relaxed a little but it had lit the touchpaper.

I went to the Head, talked through my ideas. One reason the workload stress was so much was the lack of child free time we were getting on the Pastoral team - time to chat about families, share ideas, plan interventions etc DO interventions, liase with other services. This is due to at the moment I’m currently providing proper Nurture care every morning until 12. Then we are providing Nurture lunches on a timetable with different children and one thing that has impacted this greatly is after Covid, the staggered lunches that replaced the traditional 12-1 for all have remained. The children only get 50 minutes now - something to do with the calculated directed teaching time - but infants start at 11.55. Y2 and Y3 at 12

Y4 at 12.10 and y5 and y6 at 12.20 meaning lunch is for us 

11.55 until 1.10pm 

And then we take our unpaid lunch hour. Which in our role, means if a phone call comes in before we leave then we answer it etc. but even in a perfect world and we get away at 1.10pm - it still leaves us with little time  - barely an hour - for meetings and working with children and doing paperwork and admin before school finishes. Now my colleague did have more hours than me so had the scope for after school meetings etc but because I was always at after school club, my workload stress was piling up. 

Anyway to cut a long story short, the head said yes, If I gave up after school then I could have 5 extra hours ( an hour after school and 2 shortened lunchtimes ) per week including my still 3.15pm finish on a Friday. So I handed my notice in, giving 5 weeks notice, much to the shock of everyone! 

The feeling of liberation was huge. I felt a big weight off my shoulders and although it was a long notice and the worst part was breaking the news to one of my best friends I have no regrets. Well one, that I didn’t do it 12months sooner. 

So telling my friend never went to plan! Here’s my text! Yes, in the end, I had to tell her by message because of parents!! 

To explain the Barb bit, neither of us are called Barb, but we’ve adopted it due to our love of the TV show the Royal Family and we quote it often to each other. In fact, her Mum thinks I’m really called Barb! 

I’ve deleted names too for anonymity. 

*Oh Barb 

What a night. I’ve been waiting to tell you something but fecking L’s Mum was later and then fecking J’s Mum late then  decking T’s Mum came in like we had no homes to go to. 

Anyway I’ve only just rid of T’s Mum!  - 

 Explanatory background! 

Barb’s hubby works away, sometimes for weeks at a time and he’d got home early so we always let her go early to meet him and leave first. T’s Mum was an ex parent who had brought in a raffle prize and was very happy to chatter away ( I’ve also been friends with her for years and although was desperate to get rid of her to impart my news - couldn’t find the right way to do it so when Barb got her coat on and said you don’t mind if I go - I couldn’t say no you have to stay ! ) 


I was a while in school because I was taking my  resignation letter in to the Head. 

I’m giving up every night. I wanted to wait until we were on our own because I knew I would cry. It’s literally just happened today - I’ve got a few more hours in school - The  had to take it to Govs to get it approved and she only told me today. 

I said I need to tell Barb. I’ve felt sick all night at the thought of telling you!! 

We can still always have our Summer do and I’ll see you in the school day. 

- Barb works lunchtimes too - 

I’m sorry x

I carried on 

I was ready for the Friday nights but I said to Cathy, half the time I’m late to after school club which isn’t fair on you because I’ve been finishing off meetings etc with parents. 

I am fed up of finishing work so late every night and the kids and parents are annoying me even more and the chasing of the money all the time etc. I just have not got the time anymore - especially trying to do my Behaviour Mentor job as well which pays more. 

- forgot about this Job which I got last year - basically I am employed by something called the Inclusion Hub to advise 16 schools when faced with children with low level disruptive behaviour that if escalates, can result in exclusion. The truth is, all the schools have no low level - it’s all they bit the teacher level! The workload involves monthly phone calls, advice given, notes written up and feedback etc all in addition to my usual work. At first I displaced hours   - so would claim for 15 hours and have to deduct 15 hours. Since September however, I’ve been working at home 6am -7am when I am naturally awake so can legitimately ring my schools 2pm - 3pm in an afternoon . I don’t know how long the funding for this will last but I do enjoy it! - I carried on…

The things I love is basically spending the time with you and some of the children! 

But I can’t keep doing three jobs this way. 

I know you will understand and will be upset with me. It  is going to be advertised it internally first but I’ve given 5 weeks notice and my last session will be the Christmas one on Thursday 21st. I also wanted to tell you face to face because I didn’t want you to find out off X or Y if they would say anything to you by chance on Monday .

Eventually, she replied 

I'm absolutely gutted Barb.. but I do understand.. Hubby read the msg to me as I was driving... I felt like I wanted to cry.. I'll miss our nights in the cabin..& the great working relationship we have together.. it just won't be the same without out you 😢.. x

I messaged back 

I’m kinda absolutely gutted too and I would have told you tonight either way - the outcome- if I was just going to stop Fridays or all of it.  I’d had to put my request in writing to The Head by Monday - then it was Govs on Tuesday ( but I was training and I would have had to go out of the room as they discussed me. ) because had I not had more hours I would have kept it at 4 days. 

Then the head  was out on Wednesday and then busy all day yesterday. She finally said at 11am to go see her when I was going for my lunch. I was dead nervous and when she said that the Govs had agreed to the extra hours meaning I could leave, I felt happy for like a second and then sick and upset for the rest of the night.  I still feel strange now like omg what have I done?? But I know it’s right for me and sometimes we have to be selfish! I understand because when you dropped Thursday I was really upset!! Much as I love  the person I work on a Thursday with now it is NOT the same 🙅‍♂️ x

In the end she was fine as she could be as did say she understood my reasons. 

The last five weeks at work have carried on as normal - it took ages and I felt like I was there against my will and even right in the last two sessions, I wasn’t upset at all. Think I’d been most upset at the start of it all. I was ready for the end and walking home in the pitch dark, I was thinking, this is my last late finish ever ! I’ve been saying to myself that I’m semi retired now hahah. I chose not to pay into the pension scheme for that job. That hour each day will mean I can walk B rather than rushing at lunch. I can get in, get the tea on. Enjoy the house to myself and so on and so on! We will see. If my monthly money is down, I’m ok with that because my time is precious. I know my worth! 

I got a lovely card signed by the children and a beautiful plant for the garden that flowers now in the favourite colour of our nail varnish! Hahah

In other news 

Mum to be is cooking nicely and is 27 weeks now with a lovely round baby bump. The things she has missed this Christmas is mostly smelly cheese and soft boiled/poached eggs . With the eggs they are supposed to be safe with the red lion mark on but she’s not risking it. Dad to be journeyed home on Boxing Day alone as he had to go assist his parents with online booking travel down to Winchester to see relatives and he was at work on Wednesday. He also took most of the travel system they call it back. The carrycot and pram wheels are still at our house because we all believe it’s bad luck to have one ready  in the house too soon for a new baby -  but he has taken the car seat, the accessories and the side bed cot thingy she wanted. We’ve been buying a few baby grow in the sale in different sizes. All of the stuff she has been gathering is very cute woodland animal theme! The woodland stuff is very much either/or and will suit both. When we were doing this 30 years ago- there was barely any ‘neutral’ stuff in the sales whereas now, there is! Happy days! I also bought her an industrial sized pack of maternity pads! She said she’d not even thought about stuff like that! 

We are driving her halfway home in the morning. Her beau will meet us there at a rather nice Garden Centre. We will have a coffee and then each go our separate ways. The HG and I are off until the 8th so we could have stayed but wanted to get back really. We’ve been twice just before Christmas and the youngsters only have one more day off together before back to work. 

She’s her 28 week scan on the 4th. It’s zooming by. 

I’ve knitting on the go! A little cream cardi just needs the sleeves doing, but I ran out of the wool I was using and it must have been a random one from my stash. Despite having about a thousand shades that I thought would be a perfect match, none were! So I ordered about 10 balls to try! I can return the ones I don’t match. See, if I match it to a cream, the original looks grey, if I match it to a grey, it looks beige, if I match it to a beige, it looks silver etc!!! 

But I found one that’s the closest I’ve seen and I said he/she can just wear it in the house if needed!!! I need to finish it because I’ve another 55 I want to get started!! 

So off I pop to get knitting!! 

Lots of Love 

Rachel *see you in 2024* Radiostar xx 


  1. You have done the best thing letting go of work stuff. I'm very envious of your to be grandchild, although I love my granddaughter to bits, 7 going on 27! And we have lots of time with her doing stuff, even picking her up from school and listening to her read and do piano practice. Happy New Year to all your family

  2. What an amazing catch up! As a “ retired “ teacher who still does occasional teaching and a friend to someone who is an education assistant and is just about reaching the end of her rope… I understand how much energy you must put out on a daily basis. It makes sense that you’ve been thinking about cutting back somehow and I think you’ve found a great solution! Hope your back and knees don’t give you too many problems. I find walking to be my saving grace! Take care! - Jenn

  3. I think we build our own pressure trying to help everyone, forgetting our own self care, being the best we can is hard work, well done you for changing your work hours to suit you and your family, I hope you will pack the guilt away now. How exciting a grandchild, our youngest is now 2, she was singing happy missmass to everyone along with jingle bells, she is very different from her brothers and being the youngest of three, very bold and a bit pushy.


Many thanks for taking the time to read my words and respond with your own thoughts. I always try to reply so make sure you pop back to see!