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Spending Quality Time With My Children, One at a Time

Today, Beanie had me all to herself, and the highlight of our day was the present we gave her for her birthday in September: attending a live performance  of the English National Ballet at the Coliseum.

I genuinely believe than rather than showering our children with plastic toys, we should focus on them, spend time with them, nurture them and have some one-to-one time with them.

Spoiling my children with the latest technology or toy that is on trend (generally hideous, unbearably noisy, or worse: both of the above) is not for me. How could a piece of plastic possibly make little humans happier than giving them your time and attention? If baffles me how much some people seem to care about the amount of money they spend on their children. Shouldn’t we all focus on spending more quality time with our children? Call me old fashioned, but hey…

Beanie, at six years old, is a very angry, confrontational little girl. I honestly believe she needs more attention and more ‘love bombing’ but with four children 8 and under, a busy life, work, various clubs and homework, it sounds a lot more feasible on paper than it is in real life.

Ever since her birthday three months ago, Beanie has asked about this ‘Mummy Day’ at least three of four times a week. It has been the highlight of our autumn. Sometimes, the anticipation is even more exciting than the actual thing, isn’t it?

I love booking something a long time in advance, so the mere thought of it makes me happy for months. I had that kind of feeling about seeing Paul McCartney live, going to the Highlands for the first time or every time I plan a skiing trip. Waiting, imagining, planning those exciting ‘life enhancing moments’ gives me a huge mood lift.

I had some John Lewis vouchers to use up so I chose a pretty dress and tights for my little lady earlier this week. Most of her clothes are hand-me-downs from family and friends, so every brand new outfit chosen just for her is always rather special. We left the dress on display all week so she could see it every time she was going to the bathroom.

Yesterday night, as she went to bed, she was buzzing with excitement. She asked me to sleep in her bedroom so we would wake up at the same time and she was in a glorious mood this morning, dry for the first time in month and dressed in record speed.

We started our day in every child’s dream place: Sweet as a Button, the sweetest sweet shop on earth! I took a few photos there whilst Beanie was putting together bags of treats for her siblings and herself. She also assisted me and thoroughly enjoyed rearranging sweets I was photographing, taking photos using the remote control and putting sweets away when I was done.

We shared a wrap for lunch and got changed in the sweet shop’s toilets. We were both feeling upbeat and bubbly. Our journey to London was spent chatting, laughing, cuddling and playing games. We talked about what we would take on a desert island and agreed it would be really tough to choose what we would bring with us. That started a really deep conversation.

As we walked into the Coliseum’s stalls, the grandeur of the theatre took my breath away. There was so much to take in… the members of the orchestra getting ready, the lavishly decorated amphitheatre, the beautiful illustrations on the curtain, the happy families dressed in their Sunday best, the comfortable Burgundy-coloured velvet seats, the dimmed lights…

There was a lot of hustle and bustle as we waited for the performance to start, but as soon as it did get started, everything went quiet, save for the enchanting music coming from the orchestra.

Beanie was beaming, thanking me for taking her on this very blurry photo. The colours are awful and I have the biggest bags under my eyes. It does not bother me in the slightest. It is raw, it is us. It is perfect.

It reflects how happy we were to be together, just the two of us enjoying each other’s company, with no one to interrupt our conversations, no technology to distract us, no intention to take good photos or write an interesting review. We were just us, and wow, it was refreshing! I have not felt this relaxed and happy in ages.

There are no words to describe the magical performance we attended today. As a ballet virgin, I was not really sure what to expect, but I certainly did not expect so much passion, emotion or to be mesmerised from start to finish.

Beanie did not make a sound during the whole performance, and had it not been for the annoying child behind us, it would have been absolutely perfect. I now understand why they do not allow under 5s for these performances, and more than once, I felt like turning around and asking the mother to get her very young girl (she could not have been older than 3) to just shush. Seriously, that toddler would not stop…
“Is it Clara?”
“Where are they?”
“Are these flowers?”
“What’s happening?”
“ I want sweeties!”

After being completely silent for the first half, the audience was a lot more involved in the second part of the performance, clapping after solos or group dances.

The day ended at Leon. My little lady had a chicken burger with chips, and I stole a couple of those. Her burger was as big as her face but she ate every last crumb of it!

On the train back, Beanie hummed Tchaikovsky’s music as we shared a pack of sea salt and brown sugar popped corn. Tonight, she listened to Tchaikovsky’s music again and danced, danced, danced some more. I have not seen my little girl this content in a very long time.

I am not making New Year’s resolutions, because let’s not fool ourselves, who keeps up with them for more than a week? However, I am taking a pledge. The pledge to have good quality one-to-one time with one child at a time on a regular basis.

I will probably only manage to do this for a day every couple of weeks, so in theory, every one of my children should have their Maman to themselves once every two months. It does not sound like much, but it is realistic and gosh it feels incredible! Next one: Jumpy!


  1. 19/12/2016 / 3:15 am

    She looked like she had the best day!!! Great mummy 😉

    • Mel
      20/12/2016 / 10:25 pm

      She really did, and so did I. Can’t wait for the next round of one-to-one when I bring Ellie to yours for a sleepover!

  2. Danielle
    19/12/2016 / 9:19 pm

    Such a lovely message. And I agree. Time over plastic junk. Easier said than done of course xx

    • Mel
      20/12/2016 / 10:27 pm

      Thanks lovely. How are you all? Have a nice, relaxing Christmas. x

  3. 20/12/2016 / 3:06 pm

    Sounds like you guys had the best afternoon! One on one time really is magical when you have a few kids. It can be hard to engineer, but it’s always so worth it xxx

    • Mel
      21/12/2016 / 10:42 pm

      Completely! Best day ever for the 2 of us. xx

  4. 21/12/2016 / 10:15 pm

    I could not agree more. This kind of special time is so important for the children yet sometimes we get trapped in day to day and just can’t do it all. It looks like you really made her day, so beautiful to see xoxoxo

    • Mel
      21/12/2016 / 10:39 pm

      It really was a wonderful day, and I can’t wait to do it all over again with another one of my gorgeous children. Jumpy’s next on 3rd Jan and she’s already bubbling with excitement. xx

  5. Louise
    23/12/2016 / 8:37 am

    What gorgeous photos from your day out with Beanie, Mel – that one of her hugging you and thanking you for her day is just wonderful – so much pure joy in that photo. So glad that you both had such a lovely day and enjoyed the ballet. Such a good resolution to try and have that one-to-one day with each of your children in turn. I agree with you that quality time and experiences are worth far more than lots of toys. I wonder if the mum behind you was a bit frazzled over her talkative toddler as well – it does make it harder to enjoy the performance when you have that constant chatter behind you and I can understand why there is a lower age limit rule for this reason. Thank you for linking to #ftmob and wishing you and your family a Joyeux Noël xx

    • Mel
      24/12/2016 / 12:26 am

      Joyeux Noël to you too, ma belle! Have a wonderful, relaxing Christmas with your loved ones. By the way, I found your Christmas card at the bottom of my handbag this morning (it’s still in the house). You’ll definitely get it after Christmas, oops!

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