I’ve said it before, if N could stay on the farm all the time helping out he would. He’d be quite happy trailing his dad around, or his uncle. And apart from wanting to go on holidays, he would happily forego any days out with me. Obviously this makes me sad. I don’t get to spend much time with him as it is being at work and with school, so weekends are precious. But more than that I want him to know that there’s more to life than the farm. To have the broader life experiences that we were given as children and know what’s normal family life.
But it’s hard work. And probably more hard work than it would be if he wasn’t a farmer’s son. Talking to friends, they have similar with some (if not all) of their children loving being out on the farm all hours.
Obviously N needs to spend time with his dad as well. The OH is going through a phase of picking N up from after school club so often spends evenings with N before they actually turn up at home. So my theory is that doing one day on the farm at weekends and one day out with me somewhere is a good and fair plan. Sometimes he might do more on the farm, other times he’ll do less depending on what farm work is going on. Dangerous jobs, or boring jobs like ploughing, he’ll stay in. Quite often it turns out that I think he’s out with his dad, when actually he’s playing at his cousin’s house, or out doing shepherding with his uncle. It’s great he’s close to them, but it means less time with his dad or me.
N also doesn’t get many playdates because of being at after school club and me working. So weekends are sometimes an option for arranging to meet friends. The farm is there every weekend, so a few hours playing with friends his own age is a no-brainer to me. The only opportunity to do that is me organising them, because the OH won’t take time off the farm to transport N to other places.
But actually getting N off the farm can prove difficult. I don’t want to fight with him, but sometimes he needs to learn, he can’t always go out all weekend on the farm. When he’s out from 7.30 in the morning to 5 with only a lunch break, that’s a lot for a 6 year old who’s been at school all week. The OH then points out that N’s too tired to do his homework, and that I shouldn’t drag him round the countryside for days out or seeing friends. But we’re only go out for a few hours and he gets time off sitting at home around that, plus journey chill out time to catch up on sleep or whatever else.
This weekend we had tears. A lot of tears. After swimming on Saturday N didn’t want to go food shopping so I dropped him at the farm with his dad. After lunch he came back in because his dad was doing boring jobs. There was then a meltdown because his dad didn’t come and pick him up when he was back working at the farm. It didn’t matter that it was nearly teatime, N was distraught that he’d not been fetched.
The agreement had been that as he was going out on Saturday on the farm, that we’d go somewhere on Sunday. But it didn’t work like that as off he went at 7.30 after breakfast to go shepherding. 2 hours later I had to call and find out when he was coming back. He was brought back by his dad saying N didn’t want to go with me.
Cue the strops and crying when his dad left him, and he refused to remove his overalls and wellies. 10 minutes later I managed to discuss a couple of places we could go with him. The fact that he wanted to be back after lunch to help move sheep didn’t help things when we were only leaving the house at 10.30.
Finally a trip to Blenheim Palace was agreed. Once in the car N was perfectly happy and apart from some red eyes, you’d never have known he’d been crying. Of course as soon as we were on the way, he’d forgotten the stress out and was planning what order we would do things in.
There was an event on that I’d not realised so we were parked on random grassland. Thankfully we had the scooter in the car so N couldn’t moan about missing the train up to the Pleasure Gardens. It never takes long to scoot (and walk for me) and we stopped to investigate the hollow trees.
While we were later than usual to Blenheim, it wasn’t too busy. N wanted to do the maze first so we managed that fairly quickly. I’m not a particular fan of mazes because I’d rather do them logically, but N just wants to randomly run one way to the next so you never really know where you are. But thankfully it didn’t take us the 25 minutes they suggest it takes.
Then it was time for lunch. Typically I’d forgotten that getting pizza works out cheaper (I never take a picnic out because I prefer to travel light), so ended up spending a pretty steep amount on lunch. What is really annoying is that they set out all the pick and mix kids food but they don’t do a lunchbox offer (and most don’t have prices on). So about £6 later, N had 1 ham roll, 1 pack of Pom bears, a juice carton and a treatsize pack of Animals. Added to that a sandwich, crisps and a juice for me, and even with a £2.50 discount from my annual pass, I was nearly £14 worse off. People think National Trust is expensive food wise, but N would usually have a lunch box with more food in, and a drink, sandwich, crisps and cake for me for around £12-13. Maybe I should rethink doing packed lunch when we’re out and about. Or at least when we go to Blenheim.
It was just about warm enough to sit outside to eat which is always nice, and afterwards N was primed and ready for some adventure playground play. I love to see him so excited and raring to go on play equipment where before he would have been more wary.
Our visit was shorter than usual because we had to get home so we were soon squashing onto the train back to the palace and the car. I’m hoping to be back at Blenheim soon because they’ve a fashion exhibition on but I’ll choose a time when N’s busy elsewhere.
I love spending days out with N and getting him off the farm. The farm is a great life for a child, but I don’t want N growing up thinking that the farm is the be all and end all. I want him to experience the kind of places we saw as kids, meet other people, and just get the chance to explore and question and challenge what he sees. Thankfully he does cheer up once we leave the house, but sometimes it is hard and I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. But I know I am when I see him enjoying a day out.
“Ensure you explain your feelings as well as the factual reasons of why they should do some things they don’t want to”
Do you have similar struggles in getting your children to do something? How do you explain to them the reasoning behind it?
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