How To Legally Change Your Name For Free

A few months ago I sent my provisional forms and ID to the DVLA, hoping that soon a shiny new provisional would arrive in the post. I was quite dismayed then, when they sent back the deed poll my mother had done on my behalf when I was a child with the accusation that it was a photocopy.

Whether or not it was a photocopy still remains unclear – my mother said there was nothing else at her house so I had to find another way. Imagine my frustration when I found out that my name had been changed just a few months before they started archiving the documents! My deed poll was essentially lost and I would have to create another one. An initial search suggested I’d have to pay around £30 for one – up to £200 for a solicitor.

Why on earth would anyone spend that when you can create a deed poll for free?

FreeDeedPoll.org.uk has an easy to use, simple form. No email address needed, no cash required. Just fill it in with your old name, your new name and the name and address of your witnesses (you need two, they can’t be relations). Print it off and voila! You have a new name!

There is plenty of information available on the website including the reason it’s free and what restrictions there are in place. (Did you know you can use Miss, Mrs and Ms regardless of whether or not you are married?)

The Great Toy Sort Out

This time of year, my house is always overrun with toys. It doesn’t matter how much I think I’ve sorted before Christmas – by the time Santa has finished his rounds I am usually waist deep in board books, tiny cars and Play-Doh.

With three children, the sight of it all can be quite overwhelming. I usually spend January hiding myself away from it. This year, however, I have resolved to be more organised – putting the Great Toy Sort Out at the top of the list. You can read more about my New Year, New Me linky here.

Sorting out the toys is such a big job, only a list will do.

Step One: The Chuck-Out (Phase One)

Methodically work drawer-to-drawer, room-to-room. Put everything broken or with missing pieces into a bag. If you can’t fix the items or find the missing pieces, throw them in the bin.

Step Two: The Chuck-Out (Phase Two)

You should be left with nothing broken or with missing parts. Now we have to suss out what’s played with and what else can leave. Do this without the children there because they will want everything they see. Bag up everything they never seem to play with and keep out of sight. Wait a week, then sell/give to charity everything they haven’t asked for.

Step Three: Finding The Homes.

Everything you have left should be things they play with or perhaps some sentimental toys. You could just throw it all in some toy boxes but in my experience, it’s better to put different items in different places. First take everything you kept for sentimental reasons, put it in a box and put the box away somewhere. Then find homes for all the other toys/books. Think about new storage solutions if you need to – could some of the messier toys (such as Lego) live in the bedrooms rather than the main living space?

How do you keep y0ur child’s toys organised?

Abandoning Bedtimes – Am I Mad?

For the past month or so, bedtime has been particularly fractious. Sometimes I couldn’t even get to the bottom of the stairs before having to go back up and put one of the children back to bed. Normally they’re pretty good – in fact some people have been quite envious of how easily my children would go up.

Lately it’s been a different story. Their 7pm bedtime is a farce now because none of them would stop fighting me until at least 9pm, sometimes later.

Sound familiar?

I spent so much time longing for the days when I could put my children to bed and hear hardly a peep from them. A chance to rest, regroup and be Lauren.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and almost completely abandon bedtime.

There are only two rules: in your rooms by 8pm and no gadgets upstairs.

They still have a story or a lullaby if they want.  When it’s time for me to go downstairs I say “have fun playing, Mummy and Daddy love you!”

Sometimes I get called up to tuck them in but generally they put themselves to bed of their own accord when they are tired. This is almost always by 9:30pm and never after 10.

The result? A more relaxed evening.  Happier parents and happier children.

What’s your bedtime routine like? Would you abandon bedtimes?

Food Addiction Won’t Make You Happy

Yet again I find myself reaching into the biscuit tin, mindlessly munching away while my mind is clearly elsewhere. My name is Lauren and I am a comfort eater. I was a comfort smoker once upon a time and I’ve drowned my sorrows aplenty too. For some reason my body thinks the best reaction to stress of the mind is to counteract it by giving the body stress in the form of cigarettes, alcohol and artery-clogging junk food. I know that I am not alone. How many times do you see people soothing a broken heart with a large glass of Chardonnay with Ben & Jerry’s on the side?

Now that I’m on a diet I find the comfort food ever more alluring. Kids not listening?Biscuits while hiding in the bathroom so I don’t have to share. Partner in a huff?Chocolate scavenged from the Christmas stock we bought when the big tins were only £3.50. Had a hard day in general? Pizza, Indian, Chinese.

It would be easier if these foods weren’t so delicious but since that’s not going to change any time soon, I know the change will have to come from within. The problem is once I’ve had those first few mouthfuls I think “Oh no! My diet is ruined! Why do I even bother?”then engage in a calorie free-for-all. What I really should be doing is taking lessons from when I quit smoking two years ago.

For the first week I had to have one cigarette before bed, even though I was wearing a nicotine patch. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t smoked all day and technically didn’t need the nicotine, it was that last cigarette of the day that made me go “Ahhhh… I’m ready for bed now”. Many smokers struggling to quit would have gone back to the cigarettes after the first one but I carried on trying. Slowly, I stopped needing the “last one”.

After a few days without the cigarettes I had an argument with a family member. I stormed outside dramatically and rolled myself a cigarette without even thinking about it. I was MAD. I NEEDED a cigarette to calm me down. That’s just the way it is. I smoked it and… nothing. I still felt angry, sad and everything between. The connection between smoking and happiness was gone and with it went my addiction.

Sometimes people fail but that doesn’t mean we’re finished. Failures are just hiccups, bumps in the road to success. The sooner I can apply that to the food I eat, the happier my waistline will be.

Knackered Housewife x

Home Education… How Hard Can It Be?

There are many reasons to love the public schooling system we are blessed with. Without it many children could go without receiving an education at all. These days it isn’t a question of if your child will attend school but which one?

Many people don’t realise that sending your child to school isn’t compulsory. An adequate education, one that prepares your child for modern life, is what is compulsory – NOT school. Whether you’re for or against home education there’s no denying that mainstream schooling isn’t for everybody and it is possible to teach your child at home.

I first started thinking about home educating when I was in refuge. Rhian had several months off school during that time. While it was agreed that switching schools was not in her best interest due to her extra needs nobody seemed that bothered about actually getting her to her existing school. In the entire time she had off, she probably had three worksheets sent home at the most. As our situation was so unsteady at the time I knew home education would be impractical. We were just left to it, everybody blaming somebody else.

My daughter – another box to tick? Free image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

After we moved back home, however, a very different tale ensued. For the first month as I was recovering from a severe sprain, the staff did the school run as I live very close to the school. When my foot recovered, things changed. Every time she was late, every time she was off ill I was questioned over. Yes, as a mother who was suffering depression and a child with special needs we found the transition hard. Every morning was a battle with Rhian crying to stay home and my request to break her in gently was ignored. It didn’t matter to them that she was bawling her eyes out, clearly distraught. She’s fine once she goes in, they’d say.

Although Rhian has settled now, I consider home educating more and more as time goes on. This seems to worry people. It will be a huge demand on your time. What about secondary school? You know, they’ll need to give you regular assessments. Given the position of these people, you’d think they would know what they’re talking about, right?

Wrong.

I’ve looked this up with the local council and spoken at length with people from the council and people who also home educate their children in the UK – it’s much more flexible than you’d think. Tests and assessments are not mandatory at all, neither is the national curriculum. You can teach whatever you like – you don’t need to plan formal lessons of any kind. Gone is the rigidity of the 9-3, no illness above 5% of the school year. In fact, there is no “school year”! If your child has a cold they can relax for the day and pick it up when they’re better. Yes, you have to provide some evidence of education but this can be done in a multitude of ways.

What this would mean for Rhian is an education built around her and her needs – NOT based on the curriculum her age-mates have to follow.

I have been offered the opportunity to “trial my lesson plan” in the six-week summer holiday. Rhian would sit a test before and after the holidays to see how she progresses, because “nobody wants to see Rhian suffer, do they?”.

Originally I thought this was kind but after reflection I must wonder how much of an idiot they think I am. None of what’s been offered is mandatory and nobody has a clue what’s going to be on this “test”. What am I supposed to make of this debacle?

Do you home educate your children? Did you de-register them or were they always home-educated? What did/would you do? I appreciate your thoughts and opinions.