Our garden has been both our haven and our classroom these last few months. When we first moved to this house the raised beds were absolutely heaving with produce thanks to the hard work of the previous owner. We loved picking the peas straight off the plant and finding out about kohlrabi.
I hoped it would all reappear the following summer but sadly in the busy-ness of life and the first year in a new house we didn’t have time to do what was needed.
This year has been different. Restricted to only our house and garden we’ve had plenty of time for gardening. It’s been a great opportunity to teach Quinns and Big Sister (and me!) all about growing plants, composting and wildlife. It tied in well with Big sister’s topic of biodiversity adding some practical experience to the written work set by her school.
Quinns of course has been completely involved in it all. He loves holding the trowel and helped plant lots of seeds.
Our lockdown routine involved going out to the garden each evening to make sure everything was watered. Right from the start Quinns helped by holding the watering can. We soon invested in a hose and it really goes without saying that he now loves holding the hose to water the plants (and yes Big Sister does occasionally get wet!)
Our evening strolls unearthed an army of snails that crawl around in the dampness. Sadly for them we have taken to picking them up and putting them back in the compost heap along with our food scraps from the kitchen. Usually Quinns impressively screws his face up when he feels new textures but to my amazement he actually seemed to enjoy the experience of having a snail on his hand!
It must be a love / hate relationship though as a naughty one ate its way through all his sunflower seedlings while leaving Big Sister’s alone. In good home school style we replaced his with the science experiment seedlings we’d planted in a glass jar. Putting up the snail defences of eggs shells and cloches quickly became another part of our evening routine.
I’m glad to report that despite a rocky start the new sunflowers are flourishing and while they may not be as tall and strong as Big Sister’s they continue to grow and develop at their own pace.
I am so grateful to have had this time together and this space to grow.
Would you be willing to parade in public in your swimming costume? I am discovering a level of body confidence that I never knew I had because I am no longer willing to cover up and pretend that what is being provided is ok. I am no longer willing to make it work but I do want to make swimming happen for Quinns. So far that’s involved walking through a busy public area in our local leisure centre dressed only in my swimming costume.
Scottish Swimming recently released a video to launch their inclusion campaign #SeeMyAbility. I totally agree with the message “Don’t separate, segregate or keep me apart…make inclusion, integration and togetherness our task”. I also fully agree with their tagline ‘Everyone can swim’ but from my experience of finding pools with suitable changing facilities for Quinns I’m not so sure that the practicalities have even been considered.
We are working up to a family visit to the home of Scottish Swimming (where there is currently a £20 million redevelopment underway). Why are we having to work up to it? The Changing Place, that we have been told is the provision for the sports centre, isn’t even in the same building as the swimming pool. In fact it’s not even in the sports centre building next door.
It is situated in an arts centre that is a 5 minute walk away from the pool building. The walk currently takes you past a building site and down a hill on a busy University campus.
Here’s hoping my new found body confidence in order to make swimming happen for Quinns will allow me to enjoy the feel of the breeze as I stride it out on my way to the pool!
Even with very little control of his body out of the water Quinns is extremely comfortable and happy in the water.
Quinns is not the only keen swimmer in our family. Big Sister is an aspiring olympic swimmer. Swimming, therefore, is an obvious choice of activity for the four of us to enjoy together. You would like to think it would be easy but it’s not.
One of the reasons we chose to live where we live is access to what we thought were really good swimming pools. However we now realise none of the pools close to us are ideal for Quinns. The nearest pool with everything he requires is 20 miles away.
Since swimming has benefits for people no matter their ability you would think the facilities would be more accessible.
Our local leisure pool has recently put in a Changing Place. That in itself is great but it’s not poolside! I’m not sure how that’s going to work once Quinns is bigger and needs hoisted but for now we can make it work with waterproof mats and towels in the Bug.
Before and after our swim we have to walk right through the public reception area of a busy leisure centre!
I’m not sure who is more uncomfortable when our little family troupe walk soaking wet through a public place but I know for a fact that it is inconvenient for the staff.
Quinns recently graduated from his Water Babies swim class with an underwater photoshoot.
When he was eight months old and as our concern grew for his development I started taking him to the class. The health benefits of swimming are well recognised and I felt sure that he would gain from the water. That same sentiment was echoed when we ended up in hydrotherapy pools as part of various groups. At times over the last few years we were getting changed for swimming up to three times a week.
What I hadn’t really considered when he started the class was how much Quinns would enjoy being in the water. The massive smile that he could barely contain every time he entered the water told me and everyone else around how much he loved it.
In the beginning taking him to his swimming class was easy. He was changed the same way all the other babies were changed and then carried to the pool. As the others advanced to toddling and finally walking we still had the same routine.
When he outgrew the baby changing table we looked for alternatives and negotiated the use of a therapy room. The adjustable height bench made it work for us even though I had to carry Quinns through a corridor that went from the building entrance to the changing room. Although we didn’t have far to go it wasn’t pleasant underfoot.
Despite the negotiation to have the room there were times when one was not available. Each time we refused to use the floor of the disabled toilet. One time however we made it work by changing him on a couch in the reception area. It was hardly dignified.
As he grew ever bigger it all became more of an effort. It was increasingly difficult to carry him the distance to the pool and tricky not having access to shower facilities in the therapy room. Eventually one day when we were turned away because all the therapy rooms were booked for treatments I realised I was tired of being the one who made it work.
Our options for alternative classes are distinctly limited because so few swimming pools have adequate facilities. However we have now managed to find a suitable class with a Changing Place style set up that will work longer term.
So while I may be tired of making it work in the Water Babies class, of course that smile together with the benefits of the water means that making swimming happen for Quinns will always be worthwhile.