Marie Louise McConville: I'm feeling the pressure to find the right activities for my kids

Tennis, soccer, Gaelic, dancing - feeling the pressure to sign the kids up for clubs and classes
Marie Louise McConville

It just feels like a minefield of decisions - some right, some wrong.

It's hard to know where to step, where to jump or what to do for the best outcome.

Stupidly, I had thought that as the kids got older, this parenting business might have got easier but it turns out that with each new stage, comes a new set of issues, problems and concerns.

Now Abbie and James are back at school and life is beginning to return to some sort of normality and, as the summer approaches, it seems like the right time to start introducing them to outside clubs.

Just before Covid-19 hit, Abbie had begun Irish Dancing in an after-school club but it was short lived due to the introduction of lockdown.

James, who began P1 in September, has never had a chance to join a club because of the restrictions and so has little experience of any sport, apart from PE in school.

So, in an attempt to get them out and about, help them extend their social circle and give them a chance to develop a new interest, we made contact with our local GAA club and by chance, the new training season was just starting and we were invited to bring them along.

I never had much experience of GAA growing up despite living in the heart of west Belfast. It just wasn't something that was ever on my radar.

But having worked in the Irish News for the last 18 years, I have seen what a wonderful, community-orientated organisation it is and the commendable work it does with kids and have been keen to get Abbie and James involved.

However, after two weeks of training, it has become clear that football is not for Abbie.

James, on the other hand, loves it, talks non stop about it and has his daddy tortured to practice with him in the garden.

However, I'm unsure what to do with Abbie.

When she was younger, she did gymnastics for about a year until Covid stopped it but I never really felt she was getting anything out of it.

Now, after some research, I have found some other options locally including tennis and trampolining but I just don't know which to go for.

The thing is, the kids have missed out on so much and basically I just want them to have fun.

There are Irish Dancing classes near us but I am not keen on her taking it up with all the make up and wigs and tan. It's all a bit too grown up for me.

Now I have put myself under pressure to get her signed up for something but it's hard to know what and with classes beginning to resume, places are limited so time is of the essence.

You know, sometimes I wish there was a parenting handbook with all the right answers - wouldn't that be great?

All the fun with none of the worry.

I wish.


She's the East End villain that everyone loved to hate and now, Janine Butcher is reportedly on her way back to Albert Square.

The devious character, who was played by the brilliant Charlie Brooks, is to make a return to EastEnders as part of a "huge story" later this year.

It has been reported that Charlie is just to begin filming her new scenes in the coming weeks.

It will be her character's first return to the square in seven years and no doubt, there will be fireworks.

Bring it on.


This year's Brit Awards are due to take place next month and this week, its unusual `double trophy' was unveiled.

Normally, winners of the popular music awards receive just one trophy but this year, the actual award has a sweet twist.

Designed by artists Es Devlin and Yinka Ilori, the 2021 Brit Award comes in two parts.

Award recipients will be given the `doubly trophy' and then "encouraged to award the second smaller trophy on to someone else".

What a lovely idea.

The design features one larger, multicoloured trophy, as well as a smaller metallic version.

Yinka Ilori said: "The idea came from the experience of lockdown, where your neighbour you've lived beside for six years and never say hello to suddenly gave you flowers, foods, acts of kindness.

"I wanted to capture that.

"I would describe it as two artists from different disciplines, different inspirations, coming together to design a trophy based around the idea of giving something back - acts of kindness."

Dua Lipa, Griff, Arlo Parks and Headie One are among the artists scheduled to perform during this year's ceremony, which is due to take place on May 11 at The O2 Arena in London.

The event will feature an audience of 4,000 people as part of the Government's live events pilot scheme.

***Competitions will return in the coming weeks

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