Housemother Blog: Laidlaw South
8th December, 2018
As we near the Christmas holidays, looking out to a dark and misty winter’s afternoon, I reflect back on those balmy late summer days and all that’s happened in between. It’s been a busy term in Laidlaw South!
On a glorious day in late August, I had the pleasure of joining the staff of Merchiston. As a newly appointed Housemother in Laidlaw South, in a newly created position, I arrived armed with oodles of enthusiasm and even more energy, which was more than matched by the wonderful young men who welcomed me. I was delighted to meet each and every one of them and I am now thoroughly enjoying getting to know them. Polite, friendly, warm and helpful, the VI Form boys are a diverse group with an amazing array of talents and a warm, caring regard for one another.
This was so poignantly apparent when we headed to Murrayfield to support our fellow housemates in their bid to win the U18 Scottish Schools Cup. The sense of comradery, positive support and sheer team spirit was incredible!
A Housemother’s role is a very varied one and no two days are the same, but I believe the foundation stone is to be there for the boys, to help them in any way I can, whether that be on a practical level or just as someone to listen to them, to talk over any worries or concerns they may have, guide and support them or just to be there for a chat. Attending to the little things, just as a mother would do at home, often has the greatest impact and makes a big difference which is in turn reflected in their happiness and wellbeing. Coincidently this is Wellbeing Week and if I had to encapsulate my role as a Housemother at Merchiston, I would say promoting and contributing to the wellbeing of the boys in broad sense, offers a comprehensive description of what I do.
I see a core part of my role to create a home from home, caring, friendly and warm atmosphere within the House, where each and every one of the boys are valued and nurtured, whilst encouraging their independence and fostering life skills in preparation for the next stage of their lives. One of the areas of focus this term has been upgrading the kitchens, making them a more comfortable relaxing space as well as equipping them to enable the boys to cook a meal if they wish. The kitchens have become a very well used central hub, bustling with boys making toasties at break time, cooking bacon and eggs after prep or simply chilling and relaxing with friends. They have also hosted corridor socials, cooking socials, House breakfasts and Sunday afternoon baking activities. We are working hard on the cleaning up and dishwasher loading skills! In fact, at the request of the boys through the House Forum, we will be having dishwasher socials with Mrs Coyne next term!
Building a sense of community is really important in a boarding environment and perhaps even more pertinent in Laidlaw since the boys have the luxury of individual en suite rooms. With this in mind, we try hard to organise social gatherings, planned and impromptu as well as providing activities such as darts and table tennis within the House to encourage get-togethers. Sunday evenings are a time for whole House socials, where both North and South gather to enjoy hot chocolate and home baked goodies before bed and the start of another busy week.
Last week, we gathered in the foyer to decorate the Christmas tree, festive tunes in the background and, of course, hot chocolate in hand, this time with mince pies … any excuse will do! On Tuesday 4 December, we headed down to Dantes, in Colinton, for a delicious Christmas meal and the beginning of the seasonal festivities.
The VIA Club, which the boys have access to three times a week, offers a social space out with the House where the boys can get together over a drink and just to relax. This term has seen the launch of the now very popular Wednesday night quiz, hosted by one of the VI Form Prefects, as well as some very entertaining Karaoke evenings.
There is also a Games Room with darts and pool, which we hope to raise to competition status next term as well as a ‘snug’ with TV and board games. The momentum in the VIA Club has been gathering over the term and it is an important part of the boys’ week, giving them time out and a space to let their hair down.Halloween was celebrated in style; the VIA Club was infiltrated by ghosts and spiders, bats and pumpkins, a ghoulish punch was served and lots of spooky fun had … who said VI Form are too old to duck for apples and gobble donuts from strings? A fun evening culminating in some very dodgy dancing, not to mention the music!
In November, we hosted the Hawaiian themed Charity Social inviting St George’s School for Girls to join in the fun, the theatre transformed in to a beach scene with an ALOHA bar, surfboards, sunshine, tropical flowers and palm trees. With colourful lighting, and amazing sounds, high spirits and colourful costumes, including some creative coconut attire, they partied the night away whilst raising a very handsome sum for charity.
So, as we wrap up for Christmas I am preparing for the VIA Christmas Party, where the boys will enjoy mulled wine, canapes and mince pies followed by a Christmas movie on the big screen. We will round off the term with homemade gingerbread men and luxury hot chocolate (with all the trimmings of course!) as the Secret Santa tradition unfolds.
The boys are looking forward to a wonderful holiday and a good rest! We look forward to welcoming them back in Lent Term, refreshed and restored, ready for action.
With very warm wishes for Christmas and the New Year.