With summer holidays approaching and half term just gone, quite a few people have asked me what I do to entertain the children when they’re at home. Nagging in the back of my mind is the prospect of my first summer as a single parent. Even worse, not one, but two of my children will be off to busy cities to live independantly in September, a thought I’m struggling to handle. Anyway, I sat down with Sal, who, besides a friend, is by my side to help out with most parenting duties. We’ve put our heads together and thought we’d share a bit about what life is like around here, these past few months.
Personally, I love the holidays. Meal times are generally later, the laundry piles up and our usual clockwork routine melts away. For me this past half term has been a time to rest, both physically and emotionally. More than ever, I’ve focussed on spending quality time with all of my children, soaking up each of their funny habits and quirks. I’m early on the road to adjustment and every day challenges me in some way or another. But at this point I’m determined to let the hurt flow; it’s okay to be upset, and it’s okay to show it. I’ll be totally honest here – I’m in so much pain, and there are days when I’m certain I just cannot go on. I think I can speak for each of my eldest children too. Naturally, our dynamic has changed and I have to work harder than ever before. I’m blessed with children who can sense this, and have stepped up too; max has started his own tool box in the garage for little jobs, and the older girls bath all of the other children for me. I’ve even had to tackle a cheeky mouse who decided to invade our kitchen this past month – I think he’s dead now, but we’d gotten to the point of naming him and learning which times he likes to visit.
Through all of this, I’m consciously trying to make things fun. Our mornings are slow; bottles of milk are refilled when the babies wake up, and everyone piles into my bed for extra cuddles and tickles. I know that these are precious years. We love music and we blast it whenever we can, whether this be from my phone or in the car. We’re talking everything from The Killers (our family favourite), to full on, cheesy pop. Our current favourites to lighten up the bed-making routine are Chainsmokers and Justin Bieber, although Marigold can sing Symphony by Clean Bandit, word for word, at the delicate age of one.
We’re fortunate to live in an area with plenty of space and clean air, trees to build dens under and walls to climb. I’ve not had the money to replace our aged and broken garden furniture this year, but picnics on old floral sheets seem to work just as well. The weather has been very kind on the whole, and buckets and saucepans of water are just as good as any paddling pool. The children are more than happy. In fact Eddie and Max crowned me “best-mum-ever” following a trip to feed the ducks last weekend, and chips on the grass proved to be an exciting treat for them. Grass stains, mosquito bites, sunburn and all, I am in love with these simple pleasures. I’ve recieved messages from some lovely instagram friends about how you enjoy these photos of us having fun at home. My point here is that we are managing with limited time and resources, yet I try my hardest to make each day enjoyable. I wholeheartedly believe that home should be one’s happiest place. I’m creating and maintaining a space that my children will ache to come back to long after they leave home. One that’ll fill them with fond memories, and one they’ll hold close as they grow.
My number one piece of advice for any parent, is to let your children be little. Just let them be little; it’s what we live our lives by (so much so that it almost became the name for this blog of ours). Let them be curious, confused, adventurous, vulnerable. Let them ask questions, and answer with the same forethought and respect you’d give an adult. Remember that life for them might never again be so slow, so carefree and so exciting. Take a deep breath when faced with stained dresses, spilt milk and overturned toy baskets – remind yourself that in years to come these everyday frustrations will bring a smile to your face.
I hope you enjoy these photos from our adventures – if only my handsome boys were as willing to be photographed as the little girls!
Sending so much love to you and your family.