Category Archives: teenager

Creature of Habit

Me and spontaneity are not regular companions. I’m very much a routine-loving, plan-ahead kind of person. I’m not inflexible, I can go with the flow from time to time and I am not averse to a last minute outing but I prefer to know about plans in advance, timings, etc. I like to know where I stand. It all goes back to the not liking rushing thing. I don’t like being late and I don’t like having to rush to get there on time. Also, I LIKE organising and being organised. It makes me feel in control.

I plan ahead for meals; I listen to the same radio station every day (my short foray into Smooth was just that – very short) or listen to the same albums and playlists over and over again; I wear the same clothes time and time again; I try and do the washing on the same days each week; I do the shopping on the same day each week; I pick up the kids on the same days every week; I go into the office on set days. It’s all very planned and habitual. And probably a bit boring. Some of it I can’t change – it would be pretty inconvenient to change the school pick ups with my car share friend from day to day; it would not be beneficial for people to run out of clean pants because I didn’t do any washing for 2 weeks – but other things I can work on.

As with List-less I think I need to change things up a bit. Stop following the same rules that I have made for myself and maybe make things a bit more interesting. Change my mindset and see what happens.

When I first started working again I took full advantage of the flexibility of my working day – as in, there are no fixed hours of work, just get the 8 hours done each day or make it up later in the week, whatever – and would sometimes take a few hours out in the afternoon to do something with the kids and then carry on with work later in the evening. For the last couple of years, since the kids have needed me less, I have fallen into a habit of starting around 8.30am/9am and finishing around 5.30pm/6pm. I have to take time out every other day for the school pickup and I do allow myself a short break for lunch now and again and the odd coffee with a friend (much rarer than I make it seem – at most once a month) but I am pretty conscientious really and make sure I do the hours expected. But I’ve fallen into a pattern again and I’m finding myself clock-watching when it gets to late afternoon. Maybe I should think about taking a break at that point and come back to it later in the evening. I could go out for a walk or sit and read a book, or get ahead of the game and prep some stuff for dinner.

It does worry me a bit that my lack of spontaneity may affect the kids social lives. I’ve had in my mind that we need to have A’s friend over for tea, or a sleepover, or probably both, for a few weeks now*. I’ve mentioned before that A gets asked to go to things with them A LOT and we are not good at reciprocating. They are a very spontaneous family and often ask her to things at the last minute, which she loves. I always feel like I’m a bit of a let-down in comparison. The truth is, we’re just not that exciting. We don’t just nip off to fun places or pop out for dinner randomly on a Friday night (or if we do it’s a very rare event). T is often invited to go to friends houses for dinner or to ‘hang out’ for the evening or to stay over. It never occurs to me to see if he wants people to come here. I am more than happy for them to have friends round but I never seem to make the suggestion. It wasn’t something we did as kids – I remember going to tea with friends, but not frequently and, because we lived further away from school and mum didn’t drive, it wasn’t easy to arrange for friends to come to ours. Maybe it’s a habit thing. Maybe, as well as dropping some habits, I need to make some new ones. (When we have the extension built it will be easier for them to have friends round, whereas at the moment they would have to be sat up in their bedrooms  – not great for A as her room is tiny – or K and I  would be forced out of the lounge into the kitchen. A lot is riding on this extension!)

I think part of my resistance to spontaneity is the not being in control part. I am a self-confessed control freak and although I have been trying hard to loosen my grip on certain things (cooking, decision making) it’s a long-ingrained habit to break. I worry what will happen if I’m not in control, if I step away from the helm and wait for someone else to take over. Will they? The candidates are not strong or many and I am not filled with confidence. Conversely, I do get a bit fed up of no-one else suggesting outings or ‘doing something’ and when I say “someone else” I obviously mean K – I can’t really expect the kids to whisk me away somewhere. But, to be fair, when he makes suggestions I quite often put a damper on it (because it wasn’t my idea – I know, I’m evil) so I would suspect he has got fed up of asking. There is a lot of truth behind star signs and I am a true Gemini – very, very fickle.

I’ve never been very good at breaking bad habits: I still pick at my fingers; I still eat too much chocolate; I still find it hard to say no (but I am working on that one) and I still feel guilty about nearly everything. But new habits are even harder to make. They say you have to do something for 60 consecutive days to make a habit. I think I manage 2 days of a healthy diet at most before I cave. I rarely manage to get past week 1 of a new exercise regime. Chocolate anyone? It’s not looking good for this creature to kick off her habits and make new ones. Small changes, perhaps? A new playlist. Wear some of the other clothes that are hanging in my wardrobe wondering why they are never worn (I know they don’t really have thoughts, I’m not mad). A break in the afternoon sometimes. Who knows where this could all lead?

 

*since writing this I have texted A’s friend’s mum and arranged a sleepover for this Saturday – yes, this Saturday – in 2 days time. Get me, being all spontaneous.

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Bittersweet

I went to visit my Nan with T & A on Saturday. We haven’t seen her for a few months and I wanted to see her before our Christmas visit as that would have been too long to wait. K didn’t come with us as he was up in Birmingham for a friends 50th birthday (more on that later). There is no getting away from the fact that my Nan has aged. I had a bit of a ‘moment’ late last year when I hadn’t seen her for quite some time and I wrote about it in Growing up is hard In the last few weeks there has been talk about her going into a home where she would have round the clock care. There are many pros to this idea: my mum and my aunt won’t have the huge responsibility of looking after her (cleaning, washing, cooking, sorting out finances – the list goes on); they will be able to visit her and actually spend time with her rather than spending all their time doing chores; we will all have less worry about her being in her flat alone with only a neighbour and her lifeline (a button she can press to connect her to a care service) to hand if she feels unwell; less worry about her falling and being unable to call someone – just less worry generally. The cons are that we will have to sort out all her belongings and reduce them down to a size that she can take with her. She has a LOT of stuff and to her it’s all important and all needs to “go to a good home”. She will have to leave her home of 50+ years and her life will change. At nearly 97 who wants that? Of course she doesn’t want the upheaval and the uncertainty of what life will be like. Ideally, in her head, she wants to see her days out in her flat and remain the master of her ship, a ship she has been in charge of for 50+ years until the last 6 years or so when things started to get harder. She is resistant and then, alternately, resigned to the idea. When I saw her on Saturday she asked me if she looked old. I told her she was beautiful. Because she is. I wish with all my heart that I could wind the clock back for her to a time when she was still be able to do everything for herself, that she didn’t need carers, that she didn’t need my mum and Aunt to do all that they do for her.  I’ve not really been able to stop thinking about her since I saw her and I know my mum and Aunt feel caught between a rock and a hard place – no-one wants to force her to go into a home against her wishes, no-one wants her to be upset or sad BUT the situation is becoming almost impossible. She seemed to be in the ‘resigned’ camp of thought when I saw her (this can change daily, today she is probably adamant that she is going nowhere) and said that it’s all down to the social worker’s report and the decision of the care panel. We will have to see what they say and hope that she accepts it. It’s always lovely to see her but I always leave with a certain sadness.

As I mentioned earlier, K went up to Birmingham for a friends birthday. They were going go-karting and out for a meal and drinks afterwards. He decided to stay overnight as he doesn’t see them that often and wanted to be able to have a couple of drinks. I hate it when he is away, I don’t sleep properly and I miss him. Sad, but true. However, he doesn’t go very often and other than work-related evenings or socialising now and again with our friends he doesn’t get much downtime apart from with me, poor man. When he moved down here and we moved in together he would go up now and again but then we got married, as did many of his friends, and then we had T. It all happened quite quickly and I have to admit that I didn’t make it easy for him to go back up after we had T. I couldn’t cope well on my own and felt that I needed him around all the time. He was great and never complained, but he sort of fell out of the habit of going back up and seeing his friends. When he got home yesterday he was really full of beans and chatty and he’d clearly had a good time. He was knackered but he’d enjoyed himself immensely. He sat and chatted to T about the go-karting (they had been to a local one recently so were comparing notes) and about some funny incidents in a bar. We went out for dinner and he was chatty all night and relaxed and it was lovely It made me realise how much he must have missed seeing them. I have to take some of the blame – I didn’t make it easy for him in years gone by and he knows I don’t like him being away so he tries not to be. I’ve told him he must go more often. No, I won’t sleep but, big deal, I don’t sleep well when he IS here! I love seeing my friends and I can see them whenever I want to. They make me happy, they know me as someone other than a wife or a mum. He must feel the same when he is with his friends – they’ve known each other since secondary school and they have history – they don’t know him as Dad or husband or colleague. To them he is just K and that must be great. I am determined to get him to go up at least once every couple of months as we will all reap the benefits if he comes back as happy as he was yesterday.

 

One better day*

It’s not been a very eventful day today but I quite like Thursdays. They are my Friday, with another Friday afterwards. My Thursday is like most people’s Friday’s but I get a free non-working Friday after my Thursday, not just a Saturday and Sunday. I LOVE Fridays. There is no better day. I know that I should love weekends more than Fridays, and I do love them, but you can’t beat a Friday. Consequently, Thursday is all about the anticipation of the Friday to follow, so I quite like Thursdays.

What has made me smile today other than it just being Thursday?

Little things:

Receiving a text from A from a sleepover –  having a lovely time – followed by a message from the sleepover friend’s mum saying how lovely it had been to have A there, that her younger children adore A and that she is patient and kind with them.

A hug from my man-boy. I had to wake him up at half ten so he could get on with some revision/homework. Cruel to be kind, that old chestnut. He doesn’t hold a grudge, he doesn’t shout at me to go away. He takes his time surfacing and then of course he needs food and a shower so the revision/homework doesn’t get underway until nearly eleven thirty. Makes a bit of a mockery of the ‘do some work in the mornings and then you can have some free time in the afternoon‘ agreement that we have, as the morning has practically gone by the time he gets down to work. He did more work after lunch (lunch? because of course he needed more food by 12.45pm) and I have evidence of actual progress being made, so I am not cracking the whip yet.

A ‘like’, a re-tweet and a reply from an author whose book I have just finished and loved. I tweeted about it not expecting any response bar from my 3 lovely Twitter friends who are kind enough to like my tweets, so I was really pleased that the author saw my comments and was happy enough to reply to me, resulting in a short Twitter conversation. She’s a relative newcomer and this was her second book (I have read her debut novel which was also excellent) and I have been recommending this latest one to everyone that I know who reads. The idea for the narrative (likened to a literary Sliding Doors by one critic) is gripping and the story-lines are believable and thought-provoking. It’s my favourite book so far this year. To know that she knows how much I liked it made me smile.

My girl coming home from the sleepover and wanting a “huggy”. She’s affectionate and loving, on her own terms – always has been – and it’s lovely when she wants to be hugged and I NEVER say I’m too busy. What could possibly be more important than a hug?

Not a bad haul of smiles for a non-eventful, run of the mill day. I might even have a glass of wine later – well, it is Friday 😉

 

*a little homage to one of my favourite Madness tracks.

 

Planning, Being Human and Revision

Good news! We have finally been granted Planning Permission. So all we need to do now is choose a builder (we’ve whittled it down to two – it’s difficult because they are both really nice, both have quoted around the same price and both are available when we want to get started) and get booked into their diary ready to start in the New Year. Exciting times ahead. Also ones full of dust and noise and horrendous disruption but…..it will all be worth it. I see this fast becoming my new mantra. (I don’t have a current mantra but it may catch on.)

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Last week A was asked to write an essay on What Makes Us Human by her PRE (Philosophy, Religion and Ethics for those, like me, who aren’t familiar) teacher. She asked me to read it over and give her feedback. I’m always a bit on edge when anyone asks me to do this. I am more likely to pick up on spelling errors (I’m not so hot on grammar) and typos so I’m better suited to proof-reading than critiquing. I was pretty impressed; I went a bit misty. She’s 12 years old. She never fails to surprise me – some of the points she made were pretty mature. I quote: “Being human means we mess up from time to time. How can you be human if you don’t make some mistakes? Nobody is perfect. ALL of us have flaws.” (I’m a bit disappointed that she doesn’t think I’m perfect but she’s wrong). She’s not great at taking constructive criticism (one of her flaws, but she get’s it from her mother – OK, I admit, I’m not perfect) so I had to be careful with my wording: she needed to work on some of her ideas a bit more but other than that I told her how mature a lot of her thoughts are and that she should be proud of her work, as she had clearly spent some time thinking about it. Oh, and that it made me a bit misty eyed. She liked that bit.

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Last night, K, T and I attended an info evening at school ahead of the mock GCSE exams starting in November. I thought the intention was to give us ideas on how to help our child through this process and the proper exams in the Summer. I thought we would be talked through strategies, given useful websites, suggested revision guides to buy, etc. We were to some extent but it was really just the core subject heads telling us how difficult the exams were going to be, how much pressure was going to be on the students and (in the case of one teacher) way too much detail on what the exam was going to cover. If I was finding it all a bit daunting, I can’t imagine what the students were thinking. The only positive note came from the head of Maths, and coincidentally T’s teacher, who said that, after hearing his colleagues speak, he felt quite relieved that he taught maths as it was pretty easy to revise for! Top man. He was upbeat and honest – if you want to revise, you need to do some maths. Just do some maths: pick the topics you struggle with and practice – twenty minutes a day. Great.

The funny thing for me was K. He hated school; he gets a bit antsy when we have to attend anything like this – he can’t sit still; he just can’t wait to get away. Last night I felt like I was sitting next to two 15 year old boys. T’s leg was jiggling away and he was looking at his feet for most of the talks. K was “busy” looking at the handout and whispering silly comments to me, when one of the speakers said anything daft. I nearly choked on my Polo when one of the teachers said that the students “need to get on the game”. I think he meant get their heads in the game but it came out wrong, I met another mum’s eye and we both nearly had to gag ourselves to stop from laughing. There’s always a highlight to these evenings.

Stress, Social and Smooth

Stress. The kids went back to school nearly two weeks ago. Last Monday, T had a mini-meltdown. When I say meltdown, he was mildly stressed out. T doesn’t do meltdowns. He does calm and laid back so when he gets stressed it is unusual but not insurmountable. He doesn’t have to tell me when something is worrying him, it is obvious – he goes quiet and in turn becomes argumentative. And anyway, I just know. Before I had kids, I didn’t really believe the whole “mum spidey senses” thing but it is actually a Thing. Anyway, we had a chat after the argument and he admitted he was feeling a bit pressured by the whole GCSE thing and the pressure to do well. We had spoken at length during the summer about how much effort he has been giving so far and how it is not enough to just do the bare minimum. The failed RE GCSE seemed to spur him on, but have I created a monster? Have I made too much of it and now he is stressing out? Anyway, we talked a bit more and it transpired that the homework app wasn’t working (see, technology is NOT always a good thing – what was wrong with writing things down into a homework diary?) and he didn’t want to get behind with his homework………….because he wanted to watch the Apple Conference live the following evening. I don’t need to worry, he clearly still has his priorities in a different place.

Social. On Saturday night, A went to a friend’s birthday party. I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with her social life and the way it is organised. There’s no invites any more. Parents don’t contact parents any more. Your child gets a text (or Whatsapp message, or Instagram DM, or Snapchat PM….etc) invite from their friend and they ask you if they can go. You say yes or no and if in the affirmative the details get passed to you as and when your child gets them. You don’t have to text a parent or call a parent to say that your child can attend and “hi” I’m J, A’s mum”. None of that. On this particular occasion I had not met the girl whose party it was, or her parents. I just knew she lived in “the big house on the corner of the road that goes down to the school”. She was being dropped off by another friend’s step-dad (again all organised child-to-child but at least we know the friend in question and have met the mum and step-dad) and we were picking them up later. I had an address and a time and the knowledge that they were going to watch a movie at the house and then dinner out at a local pizza place. That was all. Now, I don’t know how you feel reading this, but I felt a little lacking in my parental duties. However, knowing that I could see her whereabouts on my lovely app, I felt slightly less nervous than I could have done. And I knew two of the other girls she was going to be with who are both pretty sensible. She was being dropped off and picked up. Nothing to worry about. And there wasn’t, it was all fine, she had a lovely time; they were even left unsupervised in the restaurant while the birthday girl’s parents went to the chip shop (it’s classier than it sounds) and so she felt very grown up (which I suppose she is becoming). I went to pick her up at the designated time with K as chauffeur. The idea of the “big house on the corner” made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person who lives in a VERY big house…you get the idea. I was nervous. Especially having had ZERO contact with her previously. She was perfectly nice, they had all “been fine” and so after collecting all their belongings (why do girls have so much stuff?) we left. I have no idea what the mum’s name was. We made small talk while they were getting their stuff but other than that she has 2 older children and one younger one and that her house is MASSIVE I know nothing more than that. It’s not a problem, it just feels weird. Up til now, I have pretty much known the parents of A’s friends, because I have seen them at school and probably chatted to them in the playground. I haven’t had to worry about this stuff with T, he still hangs around with the same mates he had in nursery. He has other friends, new friends from secondary school, but boys don’t really do the whole “tea” at each others houses thing. Or parties really. Well, T doesn’t anyway. It’s a whole new world and one I am finding hard to adjust to. We have a “new friend” coming for “tea” tomorrow and another one for a sleepover on Saturday night (I have met her before so it will be fine) – I might need therapy by Sunday.

So, that just leaves Smooth. I have not been sleeping brilliantly for a few weeks. When I say not brilliantly, I mean I can get to sleep no problem (in fact probably too easily, i.e. in front of the TV most evenings) but I have started waking up around 4am again. I don’t know why but it is annoying. What is even more annoying is that when I am lying there awake all I can think of is a bloody song that I can’t get out of my head. Not always the same song, but normally one that I don’t even like. I have realised that it is probably down to listening to Radio 2 all day.  It’s not their fault but they do play the same records over and over again – their playlist is pretty limited – and it can get a bit repetitive, and one of the songs will get stuck in my noddle and at 4am it decides to start blasting out. So, I have decided on a change of station. I started out this morning with Classic FM – no lyrics, no catchy tunes, was my thinking. After ten minutes I couldn’t take any more. I need lyrics. I need a catchy tune. I scrolled through the list and Smooth caught my eye – billed as “your relaxing music mix” I though it worth a go. Ooh I like it. So far not one repeat of a song. Nothing current, I grant you – I’m not in danger of being Down With The Kids – but nothing repetitive that could get stuck in my head, not so far anyway. Some old classics, actually only old classics; DJ’s whose voices are not too annoying, so far; a few adverts, could get annoying; but mainly just easy listening background noise with a few “oh I LOVE this one”s thrown in. Let’s see what happens tonight.

 

 

Patience is a virtue……

……I definitely don’t possess.

I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been patient waiting for the planning to go through (it still hasn’t, but I am zen-like and not allowing it to bother me), I have been patient waiting for builders quotes (some are really quick and others not so much). I have been calm during the return to school and I have only lost it once (when T was demonstrating typical Teen Brain behaviour). I have been trying hard and winning, mostly.

On Monday, I was likened to a caged tiger.

I went into the office early to get ahead of myself as Mondays are always my busiest day, catching up on enquiries from the weekend and any issues from Friday, when my colleague covers for me. I logged in and immediately my computer told me I had to run an update. No choices, no “run later” option or exit button, I had to do it. One of my bosses arrived about half an hour later and it was still running. I had a bit of a moan and he sympathised. I made us a coffee (my second) and I opened some post. Forty-five minutes later it rebooted – hurrah! – and I was all set to get started. Then, it said “installing updates, this will take some time”. Not may take some time, WILL take some time. As if forty-five minutes wasn’t long enough. The other boss arrived so I made another coffee; listened to the radio, did the Pop Master quiz; went to the loo – again. I think I must have been making my frustrations very well known (I was pretty wound up knowing that there was going to be even more emails to action as I had now been waiting nearly two hours to get going) because when I walked – maybe that should be ‘stalked’ – over to the franking machine my boss told me I was like a caged tiger. I had been pacing around a bit, I had been huffing and puffing quite a lot and there had been quite a bit of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air-in-disgust at the ridiculously slow increase of the “percentage complete” figure. I know I’m not the most patient of people. I know it’s a failing. But, when 99% of your job is done by computer and said computer is out of action it is VERY frustrating – there is nothing else to do. I hate doing nothing, unless I have chosen to do nothing and even then I can’t do it for long. But, I guess neither of my bosses have ever witnessed this before and, although I was technically doing nothing on their time, they were finding it highly amusing. Anyway, after 2 hours and twenty minutes of waiting, I was able to login and get started. Only to find that the poxy update had buggered up one of my email accounts and I couldn’t access it. Arrrggggghhhhh. As Mondays go, it was not the best.

Yesterday was fine. I was working from home and apart from having to move into the dining room because the office was bloody freezing, I had a productive day.

This morning, I felt like I was back on track and even the internet connection seemed to be behaving when the radio stopped playing. Then the wireless symbol on my laptop went orange (I hate that colour). This is not an unusual phenomenon as our internet connection is pretty hit and miss even when you are sitting right next to the router, so I wasn’t overly worried. Then I noticed how quiet it was.

Why was it so quiet?

Ah, the fridge freezer wasn’t making that weird groaning noise that it makes. This wasn’t just a Wi-Fi issue. This was a Power Cut. Again, this is not unusual for our village. There is a local Facebook group (that I am no longer part of because – did I mention this before? – I am no longer on Facebook) that has 100 comment long posts about Power Cuts – we have them almost weekly and sometimes a few short ones in the space of an hour. So, again, I wasn’t too worried. Stupidly, and I do this every bloody time, I got up to make a cup of tea! Doh! Picked up my phone to look at my personal emails. No signal. Huh. No problem, it will be back on soon.

Twenty minutes later and nothing. This is unusual, they normally only last a few minutes.

OK, I’ll read my book for ten minutes and then it will be back on.

Ten minutes later, nothing. By now, I was getting pretty wound up and the caged tiger was prowling again. I couldn’t even check if this was an actual Power Cut as I had no connection to the internet. Then, I remembered – my work phone is on O2….maybe it would have a signal where my EE phone didn’t. It did! Hurrah. I made it into a hotspot and got my laptop connected up to it. Answered the emails that had come in and then checked the Power Cut Checker website. It was an ACTUAL Power Cut! They had turned the power off so they could do some emergency repairs caused by the high winds last night. Annoying, but at least now I knew. It would be off for some time. No more emails to do, so I made the executive decision to nip out and run the errands I had planned to do at school pick up time. So off I went.

I had no sooner left the village when my phone bipped to say that our security camera was back online (it runs on the Wi-Fi) meaning the power was BACK ON. For god’s sake. Should I turn around like the conscientious person I am and carry on working, or just keep going? I kept going. I returned some stuff to one shop and then I went into the pound shop for some washing up liquid  – and came out with £12 worth of other items. What is it about pound shops? I can’t ever just go in for one thing and come out with one thing.  Anyway, I digress. I could write a whole blog post on that subject alone.

I got home and the power was indeed back on and when I checked the Power Cut Checker website it confirmed it was back on for good (or at least until the weekly mini cut that we will almost certainly get). Hurrah.

What both these episodes have highlighted is two things: I am not patient (we already knew this) and we rely massively on electricity. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in the early 1800’s and I do wonder if I would have found living in that era less frustrating. If I had to go back in time, leaving behind all the convenience of life in the 21st Century, I would undoubtedly be a nightmare to live with. But never knowing the “joys” of technology and electricity, if I had been born into that time, would I have been less impatient? If I had to hand write everything, wait for a reply, walk everywhere, live life at a slower pace, perhaps I would not get so wound up. Or maybe I would have this trait regardless of what period of time I lived in, and as a 19th Century lady (I would probably more likely have been in service rather than being waited on, but this is a “what if” and we don’t have to be realistic) I would have fired countless ladies maids for being too slow to button my dress up. Ok, we need to stop right there: the idea of wearing dresses is a step too far, even in a “what if” scenario.

Let’s just say, this week has done nothing to help my goal of being more zen-like but I just have to accept that sometimes life will conspire against me. Next week will be better. Positive, see? That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sea change

sea change

Two years ago, I wrote a blog about The summer holidays and why I think they are too long and, at that time, I meant it. (I might have meant it last year as well but last summer wasn’t your bog-standard so I probably didn’t give it much thought – I just wanted the whole thing to go away.)

This summer I have felt differently. OK, I admit, at the beginning of the 6 weeks I had some fleeting thoughts of, “oh god, here we go again, this is going to drag.” But, it was only fleeting and now that it is the eve of the return to school I can’t believe how quickly the 6 weeks have passed.

It’s maybe that the six weeks have been broken up by two lovely (separate) weeks away. There’s definitely something to be said for breaking the weeks up – we went away the second week, so the first week was busy and full of thoughts of the coming holiday; and again for the last full week so we had three weeks in between where the kids could see friends, we could go out on my days off and look forward to the final week’s holiday. There was a lot of counting down to the last week and it was well worth the wait.

We came home from Suffolk on Friday and I have to admit to having leaky eyes when we were leaving. I have a tendency to wake up early, even on holiday, which is irritating – I would like to have lie-ins – but is also quite nice in some ways. I quite liked getting up when everyone else was asleep and having a cup of tea, reading my book and easing gently into the day ahead. This in itself is a change for me. Before, I would have felt resentment at being awake, being the one to be awake first and making a cup of tea; I’d clatter around to get the point across that I was awake and doing stuff. Ridiculous. On our last day I was, of course, awake even earlier knowing we had to be out by 10am and had a lot of packing up still to do. Sitting outside on the patio with a cuppa and some toast I honestly didn’t ever want to move. It wasn’t just that the place was so beautiful, so quiet – just birdsong and trees rustling – and the weather so perfect. It was everything that is different when we’re away.

When we’re away, we take more time. We talk to each other more. We laugh more. We do things we wouldn’t do at home – e.g. I would NEVER have contemplated setting an alarm for 5.45am to see the sunrise with my daughter at home, NEVER. We relax more. We hug more. We smile at each other more. We’re just more there. Of course, we still argue (bicker, really), we still irritate, annoy, wind each other up. There’s still cooking to do and washing up to do. But somehow it seems less of a thing, less of a chore.

With all the best intentions I could have sat there and vowed to carry this on when we got home. We WOULD still go on bike rides together, we would talk more and spend time in each others company more. But, of course, I’m a realist and I knew that it wouldn’t happen and THAT is why I had leaky eyes. I was going to miss laying on the beach with T’s head in my lap. I would miss standing in the shallows of the sea, paddling with A. I would miss the walks and the holding hands and the other-worldness of it all.

And of course, the reality since we came home has been me up early on Saturday getting three washloads done before anyone even stirred (I did sit outside on the patio for ten minutes with a cuppa but 6 planes flew over in that space of time and kind of ruined the vibe I was going for!); having food shopping delivered; sorting out uniforms for school tomorrow; and back to work yesterday. Just as I knew it would be on Friday morning. But this is why we have holidays. It’s not reality, it’s a short break from it all and all the more special for it. If I could sit outside every morning; if we were able to go on bike rides or walks or to the beach every day; if we spent every day together we would soon get bored of it and sick of each other.

So, we had a great time and breaking up the holiday into two separate weeks was a winning idea. But what else is different? We had three weeks in between the holidays and they were fine. I’m not going to harp on about it being better because the kids are older as I’ve done that to death and it can’t all be down to that. I actually had some small pangs of longing for the days when they were little and we would build sandcastles on the beach instead of sitting talking, listening to music, reading and eating. There were some small moments when I felt a bit sad that I don’t HAVE to paddle any more, but I can if I want to and not because I have been nagged to (although that did happen once!). It’s true that I have to be less available these days and am generally only needed as an Uber substitute rather than for my company. It’s also true that the kids are now actually happy to spend all day in bed or in PJ’s with nothing more to entertain them than a mobile phone, if the weather has stopped them going out.

I can’t put my finger on the reason for the change of heart. I would still like to have longer at May half term but I don’t know that it should be taken from the Summer holidays. Maybe next year I will be back to my original thinking and will be tearing my hair out. But I think not.