We are now roughly half way through the summer holidays and if I’m honest it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. Pinky may only be at preschool currently but those 15 hours are invaluable to me. When she is there things are less rushed, I get slightly less pestered with just the one child, I get some time to miss her and both Pinky and Perky get to miss each other. The missing each other thing is probably the bit I miss the most. I think time apart is good and healthy. I find time to recharge my patience with Pinky and the girls recharge theirs too. The sisters argue less after 5 hours apart. So naturally, as appears to be the case with most mums, I was dreading the 6 weeks of summer holidays.
We are extra fortunate that Pinky is at preschool as it means we still get to have days out in the week. I like these times. Holidays scare me. Everywhere is more expensive (sometimes double the cost), everywhere is busier, the children are older. Last year we went nowhere at all. So this year I wanted it to be different, we didn’t have to do loads of things but I just didn’t want to practically hibernate. Also this year Perky is 18 months old, walking, almost talking and full of personality. She is no longer the 6 month old good excuse not to go too far.
In my usual list making organisation I sat down one evening and started looking for things to do, ideally not more than an hours drive away as there are so many good days out locally there really isn’t any need to travel too far without Hubby in tow. We don’t yet have a Merlin pass or National Trust membership. The only place I am a member of is the Royal Horticultural Society simply because Wisley gardens is practically down the road and I can get myself, another adult and 4 children under 5 in on my membership alone. It’s brilliant for taking other Mummy friends (or anyone really) and once I’ve been 3 times I’ve made my money back and some. With this in mind, as I sat down ready to make notes on prices and travel time I very quickly became disheartened. Some of the traditional days out were expensive enough to make a dent in my credit profile. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mind spending the money on the girls, I think they are totally worth it, I am a firm believer in making memories in childhood. This issue I have is that it is cheaper during ‘off peak’ times which we still get to take advantage of. These types of places are just so busy during the summer, especially as we have had such good weather recently, for England anyway.
Never fear there is an upside to this. I’ve never been very good at keeping things simple, I always struggle to enjoy the little things. This summer that is exactly what I am trying to do, and so far I have been succeeding. Initially I was going to try and do completely free summer activities, the problem with that is supplies cost money, getting places costs money in the form of petrol. Instead I have tried to do super cheap activities and limit driving distances to 30 minutes.
I hate the park as a general rule. We are lucky enough that it is only a 2 minute walk away, it also has some good equipment for both toddlers and bigger kids. The issue I have is, due to its location, it is very appealing after dusk to the underage drinking teen and possibly the occasional alcoholic adult. These upstanding members of our society take great pleasure in leaving evidence of their late night visits dotted about for curious toddlers to find. It’s like a hepatitis treasure hunt.
I am now starting to enjoy the park. It’s free, it’s local and (after the five hundredth time of me going bat shit crazy) the girls now ignore any rubbish on the floor so I have relaxed. It’s actually an enjoyable experience and is slowly taking less and less negotiation and bribery to get the girls to leave.
In the absence of a dog this is just a walk but it has the same effect. I usually consider the dog walk a bit of a chore and usually do it as part of our outing. It is less of a chore if I can do it on my own in the evening but when Pinky and Perky are with me the dog goes into a hyper-acute protective mode whenever another dog comes anywhere near us. Recently Pinky has been asking to go on a dog walk. She enjoys wandering for no reason and we mix up the route, sometimes just round the houses, sometimes down to the canal, sometimes just to the field to throw a ball. This kills about an hour and the girls seem to enjoy it, plus it’s free so win win.
This can also be teamed up with the dog walk. In our case we have to drive to the woods but there are many options and most aren’t too far away. Next week we are off to the Alice Holt woods, these are the furthest from us and we will have to pay a small fee for parking but they have the Gruffalo walk which ideal for little ones, if I’m feeling really good on the day I may even make up a treasure hunt on our way round… Can’t promise though, that will be mood dependant.
I love baking anyway and as such I usually have the basic ingredients in the house at all times if not some more specialist items too. Earlier this week we threw together some chocolate cupcakes with a pink meringue buttercream icing. Yep that’s basic for me, but the sentiment is there. Flour, sugar, eggs and butter are relatively cheap items, the cupcake cases aren’t too much either and depending on the amount in the pack will last a few batches. If you don’t have a cupcake tray then you could perhaps use a roasting tin or Pyrex dish and make a traybake instead. Either way it’s cake, yummy, delicious, winning right there!
This is like a free mini farm or zoo. Our pet shop is in a retail park, we have to drive there but the parking is free and there is also a hobbycraft so I get to have a window shop in there and look at all the crafty things I will never buy as they make too much mess and I don’t have the patience for the clean up. Once in the pet shop the girls love the rabbits and guinea pigs. There are plenty of fish and we enjoy picking out the ones we will get when Hubby next decides to get some. Plus there are hampsters, mice and rats which I always enjoyed as a little girl. If I am feeling very generous or the girls are being particularly well behaved there is also a Costa coffee there so I will treat them to a juice and a cake.
This is always an underestimated activity. I get some adult company and the girls get to play with their friends. Plus, because they aren’t in their own house playing with their own toys they feel like they have had as good a day as going on an actual paid for outing.
We can spend a whole morning dancing and generally prating around. We are currently loving some of the playlists on Spotify. iTunes have some good ones too.
This is a particular favourite with the girls. We pick a bit of grass, usually a field, we take a ball and kick that about for a little while, then have a picnic. The picnic itself is nothing special, it’s simply what they would have had for lunch anyway. The weather doesn’t have to be perfect for this, just not raining is fine.
These are little snippets into our days. Only a couple of weeks left and I think we may actually survive. I am looking forward to getting back to a routine but it has been nice to slow down, I have tried not to make too many structured plans and we are all starting to really relax. I’m even starting to enjoy lazy mornings of duvets and cartoons and not being dressed before 10am (trust me this is a normal hell to me, I like to get up and ready).
Now for another dog walk….