Alex Molton muses on a half term completed, and considers the importance of finding more time for herself.
Hooray! The kids break up today so we have finally got to half term. Phew.
The term has whizzed by actually, but has been rammed full of work, school events, birthdays and homework. I’ve also somehow bought at least one new whole uniform already, and we’ve only just gone back.
Having worked most of the summer break I was looking forward to some time chilling with the children, perhaps a few days away if we could get organised enough. However, my eldest is now signed up for a week-long series of STEM events in a nearby city, so will be up early each day for his paper round, straight on the bus and off with his friend all day. OH couldn’t get the week off in the end, so will be mostly in the office. Son #2 is hoping to organise some epic D&D events (but is yet to check that his friends are actually available) and my daughter will be off to football camp some of the week. So it might actually be quite quiet around here. A little vision of the future, I suppose….
It’s been a big term for Son#1 actually, with predicted GCSE grades issued (must try harder in RE, mate!), certificates received and a Chief Scout Gold award achieved. I’m not sure where he fits it all in, as he seems to be spending an incredible amount of time staring at phones and laptop screens. Perhaps the young are better at multi-tasking? Or are just doing many things simultaneously, badly? Who knows. Either way, he needs to carve out some time to revise for the mocks and end of unit test which await him on his return to school.
Our daughter has also had a big week, with a birthday, parents evening and school dress-up day. Plus the first opportunity to introduce us properly to her, now fully acknowledged, first boyfriend. ‘Did you have a boyfriend when you were a child, mum?’ she sang to me this week, cuddled up in a chair with said boyfriend. ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘But I was 11 and we didn’t speak to each other’. How times have changed.
Having been invited to some events on my own recently, I’ve been spending a bit more time away from the family. It’s been quite nice actually, out in the world without others in tow, although OH is now teasing that visiting a WI meeting and going to a bingo night in the same week is possibly not the most dynamic way to be spending my time. Either way, with working from home and most of us still getting re-accustomed to being back in a post-pandemic, ‘normal’ world, it’s quite a thing to be back in a room with people you don’t know, making conversation with strangers. With a tendency for anxiety it’s also a big thing for me to go it alone and push myself to do things I’m not entirely comfortable with, knowing that in the end I feel better for it.
Following episode two of the new WMPeople podcast, Mums. Dads. Work. last week, I’ve been ruminating on the comments made by editor Ben Falk about advice he was given by a child psychologist when he asked how to protect his children. Take care of yourself, was the advice, ‘put on your own lifejacket first’. For many parents, particularly mums, I think this is counter-intuitive, but actually what great advice. How better to teach your children about self care and self respect other than to demonstrate this yourself? I tend to be a bit too focused on looking after others and have imbibed values about the importance of selflessness and altruism (borne in part from attending a CoE school, I’m sure), so I felt this was particularly pertinent advice for me.
So, with the children seemingly entertaining themselves next week and a few spare days to fill, perhaps I will find some things to do which I enjoy, without worrying about lurking in the background in case they need something. Fingers crossed the weather perks up so I can take some long autumn walks. Otherwise our poor neighbours might be hearing lots of bad guitar playing or a forgetful pianist trying to recall the notes to The Entertainer.