Here Goes…

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve joined a gym!

When we lived in Dorset we were members of a David Lloyd health club – I thought this therefore made me healthy! I used to enjoy going there several times a week making good use of the children’s activity classes, the Costa, the Sunday carvery…

I did use the swimming pool too but as the children were very small, I spent most of my time keeping them afloat rather than exercising. I had a programme in the gym, but to be honest I think I genuinely did think I was being fit and active just by being a member!

My husband is fanatical about exercise and goes to the gym most days. I’m not, but if you follow me on Twitter or read my blog regularly, you will be aware that 2016 is the year I’m determined to get fitter, healthier and more active. Having lost (almost) 2 stone since the start of January, I am starting to see results a bit now and I’ve been walking and running on a regular basis. The trouble is, there are times when I have been motivated enough to do exercise (note how I didn’t say that I wanted to exercise!) but it’s simply been too cold or wet to make it viable. Add to that the weird allergy I have which has stumped doctors and ophthalmologists alike which cause my eyes to water uncontrollably from March through to September the moment I step outside giving me very unflattering eczema all around my eyes if I’m not careful, I know that my days of running outside are numbered, and having come this far I don’t want it all to go to pot!

So after thinking about it, we decided to upgrade my husband’s gym membership to a family membership as this will mean the children can swim for free too – they lost this right after they stopped their swimming lessons last year (a decision you can read about here).

This gym however is no David Lloyd – the closest one is 30 miles away unfortunately. This gym is just that – functional, good equipment but no Costa or Sunday carvery in sight!

I didn’t think I would ever find myself joining a gym, but although it’s more money, once we’ve factored in the children’s swimming now being free, I only actually have to go for 7 minutes a month to make it financially worthwhile – even I can manage that right?! Wish me luck!

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Babies No More

I’ve loved every (well almost every) moment of being a Mum so far. The laughs, the loves and the challenges it brings, but with my youngest turning 7 in just a few weeks and my eldest about to turn 9, it’s suddenly dawned on me that they’re not babies any more. They’ll always be my babies of course, and although I still want to cherish every moment and freeze time at every given opportunity, I wouldn’t want to go back in time any more.

Some may be sad those baby days are over, others may see this as proof there is light at the end of the tunnel. For me, I’ve realised that this is just another stage that I would like to freeze in time forever, but there are definitely some aspects of parenting that I don’t miss!

You can structure your day without having nap times blocked out

We were always very disciplined when it came to routine. As teachers, we were used to our lives being governed by timetables and found that our children were as predictable as clockwork too, so when we suddenly realised that we could accept invitations at any time without having to worry about when they were going to nap, eat, poo, it was so liberating!

You can have a shower while the children are awake

This was actually my prompt for writing this post. Yesterday, the children were at gymnastics, and rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to drink some tea while it is still hot as I would have done until quite recently, I decided to go for a run (yes really, read about my mission to get fitter here!). When we got back, I quickly got some tea for the children, and asked if they minded me having a quick shower while they ate it. And I did! They may have walked in several times for emergencies, such as needing to know if Qatar is the only country in the world beginning with Q, but I was able to shower and then have some unstinky (me not them!) snuggly time before bed.

A ‘family film’ might actually be something that you genuinely are interested in watching

Going to watch the new Star Wars film was the defining moment here. All four of us equally excited. We didn’t even have to miss any of it to take the children to the toilet every five minutes!

You can wear jewellery

My sister in law recently had a baby. She’s gorgeous in every way and I love my cuddles, but how do 4 month old babies instinctively know which of your bracelets are most likely to break or choke them and then choose those ones to try and eat?! Nowadays I wear my jewellery with pride and for the most part, manage to keep it saliva free!

You can go out for an evening meal

The first time you can book a restaurant for an evening meal – as in actual evening rather than the 4:30pm type of evening meal you’ve had to endure in order to be back for bath time for oh so long – is amazing. A 7pm meal where you can wear nice clothes and aside from a few colouring pencils (and perhaps an iPad for emergencies), nothing else is needed!

8pm is not the middle of the night!

My daughter now finishes Brownies at 8pm. Sometimes we nip into the shop afterwards to pick up a few bits. Nothing exciting here, apart from the fact that 8pm exists again!

Homework is for the children

This term, my daughter has had to complete column addition and subtraction, giving her answers using hieroglyphics and complete a 500 word original story. My son has had to learn his times tables and find interesting ways of displaying them and create 3D models of Tudor houses. Obviously I’m on hand to help with homework, but essentially it is work for them, to extend their understanding and develop their ability to work independently. Which leads me nicely on to the next one…

You don’t have the pressure of having the class bear to visit

This is tongue in cheek, but who can honestly hold their hands up and say they didn’t feel the pressure to get out and do exciting things when Billy the Bear came home for the weekend?! The last time we had the class bear, he’d been to Paris the weekend before and climbed the Eiffel Tower. Aaaaargh!

Babysitting can be free

Older children don’t just pop round for lunch or tea – they have sleepovers – the holy grail for the children concerned and the parents alike! Until of course you realise that you haven’t returned the favour yet and it’s your turn to host a handful of 9 year olds…

You can wee on your own

Yeah right, just kidding – did you really think I was serious?! I’m still waiting for this day, will it ever happen?!

So, moments to cherish or light at the end of the tunnel? You decide, I’d love to know your thoughts!

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Back to Basics

As my husband and I are both teachers, the school holidays are always a special time for us, and we well and truly caught the travel bug a couple of years back. We love going places  and like to have a trip booked. This half term was the first school holiday in a long while that we decided to stay at home. At first it felt like we were wasting an opportunity, but as the children seemed to get more and more tired as term went on, we realised that actually it was a sensible decision.

I have no problem whatsoever with lazy days, in fact, I get a real buzz out of knowing that I have a day ahead where I can eat breakfast at 10am in my pyjamas if I want to, but 9 days straight with no plans?

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I saw this photo on my Facebook feed the other day. It could be either of my children, I’m not going lie – they love their screens, but I think in all our business, I’d forgotten some of the basics which the children still enjoy doing. They seem so grown up compared to the little bundles I gave birth to, but they’re still children, and there’s so many things that children still love:

A trip into town…

We’ve lived just outside Bath for over 4 years now, yet we’ve never visited the Roman Baths – famous history on our doorstep! Although we ended up having a nice lunch too and it therefore wasn’t a particularly cheap day, it was something we’d never done – no need to drive for hours!

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Cooking…

The routines we live by during the week really limit the luxury of taking our time to prepare meals. Working together to create something yummy was so much fun, especially as I am now aware that they can work almost completely on their own now.

Swimming…

My husband takes the children swimming most Sundays, but this week, I got out with them and enjoyed it too – having lost a bit of weight which you can read about here, I felt a lot more confident venturing out in my swimsuit, so hopefully I might get invited along again soon!

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This was taken last year in Turkey  – the only photo I have of the four of us swimming together!

Playing independently…

My husband and I were both talking the other day about how much time we spend doing things together, going away, even watching a family film or playing a game together – something that I’m sure many families try to do more of, but actually there were times this week when the children were quite happy to play together and it was lovely to see! Those toys that they got for Christmas came out of the boxes, the Lego got built, and despite how unimpressed they were at going this morning, they got all the cuddly toys out and played schools nearly every day! That imaginative, make believe play is something I want to bottle up and keep forever!

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All ready for register and assembly!

So if people ask me what I did over the school holiday, my answer will most likely be “not a lot,” but actually we did do quite a lot, it’s just we didn’t go away and with how refreshed I feel from having a rest, I’m ok with that!

 

Together Time…

One of the best decisions we ever made was to join the National Trust. I love looking round the houses – I always try to imagine what i must’ve been like to actually live there and come home with intentions to dig out my old Jane Austen novels and catch up on Downton Abbey (I feel like I’m the only person in the world still on Series 2)! However, much as I like the houses, the main reason I love the National Trust is because they ensure quality family time. I find it quite funny that my children don’t think of going for a nice walk when the weather is nice so much, they equate family walks with wrapping up warm, taking a thermos of tomato soup and wellies. In the summer months, we tend to spend time outside exploring new places, on beaches, forests, and a lot more with friends. I blogged last week about how we were surprised to get a bit more nice weather, so we decided to spend last weekend at Tyntesfield – about an hour away from where we live, but somewhere we had never been.

At the moment, the children seem exhausted at the end of a week at school so it’s very tempting to have a ‘lazy’ day, but I find the children get even more cranky when they’re at home and tired so this was perfect – an hour sitting in the car, so they could have a little doze if they wanted and then a big burst of fresh air. The weather was gorgeous for October, we were wandering around without coats, and even managed a picnic! There was also a Farmer’s Market on and it would’ve been rude to walk past toffee chocolate cupcakes without buying 1 or 4!

It didn’t really matter if we were salivating looking at all the yummy food, having our picnic, walking around, talking Daddy into giving piggy backs, marvelling at how beautiful Autumn is, or just talking to each other while doing all of these things, the fact is we were together, enjoying quality time with each other, no distractions. In a household where we have very busy weekdays, our weekends are sacrosanct – they are for family time and we always try to enjoy it to the full!

I’m joining up with #CountryKids as usual this week, and looking forward to heading over to Fiona’s blog at Coombe Mill to get some inspiration for more outdoor fun!

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Inside Out

It’s been a funny one this week! Just 2 weeks ago we put all the summer clothes away and hit the shops to buy some winter clothes after realising that both of the children have clearly had a growth spurt since last year – my son has gone up 2 whole shoe sizes since last year and is now heavier and taller than his sister who is nearly 2 years older (she is very unimpressed)! That said, my daughter has also shot up and her jeans more resemble cropped jeans.

Typically, and believe me I’m not complaining, the sun decides that maybe it isn’t done for the year, and the summer clothes have come out once more! During the week we’re so busy with routines that there’s very little opportunity for going out somewhere to enjoy the weather, but there’s also this impending pressure with each day that it might actually be the last nice one, so this week has seen us trying to take advantage by doing as many of our inside activities outside!

A walk without our warm coats on…

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Coffee and cake outside at the farm shop…

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Mummy gets to play at the park…

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A picnic tea in the garden in our t-shirts…

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Ok, the cake had to cook in the oven, but there’s no harm in a bit of al fresco bowl licking is there?!

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Hopefully the weather will continue this weekend as we have a new National Trust place to explore, although that said, I think t-shirts in October is pretty good going, so I have tomato soup and thermos flasks at the ready so we can have a fab time whatever!

I’m linking up to #CountryKids again over at Coombe Mill. Can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to!

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Out and About Once More

I always find it hard to get back into the swing of things at the weekends when the children go back to school. The week kind of sorts itself because it has to. Reading books, spellings, clubs, homework, work and sleep all find themselves falling into place, there’s no choice really is there?!

At the weekends though it always seems to take that bit longer. After 6 weeks off, and in our family, that’s 6 weeks off for everyone (hubby and I are both teachers), the first couple of weekends are generally spent flopping and trying to recover from the week! Sometimes this leads to sofa time rather than active time, so thank you to #CountryKids this week for spurring me on to get some outdoor time!

My friend got married over the summer in America and last weekend was the celebration in London. I blogged just yesterday about how we well and truly have the travel bug, so although we could have just had a day trip, we decided to make a whole weekend of it, leaving straight after school on Friday. We all had a fab time exploring London, with some beautiful parks, but our favourite part (apart from seeing my friend married and happy of course!) was exploring Portabello Road market – not quite ‘Country’ but definitely outdoor fun. We also had a compulsory stop at the Hummingbird Bakery which is now quite possibly my favourite shop ever!

Living where we do we’re very lucky, so in addition to our adventurous weekend, we’ve also had fun making the most of the weather in both the woods and the seaside – the children discovered a dead jellyfish and were most excited by this. Is it just my children who get excited by things like this?!

I’m looking forward to linking up with Fiona’s #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill and seeing what you’ve all been up to as well – it’s been too long!

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Catching the Travel Bug!

It’s wrong to describe it as a regret because I wouldn’t want to change a thing about what I have now, but looking back the one thing I wish I’d done was travel. I mean properly travel. My Mum is petrified of flying so I never left the country until I was 19 when I successfully auditioned for a choir who went on a number of international tours. However, my Mum’s fear of flying transferred on to me so I turned down all the longer flights – looking back I can’t believe that I could have travelled all expenses paid to Japan, America and Mexico to name but a few and I said no!

When I met my husband, he also couldn’t stand flying so we never really went on holidays just the 2 of us, something we both now regret. We never really felt the urge to go away so just didn’t! Again, we both now can’t believe we didn’t jump at the opportunity – what were we thinking?!

When we had the children, we wanted to make sure that they had experiences they would remember and vowed that we would go on holiday at least once a year. When they were small we went camping in this country, camping in France and did little mini breaks. When money was tight we had some really cheap breaks cashing in on Tesco Clubcard points to get some nice days out too.

Eventually, when the children were 5 and 3 we took them on a plane! We braved it and went to Majorca for a week and that’s where it all started – we were hooked! Aside from my son cutting his head open on a shelf in the room (yes not even whilst having fun in the pool or anything!) and being told he couldn’t swim for a week (the duration of our stay!) we had the best time ever, and thinking with the glass half full, the medical treatment my son received was the best service ever, he was stitched up within 20 minutes of his accident. We stopped at the travel agent on the drive home from the airport and booked our next holiday!

Since then we’ve been back to Majorca and this year for the first time, the 4 of us left Europe as we went to Turkey. These holidays are proper fun in the sun types of holiday, but given that my husband and I are both teachers we try to get away for a few days in almost every school holiday. It’s amazing how your perspective can change. I used to long for the holidays to have a rest – now I feel like I’ve wasted the holidays if we don’t go away somewhere!

It doesn’t always cost us a lot of money and we try to mix things up so that sometimes the holidays help the children learn something. Last year we went on a road trip to Edinburgh staying in 6 different £29 Premier Inns and completely abusing our National Trust membership as we stopped in Birmingham, the Lake District, Liverpool, Blackpool and of course, Edinburgh. The whole week was planned with military precision but only cost us £300 for the whole week – not bad for a family of 4!

We’ve already planned holidays to Normandy, Amsterdam and Egypt over the next year as well as mini breaks. Sometimes I get down about the fact that I always have an endless list of work I need to do, and even though I’m not physically in work I still have things I have to do, but somehow the thought of having somewhere to go where I will be with my special 3 people, no iPads, chores or emails to interfere spurs me on.

We’ve well and truly caught the travel bug – if only we could now win the lottery too!

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