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Its been a funny old week…

I’ve had a busy week. Lots going on and not much time to really get stuck into much. I was wondering if I’d even get this post finished in time!

There have been a few visitors to the house what with the water meter repair man, the fence repair man who was so patient with my son’s constant questions and offerings of assistance, the hairdresser and the piano movers it’s been a bit like a train station. Thankfully everyone was sensible and wore PPE as with the guidance and we all kept our distance. And… Yes, you read it correctly. We have a piano. I’m following in my grandmothers footsteps now we have acquired our neighbours lovely old upright piano. The easiest money a removal company has ever made it took them no more than 30 minutes from their arrival to finishing the job, including moving it a few yards.  I just need to find the time to scour YouTube for decent teach yourself piano lessons!

I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on my previous ‘The truth about lock down’ post and some of the comments made, it was nice to feel I’m not the only one who found it somewhat challenging during lock down. So, for this post I thought I’d look at what I enjoyed about lock down as there were some treasured moments.

There’s been a lot of negatives to lock down, social media and news reports everywhere touting bad news, and it has had its ups and downs for me as it will have done for many others and I also know that some of you may not have had the opportunity to enjoy lock down and will have continued working in a key worker role or working from home juggling endless demands from work and/or kids and such like, for which I bow to you – I couldn’t have done it! So, this is my list of five little things I’ve enjoyed about lock down.

  • Spending time with my family

This one is probably the most obvious. I love my little family and treasure the moments we have together, yes, even the not so nice ones where we’re all tired and cranky and we aren’t getting along, which usually only lasts about five minutes but it’s hard all the same! And I confess to having had a feeling of slight dread initially at having the kids at home over lock down and then trying to manage home schooling but we made it through in one piece albeit with a slightly dishevelled gin soaked mum following behind 😉

I do realise I have much more of an appreciation for my family both near and far. I really missed my Mum and Dad when we couldn’t see them as much but I looked forward to the regular chats to them on the phone and I loved my daily check in texts to them to make sure they were both doing well. I had a hard time not being able to spend time with them for Mothering Sunday or for my Dad’s birthday, but thankfully I can see them more now we have social bubbles. I enjoyed my Zoom and WhatsApp meetings with friends and family, which was a small step towards social normality for me.

Although hubby was working all day he was at home hidden away in his office aka the man cave. But, I realised how nice it was to have him at home. He’d pop down for a coffee and we’d have a catch up for a couple of minutes before he got back to his work and it was so nice being able to cook an evening meal ready at a decent hour so we could all eat together as a family. The kids loved having him at home, and showing him what they’d done, they’d put little presentations up on the telly and do a rundown of their day each evening, it really was sweet. It’s certainly given us something to think about for the future, life is too short for long commutes and endless work hours. Now we just have to work out how we can achieve our perfect work/life balance.

  • Time in the garden

I’m not a gardener by any means. I have a pop it in the ground and hope for the best approach but I do love watching Monty on Friday evenings with a glass of wine. Our garden is modestly sized and we’ve worked hard during lock down tidying up the patch where a huge 12 feet tall by at least 25 feet long stretch of Leylandii once dominated the landscape.

I have found it rewarding working in the garden although not many plants seem to have come up this year like the riot of colour we had last year but I guess we have a biennial garden! This has meant my list of things to do and shop for has grown substantially as I’ve had time to think about what we need for the garden. Its been enjoyable digging and working the ground especially the bit where the hedge had been as the soil needed significant improvement in quality having been drained of any goodness for 30 odd years. The assistance of a huge pile of well rotted chicken and horse manure helped considerably and the plants we planted are now thriving there. It’s a good feeling when you’ve achieved something despite it being hard work.

Image by Rebecca Palmer

Its been a pleasure to just sit outside in the sunshine on the bench hubby gave me for Christmas, which I’m still debating on what colour to paint, and watching the kids enjoying themselves in the pool. Much laughter and brevity abound. Seeing the kids’ faces when a seed they’d sowed popped up was just so sweet, and ploughing through the umpteen weeks worth of lettuce and trying to avoid the cabbage white caterpillars that were incredibly heavily camouflaged was a daily chore. We may even have a few giant pumpkins for October if they carry on growing so well! Even the kids butterfly farm now has cocoons!

  • Having some me time

Although I’ve not been able to get my brows done, return of the monobrow anyone? Or go to the hairdressers which would normally be my little bit of me time, I have found the kids have been much more relaxed about things at home including bedtimes which has meant I’ve been able to have a few minutes each day to have a little bit of time for me to sit and spend some time doing something for myself. Reading a book, having a relaxing bath or painting my nails, these are the simple pleasures I cherish as I rarely get to do them.

Like most mums and dads I have little time left after doing stuff in the house, looking after the family and working, and just about everything else in between to spend time pampering and looking after myself that when I do get some time I value it and use it wisely. And no, I will not be getting up at the crack of dawn to get myself ready for the day I’m just too tired! I value my sleep, what little I get.

I admit Friday evenings with Monty are booked out every week regardless of what’s happening so I guess you could call that a little bit of me time but it’s not quite the same as a long soak in the tub is it?

This was also my opportunity to have a little ‘slowing down time’ despite the chaos of our little home! Even though I work part time I still find it can still be quite stressful. I’ve spoken to friends who’ve been furloughed and they’ve found their time out of the rat race to be particularly beneficial. Many have said that it’s given them time to reassess their way of life and what they want or need out from it and it’s become apparent just how important the work/life balance really is. I really hope employers think about this when reassessing their own business needs/wants. Happy staff are more productive and cost effective.

  • Experimenting with food

I’m not the world’s best cook. Lord knows I’d love to be but it just isn’t going to happen, I don’t have the ‘Nigella turn to camera and pout in a sultry manner’ skill, but I do have a knack for just throwing things in a pan and hoping for the best, surely that’s a skill – right?

I have a friend who is an amazing baker and she regularly posts her creations on Facebook. Every time I see them it’s like a scene from Turner and Hooch! I’ll just leave that one there…

It’s been great spending time in the kitchen making meals with the family, something that we did a little of before but never the amount we do now. I’ve become a lot more chilled about the spills and empty utensils pot at the end of each cooking session, and the amount of pots and pans it takes to make a one pan meal when cooking with kids, but that’s the joy of it in a way, they get to understand what it takes to make a meal and there’s a real appreciation over what they’ve made.

I have learnt a lot about not wasting food and using what we have in the cupboards, freezer and fridge. I raided the bookshelves for any of my recipe books and scoured the internet for ideas and came up with a couple of great tasting, easy to throw together family meals that the kids actually wanted to eat, and actually asked for seconds. Yes, seconds! Feeling smug here.

I really like http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com as they have some super easy, very yummy recipes which are family friendly. Another site I found useful was http://www.realfood.tesco.com which you put in the ingredients you have and it finds recipes for you based on what you have. Genius. I got quite a few from here.

Maybe I’ll share some on a post one day if you’d like?  

  • Hearing, seeing and breathing it all in

What do I mean by all that? I have thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet lock down has given. Yes, I’ve heard kids in the garden enjoying themselves in their pools and on their trampolines and generally just having kid fun, but I’m talking about the fact that I can hear the birds and insects, not the hum of vehicles or industry. I have terrible hearing and without a hearing aid I’m pretty much deaf and during lock down my hospital appointments to check my ears had been cancelled which has meant my already bad hearing had got worse, but because there hasn’t been the background hum of society I’ve been able to hear the sounds that normally get drowned out. It’s been a delight watching bees go about their daily business pollinating and buzzing about. Hearing the birds singing and seeing them come down to the feeders getting braver each day, and chastising us when the feeders run empty. You can see them lining up on the fence looking at us! They’ve got so used to us being in the garden with them that they don’t even bother to fly away.

I’ve been able to see the colours clearer because I’ve stopped and really looked, I’ve been able to sit on the bench and take it all in. Yes there are always niggles about job security, paying the bills and what’s going to happen next with Covid-19, living with the unknown is always going to be something that’s there at the back of my mind but putting that to one side it’s been nice to switch off from it all occasionally – even for just a few minutes a day.

Have you been able to slow down and enjoy lock down? Or are you one of our brilliant key workers looking forward to a little time off to try to enjoy some valued ‘me’ time? What have you enjoyed about lock down? What, if anything, are you going to take away from this strange time in history?

I know I’m going to appreciate nature a little more, it’s been a trying and unusual event that isn’t going away in a hurry and I’ve been able to reflect on some of what has happened and learn from it – especially how important family and good friends are.  

Take care, stay safe

Becks

xo

Lets be honest about lock down

How’s it been for you? I see so many perfect Instagram posts about how wonderfully people are coping throughout lock down and how home schooling has been nailed, along with working from home and all the perfectly kept homes and gardens. It’s not just Instagram it’s pretty much plastered all over social media of any sort. So many posts of how much people are looking forward to spending lots of time with their partners and children, if they have them, and how the moments are to be treasured. That’s fantastic, I’m really pleased for you. Genuinely I am. Even I felt like this to start with.

Perhaps your children are perfect and will sit in full concentration hanging on to every educational word you mutter and are happy to share the required PC world sized collection of electronic devices needed for home schooling. Or perhaps you have a partner who isn’t working and will happily take the responsibility of managing the housework and keep out of your way whilst you’re working, or perhaps you both work and have managed to coordinate your work schedules and space so you are in perfect harmony with each other.

You have the perfect life, I envy you!

The reality of it may be very different. Your kids may be feral and refusing to dress in anything other than the pyjamas worn for the past three days that are becoming decidedly smelly and sticky. Oh and good luck trying to get them in the shower! Or you are now after an initial flutter of ‘wow, this is fab working together’ you realise your partner’s working habits are distracting and you have to share the dining table because you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, and quite frankly if they interrupt another meeting then there’s no guessing what you’ll do, and what is it with bloody zoom meetings anyway?! Seriously I haven’t had one yet where I don’t look like Uncle Fester on steroids! Or perhaps you have partners who maybe aren’t working and haven’t lifted a finger to do the housework, although the washing pile isn’t so bad as everyone is wearing clothes for at least three days, and they’re sitting on their arse all day binge watching Netflix or permanently attached to the games controller!

Yes, dear readers that is pretty much what it has ended up being like for many. And for me? Well, I have the experience of my semi-feral children wearing two day old pyjamas and the only way I was going to get them anywhere near water was to encourage them in the pool for a swim, whilst simultaneously wrestling a kindle, a laptop and the telly controls off them in the process. My kids have only ever been slightly ‘trainable’, you should try living with a head strong sassy girl who does “talk to the hand” with some serious sass, and a boy who could be the next David Attenborough with his keenness for nature and all things grubby, who simply must bring in the grasshoppers and varying manner of bugs he finds – we’re currently running a caterpillar hotel in the living room, don’t ask, just don’t go there, so after days or should I say weeks of being cooped up and trying to do all the expected home schooling and various other arduous tasks on the never ending to list, and getting to the point of frustration where I just think coffee just isn’t going to cut it and where’s the Gin! And, who’s that wimpering again? Ah… it’s me (hangs head in shame!).  

We have the luxury of having a spare room so I was able to ensure hubby was cordoned off each day. As long as he had his supply of coffee and biscuits, which he would pop and get on his irregular tea breaks, he was happy to be there. It’s amazing what a constant supply of naughty snack food can do to productivity!

And then there were the hours upon hours of waiting to see if an online delivery slot would become available, and then when you thought you’d got one you realised that you aren’t considered essential (story of my life, eye roll!), and damn it you’ll now have to go out and somehow face the world in something other than clothes that you’ve been slobbing around in doing the housework, gardening and various DIY jobs that needed finishing off on the to do list(s), because you never just have one list do you? There’s always more than one on the go that just seems to continually get longer and longer. The thought of putting on make up and brushing my hair was almost as bad as trying to figure out what to change into, especially as most things don’t fit due to slight excess covid calorie consumption and because, let’s face it, it’s much nicer to watch Joe Wickes keeping the nation going with his PE with Joe sessions every morning than actually work up a sweat joining in! After the first one nearly killed me I thought I’d join in from the sofa, wink, wink!

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

So, after mustering up the enthusiasm to actually go out, when you get to the shop you are faced with social distancing rules which so many people seem incapable of following. Yes, the guy with the sudden urge to breathe on my neck and reach over me whilst I’m getting something from the bakery aisle! Nice one mate! I have to say my meals at home were particularly inventive especially as we tend to eat a lot of pasta and rice in any normal given time, but could I get any? No, because the whole bloody nation went mad and bought sixty billion bags of rice, pasta and toilet roll! Seriously, if you need that amount of toilet roll then you should have been seeing a Doctor way before Corona came to town!

There were a couple of occasions where I was honestly beginning to struggle a little with lock down. I found it particularly hard when it came to family birthdays, of which there were three at the height of lockdown and one during easing. I really struggled to keep a happy face when I dropped off my Dad’s birthday gift, as I couldn’t go in and have a chat like I would normally do, and it’s just not the same on the phone. We had both kids birthdays as well and this was quite hard for us all, as they couldn’t have their friends or grandparents over which we would normally do. Family mean so much to me and not being able to do the things we have taken for granted has been really hard emotionally. I did make a point of checking in with my parents daily with a text to make sure everyone was ok, we chatted a couple of times a week to keep some kind of sanity and this did help a little. I was glad when I could go and have a socially distanced meet up for my Mum’s birthday. Just being able to sit in the garden with my parents was lovely.

I was also quite glad that they started easing lock down, although I still had my concerns and the news reports about packed beaches and tourist hotspots just reinforced my belief that some people are just inherently stupid, but for me I was happy that some schools were beginning to re-open with ‘class bubbles’ and the kids could begin to get some learning done whilst still keeping it as safe as can be given the unknowns with Covid-19. I found it much easier when the youngest went back in reception and I then only had to deal with home schooling the other one. Which was still challenging as he’d got to the point where he was just fed up with it all and wanted to go back. I think he just saw it all as an extended holiday and would often dig his heels in refusing to do anything until at least 11 o’clock in the morning, of which by then I’d run out of enthusiasm too, after all watching Joe being energetic is quite tiring…

All the kids got to go back for a reset week, which I thought was the best thing for them. They got to see their friends again and had some proper class teaching which is what they needed. My kids have now finished for the summer so we will continue in our efforts to keep up to speed whilst having some fun over the holiday, and the kids have lots of fab challenges set for them to do so I’m sure if we find ourselves at a loose end there’s always something there. Although I’m bracing myself for the constant “mum”, “where’s the…”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m thirsty”, and the running around picking up their dirty clothes for which I need a HASMAT suit to go near, or opening ‘mum’s café’ at breakfast time and throughout the day for that matter, serving up all manner of lovely choices of food for them only to take one bite and discard and say “want something else”.

I love my children, however, I do feel the need to say at this point that I’m going on strike. Gin anyone?

Take care, stay safe

Becks

xo

Who let the dogs out?

Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof

Now there’s an ear worm you aren’t going to get rid of in a hurry!

So we all know lock down has been a little strange, but for me there has been one event that stands out in my head and I just have to share it with you.

I was planning to redecorate my downstairs washroom, as Hyacinth Bucket would refer to it, as we’ve been here a couple of years and it’s been on the list of to do’s – you know that list? The one that just keeps getting longer and longer and when you’ve ticked one thing off another five have since been added…

Anyway I digress slightly…

So, I collect my tools, get the bucket of paste and paper ready. I’m one that likes to get everything organised and have a clear space to work in, unlike my lovely hubby who works around things in a space and moves it all as he goes along – drives me slightly crazy at times but they do say opposites attract. After having done all this I decide to go and make a cuppa and grab a biscuit, oops there goes the healthy eating regime. Anyhow, after having a little break and getting side tracked a little, it was half an hour later, I come back to find everything gone!

Yes, I mean everything! Weird. So I call up to hubby, “any idea where the decorating stuff I put ready is, hun?”, “yep, up here” he answers, to which I reply “eh?”.

So I trot upstairs. Alright, maybe not trot up so much, especially with all the Covid calories I’ve been consuming on board, but you get the gist. What do I find when I get upstairs? Hubby has started putting up the wallpaper in our bedroom.

“This is not something unusual” I hear you say. Well, think again. I am now calling this my husband’s mid-life crisis wallpaper you’ll see what I mean by the pictures below.

So there goes my dream of a refined, sophisticated, relaxing and grown up bedroom, with lovely Joules bed linen and sophisticated accessories. I’m now sharing it with… Well… Take a look…

To be honest with you I am very grateful for hubby for doing the hard work as wallpapering isn’t one of my favourite jobs to do, along with painting and housework. I’ve just had a eureka moment and been inspired to do a post on the lazy girls guide to housework… Yes, I’m essentially quite lazy and would do nowt all day if I could except sip Gin and bask in the sun! And in my dreams this is happening. I applaud hubby’s enthusiasm for doing a job that he professes to dislike, and he did a bloody good job of it!

I’m sure it won’t be up for too long, so I can live without my super grown up boudoir for a little while. At least it makes us smile when we look at it even if it may not make for a super relaxing sleep!

So, lovely readers out there, don’t leave your decorating kit whilst you have a naughty biscuit break or you may just face a decorating surprise…

Oh, and if you were wondering this is more what I envisioned for the bedroom. I’m wondering if its ever meant to be?

Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

Have you ever experienced a ‘midlife crisis’ moment?

Comment below 😉

Take care, stay safe

Becks xo

Work, money and homeschooling – how did I manage it?

Short answer? I didn’t. Not at first anyway. It was, and still is, a slow process.

Many parents and carers have found themselves in the unenviable position of being both parent/carer and teacher as kids are off school or nursery and businesses are following government advice and staff are encouraged to work from home. Its a difficult task trying to work and get kids to do anything remotely school based. Many people are being furloughed or waiting to see if they are going to be furloughed and worrying about paying mortgages or rent, putting food on the table for their families and such like which add to the stress and worry of everyday life during lock down.

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

There are so many people already living hand to mouth, payday to payday that one little blip can send finances reeling and then we’re in a position where most of us really don’t want to be. I have realised just how much we, as a society, don’t save for the future or have the ‘rainy day fund’ as I refer to it. I may be generalising but many people I’ve chatted to have said they haven’t any extra put away and are living payday to payday with huge debts and overdrafts to contend with too. I know I’m one that isn’t really in a position to save and have found it particularly tight, having to cut down on a lot of things cancelling subscriptions and other unnecessary direct debits. I know I am one of the lucky ones so I’m not after your sympathy here, I have a support line in my husband who covers the key bills but given that any money I do earn goes towards the extras now that I lost all my contracts immediately the schools and colleges were told to shut I lost ALL of my income. I couldn’t even get furloughed initially as I am employed by an umbrella company who were in talks with the government as we are classed as zero hours contractors. What I have managed to get has been peanuts, but at least it’s something and might just pay for a bit of fuel for the car. This has made me consider how I manage my money better in the future, so much so that I’ve downloaded the book ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George Samuel Clayson and it’s long I grant you that but it makes a lot of money sense. Well worth a read if you can get your head into it.

I have had my own battles with my two kids, mostly on a daily basis and yes I’ve been tried and tested to tears but just as we’re starting to come out of lock down I’ve finally cracked it! Only a few weeks too late but hey, so what I have achieved a ‘Yes! fist pump moment!’.

I initially made the mistake of trying to set up homeschooling to be just like school. BIG FAIL! I am a school teacher and find it hard to get out of the ‘must be a teacher’ mentality. Of course I’m not a teacher at home I’m Mum. My kids don’t, and won’t, ever see me as anything other than Mum so trying to be teacher just simply was’t going to work. After a while of trying various strategies found by hours of trawling the internet and following Facebook posts, I got to a point where I just sat my kids at the table and had an honest conversation with them. You know the one, the ‘Ok, I’m done, I don’t know what to do or where to go from here’ conversation. However, credit where credit is due, they did listen and they did have a really grown up kids talk with me. We decided on focusing on one of them in the morning and the other in the afternoon or as soon as the first had finished their work and then we would work on a project, usually something grabbed from the internet, or free time fun play after. I found out just how much my kids love gardening, baking and science experiments which was an eye opener. My son has such green fingers, he seems to be able to grow anything!

I also found that having a Smart television helped as I could ‘beam’ the kids work to it from the laptop and they like playing teacher which is a really effective way of getting them to learn something. My daughter loved doing ‘Phonics with Rosie’ on the big screen and my son loved putting presentations together about what he’d learnt that day. It was brilliant seeing their enthusiastic faces as they played teacher. This is a strategy I’m going to continue to use with them when I want them to practice their schooling over the summer. We all know that kids lose a little of their sharpness over long holidays away from school and six weeks is a long time, so I’m aiming to make it easier for them when they go back especially as we’ve lost so much school time due to the pandemic.

Of course I fretted and worried about how much my kids would be put back by not having a school based education like they’ve been used to, and yes it was a little easier when the little one went back and I only had one to cajole on a daily basis into doing at least one something! Reward charts are my saviour! But now they’ve both gone back I know that they’ll be ok, we have the summer to do a reading challenge and some extra writing practice but I know that as long as my kids are happy and safe and we try to stick to a sort of ‘normal’ they’ll be fine.

I know that some of the ideas that I found whilst surfing the internet won’t work for us in any way shape or form, however I do know there are some ideas that I can take forward and use for personal use in the office my hubby has commandeered! His Man Cave we call it now. There are noticeboards and tally charts that I can use for keeping me on track and not just the kids. I’ve printed off posters and learning tools that the kids like to use so will be continuing with those for September mostly courtesy of Twinkl the school resources website (Note: I do pay a subscription for this provision) so I know they are tried and tested and they are readily used in the classroom so the kids are used to the layout. There are lots of good charts, posters and such like on places like Etsy and you can find a ton of them on Pinterest if you look in the right place.

There are still many worries and stumbling blocks to come at this strange time, but the one thing I have learnt and will say to you is this, whilst you might not feel it right now – we are going to come out of this eventually and you will be Ok, your kids if you have them will be Ok, we are living this together as a nation, as a world and it will pass. Don’t strive for everything to be perfect, we can’t do that right now lets just settle for being Ok for the time being.

Take care, stay safe

Becks xo