Ten days into the summer holidays and two children and one mummy are alive, well and on pretty good form. Still thirty-five days to go; so more than enough time for my smugness to come back to bite me on the bottom, but you know, celebrate the little wins and all that.
The previous few summers have been packed with plans for adventures home and away. We’ve had some brilliant times, but I was also left feeling a little bit like we’d missed out on time to just be. Hang out. Have pyjama days. Wake up and decide to go off on a trip impulsively because it’s a sunny day. Bake lots of cakes. Have picnics in our own back garden. So this year we have gone far more free range.
Anna is spending a few days with Nanna and Grandad in Liverpool, and a few days with Granny in Cornwall. Husband is overwhelmingly busy with his new business, but he is hoping to take a few days off at the end of August for a staycation when we will treat London as the world class, world famous holiday destination it is to people who don’t live here. The money we save on travel and accommodation will mean that we can easily afford to splash out on treats we wouldn’t normally indulge in, and that we can eat out, or have takeaways or posh ready meal/deli bits for Every Single Meal – no cooking, very little washing up!
That still leaves about four weeks free for all the other stuff. And it’s going brilliantly. I’ve had the odd pang of envy when my Facebook or Instagram feed show people off on their holidays to far-flung, exotic, sunny locations, but hey, the entire purpose of Facebook and Instagram is to engender pangs of envy, surely? And this morning, as we were on our way to the local playground and I got a text from one of our closest friends to say that he and his kids were at a loose end and could they pop over for lunch, the joy of being able to text back a resounding ‘YES’ was amazing. We had our session at the playground, popped into to the local shop to buy cheese, ham, bread, dips, tomatoes and fruit as our cupboards were totally bare pending the Sainsbury’s delivery this afternoon, and then home to enjoy the company of our unexpected guests. Nothing life-changing. The bigger girls played an elaborate game with Anna’s old Peppa Pig figures, whilst listening to a Paddington CD. The toddlers roared round the house on the ride-on toys scattering breadstick crumbs in their wake. We had five minute intervals of adult conversation interspersed with child control. I whizzed up a chocolate sauce to turn the boring fruit pudding into a much more interesting chocolate fondue. It was a relaxing, fun day of the kind we haven’t had many of in our last few scheduled-to-within-an-inch-of-their-life summers.
It’s not just today. Last week, for example, we went for a quick walk round the block, bumped into one of Anna’s closest school friends and her mum and brother, went for milkshakes at the local cafe, then to the playground where we came across more friends from school and their parents. The children ran around like crazy things, with Sophia desperately following on behind. The adults chatted, and gave into several requests for “five more minutes”, before heading home far too late to prepare the sensible fish pie I’d planned, meaning that the children (uncomplainingly!) had eggs, beans and potato croquettes for tea. A good time was definitely had by all.
I am absolutely not the most spontaneous person in the world, but I’m finding this manageable degree of spontaneity really relaxing. And there’s no denying that not having to spend half my time writing elaborate packing lists or living out of a suitcase is enjoyable as well. I love travel, and in future summers I very much hope we’ll be off on our adventures again. But for now, the stage Sophia is at and the busyness of our lives over the last few months means that chilling at home and letting our little mini-adventures serendipitously discover us feels like exactly the right thing to be doing.