Sometimes all it takes is a pause in routine, a bit of time with your gang and an open mind to make you appreciate how good life can be, you know? This been a glorious Easter holiday so far. Of course there have been the obligatory moments of madness (like this time I tried to do DIY with a toddler) but, mainly, it’s been idyllic. Messy, sometimes chaotic, busy but idyllic all the same. And I say this as someone whose toddler decided to begin an enforced potty training schedule two days ago but has survived to tell the tale (so far).
Here are 11 things I’ve learned during the past week of the Easter holidays:
1. Friends are important
When we relocated to South Devon nearly four years ago I was a bit scared. Excited, but scared all the same. You see, we’d built a life in Berkshire. We had friends and a routine and places we knew. Moving was a huge deal because we were going to a place where we knew no one (except for my parents an hour away in North Devon). Slowly but surely though, we’ve built a new network.
We have some amazing friends down here now and it just goes to show how being a bit outgoing, inviting people round for gatherings and making the effort to get out there can reap huge rewards. This holiday we’ve had a few brilliant barbecues with friends, been to our village pub with other families who we love, gone on days out with out our mates and generally had a ball. The photo above was taken on Saturday evening when we went over to spend the evening with friends, having a barbecue and enjoying their hot tub. This would never have happened if we walked around with our head down, not making connections with other people and making the effort to be friendly.
2. A break from the internet is never a bad thing
During term time, when the routine is a hectic and busy one, I spend a lot of time glued to a screen. Work is a priority and I feel panicked if I haven’t logged into emails and Instagram by 9am. But over the holidays things change. With a teacher husband at home and two young girls around everything takes a slower pace. And you know what? I feel happier and more relaxed because of it. The world doesn’t stop turning just because I haven’t replied to all my Facebook notifications or put a photo on Instagram by 7.30am. Who knew?
3. Perfect is impossible but happiness isn’t
We’ve had a few glorious trips to the beach so far this holiday. Trips that have been typically fraught with issues over suddenly needing a wee and having to crouch in the shallows of the sea (not me, I hasten to add), trips that have been spattered with sand in nappies (again, not me) and trips that have involved ice cream everywhere. But still, these perfectly imperfect moments have been happy ones. Real life isn’t always clean and tidy with no tears, but that’s OK. Embracing these less than ideal moments is the path to true happiness, I’ve come to learn.
4. Devon is the best
If you don’t live in South Devon you should really consider a holiday – or at least a mini break – down here. Honestly, there are So. Many. Places to see and things to do with kids. Some you have to pay for but many you don’t. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, with stunning beaches, rugged moors, idyllic river spots and many (oh so many) lovely country pubs. I’m going to be working with Visit South Devon in a series of posts soon that I’m so excited about. I’ll be showcasing some of our favourite spots in this beautiful area – and there are still SO many we haven’t yet explored despite living here for nearly four years.
Occasionally I get London angst, worry about missing out on various press shows or being so near the capital for meetings. But then I get weeks like the last one and pinch myself that I get to live somewhere so brilliantly beautiful, fun, laid back and cool.
5. Giving up the routine is a healthy thing every now and then
I thrive on routine. A typical A Type person, I love it when things are ticking along smoothly and I know what’s coming next. But sometimes we all need a break from normality – from rigid bedtimes and meal times and weekly meal plans. This is not a bad thing.
6. My kids are generally happy when I’m happy
Yeah kids get tired and grumpy. And yeah, I get tired and grumpy. But when I’m relaxed and happy? Then I’ll often reap the rewards of kids who are tired and grumpy but can see the funny side of things. I need to remember this when I’m impatient and a bit grumpy at 6pm dealing with the bedtime from hell on a regular Wednesday evening.
7. I’m a good mum, even if I might not always be the “perfect” mum
We all know the perfect mum doesn’t exist but this doesn’t mean I don’t often berate myself for falling short of the mark. I shout sometimes, I get cross about inconsequential mess. I don’t bake or craft as much as I should with my kids. But none of this matters because they are happy, loved and secure. And, ultimately, that’s all that really matters isn’t it?
8. Homemade burgers Five Guys style are the way forward
There’s no picture I can add to this one that will do it justice. Suffice to say that the NLM’s obsessive personality with researching something and working out the answer via various YouTube tutorials has paid off in this instance. We had a Five Guys burger meal a few weeks ago and since then he’s been on a mission to discover the answer to the perfect burger at home. The answer? A meat press, decent mince meat and two thin homemade burgers, with cheese slices, a fresh slice of tomato and a dollop of mustard, mayo and ketchup. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
9. Watching Designated Survivor is a good use of time
As above, no photos for this one. But if you’re after a new Netflix recommendation then I can thoroughly recommend Designated Survivor as a marital binge watch. It replaced the OA in our viewing hole and every minute of each episode was worth it.
10. Ponies make me broody
Oh, come on, when they’re this cute do you blame me? This was taken at The Miniature Pony Centre today – another big recommendation if you’re in South Devon and after a child-friendly day out.
11. Time at home is healthy
We’ve got a really busy time coming up with trips away, weddings, mini-breaks and holidays. This is all really exciting and fun but, sometimes, an extended period at home out of routine and daily commitments is a wonderful thing. We’ve got a few DIY jobs done but, mainly, we’ve just enjoyed being at home pottering about. We’ve gone to the village pub for the occasional drink and play in the play area, we’ve had picnics at the river opposite our house, we’ve chilled out in the garden and snuggled up on the sofa watching movies. These are things I know my girls (the six year old, at least) will remember when she grows up. You don’t need big, grand experiences to pepper a childhood. You need many happy, ordinary moments.
What have you learned so far this holiday?