Autumn Colours and Cake

I’m going to be testing out some self-care advice from this list over a few posts. Is mindfulness even possible when you have a hive of children buzzing around you every day? And can I get them involved, without being a dictator? Will I really catch more flies using honey instead of vinegar? I’m not convinced, but (*puts on beekeepers suit*) we’re doing this. And I promise not to use any more bee analogies.

When you read self-care articles, they’re almost always banging on about getting yourself active outside. Fresh air, greenery, calmness, bird song- a perfect recipe to get you feeling a bit more zen. However, outside time with kids usually involves pulling them out of the way of traffic, moaning about a lack of sweets, or, even worse, Pokemon Go.

But I’m a tenacious sort, I’m not going to let this get in the way of my latest attempt to get mentally healthy and realign my self-worth. Tally-ho.

My first strategy for getting outside, other than to sit on a cold play park bench, was to ignore the kids and go do some work in my garden. Lazy work, nothing too strenuous. The weeds in my garden are getting out of hand. The summer was hot and had brought a huge wave of wasp bastards with it. My fear of being stung was far greater than my need for an immaculate garden. But hey, it was October, they were all dead. So I was good to go.

I made a half-arsed announcement to house “I’m going to weed the garden, anyone want to come out?”, just so I felt like I was including the kids in this decision. 3yr did, and spent his time riding the broom like a horse. 10yr didn’t answer and continued with what he was doing, which was getting beaten up on Fortnight.

So that’s how we spent the next few hours. I weeded, 3yr stabbed at the ground with a hoe. We found a woodlouse and talked about a spider web. The batman toys were pulled out of the garage and he immersed himself in that world on the driveway, while I pottered quietly. The whole thing felt slightly educational too, so that’s a home ed win, in my book. I’ve been lucky enough to inherit a lovely mature garden when we bought this house, it’s always throwing up new surprises. And the colours are beautiful this time of year, best enjoy them while I can.

The second strategy for that week was to take advantage of the few hours 3yr is in nursery and join the walking group ran by our local healthy living team. The idea is to meet in a cafe, walk around the woods for an hour, and then finish at the cafe for cake and whatnot. The only hurdle would be- will I be able to get the home educated ten year old up and out the door for 9:30 am? Not if he thinks it’s just for a soggy walk around the woods with a bunch of boring grown-ups, that’s for damn sure. So I used the fact that I needed to buy him a new coat, and the possibility of cake, to sweeten the deal.

All was going to plan. We were out on time, 10yr had begrudgingly agreed to the walk (but “only to keep me company”), and we’d picked up the finest, warmest, coat Tesco had to offer. So now all we had to do was find the cafe they were meeting in, which turned out to be frigging impossible. I checked the facebook post twice, tried and failed to follow google maps, scoured the shop fronts for a sign, and ultimately walked in a circle for twenty minutes.

“Screw this, love. we’ll go to the woods on our own.”

And we had a brilliant time! It rained only a bit and then the sun came out. We had to navigate our way through waterlogged paths and met a whole heap of dogs. We found waterfalls and lost our way, a lot! The best part was chatting and laughing with my big guy. It was nice having time just the two of us, we now have a few inside jokes that got more bizarre the more tired and wet we got. Like being in mourning for a duck named Gary. Don’t ask. We both felt better for our little adventure in woods, and we agreed it was much better than it probably would’ve been with the walking group. Because we’re antisocial AF. Another successful outside time.

I definitely feel a lot freer and happier after being out in nature, so I think I’ll try and do it a regularly as possible. It probably sounds terribly selfish, but I think this will only work if I find something I genuinely want to do (standing outside watching them ride bikes in a circle for an hour is not my idea of a good time. Yes, I’ve done that before.), and then either just drag the kids along or tailor it slightly to sound more appealing to them. Like bribing them with cake. Yeah, autumn colours and cake is most likely the path of least resistance. And it also sounds like it could be the name of my first album…

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