Take a moment.
Look around you.
Do you feel better? I know I do.
We (and by we, you know that means ‘I’) decided at the start of the summer holidays that we would try to go easy on ourselves. That is, we wasn’t going to run around like headless chickens for six weeks, burning through money and energy like a bunch of Stag’s in Amsterdam.
I made a list of ‘ideas of places to go’ other than the obvious of local parks and swimming. I made the list so that we didn’t spend two hours everyday trying to decide where to go (we are so indecisive) but also it meant that I could look for money off vouchers for entrance fees or coupons towards food costs in advance.
I didn’t want the summer holidays to feel like a competition with other parents to cram in as much stuff as possible. I also didn’t want the summer holidays to break us financially. It’s an expensive time but it doesn’t have to be.
We’re fortunate that we don’t have to pay out for childcare over the summer as I’m a stay at home Mum. However the flip side is, being a stay at home Mum means we’re a single income home and have to get creative about days out and where we spend our money. Also, The Bearded Manc is self employed and so doesn’t get paid for time off, meaning every day off costs us double.
The decision to take the summer easy has benefitted our bank balance immensely. We’ve taken picnics with us and spent a lot of time doing free activities. We’ve held BBQs with friends, spending just a few quid on grub & letting them bring the booze and until the sun disappeared, the paddling pool saw a lot of action.
Beaches, parks, swimming, museums all these things cost next to nothing (if anything) and right now, at the age our kids are (1 & 4), this is the kind of stuff they love.
Of course, places like CBeebies Land are great, but I truly feel we’ve had more fun doing the stuff that hasn’t really cost us anything. For example, last week we went to Knutsford, where we went for a nice walk, enjoyed a lovely picnic by the lake and then spent an hour in the park. A day out for less than £20. Not bad, eh?
The most important thing for us though, is learning to love where we live. Urmston is a cracking little town, that’s getting more interesting by the week and we feel very blessed to be able to live here. We’ve realised that there’s nothing wrong with just spending the day in our own town. We have great parks and a brilliant monthly market, not to mention the recent increase in fab eateries, so why go to the stress of driving an hour away for something we have on our doorstep?
Don’t get me wrong, we still want adventure. But sometimes, adventure can be found in your garden. It doesn’t always need to be grandiose. Sometimes adventure is as simple as building a pillow fort.
Trying to live more simply isn’t always easy, the temptation to eat out is strong. It’s what we’ve always done. But our recent change of philosophy has actually been pretty nice so we are trying really hard to embrace it and make it our new way of life. It’s really calming to not feel so rushed all the time. Our little Beastlies certainly seem to prefer it. I highly recommend it.
I think we enjoy each other’s company more when we slow down a bit. We hear each other. We see each other. We experience the moment with smiles on our faces, rather than racing through it at 90mph.
So I beg of you, slow down.
Do the little things.