Week forty seven: it’s half term, give yourself a break!

We’ve made it! It’s half term – for the kids at least, though I have booked a day off on Thursday – and so we have a week off from daily Zoom lessons, Google classroom and the constant round of nagging about doing the work set. I cannot fault their schools, and am in awe of their teachers who are planning and delivering online work and feeding back on it, while also doing the same for the key worker children in school, managing pastoral care and also looking after their own families… but I am so glad it’s half term.

Not just for me, but for my mum (and dad) friends as well. We are working parents, without exception, and while we are expert jugglers and plate spinners – often holding at least two conversations while simultaneously sorting laundry, thinking about dinner, and praying for bedtime – there is a limit to the number of plates we can keep spinning before something drops. Right now, we are spinning all these parental plates and at the same time juggling the work oranges as well. I know that I am not the only one who feels like we aren’t giving enough time to either. It’s hard to help with maths when you’re in a Teams meeting, for a start. Children – especially young ones – don’t understand that there are other demands on your time and don’t respect the boundaries of an online meeting. Older children can be a help sometimes, but they have their own work to do and its not fair to put extra responsibility on them.

In ‘normal’ times we have our work heads and our home heads, and often we have a commute in between so we have a chance to swap them over, to decompress on the train home, to think about dinner before we are faced with actually having to cook it, to read a few chapters of a book or to listen to a podcast. You don’t realise how valuable that down time is until you don’t have it. Over the last couple of weeks I have been finishing work quite late (for me, anyway, as a committed morning person!), getting up from the dining table where I’ve been working, and starting on dinner straight away in response to the ‘what’s for dinner/when’s dinner/how long till’ conversations. By Thursday I’d completely lost the will to live cook and resorted to the chippy. My head was so overfull that I couldn’t contemplate dinner as well, let alone trying to cook something that everyone would eat. Dinner that night was just one too many plates to spin, so I gave up.

On Friday all three of mine were on a screen-free, mindfulness, wellbeing sort of day as decreed by their schools. An excellent idea, and the secondary school sent home ideas of things they could do (I really approved of the one that said ‘make your parent a hot drink’). I, on the other hand, did not have a screen free, mindful sort of day. I was trying to focus on what my museum learning might look like in three years time. It was too cold – with a wind chill of -8 – to send them outside for any length of time. I couldn’t stop to play board games or do jigsaws, or to go for a walk in the sunshine, so their wellbeing day didn’t do a lot for me.

So this week it’s half term and I still have work to do, and I am going to give myself a break. If they spend a whole day on Minecraft while talking their friends, I am not going to worry about it: they can’t go on playdates with them, so this is the contact they can have. If Thing 1 wants to stay in bed watching emotional teen movies till lunchtime, fine. We can all benefit from a bit of a break, whether its from parental plate spinning or algebra. And yes, there might even be takeaway one night.

Creative chaos

After last week’s ramble about wanting to learn to draw, I picked up my sketchbook and did a couple of Craftsy classes online – I started the ‘Urban Sketching in 15 minutes a day’ course, and then yesterday I tried a line drawing one about how to sketch a house. I really enjoyed them and am learning to embrace the imperfections, as one of the tutors was very keen to impress on me. Craftsy is a great source of courses at the moment, and I took advantage of an offer a couple of months back to get a year’s premium membership for about a fiver rather than $70.

In the year of the handmade gift I sent off a TARDIS cross stitch to a lovely Whovian friend – he and his husband have just bought their dream home, so I used a design by NERDpillo to make this one. I almost didn’t want to fill in all the blue as the black lines were so clean and sharp, but I did. I’m so pleased they like it!

It’s been proper brass monkeys weather this week – today is the first day in a week that the thermometer has gone above one degree. I was quite excited on Tuesday when I got to add a new colour to the Temperature Tree as it was so cold. You can also see a little toadstool in a hoop that I did purely to try out a string art backing technique, and an ombre string art heart card.

Finally, I chopped all my hair off on Friday morning – I tried the unicorn horn method that I used last time and it was still too long at the back, so I put it in pigtails and chopped both off at collarbone level. I love it, it’s curly and I can get a brush through it in seconds flat.

Tiny work doodle

(I was also really, really chuffed to be told on Friday that my article for CPRE had received 2000 views.)

Happy Valentines Day

A shout out to another creative friend here – the very lovely Emma, whose Etsy shop provided my gifts to my beloved for my anniversary last weekend and Valentine’s Day today.

There’s been a sweet theme this year: he indulged my passion for liquorice, and as well as torpedoes I have been given several bags of Spogs. These are a standing joke between us: when we were first together I had a bag of liquorice allsorts, and I’d saved all the spogs for last as they were my favourites. I came home to find he’d eaten them all as he thought I didn’t like them.

So that’s week 47! Happy Valentines Day to you all, you gorgeous bunch. See you next week!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

The Grave Tattoo – Val McDermid

Inspector Hobbes and the Blood – Wilkie Martin

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