The leaves are turning and autumn is in the air. The children have started collecting pine cones and little seed pods on our walks and I’ve noticed the light fading earlier each evening. The slow cooker has been put to good use and I’ve made various homemade
soups on the stove to get warming, nourishing goodness into our bellies, (I’ll share some recipes with you soon). I’m a romantic when it comes to the seasons and a firm believer that listening to, and following the changes is good for the mind, body and soul.
I adapt our little daily rituals as the seasons shift – at this time of year our days start early with bowls of warm, gooey porridge. Now Elsie is confident on two feet, we’ve started taking morning walks each day after dropping Raff at pre-school. She collects every golden leaf in sight and jumps in every puddle she stumbles upon, and that 40 minutes with my girl is one of the happiest, most enriching parts of my day.
Once home, she’ll nap and I’ll set about the housework – laundry, sorting, meal prep and then sift through my emails and planning the next week of work and home life ahead. We sit together to eat our lunch before playing (blocks, dollies, cars and reading stories). I find pick up time arrives before I know it and I’ll often take them to the park or river to feed the ducks and swans after preschool. I try to limit screen time where possible, encouraging the kids to play freely and use their imagination. Sometimes we’ll get the trains out, other times play doh, often they’ll just gravitate to a much loved toy and play happily. Elsie needs a little more interaction with play where Raff has always enjoyed independent play and can get lost for hours in his imaginative games.
As the afternoon wears on, I’ll prepare their tea while they watch some cartoons and to help ease the transition from telly to dinner table I’ll often light a little candle to signal it’s teatime. Once fed, I scoop them upstairs and into a bath. I’ve recently used lavender oil at bath time after a period or hysteria in the bath – lots of tears, tantrums and fighting have now been replaced by playing, giggling and calm – quite amazing the power of scent can be to soothe little ones and get them ready for bed. Once they’re dry and in their jammers I’ll read them a story. I always settle Elsie down first before spending a little more time with the boy, talking about the best bits of his day and the things he’s most thankful for. I find this is a soothing practice before sleep – to remind him of the simple joys he’s relished and to teach him that we can be grateful for those small, everyday moments as well as the big events.
I have to admit there is a sense of relief that fills my bones once the children are tucked up. No matter how calm and together all this may sound, our days our full and the work of raising children and keeping a home whilst running a small business is certainly not light work. My evenings are pretty sacred to me and I’ve learnt to leave my laptop closed more often lately, choosing a book or a bath or a night out with a good friend where I can just be little old me and nobody’s keeper for a few hours. These are the little things I do for myself that help me to maintain a balance – and I can’t stress enough how difficult I have found striking a balance in recent years.
I’m definitely a creature of habit and find great comfort in rituals and rhythms. Whilst many of my friends are spontaneous, unstructured or enjoy the not knowing in their day, I am quite the opposite. I thrive on a little sense of predictability and the reassurance in knowing how our week will generally pan out. That said, while the bones of our weeks are pretty structured, I’ll flesh them out with random activities – coffee dates with friends, toddler groups, trips to pretty places, mornings working or last minute trips to our local cafe for their irresistible homemade ice-cream on the way back from preschool.
Over the summer holidays, I relished the lack of routine and threw caution to the wind. But after 7 weeks of mish-mashing our days, I have to say, I was ready for a little routine once more, and the simplicity that comes with a little rhythm. And I honestly believe my kids were too. Things seem generally calmer and happier and I’m that little bit less frazzled when it comes to the last part of my day. One thing I’ve truly recognised in myself lately is that I need to nurture myself and my own soul as much as I do that of my kids. I’m not just a mother, but a woman and a friend, a wife and a photographer, a daughter and a sister as well. All these facets matter very much and help me to be the best mum I can to my kids if their celebrated rather than shunted.