We made it! July has brought with it the start of the summer holidays and I have never been so glad to reach the end of a school term before. We survived homeschooling for 14 whole weeks (plus the Easter holidays and May half term, 17 weeks in total). I did actually really enjoy having the opportunity to teach the girls – homeschooling is something I’ve always wanted to try out – and whilst of course this version of it was more ‘distance learning’ than true homeschooling, it was fun in parts and I learnt a lot about myself and the girls throughout the whole process.
It was incredibly hard work though. Supporting all three girls with their very differing needs, capabilities and levels of motivation on a daily basis, as well as working from home full time, was definitely challenging. The amount of work that they were expected to do was ridiculous as there was no way we could recreate the school environment in our home, plus the constant notifications and email updates from each of their schools seemed relentless. It felt like a lot of pressure and once 3.30pm on the last day of term rolled around it did feel like a big relief to not have to think about it all any more for a while.
Overall though I think it was a (mostly) positive experience and I’m pretty proud of what we’ve all achieved. The girls each have a huge folder bulging with work, they got excellent end of term feedback from their teachers and we’re all still talking to each other so I’m calling it a win.
After such an intense few months it was wonderful to be able to escape to Cornwall for the final week of July as lockdown restrictions began to ease a little. We’d really missed visiting our happy place in April when our annual Easter trip got cancelled so being able to get down there this summer has felt like a huge bonus that we are extremely grateful for.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout July…
The Anatomy Of Dreams: by Chloe Benjamin. I loved ‘The Immortalists’ (which I read last month and is actually her second book) so I decided to find her first book – ‘The Anatomy Of Dreams’ – and read that too. It’s taken me a little bit longer to get into, I think perhaps because I’m not finding any of the characters particularly likeable. I’m now halfway through the book and gradually getting drawn into their stories – it’s keeping me intrigued and I have no idea how it’s going to end.
Even though ‘The Anatomy Of Dreams’ is a fiction book, it’s really making me think and I’m fascinated with the concept of simultaneous potentialities, the power of the mind and the science & psychology behind dreaming. I took it with me to Cornwall to try and finish whilst we were on holiday but I didn’t even open it once – I was too worn out in the evenings from long walks along the beach and over the clifftops in the sea air!
TV/Films: I’ve been finding it really hard to concentrate on TV and films recently so I’ve not really watched much in the traditional sense. Even though cinemas are open now, we’ve not ventured to one yet – I’m hoping that it might be something we do next month as a summer holiday treat.
Sunsets: I did spend time watching the beautiful sunsets in Cornwall though. The Beach Haven, where we always stay, is in the perfect spot to see the sunset every evening from the kitchen and I love standing on the decking in the back garden watching the colours change and the seagulls settle down for the night. There’s something so peaceful about it and I always feel calmer afterwards.
School news: During the first week of the summer holidays we heard the news that the girls will all be back at school full time from the beginning of September. Unless anything changes with the rate of infection, localised lockdowns and/or government guidance and rules in the meantime of course, which there is always the potential of given the current situation. I’m preparing myself and the girls for both scenarios – going back to school and/or continuing with homeschooling – so hopefully no matter what happens they’ll be ok.
The news that they’ll be returning to school (if it does actually happen) has brought mixed feelings from all of us. I’m glad that they’ll be back with their friends, back with their teachers and back in the structure that they’ve been needing. I’m a little bit nervous though – it’s a lot of people in a small area and no matter how careful people are or the rules that are in place regarding social distancing and class ‘bubbles’, you can’t control everything or everyone. It will have been almost six months since they stepped into a classroom so I hope they’re all able to adjust to the changes that will have been implemented. And I’m really going to miss the three of them! They argue and fight and refuse to go out on a daily basis but I do love having them home with me and will always be grateful for this extra time I’ve got to spend with them.
Lola is happy to be going back. She is the one who has been most upset about not seeing her friends and whom we’ve had most tears from throughout lockdown. It’s going to be an important year for her this coming year as it’s her final year of primary school, she’ll be sitting her SATs tests next Spring and preparing for going to high school in a years time. I think Ella and Mimi were quite looking forward to doing a mixture of part home-based and part classroom-based learning but now that they’ve found out who their tutors are going to be, which friend’s they’ll be with in the classroom and how it’s all going to work logistically I think they’re feeling more positive about it now and are quite keen to go back.
Summer Bucket List: It’s become a tradition over the years that we make a ‘summer bucket list’ of things we’d like to do throughout the school summer holidays. It gets stuck on the front of the fridge and we gradually tick things off as the six weeks roll on by. This year’s list looks a little bit different – there are definitely fewer day trips and far more home-based fun activities but hopefully we’ll be able to make the most of it and create some memories for us all to look back on. We’ve already managed to tick off three things in the first couple of weeks: a trip to Cornwall; Sophie coming to stay with us; and a visit to Shugborough (our local National Trust place) so we’re off to a good start.
Essential Oil Rollers: Since getting started with using essential oils in our home at the start of the year, I’ve been keen to make some rollers for us all to use. One rainy weekend afternoon I decided to make it into a fun activity to do with the girls so they could be involved too. They each made their own personal essential oils roller and we had a lot of fun doing it together. Lola made a ‘Relax Roller’ of Lavender and StressAway to use at bedtime; Ella made a ‘Peace Roller’ containing Peace & Calming, StressAway and Orange; and Mimi made a ‘Happy Roller’ which consisted of all her favourite fruity oils – Lemon, Lime, Orange and Tangerine. They loved they way they turned out scent-wise and they’re all really pretty too!
I also made three other rollers as well:
- a Seasonal Support (‘Pollen Roller’) for Mimi to help with hayfever symptoms, containing Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint oils;
- a Skin Support (‘Scar Roller’) for Lola to help her scar heal better following the operation she had in April, containing Lavender, Frankincense and Manuka oils;
- and a roller just for me, containing Peace & Calming, StressAway and Valor (for bravery). It smells incredible – sometimes I even use it as perfume! – and it really helps me in situations where I find myself getting a bit anxious, like in the car on the motorway or if I need to have a difficult conversation with someone for example.
I’m planning to make an Emotional Support (‘Courage Roller’) for the girls to use when they go back to school in September too as I’m sure there are likely to be some nervous betterflies and big feelings going on for all of them.
Face masks: At the start of July when lockdown restrictions started to ease quite a lot, I decided to get us all some face masks to wear when we’re out and about. I thought long and hard about it – it seemed a little silly at first to start wearing them after all this time when we hadn’t been for months.
In the beginning of the pandemic everyone was being super careful, everything was shut, there were no people around anywhere and it felt ‘safer’ in a way. Then social distancing began to reduce (and even got ignored completely by many people), there were more people around in general, the shops were starting to open again, the husband was back at work and mixing with the public much more, the girls were coming out to run errands with me more regularly and it started to feel a bit less safe (even though we are all being meticulous with washing our hands, not touching our faces and using Thieves hand sanitiser often).
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to start wearing one so I ordered some from someone I know who had been making them for her friends. She chose all the fabrics and I’m really pleased with them – they’re perfect for us. Just a week or so later face coverings became compulsory in shops and enclosed spaces so I’m glad we had a little head start to get used to remembering to take them out with us and feel comfortable wearing them.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever be ok with this being our current ‘new normal’ but it’s important to do it to keep everyone safe and healthy, so it’s a very, very small sacrifice to make in the grand scheme of things. 2020 is certainly a year that’s going to go down in the history books.
Flower Fields: A late afternoon walk with the girls down the trail we’ve wandered along hundreds of times throughout lockdown led to the happy and unexpected discovery of a field full of the most beautiful poppies and daisies! We collected a small handful to pop in a jar at home, took some photos and I left with a joyful heart, a skip in my step and ideas fizzing in my head for future photoshoots with families – it’s the perfect location, especially at golden hour. I’m already looking forward to this time next year!
Family: We finally got to see my parents! They came up to visit for the day once people were allowed into each other’s houses. It was SO lovely to see them after four and a half long months, even though we still had to stay one metre apart and couldn’t hug each other. It felt really weird and was actually very hard to do. We managed though and ended up going for a walk along the above mentioned trail, just chatting and catching up. The girls were happy to see them too and hopefully we’ll be able to see them again soon over the summer.
Summer holiday: After our annual Easter trip to Bude in North Cornwall was cancelled due to Covid-19 we re-booked for October half term instead. Then we had a message from Tim and Maria, the owners of The Beach Haven (where we always stay), saying that they’d had a cancellation for a week in the summer holidays and did we want it? Of course we snapped it up straight away and are so grateful that we got to spend a week in our happy place.
We all needed the break and a change of scenery: the girls have done so well with their homeschooling and coping with all the changes and adjustments in their lives; I’ve not had a day off work for as long as I can remember (a side effect of being self employed); and the husband had been working super-long hours since his pub re-opened at the start of the month – we’ve barely seen him.
Sophie came with us too and it was the first time we’ve seen her since February! We made her our ‘bubble’ so we were allowed to hug her and have her stay overnight without having to social distance and the girls were utterly overjoyed to see her. We all were actually – we’ve missed her so much.
It was definitely a different holiday to usual. We didn’t visit any attractions (apart from one game of crazy golf) or go on any day trips, mostly we just kept ourselves to ourselves and went for walks along the beach and over the clifftops. We had mixed weather (three days of rain, three days of sunshine and one day that was a combination of both) which was a shame and it felt like it was all over far too quickly but it was completely worth it. Just being able to escape, to feel the sand between our toes, to hear the seagulls, to smell the sea and to actually properly switch off for a bit did us all the world of good. We’ve already re-booked for our next visit and are counting on the days until we go back.
Somehow we’re already two weeks into the summer holidays and only have a month left to go before the girls go back to school. Time has definitely warped this year and I can’t quite believe that we’re at the end of chapter seven of 2020.
We have zero plans for the next four weeks beyond maybe ticking a few more things off of our summer holiday bucket list and actually, maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps August needs to be low-key ready for whatever the new school year in September is going to bring. Either way, we’ll make the most of it as best we can and keep making happy memories to counteract the trickier times that are likely to continue.
I hope that July has been a good month for you too and that you find many little things to love throughout August.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and #littleloves)