Embrace the Pace

So it’s the third week of the summer break from school and I’d describe myself as ‘surviving’.

Week one, I was clearly buoyed by a false sense of security. The kids were pretty chilled out and ready for a rest. ‘This is easy’ I thought. Beach time, a little TV, some lazy mornings.

Week two was hell on earth. It rained. The kids were little monsters. Both were poorly. The dog had fleas. I had my period. We cried. All of us. A lot.

Week three – Its a bit of a mixed bag. It’s only Monday, so a lot could happen.

Here are my findings thus far into the hols:

  1. There’s no point fighting it – just surrender. Surrender to the mess.
  2. Go outside. And stay there. Every day. I have two sons, and they need to be run like puppies. The beach is my friend.
  3. Don’t bother with clothes – kids in swimsuits. And then pyjamas. And then swimsuits again. They don’t really need washing do they……?
  4. Never, ever, go to the shops with the kids in tow. Ever. It will only end in tears.
  5. Expect to gain a few pounds in weight. Chips and ice cream anyone?
  6. Slow down. Embrace the pace. Don’t make plans. And definitely don’t make appointments. The stress of trying to get everyone there on time is the stuff of nightmares.

There’s still a few weeks to go.

Breathe deep. We can do this….

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Letting the kids talk to strangers

I took my boys to the beach yesterday with our big gangly dog. Nothing strange there. We do this every day.

Anyway, I digress. I took my boys to the beach yesterday, and whilst we were there a man arrived with a bucket, wearing waders and proceeded to wander out into the shallows.

It was a very low tide. Lower than I’ve seen it for a long time, and there were small pools exposed, and rocks covered in green slime, and shells and the spaghetti-like cases left by sand worms. And the man stopped by one of these pools, kneeled on the wet sand and began dipping his hands into the water and under the rocks.

It, obviously, caught our attention, and I found myself thinking that here was another great opportunity to let my eldest son ( for the youngest can’t speak yet…) practice talking with a stranger.

Talking with a stranger!!!!! Yes, you read that correctly.

See, the thing is, I know we’re all supposed to be frightened of talking to strangers. And we’re supposed to teach our kids that stranger = danger. But I just get can’t to grips with that.

We live in the north east of England. Up here the people are (for the best part) notoriously friendly.  We chat on the bus, in the street, on the doorstep. We don’t think anything of striking up conversation with folks we might stand next to in the supermarket aisle, or people smiling at us at the bus stop. And smiling…..that’s great shit isn’t it? Costs nothing and makes your day.

I’ve taught my eldest to smile at folks. I’ve also taught him to say hello if someone sits next to him. To say ‘excuse me’ to the shop assistant if he wants something. He’s only 4 (nearly 5) but I’ve encouraged him to approach the lady behind the counter, to speak to the bus driver, to say ‘good morning’ to fellow dog walkers.

And I encouraged him to approach the man in the waders, and ask him what he was doing. I knew what he was doing. But I saw this as another chance for my son to practice politely approaching someone. And of course, to learn something new.

The man responded with kindness. Maybe it’s because we live in the north. But he took the time to answer my son. They both smiled. My son came skipping back to me, buoyant with the new information he had. Excited that he had learnt something new. And confident that he could approach someone he didn’t know.

I had watched from a distance. I knew he was ‘safe’. And I was glowing with pride to overhear his beautiful little voice start “excuse me….”.

How can we teach our kids independence, if we are to control who they speak to? And how they speak to them?

There are so many skills I am trying to teach my kids. Surely, one of the most important is how we integrate into our society, how we make friends, how we talk to others.

I’m not prepared to teach my children to be afraid of strangers.

Giving up the ‘business’

I’m a problem solver. That’s what I do. Sort things out. It’s one of the things I do best.

Show me a ‘can’t’ and I’ll show you ‘can’. Show me an ‘I dont know’ and I swear I’ll show you an ‘I’ll find out’. Show me an ‘I’m frightened’ and I’ll show you a ‘hell, do it anyway!’

I started making natural skincare products to try and solve the ‘problem’ of my first son’s dry skin. I LOVE learning, so I studied and practised, and I made some lovely stuff for him.

And now, with baby number 2, both my kids benefit daily from their own little bespoke skincare range.

But the thing is, it was never meant to be a business. I guess that has been a byproduct really.

Its great that other people are using and enjoying the stuff. And hey, maybe someone will feel inspired by my journey, and be encouraged to do something to solve their own problem(s).

But I don’t enjoy business. No. Not at all. I enjoy creativity, and beauty, and peace and kindness. I enjoy people and new places, and new challenges, and learning. I enjoy overcoming difficulties, and finding the answer. I enjoy exploring natures gifts – the beautiful oils and herbs that are our natural healers.

But I don’t enjoy business. Not at all.

I enjoy the opportunities that it exposes me to. But I can’t stand the ‘selling’. The ‘transaction’. The value judgement that is made as a result.

I love my products. I love that I have preserved my childrens skin despite eczema, and chicken pox, and this rash, and that allergy. I’m proud of the work I have put into it. But I’m not a natural business woman.

And I’m wondering if and when it might be time to just stop…. After all, I solved the problem didn’t i?

Time

I’m sitting still. Actually sitting. Not doing anything that I ‘should’.

Obviously, I am writing this blog post. But I don’t have a plan for it – where it’s going – I don’t even know what the purpose of it is. The most important thing is, I’m sitting. And even more importantly, I’m cuddling my baby whilst he sleeps.

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Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than a baby sleeping? All the trials and tribulations of family life – and yet when baby sleeps, all is well with the world. I could watch him forever. When did he get so big? What was I doing when he napped yesterday? Or the day before? Why wasn’t I doing this?

‘Time’ has a lot to answer for. ‘Time’ means I might prioritise work, or the shopping, or walking the dog. What a shame. The ‘in arms’ phase is so short (I have to steal kisses and cuddles from my 4 year old now – he’s too busy!). Surely when I’m prioritising my time I should be ensuring that the baby nap cuddles take precedence over everything else.

I used to, but then the ‘chores’ crept in. The chores can wait today. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

Theft

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Please don’t steal from me. I have worked so very very hard.

This was my studio.

I moved into it in May 2011.

My first son was 7 months old, and there was barely a square inch of his skin that didn’t have eczema.

I devoted (almost) every free moment to trying to help him.

I thought about little else.

It took me 12 months to perfect just that tiny bar of baby soap.

12 months.

I moved out of my little studio in November 2013, pregnant with baby number two. I spent many an hour, in those 2.5 years freezing my ass off in that studio. FREEZING. Developing recipes, creating products, formulating the wonderful butters and oil blends that my beautiful sons have now benefitted from.

I have absolutely and utterly poured my heart and soul into my little business.  It has seen me through some of my darkest times. I have earned awards. Featured in books. Become a writer for a magazine. I have worked so bloody hard.

Please don’t steal this from me. You know who you are.