Since re-opening The Family Patch my to-do list has grown immeasurably. Not only am I now writing two blogs, but I am also working on products, services and resources behind-the-scenes for both (and a new venture that pulls them both together under a single brand). No easy feat, especially when you consider I also work 3 days a week and Little Man still only does 15 hours a week at pre-school!
But my to-do list became pretty epic last week when on top of all of the above, I was struck down with the flu (so out of action for several days, and still not fully up to speed). And I’m pulling extra shifts at work to cover holidays and absences. Let’s just say spare time is not a word I recognise right now…
So you’d be forgiven for thinking that taking time-out for a walk in the local Arboretum would be bottom of my life of things to do. I mean, with laundry piles as high as my waist, a house to tidy, and two blog posts to hash out today, a walk in the park really shouldn’t be a priority, should it? But you know what, I’m starting to learn that the less time I have the more time I should make for simply stopping to smell the roses.
I’m far more productive when I take time out to relax and breath and recentre myself, especially in light of my focus on “Healing” this year. And so that’s what I did – I dropped Little Man off at pre-school and then went for a walk. With my camera. Because it’s a beautiful day. And I’m so glad I did, because here’s what I found…
Such happy sights of Spring! They filled my heart with joy and reminded me of the wonder and beauty in nature that I so often overlook and miss as I whizz about from one task to the next, forgetting to sit back and watch as nature unfolds her bounty year after year!
Tell me – do you ever ditch the to-do list in favour of taking some time out?
I’m linking up with #sharethejoy again this week as my walk in the park really brought me so much joy today!
Does anyone else find it hard to believe we’re in March already? It feels like only yesterday that we were saying goodbye to the old year and ringing in the new! But, regardless of my disbelief at the speed in which this year is passing us by, we are indeed in March and that means that Spring is well and truly on its way.
Today is the Spring Equinox (20th March) and next Sunday we’ll be celebrating Easter (27th March). It’s a wonderful time of year full of great joy and promise, as new life begins to “spring” up all around us, so I love the fact that these two celebrations are so close together. I have a post lined up for you at the end of this week regarding my thoughts onintroducing the Easter Story to WB in a way that reflects our more liberal interpretation of it, but for now I want to focus on celebrating Spring itself.
Recognising and reflecting the changing seasons and passing of time is one of the main reasons I feel drawn towards the Pagan Wheel of the Year. For me, the intention of marking certain points in the year as special and sacred in their own unique ways is just beautiful. However Tim and I are not so good at preparing to mark these occasions and often find they speed past us without us even noticing (I bring you back to my very first sentence of this post as a case in point!)
When I set up Spirit Kid Network I didn’t really know what I was going to write or how I was going to present my thoughts. I’m still figuring that out even now and will probably continue to do so for a very long time. But one thing I did know for sure was that I wanted it to be real, and I wanted it to be accessible. There’s no point me dreaming up grand plans for amazing experiences when they just aren’t possible for the vast majority of families.
So the basis for everything I do here is this – can we do this as a family… and do even we want to?
Suddenly, *wham* there go all those crazy ideas for craft activities, family gatherings, meaningful ceremonies, and anything else my wonderfully creative but entirely over-ambitious mind comes up with! It’s not that that aren’t good ideas, many of them are great ideas (if I may say so myself), but they are as far from doable as I could get right now. I’ll file them in the “maybe, one day” section of my brain and get right back to finding simple, easy ways of enjoying this moment in time.
Because, you see, if there’s one thing that becoming a parent has taught me it’s this – sometimes the most simple things bring the most pleasure. And with that in mind, here are my 5 easy ways to celebrate Spring which I hope you’ll enjoy too.
Learn about “life cycles”
You only have to look at the selection of Easter cards in the shops to realise that baby animals are a major hit at this time of year, so why not embrace the excitement and use it as an opportunity to learn about life cycles? How you do this will, of course, depend on the age of your children and whether you want to visit a local farm or learn about it from books and videos, but whatever you do be sure to have fun.
A couple of weeks ago Little Man came home from school with information about the chicken eggs that had arrived at school. There was a link to the live webcam that we placed on my laptop and left running throughout the evening and following day and we all got to see some of the chicks hatching. We talked about how the chicks come out a bit wet and when they dry off they get all fluffy and then we thought about how some animal babies grow in eggs and others grow in their mummy’s tummy. We ended the day by reading a Topsy and Tim book about puppies, which led to even more talk about where babies come from.
Little Man is 4 and it seemed like a great age to start thinking about how babies are born and then how we all grow at different rates. It has made us determined to plan a trip for Open Farm Sunday this year so WB can see more animals at different stages in their lives. But until then we’ll be making the most of the good old internet for videos like this one.
Plant some seeds
So this follows on from the last point quite nicely, don’t you think? Animals are not the only ones who bring new life into the world at this time of year. Looking out my window this morning I was welcomed by the cheery sight of some purple crocuses opening up. And then there are the lovely, bright yellow daffodils on my table, bringing cheer to the room and reminding me that many more flowers will be coming soon. Life is quite simply Springing from the ground right now and it is beautiful.
But those first joyous blooms would never have appeared had their bulbs not been planted at the right time for them to grow. And this is a great opportunity to discuss not only celebrating the life that we see before us but also preparing for the life which is to come. Many flowers and vegetables that we will hope to see over the Summer and Autumn months need to be sown over the coming weeks. What better way to encourage your children to understand the sheer magic of life than by including them in the process right from the start?
This is such a simple activity that anyone can do it, you don’t have to be green-fingered or have vast amounts of space to enjoy growing things from seed. Even if you have the smallest garden (or no garden at all) you can still enjoy growing herbs and salad leaves that can sit in pots on your windowsill!
Go on a scavenger hunt
Nothing could be easier than popping on your shoes and coat and going for a walk somewhere in nature. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, simply getting out and about will get you noticing the signs of Spring all around you.
But if you want to make your outings more adventurous, why not try a scavenger hunt? Go online and find some images of Spring flowers, the shapes of certain leaves, birds you think will be in your area, even insects and bugs you want to try and find, and then print out your selection and stick them on a sheet or in a notebook. Then when you’re out and about see if you can find them all. Make it a game, who can find them all first and what else can you find along the way?
Do some cloud spotting
Nothing speaks of the hope of better days to come than the appearance of a bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds after months and months of grey skies without end. I swear, I never realise how much the lack of light during Winter affects me until one of these days comes by and I suddenly feel so much happier and brighter and like all those things I have worried so much about no longer matter! I feel like I can breathe again and it makes me so happy.
So, obviously, I spend a fair amount of time looking up at the sky on days like those and cloud spotting becomes a wonderful way to pass the time whilst sitting on a cold bench because I just don’t want to go home yet or standing at the school gates waiting to pick up WB. Cloud spotting can be as simple as looking at the clouds and acknowledging their presence or as detailed as seeing shapes within them and imagining whole worlds that live there.
Bring some colour indoors
Again, just like I said above, the lack of colour through the Winter months really gets to me and so I love the colours that begin to emerge at this time of year. They seem so vibrant and bright, even though I know that once the Summer sun arrives they will look somewhat muted in comparison to the kaleidoscope of colour that graces us during those hotter days.
So, naturally, I want to bring those colours indoors with me (as it is often still too cold to spend too much time outdoors!) Sometimes I do this with flowers, but you could just as easily do this by painting pictures, creating a collage with pictures from magazines, changing your bedding or even choosing clothes in bright, Springtime colours. If you do decide to get creative and make Springtime pictures, why not make it an opportunity to talk about which colours are your favourites and how they make you feel?
So there you have it, 5 easy ways of celebrating Spring this year. As I’ve said before, simple and achievable is everything to me right now in my parenting journey and so I hope that these are all things you can try out yourself and enjoy too.