Life lately

I’m sitting in front of the computer holding fifteen-month-old Ophelia and nursing a cup of chamomile tea that I’m hoping will treat this stinging headache I’ve had most of the day. This is the sort of thing that puts me off blogging in the evenings but the evenings are all I’ve got and this is also the sort of thing that makes me reflective so I figured, why not have a catch up?

Solo weekdays (and nights)
Laurence is working in London at the moment. He’s done a bit of that here and there but this is looking like a long haul. It’s the sensible thing to do for a number of reasons but it’s been a tough decision to make.

He’s away from us and, well, I’m here with our two. And one of the two hasn’t got the hang of going down for the evenings just yet. I’d like to say it is all slings and serenity here (and it surprisingly is quite a bit of the time when I’m up for going with it, actually) but it’s been a struggle.

It’s making me really appreciative of how present a father and husband Laurence has been and is, of the friends and family who offer to babysit and whose houses I know we can camp out at should I need backup.

I’m also extremely appreciative of the neighbour who brought clingfilm around last night when I needed to wrap my tattoo while the kids were asleep and I didn’t have any in the house!

And I’m being powerfully reminded that I’m never really in this on my own. We reached a high-tension, melting point moment earlier. I literally could not work out what had gone so wrong or why we were so upset.

Suddenly, I got (was given?) the idea to suggest we pray. I was surprised when Talitha said yes and even more surprised when suddenly, while talking to God, we both calmed down and the rest of bedtime went smoothly. I have no idea why that’s never occurred to me before.

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Reassessing our routine
I tend to flow in and out of structuring our days but it’s becoming increasingly important for all of us that there is a routine of sorts. And with Laurence away, I find myself holding on to that framework to steady us through the day. I mainly just mean naps, meals and a few activities.

I’ve especially found that Ophelia needs to have at least one proper nap to help her make it through to bedtime and then have a decent night’s sleep. Naps have been a bit of a challenge since she’d prefer to sleep on me, like most babies, really, and Talitha always winds up needing something just when she’s drifting off.

Recently, I’ve been really surprised that she’ll fall asleep listening to My First Beats’ instrumental CD, Eva – Sensory Soundscapes EP. My First Beats sent it over for me to review and I wasn’t sure what to expect since I thought my kids were past the age for it. But it’s been brilliant at lulling Ophelia to sleep in the pushchair and we love listening to it too while doing whatever quiet activity we get up to while she’s having a nap. The sounds of the baby’s heartbeat and laughter set to fresh, uplifting compositions could easily be a an all-day soundtrack here, to be honest. 5% of the CD’s sales go to Children’s Hospice South West, which is pretty cool.

Now, if something could sort out our evenings…

Beyond the baby haze
Though it still is, obviously, pretty crazy around here, I’ve noticed a shift in myself that I experienced when Talitha was Ophelia’s age. Suddenly, I began to emerge from that haze in which everything was about the baby and I started wanting to work again.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces since she was around six months old but part of me is looking into the future and feeling quite a longing to get plugged into a career.

But, equally, I want to stay with my children and really value this time together. So, I’m back to trying to figure out if there’s a way to fit it all together, and open to the possibility that the answer might be “not quite yet”.

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A little self-care goes a long way
For now, I’m trying to just be realistic about how many hours there are in a day and take pleasure from the little things. Part of that has been starting again to sort through the clutter in our house so I can feel less stressed generally. Another element of it has been to begin taking better care of my skin again. We have a pretty rocking herb garden in the works and I’m planning on adding a few more essentials to it.

I’ve also been loving trying out these organic blemish control products (how can I have lines and acne at the same time? It’s so weird!) that Green People have sent me. They’re nice and gentle – no overdrying – and already they’ve made a big difference to me. Not enough that I can do a before/after photo, really, but I’m pleased with the outcome and even more pleased that their ingredients aren’t scary. They’re available in Waitrose if that helps.

life lately

Home educating – feeling the fear and doing it anyway
I meant to mention it a few weeks ago when everyone was announcing the schools their kids got into but then, well, life got in the way, and I imagined that most people knew that we hadn’t applied. But yes, we didn’t apply for a school place for Talitha. She would have been going this year but we’ve decided to go for this home ed thing.

In a way, it doesn’t feel like a big choice at all. After all, she is just three (four in two weeks). So I’d never have been that comfortable with sending her off to school this year anyway. Still, being with both of them 24/7 is already proving to be more challenging than I could ever have expected. We’re in a pretty intense place. Not that having that much separation would be simple either!

So, what we’re saying is: this is what we’re doing for now. We can always make a change later.

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Staying in versus going out
Related to that, one of the things I’m finding difficult at the moment is trying to get the balance right between staying in and going out. I don’t think I fit neatly into usual definitions of introvert or extrovert but I do find it difficult to spend time with others every day. I need some down time. Talitha, on the other hand, has a strong desire to be with other children. So I find I’m constantly trying to plan our weeks so that we both get our needs (and Ophelia’s needs) met.

We’re really blessed here in Bristol with lots going on so that we can go out on a whim if I can’t face planning too much in advance. We have a membership for At-Bristol Science Centre that I bought a few months ago and it’s become one of our favourite days out since. A couple of weeks ago, they gave us a couple of tickets so we could take friends to their Toddler Takeover and we got a chance to check out the new 3D planetarium. Cue lots of oohing and aahing amongst our crew. The preschoolers also did a bit of cheese making, not that Talitha would even taste hers, mind!

So that’s what’s going on here at the moment. Any of that strike a chord with you?

[she/her] • writer • unschooler • team Soul Farm • Revillaging podcast • breastfeeding counsellor • Trinidadian in Cornwall

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  • It’s lovely to hear what’s going on in your life and that someone else admits to that almost two year baby ‘fog’. I felt that as well and no one else I know has mentioned it.
    My husband works away a lot too, Switzerland this week, the US next week and having a basic plan to the day helps all of us. I have two girls, four and two. Like you say bedtime is the biggest challenge for us so we would all sleep together when it was going badly, it definitely worked for us 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    • Thanks for this comment. It’s really helpful hearing from others whose other halves are away a lot. We’ve been doing a lot of bedsharing. I’m realising that both girls, but especially my older daughter, need more attachment to me with him being away.

  • When I had Florence our second, Greig was working away quite a lot down south and it is tough when you’re on your own, night after night, morning after morning (and the bits in between). But it doesn’t last forever and you cope, just like you are doing – beautifully, in your own way! xx

  • Wow sounds like there has been a fair bit going on at the moment and so glad to hear you have the support you need when Laurence is away. I too am trying to de-clutter my head and house and I know I will feel better for it and I can totally related with the Home-Ed thing about how natural but also kind of scary it can be, but in the end very enjoyable

    Laura x

  • It’s really tough doing the solo parenting thing whilst the other is away for work, isn’t it. Glad to hear you’ve found some good things to get you through 🙂