Tag Archives: holiday

Running wild

“Mummy, how does a bee carry pollen,” my son asked on a recent holiday to Dorset, “when he doesn’t have a pot?”

We were rambling up a steep coastal path at the time, in the sunshine, past swaying grass and gorse. We’d just seen a bee bumbling past and had been telling him how these stripy little creatures make the honey that ends up on his crumpets in the morning.

Cliff walk

I love his questions. More than that, I love the pause before his questions. I love watching his brow furrow, knowing his brain is building pathways and connections; unravelling facts we have told him; making sense of the world before his eyes. I love the fact he has no inhibitions; he does not worry about asking something ‘silly’. Nothing is silly. I love the fact he is learning without realising it.

Nature does that for children. It inspires creativity and understanding.

We have recently returned from a week’s holiday to Dorset. We have been barefoot on beaches and forest footpaths. The amount of time we spent outside practically qualified us as free range. We were a free-range family and our children ran feral.

It was wonderful.

I’m a huge believer in the power of the outdoors. For me, a trail run along rutted woodland paths, jumping tree roots and skirting fallen branches, beats a jog along the nearby A road any day of the week. Nature is a teacher; a healer. From woodland floors to wide oceans, it is an eye-opener. It is comforting. It is surprising. It is there to be explored.

And you know what’s really great? We’re part of it.

It’s so easy to feel disconnected, on those days when you’re sat inside the house; in an office; in front of a laptop; watching the telly.

It’s so easy to reconnect in mere moments, with a stroll in a green space; a walk through the woods; five minutes sat on the grass in the garden.

The more time we spent outside during our week’s holiday, the more certain I became of several things:

All children should know the feel of sand between their toes…

Sandy toes

All children should know the taste of dirt…

Eating dirt

All children should be trusted to climb and explore…

Rope swing Brownsea Island

It’s good for them. It’s in their nature. It’s a remedy for tantrums.

OK, OK, it’s not always a remedy for tantrums. Tiredness happens, whether you’re inside or out.

Overtired

But you get the gist. Mud should be embraced. They only get one childhood. Let’s encourage them to run wild.

Heart

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A home away from home

Holidays.

Well.

They’re just not the same once you have young children, are they?

The words ‘relaxing’ and ‘restful’ just don’t come into it. Because whether you’re at home, or in a cottage in the countryside, or even (I imagine) at a luxury beach house in the Seychelles, your little ones will still need to eat, play, poop and sleep.

This means while you’re away, all the usual meal preparing, food throwing, face wiping, floor mopping, dish washing, nappy changing, bottom wiping, Lego playing, rocking, shushing and night waking will come along for the ride, too.

Except now you don’t know where the sodding saucepans are. And you can’t remember whether you packed the wipes.

But…

We have recently returned from a week’s holiday in the New Forest. And while I was still a tad exhausted on our return home (see above), it was wonderful, actually. I felt really bloody happy.

Woods2

We had zero phone reception and questionable WiFi where we were staying, so we felt fairly cut off. Which was great. It helped me see what was important.

Who was important.

We spent our time walking through the forest. We went cycling – my husband pulling the baby in a trailer; me with the toddler on a bike seat (this would have been pretty relaxing, had it not been for the fact that Buzz Lightyear came along for the ride and spent the duration jabbing me in the arse, while my son pressed every available button every three seconds for FOUR HOURS, informing me that Buzz Lightyear was coming to the rescue. Shut up Buzz. Just shut up).

Buzz

Buzz Bloody Lightyear. Oh, and my son

We found makeshift swings hanging from tree branches; we splashed in puddles; I got two hours to myself to go horse riding; we let the kids stay up late so we could go for dinner in the cosy local pub and, on our walks back to the house in the dark, wrapped up warm from the cold, we pointed out the Big Dipper in the sky, to a little boy who was astounded by the stars.

Swing

And yes, we made an obligatory visit to Peppa Pig World, after which my husband and I needed therapy, but the toddler loved it, so it was worth it. Just.

PPW2

All aboard Grandpa Pig’s boat!

In short? It was the type of holiday memories are made from.

It helped that the weather was kind – bright and sunny and crisp; and yes, we had extra family on hand, in the form of my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her fiancé (who provided the sort of loving, wonderful help that made me want to stick up a For Sale sign once we got back home and move in with them permanently).

And you know what? All the mealtime madness and nappies and mess? It kind of felt like small fry when set against the fact I got to spend so much precious time with the most important people in my world.

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