A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Time off. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Time off. Show all posts

Monday, 2 March 2015

One Day the House Will be Tidy...

Is there anything more inspiring than a home emerging from the drab cocoon that was winter and into an oasis of freshly scrubbed loveliness for the summer months ahead? It's this thought that motivates me to make a start on the house just as soon as we've welcomed in the New Year. The promise of lazy afternoons reading in the garden, days out, picnics, barbecues and evenings outside the pub is a delightful one. All we need is some warmer weather and while I'm waiting, the house is a welcome distraction as it's still so cold outside.
In January and February I plan to declutter the entire house from top to bottom and offload the stuff we no longer need. I made a start in the office back in January and it was going rather well. During the process I emptied the shredder no less than 8 times and burnt out the motor, spent another hour hoovering errant paper shreds that didn't make it into the bin bag and got covered in papery bits by the time I'd finished. But onwards and upwards, my spirit wasn't broken just yet.

Once the girls returned to university their bedrooms were straightened out in no time at all. Next I moved on to the dining room and worked through the lounge while listening to a random assortment of CDs that hadn't seen the light of day for some time. This was a welcome distraction. Yesterday I finished the kitchen cupboards, washed our expensive wine glasses coated in a fine layer of dust, wondered why I'd held onto so many birthday cake candles accumulated over 20 years of twin birthdays and vowed to use up several packets and jars that were slightly beyond their sell-by dates. Why do I promise to deal with these issues when I spot them and then fail to tackle anything for the rest of the year? I also discovered a pack of dark chocolate gingers stashed in the back of the cupboard that were 6 months past their sell-by date and ever so slightly soft, but still delicious when dunked in the numerous cups of coffee I rewarded myself with throughout the day.

Thoughts of summer may be tantalising, but the reality of how willing I am to commit to domesticity far outweighs how much will be achieved. If I had to grade myself on wanting to finish the tasks I've set, I'd have to award myself an F.

For every room I restore to its former glory, another area unravels and I have to add this to the list of things that require my attention. Yes, this will look perfect in return for several hours of my time, but the sad realisation is that the tasks are more demanding than I'd thought and this leaves me questioning my sanity. I'm convinced for every mind-numbing task completed, at least 2 more appear. This makes me weary and unconvinced that the oasis of  minimalist calm where we're all caught up on all the niggly household tasks we've ignored for the past year or so is achievable.

I know that the chores need to be done but I'd rather be doing anything else instead. Right now Sophia's bedroom looks like this:

And I wouldn't mind, but it was one of the rooms I'd crossed off the list before Mr A commandeered it as a workshop while revamping the bathroom. So far the bathroom has taken 6 weeks and can only be described as a work in progress. We're getting there, but progress is slow and painful.

Will the house be a fragrant, minimalist haven by the time summer rolls around? Watch this space. Right now, I'm not overly optimistic. 

Until next time...

 Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

10 Things I Love About the Empty Nest...

Life in an empty nestWell the girls have gone back to uni and the house is in chaos, (just the way they left it) but it's my chaos. And eventually everything will get cleaned, find a home, get donated, or flung in the bin.

I miss Olivia and Sophia a lot. I think about what they might be up to countless times during each and every day and fret that they're not looking after themselves, but there are some advantages to not sharing the house with my daughters...

1. For starters, Mr A and myself can do what the heck we want, whenever we feel like it! This often involves heading off for a long walk and ensuring that we return via the pub on the way home. What's not to love?!

2. My cute little car is always exactly where I left it and available for outings whenever the mood takes me. During the summer my car was mostly AWOL and always needed filling up with petrol.

3. There are chocolate bars in the cupboard that have been there for more than a day! And it's always a pleasant surprise to discover one, rather than an empty wrapper.

4. I can talk to the cat. And she is brilliant... loves hugs, doesn't answer back, or make too many demands (apart from tuna a couple of times per week). I don't know why we didn't have her first... just kidding!

5. My expensive shower gels and lotions are back in the bathroom. When both daughters were home, I discovered mostly empty bottles when I was daft enough to leave them lying around. Grrrrrrrr!!!

6. I can go to bed at 10pm without being told that I'm turning into a pensioner, and read as many pages of whatever I'm reading as I want without any interruptions whatsoever.

7. The size of our restaurant bill has halved! OK we might go out twice as much as we used to, but yay!

8.We get to plan our next holiday and as our daughters have been to Barcelona for a week during the summer, I'm not going to feel guilty about it! Who knows where we'll go next?

9. I have all the time in the world to write... without interruption... and that has to be my all time favourite pastime of all when the kids aren't home!

10. And last, but by no means least... private time with Mr A. All I'm going to say on the subject is this...
apart from checking into a hotel, how are you supposed to have sex with your other half when you share a house with 2 bat-eared teens?

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Who Stole the Weekend?

Who stole the weekend, busy livesRemember those heady blissful days when Friday night meant downing an entire bottle of wine after a frantic week at the office? And the possibilities for Saturday and Sunday were endless and fuelled only by your imagination.

I was thinking about this recently and couldn't remember when this last happened chez Anderton. I suspect that our daughters may have had something to do with it. When they were little, life was simple, they were up at some unearthly hour anyway and we would pop them in the car and venture off for a day filled with adventure. Before they were born, life was simpler still. Weekends used to last for ages and we always returned to work on Monday feeling refreshed.

After our daughters went to school, I was desperate to keep weekends sacred. Devoted to time spent together as a family, as we had precious little of that during our hectic week at work. I resisted extra-curricular activities at the weekend, but as the girls grew older I had less and less say in the matter. Before I could utter, "Who fancies a day at the beach?" we had accidentally signed up to a ballet class at 11 am on a Saturday morning. This completely scuppered any chances of a day out, as the girls were always famished and irritable after class and craved only to be plonked in front of a Disney film for the rest of the afternoon.

We stuck ballet for a year before switching classes to after school. That brought with it its own headache, such as, "How do we eat and attend class before the kids' bedtime?" but at least Saturday was ours. Well for all of three months anyway. When Sophia was recruited as a cox for the local rowing club, our weekends were mostly spent attending training sessions, or heading to events up and down the country. The rest of the time we'd be attending to the (many) demands of our house renovation and thinking only, why does this take so much longer than the time we have available?

I always longed for the weekends after getting through another gruelling week. Only to be disappointed on Sunday morning when I realised there was a tonne of ironing, we hadn't tackled any of the kids' homework and tomorrow, the chaos started all over again. Add to the mix eating something that didn't involve a takeaway, the paperwork you've been putting off all week, shopping for all the stuff a family of four always seems to need and there was little time left for family fun.

Occasionally Mr A and myself feel the need to indulge and escape for a day. We climb out of bed with trepidation, praying that the phone won't ring and that our plans will be scuppered for the day. There may have been a couple of occasions when we've ignored it and headed off anyway.

Now it's rare to be able to round up all four members of the family at the same time. Since when did life become so hectic? The girls are mostly away at uni, but even when they're home they live in a different time zone, go out when I'm thinking about heading to bed, and Sophia is always rowing.

I have also been known to dish out the odd fib to protect one of our rare days off/ pockets of time with no interruptions from anyone. If that makes me a bad person, I really couldn't care less. A call that begins, "We were thinking about (insert whatever) this weekend and wondered if you were free?" fills my heart with dread, and has me concocting a list of feeble excuses faster than you can say, "Please leave your message after the beep."

I have given up writing To do... lists for the weekend. The way I see it is this: I am never going to reach the end of that list and this will drive me ever so slightly crazy. So, what's the point?

Is there any chance of my family spending time together this weekend? At time of writing it's looking unlikely. Sophia's rowing all weekend, Mr A is working on Saturday, and on Sunday, Olivia heads back to uni. Maybe I should ask fellow family members to pencil in a date for sometime in 2015 and insist that they keep it.

And for the record, does anyone ever manage a lie-in at the weekend? I can't remember the last time I had one.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 2 December 2013

How to Stay Sane This Christmas

Often the fantasy of the perfect Christmas far outweighs the reality of non-stop stress, the anticipation of perfection and having to cope with an assortment of relatives that you don't get to see all that often.

My own idea of perfection would be to book into a hotel for a couple of nights, take along a small gift to open on Christmas Day and spend as much time as possible walking on the beach with as many members of the family who'd also decided that this was an excellent idea. In fact, I suggested this to a few of them back in September and sadly, they were all horrified. My daughters crave the tradition of a family Christmas after their first semester at university. My grandma, at 94-years of age prefers to be wrapped up at home. My Mum's all for it - but would feel guilty for leaving her mother and so the list went on. One year, I'll actually get to do this and I can't wait for that day. But for now, we're cooking Christmas dinner for seven, as well as hosting a huge family party.

And these are the ten tips I'll try to remember as the festive season approaches...
Gift wrapping - while the kids love to open presents, for adults you can get away with burying gifts in tissue paper inside a gift bag. Unlike wrapping paper, tissue paper can be recycled and the gift bags re-used.

Be nice or leave - it's a shame that not everyone appreciates all the hard work and effort that's gone into making Christmas a special family time, but don't allow them to spoil the day. Have a quiet word beforehand and explain how much you value this time of year and hope that everyone's going to get along famously.

Christmas Eve - wear the kids out as much as possible in the hope that they'll fall asleep at a reasonable time. If they won't sleep - head off to bed anyway and set a travel alarm for 2 am and place it under your pillow. Hopefully, they'll be sleeping soundly and you can get on with the presents.

Knocking back the wine - it's tempting to keep refilling your wine glass, especially if you're stressed. From experience I know it only makes things worse and you'll be the one hosting with a hangover. Reduce your alcohol intake by alternating alcoholic and soft drinks, or quaffing wine spritzers instead.

Time off for good behaviour - put so many members of a family in one room for a very long time and tempers are going to fray. Encourage everyone to venture outside for a walk after Christmas dinner to lighten the mood. And allow the children to escape from the clutches of relatives and take some time out to enjoy their gifts.

Do something charity related - when my daughters were little we always made boxes for Operation Christmas Child. And now that the girls are older, we all volunteer for different charities. It helps to put things into perspective when you're a bit overwhelmed with everything. You could always encourage the kids to clear out their clutter and donate to charity to make extra room for all those new presents.

More time off for good behaviour - you've wrapped, shopped, cleaned, decorated, entertained and cooked to the point of exhaustion and now you need some time off too. Feel free to escape and indulge in a cat nap, curl up with a good book, devour a stashed bar of good quality chocolate, or whatever your heart desires - you've deserve it!

Designate a driver... out socialising? Make sure you've decided who's driving before you arrive! Take it in turns, toss a coin, resort to bribery, or whatever - just do it! And if you're hosting a party - make sure you check who won't be drinking and offer alcohol-free options instead.

Social calendar - received an invite? Stick it on the calendar and be sure to share that information with everyone at home. The usual rule here - is that the first party on the calendar is the one we will attend. Although rules are made to be broken now that our daughters are nineteen and often have plans of their own! They don't appreciate not being able to spend time with friends and as long as they see all of the relatives during the holiday season that's fine.

Having a meltdown? Repeat after me...'It's OK, I'm a grown-up, I can deal with this.' And maybe if you say it enough, you'll actually start to believe it!
So there you have it, my top ten tips for staying sane during Christmas...

Whatever you have planned for the festive season - make it a good one x

Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton
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