Friday, September 29, 2017

under the blackwood tree

There I was for weeks counting down the days until the school holidays arrived. Imagining slow mornings when our body clocks woke us rather than our alarms, when we ate when we were hungry and all pitched in to clean up afterwards, and when we hung out together in the days on the farm getting things done and at nights playing games or watching movies. It would be the perfect mix of restful and productive. Everyone would get what they needed.

This morning, on the very first day of the holidays, I woke up to the sound of Bren on the chainsaw getting an early start and the girls only looking up from the film they were watching to ask about food, their own arrangements, or about the weather.

And all of a sudden the bubble of my idyllic holiday popped and it hit me that for the next two weeks I wouldn't be able to just grab some secateurs and gloves and go down to the plum orchard to finish the job I started yesterday, I wouldn't be able to grab a snack on the run, and there wouldn't be a time when someone wasn't talking to me or asking me to do something.

As I sat at the kitchen trying to drink my coffee I decided it was probably easiest to give in to them and give up my personal expectations of work for the day. I listened to a discussion of someone's camping arrangements, someone's birthday party plans, and to someone else's cough. I answered questions about boots, bus timetables and movies. And in my mind I saw all the spring planting and pruning and weeding that I needed to do over the next two weeks as a butterfly, slowly fluttering its wings and heading for the skies.

While the school holidays would be a lovely rest from all the driving, the homework, the exhaustion and the alarms, it looked like it was going to be rather unproductive on the farm front.

But just as I was contemplating the new plan and trying to come to terms with putting my own needs on hold, my farmer boy came in and reframed the whole scene. The girls would come down to the plum orchard and spend the morning helping us pull blackberry out of the rows, and in return we could look after them this afternoon.

It took me a few minutes to get rid of my earlier disappointment and fall in love with the new plan but when I did, I saw that it was golden.

With the smallest suggestion everyone got dressed in farm clothes, grabbed their gloves and secateurs and headed down the hill. We mowed, we raked, we yanked all those prickly blackberry vines out of the rows of plum trees and currant bushes and then we fed them to the fire.

After a few hours the girls took themselves off to find the swing Bren had made and hung for them when they were little under an enormous Blackwood tree. When they discovered that since their last visit a couple of years ago it had grown a thick thorny jungle, they started cutting a path in. Vine by vine they cut and then carried to a pile outside the tree. Vine by vine their path lengthened. Until they reached their dad-made swing.

After we had finished what we were doing we helped with their path for a while. It was gorgeous working for them and listening to them reminisce about playing under there when they were tiny and make plans for lots of swings under there in the future. I still can't decide if I should take the brush cutter to the blackberry jungle and clean it all up for them, or if the path between the prickles makes it a bit more fun and magical.

I am feeling a bit more optimistic about these holidays now too. With four extra hands (two are away camping), we should be able to get things done a bit quicker than usual and have extra time for their plans. I like it.

I hope you're finding some sort of balance in your world too.

Are you good at remembering what you need when life gets a bit crazy?
And how do you manage to fit school holidays into your routine??

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Lots of love,

Kate xx


  1. I would leave the path to the swing until after the holidays then chop it all down.
    It sounds like your day ended up being a pretty good compromise.
    I am terrible at remembering me any time but when life gets a bit crazy I actually sabotage myself and make things much worse for me than they might already be.. Clearly I have work to do!
    I hope you are able to get some of the most important jobs done and also have some lovely down time.

    1. I'm in agreement. The path is more magical, but once it won't be used as often, it makes sense to clear out the whole area.

    2. yep, we have left their magical path for the holidays and i think they have visited their secret swing most days of the past week. Definitely the right decision. I've always been pretty great at putting myself and my to-do list last as well but I am getting so much better at seeing that and standing up for myself lately. I so often start by feeling selfish but then feel so much better about giving everything over to them afterwards. It's a process. xx

  2. Thanks so much for your wonderful, normal stories of a great life. So many awful things are happening in my country, and the weather that it is a needed soul restful time to read about your comings and goings. I don’t know you but it helps to know there is good and peace in the world. And it reminds me to appreciate the day to day joy in my life. Thanks so much.

    1. Thank you so much Rosie Pink, often I do question the point of recording the details of this simple life when there are so many more important things going on in the world. But reading your words has made me feel better about adding a bit of peace to the online universe. I hope you find some peace in your world too. xx

  3. I am going to embrace your concept of work in the mornings, play in the afternoons. x

    1. It's been working so well for us. Hopefully for you too. xx

  4. We've been on holidays for a week & have been working off the same thing- jobs are done before anything else. Last Sunday everyone had to pitch in to clear the mess the black cockatoos had made if all our gums & then they could chill. This week I write a list of things that need doing on the kitchen blackboard each morning & when each kid has done their job then they are able to do their own thing, get a lift or have a little cash if needed. If they choose not to do their allocated jobs that's fine too but they can't leave the house & their job list just piles up. So far it's working pretty well except one job is being ignored by one kid every day ( washing the hallway walls) . The best part is my super early riser is sleeping in so he is getting some much needed rest & so am I!
    And keep the path, it does look pretty magic.

    1. I love the idea of that list being the priority. Knowing that jobs are being done definitely makes me so much happier about all the holiday driving and organising too. xx

  5. Ah, so familiar with the holiday expectation bubble. It takes all of us a while to figure out that chores don't get done on their own. Lucky you have a husband who sees and suggests a compromise.

    1. the holiday expectation bubble is a brilliant way to put it. i need to write it in the family at the start of next holidays so I can keep my expectations in check.

  6. That swing looks like the most blissful place to dream

  7. Kate, you and your lovely readers have given great advice about that mum-parenting/work/me-time balancing act. It is a work in progress and thoughts about selfishness for meeting one's own needs, need to be challenged and overcome. Like anything, it takes practice. I'm sure there is more than one way to achieve it (like anything in life) with trial and error until we find what works for us. I will think of you and your situation as I try to manage my own and hope that the goodwill can boost our parallel struggles around these issues.
    Wishing you all the best and happy holidays!


Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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