At times it seems to me that this blog of mine is one big to do list. A letter of intent to myself, if you like. In various post on various topics I have vowed, hoped and planned. Less rushing, more chilling, some redecorating, more documenting life. I’ve gone on record with goals, aims and lots of hopes. From time to time I manage to post how things have gone, like when we ripped up the hall floor . Mostly though I don’t have the time to follow up on everything. So here in one compact blog post I’m going to let you know how things have been going. If you’re a regular reader you might remember some of these old posts. If you’re new, hi! Feel free to mooch around and get to know me.
So over a year ago I posted about planning to redecorate the living room in this post here. We’re partway through – yes, we are slow movers – but the main thing forme is that we are happy with the look we are working towards and we are making changes that make sense for us, as a family and according to our budget. We’ve installed a library wall and, rather than go with our original idea of painting the wall green, we have painted the red wall white and painted the bookshelves green. I love the look. It is so much fresher than it had been. There’s still a long way to go till the room is finished, but overall it works better now. Things are finally coming to fruition.
One of my rawer posts over the last few years was this one – A Day For Making Plans – on using lists and making plans, as a family, to improve family life. It has worked wonders. We have a blackboard in the kitchen that gets a lot of use and had become pretty much essential to life running something akin to smoothly. Making meal plans is a family affair with everyone getting a say. Chores get listed on there. Shopping lists. Places to visit. Birthday wishes. It all goes on the board for every one to see. And if everyone sees it and everyone knows the plans, the ideas, the whats-for-dinner, life seems torun a lore more smoothly. Of course we have our moments. There are still rows and tantrums (myself included) from time to time but that extra bit of structure and communication has helped immensely.
School has been a huge challenge for us for almost four years now. We are getting to grips with it, bit by bit, but it hasn’t always been easy. As someone who sailed through school – enough friends but not wildly popular, decent marks but not top of the class – I found it very hard to accept that my children weren’t like me in that respect. Yes, they have great friends, but the structure of school and the pressure of the German system don’t suit us as well as I’d imagined. Last year I posted on our version of home schooling which is basically being open to letting the children learn what they want to at home, offering them experiences to learn though, be that home experiments or camping or beach trips or whatever. We’ve kept up this madey-uppy version of education and it has been going well. The children have a great insight into all manner of matters. They have theories and are not afraid to voice them. They are interested in cooking, architecture,gardening, history and science as well as Minecraft, Lego and TV and it makes me really proud of them to see their development.
The night before school opened again after the summer holidays I wrote a post on the awful feeling of pressure and monotony that comes with Sunday nights and the end of the holidays. The post ended with my hoping that “maybe, if we try really hard, we’ll be able to hop on and off, sneak in a break here and there, lift the weight of monotony, because after all, as William H. Davies rightly says in his poem Leisure, “What is this life if full of care/We have no time to stand and stare”.” So how have we fared on that front over the past eight months? There have been highs and lows, but on the whole we have done well. The middle child has changed hobby, bringing a welcome change to our routine. We have made more of our evenings and the weekends. We’ve re-arranged some things – like the grocery shop – to make more time for the pleasanter things in life. I’ve even made more use of my flexible working hours to give myself a little bit of me time. Its just a half hour here and there but it is time for me to do my own thing.It leaves me more relaxed, more on top of things and pretty much everything in our family works better if I am functioning on a higher level. So, compared to that horrible evening last August, I have come to the realisation that life is good now.