Here in the UK we have reached the first half term holiday of the year; a week’s break in the middle of the spring term. Some home educators follow their own pattern of work/rest and some fly with the wind as it takes them, but we have always roughly followed school term dates (though with longer holidays!). I think seasons of rest set us up for seasons of work, and following known rhythms provides us with a sense of stability. One of the reasons I love the seasonal changes here in the UK is that they provide us with enough change to delight us, within the stability of expected rhythms. I was greatly affirmed to read that C.S.Lewis observes this too, in “The Screw Tape Letters”.
February half term is usually cold and blustery; some years we have helped with a church youth week end, others we have retreated to a friend’s house by the sea, where we’ve enjoyed watching the wild waves with cups of hot chocolate. Always it’s a sort of turning point in the year; heralding the warmer months of spring to come.
This year we face a cold half term in lockdown; most of us are weary and we are unable to plan the visits and meet ups with friends which normally would lift our spirits for the next half of term. So, we need to dig once again into our barrels of creativity which we thought were just about dry, to plan some highlights of colour into this week.
If you, like me, are a tired parent, I’d suggest that firstly we need to think of a few ways to restore our own weary souls. It’s not selfish; in order to keep pouring out to our families, we need to replenish our own selves. I’ve found the research by Dr Sandra Dalton about the seven areas of rest helpful. She suggests that we need to be replenished in the following areas; spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, sensory, social and creative. Being depleted in any of these can have adverse effects on our wellbeing and to truly find rest we need to feed into each one of them. So, for all of us, and especially for those who love being around lots of people, like Rhythm Dude, lockdown is especially depleting. I also find it an ongoing challenge of how to find sensory rest with so much time working and socialising on screens, especially for the boys. You might also find our podcast encouraging. So, we need to find some ways of taking care of ourselves, while probably having our children around us the whole time! It’s harder with young children, but think about what you like doing and see how you can create space for it. While I’m sure I won’t do all these things, my wish list includes walking in the woods, reading during the daytime, doing some of my current crotchet project, finishing a jigsaw which has been out for weeks while listening to an audible or podcast, finding a new audible to enjoy, sorting through my seed box and walking with some friends in real life.
I generally do a food shop before half term so the week itself can feel a bit more like a holiday. I was, of course, able to do this, and as always tied it in with seeing Granny in her Cathedral City of Wells. I still have to pinch myself that this is where I do my shopping, and have appreciated it all the more during the last year.
Here are a few ideas to make some memories over half term. They are all low on preparation as I don’t have much spare energy for extravaganzas!
Other ideas have been a concert which we could relay to both grannies via FaceTime, a family dungeons and dragons afternoon, a movie night, walks, pies for tea, a much awaited audible, a bake off, a themed meal, a fondue. We most certainly won’t be doing all these, but I hope they might spark some ideas for you and your family.
Of course, what our kids, and especially our older teens, want most is to see friends, and there is not much we can do about that, except acknowledge how hard it is and give them space to express their sadness, frustrations, anger, sense of loss, sense of injustice etc etc. Much of that I find, is for our nation in general, as we sense the heaviness under which everyone is living. So, we need to shine the lights in our homes even more brightly, and continue day by day, to choose the profoundly significant task of raising the foundations of our next generation.
Happy Half term!