Back Into Gear

A carpet of wild flowers near the canal towpath

Well, we’re heading towards the end of August now, hubby’s birthday and a bank holiday looming, and the annual getting ready for a new school year ritual, which will be quite different this year. I’ll still have the battles over re-introducing a regular bedtime, cutting down tech time, and trying/buying new uniforms and shoes (an especial nightmare when one child’s sensory issues get worse each year!), so no change there! Having been out of school for 23 weeks up to press, it’s going to take a bit longer than previous years to establish new routines; it’s essentially going to be like school for the first time, but with children who are 13 and nearly 11 it could be interesting come September!

I’ve always loved the sense of new starts that September instils: as a child it was the only time of year I had a lot of new things all at once; it’s that anticipation of a new classroom and teacher at junior school, new timetables and maybe new faces at high school. As a parent, it’s been decades of seeing my own children suddenly more grown up with fresh haircuts, too-big, crisp uniforms, polished shoes (scuffed by the end of day 1!), after a summer of long hair, casual clothes, trainers or no shoes at all. Consequently, September is very often a new start for me, too. It’s been the time when I’ve had a new job, often in education to fit in with my children, or gone back to education myself. Because September is so much about new starts, these last couple of weeks in August are all about anticipation, preparation, and maybe tinged with some sadness as I realise that my littlies are another year older and wondering where the time went.

However, children do get older and go into new school years, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also relish a bit of calm at home sometimes, when they head out for the day. It’s just those first few days, when you feel slightly abandoned and lonely at the same time. I think this September will be as hard for me as it will for my children; I’ve not had them at home with me for such a long spell since they were tiny, so I’m going to have a lot of adjusting to do, too. To help me cope with this, I’m planning some new things and changes for myself, or re-starting would be a more accurate word. I want to write much more, I have so many creative ideas for art pieces swirling around my mind, and I’m finally starting work with a graphics artist to create a proper logo for Yorkshire Wellies – watch this space! I’ll be starting on Christmas designs for cards, thinking about some bigger/more bespoke pieces, and maybe something a little more quirky.

The end of August also feels like a good time to look back a bit, to reflect on what we did over the summer months, ready to tell our friends when we go into those new settings, or as ice breakers when we nervously start that new job or college course. Obviously, this year has been markedly different: no summer holiday away from home, very few outings generally, no family get-togethers, no football (son) or running (me). So what did this spring and summer look like in the end? Well, my children are now a lot calmer overall, despite the angst generated by the X-box and so on, we’ve had some time outside for walks without having to clock-watch, and decorated my daughter’s bedroom, giving her the choices for colours and so on. I’ve read more books in this period than I have in a long time, and I’ve had time to really think about things (rather than rushing a decision or coming to the wrong conclusion because I didn’t mull it over long enough). I know my mental health has also taken a battering, I’ve had spells of being the worst I can remember for some time. Ironically, that’s when you need external help, yet there hasn’t been any due to lockdown! However, I’m still here; I’m a semi colon and not a full stop, so I’m thankful for that. Perhaps this long period without the usual rituals and rushing around has been a mixed blessing – time to relax and reflect can also bring up the less healthy stuff as well as giving you a breather, especially when you don’t have anyone to bounce off, so introspection leads you into a much more negative place without those balances often provided by friends’ perspectives. Yesterday, I went for a walk with a couple of friends; glorious sunshine and nearly 7 kilometres (just over 4 miles), really made my day, along with some great conversation!

All this greenery and space very close to the motorway on my walk yesterday!

As I began writing this morning, it was very wet and blustery, the temperature more like October, very back-endish as we say here, and feeling very much like the new term was fast approaching. I love this sort of weather as much as sunny days, though, makes it feel like a baking day, and we’ve run out of nibbles so baking it will be this afternoon! My pilates teacher, Jana, is doing a week of nourishing food ideas, helping us to work out what our bodes need as we get a little older, closer to the menopause, and needing different kinds of foods and minerals (see her Easy Summer Goddess post here). It’s helping me to re-focus on what’s good for me here and now, not just food, instead of looking inwards, backwards, or forwards too much and concentrating on what might be missing. At the other end of the fertility spectrum, my older daughter has just announced to the world that she’s expecting her second child, which is such fabulous news! It’s good to have something so positive to focus on, when the world’s been a little hard to live in for a while, and we’re all so excited for her, her partner and their son, who’s now got the important job of becoming a big brother!

Have a good week, and do let me know (via the comments) what your summer’s been like, and how you’re going to approach the end of it and the beginning of a new start in September!

2 thoughts on “Back Into Gear

  1. A wonderful post, Anna – so evocative of the tipping point between Summer & Autumn that I always felt at the end of the long school holiday. It’s a long time since those days for me, as my youngest is now 28 – but your writing brought it all back vividly. Wishing you well with all your creative plans for the Autumn x

    1. Thank you so much, Sue! The end of August and through September is a curious, magical time, melancholy as the summer’s coming to a close, yet there’s that very faint hint of excitement for cooler, shorter days, as autumn slowly hoves into view! Xx

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