We're getting back a bit of normality in the UK with things starting to open, but are there some parts we can admit we might actually miss?
Over the Easter holidays, our family enjoyed London Zoo, a trip to a local farm park, play dates in the garden with friends and even lunch in a beer garden. There are certainly a lot of things I've missed.
But if I'm totally honest, all this making plans again is starting to stress me out. I'm having to actually start looking at my calendar and I'm not sure I'm ready.
I've always been someone who loves to make plans and keep busy, but over the last year I've really enjoyed the forced slow down and my children have too.
So I've made some promises to myself of things I'm going to try to take forward even when the temptation is to book up free dates, especially at precious weekends.
1. I promise to make time to play at home
I’m going to make time for us to have at least half a day (if not a whole day) at weekends to stay at home and play, without dashing about to places.
I've got to know my children so much better spending time with them at home than I ever did driving them about to places or watching them cycle off in the park.
I've enjoyed having some organised activities to do together at home too. So, as well as the usual board games and reading together, we'll be continuing with our online French course, my 5 year old's ukulele online and of course Little STEAMers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that swimming, ballet and gymnastics are back open in person. There’s only so many times I can lift up my 5 year old into a bridge and frankly swimming in the bath wasn’t really getting us anywhere - literally. But I don’t always need to physically go somewhere to do something productive together and it's nice for my children to see learning as a fun family activity at home.
2. I promise to continue my ukulele(!)
I’m going to keep up my online ukulele lessons as a weekly routine. I would never have bothered going out to join a class but I'm loving being able to learn a new skill from the comfort of home and know that if I miss a class I can just catch up on record.
OK, so I only know 5 chords so far but you should hear me singing No Woman No Cry. If marks were given for enthusiasm I'd be top of the class! Thank goodness we stay on mute on Zoom.
3. I promise to meet my friends outside
I’m a terrible one for meeting friends for a coffee, a drink or for lunch where I can have a nice sit down. There's enough running around as a parent so any excuse to stay still.
But, cold weather aside, it’s been nice to be forced to meet people outside. I've enjoyed post-kiddy bedtime evening walks, post-school drop-off coffees outside in the park and even a few evening garden take aways.
I think my friend who came one night with a hot water bottle in her backpack, may not be fully onboard with helping me out on this promise, but I'm going to give it a go.
4. I promise to keep Little STEAMers online
A few local parents have asked me when I'm going back in person with my classes. And the answer is - I'm not.
I've discovered that Little STEAMers classes at home give children, with their parent or other adult, an extended quality time together to explore with things they already have in the house.
In the early years, learning happens through extended play and exploration. Doing the classes in your own time from home gives children the chance to return to the activities for days afterwards and not just for 45 minutes in a church hall.
They also show children that learning is something that's always happening, even at home. We don't need to go to school or a venue to learn and explore the world.
If you’re looking to keep some time playing together at home too, try out one of my free Little STEAMers classes.