(I'm going to try not to be deterred by the fact that as I write this, rain is hammering steadfastly on the window)
Holidays can actually be quite lonely with very young children. We have only lived in this area since 2013, and making friends in the hectic first year of life with a young toddler and a baby isn't particularly easy.
But I had family around the corner so as long as they were around we had company. Then, as readers of my blog will know, my family moved to Singapore last November. This Easter my parents are out there visiting, which means we will not be able to go to Granny's during the holidays, another failsafe.
I have worked hard since my family left at building new friendships and Cherry going to pre-school has helped enormously. We are booked up for several days with friends, we have neighbours we can call in on or meet at the playground out the front, and we're spending the Easter weekend itself with Noel's family.
And Cherry is truly blossoming as a social being, delighting in the company of her friends (in particular one little boy who, to my joy, seems as inherently silly in his nature as she).
But a part of me does still feel anxious that I will feel lonely over Easter. Holidays are a time for family as much as friends and I feel the absence of my sister-in-law, who was for years my dearest and closest friend, and my niece and nephew as well as of course my brother.
I think the isolation of early motherhood - as I experienced it anyway - is hard to just leave behind especially when some of the few people who were there during the very early years now live on the other side of the world.
The more I talk to mothers I get to know mainly through Cherry's pre-school the more common I find this sense of isolation to be. Lots of us seem to feel we are the only ones who get lonely, imagining our fellow stay-at-home mums to have circles of friends and coffee-dates galore.
In fact all the above thinking relates to a really good idea I had recently about which I will talk more soon, but this is intended to be a post about our plans for Easter!
So far our Easter list includes:
Making gingerbread eggs to decorate an Easter 'tree' - Easter trees seem to be a thing and our local garden centre is full of gorgeous pastel delights. I love this post from one of my absolute favourite blogs Seeds and Stitches and since my children are obsessed with collecting sticks and twigs I thought we could do something similar. I do think however were I to offer up a non-edible dough to make the decorations my children would probably pack their bags and leave, so instead of salt dough we'll use a gingerbread recipe (probably this one replacing the sugar and golden syrup with honey, maple syrup or agave so I can fatuously pretend it's sugar-free).
Making Easter bonnets - a classic! Noel stocked up with everything we need from Hobbycraft.
Some fun science experiments - since I discovered Science Sparks I have been dying to attempt some simple experiments with the girls. I love how everything can be done with ordinary store cupboard ingredients, although I am going to need to stock up on bicarbonate of soda and food colouring as Cherry also wants to….
Dye eggs - I can't really see the point of this but I concede it's very pretty and decorative. Cherry is really excited about what she calls 'eggs and colours' which is basically dyeing eggs with food colouring. We've tried it a couple of times but the effect on ordinary brown hen's eggs is pretty poor. Our local greengrocer has started selling lovely big white duck eggs so I think we will invest in a few of them and make Cherry's dreams come true.
Visit our nearest museum, the Honeywood which is running an exhibition of local artists, and the Horniman which we have been to several times and absolutely LOVE, mainly for the gardens I confess and the aquarium if only because Violet calls fish 'ish' and it's super cute.
Our last visit to the Horniman, when Violet was still in my tummy. Look at that little girl!
Visit nearby National Trust sites and properties Box Hill, Morden Hall Park and Polesden Lacey. Earlier this year I took the girls to Box Hill for a breakfast picnic (basically granola on the side of the hill) and we all loved it, so given that they are up and about by 6am at the latest I think we'll repeat that little exercise again.
Go back to our community allotments. One of the nicest things we did last summer was start going to drop-in sessions at the community allotments every week. We met some nice friends and the group is very generous so we always left loaded down with gorgeous fruit and veg the girls (well, Cherry) had helped to pick.
And my personal Easter list includes:
Spend some time with Noel! As we're spending Easter weekend with his family I think we will be taking advantage of the in-laws for a few hours and going off for a much-needed lunch and bit of time just the two of us.
Not stress about bedtimes and general routines. Normally I like the girls in bed super-early (as they get up super-early and YES WE HAVE TRIED letting them stay up later and guess what? THEY STILL GET UP SUPER-EARLY) but over the holidays I don't really want to feel we 'should' be home by a certain time. They can catch up the sleep elsewhere. Cherry will occasionally throw in a nap if she needs it, or they can have an earlier night the next night. I'm not above putting my kids to bed at 5.30pm.
I loved this quote from Adrienne Rich, which I discovered via Lucy's always-brilliant blog, and it has helped me really change the way I look at routines.
Sadly I, like Adrienne herself, am not quite brave enough to embrace such a radical attitude in our everyday life outside of the holidays. I feel I need some predictability and if I'm honest, some time out from my children! I could quite easily find myself parenting from 5.30am when my children get up to gone 9pm were I to throw all routine out of the window, with the children catnapping on the go or separately, allowing me absolutely zero time 'off duty'.
As they are getting older and less bedtime-resistant I hope that we can move towards an equilibrium where the children are attuned to their own body clocks - but the upshot isn't me being hotly in demand for 14 hours a day and completely exhausted as a result!
And finally to catch up on some favourite blogs old and new. My current favourite new discoveries are Revolution from Home and Hands-Free Mama, and you can read about my more established favourites here should you so desire.
Happy Easter! Here's hoping the rain stops. And for no reason here's a picture of Cherry circa 20 months old, because it occurred to me today that Violet's coming up to the age Cherry was when she became a big sister and I got a bit soppy about it all and wondered when this little baby suddenly became such a grown-up girl.