Saying no to consumerism is such a relief

Christmas has always been a stressful time of year. Especially coming from a large, blended family and now having a blended family of my own. There are so many plans to make, presents to buy, people to consider that the whole meaning of Christmas gets lost in the stress and attempting not to yell at the kids for not leaving the house, to visit the 10th relative in a row, fast enough.

Last year I decided to cut myself a break and said to my siblings let’s not do presents for adults. We are all in a position that we can buy ourselves pretty much whatever we want so instead, let’s just spend the time together and enjoy it. Because of this last year was the most relaxing Christmas I’d had since teenage years where I didn’t have to worry about a thing.

This year the familiar Christmas dread started to wash over me. So many arrangements to make, meals to think about and presents to buy. Thinking back on last year I decided to go one further and messaged my sister saying let’s not do presents for each others’ children. Instead let’s spend some time together as that’s all the kids really want anyway. She agreed and I’m now actually looking forward to Christmas. Spending time with all the kids and their cousins, my siblings, having good food, good company and no extra shopping trips to try to find something suitable for children who have already been visited by Santa and therefore have everything they need. It may still be 3 weeks away but bring it on, I’m ready.

Free weekends get filled quickly

Last weekend was a rare weekend where we didn’t have any children to be responsible for, only one slightly cranky cat and my emotionally needy dog. My partner and I immediately scattered in different directions with him going away for the weekend and me choosing to be home alone. We didn’t decide this until a couple of days in advance and I luxuriated in the feeling of having a whole, quiet weekend to myself, bliss.

Without bragging to anyone, I quietly mentioned my situation to a couple of people and the next thing I knew my weekend was suddenly chock a block full of events and activities. These included helping out babysitting one and two year old brothers, a comedy gig, breakfast with my sister in law and Child Contact Centre on the Sunday. The upshot is when I don’t have children to attend to I am still capable of filling every spare bit of time possible. You know what? Quiet weekends without my partner are overrated. My partner’s weekend was a lot more restful at least one out of two of us having a break isn’t bad going.

Annual passes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

This month marks the six month anniversary of when my partner and I thought that Odeon Limitless passes would be a great idea. The idea being we don’t seem to leave the house with any purpose other than to run the kids around or do the food shop, often enough so spending a monthly fee would force us out the door and keep us up to date with movies at the same time. I know. I can already hear you laughing at our naivety.

The first sign that this wasn’t going to be the magical experience that we thought it would be, was when, having signed up and given them our bank details 20 minutes earlier, we went to book tickets for the latest release only to find the limitless passes don’t let you see any of the good movies for the first 2 weeks after release. Brilliant. Oh well we went to see a (pretty crap) movie that hadn’t made the blockbuster list and consoled ourselves with the thought the at least we’d always know what we’d be up to 2 weeks after a big release.

The problem is that generally by the time a movie’s been out for 2 weeks we’ve lost interest in going to see it and the thought of trekking out to the cinema when we can just stay at home and watch Netflix is too much effort.

We keep telling ourselves that this week will be the week that we go out, whatever the weather and see a movie but the reality is that we very rarely have a night that doesn’t involve having kids with us and by the time we get one of those magical child free evenings, we’re usually too busy cleaning up from the mess they made and in preparation for them to mess it all up again when they get home.

Only 6 months to go until we’re free of the monthly payments and the guilt at not using them. Hopefully we won’t then be enticed to sign up to another annual scheme that will enrich our (non-existent) spare time.

Comedy is a great night out

I’m no good at nights out. Particularly in winter when it seems to take so much more effort to get up off the sofa, find something nice to wear then venture out into the cold and wet. However if there is a gig then it doesn’t matter what the weather is, I’ll be there. A couple of months ago tickets came up to see Scummy Mummies at a local venue. I’ve listened to their podcast for a few years and really wanted to see them without having to trek to a festival to do so. I immediately snapped up 2 tickets, told the bestie to clear her calendar and away we went.

What a night! Sometimes it’s so nice to do something different, not just be staring at a screen in the cinema or hurriedly eating food I could have cooked better at home in a restaurant. This night was brilliant. A steady stream of entertainment, audience participation and oh my goodness the songs and reworking of Christmas lyrics was so much fun. It was also a much cheaper night out than if we’d gone to a movie/restaurant/pub and I was home by 10:30pm. All people my age will probably be more jealous of that last statement than the show I went to. The upshot is comedy’s great for the soul and my agenda for next year is to book and go to more comedy gigs.

Breakfast meet-ups are the way to go

I’ve been wanting to catch up with my sister in law for ages but logistics usually get in the way. She lives the other side of town, I usually have to be here to look after the kids and the upshot is we haven’t gotten together since last year. Last weekend, my SIL randomly messaged asking if I was free on Sunday and I decided it must be fate as I had the whole weekend to myself, barring Child Contact Centre. We arranged brunch then I had to message asking if we could make it breakfast so I could battle the Christmas traffic in time for Centre in the afternoon. We got together at her house at 10am, admired the new puppy (who is gorgeous) and chatted over a leisurely breakfast.

The nice thing about breakfast, rather than lunch or dinner, is there’s a whole host of foods at the table – bread, avocado, fruit, granola, yoghurts, juice, tea, you name it, we had it and it was awesome. It was also really lovely to catch up at the beginning of the day before any events could take place and kill my mood or clog up my thoughts. I left at midday, having had a great catch up and with the rest of the day stretching in front of me. I’m going to be waking my friends up more regularly for breakfast dates. It feels much easier to go visiting before doing anything else, in daylight, rather than going into the cold night for a drink, where it gets colder and darker as the night goes on.