Yes, actually. On both counts.
I was comparing notes with a friend on advent calendar ideas for our respective 4 year olds. Something more interesting than a daily window of chocolate – though what could possibly be more exciting in the beady eyes of a child?
Then it dawned on me that while I was busy making my child’s advent season special, I might as well do the same for myself.
Learning to identify and articulate my own needs has been a big part of my personal journey this year. Sure, I am quick to book an adventure or say yes to a getaway but what I am talking about here is making space for self care on a daily basis.
I may be in the brat race rather than the rat race but whatever race you’re in (preferably none at all!) you’re gonna be a better sport if you show up on a full tank.
The creative process was as simple as spending £15 on materials, and investing about an hour of my time. I fancied feathery fairy lights for sparkle and fluff so I ordered those alongside small organza bags and self-adhesive felt numbers. But it’s not about what the thing looks like as much as the intent behind it. You could get the same effect from sticking 24 strips of paper into a bag and pulling one out at random every day.
I got small person involved in sticking numbers on bags and hanging fairy lights. I then sat quietly one evening and wrote out 24 self care practices. I already had a list of things that fill me up posted on my refrigerator so I referred to that for inspiration. I chose things I can easily do for myself that require neither (or very little) cost nor child-care. After all, it’s less about the doing than it is about consciously claiming a small amount of daily time – with purpose but without too much agenda.
I’m not prone to going Christmas-crazy or feeling a lot of pressure during the holidays. Our celebrations are understated affairs in food and presents. But I am not sitting around twiddling my thumbs either. Festive obligations crop up no matter how nonchalant you are about that babe in the manger. Then there’s closing a business and running a charity initiative. In any case, self-care should be a must no matter your life circumstances.
Even the simple fact that I now have an accidental crescent moon shape on my bedroom wall that I can light up as I read in bed each night makes me happy.
So today being December 1, I opened my first bag! The missive was to take a long nature walk.
I simply chose to be more conscious of the experience.
Walk more deliberately. Notice the spongy grass and the squishy mud beneath my feet. Take in the colours and scents of the woods. Indulge in the extra stop by the duck pond to watch for that heron.
And you know what? Despite the more considered pace, my walk didn’t take any longer than usual but I felt twice as refreshed. I’ll take that.
And Lilly? She got a lovingly handmade replica of a doppeldecker bus with 23 little windows and one door. Filled with a daily selection of puzzle pieces resulting in a completed picture by Christmas.
The girls in the Hargreaves house are happy. And what could be better than that?
(Chocolate! Says Lilly.)
Images: author's own