LifestyleHOW MOVING FROM THE CITY CHANGED THE WAY I PARENT
Thrilled to say hi, let me introduce myself… I’m Lucy Felton, Alex and Alexa’s Life & Style Contributor, a fashion journalist turned lifestyle blogger at The Lucy Edit, wife, mum of two (one of each – Hector, 4, Hadley, 3) and lover of chocolate, décor and buying hordes of magazines I inevitably never get to read!
Just like you guys, I’m a mother trying to juggle it all, stay sane and pretend I’ve got all bases covered when I’m generally having a meltdown on the inside and dropping plates left, right and centre. I never get to go to the bathroom alone anymore and can’t remember the last cup of tea I drank hot, but would I change it? Of course not! As I navigate the chaos that is life with two under three, I’m here sharing my motherhood journey with you all. Expect plenty of baby hacks, parenting tips and postpartum advice
You can find lots more fashion and family life over at my blog The Lucy Edit and Instagram @thelucyedit.
From town to country
This time last year, we packed up our house in South London and moved into a once-village shop, now our family cottage in The Chiltern Hills, Oxfordshire. Having spent a summer locked down in London, when the opportunity came to escape the city and make a new life in the countryside, we jumped at it.
Things did an about-turn the moment our feet hit the muddy lane leading to our new home that autumn. We quickly learnt to choose boots over trainers and that torches were a necessity outside first and last thing during the winter months. No more street lights! But that’s just the small stuff.
Embracing life in the countryside has seen such a positive shift in our family. We now spend more time than ever outdoors, have slowed down the daily pace a notch (always an achievement with two children), slipped steadily into village ways and immersed ourselves in the surrounding nature.
If you’re beginning to feel like the tempo of city life is no longer for you – I understand. The backpedal from burnout and that daily grind triggered instantly when we removed ourselves from the life we knew. Yet, as a journalist, having spent the best part of 15 years living all over London (always on the Tube map!) I still appreciate all the city has to offer.
The culture, opportunity, creativity and vibrancy is unrivalled and it’s great to still be able to dip into the Capital for work and fun family days out. It’s just now the transformative wellbeing benefits of settling in the countryside, ranks higher than the gripping city buzz.
Which is why I’m sharing just some of the small ways I’ve found the countryside has helped me to carve a more positive way of parenting.
Think of them as simple ideas to help incorporate rural rituals and a touch of countryside calm into your routine – wherever you live. Try one, or embrace them all.
Eat and shop local
There’s no better time to switch your habits and tune into a more locally driven way of shopping. When you live out in the sticks, the option to pick up anything and everything at any given time of day, disappears. So, you have to be organised and plan meals ahead, which I’ve found has led to less waste.
By taking the time to consider geographically where I pick up products and produce, I’ve also cut down the overall amount of trips made to feed the family. The kids now acknowledge where the food they’re eating comes from and by letting them fill egg boxes from the farm opposite and pluck potatoes from the crates at our local veg market, they’ve become more in tune with where food is sourced.
I only wish I’d made more use of the fantastic local suppliers on our doorstep when we lived in London. Don’t make the same mistake I did and choose convenience over provenance.
Simply Slow Down
Bringing the smallest of rituals into the mix is very grounding and will help everyone in the family slow down. Look to autumn happenings and some of the old ways of doing things for inspiration. It could be letting them help stack and store chopped fire wood, picking blackberries for a crumble or filling feeders with seeds to provide birds with a winter food source.
Start a new autumn tradition by letting them assemble a seasonal windowsill display showcasing pinecones, copper and flame-red leaves and treasure foraged in the park and on the school route.
Get Outdoors Today
Muddy wellies and waterproofs are always hanging by our backdoor because for the kids, living in the middle of fields is like forest school every day. It took a few months to pick my battles when it came to muddy prints on the kitchen floor and with constant dripping wet puddlesuits!
Just getting out in nature, whatever the weather, will have a positive impact on everyone’s mood. Encourage children to look after the habitat surrounding them – bug hotels and hedgehog highways are a great starting point.
We’ve named the pheasant family who regularly visit the garden, look forward to spying muntjac deer in the hedgerow at dusk and – a year on – have finally made friends with the bees and wasps camping in our outbuildings.
Shift With The Seasons
The kids have never been more in tune with the visual joy of the seasons from leaves turning and the rolling hills changing to gold and brown. For toddlers and young children, it’s the stopping, recognising and talking through these seasonal indicators that matter.
We’ve been ticking off an ‘I Spy Scavenger Hunt’ with all their findings like the ground being covered with glossy conkers, morning mist and snowberries bursting on bushes – all signalling harvest is over and autumn has arrived. Print one out for them today and stick it to the fridge. Next stop, embracing the colder season with snow angels and crunchy icy puddles on the doorstep.
Tap Into Your Community
Is the local park putting on an annual leaf raking day, or getting together to plant bulbs in the ground ready for spring? Find out and go along. Our local sustainable store holds family workshops to go along to and learn more about eco swaps and a reducing waste.
It’s all about trying something new and engaging with the local community, so check out what your local businesses have on offer.
You don’t need an allotment or oodles of space for beds, because from flowers to garlic, so much can be grown in pots. The kids love to get involved with sowing seeds, planting bulbs, potting on seedlings and watching their hard work pay off.
Now is the time to get planning for next year. Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to grow, let the kids lead the project prep throughout the chillier months. They can make moodboards (FYI sunflowers and sweet peas never disappoint) and come spring, you’ll be ready to go.
For an instant green-fingered fix, let them plant daffodil and tulip bulbs now. Or take them to a nursery to pick up colourful viola and cyclamen winter plugs they can pot up and nurture.
Inside, plant an amaryllis bulb soon and there’s a good chance it will be flowering by Christmas. They can create a twig nest around the bulb and decorate with mini baubles in December for Christmas joy.
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