“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” – mantra for parenting stolen from Winston Churchill.
Turfing your kids out of the front door at 5, 3 and 10 weeks (along with your husband) sounds a little bit crazy; but sometimes the crazy just needs to explode like Troll vomit. The first time I did it, they were a little bit shocked, so was I, but I soon got over it. Now it happens most weekends and holidays come rain, sun or snow.
Envious of families that can sit in all day, do craft, cook, snuggle and sing kumbayaor, the outdoors has become a release, as in day-release around Kent. When the sibling arguments and parental snipes get too much it’s like a DEFCON 4 alarm goes off to evacuate. Everyone piles out of our front door into our crap 7-seater Vauxhall Zafira and we go a’venturing and everyone HAS to get on.
From week to week, month to month the venue changes but the ethos is the same. There is nothing like a dell of bluebells to exorcise the demons and the derangement that family-time and school holidays can sometimes engender.
So far, we seem to have tested the patience of every National Trust volunteer around Kent; for that I thank them from the depths of my sometimes despairing heart. You have no idea, how much sanity you are preserving. From Easter Egg hunts looking for Lubbock the elusive sheep at Emmetts Garden, to savouring Tonbridge Fire Station beers at Ightam Mote’s village Fayre, to convincing my 5-year old boy to dress up as a Tudor archer in a frilly collar at Knole House and count the 77 steps to the top of the tower (on the way up 66, on the way down 151 – go figure) you have humoured many a cat bum face from at least one member of our family.
However, I own up right now, mine were the ones chasing the deer and ‘fencing’ in the woods (trying to beat the crap out of each other), getting their heads stuck in medieval helmets at Bodium Castle and trying to catch wild horses in the New Forest.
One day I aspire to win a #NTChallenge on Instagram if my kids will ever portray anything other than their demon-like feral selves for the camera. For now I’ll just take running my gremlins out of energy in the dens and tree houses of Hatchlands Park, indulging my husbands secret dressing up fetish at Claremont Gardens and spending copious amounts of money on delicious ice creams, cream teas and chocolate brownies in the NT cafes while talking about losing baby weight.
National Trust volunteers I salute you.