Moving to the countryside as a family is quite a bold move. Since the birth of my son over eight years ago, we have been what they call ‘dippers’. Most Fridays we bundle everything into the car and make our two-hour journey to the Cotswolds. This started as a dash at 12.30, after his bottle, to catch just the right moment for his afternoon nap, and if I timed it right, he would sleep the whole way, opening his eyes as I turned into our drive.
Fast forward and it’s time for nursery, leaving at the same time, but even more of a dash – trying not to seem like a total nutcase in front of the other London mothers.
Fast forward a little more and our children are at nursery and primary school. Primary school dismissal is now 1 o’clock. The questions start – do you have one ready to go in the car half asleep with the dogs, luggage in the back and rip the child from their reception teacher’s arms the second they open the door. Do you leave with one, and get your husband to bunk off early to bring the other an hour behind, or the train – what about the train?
Oh my god – I realise now, I am a nutcase, or at least I was.
Fast forward to the next chapter, and I have a baby. A baby and two older siblings at big school. A school with two different dismissal times: 1pm and 3.35pm- what the hell is that about? Now you really have to start splitting yourself in two, or even three!
Having been a couple that only a few months ago would never, I mean never move out of London, we did exactly that. We have relocated our whole family in the middle of a school year to Oxfordshire. We thought we had the best of both worlds, London in the week, and the country on weekends, and much of the holidays. My husband said ‘We work in London, we’ll never be able to move, it’s just not an option.’ But I guess, as they say, never say never!
I’m not really sure how it happened; maybe it was the travelling down on Friday, or the dismal thought of packing everything up on a Sunday and rushing back early to miss the traffic. Whatever it was, I’m happy and the children are happy. They say that January is the worst time in the country, it’s cold and wet, and it was dark outside when I dragged the children to breakfast, but we’re all happy, and the days are definitely getting lighter.
I was so worried about the new school, but they seem to adapt quickly, and they’re making friends already. I looked through my daughter’s classroom window when I pick her up, and she’s always chatting away to other children in her class. My son runs up the stairs after forgetting to kiss me goodbye, and comes out covered in mud with rosy cheeks and a big smile.
I’m not bashing London because we loved our life there, but they seem to spend so much more time outside, climbing trees and sleep so soundly. As I type this, I’m sitting on the train heading home from a day in the big smoke, the sun’s gleaming through the window, and I’m excited about the next chapter.