Who Needs OXygen?

My health and happiness improved immeasurably when, nearly six years ago, I gave up a full-time desk job and long commute for a new rhythm of 24/7 with my twins. Baptism of fire is an understatement, but with a whole heap of love for those tiny beings, plenty of determination and stubbornness (I breastfed for the first year, nearly killed me!) and the realisation that despite feeling totally broken, this was probably the most content I had ever felt, we muddled through.

Despite taking a very long time to become a mother, I was one of those mums who never properly thought about a birth plan and had never really considered what sort of parents we were going to be. There were no plans, just a will to cope and try and give those bundles the best of ourselves.

After a long ten day stint in hospital, a caesarean, hairy scary times in the Special Care Baby Unit and an unfeasible amount of time wrestling with breast pumps, we all got home. It was the dead of winter and I was planning to hunker down on the sofa and, well, survive. However, my husband, a normally kind and generous soul, put a (proverbial) boot under my bottom on day one and insisted that we would all go outside for a walk and some fresh air at least once a day. And so it began. It turned out that the key elements not just in my survival arsenal, but in what would be the foundation of those really happy early years, was a nurturing husband, great friends and GETTING OUTSIDE!

I needed oxygen!

I really did. I needed the air, the exercise, the light (or dark!), the ever-changing scenery and the stimulation. My mind, body and soul were all given a little massage by being in the great (or sometimes small) outdoors.

But it wasn’t all about me. I feel really proud to be raising two girls who have a great love for nature and the freedom of the outdoors. Yes, they get cold and whinge, and they get tired and whine, but they often choose to be outdoors and when they’re out there they are imaginative, energized, creative and (normally!) calm. It warms my heart to see their precious, growing bodies being put through their paces, and their questioning minds soaking up their surroundings. Above all I believe that, like me, they will always have the outdoors as a sanctuary to step into, a place of calm where they can pause their busy minds, breathe and reset.

So after five years of a lot of sweat and tears, but plenty of fresh air, I was waving my not-so-tiny bundles off to school. I fretted about the amount of time they would spend outside, and I quizzed them most days about where they did their learning, was it inside or outside? Then I realised I had to get a grip and accept I no longer had that influence. It wasn’t easy, and I still frown when I hear about PE in the hall on a crisp, bright winter’s day, but I think I’m getting over myself!

All of our lives have changed since those pre school days. I’m back behind a desk, the girls spend most of their time at school and have joined lots of (read: too many!) after school activities. Everyone’s thriving, but getting our family outdoors is an itch that keeps needing a scratch. So OXygen is the next phase, a place on social media for North Oxfordshire families to share ideas and inspiration to #getoutdoors and feel great. Join me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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