So, for the past week we’ve had glorious sun. Yes, lovely. And for most people, they’re delighted. I’ll let you into a secret. I’m not really a summer person. And hot sunny days definitely don’t mix with small people either. At least not my small people. They hate suncream; they won’t wear hats; they’re too hot; they’re too cold; they don’t want to stay in the shade. You get the idea. I’ve been suffering with hayfever for weeks now and I find the mid-day sun makes me feel both sick and unable to think. Bright sunlight hurts my eyes and I never know what to wear. This is the time of year when I dream about having my old office job back where I could sit in an air conditioned room in a short sleeve shirt, pencil skirt and a pair of ballet pumps for the hottest parts of the day, getting home in time to enjoy a G&T in a warm pub garden. But those days are gone. No air conditioned office to retreat to and energetic toddlers to entertain. I know this makes me sound incredibly strange, it’s not that I don’t enjoy summer, it’s just that I don’t know how to do summer very well.
The best place to be, under a tree.
So how to make the best of the weather? And how to do it ethically. Because in years gone by this is the time of year when I rely on cheap fast fashion, lots of disposable stuff for alfresco eating and impulse buying (emergency suncream and blow up inflatables, anyone?) This year I’m determined to enjoy it more and to be more ethicool (ba-boom).
How we’ve weathered the hotter weather this week – picnics, trees and organisation
We’ve been enjoying loads of lovely picnics and getting out doors as much as possible. The girls have loved having a picnic bag each loaded up with (healthy) goodies and just getting out into nature. We’ve been to National Trust gardens, disused railway paths, our lovely local nature reserve, the park and of course our garden. These sorts of days out are super easy and cheap. Plus the girls can be entertained for hours with a nature trail tick list, old disused tractor or a stick. I was amazed at how much time we whiled away in the Rose Garden at Nymans: picking up fallen petals, pointing out colours, smelling different varieties and looking for bugs.
Fallen petals under a rose bush in the Rose Garden at Nymans.
I’d forgotten how nice and simple this time of year can be if you get your prep right, and find somewhere with loads of shade. Tree shade is by far the nicest place to be on a hot day. And, yes I’ll admit it, much nicer than the air conditioned office. If only I could get those girls to sit down for more than 5 minutes! I’m firmly back in the swing with throwing lunch boxes together in the morning and having a bag of essentials ready so that we can get the day started earlier. I’ve been using my Jerry bottle a lot and haven’t had to buy a single bottle of water this week. We bought the girls some of these cute TUMTUM BPA free snack boxes back in May and all of their lunches since have been packed away in these boxes as opposed to sandwich bags or clingfilm. That’s a big one ticked off the single-use plastic list. And as a mum of children who enjoy those weird egg opening youtube videos, the joy and excitement that they have opening a box of cheese sandwiches or fruit salad is priceless! I’ve also been carrying our stainless steel straws around with us but so far we’ve only used them at home. I’m really impressed with how little we’ve consumed and how little rubbish we’ve created. We haven’t been completely plastic free on our trips out this week but we’ve not been far off it.
In summer I go red, I get hot and I sweat. I’m not going to lie. I’m not one of those amazing beach hair, tanned people that skip around in linen looking sun kissed and amazing. Nope. I’m very much the slightly pink, red cheeked, floppy, flat haired type of person who wafts their tee to keep cool or scrapes up hair into a limp pony tail to try and have a modicum of togetherness.
Ordinarily, I use a crystal rock deodorant. This is not up to summer heat. I always end up smelling after a hot day if I’ve only used the crystal rock. I usually buy a conventional deodorant for summer but this doesn’t really sit well with me. I was recently a tester on a beauty product panel and was lucky enough to be sent a tin of handmade deodorant from Lotus Therapies Whitstable. It’s made of 100% natural ingredients and I was sent the Patchouli and Lime one. I was a bit unsure of it to start with and really thought it would be too hippyish for me. However, it’s a lovely fragrance, the lime comes through really nicely and the product works a treat. I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s bit odd to smear an oily cream under your arm pits to start with but you soon get used to it and it sinks in quite quickly. It’s also great that it comes in a tin – another plastic item ticked off the list! And when I’ve finished with it, I’m sure I’ll find a use for the tin too.
My usual capsule wardrobe is not standing up to the hot weather and I feel a bit out of sorts with what to do. I’ve been feeling awkward in my clothes and to add to the discomfort a bit podgy around the middle too. Nothing looks right and everything feels too hot. I know that there’s this whole let’s be positive about our bodies thing on Instagram started by Clemmie Hooper aka Mother of Daughters, which is brilliant and inspiring, but I just don’t know how to dress my wobbly tummy in anything but high waisted skinny jeans. Black skinny jeans are not your friend on a hot summer’s day.
I dug out my 4 pairs of shorts from the “High Summer” pile in my drawer last week and only one pair fit well. I had an old pair of Levis which I thought would make a great pair of shorts, so I bought some dressmaking scissors to cut the legs off. They look awful. At this point I need to assess what I’ve actually got, what fits and whether I really do need anything or if I can put together another micro-wardrobe and just get by with what I’ve got. That would be preferable as I’ve spent quite a lot on building my capsule wardrobe over the past couple of months. Plus I’ve invested in some rather lovely pampering goodies this month.
I guess the main problem with summer clothes is that in years gone by I’ve either grabbed things in the sale or a few bits and pieces from H&M or Zara, usually panic buying before going to a festival or away on holiday. Either these clothes don’t fit very well, don’t last, or aren’t practical. I’m just realising that I have no idea how to dress well for hot weather. I’ve also been a variety of sizes over the past five years due to pregnancy, postpartum and being back to a more normal size; I’ve been breastfeeding for four years and over the last 3 summers there wasn’t any point buying dresses that didn’t have boob access. This is the first summer I’ve started thinking about longer lasting summer things, especially as wearing non-breastfeeding dresses is now an option. To go about my daily activities in dignity I need clothes that I can run, climb, chase and carry in. Not to mention things that wash well. So floaty dresses, thin things, too short things, low cut things, silk things and linen things are all problematic. My clothes have to be so much more practical these days, and flatter the mum tum. As you’ll know if you’ve read my blog before I’ve given up fast fashion and now find myself with a really limited variety of choice for summer. And the ethical options are expensive. Plus British summer weather is so unpredictable, so it can seem like a bit of a waste to spend lots of money on nice summer clothes for proper hot weather, especially as they may not be worn very much. I’m wondering about investing in a couple of really nice basics that I know I’ll wear for summers to come. But where to start? People Tree don’t really have anything that ticks the boxes this year. Patagonia look like they make some really robust clothes but are a bit too outdoorsy for my liking. I’m really stuck! On a more positive note, my lovely silver Sea Salt sandals bought in a sale last year have been a pleasure to slip into every day. I haven’t taken them off since the sun has come out. So worth the investment. If only I could find an equivalent pair of flattering shorts…
In trying to be less whiney about the tummy rolls and more proactive about keeping fit, I’ve started exercising again. I went to my first Clubbercise class last week. I loved every single sweaty minute of it. What’s not to love about old school cheesy dance choons and reusable glow sticks?! It felt amazing too. Hard work but the hour just flew by. Hopefully in a few weeks’ time, I’ll have toned up a bit and have my confidence back on track.
One of my pet hates is running. It always has been. I can’t tell you how much I dreaded Monday morning cross country at school. Yet I keep hearing about couch to 5k and how good running is for your mental health and keeping your spirits up. So, well, maybe that’s on my list of things to do too. I like the idea that running is free and out in the fresh air. It doesn’t get more eco friendly than that!
As it’s been such a long time since I last did any formal exercise and I got rid of my old exercise clothes after the 6 item challenge I asked The Husband to pop into The Fair Shop to grab me a couple of bits before my class last week. He came home with some awesome organic tracksuit bottoms and a gorgeous sweater. I was very impressed. I must admit that I spent the evening in them watching telly and feeling very comfortable on the sofa. These in no way will become cosy summer evening loungewear. Oh no.
The Big One – Sun Cream
We use Green People’s Organic Kids SPF30 sun lotion and although it’s really effective, it’s not the easiest to apply. I’ve been using Green People’s sun lotions for 5 years now and none of us have ever had sunburn. However, sun cream is only 2nd to bedtime and slightly ahead of teeth brushing in order of activities that enrage the girls. Actually, applying suncream to our children makes everyone angry. It’s guaranteed to set off either one or more likely both children into a mega tantrum (I want to do it / I want to squeeze it out / I DON’T WANT IT ON MY FACE etc etc), and then the parental disgruntlement (stand still / this should only take a minute / JUST LET ME DO YOUR NOSE). And don’t get me started on reapplication…
We were out on a bike ride earlier today and The Big One realised that she didn’t have any cream on her legs because she’d taken her leggings off before we left. I had an emergency sachet of Organii’s SPF 50 sun milk tucked into my purse, and it seemed to go on much more easily. I’ll probably order this one next time to see how we get on. Maybe this could be the saviour of summer!
So, if you do summer well, how on earth do you do it? I can’t tell you how much I’d love to hear from you!