Farewell to a summer of fun and life lessons…

I can’t believe it’s the last day of the summer holidays! As I sit here blogging for the first time in six weeks, I feel sad to think that the summer holiday has come to an end for another year. It’s been a great summer with lots of happy memories and I’ve personally learnt a lot of important life lessons along the way.

The summer began with Elsi’s 6th birthday. I actually can’t believe she’s 6! We had a great party in the woods at the RSPB Nature Reserve in Ynyshir; den building, bug hunting and toasting marshmallows in the woods with her school friends before a second party in the garden with all her friends from the village.

A few days later I had to spend a few days in bed, I had this overwhelming sense of panic as I looked ahead at all the work I had to do over the next few weeks. My heart was racing, everything was spinning and I couldn’t eat anything. I’m always busy, like so many other parents I juggle a lot work wise; I work full time and I run my own marketing and events company as well as this blog on my own, but with a manic few weeks ahead, I suddenly became overwhelmed and it was scary.

I don’t suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, so this was a massive shock. The reality was I was exhausted, burnt out and simply needed to slow down and listen to my body. For the past year I’ve getting up at 05:30 to work on the blog before taking Elsi school and then going to work. Once Elsi’s in bed at night, I then return to my laptop and start working on my freelance work before having a few hours sleep and doing it all again. Stupid? Yes! This was a wakeup call, and despite loving my work, I really can’t keep working 12 – 14 hour days five days a week and surviving on 5 hours sleep!

I stopped blogging and had a digital detox for almost a month and although it was difficult, I also pulled out of one of my projects. A few days after making these decisions I instantly felt better, felt like I was floating around the place rather than rushing from one place to another. I was living in the moment rather than being in the room and my mind racing around planning ahead for the next task on my to do list. This is how it should be.

Elsi had a few night at Naini’s and Nain and Taid’s which meant that my husband and I had two date nights within two weeks! Like many other busy parents, we forget to make time for ourselves and each other, and it was so nice and we’ve promised to do it regularly and make time. I had my first ever go on his paddle board and in return he came with me to watch Mamma Mia! I enjoyed the paddle boarding at least ten times more than he enjoyed the film, but we both had a great meal at Gwesty Cymru, Aberystwyth. I’m already planning the next but no cheesy films you’ll be pleased to hear Gareth!

I spent a week away with work at the Eisteddfod in Cardiff. I had never spent 6 nights away from Elsi and I knew it would be hard, but my husband told me to use the time to relax and have some me time for once, and for once I listened! I actually ‘finished’ work when I left ‘the office’ and had a lie in until 7! I met friends and went to a few concerts and gigs in the evening. including a fantastic gig with Al Lewis. My shoulders were back where they belonged and I could feel an inner sense of calm which I hadn’t felt for a long time.

The Eisteddfod was amazing too and I must congratulate all the organisers for making it an amazing event. People were sceptical about it being held in Cardiff Bay rather than in a grassy field, but I thought it was a fantastic Eisteddfod and I hope it returns to the same location every few years.

I couldn’t wait to get home on the morning of the 10th if August, so I actually got up at 5 and arrived home before Elsi and Gareth got up! It was worth it too as I had the warmest and cuddliest welcome I’ve ever had. It’s a great feeling to be missed and loved, even if being away from them for 6 days almost killed me!

The following day we were off on our annual summer holiday, we were going on a fly drive adventure to Croatia. I’ve never been to Croatia before but it was amazing! If you’re thinking ahead for your summer holidays in 2019, I can’t recommend it enough, it’s a small country with so much to offer and it’s overwhelmingly beautiful.

We flew to Zadar in the North and spent our first 6 days in and around the National Parks. Plitvice Lakes and Krka Falls were amongst the highlights of our 12 day holiday, walking on the boardwalks, sailing and swimming with Gareth and Elsi in the massive and refreshing waterfalls will stay with me forever.

We stayed at Zaton Holiday Resort which was a convenient place to stay if you want to explore the National Parks. The facilities are amazing for kids too as they have waterparks and great waterslides, a private beach, horse riding, mini golf, entertainment and good food and cocktails and a variety of options when it comes to accommodation, from camping pitches to apartments. We stayed in an apartment with air conditioning and we needed it as it was over 30 degrees most days. We welcomed the tropical storm too and it was a perfect day to explore the shopping malls!

We drove to Split and stayed in apartment in the town centre for 3 nights. Elsi missed the pool and slides but enjoyed the old town and all it’s charm and small shops with local produce, as well as the ferry ride to Brac Island and the opportunity to snorkel and swim in the clear blue sea with all the fish. Despite being married to a water baby and being a mum to a little mermaid who prefers water to dry land, I’ve never actually swam in the sea before. Croatia was a perfect place to start as the water was warm and incredibly clear, I felt free and at peace.

The coastal drive from Split to Dubrovnik was stunning. The Croatian landscape is lush and green and fruitful. There are fruit stalls with massive watermelons along the way and outside of the cities it’s unspoilt and breath-taking.

We stayed in an apartment in Lapad just a 2 minute bus ride from the center of Dubrovnik. It was beautiful and we had a balcony overlooking the marina. Dubrovnik was stunning, it’s no wonder that’s it’s been used as a backdrop to so many films and TV series, it’s a real gem. We walked around the city walls and took the cable car ride to the top to get the best view of the area. Unlike Split, it doesn’t have any chain stores or shopping centres so it was all about the culture, the history and people watching. We also went snorkelling in the sea too as there are 3 beaches near the town and all within a bus ride away.

We returned home 10 days ago, and although I’ve returned to work, I decided not to switch my own laptop on until today as I wanted to spend as much time with family and friends as physically possible, including a night out with the girls which ended up with too much gin!

As I get all Elsi’s clothes ready for school tonight and prepare to take her into Year 2 tomorrow morning I’ve promised myself and my family that this ‘new me’ is here to stay. From now on I will have a better work life balance and spending more time with the people I love. As Elsi embarks on a whole new year of learning and challenges, her Mum will also be starting an important chapter tomorrow, at 7am and not at 05:30!  But rest assured that Mam Cymru isn’t going anywhere!

By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.

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