The School Holiday Fantasy

Ok, so I’m a working mum. Well actually, we’re all working mums aren’t we! The only difference is some of us get paid and some of us don’t, some work from home and some go out to work. But we all work and we work bloody hard.

I love the ‘idea’ of school holidays. I have a fantasy of slow mornings, sleep-ins, kids recharging their exhausted little batteries, quiet time for hugs and walks. I did say it was a fantasy, because over the last 12 years, school holidays have been a tiny bit excruciating. No matter how much I wish it wasn’t, I find school holidays tough.

My boys really are, like all mothers say, the best kids in the world and oh how I adore them, but they are also insanely irritating and they fight, from the very first day of the holidays to the very last. Is it just mine, is it just me, or do some kids just love to fight? My holiday fantasy Zen is totally and repeatedly interrupted and thrown out the window as I shout at them to play nicely and to share please! ‘Don’t fight boys, just share”

School holidays have a way of being a double edged sword.

We want our kids back from the routine, from the rush and the timetables and after school activities. We want them back from homework and school reports. We just want to hang out with our kids again and start the day without a million things on the “to do list”. I crave quality family time. That time to make up for not seeing how fast they’ve grown during the term and wondering how it happened without us seeing it right in front of our eyes.

The reality is though, as busy working parents we are not our best selves as we limp towards the end of term in a big heap of exhaustion. Our finely tuned strategy of a well-oiled routine machine has become a little wobbly. We’re stressed and tired, our kids are tired and grumpy and the wonderful packed lunchboxes of homemade muffins and quinoa salads have given way to marmite sandwiches and a bag of chips (or whatever we could find in the deep dark corners of the cupboard), because life just got too busy.

And why is it, that instead of patting ourselves on the back for a job well done this term, we instead kick ourselves for the missed assemblies and school trips and for not seeing the note at the bottom of our kid’s school bag which meant he missed a birthday party or playdate. And whist we are kicking ourselves for all the times we forgot or couldn’t be there, we’re also wondering how the ironing pile took on a life of its own and how the ragamuffin children we adore ended up looking disheveled and unwashed, and how far the ‘perfect’ family unraveled during the term.

But today, it is the last day of term and we do get to stop. Stop. Just stop, if only for a while and breathe. Let go of the rules and routines, hug our kids, drink in their uniqueness and love them for who they are.

We do get to have our kids back for a few quieter, gentler days (if only until the inevitable fighting sets in) and in our hearts we know how precious this time really is. School holidays are a great time to slow down and do the simple things; just being with the kids a little more, riding bikes, playing in the park, having friends over, catching up on movies, snuggling on the couch and sleeping in. My kids will probably end up watching telly and staying in their dressing gowns for half the day and that’s ok too.

Remind yourself at those school holiday breaking points we’ve all had, that this is a time for rest and rejuvenation for everyone, kids and their parents alike. And if you work through the holidays like I do, soak in the break from routine and rules – it’ll do wonders for our health and our heart.

Love Bridget