It's finally here - the last day of the school year 2012. The shoulders that have been steadily creeping higher and higher over the past few weeks, the tension that reached a very timely climax this morning, can finally be set free.....almost like the air being released from a tightly capped bottle of fizz.
In my vast experience (7 years) of the school gate phenomenon, I have noticed that mums fall into 2 camps where the summer holidays are concerned: those that eagerly greet their offspring on the last day of term, brimming with wonderful craft ideas, dreaming of spending quality time in the open-air, planning to ban all sign of the TV for the entire 6 week period so that fun can be had; then there are the other mums....the ones who are frantically booking their kids into holiday clubs, exchanging phone numbers with just about anyone who expresses an interest in organising play dates and wondering what exactly they will do with their kids for a WHOLE SIX WEEKS!
As the pressure mounts over the last half-term of the school year, I long for lie-ins, an end to homework deadlines and no more frantic mornings trying to beat the school bell. However, I am also realistic about my capabilities and know that within 2 weeks, I will be yearning for a break, for that trusty routine and shall probably lose my rag on more than one occasion, silently (or probably quite loudly!) tearing my hair out. So for me, the sound of that final school bell brings with it a sense of relief but also, slight trepidation over what will probably be a very loooong 6 weeks.
Don't get me wrong, we have our fair share of fun times together but through experience, I have learnt to be realistic in my expectation. With this in mind, I have drawn up a list of what makes for a successful 6 week break in our household:
- Our annual family holiday needs to be during the summer break from school. We have tried shifting this to other times in the year but have realised that 6 weeks needs to be broken up and for me, this works best.
- Grab a weekend away from home at some point. This doesn't have to be a paid-for break, it can just be to visit friends or family but it means a break from those ever-familiar four walls.
- Book in a couple of days out with friends, people who my kids get on with and who I enjoy spending time with.
- Pack one child off to Grandparents for a few days. I am fortunate in that my parents are keen to spend quality time with my children one on one. This means that the kids have a break from one another and the other two get to do age-related things that might not be possible when we are all at home together.
- Abandon the limit on screen time. I am aware that this may be a little controversial, but after spending the entire term policing the 1 hour a day limit, screens are often my saving grace during a long day at home!
- Visit the library at the beginning of the holidays. Mix up screens with books from time to time, it makes me feel better!
- Give the kids a goal. This time last year, my three had been nagging to get a Wii (back to screens!). Of course, every single friend already had one, and although we do own a PS3 and DS's galore, this wasn't enough. I suggested that they sell some of their unwanted items on ebay and raise money through doing chores....this worked brilliantly! By the 4th week in, the Wii was succesfully purchased from ebay and they spent the next 2 weeks
- Try to get some form of fresh air every day. This is easy, we have a dog and he was purchased under the proviso that walking would be a family affair. Taking a picnic with us
kills more timemakes it more fun.
- Arrange an evening out with friends at least once a week....I'm talking adults only!
- Invite their friends over. Sometimes the thought of having another child on top of the three we already have, seems like an onerous task. However I have come to realise that it often helps the dynamics and of course if I'm lucky, they might even invite my child back!
- Buy new school uniform in the middle of the holidays. Leave it until the last week and all the sales will have passed and shoe shops will be full of other last-minute mums.
- Take the pressure off. Forget trying to keep the house spick and span or rushing around from one pre-arranged event to another - it's supposed to be a holiday....for all of us!
In addition to all of these, I am determined to abide by a former post of mine and be more of a 'yes' mummy. If you didn't read it, here is a quick reminder.
Wish me luck people *puts on battle armour* I'm going in!
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