I was so excited to get the children home for half term. Then they were awful. After a few days, we all got used to each other again. But just as we started to enjoy ourselves as a family, it’s time to go back. Is it just me who sees holidays as a roller coaster?
“No, no, I won’t be booking the children into any holiday camps!” I exclaimed to friends asking me what I was up to for half term. “It’s only a week! I want to spend time with them!”
As I went to pick them up last Friday, I was all excited. I had no particular plans, but I had Fruit Pastille lollies and a feeling that this holiday was going to be GREAT!
Then I picked them up.
All hell broke loose. They were de mob happy. Their excited little brother was an easy target. I was open season. Before we’d even left the school premises, I was wishing them back inside.
The First Cut Is the Deepest
The first day was just miserable. ‘What has school done with my babies?’ I thought, as I watched them fight over an old ricecake they’d found down the crack of the sofa. TV didn’t pacify them, soft play didn’t appease them, the park was a muddy farce, they spat upon my ambitions to build the biggest train track we’d ever done.
Adjust or Combust
Day 2 and I had hopes of a new dawn. Something had to give: none of the local holiday camps had spaces – football, judo, circus skills…Smarter parents than I had already got in on the action.
The lack of structure we’d all craved left us floundering. I decided not to take them anywhere – at least then our disorder would not be in public. I got all their toys out and sprinkled them round the house in the hope that something would take their interest.
It took a couple of days, but we finally started to adjust to each other again. I don’t know about you, but my children seem to change in the few weeks they are away from me. Yes, I see them in the evenings and at weekends, but to have them around all the time is a different matter. And they are different children They know words I didn’t teach them, sums I am amazed they can do, facts that I don’t know myself.
On the day before last, we built a train track that went all round the sofa, under the coffee table and had a number of Lego stations. My older two, who’ve stopped playing with Brio of late, were just as excited as my toddler, who’s just learnt to identify Thomas, James and Percy. As I stood watching them play, I felt we’d finally found our holiday equilibrium.
Last Minute Panic
My peace was – predictably – shattered the next day. Why oh why do I always forget to check the book bags till the end of the holiday? Once again we had a horrendous cramming session, trying to do homework, reading books, spelling and phonics in our last day.
Home School Is Where The Heart Is
Tonight, when I kissed their sleeping brows, I was a little sad. School will wrest them from my bosom once more, and by Easter they will have changed again. Maybe I should consider home schooling them? I think, as I begin the crazed hunt for school shoes and PE kit.
As I iron their uniform, I ponder once again the irony of parenthood: one second, we would give anything to have a break from them; the next, we are sobbing into their sports socks.