At risk of exposing myself as a miserable grump, I confess that I am really looking forward to school term time recommencing.
While for some parents it is an emotional time of new beginnings, I will be the mum waving my son goodbye from the school gate, allowing the thrilling prospect of time ALONE to fully sink in.
Don’t get me wrong, we have had a wonderful summer break that has so far included a month in the UK visiting family with a jam-packed schedule of outings and Christmas-based fun, and a week in a child-friendly resort at Boomerang Beach with our Australian kin.
We had seven days of body surfing at the beach, afternoons on the tennis court, multiple ice creams, swims in the pool, family cricket matches and nightly barbecues on the deck. It was fantastic for all of us, but with an 11-month-old in tow it was also kind of exhausting for us parents.
We returned home on Sunday, happy to be in our own beds but deflated that the holiday was over and Gaytimes were off the daily dessert menu. I also felt an underlying sense of panic – the school holidays still aren’t over! What the hell am I going to do to keep the momentum going when all I want to do is hide with a book in a dark room and a packet of Tim Tams?
LISTEN: If you’ve spent any time at the beach these holidays, your kids probably have a bit of a tan. But does that make you a bad parents? We discuss, on our family podcast.
Within five minutes of the first Monday starting when my husband returned to work, my eldest asked, “what are we doing this morning mum?”. Not even ‘today’ but ‘this morning’, because on holidays, with the addition of our extended family and nothing to do but holiday, that was the way we rolled.
A fantastic UK holiday but bloody hell it’s good to be finally home! ???????? ???? The boys we’re both little legends, but holy shit that journey is an epic effort with kids and especially baby Leo. All up it was 36 hours door to door taking into account car journeys, airport and flying time. So much queuing, waiting and heavy lifting on about two hours of broken sleep whilst traversing the globe. This photo was taken at Heathrow Terminal 3 waiting for check in to open at 6am on Thursday when we still had so, so much travelling yet to do. Thank god it’s over. Next up: jet lag ????????????????#travelling #travellingwithkids #airports #instakids #heathrow #homeagain #expatlife #cathaypacific #londontosydney #canisleepnow #jetlag #family #home
He had been utterly spoilt by all that action and fun and now expected me to craft that kind of schedule alone with a baby, four loads of washing and no food in the fridge. I took a moment to explain this was not how mum rolls when solo, and then hastily shoved some basics in the bag for a quick trip to the local beach.
After remembering you can’t do anything hastily with a baby who needs changing, feeding, sunscreen applied etc, we made it to the beach and actually had a lovely hour splashing around before it got too hot. An hour. An hour of a whole day that even included me getting a coffee.
The rest of the day passed with a mix of chores, watching tennis on the television and a quick visit to see the mother-in-law who probably could have done with a day without the grandkids descending once again, but she does have a lovely pool so them’s the breaks.
Monday was not too bad and while I managed to not lose my sh*t every time I was asked, “but what can I do now mum?” by my bewildered seven-year-old, I wondered why are the summer holidays so damn long?!
I realised it was my first time taking this crazy pair to the beach solo today! It was hot and busy so we didn’t stay long but it was pretty cute seeing them splashing about and laughing together. Also: coffee ☕️ ???????????????????? #brothers #myboys #merewetherbaths #beachday #willsandco #surfhouse #summer #australia #mumlife #merewether #instakids
Unless you have the budget, annual leave and patience to take your whole family to Europe or around Australia in a camper van for six weeks, there are a LOT of weeks, days, hours and minutes to fill. Yes, we could do some craft, some reading, a walk, puzzles, some baking, play handball, go to the park, the library blah, blah, blah.
Believe me, I have done all of these things, sometime all on the same day. I get mixed results and now with an impatient, grabby baby in tow a lot of these activities are not always possible. More importantly I am not a paid entertainer and sometimes I have to do stuff that is not fun for a seven-year-old and he just has to suck it up. Sorry not sorry.
I have used vacation care and sporting holiday camps when I have had work deadlines to meet or sanity to protect, but my son is shy and has clearly communicated to me recently that he was not happy about being dumped at a random stinky scout hall to play tips.
Fair enough – for now. I know that as a flexible freelancer I am lucky compared to many parents who rely on formal holiday care or grandparents and friends to help them cover the summer holidays when they have to return to work.
Most school holidays we just wing it like everyone else and catch up with family and friends and over the course of the standard two-week break, it works well. But six weeks?! I am pulling my hair out by the end and so is my eldest. He might not admit it but he likes routine and structure as much as I do and while free time and holidays are wonderful, it is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.
So, what to do for the rest of the week? We’ll no doubt fill it up with a bit of this and a bit of that and hopefully see some friends we have missed while away.
We had a great summer full of memories that I hope will last a lifetime, but right now I’m counting down the days until those school gates and day care doors are open: that book and packet of Tim Tams awaits…
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