parents

Sometimes you need more than Monopoly to keep the family unit functioning.

For Kate, each summer since she was a kid has been a relocation of home.

We are very, very lucky. In 1978 my dad and grandpa bought a house on the Sunshine Coast. So since I was a kid, the summer holidays have been a relocation of home.

I approach it every year with a sentimental glow of anticipation.

I can work wherever I am so we head off for weeks at a time.

No packing lunches! Stay in bed until it’s so hot you get up for a swim! Let’s have sausages in bread for dinner!

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Telstra. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

It’s going to be so great, I tell the kids. Long, lazy days of table tennis and beach cricket. I shall serve watermelon slices and it will be like those summer holidays they show in old-fashioned cordial commercials.

That’s week one.

By week two or three, especially if the weather turns sour (no dryer, no dishwasher, dodgy TV reception) I’m whistling a different tune. It sounds a bit like the theme from Prisoner. On the inside the roses grow. Except there are no roses in this beach house. Instead, there are:

• 1,200 x Barbecue Shapes packets (empty).

Hats that Kate hasn’t purchased/been given/ever seen before.

• Squashed sultanas (innumerable).

• 24,000 broken or blunt coloured pencils.

• 2 x functional pens (whereabouts unknown).

• 7 x pairs of wet swimmers.

• 8 x bottles of sunscreen (each containing less than 5mls of sunscreen).

• Many DVD boxes.

• Not quite as many DVDs.

• 9 x pairs of goggles (none of which are comfortable).

• 6 x hats I have not purchased/been given/ever seen before.

• Enough Nerf gun parts to take on North Korea.

• 2 x iPads (uncharged)

• 2 x iPod touches (uncharged)

• 6 x iDevice chargers (missing)

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I love a tech-free holiday but when it’s a looong getaway at what is, actually a home away from home, then sometimes you need more than Monopoly to keep the family unit function. Actually, scratch that. Monopoly is involved in more than 30% of murder-suicides.*

Now, I have a great relationship with my kids. We talk all the time – but at this point in the holidays, most of their conversation begins with, ‘can we?’

Can we go to the movies?

Can we ask some friends to come and stay?

Can we get a new Wii Game?

Can we go roller skating?

Kate wants to hear less ‘can we dye the dog green?’ and more ‘can we fold those towels for you?’

Can we dye the dog green?

Can we jump of the roof onto the trampoline? I saw a guy on You Tube do it and he was fine!

Being a modern parent, I’m loathe to say, ‘Can you just shut up and stop asking me for things?’ Instead, I encourage them to subtly re-phrase their questions. They can still open with ‘can we’ but they should finish differently. For example:

Can we fold those towels for you?

Can we make you a gin and tonic?

Can we just wait until dinner? We don’t need Barbecue Shapes at 5pm.

But now we’re on the downhill run to that glorious day when we’re home and thinking about school. Only 14 more sleeps.

My lovely children will march off in crisp uniforms, with healthy, balanced lunches. Homework will be done promptly every evening and bags will be packed for the next day ….

How long until the Easter holidays?

Do you find it hard keeping the kids entertained when you’re away?

* I totally made that statistic up.

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