parent opinion

'The six week school holidays aren't 'fun' if you're a parent. There, I said it.'

It all started with a conversation between my eldest son Toby and I in the car on Sunday morning. As usual, the whole family had been up since 6am and we had spent a few hours at the beach before it got too hot. At 10am I left my husband to enjoy a peaceful surf while I drove our two boys’ home.

I suggested a couple of activities to take us up to midday that I thought were winners – visiting a local park or going to the pool. They were however immediately rejected by Toby with an eye roll and a ‘ugh, no way!’, as if I had said we should go get our annual flu vaccinations.

At that moment I had a horrible realisation that this was what a lot of the summer ‘holidays’ was going to be like. Six looooooooonnnng weeks disagreeing about suitable activities for Toby and his two-year-old brother Leo, as well as fights about the amount of time Toby can spend on the iPad, him ‘being bored’ and questions about, ‘but what can I do NOW?!’

The fact is that as mum to two boys, I totally adore and need structure and schedules.

We have a school schedule, a daycare schedule, my work schedule, after school activities schedules and a social schedule that when functioning correctly, means we are all busy but generally happy. We get time away from each other as well as one-on-one time and time as a family throughout the week and the variety seems to suit us all.

laura jackel
Laura and her son Toby. Image: Supplied.

Remove school, or daycare or worst-case scenario, both from the schedule and we are cut loose and structure free. Unstructured free time sounds great in theory and maybe if the boys were closer in age, a little older or I didn’t have a job I enjoyed, it might appeal more. Currently it just means our family’s feeling of balance is askew and I am the one who has to work to ‘fix it’.

I am not a complete Grinch, the two weeks over Christmas and New Year will be filled with plenty of social fun and we even have a holiday booked in with family for one week in early January. But the following three and a half weeks where husband Jules is back to work and I’m trying to fit my freelance work in, yet school is still on holidays? Not so fun.

Friends talk about enjoying relaxed beach days with their kids. That sure sounds nice, but for me – a pale ginger with two pale skinned children – I just think of the amount of sunscreen I have to lather on every seven minutes as well as when toddler Leo loses his mind after getting sand on his watermelon. It will be 9.30am when we return home and THEN WHAT?!

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There will of course be playdates and school holiday ‘camps’ and activities but who has to research availability, book them and check who from Toby’s friendship group is going? Me.

laura jackel
"The fact is that as mum to two boys, I totally adore and need structure and schedules." Image: Supplied.

I have spent hours browsing online at potential sporting and creative workshops, only to be told by Toby he doesn’t want to go as his friends aren’t going. Presumably their parents are not ginger or don’t have toddlers to upset their beach days.

Eventually I will book an unwilling Toby into a couple of ‘camps’ (for my sanity and the fact I actually have a job), but I am torn between feeling like the world’s worst mum for sending him somewhere he doesn’t want to be, or dreading the alternative: being at home with a bored eight-year-old and a work deadline.

Another option – one he prefers – is for me to organise multiple playdates with his besties. Great, but it does mean I have to type and send quite a few What’s App or Messenger messages to various parents who will then need to check their calendars while I check mine and then we synchronise and decide what to do and where to go and if it’s drop-off or stay and play and that’s just for one date and OH. MY. GOD. Can I have a holiday now please?

Ultimately – I will survive and there’ll be days where I’ll strike gold with my gorgeous sons and my Instagram will be all ‘look at moi ploise’ photos of sandy faced boys eating watermelon at the beach. But know that just after that golden photo is posted, it is 9.31am, Leo has lost his shiz and I’ve still got the rest of the day to fill.

Happy Holidays ya’ll!

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