parent opinion

OPINION: 'My child hasn't started kindy yet and I'm already dreading school holidays.'

I have an almost two-year-old and a not-long-turned-five-year-old, so I've been blissfully unaware of what dates the school holidays fall on every year, but there's one question I've always had for those with school-age children: how on earth do you keep them entertained during all those school holidays? And also, what do you do about work? (Make that two questions.)

Making sure their holiday days from daycare are sufficiently filled with just-as-fun-as-daycare activities is stressful enough, and it's making me dread the stints at home that are coming when my daughter starts school.

I feel like I've had a taster of what's to come with the weekends, which seem to have at least 15 more hours in them than a regular weekday or workday when you're flying solo - especially when your kids wake up at the crack of dawn and still refuse to go to bed at a reasonable time at night even after you've 'worn them out' with physical exercise all day and cut off sugar and screens long before lights out. 

By 10am, my husband and I have usually already taken the kids to the park, the shops for groceries, for babycinos, for banana bread, for bike rides, broken up multiple fights, taken some cute sibling pics and by that point, I'm craving my first sit down and five child-free moments of mindless scrolling on Instagram. And I'm supposed to run this schedule for two weeks' straight come school holidays?

Watch: The things parents never say on school holidays. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

A few weeks ago, there was an information night for kindy students starting in 2024, and my girl has just received an invitation to her orientation days. And although I'm focused on getting her prepped to enter the daunting world of 'big girl school', in the back of my mind I'm also slightly nervous about those long, long stretches of time known as school holidays where I'll have to keep my child constantly occupied, amused, fed, happy, in dry, clean clothes and not exceeding the quota of screen time that is deemed acceptable to keep a parent safely under the insanity line.

My daughter hasn't even started school yet, and already I'm worried about how I'm going to cope with having her at home to entertain for 12 odd weeks throughout the year. Am I the worst parent ever?

No, I'm just a parent who values her sanity, who wants her child to be creatively stimulated and have fun whenever possible, but who also is a realist and knows she doesn't have the energy she did when she was 25 years old and had enjoyed more than a five-hour block of sleep in the last five years. Oh, and no grandparents close by to get that all-important relief when you desperately need it!

But even knowing all this, I felt a twinge of guilt when I saw an article online relaying how one mother had taken to Mumsnet to decry the "distasteful" parents sharing their 'joy' at the fact their children were going back to school after the lengthy summer holidays.

Weekends with kids: snacks, drinks, park, repeat! Image: Supplied.

In her post, this concerned mum wrote: "I get it, I'm craving some space and time on my own now after a long summer. But I just find the really exaggerated reels on social media of the parents being so damn joyful to be getting rid of their kids and back to school a bit... uncomfortable/distasteful. Am I just a boring stick in the mud?"


Okay, I can read between the lines to what this mum is trying to say - time with our kids when they're young is precious, and we should be grateful to be able to make these memories with them. This is true, but do you know what else is true? All those little precious moments quickly add up to one very long, exhausting day, and multiply that day by many days throughout the year and it's hard to keep the energy and enthusiasm levels up to parent well and without guilt. Not to mention trying to keep the patience of a saint!

The online rant got a mixed reaction, with some parents agreeing that they're sad to see their kids return to school, and others insisting the delighted parents videos are merely an exaggeration and a light-hearted attempt to commemorate making it through the challenging school holidays relatively unscathed. Me? I just wonder if we'd all be making those jumping-for-joy videos if we weren't so worried about being judged over this impossibly hard task called parenting.

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Feature Image: Supplied.

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