The summer holidays and why I think they are too long

I always get to this point in the holidays and wish it was all over. It’s not just that the weather is particularly shocking today (it is) or that I’ve had a bad morning (I have). It’s just that there comes a point where I am ready for it to be over with.

We invariably go away mid-way through the holidays. The theory being that the first week or two will be spent having lazy mornings; relishing the alarm clock not going off; getting organised for going away; enjoying just being able to do whatever we like. Yes, I have to fit work in here and there and it takes us a few days to get used to being around each other all the time, but it’s OK because it’s the holidays. Then we go away and make the most of every minute because we’ve waited a long time for it and it won’t last forever. Then we come back and we’re all a bit fed up but it’s OK because there’s still 2 or 3 more weeks left of just being able to do what we like.

Except it doesn’t always work out like that. We live in the UK. The weather is unpredictable. Days previously spent out on bikes with friends or in the woods with grandparents can sometimes involve finding things to do INDOORS. With a mum who has to work. From home. So she seems available to “just look at this” or “do this with me?” but in reality can only break away from things for ten minutes or so. With a mum who really doesn’t mind arty crafty things (she does deep down) if they can be done outside. Not inside where she has managed to get things almost tidy over the weekend so that when she is working she doesn’t have a nagging voice telling her the place is a tip.

It’s at this stage that the children start displaying signs of needing some routine; of needing some focus and some discipline. I don’t mean that they run wild when they are at home, I’m not Bear Grylls, but I’m not into having a set routine when they are off, especially now they are older. I don’t hear the words “I’m bored” hardly at all (if at all) during the first half of the holidays, but the closer it gets to the last two weeks it starts to raise it’s ugly little head. And the nagging starts. And the bickering (there’s always an element of that but this is up another notch). But what I hate the most is that I become “that mum”. The one that gets cross and says sentences involving phrases like “be grateful”, “you don’t know how lucky you are” and “have to work so we can have nice holidays”, all the while thinking how lovely they actually are and how totally not spoilt or ungrateful.

Even when the weather isn’t monsoon-like, the shine always definitely goes out by this point. I had a notification from Facebook this morning with “memories from years gone by”, or some such b*****ks, and there, in black and white, was proof that this isn’t just me having the Miserable Mondays. From 2008 my status read “is wondering how the first 4 weeks flew by with very little trouble yet the last 10 days seem like they are going to be very, very difficult……”. See, even 7 years ago it was the same story. Week 4 over, holidays should be too.

How about just cutting them short by one week? Just one week. Then first 4 weeks can be lovely and the final week can be school uniform hell and getting organised for going back. Then have that spare week at May half term? It’s often lovely weather for May half term so people could make the most of it and still have 5 weeks in the summer. Why do we have to suffer the torture of week 6? Week 5 wouldn’t be so bad any more as it would be THE LAST WEEK, and we can smile through when it’s only ONE MORE WEEK.

I know we could organise our holiday differently. Go away in weeks 4 and 5, but we tried that and it was too long to wait. Too many weeks at the beginning; too long to start saying “X more sleeps”; saving spare cash for the holiday proper rather than on activities to keep them amused early on. Maybe we could split the time away? A week around week 2 another around week 4. But we quite like the 2 weeks off in one go (now that we have discovered the beauty of the 2 venue holiday – it’s not as flash as it sounds. You know we went to Devon, right? Not Florida) and it’s harder to negotiate the time off work when it’s all in dribs and drabs. So, changing the holiday around isn’t the answer either.

Change my job maybe? Work in a school, perhaps? Childmind term-time only? There’s a reason why I was a “stay at home mum” for so long – I didn’t want to be a TA. I volunteered for a while when the kids were smaller and I hated it. Ditto childminding. I love my kids –  I don’t love snot or crying children. Especially when they are not mine. Admin role in a school? Maybe. But then I won’t have the flexibility of being at home when they are ill; I won’t be able to nip out when I need to; I won’t be able to grab a cuppa with a friend. None of which are essential and people manage perfectly well with full-time jobs and don’t whinge about it (some do, but there’s always one), but I like the way my job fits in with us and not the other way around. So, that’s not the answer either.

Be more organised with activities? Tried that. A ended up at a dance session with 20 Year 2’s and younger. Not impressed. T wants to be able to come and go with his mates, with the occasional trip to the swimming pool. I know it will be easier (I hope to God) when A is at senior school and (I hope to God) has lots of lovely new friends to go out with. I will probably be moaning that I am constantly running her around. I hope so.

But, for now, please can we ditch the last week? Just one week? Five little days actually. Not much to ask.

Oh, and October half term too?

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