Ahh, the summer holidays. The children see 6 weeks of freedom and unadulterated fun. Us parents see 6 weeks of frenzied spending. The backdrop for summer is the sound of the constant “kerching”. You can hear the pounds falling as you pay for entry to another overpriced amusement park. Kerching as you fork out for an overpriced magazine to quell the “I’m bored” for just ten minutes. Kerching, kerching, kerching, KERCHING is like a Jackhammer drilling away in your head (and purse) every time you leave the house. I hope that you are still in the honeymoon phase of the summer holidays. If you are then I am here to share the 12 mistakes I make during the school holidays. I’m sharing my mistakes so you don’t have to. I know, I’m all heart.
12 Mistakes you will make during the school holidays
- You will announce that you don’t need to escape the island this summer. You will feel smug that you are saving money. Who needs a holiday anyway? We live on the most beautiful island with the most amazing beaches. One week in and you are fed-up of staring at the rain pouring down, island fever has set in and you are no longer smug. You retreat to the toilet to search on your phone for last minute holiday deals to find that there are none! You are no longer smug. You are an idiot. An idiot trapped in a toilet with two feral children banging at the door.
- You will let the children stay-up late because you mistakenly believe that this means they will have a lie-in. It doesn’t. They still wake you up at the crack of dawn. Despite this you still agree to let them stay up late every single night believing that tomorrow will be the day they have a glorious lie-in. It never happens: you never learn.
- In the first week of the holidays you set the bar too high. You throw money at the summer holidays. You go for days out, eat mountains of ice-cream and have meals out. By the second week your bank account is empty and the children now have high expectations that don’t match your empty purse. You consider taking out a second mortgage in order to keep them happy.
- You believe that the children get on and have a lovely sibling relationship. Then the summer holidays hit and you realise that the reality is that they hate each other. You spend most of your time diffusing ridiculous spats much like Trump’s Twitter spats with North Korea – “my country is more awesome than yours” Could be Oldest shouting at Youngest – “My Lego town is more awesome than yours. Look I have a wall all the way round it keeping YOU OUT” Youngest retaliates much like North Korea threatens to and flattens the Lego town with her feet.
- You will let the children eat chocolate for breakfast because it is the holidays and life is too short. You then spend the rest of the day chasing them everywhere as they are on a complete sugar high.
- You declare that arts and crafts is fun. 5 minutes later and you realise that arts and crafts is not fun, it is torture. It is just another way of wasting money and creating a very expensive mess.
- You believe Youngest when she pleads to be allowed to do some colouring in with the Sharpies that Big Granny bought her. “I promise I will stick to the paper” and she swears on her life, her Dad’s life and the school’s goldfishes lives. You watch her like a hawk and congratulate yourself on a lovely afternoon of colouring. Later that evening you discover that she has smuggled one Sharpie up to her bedroom. She is a criminal mastermind and would probably be able to smuggle a whole shovel past the guards at Alcatraz. Instead of using her Sharpie to write letters to the outside world, she has decided to colour in her bunk bed and herself. You spend the rest of the week googling ‘how can I remove permanent marker from furniture and children?’
- You declare that one day every week will be a screen free day for everyone. 10 minutes later and you realise that this was not a sensible idea and reason with yourself that screen time is actually very beneficial for the children and you. The children can watch very educational documentaries like Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures. Yes, not quite Attenborough but perhaps he is more pleasing on the eye for the mummies 😉 The iPad also means that mummy can actually wee in peace without the fear of World War 3 breaking out in those 5 minutes.
- You think that the summer holidays means that you will have the time to cook healthier meals that your children will enjoy. The reality is that the children don’t appreciate the green sludge you have turned to and you find yourself turning to the wine to cope. You actually become unhealthier. By the end of the summer holidays you always have a fridge stocked with wine and the children are eating all of the beige food.
- You decide to take your children along to get their new school shoes and uniform in the first week as it will be quiet. You curse yourself for being so stupid as you join the queue at Clarks that is snaking out of the door and half a mile down the road. Do they really need shoes anyway?
- You forget to check the school bag until the night before Oldest is due back at school. In there you find a rotting apple, 3 party invitations and a “voluntary” homework project. Good job you chose to voluntarily ignore it.
- On the first day back you are so early that you realise you are the first ones there. There are no other cars, parents or teachers. Wow, you are super early. A whole 2 days early. This didn’t happen *cough*
Warning – here comes the soppy bit!
The biggest mistake we really make during the summer holiday is thinking that we need to constantly entertain the children. We don’t. Think back to our own holidays. Yes, “I’m bored” was probably uttered a thousand times plus, we probably annoyed our own parents much the same way our own children annoy us now. That’s karma. However, the I’m bored is a rite of passage for the children. It’s also our turn to exclaim what our own parents said to us at 8 years old – “how can you possibly be bored?! You have a mountain of toys up there!”. We shouldn’t feel the need to alienate the “I’m bored for them” What I remember about the summer holidays is that I loved it for the possibilities. I had 6 weeks out of school and this meant freedom to me. Days free from routine. Freedom costs nothing.
We can all have a great holiday if we allow our children some freedom and silence the kerching…well, just a little.