When it comes to the summer holidays, for me, they will always have their ups and their downs. Usually, the proportion of positive things far outweighs the negatives, but it can be a challenging time for us as a family. Here’s why.
When it comes to a typical week during term time, we have a pretty good routine going. Wake up just before seven, I make the packed lunches (roll on September and the return of hot school dinners!), grab breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, do hair, grab belongings and walk. Inevitably, something goes wrong most mornings, resulting in an unhappy girl (or two), but generally, they know what to expect on a morning, and so do I.
Come the summer holidays, things are remarkably different. My eldest loves to get up at the same time as during term time – no lie-ins for her. Yet my youngest would sleep in until 10am if she could (and sometimes, she does). This has a knock-on effect with breakfast being later, yet they both still expect lunch at midday. Often, they’re not as hungry as they ordinarily would be, and food gets wasted. By mid-afternoon, they are then both desperate for food again. This lack of routine can be frustrating for all of us.
Linked to this lack of routine, the children expect to be entertained on a regular basis and have plenty of activities to do. Of course, I’d rather they did some colouring or went outside and played than being stuck on their devices all day, but it can be wearing sometimes, trying to come up with ideas. When we have all five children (ages 5 to 11), it can be even trickier in some ways, but generally, they entertain themselves a bit more easily.
We try to organise days out during the holidays, but this can be expensive, hence why Santa brought Merlin passes for most of the children a couple of Christmases ago. However, even with free entry, the cost of food, fuel and any extras they want from the shop soon add up. The summer holidays are great for spending quality time with the kids, but the costs soon add up.
My partner and I both continue to work during the summer holidays, so it can be tricky to find a balance between parenting and working. In fact, a work/life balance is almost non-existent when our kids aren’t at school. If we don’t do the work, we don’t get paid. However, conversely, if we don’t spend time with our children, we miss that time forever. It’s a really challenging time, and we always end up feeling guilty in some way. My partner has been working until the early hours the past few nights, just to ensure that his work is completed. His deadlines are immovable.
Despite all the challenges that come with being on school holidays, I know that being a teacher as well as working from home means I am lucky. I do not have to enrol my children in summer school. I do not have to worry about not being able to spend time with my girls. I do not have to be anxious about struggling to afford childcare costs. I truly am blessed to see them for extended periods of time, and now that restrictions have eased, we can spend time seeing their friends.
While the summer holidays may be filled with ups and downs for you as well, try to look on the bright side and remember that these long summer breaks won’t be here forever. One day, you will reflect on how much you miss this time of year.