Today was officially the first day of our summer holidays. I think last year I was really excited about this, except for the fact that I was working pretty much continuously all summer, with hardly any time to actually be at home with the children. I had this nostalgic memory of idyllic long weeks of adventure from my own childhood. Potentially memories that bear little similarity to my mother’s recollections of those same weeks.
This year I have slightly different feelings heading into it. I am now more balanced about the fact that we may well have some lovely fun times, but there may be some pretty hellish moments where I feel like disowning both children. And that these moments may actually be more like a couple of weeks…
Less than twenty four hours in and we haven’t had the smoothest of starts. Last night we celebrated the end of term by heading straight into town for dinner at a rather fabulous burger place followed by the first ever whole family cinema trip. Until now I had felt out three year old was too young for the cinema so he has always missed out, meaning that cinema trips have always been a special treat for my daughter and one parent. My son is now pretty good at paying attention through a film and knows when to be quiet, so I was hopeful that a trip to see Despicable Me 3 would be a wonderful family way to start the holidays.
It started well enough, and apart from a meltdown over a pink highlighter pen I was feeling positive. This was definitely assisted by my special treat of an aperol spritz cocktail to wash down my burger. The first fifteen minutes of the movie were great, all of us laughing along with an 80s classic soundtrack behind the chuckles. Around that point though my son decided that actually Despicable Me 3 was absolutely the most terrifying thing he had ever seen in his whole life (the whole Star Wars and Harry Potter back catalogue apparently have nothing on Gru in a bubblegum mankini!)
Deapite cuddles, reassurances and boob (the great cure-all), I ended up carrying him out with at least half an hour left of the movie, worried that his wails were disturbing the rest of the audience. It was not quite how I had imagined the evening going. Add that to the epic bedtime with two very hyper children, and I felt a little broken before the holiday had even started.
This year I really have tried to lower my expectations. I have a couple of things booked in, an evening of outdoor theatre with a company I know the kids have always enjoyed in the past, a storytelling session at the incredible Minack Theatre, and a train journey to stay with my mother, their beloved Mimi, for a week in the middle. Apart from this the six weeks stretch ahead with absolutely no set plans. I am quite in favour of the idea of letting them get bored, the concept that boredom is the birth place of all great adventures and inventions. I do not mind some days where pyjamas never come off and the tv stays on all day. I have definitely felt that towards the end of this term my daughter has been very much in need of some totally unscheduled time to recover from the demands of her first properly academic year of school. However, for when TV becomes monotonous (I’m hoping that eventually it will!!) and cabin fever sets in, we have created The Bored Board for ideas of cheap, easy things we can do locally, or even without leaving the house, to all enjoy over the summer.
We’ll see how we do this year. I’m hoping that low expectations, embracing pyjamas and tv, whilst making some time for adventure, will lead to a holiday where I survive a little better, and like my children a little more at the end of it. But who knows, a simple trip to the supermarket this morning nearly had me packing my bags and leaving already today, so wish me luck for the remaining 43 days. Good luck to all the other summer holiday parents too! Any tips gratefully received.