The summer holidays were my first as a parent to school aged children and I’m not currently working. I wanted to make them fun. I wanted us to have experiences together. I was possibly aware that we were cramming A LOT of fun in to six short weeks but I, I mean we, like having fun. What I don’t especially enjoy are long days doing nothing at home. We live in London and London isn’t famous for big houses that are conducive to long days spent inside. Well, I guess it is, but they tend to be empty and belong to random Russian oligarchs. The houses normal people inhabit really aren’t big and can feel minuscule after a few days of doing nothing with small kids. I wanted to have fun with my kids but I don’t think I really internalised that they’re so little and what counts as a break for us, isn’t necessarily what counts as a break for them.
It’s odd, I’m good at not planning stuff for after school. There, I’m all too aware that the kids are little and really don’t want to do a million week-day activities. They swim once a week and that’s about it apart from playing in the park with friends or chilling at home. I see other parents signing their kids up for activities every day after school and feel glad I’ve realised that my kids can’t manage that yet (I’m sure others can, no judgement, I know my kids, you know yours) but here, somehow, I forgot what I already knew.
So, when I wondered about whether I was ramming in too much and only scheduling in a few days of doing nothing, I quickly buried my concerns and carried on arranging fun stuff. But now it’s September, both kids claim they’re tired and although both really do love their schools, both told me they’d rather stay at home with me than go to school. Did I make the summer too much fun in two different ways? Did I make non-school life so freaking awesome that my kids now only ever want to hang out with me whilst simultaneously doing far too much and making my kids emotional wrecks before dropping them off at school with a merry wave? Oh look at that, a humorous look at my life has already thrown up two ways I could feel guilty if I were predisposed to maternal guilt.
I reckon we probably did do too much if this morning was anything to go by. My SB hopped and skipped to school, his first day in year one (the second year of primary school, in case you’re reading this outside of the UK), happily chatting to me about how much he loves me and I love him and how he understands that I’m always there at the end of the day, that when we’re not together it’s ok because we’re in each other’s hearts. Without too much detail, let’s just say it didn’t go exactly to plan and I left a pretty unhappy little boy at school. I know he’ll be fine though, he’s an amazing boy. When he started school in Mexico, aged four, he told me, ‘I don’t much like my new school but I know I have a choice to be happy or unhappy so I choose happy’.
Back to us doing too much. Well, if I look back through my diary, we spent two weeks in Italy as soon as school finished, arrived home, went to stay with friends in Kent, did a week of swimming lessons and play-dates, went to Northern Ireland to run and explore an amazing part of the world, then had a week of house-guests and play-dates and then bam, school again. Only a few days were actually spent just chilling out. While nothing we did on any of our jaunts from home was too wild (loads of exploring, climbing, playing and eating of ice creams), it still took its toll on my little people. Maybe it’s telling that the day my son told me was the best day ever was the day we did body painting and an outdoor bubble bath followed by watching a film under blankets.
Is that lesson learned for this mum? Not sure. Lesson heard, maybe. Maybe I should feel bad that I’ve just booked us a half term break!