It’s one of those parental love/hate relationships. We whinge about how much we can’t wait for the school holidays to be over, yet the second they end, we wish for more time with our little people again.
At their tender ages of four and one, the opportunity to be an ‘At-home’ Mum to my two littlest is one I relish, even if it is only during school holidays. I love establishing the daily routine, then etching out our daily plans around it. We play, visit parks, read books, watch movies and chat. I love the chance to ‘Spring’ clean and potter in the garden on warm evenings, watch live sport with the big kids, as well as enjoy our beloved ‘Big Bash’ cricket on the TV most evenings over the Christmas holidays.
I love having the chance to catch up with my friends and family who I neglect terribly during school time and hockey season. Sleep-ins, barbecues, movies and late nights – it’s the chance to truly unravel ourselves from the shackles of working life.
Summer is when I get the chance to push the omnipresent ‘Working Mother Guilt’ to the side and pretend for a month and a half that this is my actual life – a life of family, friends, social events and leisurely activities.
It is my favourite time of the year.
Entertaining children for six weeks straight, however, is not without its challenges. Not sure about your kids, but mine eat about three times their regular lunchbox size rations in school holiday time. On top of this, they seem to suffer from perennial boredom, and the heat makes sending them outside to play not always practical. Finding new and exciting activities to occupy them over this time can be an uphill battle, as can maintaining any kind of budget.
Have I mentioned the bickering? Flashbacks of my parents bellowing at great volume remind me very clearly that we are not on our Bob Malone in finding this a tiresome by-product of lengthy school holidays.
So yes it’s a wonderful hiatus and I’m certainly not complaining, but it does get exhausting in its own way.
By the end of the Summer break, I start to get the signals that it is time to return to work. I notice that I’m missing not having any ‘downtime’, where I can tune out, plug myself in to the laptop and not have to speak to anyone. I notice that while I love being at home, the sound of the boys arguing, or the toddler demanding to be picked up until 9:30pm at night seems to become a little harder to bear. I notice that hearing the call out for ‘Mummy’ at times makes me feel put upon and irritated.
Like an inbuilt alarm system, my body recognises the signs too well, that the Summer interlude is winding up, and like a well-oiled machine it lures me back to the grindstone.
Intellectual stimulation, friendly banter with students and shared lunches with my lovable colleagues beckon, and like Pavlov’s dog, I respond accordingly.
I’m not alone in my recognition that the school year is about to begin again.
At about this same juncture, social media posts starts to erupt with a myriad of memes about the need for school to start again.
Friends post about needing a break and the school holidays feeling ‘longer than ever’. It is as if, collectively, we parents run our lives based on the ebb and flow of the school tides, moving in and out like clockwork. We pass the figurative ‘baton’ from one to the other, only too happy to be rid of the additional responsibility for a little while to have our well-deserved turn for a rest.
So as I wind up my last few days of freedom, and prepare once again to man my post at my school ‘Station’, I bid you a good break parents: enjoy the next ten weeks of normality while we do our very best job investing ourselves in the education and care of your lovely little people.