I haven’t blogged for a long while. Almost three months. But today I am back. And that can only mean two things:
- Love Island is almost finished
- It’s the summer holidays and the idea of getting through it without venting on my blog is unthinkable!
So today I am writing in anticipation of the next six weeks. Not so much excited anticipation…more nervous anticipation…foreboding anticipation perhaps!
I have said it before and I will say it again, for the non-believers out there – I love my three boys with every ounce of my being! But boy are they a pain in the a*** sometimes. And those times are normally times such as these. School holiday times. Times when they have too much time on their hands and too much time in each other’s company. Individually they are wonderful – funny, attentive, bright, entertaining. Together they are not-so-wondeful – loud, competitive, irritating, argumentative!
So I have put together a plan. Like many mums, whose photos of organised to-do lists are currently adorning my Facebook feed, I believe a plan of action is the best chance of survival.
And because I am a good person, altruistic enough to share my pearls of wisdom with you, I have come out of hiding to write this blog…your survival guide to the next six weeks.
(Disclaimer – this may not really be a survival guide. More some ramblings and ideas for how to get to September without becoming a ranting shadow of your former self. If you are one of those parents who cherishes every minute of school holidays, spending time and creating precious memories with your beautifully-behaved children, this blog is perhaps not for you!)
For all you mums-in-need out there, here it goes:
- Book the children into holiday clubs. Lots of them. Spread them out at key points throughout the holidays, safe in the knowledge that if you are reaching the end of your tether, it is only a few days until you get some time out! Make these active clubs, which are sure to wear out your little darlings. Tired children, in my experience, are less annoying! We are based in Kent and have chosen some excellent clubs, and whilst they are a bit pricey, when you add it all up, you cannot put a price on your sanity right? Boy 1 is doing some water-sports at Mote Park; Boy 2 will be going to Premier Football School, a great value and fun football coaching course; and the Holy Grail is when they are both at a Harlequins rugby camp, at the same time – three days of total calm and an absence of the words “Mum, tell him…”
1a. Divide and Conquer. Arrange different activities for your children on different days. This gives you lovely 1:1 time with each of them but avoids the need to break up fights and referee arguments about whose turn it is first on the Xbox or who gets to eat the last biscuit.
2. Arrange some play dates with like-minded mums. These are the mums that will appreciate time away from their little ones so much, while they play at your house, that they are willing to bear the pain of the reciprocal hosting of your children at their house, hence giving you more time out.
3. Arrange to meet mum-friends at venues that are normally too awful to bear alone. Think soft plays or indoor trampoline centres. A good old gossip with a pal over a cup of (bad) coffee makes these trips bearable, and your children will love it of course.
4. Do some park research. Find lots of parks with long paths, climbing apparatus and good ice creams. A variety of parks will spark interest and curiosity for your children, the long paths and things to climb will wear them out, and the ice cream will act as bribery for good behaviour for the rest of the day! We like Cobtree Manor Park, Danson Park, Shorne Country Park and Manor Park Country Park, all located nearish to us in Kent.
5. Buy craft stuff – paper, glue, clay, glitter, pom-poms, googly eyes and so on. Allocate a few mornings as ‘craft mornings’. The minute you give them a name, they become an event, and your children’s creative juices will flow. Teachers use the expression ‘junk modelling’ to mean ‘make any old rubbish out of any old crap you have lying around the house’ and children love it. You will be amazed at what they can make from cardboard boxes, sticky tape and a bit of imagination. Just be prepared to “oooh” and “aaah” at it once they are done, and be subtle in how you ask what it is!
6. Get out the old toys from the back of the wardrobe – Lego is always a winner in our house, as well as the Brio train set, Happyland stuff and board games. We have recently re-discovered Happyland and it has gone down a treat with the older boys and our baby boy too.
- Pop them in front of the Xbox or TV for a bit…this is as quiet as it gets. (‘A bit’ can be flexible and negotiated as required!)
And when all of the above is exhausted and you still have days to spare, don’t forget the swimming, bowling, trips to Grandma’s, numerous walks around Leeds Castle, supermarket visits (complete with the purchase of a couple of DVDs for a bit more peace and quiet) and obligatory school shoe and uniform shopping and trip to the barbers!
And if you are lucky, you may even sneak a week away on a proper family holiday.
And my final tip – remember to stock up on snacks and feed them often. ‘Hangry’* children are the worst. (‘Hangry Mum’ is not much better!)
Before you know it, it will be September, and you will be texting your friends to work out which day they are actually back to school, since you have lost track of the INSET days.
The night before they go back to school will arrive, and you will be frantically washing their PE kits that they left to fester in the porch all summer! (These PE kits will be found next to the Reading Records that haven’t seen an entry since the end of June!)
And then the big day will arrive – Back to School. And as you wave them off at the school gate, in their new, you-will-grow-into-it uniform, you may shed a tiny tear, perhaps of joy or maybe regret. They are another year older, another inch taller and another step closer to moving out of home!
* The Oxford Dcitionary describes ‘hangry’ as bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger