OK. So no one has joked about the pain of the summer holidays more than me. (Apart from you, that is.) But actually, deep down I think we all realise they’ll be over before we know it. And there’ll be things we’ll miss. So here are 20 things to appreciate before we’re ‘Back to School.’
Imagine if we asked ALL kids to do this.
When my friend told me that her children’s summer ‘homework’ is to keep a book of 30 things they’ve never done before, I wished our school was doing the same.
What a great idea. Asking kids to use their imagination in a fun and exciting way. Exactly what we should be encouraging young kids to do. Rather than focusing on phonics. And ticking the government’s check boxes.
This is something we could all do, I thought. To survive the summer holidays. To actually enjoy the summer holidays.
Now there’s a wild thought.
Because let’s face it, the summer holidays can feel like an endurance test.
Keeping the kids occupied. Keeping them happy. Keeping them alive. (I feel that I should add a note here for any perfect mums who might say they’ve never experienced this and who relish every second of the school holidays. Clearly, this blog post isn’t for you.)
So I’ve come up with a list. Of 20 things to enjoy before the end of the summer. Not grand things we haven’t done before. But things we don’t do often. Things we don’t get a chance to do often.
Because life is just too damn busy.
My list is all about temporarily removing the pressure from our lives. And keeping things SIMPLE.
Because I spend enough of the school year feeling guilty/exhausted/under pressure. I don’t want to feel like this during the summer too.
Create your own list. Use mine. Just ensure you make the most of this time out with your kids. Whatever that means to you. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to enjoy every minute. I’d think you were pretty insane (or drunk) if you did.
So here they are. Our 20 things. (You’ll notice there aren’t any crafts on this list. That is because they are still the spawn of the devil. Summer holidays or no summer holidays.)
1. Have a day where no one gets dressed. And don’t feel guilty about it. (Hell, have 45 days where no one gets dressed, if you like.)
2. Let your kids eat sweets for breakfast one morning. Then regret this come 10.00 AM.
3. Forget the washing and play with the kids instead. I know that playing with our kids is one of the things lots of us are scared of (me included) but, once you do it, it actually comes a bit more naturally (and who really wants to do the washing?). Guess Who is good. Especially when you play it with a 3 year old who’s prone to fibbing and insists on showing you her card at the start of every game.
4. Ask the kids what they want to do. Then do it. But only if you’re prepared to make toilet roll soup.
5. Hang out with the kids. And just ‘be’ with them and their toys. Without a phone. Without the TV. Without any distractions. (Getting palpitations yet?)
6. Make milkshakes. Let everyone pick an ingredient and blend it up. Then pretend to drink yours. Mmmmmm.
7. Do role play. This can backfire. Especially when your kids’ favourite role play is ‘Mummy and Daddy are dead. Will you be our new Mummy?‘ followed by graphic details about how Daddy died on the road and Mummy died on the pavement. I’m afraid I’m not joking.
8. Stay up late together and watch a film with popcorn. I can highly recommend ‘The Extraordinary Life of Timothy Green,’ and ‘Walking on Sunshine’ (both on Netflix). Like most things, this will come back to bite you on the bum when everyone is cranky the next day but for the two hours it lasts, you’ll feel like the coolest mum in town. And everyone will be happy.
9. Don’t rush. Because we haven’t had to rush as much I’ve realised that my kids do sometimes do what I’ve asked. Eventually. OK, it still takes an absolute age but me repeating, ‘Put on your shoes,‘ 231 times doesn’t actually get it done any quicker. Obviously, this won’t last when we go back to school but, for now, I intend to make the most of it. And shout less. (Wish me luck.)
10. Be flexible. Bend the rules. Flaunt the rules. Tell yourself, ‘rules are made to be broken.’ Every now and again. But especially in summer holidays.
11. Make pancakes for breakfast. My kids often ask me to do this. At 8.20 AM on a school morning when we are already 45 minutes behind schedule and peeling a banana is looking optimistic.
12. Let your kids watch TV for a whole day if they want to. It won’t kill them. When I think about my down-time, it often includes a marathon of SATC episodes. So why shouldn’t theirs include a marathon of Larva. (If you haven’t yet discovered Larva on Netflix, check it out. I hate it. Which obviously means my kids love it.)
13. Read together. For fun. Not because you have to. My mum recently dug out all my old Enid Blyton books from my childhood. ‘The Wishing Chair’ and ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’ is going to make a refreshing change from Biff and Chip and books which have no proper storyline because they’re all about the ‘ea’ and the ‘ee’ and the ‘y.’ Yawn.
14. Get outside together. Run around. Play football. A game of frisbee. Or my favourite, rounders. Lose your inhibitions in front of your kids (makes a change from your temper, right?)
15. Have a sleepover. If you do this most nights anyway with kids who insist on crashing your bed, I appreciate this won’t be something to ‘enjoy.’ Perhaps you could do the opposite. ‘Let’s all sleep in our own beds!’
16. Play outside until the sun sets. Because the nights are drawing in and then you won’t be able to.
17. Do as many free things as possible. And don’t worry about doing the same things. Again and again. My kids are still at the age where they don’t care where they go. They would happily go to the park every day. So really, if the weather’s nice, what’s the point in spending a small fortune and travelling farther afield when we have enough free, fun stuff on our doorstep? We mix it up by hanging out with different friends at the same places. The company is good for everyone. And I get to speak to actual adults.
18. Have a car disco. This sounds bonkers. Because it is. But it’s perfect for a rainy day. Basically, you sit in the car, turn the radio up and everyone dances around like nutters. I don’t know why this is fun. But my kids think it’s hilarious.
19. Take some time out FOR YOU. Don’t feel guilty for wanting and needing this. There are points in the holidays where no matter how much fun you’ve been having, you just need to get away from one another. Put the kids in a holiday club or ‘lend’ them to the grandparents. You’ll all be better for it. You especially.
20. Enjoy those lazy mornings! There are NO prizes for getting out of the house early. Remember this when it’s 11.00 AM, no one’s ready and that mum guilt is creeping up because you’re not up and out yet. In four short (long) weeks we’ll be pulling our hair out again whilst screaming at our kids to ‘GET DRESSED!’ Need I say more?