Over the past week I’ve noticed something both at the school gates and on social media. It seems there are two distinct camps when it comes to the summer holidays: the hate camp vs the love camp. Statuses like “surviving the school hols without gin before 4pm is impossible” have popped up aplenty on my Facebook feed this week, alongside ones like “loving having the kids home – I don’t want this to end”. Just as with pretty much everything it seems, I don’t easily fall into either camp. I’m just not a tribe kind of person, I guess.
On the one hand, I love the summer holidays. My husband is a teacher, so it means he’s around all summer and we get some proper quality family time which is often sorely lacking during term time. On the other hand, I’m self-employed and work from home. Deadlines don’t stop just because it’s summer and my family wants to have a jolly. So I need to fit in my work around their needs too, which can sometimes prove tricky. At the risk of sounding like the most unoriginal person on the planet, it’s all about balance. As long as I get some time during the day to get some work done then I don’t panic, and as long as I make some time during the rest of the day to do fun stuff then my family don’t get cross with me.
As a kid, the end of term was always a really special time in my house. With both parents who were teachers the excitement levels on the last day of term were through the roof. I can clearly remember all four of us dancing round the kitchen (even my dad – and he’s an awful dancer) singing “HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!” at the top of our voices. The beginnng of the holidays would be marked with a celebration. Perhaps a meal at a local pub, mum and dad drinking cold beers in a sunny pub garden while me and my sister ran about, popping back to the table to scoff down scampi and chips and sip Orangina. Or it would be a takeaway and a film, with no need for an early bedtime. It felt different and helped to mark the end of one phase and the beginning of another.
Yesterday, as we wandered up the road to pick up Frog on her last day of her year in Reception, the NLM and I agreed that we needed to do something to mark the end of term. He broke up last Friday, so he was around for school pick-up which was a real treat for all of us. We decided to jump in the car and head to our nearest beach at Teignmouth. There’s a park there that Frog loves, plus a mini golf course, bouncy trampoline things and plenty of places that sell ice-cream. It’s not necessarily our favourite beach in the area, but it’s easy to get to and Frog loves it.
Being out of the house at that time of day during the week held a certain novelty for all of us. Usually 4pm – 7pm is a fraught time of tea, bath and bed while I hastily rush off last minute work emails and try to stop the baby destroying the house while I clear up after the mayhem of dinner.
The sky was blue and the sun beat down on us, making it feel like we were away on holiday rather than just twenty minutes from home. We wandered along the seafront and stopped for a cold drink looking out to sea. Frog has this cute mannerism where she shakes her hands and jumps up and down when she gets excited, so it’s really easy to see when she’s thinking about something that pleases her. She was shaking and jumping all over the place while we enjoyed our drinks.
Next we went to our favourite chippy and ate fish and chips on a bench on the seafront. We were all relaxed, no rush to be anywhere or worry about bedtime. Frog was chatting non-stop and Baby Girl happily gurgled and added her two cents’ worth of baby babbles to the conversation.
As we walked back along the promenade we stopped for a play on the beach and some paddling in the sea. Baby Girl did a running crawl along the sand, squealing with delight as she tried to chase her sister into the sea.
A last play in the park and the evening was over. We drove home happy and content, pleased that we’d made the most of a sunny evening and marked a new beginning of more laid back days, adventures away and time together as a foursome this summer.
As a parent, these are the kind of moments I live for. These are the ones I know I’ll remember when I’m old and grey. I just need to remind myself of this next time I’m having a bad day.
How about you? How do you feel about the school holidays?
PS. This post by Gemma from Helloitsgemma perfectly nails that balance between loving and hating the summer holidays. Well worth a read if, like me, you don’t feel like you fall easily into either camp.