As half term approached, the week before last I was feeling confident and organised about my week ahead at home with my children. As always I have learnt the key to a successful half term with my three young children is organisation, which doesn’t necessarily come easy to me and predominantly the main reason I end up crumpled in a heap of failure and self-pity. Alas I put in place a non demanding schedule to show my eldest two via visual timetable format, specifically designed for my middle son who is autistic. The timetable included grueling trips to the dentist, hair dressers and less horrifying parental experiences such as parks and walks.
However due to some extremely upsetting news at the beginning of the week our whole week was turned upside down. I was to fly to Ireland at very short notice, meaning lots of packing and organising from home. Luckily my children sat wonderfully watching our new 4K LED TV from Panasonic. Shock! Horror! From all the perfect parents who claim not to allow their children TV time. With its sleek design and beautifully bright, colourful display the children love some time out watching their favourite Netflix shows. The children’s laughter at the Boss Baby series on Netflix always lifts my spirits, the elder two claim our youngest baby is in fact the Boss Baby and it has given us great amusement over the last year. I will undoubtedly be dressing the little creature in a suit for any upcoming fancy dress parties!
Whilst on the flight to Ireland with just the youngest in tow I reflected on the concept of half term and the pressures that parents put themselves under to try to create the most action packed, fun-filled break for their children. Numerous events on my Facebook page popped up prior to this week, advertising bouncy castle days, all day activity events and a whole host of variations of craft days. Is it really so bad to spend some down time indoors? I have always felt my children need some time to relax in their own home and play with their toys, watch some films and just relax! My children love nothing more than a spot of indoor “den building” with duvets, tables and chairs which they can then picnic in and watch their favorite films.
I believe that some people like to sugar coat their half terms. They like to give the illusion of perfect parenting but in fact there are some realities of half term which are unspoken for all parents. Here are my realities of half term:
Starvation: Your children will ask for snacks regularly. Regularly as in every 15 minutes, leaving you to wonder how on earth your little cherubs ever survive the school day without frequent snacks. The beginning of the week will consist of strict healthy snacking times but as the week progresses and you become more and more defeated by the constant snacking demands your thoughts turn from;
- Concern – does your child in fact have some kind of condition? Do they have worms?
- Anger – “I bet you wouldn’t ask Mrs Smith for extra snack times!”
- Defeat – leaving the biscuit tin left open for them to help themselves whilst you have 20 minutes peace from the relentless dictators whom you have spawned.
Illness: Your activities are planned, you have pre-booked some exciting events perhaps even a little trip away, all is set for an amazing week. Then a sickness bug hits! Any type of illness chicken pox, colds, viruses, bugs plan it wonderfully to ensure that they hit either you or your children on half term week. It is as if the body finally relaxes from the stresses of the daily school run and those nasty bugs recognise the change in defense and… Bang! There you are knee-deep in vomit covered duvets, with greying children and diarrhea and snot stains on your carpets, walls and encrusted in your hair.
Socialising: Even as a child I always remembered being dragged to one of my mum’s friend’s houses to socialise with their children. Children we only ever saw during school holidays. Some of them become good friends to my brother and I and we loved spending time with them. However others were not the type of friends we would have chosen, no matter how much our mum and their mum liked each other. Now as a parent I already can see these “arranged friendships” developing with my own children. The pressure they have to endure to like my friends children to ensure my friend and I can have a chat and cup of tea.
Other Children: It is ok not to welcome other children and their parents. You are only human to dislike other families and unfortunately half term will be full of them, at the parks, soft play centres etc. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringings and I,100 per cent know that some families in my neighbourhood actively feared me as a child “playing out” with their children. My plotting and scheming knew no bounds and I was always aiming to be the ruler in all games. To the extent that one time a few days after Brownies, I had learnt some first aid and decided to put it to good use. Therefore the next day of the summer holidays I rummaged through my mum’s first aid kit and perfected a professional sling for my younger brothers arm. We snuck out to play with the other kids in the banjo (green area on a cul-de-sac – for anyone non London) I demanded we played whatever game my brother wanted (which of course I had picked) due to my brothers injuries sustained through “being run over by a car.” We had a great day playing my games until I got home and one of the other parents had made a phone call enquiring after my mother and how she was after my brother’s recent, imaginary road incident. One of many sneaky schemes but they do make me think about my own children and how I would actively dislike a child like myself playing with them!
British Weather: It is February and my child is asking for the paddling pool out. In usual circumstances this would have been laughed off but in all fairness it was 21 degrees in London yesterday. Is it so absurd for her to believe it’s paddling pool weather? The main point being here; you can never trust British weather, you may have all types of beach type activities planned in august and it will thunderstorm. It is inevitable and us British do love a weather rant!
I do hope whatever your plans were in half term you survived and are enjoying the peace from snack demanding and constant whines, which act as the soundtrack to many of our half terms. I would love to know what you got up to and perhaps how your plans were thwarted by the realities and inevitabilities of half term.
This post was part of a paid collaboration with Panasonic.