There was a time when I used to dread the summer holidays just a little bit (or a lot). Acres of days stretching ahead of us with endless time to fill – it terrified me. I didn’t know what to do to entertain the children; holiday activity camps were too expensive, they wouldn’t sit still to watch a whole film, there’s only so many cakes we could bake and I’m still not 100% exactly what crafting is. Holidays used to equal hours of boredom and mum fail.
But I feel like I’ve turned a corner parenting and holiday-wise as they’ve gotten older. Hux is now three and can sit through a film at the cinema (or even three films: Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and then Despicable Me again. That was a fun afternoon) and Elfie loves to pick through her activity boxes to find games and colouring – we get VERY competitive at Guess Who in our house.
I also think that, 5 years after becoming a parent, I’ve finally come to terms with the responsibility of it all. If I’ve kept the kids alive all this time (and done it solo for 2.5 years) I must be doing something right, yeah? And not only are they still alive but they seem to like me as well. Mega points! When I get told completely unprompted that I am the best mummy ever (though possibly not true) that is the best justification ever.
We’ve actually had a brilliant summer so far. The weather’s been a bit touch and go (side eye to the current rainy window) but we’ve managed two trips to the outside pool, two playdates, a week in Center Parcs, a cinema trip, five BBQs, four activity sessions at the gym, a girls-only shopping trip and a garden picnic. All mostly spontaneous but still, supermum or wot?!
I think it’s all down to them getting older and me learning how to parent a bit more. I find it so much easier now my two aren’t high-maintenance babies and we can extract ourselves from tantrums and meltdowns with logic and a healthy bit of bribery, instead of having to sit out the screaming fits because Hux just can’t understand why he has to have the yellow not the green toothbrush. I feel like we’ve left the toddler years behind and I now have two bone fide children with thoughts and feelings and intelligence. I thought I’d always be the kind of person to go gaga over babies but really I’m finding this stage so much more rewarding.
It’s also down to an arguably healthier work/life balance. Hux has been at nursery three days a week in the holidays and Elfie’s been spending half days with her grannie so I’ve had a little bit of time to knuckle down to business, but not too much. I ‘m still feeling a bit overwhelmed when reflecting on the last year of intense corporate life and it’s been fantastic to take the foot off the work-pedal a little bit this month. I’ve also filled my child-free time with fun grown-up things (hola, last minute trip to New York) and knowing I am making the most of the alone time makes me very happy.
It’s funny that I’ve spent a lot of time scared of the holidays with my kids, worried about filling their time with being an interesting and entertaining parent. But to make them happy this summer they haven’t needed hours of structured activities – just a chilled out mum, some board games and the odd trip to the pool.