Every year, the school summer holiday presents me with something of a dilemma. With it, there comes a conflict of feelings: I’m excited about having the kids at home yet terrified about, well, having the kids at home!
At the very start of their six-week education sabbatical, I am full of promises and good intentions. Instagram tells me that I’ll only get 18 summers with my children and therefore I ought to make the most of them. Glossing over the fact that I rather hope my children might still want to know me when they’re adults, the pressure is on.
So, we make a summer holiday plan. There will be picnics. There will be adventures. There will be catch-ups with friends and family. There will be days on the beach that will end in windswept faces and sandy toes, the kids nodding off to sleep in the car as the sun sets, t-shirts covered in ice-cream, buckets and spades still on laps. We’ll say, ‘This is the life’ and take photos that in years to come will transport us back to the wonderful summer that was 2019.
That’s the plan. But the reality, of course, plays out slightly differently. Picnics are rained off. Adventures are compromised by a 20-month-old who screams bloody murder when he’s gently discouraged from toddling towards a cliff edge. Those well intentioned catch-ups with friends and family prove hard to orchestrate between travel plans, work schedules and the weather forecast.
This year, just one week in to the school summer holiday, it became clear that our eldest boys don’t actually like each other very much. They bicker constantly, wind each other up and appear irritated whenever the other is close by (this is problematic, noting they share a bedroom!). As each day draws to a close and I sit feeling guilty for the amount of shouting I have done, I make a vow that the next day will be a #makingmemories type of day. At the back of my mind, the making-the-most-of-it pressure feels even greater this year because our four-year-old will start school in September. It’s the end of a child-sized era, of having him all to ourselves at home and I had every intention of treasuring this special time together… until I realised that in the company of his brothers, he’s an animal.