School holidays. They are a blissful break from those chaotic mornings spent packing nude food lunches and finding matching socks, library books and overdue excursion forms while screaming so loudly that your neighbours can hear you but your teenager (deeply immersed in maintaining her Snapchat streaks) cannot.
For working parents, however, a new daily challenge presents itself, with an arguably higher degree of difficulty. That challenge is to provide the adequate level of supervision and stimulation for one’s offspring so that their back to school report does not read, ‘In the holidays I sat at Mummy’s work on the iPad and ate Barbeque Shapes.”
It is in these moments that I ask myself why I didn’t become a teacher like my mother, so school holiday cover was automatically sorted. Then of course it dawns on me that controlling my own three children is such a stretch most days that multiplying the number of small people in my care by ten is probably not a sustainable or safe career path.
So we set about juggling days off and calling in favours from family and friends and somehow we always manage to conjure up something resembling school holiday fun.
We schedule the odd play date so that on their return from Susie’s house they can declare that Susie (names have been changed to protect the innocent) has 67 Shopkins and we only have 33. This may or may not be because I have been known to
bin them if I step on one in bare feet.
Sometimes we might venture to a playground. But I find there can be mothers there who have packed grapes in zip lock bags and whipped up a dip in the Thermomix and I find this altogether too damaging for my already fragile parenting self-esteem.
We have a swing at home and also grapes. Well, grapes that have been crushed into wine. And Gaganis Bros tzatziki. I do actually enjoy hanging out with my children during the holidays. I try to spend some one-on-one time with each of them. We go on an ice-cream, sushi or shopping date and I ask them about their hopes and dreams and they ask me what it was like growing up in the olden days when phones were connected to the wall and you had to hang up if someone needed to surf the world wide web.
These school holidays though, we have used that under-rated planning system known as a diary and applied for a few days off. My friends invited me to go camping. So I started a list of what I would need.
1. New friends.
I did not make that joke up. Unfortunately I also did not make up the fact that I am going camping. For real.
No toilets. No showers. No power. No 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. Pray for me. And let me know what I’ve missed on Instagram.
But we will be making some quality family memories. And gathering some excellent material for that back to school story: “And then Mummy said to Daddy pack up the tent, we’re checking into a hotel. The End.”
School Holiday Tips
- Spend a day cleaning out the children’s wardrobes and toy box and do a run to the Salvos or your charity
of choice. Teaches kids to help those less fortunate while decluttering. Win win.
- While you’re rifling around in cupboards do a school uniform stocktake so one does not discover on the first day back at school that the winter uniforms are way too small. This happened to a friend of mine. (Ok, it was me)
- Try to book a one-on-one activity with each child of their choice.
- Support a local children’s theatre production.
- Take a road trip. Try lunch at Patch in Stirling, milkshakes at 21 Junk Street in Yankalilla, fish and chips at the Flying Fish Café at Horseshoe Bay.
- Don’t compare the quality of your school holiday activities against that of other parents on social media. Not having a craft box/baking day/museum session does not make you a bad parent. I hope.
- Coffee and wine help.