Confession: I found these summer holidays hard.
I felt like I’d been at my most shoutiest for a long time. The littlest one tentatively asked me on one particularly bad day: “Mummy, why are you so angry today?”. Cue instant guilt and feeling like I’d been punched in the stomach. I hadn’t been angry had I? And yet, when I stopped and thought back over it, I knew deep down that I had. My tone of voice had far too often been far from loving. My requests of the girls were mostly orders barked at volume rather than gentle, kindly suggestions. And my girls picked up on it and responded in ways that mirrored my tone.
And yet despite this we really did have some wonderful days, and many wonderful moments within the shouty days.
I tried so very hard to slow things down, to not pack quite so much in. To have a slow and simple summer. We did end up doing quite a lot though. I’m really not very good at being at home all day – I like to try and make the most of every single day so as not to waste it, something that’s become even more important since my Dad died a year and a half ago because you never know when it might be your last.
When we did go out for a morning here, an afternoon there, or the occasional day trip I did my best to make it fun and interesting, new and exciting. I wanted us to discover new places together. Most often my ideas were met with “but we don’t waaaaant to go!”. So I dragged them out anyway and once they got there and realised it was an adventure we almost always ended up having a brilliant time.
I experimented, switched things up a bit by not planning stuff for a few days. Only to be met with multiple cries of “I’m booooored”. Inwardly it felt like I couldn’t win. Outwardly I cheerfully replied “Good – go use your imaginations to find something to do.” And off they’d go to play cards together or read a book or dig out beach mats to lie on in the sun in the garden to pretend they were on holiday.
I did my best to limit the amount I was working, cutting it down to just 2 days per week. But it still felt like an enormous juggling/balancing act because those days of client-facing work, quite apart from being physically tiring from a five hour round trip commute and mentally draining because of the nature of the therapy work I choose to specialise in, always generate lots of admin – emails, messages, researching resources for clients… so I’d end up balancing the laptop on my knees on the sofa in the evenings, trying to keep up with, well, everything.
I guess in truth I felt a bit like I was trying to do everything, trying to be all things to all people all of the time and failing at most of it – parenting, marriage, blogging, working. I know that’s not true – the good days vastly outweighed the bad; the infinite love was always greater than the temporary anger; and there is no failure, only feedback.
Despite all of this, I really didn’t want them to go back to school. I’ve loved having them at home with me. The lazy mornings, the weekday adventures, staying up late not wanting the day to end because we’re having too much fun. Summer has it’s own kind of routine.
And now suddenly they’re back at school and two and a half weeks of the term have gone already. They’ve grown inches in height over the summer. They’re all looking more grown up. And after the smallest of nervous wobbles the night before the first day back they’ve gone hurtling into Years 2, 4 and 5 without a backwards glance.
The start of a new school year brings new knowledge, new teachers, new routines, new classroom seating plans, new topics and new challenges. We need to get back into reading with them every night. And helping with homework. And navigating friendships. And after-school clubs. And remembering PE kits and swimming bags. And making packed lunches.
October half term feels like a long way away at the moment but I know the time will fly by and then before we know it it’ll be Christmas. The years seem to be going so quickly – I wish they’d all stop growing up and stay little for just a bit longer.