It’s the same every summer… we get towards the end of the school year absolutely on our knees with exhaustion. The girls have been working hard since September, none of us ever seem to fully recharge at the weekends and we’re all craving slower, less structured days. I’ve been feeling a little bit under the weather for a couple of weeks now which is always a sign that I’m getting run down and my body (& brain) need a rest. And the girls are bickering even more than usual over silly, nonsensical things. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all counting down the days to the start of the summer holidays.
The husband and I do still have to work over the six-and-a-half week break. In fact, nothing much will change for Neil – it’ll be business as usual apart from a few days in August when we’ve got Sophie staying with us. I’m working less – still doing my Wednesdays in London seeing clients and otherwise only working on a Monday while the girls go to Kids Club, which they love. The rest of the time they’ll be at home with me. And I love it.
I know many parents aren’t lucky enough to be in this position and have to continue to work full time, paying out enormous amounts of money on childcare. I feel very blessed to be able to choose how often and how much I work so I can still earn some kind of income whilst spending as much time with the girls as possible. And I guess on the opposite end of the spectrum the mums who choose not to work might be wondering how on earth they are going to entertain their children throughout the long break. It’s tough to get a balance nowadays, and thankfully we seem to have found a way that works for us.
During the last week of term the girls and I usually sit down together and make a Summer Bucket List of things we want to do/already have planned over the holidays – activities, playdates, places to visit, new things to try. I much prefer being busy and out-and-about to quiet days at home without much to do – I go a bit crazy if I’m at home all day. As a result our list is always jam-packed full of ideas and trips and we never, ever tick it all off. In fact, I’ve come to realise that that’s exactly the problem with how I’ve been doing it over the last few years I think – the summer holidays end up being turned into yet another to-do list that I have to work my way through. Not relaxing at all and it definitely takes away some (ok…a lot) of the fun.
This year I’m definitely feeling the need to slow things down a bit, to keep them simpler. Instead of cramming as many outings in as possible, I’m going to make sure we have plenty of time and space at home to just be. To hang out together at home with nothing in particular to do and just see where the day takes us.
Last weekend really brought it home to me. We didn’t do anything ‘special’ – we just pottered around (or ‘bimbled about’ as my Mum would say!). We popped to the library and chose some new books. The girls played in the garden. Both sets of grandparents came to visit for the afternoon on Sunday. They sat and read for hours. We went to Thornton’s for ice cream. Together we worked a bit more on the epic jigsaw that Lola bought from the school summer fair a couple of weekends ago that we still haven’t finished yet. They helped me sort through all their colouring books (literally, dozens!) and get rid of the ones that were finished so they didn’t keep spilling out on to the floor of my office. Nothing complicated or super-expensive. And the girls were quite happy. In fact, they loved it. They didn’t ask for more. They were content with us just spending time together and it was lovely.
And so our Summer Bucket List this year looks a bit different. We have a week away in Jersey already booked and beyond that this year is more focused on being quieter and slower, with days full of simple pleasures that have a special kind of magic all of their own – the kind of magic that keeps hearts full and imaginations alive.
The only exception is that we do try and do one ‘big’ day trip each summer. Last year we went to the Warner Bros Studio Tour (or, as the girls call it, ‘Harry Potter World’), which was absolutely brilliant and all three girls are desperate to go back again. This year however we’ve used our Tesco vouchers to buy tickets to LEGOLAND Windsor, which we are all looking forward to with excitement.
Other than that though our Slow Summer Bucket List contains just the following few things, specifically requested by the girls:
~ play in the paddling pool
~ have a water fight
~ go for a picnic
~ host a family BBQ
~ go to the cinema to see The BFG movie
~ go to the park
~ Sophie to visit
~ A visit to the Ice Cream Farm
I have a few more ideas up my sleeve for the afternoons when the inevitable boredom does eventually take over and no amount of encouragement to use their imaginations is enough to get them out of a funk, and we’re planning to swap the girls bedrooms around as well. But that’s it. Nothing more. Just simple fun that will stay with them as memories forever.
I can’t wait 🙂