I love the summer holidays, I know this isn’t the case for all parents, but this is my reality. I love turning the alarm off, cuddles in bed with the children, days out and visiting friends. We don’t do lots of expensive things, we may have one day out and we are fortunate enough to usually be able to afford a holiday. But most of the things we do are free or low cost. Going to the park or beach, picnics, meetups and playdates with friends. Craft activities, movie afternoons and going to see family. The better the weather is, the better this becomes, I love this time with my children.
It is time I’ll never get back. I’m conscious particularly as Logan turns ten in October, that there will soon become a time when hanging out with Mum is not cool and spending the long days with friends is much more entertaining. I have seen a meme on social media how we only get eighteen summers, I would argue that it’s probably even less. There will come a time in their teen years when my children do not want to come to the zoo or the splash park with me and it will be before they are eighteen.
I was at the zoo earlier this year and it occurred to me that when my youngest Bo is nine, the same age as Logan. Logan will be sixteen and I will be doing days out on my own with Bo. It seems so strange to think of it now as I’m so used to gathering my tribe and getting them ready for days out together.
I know that my enjoyment of this time comes from a place of privilege too. The work that I do enables me to work flexibly around my children, I don’t have to put them in holiday clubs and have the huge cost and juggle that that involves.
As with all things in life, as much as I love the summer holidays these things always come with a but. And the but is this, the days out, the juggle of managing my work around my children and their activities. They all come with a cost and the cost of this, other than the state of my house which I will worry about again in September, is my own self-care.
I realised when I did my coaching at the beginning of the year, how much I had neglected my self-care and own personal goals since I had become a mother. I had got so much better at this this year, I realised that when I do make space for self-care in my life I become a better mother and more patient. It took a moment where my temper snapped in the second week of the holidays to realise I had stopped doing all the things that I had learnt.
I found I wasn’t drinking enough and got to 3pm one day and had only managed two drinks. That I hadn’t done any writing for a week, or proper exercise. I was juggling days out, with childcare and work, as well as house management and coming up short. I was emerging a bit of a raggedy mess. It’s fabulous and a privilege, but it is exhausting. The summer holidays are amazing and when I saw a petition of people asking for them to be reduced I felt sad, as I would not want them to be shorter.
But the summer holidays do come at a cost. They’re exhausting, they’re full-on, they take a lot from me and there are days when I have nothing left when the children go to bed but to collapse semi-comatose in a heap on the sofa somewhere. I get sick of the squabbles and the ridiculous fights and get to a place that I believe all Lego should go in the bin. Self-care falls to the bottom of the list because there is no space to fit it in. I give my all to the children, because at the ages they’re at that’s what they need. And that’s ok, but that’s hard. It’s ok to acknowledge that. I wouldn’t change it for the world, and while I feel very sad when September rolls in, but there is a little part of me that will welcome the return to routine.
And when my children are grown and have their own plans for the summer racing off on new adventures, I hope that they will remember them, as I know that I will as some of the best times of my life.