The long, long holidays are here now. They no longer loom threateningly. We can no longer avoid looking them in the eyes and saying, hands on hips, ‘How are we going to get along, you and I, Mr Holiday?’
Those of us who don’t have heaps of money to take everyone away for weeks on end, without holiday care options, without free grannies, with an aversion to kids in front of screens for hours on end and with deadlines, are particularly anxious.
People keep asking me: ‘So, all geared up for Friday? Have you got the fever yet?’ The first time I was asked that this week, I thought they were asking me if I was geared up for keeping the kids busy in the holidays, but they were, of course, referring to the World Cup, which is bizarrely low on my radar.
The only fever I have is low-level anxiety. Instead of just the usual run of things to think about, there’s also the ‘how to fill several hours a day’ loop.
And the ‘if I turn down this project because of the holidays I might be broke’ circuit.
And the ‘What I’d really like to do is kick up my feet and take the kids tadpole hunting/cow milking/boulder hopping’ rollercoaster.
What will happen, as it always does, is that the magic mother machinery will begin rolling. I already have Friday afternoon sorted: the twins are coming here for a few hours, and next week, the twins’ mother will have my daughter for a while. Now I have to make sure that I get my son sorted in those few hours she’s away, so that I can spend them frantically fulfilling my work commitments.
We mothers will juggle and dance and make ad hoc SMS arrangements at eleven in the evenings. We’ll receive frantic messages at 7am saying ‘I’m sick! Can you have the boys for a few hours?’ We’ll take our exercise routines to parks and try to jog around the field while a gaggle of boys play touch rugby in the middle of it. We’ll go shopping for supper with an entourage of kids pointing out treats on shelves we’d hoped they hadn’t spotted and going ‘Ah, please can we have some?’ like some evil choir.
We’ll do book runs: take large piles of current hits to the homes of other children, and swop them for large piles of other current hits to bring home. And we’ll visit the library. We’ll buy pristine notebooks and new sketching pencils or kokis and say: ‘Record your holiday’.
We’ll bang away at our keyboards while the kids bang away at their make-shift drums and belt out songs they’ve made up, and hope that our deadline and their concert readiness coincide, so that we don’t have to keep telling them to ‘just hang on another moment while I send this last email’.
So, in order not to emerge in July mad, bad or broke, today I put my hands on my hips and said: ‘This, Mr Holiday, is how we’ll get along: with a little help from my mothering friends, a pile of books, and some extra creative thinking.’
Need some ideas to keep your child occupied this loooong holiday? Check out our events page!