Surviving the summer?
Are you still hanging in there? Have you ever been more exhausted? Summer holidays, eh …
As the huge chasm of time that has passed since my last blog post may suggest, it’s been a challenge on many fronts.
As child #1 is about to move from Reception into Year 1, this is the first ‘proper’ summer holiday I’ve had as a parent. And blimey, what a strange experience it’s been. As with every new phase of parenting, there’s an almost mind-boggling amount of stuff to learn and adapt to – but the past few weeks have been quite a shock to the system.
As some indication of what’s been flying through my little mind over the past few weeks, here are a few random reflections on the wide-ranging thoughts which punctuated this most un-summery summertime:
Why on earth did I do this?
Firstly, the maths doesn’t work. We’re both working parents (my wife part-time) and our employers are more generous than most with holiday allowances. But still we’re scrabbling around for ways to sort childcare during school holidays. This summer, we’ve managed to arrange almost two solid weeks with the whole family being together, with the odd extra day when one or other of us will be with the children. That means that for roughly two-thirds of their holidays we’re relying on the fact that we are fortunate to have four recently retired, healthy and active grandparents willing to assist, all within reasonable driving distance. Haven’t got a first clue what we’d do otherwise.
Despite this limited time together, as always with parenting there have been times of immense testing. Admittedly the most significant challenge was child #1’s inability to listen to what we were asking him to do … only to discover after a few weeks that he’s actually partially deaf thanks to an ear infection. Oops! (We’ve tried to be easier on him since.)
But you know what I mean. The mealtime struggles, the complaints when it’s bed or bath time, the persistent pleas to be carried everywhere, the bickering between siblings over what to watch on TV / what to play with / where to sit …
I could go on, but you’ll have your own gripes to recollect. So before this all gets too depressing, let’s move on to something more positive.
Oh, that’s why I did it …
From time to time, the little people who turn our lives upside-down remind us why we ever considered doing this parenting stuff. It’s often the little things that melt our hearts.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have several such moments over the past fortnight, but the one that stands out is child #1 learning to carry child #2 (gladly there wasn’t too much trial and error involved). Forget the Olympics, the look or satisfaction when he manages to carry his sister for a dozen or so steps is pure gold.
Added to that, I’ve had the opportunity to myself launch into a fully-fledged second childhood. A trip to Legoland was the undoubted highlight, but we’ve also enjoyed a day with friends at Bristol Zoo and many other more cost-effective adventures (including a successful first foray into ten pin bowling!) which have all added up to me – plus the spouse and the kids – making great memories which I hope will live with us all for a really long time.
Confession time – I’m a judgemental parent
We’ve all done it. I’m probably worst than most, to be brutally honest. But sometimes the actions, attitudes or examples set by other parents leave a lot to be desired, don’t they?
Of course, if other parents saw us at our worst they’d completely understand that we don’t normally act/speak in that way. Or maybe we should just give other people a bit more of a chance. Food for thought, certainly.
Do you know what time it is?!
I should know by now that kids just don’t get the concept of a lie-in. They especially don’t seem to understand that holidays are a good time to get some rest. But after a few weeks of early rising children this summer, they’ve finally started to get it! I know that we’re much more fortunate than many other parents with the usual time of our human alarm clocks (rarely before 7am) but so far this week we’ve even been allowed to doze beyond 8am, occasionally even later – heavenly!
Now we’ve go something else to learn: how to re-adjust their waking times so they’re ready for school days when we’re trying to get two sleepy children out of the door with that golden combination – correctly dressed and on time!
So, to survive? Or maybe …
Whatever your parenting experience has been so far this summer, I hope that during the remainder of the ‘holiday’ you’re able to do more than just survive – and maybe even thrive.