Image by Jagrap via Flickr
The little one was staring intently at the calendar this morning… her lips moving silently as her finger traced the days. She "shushed" me when I asked what she was doing, turned the page to the following month and kept on counting.
When she finally finished I asked her what she’d been doing. "Seeing how many days there are ’till my birthday," she said, brimming with excitement about an event that was still more than a month away. She was already making lists of who she wanted at her party, what sort of food she wanted, what games we’d play, even what she was going to wear.
That’s when it hit me… there was something coming a lot sooner than her birthday, something big that had approached under the radar and was now almost upon us. I grabbed the calendar, and the letter full of dates from where it was pinned by a magnet to the side of the fridge.
Sure enough, there it was in black and white: the kids only have two weeks left in school before they break up for the summer holidays! Two weeks… and then they’re home for more than two months.
Do you remember the excitement as summer holidays approached — things winding up in school, lessons gradually becoming less and less academic and more "fun" as teachers relaxed in anticipation of the mammoth break ahead of them. Just a few short weeks of confinement to endure before those long, heady weeks of freedom, stretching ahead for what seems a blissful eternity.
As a child everything about the approach of the summer holidays is positive, but as a parent the imminent prospect of the kids underfoot all day every day is something of a mixed blessing.
We’re fortunate that we both work from home — it means we can manage our work around the children without having to embark on that often soul-destroying quest for quality, affordable childcare. A lot of people aren’t so lucky, and I know the holidays can be an absolute nightmare for families where both parents work in 9-5 jobs.
But working from home with the children around brings its own set of challenges, chief among them maintaining and anything approaching acceptable level of productivity (which can be difficult at the best of times when you’re the only one motivating yourself). Your work-rate — which when you’re self employed is directly proportional to your income — can dip sharply unless you keep a very close eye on things… and there are, well, more distractions than usual.
Because you’re "around" the children automatically think that you’re available… client phone calls and imminent deadlines notwithstanding. Their world, inevitably, revolves around them; they simply assume that yours does too. Work "stuff" simply isn’t on their radar.
And then of course there’s the issue of the twins’ giddy energy and constant competition. When they get into that twin-zone they’re beyond the reach of normal parenting, and things escalate quickly with predictably explosive results. So we’ve decided that for the sake of our sanity and theirs, we need to introduce some form of structured activity this year… just to break things up a bit.
For the last few weeks the girls have been bringing home leaflets and pamphlets filled with details of the various "summer-camp" activities available in the area. There’s a great mix of stuff on offer, from dance to soccer, eco-art to GAA and practically everything in between. While the typically week-long programmes aren’t exactly cheap, especially when you’re talking about enrolling several children, they do sound like good value… particularly when you consider the peace and quiet you’ll get at home. So roll on the summer holidays… and roll on the summer-camps.