This has been a post I’ve been thinking about months, probably since before The Beast was due to start school, but for one reason or another I’ve always stopped typing after the title. Possibly because I started Googling and got sucked into looking at photos of beaches and pools *glares at the frost outside*.
Last week I experienced my first taste of the school holidays.
For the last four years (with the exception of this summer where we changed things up to give me and The Beast a bit of “us” time in the lead up to school) the school holidays haven’t really impacted anything other then my bank balance when the free hours came in. The monkeys continued on to nursery as if nothing had changed, and I was able to go about my day to day life, and my work routine without having to change a thing.
Then the beast started school. With school comes holidays, and it turns out
as I frantically leafed through the paperwork half way through the week, quite a lot of holidays. This scares me. Unfortunately, I’m just not one of those people that looks forward to the school holidays. I’m not saying it to be “cool”, I’m not saying it because I’m mean and I don’t love spending time with my child, I’m saying it because not only am I bloody busy, but I’m not one of those mums that can happily spend 24/7 with my children and as much as I try not to, I feel guilty about that.
I feel like I have to stress this, not to defend myself, but perhaps to straighten it out a bit. I adore my children. However, I do not want to soak them up every single hour of the day. Sometimes I would like to drink a cup of tea without somebody trying to lick my face, sometimes I’d like to go for a wee without somebody slamming the toilet seat against my back and laughing, sometimes I would like to make an important phone call without being followed around by the sound “Mummay, I’m hungry, Mummy I’M GOING TO GET YOU WITH MY WEB, Mummy, MUMMY, MUMMY MUUUUUMMMMMMMYYYY” and sometimes, just sometimes I need a bit of me time.
The problem with working from home, and the type of work I do, means that I struggle to shut off. I do a lot better then I used to, but I get an email from a client, or I get a sudden idea I need to brain dump it. (I also think it’s hilarious that working from home is classed as “me time” by anybody who has never done it. It couldn’t be any less “me” time). Since school has started I think that I’ve managed to strike a balance that I’m happy with and it goes something like this:
Monday: Child day. With the exception of an hour while Larry naps it’s all about the house, Chunky Monkey and then at pick up time, The Beast. We have a regular after school play date where we alternate houses, where the kids play, we drink tea, it’s one of my favourite days of the week.
Tuesday: After the morning school run I work all day. The Beast goes to after school club, and I pick them both up at 6pm(ish)
Wednesday & Thursday: I work 09:30 – 14:45, collect the kids, and play/give them tea/do homework. I will probably do a bit of work in the evening.
Friday: It’s all about the kids.
To me this feels like a work life balance that works for us. Although, if I’m honest, my ideal week would be that The Beast goes to school 8-6 three days a week, and the other two I get them. Fitting work into short days is TOUGH. Having to just pick up and stop just before 3pm is HARD. You’re day slips away from you, and inevitably you have to play catch up when the kids are in bed, or keep breaking off to split up a fight, rescue a toy/cat/drink/biscuit/piece of furniture. But it’s worth it to pick the kids up from school. To see their faces light up, hear them shout my name and run too me.
So what happens in the holidays? Yes, I look forward to my Monday and Fridays, they’re even more fun with the two of them (even if I have to split up a million fights), we always try to do SOMETHING. But what about Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday? Do I stick him in holiday club every day? After all, it is The Beasts holiday too. He deserves a break and a rest. That’s what holidays are for after all. Or do I take the whole week off work? I know that wouldn’t actually happen, I’d end up doing work, just not being paid for it.
This half term wasn’t too bad, between another family the beast had a short play date on Tuesday at one of his best friends house, then he went holiday club on Wednesday, then on Thursday his best mate came to play and stayed the night, so I only had to take one day off. But you know what, I feel guilty. I feel guilty that actually the thought of that extra week between New Year and New Term fills me with dread, how am I going to fit everything in?! And what about Easter? IT’S HALF THE MONTH!!!!
I’m lucky enough to have relatives that if they’re about, they are willing to help, a help which I am always so so grateful for. The feeling that they’re safe and having fun while I work, and if I’m honest, that my pay isn’t just going into childcare, is such a weight off my mind. But what about those people who don’t have relatives? I have friends who aren’t allowed certain times off work (working in finance and month end? year end? Not a hope in hell, previously I worked in the marketing department within retail, and time off for Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day – which often feature in the school holiday calendar – no way jose). So what do they do? They have to flap about finding and making additional childcare arrangements.
So actually school holidays are hard. When people moan about them, it’s not
just because they hate their kids, it’s not because they don’t want to spend time with them, they just want to spend quality time with them, not time where they are drifting away to quickly deal with a bit of urgent work, or when you have to cancel a potentially important call because you’d decided not to work, but you can’t stop thinking about it so you sneak off halfway through a game of hungry hippos to listen to the voicemail. It’s because people actually desperately want to take their kids for days out, but actually have to go to work, so have to drag tired bundles of trouble out of bed and leave them somewhere else, or worse still, they have to go off to their day job and leave behind the rest of the family to have a fun day together while they’re sat at their desk. It’s because people have other lives that they want to cram in without impacting their children.
Anyway, only six weeks til Christmas eh?