Do parents function best on 75% exhaustion levels?

Holidays are much hoped for opportunities to reboost, but things don’t always go to plan.



There must be something in parent DNA that programmes you to never feel less than 75% exhausted at any given time. This is why, when you go on holiday, you either end up working for half of it or the car breaks down or some other disaster befalls you so you start work again feeling almost as tired as when you left. Such is life.

This summer I was very lucky to have a great holiday. It was brief, but involved swimming and stuff. OK, no-one in the family wanted to do the same things, but we managed to organise it so that everyone did something they liked at some point. So far so good. Another bonus point was that the parents got the air-conditioned room [and kept the door open so it wafted out] and there weren’t many mosquitoes.

The downside, of course, was that only son decided that he could only sleep in an air-conditioned room and he occupied large swathes of the bed. Moreover, the one mosquito there was headed straight for me because I seem to be the Marilyn Monroe of the mosquito world. I would like to take this as a compliment, but it really isn’t.

We had a long journey home – two days of driving – but it didn’t rain, as forecast, and we didn’t have to leave at 5am like on the way out so it was fairly relaxing and people let me listen to George Michael and Mmmbop. We even had a One Direction nostalgia fest in the traffic jam to the Dartford Crossing. When we arrived home my mum, who had been house sitting, had deep cleaned the entire house. The bath has never looked so sparkling. I’d put daughter two on it post-GCSEs, but she only got as far as the tiles round the bath.

Within hours, however, things had gone downhill significantly. The washing had to be done, the kids fed, emails checked, self assessment forms submitted and so forth. The following day was a work day. I woke up at the weekend, 24 hours later, to take daughter one to work. She was lying in her bed feeling sick, clutching her stomach. Oh dear. She alerted work and fell back to sleep. Within seconds I was feeling rather sick myself. Norovirus or some other similar bug had hit and I had to make a sudden exit.

I spent the rest of the day feeling not so great on the sofa. Daughter two locked herself away in fear of catching whatever I had, although she is on holiday so could well afford to be ill. I hauled myself up at around 6pm to go on a Pokemon trail with only son. We got five minutes out the door when the heavens opened.

So, all the restive, restorative properties of holiday have now been completely wiped out and I am limping towards September and the autumn work deluge. I think my body has decided that it functions best on exhaustion mode and has conspired very successfully to ensure that all attempts to boost energy reserves meet with total failure.

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