The dying embers of the summer holidays

It’s nearing the end of the summer holidays – seen as the most stressful time childcare-wise for working parents.

Illustration showing summer calendars


This is said to be the crunch point for many parents in the summer holidays. There are two more weeks to go [although not in Scotland who went on holiday earlier] and, for many, the ideas, childcare favours and the money are running out if the latter was ever there in the first place. For others, though, it’s a time to savour – more time for family among the relative work calm of August – although August is by no means calm for many – but hanging over it all is the September onslaught lying in wait. Will we have enough energy to do this all over again?

I certainly ask myself that question most Septembers, but more so in the last few years given all that has happened. Over the years I’ve experimented with all sorts of childcare plans – holiday clubs [which daughter one, for one, was not a big fan of, being extremely shy inĀ  her primary years. And after that, with more children, they got too expensive anyway], sharing with my partner, sharing with friends, sharing with my mum and so forth. Now I simply work around the holidays, getting up early [teenagers don’t emerge until lunch time so I can almost get a whole day’s work done beforehand], going out with them in the afternoon and logging on at night. It works, but it doesn’t exactly leave you with a lot of energy come September.

From now on there is only one child at school, which is a bit surreal. Daughter three is looking for jobs. Daughter two is preparing for university, but seems to know next to nothing about start dates or accommodation, which is slightly worrying. Which leaves only son who would rather never go to school and spends his hours creating computer games, cooking up a storm for his sisters and playing guitar. I have yet to get him to read past chapter one of his book on Radiohead, his favourite band. This is part 101 of my get only son to read campaign. I have to say that he is winning hands down so far.

This week, prompted by a school email about a second-hand uniform sale which only son refused to go to on the grounds that it is the holidays, I got him a blazer on eBay and congratulated myself on being ahead of the game [usually I leave it till the last week and the cheaper stuff has disappeared]. I slightly misjudged sizes last year and got him a PE shirt that is like a dress on him so he has been wearing his year 7 one all year. Unfortunately, his year 7 one is not actually his. He lost it with a few weeks and has been wearing someone else’s – someone very, very small. Instead of wearing the dress, he has been squeezing into the extra small one and he has grown quite a bit recently so I don’t think that is a go-er this year. I’ve asked daughter two to get to work on her sewing machine.

All the PE stuff comes from a specialist shop and you have to order weeks before the end of the holidays.

No-one is getting up before 11am – and that’s a good day – so only son will return to school, groggy and reluctant. “I’m going to have to start taking school seriously this year, mum”, said only son the other day. He will be in Year 9. “No more staring into space. I will have to concentrate.” I asked him what he was thinking about when he stares into space, hoping for signs for a potential conversation starter [he spends most of his time with his headphones on in a world of music, which makes conversation difficult]. “Nothing. That’s what space means, mum,” he said. One day he will emerge from this extreme self conscious, grunting phase and we can have long chats again about Boudicca and the Finnish education system.

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