The last days of summer

The end of the summer holidays tends to be dominated by failed attempts to get young people to sleep earlier and last-minute announcements about extensive summer holiday projects.

crazy kids and stressed mum


It’s the tail end of the holidays when the money – if there ever was any – has run out and thoughts turn to school, at least parents’ thoughts do. Young people’s don’t tend to turn to school until around midnight on the day they go back, having resisted any effort to get them back into a normal sleep routine for the past fortnight and having just remembered that they were tasked with doing a summer poster project on recycled waste.

Entertaining young people in the holidays is hard. Teenagers don’t tend to want to go to the local park and swing for hours on end or make an indoor obstacle course with cushions and teddy bears.

The good thing is that they tend to sleep in so that’s a whole morning’s expenses saved right there. But then, once up, they face you with the ‘what are we doing today?’ question and you know that they are not going to like the options: a 60-minute makeover of house/room/parent; masterchef finals using all the old jars and tins at the back of the cupboard; writing a song; writing a book; creating a viable internet business so we can all retire; walking to the shops and back for the three for one pound sweets offer [a particular favourite for those who are on their period]; any form of exercise eg indoor Olympics; training the kitten…The list is endless, but the response is usually something along the lines of ‘can’t we go to Valencia for the tomato festival’? To which the reply is ‘let’s create our own tomato festival at home’ [pause for groans].

The autumn term is looming and it’s the longest one – at least it feels like it. The shops are already anticipating Halloween – the halfway point. I went to Hobbycraft the other day – daughter two is customising her jeans to look like Robert Plant’s [naturally] – and the place was packed with cobwebs and ghosts. Sleep patterns, as earlier stated, are all over the place – even parents’ – because of the heat. We’re starting on a sleep deficit and amid a sense of everything being uncertain. Only son is quietly confident we’ll be back to homeschooling by October because he saw a report where some schools were threatening a three-day week due to rising bills. He reckons that means he doesn’t need to catch up on sleep – he’ll be able to sleep in.

Every attempt to get him to go to bed earlier is met by a slew of very fiercely argued reasons why he should not – x goes to bed at midnight; I need to tune in to Splatoon 3 direct; I’m in the middle of building a mega metropolis [goes into detail which passes way over my head]; my sisters are not going to bed yet; how come parents stay up later than children when they are always more tired [because they have to get you to bed first…]; etc, etc.

Ditto any attempt to get him to read a book over the course of the holidays. I’ve got it down to 10 minutes a day and he times it. No more, no less. My negotiating powers are waning.

I’m lucky to work from home so if he does end up homeschooling again it won’t affect me so much, except when it comes to having to dredge my memory for how you do complicated mathematical equations. The other potential problem is that we might have to turn the heating on during the day. It doesn’t seem worth turning the heating on for one homeworking person – and much less so this year with the terrifying rises in bills – so I usually sit in the cold wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle during the winter, typing fast to generate energy, and only put the heating on when the kids get home. The last few years hot flushes have been a bit of a boon during the winter months. Surely there must be some benefits of the menopause?

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