Ally's blog: School’s out - now what?

Has anyone else been filled with terror at the prospect of the school summer holidays?  It’s one of those things that I’m nervous about mentioning in polite society – I have visions of other parents staring at me in horror – why would you be dreading the opportunity to spend those long summer weeks with your delightful children??

Normally I would be looking forward to the prospect of having a break from the term time “routine” (read frantic dash) to get fed, dressed, organised, and out of the house for the school/work run.  But at the moment the routine of the school day, albeit a more relaxed one based around printing out a few worksheets and making sure ipads are charged for zoom calls, is a major part of what is keeping us going with some semblance of normality. 

In a more “normal” year, like most working parents I would by now have printed myself out a calendar of July/August and been through it with a big marker pen, sketching out the activities and childcare arrangements for each day of the school holidays.  My partner and I would have had the usual “discussions” about who could take which days off and whether working from home while the kids watch Netflix was really going to give them the sort of summer holiday they would look back on with fond memories (probably yes).  There would be pony days, theatre trips, sleepovers with grandparents, summer day camps, outings to the trampoline park, and the climbing centre, maybe the lido.  And in the middle of the holidays, a flight to somewhere with guaranteed sunshine for as long as holiday allowances and our bank balances would permit.

This year I haven’t printed off my calendar as I’ll pretty much just be here - here being at my kitchen bench, on my work laptop.  My enthusiasm for coming up with creative ideas to entertain my children ran out in about week 3 of lockdown.  Since then, the weekdays of home-schooling (or self-schooling if we’re honest) have created their own flow, with the weekends a nice couple of days off, and that has been the rhythm we’ve grown into. The challenge now will be to manage the working from home when the children don’t have that schoolwork to occupy them for at least a few hours in the day.

As we start to move into a relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, it does mean there are more and more places opening up and things that we can get out and do relatively safely. I would usually be frantically booking lots of new and exciting activities and outings, filling up that schedule - no room for boredom to creep in, desperately trying to create that “best day ever” moment.  I certainly wouldn’t usually be taking the earth mother approach of trusting my children to find their own entertainment - I would happily throw money at anything for a few hours’ distraction.  We’ve had a chance though, during lockdown, to step back from our over-filled schedules and have a moment to pause and rethink.  I’m hoping that one small upside to this period might be that our expectations have been greatly reduced, both for adults and children.  When you’ve had over 3 months of doing pretty much nothing and going nowhere, a bike ride and meeting up with a couple of friends for a chase around the park on a sunny day is brilliant fun.  And if that outing is finished off with a Mr. Whippy from the ice cream van?  That is surely going to count as the “best day ever”.

Ally is a lawyer working 3 days a week in the City, with 2 amazing and entertaining daughters aged 9 and 11.


Category: A Citymother's Diary


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