Released On 7th Jul 2019
Rosie's blog: Demob happy?
The youngest son breaks up for school at the beginning of July for a full 8 weeks of kicking back and doing nothing (at least in his opinion). Think of the fortnights of Fortnite and other incredible possibilities! This has been a source of constant tension with his older brother who has two more weeks of school before breaking up nearer to the end of the month. Not even the longer school day for the youngest makes up for the gift of two weeks of extra summer holidays.
I am beginning to ask myself why July always seems such a long time away until it’s actually here and I am planning how to while away the 2-month break. More importantly, I am revisiting tried and tested plans for the next two months to ensure that I can work satisfactorily and the boys have a sufficient mix of stimulating activity and enforced boredom.
The enforced boredom might sound draconian, but a hallmark of my childhood school holidays was making my own amusement, with siblings or cousins or friends, without parental input. We had significant freedom whether in the home or garden, or at our grandparents’ homes, having nothing else to do but be inventive and use our imaginations to while away the seemingly endless hours between meals. Although we can’t escape the wonders that technology brings us in terms of stimulation (particularly visual stimulation), looking beyond this into the world around us is something that seems to bring benefits to my sons. I would add that they do not like the prospect of being diverted from YouTube or social media chats with their friends, but if encouraged to go out on their bikes or even just out on foot, once it has happened, it is beneficial. They are chattier and more relaxed, and it seems to give them confidence in their abilities to navigate the big world that will soon be theirs. Camping breaks also seem to have the same effect, although the amount of adult effort required to bring about a successful camping trip can sometimes seem disproportionate to the benefits (and that’s before you get wet and spend the next week trying to dry out the tent).
There is also an amount of “life admin” that as a family we tackle during the summer which again inspires at least a moderate amount of sighing and groaning from the boys. School uniform shopping, holiday clothes shopping, haircuts and supermarket trips all need to go on and I do try to insist on a degree of assistance around the house at all times with a view to creating some independence for the boys.
We also have the added interest of the boys’ father being habitually bad at letting me know when he wishes to take the children away (if at all), making planning for the whole 8 weeks fairly difficult. Over the years that I have been a single parent, I have learned that the best way to deal with this is to make my own plans first. Time doesn’t manage itself and in order to free up sufficient capacity for me to continue working more or less as normal, childcare arrangements are put in place, for example with my father or the nanny. These can be thrown in the air when my ex announces that he has booked a holiday for them all. It can be difficult to manage the logistics, but as with all things it is work in progress and it has improved over the years.
In addition, it is important to me to make sure I have at least some time off with my family. We have booked a holiday and we are all very much looking forward to a break away from home. As soon as we are back, we have a week before school starts again; the seemingly endless holidays will be behind us. The normal routine will resume and I will look forward to the next summer’s precious, long days to enjoy with these two boys.
Rosie is a partner in a City law firm with two sons aged 12 and 13. She is a single parent and works at her office in the City and at home.