It’s no secret that, while I love my children ‘in all my heart’ as my daughter would say, I struggle when they’re home together for long periods of time.
To be fair, half term is only a week, and this one had a bank holiday weekend as well. Even so, I feel it went surprisingly well considering.
My strategy, developed in desperation on the first Saturday morning, was to kill the pestering.
For weeks I’ve been answering the children’s random activity requests with, ‘We’ll do it at half term’. So, of course, Saturday started with, ‘Mummy, when can we paint our nails, go swimming, learn to plait/knit, go to the park….’
My brain exploded.
In exasperation I said, ‘write a list and we’ll schedule it all in.’
And they did!
Well, my daughter wrote the lists for her and her brother, which might explain why ‘learn to knit’ crept into his top ten. Then I numbered them, made a chart of Monday to Friday, and pencilled everything in.
I forgot my son was still at nursery for two days, and we had an unexpected bonus play date, but other than that we more or less stuck to the plan.
The best part was feeling in control. When the kids whined, ‘When are we going swimming at Grandma’s?’ I could look at my scrap of paper and say, ‘Friday’.
I’m sure this scheduled parenting is the norm for many, but it’s new to me. I’ve always wanted my kids to be as free range as possible when they’re not at school. I fill the playroom with toys and craft, the garden with climbing frames and sand, and let them just get on with it.
And sometimes they do.
But, weirdly, they like doing stuff with me. Even though I whine and moan more than they do, especially when I’m tired, they still like doing stuff with Mummy. And, this week, I even enjoyed some of it too, even if it was being able to say, ‘tick!’
So, we survived half term. We didn’t do a couple of things (no knitting lesson, phew!), but we had a bonus trip to ToysRUs to spend the money they raised selling off old toys. We got a grown up bed for our son. (The end of the toddler bed era!) And I even managed a bit of work.
The tablets helped. I could feel the medication tightening protectively as I got increasingly tired and tetchy. It’s weird to feel you want to sit in a corner and sob but your body won’t let you, but if definitely makes parenting easier. And I’m sure my family appreciate the lack of drama.
I’m not quite saying, ‘Roll on Summer Holidays’ but at least I’m not gibbering at the thought of it. It’s a start.