Yesterday I went to a leavers’ service at the church my daughter’s infant school is attached to. (She has a community – i.e. non-church – place at a C of E school.) It was lovely. It was also a vivid reminder of two things. First, that given the extraordinary pace her reception year has flown, she too will be shaking the vicar’s hand bye bye in the blink of an eye. Second, that the school holidays are well and truly around the corner.
So, time to start planning. Actually, of necessity, I’ve been planning parts of the holidays for months. Because I work. 6 weeks with no school equals more juggling than usual for working parents and trading in favours stored up all year so that Sissyboo has good child care when I can’t look after her. But I still have all Fridays with her, all weekends, some random week days and two weeks (our second two-week holiday in 18 years – and the first was punctuated by a funeral) to spend with both Boos. And I am determined to make the best of it.
But I am also determined not to be too determined. Before last summer, I had not experienced the pleasures and pains of the summer holiday. Sissyboo was at nursery four days a week from 6 months of age and we took holidays throughout the year at various times and never in a six week block.
Last summer was going to be different. Boo would be born mid-June, I would take his sister out of nursery in mid-July and we would have a happily ever after holiday before her first year at school. But then Boo arrived on 2 April and all plans went to pot. She needed nursery – the routine, the structure, the familiarity – to deal with the overturning of our world. Even when Boo was home (mid-May) life was far from normal. I couldn’t take her to medical appointments. I couldn’t let her hear the things I could barely bear to hear.
So her summer holiday started later than planned in early August when I pulled her out of nursery and, since she didn’t start school until mid-September (and then only half days for a few weeks), she had a six-week break.
I had high hopes for it. I would make everything up to her and spend much-needed time with my rapidly growing girl. This would be a holiday to remember. With the exception of a few fun trips and moments, it was an unmitigated disaster. The past few months had evidently and completely understandably caught up with her and, combined with the anxiety she developed about leaving the nursery she had loved for 4 years and moving onto big school, my lovely little girl turned into someone I didn’t recognise. She had tantrums, screamed, shouted, was rude, touchy and otherwise impossible. I can feel might heart beating faster just remembering it. Add to that a prem baby with emerging complex health needs, umpteen appointments, breastfeeding and acute sleep deprivation and, well, let’s just say it wasn’t much fun.
The danger with this summer, then, is that I will try to turn this into a means of compensating for last year. But it’s a trap I’m not going to fall into this time. I am not going to micro-manage the holidays. It won’t work for us (too many other aspects of our lives, particularly around Boo and his therapies etc. have to be). I won’t go into my default mode and make lists to be ticked off. My lists are impossibly long and seem to exist to make me feel bad. I am not going to set myself up to fail. (Note to self: keep re-reading that sentence, Mrboosmum.)
Instead, I’m going to set up some goals (achievable, enjoyable goals, I hope) and try to get a bit of balance in our weeks with a firm focus on fun and flexibility. To keep me honest about this, I am joining in with The Play Agenda, launched by the lovely Leoarna at Not Different But Interesting. Do pop over and see what she’s doing and join in. My play agenda will look different from many others’, I think, simply by virtue of the fact I work, but I am no less committed to us all having a good time for that. My plan is that I’ll join the linky each week by adding our holiday tit-bits to my weekly Good News Friday posts. Let’s hope play proves to be good news!
So here are my general goals:
1) To have one big day out (to a splash park, country house etc.) each week that will engage both kids (5 1/2 year old and 1 year old with additional needs).
2) To make sure I do one activity each week with Sissyboo on her own (first, and likely to be the most extreme) is a trip to Legoland next Thursday. Others might involve doing a painting or going for a walk. (Our much loved Homestart visits stop for a month over August but I am determined to find ways of having at least a bit of this one-to-one time with her. She benefits so much from it. So do I!)
3) To be flexible about Boo’s therapy without compromising it, so to try doing his physio in our local park or in the garden etc.
4) To meet with friends (grown-up and little) once a week (this is as much for my sanity as for the kids’ enjoyment and one of the great pleasures of the summer for me).
5) To get the kids outdoors and specifically in our small, but functional and underused back garden.
6) To finish the Oliver Twist Victorian puppet show I have been doing with Sissyboo on and off for 6 months…
7) To keep Sissyboo’s reading, writing and maths (we’re a little behind here) skills on the boil but in ways that don’t seem school-like (role play etc.)
8) To do crafts and messy play with both kids (not hard to achieve with Sissyboo, you cannot put anything into the recycling without her fishing it out and turning it into a model) each week. Boo loves messy play but I don’t often find time for it at home.
10) To give Sissyboo time to chill every day and to be able to set part of the play agenda herself each week.
11) To keep her riding on her bike to keep up the momentum.
12) To not sweat every day and be flexible with all plans. Life will get in the way. Kids will get ill and have tantrums.
13) To keep the blog ticking over, but maybe slacking off a bit on our two-week break and hoping you lovely readers don’t abandon me.
14) To take lots of photos of what we’ve been up to (and at some point, print the blooming things out!) as a record of what we’ve done.
I think that’s more than enough for us, given the time therapy, appointments, battling with local services, oh and work, will take up.
I’ll let you know how it goes and look forward to hearing your plans.