School holidays provide lessons of their own

Back to school: All good things must come to an end.
Back to school: All good things must come to an end. Photo: Getty

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Back to it, eh? Here we go again and all that. 

It's the strangest thing about school holidays - especially with the Easter kicker – can't they be hard to climb out from and back to the 'normal' routine? 

Jungle fever: Laura Dundovic and Andrew Daddo in <i>I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!</i>.
Jungle fever: Laura Dundovic and Andrew Daddo in I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!

It's a long break, and a good one with that old-fashioned-fun Easter Egg hunt and the real possibility of families getting away together. It feels like the right time to camp. The weather's pretty good, the sea water's still warmish, there's the sniff of an Indian Summer and the probability of sheltering under tarps and brolleys and getting mud between your toes.

Short of summer, it might be the very best break of the year, so maybe that's why it can be hard to front up to real life when it's all over.

Funnily enough, I just had a reality break from life. It was in a camp, though not the kind anyone'd be used to. It was small, quite beautiful with fresh running water, a waterfall, good people, a long drop for a loo and decent weather. The weird part, because there's always something weird, were the cameras that were literally all over the place. No one could go anywhere without being watched – but that's kind of the point when you agree to go into the South African bush for a TV show, right?

And as weird as the whole thing was, and it was right up there on the strange-scale, coming back to 'normal life' was almost weirder. Things had changed considerably in the time I was away, which wasn't really that much more than this Easter-first term break. 

Things had happened, life had moved forward. I'd changed. In four weeks I dropped over 10 kgs. I'd had time to think about things like life and stress and friends and family because there really wasn't much else to do. And because there had been so much spare time, I'd been able to force myself to do things, like make chopsticks and knitting needles.There was a chess board, draughts, skin exfoliators, nail cleaners and best of all, tongs for cooking. 

It was amazing. From nothing more than a few sharpened sticks we started a Craft Club, with a hand sign and everything. It was so much fun, like holidays. And then it was over and time to come home and share the excitement and the adventure and get life back to normal; which isn't always as easy as it sounds.

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Coming home is the most exciting thing next to leaving. It's hugging the people you love, swapping stories, catching up, being envious of other triumphs and yearning for moments missed. 

And then, once the dust has settled and the animated talking's done, life goes on as if you never left. It's weird. You come back with stories of eating ostrich anus and someone's more interested in talking about Sally down the road and her argument with a parking inspector. How does that compare, or compute?

And we're adults. 

Imagine what it's like for kids, when they go back to school. It's so exciting at first, remember? You meet your friends at the school gate or the corner up the street and everyone walks together and it's brilliant. 

And then, reality. Not only have they been plucked out of holiday mode and wrapped up in a winter uniform, but they're going to have to work and be attentive and be busy being students, as opposed to busy being kids on holidays. There'll be all those discipline things, like homework and going to bed early and not watching so much TV and readers at bedtime. It's good, of course. But it's not as good as holidays.

And before they even get back to school, on the Saturday or Sunday before, lots of kids will have to get organised. Rooms tidied, school shoes cleaned or bought, uniforms found, holes in jumpers mended, haircut and washed and bodies prepared for everything that school has to offer – like sports and schoolwork and having to deal with worms

Sometimes things have changed while our kids are away, too. Friends might not be quite so "friendly," or they may have moved on to newer, better friends while you were away. 

And by the end of that first week, life will be back to the new normal and the excitement of camping or holidays or South African jungles will be relegated to history and brought back to less frequently as the days march onward.

If nothing else, going back to school is the perfect chance to remember how great holidays are. As adults, it's our job to keep our kids excited about the time away, but to prepare them for change that's always around the corner. 

We get them as ready as we can for what's coming, even though we never really know. We're a launching ramp for adventure and a safe harbour to return to, that's our job, right? 

Best job ever.

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