Why I find term time easier than summer school holidays

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

I have many friends who relish all that time making memories with their kids during the summer school holidays. And please don't get me wrong, so do I... to a point.

But the truth is that I find the school holidays much more challenging than term time, when my offspring are ensconced in a world of learning and play that I don't have to provide all the planning and resources for.

Why don't I completely love endless, unstructured days with three people I created? Here are my reasons.

1. Food

Some say going back to making school lunches is pure torture. You know what I think is torture? Three permanently ravenous boys opening cupboards and the fridge ALL DAY, me getting up and down to cut fruit for the one too young to cut it and then having to make a full family dinner after being asked for food all day. Either that or being nagged for expensive food and drinks while out, despite packing it from home.

Give me serve-themselves cereal for breakfast and packed lunches any day! Dinner is a doddle after that.

This image pretty much sums it up, except I'd add another three hours of summer time eating demands for people who have teens.

2. Structure

My kids LOVE structure. They're athletes who look forward to training, to watching the clock, and to doing things in a certain time period. Endless days of trying to think of things to do when money and (my) energy is in short supply gets tired.

I also find by the end they want to get back to their mates and seeing them every day instead of every now and then. I look forward to that too.

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3. I see more of my friends and community

Soccer goes back - us parents converse over a sausage sizzle. Happiness! Seeing people I like on school pick up or drop off and having a natter. Wonderful! 

It's these small snatches of adult time seeing people I like that actually fulfills me as a person, as an individual, despite most of my activities revolving around my kids.

In the school holidays, so many people go away. In fact most of my closest friends were away for 3 to 4 weeks. As much as I love my kids, I like more of a balance. Adult time is awesome, just as kid time is great. Give me both please!

4. The work-school holidays juggle

I have a teen who isn't eligible for holiday care. The middle one will be in high school next year. As many parents of a 12 or 13-year-old will tell you, they're not quite old enough to leave them on their own for full days on end. And hanging out with an obliged family member is not their idea of a good time.

We often have to save our leave for sports tournaments, so this year a long summer trip was not on the cards. It's a reality for many families, who can't spare the leave or money.

The work/school juggle can be enormously stressful for people, especially those with no family help and especially in the summer holidays which can stretch on for weeks.

5. Headspace

I know one day I'll miss the chaos. There are days I already do. I also love the focus of my brain on a mission - be it to write an article, to clear out the shed without four (yes that includes my husband) people trying to sabotage me. 

With the youngest up early and the teenager up until very late at night, it's often I don't get my own company until close to midnight, after a 14 hour stint in the company of children. I know those with babies and toddlers can relate - I have also done my time in that space.

I'm not actually designed to be in the company of anyone for that long, let alone people who constantly demand things from me.

I love the yin and the yang of term time. I work, I parent, I cook, then I arrange, I admin, I read, and sleep. I enjoy the headspace to do all of it in its own time. I embrace the chaos and then I enjoy the peace of creating order and settling my mind. As an  introverted extrovert, the ebb and flow is exactly what I need to maintain my wellbeing.

School holidays by their very nature disrupt this rhythm in a profound way, so that's why when school starts back I feel some control over my life again.