Half Term isn’t a Horror Story: 5 Things Parents Can Do To Avoid Half Term Dread
Isn’t it funny how we long to have children but then can’t wait to get rid of them? At least that’s what my social media feeds are telling me today. Half term is fast approaching and parents are gleefully proclaiming their dread at having to spend a whole week with their children. I’m seeing GIF’s and Meme’s flying round like confetti declaring how parents are already stressed at the thought of having their smalls at home. It makes me sad for those children but I understand that there are hundreds of factors that add to the dread. So here’s my take on why half term isn’t a horror story plus six things you can do as a parent to avoid half term dread.
I changed my job and my lifestyle so that I could be with my children. I wanted to be the mum at the school gates, the mum on the PTA and the mum standing at the door with arms open when the children come home from school. It wanted to be a Stepford Wife, where everything runs smoothly, the children are perfect and the house is pristine. I don’t have that. My life is hectic crazy. I run two businesses, I stay up late and get up early. My children often fight for my attention amidst juggling a thousand things and the house is a mess. I have washing that never gets put away and the dishes, as much as I plead, do not wash themselves. BUT. Whatever normal is, we’re it.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE when my children are off school. I love spending time with them. We have fun. We laugh. We play. I always plan things for us to do, including down days where we bake or just have movies days. Being a child is hard going, they need down time too. I wish they were off school longer, it’s always over too soon and rather than dread when they’re off, I dread the Sunday night at the end of the half term when I’m ironing uniforms and prepping school bags. The seven week wait until I have them to myself again is like an eternity.
So this half term, I will do what I do day in and day out; LOVE being with my children and enjoy every minute of it before I’m no longer cool enough to hang out with them. As an entrepreneur, I can tailor my work schedule around the children but in school holidays I try my best to make sure the focus is just on them. This half term we’re taking them to Paris for a week and we’ve not yet told them that that includes three days at EuroDisney! I’m excited for them far beyond words!
Before next week arrives and I see my social media feeds full of parent relief that the smalls are heading back to the classroom, you might want to consider these five things that could help you organise a stress free, fun-for-all half term:
Whether it’s half term or not, I ALWAYS lay out expectations. Think about it. Children follow our lead and if WE as parents haven’t a clue what’s going, how can we expect them to behave and follow instruction as we wish. Talk to them. Lay out the rules and consequences if the rules are not followed. Give it to them straight and STICK TO IT! Before we go anywhere, I tell my children what I expect of them; no shouting at each other, use your manners, when I call you come the first time, not the fifth. Repeated instruction works and the children behave well when they know what the boundaries are. It’s a case of “do it” or lose your iPad for a week!
I very rarely have to raise my voice because I’ve instilled in them self discipline. That’s a whole other set of blog posts that I could write and talk about until the cows come home. If you’d like me to expand, let me know.
So my point is here, if your children don’t behave well and that’s why you dread half term, perhaps that’s because YOU are not setting out clear instruction and expectation. This half term try to lay out the boundaries BEFORE you do anything else and see how much less chaotic time is with the littles.
If you think about the things you do that take the most time, list them, prioritize them and outsource them where you can. Cleaning takes me a day. Hands down, literally dawn to dusk. I dispize cleaning. It’s the biggest waste of time when I can be doing so many other things. I don’t have a regular cleaner but once in a while I pay for someone to come in and blitz the place to within an inch of it’s life! Arranging this over half term when I’m out enjoying time with the children is a win win and coming home to a clean house, that I didn’t have to do, is bliss!
So what things can you outsource? Admin? Cleaning? Gardening? It’s worth the investment for your sanity.
Whether you’re a stay/work from home parent like me or fully employed, you need to plan. Period. Having no plan at half term opens you up to a week of grouchy children and a grouchier you. I always plan for a day on and day off. That is a day out followed by a day in. By the time children break up from school, they’re mentally exhausted so dragging them around town and exerting them will only fuel their tiredness. Giving them time to recover and unwind in-between planned activities will only serve to heighten their excitement for the next thing ahead. Happier children, happier you.
Let’s face it, parenting is the hardest job in the world. It’s stressful as it is rewarding but how can you enjoy half term if you’re stressed to the hilt? If you’re anything like me, you’ll need time alone. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary. I have no guilt for locking myself in the bathroom for half an hour, even if I am watching Netflix while plucking my eyebrows. There are just times that a woman, not a wife, not a mother, but a woman, needs her space! Do not feel guilty for occupying that time for yourself.
Set time aside to take a breath so that you can exhale all the nonsense, be your best self and enjoy time with your littles without turning into a helicoptering fish wife.
We live in a media world right? Yes. So use it. If you don’t know what to do with your children, google it! Reach out to local mummy groups and ask what other parents are doing who have children of similar ages – who knows?! You might even make new friends that way too! Search on local community groups per your child’s interests. If they’re interested in martial arts, speak to local martial arts groups to see if they have any half term offers on. If they’re interests in art, craft, music or theatre, speak to local play houses, drama groups or theatres and ask if they can recommend groups for your children’s age range. In terms of outings, there are hundreds of free things you can do in autumn with children; parks, conquer collecting, autumn leaf painting, baking, museums, the list is endless! You just need to look at what tools you have available and use them – you won’t be lost for things to do I assure you!
So before the children have time to throw their book bags all over the floor, think about what you’re doing well in advance, include the children and really get excited about it, together! Half term might fall over the Halloween period but it needn’t be a horror story.
Remember, whatever you’re doing this half term, ENJOY IT! if you’ve got tips for me, I’m all ears, just leave a note below! There’s no “I” in “TEAM”, right?!