Monday, 5 September 2011

Wake me up when September starts...

Right - that's it - the Summer has one last throw and then its back to normality. Let me state clearly - Hallelujah! However, as much as I cannot wait to pack the big girls off to school on Wednesday, I'm a little sad that our long summer days of fun and games are over, the picnics in the garden, the baking in the kitchen, the screaming up and down the stairs, the day trips that always seem to include rain.  Yup - I'm lying, I'm not sad. Working from home with 4 kids in the house (my 10 year old nephew comes to Aunty Lindsey's holiday club) is neigh on impossible. I cannot wait for the girls to be mentally stimulated and have interacted with someone other than me during the day.

When I taught full time I loved the school holidays, and so did the kids.  I planned events and outing for each day.  We did crafts. We went to the park to play football.  I organised multiple play dates. We did research projects on line and made posters about what we had learned.  Yes I was that mother, and my kids were nerds in training.  It was fun, I spent quality time with them. I bonded with them in new situations and relieved my working mother guilt.

And this summer I planned to do the same. I would get up as I do during the term time, start work at about 8, aim to do about 4 hours and head out for outings, play dates or do a fun activity each day after lunch.  I bought work books for all the kids, stocked up the crayons and labelled the keys on the piano.  Computers, TV or Wii was allowed until 9am, then activities, reading and playing in the garden till I finished up.  What about the baby you ask?  Why she'd be sitting on the floor at my feet playing happily with her toys, and would nap for a few hours. Simples - right? Wrong.

1. Children cannot do workbooks unassisted.
2. Baby G only wants to be where the big kids are.
3. The big kids cannot do work books with G screaming at them
4. I cannot work with a child trying to play the piano
5. G is now sleeping for about 15 minutes in the morning if I'm lucky.
6. This is summer in England - it rains all the time. The garden is out of bounds
7. A ten your old boys and a 7 year old girl get on fine. But 10 year old boys do not get along with 11 month olds and rising 5 year olds.
8. Bossy rising 5 year olds actuallly don't get along with anyone for more than about 10 minutes
9. Babies teethe when they feel like it
10. Cleaning, washing and *shudder* ironing do not go on holiday. Neither does grocery shopping. Try doing that with 4 kids...

The first day I finished my 4 hours of work at 5.47 pm.  Day 2 - got up at 4am, finished work at 3.27pm.  Day 3 - went out with friends, had a great day - stayed up until after midnight fitting the work in.  And so it went on.  And it rained. And children got sick.  I managed to get my work done, somehow - because the bills need paying.  But the house work - you must be joking... And the bikes and scooters never left the shed.  The work books are on the shelf barely opened. The Wii stayed on WAY after 9 am. No one learned to play the piano.  We did not bake once. The older kids disappeared into something called Monkey Quest and had to be dragged away at meal times...

So now I have working from home mum guilt instead. And rubbish domestic goddess guilt. And I occasionally leave my 11 month old in the playroom with her sisters guilt. But here's the thing - my kids had the best summer ever, apparently.  All three of the ones that can speak in intelligable sentences claim it was an amazing holiday. Their highlights:
1. Camping
2. The National Gallery
3. Kew Gardens
4. Bewilderwood
5. The maize maze.
But also - "having fun together"; "getting to just play and do stuff"; "spending time at home with mummy and each other"; "being relaxed and not in a rush all the time"; "reading on the couch"; "playing with baby G"; "dancing upstairs in front of mirror"; "weeding in the garden";"drawing all day"; "playing lego"; "doing new things on the Wii"; "getting to do dress up"; "playing in the garden"; "helping mummy at home" and - most importantly "getting to level 17 and earning the red pants of power on Monkey Quest".

Guess some one learned something this holiday, but it wasn't the kids...


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