If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been panicking about the impending summer holidays for weeks if not months. This is the first school holidays for us as a family, and there seems be a hell of a lot of decisions to make Should we use childcare? What childcare should we use? How much is enough? Should our daughter stay at nursery as normal?
I can already feel that the level of mum guilt is going to go sky high. I have completely changed career recently, from accountancy to writing, and am not yet settled in to my new life. I definitely feel that the cliched work-life balance isn’t balanced, and the summer holidays are an added pressure on this. I don’t want to give up working for six weeks, but I want both of my children to enjoy the time ahead of us. Most importantly, I want my son (5) to get some good rest and relaxation, and carry on the good work he’s been doing recently on building on his confidence and social skills.
I think the answer, like every mum guilt related question, is that there is no right answer. Whatever structure you choose will have its pros and cons, and you’ll always feel guilty about something. Sending my son to a holiday club once a week means that I can work and he can play non-stop sports with some new friends, but will he feel like he’s being sent away? From my own experience, I don’t look back fondly on the summer break and I desperately don’t want that to be the same for my two.
Here are some things I’m going to have a go at, to try and ease the mum guilt a little bit:
Playing to their strengths
My son loves to draw and is starting to write short sentences, so I’ve bought him a plain notebook so he can make his own log of the holidays. I’ll give him the freedom to include whatever he wants, whether that’s writing down what he’s done that day or making up his own story. I’m also going to encourage him to take some photos, of whatever he wants (usually of his belly button, but nevermind!)
Having some time every day for fun with the children
Even if this is just five minutes when they’ve got back from clubs or nursery, just uninhibited jumping on the trampoline or sitting in the paddling pool with them. No boundaries or criteria, just carefree fun.
Fun all round
I’m going to ask the kids what they want to do, but also make sure it’s something I’m comfortable doing too. For example, if it’s super hot outside, I would be grumpy traipsing out somewhere for a day trip so we would save that for another day. My kids want me to be happy and engaged with them, so we need to stick to activities that suit us all round.
Looking for the positives
Yes, I might ask my mum to have my son for the day. It doesn’t make me a bad mum. He gets to do something different things (and be spoiled), my mum gets time with her grandson and I get to work, to earn money to go out with them both on a fun day trip. My daughter is going to be staying with her usual routine of three days a week at nursery. It’s good for her to have structure, she eats well there and does a lot more activities than I could ever do at home. Plus, she gets extra time with her big brother two days a week.
Mum guilt will always be there, and it will spike at certain events or times of the year. Rather than getting frustrated and annoyed about it, look at the ways you can minimise the guilt. These need to be specific to you and your family though, a load of trips to attractions might be fun for the kids but it’s not going to help if you’re worrying about the cost. Your kids might be just as happy playing about with you in your garden or at the beach (for free!)