So – what are your school going children up to this summer?
I enjoy the chance to be off with mine – I work part time but not during school holidays. When it comes to keeping them entertained, they are not swathed in papier mache crafting and home baking from morning to night. But neither are they are parked in front of the telly/computer/Playstation all day. I think, like a lot of parents, I muddle along somewhere in the middle. Some home-based activities from Mammy Leisure Limited, a steady stream of friends booked in, and some outings – mainly free stuff. Also plenty of down time – self catering is important too!
There was plenty of choice too amongst the half tonne of summer camp leaflets brought home in the school bags; Pony camp, cooking camp, dance camp, sailing camp, fishing camp, even a grandparent and grandchild camp. Doubtless they are a God-send for working parents, but otherwise can be an expensive entertainment route were you to be badgered into two, three or all 10 probably.
But there was one activity request that really set me back;
‘Mammy can we do the pencil box thing again?! That was the best time ever.’ (If you have under -10s in your house, you have colouring books. And pencils, crayons, markers and so on. Ours live in a giant plastic box, that gets happily ferried around rooms, tables and floors on a daily basis.)
I don’t recall exactly how that came about, but we found ourselves sitting on the stairs one morning, in our jammies, sharpening all the pencils. Not in any orchestrated Kermit’s-nephew-half-way-up-the-stairs kinda way. It just happened. We were there for about an hour and a half. One person on sorting, one person on discarding and one on sharpening. Everyone on talking…
Of course I know why they remember it so fondly. It was pure unadulterated Mammy time. No stopping to make the dinner, answer the phone, read a text, load/unload the dishwasher/washing machine, juggle homework; all the multi-tasking minutiae of everyday life. Because even when you do sit down at home and do stuff with your kids, these interruptions are all around. It can be pretty hard not to get dragged away sometimes.
That’s not to say I didn’t feel a massive pang of guilt about them choosing the pencil box as ‘the best thing ever’…! Does it say something about the quality of my quality time? Yes it possibly does.
But what it really says is that children don’t want summer camps, sun holidays, Disneyland. OK…well, yes of course they do. But most especially this summer, they just want pure, uninterrupted, unadulterated YOU.
Enjoy it. And them.