Surviving the Summer Holidays (Or trying to, at least)
Updated: Jan 30
It’s starts with maybe a little bit of excitement, as you pack up your desk and set up your out of office email auto replies. Maybe there’s one last report to finish up, last meeting to attend, or end-of-year office party to make an appearance in, but eventually there is a point where you are officially done with work for the year and summer holidays have begun.
Of course, as a diligent parent, you already have some major plans. You’re going to make sure that this year your kids will get out more, have more experiences, eat better and generally not veg in front of the TV (like last year).
You may even have mapped out every day that you are on leave from work with a bunch of energy-using activities for the morning and afternoon.
This is known as the Hopeful Phase of Summer Holiday Parenting
Pretty soon, you start to realise that your kids aren’t as excited with your plans as you are, and tensions start to rise. Maybe they want to just relax after a tough school year or prefer to spend time with friends and cousins instead of doing stuff, so you start to give them a little bit of leeway. After all, if they are having fun and are relaxed, it is much easier to parent them, right?
This is the beginning of the Negotiation Phase of Summer Holiday Parenting
For some kids, this is a sign of a weakness that should be attacked relentlessly with the weapon of Asking the Same Thing Repeatedly. This is the point where a parent who has not mentally prepared for this onslaught will falter and give the impression the children are actually in control of their own time, however, the strong parent doubles down with cries of “We’re going to do this and you’ll have FUN, dammit!”.
There will be fighting and arguing and tears (mostly yours), and much of your resources will be wasted on the “ungrateful sods” who “don’t know how good they have it”. Pretty much all the photos from this time will either have very grumpy faces or incredibly, almost sarcastically, fake smiles. You may have hope for a few Instagram-worthy snaps, and the fact that your kids are so unobliging (especially considering how much time and money you’ve just spent trying to entertain them) drives you a little bit more crazy. This may make you dig in your heels and attempt to take even more control away from them.
This is the War Phase of Summer Holiday Parenting
Eventually, you all start running out of steam. Even the parent with the hardest of wills begins to tire of constantly dragging their children around, and that feeling is made even worse as you begin to realise all the things you didn’t get to. Plus, as your holiday ends you need to start prepping for the start of school, so much of your attention is given over to sorting out school uniforms and stationary, so you kind of have to give your kids more space as you deal with all of that.
You might be feeling a little guilty too, because you are starting to actually miss work - having adult conversations and uninterrupted cups of coffee seems like an absolute pleasure at this point. But that feels wrong, because surely parents should want to spend every available moment with their little angels? That guilt may direct you to find as many ways as you have left to make your kids excited and happy in a way that makes you feel like a good parent.
This is the Reconciliation Phase of Summer Holiday Parenting
Finally, you go back to work and the kids go back to school (if you were able to get that timing right) and you get your uninterrupted coffee and your adult conversation.
But then you sit at your desk and look at the photos of your family that you placed there and you feel something that you haven’t felt since you went on leave:
You miss them.
This final moment is the Parents Forget the Hard Times Quickly Phase of Summer Parenting...and it may be the sweetest one.