Mummy, thank you for taking us to the beach, it was awesome.
My younger son had just said this to me, for the third time that afternoon. We’d spent the morning at the beach and it had indeed been awesome. But you know what was more awesome? Him telling me so.
And it made me think.
In the run up to summer vacation you can’t avoid the stream of stress and negativity on social media. What am I going to do to entertain the kids for all those weeks? How am I going to survive with no school to give me a break?
Sure, there are lots of bucket lists and plans and ‘can’t waits’, but even those are tempered with a reserve, a fear of the bickering and boredom and constant noise.
I’ve been guilty of it myself.
Partly because I loathe the bickering. Isn’t it the worst? But also because of a need to feel solidarity with all the other parents about to embark on the long summer break.
If I’m honest though, I look forward to summer vacation as much, if not more, than the kids.
No school runs, no packed lunches, no deadlines. Chilled mornings, fun afternoons. Awesome days at the beach. Doing what we feel like, not what we have to.
We have a bucket list, post-its on a kitchen cupboard. We check it for inspiration, we put stickers on the post-its each time we do something. Although ‘reading’ is completely covered already, next year I may veto that from the bucket list. Surely it’s a given? The library on the other hand, that has been visited often and has the stickers to prove it!
And some days? We just do nothing. I feel no need to over-schedule the kids. They have all done one camp, and that’s it. It’s vacation, we all need a break from the constant activities of term time. We chill in front of movies, read books, play video games, watch TV… even, shock, when the sun is shining.
Not every day will be awesome, I know that. And, did I mention the bickering?
But, I know that I’m very lucky to get to spend vacation with my kids.
Not everyone gets to. I am reminded of this every day when my husband comes home from work. He doesn’t get to go to the beach, have ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, pop to the pool for an hour because he’s hot.
For some it’s a constant juggle of work and childcare, limited leave and short breaks.
So, I’m not going to wish it away, or complain about the noise or the shouts of ‘I’m bored’. I’m not going to make jokes about the stress of entertaining them. I’m not going to count down back to school.
I’m going to take them to the beach. Say yes when they want to go to the pool. Buy them lots of ice cream.
And I’m going to wrap myself in the memories of these long summer days, because it won’t be long before they are gone. My eldest spent two weeks away at camp this year, and that’s just a taste of things to come.
Before I know it, spending the day at the beach with mum won’t be quite so awesome anymore.
It’s one of life’s truisms that the days are long, but the years are short. We need to slow down enough to register the time passing. I want my kids to have fond memories of these childhood vacations, where spending a day at the beach with their mum and their siblings was what summer was all about. I want them to look back and think ‘that’s what I want for my kids’.
I will do everything I can to make that happen.
Enjoy your summer vacation. Whatever you are doing, however you have to juggle. It won’t be perfect, nothing ever is, but it will be whatever you make it.
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