Thursday, 27 June 2013

School's out for summer

I loved school holidays. Six weeks of freedom. Long days playing and running, imagining and dreaming. In our three neighbouring terraced houses, there were six of us all about the same age. Each garden was small, but combined, they were our world. A children's paradise of hideaways and secret stashes. Across the road, where the bigger houses were set back, there was an expanse of coloured paving slabs, dotted with rose-filled flowerbeds. Those slabs could entertain six pre-teens for hours. And there was more. Two streets back was a grass-covered cliff full of trees and plants and all the secret dens a child could want. I loved the summer holidays.
But now, I'm on the other side. Now, stretching before me are six-and-a-half whole weeks with no nursery, no dance class, no toddler gymnastics... just me and three bored preschoolers. What the hell am I going to do with them?

Summer with my girls... What could go wrong??

The memory of how hard it was to leave the twins at nursery for the very first time is still raw in my mind, but those days are long gone. Now, they love preschool, running in each day and giving only the briefest of kisses before they dive into the nearest game. They like the routine it's brought to our lives too. On Tuesdays, Granny takes M for the afternoon, while I borrow her car to take the girls to the school, which is a bit too far (and too uphill) for them to walk every day just yet. On Wednesdays, we all get on bus number 7, while on Thursdays, Grandad visits and we enjoy a fun morning at the library or playpark before lunch out and another bus trip. They like knowing what to expect. I like knowing it too. Now, every day is stretching out before us, empty and unplanned. Even the toddler gymnastics and dance class that give our Mondays structure stop for the holidays. All we have to do is whatever I can think of in my own head. My own exhausted, uncreative old head. For a month-and-a-half. We're all doomed.
I know some mums will have stocked up on craft supplies, booked holiday clubs and days out, you know, made plans. It's all I can usually do to get organised enough to get out the door each day. I spent most of my time merely trying to stay on top of the mess. I'm not arty or creative. I read a lot to the girls and can make a mean Brio train track, but will that be enough for six weeks?
I so glad I have family nearby. My dad comes twice a week, and my mum is keeping her Tuesdays free as usual, which is a huge help. We're already planning on her taking M plus one twin at a time so I can finally give G and T the one-on-one time I've been promising them. But all that still leaves four whole days a week to fill. On Saturdays and Sundays, though, we will have Daddy on hand. Two exhausted heads have to be better than one for dreaming up child-friendly plans, surely. OK, so now we're down to just Wednesdays and Fridays to fill. Well, if the weather holds, the garden should take care of some of that. We have a sandpit and a ball-pool and a selection of pop-up tunnels and tents which are great fun (as long as I don't have to pop them down again. Honestly, who the hell can do that without resorting to merely ramming them into a cupboard and slamming the door shut?). Then there are always other children. I've already got invites out and now we just have to set some dates. Visitors here, and trips to friends' houses should provide a wealth of fun. And most importantly, tire the little angels out.
You know, maybe I can get through this. I just have to take one day at a time. I might not be the world's most imaginative mum, but I know my girls.We might get a bored sometimes, we might lose our tempers, and heaven knows, there will be fights. But we'll get through it. We're a family. Spending all our time together is kind of the point. We just have to embrace it. A few months ago, the thought of not being with my girls all day every day was like a dagger to the gut. For nearly three years, they were always with me. Giving that up was agony, so surely getting those days back is a dream come true? We'll have a blast. We'll have fun. So much fun. After all, it's only six weeks. Six whole weeks. Just me and them all day, every day for six whole weeks... Oh dear...

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