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The School Holiday Juggle

Author: Laura Humphrey

In the UK alone, there are just shy of 5 million school children and their families with an, at least, six week stretch of school holiday at their feet. Six weeks of pure, unadulterated, quality time with our little ones, or so we’re led to believe.

With various memes floating around the internet reminding us and laying on the guilt about the dwindling number of holidays we have left I can’t help but feel it’s an antiquated view to “make every minute count”. The days of mum staying at home with the children all Summer, are long gone. It’s 2018!!! Families are more and more diverse, the cost of living is continually on the up, and in households that do have that archetypal two parents, in the vast majority both now have to work. So how the heck are we all coping with Herculean task of juggling it ALL for the foreseeable? Whether you’re a single parent, self employed, a homemaker, employed full time… all will feel the impact, and undoubtedly see life and financial change to accommodate the school holiday.

So, what is going down in your household? Are you spending all your earnings on Summer clubs? Drafting in the grandparents so you don’t have to completely sack off work for the next 6 weeks? Embracing the entire thing and and excited for your packed out calendar of all the fun? Bobbing along somewhere in the middle, occasionally nailing this parenting malarky with educational yet omgamaaazing activities, whilst also spending a proportion of each day wondering who the hell you are?! I’m fairly sure that I only left school a few years ago, but somehow come 5pm each day I’m trying to juggle cooking a nutritional dinner, sewing in name badges to an endless pile of tiny, super cute but freaking expensive school uniform, keeping Bertie entertained with something other than a screen all whilst trying to sort out pet insurance for the dog that is currently digging her way to Australia in my beautiful dahlia beds.

As a self employed working mum, with a husband who works full time, the weeks we have left before Bertie starts school are going to be the life juggle we’re used to. I don’t resent it, it’s how Casa del Humphrey ticks over, and none of us are unhappy for it, exhausted sometimes yes, but certainly not unhappy. We’re not in the position to be able to have the entire summer off with Bertie, I mean I maybe could, but we wouldn’t be able to eat or do anything, so you know… balance. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had two days a week with my little side kick for the last 2 years and that will continue, business as usual, until the last 10 days before she starts school. Then Dan and I will both be off work and hashtag blessed for, being honest, probably 6, maybe 7 of those, and then Bertie will be sick of us and we’ll all be hashtag over it for the remainder. Until then we’re paying for nursery with grandparents giving us four of their very precious days, whilst also squeezing in some of her requested activities for “before big school” – insert heartbreak emoji here.

However you’re getting by I think the most important thing to remember is, don’t give yourself or anyone else a hard time. Everyone is doing the very best they can. Whether you absolutely love the school holidays and count down the days until you get your littles to yourself or the pressure sparks trepidation, and the trepidation sparks guilt, you have got this. If it works for you and your family, that’s all that matters.

We may only have 18 summer holidays, but that’s 108 long weeks… memories count, not every single minute of every school holiday, we’re only human after all.

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4 thoughts on “The School Holiday Juggle

  1. Yessss Laura! That meme is really grim. I fully intend on sharing summer moments with my children until my last summer on this planet and I refuse to be lured into the bullshit. I’m trying to make sure we have at least one thing planned per week day, but sometimes that thing is a walk to the play area or getting the paints out, not anything fancy. I read a really great article on consumerism, motherhood and manipulation that touched on this:

    https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/07/17/why-all-the-books-about-motherhood/

    I also just applied for my first job since having kids. 18.5 hours. If I get it this will mean a huge change for next summer and I have to admit I nearly didn’t apply as I’m so worried about wraparound care and managing the juggle. I genuinely don’t know if I want to get it or not. Feeeeeelings.

    1. Exactly Lucy – I still love a Summer evening with my parents and I’m 30. Balancing the bigger adventures with smaller every day things is excellent advice – how many of your fondest memories are actually quite simple, and probably costed very little? We’ve got library trips, picnics and going to the beach for an ice cream in amongst rock climbing, Kew Gardens and strawberry picking and the balance feels spot on.
      Ahhhh, good on you, lovely! I promise that if you do get it, and want it and accept, you’ll work through it, adapt to it, and relish this new stage of life. The juggle is very real, but you can nail it.

  2. Preach!

    As a loss mum I really don’t need all these well intentioned memes of making every moment count. I have a lot of friends who don’t get why I don’t get totes emosh over Ophelia reaching milestones (it’s more of yes come on kid than upset that she’s growing up)

    Summer childcare is something I’m already wondering how on earth we’ll do as we both currently work practically full time. Maybe by then I’ll have wangled a term time only contract of fewer hours? Certainly we’ll aim for a 2 weeks holiday but then what to do with the other 4?!

    PS our house is sometimes casa del Humphrey but he’s the dog!

  3. It’s a good time to have a family trip, you don’t need to trip long distance, but believe me it will be children’s happy memories. It can be just 1 day or 3 days, or even 7 days, try to enjoy your time together.
    Adda: kissprom.co.uk

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