When I was a teacher and before I had a child the end of term meant that a time of rest was coming. I could look forward to heady days of reading novels, going on a holiday with my husband and working on the garden when I felt like it.
There would be planning to do for the year ahead and I’d clear out my classroom and put up new colourful displays to welcome my new class, but all in all the summer months were very much a time to slow down and savour more of the moment without the usual call of ‘Mrs Chalk’ whenever someone needed help.
The last weeks of school were filled with concerts, sports day and prize-giving each of them another step towards the final day of term.
On the final day of term the children and parents brought in cards and hugely generous gifts and then I’d at some point have to wipe a tear from my eye as the children were no longer going to be ‘my class’.
At the end of the day I’d take the flowers and gifts home and fill vases with the flowers ready for the break that I’d earned.
So not as a mother I realise that this last day, which for me was an ending, was for the parents a time of huge change in their schedules and responsibilities.
I also realise that there are a lot of teachers who go from the responsibility of a class to the daily responsibility of looking after their own children through the holidays.
And yet sometimes the responsibility of day-to-day care that come with the holidays is unspoken and mums will ask ‘are you looking forward to the summer break?’ as though you already have your hammock strung up the back garden with the ingredients for tequila sunrise all lined up ready.
The challenge I ‘d like to set for you this week is to brainstorm how you can balance the care of your children with care for yourself, so that you also get time to rest and recuperate over summer, before the leaves start to turn red and you are hunting out thick school tights in Marks and new pencil cases.
Some ideas to get you started:
1. You are not a party entertainer. You do not have to keep your child busy every hour of the day.
3. Go to bed at an hour which is luxuriously early.
4. Get up early sometimes to do things that you want to do before your children get up in the morning.
5. Invest in audio books for children for car journeys. They can also help while your child is playing or when they need just a little extra bedtime story beyond what you have read them. Listening to audio books also helps literacy skills. We like this one and this.
6. This is a great place for art ideas to keep you busy over the summer.
7.Keep reading together over the summer to avoid the summer slide in reading ability. Something like this can help as long as you don’t push the child beyond what they are ready for. (really important not to do this)
8. Eat outside sometimes.
9. Don’t be a slave to a summer bucket list.
10. If you work best with structure give yourself some structure and if not let things be more free-flowing.
11. Do the busy stuff in the mornings before the children get tired.
12. Don’t feel you have to go out and about everyday, to do so is too tiring and can end up really expensive.
13.Keep children’s bedtimes around the usual time. Letting them stay up later and later because it’s the holidays can lead to grumpiness.
14. Make the most of simple summer meal options like salads and sometimes have your main meal at lunchtime so that you can relax into the evening more.
15. Realise that it is an impossibility for you to get as much done as you usually do both in your work and around the house. Stop yourself when you begin to tell yourself that there is something wrong with you or your children on account on this. It’s not true.
16. Get help that you trust if you can.
17. Get children to help where you can.
18. Play music when clearing up with children so it feels a little more like this.
19. When going for days out stay for a length of time that is age appropriate. Don’t feel that you need to see the whole museum just to get your money’s worth. If you go to a puppet show and your child starts crying because she does not like the puppets there’s no need to stay.
20. Keep your cool – literally. Keep the blinds down in the house from early morning if this helps. Hot and bothered does not a happy household make.
I’d love to hear from you. What would you suggest other mums do for a smoother summer?
If you found this helpful please share it with a friend. I’d really appreciate it.
Until next week,