‘So looking forward to the summer holidays’, says the skinny, tanned Mum of two who has two weeks booked all inclusive in Gran Canaria. ‘Can’t wait until the kids break up’, says the tall athletic Mum of one who has a week in Ireland and two weeks in Centre Parks. ‘Yeah, great, me too, going to be so relaxing, lovely to spend some quality time with the kids’, I reply. Er, what?!! 6 weeks, 6 weeks of 6 breakfasts for six kids, 6 lunches for six kids, six dinners for six kids, the extra washing up, the laundry, the ‘I’m bored’. Don’t misunderstand me. I love each and every one of them and would not be without any of them. I know I’m very lucky, but it does not change the fact that summer holidays are hard, hard work.
Even if you get into a strict routine, get up early, plan, organise they love to spice things up by putting things in really weird places just to give you that bit of extra work to do. I poured a cup of milk from one of those big 4 pint bottles the other day. Out slipped an innocent little PAINTBRUSH. Of course, why wouldn’t you put a paintbrush in the milk? I’ve had doughnuts down the toilet, a marble in the Marmite, mud in the detergent part of the dishwasher AND THEN TURNED ON. Yes, really I did. Add to the mix a crying baby, a pumped up pooch who thinks she’s a guard dog and has to bark at every Tom, Dick and Harry who dares walk past her house and you’ve got a pretty frazzled Mummy.
Over the years, I’ve developed some simple tactics to survive this 6 week marathon.
- Get out the house. Every single day, even if it’s raining, get them out. They will be calmer once they’ve had a change of scenery.
- Accept your invitations. Once you have an Army of kids like I do, the invitations kind of dwindle. It’s fair enough. But IF someone is naive enough to invite you over or out, just say yes.
- Implement a reward chart. Get the older ones or you if you have time to design a cute little reward chart for each child. When they are good or do a little job, they get a sticker. When they have a certain amount of stickers, they choose a treat. Trust me, they will be begging to fold the clothes or empty the dishwasher.
- Go to the library. Libraries often have really cute little schemes to get kids reading over the summer.
- Try and enjoy it! I know it’s cliched, but one day the summer holidays will be quiet, clean, tidy and dull. Your kids will have their own kids and the nest will be empty. Make the most of your summers.