Why do I find the summer so difficult as a parent?
Here in Ireland the children are all on the their summer holidays, the primary schools broke up at the end of last week and only return on 1st September – 9 weeks off! However, the secondary schools broke up on the last day of May and are off until the end of August – three months off!!
This is great for the kids, who have an endless seeming summer of sunshine, beach trips, ice-cream and friends over to play.
For parents it’s also an endless seeming summer – of intersibling warfare, polite requests (not) for icecream and playdates and sleepovers for 15, armageddon in the kitchen, a living room resembling a soccer pitch both in terms of activity as well as the mown grass clippings that are tramped in from ouside, bathrooms that compete with public restrooms for the award of ‘most peed-on floor’.
And most significantly, little time on your own to catch your breath when you’re not being interrogated as to why the chocolate spread has not been replenished by your magic bottomless supermarket/kitchen cupboard or being regaled with the longest tales of the intricacies of the latest Ninendo game.
For parents who are working full-time out of the house, there’s the challenge of what to do with your kids for all those weeks. For parents who work from home the only uninterrupted time is before everyone wakes up or after they go to sleep.
I have been trying to figure out why I find this time of year so difficult and when I sat down to to write this, it suddenly became obvious.
On the whole, I seem to struggle with identifying what it is that makes me unhappy – I often just cruise along in a general state of irritability, unable to make any changes as I can’t figure out what it is exactly that is causing the problems in the first place. Everyone tells you that writing things down is a good place to start for finding solutions, so this is my attempt!
This is beginning to sound like one of those moaning ‘I am not grateful to be a parent’ type of posts. I do love my kids, they are funny, affectionate, kind and creative. I enjoy taking them places and exploring the sights our beautiful Wexford and surrounding counties have to offer.
However, there are just too many days when I am tired from dealing with the personalities of four other people in the house who all have different tastes and interests. They don’t all enjoy going to the beach, for example, so where ever we go or what ever we decide to do, there’s bound to be one unhappy (read complaining) person in the group.
I like to get the kids out of the house but taking them places ends up getting me all annoyed. They have the habit of walking or sitting close to me and I end up feeling like I have a little protective wall of children on all sides. I get a bit touched out!
Dealing with the bickering and discontent is part and parcel of raising kids to be mature and kind adults. I get that being a parent involves an element of parenting! But to be honest, there are days when I would just like to take a teeny tiny bit of leave from this job.
I get that being a parent involves an element of parenting! But to be honest, there are days when I would just like to take a teeny tiny bit of leave from this job.
Because home is not like school and we don’t have a start time or break times, they drift in and out of breakfast when they wake up. Mine range in age from 10 to 17, they all naturally have different sleep patterns. This means that there’s seemingly neverending activity in the kitchen and dirty dishes I need to ‘remind’ them to clean up.
My blog suffers over the summer too, I need at least three hours uninterrupted time to write and edit one post. It’s way easier to be frittering away the time on social media as that can be randomly dipped in and out of.
I have also realised that I am a stickler for routine, it helps me to remember what needs to happen and who has to be where. I forgot to bring Fia to an important show rehearsal last week because it wasn’t one of our regular activities, and I became really annoyed with myself.
I have decided to put a few things into place to help me cope with the shifting sands of the summer holidays:
- Write everything down in my diary and check it EVERY morning.
- Consult the kids on what they would like to do to ensure that all of them have a say in choosing at least one activity they like.
- Give them all chores to help around the house.
- Provide incentives to keep them on track with the chores.
- Get them involved with helping out on summer camps.
- Set reasonable limits for the amount of screen time they are allowed.
- Get up early to have uninterrupted time to write.
- Make time for myself to go off somewhere on my own to recharge.
This last point is so necessary. I have struggled with the concept of ‘time for myself’, feeling that it is selfish, but I have come to realise that it’s important for my own restoration. When I do take a bit of time away I come back feeling recharged and re-energised. Last weekend I went for a walk on my own and it felt great not to be walled in by little bodies, to not have to answer questions and to move at my own pace.
What do you do to keep yourself same through the long weeks of being at home with the kids? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Now the younger kids are starting to drift downstairs and the first breakfast shift has started – and I’m distracted by the smell of weetabix and banana so I’ll let you go.
See you later.