Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Why the summer holiday is the best time to be a working mum




When I was at home minding my brood, the summer holiday was a time that I would both long for and dread in equal measure. Six weeks of not having to get up to do the school run, of not having to track down swimming kit, shoes, and clean jumpers every morning, of no homework and no schedule was pure bliss. Six weeks of children moaning, bickering and endlessly whinging that they were bored if I ever dared to switch off the Xbox, not so blissful.

As the break loomed this year I had equally mixed feelings. It's my first summer as a working mum and, as the school term reached its chaotic end, riddled with concerts, picnics and prize givings, I felt nostalgic for those lazy sunny days spent with my boys. When I missed the mums' end of term get together in the park, I sat glumly at my desk wishing I was sharing prosecco and strawberries with my school gate mates. But when it came to packing for our two weeks in the sunshine, I was more than happy to use going out to work as a great excuse to leave that particular chore to my husband.

Foolishly he showed himself to be eminently capable, doing a far better job than me - remembering both tea and laundry detergent - so I have now designated him chief packer for the household. Lucky man. 

But it was when we returned that I really appreciated the true benefits of being office bound during the long summer holiday. As we unpacked what appeared to be at least six months-worth of dirty laundry, replete with shorts pockets crammed with pebbles from a faraway French beach, T-shirts liberally smeared with exotically-flavoured ice creams, swimming trunks still damp and salty from the seaside, I realised gleefully that for once it wasn't me who had to clean this mass of filthy clothing. 

As I checked that my phone was charged and I had my fob for the office door on my first day back at work,  my husband disconsolately asked me 'What should I do with them all day?' Not my problem I thought smugly as I remembered all the summers when I had to entertain my entourage of toddlers  and small children as he fled to the office. 

The hours I have spent wandering around farms staring at sheep who looked as catatonically bored as I was, or sitting through hours of animated film that left me anything but, or furtively reading thew newspaper on my phone, as I lurked on a park bench pretending that I couldn't hear my children's demands to be pushed on the swings. Or worse, doing battle with wasps and friendly dogs as my children hysterically screamed and flapped their arms as if Godzilla were bearing down on them with murder in his reptilian eyes. 

Of course there were golden days where we chased down dragons in the local woods, played epic Pooh sticks battles in the brook behind our house, munched on sausage rolls and strawberries in the grounds of splendid stately homes and froze fantastic concoctions to make syrupy sweet ice lollies that dribbled all over their tiny faces. But those glittering snapshots of delight were few and far between hours of fighting over toys or staring blankly at the TV. 

On balance I have to shamefacedly admit that I would choose a swift kiss in my way out of the door for those few children who have made it out of bed before I leave for work, followed by a peaceful day at my desk, over spending at least five and half weeks desperately thinking to myself 'When do they go back to school?'


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