Why I Dread the Summer Holidays

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We’re on countdown here until the summer holidays begin next week. I imagine that for the most part, parents are looking forward to 6 weeks filled hour by hour of activities for all the family. For some of us though, there is a feeling of dread, and that is a perfectly reasonable and valid feeling. There is a sense of shame to not look forward to 6 weeks of uninterrupted time with your kids. There are so many different reasons why, and not one of those means you love your children any less, or that means you don’t have enjoyable time together. 

For me, it is a mix of triggers that stir up a feeling of dread and uncertainty. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, as well as other mental health conditions and chronic pain thrown in as well. Sometimes the chronic pain means I can’t leave the house, that I need my painkillers and my hot water bottle to save me from crying all day long in pain. Trying to keep a very active boy occupied all day at home seems impossible. When he is in school, that gives him 6 1/2 hours of his day to be with friends and run around on the field outside. Trying to find a full day of at home activities can be hard work, and often our movie subscription is well used on these days!

Jay works full time, as do both of my parents, so even having someone else to look after Max on these days is impossible. I dread it because I feel like I’m failing him (hello mum guilt!) and that he will resent me for not being able to do all these things. Even on a lower pain day, there are still things that I cannot do, things his friends and their families are able to do. I’ll try and get some play dates booked in, so not only does he get some fun with his friends, but because I may actually get some adult conversation with someone other than the postman or the Amazon delivery driver. Unfortunately, my amazing friends are all super organised and all have their plans for weeks booked well in advance, packed with lots of days out to different places and different activities (that make me tired just thinking about it all). All of these places are totally and completely chockablock during the holidays. There are no preschools, or regular clubs operating over the holidays, so every family descends upon these places. They must make an absolute killing as a lot of them are also very expensive. (Money has a lot to answer for, especially when you don’t have much of it.) You need to take out a bank loan just to get into some of these places. If you have more than one child, it gets even worse and even more unaffordable. When these attractions become so full it can cause havoc for people with mental health issues, panic attacks over the sheer volume of people, sensory overload with the noise, negative self deprecating thoughts on your body image, fear of peoples opinions on you, and on your parenting and any decision you make. All of these things, combined or alone, can cause someone to dread the school holidays. My advice to you?

* Let go of the guilt, if your kids are fed, clothed and have a roof over their head, a few days at home won’t matter

* Yes, we’re told all the time we should restrict the amount of screen time that our kids get, but a movie day is a great way to keep them entertained and help to regain some of your sanity.

* If you can afford to, it may be a good idea to try and put your child/ren in the local holiday club, even just for one day a week. This lets you know that they’ve had time with their peers, and is a day of activities you don’t have to plan, and can allow you time to rest/clean/tidy/work or recharge

* Finally, don’t worry if you don’t have a plan. Download a weather app, take each day as it comes, and do what you need to do. 

Regardless of how many days have been out and about or at home, you will still have made lots of memories with your children, so be kind to yourself, know you’re not alone. Take off the pressure and enjoy what you can. 

I once gave a piece of advice to a friend who was in this situation before Max began school, and I told her that while she wasn’t out with them all the time, her boys were learning compassion, care and patience. Sometimes we need to be reminded of these things, even when we can’t see it. Max’s school report came home this week, and he was called a role model to his peers, and a really hard worker. Despite all of my issues, I must be doing something right to have raised such an incredible little boy.