A is for appetite. Hungry? Always! My food bills must quadruple during the holidays. Term time, they eat breakfast, lunch at tea with a few snacks in between. In the summer holidays, they are ready for lunch an hour after breakfast and tea at lunchtime. How do they suddenly have such a huge appetite all of the time?
B is for beach days. You know those wonderful days where you lie soaking up the sun on the beach, the gentle rush of waves in the background and the wonderful sound of your children playing happily on the beach. Sounds the ‘reality check’ siren loudly there. The reality is sand in everything, arguments about sun lotion, in the sea, out of the sea, sand in even more places. Picnic with added sand. Children arguing over which game to play. You end up going off to find some mindless amusement arcade to pour money into, just to remain sane. Yet in spite of the sand and the stress, you always want to go back …
C is for café (or in our case Costa). Café visits, we have had a few. You would think that my children were born, raised and bottle fed in Costa. They love them. We still call them Frescatos, which wholly confuses younger members of staff when they ask for one, but Coolers, Frostinos, those ice drinks with cream on the top, my kids love them. I now need a second mortgage whenever we go out anywhere because they are in a Costa and ordering, before the word no has left my lips.
D is for devices. You may have a love hate relationship with your children’s devices, especially during the summer holidays. You think that it will be a time for quality family time. They can’t even take their eyes off the screen while they talk to you. You think that we can all go out and do some great stuff. They are more concerned about whether there will be any wifi. You think that they can have less screen time. They think they can have more. Constant battle.
On the plus side, when you have had a busy few days and you need a bit of time to sit down, those devices can come in quite handy then, so it isn’t all bad.
E is for education. Or lack of. I know that it has been proven that kids should try and maintain some sort of learning during the holidays to keep up the term time momentum. But. I think they need a break and apart from reading, I don’t enforce anything else. Anyway, I am pretty sure my kids would downright refuse. They like their breaks.
F is for fun. This whole six-week break thing isn’t so bad. There will be fun, laughter, mucho amusement. It is a summer holiday essential and in the words of the great Charlie Chaplin, “a day without laughter is a day wasted.” Make sure there is some fun, enjoy it.
G is for games. Games are essential. You need the games to play as a family at home to ensure the correct amount of ‘quality family time’. You need games to play in the car to avoid boredom and the phrase “are we nearly there yet” being on repeat. You need instant games to keep bored children occupied in a long queue. Games maketh the survival of the summer holidays. They are also fun and in between the arguing, these are special times when we create great memories.
H is for harassment. If there was a degree in harassment, my children would have a first class with honours. They can harass for England (or Wales if my husband is reading). Call it harassing, cajoling, nagging, whatever it is, it is a pain in the posterior because however firm I stand, they seem to manage to wear away all of my resolves and get exactly what they want.
I is for ice cream. One day last week, we were sat overlooking a windswept beach, there was a dampness in the air and grey clouds were threatening to do their worst. “You don’t want an ice cream?” I tentatively asked my little lovelies. Of course, they did and they always do. It is part of summer. It doesn’t matter if it is raining, it doesn’t matter if the wind is whipping the ice cream into the air. So of course, I have to have one too, if you can’t beat them, join them.
J is for juggling. I don’t really have to explain that one do I? Juggling children, food, household chores, days out, picnics, activities, cooking. Juggling with far too many balls.
K is for kaleidoscope. You remember kaleidoscopes? That is the word that comes to me when I think about the summer holidays. It is a hazy mass of colour, chaos and general madness. There is no set pattern or routine and every day is completely different.
L is for lazy mornings. My favourite bit of the six-week break. No rushing, no running late, no nagging. It’s okay to stay in pyjamas for as long as you like. Love it.
M is for money. Or should I say NO money? A day trip here, a theme park here, even a quick trip into town costs money when the kids are in tow. We are trying this summer to be frugal but it is a real challenge.
N is for no. This is a word I seem to say endlessly during the six-week break. Sometimes I enlist it’s more affirmative cousins ‘not a chance’ or ‘no way’.
O is for outdoors. If you can’t get out and enjoy the great outdoors in the summer holidays, when can you? Oh, except for the small problem that it starts to rain every single day from the minute they break up from school. But we are hardy us Brits and we will get outside whatever the weather. I never leave the house without waterproofs, umbrellas, hats suncream. Always prepared.
P is for photos. Get that camera snapping and take as many photos as you can.
Q is for quality family time. Even with a tween and teen in tow, we are still managing to achieve quality family time. It might involve some degree of bickering, the occasional strop and the odd small physical fight, but that is just normal family life isn’t it (please say it is)?
R is for really late bedtimes. I thought term times were bad but these lie ins play havoc with your evenings. You know that feeling when you have been busy all day trying to keep everyone fed, watered and entertained and you are shattered. The armchair and an evening of rubbish television are calling to you. Alas no. There will be some small person demanding to watch Cartoon Network (even though you have seen that episode already ten times) or a not so small person wanting to watch sport (yawn). Then the relentless process of trying to physically get them all into bed and to sleep. I am usually asleep before them.
S is for swearing. There might be swearing. Just remember to take a very deep breath and say it in your head.
T is for tantrums. There will be screaming. There will be shouting. There will be moments when you just can’t help it. Oh, and the kids might have a few too.
U is for uniform. Every year I say that I will buy the uniform before the end of the term. Every year I fail. There is one small shop that sells the uniform for all three children’s schools and throughout the school holidays, going in there is like playing actual sardines. When you have finally managed to get to the uniform, the children have had enough and you have to raise your voice to get them to try things on. And don’t mention the price tag. It is not pretty. And definitely, don’t mention the shoes. No, not the shoes, school shoe shopping is the actual worse thing. Ever.
V is for vodka. You might need some, or gin, whisky, Lambrusco, Babycham anything really. It helps, trust me. Although, hangovers and loud, bouncy children don’t mix very well.
W is for weather. Oh, how we love summer holiday weather. Yes, yes we have a heat wave in June, early July and the weekend the kids break up for the summer holidays? Rain, rain and more rain. Some mornings, it looks hopeful and you make exciting plans only for the heavens to open by lunchtime leaving everyone very wet, cold and extremely fed up.
X is for X-ray. You might as well accept that there is a strong possibility of ending up at the X-ray unit at some point during the holidays. We have been at least once every summer, there was the miniature chess piece stuck up the nostril, the run over foot, the suspected fractured arm after a shopping trolley incident (please don’t ask). Yes, it is several hours of your life spent in A&E that you will never get back, but it is all part and parcel of kids having a fun time and experimenting with boundaries. Honest.
Y is for yes! If you, like me, find yourself saying no too much, maybe it is time to say yes. Yes, the washing up can wait. Yes, we can sit down and watch a film together. Yes, I will go on that hideous roller-coaster with you (with my eyes tightly shut). Yes, you can have £100… erm actually that is a no. It is only six weeks and by the time the next summer holiday comes around, they will all be another year older. Embrace it, have some fun.
Z is for zzzzzz It’s so tiring …. zzzzzz Wake me up in September.