Mums – struggling with the school holidays already? Here’s why you’re doing fine.

Well I bet many of us are already feeling a little, how shall I put it, wrung out having looked after our little darlings for 3 days straight.

Cue much muttering from the “well what did you expect” and “why did you have kids then if you didn’t want to look after them” brigade.

Many of us find ourselves as the sole childcare provider if our other half is working and, of course, the cost of childcare can be exorbitant – thank God for grandparents.

Let’s press the mute button on our critics and acknowledge one or two things, shall we?

We love our kids and they love us.

It is our responsibility to set boundaries, limits, call them what you will so that our children learn how to fit in.

(Yes I know little Johnny has every right to kayak around the world eating lentils and being ‘free’ but such things are easier with an education and some sort of gainful employment under your belt).

Sometimes, the setting of boundaries requires, (whisper it), raising your voice and imposing sanctions – whether that be the removal of an iPad or time out.

The imposing of such sanctions very often makes you feel like s**t.

Learning to play independently is a valuable skill.

We do not need to provide wall-to-wall entertainment involving crafting, cooking, painting, singing, board games or reading for the entire time our kids are awake.

Meaningful interaction is required of course, but if you find yourself devising a time-table,

I suggest you make yourself a coffee and have a word with yourself.

That ‘word’ should involve asking yourself the following question honestly.

“What kind of mother do I want to be” and “Am I physically, mentally and emotionally capable of being that kind of mother?”

Culturally, our society prefers its mothers to have more in common with the Virgin Mary than it does with the living, flesh and blood conglomeration of discordant emotions that many of us consist of.

From an early age, we are taught that ‘mothers’ are sweet, caring and nurturing.

They are selfless, self-sacrificing and willing to relinquish all sense of entitlement to individual happiness just to ensure their offspring thrive.

Readers of this blog may recall that I have, on occasion, found myself identifying with Joan Crawford.

A rather stark counterpoint to the cultural fantasy described above.

The point, of course, is that the kind of mother you want to be is the kind that you are able to be.

An honest assessment of your failings, together with a plan to improve (where you can) is likely to be far more fulfilling for you and your kids than to mope on the sofa at the end of the day with a large glass of vino whilst muttering “I’m just not cut out for mothering”.

If you’re short on patience and your temper is frayed, make sure your self-care is up to scratch.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Eating right?

Drinking enough water?

Are you asking for help?

If you really are at the end of your tether and you can afford it, hire a babysitter (or bribe a relative) and just take two or three hours out for you – even if that’s just nursing a coffee at Costa.

Or arrange to babysit for a friend in return for a night out with your partner or best friend.

Listen, if you are kind, caring and compassionate, if you soothe hurting tummies and wipe away tears, even if you sometimes shout quite loudly, it’s all OK.

So, take a deep breath.

Put your guide to local attractions and “501 free things to do with the kids” down for a moment.

Geo caching whilst wearing floral wellies can wait.

Building a fully functional mobile home out of cardboard boxes and an old camping trailer can be shelved, as can baking a cake in the shape of Taylor Swift.

Tomorrow, when the dark cloud of “useless mothering” looms large over your head, turn everything with a screen off.

Throw some cushions on the floor and just sit down with your kids, tell them a story or just chat.

That’s all they really want.  Your attention. Heck,  I’ve convinced myself.  I’m going to give it a go.

After all, kids are human too.  Now, where’s my wine.

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12 Comments

  1. July 22, 2015 / 9:23 pm

    This is such a great post, my daughter is only 20 months old but I still sometimes feel like I am falling apart, be it the 100th time I have said not to climb all over the dog or draw on the walls with her "cheap" etcha sketch pen (this & white walls don't mix). Unfortunately for us we don't have family close by & can not afford childcare, we live in each others pockets and some days I just don't want to get out of bed, it's not because I don't love being around my daughter, I adore her! But I just need some time for me. Being a parent is exhausting but very rewarding and regardless of what kind of parent you are or your parenting style we are all cut out for it.

    Sorry for my ramble! 🙂

    Georgia x

    • August 6, 2015 / 7:58 pm

      Sometimes you just need some 'head space' don't you? I remember the 20 month stage as being quite challenging – they're starting to find their feet and assert themselves!

  2. July 22, 2015 / 9:28 pm

    What a great post! There is so much pressure out there to be the perfect parent and social media doesn't help with mums (and dads too!) posting pics of where they are/what they are doing every second of the summer holidays.

    You're right, sometimes it is just the simple things that create the most long lasting memories.

    Laura x
    Musgt Have Girl

    • August 6, 2015 / 7:59 pm

      I try to remind myself of that every time my two start demanding to 'just have a quick look' in Smyths, The Entertainer or the Disney Store! x

  3. July 24, 2015 / 10:19 am

    What a great post. I struggle with what to do with Eva and she is 2.5. I always feel pressure to have a fun day out etc. This is probably because I work and therefore on my days off I feel I have to spoil her. I dread to think what it will be like in summer holidays especially with limited grandparents around x

    • August 6, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      Half the time what we think of as fun is quite different from theirs, isn't it? When we take them to St Fagins, for example, all they really want to do is play on the adventure playground and then have a bit of an explore – and an ice cream!

  4. July 24, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    I thought I was going to have to leave a polite 'lovely, but too young for summer holidays' comment, but this is exactly what I needed to read!! It's hard to look after everyone else if you're not looking after yourself. This is how I've been lately and it's not been nice. So pressure off, and a little bit of me time and all will work out.

    Thank you so much! X

    • August 6, 2015 / 8:02 pm

      I hope you've been treating yourself a bit! Even if it's just a coffee and a magazine. x

  5. July 25, 2015 / 8:01 pm

    I read this the other day while at the hairdressers having my hair cut and coloured before a date night with the hubby. He is only off for one week of the holidays and the rest of the time it will be me looking after our three children and as much as I adore spending time with them, I sooo needed that little bit of time just for me, to recharge and feel good about myself too. Lovely post x

    • August 6, 2015 / 8:03 pm

      Mat's only taken one week off so far so I'm with you on that one. If we're exhausted, I think the whole family suffers.

  6. August 3, 2015 / 9:27 am

    I love this. It's so hard to get sucked into planning activities you think you should be doing. We had a stressful hour at a zoo, trying to drag the little one towards the animals when all he wanted to do was play in the park. In the end we thought if he's happy in the park why are we trying to get him to do something else?!
    Like you say, as long as they're happy and have our attention it's all good 🙂
    Alana x

    • August 6, 2015 / 8:05 pm

      This made me smile because last year we took our two to the Noah's Ark Zoo near Bristol. Amazing animals but the kids just wanted to play on the swings. In the end you think for £40+ you may as well save the money, go to the park and buy sarnies. Sometimes I think we feel pressured to try too many things with them when they are still just too young.

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