I spent quite a while agonising over whether the children should do holiday clubs this summer, in my usual indecisive way. It is tempting to take advantage of some of the opportunities that are on offer, but on the other hand I look forward to the holidays as many of our regular activities stop and it’s good to enjoy really free time together. This summer, my decision was influenced by the fact that we are having a new kitchen put in, and there would be so much disruption that I thought the children might as well be in holiday clubs, as there would be no peace and quiet at home. Last week’s dramabuds club was a success, and two hours every morning was about right, I think.
This week Owl and Monkey have been in a sports holiday club which was full time (really long days) and the little ones have mainly been at the childminder’s (and Rabbit had a day in London with Granny on Monday to visit the National Gallery.) We had planned this so that I would have the best part of a week to sort the house out after the kitchen was done, but there have been many delays and the work is still not finished. I have found plenty to do and thoroughly enjoyed sorting out mountains of clothes, books and toys to give away, but I felt that it came at a price (and not just the several hundred pounds it all cost.)
After one day at the sports camp, the boys came home overtired and emotional. The first thing Owl said when he walked through the door was “The thing is mummy, it’s just too long to be away from you” and Monkey said “I thought it would be fun but it’s not.” Owl also commented that when he asked to go to the toilet he was told to finish tidying up the balls first and this upset him. As he doesn’t go to school, he was totally confused by the concept of not going to the toilet when you need to. I was so tempted to tell them they didn’t have to go again, but as the kitchen work was still going on it didn’t feel like a realistic idea. As a compromise I told them they wouldn’t have to go on Friday as I would have the little ones at home anyway. It really went against all my parenting principles to make them go when they didn’t want to. They did it and survived but enthusiastically took up the offer of staying at home today. Owl spent the whole day in his pyjamas playing with Lego in his bedroom and was completely content. The others played in the garden a lot as well as their bedrooms, and had three friends over to play in the afternoon.
So what have I learnt from this? Full days are too long, especially for a whole week. No matter how good the activities sound they probably can’t compete with what we can do at home. Some holiday clubs are fun, but we need to choose carefully. I think this week’s one was a bit too big and impersonal. We need to have some space between organised activities, otherwise life feels out of balance and the children are unhappy. We are all really looking forward to next week, when we will be at home with most days free for us to decide what to do on the day. We can go out if we want to or stay in if we feel like it. I am really looking forward to playing with the children, reading to them, talking to them and having time to listen. I hope the kitchen work will be finished early in the week, and I know that we will have a lot of things to sort out when it is done, but I am determined not to let that interfere too much with what is really important. Will somebody remind me of this when I am tempted next year by holiday clubs that sound really good? Please tell me to stay at home and play with my children instead!