The school summer holidays are enough to strike the fear into the heart of even the most child-centred parent (and I don’t really count myself as one of those.) Every year I fall into the same trap of thinking “this year it will be different”. I am by nature a glass half-full kind of person so as soon as the sun comes out I start fantasising about perfect family picnics and Jamie Oliver style barbecues. I have visions of warm, hazy, golden days where my children are at one with nature and occupy themselves for hours while I lie on a vintage picnic rug (which I will have picked up from a junk shop for 10p – how clever) eating strawberries, reading a book, glass of wine in hand. Most importantly I will have perfected a boho chic summer wardrobe that looks great with the vintage picnic rug. I think you get the picture and it should be blindingly obvious that I AIM TOO HIGH!
This is the reality of my summer holidays so far:
It has been raining since March and shows no signs of stopping. I could almost bear this when I felt (to quote our Prime Minister) like “we were all in this together”. But then the South (and by South, I mean south of Preston) went all hot and sunny. Cue all Radio 1 DJ’s and BBC newsreaders talking about the glorious weather, when half the country is still under a dirty big cloud. Anyway, BBC-bias rant aside, what this means is that I have three children cooped up in the house all day and a husband who is working away for the next 19 days. The blue-skied, golden fantasy of cooperative siblings being at one with nature is, in reality, three bickering kids fighting over who goes on the iPad next.
The obvious response to this predicament (and the path which my sister has decided to take) is to turn to 5 p.m. glasses of red wine (served with copious amounts of cheese and crackers) to help numb the pain. However this is a slightly problematic approach for someone who is supposed to be on an MS low saturated fat diet plan.
So I need an alternative plan and I have decided that being pro-active is the way forward. I keep reminding myself that this time last year I had two whopping MS attacks and was basically off my feet and out of action for two months. The summer holidays were a total wipeout for both me and the kids. I didn’t even get as far as the fantasy last year – I was too busy concentrating on getting better. This year (touch wood) I am at least fit and healthy so I am determined to make the next few weeks as fun as possible.
With this is mind, on Tuesday I rang my lovely friend in London and asked her if it would be OK if the kids and I came down on the train to stay with her this weekend, with the intention of soaking up some Olympic atmosphere and watching the Men’s Cycling Road Race which passes near to her house. Her response was so enthusiastic I immediately booked the tickets and we are heading down South on Saturday morning. The kids are so excited they can’t sleep. During one conversation with my friend the word “picnic” was mentioned and suddenly the warm, hazy fantasy had become a little bit more of a possibility. All brilliant, except that I have just checked the forecast and apparently it is raining in London on Sunday!
More pro-active news:
Yesterday my sister and I took the kids to the local agricultural show. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? We travelled on an open top bus (great), got a deal on a family ticket by pretending we were lesbians with kids* (bargain) and then spent the next three hours listening to our children whining about going on fair rides / bouncy castles / donkey rides / harrier jet simulators / bungee ropes(all hideous). The kids weren’t even that interested in the animals. Thank God my Dad arrived with his bonhomie and more importantly his wallet.
Admittedly not a great start to my new pro-active approach but I am determined to stick with it. Next week I am determined to go up to Coniston and mess about in the lake whatever the weather. That’s what waterproofs and flasks of coffee are for. Just maybe the sun will come out, the countryside will be transformed into a green and pleasant land and I can lie on my picnic rug reading a book and grab a few minutes peace before the bickering starts. I told you, I am a glass half-full person.
* this is not strictly true. The Rotary Club very kindly offered us a family ticket on the basis of us being sisters not lesbians.