I hated October half-term last year. It was boring and we were stuck at home while it felt like the rest of the world was away enjoying themselves. February half-term was better, I was more content with staying at home and taking it easy.
Then Easter came along and nothing felt right – the kids argued, I couldn’t find anything to do to please them all, so we pretty much ended up doing nothing. I felt redundant and like I was letting them and myself down. But I came to the conclusion that this was the reality for us now. School holidays won’t be like they used to be. The kids are too old now, they have their own interests and don’t want to spend all of their time with their siblings.
But then May half-term came along and it was a whole lot better.
The key thing was that my eldest’s dream came true. He’s been asking for a long time to climb Ben Nevis. Climbing Ben Nevis is a big deal. But it’s an even bigger deal when you live in Gloucestershire and you have to factor in all the travel. Eventually, in return for all the work he’d done in the garden, my husband agreed to take my son to Ben Nevis in half-term. They would be away for three whole days.
For my son, it was the best possible experience. It made him very happy indeed and he didn’t have to argue with his brother and sister at all, because they weren’t there.
Which just left me at home with the younger kids. At the moment, they both get on very well together, far better than either of them get along with their big brother. They are happy in each other’s company and happy to do the same things.
Taking them to the cinema on our first day ‘home alone’, I could barely keep the smile off my face. It was so easy and so relaxing! I’d got my old family life back. For a short time, at least.
I also took the opportunity to take them out to a couple of blogging events. Events I would have avoided if I’d had three kids with me, as they would have just caused arguments and moaning.
I’ll be honest, travelling scares me a bit. It would be all too easy not to travel, but I have to get out of my comfort zone to keep myself sane and also for the sake of the kids.
So we took a train to London for the Robinsons event. My son in particular was so happy to be going to London, even though I’d warned him we wouldn’t have time to go to ‘proper’ London.
It started off badly with my daughter feeling travel sick on the train – she hasn’t felt travel sick on a train for five years! She had a headache which lingered for much of the day. Ironically, it may have been down to dehydration.
We finished at the event and were in Hammersmith at about 3pm. Our train left Paddington at 6.45pm. To venture into ‘proper’ London seemed like madness, but it also felt like a wasted opportunity to just hang round Hammersmith until our train when we had London (almost) on our doorstep. So we got the tube to Westminster and took obligatory photos of Big Ben and the London Eye. We literally crossed Westminster Bridge and walked back again, but we felt like we’d experienced London.
My son is a great navigator and he was very keen to go to Leon to eat. So he found the nearest Leon, close to Victoria, and we walked there. With a proper, healthy meal inside her, my daughter’s headache finally disappeared and we started to really enjoy our little day in London.
As a claustrophobic, I couldn’t face the tube in rush hour, so we caught a bus to Paddington, riding on the top deck and seeing the sights.
And my daughter didn’t get travel sick on the way home – in fact she giggled pretty much non-stop for the whole journey (sorry, other passengers!). We’d had a lovely day and I’d gone way out of my comfort zone by taking them to London on my own.
The following day, we went to Bristol, for the kids to choose an outfit for me. We all enjoy going to Bristol and it’s not far to travel. My daughter reluctantly agreed to take the train again and was very pleased when she felt perfectly fine and remembered how much shorter the journey was. We had a lot of fun trying on the comedy outfit and enjoyed a bit of shopping and lunch at one of our favourite coffee shops.
My son always likes getting wet and paddling in the various fountains around Bristol. Once they’d done that, they both felt that they’d had a good day and were happy to head home.
With a week that finished with a family trip to the Wychwood Festival, it really was a much better half-term.
Now what are the chances of having a good summer holiday, rather than one where we all feel endlessly frustrated? I’m really hoping we can make it happen!