I’m pleased to say that having the whole of half-term off work has been a real success. As predicted, we have done very little, but the kids (and me) have been relaxed and happy. It’s been so much better than when I do my usual one Wednesday off here, one Tuesday off there to try and balance the kids, work and the needs of my family who help look after them.
We have been to the cinema once, been out for lunch once, been to the park once, been swimming once, been for lots of walks and watched my eldest dangle a Yoshi cuddly toy out of the skylight on a chain of ribbons, medals and headphones (and he isn’t even the Things culprit). They have got up in their own time (usually a similar time to they would get up on a school day), watched a bit of Simpsons (sadly they seem to have given up on Horrible Histories for the time being), then played on the Wii. They have come off the Wii in their own time – before I feel they have been on too long – and found other things to do. Like drawing, reading and playing chess. My boys don’t usually draw and neither of them have read much recently.
With the mild weather, they have taken themselves outside and played. Although they play rugby at weekends, they don’t usually play at home. But the three of them (and even me!) have played their own miniature version of tag rugby on the front garden. We’ve had some grass-stained and muddy jeans, but that’s a small price to pay for happy children.
My younger son, who has school dinners every day, asked me on the second day ‘Can we have SANDWICHES for lunch?’. The way he asked for those sandwiches, you would think they were the most delicious and exciting things in the world. Not just boring old sandwiches. And then he asked if he could make them himself! Result! Making lunch for four people takes ages, so any help is much appreciated. And because he made his own, my daughter made her own too. On the third day, they just went off and made it without me even supervising them. They carried on and made their own lunch for the entire holiday.
Even when the potential ‘highlight’ of the holidays – meeting Mister Maker from CBeebies – turned out to be more of a damp squib than we expected, it failed to spoil their enthusiasm or their behaviour.
In fact, their behaviour has noticeably improved and the arguments are right down. My eldest and my daughter are talking to each other nicely and behaving like friends and I can see him being more protective of her. My younger son, who I thought I’d lost (see Body swap in December) is back to his lovely old self. He is funny without being cheeky, he has stopped answering back and he is giving me lots of cuddles like he used to.
He’s not perfect, though. He is an 8 year old boy, after all. When I say we are going for a walk he complains, but he goes out the door and starts walking. Then I tell him where we are going and he complains again. Then I say we are crossing the railway and he complains again. The next thing I know, he is happily playing pooh-sticks and crouched down by the water, looking under the bridge to try to find out why the sticks keep getting stuck. ‘This is fun!’ he shouts. Wii, what Wii?
So it’s been a good week, and I will definitely try to take more full weeks off in the future.
Way back in the day, when my eldest was the only one at school, the benefits of me spending a single day with him during the school holidays could be felt for days or even weeks afterwards.
Let’s hope that a week and a bit with all three of them has the same effect. What’s the chances of the good behaviour lasting all the way to Easter?