It’s half-term and I’m doing something controversial. Something I have never done before. I AM TAKING THE WHOLE WEEK OFF WORK. Even the inset day at the end.
It’s not exactly rocket science, is it? Kids are off school therefore I should be off work to look after them. But it’s never, in nearly seven years of having kids at school, occurred to me that I should be so selfish. Put my own needs, and those of my children, above the needs of my colleagues and the people we work for.
And, thinking about it, I really have no idea why I haven’t taken this controversial decision before. In the past when people have asked me what we’re doing for half-term, I’ve felt a pang of jealousy and regret when admitting that I ‘have to work’. I hadn’t thought that maybe, just maybe, I DIDN’T have to work.
When I had just one child at school, it felt wrong to take all my time off to spend it with him during the school holidays. I felt I should use my holidays for all of my children. So I would take one day off in half-terms, a few more in the longer holidays, but not too many. I needed to keep some for the others.
Then I’ve always had a tendency to ‘save’ holiday – just in case. You never know if your kids are going to be ill, so it’s always a good idea to keep some back. Then my kids aren’t ill, so what do I do? Carry a few days over and spend a couple of days in March hanging round the shops on my own. There’s something to be said for a couple of days in March hanging round the shops on your own, but, when you’ve got three kids, it’s not exactly the best use of precious annual leave.
Then there’s the martyr thing. In my head, I have an important job. People rely on me. I need to be there. And I have to balance my holiday needs with my colleagues’ holiday needs, so we’re not all off at the same time leaving the team in the lurch. But, actually, my job isn’t that important, and nor am I. The recent restructuring and redundancy threat has proved that. And my manager has very kindly, or very stupidly, let a lot of us take half-term off this year. I’d better enjoy it, because if it’s a bad week, she won’t be doing it again.
So what will I do with this precious week and a day? Not a lot, if I’m honest. I’m not brave enough to attempt proper days out on my own with the three of them.
There will certainly be a cinema trip, possibly two. We will no doubt go to the park, despite the mud. We will go for walks – and the kids will moan about me dragging them out, then love it. We will do a bit of homework, and they will moan about that too. I will get to see my daughter’s swimming lesson, which I never normally see, and enjoy my sons’ lesson without the pressure of work and dance lessons. They will have to fit in with the usual boring ‘mum stuff’ of hoovering, shopping and washing. They will play on the Wii and I will join them for a few games of Just Dance 3. With any luck we will get up at a time beginning with 7, rather than one beginning with 6.
Above all, we will relax more than usual and spend more time together, and that’s all that really matters.