Traditionally, the autumn term is the longest of the lot. While half terms in the spring term can be as short as five weeks, in the autumn term they can be seven or even eight weeks. And that takes it toll.
With adjusting to life with a school run for the first time, not to mention the extra demands of a grammar school and having three kids at three different schools, by October I was feeling quite overwhelmed and exhausted. And most definitely ready for half-term. I was VERY pleased when I realised my younger two had two extra days at the start.
But, the problem is, we had nothing planned. The half-term we so desperately needed turned out to be a very boring one.
We’re not the sort of family that has days out every day. Or even every week. Days out are expensive and can be stressful, especially when you’re balancing the needs of a 9 year old and a 14 year old. Personally, I don’t believe in handing kids entertainment on a plate, day in, day out. They need to realise that life isn’t like that, that life is boring sometimes, that they need to make their own entertainment…
We just needed to relax at home and make the most of a few days without pressure. It was unfortunate that my son and I both had hospital appointments, plus he had an eye test and had to get a haircut and the kids had the dentist too. But that was also deliberate – because I don’t believe in taking my kids out of school unnecessarily. Sometimes we have to do these boring things.
But I really wished we were doing something more exciting and was starting to regret not organising something.
There have been a number of occasions in the past when we’ve had a short holiday in October half-term (although the last time was three years ago). What I wouldn’t have given for a holiday! Looking at social media was making me seriously jealous – it felt like the whole world was on holiday – Cornwall or the Caribbean, Devon or Disneyland, I would have been happy with any of them. But, having been to Center Parcs, Amsterdam and Padstow this year, that was never going to happen.
When my daughter summed up the first day of the holiday as ‘the most boring day on earth’ I knew it wasn’t going well. But could I make it any better?
To be honest, not a lot better! We did have one day out – to Alton Towers (more on that another time), but the rest of the time was work, homework and the house. I had an article to write and couldn’t get hold of a contact I needed – that resulted in me spending three days stuck inside (and I don’t get paid for the hours I’m waiting, of course, only the hours I’m actually working on the article). Luckily, my parents took my daughter out, my eldest saw his friends and my younger son was happy in the house.
On the Wednesday, while my daughter was out with my parents, I took myself out for a walk and the world seemed like a better place. It was mild and sunny and the autumn leaves were beautiful.
We’d had a break from school and dance lessons and extra-curricular activities. Yes, it was pretty boring, but it was still a break and that’s what we desperately needed.