Ode to the Summer Holidays

Each year, there is a day which simply cannot be beaten.  A day when you wake up, and feel as though the world is quite literally your oyster.  The sun is shining (sometimes), the birds (usually seagulls) are singing, and the promise of weeks of blissful relaxation, of days spent lounging by a pool drinking radioactively-hued cocktails with garish paper umbrellas,  hangs heavy in the air.

This day, like my birthday, falls in July, but it isn’t my birthday.  Once you get to my age, you start wishing you were going backwards, looking up the price of Botox and seriously considering whether chemical peels are more likely to land you in Vogue or the burns unit.

It isn’t Christmas.  Though not without its own merits, Christmas is too full of obligations; of family visits and baking and cooking and rushing to Tesco to panic buy food for that one full day the shops are closed.

I’m talking, of course, about the first day of the summer holidays.  The day that feels like all the birthdays and Christmases you’ve ever had rolled into one.  One of the life’s great moments, happening every year, right on cue.  Like finishing your university Finals and bumping into the late, great Queen Mother all on the same day.  Like doing a bungee jump and landing at the bottom of a valley, still alive.  Like having a baby, but without the icky bits like childbirth.  In the words of long-forgotten early 2000s manufactured band Hearsay, It is a great day, pure and simple.  

So I wanted to celebrate the greatness of the summer holidays, before it’s over and forgotten again, until next year, in a flurry of Back to School signs emblazoned with smiling schoolchildren in grey pinafores brandishing the latest collection of George at Asda pencil cases; signs which are always, every year, visible far too soon and never, ever welcomed.  At least not by me.

And yet it feels as though some people see the summer holidays as a difficult time.  As though it’s an inconvenient chore to be spending time enjoying life with your own children; enjoying the sunshine, having barbecues, building dens, watching Chuggington two hundred times a day.  And that might be your experience.  You might be a full time working parent to eight school age children who find themselves suddenly at a loose end for six weeks just as your own work is at its busiest.  I don’t know.  I don’t speak for everyone, but I do speak for myself, and for me, the school holidays is a precious time to not be busy.  Time to actually spend with my son and not feel as though he’s being raised by his grandmother.  Time to enjoy the simple pleasures like going to the park, having a playdate, watching those two hundred episodes of Chuggington.  And I love it.  I’ll take the endless Chuggington over a day at work any day.  I’ll take the sunshine and the smell of freshly mown grass when it rains.  I’ll take the smell of woodsmoke from summer bonfires and I’ll take the six thousand kids splashing about in the lido.  I’ll take the traffic jams and the holiday price hikes, and the tantrum because I’m not paying for yet another go on the carousel.  I’ll take the sunhat that gets flung to the ground every five seconds and the rapidly emptying bottles of sunscreen, and I’ll take the weekend queue to get into the zoo.  Because you know what?  I’m not at work, and soon I have to go back, and this time is finite and precious.

Few people could claim that being a parent is always easy, but for me the times when it is hard rarely seem to fall in the summer holidays.  I am lucky to have a child, I am lucky to be able to spend time with him.  I am quite literally, although it pains me to say it and goes against everything I hold dear about hating on all those Insta-perfect tropes of parenthood, with angelic looking children cavorting in fields of lavender in a well behaved manner dressed in an impeccable summer dress with no mud, poo or food stains on it, HASHTAG BLESSED.

School holidays, I salute you.  Long may we cavort together in fields of lavender.  I’ll bring the dress, and you can bring the hand-made daisy chain.  We’ll walk together in sun-dappled woodland and watch the stars unfold across the evening sky.  We’ll go on cruise ships, and caravan holidays, and be snooty about the evening entertainment.  We’ll go to tacky seaside resorts, and be blown away by hurricane force winds and sit, underwhelmed, in tea rooms in our cagoules, watching that peculiarly British summer drizzle quietly drench a faded town.

We’ll drive back through endless traffic, looking for sneaky shortcuts that lead only to dead ends, and have an argument in the service station whilst eating a dinner of pure fat and sugar; and waste our money on bits of plastic tat that glow in the dark for a couple of days, then lie, abandoned, underneath a caravan or in the boot of a car.  We’ll go swimming, and then spend twenty minutes trying to inflate a pair of armbands while the toddler tries to escape from the changing rooms and run screaming around the pool; then we’ll pray that long-overdue toddler poo doesn’t make a sudden appearance just as we hit the water.

We’ll sit on that packed train and ponder the journeys of summertimes past.  Of childhood excitement and ice cream brazenly stolen by seagulls.  And then we’ll look into the eyes of our own children, and re-live it once again.

Summer holidays, I salute you.  You make the rest of the year worthwhile.  All the sweat and toil of exams and lessons and reports and deadlines.  The nights spent working by the light of the laptop’s glare.  The long, cold days and January blues.  The 6am get-ups and leaving a sleeping child to the grandmother who sees him more than you do.

So I will take any bad stuff you have to throw at me.  I will take all of it, and cherish it all.  The good and the bad and the nothing at all.  Until next year summer holidays.  Don’t ever change.

From all the teacher parents out there.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
The Pramshed

35 Comments Add yours

  1. Danka says:

    I agree that summer holidays make the rest of the year worthwhile! At least for those lucky ones who are going to work!

    1. Min says:

      They do. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Lovely ode to the summer holiday Min. I can see me being like this cherishing every moment. It is such a short period of time and should be enjoyed! #triballove

    1. Min says:

      Thanks Karen. Admittedly I love it because it’s my time off work, but I don’t get to spend a lot of time with Piglet during term time.

  3. Hi there. I envy your love of summmer. I live across the pond with not six weeks of summer but three months of summer. I also have four girls ages 8,6, and identical twins who are two.

    I want to love summer. I DREAM of summer through the dark cold months here in Michigan. Because of this it really makes me sad that I find myself struggling every August.

    The truth is I am struggling to enjoy the days at this point. I think it has to do with having two unruly toddlers, two school aged girls wanted to do school aged things and not really being able to meet anyones needs.

    On top of that my husband works A LOT. If he he home before bedtime it is a weekday miracle.

    So I also find myself rushing through days to fit in lawn mowing, house cleaning, grocery shopping, swim practice, playdates, and cooking, laundry

    You name it.

    Truly. I envy you.

    1. Min says:

      That does sound hard. Hopefully things will get easier when your eldest two are back at school. Thanks for commenting.

  4. sorry- me again


  5. Sunita says:

    Loving your HASHTAG BLESSED comment. Getting to spend the summer hols with your kids is priceless. Is all about building memories for them. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      It is. It’s so lovely and I’m lucky to be able to spend all this time with him.

  6. As a mummy who is having a three week holiday with the family right now and loving it, I have to agree! I didn’t used to feel like this but can understand why you cherish it so much given you are at work during term time. Now my two play together and have so much fun, I’m loving no school runs and fun, fun, fun! #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      That’s lovely. Enjoy your holiday, and thanks for commenting!

  7. Oh I adore the summer holidays too … that moment when you awake on the first day … just fantastic … nothing beats it … watching my three appear at varying times in the day (they are teens so it can be anywhere between 9 and 12!) and seeing that slow smile of recognition that it’s the holidays. I take it all too … all of it because I love spending time with them … special times. Lovely post #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Ah that first day. It’s just perfect isn’t it…when you wake up and realise you’ve got all that time! Thanks for commenting.

  8. As always your writing is fabulous. I used to get so bored of the Summer hols when I was a child and couldn’t wait to get back to school (crazy, I know!). I loved going out shopping for new school supplies. I was always so proud of my new pencil case. I want to make sure my daughter won’t feel bored or like she’s missing out, though. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! There’s nothing wrong with being proud of a new pencil case. I’m getting excited about treating myself to a new water bottle before I go back!

  9. Beautiful post! My mum was a teacher and I always loved the summer holidays as a child – I have so many wonderful memories of days out to the beach, to the woods, to the park, to the lake to feed the ducks, and yup, many camping holidays cowering in our tent while it rains, sipping a hot chocolate. It sounds twee, but these are the things that I remember from my childhood and the kind of memories I want to create for my own family. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    1. Min says:

      That’s great. I hope Piglet has those memories of the summer holidays when he’s older. Thanks for hosting and commenting!

  10. Themotherhub says:

    That’s lovely – you’re right of course , these are the days we will be looking back on fondly . For me summer is no different than rest of the year, as I’m still working, but I do get some relief from making packed lunches so there is some silver lining ! #blessed #kcacols

    1. Min says:

      Argh making packed lunches is a nightmare. I think Piglet will have to have school lunch! Thanks for commenting.

  11. Laura says:

    My son doesn’t go to school yet so summer holidays at the mo are all about extra kids events we can attend and seeing friends with school age kids so I don’t mind it at all so far. Think it will be a little tricky in the future though, from a finding-childcare-on-working-days perspective xx #kcacols

    1. Min says:

      Yes I can see how that would be difficult. There are quite a lot of summer schools and events on though I think (probably cost a lot though). Thanks for commenting.

  12. Love this! The summer holidays are wonderful – I’m trying to enjoy them as much as possible before they come to an end. Love your line about “I’ll bring the dress and you bring the daisy chain” Summer is all about enjoying the simple pleasures and being able to have time together. I love the smell of freshly mown grass and the sunshine too and I love the way you’ve so beautifully captured those moments in this post 🙂 #triballove

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. I just love the summer holidays and although I realise I’m fortunate to have the time off work, I think it’s the best time of year. Thanks for commenting!

  13. awww nice post 🙂 I’ve yet to experience proper summer hols as before we had a child, we would always go away outside of the regular 6 weeks! that will all change next year !! #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Other than the holiday price hikes which unfortunately come with having all your holiday in school holiday time, it’s a great time to have a holiday!

  14. Holly says:

    Love this post and totally agree with Chuggington being better than work! My kids are older and now summer breaks consist of organizing when, where and with whom are they hanging out (it’s never Mom!). Enjoy your time. : )

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for commenting-I will do!

  15. I feel like this at the beginning of the holiday, but at this stage I am totally worn out by entertaining the kids (mainly Jet, tbh). We have done at least three activities every day and I just crave some alone time to sit quietly! Not that I get to do that at work either, obviously. Then there are just 29 of someone else’s kids to entertain instead!
    Lovely writing, very evocative
    x Alice

    1. Min says:

      Thanks! I’m at the stage now of desperately trying to spend as much time with Piglet as possible as I feel as though I never see him in term time, so all the little things I was planning to do seem to be going out the window.

  16. This is such a lovely post. It must be so hard leaving your little one to go to work but I really admire you for doing it. The summer holidays are wonderful and it is lovely that you embrace them. Enjoy the last few days. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Thanks-I will do. Just trying to make the most of them!

  17. Oh love this! I am in complete awe of you juggling teaching, doing everything for Piglet and blogging on top of that too. I find the summer holidays quite a change to begin with but it has been so wonderful to have lots of time together, especially as I know soon my stepson will be a teenager and have a social life of his own! #stayclassymama

    1. Min says:

      That’s good. It is lovely to spend some time with them. I’m lucky that I’ll be able to continue to spend time with Piglet in the holidays (assuming I stay in teaching!)

  18. The Pramshed says:

    This is a lovely post Min, I’ve read so many posts about people dreading the 6 weeks Summer holiday. You’re right this precious time with our children should be enjoyed and shouted about, they are only young once. I hope you’ve had a fantastic 6 week break and that going back to work isn’t too hard. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG, and sorry for the late comment. Claire x

    1. Min says:

      Thanks Claire! I can’t understand why anyone would dread it to be honest (unless they had to work all through it and find extra childcare), but maybe I am looking at it through my own rose-tinted experience. Thanks for commenting. x

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