Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Balancing act

The summer holidays are well underway. The weather is a little ropey and as a result the soft play centre is incredibly busy; if they are, so am I. With M down south a fair bit, L enrolled on a film making project in the city centre, all three kids wanting heaps of fun and me having a fair whack of work ahead, some delicate balancing of time and energy is needed.

This is one of the few holidays I've dreaded. The other one was the year M told me the week before the summer holidays started that he would be working away the entire time. Other than that, I LOVE the holidays and resent the return of school terms when school gets the best of my kids and I get the tired and grumpy bits at either end of the day. So, a fairly new experience for me to look at the holidays and think, "How am I going to manage it all?!"

After a stint of being all in a tizz, I thought about it logically. Around my work commitments I have Monday mid morning to mid afternoon free, same again Tuesday. Wednesday I'm free from 9 through til Thursday lunchtime, and I'm free from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. This means we can have short activities or outings on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, and we can have full days out on Wednesdays. Other than that the kids can play here or at friends' houses. That's not half bad. They can have a really nice summer that way, even if it isn't the overnight trips hither and yon they are used to.

So, what could we do that wasn't too expensive, too tiring (for me, if I've got to come home and work at the end of the trip), was fun for all 3 of them and didn't involve needing a car? A mix of stuff at home and trips out, and if we can swing a London trip while M's down south, all the better.

We thought about things we liked to do and wrote our ideas on slips of paper which we put into 2 jars - Home and Out. At the start of the week we pick 6 or 7 slips out and stick them on a list, then we work out which days that week it would be best to do them. Here's our list for this week:
Science experiment
Play on the Wii
Go to the park
Board Games

We went to the park yesterday, then they played on the Wii while I worked. Today is the Library then swimming. Wednesday looks good for baking and doing a science experiment. Other choices for the holidays include having a sleepover, going to the museum, watching a DVD, a family hike and an arts and crafts day.

On the whole I think it will work out well. The kids all made suggestions (although I vetoed several of L's, which involved spending lots or having a car. The boy aims high.) They love choosing things from the jars and keep going over to check the week's list.

Their enthusiasm for it is a great relief to me. I had a sizeable amount of guilt because I am working while also looking after them. Until now they've had train trips to York and Halifax, overnight visits to friends pretty much all over the UK, 3 or 4 days each summer staying with M near London, trips to the zoo... a pretty good time of it, on reflection. I just can't provide that now because of my work commitments and I was feeling guilty for denying them all those lovely things.

On the work front I have a small wedding to do cupcakes for, a christening cake possible in a few weeks, heaps of regular work and some new recipes to try. I did promise I'd get to grips with pastry this year and I've totally failed to do that, and I need to look into packaging and couriers in the coming months with a view to mail order cake. But mostly my plan is to just get through the necessary work as best I can while the kids are off and leave all the optional stuff for when they are back at school and I'm not wasting valuable playtime.

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer,
J x