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Mama Said: Relax, it's the school hols! Said noone

It’s the summer so we can all relax for a bit. Right? No, sorry, says Emily Martin

School holidays are relaxing. . . not (58188464)
School holidays are relaxing. . . not (58188464)

Ah, the end of the school term followed by the summer holidays. It’s meant to feel like the closing of a chapter. Supposed to invite that celebratory sense of a job completed, then time for a short rest before a new academic year begins and we all get those autumnal, anticipatory, ‘new pencil case’ feelings.

But, for some reason, in reality it’s a time of year when life gets impossibly busy. Outwardly we’re clapping each other on the back and bidding each other farewell and saying “Have a great summer!”. Yet inside, we are crying.

Because summer has the utterly frantic vibe of the lead up to Christmas, but without any of the quiet moments where you stop flapping around and get to have a sherry in front of Elf. It has all the panic but none of the stillness.

In summer, you’re either whirling around trying to remember things like holiday insurance, airport transfers, bug spray, tent pegs, antihistamine tablets, festival tickets or booking summer activity clubs. Or you’re just worrying about why it’s so hot and whether you can leave a fan on in a bedroom at night, lest it suddenly catch fire. How far does the climate have to change before you’ll buy that £300 air conditioner you look at on Amazon every year in the heatwave?

Also it never gets dark, so when you tell children to go to bed they look at you like “Huh?”. And then you end up in long, Professor Brian Cox-style discussions at 10pm about the Earth’s axis and the seasons and you find yourself enthusiastically saying things like “and you know sometimes in Norway, it NEVER gets dark, and Norwegian children just deal with it, so go to sleep now, OK?”, as the sun continues to beam through the curtains on to your child’s wide-awake face and your to-do list continues to grow exponentially downstairs as you sweat your pants off.

The end of the school term always feels like one giant egg and spoon race, but also often includes an actual egg and spoon race which feels particularly cruel. As children finish one school year and prepare to start another you’ll be faced with them bringing armfuls of books and artwork home to your house. And you will have to go through it all carefully and with interest saying “Oh, wow!”.

You will also have to reverently find somewhere to keep it all. The other morning a gust of wind blew the lid of our blue bin open and one of my son’s artworks fluttered out. “Why is that in the bin?” he said. “Oh nooo,” I replied. “How has that got in there?”

If you’ve been involved in a class WhatsApp group for your children, you will now be added to a new one for next year by a super-keen and pro-active mum who puts all the other mums to shame. People will write lovely things into the old WhatsApp group like “Can we still keep this one? Would be nice to all stay in touch!” And it will be met with a range of replies from “Oh yes please!” to my personal favourite, the passive aggressive: “Claire has left the group”. Claire doesn’t have time for this to be honest. None of us do.

After all the summer fairs, sports days, cricket tournaments and other hot, outdoor events full of children you can then look forward to six weeks at home trying to spend as little money as possible. I read on Twitter somewhere that, as an adult, you need to be prepared to spend between £10-£20 just on a normal day when you’re doing basically nothing.

With inflation driving even a 99 ice cream up to £3 or even more, every day will feel like you’re being robbed unless you’ve got your wits about you. And if you are going away anywhere abroad you’ve got the panic of your flight probably being cancelled while you’re mid-air.

Even the most well-organised to-do list would be flummoxed by that. Even the WhatsApp group super-mums might struggle. Anyway, good luck. Have a lovely relaxing summer.


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