I’ve been a riot, I’m talking heart palpitations, sickness, headaches and all round major anxiety issues. Yes my period is due but I’ve totally insisted to my husband that that is not it.
I couldn’t pin point it until last night, the day before half term. It hit me that I was seriously sh*tting myself at the prospects of this week whilst the tiredness from last had inconveniently not f*cked off. My emotions and overall mental health take a massive leap to the crazy department when sleep deprivation is in play.
I am f*cked. Like so f*cked. This co-sleeping has taken its toll on me and it seems there is this reoccurring theme where the parents whom pre-parenthood absolutely would NOT sleep with their kids are hit with that massive big fat karma stick. Here I am at the last inch of our bed questioning my sanity whilst a small hand slaps down on my cheek, now resting with the threat that if I dare move, a child demon may awaken. I bet if a poll were made, it would prove that the parents whom insisted they would not give into surrendering their bed, are the ones landed with the professional bed thieves. It’s called sod’s law.
I digress. I’m f*cked and I’m on full-time solo parental duties this week. The world outside our home is flashing with entertainment galore and is sprawling with families and unpredictable mini humans during half-term. It’s holiday chaos. I’d be lying if I said I was absolutely elated about it.
Currently repeating the mantra, “I WILL NOT FEEL GUILT, I WILL NOT FEEL GUILT.”
This isn’t a ‘holiday’ for us.
If you love everything about the school holidays and getting the chance to spend every waking second with your children, that’s truly lovely. I wholeheartedly respect that, understand that and maybe I even for a second envy it – right before I remind myself that I am different, we are different and that’s completely OK.
The thing is, there’s some who don’t enjoy the chaos and that’s TOTALLY OK too. I am one. In fact, according to this mornings Instagram pole a staggering 75% of you don’t enjoy the half-term chaos. First and foremost I want to let you guys know that it doesn’t make you ungrateful, it doesn’t make you not love your kids and it doesn’t make you a sh*t parent. It doesn’t. It makes you, you. I’m almost writing this in order to speak to myself and in an attempt to maybe be that voice for some of you too.
IF (I hope not) you are faced with someone telling you that you should in fact feel guilty for not enjoying every second of your parenting journey and you should be looking forward to those precious minutes and that’s that. I strongly urge you to recognise that this is their own personal issues, their own personal wants and needs and not yours. You would massively dent your well-being and confidence if even for second, you allowed another’s opinion to effect your ability to identify when you don’t like something. You are entitled to feel your emotions regardless of how small or big they are. You are entitled to want space and freedom from your responsibilities. You are entitled to ‘me time.’ Your well-being doesn’t just get put in the bin as soon as you choose to be a parent. Quite the opposite, it deserves to be nurtured. It needs to be nurtured. Not by somebody else’s standards but by your own.
We are all different, we’ve all got our tipping points and each person’s patience levels vary massively. Hey, I thought I’d be a live wire but it turns out when it comes to my own kids, I’ve got the patience of a saint. Our wants and our ideals of ‘family’ life are different too. So that’s why we have no right to dictate what others should and shouldn’t like or do. The only person living our lives is us. Right now, half term doesn’t fit us.
With that in mind, here I go. Here’s my take on the school holidays in my present situation.
I ‘dislike’ it. I very much dislike that we are all delegated to the same time off and expected to fit in to the confines of it and live up to the hype amongst it. My husband will never get to take time off during the kids holidays, hell he couldn’t even take that kind of time off when they were born! I don’t see it as a negative, as we benefit in other areas of our lives because of it. All these mega fun activities, with hefty price tags. Family holidays and hefty price tags – I said that twice deliberately. Whether it’s trying to get the time off work or adapting our normal lives round the change school holiday time brings even when we can’t change with it, I freak. For me, it’s chaos, it’s stressful and it’s filled with overwhelming expectations. I’m guaranteed to be doubling up my snack cupboard and upping my Gordon Ramsey game. I just want to be in control of our precious time together and not forced into a time that doesn’t suit us all. Is that so bad? This isn’t family time for us, it’s solo parenting with no help during a seriously busy time.
Do I find joy being cramped into an aquarium watching Sammy the shark swim by and having my nose firmly in the butt hole of a farting stranger whilst I squeeze my baby into the last morsel of glass available just to catch the sharks floaty poo trail pass by? All in the midst of ensuring my toddler hasn’t got lost in the crowd. NO.
Do I find joy being stuck in the middle of a ball pit with what feels like 546 feral children with absent parents, trying with all my might to save my own, also feral child who’s now, most probably contracted conjunctivitis. NO.
Do I find it enjoyable to take a walk with the kids and my dogs when there seems to have been a zombie take over in our old, quiet reliable walk? The walk said unpredictable dogs are now around not 1 but 30 multiple small human bodies and I’m now faced with the wrath of pissed off, tired as f*ck (it’s only Monday) parents because the dogs have dirtied their kids. NO.
PRAY your child does not need shoes over these holiday periods. Have you been in Clark’s during this time? Have you experienced the ticket system? I haven’t, I politely f*cked off in the other direction and purchased spacious wellies from Sainsbury’s instead.
All my safe ‘go to’s’ are no longer safe. As a mum who struggles with busy places on a day to day basis due to anxiety. When it’s announced all local schools are off you can rest assured I’m on Pinterest finding activities to do at home and in the garden. I stay the f*ck away. That’s me and I’m not apologising.
Usually what I tend to do is go to the places not yet recognised for it’s entertainment packages, affordably catering to children during these holidays. You know, like Homebase for the spectacular light shows or Dunelm with the amazing trampolines that look uncannily like beds. I’ve become pretty acquainted with these ‘out the box’ ideas.
For me, the quality time with the kids comes when I’m not on the bones of my arse with no sleep and no side help, trying to be wife, mum and entrepenuer. Things get hazy, they get upsetting and sometimes down right ugly when my body and mind aren’t given the time to rest. So you can imagine the announcement to have both my 2 and 3 year old off for a week didn’t sound too much like a ‘holiday’ for us at the present time.
Recently we’ve finally found a dynamic that works for us between preschool and childminders and it’s so wonderful. Nothing compares to that minute you are reunited with your kids after being given the opportunity to ground yourself. To take a few hours listening to your breathing, to feel your shoulders relax and your body and mind ease as your parenting responsibilities start to weigh off your back and you get a few moments to listen to yourself and your needs. By the time you’ve regrouped and had a chance to focus souly on yourself and all the wonderful in your life again, you are able to look at parenthood and your children in a far healthier light. Fact. My whole life changed when I started to believe that being a little more involved in ‘self love’ would lead to a happier everything and everyone.
I want to be the best, I always want to be my best and I forever push myself to be at my best. I don’t know if this is a trait that hinders me or inspires me but I do know my heart won’t allow me to be anything but. So when I feel myself falling, when I feel I’m not my best and when I feel like I can’t do my best. I struggle, I start to feel the guilt set in and then the anxiety hits. I’m not thinking about how wonderful it is that there’s a supposed holiday.
“I didn’t choose this time, I’m not prepared and it doesn’t fit our family. I am so scared to admit I don’t like this, I want this week past. I want the help, I want the space. I want the routine, the control we’ve only just managed to find. This is not a good time. This is not a holiday. This isn’t our holiday.”
The thing is I have this new learned way of dealing with these thoughts and so I now know how to combat these emotions and feelings. I now know not to be ashamed of them.
It’s called compassion and during half term, during situations where we find ourselves having to do things we don’t necessarily like, we need to give ourselves it in abundance instead of beating ourselves up for feeling this way. For not fitting in with the rest of what we think the population is feeling. Fact is, we’re all living very different lives and to judge one another because of that is just toxic. It helps nobody. Some love it, some loath it. Either is OK.
I need to sit and tell myself it’s OK to feel tired, it’s OK to express that I don’t like something. It’s OK to feel like I’m not slotting into this hype.
Most importantly I need to find ways to combat this guilt and this fear of being judged. I need to focus on the parts that do suit us as a family. Maybe my thoughts on these holidays will change once my kids get a litter bigger. Most likely they will and I can understand why they will.
This week however, with my hardened knowledge of adapting to suit us. You’ll find me sticking cut up bits of cereal boxes on cardboard boats, cleaning up copious amounts of glitter, taking tea breaks on the bog whilst my kids have a ‘cinema’ in the living room, building multiple bed-sheet tents, finding Sammy the shark in our garden pond, wading in private muddy fields with our Sainsbury’s wellies and partying on down in Homebase before I make my final descent to Dunelm for a well earned rest before I lay awake and share my own bed for the evening with a ‘snacked to the eyeballs’ toddler.
Please, go find your happiness in half term and don’t compare it with another. You do you and I’ll do me.
*As always, share your experiences below!