It's the Summer holidays and as parents we can feel the pressure to constantly fill our children's time with visiting places and "doing" things.
My coach writes and shares her initial thoughts of Summer holidays being a single parent and trying camping for the first time.
If Camping with the children is your thing or fills you with dread then this blog is for you!
The Summer holidays............................ I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive about them this year. I felt as though I might have lost my touch when it comes to being responsible for two children, all day, for six weeks straight with very little respite and them with plenty of get up and go. (cue the repetitive cries of my three and five year old...........
‘where are we going today?’, followed by .......................
‘what are we doing next mummy’ and then finally as the sun sets
‘what are we doing tomorrow?’ – give me time to think little people, pleeeease?!?!)
I have, however, loved it! AND in some moments, loathed it! But one thing that has struck me is the cost of it all. I work term time, so I don’t get paid in the holidays, and this works well for me as I budget and plan and so I didn’t feel any mounting pressure when the term was drawing to a close, but I did have one little niggle..........
Would I make it ‘enough’ for them?? I am a single parent (I don’t know why I cringe as I write that – I just don’t like the stigma sometimes still attached to that idea – probably all my own doing! I’m working on it, but that’s another story) but, I had a recurring dread, as the Summer approached of mine missing out because I couldn’t afford to do ‘what all the other kids are doing’.
In any case, way ahead of time, I put myself to work finding ways to pass the time that worked for me and my not so outrageous budget.
Days out and afternoons here and there,
picnics in the park - pooh sticks!
and a holiday activity camp for my eldest (my youngest flat out refusing to participate in those!!! GAH!!!!)
But are the holidays a holiday without an actual holiday I asked myself? Flying anywhere was out of the question this year but I did feel the need for a bit of space and a chance to ‘get away from it all’. I bit the bullet and decided to take them on what would have been my idea of holiday hell pre-kids. We were going camping.
I did think about all the things that could go wrong –
it might rain (likely!),
we might get attacked by bears and other wild animals looking for a midnight snack (less likely, but still a worry),
What if there are no showers,
What if I need to use the toilet in the middle of the night!
camp fire food poisoning,
getting dysentery....the list goes on!
But on the whole, it looked like a beautiful setting to let loose in and have some fun....more importantly, it's a break from the norm, a change of scene, some well earned time out from the routine.
My mum thought I was a maniac. But undeterred I did it anyway. We packed up the car, and headed for the far flung fields of....Stevenage.
Bear in mind, I live about a 40 minute drive at worst from Stevenage and it's a ‘new town’ – lots of roundabouts and not many fields. Ok, it wasn’t the town centre exactly – I exaggerate! But it wasn’t long before I realised that you don’t have to venture far to find a little piece of heaven....it was beautiful, rural and completely unspoilt. There were showers (well one, in a field, with no lights unless you count the blanket of stars up above) and toilets (a compost one, but once I was used to the breeze on my bare behind, it was actually quite a liberating experience!)
The children were free....entirely free.
they played in the woodland,
they dug for stones with sticks,
ran and ran and ran
and were amused for hours by the simplest things.
They bonded with our fellow holiday makers kids and we, the adults, shared a bottle of wine round the campfire in the evening, listened to music and shock horror.....talked!!!!
I got to know some lovely people who, like the rest of us, are all trying the very best job themselves of this thing called parenting, and I realised that I was actually giving my family something pretty special... and it didn’t cost the earth.
We live in quite a materialistic world and in lots of ways we are very fortunate to have access to all the opportunities and luxuries that come our way in the 21st century – it's a complete privilege. But with that, also comes a sense of pressure to conform, to fit in, to be the best, to have the best, to provide the very best when it comes to our little people.
This summer I think I have learned that it much depends on your perception of ‘what is best’ – we are all different and that is ok. Best to me has meant;
watching my children grow and explore and develop a sense of adventure.
relinquishing the hair straighteners for a few days
washing outdoors in the fresh air with my children watching clouds dance above their heads as I de-grubby them after a full days play
shared hushed stories under the glow of a single LED light
stepping out into sunlight first thing in the morning, the damp under your feet
toasting marshmallows and eating delicious food cooked on the campfire and eaten on plastic plates
washing up at a freezing cold tap with a heard of cows looking on!!!
little faces alight with excitement and intrigue and happiness.
I will never think of the Summer of 2016 and not smile. I hope my kids feel the same way. That’s if they even remember much at all from this Summer, they are still very young. My mum tells me all the time that it’s the quality of the experiences you give them at this age that shape them – not necessarily the places you go but the time you share and the people you share it with. Much as I hate to admit it (hehe!), I think she knows her stuff, it's certainly something we share in all our parent coaching sessions at Natural Flair.
Everyone should have enough of the things we need as human beings, good food, a warm bed, clothes on our backs, I’m not saying those things aren’t fundamental, but wealth as a concept is in the eye of the beholder. For me, it depends on how you measure it – and I feel in this moment that I am enough, I have made lasting memories with those I love most and that I am richer than I ever dared hope.
Now roll on September....aren’t we done YET?????