I bloody love half term. It is an exhausting whirlwind of manic activity which it takes me a week or so to recover from but it is totally ace. Not only is it a short, sweet, welcome break from the school run but it is also time to cram in as many of the things that school puts paid to during term time.
This half term is extra special as my husband has the whole week off and the kids have simply loved having both parents at their disposal. It has made my life a lot easier too, being able to divide and conquer. We’ve had lots of family time but we’ve both had a bit of quality time with the kids in ones and twos during the week too, without having to juggle all three at once. I love being able to focus on them individually and I know it means a lot to them too. I’ve even had a bit of me time – a very rare treat indeed.
The kids are always more exhausted after half term than they were at the start of the week but that is a small price to pay for packing in so much fun, I reckon. We’ve done bowling, the cinema, spooky trails and catching up with friends. We’ve baked cakes and carved pumpkins. Hell, we’ve even had a craft session. I’m not a big fan of craft sessions (AKA make a massive mess and get bored after three minutes sessions) so I’m particularly proud of this one.
I can also smugly say that we’ve done some reading, maths and all the school homework. It is amazing what you can achieve when you have backup at home for an entire week.
As far as the kids are concerned, this week has mostly been about counting the days until Halloween. Halloween was always a bit of a non-event when we were kids but these days you can’t move for it. It has been pumped up and Americanised and, whilst I used to find all that a bit annoying, I now have kids who are just the right age to love it so I’m a convert these days. Although H and M aren’t actually fans of anything even slightly scary, so our Halloween is entirely cutesy and not remotely spooky.
The kids are super hyped up about tomorrow, apart from T who has no clue what is going on but is loving all the spiders and pumpkins. He is even getting into dressing up for the first time, refusing to remove his little bat outfit for hours on end.
We have a Halloween plan, thankfully. If we didn’t, the day itself would be very disappointing. Last year my mate and I held a ‘Halloween party’ at her house for our four tots. It was incredibly basic and involved nothing more than costumes, a bunch of spooky cakes and visiting the next door neighbours to go trick or treating. But the simplicity didn’t seem to bother them. They absolutely adored it, declaring it to be ‘the best party ever’. Thank goodness they are easily pleased at this age.
So, our second annual Halloween party is ready to go. This time we have even planned party games and there will be a grand total of 10 kids in attendance, so it has been entirely pimped up. H and M are fit to burst with excitement. The spooky festivities will be followed by a sleepover. We love a sleepover but this will be our first since T moved out of his cot, which could be interesting, especially after a small mountain of sugary treats. Still, my mate and I intend to crack open the bubbles early in the afternoon so, come bedtime, we are likely to be several sheets to the wind and take sleep-resistant shenanigans in our stride. I have found that there are few parenting problems that a bottle or three of prosecco and a good mate to giggle with cannot fix.
The next day will be a slightly bleary-eyed daytrip with the grandparents, followed by returning home and all collapsing in exhaustion. Luckily, we have an inset day on Monday to recover from it all, although I’m planning on filling that with soft play.
I think I am probably guilty of overdoing it during the holidays. OK, I know I am. It is a fault of mine that I feel compelled to fill time. My husband likes down time, sitting about and chilling out (which he intends to do all weekend while the kids and I are away). That all sounds lovely and I’m happy to do a bit of it on the rare occasions that I have the chance but I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really get down time. Even before kids, I was always wanting to fill my diary up, cramming it with things to look forward to. When I have quiet time, I get very bored very quickly.
I think in some ways I am the ideal person to have a big family. I am always busy and I love to plan. With three children to organise, I have plans coming out of my ears. My husband struggles with the mayhem. I positively thrive on it.
I realise I might be storing up problems for the kids. They are so used to things happening all the time that they are not always great at entertaining themselves on a quiet day. That said, I do throw the odd home day in here and there, like today, and they seem to cope. And I think the positives of all the fun they are having outweigh the negatives.
So, next time I sit down to write a blog post I am likely to be shattered and a bit sad about sending my little pickles back to school. But I like to think we have used our week well. I’m feeling entirely full of love for my little Halloween spooks right now. Seeing their joy at such simply things is one of the greatest pleasures of parenting. It makes you see the world anew, stripping off the years of cynicism we all lay down during our adult lives.
When a £2.50 pumpkin and a tea-light can light up their little faces so completely, the world doesn’t seem such a bad place. It is good to remember what it was like to see the world though the bright eyes of a child. To remember that even the simple things can be full of wonder.