There’s been a lot of talk about the hell of school holidays as we enter the six-week summer break.

As someone with two kids under three I have all this yet to come. I look forward to my first starting primary school with a slight feeling of dread.

I can’t wait for her to come home excited at what she’s done that day. But there’s the juggling of the school run and work and then what the hell do you do in the summer holidays if you work full-time? Hats off to you working mamas!

For now I’m on maternity leave after the birth of my second girl. Although my days are challenging as I try to cope with the constant demands of two small children, during the week it’s easy to get out and about to child-friendly places. I have lots of mum friends I can catch up with too, which helps a lot.

However all this changes when the school holidays arrive. I’m sorry mums of school kids, I know you’re battling boredom and a chaotic household, but we do have it tough too when it comes to the summer time.

On the plus side the roads are clear so it’s easier to get around, however the end of the summer term signals the release of thousands of excited, boisterous and very loud children intent on making the most of their freedom.

Here’s why the summer holidays also suck for parents of toddlers and babies:

Soft play is a no-go zone
Whereas soft play was a place where toddlers frequently collided with each other but bounce back quite happily, when summer hits there’s an army of bigger kids racing around at 100mph. With all these rainy days we’re having, everyone is turning to soft play to keep the demanding little angels happy. But the thought of trying to keep an eye on my toddler while holding my baby, who won’t be put down at all at the moment, and being surrounded by bigger kids so excited they can hardly see where they’re going crosses this option off my list.

Visiting the park is like witnessing a real-life Hunger Games
When the sun is out our local park is heaving with suncream-smothered kids vibrating with excitement as they run up the slide, hurtle along balance beams, dig gigantic holes in the sandpit and have competitions to see how high they can go on the swings before jumping off with a dramatic screech. So they’re just like toddlers but bigger and louder. They jostle for the ladder on the climbing frame and delight in finding ever weirder positions to go down the slide in. Then there are the fall-outs. The rows over whose turn it is, the pushing and shoving to the front of the queue. Just the thought of sending an unstable toddler totting off into this mass of chaos is stressful. No thanks.

It’s impossible to find a parking space at theme and country parks
The joy of being on maternity leave and having fun places all to ourselves during the week. Not only do we get on the rides pronto and can relax as our little ones stamp around in the relatively quiet splash pad, we also get a parking space right by the entrance. There’s no chance of this in the school holidays. In fact, you’re lucky to get a space at all at some places.

The supermarket is rammed with kids hyped up on the promise of sugar
Going to the supermarket with two small children is a nightmare at the best of times. My toddler is demanding we buy everything she sees and my baby has decided she’s hungry. Great timing. Trying to push a double buggy while wielding a shopping basket is tough. It’s not helped by the grumpy fellow shoppers who refuse to budge. There’s always one who pretends not to notice they have left their trolley right in the middle of the aisle. But add schoolchildren to the mix and suddenly every aisle is impossible to navigate. They barge around demanding to know when mum is picking up the ice cream. I’m sticking to online.

No chance of getting a table at restaurants and cafes
Grabbing a coffee or a quick bite with a friend and our kids is always a bit of a gamble. It’s rarely an option we go for, as the little ones don’t tolerate the boredom of a cafe for very long. The noise just gets too irritating after a while and we can hardly hear ourselves think, let alone hear each other speak. When it’s the summer holidays it’s absolutely out of the question as every table is taken by schoolchildren demanding to know, loudly, why they couldn’t go to McDonalds.

So to the parents of schoolchildren currently experiencing the hell of the summer holidays, I salute you. We’re all in this child-rearing struggle together. But do spare a thought for us mums of smaller kids. We can’t wait for the school holidays to end either.




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