School holidays present a conundrum for me – I adore my children, they bring me immense joy and delight BUT I don’t find being a mum a walk in the park. That probably doesn’t shock you, as I don’t know heaps of people who sail through parenting…though it might not always be easy to tell when you just see the highlight reel of social media!
When it comes to the school holidays, I feel (unpleasantly) torn. A big part of me loves them – as a small business owner I have deliberately built in flexibility for these periods so that we can all slow down and hang out. I love slower mornings, sleep ins and not having to have 5 people ready to be out the door at 8am. On the downside, there’s a reason I work – I am not domestic material!
Last December, at the start of our 8 week summer holidays (53 days to be precise!) I felt a sense of trepidation. As ready as I was for us all to chill out summers past have felt extremely loooong and I really didn’t want to be a cranky mummy. I really wanted things to be different.
So without thinking anything more than “hey, today went well!” I posted a “we enjoyed day 1 of the school holidays” update on Facebook. After I hit publish the mindful part of my brain kicked in, and I asked myself ‘what would it look like to post an update for every day of the summer holidays?‘ I pushed the little voice saying ‘it will drive all your friends nuts’, to the back of my mind and thought about what impact it might have on our summer experience. Could this public accountability help me change the vibe for us?
I know that being prepared makes for a better experience of our days, and I’ve been looking for ways to be more present and mindful with the children…as well as less shouty. The shouty is big, not just because I hate being a shouty mum, but because I’ve seen my kids learn this reaction from me and apply it to their own lives (and frustrations)… and to each other. Ouch. I also just want to live a calmer, slower life.
So, I took the plunge and on most days of the summer, I shared an update.
Most of them were fairly upbeat because as it turned out, being more mindful about our days led to me feeling calmer and more able to see the positive. My little experiment turned out to be something wonderful for me…
I became more mindful of what we would do each day whether we were hanging at home, by the pool or out and about.
I was less shouty. Way less.
I was more prepared.
It made me reflective. I didn’t start the day thinking ‘what will we do today that I can share on Facebook?’ but sharing a daily update did cause me to stop and reflect on what we had done each day, and what had been precious, memorable or joyous in the midst of it.
I found that this sort of mindfulness is a form of daily gratitude practice, and can spark joy. Certainly it embodies the notion that life is made up of the little moments…
A few weeks into my experiment and a friend commented that we looked like we were having such a great time…and we were. I commented that I was sure we’d be ready to kill each other by the end of the hols and she made me promise to share something when the time came. I am ALL on board the honest train, so made sure to share the moments that I found hard, tough and tiresome amidst the fun…
The whole thing did make me feel self-conscious at times. Was it irritating to see these updates? Probably. I was conscious of how I might feel if I was seeing this in my feed every day and felt sometimes anxious that I might seem uppity or a bit to “little house on the prairie” (just with disheveled-looking children and imperfect hair!) But honestly, the self-imposed accountability it created and the benefits I was seeing in our family, and within myself, meant that I kept it up. I did it for me, but I did it publicly because it kept me accountable.
As I reflect back on this experiment I realise that the calm we maintained (and loved) during the summer carried on through to the first term of school. We created a habit of it, and it’s one I’d like to keep…
How do you find the school holidays? Do you love them or find them a bit looooong?