Do you remember those first euphoric days of the summer holidays? The ones we celebrated a temporary cull of all bedtime routines, dreamt of late night barbecues under the stars and imagined the children happily playing until they let you carry them sleepily up to bed without protest?
It seemed back then that the summer would last FOREVER. September, a whole two months away, was such an empty threat and as I packed away my laptop for the summer break, I vowed to change gear a little for the benefit of the whole family.
It partly went to plan. We certainly have had our fair share of grubby, exhausted, late bedtimes. We have (wrongly) believed the kids would ‘fall asleep on the way home in the car’, and we have seen bedtime before 8.30 as an early night.
There have of course been beautiful memories created. The shift in pace has been a welcome rest from the usual military approach to ‘the process’ that is getting the kids to bed, in an attempt to claw back a little wind down time for us in the evening (to sit in silence on our laptops / scrolling our phones watching trash TV). We have actually enjoyed our evenings as a family and had some brilliant times together and with friends, free from the ties of routine.
We have however paid a price. Over the course of the six weeks the girls have gradually become visibly broken by their new found freedom. The days of blaming bad behaviour on the classic ‘She’s tired’ have made a comeback, and our children’s actions and attitudes have descended into chaos, leaving us dumbfounded, exasperated and clueless as to how to handle them.
The tantrums we have observed from our two year old have been like nothing I have ever witnessed. Seriously. And she’s learning an attitude like a teenager from her five year old sister that has at points broken me as a parent. And yet, these episodes are so sporadic, so ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, you wouldn’t believe they were the same sweet and loving sisters we look at with such pride and admiration most of the time. I’ve been referring back to my ‘managing child behaviour’ notes in my brain several times per day lately. Keep calm Mum, keep calm.
Towards the end of July, the Mouse was seeing the demise of naptime. With mixed emotions we were actively encouraging her to stay awake all afternoon, knowing it would bring about a smoother bedtime and better night. And yet, here we are six weeks on having regressed to walking her round the block at lunchtime, knowing she’ll never make it to the end of the long summer day of activities unless she gets a little forty winks.
Bedtime has gone to complete pot. Even late bedtimes don’t equate to the crash out you’d expect, and any attempt of an early night is pied right in our face. Long after the calling downstairs has stopped, and we think the battles over, comes the pitter patter of little feet down the stairs… “I’m not tired Mummy”…
On the plus side we have been getting almighty lay in’s (by our standards) to sometimes SEVEN THIRTY. But, given we are going to be needing to wake the girls up come Monday morning, it’s all gone a bit off-grid.
And so, much like that feeling at the end of Summer when you’re ready for Winter, and vice versa, I’m kind of looking forward to that comfort and familiarity of dark cosy evenings, children tired after a week at school, and TV nights curled up next to the hubby, laptop on knees, fire on, blissfully content.
Summer of 2017 you have been epic, but your session is up and it’s time to come in. I’ll miss your hazy days of mayhem, but I won’t miss the emotional mess you have left my family in. #True.
Until next July, of course.
But until then… GO TO SLEEP!