8 things no one told me about parenting in the summer holidays

I was looking forward to the holidays, I swear. I couldn’t wait for the time off work so I could hang out with my awesome kids and spend the days swimming, playing and entertaining my lot. But a few weeks in and I remembered that summer holidays with kids might be fun but they can also be brutal.

I love my kids, really I do. The holidays though? The quicker I see the back of them the better.

1. Parenting in summer heat

Regardless of whether you have air conditioning at home, keeping the kids happy and entertained throughout the summer can be a pain in the backside when it’s as hot as a furnace by 10am. This means that if you have great playgrounds around, you need to get there early and vacate by mid morning when the slides are burning hot. Then you have all the livelong day to figure out how to keep the kids happy without sweating your face off.

2. You have to make plans

My idea of holidays is having no plans. By that I mean wake up, stay in pyjamas all day and hang out in the house with all the fans on. I love having no plans. My kids on the other hand, need all the plans. ‘What are we doing today?’ “What are we doing later?’ ‘Is this the only thing we’re doing today?’ ‘What are we doing Friday?’ It’s only a couple of hours of chill time before my kids start whinging about how crap their mum is for not setting up more playdates and taking them on more adventures.

3. Adventures cost money

It’s when the kids are home for holidays that you realise the true expense involved with having them in the first place. When they’re at school, all you have to do is make them lunch and send them on their way. School takes care of all their learning, socialising and cool experiences. But during the holidays that’s up to you to figure out how to provide, which is great if you’re the type of parent who can conjure up awesome craft ideas and science projects at home, and pretty rubbish if you’re like me and just wish all the movies, museums and aquariums wouldn’t be so bloody expensive.

4. The holidays are L-O-N-G

The first two weeks go quickly, with the end of school, Christmas and new year moving things along. Excitement about the holidays starting and all those presents keeps everyone happy for the first chunk of the holidays, and you probably organised some cool family plans and get togethers that made sure there was always something to look forward to. But once you get past the start of the new year, you discover you’re out of energy and cash. With all those empty days to get through before school goes back, you realise it’s just you, the kids and the Australian heat.

5. You have moments of hating parenting life

I love my kids but during the holidays I get a lot of ‘oh-my-god-if-another-child-asks-me-for-something-my-head-is going-to-explode’ moments. School holidays give you oodles of time to spend with your children so you can enjoy the little people you’ve created and spend quality time together, which is lovely. It also means you are looking after their every need around the clock, ever single day: pouring drinks, handing out icy poles, wiping noses, wiping bottoms, applying sun cream,breaking up squabbles and helping locate missing parts of dress ups and wishing desperately for the bedtime hour to come quicker.

6. The sound of children squabbling will send you loopy

When my kids play together, it’s heaven and makes me congratulate myself on my clever decision to have a few kids so they’d entertain each other during the long holidays. The sound of them laughing and playing their make-believe games means I can gather my thoughts, make an iced tea and even sit down for a minute to see what’s on TV. But when they all hate each other, the idyllic scene falls apart and all I can hear is high pitched squeals and screams, which hang around for far too long in my ears afterwards.

7. The beach is a pain in the arse

At the beginning of the summer holidays I reminded myself how close we were to some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches and resolved to spend every sunny day enjoying the sun and the sea. Why go away when the best things to do in summer are on my doorstep? I thought. Kids love the sand and the sea, and it always tires them out nicely so they chill out for the rest of the day. But after a couple of trips, I realised that the beach was shit. It was crowded, hot, kind of dangerous and full of sand that managed to come home with us no matter how well we washed off before we left.

8. It’s just so bloody hot

Oh, I said this one already? Sorry. Just here, sweating my face off and waiting for the cool change to kick in. I keep checking the weather app on my phone and looking out the window. They said there’d be a storm, but I don’t see it coming. It is a clear blue hot sky from where I’m sitting, with nary a breeze in the air. Plus, I can hear that the movie I put on for the kids has just finished, because they are all stirring excitedly as the closing credits sing out. Sigh. Time to dish out the icy poles again, I think.

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