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Squeezing every bit of fun out of the long summer holiday

Ellen Arnison decides that ripping up the organised mum’s to-do list is the way to happiness

Ah. Liberation. Free from the tyranny of the school bus and the daily torture of packed lunches. It’s the school holidays. Every year, the day the bags get flung in the back of wardrobe and the ties slither off under a bed, it always seems like the summer holidays are stretching out ahead for miles. And every year, with only a week to go, I realise they’re not. Then there’s a horrible bad-tempered scurry for new plimsolls, haircuts and shirts that fit. “I’m sorry madam, we sold out of school trousers suitable for a 10-year-old weeks ago.” Grrrr.

This means the final seven days of freedom are anything but free. We have to endure shops, rushing around and far too much thought of the term to come.

So this year I’ve decided it’ll be different. At first I planned to be so organised that not even my kids will recognise me.

What we were going to do is buy all the stuff we need first. OK, maybe not actually first, but as soon as we get back from our two weeks’ self catering. So, nearly first then. We’ll head straight out to the shops – presuming they’ve got BTS stuff in (they will), the boys aren’t poised on the brink of a growth spurt (more than likely) and there’s money in the bank (not long ’til payday).

Of course, the huge challenge will be remembering which safe place

I have put the bags of carefully purchased, easy-care clothing. There is a strong possibility that the final day of the holidays could be spent tearing swearily around the house to find the stuff and then hurtling out

under the overgrown mops – then I face another problem. Do I give them enough of a trim to last until the school bell goes? In which case they’re going to be walking around for a couple of weeks with their brown noses and cheeks surrounded by a Day-Glo white frame where the hair used to be. Not a good look when the hair in question is ginger. Maybe, best leave things for a week or two… Oh dear. My plan is falling apart already, particularly when you add the fact that there is no point in finding anything in this house until the day before you need it because the pixies (or someone) will only make it vanish if you do it any earlier.

Maybe a better idea is simply to plan for lots of end of hols days of fun and to let the boring preparations take care of themselves. The chances are we haven’t done enough of eating ice cream, mooching in the park, secretly cheering at the rain cos we can stay in and watch telly, or lying on the grass

reading a book.

to the nearest supermarket to find that everything will certainly be sold out.

And the new term haircuts? They, at least, don’t sell out. Although if the sun shines on our fortnight’s holiday and my sons’ faces get a golden tan – what the rays got to

30 | West End Life – August/September 2013

Now I see a plan forming… in the last week of term you won’t find us in a shopping mall all stressed out, instead we’ll be scoffing chips in a green space somewhere near you. And the clothes and haircuts? Well the kids don’t care, so it’s time I didn’t either.


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