So the other day I was casually flipping through the family calendar when I realised something that made me very cross. I realised that if you count the days from when Big Tot had his last day at nursery right up to when he starts going to 'big' school he is actually off for seven, not the widely presumed six, weeks for summer.
Seven weeks. That's forty-nine days. And that was enough to make me feel momentarily sick. It was a proper lump-in-the-throat, rapid-heart-beating, fiery cheeks kind of moment. How was I supposed to keep this going for seven weeks? No holidays planned. A dwindling overdraft. Two Tots expecting near miracles from me every single day for forty nine days? How could I find a number for the complaints hotline at the local education authority?
I peered into the living room at the Tots. Big Tot was lying under a blanket on the sofa playing with an electronic alphabet game and making loud, over-enthusiastic vowel sounds. Little Tot was making a dash for it into the garden of delights. Those delights being muck, muck, water and muck. Truth be known, they didn't seem to having such a bad time.
But what about me? Am I having such a bad time? Apart from my reaction to the the six week cover-up scandal, Is my summer really going that badly? Of course it isn't. Here I am, lucky enough to have a huge wedge of quality time to spend with my Tots, and a new business I can weave around full-time kiddy care. Things could be a lot worse.
Honestly speaking though, the summer holidays can be intense. There are times when I truly am out of resources, ideas and that mythical stuff called energy. I have secret tactics though. And they are lovely and life-affirming. Oh yes. My secret tactics totally rock.
And the best thing about these secret tactics is that if you are a parent, you probably do them anyway, without even knowing. But if you can become more aware of them, and practice them regularly, then things really do start to change.
Live In The Moment
You've seen your toddler do it. The total concentration on a snail's slimy movements or the unwavering dedication to the pages of their favourite storybook. Even the screaming meltdown in the sweetie aisle at a supermarket. Toddlers are experts at living in the now. So sometimes I get to it. I could be breathing in the sweet, just-washed scent of Little Tot's hair (even if he's whinging for his supper) or suddenly be in awe of the soft, reassuring grip of Big Tot's hand in mine as we cross a road. I have even mastered mindful nappy-changing. Oh yes. By being so committed to Little Tot and his gorgeous, dimpled bottom no other part of it bothers me. Living in the moment happily discards anything else that might be bothering you.
This too, will pass
I don't know who first coined this phrase, but when I first heard it, and related it to being a parent, it rocked my world. Sometimes it's a beautifully encouraging phrase. My child will stop being such a fussy eater one day. Soon my child will have have their hair washed without sobbing. But it can have a ring of sadness to it too. Perhaps one day my child won't want morning kisses. What if my child decides she doesn't want storytime before bed? But for me, just knowing, without a shadow of a doubt that 'this too, will pass' helps me to focus on the now, indulge in it, be grateful for it and embrace the ever-changing nature of this life we live. And here's hoping the Tots pick that up too.
Sit and smile
I'm loving this one. I read about it in Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat Pray Love' where she zips off to Bali, anticipating some mysterious lessons in meditation and actually just gets told to 'sit and smile'. You do run the risk of appearing to be a loon, mind you. As I well know. I have been known to sit and smile whilst Big Tot is having a meltdown on a naughty spot I have created in a supermarket. Or sitting and smiling whilst rocking a screaming Little Tot's buggy in a busy shopping centre. The possibilities are endless and the outcome is that you usually feel at least a teensy bit calmer, or at least able to find a funny side. Can't be bad, can it?
So there's three of my secret tactics. Why not go for a cocktail of them all? It's the only kind of cocktail I seem to be able to get my hands on these days. And I have to admit the high I've got from practicing these beats any Raspberry Mojito anyway.
So, with all of that in mind, I will press on through these summer holidays no matter how many days I may ultimately be faced with. The local Education Authority can breathe easy for now as I shall not be making that complaint after all. Not this year, anyway.
Visit my site to find The Cool Rule Book - a tip top way to celebrate all that is cool with your toddler as well as getting to grips with discipline: www.thecoolrulecompany.co.uk
For more on 'living in the now', try 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle, available on Amazon
For more of 'this too, will pass', try 'The Illuminated Rumi' by Jalal Al-Din Rumi, available on Amazon
For more of 'sitting and smiling', try 'Eat, Pray Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert, available on Amazon