I knew it would come – I just wasn’t sure when. But today was the day. The day that the mother guilt, which seems to hit me no matter how I plan my kids’ holidays, swept into town.
Some school holidays I fill our days with activities – sports camps, or playdate after playdate, or day trips, or vacations away. Then I worry that my kids are not getting enough of a rest after a busy term. Other holidays, such as this one, are much emptier. We have a few activities planned, but most days are fairly free. And while I know this time, a rest is what my kids have needed, the guilt still creeps back. I’m depriving them. Not enabling them to develop. Not getting them out and about enough. Feast or famine in my conscience, which hasn’t seemed to settle on a balance diet that satisfies my overactive guilt gene.
We’re now six days into holidays (although who’s counting?) and our ‘plan’ (which wasn’t really planned but still) for a low key couple of weeks is chugging along nicely. The weekend took care of itself – AFL junior football and junior lacrossé stop for no one – and coupled with a movie, some dvds, a bit of gardening and time spent cuddling and reading, seemed to occupy us enough. Monday was spent bushwalking within the Kurth Kiln Regional Park, past Emerald east of Melbourne. A surprisingly good way to warm up in this very cold spell we are experiencing, and a beautiful place, as you can see:
Tuesday and Wednesday, while I was at work, were my husband’s domain. I gather they did SOME things – not really sure what – but it included a sleepover. So, really – it’s only been today where plans for my kids were non existent. And I freaked out.
Why? I think I got caught up in the comparison / fear of depriving kids (FODK??) trap. I remembered the basketball clinics I was thinking about booking them into but didn’t get around to – which started today. No matter that my daughter’s broken wrist has only just healed enough to take the bandaging off yesterday. No matter that my son wanted to go for walks or runs, but had no interest in another clinic. I remembered the holiday I was hoping to take but we decided to defer – now I felt that was a bad idea (maybe because the weather is so cold and wet here in Melbourne). For whatever reason, I felt this bad mother guilt starting to eat at me.
I mentioned it to my husband who looked at me in amazement. He pointed to the home – completely transferred into series of ‘Cubby Rules’ remodelled areas (our version of ‘House Rules’). He noted how many board games, how much drawing, how many lego creations and Sylvanian Family / Shopkins scenarios had been played out. And how they had a two day time away tomorrow (including another movie, and a highly anticipated afternoon watching the live performance of Matilda. He reminded me of how I’ve talked about over scheduling kids – in fact, how I’ve WRITTEN about it (and yes, I know I have, and no, I’m not going to link up to them right now, because it reminds me that things in theory feel quite different to when you put them into action). And he reminded me that I was being a little, well, silly.
I asked my son whether he felt like he was missing out. He gave me a hug and said these were great holidays. I asked my daughter, who said she was still tired (recovering from a sleepover). And I realised I’d been touched by the mother guilt again.
Recognising it is one step to overcoming it. I know they are not missing out. I still don’t fully FEEL that – but I will. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be looking back on these restful days with envy. I just need to remember this. And keep remembering it when my husband and I drop our two off for a couple of days with their grandparents (and the activities I’ve mentioned), for our own time away. And just remember to enjoy the change of pace, and the serenity. It takes a bit to slow down – I must remember that.
How do you manage school holidays? Are you a mother guilter too? If so – how do you keep it under control?