I used to dread the school holidays. I know that sounds awful and entitled but entertaining triplets plus one at the ages of 5,5,5 and 4 for weeks on end was exhausting and demanding.
There was simply no time for me to attempt relaxation or recharge and the physical needs of my cherubs drained my energy.
Today I look back on those days with fondness and happy memories- now that the physical struggles of arranging four little people in seatbelts, arranging clothing tags until they don’t scratch and pushing swings ‘just one more time’ are over.
The acts of trying to herd over-tired, teary ‘cats’ and throwing six year olds into the pool (at their request) are these days replaced with acts of ‘Uber Mum’ and ‘can I please have some more money’ and ‘MuuuuuMMMM you’re SO embarrassing’.
So I’m expecting I will also look back on these school holidays in the future with affection and love.
What will I remember?
Well I guess at the moment- I’ll reminisce of four teenagers sleeping a lot. A.LOT. Morning grunts aren’t heard prior to 10:30 or 11:00 and half decent conversation is not before midday.
I’ll think of which teen I have drive to a friend’s house, on the way to taking another to the cinema and picking another up while the son is at tennis clinic. I’ll have rearranged my personal training clients to accommodate my teenagers’ social lives.
I’ll remember being asked for specifics at the supermarket like Aloe Vera because someone didn’t listen to their mother and they got too sunburnt, but they need it (the sunburn) to be better by tomorrow because they’re going to the beach again. I guess I’m driving.
I have to buy AA batteries because the son’s gaming console goes so flat so quickly- and it’s not fair.
I have to buy colour stripper for someone’s hair because the peroxide didn’t work and they look like a zebra and when can they start getting their hair highlighted? Probably when I can stop spending money on Aloe Vera and AA batteries!
I have to buy all the expensive fruits like blueberries and raspberries to make smoothie bowls because they’re so healthy and so pretty. Oh- and while you’re there mum can you please buy a whole lot of Oreos and ice creams? Sure! Are they near the batteries??
Looking back on these teenager holidays I’ll also remember the road trips and camping trips.
The latest camping trip in Keith, South Australia when an electrical storm centred itself over one of the girls in her single swag was a ripper. The dog was petrified enough to also join her in the tiny, low sleeping arrangement.
The camping trips also provide me ample opportunity to eat too much, drink too much and probably say too much-all at the same time.
The state of the house during the holidays will be remembered as initially -super organised, clean, with scents of ‘high tide’ candles, a full fridge of food and clearly defined teenager vs. adult areas.
This regresses to a state of ‘where the hell is the floor?’, to ‘why do I even bother?’ and ‘well the Aloe vera is wherever you LEFT it last!’ and finishing with ‘I’ll fix it all when they’re back at school!’
I suppose you think I’m a winger and whiner? An Scrooge with a negative attitude?
You’re right! I am.
So, while staring into my ‘high tide’ scented candle and having a proper think and much therapy of various forms, I’m going to turn this convo 180 degrees! I’m choosing to see the positives of teenager school holidays!
In months and years from now, my spin on school holidays will be filled with gorgeous memories of a healthy, happy, hands on family who spent valuable time together in a loving home with precious friends, love, laughter and support.
If I wait long enough after the morning grunts, perhaps filling my time with ….oh I don’t know…training clients, I hear and have some great conversations with the 14 year old triplet girls.
They trust me and respect me enough to open up if they’re feeling down, or tell me in great detail about the latest party, who did what, who said what and who wore what. Did I say in great detail? To me this is a blessing. It might be the end of my day when I’m tired but to have a teenager sitting on your bed, pouring her heart out is special. It’s a bond I’m proud of.
Driving the tribe around in my big nine seater van can seem cumbersome and tiring but really? I’m glad they all have active social lives, friends to catch up with and the ability to be independent and confident. They’re learning social skills, who they want to be and who their ‘people’ are.
One of the girls asked me to ‘pick her up from Middleton’ – a beach side town over an hour’s drive from Adelaide. Not a quick round trip but it is a beautiful drive through the hills, I filled the van with teenagers and my mum, and it allowed my daughter half a day with an aunty and young cousins visiting from interstate. I admire her family connection.
Having to swap client times and sessions can feel unprofessional and bugs me. But I’m SO lucky to have such supportive people I look after. They understand what it’s like to run a family and I’m grateful for a job which allows me to be a part of their daily comings and goings.
I’m pleased and proud my children are sporty and social. Tennis clinics, boogie boarding at the beach all day, dancing at parties, riding bikes and being home before dark are all activities they will remember holidays for, make connections through and stay off screens for.
I’ll buy Aloe Vera, blueberries and batteries any day.
I’ll look back on our family camping trips with nothing but joy. While I grew up with horses, I never camped as a child. It’s something I’ve learnt since having children and I just love it. Sleeping in a tent is simply Heavenly to me. To hear the wind in the gum trees, the birds waking and a fire crackling is all the mindfulness I need.
Camping teaches us (and the children) to adapt. It simplifies the day.
This last camping trip at Keith was yet another gorgeous memory to hold on to. The children collected eggs, made cubby houses, fed the kangaroos and had a ride in the semi trailer. We ate bacon and egg burgers for breakfast, drank around the fire at night and spent time with valued and precious friends.
I pinky promised to do a 58km trail run in April and I learnt how to reverse the car around a corner with a trailer on. If I had a YouTube channel, I’d have filmed it . And yes- there was a storm but it brought you back to nature and filled the air with sounds and scents you never get in the ‘burbs.
The house in the holidays?
Yes- it gets messy and smelly. It’s not how I work and it irks me to see such disarray and lack of order.
But it’s full of family. We have our health, our conversations around a board game, our laughs over teaching mum a dance and our tears over a friend who hurt us. We sometimes hang out all in one room discussing the day or who will win The Block. We talk about our dreams, our memories and our hopes. I talk about the fact I can reverse with a trailer on now.
So I’d rather a messy home (which I will certainly gain control of again), full of open-minded, confident, genuine family over one void of the bonds we support and share.
While school holidays exhaust and test me with logistics, parties, sports and teenage behaviours, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Aloe vera and blueberries. Raspberries and batteries…….
What will your children remember about their school holidays?