Nothing can compare to the ecstasy of watching your children go back to school
Mothers who text me saying, ‘I’m so sad the holidays are over! Haven’t they gone quickly!’ – you are either clinically insane or lying
The children are not due back at school for another five days but I have already laid out their school uniforms in their bedrooms. Not that I’m keen to see the back of them or anything. It has been seven long weeks – we’ve done the two week all-inclusive holiday, they’ve done cricket camp, sewing camp, baking camp and camping camp, and yet still there is more holiday to go. I have oscillated manically from tearing their iPhones off them and hiding them in my closet to begging them to return to their screens, when the only other option is that I have to actually play with them.
Mothers who text me saying, “I’m so sad the holidays are over! Haven’t they gone quickly!” – you are either clinically insane or lying. No, the holidays have not gone quickly. I have felt every second of the pain of making a papier-mâché pig, I have heard every tick of the clock as I watch child number two’s 470th magic trick, I have aged 10 years in seven weeks. Which makes me look at least 36 now.
Inviting other children round to play may seem like an obvious solution to pass the time and prise your children off of you – but do not be fooled. Play dates at your own home are a rookie error. You will encounter the child who wreaks devastation on your house, who talks at you incessantly, even more than your own child, and who drags every single duvet in the house out into the garden for some inexplicable game. The parent will turn up hours late, mumbling a weak excuse and smelling of an afternoon in a rooftop bar sipping Aperol spritz. You may try to farm your children out to other unfortunate parents, but will find the play date window dramatically shortened, leaving you only a few short hours to cry in front of Jeremy Kyle with a bottle of vodka.
Educational activities also pose a deceptive solution. “Oooh today we’re off to the natural history museum” you may sing to your beloveds, as you optimistically pack sandwiches and healthy snacks. Your children will not be fooled. They know a museum means time spent away from their screens and will pour scorn on the healthy snacks, smuggling out your secret stash of Reese’s Peanut Buttercups and gorging on them so much they vomit on the tube in front of the hot 30-year-old you were attempting to flirt with. Once at the museum, you will lose them for up to 15 minutes and restrain yourself from escaping in a cab and hoping they get picked up by a kind stranger who will take them under their wing for a week or two. They will look at the museum exhibits in five minutes flat and spend an hour in the gift shop demanding dinosaur eggs and sew-your-own sloth kits, which you will buy and they will never use. You will be home two hours later, £100 poorer and with another nine hours to kill before bedtime. (Yours, not theirs, you gave up on trying to impose bedtime in week one.)
Holiday tally of shame
Number of books you’ve got your child to read: 0
Number of hours spent on screens: 496
Amount of chocolate consumed: A pre-diabetic amount. You are a terrible mother.
Amount of chocolate you’ve consumed: 2 new chins worth
Amount of wine you’ve consumed: You now visit different off licences to avoid the shame.
Amount of sex you’ve had with your husband: see number of books read, above
Amount of sex you’ve had with yourself: see number of books read, above
And yet, in just five short days, the horror will be over. Facebook will be awash with posts of shell-shocked children being packed off back to school in too-big blazers and shiny shoes. Parents will wail online about being sad and missing them already. And yet we all know that there is a secret army of thousands upon thousands of us who will be crazed with ecstasy. As soon as our offspring are safely inside the school gates, we will be running home to caper a crazed jig around the empty rooms and binge-watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, while sucking on the family-size Toblerone we’ve hidden from the children.
With the children out of the house for the rest of the day, we can afford our memories of the holidays to softly mould into something much more generous. The museum was GREAT, we needed to re-wallpaper the entire house anyway, and the two chins suit us. In fact, it’s a shame there’s only 304 days left till next summer.