I want to start this by saying how very dearly I love my children. I mean truly, to the depths of my soul, all mama lion should anything or anyone ever harm them in any way........
But 8 weeks of summer! Every year, and more time with the large ones, it is one of the toughest times on most parent's calendars. Have you tried to entertain 4 children between the ages of 18 and 6, with vastly different interests and varying degrees of scheduling difficulties and in the beautiful Irish weather, all while holding down a job and attempting to seem relatively sane to the outside observer?? If you have you know, and if you haven't let me elaborate.......
There is of course the constant cry of "I'm bored!!" always answered by the list of jobs I have for them to do, and met with disgusted looks. How dare I suggest they help by clearing up their own mess/toys/bedding/clothes/pets! And my absolute favourite "I'm hungry" which is actually just a synonymy for the former. The grocery bill is astronomical between June and August!!
They fight, like all the time. My family is certainly not the glossy polished magazine spread type, all dressed in coordinated outfits with pleasant smiling faces. My brood are messy, dishevelled, loud, and often downright unruly when they are at home.
My 6 year old runs around barefoot, with her long hair wild and dirt on her hands, face and clothes, while on the opposite side of that coin, her 11 year old brother is normally curled up in a chair with his nose in a book complaining he might get his hands dirty! When he is eventually turfed outside, for his health of course, it takes approximately 3 and a half minutes for him to return crying because his little sister hit him/ told him off/ made him play a game he doesn't like etc. The joys.
The large ones are equally as opposite and can't normally be left in the same room for too long as the will goad each other into some fight about something, which when interrupted and questioned always is "NOTHING"- insert Kevin and Perry type teenage sounds- and to be perfectly frank they spend way too much time in their bedrooms which bodes the question "what could they possibly be doing in there?" I actually don't think I need to know.
They as a collective have very little in common except that they are related. The musical tastes range, from room to room, from Electric Dance, Pop Hits, Musical Classics and Death Metal. I want to say that I am happy I have a well rounded group but honestly, thank god for headphones! No single show, film or game ever pleases all 4, which means family viewing is non existent, and if we do venture to the cinema we spilt into 2 or sometimes 3 groups.
Now while none of this is specific to the summer break, it normally is a little better dispersed during the school year. You can handle weekends and a week or two here and there. But the concentrated, overwhelmingly long 8 week stretch is like a sentence for some form of bad behaviour I probably committed before I had children.
This is where I struggle as my job would dictate that I encourage Mum's to stick to their fitness routines, keep up the healthy eating, and still make time for yourselves. I DO COMPLETLEY ENCOURAGE ALL OF THE ABOVE! I am also a realist.
Yes, perhaps you can still get out a few times a week to get to the gym or class. I hope so! Maybe your kids will even get involved or at least leave you in peace while you get a workout in at home, sometimes mine do! And sometimes mine don't. And maybe you have the willpower of a rhino and never, ever pick at the extra treat you keep in the house, possibly for the purposes of bribery ( hangs head in shame) and maybe not.
At the end of the day you can only do what you can do, what the army of smaller people living in your house will allow. And you should never, ever feel bad about that!!!!
So while I will promote healthy habits and do my best to maintain them for the LONG summer months, I too will have my life held hostage. I am at their mercy and my plans must remain somewhat flexible. Today might be great, a picture perfect, totally on plan diet and workout day, and the rest of the week may be spent in my PJ's eating their leftovers. I kinda have to roll with it and slowly count down the days until they go back to school, 56 FYI.
So how long is 8 weeks really?
Well it takes 21 days for chicks to hatch, 6-9 weeks for tadpoles to mature, 2 weeks for beer to ferment and a further 4-6 weeks of rest in the bottle before it is at its best, 80 to 100 days for sunflowers to bloom, almost 12 months before GOT is back on our screens and probably a lifetime to recover my lost marbles! Honestly it is all relative and in the grand scheme of things I suppose us mum's should make the most of it.
Good luck ladies xx
Tell me your best tips for surviving the school holidays? Maybe we can save each other!
Jessica Keniston is a mother of 4, former dancer and lover of fitness who has turned her passion into a career. Read favourite tips, recipes and workout advice here, and sympathise with the daily motherhood struggles!