Phew! My half term headache is beginning to abate, leaving only a nagging sense of guilt and defeat behind.
The week started well. The big ones were booked on to a two day multi-sports course that they were particularly keen to attend as the promotional leaflet promised each participating child a trophy. With the three year old indulging in messy play aplenty at nursery, I enjoyed a gentle start to the week with just a small baby and a backlog of TOWIE to keep me busy.
Wednesday morning heralded the start of an over-hyped Halloween, and in a bid to achieve top mummy marks I had four pumpkins ready to be carved and loot bags ready to decorate. Suffice to say, I was feeling smug. By lunchtime however, my nerves were frazzled. It turns out that you really can’t give a 5 year old his own knife and a license to be creative! So it was down to me to cut out each of my children’s intricate designs whilst they watched, instructed and generally grew bored from the safety of the sidelines. Their interest waned further when the smell of pumpkin was deemed “too stinky”. So by early-afternoon I was picking pumpkin seeds out of my hair, jigging a baby on my knee and attempting reconstructive facial surgery on a pumpkin with eyebrows that had merged and a nose that was severly sagging. Meanwhile the boys practised Kung fu and emptied the toy chest. Fun!
My ingenious spooky supper of worms with eyeballs (spaghetti with meatballs) got a lukewarm reception (“I-(sob)-don’t-(sob)-like-(sob)-eyeballs! I only-(sob)-want the-(sob)-meatball ones”) and frustratingly, Leo’s pre-bought Halloween themed costume was unceremoniously rejected in favour of the faded spiderman suit we’ve had for years. But thems the breaks when you’re dealing with a 3 year old artiste. If only I’d put as much thought into the logistics of trick or treating with an over-excited witch, a self-conscious Harry Potter, a disgruntled 6 month old and spiderman on a sugar rush….sigh!
By Thursday morning I was ready for a holiday…some place far, far away. But there was house work to do, a Tesco delivery to wait in for and (apparently) a lot more mess to make and arguments to have. By lunchtime, the house looked like we’d been burgled, the afternoon’s cinema trip had been revoked and my oven was minus its door owing to my meltdown moment. I appreciate how socially, ethically and morally incorrect it is to clobber one’s own children so my Beko took the brunt of my temper tantrum instead.
Maybe an injection of culture would help tame my unruly brood and stem their boredom-born bickering, I thought. But then I remembered the last time we braved a simple trip to the library; they spent 20 minutes arguing over which DS game to borrow despite my protests that we were there for the books. In fact, the very concept of a library is lost on the little ones who constantly ask “Can we buy this one?” and rarely make it past the DVD section.
We don’t fare much better at museums either, where the main attractions are the over-sized cookies in the cafe or the over-priced crap in the gift shop. And on those rare occasions when they are interested in the exhibits, it’s usually to use them as make shift climbing frames.
Realistically there are very few places where it is convenient, affordable and acceptable to take four children during the school holidays. I’m too outnumbered to take them swimming, too sane to take them to soft play and too terrified to take them into London. We do however usually frequent each of Enfield’s parks on a rotational basis. My personal favourite is the Town Park where I can buy a cup of tea to thaw my fingers as the boys run the wrong way up the slide and spin themselves senseless on the roundabout.
By Friday I’d caved and plonked them all in front of the telly; their bags of Halloween sweets gave me an excellent bargaining tool to negotiate good behaviour.
Should half term really be this hard? What are all the other mums doing with their kids to while the week away? (I’m still not on Facebook so I have no idea!) And should I really be counting down the days until school starts again when I could instead make effort to be patient, calm and carefree in the face of chaos and enjoy my time with the children?
With just seven short weeks until the Christmas holidays, I’ve decided I’m in training for my next ‘mummy marathon’. It’s all in the preparation… organised activities, pre-arranged playdates and a good stash of sedatives (for me that is, not them of course…ho ho ho!)