PARENTS

Why Summer Holidays Are So Special

23/07/2014 17:02 | Updated 22 May 2015

Why summer holidays are so specialGetty

As the school year draws to a close with a final half term littered with open evenings, end of year concerts and fetes, every mother's heart is filled with dread as she contemplates the fast approaching six weeks of summer holidays.

Perhaps if we lived in more sun drenched climes the idea of amusing our children without the distraction of school or nursery wouldn't be quite so daunting. As it is, we all know that odds on a large proportion of our summer break will be spent watching raindrops chase down the windowpanes.

Whether you work and the spectre of having to organise extra childcare to cover the hours normally taken up by school rears it's head, or you're a full time mum and well aware that you will once more be press ganged into the role of entertainments manager for the foreseeable future, few parents relish the long summer break.

When your children dash away from school on the last day of term, dropping book bags and school ties behind them as they rush to embrace their six weeks of freedom, and you pick up the mess left in their wake, that's when you get an unwelcome insight into how you will be spending the next few weeks.

But when proposals to scrap the long summer break were mooted earlier this year I was surprised to feel a sharp sense of dismay.

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I should have been jumping for joy at the idea that I would no longer have to wrack my brains and empty my wallet in order to fill those empty weeks between July and September.

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But instead I felt a stab of nostalgia at the idea of those balmy (at least in my imagination) weeks of doing nothing being snatched away from my children.

Perhaps it is because my first summer holiday was in 1976, which was the last time in living history when England was bathed in continuous sunshine for the months of July and August. I spent the entire six-week break in the garden, leaping about in a paddling pool. It was blissful and set the blueprint for school summer holidays for the rest of my life.

I still recall how hard it was to adjust to letting go of the long break when I started my first job out of university. As soon as the days began to lengthen and the temperatures rise I began to get that demob happy feeling. Anticipation bubbled within me until I realised that my employer would not look favourably upon me taking a six-week break from work.

It was a tough pill to swallow that my years of having six blissfully carefree weeks to fill with nothing very much were finally over. No more would I be able to hang out with my friends moaning about how bored we were, while secretly loving the fact that we could stay up late because there were no school nights in the holidays.

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That is the joy of summer holidays. That there is nothing to do is the whole point of them.

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At the beginning it was always hard to settle down, there were a few days of irritable boredom before I would relax into a languid routine of sleeping late, seeing friends and chilling out away from the rigid, all-consuming schedule of school and extra-curricular activities. By the time September came, I was relaxed and refreshed, ready to take the plunge into a new school year.

Perhaps that is why, even though as a parent I would relish the convenience of school becoming a never-ending grind for my children, I would eagerly raise a placard in favour of keeping the long summer holidays.

My childhood was defined by those lazy weeks of freedom, so however much of a bind it might be for me, I defend my children's right to retain their own little patch of indolence amongst the rigours of exams, SATs, times tables and music lessons that cram their term time schedules.

What do you think? Are summer holidays a special time for our children we should try to cherish?

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