I have found the summer holidays to be absolute torture with an occasional heart warming moment thrown in to remind me that it really is all worth it.
As I write this, my potty training two year old is riding my poor dog like a rodeo bull, only pausing to do his umpteenth pee and poo of the day. My carpet is covered in bicarbonate of soda in an attempt to rid it of all evidence of the aforementioned potty training and my daughter has barricaded herself in MY bedroom because although she's only four you could easily mistake her attitude for that of a fourteen year old.
I totally underestimated how valuable the three half days my daughter went to nursery were; actually I was rather naively looking forward to the summer holidays. Instead of the quality family time I was hoping for, I have been on constant refereeing duty. Instead of picnics in the afternoon sun, I have been looking out at my overgrown garden in the rain whilst the kids watch another episode of Go Jetters.
I have raised my voice far too often, and felt guilty for as long as it takes one of them to empty the clean clothes all over the floor AGAIN. I have put so much pressure on myself to make the most of the last month before my oldest starts full time school; struggling with the change to come whilst feeling overwhelmed with her being at home with me 24/7.
I have ended each day feeling like I've failed my children; feeling like the world's worst mum and kicking myself for the countless times that I lost my temper.
I start each day promising that I will not shout, hopeful for cooperative children and pleading with the sun to come out.
Thankfully my children won't remember the crap times and the meltdowns (from both them and me). They will remember that I apologised when I lost my temper. They will remember the afternoon that we had milkshakes and cookies as a special treat. They will remember that day at the beach and the cinema trip. They will remember the silly games we played and the dens we built.
I'm sure so many parents can relate to this, for our sanity's sake we need to feel able to share our failings and our triumphs without judgement.
We also need to be thankful for what we do have.
I am not dealing with the financial strain that so many families are during the summer holidays. I am not going without a meal to feed my children and I have enough money to do an occasional treat. Neither of my children have additional needs that would require so much more of me - I have friends who are dealing with this daily and it's admirable what they manage to cope with. I have family to shoulder some of the load and I have friends to spend the days with so I'm not secluded and lonely.
I'm forever being told to "enjoy them whilst they're young" because "they grow up too quickly" and despite the fact that I mostly find it patronising, that's exactly what I intend to do.