We used to sit down as a family before any school holiday and all say what we wanted from it, so that we all knew.
I would say things like ‘I need two days uninterrupted work, I want a day of walking, I want us all to be together some of the time, and I want to bake a cake together because we haven’t done that for ages and it would make me feel like a proper mother’ and they would say things like ‘Legoland’ (we went twice) and ‘Disneyland’ (never).
The premise was that we all took responsibility for what we wanted, there were no guessing games, and nobody minds doing a bit of what others want if they know they’re going to get a bit of what they want.
The summer holiday though, that took a bit more thought, a bit more planning. I would cast my mind forward to September and think ‘what do I need between now and then, so that when I look back I’ll feel ‘I didn’t waste that time! My family now has some really good memories to look back on! I still like my children and they still like me!’
Summer was when I learned that taking care of my own needs seemed to be the biggest factor in whether we all had a good time or not.
It was when I learned that if I was genuinely enthusiastic and excited about doing something, my children generally were too, even if it was my idea, not theirs.
I love the way that works: if you want your children to be happy, be happy yourself!
‘Are we having fun yet?’ is a good question to ask sometimes in any relationship, and it works wonderfully as a parent. Having fun makes you more generous, light-hearted and better company. It makes relationships stronger. Having fun is a decision we can make at any time, but it’s just a bit easier when the sun is shining.
I wish you all lots of fun this summer, and some great memories come September!