My Happy Half Term

When I was working in a school I found that each half term and holiday posed a dilemma. Sure, it was great to have a break from the office and spend time at home with the kids, but I find being at home with the kids full time is just as exhausting as working, and so I was often left feeling cheated, like I'd missed out on a proper break. I missed the opportunity to be myself.

It's crazy to think that I have now been a full time stay at home mum for over a year and actually, I've really enjoyed it. I do miss working and the purpose it brings me but I've found a sense of fulfilment in my every day routine.

However, the holidays can still be difficult, the pressure to constantly entertain two demanding children, financial and budgeting restraints, and weather that never seems to play ball. It all adds up to a time and space conundrum that has me once again looking forward to the school run.

And that is what makes this last half term stand out, because I was surprised, more than once, by how happy I felt.

The sort of happiness that bubbles up inside you and you realise: "In this moment, I am happy".

True, the first day was awful and a combination of period pain and over-tired kids left me sobbing on the phone to my mum, questioning how I could survive the week...

But after that, it all brightened up.

We didn't do anything extravagant. I'm a big believer that my children need to have time to play without my direct input, we'll do plenty of activities together and I will play with them, but I think boredom can encourage creativity and it's important for them to learn how to entertain themselves. There's a lot to be said for simple pleasures in life.

On Tuesday we met friends for a hot chocolate at our local cafe, found a shortcut to their home through the woods and had a play date. Wednesday saw us meeting other friends for pizza before another play date, this time with pumpkin carving. Who would have thought I'd have been so happy sat cross legged on the cold floor, wielding a blunt knife in an attempt an artistic design long after the kids had lost interest and were tearing around the garden with their friends.

It hit me again the next day, as we baked a cake together, laughing and fishing pieces of eggshell from the cake mixture, whisking and then licking the bowl. Ollie dressed as spiderman but wearing a pretty Cath Kidston apron and Lily helping to clean up after.

We had fun laughing about random things, a fox riding a badger, film quotes and silly games.

And once again that evening, as we snuggled to watch films and hand out sweets to the trick or treaters that knocked on our door.

It was nice, and a great reminder of why I love my local area - the parks, woods, libraries and cafe that mean we can get out of the house for a bit without spending a fortune. I felt like it was a break for us, one that was needed to break up the monotony on the school run and every day routine.

I'm often too quick to moan. I may try to make light of parenting situations that I find stressful or difficult and I talk about my anxiety and constant over-thinking. But this half term I was happy, I was happy laughing and hugging my children and spending the extra time with them.

It was a happy half-term, the sort of time I want my kids to remember. And the sort of time I want to remember too, the next time I'm feeling negative about an impending school holiday. Roll on Christmas!

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