The school holidays…what can I say? It seems I end up here, typing at my computer four times a year, either having a whinge about how hideous it can be or giving you survival tips. Facebook reminded me this morning that on this day in 2016, I posted this on my personal page:
“Oh my word, I am so ready for the holidays to be over. I am at the point of pulling my hair out as I plead with my son ‘Don’t annoy your sisters. And don’t touch your sisters. And don’t touch the AIR AROUND your sisters!’. They are banished outside and I will now go and scream into a pillow until 9am Thursday.”
Usually at this point I am a broken shell of a woman, simply trying to survive each day. This time I don’t feel the same and I know why. I am now working 3 days a week so a mixture of babysitters, my parents and my mother in law have done the heavy lifting. I salute them. My kids haven’t had the chance to drive me crazy and I’m cherishing the time I have with them. We’ve enjoyed board games, playdates, trips to the movies, trips to Jamberoo Action Park utilising our season passes and general merriment.
Today that merriment was born from the most unlikely of circumstances. Let me share with you the tale of our Wednesday, 25th January. The backstory first – I haven’t been sleeping well lately. It’s been hideously hot and our bedroom is not air conditioned. Our fan has only 2 settings – the wind power of an F5 twister, or nothing. Last night I thought I’d give myself a sleeping pill and try and catch up on some Zs. It worked well, too well. I didn’t open my eyes until 8.44am, which is nearly unheard of for me. I relaxed and stretched for some time and generally basked in the glow that comes from having had 10 hours of deep & uninterrupted drug induced slumber. George, having also slept in, came in from the shower and informed me that our cleaner had come to the door at 8.30am. Apparently, Miss 10 had opened the door and informed her that Mummy was asleep and Daddy was in the shower. The cleaner took this as a green light to vacate our property and move on to another job, not to return until next week. Darn! When you have a cat, dog and 3 children whose hygiene habits are similar to that of a pack of wild baboons, the thought of the cleaner missing a week is cause for panic.
I gathered my thoughts and called a family meeting with the kids. “I have good news and bad news” I told them. “The bad news is that your sister sent the cleaner away and she now can’t come back until next week. This means we will be cleaning the house ourselves.”
I was greeted with similar levels of outbursts and protesting to what has taken place in Washington DC in the past week. “Wait!” I said. “The good news is that I’ve saved $50. We’ll spend it on ourselves, doing something fun that we wouldn’t have otherwise done today.” Considering this rate of pay, even divided 3 ways, was several times the rate of their weekly pocket money, I had their attention. I made a list:
- General tidying
- Cleaning toilets
- Cleaning showers
- Cleaning glass stacker doors
I told them if anyone complained and didn’t help, I would be dropping them at Dad’s office while the rest of us went out and enjoyed the spoils. Impressively, my older kids really stepped up. Whilst no doubt imagining treats and exciting outings, they scrubbed, dusted, mopped and cleaned until their little faces were red. They actually argued over who would get the privilege of cleaning the toilet. I reminded them, quite majestically as I felt like King Solomon solving a royal conundrum, that we have two toilets and there was two of them, “do the maths, kids”. They were each allocated their own dedicated toilet to scrub and clean, which they did proudly. Miss 4 required a bit more cajoling but she did her part too, picking up the hair she’d cut from her Little Mermaid doll yesterday which was strewn around the house like fairy dust, among other tasks.
It took us one & half hours until the house sparkled. By this stage, I was covered in sweat but felt strangely satisfied. We discussed our options and the kids agreed that they’d like a trip to Flip Out and then lunch at McDonalds. We had a great day together and felt bonded by the experience and satisfied by our achievements and subsequent compensation.
But is this story just an amusing tale of triumph and reward over unspeakable tragedy? Well yes, there’s certainly that. But I have also learned:
- The less I see my kids, the more I appreciate them. It’s hard to go to work when I know they are off school but the upside is that they haven’t driven me demented yet. This is unprecedented for this point of the holidays.
- Do not underestimate young, unspoiled hands that have not yet experienced hard labour. Look deeper and see the potential.
- Kids will appreciate something more if they have to work for it. As a natural ‘fun parent’ it is in my nature to want to give them stuff for no reason. I must try and resist this urge, for their own benefit. And for the sake of a glistening kitchen floor I could now eat off.
Normally burdened and oppressed at this point, I am unexpectedly victorious. I wish that the remainder of your school holidays may also be filled with peace, achievement, jubilation…and plenty of Spray n’ Wipe.