Sunday, August 24, 2014

What I Learned Over the Summer Holidays

They've been back two weeks already, how'd that happen? 

Things I learned over the summer holidays. It was a trial by fire, to say the least. 

- Don't take them out of nursery early. Milk that childcare for all it's worth. I took the two middle ones out 3 weeks early, mug that I am. 

- You don't need to do something 'active' or 'away' every day. Sometimes they want a quiet day, to play with their dinosaurs, to draw, to veg. It doesn't have to be all go and a jammie day isn't a bad thing, for you or them. 

- Two at home days is our limit and even that is pushing it. Stir-craziness sneaks up on you, so go for a walk to the park even for an hour, to keep it from sending them on a hyper-rampage. 

- We don't need a strict routine over the holidays, even though Foo works best with one, but we do need a few things set in stone. Get them to eat breakfast as soon as you can, get them dressed after breakfast. If you do those 2 things, Foo is much more at ease and then you can ad lib things a bit more after that, like changing back into your jammies. 

- Taking them to do the big weekly shop is Hell, no matter how organised you are or how well behaved they are. Just don't do it, if there is any way to avoid it. Any kind of house work is also next to impossible to do with them all around, so abandon any hope of a spotless house.

- My kids get hyper when they're tired or bored or stir-crazy. I mean run around, scream, taunt each other until someone falls down and gets hurt or someone feels picked on or my head explodes from the noise. 

- Separating them is almost the worst punishment I can inflict. I remember my mum doing it, putting me and my brother in separate rooms when we got too much. We hated it. It works. I sometimes just put them on separate couches when they get a bit crazy. Allows them to settle down and figure out something else to do that won't incur Mummy's wrath. 

- Taking away telly is THE WORST punishment. 

- Telly can be your friend as a parent, so don't totally ban it. I gave up trying to keep it off all day. I needed them to be quiet so I could put the baby to sleep and that was the best way to shut them up quick. So when I was up settling Pudding they knew they could watch for a short while. 

- As much as you love them and enjoy the freedom and variety of the summer holidays, you will so look forward to BACK TO SCHOOL that you will count down the days at the end. And they will too, they miss their friends, the routine, not being around family 24 hours a day. 

Nine weeks holiday with all four of them was too long. I was ready for them to go back, as much as I love them, they need a bit of structure and routine in their lives and I need a few hours to do things. Wash floors, do a big shop, make dinner, drink a random cup of tea. I still have Pudding at home, but she naps occasionally and is a little better at playing on her own for a few minutes so I do feel a bit of pressure is off. 

And the school run this year, what a difference? Because it took us so long to find the house we didn't get a chance last year to find a nursery closer to our new base. So I spent an hour and 20 minutes twice a day driving back and forth across the city to pick and drop off kids. Not to mention therapy sessions, shopping trips, neuvola appointments for Pudding. 

I spent most of my day in the car and felt that Pudding spent her first 9 months strapped in her carseat. No wonder she hated it. I had nightmares about flipping the car on the motorway or blowing a tyre midwinter. I now have a 5 minute walk to the nursery and a 7 minute drive to Mouse's school. I now can do both in less than 30 minutes. Happy dance. 

I don't have tons of time to myself thought. Mouse didn't get into afterschool club this year so he only is in school for about 4 hours a day, a quirk of Finnish education. I try to get as many things as I can done in that time. I've signed up for a Finnish class that runs 2 mornings a week, Foo still has 2 therapy sessions a week, Mouse a swimming class. I hope to get to a baby group for Pudding and maybe even carve out some time for me. But I know there are not enough hours in the day. 

The Weans all headed back to school with style. Foo started first with a half-day settling in, then Mouse and Bump started. Mouse was a champ, when he learned that he had the same teacher and same room, he was totally chilled. Jumped out of the car and went off to the playground a total veteran 2nd grader. I still get a kiss though, probably not for long. 

Bump was great the first week like last year, excited to meet her new teacher and to play with the new toys. But she soon figured out that nursery means having to do things she doesn't want to do or in a way she doesn't want. That always rankles with Our Bumpshie. So the second week has had crying and clinging to her Daddy, fighting me and the teachers about her outer wear. We'll get there, slowly. 

Foo is in his Esikoulu year which is like kindergarten. I was a bit worried as he's moved to a mainstream nursery group, but he's taking it in his stride and is excited to be in Eskarit. His new teachers and assistant are lovely and really helpful and committed to making sure he's happy and we're involved with everything. Liking this new nursery and hopefully he is too. 

The Chief took the last two weeks off work to help us get settled. What a difference it makes having that help, not having to worry about waking Pudding from a nap to pick someone up, going to a therapy session on my own and reading a book for 45 minutes, in silence. We even had an occasional lunch date, going to miss him when he goes back tomorrow. 

The kids loved having him home, though he found out the hard way, what life is like with these four. All day, everyday. I think he'll skip off to work tomorrow. 

So we made the most of our 9 weeks, but now we're into autumn. The weather flipped the switch as soon as they went back to school. So here we go . . . 

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