Ten things I’ve learned this summer

I had grand plans for this summer, I made a bucket list, I booked some Fridays off in addition to keeping Mondays as my non-work day wherever possible. I wanted to make the most of my time with the little people.

But here’s the thing, I didn’t anticipate the amount of #mummyfail moments. I didn’t appreciate how selfish I remain about enjoying ‘my’ days off, and I forgot that getting housework done is even more challenging with everyone at home all week.

As a mum with a full-time job, here are some of the things I’ve learned this summer:

1. It’s ok to have a plan, but you have to be able to deviate.
Plans make our life work, especially with work schedules, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to stick with it. The great thing about a plan, and why it remains so important is so there’s always a place you want to be- literally or figuratively, it’s just sometimes how you get there might change- and it might not even be in your contingency- it can sometimes be about going with a better choice.

This summer we planned a camping trip to Saundersfoot, as the day got closer the hubby’s gout flared up, accompanying the problems with his hand. The idea of pitching a tent solo was unappealing. The weather forecast was full of rain and strong winds. Hubby decided to book a basic package, a day in advance, to Butlin’s. We got there. We had been upgraded from a room to a bungalow. It was amazing, the children love Butlin’s, and it was completely worth deviating from the plan.
Skyline Gang at Butlin's Minehead
This week I took CM to London. Agreeing what we’d do in advance, admittedly the things I thought she’d enjoy. So many #mummyfails followed. At 1am, having spent too long crying in the bathroom I was intending to just take her home the following morning, feeling unable to not only pacify my Daddy’s Girl but to know what to do to ensure she had a good experience. I decided we needed to deviate from the plan and only do the things she wanted to do, and not dismiss anything as a bad idea. 10am the next morning she opened Hamley’s Toy Store. Definitely not in the plan, definitely the most memorable part of the trip.
Opening Hamley's London

2. The best things in life are free.
When you’ve spent money on something you expect it to be a success, either because you’ve taken the time to choose what to spend your hard-earned cash on, or because by paying for something you expect your child to be entertained. You feel completely hard-done to if a bad experience results. And when it’s amazing, it’s even better still because it was ‘for free’.

When you decide to go somewhere locally, where you don’t need to pay an entry fee, and you can take a packed lunch for a picnic, and it doesn’t work, you just bundle everyone in the car and go to the next place.

But you reserve the right to bawl your eyes out when you leave the theatre before you even get to the interval because your 6-year-old has played the ‘scared witless’ card by a show being advertised for a 5+ audience. Completely taking all responsibility for this failure and feeling the full brunt of this #mummyfail.

Worse still is the fact your little people won’t differentiate, they will enjoy both equally, and so you start to ponder the benefit of spending money on expensive places, meals and experiences, when they wouldn’t really have missed them, and they could have had an equally enjoyable time doing stuff for free.

You know it’s getting really bad when your 6-year-old daughter phones her daddy to tell him all about the pink lemonade she received exiting the underground station, and the picture she’s brought home from Hamley’s “and they were for free daddy!”. 

And that whilst you’ve been away watching your bank balance depreciate on open-top bus tours, a hotel, theatre tickets, he’s sending you photos of your sons having an amazing time, with no money being spent.

Fontegary Beach

3. I don’t want my boys to start school.
Every milestone in CM’s life has been welcomed with open arms. She has been ready and waiting for everything life has presented. Her first day in reception the teacher had to chase after her to ask if she wanted to say goodbye to her mummy. 

I know B and E will be the same. But this time I’ve realised I’m really not ready for it. As always (refer to point 1), all of the preparations for the start of school were achieved in good time, all material preparations that is. And yes, the boys are soooooo looking forward to their new chapter. But I’ve realised I’m not ready, not because they’re too little, but because they’re my boys, I won’t get to do this again, and now I have to say goodbye to them, they just keep on growing up.

4. Life has a habit of catching you unawares.
As well as the start of a new school year, and the start of school, I’ll also be starting over in September. I was preparing for the announcements in October as to whether my job has any certainty, that was my plan, my point of reference. And from left-field I will now, also, be beginning a secondment through to December. I have no idea where that puts everything in terms of permanency, but the job is a blank sheet of paper, full of expectations, a new team completely. I didn’t see it coming but I’m glad to welcome it with open arms, because dwelling on what might be is not a good place to be.

5. Family life is working.
It’s been a difficult year, in addition to all the stresses and strains which come with family and marriage. And I know how difficult life as a full-time parent can be for my other half. Last week we went for a rare night-out, an awards evening, where hubby was awarded with Wales Squash & Racketball Volunteer Coach of the Year. It’s wonderful to see him nervous, excited, and relieved. That he does have so much more in his life as well as the fact he does an amazing thing bringing up our children (mainly keeping to point 2!).

As difficult as the summer holidays has been, trying to adjust to working from home with the little people at home, trying to overcome the guilt of not being off for the entire summer, and trying to keep the children occupied through such changeable summer weather, it’s been ok. And we’re all better for it.

6. I haven’t seen enough of my friends.
Isn’t it mad, you’re so busy trying to make sure they get these ‘experiences’, that they get their fill of playdates with school friends, that your own get put on a backburner. In all things this summer what I’ll probably kick myself for is not prioritising time with those who love my children nearly as much as they love me (artistic license accepted). Busy diaries acknowledged, next year has to have more days with friends incorporated.

7. Being a parent is tough.
Generally speaking, life when your children are at school just rolls through, the guilt of not seeing as much of them as you’d like, the resentment of the amount of time they’re at school, and making the most of the moments you do have.

The summer holidays is the time you suddenly realise you don’t know how to parent. How do I keep three highly-energised children occupied enough that they’ll continue to sleep through the night?

How do I cope with the fact that whilst E’s language development may have been the slowest of all three, now all this highly articulate boy seems to want to do is ask questions, every time he says “Mummy”, day or night, it’s with that intonation, the intonation which confirms, he’s about to ask another question!

How do I survive the arguments, the niggles, and worse still the high volume squeals, giggles, and noise which comes with the three of them being together all day? 
How do I not feel guilt when I’m working away and they’re not getting their quota of play-dates and/or mummy time?
How do I not feel guilt asking them to leave the office in tears because I’m on a conference call and they want to talk?
How do I not feel guilt that some of my days off are spent doing housework, or enjoying a cup of coffee?
How do I know that I am not damaging my child’s chances of success in the future by the choices I am making now?

And so the guilt goes on.

8. My parents are the best.
But I reserve the right not to tell them too regularly to retain my ‘obstinate child’ label for years to come.

My mum contacts me each week to figure out my work schedule and makes it so that when I’m away they’re able to help out. And ‘help out’ means at least one day a week they have all three children.

It was the best thing ever this week (sort of) that I was sick the day I was meant to be working in London. I had a sick day with no-one to look after but myself- a proper, duvet on the sofa, watching tv and snoozing day.

Yep, my parents rock. 

9. Never rely on the weather
I could have sworn last year the first few weeks of the summer holidays were unbearably hot, and the last few weeks absolutely rubbish. I don’t even know where to start this year.
Jackson's Bay
I need to start keeping more lists, of places to go when the weather’s rubbish- which isn’t where every other parent is planning on taking their child.
I also need to stop relying on last year’s weather as the basis of my decisions.

10. My children are awesome.
It goes without saying I’m sure, because they’re mine, of course they are.
Llantwit Major
But when I’m screeching at the top of my voice because their rooms are a tip the day after I’ve tidied them.
Because CM is telling me I’m not appreciating her opinion, or worse still not being grateful for her opinion.
Because B & E are wrestling and no matter how much I might have an issue they continue, with mummy having to wade in to defend each child in turn, but still, no matter that the other was hurt last time, there is neither child more in the right than wrong.
Because they astound me. With love, with intelligence, with caring thoughts and with amazing thought processes.

Because they used to fit in my tummy.

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  • Reply
    Ruthy @ Minibreak Mummy
    August 23, 2015 at 13:55

    Lovely post! I especially like your last point, about your children being awesome!

    Try not to feel guilty about the things that didn’t work out – it does your kids good to see that no-one is perfect xx
    Ruthy @ Minibreak Mummy recently posted…Collect moments not thingsMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 23, 2015 at 14:35

    If being a parent has taught me one thing it is that my control freak nature is no good and just doesn’t work as things change and you need to be flexible as a parent. I adore the summer holidays and this years has been pretty relaxed. Heres to many more

  • Reply
    JuggleMum, Nadine Hill
    August 23, 2015 at 16:58

    It’s good to go with the flow a bit and to try not to give yourself a hard time. I haven’t done as much as I’d hoped this summer but I have also done lots of other things that I didn’t anticipate.
    JuggleMum, Nadine Hill recently posted…VIP Treatment at The O2My Profile

  • Reply
    August 23, 2015 at 18:35

    Lovely post! Totally spot on!
    Gemma recently posted…My top 15 Disney QuotesMy Profile

  • Reply
    angela hamilton
    August 23, 2015 at 18:44

    what a lovely post. I agree with everything written here x
    angela hamilton recently posted…Me And The Moon – A ReviewMy Profile

  • Reply
    Erica Price
    August 23, 2015 at 20:03

    Lovely post. I like a plan, but it’s good to have flexibility.
    Erica Price recently posted…LEGO® City Deep Sea Explorers at Birmingham Sea Life CentreMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 23, 2015 at 20:36

    What a fabulous post and you are right about the weather x
    Rachel recently posted…PartyLite CandlesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure
    August 23, 2015 at 22:07

    This sums up our holiday too – I was expecting so much and we have had nearly a month of house arrest due to the chicken pox! It looks like you have made some wonderful memories x
    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure recently posted…Top picks for Starting SchoolMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 23, 2015 at 22:37

    If there’s one thing that I will take away from being a parent it’s that we’re all winging it and in our different ways succeeding. These little people teach us as much as we teach them the only difference is that we look a tad strange when having a temper tantrum at the sheer frustration of life xxx
    Bluebearwood recently posted…Afternoon Tea with MoonpigMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 23, 2015 at 23:24

    The picture of them on the beach is cool. They looked like they have been drenched but they are all smiling. You’ve learnt a lot this summer! Stephen :o)

  • Reply
    Clare aka Emmy's Mummy
    August 24, 2015 at 07:46

    You have had a busy summer. Loving the Butlins upgrade and don’t blame you for not wanting to pitch a tent alone, I wouldn’t.
    Wow opening hamleys lucky girl
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  • Reply
    Ness @ JibberJabberUK
    August 24, 2015 at 09:38

    My house is a total mess and I’ve hardly got any work done these holidays! My parents live miles away and I don’t have any friends so I’m with my children all the time.
    Ness @ JibberJabberUK recently posted…Honey loaf cakeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lucy Dorrington
    August 24, 2015 at 10:16

    I agree with most of your points, apart from the #mummyfails there is no such thing, just #mummyexperiences! With my first child, many years ago, I was much younger and seemed to spend her entire early years, trying to create the best experiences and make myself the best mum, it was like I was trying to prove something, to myself, to the other, more experienced mums. In doing that, though, I wasted too much time trying and not enough time just enjoying! Not to mention being upset when things went wrong! I’ve learned over the years that experiences often come organicllay from being together and being able to enjoy those fleeting moments is the important thing!
    Lucy Dorrington recently posted…My Sunday PhotoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Joanne Dewberry
    August 24, 2015 at 12:56

    I work from home and tend to take the whole summer off, but I’m still racked with mummy guilt! Like today it’s raining and the children are watching DVD’s as I furiously type away. But if you put it into perspective we have been out nearly everyday of the hols they need a rest! Don’t be so hard on yourself next summer!
    Joanne Dewberry recently posted…Wollaton Hall and Deer Park | NottinghamMy Profile

  • Reply
    Sarah Bailey
    August 24, 2015 at 22:19

    It sounds like you have had a wonderful summer and enjoyed all the moments. x
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…The perfect summer cocktailMy Profile

  • Reply
    August 24, 2015 at 23:04

    Summer holidays can be difficult and we all have failures, but so long as there are some good times along the way it doesn’t matter, the kids will still be happy and will probably look back in years to come with just the happy memories of a mummy that gave them a wonderful time.
    Anne recently posted…How Much Do You Share Online?My Profile

  • Reply
    Polka Dot Family
    August 26, 2015 at 21:09

    It’s funny the life lessons that we learn, they are never the ones we set out to earn but they do make the best ones sometimes.
    Polka Dot Family recently posted…How did you choose your children’s namesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rebecca Smith
    August 27, 2015 at 22:22

    It is interesting the lessons we learn sometimes.x
    Rebecca Smith recently posted…Stress Stress StressMy Profile

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