So another summer holiday has started, and it stretches ahead sometimes like the route of an arduous marathon, sometimes like a walk in the park. My work as a photographer becomes beaten back to the sidelines, confined to evenings and weekends largely, and the odd day when the girls are at holiday club or invited to friends’ houses. That’s fine, really. It’s doable, because of how late it stays light, and the fact that some aspects of what I do – sending quotes, processing images for example – can be done with the kids around.
I fill the days with the kids by getting out of the house – I get bored being in for too long, and the kids go stir-crazy. We’ve already, less than a week in, been to a den-building session at a country park, the beach, Seven Stories, the Ouseburn Farm, a family fun archaeological dig at Segedunum and baked cup-cakes. I feel like I’ve shot out of the gates too fast, and at this rate will be stretchered off by the time I get to the Tyne Bridge, to compare the holidays to the Great North Run.
I fully get that kids don’t always need entertaining, that childhood is magical anyway and doesn’t need us to make it so, and that the answer to good parenting doesn’t lie in day-trips every day. Except they are much better behaved when they’re out, so it’s a no brainier for me. At home they laze around screeching at each other and I feel a self-induced tension relating to the amount of screen time they have and the constant requests for snacks, along with a nagging desire to nip off into my office / studio (now in the loft) to do a bit of work. I’m slightly on edge at home, for some reason. Of course, they need to laze around a little, that’s what summer holidays are largely for, and Lois, our 6 year old, was tired by the time she finished Year 1. She deserved a rest. Just not on my watch!
It’s a balancing act, the holidays. Getting the right mixture for me, for the kids, for my wife. I remembered two days in something that I realise every holiday and promptly forget – that the kids need some time off from each other, and from me, too. They go from being apart from each other and their parents most of every week day, with their friends at school and nursery and with other carers, to being with me and each other almost continually. That changing from the company of one set of people to another is important for kids, I think. It allows some kind of re-setting or readjustment, a move from one behaviour-preset to another. That explosion of bad-behaviour we often get after a day or week of impeccable school behaviour, which we put down to them feeling able to relax and lash out among family, is important (we’d rather that way round than the other, hey love?). It probably forms some kind of vital function. So my challenge for this holiday isn’t so much changing environment, which we’ll do plenty of, it’s finding ways for the kids to spend some of their time apart from each other, and from me! After all, they can have too much of a good thing, right?
So, if anyone wants one of both for a while, let me know.
Steve is a husband to Liz and father to two young girls, Lois and Carrie. He is a freelance architectural photographer (www.stevemayesphotography.co.uk), and this flexibility allows him to juggle work with the lion’s share of the weekly childcare. Steve also has a new venture building architectural models out of Lego (www.brickthis.co.uk) and his work will be on display at the Centre for Life in 2017. Steve is from the Midlands originally but has been living in the North East since 2000.
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