Week one of the school holiday is nearly finished! We’re almost at the halfway mark and I’m feeling good. Feeling good and positive about school holidays is a very new sensation for me. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll recall that school holidays are normally a time of great stress for our family (and many others) as we navigate childcare, work and maybe a few actual holiday type activities.

Last school holiday I sent the kids to Rocketeers (the local holiday program) hoping that I could just throw money at the situation. I’d booked them in for three days and they only ended up doing 2.1 after ‘the revolt’. Frank decided that he really didn’t want to go but he understood that Matt and I both needed to work to make money so we could spend it later - I think we’d agreed to take them to Xtreme Bounce if they did the three days without a fuss.

Alice, who walked in and almost immediately made friends with another girl, picked up on Frank's vibes and took action. Even though Frank was willing to ride it out for a few hours of trampoline time and an oversized doughnut, Alice took a more belligerent approach and we got a call from Rocketeers on the final day saying Alice was sick and we needed to pick her up. 

I was furious because I’d done the drop off that morning which was so painful - both kids were almost in tears at the school gate as if I was about to drop them into the flaming pits of hell, not the local primary school for a day of supervised play. They were such jerks about it that I told Matt he’d have to go pick up Alice (and Frank, because there was no point leaving him there if Alice was at home). Matt brought them both back to work and when Alice walked in she said with a smirk “I'm sick” while trying her hardest not to jump for joy that she’d gotten her and Frank out of Rocketeers.

I was so cross - I had planned out those school holidays perfectly I thought. We had a balance of childcare and working days. I had worked hard at arranging the schedule and now my cunning 6 year old was going to fuck it up! Needless to say I felt defeated at the end of those holidays so I decided to change my approach. These school holidays I was going to not make a plan, wig it and see what happens! 

I had a few things in my favour during these school holidays. Firstly we have space. At work we have a few empty offices that the kids can claim as their own. They’re warm and safe. Secondly the kids are really into their Nintendos - this hasn’t always been the case. Thirdly the weather is so shitty this time of year in Ballarat that I don’t feel bad about them playing on devices for hours on end. 

The spare office next to ours has built in desks and shelving around the circumference of the room. There is a big old filing cabinet in there and lots of little hidey holes under desks. I got  a few cushions and the old futon mattress and essentially made them a den. It's soft and warm with an arts and crafts station for Alice at one of the many desks. 

So far the ‘den’ has been working well. They kids are close but far enough away that we can actually work. Alices has completely covered the windows with drawings she’s made, launching her first solo exhibition that she insisted on showing everybody at work. Frank is so engrossed in the new Zelda that he could be sitting in a room that's on fire and he still wouldn’t take his eyes off the screen. Every couple of hours we get everyone outside and kick the footy around or practice skateboarding. 

On Tuesday lunch time I normally walk around Lake Wendouree so I took the kids with me - it took an extra 30 minutes to walk the 6km but it was fun. I think the kids probably walked an extra kilometre with them constantly running off the path to climb another tree or running out onto the piers. Frank only took his shoes off once to get  a closer look at something in the lake - it was 7 degrees so they were put back on pretty swiftly. 

We’ve had the kids having lunch in the tearoom with everyone which has been fun for the team. I want the kids to be able to hold a conversation with adults that they aren’t related to and Frank especially has been schooling everyone on the inner workings of the Kingdom of Hyrule (Zelda's world). The guys at work even made the kids some footy goal posts out of old cardboard tubes and cones so they can practise their kicks out the back. I feel like in some small way we’ve all rallied around the kids to make sure that they’re still having a fun time while we’re managing to get some productive working hours in. 

I watched a Brené Brown video on Netflix the other day - god I love the way that woman tells stories. I feel like she’s talking directly to my experience - it's amazing. She was talking about gratitude and celebrating the little things. Little things like listening to Alice talk about her artworks and what inspired her to draw the ‘ghost pooh’. Listening to Frank describe all the weapons he has in his arsenal for 3km of the 6km walk. Just having lunch together as a big work family is something to celebrate. 

I’m so grateful for these little moments. I could’ve panicked like I normally do and forced the kids to go to Rocketeers. We could’ve bribed them with money and treats but we would’ve missed out on all these little moments of joy. Not everyone would agree that keeping your kids in something called ‘the den’ for most of the school holidays is a good thing but it works for us. Everyone just does what they can with what they have. We’re lucky that this set up has worked so well these school holidays, it might not the next time so we just go with the flow. If the kids start fighting (which happens semi-regularly) we just tell them that the alternative to this is ‘Rocketeers’ and they calm down pretty quickly. So far, it's working for us and it's working for them!

Video of the week
Sparks - The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte (feat. Cate Blanchett) (Glastonbury 2023)
Podcast of the week
20 Square Blocks: Work Life Balance
Font of the week
Eclipse: Font of the week by Brandon Nickerson

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