School Vacations - An Exercise in Endurance

by Laura Richards April 15, 2016

We are mere hours away from spring break here in Massachusetts and I’m mentally and emotionally preparing myself.

Not by finishing up some work and working out as I had planned. Of course not. Instead I’m eating a pretzel bagel loaded with as much cream cheese I could pile on top thoroughly enjoying the silence. No one is saying they are hungry or asking me, “Wow that looks good, can I have one too?” or “Can I have just a tiny bite of yours, Mom?” Pretty soon the buses will arrive and end this bagel-eating bliss. I hear that some parents just can’t wait for the break. I personally do not know these people and I am definitely not one of them – though I do admit that there are some pluses to it. Not having to get everyone up and out of the house every day is super. Not having to deal with one particularly ornery non-morning 14-year-old whom, if you look at sideways, sets off a guaranteed hissy fit. No carpools to drive or homework battles to face. Yes, these are definitely positives it’s just having everyone home under one roof for 24/7 togetherness combined with the fact that my kids are huge talkers, like incessant and not only talking but talking over everyone else at the same time. The noise, smells, dirt and insanity that’s what those of us who are not jetting off to Disney are facing next week. I do like having my kids home but it’s a challenge to keep the momentum going with such varied ages and interests. I try to plan out activities that please all which isn’t an easy trick considering our youngest is three and the oldest is 14 but an attempt is made. And it’s a bonus if the hubs is able to take time off which usually he can’t but that could be a hiding tactic on his part and I don’t blame him at all because I might do the same given the opportunity. Thankfully this week he is joining us so it will be him, me, our four boys and usually a few extra kids thrown in for good measure with a week to fill. I read my Facebook newsfeed which is full of many non-parent teachers saying, “Yay, only 30 more hours ‘til vaca! Woot!” or “T-minus 20 until Miami!” followed by a few martini and plane emoji’s while my feelings of desperation are starting to kick in because I am four hours away from losing my mind but who wants to read that? I do love my kids and it’s not all bad but school vacations are events to train for like a marathon or labor. You can’t just wing it. Though I did wing labor once and it was not a good scene. I survived unmedicated, but my husband still can’t speak of it which is probably how he will be feeling a week from now. Seriously, you really need to be prepared. A fully stocked fridge is one key component to surviving the week ditto for a fully stocked wine stash and I guess the same for coffee though I think during school vacations wine trumps coffee. Snacks are key as hordes of kids will just descend upon my snack cabinet like buzzards. No one is interested in fruit so I become like an auctioneer wheeling and dealing snacks, “OK you in the red shirt had a granola bar with the chocolate coating? Next up for you is a banana. One granola bar per customer and water ONLY no one is taking my flavored seltzer! Oh and no one is allowed in my deli drawer or cookie cabinet!!” It’s also important to remind yourself that even though the school system calls it a “vacation” it really isn’t for the parents. It’s a week the teachers and staff have to recharge their batteries after working with our lovelies since the last “vacation” which seemed to be just last week but what do I know? The kids need a break too, well, not really but I try to convince myself of that. We will make the best of it and have some fun, maybe a few day trips in between the bickering and my constant reminders to pick up the dog poop BEFORE playing in the yard. If the past 11 years hold true I will be spending most of my time breaking up arguments, talking out hurt feelings between two offending parties, making sure everyone gets a top choice for activity at least once during the week, handing over ice packs, imploring them to wear their bike helmets, restocking my bandage box, doing double loads of laundry, making dozens of grilled cheese sandwiches and trying to remind myself that they won’t always be here. That my solo bagel-eating bliss will return and in the meantime I will embrace the fray.

Laura Richards


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