Quality time

Posted January 24th, 2006 by Penny Wise

The boys may have been on school holidays these past few weeks, but it's me who has been getting some education! Lately I have learned just how little my children need to have, buy or do to keep them (and me) perfectly happy. I'll be frank - I was dreading the school holidays, I really was. I couldn't believe the other mothers talking excitedly at the school gates, anticipating long lazy days and break from routine. As far as I could see, it was going to be a living nightmare and I had no desire to have my comfortable routine broken thank you very much. The boys appreciate how lucky they are to have a Mum who can work while she is at home and we manage things pretty well when they are not at school. The major problem as I saw it was the fact that I still couldn't drive for longer than 10 minute journeys with my dodgy leg. What on earth was I going to do with them for seven weeks? None of the usual things that we like to do - or rather I like them to do - to keep them happy. No going to the movies, going to the beach, or shopping - couldn't even drive as far as the nearest video store. Things were looking pretty gloomy as far as I was concerned.

Talking to Maxine helped me feel a bit more positive. The pair of us have been pretty dedicated Simple Savers for a while and she informed me that these holidays she was going to do things differently with her two boys. No expensive outings, no unnecessary journeys, just keeping it simple. Listening to her I could see she was absolutely right. For some bizarre reason, we always feel obliged to go and 'do something' with the kids - to bundle them into the car (whether they actually feel like it or not) and spend the majority of their so-called holiday rushing them around from one place to the next in an attempt to keep them occupied. The result by the end of the holidays is invariably worn out, fed up kids, who don't mind if they don't set foot in another McDonalds for the next 12 months and would much rather be left to their own devices. Not to mention a sizeable dent in their parents' bank balance by the time they head off back to school! Being as I had no choice on this occasion but to forceably stay close to home, I figured Maxine's idea was a pretty good one and decided I may as well go along with it.

It turned out to be a darn good idea. I don't think I have ever had such a simple, frugal, yet fun-filled school holiday. For example:

  • Two hours swimming every day at local pool - cost $1.00 each
  • Picnics - cost, no more than everyday lunch, just in a different place!
  • Playing with friends - cost, nothing
  • Hut building with Mum - cost, nothing
  • Two school holiday programme outings - $9.00 total
  • Camping expeditions - there have been several of these, depending on the weather. So far we haven't managed to get the tent up when it hasn't rained or threatened to blow it away but nevertheless we have enjoyed mini camping adventures at the neighbours', on our own back lawn and have even pitched the tent in the lounge when necessary. Cost, nothing.
  • Rock star party - this was a blast! The trusty Singstar karaoke set was brought out by popular demand and a dozen children and adults dressed suitably for the occasion, sporting glitter, sunglasses and blue hair before taking the floor. The combined repertoire continued well into the evening and guests dined on chips and star shaped cookies. Cost - less than $20.

The list could go on, but you get the idea! The boys have had countless hours of fun, a good chunk of quality time with their Mum and it has cost next to nothing. We all look forward to our daily swims and that's all they want out of their day. We haven't been to the movies, rented a video, bought a fast food meal or spent needless amounts on kids' magazines. All the things I thought they needed to survive their weeks off school - how wrong could I have been? The best thing I have learned is how fantastic my kids are. How funny, how smart, how surprising. They are just as happy at home playing Monopoly with Mum, playing cricket in the garden with Dad or reading a book by themselves as being ferried around in a car from one activity to the next. I got so accustomed to having them around and enjoying their company that when Rochelle offered to have them for 24 hours, I missed them horrendously and was literally counting the hours until I had them back again! It wasn't my children who were demanding at all; it was me who thought they were, but it has been a wonderful experience being proven wrong!

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