Holidays at home in Sheffield parks and open spaces

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FOR the past few weeks there have been endless questions from the kids asking “When are we on holiday?” And “When is school ending?”, until finally the two full weeks of the Easter holidays are upon us and the house seems to take on a whole new mantle.

Usually there are small pockets of madness in each day, particularly around the morning time. There is a period of calm in the run up to 7am (what I call “my time”) before the mayhem is unleashed. From about 7am bedroom doors start opening and sleepy, eye-rubbing offspring try desperately to clamber into our bed, to sneak back under the warm covers for the last bit of shut-eye before the frenzy of the day takes hold.

The next hour or so whizzes by in a flurry of buttons, bibs and breakfast as well as the usual shouting, which seems essential to get everyone moving at the same pace so no one misses those vital deadlines – like the start of the school day.

Speeches like “Finish your breakfast please,” and “Put your toys away now please,” are regularly heard in the morning mayhem of getting everyone ready for the day. A friend who also has three young children likens this part of parenting as being like a military operation. If things slip even by a couple of minutes then the whole mission is lost. Everything has to be executed to an exact time slot.

Teeth have to be brushed in under a minute; breakfast wolfed down in under five and TV is only allowed on for 20 minutes maximum, but only if everyone is paying full attention to the regime.

Once out the house a new set of deadlines loom.

Getting the oldest one to the school gates on time while making sure the others aren’t unnecessarily straggling and delaying operation “Get Out On Time” is a mission in itself.

Often bribes are offered to make sure one foot is put in front of the other.

A fractious toddler who doesn’t understand the mission is never to be encouraged at any time let alonewhen you are in a hurry.

So anything which resolves this, even for a few minutes, is alright in our book.

Finally after all children are dropped off for the day, you find yourself sighing with a sense of relief, only to find this evaporating as you sit mindlessly in traffic which seems to suddenly have materialised out of nowhere. As cars sit immobile fingers can be seen drumming on steering wheels as lights fail to change quickly enough.

Going to work is light relief compared to the stress the day has already given

You look enviously at the childless, younger colleagues who drift casually into work at any old time, scoffing quietly to yourself as they complain about being tired. You know they have only just stumbled out from under their duvets.

Work whizzes by and before you know it, you are back behind the wheel to begin the whirlwind of parenting once again.

A couple of weeks off from the monotony are a welcome break as you can imagine. This year we decided to just book the time off together and wait and see what happened next.

Similar to “Operation Get Out on Time”, we are usually organised people, booking holidays months in advance to get the best deals.

But I think sheer exhaustion and the potential of a fuel strike looming and the weather supposedly going to take a turn for the worse – despite the wall to wall sunshine of the last few days – helped make up our minds to do just this.

And so we are very much enjoying Sheffield. Already our small son has made his first cinema trip– even watching a movie in 3D.

As a family we have been out and about in the glorious parks and countryside surrounding the city. It is only then that we appreciate how lucky we are to have such picturesque areas on our doorstep.

And to top it all Sheffield City Council’s Activity Sheffield offers a number of free activities which are perfect for our eldest. Later this week she is taking part in a trampolining and dance session at a local secondary school, which will give us a welcome break at the same time, so win win all round. For more information visit: