The school holidays now stretch before us.
For some it’s a golden time, for others a complex matrix of family and work arrangements, including picking up and dropping off, punctuated by days out, suitcase packing and lots of washing.
I confess when my children were little I had this suspicion that elves were secretly putting dirty washing in the wash basket at night, as despite best efforts there always seemed to be a mountainous pile to tackle every day.
Tempers can become frayed in the six-week break.
If there were rules about how much telly, video games or social media could be indulged in by the more junior members of the household, these are now sometimes set aside deal with the inevitable ‘I’m bored, there’s nothing to do’.
Whilst I’m sure there are model parents out there planning arts & crafts, educational outings, bake days and nature walks on a daily basis, the rest of us mere mortals wouldn’t mind five minutes to tackle the ironing and tidy up the chaos from the day before.
I have a magnet that has lived on our fridge for the last 15 years. It says, wisely,‘Tidying the house while the kids are still growing, is like shovelling snow whilst it’s still snowing.’
This reassuring message always made me feel as though I wasn’t alone in my struggle to keep up with both kids and cleaning up.
There’s one thing I feel certain about. The time that you can spend with your kids – and I know for many there are work commitments and financial constraints that restrict this – is never wasted or regretted.
The reality is you can’t always be with them when you’d like to be, but what they will remember when they are grown is often the simplest of things.
Research a few years ago showed kids don’t remember most the expensive gifts they were bought, or the five star hotels they experienced, it’s the day they played cricket on a beach or picnicked at the park. Things can be bought, but time and memories can’t.
I was lucky last week to be invited to take part in the St John’s Toddle, organised by Toni Moore of Jigsaw Childminding, to raise funds for our Development Appeal.
I was joined by my colleague Alison and we had the joy of wandering through Skellow to the park with a delightful group of children and adults, supported by residents and passers-by.
People came out of their houses to greet us and people in cars waved and smiled.
The children, dressed in our hospice colours, had made cut-out paper dragonflies (our symbol) and some even sported blue hair.
Everyone was having a great time. There was a cream tea waiting for all the walkers on their return and I wouldn’t mind betting that it’s a day everyone who took part will remember with a smile.
Thank you so much to all of you.
* Mel Hewitt, Community fundraiser, St John’s Hospice, Doncaster