Half term is fast approaching, which means your world is about to dance to the rhythm of hungry stomachs and restless feet, but don’t be overwhelmed – don’t show any signs of fear or weakness. Just follow the D.A.D Ten Step Guide, and the whole thing will be a breeze…
1. Be optimistic about it
Marking a big looming X on the calendar and approaching half term like it’s a visit from the bailiffs isn’t going to do anyone any good – so, instead, make the choice to look forward to it. Think of it as a little holiday at home with all of your favourite people, mucking in, having a really REALLY great time. Let your rictus grin show everyone how happy you are.
2. Treat it like a marathon
Don’t launch into half term immediately set on CLOWN mode – it’s an impossible guise to maintain, and ultimately, you’ll burn out within a day or so, and spend the rest of the week shaking, and sobbing incoherently. Instead, channel the spirit of the famous Olympian Mo Farah, and pace yourself.
3. Call in reinforcements
Find out who your friends (and family) really are. Whose words are gospel, and who’s just paying lip service, following the script. “Just call if you need anything”, “Let me know if I can help at all” It’s time to cash in on these promises, to get people over to muck in. Perhaps greet them at the door holding a mop and bucket?
4. Splash around a bit
You’ve been around kids, you know there’s no actual OFF button on these things, so the key is to find activities that exhaust them – such as swimming. It exercises all of the important muscle groups, but, more importantly, it completely wipes them out for hours afterwards.
5. Work from home
Yes, a gruelling day in the office might feel like a Caribbean holiday compared to half an hour with sugar-rushing children, but these are the times in life that really count, when memories are made. So make the necessary adjustments, and pitch in for some real “family time”. Then lie about a conference call, and disappear off to refresh Facebook for an hour.
6. Insist on a date night
When life is fraught with children, it can be hard to find time for each other, to reconnect, to remember why the hell you made these things in the first place. So call in a sitter and head out for a couple of glasses of plonk and a cuddle. It’s a great way to revitalise your love. And also the only way you will get a real conversation all week.
7. Turn them into little chefs
Don’t let the stress of lunchtime eat YOU up, turn the whole thing into an event instead. Assemble ingredients, pop funny hats on your offspring, then watch as they fashion plates of food that would have Greg Wallace slowly backing out of the room.
8. Have a fancy dress day
You’ve seen the joyful faces of children on those World Book Days, in their outfits fashioned after their favourite bedtime reads – Mr Tortoise and The Embarrassed Mum, The Crying Cowboy’s Faulty Scooter. Point being, kids love fancy dress, so have a rummage through the dressing up box, and make a day of it. You included.
9. Go to the pictures
A great way to alleviate the guilt that comes with allowing your kids to watch iPads or CBeebies, is to get them out of the house… and in to the cinema! It sounds silly, but it’s not. It’s an event, a day out, a chance to bond, gorge on popcorn, and, in your case, SLEEP.
10. Know that it isn’t forever
Half term can be exhausting, kids can be demanding. But they can also be great fun, insanely lovely, and it’s true – they do grow up too fast. So, grab half term with both hands, and spend it TOGETHER as a family. You might even miss it when it’s over. Though, granted, that’s a gigantic MIGHT.
Josh Burt is a freelance writer, who lives in South London with his wife Hannah, and his two children Gabriel and Vivienne. Over the last 20 years, he’s written for everyone from FHM to Grazia to The Times and The Telegraph, he’s had two so-so books published, and was once the online voice of Big Brother.