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‘A Carers Life’ May 2021 – Sam

Half term antics with 5 monkeys and a gorilla!

So as anyone who reads this will know by now, organisation in our house is a huge thing. I have lists for everything and usually one includes a reminder to make a list for something else! Half term for the Black-Hawks was certainly no different, but this time I decided to try something different to see how things would be. Our first week was fairly minimal on purpose to see if the kids would be ok with a few things to do and the second week would be more structured, with exercise activities, family cooking and lots of crafts. Now part of this was curiosity, I have friends who are much more ‘go with the flow’ with their children and it works for them, part of my plan was also to see if my kids did in-fact need the structure I usually schedule for them or if they were going to be ok with the option to do what they wanted to. We always have crafts to hand and as always they had a session each with West View Project each week that they always enjoy, we also have spent a month sourcing wood chips and a climbing frame for them to play on in the back garden in the hopes of burning off some of their energy in a safe and secure area that I could supervise without concern.

The results you may be wondering were surprisingly mixed. As always my kids were up at 7:30am apart from one day on week one when my eldest daughter had to be up early of course! And one of the days on week two when, yet again we had a yoga session with Hartlepool carers online. The kids seemed a little lost on week one but we found time to sort through some of the veg beds in our garden (one of our dogs did a superb imitation of a weed while sitting in one of the newly sorted beds) and I found myself enjoying seeing the kids use their imaginations in the garden and playing with our pets. But bedtime as always was still a challenge and mealtimes remained the same time for regularity so not everything changed. We also found ourselves talking so much more as there was less rushing around trying to be organised. 

Week two was our busy week. Our schedule was crazy on a few of the days between craft sessions with Hartlepool Youth Service for my older kids, mindfulness and Clubbercise with ‘Carers’ and the kids usual visits to West View Project. Each day we had a meal to cook as a family so the kids all got involved and on two sessions we cooked along with other families. This surprised me the most. Despite the recipes not turning out exactly as planned and us having to adjust one or two things as we went, the kids loved it! Some days were less enjoyable purely because I’d planned things which ran one after another so inevitably when the kids were fed up with one thing it was hard to get them to engage in the one that ran straight after it. But they loved the variety of things we had planned and because most were involving other families online it was great to see them participating too and my kids ended sessions with so much excitement to repeat what they’d just done that we got so many ideas of things to try next time.

Sitting down the night before they returned to school gave me the chance to recap on how things went, the kids certainly enjoyed having time to do their own thing but I think they still need steering a little with ideas. Keeping busy helped to pass the time and avoid arguments by stopping the kids getting sick of each others company. Both weeks we had a meltdown from 2 different kids and multiple times we had some wanting to join in and others who didn’t at all. I definitely learnt that I’m guilty of over scheduling which can be counter productive too. Having things for the kids to do meant that everyone got chance to do something they enjoyed and we discovered that cooking as a family isn’t as difficult as I’d previously thought, I also had no idea that my 10 year old was so well suited to Clubbercise or that Disney songs are great for chair exercise and a great way to get a boisterous 6 Year old to join in! Who knew you could burn 250 calories sitting on your bum? 

So next half term holidays which method will I choose? Laid back minimally planned? Or strict back to back overly organised activities?

Actually, I’m going to go with a bit of both. Activities are great for giving ideas and getting kids involved but I think having some leeway with timings is helpful especially if one is having a bad day or another just doesn’t want to be involved. Either way our early mornings will likely stay the same and bedtimes will continue to be a challenge but next time hopefully mealtimes will be more fun with the kids being involved with the cooking since they enjoyed it so much!  

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