have a vague memory of a time
when the word “summer” conjured
up images of lazy days at the
beach, cocktails by the pool and
carefree laughter with friends as we
spontaneously partied into the night. And
when I say vague, I mean virtually non-
existent. Because ever since I became
a parent, my wondrous anticipation of
the best season of the year has been
overshadowed by the following thought:
OMG! I’m going to have to spend six
whole weeks with my kids!!”
Hey! Don’t judge me. We all think it.
So why do I automatically feel a need to
qualify that feeling with a declaration of
my unconditional love for my children?
Why are we so quick to rain hellfire on
any parent who dares suggest that
being with their kids 24/7 is not their
favourite thing? Do we require a doctor
to bring home her patients in order to
prove her love for her job? Do we insist
on a zoologist taking his beloved lions on
holiday with him as a sign of his devotion
to them? No, we do not.
So let’s just get ourselves some
perspective here, people. Who decided
that it’s perfectly acceptable to
complain about your job – as long as
that job is anything but parenthood? Was
it Adam who decided to lay down the
law when Eve dared to complain about
cracked nipples, sleepless nights and the
general lack of baby stores?
But I digress. Summer has arrived and
now that we’ve all been honest about our
feelings, it’s time to face them head-on.
According to a poll by UK-based research
company MORI, 15 per cent of parents
said that the best way to improve the
school holidays would be to shorten them!
And as much as that makes me laugh, it
also comforts me to know that I am not
alone in feeling a little anxiety about the
holidays. It’s a big change to the usual
routine, and that brings a lot of pressure.
So accept it. Go on, take a deep breath in
and accept it. Feeling better? Good. Now:
time for a little planning. How can we turn
this dread into full-on fun and excitement?
Easy! Just followmy simple steps to a super
summer! (Pretty catchy title, right?)
Step one:
Put yourself first. Yes, you! I
cannot say this enough. What would
you like to do this summer for yourself?
A full day by the pool with just your
favourite book for company? A fab
day catching up with old friends when
you’re back home visiting family?
Line up a couple of treats for you this
summer. It’ll keep you going every time
you catch yourself cursing the day
school holidays were invented.
Step two:
Sign ’em up! No, not for the
army. That would be a little over-reactive.
Instead, sign them up for one or two of
the myriad of kids’ summer activities
out there. All the fun of the fair for them
equals a break for you.
Step three:
Avoid overscheduling. There’s
a big temptation to keep the kids busy at
all times, but that busyness usually means
that someone else ends up being busy
too – you! So relax. Plan for plenty of days
where nobody gets dressed before 11
and the TV takes on the role of babysitter
for the day. And to assuage the guilt,
simply remind yourself that you’re
teaching your kids a very valuable life
skill: the art of relaxation.
Just because parenting has
changed our experience of summer
doesn’t mean it should eliminate our
enjoyment of it. It can still be a time for
fun, laughter and even the odd cocktail
or three). With a little bit of preparation
and a lot of time for relaxation, you can
ensure that your kids aren’t the only ones
having a break this summer.
Orla Breeze is the founder of Joyful
Parenting, offering workshops, evenings
and individual sessions that focus
on changing your kids’ behaviour
by changing your own. Her popular
workshops, including Daddy 101
and Second Time Around, are run in
partnership with Annerley
com.hk). For more information, dates and
times, visit
and the living ain’t easy, writes
Orla Breeze