The idea of a 12 week summer holiday with all four children at home both fascinated and terrified me in fairly equal measure.
We didn’t want to travel this summer after last year’s mammoth expedition to get here – so the plan was a quiet summer to swim, visit local beaches, learn to skate, and take day trips up Island to explore some of this place we now call home.
It’s been a lovely summer. Mission accomplished.
One thing, though, has really helped the days stay calm (ish) (with many notable exceptions) and that thing has been the introduction of Recharge Hour to the tMatM household.
Prompted by speculating on how calm the days must be for a neighbour’s son, an only child. No chaotic rampages where a toddler steals your prized possession; no fighting over one particular car, or watching your Lego construction be destroyed by, yes, another toddler.
Our children are really lucky to have each other but having quiet time to reflect and being happy to spend time alone in your own company is so important. And it struck me that if they didn’t get to practice having some time alone then the joy of solitude might pass them by.
Also, it didn’t escape me that having an hour to myself with our 1 year old – or, wait for it, alone if he was sleeping – might also be key to a happy holiday all round.
However: I felt that banishing them to their rooms for Quiet Time or Alone Time might not be received well. In fact I felt like this enterprise needed some pretty good PR to ensure it wasn’t rejected outright and don’t become a point of conflict.
Also, I wanted it to be really clear it wasn’t a punishment!
So… enter: Recharge Hour. Normally after lunch but flexible on timings, they each have an hour (ish) to spend alone and ‘recharge’ before they come back together and play later.
The electronic device connotations are helpful here as the children have a clear and tangible idea of what happens to, say, an iPad, without charging it up. So they like the idea of recharging and being ready to play afterwards.
A total success. Hardly any complaints – apart from when we have a visiting uncle or grandpa in which case leaving their side for an hour was more of a struggle (but even more essential?!). And we all remained sane through the holiday so we will continue this tradition at weekends now that term is starting.
Termtime! Good luck to any other school goers out there. I have a post on how to survive this first term coming up soon (it will be fine. On repeat).