S’s nursery broke up for Christmas on 19th December. As two weeks alone with a toddler stretched out before me, I will admit to feeling a little apprehensive. I did my best to get on top of my workload before the holidays, so that I wouldn’t have to try and get work done while S was home, but I was then faced with the question of how to spend two weeks with her. What if I couldn’t keep her entertained? What if her toddler behaviour drove me round the bend? What if I turned into some awful ogre who just shouted at her for two weeks?
As it transpired, I had an awful chest infection and most of our holiday time was spent at home together; we didn’t do very much. She spent some time at a friend’s house (what an absolute godsend, allowing me first to wrap presents, and later to beg the doctor for antibiotics), and an afternoon at my mother’s without me, but it was mostly just the two of us, alone in the house. I thought it would drive me batty, but actually, I loved it.
Although it is convenient to be able to pop to the shop without having to wrestle her into her coat and shoes, and given the choice I probably wouldn’t choose to watch the same three episodes of Peppa Pig over and over again (seriously, it’s either Peppa Snow, Peppa Beach or Peppa Sleeping please Mummy at the moment)… I still enjoy S’s company when she is here. I enjoy the things she comes out with, and I enjoy our little chats.
I like my work, and I like having time to do my work without worrying that I am neglecting her. I know S absolutely loves nursery and has a fantastic time there… but I still love it when she’s home!
She went back to nursery yesterday, and I went to work in an office. When I finished, I had a quick 30 minutes or so at home to investigate the food situation and attempt a bit of work (ha) before collecting her. What I actually ended up doing was watching the clock; I couldn’t wait to collect her!
We passed a lovely evening together, drawing pictures with her new pens and preparing some tea. I was struck by how easy it is now, to just spend time with her; we can chat and play together without my having to take wild guesses at what she wants.
Now that S is a little older, an afternoon spent with her is not an afternoon spent trying to wrangle a teething monster or get an over-tired baby to take a nap. We chat; we discuss what we’d like to do. We watch films together, bake together, colour together. Or we pass time amiably together, doing separate activities. Time with her is enjoyable.
My Twitter and Facebook feeds seem to have been filled yesterday with parents looking forward to their children coming home from school… or dreading them going back to school tomorrow!
Nursery closed for two weeks in Summer, and I don’t remember feeling like this when S returned in September.
I don’t remember seeing all of the updates on social media from other parents either, but that might just be me.
I think there’s just something about the Christmas holidays, the fact that it’s a time for family, with so many bank holidays and reasons to stay shut indoors. Perhaps also the fact I was ill this year and we spent a lot of time at home together, alone.
Summer holidays are different; there’s more going on, you go on trips, you’re outside as much as possible. At Christmas, everyone is at home and in each other’s pockets. It’s cold and dark outside, and there’s a big tree and The Gruffalo is on TV. Generally speaking, if you visit on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, you do it as a family… with your family. Spending more time with them, means that you notice it more at the beginning of January when everyone goes back to normal life!
It’s definitely a relief to find that I can spend two weeks with S and not be reduced to a dribbling mess… well, except for those mornings where we watched Peppa Snow eighteen times in a row. But who could blame me for that?