Sometimes a bank holiday weekend is the perfect tonic for taking stock of all that is good in your life and carving out some quality family time. With Good Friday and Easter Monday, creating cause to pause from the daily grind this year, I was determined to make sure we weren’t going to fritter this precious time on Minecraft marathons and chocolate-eating fests so instead made sure we had some plans to get out and about and explore.
It’s been lovely spending time together and it’s also been an opportunity to remind myself of a few things I’ve come to learn about family life. Here’s what I learned this Easter weekend.
- Children need to just be
We live in Fife, a region of Scotland blessed with beautiful coastline. Beaches are a natural playground for children and we spent much of our extended weekend just hanging around a beach, doing nothing in particular and letting Toby lead the way. On Good Friday we ventured to picturesque Anstruther, famous for its harbour and fish and chips. The sun was shining on the North Sea and we did nothing more adventurous than building sand temples for Toby to knock over or tiptoe around the waves at the water’s edge. Easter Sunday saw us exploring the slightly less attractive coast at Torryburn, a spot that you wouldn’t visit purposely unless you live or know someone who lives there (like we are fortunate enough to). The landscape here is blotted by the industrial plants at Grangemouth and Longannet, and the shoreline is a magnet for rocks, boulders, seaweed and debris, but endless fun can be had skimming stones, collecting sticks and dipping a net into the murky Forth water to pull out nothing but sand and seaweed. Sometimes all a child needs to be happy is the great outdoors, an active imagination and a patient adult who can give them the freedom and trust to explore both.
- Children thrive under a parent’s uninterrupted attention
You’ll find no-one more ego-centric than a child, and often it’s an impossible juggling act providing that undivided attention they crave with day-to-day chores and other adult pressures like holding down a job. That’s why holidays matter. Take all the other daily demands out of the equation and you can get to know your child by really talking to them, and listening and re-discovering new things about them like what they’ve learned at school or what their new favourite song is. It’s amazing how much of that can get lost when you’re caught up with ushering them to the school gates or nagging them to get to bed or get dressed.
- Sometimes things look better on paper
We had tickets for the Edinburgh International Science Festival and after a recent successful outing to the Glasgow Science Centre I was certain it would be a good day. Toby had a say in selecting the workshops he wanted to attend and they looked great on paper. Building Lego robots, what’s not to like!! Except in real life he took one look at the children queuing to attend and the over enthusiastic adults wearing lab coats and decided (after hanging about for about 30 minutes to wait for our turn) that it might just possibly not really be for him. So we binned both the events we were signed up for and he attended the Jungle Safari event instead, where he was under no pressure to build anything under the watchful glare of strangers and instead learn all about animal noises. Not the most successful day we’d ever had and a reminder that even the most perfectly planned day out won’t work if your child just doesn’t want to do stuff, and it’s rarely worth forcing it. It’s not the first time my plans for organised fun have been aborted, and it certainly won’t be the last.• Even the most patient parent in the world needs a break from their offspring
We’ve had a lovely weekend, we truly have, but when neither of us is at work or school, there’s nowhere to escape from one another. By 9pm on Saturday I snapped, yelling “Get to bed” with gusto. We love our children and they can be great company but an adult brain needs more, just as a children’s brain needs other children. Not many other relationships in life cope well under the strain of 24-7 companionship, and a parent/child dynamic is no different. It doesn’t make us monsters to admit it, just human.
• Your children’s Easter eggs need to be locked up for your own protection
Repeat 50 times: stealing your kids Easter eggs is just not cool and your waistline will not thank you. Once again, despite solemn promises to myself, I’ve been unable to resist the lure of nibbling at Toby’s Easter chocolate. The good news is I’ve become better at hiding it and it’s only been small chunks of chocolate this year and not whole eggs – so that’s progress right?