My boy’s just finished his first year at school so these six week school holidays are brand new to me (he would still go to nursery three mornings a week during summer for the previous two years).
I noticed once we got to the halfway mark at about three weeks, his behaviour started to change for the worse, as has my tolerance levels.
After speaking to other parents and looking at online parent groups, I’ve noticed I’m not the only one so I’ve decided to call it School Holiday Syndrome. This is how it’s looked to me so far:
School Holiday Syndrome Guide
Holidays Week One:
Child is happy and excited to be away from the school routine of rushing about early morning to attempt to get to school on time with all belongings.
He even has some lay-ins (sleeps past 7 am and even gets to 8.30 am on a couple of days!).
Child is affectionate and seems to enjoy the extra time with his mum and extended family.
Holidays Week Two:
Still fairly happy. Child’s continuing to enjoy lazing in his pyjamas for a few hours more than usual and playing with the toys he hasn’t noticed for a few months.
He is enjoying doing some of the educational work books I bought for him.
Child starting to get a bit more difficult at putting to bed. He’s started to try things to stay up later, like asking for more stories than usual, suddenly being thirsty or needing the toilet once the light’s been switched off for sleep.
Holidays Week Three:
Child is developing a bit of a negative attitude. It creeps in occasionally when he is asked to do something, such as tidy his toys away. If it isn’t attitude such as sighing, eye rolling or whining, it is pretending to not hear the request.
The fun play sessions he was excited about going to for the last fortnight are now ‘boring’ and not something he wants to do. He begins to huff and puff when I make him do them anyway.
Started to refuse to do any of the fun educational work books. Increasing questions to go on a tablet, phone or watch TV. This is starting to concern and irritate me.
More and more things he is asked to do are being met with instant (and rather venomous) ‘no’ and ‘shh!’ responses. Time out and toy confiscation are becoming the constant threats I am saying and doing when he continues.
Bedtimes are even more difficult:- now wanting repeated cuddles, asking philosophical questions and telling me he’s not tired.
Holidays Week Four:
Constant asking for a screen to play or watch. Don’t think this is helped by his father who allows the TV and games consoles on all day when he sees him. I then spend all week trying to get him to go outside into the fresh air and move his limbs, and then the whole process is reset when he goes to his dads again the following weekend.
Attitude really stinks now to the point where I’m trying to avoid having too many conversations with child as I cannot bear to hear another ‘no’ or rude and teenage blunt tone from what’s supposed to be only a 5 year old. The upside to this is that I’m getting more chores done!
I’ve remembered he was set homework to do for his return to school. He’s spent everyday refusing to do it. I’ve spent everyday trying hard not to nut him.
Extended family are now noticing his ruder attitude and they’re trying to teach him that he mustn’t talk to mummy like that.
Positive encouragement and praise seems to fall on deaf ears. When he misbehaves he seems to only respond to threats of favourite toys being taken away, but even this seems to be weakening.
Bedtimes are now the routine of he gets his stories and then tries to battle with me. I now just walk out of the door and spend half an hour listening to him shouting that he cannot sleep and his eyes are not tired.
At times I respond with a yell of ‘close your eyes and wait for sleep!’ or a threat to remove some of his toys if he doesn’t go to sleep. Other times I just try hard to concentrate on counting how many days are left of the school holidays and ignoring him.
The Last Two Weeks:
I’m about to hit the fifth week and only dreading what else may deteriorate. He’s at his dad’s today so I have some breathing space and I’m going to think of ways to start putting a routine back into his day-to-day life to get ready for school.
You may laugh, hell I just laughed when I typed that, but I have to try to have a bit of hope. I’m anticipating further attitude and laziness, with more boredom and bedtime drama. But I plan to be more organised and try to be one step ahead.
School Holiday Syndrome will not beat me.
Plan of Action
The reward chart’s being dusted off as we speak and coming back into our daily life, as is the calendar that I forgot about as soon as he started school last September.
I’ve been a nasty parent whose continued with his usual bedtime as I didn’t want to have to try to get him back into a sleep routine at the end of the holidays. His current testing behaviours at bedtime will continue but this week I’m not rising to it.
I will count, breathe, meditate or even read this blog post to remind myself that I’m the adult and I’m in control. He’s trying to test me and he’s not as tired as when he has full-on school days so this is just temporary.
I plan to help him run off more steam this week now that I’m feeling less low and anxious. Providing we have okay weather he’s going to be out running for hours in parks and forests, and helping me at my allotment to burn this energy off.
Oh and he will do that homework dammit.
Be prepared for a post from me in a couple of weeks time to laugh at all of these plans and to display my joy at school restarting.
I can’t even drink alcohol anymore due to my medication and I don’t crave food for the first time in my life, so how on earth I’m getting through this is beyond me. Trash TV at night once he’s asleep and venting to my family seems to be helping though.
How are you coping with the holidays? Any tips for surviving the final fortnight?