It’s the Grand Vacances!
Our first summer in France and also, because DD is at the maternelle rather than at nursery, our first year without any childcare all summer meaning we have a full 8 weeks to occupy DD. Eight whole weeks? Yikes! It’s exciting yes, but daunting too. I doubt I’d be nearly so daunted if we were still at our old place near Manchester. There was sooooo much to do there. We were close to so many places running child-friendly activities – whether they were small business, community run projects – and of course I also had all my friends around me, many of whom had children of a similar age and would also be swashing around at a loose end for the entirety of the summer holiday.
There’s plenty to do here you could say and you’d be right but we’re on a tight budget now and many of the places to visit – castles, animal parks, and the like – are aimed at tourists and are expensive – which makes them out of reach except for maybe one or two days of the holiday. There’s plenty to do outdoors here, yes: the usual, walking, cycling, etc. plus water sports, etc. But my children are 3.5 and 1.5 years old. They can’t do the same things. They don’t have any sense when it comes to being in the sun. They can’t swim. Or ride bikes. They prefer to run in opposite directions, especially where water’s involved. They play together, just, but not for long. More often than not there’s screaming, given that the DD is at an age where she’s starting to create things that are meaningful, develop stories, be interested in projects, while the younger one is now totally mobile and is happiest when taking things apart and chucking them either down the stairs or over his shoulder. You can see how these two interests aren’t mutually compatible.
And there’s no backup. The grandparents are staying firmly put in the UK this summer. We don’t have any visitors, as we hadn’t moved into a proper rental house when people were starting to make summer holiday plans. So no friends are visiting, which is a shame. I was thinking to go back to the UK for a week (or more) but it’s high season so prices are high and after last time (I went on my own with the two smalls) the idea of it made me want to lie down! which means I’ve decided to put that off until later in the year.
What, then, is the plan? I need one, so I asked my friends on Facebook for tips on surviving the summer and got a few good suggestions including:
- divide the day into three segments – morning, lunch, afternoon – and have an activity for each
- make sure you get out the house every day (amen to that one!)
- plan activities like messy play, crafts, etc.
And a few not so helpful ones, like:
- Enjoy them, they’re only young for a short time.
Yeah, yeah. Something to remember when DS has just destroyed the train track that DD has spent the last 20 minutes constructing and they’re locked into a scream-in-your-face battle. Practical advice this is not!
Feeling at a loss I made a timetable and printed it out – thinking I could work with that three blocks every day thing. It looked like this. When I started splitting the columns into three it became a tangled mess of boxes – all empty. I was starting to panic just looking at it.
I tried to allocate activities to days with the day-into-thirds rule in mind but kept coming back to the fact that planning anything with a one-year-old and a three-year-old is as good as impossible, especially weeks in advance. The idea of having a timetable was itself stressing me out. The whole idea of having a holiday is to relax and not be rushing around or overcommitting to things. Plus it’s impossible to buy anything you actually need in France, so that ruled out pretty much any activity that needed supplies. Pinterest-inspired mummy I am not! So the calendar had to go.
Still on the search and a bit anxious about the long weeks ahead I took another friend’s advice and did some mummying homework (which also gave me the opportunity to reunite with Kindle), quickly reading these two books:
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
- The Idle Parent: Why Less Means More When Raising Kids
Both those reads helped to put me at ease. With those principles in mind I could handle it, for sure!
This all means that as far as holiday planning goes, the plan is to play it by ear depending on how well we’ve all slept, what sort of mood we’re all in (not always sleep dependent!) and the weather, of course.
My loose “schedule” – which is really just a bunch of things we might want to do – looks like this.
New ideas are popping up all the time so it’s already grown since I took this pic. And the calendar is being used as a log of things we actually did so we can look back at the end of the holiday and think, “Wow! Look all the fun things we did!”
Holidays, here we come!!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. These are to books I’ve read that I recommend. I hope you don’t mind me including them.