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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
It would be nice to think that the idea of having your children home for six long and sun filled weeks would bring a certain amount of pleasure to parents and I am sure that it can. However, the other side of that is the worry about childcare, if parents have to work and how they can keep their children occupied during that time. Bored children can be quite challenging to manage and as a parent it is difficult, if not impossible to keep them fully entertained during the school holidays. For younger children expectations can be slightly easier to manage: water, sand, playdoh and paint can be some of the fairly simple activities that can keep them happy, although it does mean that parents have to devote time and energy to engage in those activities as well. It seems that as children get a little bit older, their expectations around activities grow and unless parents are happy to let them spend untold hours on electronic devices (not recommended!), they may demand outings that can prove quite costly and that also require some adult supervision or participation. I am well aware that children can be extremely adept in giving a struggling parent a strong invitation to feel guilty by comparing themselves to others: “Well, Jamie’s Mum and Dad are taking him to Lego land and Alton Towers next week, you never take me anywhere like that…!”.
I believe, in most cases, that children don’t say these things to be overtly mean to their parents, they just don’t really understand the expense of these trips and also, sometimes, how difficult it is for parents to carve out enough time to manage these days out.
Teenagers can add another element of anxiety to the parental state of mind; is it ok to leave them to their own devices whilst the parent is out at work? What time are they getting out of bed in the morning – or afternoon, and what time are they going to sleep? Is it ok for them to meet up with friends in town, what time should they be back? It can be a minefield!
For any parent, school holidays can be a challenge, whatever the age of the children, and for single parents the demands can be even greater. Throw in to the mix financial distress, emotional anguish, if you’re midway through a difficult divorce and possible problems with childcare and you can understand why for some parents school holidays can bring a whole new set of problems to an already stressful life.
There are no easy answers to this situation but please, at least don’t be too hard on yourselves, you can’t suddenly conjure up a bottomless pot of money that will provide spectacular entertainment throughout the school holidays! Try to find some time for yourself to relax and recharge, if you’re not feeling reasonably robust then it will affect your parenting. It is difficult to be an enthusiastic, fun Mum or Dad if you’re feeling rubbish yourself. Accept any offers of help and support and give both your children and yourself time – that is something that money can’t buy.
Brethertons LLP offer emotional support to clients who are going through relationship breakdown whatever time of year. If you would like more information then please do contact the Family Department on 01295 270999 or 01788 579579.