This post is written by guest-blogger, Lynne Griffiths

School holidays should maybe be renamed as survival of the fittest – 6 weeks, 24hrs a day is a lot surely even for the most patient of parents!  Don’t get me wrong – I love having the boy around.  There’s Two people playing a football game on an Xbox. Surviving the school holidaysnothing more I love than watching several hours on end of him on Xbox, or even better, back to back YouTube videos of unboxing trainers!

It’s made me think though: what do we do as parents to survive and to fill/entertain 6 weeks of non-structured time. What do we do to look after ourselves when every minute is taken up with planning the next activity or outing?

Last week my boy went away for a week’s summer camp with church.  He went last year for first time and this year was much happier about going, knowing people and the venue helps a lot.  I knew he was safe, well looked after and being entertained.  This left me with a week, yes a WHOLE week without a young person to look after!!!  No Xbox for a week, no YouTube, no “Maaaaaaaaam” being yelled every few minutes, no picking dirty clothes off the bathroom floor to put in the washing baTent in a remote location. Surviving the school holidays sket only a few centimetres away!  So what did I do?? I felt lost!!!!!

In a world where we are on the go constantly and our time and energy is spent on caring for others, have we forgotten how to care for ourselves? I spent the first day without him lost really – washing and ironing, watching TV etc. and then went to my parents for tea.  The next day was spent taking care of church business, practically as well as electronically.  It took until Wednesday for me to realise that I needed to do something special with my time – and so I managed to find a friend who would go with me to see Mamma Mia2 at cinema.  We even went for a cheeky Nandos beforehand, which I’ve never done, and I had adult conversation.  It was AMAZING!!! I’ve clearly forgotten the value of adult conversation and of sharing with each other hopes for the future and how discussing problems can make them more bearable.  The rest of my-child free week I spent in a myriad of NCIS binge-watching, gutting of the boys bedroom, sorting of things I’d put off for a long time and choosing what time my bedtime actually would be.

The night before he came home though I had the ultimate treat – a takeaway where I actually got to Curry and rice on a blue plate. Surviving the school holidays choose what I wanted not just the bog-standard chicken korma and pilau rice.  I went all out on this and chose King Prawn korma and Mushroom pilau rice, plus a naan bread.  It was heavenly!!!  I’m not exaggerating either – I’ve never tasted anything so beautiful, and I realised as I ate it that it was a lovely moment were I could enjoy something just for me – there was no compromising, no arguing over who gets the last piece of naan bread and no need to count how many pieces of chicken we each got!  Just a moment for me to enjoy something just for me, and that I really, really did enjoy.

It’s made me realise I need to find more of those moments – those times when I do something just for me.  It’s not always easy, I know, but there is a realisation that life sometimes needs a pause button and that self-care really is important.  After all, we’ve still got another 4 weeks to go…

It reminded me also of a song by Larnelle called “I miss my time with you”.  It talks of his relationship with God and as if God is speaking to him:

I miss my time with you
Those moments together
I need to be with you each day
And it hurts Me when you say
You’re too busy

Maybe it’s not just our earthly life that needs a pause button and some self-care moments but also our relationship with God.  To find those moments of just us and Him, where there are no distractions, no demands on our time and no interruptions.  A time where we can lie still next to Him and hear His message clearly, re-filling our soul and blessing our lives.  If it feels like 6 weeks’ holiday is survival of the fittest, then the rest of life really is.  Finding time to recharge personally and spiritually is essential.  It took me a whole child free week to realise how important self-care is.  I wonder what you do to survive, and what your self-care looks like?

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