“Cherish the time you have with your kids, they grow up so quickly” – words we so often hear as parents, and whilst I am 100% in agreement with these wise words I have to admit that the time that someone else has the opportunity to cherish my boy (in my case his wonderful nursery teachers) is also rather nice. I see it as time to rejuvenate, ready to wow your kids with renewed energy levels and exciting new activities that you have been conjuring up during the time you are parted – so really they are the winners here. It also gives you the opportunity to re-join the adult world for a few hours a day (mostly overrated but you yearn for it anyway) and uphold the pretence of being a ‘grown-up’ for a portion of your day.
So, when that time of year comes around when your few hours of being a ‘grown-up’ are taken away from you – teachers apparently also need holidays (queue to mumble something selfishly unsympathetic under my breath) I can’t help but mildly panic at what lies ahead. And in Barcelona nursery teachers get an entire month off – all that cherishing of other people’s offspring must be hard work. This means four whole weeks of keeping my energetic 18 month old single-handedly entertained.
Throw into the mix being seven months pregnant, officially the size of a beach whale (latest scan shows bubs to be in the 94th percentile) and finding myself in a constant pool of sweat as I attempt to cope with what feels like 50 degrees of heat (actually closer to 30 degrees but when you are carrying another human being inside of you 30 can easily feel like 50), it can all seem slightly overwhelming. Oh, and did I forget to mention starting a new business venture. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but then hey so did going for baby number two some 30 odd weeks ago. I kid of course, I could not be happier at the imminent arrival of a permanent playmate for Lucas, but it has to be said in these testing times of nursery closure combined with Sahara like conditions, I have questioned many of my admittedly self-inflicted life decisions.
Anyway, enough of the self-pity. Determined to make each day as exciting and fun-filled as a personal Cirque du Soleil show taking place in our lounge (wouldn’t that be amazing) I do what any parent in their right mind does and start by throwing money at the problem. There is only one small problem with this plan – there is no Early Learning Centre (ELC) in Spain. It may not seem like a big deal, but then nothing ever does when you have it – never did I think Boots would be such a big part of my life until I moved to a county which doesn’t have it or an equivalent. The same goes for ELC, and I am yet to find a worthy substitute – for anyone out there who knows of one please do share! I don’t let this commercial obstacle sway me and continue in my bid to get the creative juices flowing at home this summer. After many hours of frustrated online purchasing I come up with the grand total of a water table, a white board that doubles into a chalk board and a Peppa Pig etch a sketch (which turns out to be tiny as I didn’t read the small print of it being a travel version so that’s immediately useless). Blissful in my ignorance and happy with my purchases I start to actually feel excited about these creative days ahead. Boredom, schmoredom (creative juices have inspired me to invent new words) – we will be spoilt for choice of things to do what with all the chalk and the ummm water.
Week one of sole mummy and Lucas time commences. Armed with our new totally worth every penny set of chalk I start to wonder what all the fuss was about – nothing can go wrong with chalk at my disposal, right? WRONG. SO, WRONG. In my panic purchasing mode I forget the very physical composition of the substance of chalk (clue is in the name of course) and within literally two minutes of handing it to Lucas (and I really do mean literally) it crumbles into what feels like a million pieces which he then decides must be some sort of new and colourful biscuit to feast upon. We continue with the chalk for another five minutes or so, until most of the furniture is covered with small multi-coloured particles looking like the Hindu festival of Holi has hit our lounge. Never mind, we’ll clean that up later.
We move swiftly on to the other side of the board – aha now you see the sense in my seemingly wasteful online expenditure. White board and pen ready we start to explore shapes. 10 seconds or so into shapes, Lucas stumbles across the white board wiper and decides this is the perfect accompaniment to his new chalk biscuits from earlier. With my back turned for a mere minute I turn around to find pieces of foam scattered around the lounge and hanging from the mouth of my grinning child. Never mind, we’ll clean that up later.
Surely it must be lunchtime? Ah, it’s 8.35am. Good. Day going just as planned then. Bring on the showpiece – the water table. As we are limited with our outdoor space (terrace on 4th floor which doubles as heart attack waiting to happen for any sane parent) I decide to simply put a towel down and let water play commence in the lounge… Never mind, we’ll clean that up later.
So, all in all my total of around 12 minutes of activity result in probably the better part of the day cleaning up after all the minutes of fun we have had. It’s the beach all over again, so much prep and very little reward.
By 8.47am I find myself reaching for the go-to activity for all emergency situations – Peppa Pig on the iPad. I know, for a change I will stream it onto the big screen and it will be just like a trip to the cinema – that’s got to count for something surely? Ok, it’s not quite Cirque du Soleil, but you gotta cut the constantly perspiring, beach whale, soon-to-be mum of two some slack people – it’s like 50 degrees outside…