The Best Summer Ever

Two years ago my then 9-year-old bounced out of school on the last day of the year, full of excitement for the holidays, and pronounced that it was going to be the best summer ever. For various reasons, it wasn’t, and the memory of that hopeful, thwarted statement has haunted me ever since. I’ve waited quietly for the best summer ever to tip up and lay that ghost to rest, biding my time, and watching my children as they unwind after a long school year.

This summer was the one. This holiday has been the best summer ever. As we pulled together the loose ends of the break, assembling uniform and school bags, lunch boxes and timetables, I felt sad that it had ended, as a new, unknown chapter begins for our girl at secondary school, and our boy seems so much older. I held on to those last few days, refusing to go back to work, snatching every moment I could with my kids before the whirlwind of the term commenced and we’re swept into the current for another year.

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The Best Summer Ever

We haven’t done anything particularly epic; no big trips or momentous rites of passage. I have had more work this holiday than usual, and that has kept me at my desk from time to time. But we have lived. When we’ve had time together we have used it so well, and I’ve delighted in my children’s company, relishing the small things.

It's been the best summer ever, just hanging out with my family, doing simple things like colouring

My boy wanted a colouring book for his birthday, and we gave him an epic one, full of intricate animals, along with a huge pack of coloured pencils. In a fit of frivolity, I bought one for myself too, and whenever we’ve had down time, we’ve coloured together, him and me. I’ve tried to make time for it, each of us showing off our best colour combinations as we’ve sat, and chatted together. It’s been so lovely.

I had my annual girls day out with my daughter; we’ve done it since she was five, picking a London attraction to visit, dipping into Hamley’s, stopping for cake, then the theatre, returning home late with her asleep on my shoulder on the train. It’s a huge treat, which began when the Bug was a baby, to give her some one-to-one time with her mum, and it has stuck. Over the years it has morphed; we now spend more time in New Look, ice-cream has made way for macarons, but some traditions have stayed the same. We eat at Inamo, we must visit Hamley’s, and a great stage show is the highlight. We’ve seen Oliver, Mamma Mia, Wicked, Phantom, and this year Les Mis. She handled the latter with more emotional maturity than I did.

The best summer ever was the last one before she embarks on the next phase of her life

She feels different to me now. She tackles hospital appointments with the same fears, but the tears only brim, they don’t fall any more. She’s reached an age where we argue about make-up. They all do it, experimenting with colours that don’t work, and lines that look wrong on girls their age. I want so badly to be on her side, yet I can’t keep quiet when she doesn’t look good to me. So I took her to Bobbi Brown, where a lovely girl showed her what worked for her skin, and her age, and made her look beautiful, without going too far. It felt special to do that for her, rather than simply declaring a war on Rimmel that I could never win. She feels different, but better than I could ever have imagined.

We’ve hung out together in London and at home. We’ve caught up with Masterchef, and old friends, met new friends and explored potential ones. We’ve played on beaches, been to zoos, eaten burgers, made ice-creams and sushi. We’ve crafted and coloured, played games and had picnics, stayed up late, and watched movies. We’ve done everything and nothing very much. It has been bliss. We definitely picked the best summer for a staycation.

I know once they’re back at school we won’t do that any more. It will be harder to find the time, and stress-free moments with my kids will become a luxury. Tomorrow I’ll have all the time in the world to myself, but I’ll struggle to settle; I will crave the summer, reluctant to move to the next phase.

I’m hoping I’ll remember where the colouring books are from time to time.

12 thoughts on “The Best Summer Ever”

  1. What a lovely post. So glad you’ve finally had your best summer ever. I love the idea of a mum and daughter day out in London. My daughter would LOVE that (so would I!). Good luck to your girl for her new school. I’m sure she’ll take it all in her stride!

    • Thanks Sarah 🙂 My day out with Maddie is one of the highlights of my summer. It’s always based on Kids Week, and whatever show we can get tickets for. Then we add in bits and pieces that she wants to do – open top bus tour, science museum etc. We started with afternoon tea, but that has morphed now we’ve found the Cafe Royal, and we always go for macarons. I could do with spending a bit less time in New Look, but it is fun watching her try out looks, and they must have overheard me last year, because there are now seats outside the changing rooms! Bliss 🙂

      I just have to find something that works for me and the Bug so we can have a day out too.

    • Thanks Nadine. It really has felt so relaxing this year, in contrast to the usual mayhem of going abroad. I think it also helps that the kids are at such a great age. They’re brilliant company, and quite self-sufficient, so it’s been lovely just to hang out with them x

  2. Aw I love this post Helen, and like you said our summers seem to have been very similar. Whilst part of me missed not having a holiday abroad, I loved what we got up this year. My kids are growing up too, and I think snatching family time with both hands and having fun is so important now. I love that you have an annual trip with your daughter, and she looks beautiful after her make up consultation. What a good thing to do rather than fighting against it. I shall remember this when the 10 year old starts to wear make up (probably very soon) x

  3. It’s funny i get both sides of the arguement the parents that can’t wait for the holidays to end, and those that feel sad teh holidays are over. When the boys were younger i was one of the parents that couldn’t wait for the holidays to end….then on Xmas Eve 2013 our lives changed, when Jack was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I learnt a valuable lesson….never ever take your children for granted. So now I love having them home with me for the holidays but I won’t lie i was glad to see blood sugar levels return to some kind of normality now he’s back at school.

    • I hear you! I struggled with school holidays until mine were old enough to not need my full on attention the whole time. Blood sugar here has gone back to normal, and way further the other way, which has been a huge struggle get to grips with! Oh well, it’s all a learning curve 🙂

  4. Oh gosh, YES on the make-up front!! Glad to hear you had a lovely relaxed time together. Hope the school start has gone well x


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