Caroline M's blog: Halcyon Days
School starts back next week, and what had appeared as a long road ahead two months ago, has in fact flown. Here in Ireland, the school term finishes even earlier than it did in London. Those school gates close, while the teachers click their heels speeding off down the avenue on that last week in June.
Another key difference we have encountered is the timing of summer camps. It’s a struggle to find anything that covers more than four hours, generally from 10 to 2, Monday to Friday. I hold my hands up to seeing summer camp as a form of childcare, rather than nurturing a specific talent. My oldest daughter attended three consecutive weeks of camp, ranging from gaelic sports, to gymnastics and art. We balanced the remaining hours of the working day with babysitters, and playdates and from those first weeks, another spreadsheet was born.
My smugness on week one when the weather ‘held up’ for these outdoor sports was quickly upended. An email from the gymnastics camp, which was already stretching it by finishing on Thursday, announced that there would be a display on the last day for all parents, grandparents, etc to attend….. at 12 o’clock. Luckily we ended on a high on the third week with my daughter skipping in to the art camp, and my days relatively uninterrupted.
On the evenings of this third week, we finally had that win we had been hoping for. The girls made friends with some kids in the estate. They spent three consecutive nights planning the next meetup, and the days running up to these meetings packed with nervous energy. We were reminded of days before phones, when plans were made, and unwavering trust placed in others’ hands to be there as planned.
And suddenly we were lifted from this excitement and on our way to France, finally going on the holiday we had first booked back in July 2020. The formula was straightforward. We went to a campsite, and overlapped with family for half of it. It was fantastic on so many levels. We witnessed many moments that you stop and take stock of – the independence of our two little girls tottering off on their own to the shop to do the croissant run; of popping over to their cousins cabin and not looking back, and of gaining confidence in this very safe, secure, almost time-free environment. Days were wiled away pony trekking, trampolining, canoeing, walking, and swimming. The holiday was all things to all men, (particularly ones partial to an oxymoron); simple, indulgent, relaxing and decadent.
We came back refreshed to the third and final leg of the summer break. Our au pair arrived the day after we returned. Any zen was momentarily transformed into a frenzy of washing and preparation to accommodate another person in our house. Her addition to our household has been positive. She has allowed us to fall back into work routine, without balancing the timetables. She has given my older daughter the chance to relax at home, stay local, and hang out with her new neighbourhood friends.
Next week we have the added excitement of a new school starter. After three years, the girls will be back to the same setting. I am for the most part refreshed, thankful for the summer we had, and braced for the term ahead. Filled with resolutions, extra supports in place, and new friends to tide us through, it’s all beginning to feel familiar, and more like home.
Caroline M works in Investment Risk at an Asset Manager in Dublin. She lives with her husband, two wonderful and resilient girls age 7 and age 5, as well as their beautiful dog.