Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy spending time with both kids. And I like the fact there are no school runs to get up for or homework sessions to cram in after dinner. I think during the holidays the majorities of step parents have an increase in child care and it can be hard work to find entertainment for such a long period of time. I think my 6 year old SS needs a break from us every now and then (hello Grandma!)
I've done a few 'essential' things for prep. I've purchased annual family tickets for two different attractions that are close by. Its quite nice because one of them has indoor soft play areas suitable for both ages, and the other is a lovely out door type place with a nice woods as well as a miniature train. I've tried to find some where we can bolt to in all weathers.
I've got my Summer Holiday Survival Ideas list ready (see post) and I'm working my way through it. So far we have made blancmange, no bake chocolate peanut butter cups (see my pintrest for recipe!) and have been on a few cheap days out. Parks have been visited, Ebay finds bough specifically for summer holidays have been unboxed and assembled, and the iPad has ran out of battery.
I sat down on the first day of the holidays with my SS and gave him a list of Summer Holiday Rules, so we are all clear where we stand. These rules are very relaxed and designed to empower him some what. They are also a bit of an experiment.
I read a wonderful article recently about the summer holidays we had as kids and remember so fondly. The author talked about relaxing the rules and allowing her children to independently establish their own entertainment and allow them more freedom in order to recreate the same atmosphere of her own childhood. So I've decided to give it a go.
The first thing was the strict time scheduled of the ipad and other screen games. While I hate him being glued to it, he will very soon be a teenager- and strong, tall teenager who I've no intention of wrestling to prize it out of his hands. I want my SS to grow up knowing when enough is enough- and if I spend his life policing the technology he loves, he will never learn that. He does self regulate most of the time and come off it when bored, so I am hoping this will continue. Having said that, for the past few days he really hasn't, so I'm starting to wonder if this part of my experiment is a bit of a failure.
The second rule I'm relaxing is him going outside and playing in the garden. The rule has always been he has to ask if it's ok- firstly so we know where he is, and secondly so we can advise yes/no its too cold/hot you need a coat/sun cream. However, in the interest of allowing him some control over his life, I'm allowing him to decide if its appropriate to go out and what he might need to do before hand. Obviously if I see him go out without sun cream I will be reminding him- but I'm trying to give him space to make his own decisions as much as possible. Knowing if he's gone out is easy since he's quite heavy handed with closing the door- so no fears on the safety front. So far, hes done really well and I'm quite willing to make this a permanent rule.
Next I'm allowing him access to the downstairs of our house before we have come down. This might sound really silly, but he's been quite naughty before now, coming downstairs and eating a weeks worth of fruit at 6am, or taking any biscuits left of the side and demolishing the lot. He's even been known to walk on the counters and go through peoples bags to get goodies (he does get fed, I swear!). We had to hide all food and keep the fruit bowl out of reach- only giving him some when he asked.
I've set up his grow clock so he knows when 'up time' is, and given him the choice to come downstairs if he wishes. In addition, I've given him his own fruit bowl and access to the squash. He has 3 bits of fruit a day and (again) its his choice if he wants to eat them all in one go- but once they are gone, they are gone.
I'm quite pleased with this part of my experiment. The first few days he scoffed the whole lot at around 9am and then had nothing left for an afternoon snack. However, today he's eaten two pieces so far (its 4pm) and he managed to spread them out for a piece in the morning and a piece after lunch. Sadly, he's lost squash privileges for this week due to pouring the entire bottle down the sink :( Shame because trusting him with the pouring was making him feel quite the grown up!
I've yet to say for sure if giving up some control is going to improve our relationship, but I hope so. I'm clearer now about the sort of mother figure I want to him, and how I want to raise my kids. Hopefully this will get us some way there. Trusting him is a really important step.
I'm also rotating his toys and have purchased a stupid amount of rechargeable batteries. Rather predictably, the minute I removed the no longer played with toys and put them in a box for 'rotation' he suddenly remembered them and they became way more appealing!
Lets see how my 90s summer goes. I will keep you posted!