Fed up Friday

Send them back to school! Parents can’t wait for term-time to start as ‘fed-up Friday’ deemed worst day of school holidays

Entertaining the children over the lengthy summer holiday period is never easy or cheap and from the Olympics to bank holidays, this summer has certainly been one to celebrate.

But it seems that parents are getting to the end of their tether with today officially being dubbed ‘Fed Up Friday’ as over three quarters of parents have already spent their summer entertaining budget.

The research launched today by Morrisons also found that whilst many parents enjoy additional time with their children, they are feeling the pressure as the end of the month and the bank holiday draw near, with most having to wait another week until payday.

And while parents love having the kids at home over the summer, 42 per cent of parents are fed up of tidying after their offspring with 29 per cent still worrying about finding activities for them to do.

The survey also revealed that parents think it is easier to entertain the children if they have lots of money (35%) with 36 per cent finding it difficult to find free or low cost activities.

I wonder, as a Mum of three children myself, if this article is somewhat indicative of a lot of what is wrong with parenting today. The overall tone appears to be that children are viewed as an expensive, time consuming burden that has to be endured by their parents till school starts again in September. What an awful way to view ones offspring.

The only added expense I have had to endure this summer is my sons birthday, which is the same date every year so no surprise there, and school uniform shopping, which again, happens every year, all though it does increase slightly, year on year, as they get bigger. At no point have I felt obligated to ‘entertain’ them, they are children for gods sake. They have brains, and legs and all manner of toys and electronic gizmos to entertain them, they don’t need a live in clown as well. ‘Summer entertaining budget’, good god, why would someone, anyone, think they need such a thing?.

I most certainly do not get fed up with tidying up after them, I don’t do it during term time and have no intention of suddenly starting just because they are on their hols. They are fully aware that if I have to tidy up after them it involves a black bag and a ruthless momentum. As for finding activities for them to do, erm, I don’t think so. We might decide to go to the beach, or to a country park, but these are rare occasions, otherwise known as treats, and I feel no pressure to provide them on a weekly, or even monthly basis.

Why on earth are parents worried about the bank holiday, is there a law somewhere, that I don’t know about, that means ye shall be jailed if you fail to do something exciting or entertaining on this particular weekend?. Talk about setting yourself up to fail. It’s the August bank holiday which means it will rain, like it has for the last gazillion August bank holidays.

If you choose to spent this rainy weekend stuck in a car, in a traffic jam, on your way to somewhere else where it is also raining, more the fool you. Of course your children will whine, they could have been at home, on the x-box, internet, sofa etc whilst the rain poured down outside. Instead they are stuck in a car, bored out of their minds because you have some kind of deranged belief that the August bank holiday must be spent doing ‘something’.

My children have spent the holidays, including this weekends bank holiday, doing just what they do during term time, only more of it. They hang out with friends (or their old Ma), loaf around watching tv, mess around on the internet or play the X-Box. They walk the dogs, go to the park, camp out in the back garden, and a hundred other things. None of which are different to what they do the other 46 weeks of the year. They just get to do more of it.

The only thing I will agree with is that by week 5 my children start to get a little bored, well not bored exactly, LEGO really is the unending plaything that just keeps on giving, as is the internet. They just seem to get a bit, I don’t know, maudlin. I often hear the phrase ‘I’m bored’ in the last two weeks of the summer holidays, which I believe is their way of saying enough. During term time, home time and weekends are the Holy Grail, but who wants a 6 week long weekend?.

They start to miss the friends that live aways and they also miss the structure and social network of school. No child is ever going to admit they miss going to school but they do. Why else would children get so excited when it comes to something as boring as shopping for school uniform?.

On a more serious note, I believe that school holidays should be broken up more evenly, 3 weeks for the 3 biggies, Easter, Summer and Christmas, and 1 week for the 3 smallies. Times have moved on, children are no longer required to help with the harvest. 6 weeks in the summer is way too long, for both the children and the parents. Childcare is a real and very expensive problem these days. I have a friend that works full time for the minimum wage.

She loves her job but for 8 weeks of every year (not including child sick days) it costs her three times what she earns, per hour, to have her children looked after by someone else, whilst she goes to work. I’m lucky, because I am self employed I work every hour god sends during term time which allows me to save both the time and the money up for the holidays but this isn’t so for most parents. 4 weeks holiday a year does not cover the 12+ weeks that children have off.

A simple way to address the childcare issue would be to restructure teachers working hours. Why should teachers get 12+ weeks off a year. Why not employ them the same as other workers. Schools are perfectly designed to cater for children, why not open them during the holidays, have the teachers staff them, just change the program from schooling to having fun. The smallie holidays could be automatic holidays for all (that’s 3 weeks off) and the teachers could choose how and when they use the last week, just like non teaching parents have to.

7 comments for “Fed up Friday

  1. ivan
    August 25, 2012 at 17:22

    I would go a little further with re-organising the holiday time and say there should be 4 terms per year divided up equally and the holidays each 4 weeks long.

    I also agree that the children – where the parents care – will look after themselves during the holidays. It might be harder to do the things we did when I was a child – like working on the farm with my grandfather or visiting relatives ‘up north’ by cycling up the east coast, staying a week and then returning down the west coast. I didn’t time it right and got the rain at the end for two days so finished off putting myself and bike on a train for the last leg of the trip. Mind, that was the early 50s.

  2. dearieme
    August 25, 2012 at 19:29

    “Entertaining the children over the lengthy summer holiday period is never easy or cheap.”

    Mum supplies two rounds cheese sandwiches and an apple. Child supplies water and bike. Done.

  3. August 25, 2012 at 19:39

    Ivan – they were the days of initiative.

    Dearieme – agreed.

  4. haiku
    August 25, 2012 at 21:19

    Granted that you are talking about school-children, where there are a number of issues at stake …

    However, when an Australian university opened an accredited campus in South Africa, the university chose to reduce the time taken for a Bachelor of Commerce degree – traditionally three years at the local universities – to two years.

    The courses themselves were not reduced – far from it !

    Instead, the university reduced the holidays to a week between semesters, thereby cutting the time taken to obtain the degree to two years.

    In current times – when the cost of education has become out-of-control internationally – should we not be considering a more holistic re-think of education e.g. is twelve years – of which approximately three years is holidays – the optimum ?

  5. August 26, 2012 at 02:29

    Likewise throughout my 1960’s-70’s childhood I don’t recall my parents ever feeling the need to provide me with holiday activities, other than stumping up the cash for trips away with the Scouts and suchlike. Neither did I feel deprived by them not driving and thus being unable to provide a taxi service since this was not done by the parents of friends who did have cars either.

    They will never change the holiday structure because the staff like it so much as it is.

  6. haiku
    August 26, 2012 at 08:44

    1. re activities: ditto.
    2. re holiday structure: work nine, get paid for twelve – I’d love it.

    @James: I have, in the past, read articles saying that it is beneficial for a child to become bored. My guess is that the theory is sound, just not so sure about real life.

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