OPINION: Back to school and back to a sense of normality

Ruth Davies with her family. After a long summer together, she says she's pleased she can get on and clean the house!

Ruth Davies with her family. After a long summer together, she says she's pleased she can get on and clean the house! - Credit: Ruth Davies

The end of the school holidays was getting a bit much if I’m honest and I feel utter relief that a semblance of normality has returned.

I hate to say that, really, I do. I’m the mum who just loves the holidays and usually cries when they’re over but really, this time, my boys were going utterly feral and needed a reigning in that only school and nursery can provide.

The routine of education gives children a pattern and definitely calms, while weeks at home sends them wild.

Any more time together and one of them may have committed murder on the other (with my money on the littlest being victor) and frankly it was time for Jonny to go back to school too.

Having your husband home for six weeks is lovely and all at the beginning, still helpful and fun in the middle, but by the end we were pushing it a bit.


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Though we’d have refrained from actual homicide I think our words were getting a bit shorter and we weren’t heartbroken at the thought of eight hours away from each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, that’s my philosophy, and I am sure now, come the evenings and weekends, we will be very glad to be together instead of a slight feeling of: “Oh, you again!”.

On a more boring, but important note according to my mum, everyone being out of the house means it can be cleaned. Properly.

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For the first time in a month-and-a-half. Don’t worry, I’ve changed the beds and used the vacuum cleaner and stuff. I’ve licked it, spat on it and done the bones but a house containing six people needs more than that and yet with everyone in it the tasks are impossible.

Of course, it was my first port of call as soon as we hit first day back. Trust me the pressure from my mum to make this my priority was so strong I couldn’t have done anything else.

My house finally got it and has been scrubbed and shined in a way Mrs Hinch would be proud of while the baby and I have managed to sit and look at each other without one of us being patted violently on the head in an over-zealous offering of love while the other has had two hands to properly hold with.

It feels odd but lovely to have this level of calm after what has been whirl windy and full on for so long, but you know what… Come the end of the week I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to the next school break and feeling a little wistful for long summer days of camping and beaching with all the right people in the right place, right by me.

Fickle I think they call it. But you see, I grew up in a house as an only child with this calm reverie being my normal and it also felt a little lonely at times. Fundamentally, I suspect because of that, I don’t really like the silence of a house with no children in it and though I’ve needed it today (and the house quite clearly required some dedication), I will tire of it swiftly and be welcoming a boy tiff to referee in the middle of.

As a kid I dreamed of one day having my big family and instead of there being quiet rooms with the options being a game of clock patience or TV, it would be a massive hustle and bustle with something always going on.

I’d go over to my friend Eve’s house, she’s one of four, and it would be exactly that, Clapham Junction in a home and I loved it. Eve’s mum was always in the kitchen making food and chatting with whoever was in there.

I’d sit at the table with her, her brothers and all the various boyfriends, girlfriends and pals like me in the potion and revel in the business of it all.

It was an open house which compared to my own, with just me and my Mum inside it, was this wild ride of fun and excitement. I remember even then in my teens thinking I wanted to emulate it for my own family one day.

We’d sit there in the kitchen while her mum did jobs around us and eat treacle toast (golden syrup and butter on hunks of bread) while we enjoyed the atmosphere. My mum would say now “But Eve’s mum still managed to wash the floor Ruth…”

And there we have it, in one little look back in time I’ve talked myself well and truly out of being glad the kiddos are back at school and am looking forward to them all being sat at the table when they get home, shouting and laughing, arguing and making a mess.

I will enjoy the moment now though and I’ll plug the dust buster in to charge in effort to stay on top of the crumbs (the organisation of that might last 23 minutes) but yes, my place is very definitely in the heart of a big family and all the electricity that lots of people in a house bring.

Roll on October I say, well… it’s only a week off for half term after all. Any house can withstand not being cleaned for seven days...

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk

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