Drawing breath

There’s a wild dance out there called the summer holidays. (And yes, it’s the footslog through the trenches too, depending on how long the holidays are near you.)

Every summer is different, I’ve found. One year, the kids need lots of structure – like going swimming every morning, so that you have something at the same time every day. (At least for a week.)

Another year, they need lots of rest: because school demands more of them, or it’s just been a really busy time.

Some years, they need lots of playdates outside the house, before they, you and the walls around you implode.

And sometimes, being with each other is enough. (Sometimes, even enough for you to grab another coffee and tentatively put your feet up for a bit.)

It’s also different every year because of you. What kind of a year you’ve had. What kind of a summer holidays you’ve steered everyone through.

Some years, it’s about keeping you afloat, through this five minutes, and the next, and the next.


Our dance is done for this summer. I can already feel the evening temperatures changing.

Soon we’ll be at that point where there are unexpected shrieks because the spiders have decided the same, and are coming indoors for the winter. (Usually early September, I find.)

When I was younger, I used to relish autumn the most. I don’t do so well in high temperatures, in general, and September is a great time for sunshine plus slightly cooler weather.

When you are at school, September happens to include other lovely things like choosing new pens and pencils for school, lining up the stickers for your pencil tin, maybe even finding the perfect bag to carry it all around in.

(That was me in my teens. I have moved on a little since then, but I still miss my favourite school bag, the one that I resewed so many times because it was the best, and I didn’t want to try to replace it.)


This year, September will be about brambling – because going for walks and coming home with free fruit seems like a good idea.

It will be about seeing lots of people at weekends. That’s the season we’re in at the moment.

It will be about finding new books at the library; working out how much homework we can actually get done while one swims and the other sort of works.

It will be about pushing the food boundaries a little more for one; protecting the sleep of another.

But mostly – and I am writing this to myself, to remind me – it will be about drawing breath. Because even though new pencil tins are lovely, drawing breath is what I need the most.