Adult Adventures

If Joshua had still been school age, he would have been going back to school today ,after a fortnight off for Easter holidays and he would be starting back with his Summer term. When I was working, the summer term always frightened me as it flew by and we hurtled towards the six week Summer break, which was always a childcare trauma. I wanted to spend the summer with Joshua but I only got 25 days holiday from work for the whole year, so I could never spend the whole time with him. Yorkshire Grandma used to typically take care of him for four weeks and we would have out two weeks off together as a family in August. But it used to make me feel bad, dropping him off with her then hearing about the fun that they had had together. Of course I was delighted he had had fun, but I was jealous, and guilty, that it was not with me. The summer holiday, more than any other, always made me feel the guilt, and reality, of being a working mother.

But now he is an adult, a few things have changed, for the better :

  • Daycare only close for Bank Holidays, but the rest of the time they are open. So we can take our holidays when they suit us; we can avoid school holidays so get the benefit of lower fares and quieter attractions. We are for instance, going away for ten days in May, squeezing it in before the May half term holiday at the end of the month. So holidays are much more flexible and within our control now, which is a definite bonus. There is no need to negotiate time -off during term time ; even in a special school, where Joshua was not undertaking GCSEs, it was necessary to write to the Headteacher to request term time off, pleading exceptional circumstances. I could never understand this as he always gained valuable life experiences from our family trips away. Now thankfully, Joshua does not have an enforced 6 week break, he does not have that long stretch when he got out of routine so that it was impossible to start getting him back to getting up at 7.30, after a month and a half of lie ins. There is much more flexibility with the daycare system, than there ever was with school and I expect that we will take several short breaks over the year, rather than one long summer holiday.
  • I am now retired from work, so I have much more flexibility too, as I am no longer restricted by an annual allocation of holidays. If we decide to take the caravan away for an extended tour , then now we have the flexibility to do that as we just take our responsibilities – Joshua and the dogs – with us! It is a very liberating feeling, after years of struggling to make days off stretch out across the year. I was lucky at work, as I earned time off in lieu whenever I worked weekends or worked away requiring early starts or late finishes; so while the out of hours working created another childcare issue, I could add additional time off to my annual holiday allocation, which always came in handy and I had always used it all up by the end of the year.
  • Having endured lockdown, Joshua is much more appreciative of trips out now. He gets very excited at the prospect of going to a café now. Yesterday we went to our local retail outlet for me to buy some new walking shoes, as my trainers have fallen apart, with all my walking throughout April. Joshua misheard my husband who said ‘Come on Joshua, we are going to the Potts’, he heard the word ‘Pod’ and got very excited at the prospect. I kept repeating that we were going in the car to the shops first, and that we might go to his Pod later but Joshua kept repeating Pod and pulled in that direction when we got out of the door. Luckily he enjoys time in the car too, so I could persuade him to climb into Dad’s car. We quickly chose my new shoes, so were not in the shop long, so we walked around the corner to a café for a drink. While I ordered, my husband chose a table outside but Joshua had his own agenda : he came back inside, where I was paying, and moved amongst the indoor tables, looking for where his optimum table – position was. He selected where he had the best vantage point, to observe both staff and customers and sat down, making his dad gather up the bags and move to sit with him. After our drinks, we came home again and went straight to the Pod to throw balls for the dogs, so Joshua got his own way eventually and he was satisfied with that.

So transitioning to Adult Services terrified me, while Joshua was in the familiarity of school, but now I can see that the daycare way of life actually suits our lifestyle better. I still cannot believe how quickly Joshua has got into his stride with daycare and this is his first week attending three days a week : Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so he has time off to recover after each session. Bring it on!

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