The winter school holidays began on Monday. I don’t have to spend the next two weeks juggling work and child-care, I don’t have to worry about amusing my kids or my kids’ friends. I don’t have to worry about not having enough money to entertain my kids or my friends’ kids or my kids’ friends.
But I always know when the school holidays have begun. On Monday, even if I didn’t know they were starting, I would have realised when I was about a mile down the street. Traffic was non-existent. My husband and I left home much later than usual, but got into town about the same time! Two blissful weeks of clear traffic.
The coffee shop – often frequented by girls from the high school down the street – was empty. People take time off at this time of year – to look after children, escape to the ski-fields, or escape further afield to a warm Pacific island or Queensland. Adult areas are often emptier. I like that.
I will however be avoiding the shopping malls, and will be timing visits into the city to beat the mid-day rush of mothers or grand-parents and kids on a shopping spree. Finding a parking spot then will be problematic, but I’m self-employed, and can plan to avoid this.
I deliberately plan not to travel at this time of year. I have bookmarked the website that lists the school term dates for Australia and New Zealand school holidays, and consult it before we begin planning any trips anywhere. I want to visit my mother in the South Island, but to get a decent-priced flight I need to wait till August. That’s okay, there’s no rush. My husband and I aren’t skiers, but equally we always plan our winter escapes to the Pacific or Queensland outside of NZ or Australian school holidays. We are lucky to be flexible enough (and not to work in the education system) that we can avoid the higher priced school holiday tickets.
So by and large school holidays are not a negative experience for us. But this year we want to go see Harry Potter. Wary, though, of cinemas full of screaming, wriggling, noisy children, we’re putting it on hold till for a few weeks.