Half term is finished. Tomorrow life regains it’s structure and picks up speed once more. Although February half term holiday is the hardest of the school breaks as nothing is open and the weather is generally poor, it has passed with relative ease.

I was once at a party. At the time I had two children who were both still at home and I was talking to someone I knew from my school days who had three with two at school. I remember her saying that she loved the holidays because she felt that she could spend time with her children and really get to know them again. She said that there was never time to do anything in term time and that she needed the holidays to regain some balance in her family. I thought she was mad! I struggled in the holidays because not only did I have my children full time but all the places that I might take them to fill the days were full of school age children. However, several years and two more children later I now know exactly what she meant. Term time life does fly by in a whirl of reading books, homework and ballet lessons. There is a real “It’s Tuesday it must be Rome” feeling about it. Wherever I am going I am invariably rushing or urging a child to rush. I have to carry astounding numbers of arrangements in my head and ensure that each child is where they ought to be with the necessary equipment and on time.

But when the holidays arrive it all slows down to a much more manageable pace. I can always tell when it’s coming because suddenly and without warning everyone involved with school starts to get on my nerves. Gossip that might have struck me as scintillating the week before becomes trivial and dull. I call-screen more than usual and avoid coffee dates. It is then that I can tell that I am ready for my retreat to holiday world.

I am lucky. My children do not expect to be entertained during the holidays. If we manage one trip out in the week they are doing really well. Instead the days pass with a mixture of games, impromptu shows and TV. One of the joys of multiple children is that the dynamics are constantly changing so there is no excuse for boredom. Someone always comes up with something that sounds appealing to someone else and often activities involve all four of them. All I have to do is provide food at regular intervals and mediate in the event of dispute. Cool.

That said, it isn’t all a box of chocolates and by the end of the holiday I am generally feeling the need for time to myself, a house that stays tidy for more than twenty minutes and a bit of structure to my days and that is where I find myself this evening. Everything is clean and ready for tomorrow and I can begin again, renewed and ready to drink coffee with the best of them. Costa here I come.