October half term is a tricky bastard. It creeps up on you like a stalker in a Jason mask, taps you on the shoulder, raises its bloodless hands to your neck and shakes you senseless whilst shrieking ‘why the f*ck have you only just started thinking about the fact it is October half term, you disorganised tw*t!’.
October half-term is unlike any other half term. It comes too late in the year to really have any hope of enjoying the great outdoors, but too soon to be dead through it. This year at least.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll start every October half-term with a fruitless five-hour Google frenzy, looking for some form of genuinely enjoyable weather-proof entertainment and checking that the Algarve hasn’t suddenly opened up ten minutes from your house.
Then you wish you could go back in time and think about booking a holiday. Then you look at any late availability and wish you could go further back in time and choose a career that means you can afford the aforementioned holiday. Then you think about the implications of staying in your house with your husband and child for the whole of the October half term and call the bank and see if you can get a second mortgage.
Because whilst your house is normally your sanctuary, during a poorly-thought-through October half-term it is your prison. I would not be surprised to learn that it was following an October half-term with her kids that Emma Donoghue was inspired to write ‘Room’.
Our boy is normally a self-sufficient wee soul. Contented to build things with Lego, or pretend to need the toilet all the time so he can stretch his foreskin beyond all recognition.
But 90 seconds into October half-term and he’s lost his shit over the way I’ve switched a light on.
It’s okay though, because a quick scoot through Pinterest and you can see all the ideas that better and more organised mums than you have had to while away the 453,600 seconds your child will be awake for during the holiday.
There we go. Arts! Crafts! A cutesie game of Pirates where you put cushions on the floor and have to find your way to the treasure hidden down the back of the sofa. Oh no, hang on, that last one’s just some tw*t showing off their co-ordinated soft-furnishings collection.
You ask the boy if he’d like to make something. He says he’d like to make you go away.
Time for another web search, this time to see if the Tesco Days Out vouchers you optimistically boosted for a (swiftly aborted due to extreme cold) camping trip to Norfolk in May, are valid for any decent attractions within a 30 minute drive of your home.
You widen the search criteria to an hour.
You find yourself seriously considering a four hour drive to a pick-your-own fruit farm in Edinburgh.
At this point your son loses his shit over the way you said ‘fruit’.
Your husband also loses his sh*t over how much time you are spending on the ‘Google Search of Pointlessness’ as he has dubbed it. You really should try and get out of the house.
What about IKEA? You say.
What about it? He says.
We could pick up some bits. Have some meatballs for lunch. It’ll be fun! You say.
The you realise that getting out of your house, chock-full of IKEA furniture as it is, to go to IKEA, chock-full of IKEA furniture as it is, is essentially swapping your own house for a bigger, shittier, busier version of your own house, but one where there is no iPad for the boy to watch. And the promise of iPad time is the only thing keeping you clinging on to life.
Is it iPad time yet? The boy asks.
You look at the clock. It is 9:23am. iPad time is 4.30pm.
Okay, it’s time for a last-ditch attempt at entertainment. The local paper will surely have some ideas of stuff going down in town, right? Okay it’ll be shit, like someone creating an ‘urban art trail’ which is really just a two trees wrapped in a scarf. But fuck it, it’s better than nothing!
There’s a 404 error message. Actually nothing.
Even the mighty internet knows there’s no point trying to enjoy October half-term. You just have to endure it.
See you on the other side….