By Karien Van Ditzhuijzen

I am typing away hastily, trying to make a deadline. Behind me fighting erupts, screaming and loud thuds. I ignore it and bury myself deeper into my keyboard.

The noise abates, but I can sense what is coming.

“Mama, I’m bored,” comes number one.

“Can I have the iPad?”

“No! Go play outside, it’s lovely weather.”

Number two pitches in. “But there is nothing to do here!”

I point to our large garden, the football pitch, the swings, the pool. I mention the ping-pong table, the bicycles, the Lego, Kapla blocks, and the cabinet full of board and card games.

Blank looks stare back. Before number three can speak I shove them all outside and close the patio door behind them. They are good swimmers, so nobody will drown, and fingers crossed there won’t be many snakes around. At the end of the school year, kids are tired and restless. They nag, fight and whine and parents all agree it is time for a break. For the extortionate school fees that international schools in Singapore charge, they throw in an added bonus: Extra long summer holidays.

Our school has a record summer break of nine full weeks. And since the average parent can’t take more than a week or two off work, the big question is: What to do with the rest of that time?

Of course there are great camps to choose from, but after already splurging on the aforementioned international school fees, a few days here and there are often as far as the budget stretches. There is the helper, but she has the household to run too. Anyway, aren’t the kids old enough to entertain themselves now? As a working-from-home mother, I try to plan as little as I can during the summer holidays; still there is always some work to be done. So, while the quiet lasts, I get on it quickly.

Less than a minute later the kids prove alive and well, tugging on my arm. “Mama. We are hungry.” “Make a sandwich,” I mutter, absentmindedly. “What can we have on it?” “Anything you like,” I answer. Cheering, they saunter down to the kitchen.

From the corner of my eye I see them piling plates, bread, and a large jar of chocolate paste on the dining table. Well, it’s the summer holidays; I shrug, and turn back to my computer. The ensuing smacking and chomping sounds come close to a peaceful silence. After a minute of munching the giggling starts. The giggles become sniggers and chuckles. Louder, and louder. They are having fun. Finally.

It is not till a chocolatey hand taps on my shoulder that I turn around.


Three completely brown faces stare me in the eye.

“You didn’t…..”

I hesitate between a screaming fit, hysterical laughter, ignoring them, or, last but not least, joining the spa experience and have a chocolate facial too. I could use the de-stressing. After a shower and a change of clothes, I decide it is my entire fault anyway, for neglecting my kids, so I surrender. “Who wants to play a game?”

Thankfully, school will start again soon. And just in time. Mama needs a holiday!