Walking through the village about a week into the summer holidays I saw a woman I know vaguely. Her kids are younger than mine, some at primary school, some not. She was striding along a path, one child in tow, another behind and one, which we had passed a few seconds earlier, heading who knows where. She offered that 'raised eyes, God help me' look, muttered "spend my life chasing kids around" and was gone.
I'm not criticising her. I taught myself a long time ago to remember always that you don't know what kind of a day - or life - someone's having, so passing judgment is pointless and unreasonable.
What's more, we all have those days when our angels, little and not so little, bear a more passing resemblance to devils.
But what I did think was 'it's a shame you can't turn this round and just enjoy the fact that you've got weeks of holiday ahead of you, your kids are safe because that path doesn't lead to a road and you might as well make a game of it by dinosaur roaring at the runaway then you might all end up laughing'.
OK, I know that's a bit of a tough ask, but the point is, that mum wasn't helping herself by viewing everything as a chore. Sure, it's tough to keep little ones engaged and happy, but it's not impossible. I think planning is the key.
If you kick off every day of the holidays by asking 'what shall we do today?' you're going to struggle. It might work for Phineas and Ferb but you're not looking at 104 days of summer vacation (thankfully), you don't have a couple of pointy-headed geniuses on your hands (probably) and your family pet is not a secret service agent masquerading as a platypus (I hope). No, Real Life needs a bit more of a framework.
The good news is that while your kids are small, they're suggestible. You can still drive the agenda as well as the car. Get into the habit of an evening chat where you talk about what to do the next day (having already decided - just a question of presenting your plan in a positive way). Yes, you're manipulating your kids, but when weren't you? Anyway, give it a few years and they'll be manipulating you like you wouldn't believe.
If your kids are older - say post-10, things are at the same time easier and harder. Easier because they will probably want to do their own thing: see friends, play football, spend all day on an electronic device, watch dawn to dusk TV...
Harder because they will probably want to do their own thing: see friends, play football, spend all day...you get the picture. It's miserable having your role as entertainer in chief curtailed and replaced by the less palatable title of chef/waiter/servant/chauffeur.
Don't abandon hope, though. Pre-teens and teens aren't generally the monsters you might fear. They do like their screen time and their down time but they will often (albeit superficially reluctantly) go along with planned trips, events etc. Even kids get bored doing nothing.
The internet is your friend here. Listings are everywhere, for everywhere: movies, wild walks, summer day camps, sports events, best beaches, best parks...surely you already know all this. Otherwise how have you found your way to this blog?
Anyway, school is not far away. Soon routine will rule your life again. And homework. In the meantime, have some fun. And have fun planning the fun.