Celebrities are ruining school holidays
SCHOOL holidays start today and guess what? I'm not on a beach somewhere.
While celebrity parents and Instagram influencers are whisking their bone broth-weaned "bebes" off to Bali for the fortnight, the rest of us are answering one of modern capitalism's great challenges: How do you simultaneously work and look after kids?
I've tried this before on one of those random "staff exploration days" (does anyone know what staff actually explore?) and it doesn't really work. Or rather you don't work, because your time is spent cutting up vegetables into bite-sized strips and then cleaning up the floor when the fussy one up-ends the table because a stray square of capsicum made it onto their plate.
TV is your only friend in these scenarios, but it's pretty hard to smash out that report when the Peppa Pig theme song is playing at five-minute intervals and they've already burned through six seasons by midday.
So, yes, school holidays are quite the conundrum for double income families.
The education system is not just about teaching kids how to ace NAPLAN - we also rely on its structure and routine to do our day jobs (within the hours of 9am and 3pm).
There's roughly 12 weeks of school holidays a year and four weeks of annual leave, leaving an eight week gap that needs to be filled by a competent adult that's not mum or dad.
Teachers have to deal with your kids every day so they truly deserve every minute of downtime. But wouldn't it be amazing if our leave was aligned with theirs? Actually scratch that - that'd mean an extra eight weeks a year finding things to do for your perennially bored kids.
The work-school balance is especially challenging during first term when you finally fall into a post-Christmas groove and completely forgot what you did with them last year. That's when the panic of "Where the hell are we going to store these kids?" sets in.
Our multi-pronged approach to the school holiday shuffle generally involves grandparents, time in lieu, long service leave, a couple bouts of "gastro", grandparents, and holiday programs. Did I mention grandparents?
They're great because your kids are presumably on a first-name basis with them and they don't cost a cent financially. You just have to pay a small emotional levy covering guilt and unsolicited advice received in all-caps text messages.
The downside is they tire easily and spend the entire day sipping juice boxes and scoffing hot chips. I'm talking about the grandparents now, not your kids.
Holiday programs do their best to replicate the experience of school, offering art and craft, sport, and even coding. I'm not sure when coding become a thing attached to every child activity, but I'm sure it'll set them up for a future of driverless cars, machine learning, and humanless interaction.
Sometimes they'll organise an educational excursion to a tenpin bowling alley or an indoor arcade, where kids exchange tokens for cheap mass-produced toys in an over stimulated environment that functions as an entry-level pokies.
But at $60 a day across 10 days for three kids, you may as well take that trip to Bali. If only you had the leave.