Edith Bowman on the importance of holidays
Time off is precious. It’s those days or, if you’re lucky, weeks when your only worry is how to keep the kids occupied for an hour or what to eat next. Getting time off when the children are on school holidays is not always easy, though, and it’s definitely not cheap – and that infuriates me.
Travel companies should be ashamed of how much they inflate their prices, sometimes to the point that families can’t get away at all.
Being with family is really important. When I was a child, my mum and dad worked so hard, day in day out, that we were often like ships passing at the breakfast table.
We had two holidays a year, where we would fly off, just the four of us – mum, dad, my brother Alex and I. It was special and, yes, it was a luxury and, yes, we were very lucky – but we didn’t get to spend much time together because of their work.
My parents ran a hotel and their busiest times were during the school holidays. Thankfully, our local schools not only understood how impossible it was for them to have time off in the summer or over Christmas, but also how important our family time was. My parents were allowed to take us out of school for two weeks twice a year. We didn’t get off lightly, though, as we were given some pretty meaty homework to do while we were away.
There was a recent case where a family was fined for taking their daughter out of school to go on holiday. The family took it to court and won, but then the case went to the Supreme Court, where the ruling was overturned. The judge, Lady Hale, who undoubtedly earns enough to fly her children first class during the school holidays, said: ‘Unauthorised absences have a disruptive effect, not only on the education of the child, but also on the work of other pupils, and their teachers.’
What about the effects of not having quality time with your parents? What about the Supreme Court using its time more constructively to stop travel firms hiking their prices up by as much as 50% in the holidays? At my kids’ school, there are a number of parents whose work means it’s not always possible to take breaks at peak times but, thankfully, the staff are incredibly understanding.
Spending time together as a family, in places where they are exposed to new languages, different cultures and making friends, has had a profound affect on my children. Through first-hand experience, they are learning new things, broadening their horizons and building shared memories. What can be more important than that?
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Read more: Edith Bowman on being a working mum