(Pre) School’s out for summer - Peterborough mum of two Donna Steele

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I am sure I am not the only mum (or dad for that matter), who, with a tear in her eye, has seen one of her little ones reach another milestone this week.

For me, it was seeing my four year old attend preschool for the last time.

On Monday we made the same journey we have made (twice a week )for the past two years. I know it is an old cliche but it only seems like yesterday when I nervously left her there for the first time and spent two hours clock watching waiting for the moment I could return to take her home again.

Fast forward two years and collecting her was, if anything, even more emotional. Thankfully it was a lovely day so I could keep my sunglasses on!

We had the final goodbyes to the staff (considered now friends) who have helped her (and us) so much on those first but very important rungs of her educational ladder and some very kind words of encouragement.

Then there were the farewells to her playmates - for the summer at least, as most will meet up again in reception class in September.

But if that wasn’t bad enough we had to do it all again when her three-day-a-week pre school term ended yesterday.

It wasn’t what I expected when I signed up for motherhood, but for all parents these things are momentous - just like the first words,first teeth, the first steps... I could go on.

I have a growing keepsake box which proves how much I treasure the “firsts” and the latest addition is a beautiful photo of her in a graduation gown and mortar board, signed by her key worker and colleagues.

So now we have the summer break and wouldn’t it be nice if all we had to worry about was relaxing on an exotic beach somewhere, without a care in the world? But the reality, I am quickly discovering, is something different.

I know for some parents it means juggling expensive childcare with favours from family, or changing shifts at work and using up annual leave just to see the six weeks out. I imagine that it is often frought with difficulty if lots of colleagues have young children.

For me it is not that drastic, but my husband will take two weeks off work in August looking after our girls so I can go to work!

But, the question remains no matter who is in charge that day, how do we fill all those waking hours trying to stop the children saying “We’re bored”?

In an attempt to get prepared I spent an evening camped with my tablet and trusty calendar, and now feel a lot happier about what’s on offer to help entertain the kids without just shelling out money hand over fist every day. There is plenty to do and it doesn’t have to cost a lot - in fact some of it is free.

I am looking forward to the annual summer reading challenge for both girls at our local library, there are some interesting activities such as Animal Agents at the museum, one of their favourite places, and at Ferry Meadows they can have fun on the fantastic play areas or join in one of the trails or craft sessions.

And that’s before we venture out of town lured by the sea and sand at Sunny Hunny or Wells.

The one thing I am sure of is that I would like to make the most of the time I have with my girls over the summer while they still want to hang around with me! They grow up so fast!

Then the next milestone... or milestones. First day at “big school” (reception class) for one and first day at pre-school for the other.

I had best get the tissues ready.