Oh heck. It’s half-term next week!
Just when you think everything’s going smoothly and all very tickety-boo, school shuts down for a week and all hell lets loose.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love school holidays.
I love the fact that we can stay in our pyjamas until at least 9 o’clock. I love the fun that we have as a family, exploring new things and going on new adventures. Most of all, I love the opportunity to relax with the children and ditch many of the rules that are tied to the school-day routine.
But this half-term I am also thinking about my bins, which I now feel need as much protection as our poor cats over the holidays, all of which can easily become targets of boredom. Note MY bins…OUR cats.
On such occasions, my youngest loves nothing better than eating half a banana and bunging the rest in the recycling bin, with skin completely intact.
He doesn’t quite understand the implication of contaminated recyclates. Well, he is still only three years old, so the difference between recycling and general rubbish is not quite his thing yet.
However, he does know about fruit and the compost bin and the fact that I do not like food waste, so my diagnosis on the matter is that he is just being provocative, especially as he always runs to me and announces…
“Banana’s in the bin, banana’s in the bin!” all in the same sing-song voice as “Na na, nanah, na” and sometimes punctuated with an evil "Ha Ha" at the end of his gloat.
Hmmm, maybe he knows more than he’s letting on, and yes if there are any child-psychologists reading, maybe we have got issues!
Anyway apart from bananas being bunged in the wrong bin and other pre-school level frivolities, school holidays always provide another major challenge, especially if we are out and about visiting local attractions.
It's the one that is presented in a little cute voice and which often begins with…
“Mum-meeeeeeeee, can I have ________?”
At this point, please feel free to fill in the blanks with one of the following:
a) A kids' magazine (always accompanied by a cheap free toy)!
b) A useless cheap toy, with an attention-holding attribute of 5 minutes
c) A Kinder Egg (another useless toy encased in a layer of chocolate)
d) Packet of sweets or chocolates in a fiddly plastic bag or film
So often this comes in stereo, the youngest boy bleating in one ear with the eldest barking in the other.
You can only imagine the combined effort when mummy says “No”!
Before I started The Rubbish Diet and began to think seriously about waste, I would be happy to buy many of these things without a second thought. As long as the children had behaved I would happily reward them with a treat if I felt it was deserved!
However, since I’ve realised what short shelf-life all this stuff has and how quickly it becomes useless tat that ends up in landfill, there’s a new catchphrase in town!
It goes something like...“Not on your nelly!”
OK, admittedly the odd thing slips through, but only on rare occasions these days. We now try and think of alternative treats like fitting in an extra bike-ride, inviting a friend around for tea or going on a visit to the cinema.
I just wish that 7 years ago, before childbirth, I knew then what I know now!
If only my antenatal classes had covered a strategy for avoiding useless tat in the first 5 years of childhood, I am sure I would be the proud owner of a lovely uncluttered home and be feeling richer for it. The local landfill site would be much lighter too!
However, the beauty of hindsight is that if it pops up early enough, you can be blessed with an opportunity for change.
So if you’ve got kids, pop by later this week for my personal strategy for a waste-free half-term, bucking the trend that's been around in the Almost Average Household for far too long!
I can't promise miracles, but I can at least try and offer some common sense.