Summer activity books are on sale all over the place. They list things that you can do with your children to keep them from getting bored over the summer holidays.
But what none of these books ever acknowledge is the different age ranges of the children in the mix.
Yes, one child might like to paint and stick together pieces of pasta in the shape of extravagant garden furniture that they would like to see in their fantasy castle.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that older siblings will be so taken with the plan. The two eldest children in my family are far more interested in eating pasta, bucketloads of it, than painting it.
Food is undeniably the best way of keeping teenagers interested. Offer them scintillating smells of cooking and let them trough down and munch their way through the six weeks of holiday.
After all, they burn off the calories with all that grumbling about how life is so boring in between mouthfuls of bread and potatoes and cheese.
My fridge looks as if the walls are folding in on themselves in desperate loneliness as the fodder that was once there rapidly disappears down youthful gullets.
There’s nothing quite like having the children at home to remind you to take a heavy duty recyclable bag to the grocery store.
When they bundle out of the house to help you unload the car on your return, the re-usable plastic bags really come into their own, protecting the contents from being eyeballed on the way into the kitchen (or worse, snack-napped).
Me, the youngest and the dog often sit and watch in awe as the oldest two eat their way through a box of cereal, a loaf of bread and several litres of milk in one breakfast sitting, then have the gall to ask if there’s anything else as they’re still hungry.
The amazing part is that they’re both stick thin. Not fair, is it?
What really bugs me about the whole thing though is how come they never eat their packed lunches during term-time?
There’s always something left to rot in the bottom of the lunch bag – or in my son’s case, the bottom of his school bag – only to be discovered halfway through the summer hols.