Over the last few years, we have learnt that holidays can be a blissful break from the normal daily tussles.
Life during term time tends to be difficult, regularly seeing PDA boy (and the rest of the family) reaching breaking point.
Holidays, with a bit of planning and hard work, can see PDA boy relaxing in a way he just can't when he's at school.
I know we are lucky in this respect, I know that holiday time for some families is dreadful, loss of the familiar routine can mean these weeks are a nightmare.
For us, holidays follow a pattern.
We have a few days of absolute screaming chaos and non-stop meltdowns, as the boy adjusts to being free.
This is followed by a period of relative calm. At least, it looks like calm compared to other times.
The last few days of a holiday, we're back to chaos as he prepares himself for going back to school.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about holidays where we go anywhere, these are rare and tend to be more difficult to cope with. When we do go away, we like to go to Center Parcs, it's familiar, which suits us all, the older children can go off and do their own thing, for PDA boy there is time to bike, space to run and explore, and we have found a quiet, dimly lit area in the swimming pool that we usually have to ourselves, and we are only there a few days, so he can easily see there's a time limit that he can manage.
The time I'm talking about here is simply time off school, spent at home.
We are able to reduce demands to a bare minimum, in fact, the last few days the only demands have been to brush teeth in the morning and at night.
PDA boy is relaxed, if he wants to play on his Xbox, he plays on his Xbox, if he wants to watch a film, that's what he does. He eats when he's hungry, he drinks when he's thirsty.
He has been running, he has made YouTube videos, he has been cooking al fresco (boiling eggs in a tin can, skewering sausages onto sticks and holding them over a campfire), he has been cuddling his lovely cat, Bobby, the recipient of all his affection!
Bedtime is still strictly under our terms though, as we still need sleep!
Living like this works for PDA boy, but it does come with its own challenges.
We have four children, all with different needs to be met.
This means that holiday time for me is a hectic mess of planning, refereeing sibling squabbles, and grabbing any moment I can to have some peace and a cup of tea.
When it comes to socialising, we try to limit how much we do, as too much means we all end up burnt out and fractious.
In a week, we tend to stick to one or two social events. These can be difficult, as PDA boy adjusts to demand filled time when he has been given the freedom to be his own master, so meltdowns before and after are to be expected, even though he is keen to do these things.
Take today. PDA boy has a friend visiting (I intend to write a post about friendships, so I won't go into detail here). Until his friend arrived, PDA boy was shrieking for no reason, needed to be supervised 100% as he was "playing" too roughly with his little brother, throwing things, all because of the anticipation of someone coming.
Now his friend is here, he is fine, they have been to the park to play, this afternoon they might do some gaming, all is quiet, I am able to sit and write peacefully.
This evening, all hell will let loose. We will be armed with distractions, games, walks, anything that sees us through the evening until bedtime. In all likelihood he will have a meltdown that we will not be able to prevent.
Tomorrow he will be more agitated and we will need to work hard to allow him control at a level that will let him calm down again.
Holidays are a time when we feel we are getting somewhere and can see improvements in behaviour, unlike school time when more often than not, we are firefighting, constantly parenting a stressed out, anxious child.
In terms of parenting, holidays are more difficult and intense, PDA boy is very demanding, but it is good to see him happy and flourishing.