Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

As Rahima stepped out of her room post-noon, she peeped into the kitchen and asked cheerfully, “What is for breakfast mum?”

Mum gave her an angry look and replied, “Make for yourself whatever you want to eat. I have a lot more chores to take care of.”

Rahima got upset at her mother’s bad mood. She couldn’t understand what had triggered it.

Understandably, summer vacation is a period to relax and enjoy after the exams are over and you have little or no homework to do. You are relieved from the hectic activities of school life and your daily routine is relaxed. No getting up early in the mornings, having a hasty breakfast (which is often left half-finished to the chagrin of your mum), long hours at school and the burden of homework and tests.

My young friends, let me remind you that school days are strenuous for mum too. She gets up early in the morning, shuttling from the kitchen to your rooms to wake you and your siblings, as she quickly prepares your breakfast, packs lunch boxes and in between helps you to dress up properly for school.

Cries like “I can’t find my socks,” and “Mum, who picked my math’s copy from the table? I left it here after doing my homework last night,” are common in nearly every household.

Your mum patiently provides you with all your needs. Even when you are at school, she is preparing for your return — cooking, cleaning the house, doing laundry, etc. Her evenings are busy helping you sort your stuff, do your homework and cook dinner. If she is a working mother, her days are even more strenuous.

Vacations usually start on a happy note as mum also feels relieved from the hectic routine of school months. But as weeks pass, a strange exasperation starts to set in. With the routine topsy-turvy, mum finds she has more work at hand than in your school days. Preparing late breakfasts, making snacks for you at odd times and making your beds as you wake up when the helper has left.

She feels frustrated when she sees the mess in the living room in the morning after she had left it spick and span at night. Generally, children do not understand why mum looks cross most of the time. To make matters worse, you often fling allegations at her, “You are always in a bad mood!”

Today, I have a question to ask all my young friends. Don’t you think that mums should also have a good time during the holidays? After all, she is not a robot and, like you, she also needs to relax during your long summer break.

I am sure most of you will be surprised at my question. Dear friends, we all are so used to the comfort zone our mother creates for us that we overlook the need to do something for her, to make her feel taken care of sometimes.

This year, let me suggest a few activities to make the vacation productive and fun-filled for both you and your mum. Planning your time is the first step towards keeping a balance between family recreation, your activities and the time you want to spend with your friends. A month of the vacation has already passed, and most of you have done your best to bring mum to her nerve’s end. Now to make the remaining holidays enjoyable for her too, sit down with her and discuss the suggestions I am about to give you and come up with some of your own.

Try to relieve mum’s workload

Since you are at home most of the time, it is natural for mothers to expect some help from you. Make a loose timetable for your bedtime and waking-up time. If you stay up late and want something to eat after mum is done for the night, be sure to clean up the kitchen after you fix a snack, neatly stack your plates and glasses, or better still wash them. Don’t leave the lounge in disarray when you retire to your rooms. Straighten the cushions, rearrange any object you have moved, pick up trash or wrappers you may have strewn on the floor and last, but not least, remember to put off the lights and fans.

In the morning, try to make your bed and keep your room clean. Offer to help mum with tasks you can do. This can be helping her fix your breakfast by making a shake, boiling eggs or applying butter/jam on toast. These are simple chores you should do yourself. But if you’ve already tried these tasks and your mum has asked you not to, it could be because she prefers to handle them herself rather than clean up after you. Show her you can be responsible by cleaning up afterward.

Moreover, stacking away washed utensils, laying and clearing the table, folding the laundry and looking after a younger sibling may be responsibilities your mum will be happy to get off her hands.

Help mum plant a veggie garden

In these days of high inflation, mum will be delighted if you plan a vegetable garden with her. This is a very relaxing activity for all ages and good for the monthly budget too. Besides, the satisfaction of hand-picking the vegetables you have planted is a delight in itself.

Visit a nearby nursery with her, find out what vegetables can be grown in summer, and what type of soil or compost is required. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, choose with mum the patch suited best for growing vegetables. For those of you who live in apartments, seek help from a gardener or search the internet for the best size of pots you can grow your veggies in. Herbs, such as mint, coriander and green chillies, can be planted in plastic containers and wooden crates.

Once you have sowed the seeds, help mum in watering and looking after the plants. If you follow any good page regarding gardening on Facebook or Instagram, you will find many helpful tips. You will surely fall in love with nature and carve out time for this wonderful activity even when you are back at school. Mum will also be grateful to you as she happily cooks the freshly-picked veggies.

An hour or two for mum

During school days, when your mum asks you to accompany her on a visit to her parents or a relative, you usually decline. At times, she may need you when she goes grocery shopping, but you excuse yourself by saying that you have a lot of homework to do. But you are on vacation these days, so make her happy by offering to visit your grandparents, helping her on shopping trips or just go out to a nearby park to enjoy the evening breeze together.

Play board games like Ludo or Monopoly, or any other indoor game she enjoys. You can read an interesting book together, taking turns to read out aloud. The point is to spend quality time with her. You cannot imagine how lonely she feels when she has free time at hand but finds you glued to your screens and she has no one to talk to.

Create a family journal with mum

(You can also ask Dad to join this activity)

Nowadays, everyone seems hard-pressed for time. I still remember my childhood when I had long leisure hours with my siblings and parents. We asked questions about our late dadi(paternal grandmother), about our parents and their siblings’ childhood and student life. We laughed together at family jokes and cried at tragedies. These are memories I cherish even today.

So sit down with mum to learn more about your extended family, your grandparents, aunts and uncles. Learn how to make a family tree. Then you can discuss each member with your parents and find out about their history. In this way, you will develop a sense of bonding and belonging to your close ones.

You can also learn about the family history by asking mum questions and noting the answers which will be a valuable addition to your family tree. There are several benefits involved in this activity. Not only will your mum love to talk about her dear ones, but you will learn to ask questions, listen well and write down coherently what you have heard.

These are only a few tips. You can discuss with your siblings and note down more activities you can enjoy with mum. By keeping her happy and relaxed, you will find your vacations more enjoyable. And fruitful too!

Published in Dawn, Young World, July 6th, 2024

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