Ask Grainne | Summer Holiday

Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.


Dear Grainne,

Why do kids have two months off for summer when most employers only give two weeks leave during July / August?



Easter was hell. I had to take time off because we couldn’t find a camp or relatives to take the little ones. Two whole weeks of being at home with them. I am an emotional wreck.

It’s not that I don’t know how lucky we are to have them, I do. But, come 6pm on day three I was barely restraining myself from mainlining sugar and alcohol. By 7.15pm I was in the chocolate, trying desperately to summon the energy for the final push towards tea and bedtime. This was followed by a few wee hours of peace and a glass of wine on the couch to just unwind. Then the process started off again the next day at the crack of dawn. Under tens are exhausting. I am already dreading summer.

On that note, I am not sure what genius came up with the school calendar but frankly it’s just not fit for purpose. My kids don’t do hard labour. I can barely get them to set the table or tidy up after themselves. We are not farmers who need our darling little one’s home for long stretches of time to help with the family homestead. So, why on earth do kids have two months off when most employers only give two weeks during July / August? It just doesn’t make any sense. Can we do a change.org for this?

Also, seriously Grainne, any tips you have on how to cope with the impending doom of summer? (So, I can stop this gurn).

Donegal Mum of two

Dear Donegal Mum of two,

 Yes, we are all recovering slowly from the Easter ‘break’, and are looking with dread towards two (three if they are in secondary school!) months of summer holidays. As my own dear Mother used to say – it is unbearable to be in the presence of undiluted children for more than a couple of hours! Never mind days!

 I can only suggest the reason for the excessive summer holidays comes from the rather excessive number of teachers in the Dail. This is perhaps why they feel the need to give themselves even more time off than their children. As you rightly point out, previous reasons are no longer valid, so write to your representative, they are sure to bring it to the attention of the Dep. of Education.

 Mainlining sugar (I can totally understand the alcohol) is not the answer, summer camps are. As many as you can possibly afford. I know they all seem to start at 10 and end at 2 but still, it is a few hours of peace.

Other than that, you are going to have to find some bored teenager to take them on for minimum wage over the summer months. I know this will mean you are probably working at a loss but it is better than being stuck minding them yourself and having to take more leave.

 You do say, in your final paragraph that you wish to stop the “gurn”. I’m not 100% sure if you mean it in its traditional sense – i.e. to complain peevishly or in its current use – to grind your jaw and rock after taking an amphetamine, but either way I would not recommend it. You might bite off a little more than you can chew!


Dear Grainne,

Fussy eaters – hungry for everything except the dish I just spent ages making for them.

I used to love to cook. Full on dinner parties with girlfriends and several bottles of wine. Kneading out my work aggression into some dough at the end of the week. Hours spent on the couch at the weekend thinking about what to try next before heading to the local farmers market to source ingredients.

Then we had kids.

Now it’s fair to say my life contains a large amount of frozen chips, fish fingers and chicken nuggets that I previously would never have eaten, never mind ‘stocked up on’ during the weekly online shop. Gone is my homemade brown bread and instead, there is a packaged sliced white pan. Anything ‘spicy’ has been removed from my diet. In its place, bland kids’ meals.

What’s worse is that my particular batch of fussy eaters won’t even eat the same things. ‘I don’t like pasta’ vs ‘I only want pasta’. ‘I don’t like burgers’ vs ‘I only want to eat burgers and not sausages’ (you get the drift). I am stuck in a routine of cooking three different dinners a day and it never ends. The drudgery of it is mind-numbing.

The only things my little darlings agree on is McDonald’s (a place I just never went to BC (before children)). I am at the end of my tether. And all those glossy kids’ cookbooks I bought aren’t helping. ‘The memory of the smell of the fish pie you make from scratch will transport your child back to their younger years as an adult.’ Are these writers on crack?

Kerry Mum of three

Dear Kerry Mum of three,

You are cooking three different varieties of carbohydrates and processed meats a day for your little darlings? I think you are the one on crack! Do you understand the word NO? Do any of your children? You have brought this nightmare entirely upon yourself.

Your children will not starve themselves, they will not fade away (as much as you might desire it)! Cook one dinner, make something you like and put it on a plate. They don’t want to eat it fine, let them leave it on the plate and head for the fruit bowl or raw veg. Leave the plate on the table until you are going to bed. If they reappear with the “I’m hungry” line, their dinner is still waiting for them to consume at their leisure. I presume you do not run a restaurant so why do your children think they can demand a menu?

 I don’t know whose cook book you have, but I will suggest you send it off in the next charity bag. Anyone who thinks the “smell of a fish pie” will transport your child back to their younger years as an adult is, frankly, deranged! They obviously do not have children and have decided to torment gullible mothers such as yourself with this nonsense.

 You will never be “BC” again, so my best advice is to get back to baking bread, you could possibly make it into a career while kneading all your frustrations away.


About Grainne: Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.

*Disclaimer Grainne is not qualified in any way to answer your problems. She doesn’t do feedback but if you want you can leave a comment below or email her at [email protected] We can almost certainly guarantee you she will NOT get back to you, but, one of her cousins who helps her might. Alternatively, you can stalk them directly Twitter: @Triona_Campbell or @KearneyRoisin or both

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