Vakantie’ in the Dutch means ‘holiday’ in English. And my children are in ‘krokusvakantie’ right now, that means ‘spring holiday’. They are free from school for one week, and since we can’t go anywhere in this corona lockdown, we just stay at home. Often we go out to the neighboring parks, or if Papa is free on the weekend, we can go somewhere farther, like to the beach or to the forest. We’re actually very lucky that we are allowed to go everywhere we like in this lockdown time, as long as it’s inside The Netherlands and outdoors.
It’s not easy to entertain two young children for a whole week of holiday at home. Even with the current possibility of playing with the screens (screens have been banned from them for them for the last 3 weeks because they broke some agreements), I simply can’t let them play screens 24 hours a day. And with the fact that our neighbours hate noises (produced by us), we can’t stay at home the whole day.
One of the ways I can keep them within the border of my sanity is by asking them to do their schoolworks for an hour or two. Here in The Netherlands elementary school students don’t get much homework like in Asia – basically they didn’t get any homework from the teacher! Fortunately I have some leftover materials from their previous house-schooling so they are good to go.
My daughter’s reaction when I announced that they had to work yesterday morning was, “maar Mama, dit is vakantie!” – Mama, it’s a holiday! “Yes, this is a holiday, but we still can do what’s useful,” answered me.
I pondered long after that conversation about this holiday-don’t have to do anything-matter. Is this true? Was she right? But can we really put life on hold while we’re on vakantie?
Since I became a mother, I simply have never had any vakantie. With the high living cost here in The Netherlands, I have to cook for our meals almost everyday. Even if I can subside the urge to clean the house and decide to live in a slump, still there are mouths for me to feed. No matter in which state I am, I always get up and feed my children (and husband, huhu). Sometimes we do eat out, but not very often, and still we have to do something in the house. It’s a very different situation compared to living in Asia, when we are surrounded by family that can help, or eating out is cheap and available almost everywhere, and the paid-help is also financially feasible.
Perhaps my only true-holiday is when I was laying in the hospital beds, 3 nights of nothing to do, except holding the pain and holding up my courage to not giving up the fight… But of course normal people won’t call it a holiday.
This concept that holiday is a time where you’re entirely free from obligation are possessed by a lot of people. Naturally children view holidays like that, but in fact many adults think that holiday should be absolutely zero-task. Which I would like to agree, but my reality stops me.
And to keep such a concept can bring many problems in this life, because it plants a feeling of disownership on one’s obligation. For example, someone might say, “It’s the weekend, I don’t have to do it, I don’t want to do it”, or “I’m on a holiday now, that’s not my job.” Yeah, sure, genius, but someone still has to do it! If you’re on ‘holiday’ and won’t do it, then who will?” Unless you have all the money in the world to pay someone else to do the works for you, of course.
Honestly, I have plenty of arguments with my other half on this matter. The mentality of “this is not my part” (because it’s my free day) has left me with so many things I had to take care of on my own because like he said, it’s his holiday (but unfortunately not mine).
Wikipedia defines holiday as this: A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work including school, are suspended or reduced.
As I reflect on this holiday issue, I think people (and children!) need to learn the correct definition of a holiday. An official holiday from business or school means you are free (or getting reduction) from work or study. But the obligation of daily life should not be dismissed at any cost. Of course it can be reduced, but we have to remember that life goes on, and basic necessities in life should always be worked out. My own mantra goes like this: ‘If I don’t do it, is there anyone else doing that for me?’ It means, go all the way when you find someone else who can do it and willingly do it (paid or free), but if you don’t find them then the obligation is yours, so don’t run away!
Of course we all need a break, even machines in the factory take maintenance breaks. But we have to learn of doing a healthy dose of breaks, and also having a good grasp of reality. I wish to teach this concept to my children, to learn that a holiday doesn’t mean they’re absolutely free from all things, but to see that works are part of their life. Works are their life! Works are not burdens, and if we do them together, we can do them faster – instead of letting Mama run around like a crazy chick doing all things on the farm.
One blog post has a beautiful description of work:
When we go all the way back to Genesis, we can see that God worked when He created the world. Therefore, when we work, we resemble Him. In addition, work is not God’s way of punishing us. In fact, He blesses us with the ability to work so we can honor Him.
But of course, back to this vakantie, we all need to take a rest from all our hard work. The Bible explains that we have six days to work and one day to rest – looking up to this, I can empirically say that this proportion of work and rest in our days (even on holidays!) is pretty ideal. So we shouldn’t completely eliminate the work from our holidays.
I hope my children take this lesson well. Yeah, this is vakantie, but still, get up there, make your bed for me to see! 😎