It struck me this week how valuable the downtime of the long school holidays really are. I’ve watched Charli settle into the joy of no routine and having freedom to utilize her time to her own clock. She has grown so much in the past school year and learnt so much, but this downtime gives her an opportunity to really explore with the new tools she is now mentally equipped with.

She is reading so much of her own choosing, expressing herself through art and taking an interest in sketching.

Charli’s turtle:

Charli's turtle

Charli’s mermaid:

Charli's mermaid

Her interests have rubbed off on me and she has encouraged me to draw too. I used to spend hours as a girl drawing and painting, especially when away for the weekend visiting family. Charli even said to me the other day, ‘Mummy I’ll clean down the kitchen so you can have time to do a drawing.’ Bless her cotton socks!

‘Chicken’ Grandma (sorry, the name has stuck Mum – serves you right for being so good at animal noise impressions on the telephone!), is coming out to NZ with her sketch pad at hand. She’s been doing drawing and water-colour classes and sent a copy of one of her paintings to the girls, which has really inspired Charli.

My seahorse and dolphin for Charli and ‘Chicken’ Grandma’s robin:

Mummy's dolphin Mummy's seahorse Chicken Grandma's robin

I find her on the piano experimenting with music and writing down notes to make her own little compositions.

She is constructing with lego and acting out plays with her sister.

Workbooks from Whitcoulls are frequently turned to as she keenly works on her mathematics and problem solving skills.

She has an electronics circuit-set, which she asked for on her sixth Birthday and with the freedom of time she is now spending hours setting up circuits to make a light come on, a fan go round or sounds blurt out.

In between all this mental exploring there is the freedom to burn off physical steam in the garden whenever she pleases. She is frequently hanging from trapeze bars in the garden, bouncing on the trampoline, skipping around the house or making me envious with her hula-hoop twirling. Even when it’s raining she sometimes sits under the verandah to watch the birds flitting in the trees.

She is so happy, calm and balanced. There is no tension in her bones or spirit. She is so relaxed in having the time to be herself.

At the beginning of the holidays she seemed a little lost, having been so used to being told when to write, when to add up, when to eat, when to line up etc. I recall on school pick-ups she was sometimes tense or in need of more direction and asking to do more extra-curricular activities. Though she has loved her past year of school, she really needed this down-time to learn to just be ‘her’ again. She hasn’t asked to do lots of things this holiday, but has remembered her own inner-drive to explore and be creative. She hasn’t needed to be ‘scheduled’ to feel secure. She is thriving in freedom. I am sure she’ll be really revved up to return to school when the time comes and excited to see her friends. But for now, I am so thankful for this long school holiday.

Other art work by Charli:

Charli's 'funny face', drawn at New Dowse art gallery Dec 09 Dotty art bright coloured fun