'Do you mind it being outside term time?' - 'Em no, no I do not!'
It's official, schools are reopening and there will be a dash to "staycation." Or will parents ever look at the 20 days absenteeism in the same way again post COVID-19? Writes Amii McKeever

How many of you had that friend that got whisked out of school, by their parents, on a “sun holiday” a week or two before the end of the term? The one that never sat a summer test and arrived back tanned and relaxed just as the rest of us pasty-white, test-stressed teenagers were pulling off our knee socks for the last time before summer. Despite the hyped warnings, the ones I know are still highly successful people. The missing days having little bearing in the longer term.

The wish was to travel with some friends, but for that to work, the trip needed to coincide with a break in the harvest

Back in June when we first heard about the reopening of hotels and getting away (in Ireland) became a reality, I tried to book a few “staycation” days. The wish was to travel with some friends, but for that to work, the trip needed to coincide with a break in the harvest. We thought a beach would be the best option. The theory that even if everything was closed, we could go walking and the children could get wet, cold and be quickly wrapped up and whisked to a hot shower. I called our first choice.

Got a price – it was high – but not nose-bleed high so a date still merited conversation. The nice girl on reservations asked how I felt about it being out of school holidays, as they had no availability until September. I thought of my friends who never sat those summer tests. I admitted in earnest; that with 60 days of school contact time missed in 2020, the Department of Education would have a hard time making me feel bad or concerned about a few days’ holidays.

Back pre-COVID-19, the original plan was to go to a campsite with these same friends

We didn’t book it though, September was too far away. I tried a few other places, but there was something that prevented it from working; dates, money, too far to a beach or facilities not guaranteed. I was tired, I stopped looking.

Back pre-COVID-19, the original plan was to go to a campsite with these same friends. An Italian spot was picked. It had multiple pools, restaurants and a kids club. We didn’t book that either, a mixture of indecision and an up-front cash requirement. Small mercy now. I like an active holiday but the glory of these parks is the lack of brainpower required to plan it. Plane, bus, accommodation, restaurant, pool and activity A, B C or D. The lack of ease, heightened now with COVID-19, is perhaps why the staycation didn’t happen.

We now know how schools will be supported to reopen and Margaret Hawkins has some great advice on supporting our children through this next step. My older daughter Raine is looking forward to it – but she admits, mostly just to see her friends. Before that happens, we still wanted to get away. So this week, in the absence of the Galway Races, a good friend and I and our four small women are having a girls mini break. I have been ringing around the destination trying to book a few bits as many things are still closed.

Amii & Raine McKeever "staycationing" at Centre Parcs, Longford Forest, July 2019.

Foolishly, perhaps, I told my five year old, Dia, that a hotel stay with her pals was on the cards. I did this so that I could use it as a behaviour influencing tool for the few days in advance. She packed her suitcase, walked to her granny’s for her armbands and has asked me at least 400 (million) times: “How many sleeps to holidays?” I am not booking anything else to do on this trip – the kids don’t care, they just want to be with their friends, be that in school or away. And we might get away again... later in the year.

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