Much has been said lately about wrapping your kids up in cotton wool. I have been as guilty as most about being over protective, however the more kids you have the less paranoid you tend to be.

Still I always think twice when they walk or bike to the dairy, still nag to make sure they wear their helmet and to look both ways when crossing the road, and I go searching when they are longer than the accustomed time it takes to buy a dollar mix. I must admit though that sometimes I give them money to go to the dairy just for that beautiful luxury of 5 minutes peace.

We always seem to have a houseful of children and whilst I love having other kids over (well, most of the time) the burden of responsibilty sometimes weighs heavily. I mean, it’s not a good look if someone else’s children get injured under your supervision. We have a pool and even swimming scares the living daylights out of me, and if I am mad enough to go to the beach with other children we always swim between the flags. So I am pretty paranoid, but despite all precautions, accidents do happen. That’s why they call them accidents. Our “Josh” broke his collarbone last week and is a bag of misery because he was unable to play in the annual cricket tournament.

So, as usual, at this time of the holidays the budget is pretty stretched and the thinking caps are on for things to do that don’t cost the earth and don’t involve too much organisation.The big winners this year have been the motorised scooter bought off Trade Me. I am amazed it is still functioning but all the kids have had hours of fun, but it significantly cuts down the travelling time to the dairy and the horn means there is little chance of any peace. The giant slingshot bought from any major surf shop has been a real hit ! Firing water bombs miles into the sea and alternatively being used as a bowling machine firing a tennis ball at the poor batsman who, for his own personal safety, wears every single piece of cricket protective gear we own. Faster than Brett Lee they tell me !

The Joey wars are undoubtedly the least expensive — you tape a cut balloon to an old toilet roll and fire little hard smoker lollies at your targets. The boys set up an obstacle course and have hours of fun. The only condition with this is to wear protective glasses/goggles …we got a few pair from the $2 dollar shop. Of course, with boys there always has to be an element of risk to make any game really fun. So with the eyes protected the worst injury is a few red welts that quickly disappear.

And the new World Monopoly has given us a some good family time ..well, at least until it becomes a matter of life and death.

So with a few weeks to go in what they call “holidays” I have to admit that I am exhausted at the end of each day. It is a seemingly endless process of filling the trolley up at the supermarket only to watch it disappear into hollow legs, piles of washing… I wonder why is it so difficult to hang a wet towel on the line and why is it easier to put new clothes on and leave the old ones on a heap on the floor.

But I was thinking that time goes pretty quickly and before I know it I won’t have the boys around much longer in the holidays. Soon they will be swanning off with their mates to different holiday hot spots and my worries will be greater than those I currently experience. The good old Kiwi summer holiday is really a fabulous way to unwind and recharge the batteries.

Despite the hard yakka at times I look back to when I was working full time and realised how much I was missing out on. Luckily I am able to be at home now during the holidays so I count my blessings that I get to share this time with the boys. I know it’s not the case for everyone and, given the difficult financial times we are all facing, the prospect of wondering what will we do tomorrow isn’t that bad after all.

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Dame Susan Devoy is New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner, and a World Open champion squash player. She's the former CEO of Sport Bay of Plenty and super-mum to four boys.

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