The prosecution: Roy
I know Linda is stressed, but she should get into the summer spirit with me and the kids
I love my wife, Linda, but when summer comes and things get hot, I think she gets a little stressed with our kids. We’re in the middle of a heatwave and while my two young daughters, Ethel and Mabel, and I love it and want to spend time outside in our garden, Linda complains.
I think a nice summer in the UK is cause for celebration. After work I love to come home and play with the kids in our garden. Sometimes that means a water fight. I taught them how to fill up balloons and bought them water pistols, but Linda wasn’t a fan.
She said that I’m teaching them how to be rough and that water fights make too much of a mess. I told her to relax – it’s summer. I think the girls should be able to make the most of their time outdoors. It’s so much better than them playing on their iPads inside.
Recently the girls wanted to get the paddling pool out and Linda wouldn’t let them. She says it is a waste of water, which is true, but we only fill it up once a year and reuse the water. Linda says the water gets dirty easily and also worries about the girls getting sunburned if they are outside too long.
Sometimes she will complain about them dripping water inside the house. I am the more hands-on parent and don’t mind about all that stuff. I tell her I’ll do the bed and bath routine with the girls and clean up any mess, but Linda moans anyway.
Linda is great with the housework and cooking and is a full-time stay-at-home mum, but sometimes I think she needs to let her hair down and be a bit more playful. I do think the hot weather is the main thing getting to her. She says, “I’m too hot – I can’t concentrate on anything,” as soon as the temperature gets over 25C.
Linda should try to get into the summer spirit with me and the kids. I know she spends all day in the house, which can be tough, whereas I come back from work and probably get the best of the good times with the girls. Even so, if she relaxed a bit over the paddling pool and the hot weather, that would be nice for all of us.
The defence: Linda
Playtime can get a bit rowdy. I worry about the neighbours – and wasting that much water
Summer is great if you are young and child-free, but we are not any more. Of course I love my girls, but during a heatwave the stress of staying at home all day with them definitely gets a little more intense.
Roy doesn’t see what goes on in the day, when I’m the carer. When it’s hot, school will occasionally finish early, so I’ll have to be at home with our daughters. They are really hyperactive in this heat. Ethel always moans about being uncomfortable and sweaty, and Mabel constantly begs for ice-cream. I try to keep them busy with iPad games and language lessons.
I think it’s good to have them focused on productive things. But then Roy comes home at 5pm and wants to get them completely hyped up again in the garden. He is super playful, which I love, but being in the garden every day creates extra mess and I like to keep a tidy home.
I don’t have a problem with the odd water fight, but Roy will go nuts and let the girls fill up multiple ballooons, and I worry about disturbing the neighbours. I also think the paddling pool is a bad idea. I don’t care if it’s 30C – we shouldn’t be wasting that much water. Plus, after one dip it’s filled with soil and muck from the girls’ feet, which makes it really unhygienic.
I sound like a misery guts, but I just prefer organised fun for my kids: card games, online entertainment, reading. We live in a cul-de-sac in a small town. Everyone knows everyone, and I don’t need my kids shouting and screaming outside until it’s time for bed. When summer comes, it seems that all routine and discipline go out the window. Often the girls don’t want to go to sleep if they’ve been playing all evening with Roy in the garden. I don’t want to play bad cop all the time, but I seem to be.
Roy needs to see things from my perspective. I am at home all day with the kids. I have a good routine for them during the summer holidays, and although I love that he wants to play with Ethel and Mabel after work, it should be more contained – and the water fights need to stop.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Linda be more laid-back about garden games?
It can be exhausting to have two active children on your hands, especially during a heatwave. But to keep them inside the house with iPad games and language lessons will only compound matters. They both obviously suffer in the heat, and what better solution to that than playing water games?
What’s the point of having a paddling pool if you don’t use it? Perhaps Roy could save the water fights for the weekends instead, but Linda needs to let the kids have some unorganised, rowdy fun as well as the kind she prefers.
Linda needs to unwind when Roy is home, and let him enjoy the time with the kids. Organised fun doesn’t need to be limited to productive stuff, it is also about having a laugh, embracing the moment and making lasting memories.
A little balance is probably good here – while the importance of routine in children’s lives, and the efforts of a stay-at-home carer are not lost on me, I think the whole family could benefit from some of the silly fun that Roy is in favour of in the evenings.
When Roy gets home, it’s the time to settle the kids down so Linda can start to unwind. It sounds as though Roy chronically undervalues Linda and her role in their family. Roy should move to a four-day week and be “amused” by a day of childcare, cleaning, washing, shopping and cooking.
You be the judge
So now you can be the judge. In our online poll, below, tell us: should Linda let her daughters play in the paddling pool?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.
The poll will close on Thursday 18 August at 9am BST
Last week’s result
We asked whether Wanda should switch to brushing her teeth after breakfast, like her husband Alex.
74% of you said no – Wanda is not guilty
26% of you said yes – Wanda is guilty