blog · children · lifestyle · mum · parent

Summer holidays needn’t be hell

I’m aware that at the beginning of the summer holidays many parents approach the impending 6,7,8 weeks (depending on where your child schools) with a sense of doom.  It doesn’t have to be like that.

You’ll know by now this is not a ‘how to be a perfect mum’ blog. This is just a bit of advice or knowledge I’ve picked up so far, so here’s what I know about summer holidays.

Two very important things to bear in mind 1) go with the flow, chances are the days are not going to be ‘perfect’ but there may be glimpses of it 2) ensure you have gin/vodka/[insert tipple of choice here] available for the end of the day ‘well done me’ drink.

Bear in mind the weeks off are for you too. I know it’s different for parents who work full time and they need to negotiate childcare for their children. But for people like me, who either are full time mums or work from home/have a flexible job, there will be many days of nothing stretching out before you. Instead of worrying though, think of the positives.

  • There are no more school runs
  • No more trying to find spare shoes/Viking costumes/cakes for bake sales/£1 for whatever latest fundraising drive it is

This is yours, and your children’s time to kick back and relax.

Whilst it’s probably tempting to schedule something every day of the summer holidays to stave off boredom (for you and the kids) this is both expensive, and unnecessary. Children don’t need constant stimulation and it’ll exhaust you. Parents need downtime as much as children do.

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We have at home days. I tell the kids we’re not going anywhere and that this is their chance to do the things they can’t when at school. I don’t set them tasks or create activities, I believe children need some space to create whatever they want without adult involvement. If I hear ‘I’m bored’ I tell them to find three things to entertain themselves with, or ask if they’d like to help with housework…

At home entertainment created by my children has included – discos, dens, digging in the garden (we have a patch for them to ‘grow’ things in, but it’s mainly for digging), shows, camping in the garden, playing on bikes and scooters and a million other things. A very large cardboard box is brilliant as it becomes a rocket ship, a post office, a ship… My kids enjoy painting the house (!) which is just a pot of water and cheap paintbrushes, they get to ‘paint’ and it just dries out.

With my involvement we do cooking and baking, and of course the inevitable crafting. I try and collect craft things up over a few months before the school holidays so that if it’s raining I can produce something they’ve not seen before.  One of the most fun wet mornings we had was decorating old t-shirts with fabric pens – amazing (albeit blinglingly hideous) creations which the kids loved wearing over the rest of the summer.

We always have a look at what the library is doing, this year it’s a fab Roald Dahl challenge (if you’re in West Sussex you can do it too, see here), which offers both an outing to the library and the incentive of a medal at the end of the six weeks.

Talking of free stuff…. When we have days out, which I love doing as much as the kids, there’s so much you can do which is either cheap or free. We’ve signed up for a Woodland pack from the Woodland Trust (see here for info), which is all about inviting a tree for tea! So one day during the holidays we’ll be going for a picnic somewhere nearby, armed with our activity pack.

Other things we’ll be doing include –

  • beach trips (just bring a picnic and a spare pair of clothes and you’re set)
  • visits to forests
  • visits to local parks
  • blackberry picking
  • trips to grandparents
  • geocaching (although chances are it’ll be replaced with Pokemon Go this year!)

Some things which cost a little, but are good fun are going on train journeys somewhere – it doesn’t have to be very far, it still feels like an adventure and with a family travelcard your travel is reduced if you’re with a youngster, info here.

Likewise going on a bus somewhere, we do bus trips down to Worthing as there’s a beach at the end of it! But wherever you are, even if you go somewhere you usually drive to, it makes it fun for the kids to go on a bus.

Don’t be afraid of the holidays, embrace them. Soon your kids will be old enough they don’t want to spend time with you. Enjoy the hazy summer days, puddle jump on the wet ones, go for it wholeheartedly and know it’s just a few weeks before you’ll be trying to remember half a dozen things daily for school again.

PS – I NEVER take the children for the supermarket shop, it’s hellish for all of us. I really encourage anyone to just have it delivered. Far more stress free!

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