The summer holidays are very nearly upon us, and if you’re anything like me then you may find yourself panicking about how to keep the kids entertained for 6 weeks straight, manage your work commitments and maybe try to get in some kind of social life (not to mention trying to keep your sanity intact!).
I must admit, this isn’t my first rodeo. I have three children between the ages of 10 and 14 and so summer holidays are now managed with military precision in order to keep us all happy! I thought I’d share some of my top tips that I’ve learnt over the years for a peaceful summer holiday period:
Plan, plan and plan some more!
I cannot stress how important it is to be organised throughout this period. Take the time – BEFORE the holidays – to sit down with your kids and get them to write a list of the things they want to do. It’s important you make it clear these are just ideas and you can’t do everything on their lists! Once the kids have theirs, then make your own list and be sure to include any partners’ ideas too! Where do you want to take the kids? Who’s top of the list for visits? Do you have any holidays booked? What about work commitments?
Once you have all this information, you can plan days out, dates with their friends, dates for childcare, summer camps or any work commitments you need to adhere to.
Having a wish list of things to do is super useful as it means you can be flexible. If the kids want to go to the beach, but the weather is awful, simply pick something local from their list such as soft play or a play date with friends. It also allows you to budget more effectively, which I’ll cover off shortly!
But… Don’t over plan!
Remember kids get mentally worn out like we do. It’s very easy to plot out your master plan for the 6-week holiday and forget to give yourselves some down time. It’s really important that you and the kids have the time and mental space to decompress and chill at home during this period. Plan a few days out of ‘doing stuff’, then plan to do nothing! Have days at home with nowhere to be, plan for later mornings (let’s face it, lie-ins are a thing of the past!), screen time and a day when you all stay in your pjs until lunch!
Once you’ve got everyone’s ideas, it’ll make it much easier to plan and more importantly, budget for the things you want to do. Let’s face it, worrying about money is stressful at the best of times- but when you’ve got the holidays stretching out ahead of you and your kids begging you for ice creams every few minutes it can make it ten times worse!
My solution is really simple. I work out what I can afford to spend over the entire summer break and set that as my budget at the beginning of the holidays. It can make it much easier to take the weekly amount out in cash at the start of the week so that you (and more importantly, the kids) can see how much you’re spending each day. It can also be a great lesson in budgeting for your kids! Do they want to ride on an expensive fair ground ride for 2 minutes or have ice creams?!
It’s also good to remember that sometimes, the best things in life really are free! Getting out with the family dog for a woodland walk, playing board games at home, trips to the local park – all of these things are great fun but can be totally cost free.
Share the Load
One thing to remember, is that we’re all in this together! Play dates can be a real saviour to allow you to have a good chat with another adult who is equally as worn out as you are, or (if you’re dropping your kids off for a playdate), a great moment for some time alone – just remember to reciprocate a playdate at yours and give your friends a break too. Perhaps you’ve met some a great group of mum friends at Buggyfit, or still keep in contact with your Fit4Birth crew. Why not get in touch and set up some catch-up time for you and the kids?
If your kids are lucky enough to have grandparents, they can also be a huge help. Friends of mine rely hugely on their parents to help out during the holidays – usually with the grandparents taking charge for a day a week to enable them to get some work done! And let’s face it, what kid doesn’t love a trip to Nanny’s house?!
Make time for YOU
The final point is whatever you plan for the kids, make sure to MAKE TIME FOR YOU! Yes, the summer holidays are of course all about the children – but as I always maintain, happy mum = happy kids! Whether it’s a coffee date (alone) with a friend, a long cool bath at the end of a manic summer’s day, a chilled Pilates class, or a glass of chilled prosecco in the evening… those little moments that are just for you are hugely important for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Above all else, relax and enjoy this time with your children. It can be really tough feeling that you’re not doing enough, that they’re bored or not doing as much as their friends. Ultimately it will be the little things they remember – time spent with mum in the garden, ice creams in the park and sunny days when you were all together.