A Mothers Ramblings: How not to dread the Summer Holidays

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

How not to dread the Summer Holidays

The Summer holidays are one of those times that can fill parents with dread. I think that most families are pleased to be able to spend more time together, but at the same time are worried that the School holidays are going to cost an arm and a leg and the carefully planned summer holiday budget is going to be thrown out of the window by the end of the first week! With this in mind I have spoken to parents in the school playground (and on Twitter and Facebook), Grandparents and a selection of  Teachers. All of them have given some fantastic ideas about how not to dread the Summer Holidays, how to make the break a great time to spend together as a family and to make some great memories. And all this whilst not going over your own personal family fun time budget!
A Family Photo of A Mothers Ramblings

The first tip is to plan early. At the moment the start of the Summer holidays for most of us here in the UK is about five weeks away, but if we can plan now we can make sure that we have some great activities planned and childcare for the entire holiday period. With this in mind try to schedule the big events you have planned so that they don't happen on consecutive days (if at all possible) and try to keep the things your family think of as "best" towards the middle end of the summer holidays, this way there is something to look forward to and also enough time to wind down again afterwards! Also if you know that you can only budget for one trip to a theme park and one trip to a local farm and tell your family when these trips are there is less pressure on you to find money for extra days out. Remember too that it is possible to have Family fun days out on a budget.

Of course it doesn't have to be big days out in the Summer Holidays that you plan in advance that your children  will look forward to. If you try to plan with friends and family, (not just your friends but also the friends of your children) you could have a whole Summer of fun planned. It might be that you arrange for your children to go to a friend's house for the day and then the next week you have them over to yours or it might be that your children would like to go and spend a couple of days with their Grandparents or their Aunt and Uncle's house. This share of childcare will allow you some time to yourself and allow your children to not get bored of your company! You could always take this a step further and decide to have a series of Summer Fun days and ask friends if they would like to join in. This way you could arrange to share cost of hire of bouncy castle, or a Children's entertainer, or the private hire of a swimming pool. This way you can have several fun days planned across the holiday for only part of the cost each time. If you also plan to have one at each friends house, you only have to clean up once too!

Don't forget to use the resource that is your local Library! Our local libraries (I have four within easy reach) have story time, song time, and of course you can always join in with the Summer Reading Challenge which is great fun and (this year is Circus themed) can help your children to develop a love of reading. A few of our local book stores also run story time and have activities for children during the summer break and one of them even has a Cafe that the parents can grab a quick coffee from!

Circus Stars Logo

Talking of School, try to do a bit of school like work based on age and ability. It might be that you challenge your children to keep a written journal of the Summer holidays, or that you ask them to keep a note of the different weather they enjoy, or you keep the basic math skills going with cooking, counting games or introducing them to sudoku or similar! With this and reading at least three times a week you can help establish that learning is fun, and this bodes well for when they go back to school at the end of the Summer Holidays!

You might be looking forward to long lazy summer days and having a bit of extra sleep and that is good but having a schedule and agreeing to all be dressed by a certain time each day (before lunch works best!) means that first week or two when you have to start getting up early to be on time for school again won't be so hard. Of course having a pyjama day is still allowed... just not on the day you are planning to go to a friends for a morning of play!

We love electronics in our house. Yes, I know there are some parents who don't and that is fine, but I don't see anything wrong with letting children play on a PC or a DSi or a Wii or a Playstation, or an Xbox, BUT (and as you can see it is a big but) also balance this out with play outside, play with non electronic toys and try to have equal time of educational and non educational games on the electronic equipment of your children's choice! It would also be wise to agree in advance just how long your children can play on said equipment per day and have a timer to make sure the times are stuck to.

Top Ender on a video gameBig Boy on a video game

Have a family project, it might be that it is this summer you all decide to make the garden borders bigger/smaller/higher/more colourful/tidier or that you are going to redecorate a room in your home or that you are going to help a neighbour or a shelter or a rescue centre or.... a few hours a week is all it takes to make a huge difference in completing that project and you could find that you look forward to next years Summer Holiday project.

Remember to ask your children what they want to do. They might surprise you with a request to do something you thought they had grown out of, or that you hadn't thought they had an interest in, but if you do include some of the things they suggest (not sure how Big Boy's request of fly a rocket to the moon fit's into my small entertainment fund) then they are more likely to have fun on the other activities you have scheduled too!

Don't forget to take lots of photos and videos during the summer, it could be one of your children's jobs to make sure that they capture at least one photo a day and by the end of the summer you will have a great reminder of all the fun that you had together during the holidays.

(Video can be seen at http://youtu.be/9xVwvs6Ab2U )

And the last tip? Don't over plan your children, let them have free time to play games that they make up, or to listen to music, or to daydream. It is important that children learn that they have control over themselves and can keep themselves amused.

Don't forget to look out for my list of 100 free (or near free) things to do in the Summer Holidays!