If you think back to last year, the long summer holidays probably won’t have been as enjoyable as they could have been. With so much uncertainty about what we could and couldn’t do, with so many events cancelled and the usual holiday staples being postponed or closed altogether, you might have ended up doing not a lot, and the kids may well have been bored.
Now with this year’s summer holidays looming, you might be worried the same thing will happen. But whether the current restrictions are lifted or not, there are still plenty of ways to keep the kids entertained and to have a memorable summer with them – after all, you don’t get too many of those in a lifetime, so it’s best to make the most of the ones you do have. Read on to find out more.
Make A List
Before the first day of the holidays comes around and the kids come to question you about what they can do and whether you have anything planned, make a list. There are numerous different things you can do during the summer holidays, and it can feel somewhat overwhelming when you want to keep everyone happy, and there is so much choice.
Rather than making just one list, make four different lists. One will be headed ‘At Home’, another will be ‘Minimal Cost’, then ‘Expensive’, and finally ‘Free’. Scroll through social media, think of all the things you usually do, ask your friends and family for ideas, and gradually build up each list.
When you need something for the kids to do, you’ll always have somewhere to go, an activity to enjoy, and so on. Depending on what time you can take off work and what your budget is depends on what you opt for, but having the choice is crucial.
Plan Your Days
Now you know what is available to do during the holidays, from trips to the local park to days out at the zoo to baking to playing with friends or having an arts and craft day, you should print out a calendar for the month of August. This way, you can, at the very least, determine which days should be used for going out and which for staying in. This can be flexible, depending on the weather, but if you need to book tickets for something, you’ll know which days can work for you, and so on.
The further in advance you can plan out each day of the holiday (either to the last second or in rather vague detail), the less stressful the holidays will be for everyone. You can share your plan with everyone or keep it a surprise, but as long as you know what’s happening from day to day so you can plan your work accordingly or arrange transport when needed, for example, you can have a great time.
This also allows you to get your finances in line. If you know when the expensive days out are coming, you can make sure you put money aside to pay for them, and if you have some free or home days before and after, you won’t be spending a lot all at once.
Don’t Feel Guilty
Not everyone likes planning, and not everyone has the time or budget to go out very much. Don’t worry about this and don’t feel guilty. The summer holidays are a great chance to spend time together as a family, and they’re a wonderful way for kids to have some adventures that they can’t do when they’re at school, but if there are days when you have to work, and the kids don’t have anything in particular to do, this is not a bad thing. In fact, it might actually be good for them.
The long summer holidays are long for a reason; this is when the children have to gather their thoughts and reassess and relax after a lot of hard work and get ready for the next step in their education, whatever that might be. Even moving up a year in primary school means a different set of work and a new teacher, and that takes some mental preparation, if nothing else. So if there are days – or even weeks – when you don’t have any concrete plans and the kids just want to stay indoors reading, playing games, or watching streaming services like DistroTV live, that’s fine. It might even be for the best. If you want to spend the entire summer holidays like that, don’t get stressed about it (although a few days out here and there to make some good memories and get some fresh air is always a benefit if you can do it). Do what works for you and your family – that’s the important thing.
Apart from working out what to do with the children during the holidays, you also need to think about what to feed them. Usually, they would have their lunch at school or perhaps take a packed lunch with them, so it’s not something you need to think about too much, but lunch needs to be considered when they’re at home for six to eight weeks.
One way to do this is to create packed lunches every day. If this is what you already do for school, it’s not going to cost you anything more, and it’s not going to take you any more time than usual. Those lunches can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge until needed. This can be even more of a good idea if you get the kids to help you make it each night before they go to bed. You can use this opportunity to try all kinds of different flavours and food types that you might not have wanted to risk in a school lunch because you want to make sure they eat what you give them. Have a backup snack in case they don’t like the new food, but persuade them to try – they might find something they like.
Snacks are also an important element to think about. Whether the kids are running about exerting energy or they’re sitting still watching a screen, they will want snacks. Something that works out well is to prepare a snack box. This will contain all the snacks the kids can have for the day. They need to work out how to space the food out to make the most of them. Or why not create a tuck shop? Give your children a certain amount of money and label their snacks with prices. Once they have spent their money, they’ll be out of snacks. Making food fun is an excellent way to encourage healthy eating, and it takes the boredom out of having the same thing all the time.
Speak To Your Kids
You might assume that your children will want to go out every day and do everything they possibly can. You might think that the idea of staying at home and doing very little is not going to appeal to them.
You might, however, be wrong to think that. It could be that your kids need some time to themselves and they want to relax and play their games or be in the garden or have a picnic with their dolls or look through their postcard collection or whatever else it is that makes them happy.
Speak to your kids about the kinds of things they would like to do in the holidays. You might be surprised to find they would rather be at home than go out, or the places you assumed they would want to go aren’t on their list of priorities. Finding out what they want means you can plan accordingly, and everyone will be happy.
Be Kind To Yourself
This is a hugely important point when it comes to the summer holidays. Be kind to yourself. You might want the kids to have the best time ever and try your hardest only to get frustrated or disappointed if things don’t work out, or you might feel bad about days when you can’t be with them or when plans have to change and so on, but this is not something you should do.
No one is perfect, and your children will remember a summer holiday much more fondly if they don’t have to worry that you’re upset or stressed. Even if you go nowhere and choose, for whatever reason that works for you, to stay at home, if you’re kind to yourself, everyone will benefit.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the best – you already are in your children’s eyes. They don’t need to be entertained 24/7 (in fact, some studies say that boredom is good for children and adults alike), and something simple like going for a walk or baking a cake together can bring just as much joy as a day out at an expensive theme park. Do what you want to do and what your children will be happy doing, and make sure you take time to rest. Six weeks or constant outings and entertainment will take its toll, and you don’t want to be relieved when the holidays are over, and your kids are older. You want to be happy you had fun together and be able to enjoy the memories when they go back to school.
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