5 Top Tips For Successful Summer Holidays
As someone who has worked in education all my life, each year has always been divided into terms with a long summer break. However, as a parent the way in which so many groups/childcare provisions for little people also stop over this time came as quite a shock. The summer loomed ahead like a huge challenge to be conquered and I felt guilty for the dread and fear I felt.
Ironically once the summer was over, I felt sad as things returned to normal. I had found a rhythm and was loving the time with my children and we had all found our groove.
After a year of lockdowns/online provisions you might feel you are a seasoned pro at riding the wave. Or (like me), you might be dreading the summer because just as life gets back to ‘normal’, the children’s world slows down. Whatever your circumstances, here are six top tips that come from some of the lessons I have learnt over the years which I hope will help you have a joyful and successful summer with small people…
1. Ride out the storm…
Life is full of transitions. Some children find adapting to change easier than others, but most will feel it in some way. I find the first week is painful. My girls, two years apart, fight, are tired and are generally hard work. I try to get them outside as much as possible but also generally accept this is the tricky bit we need to ride out until everyone finds their happy place.
2. Play outdoors
We all respond positively to being outdoors. During all of the summer holiday we have an ‘outside first’ routine. When I had a baby and a toddler, this often meant I was walking the streets before 8am but this lifted everyone’s mood and the rest of the day was more manageable. Even now I drag my near teenager out of the door before 9am and it still works!
3. Make a plan and rally the troops!
I learnt this the hard way. I am a terrible planner and love to be impulsive, but kids need structure and enjoy looking forward to events. We now have a family calendar, where each child chooses activities they’d like to do and I add my ‘stuff’ too. This collective plan means everyone’s needs and expectations are met.
I also join forces with my friends. Not only is it lovely to have days out together – kiddies play while grown-ups put the world to rights – but in each other you also have a free childcare resource. Sharing childcare is a wonderful way of growing independence in your children, supporting them socially and giving yourself a break. The phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ couldn’t be more true; find people you trust, lean into their support and enjoy sharing the load.
4. Rotate toys
This is a serious hack. For all of my children’s younger years I had their toys on rotation. The joy they feel from ‘new’ things coming from the loft is adorable and this also prevents bedrooms/lounges becoming toy graveyards.
For me, one of the most exciting things about the lockdown easing is the re-opening of charity shops. How wonderful to buy other children’s cast-off toys and books at a fraction of the price and give to charity!
5. Screen time… less is more!
Okay, this is a tough one. Whilst the screen is possibly the most wonderful gift to modern parents, it’s wise to consider the hidden negative impact it has on mood and wellbeing. Bear with me here (I turn to the screen as my lifesaver too) but I have found that restricting screen time actually makes my kids easier to manage. Even when the children were young, I found that screen time made their general mood lower and they became agitated more easily and generally less happy.
Through trial and error, I learnt to use the screen only when I really needed it, for example at the end of the day when I was literally ready to sleep standing. As my children have grown older the screen restriction has continued (much to their horror) and their ability to play independently and make their own fun is still a real pleasure to see.
However, please note, I still have days where the screen is my saviour and we watch movies back to back all day – but it’s a treat and I enjoy it too!
6. Making memories
My eldest is now 12. I possibly only have 6 years left of her permanently living at home before she starts making her own way in the world. It only seems like yesterday that I held her in my arms crying with joy the day she was born…
Sometimes we are so busy managing our lives and ‘getting through’ we forget we are in the moments we dreamed of right now. These moments are found cuddling up with a book, climbing even higher in the park and spraying each other with a hose of freezing water, whooping with joy and laughter!
Summer success comes from simple things, these things are memories in the making.
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