Making the school holidays fun and enjoyable for all the family takes a bit of planning whatever your circumstances.
For some it is an opportunity to break from the day-to-day school routines and have fun and enjoy time with the kids, for others it’s a manic few weeks of juggling work, managing and finding holiday child care coupled with pangs of guilt.
Well whatever your circumstances the aim here is to help you and your kids have fun and a great summer holiday to remember.
So here are some things you should bear in mind.
Whatever your children’s age – Plan
It does not matter how old your kids are, whether you have tinies or teens school holidays have their challenges.
I remember when my own kids moved into secondary school, it was not just a question of keeping the kids occupied, but more about having a system whereby I could keep tabs on where they were and what they were up to. And believe me that requires planning.
Have a Holiday Calendar
Create a special calendar which you can pin-up on the fridge covering the school holidays. A quick way is to use a Microsoft calendar and print it out. Alternatively use a family planner and have a holiday notebook to refer to. This will give you an overview of the holidays and what is already scheduled in and where there maybe long lingering gaps in activities. It also means that everyone can see what they are up to.
Contact Numbers and Other Administration Stuff
Now is the time to update your emergency telephone number list. Restock the first aid kit, including insect repellent, and Waspees and anti histamines cream.
Check you have all your children’s close friends mobile numbers – and parents too if possible. Arrange swaps, and sleepovers (making sure you are not overstretching yourself).
Make a list of games for the kids to play and have the props ready at hand. Things like Treasure hunts, camouflage and tracking games just need a little planning and imagination and can keep the kids occupied for hours.
Make a list of rainy day games to play, buy ingredients for cooking, and create a dressing up box. both of which can keep kids happy for hours.
Suggest older kids do chores for you, cook dinner or do some shopping. And in return you pay them a little extra pocket-money. After all home management is something we all will have to learn one day.
Visit the local library and leisure centres to find out details on activities your kids might like to attend.
Budget for the holidays
Holidays can become expensive, whether you are having to fund holiday care or taking the kids out on excursions. Work out what you can really afford and then stick to it.
Swap trips to the cinema for cinema night at home with popcorn.
A trip to a theme park for an afternoon at an adventure playground or activities in the garden or park.
Check your local library for places to visit and local events you can attend which won’t cost a penny.
If you are going to book theme parks or are planning days out why not save time and money by prebooking Book Print and Go Theme Park Tickets
Time and Energy
Although school holidays are supposed to be fun, it is also important that children take time out and chill. Having lots of activities may seem like a good idea initially, but having too much on, may end up making everyone, including you, tired and grumpy. So make sure you balance big days out with lazy days.
If your child has to attend full-time holiday care, check that the programme includes some down time. If it appears to be full-on everyday, make sure your weekends are relaxed and give your child plenty of time to sleep in and be lazy. Children need time between school terms to recharge their energy levels.
It is often the little things that are the most important
Research has proven that children don’t necessarily remember the most extravagant activities, but instead the small things that happen as they grow up. Creating your own family traditions can be as simple as a Sunday BBQ or a family picnic. My own kids memories of our holidays were the tracking games they played in the woods and the picnics we ate in the car on our long drive down to the South of France each summer. (Strange really because I found that long drive really tough).
Hold a Family Meeting and get Buy In
Hold a family meeting. Getting buy in and understanding everyone’s views about holiday plans will save disagreements later.
If you are lucky enough to be at home with your children during the holidays, you can have lots of fun researching activities and events to attend.
If you are out at work talk to your kids about where they are going to be and what they will be doing when you are not around. Find out if there is anything they can be doing which will make their day more enjoyable. This will stop the kids being resentful that they are spending another boring day at Aunty D’s house, as with preparation they can take books, games and DVD’s with them.