In a perfect world, summer is happy and sunny, filled with unforgettable days and long, warm evenings. In the real world; it’s going to rain, kids will be bored and there’s a high chance of tantrums. Be positive and aim for balance is the plan this year. Here are a few easy ways to make the most of summertime and squeeze in a little time for yourself too.
1. Have a summer project
Whether it’s crabbing, vegetable growing, making a photo-diary, mapping a new local walk every week or putting on a show, having a summer project is one sure way to keep the kids entertained in the holidays. Kids love to plan stuff and, with a bit of encouragement at the start, a good summer project develops a life of its own. So eventually you can take a step back and just be there in an ‘advisory capacity’. Even for the little ones like my Bubba, they can still get involved with the gardening..just be prepared for a little mess!
2. Put a bit of structure into at least some of the holiday
Kids are used to structure at school or nursery so expecting them to cope beautifully with a free-form summer is a big ask. Having lunch at the same time, napping at normal times (if they still nap) or reading a story for an hour each day creates a comforting routine without ruining the holiday spirit.
3. Create a watchable play-space
Make a play-space outside and give yourself a welcome breather now and then. The patio is perfect for an interesting box of toys, sandbox or a low table with messy paint and paper. Plant activities close to your glazed bi-folding doors (if you have them) and it’s easier to keep an eye on what’s happening. You can then kick back for a quick cup of tea whilst the kiddies are entertained :)
4.Teach your kids something new
Can you play tennis or badminton? Do you know how to do Origami? Are you a master at den building? It’s amazing how impressed kids are when they discover you can do something they can’t. Share a skill this summer, have some fun and bask in the glory.
5. Organise treats and make sure to follow them through
Summer holidays have peaks and troughs so a stack of simple and inexpensive treats is good back-up for the low points. Plan a few days ahead, build the excitement and always come good on your promises. The Woodland Trust and National Trust organise kids’ activities all summer long. UK public galleries and museums are free and usually child-friendly AND all of that fresh air is a great way to tire out the kids. And, even a picnic in the park with a few friends, is exciting with a bit of planning.
6. Go on a bus or train adventure
Put your chauffeur’s cap away and take the bus or train instead. With the right attitude, public transport is a brilliant adventure for kids. It’s also great for going further than usual and exploring new towns and cities without worrying about parking. Plus, you can take your eyes off the road and pay attention to having fun for a change.
A bit of screen-time or half-an-hour morning TV is a lifesaver in summer, so be a bit more flexible than usual about the rules. Also...Don't feel guilty about giving the kids a bit of screen time. You can't be super Mum all the time.
8. Be smart about play dates
Remember having friends round to play in summer? It’s still one of the best ways to keep kids entertained but if you’re organising playdates, be wise to the rules. Open ended doesn’t work for younger kids, so set a drop off and pick up time and organise some activities. Play dates are give-and-take and it’s not unreasonable to expect a return invitation. And, if you have an open-door policy, be warned; it takes no time to end up with 20 kids in the garden and only two you recognise.
Lots of day’s out can make a summer fly past and they don’t have to be big-ticket to be the best. Local woods are great for adventuring and picnics. If you live near a beach like we do, you can find all sorts of fun from kite flying to rock pooling. Kids love walking if it’s interesting and the UK’s covered in fantastic country parks just made for trekking about. And for rainy days? Pick up timetables at the start of summer for local swimming pools, sports centres and community centres, they’re perfect back up when the weather’s no help.
Don’t forget to record all the best bits. And remember, it’s your summer too, so take a break every now and then – hopefully your little ones will be too busy having fun to notice :)
Note - This is a collaborative post