12 Top Tips for Enjoying (surviving?) the Summer Holidays with your Kids
My kids were so desperate for a break from the school routine. I kid you not, on day 1 of the summer holidays, at approximately 2pm, my 13 year old said he was bored. Eeek! It inspired me to sit down (actually sit in the sun with my handy iPhone notes) and think of how I will LOVE this holiday with my 3 teenage sons. I hope these top tips help you in some way for the school holidays.
1. When you are feeling overwhelmed, dance in the garden or another room of the house to your favourite tune. Headphones are essential so that you can’t hear ‘can I have a snack?’, ‘what’s for dinner?’ or 'there's nothing to do'. Overflowing with happiness is a by-product of listening to my favourite music and I’ll be delighted to lovingly answer their questions afterwards.
2. When you get up in the morning, plan what you will be having for dinner and tell them at what time (essential for roaming teenagers). Shop or do any advance prep then or on the way back from work. One potential stress point eliminated.
3. Working from home? My teenagers rarely emerge before lunchtime so I bash out as much work as possible before they are up in those diamond silence hours! Young kids - a bit more tricky.
4. Work extra on rainy days and not much on sunny days. This should be a rule in Scotland when we have to make the most of every sunny day. I am fortunate that I can do this but see if you can add in any flexibility to your working hours.
5. Learn a new game together as a family - a card game, a board game, repurposing the ping pong table for car races, throwing a ball into a hole on the beach or bucket in the garden. Great for all ages. Have a bit of fun.
6. Have one rule about your head space - this is your time, when no requests will be heard / toys looked for / snacks made / arguments resolved. Perhaps when you are having a cup of tea at an appointed time of day, or when you are in the bath, walking the dog, pottering in the garden. Make it a rule, outline why it's important to you and write it up on the fridge. Thank them for letting you have this time.
7. Make yourself 100% available for half an hour / an hour every day where you are fully engaging with your kids - not trying to do the zillion other jobs that need doing or looking at your phone. We are often guilty of splitting our attention across too many tasks and becoming frustrated.
8. Let it go a little - it’s impossible to keep our house tidy when the kids are around all day. Let it go for a while.
9. When the messy house starts to do your head in, plan a blitz with everyone helping. Plan a time and tell them in advance. Remind them a couple of times so that they know you mean business.Then delegate jobs for half an hour (or as long as you can get away with). Taking out the recycling, putting away clothes in drawers, hanging out washing, organising toys - they won’t do it like you but who cares! Let it go and thank them. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
10. Plan and book paid activities in advance and tell the kids when these are happening. Outside of these activities, it’s good for the kids to learn to create their own (free) fun. Sometimes they just need a little help getting started. My favorite when the kids were little was giving them each a paint brush and a bucket of water and then watch them happily 'paint' the decking or patio!
11. Have one dinner a week that is exactly what they want (and probably not what you want them to eat). Most likely not healthy, but they will be delighted. If they can’t all agree, take it in turns to choose the beige/crap/unhealthy food. No cajoling required for this one dinner of the week.
12. Remember this is temporary - the kids will be back to school before you know it and then we will complain about the routine of hauling them out of bed, school runs, homework stress and driving them all over the place to activities. Enjoy the differences the holiday routine brings.
This balance of meeting your own needs and meeting the needs of kids will make for a more harmonious time. And remember lock down? This is a breeze in comparison people! No home schooling. Be very grateful for that and have a wonderful holiday!