I love summer – the long, light evenings, the smell of freshly cut grass and feeling like saying ‘yes’ to every request for ice cream. I have rose tinted memories of long summers setting up camps in the garden and sleeping out (until about 10pm), running under sprinklers and building sand castles in the rain (we holidayed in the UK most years!)
Now I’m a parent with a job and seven weeks of summer holidays to consider the summer can become a worry rather than a joy… But those memories I have would have been a fraction of the summer, my parents were teachers so while they weren’t worrying about each day I definitely had to help mount display paper on classroom walls and organise worksheets for the next term.
So how can we make summer feel like it did when we were a kid, and not feel like the stressful juggle it often is? I’m not suggesting I have all the answers, but let’s keep those rose tinted specs on a bit longer and try to make it enjoyable for everyone.
If you are juggling summer with work (as most of us will be) then you need a list! Our school whatsapp group is already filling up with holiday camps and clubs that are available. It’s made me think about what days I need to cover with childcare so I can not feel stressed when I take days off. Book clubs and speak to other parents to see what secret gems they know about, get in there early!
I’ve started a list in my phone of activities I’ve seen other people doing recently, things we can do easily in a day- a splash park, a new playground and new cinema releases. On the days when the kids are climbing the walls (weekend or school holidays) then this will be handy to look at and make a quick plan.
While social media is a minefield of people looking like they don’t have a care in the world – or a budget – but there are loads of resources that offer simple suggestions. Check out:
The Five Minute Mum – aimed at younger kids, Daisy’s insta is filled with ideas for fun, easy games.
play.hooray – Claire’s play prompts are a godsend, she has packs for all occasions which engage the kids
Keep ’em quiet – aimed at traveling but these bags are great for at home too, does exactly what it says on the tin!
50 things to do before you are 11 3/4 – this book from the National Trust is a great resource to help get the kids outside.
Live in the moment
The rose tinted glasses are needed here, but reliving your childhood is something you and the kids will enjoy. Days spent in the paddling pool eating ice pops are the best. It might be that you are supervising the water fight from behind a (well protected!) laptop but don’t be afraid to just let everyone be feral for the day. And when you take a break join the kids for a picnic on the grass and start the next water fight – that will be what they remember.
When you finish work get in the car and drive to the coast/top of a hill and watch the sunset, roll down a hill with them or splash in the surf. Suggest a movie night – stay up late eating snacks under blankets, this lets you relax and trust me, it will be what the kids remember.
You never know you might get a lie in after a late night too…
Lose the mum guilt
Harder said than done I know! But kids love holiday clubs, camps and organised activities so if you have to rely on them for the holidays then embrace it, ask them where they want to go, find out where their friends will be and don’t worry about them.
This goes for kids club on holiday too – it’s your time to relax as well so a few hours away from the little darlings is no bad thing for everyone! I’m lucky as my daughter LOVES kids club and will do all she can to go! I know all kids aren’t the same but try it, and don’t feel bad – cocktails help with that!
Freeing up your guilt about leaving them will allow you to focus on your work/tan and then get out to concentrate on the point above…
Make time for you too
Make sure while you’re planning you include yourself!
Give yourself a night off, a day off if you can, to get out of the house and away from emails, routines and house work – the world won’t end!
Hit the shops (window shopping!), a gallery or your favourite coffee shop with a book, a change is as good as a rest…
Why not invite a friend – book a meal out, a walk or an evening in the beer garden – you can compare notes, get more ideas and get all your frustrations off your chest in a safe space!