For most parents in Britain, this is about the time when they start panicking about the impending 6+ week school summer holiday about to descend on them.
(Parents in Scotland get this joy about a month earlier and – at time of writing – are already in the middle of their school holidays.)
Despite best intentions, you probably don’t feel as prepared as you’d like to be. What can you do to make sure the holidays run as smoothly as possible?
Be Intentional and Have a Plan
Depending on your personality – and those of your kids – plans may either comfort or terrify you.
Whatever your view, though, it’s better to have at least a rough map of how the summer holiday weeks will pan out. There are only so many days you can ‘wing it’, leave it to chance, or expect your kids to sort themselves out.
Even if the plans change because of weather, illness, or something better coming along, having them in place to begin with can make things run more smoothly.
Kids – particularly younger ones – often like having a plan in place so they know what’s happening. So long as it includes some things they like doing, they may be quite happy being told what to do.
You don’t have to plan each day to the nearest hour, but at least try to get a morning and afternoon (or whole day) activity in place, plus know what’s happening about meal times.
Have sunny day / wet day alternatives so you can make the most of any good weather we have, but aren’t left flummoxed if it pours with rain.
Build in Work Schedules and Care
You’ll need to work out how the summer holidays impacts your work life. This will vary greatly depending on your employment and family structure.
You may need to utilise extra day care.
Can you take a week or two annual leave (even if you do a ‘staycation’?) If you have a partner, it may be easier to share holiday cover, unless you are all going away as a family together.
Get the Kids Involved
Preferably a few weeks before the holidays begin, ask your children what things they’d like to do.
For the moment, just make lists without either committing or vetoing to anything.
Ideas may include trips out, learning new skills, going on play dates, visiting attractions, or simply spending more time with you.
Talk through the ideas and see which ones might be achievable, and what needs to happen.
Let your kids know if there’s a financial budget, so they are involved and have some understanding that they can’t necessarily do everything (particularly if it costs a lot of money).
Get Friends and Family Involved
Try to get your circle of friends and your immediate family involved in the planning stages.
Are there days when grandparents can take your kids out for the day?
How about meeting up for play dates or sharing the cost of a day out?
Make sure you have contact details for parents of kids your children would like to spend time with (unless you have teens in which case they’ll probably be able to make their own arrangements).
Advanced plans can be good for everyone but impromptu / last minute events can also work, so keep an eye on your mobile and social networks, particularly first thing in the morning when and if the sun comes up!
Scour the Local Area
Find out what’s going on in your local area. Although many regular clubs stop during the summer holidays, some have special activities, and other organisations often run workshops, sports events, clubs and so on.
Some activities need to be booked in advanced, so now is the time to check out and sign up.
Don’t forget free attractions such as libraries, museums, or local parks and playgrounds.
Embrace Boredom and the Everyday
You don’t have to plan everything, and the cry of “I’m bored” is not always a bad thing.
It teaches your kids that it’s OK not to be entertained all the time. They need to learn how to do their own thing and not be waited on by mum or dad.
It can be easier when you have siblings and/or introverts, as they tend to be able to either amuse each other or be happy in their own company.
Don’t be afraid of doing everyday things. The summer holidays don’t mean the chores magically come to an end.
Kids often enjoy helping out, particularly if you can inject some fun into the task. Shopping, cleaning, washing, caring for pets… all are valid activities for the holidays too.
Don’t Forget the Homework
With six weeks to play with, there should be plenty of time for any holiday homework or reading to be done.
Don’t cram it in to the last weekend before school starts again in the autumn.
Find out at the start of the holiday how much homework your kids have, and then try to build this into the schedule. This is especially important if there are bigger projects to do which may involve research.
Keep a Summer Photo Journal
Why not consider keeping a photo journal of summer activities? It can help to keep everyone accountable to doing something each day. Let the kids take some photos, print them out, and stick them into a folder or scrapbook.
Try to Relax
Six weeks can seem like an age, but do try to relax into it.
Stressed out parents and kids only leads to fights and tantrums and isn’t good for anyone.
Try to build in a mix of activities, downtime and ‘me time’ for everyone and hopefully you’ll have a summer holiday everyone enjoys.
What are your tips for a smooth school summer holiday? Share below, we’d love to hear them.