The home straight of the school summer holidays stretch is in sight, but there’s still some way to go. We asked our Motherhood columnist, Daisy Leverington, and the mother of a tween and a teen, Janine Rudin, to each share a handful of what they’ve learned.
I have a just-five year old daughter, so this summer is my first stab at school summer holidays proper. Here’s my top five ideas to help you make it through:
1. Pokémon GO. Buy an indestructible phone case, download Pokémon GO and get everyone dressed. Head outdoors and chuck balls at invisible creatures, before making them cage fight. The perfect kids’ activity.
Seriously though, there’s tons of fun to be had with little ones, but I recommend skipping the fights unless you’ve got a particularly gruesome toddler.
2. Leaves. Paint them, kick them, use them to print on paper, tie them together with string, stick them to paper, make obstacle courses out of them, hang them out to dry, make vegan shoes for Sylvanian Families with them, use them for counting. Anything. Leaves.
3. Water. Even a bucket of the stuff gets my kid interested. She’d rather be wet than dry, so stick water in things like saucepans, plant pots, paddling pools, cat bowls, balloons, plastic bags, anything hollow. Throw in some wooden spoons and stick a towel down. If you’re feeling fancy, a squirt of washing-up liquid makes it feel like Christmas.
4. Television. Be not afraid of the digital babysitter. You need a shower, your ears are ringing from the cry “Mummy can I have…” and if your kid asks for another snack there’s a danger they’ll not make it to their next birthday.
Put the telly on, get a shower and don’t feel guilty. If you feel bad, make it something vaguely educational like Team Umizoomi or Alphablocks. My kid has started enjoying Total Wipeout recently and I can honestly say I’ve not been this happy since 2010.
5. Alcohol. Not for them, silly, for you. Drink plenty and the holidays will eventually mesh together like your university years. No particular memory will stand out, but you’ll know it happened and you’ll be poor afterwards. I recommend rum and literally fucking anything. You can do this.
My children are 12 and 15 and this year they have seven weeks off over the summer. Yes that’s right, SEVEN weeks, but this is my 10th school summer and, as chief childcare provider in our family, I am now a dab hand at the juggling that is required.
Like most school children, my kids are exhausted and ready for a break by the end of July. They need a lack of routine, a chance to relax and maybe to go a bit feral and I enjoy the extra time with my girls, with no school run or packed lunches to do.
My main summer tips with older kids are:
1. Make some plans – prepare some activities and days out: on your own with the kids; with other kids, ideally with other parents. If you have more than one child, some one-to-one time with each of them can be much needed.
2. You may have saved up the small fortune that is required to get you through the school holidays, but make sure you also know where the interesting free stuff is going on. As kids get older, the park and the beach might not cut it anymore but local events and exhibitions might provide an outing or two. Trips to the pool, shopping centre, bowling alley and cinema are common requests.
“Be not afraid of the digital babysitter. You need a shower, your ears are ringing from the cry ‘Mummy can I have…’ and if your kid asks for another snack there’s a danger they’ll not make it to their next birthday.”
3. Don’t leave homework and school uniform shopping until the end, thinking you have loads of time to get it done. Don’t be foolish like me, because this will cause you stress, tantrums and a greater dependence on gin as the shops will now only stock the wrong type of trousers and shoes.
4. Prepare to be dumped: if your kids get a better offer then you’ll be on your own, which can leave you feeling a bit lost. Enjoy it – go for coffee, go for a massage, go to the movies, do something for yourself, otherwise you will just sit around like a saddo waiting for the kids and the chaos to return.
5. Expect to feel overwhelmed at times and in need of some headspace. The holidays can be one long journey of ‘what to do next’ to fill the days without boredom and squabbling and major expense, not to mention the juggling if you are also at work.
And remember, you have not failed if you crave half an hour on your own to wander the aisles of Wilkos. Nope, that really doesn’t make you a total saddo at all…
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