Well, even though I knew it was coming, it appears the last day of school is here and it’s a day full of mixed emotions.
On the one hand, I’m super excited as I get to spend the entire summer with the kids.
On the other hand, it’s a day full of apprehension as I get to spend the entire summer with the kids!
Don’t get me wrong, I love the school holidays. However, 6 weeks is going to be a long, expensive, stressful ‘holiday’ so I’ve put together some survival tips.
Here’s my guide to getting through the summer holidays in one piece.
For me, I find the easiest way to manage the summer holidays is to get organised and arrange lots of activities.
It’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn a new skill or take part in a holiday club which focuses on their favourite hobby or sport.
Whilst I’m not saying fill up every day with a different activity, I like to have enough in the diary so that we have a basic plan for each week. This way, it gets us out of the house most days and I don’t get asked “What are we doing today” about 50 times a day as the kids know what to expect in advance.
It also means I can manage the budget effectively as I can spread the cost of expensive days out.
I always leave enough time for some last minute playdates and for the rest of the time we can simply stay at home, go to the park or I can make use of the various annual passes I have.
By far, my biggest tip to saving money over the school holidays is to provide your own food on days out.
Armed with a picnic blanket, stock up on wraps, crisps, drinks, little cheeses and anything that your family like for lunch and then you have a picnic at a moments notice. There’s nothing I hate more than overpriced food when I’m out with the kids when can you make your own for a fraction of the price.
Also, have an endless supply of ice-creams at home. A trip to the shop for ice-creams can cost up to 5 more than a box bought at the supermarket. This is also handy for when you have been out for the day and have to get the kids home who don’t want to leave. The idea of an ice-cream waiting for them at home should make leaving easier.
Another way to save money is to look for free/cheap activities that are being held in your local area. The best place to look for these are your local council or leisure centre.
Last year, we attended a number of free play days organised by the council at local parks. I also signed the kids up to swimming, tennis and quad biking lessons at a very reasonable price through the council and our local leisure centre.
Check out my blog ‘Half Term on a Budget’ for more tips.
You don’t have to be superwoman and take them to exciting/inspirational/educational/beautiful places every day. Not only is this expensive but it’s exhausting and half the time the little darlings won’t appreciate it anyway.
The same goes for baking and arts and crafts. I find arts and crafts can be very stressful and time consuming so I don’t kid myself that we will doing paintings every 5 minutes.
So, be realistic in what you can achieve over the holiday. Yes, you will be out and about but there will also be days when it’s okay to stay at home and simply stick the television on and give them chips and nuggets for the third day in a row.
Just remember that kids need down time too and it’s a great opportunity for them to play with long forgotten toys, learn how to amuse themselves or have a water fight in the garden!
Ask for Help
This is probably the hardest one of all for me as, let’s face it, it is incredibly difficult asking for help.
For fear of being perceived as someone who isn’t coping very well, I will push through the week by myself. However, by the time Friday evening rolls around, I will fall into a heap on the sofa and when my husband gets home from work, I am basically the most anti-social person in the world as I am so tired!!
However, as my older children are 5 and 7, they have made lots of friends at school and I now have a network of local school Mums. So, it’s time to pick up the phone, arrange a few playdates, plan days out together and babysit for each other so you actually have a break.
I am also very fortunate that my parents are local so the kids will have a few days out with them and also my their favourite – the sleepover!! It’s amazing the difference a lie in can make and by the time they have returned, I feel refreshed and have a lot more energy.
With 3 kids to manage, term time in our house is an endless round of stressful mornings and after school playdates followed by dinner, bath and bed.
The repetitiveness of my day and resulting exhaustion, usually leads to me being the complete opposite parent that I thought I would be. I shout, I get annoyed and by 7.30pm I have lost any shred of patience I had as I just want them to go to bed.
So, I see the summer holidays as an opportunity to redeem myself in the eyes of my children and be the fun Mum for a change.
I relax the bedtime rules, let them play with the iPad, and generally just try and have fun with them.
It’s amazing how surprised they are when we have a water fight, put some music on and do a silly dance or when I just join in their games for a change. Their little faces light up and I’m usually rewarded with an unprompted hug or kiss which makes the state of the house seem insignificant.
So, here’s to the summer holidays!
I hope you find my survival guide useful. More importantly, I hope you and the kids have a fantastic summer and that you make it through the 6 weeks in one piece.
Have fun everyone!