Summertime! Eight or more weeks of no school, enthusiastic kids, and the regular workload which doesn’t know the meaning of holidays. You either love this time of year and lean right into the long days of exploring with your kids or you hate them and spend the eight weeks trying to juggle work and home life with the added bonus of having to prevent the kids from killing each other. Or there is of course the hidden third option many of us fall into and that’s somewhere in the middle playing what feels like a real life Jenga! Steadily balancing until there’s one bad move and it all tumbles down.
I won’t lie, the summer holidays can be difficult. The lack of routine, the hectic days of wanting to give your kids epic summer memories, and trying to maintain your patience, avoid frustration, and keep life as it is on an even keel. Every year the end of the school year can hit us by surprise. Where did those last few weeks go? With great enthusiasm we can dive headfirst into the holidays without thinking about it fully. Our heads may be packed with ideas. We may have ad hoc plans for day trips and live in the hope that the weather will play ball. While that is all well and good, jumping in without thinking about how the next eight weeks are going to pan out might be our downfall. A bit of planning and working out some helpful strategies can make things run a little smoother.
And who doesn’t want a stress free, happier summer break!
Keep to a Schedule
A schedule? But it’s the summer! It’s the only time of the year when we get the chance to let loose and live outside of the box of routines! Why would we want to schedule the summer?
I know the opportunity offered by long days, no school runs, or homework sounds great with its freedom and lazy days but not having some sort of a routine will be our downfall.
A summer schedule of course falls out of the normal remit of rushing out of the door in the mornings and gives a little leeway with later bedtimes, slower days, and the spontaneity of having no school or homework. But keeping a structure to the day will help not only us inundated adults but also our bright-eyed kids. It doesn’t have to be the routine of the ordinary year (although in some cases, such as bedtime, that can certainly help!) but having some sort of flexibility over the summer is probably a given. So know when dinner will land on the table, keep to your ordinary dinner times as much as possible, and pop the kids to bed at the same time every night. Maintaining a structure to our days is a strategy worth investing in from the very first day as everyone knows what to expect over the holidays.
Plan Your Days
Whether it’s holidaying in Kerry, or taking day trips around your county, planning your days over the summer is an absolute must. Heading out on a whim adds to the great adventure until you realise you forgot the sunscreen, and everyone comes home a bright shade of burnt. Take the time to plan your days out to minimise the stress of an action-packed day.
Have a list of essential gear you need to bring on a day out whether it’s to the beach or Aunt Shelley’s house two hours away with a stop off for lunch. From snacks to extra clothes, a spare bottle of factor 50, and a trusty pack of wipes, know what is needed and even have a bag packed and ready for those impromptu journeys. Keep everyone in the loop about the plans you have made for the week ahead so there are no surprises or overexcited kids. Keeping a structure on the exploring days of summer isn’t about being strict with your time but rather comfortable in getting through and enjoying the day.
This may seem a given considering it is the summer after all with the potential for glorious weather, but like anything we can get stuck into a habit and the kids could happily indulge in playing with toys with the TV on in the background. And there will be days when the TV is needed, and all the toys (including those stored in the attic) will be poured all over the sitting room floor. These days are needed as we all unwind after a long year. But getting outdoors rewires our brain and we have ample opportunity to do this over the summer break. Get out. Feel the grass. Ride a bike. As a family.
Have An “I’m Bored” Box
Eight weeks is not particularly that long when you break it down into weekly activities, potential getaway plans, and those long day trips. But for younger kids and teenagers who are out of sorts without their school friends the weeks can drag, and boredom can set in. There is nothing harder for a parent who is trying to work from home than when a little one who follows you around like a lost puppy saying, “I’m bored.” Crack out the boredom box! At the beginning of the summer holidays get the kids to make a list of the fun things they enjoy doing and when boredom hits, they pick an idea from the box! All going to plan, it will keep them occupied so you can get on with your workload or take the time out you may potentially need.
Don’t Go It Alone
The hardest part of the summer holidays for us adults is the higher intensity of family life. The extra demands. The additional day trips. And the possibility of having to work and parent at the same time. Just because it’s the summer holidays does not mean we have to go it alone. Look for support wherever you can find it. That could be organising play dates, hiring a child minder, or asking someone to mind the kids while you and your other half reconnect.
In all we do as parents over the summer holidays remember these days are not exclusive to making memories. Your camera reel does not have to be packed with beach shots or sticky ice cream faces. They will remember the fun days of running through the sprinkler at home as much as they will remember splashing in the sea. And as much as the summer holds so much potential for memorable family time, let’s make sure those memories are not full of stress and anxiety by putting strategies in place for a successful summer.