The long school summer break is almost upon us, and for many parents this can be a tough time to manage. If you work and have to juggle your job with your childcare responsibilities, it can be especially tricky. You’ll have the challenge of arranging time off work when all the other parents want the same leave, and organising childcare for the remaining weeks. If you’re a stay at home parent, you’ve got six weeks of having the kids with you all the time, getting under your feet and wanting to be entertained. On the other hand, you’ve also got a chance to spend some extended periods of time with your little ones, and the opportunity to have a lot of fun together.
If you work, the chances are you won’t be able to have the whole six weeks off; if you’re lucky you’ll get a couple of weeks, but the rest of the time you’ll need to arrange childcare. If you have a partner, they may be able to take time off as well, in which case you could take different weeks off and only have a couple of weeks where you need extra help. That option won’t work if you have a family holiday booked, but it may help if you don’t have plans to go away.
The first port of call might be grandparents, friends and family who can either babysit or have the kids over to stay for a few days. You could organise a swap with other parents, whereby you have their kids for a few days, and they have yours later on. Schools and pre-schools often run holiday clubs, which are usually not too expensive, but you will need to book in advance. These are a good idea because your children will be in familiar surroundings and their friends may well be booked in too. There’s an increasing choice when it comes to holiday clubs now, with many organisations and institutions such as leisure centres and public schools offering flexible options and exciting experiences, so it’s worth checking out what is available near you.
Going away together
Many families opt for a holiday during the long summer break, which can be a memorable experience for everyone. If you haven’t booked anything yet, it’s never too late as there are lots of good deals available right up until the last minute. Unfortunately, school holiday times do tend to attract a premium, because providers know parents are restricted to these set weeks of the year. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find something within your budget, but if it’s proving to be a struggle, then you could consider a modest personal loan or other credit option. You can find out more here about what can be a surprisingly cost-effective way of funding a holiday, providing you are able to meet the repayment schedule. Family holidays are one of the highlights of childhood, experiences that are remembered and treasured for the rest of your lives, so if you can get away, it’s well worth the effort.
Days out and mini-breaks
This is the time of year when there is an endless stream of shows and special events going on, so you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to having days out or weekends away. Have a look at community web pages, newspapers, and the websites of local attractions to see what is happening in your area. Free publications like Primary Times that cover your region will have plenty of listings and ideas for things to do, and you’ll see advertising boards and posters for local events springing up along the side of the road. If you’re thinking that all sounds great but must be expensive, there is often a good selection of free or low-cost events that are great for kids. Many attractions also offer annual membership, so for example if you joined the National Trust, you’d pay an annual fee but would have unlimited access to all NT properties for the year. That represents a big saving compared to paying for entry every time, and gives you access to a wide range of destinations wherever you are in the country.
Fun activities at home
One of the brilliant aspects of the Internet is that you don’t have to go far to find all sorts of useful information and ideas for activities. Have a browse online and you’ll soon compile a list of more things to do than you could possibly fit in! You can search for very specific topics, for instance how to do a bug hunt or how to play hopscotch. Or you could just browse through pages of ideas and pick out the ones that appeal to you. Many of these ideas will be for cheap or free activities, so you needn’t worry that you have to spend money all the time. You’ll also find some great books in your library, such as the Stick Book that shows you all the things you can do with a simple stick or two.
What you want is to find a balance between the inevitable desire your kids will have to play video games or watch TV, and getting them out and being active. It’s so important for kids to get physical exercise and experience the outdoors, and they should be getting out and running around every day if possible. It’s also ok for them to have a modest amount of screen time, or a few quiet hours relaxing with a good book or a puzzle.
These six weeks will go surprisingly quickly, and before you know it you’ll be sorting out new uniforms and getting them ready to go back to school! Instead of thinking about the difficulties you might face when the kids are home, look at all the opportunities you’ll have to have fun with your kids. This is a precious time that is over all too soon, so make the most of every minute with your children.