How to survive (and enjoy) the school holidays

Since embarking on the world of term time / school holidays I have had a mixed bag when it comes to enjoying the weeks off school. There’s such a build up, with everyone asking “Got much planned?” from about 6 weeks before, yes, the end of the last set of holidays.

It seems more and more people use the opportunity to make a getaway, and who can blame them, but with school holiday travel places higher than ever, let’s face it, we can’t all live that luxury.

Master of your own destiny

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt is that the responsibility of making memories happen lies directly with you. Don’t be fooled into thinking ‘there’s loads of people off, it’ll all come together’ because yes everyone is off, BUT they are also working to their own plans and schedule. Leaving it all to fate is a sure fire way to spend lots of days alone with the kids, wondering how it is really only 10am.

No, you need to take charge, and think about what YOU want to do, and make it happen for YOU. Who would you like to see? Where would you like to go? Ask the kids the things they’d love to do too – even if it’s building camps in the garden, going to the library or baking cakes.

The best days I have had with my girls have been some of the times we have set off on our own adventure together; not relying on replies from fifteen texts asking “what time again?” and “I might be late” and “Looks a bit grey out there” and “I went there yesterday, anywhere else”… It’s strangely liberating just enjoying each other’s company every now and again without the prop of other Mums to chat to on your outing.

That said, two (or six) weeks just the three of us would be pretty drawn out, so I do rely on meeting up with other Mums and over the holidays I’ll project manage like a boss, arranging days and meet ups with the fellow Mums who keep me sane. With the added bonus of seeing friends and family we get to see who are normally at school.

Make a schedule

I’ve started to draw out a big plan on a huge piece of paper, with drawings (like stick men swimming) so that the kids can see what we’re doing, I can see the big gaps, and we can all get excited about the holiday plans. I find it helps the kids with a concept of time too. It prevents me wondering what day I said I’d see so-and-so and referring through a million whatsapp messages to realise I double booked myself, again.

Whatever the weather

You can bet your bottom dollar that the park picnic you planned 4 weeks in advance will be the one day it rains. Provided we’re not talking full on storms, don your wellies, rain macs and umbrellas and go for it. Fun in the rain is surely on the childhood memories bucket list, so don’t let the rain, rain on your parade.

Get out

I can’t stress enough the importance of getting out. You’ll rarely regret it – even if it’s a trip to the supermarket to choose a bit of fruit or a walk around a garden centre. Long days indoors are just too long, so head out even on the days you are ‘indoors’, even if just for ten minutes.

Big plans

Even if you aren’t going on holiday, I think it’s nice over a week off school to pick one exciting adventure; loads of places throw special events for seasonal activities and a trip to a big city is always a great place to start. The simplest of things like public transport are epic for small town kids like mine, and if you look out for vouchers it doesn’t have to cost the earth. My favourite childhood memories are days out to Chessington World of Adventures or the Zoo, so I fully intend to brave the queues and do things like this with my kids too. This holiday we have planned to go to London to Shreks Adventure experience, and a local trip to the Chatham Dockside Doc. Yards experience.

Base camp

There will be time at home, and lots of it. The TV is not the enemy – there is a time and a place for the kids to chill. You can also refer to good old pinterest for seasonal themed activities. My kids love nothing more than a spot of (eating raw cake mix) baking, and that’ll fill at least half an hour. And, let’s not forget PLAYING WITH THEIR TOYS. You know, the millions of them that fill every corner of your home? I know, it’s a brave concept right?

A WATCHED CUPCAKE NEVER COOKS | Based at HQ today and having some school friends over. Just done the stupid ‘make the house spotless’ part and then realised we have bugger all nice food in so quickly whipped up some 15 minute cupcakes. Girls are at each other’s throats constantly so far today so here’s hoping some company mixes up the dynamic! . . . . . . . . #coolmumclub #totsphoto #perfectandproud #rockingmummylife #clickinmoms #littlefierceones #childhoodunplugged #thismamaloves #366daysofpositive #myhappycapture #thismamaloves #dearphotographer #thatsdarling #takemyheartdear #oureverydaymoments #cameramama #littlefierceones #ig_motherhood #pixelkids #cherisheverymoment #thehappynow #rememberingthesedays #littleandbrave #childofig #pinklinker #happylittlebuttons #tribalchat #capturingtheday #lionessmama #livingfearlesslyauthentic

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Annual Leave

It can be tricky to all get time off in the school holidays, but if you can, push to get some time off as a family. It’ll make the kids day, and you’ll enjoy quality family time as part of the perfect holidays – even if it can only be one day, it’s one day to stick on your plan and the kids will probably look forward to it the most. Shared responsibility will feel  like a holiday to you too.

Eat Out

Eating out is expensive, but in my book, there has to be at least one midweek tea time we throw caution to the wind, sod the spag bol and head to a local eatery. We have a beefeater within walking distance, and with their rewards scheme it’s even more tempting to treat ourselves occasionally and eat out during the holidays. Happy Mum, happy kids.

Play dates

So many of the things to occupy the kids cost money, so there will always be a place for the good old ‘my place or yours’ play date. If you’re lucky, come spring and summer you can take the approach of chucking the kids out in the garden, worst case you’ll be indoors and witness first hand the vast amount of havoc four children can create in two hours. Just pray for your kids to get along or there will be lots of awkward “play nicely” directed only at your own kids of course, and you’ll all be gauging when ‘it’s time’ to call it a day.

Play dates at yours can feel like a whole load of effort and hassle sometimes, BUT this is par for the course of parenthood; take one for the team, remember your home is not a show home, and hope next time you’ll be invited elsewhere to enjoy hot tea and be refused any offers of helping tidy up.

Holiday camps

I used to think holiday camps were only for a) American kids (too many 80’s movies) or b) kids of working parents. But, a revelation, they actually can be used as just something fun for your kid to do over the holiday just ‘because’. If your kids are old enough they can also buy you some valuable child free time to do some chores, or watch Made in Chelsea on catch up and regain sanity.

Bonus here is if you intended to get your kids together with school friends, a bit of organisation means someone else can entertain them. We signed Tigs up for her first ever ballet experience this week; a handy alternative to weekly lessons if like me you’re trying to dodge any more after school activities. We also had a huge success with a swimming crash course before too.

Movies

This one can be a little tricky as our youngest is just two, but if I can get someone to have her for a couple of hours a cinema date with Tigs is a must. There is normally an epic release around the holidays and this week we have been to see Beauty and the Beast; a total joy for me as much as her. It won’t be long until we can all head off to the movies together, and it’s something we really look forward to.

#BEAUTYANDTHEBEAST | Been waiting for today for ages! The verdict? Everything I wanted it to be and more… Amazing performance from @emmawatson – they cast the perfect Belle and @thatdanstevens not bad for a beast either… It’s always a worry these epics could be a disappointment from the original, but @disney nailed this one – true to the animated classic, completely spell binding and transported us to a magical place for an hour or two. Still my absolute favourite; and maybe theirs now too. . . . . . . . #coolmumclub #totsphoto #perfectandproud #rockingmummylife #clickinmoms #littlefierceones #childhoodunplugged #thismamaloves #366daysofpositive #myhappycapture #thismamaloves #dearphotographer #thatsdarling #oureverydaymoments #cameramama #littlefierceones #ig_motherhood #pixelkids #cherisheverymoment #thehappynow #rememberingthesedays #littleandbrave #childofig #pinklinker #happylittlebuttons #tribalchat #capturingtheday #lionessmama #livingfearlesslyauthentic

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If the movies is a little too pricey or logistically tricky, even with the demise of the video shop you can make a real day of a home movie. Go out to a supermarket and let the girls choose a DVD – they are pretty cheap these days, for sure less than heading to the cinema. Grab popcorn, snacks, set up a camp and enjoy. We just bought Moana and I think it’s going to fill every spare couple of hours for a very long time… £10 well spent in my book.

Down time

Amidst all of the above, it’s really important to leave some blank spaces on your holiday plans. The kids will need it, you will need it. A bit of spontaneity is nice, and you don’t want to go back to your normal routine feeling like you need a holiday.

You time

This can feel pretty non existent during the holidays, with no school or nursery for your usual respite. Yes, it’s lovely, yes it’s packed with fun and yes some people wait all year for that week off work together. But, as a stay at home Mum it can feel harder than ever, so plan something for you. A date night, a run, dinner with friends, a haircut, a shopping trip…whatever you need to put yourself first for a short while too.

Looking ahead at a vast expanse of time to fill can be daunting, but with a little bit of thought and planning you really can make it anything you want it to be. Enjoy…

x MMT

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