When you’re a child the summer holidays symbolise freedom, but by the time you’re a parent they symbolise the exact reverse.
Term time isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s predictable. You drop off and pick up your children at the same time every day, help them with their homework, and arrange periodic activities for the weekends.
Suddenly, school’s out and your well-honed routine lies in tatters. A new survey by Sphero has found that 61% of all parents actively dread the summer holidays – 72% said they struggled to occupy their kids, while 79% feel guilty about failing to get their children to use their brains.
Here’s how to survive your children’s demands this summer, without giving up and packing them off to camp…
Talk to your children in advance
Where one routine fades another must take over, and it’s important to have a proper chat with your child(ren) while the break is still young.
This is not only to reaffirm your ground rules (yes, you still have to go to bed at nine, we don’t care how light it is outside), but also to come up with ideas for new hobbies or skills they might want to learn during the summer.
When the inevitable refrain of “I’m bored” gets going, you’ll have a list of potential activities that they themselves pre-approved.
Don’t overcomplicate things
When the planning builds some momentum it’s easy to get carried away, but you don’t need to fill every moment, and most children have simple pleasures.
They might very much enjoy touring three aquariums, seven petting zoos, and completing a bespoke treasure hunt in the park, but they might also enjoy just kicking a ball around.
Slow the summer slide
Ah yes, the summer slide – six to eight weeks of education-less torpor that turns your polymath of tomorrow into a slack-jawed delinquent of today.
It’s unavoidable, but it only takes half an hour of learning per day to substantially slow the rot. Make sure it’s rooted in their routine from the first day of freedom, or opt for something that doesn’t feel like work, like a scrapbook.
Try to get them to leave the house
Prepare yourself – it’s time to drag your children away from their screens. Pre-existing outdoorsy interests should be seized on with gusto, otherwise try to push something already played by a classmate or friend.
Going outside makes children healthier and happier, but, more importantly, it means they’re nice and tired later when they’d otherwise be bugging you to buy them the latest Fortnite Lego set.
You will make mistakes
Honestly, they might not even be mistakes. Your children are around more, and that means they’ll act out more. It’s no one’s fault.
It’s fine to join in
Kids respond best when you meet them on their level, so don’t be afraid to embrace your inner child. Everyone needs a dorky-but-enthusiastic parent that just can’t get over the baseball mini-game on Wii Sports.
Call in the cavalry
It is entirely possible to love your children with all your heart, and also to occasionally wish you didn’t have to deal with them.
When that happens, call in a grandparent, family friend, or babysitter, and flee to your nearest happy place.
Don’t feel too pressured to spend
Increasingly independent kids want increasingly independent piggy banks, and if they’re constantly coveting cash it might be a good moment to develop their money management skills.
Keep a lid on spending by giving them a limit, and if they run out then it’s lesson learned. If they really need extra dollar consider ways they can earn it, like with household chores.
Treat foreign forays with care
Travelling with young children is…. volatile.
Leave contingency time for everything, for the love of God don’t fly if you don’t have to, and remember to pack food, travel toys, and vast reserves of patience. It’s perfectly doable, and thousands of families travel abroad every year. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Don’t forget to do what YOU want too
Martyr complexes help no one, and to parent properly you need time to recharge. You don’t want to spend a month being sweetness and sunshine, before suddenly snapping and telling them they were an accident.
- Press Association