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Surviving the Summer

Ah, the Summer holidays. As a child, they seemed to go on forever. As a mum – especially a working mum – they seem to go on much, much, much longer than that. Here are a few of our tips for getting through it without completely losing your marbles.

PLANNING

If your kids are full of enthusiasm and ideas each morning, and welcome discussing how your day might look over a leisurely breakfast, well three cheers for you, Mum-Queen! Ours aren’t. Once the chaos of the morning is underway, it’s hard to find a moment to think and any plan we propose is quite likely to get shot down (in favour of – for example – watching Paw Patrol in pants all day). So, check the weather the night before (how we love British summer time!) and have a plan ready. Most kids will go with the flow if you present them with a programme for the day as a fait accompli.

TUNE IN

If you can, try to keep your phone use to a minimum or to specific times. If the kids feel they’ve had our genuinely undivided attention while we fingerpaint / do a nature walk / watch them perform their unorthodox Let it Go/Spoonful of Sugar mashup (“Heeeeere I stand in the most deliiiiiiiightful waaaaaay”) they’re more likely to entertain themselves with a My Busy Bots bag later on, buying us precious time to check emails and respond to messages. Plus, it stops you distractedly addressing that supplier you’ve been hounding as Daddy Pig, satisfying though that might be.

MIX IT UP

Here are some of our favourite free and fabulous ways to pass the time:

  • Magic painting - For this, each child will need: a paintbrush, a bucket of water, a shed or fence. Get to it kids! This genius game keeps ours quiet for HOURS.
  • Freezer fun – throw some small toys into a tub of water and freeze it, then let the children tap away at the iceberg to free their toys. This is a weirdly absorbing activity, and can help keep them cool on hot days.
  • The library is a treasure trove of entertainment for kids of every age, and there are often storytelling or singing sessions that are free to join. Our libraries are under threat, so the more people who join and use them (make sure every member of the family is also a member of the library), the better they can demonstrate their importance to the community and their right to funding. Use them or lose them, people, we’re serious.
  • Cinema club - it’s watching a film, yeah, but if you play your cards right you can spin this activity out for a whole day. Design the posters and put them up around the house, create colourful tickets, bake the snacks, marshal all the toys into their seats, dim the lights and… you’re good to go at last. Strike a light, Mary Poppins!
  • Construct a fort in the garden. It will have the added benefit of providing some shade if it’s warm, so you don’t have to re-slap on the sun cream every half hour as the sticky little mites sweat it off.
  • Treasure hunts. These work even for the very youngest as you can just draw a picture of the place where they’ll find the next clue. Or print off from the internet/cut out of a magazine if – like Leanne – your artistic skills might lead the kids to think the clue’s in the fridge when it’s actually in the shed. (As an artist, Candice is quietly smug as HELL about her excellent drawings of locations around the house.)
  • Although by the end of the summer, we never want to speed-make another sandwich (a skill the NCT should have furnished us with, it’s such an integral part of parenting), eating al fresco is still a great way to entertain kids. As an added bonus, to tire them out and get yourself some exercise too, you can often persuade them to walk somewhere nice with the promise of a fantastic spread at the end of it. Don’t forget bubbles, balls, My Busy Bots bags and anything else that will occupy them long enough for you to snatch a few moments sitting on the picnic rug yourself. Warm can of G&T? We don’t mind if we do…
  • For more ideas you really do not have to look far, there are so many fabulous Mama activity blogs, Instagram feeds, Pinterest pages that will get your creative juices flowing. To name a few we love "How we play and Learn", "Beckys Treasure Baskets", "Learning through play", "Mamas Den", "Busy busy learning", "Teach investigate play" - and this is JUST the tip of the iceberg!!

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