by Kristen Harding, childcare expert at Tinies
The summer holidays are just around the corner and with everyone doubting the weather forecast of three months of sun, there’s another factor to contend with – six weeks off school or nursery for your little ones.
Spending weeks in the sun with the kids can offer some amazing memories but as it approaches, it can also feel rather daunting. Keeping everyone busy, happy and in one piece is a challenge for every family, especially if there are big age gaps. For many people, the summer also means a family holiday… and however your get there it will be an adventure… good or bad!
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but being organised will help make the holiday happier for everyone. This doesn’t mean scheduling every day down to the last minute but having things to fall back on – maps when phones fail, packing snacks and having activities for little ones – will help regardless of how you plan to travel. Get everyone involved in the planning, from looking at budgets, to finding out what activities are on offer in the location you’re heading for.
Some families like going to the same place every year; this can help build independence for the children and everyone relaxes a little more but it can also get repetitive – so make sure to pack new games for the family, choose different walking trails and get involved in different sports. Choose to visit different restaurant or sample different local cuisines – variety after all is the spice of life!
If you choose a new location annually, get everyone’s input on possible locations and narrow things down together – if they were part of the overall decision, they’re less likely to complain that they ended up camping for a week over a Disney vacation.
Set goals and challenges as a family. If you all like swimming, find out if there are any remote locations you can swim to and explore, or if your children are more interested in history, find out about a historical event and see what you can discover.
Let everyone be involved in making choices on holiday. Give them options you know you’re happy with but by letting everyone make some of their choices, they start to feel like it’s their holiday too. If you have children of varying ages, make sure they each feel they have equal input and an equal number of activities that they will enjoy. This might mean that each child has a day to plan, or number of activities they can choose over the length of your holiday.
Don’t be afraid to split off into different groups so that everyone can have fun – if you hit an amusement park and there are height restrictions, everyone will have a better day if they can spend some time doing the things they are allowed to do.
If you have a little one who is an early riser, and an older child who likes to sleep in, plan activities in the morning that are just right for the little one, spend afternoons doing something as a family and find a friendly music venue or campfire to attend for the older one – this may mean channeling your inner child – but we know you’ll be up for it!
Not every minute needs to be planned; make sure everyone has a quiet activity like reading or drawing that they can do on their own. If the tensions start rising, call for quiet time and let the dust settle before you suggest a rousing game of Monopoly (assuming it’s raining) or hide and seek!
Remember to relax and enjoy! Have fun together, get to know something new about one another and forget about real life for a moment – leave the phones and emails at home and let holidays be holidays!