Get started with some art
A long summer break is the perfect time to flex your kids’ creative muscles. The whole family can get involved in portrait drawing, sock-puppet making or finger painting. Did you know that the soles of your feet make exemplary butterfly wings, while upside-down handprints make ideal horses? The resulting works of art are brilliant keepsakes for later years.
For something completely different, why not consider doing some at-home volunteering? There’s Help From Home, which asks volunteers, among other projects, to knit clothing for those in need or help with research projects from home.
Explore the great outdoors
Younger children appreciate imaginative games and can be easily pleased with local ‘adventures’.
Our resident mummy blogger Shannon Kyle suggests: ‘Try writing a list of things to collect (like a round stone, a pointed leaf or daisies) then release your kids into the garden. One summer, my daughter and I made a tepee in the garden with a pop-up tent and a bed sheet – she spent all day creating stories and games and completely forgot about watching TV!
‘You could even create your own crazy golf course with flowerpots, or challenge the kids to a throwing competition with tennis balls and buckets. I discovered that setting a timer and challenging my daughter to do something as fast as she could often encouraged her – whether she was doing cartwheels, popping bubbles, or even helping with household chores!’
A staycation in the sun
Farm holidays combine the beautiful British countryside with cute petting corners where the kids can get up-close and personal with the animals. Away with the Kids
is a great website, packed with information on working farms where you can stay overnight, from Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly. Alternatively, why not find a farm closer to home?
‘My eldest used to love visiting Kentish Town City Farm near our old house in London. Her favourite animals were the pigs – or “pongs”, as she used to call them, because they smelt quite a bit!’ comments Shannon.
If your kids aren’t fans of livestock (or are allergic), summer is also the season of ‘pick your own’ fruit farms, hedge mazes and village fetes – so there’s sure to be something else to do nearby.
One of the biggest stresses for parents can be travelling with babies and young children, so a little planning can go a long way. Try to organise car journeys around your child’s nap and invest in a car seat mirror – not only do babies love looking at themselves, but you can be reassured what they’re up to as well! If you’re travelling with older kids, look for nearby alternatives to boring motorway service stations, such as country parks, or local sightseeing trips.
If you’re travelling by rail, there are many money-saving deals for budget family trips.
‘A number of train companies offer great day-trip discounts, such as South West Trains’ two-for-one zoo tickets,’ blogger Miss Lolly
says. ‘And don’t forget to use cash-back websites when booking your holiday.’
National Rail also offers a range of two-for-one deals in many restaurants, including top eateries such as Planet Hollywood and Azzurro.
Chatting about childcare
If you work, you probably won’t be able to take the whole six weeks off, so planning childcare might be a challenge. To avoid last-minute panics, start looking for suitable holiday clubs or child-minders months in advance. Many local authorities have a list of registered babysitters and clubs; you can begin your search on the government’s website
Chatting to parents at the school gates about their childcare plans can help you suss out somewhere suitable, too, or you might find another family to share a child-minder to cut costs further.
Double-check if you’re eligible for tax credits, or if your company provides childcare vouchers. Childcare is one of the biggest costs of raising a child, so the summer break is also a good time to look at your finances and protection policies and make sure that your family is covered no matter what happens.
Enjoy the summer with your children, and when they’re older you’ll all look back at the holidays with nostalgia. So whether it’s rain or shine, get out there and have fun with your family.