As schools across the land break up for summer, author, stay at home dad, and one of the UK’s leading dad bloggers offers words of advice and encouragement to parents, having lived through four 6 week holidays with his daughters aged 8 and 4.
Dad of two John Adams, who writes Dadbloguk.com, which recently won Vuelio’s award for Best UK Dad Blog, says the six week break can be tough on mums and dads, but advises there are ways to make it easier.
John said: “While a great opportunity to have fun, there’s no denying the summer break can be tough on mums, dads and carers. School children have their own interests and opinions and can be more demanding than toddlers. I believe that by managing your own expectations of what this time will be like, you can set off on a happier path.” – and London based psychotherapist Samantha Carbon couldn’t agree with John more.
Sam explained: “Putting pressure on oneself as parents to deliver on all counts can lead to stress and ultimately, tension. Trying to keep the perfect home, whilst juggling work deadlines; commitments and trying to be a fun parent that devotes quality time to their adventures can be a tricky balance. Aim to be realistic by creating your own brand of how you would like the summer holidays to look like and avoid getting caught up in what others are doing. The phrase “summer holiday” can be emotionally charged by memories and experiences of our own childhoods so it’s important to create a unique way of being during these 6 weeks so you make it your own. Learning to say no to external demands can be a struggle at this time of year, so pause and consider the family’s needs. Pre-planning activities and taking a bit of time to think through how the 6 weeks might map out, along with having realistic expectations, will definitely help you to feel more in control”.
John’s tips for a stress free summer:
Embrace the mess and learn to live with it
With children at home 24/7, the house will be messier than usual. Just accept there will be more mess and domestic chaos throughout August and early September and you will have an easier life. Said John: “As soon as I gave up trying to have the perfect household during the summer break, life got so much easier!”
Keep following some kind of routine
It may simply be ten minutes a day of spellings and times tables or practicing a musical instrument, but keep some kind of routine going. In John’s experience, completing a few structured activities each day, even for just a few minutes, helps children adjust when they return to school.
Take out annual membership of your favourite attractions
Visitor attractions like stately homes or activity centres can cost between £10 and £15 per person each visit, even for children. Annual, family membership providing unlimited access to these attractions can often be purchased for around £100 – £150. It may seem like a lot to spend in one go but it and gives you options for all year round – but key for summer is it gets the kids out the house so helps it to remain tidier for that bit longer!
Manage screen time
Screen time is going to increase over the summer break. You simply have to accept this fact but you can control the quality using streaming services.
Rainy days, illness and an unexpected increase in mum and dad’s workload can result in the TV being switched on. Even so, it doesn’t have to be all trashy cartoons, rammed full of commercials. Instead why not encourage classic, inspiring films such as the BFG, the Harry Potter series and the old Superman movies, which can all be found on streaming services like Amazon Prime and Google Play. These are usually commercial free so the added bonus is that your kids won’t pester you to buy tat they’ve seen advertised.
Take it easy
School children are tired after a full academic year. Mum and dad are also often drained after nine months of school runs and ferrying kids to after school clubs. If kids want to lie in and no one in the household has showered or dressed before one pm, so what?
“This must be the most important tip I would pass on. For the final couple of weeks, you want to ease back into a regular bed time so it doesn’t come as a shock when school starts but until that point, you should take it easy, go with the flow and relax. On more than one occasion my kids’ ‘bath’ has been the paddling pool. So what? They’re having fun!”
The sign of a successful school summer break is a good sun tan because it shows lots of time has been spent outside.
Sam agrees: “There are lots of positive benefits for our mental wellbeing that come from spending time outside and the sun provides a source of energy that can promote feelings of restoration and renewal. Being out there with nature can also be therapeautic, and encourages us to use our senses, which are often diminished in this digital age.”
John concludes with his view that “You should all have some new memories, a messy house and an unkempt garden. For me, a tidy home is a sign you’re piling your energies into the wrong activities!”