Claire and Nneka started Mellownest with one mission in mind; to help parents develop a more mindful style of parenting. With backgrounds in educational psychology and emotionalwell-being, they want to help you stress less, laugh more and enjoy your family.
Each month, they respond to a Mumbler’s question about parenting. This month about finding the right balance so everyone has a happy and enjoyable summer holiday!
I have three children aged 8, 5 and 18 months. I work a couple of days a week but I’m mostly at home. My issue is that I’m dreading the summer holidays. They’re so long, my oldest two just get on each other’s nerves and it always seems to cost us a fortune, even if we don’t go on holiday. How can I have a better time in the holidays?
Hi Mumbler member,
We hear you – the summer holidays can make parents feel like they’re running a six-week entertainment camp complete with snack requirements and crabby customers!
What’s going to work will look different for different families depending on the ages of the children and working patterns of the parents but there might just be a few ways to have more fun over the long, hot days.
Do some joint planning
Sit down with older children and write a long list of all the things they’d like to do in the holiday. Go prepared with some of your own ideas that don’t involve spending huge sums of money on expensive days out. Simple ideas could include:
Trip to the library
Picnic in the park
Nature scavenger hunt
Making your own play-dough
Playdates with friends
Trip to the local pool
Water balloon fun
Then create a big schedule and put a couple of activities on each week. It’s okay if some are repeated – you might want to aim for a picnic in a different park every week! *
(*You could even make more of this activity by getting kids to take pictures of each park or playground and then give it marks out of 10. That way at the end of the holiday you’ll have done some exploring and decided on your favourite!)
Again, do this with the kids and encourage them to create and decorate the schedule with you. Having even just a couple of planned activities might help as children are used to busy and structured school days. Having said this…
2) Don’t be afraid to slow down
The holidays are also an opportunity for your children (and you!) to have a break from getting up and out the house on time and spending their days packed with activities.
Holidays are the perfect time to practice balance, providing your children valuable creative time to play and learn on their own. While your children might complain of being bored, it isn’t your role to entertain them 24/7.
They will only develop the skills for self-directed play if given many chances to practise them. More than that, it’s important for children to have the opportunity to direct their own activities rather than always having an adult in charge.
So, there you have it – express permission to step back and let the kids entertain themselves. They might find it hard at first which is why having some scheduled activities can help everyone to have a smoother holiday overall.
Finding the balance of activity time but also emphasising to your kids that they have ‘free time’ every day for being creative could be one of the best things you could do for them.
Sometimes boredom really can be a good thing.
3) Get outside
Developmental psychologists often extol the virtues of free play but especially that which takes place in nature, as it encourages children to explore different aspects of their world and personality.
Outdoor or nature play is of particular importance due to the open-ended opportunities that it presents. While there is generally only one way to swing on a swing, there are many ways to play in a stream.
By fully engaging their senses in a world offering materials for building, hiding in, splashing or collecting we give our children the chance to direct their own activity, something that is often limited in their daily lives.
So, if in doubt or if everyone’s getting fed up – simply pile in the car and head for your nearest woods, park, stream or beach for a better holiday experience.
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