The thought of a full summer break with the kids off school can be a little daunting. You want to have fun and spend quality time together, that goes without saying. But trying to come up with ideas of things to do and places to go? That can be hard! How do you keep them entertained and out of mischief for such a long period of time? What if you have to work while they’re off?
Carving out quality time and not letting the days you have together slip by can be tricky. But finding the balance between boredom and burnout is not as impossible as you might think. So how do you make the most of the summer break? With a bit of planning and forethought your summer can be both enjoyable and memorable. Here are five simple steps you can take right now to make your summer break one to remember:
Step One: Establish how much time you have
How much time do you actually have together? Knowing this makes it so much easier to plan what to do. It also makes sure the time you spend together is quality time because you’ve had chance to think about it. Sit down with your calendar and mark out any days you already have plans. Then, thinking about the rest of the break, ask yourself:
- Whether you’re going away at all
- If you need to work and how you’re managing childcare
- Whether the kids are staying with grandparents or relatives and if so, how long for
- How you’re splitting the time if you have children from a previous relationship
Mark these on your calendar and see what you have left. Of the days you have remaining, establish which would work best as days out. Whilst one day may be better spent visiting somewhere, another may be better spent at home. But that’s ok – you don’t need to be out every single day. Being out all day every day will very quickly lead to burnout and an empty wallet. So don’t be afraid to spend a few days at home. Leaving a few days free allows you to be a little spontaneous and gives space for any unexpected opportunities.
Step Two: Create a list of the things you want to do
Now you know when you’re free you can start thinking about what you’d like to do together. Create a bucket list of all the places you want to go and the things you want to do. They don’t have to be wild or fancy, nor do they have to be miles away and cost the earth. A simple wish list is enough. Activities like swimming, going for a picnic, hiring bikes for the day or taking a trip to the beach are absolutely fine. Include:
- All the things you enjoy doing as a family
- All the things you keep talking about but haven’t yet done
- Things your kids would like to do – ask them!
- Things happening in your local area you like the look of
Having a bucket list means you’ll never be stumped for ideas. Don’t forget to include indoor and outdoor activities and activities for both sunny and rainy days. That way you’ll always have something to do regardless of the weather. The list will serve you all year round, so file it away somewhere safe. Add to it anytime you think of something else you could do. Use it whenever you have time together but find yourselves stuck for inspiration.
Step Three: Establish some kind of routine
The summer holidays mean the normal nursery/school routine goes on hold for a few weeks. This throws everything off kilter making it hard to get all the usual chores done. We all function better when there’s a routine, so try keeping things as structured as possible. If you normally go food shopping on a Monday, still go but have the kids help you. Make it fun, have them find the items you need and help you unpack everything when you get home. If Wednesdays are laundry day, let them help you then too. My youngest loves sorting clothes when they come out of the drier! Still find time for your normal tasks, just mix them in with other activities and days out.
If you find it hard coming up with things to do, try giving each day a theme. I love doing this because it makes it so much easier to plan out the week. It spreads the days out over the summer and gives you chance to spend time together at home too. Your kids will love it because they have a routine and they’ll know what to look forward to each day. And if they know they go out on a particular day, they won’t be hounding you to do something special for the rest of the week! Our weeks usually pan out something like this:
- Mondays – Food shopping, chores and library day
- Tuesdays – Going out day
- Wednesdays – Activities at home (drawing, crafts, lego, baking etc)
- Thursdays – Going out day
- Fridays – Soft play and/or movie time at home
Step Four: Aim for quality over quantity
Planning your summer break allows you to make the most of the time you have together. But that doesn’t mean you have to cram your days, rushing from place to place so that come bedtime, you’re exhausted. The idea is to spend real, proper quality time together. Time that you don’t normally get. It’s about making the most of the opportunity you have and investing time in the things that really matter. For us, bedtime is normally a rushed affair, so in the holidays we take our time, spending longer on the stories and snuggles. We also make Friday nights movie night and allow the youngest to stay up much later because there’s no school. Ask yourself what you wish you had more time to do. Give your time to it while the summer break lends you the opportunity.
Remember that all your kids want to do is just spend time with you. They want your attention and they want you to be present. You don’t have to be out all day every day to achieve this. It’s perfectly ok to spend time at home. Whilst zoos and theme parks are fun, your kids will be just as happy at home drawing or playing Lego – as long as they have your attention. So always aim for quality over quantity.
Step Five: Keep things flexible
Sometimes things don’t quite go as planned. What you had arranged could get cancelled. It could rain when sunshine was forecast. You may have to work when you thought you had the day off. In step one I talked about keeping a few days free here and there to allow for the unexpected. Not setting every day in stone allows you to switch things around with minimal stress and fuss if you need to. And if your plans do change, don’t forget you have your bucket list of activities from step two to fall back on. It’s much easier to come up with ways to entertain at the last minute if you have a list of ideas ready and waiting. Save yourself from unnecessary stress and keep things as flexible as possible.
What if you have to work?
You may be reading this thinking that’s all very well but I have to work the entire summer! It can be hard to carve out quality time together when you’re working full time. Not being at home with your kids while they’re off can be tough and it’s easy to feel guilty that you’re not with them. The important thing is to not be too hard on yourself, to not beat yourself up over something you know you have to do. Kids are far more resilient than you might think, so just make the most of the time you do have and grab every opportunity you can to spend time together.
Make the most of your summer break…
With a little bit of planning and forethought, a summer holiday that is both memorable and enjoyable is possible. So think about the things you want to do and have yourself a great summer break by:
- Establishing how much time you have
- Creating a list of the things you want to do
- Establishing some kind of routine
- Aiming for quality over quantity
- Keeping things flexible
Just following one of these steps will make a huge difference, follow all five and you’ll be guaranteed a summer break to remember!
That’s it for this post. I hope it’s sparked a few ideas on how to have a great summer. If you like what you’ve read be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post! Join my tribe and kick-start creating a family life you love right now by filling in your details below. I’ll send you my FREE Daily Planner as a thank-you!
What’s your biggest takeaway from this post? I’d love to know what you do to make the most of the summer holidays – let me know in the comments below!
If you liked this post why not give How to Have a Debt-Free Summer a read too. Discover the five steps you can take to make sure your summer is fun and memorable without breaking the bank.
Until next time….