The ultimate guide to surviving the summer holidays at home with children

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? We've officially reached the halfway point of keeping the children entertained for the holidays, but at what cost, asks a bedraggled Amanda Cassidy.


Day one of the summer holidays, we were uber organised; camps were booked, resort holidays reserved and we were even ahead of ourselves with our own waxing and tanning appointments. In other words, parents everywhere were killing it.

And then...

Holidays were had. We remembered that being together, as lovely as it is, is also extremely exhausting (EXHAUSTING). Ice-creams every day isn't without consequences, ditto 10pm bedtimes, chips for almost every meal and there is only so much suncream you can put on a wiggling child every day, five times for two weeks without losing your mind. Lovely memories, now pass me the rosé.

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But hallelujah for camps. It's like school, only way more expensive and instead of maths and Irish, they learn how to make slime and jump on bouncy castles. Everyone is happy...for a bit. Until you realise you still have to make, gasp, sandwiches. And ferry them there and back. But it is a small price to pay for 3 hours of relative quiet so you can unpack the suitcases and unleash the mountain of laundry that inevitably explodes out of them.

And they are not cheap. A recent survey found that it costs around €1400 to keep a child entertained through the summer holidays. I've got three and yes, most of that has gone on ice-cream.

Downtime

But now we are approaching The Lull - the time you mentally boxed off to 'give them a break' without cajoling them along to the next thing, the next thing all the time. But it is a myth. Your children are not programmed for downtime. You've confused them with yourself. You picture afternoons at the park, laughing and feeding the ducks. Quality time.

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The reality is rain, kids complaining because of your newly-imposed ice-cream ban (they are part vanilla, part chocolate swirl at this stage), and somebody (there is always one) who ends up needing to pee at the most inopportune moment.

Instead, you surrender to Netflix and scrolling and vow that tomorrow's plan of visiting the beach or zoo will work, even though all they want to do anyway is jump on the godforsaken trampoline and make a base in your flowerbeds (while eating snacks).

Can we talk about snacks for a moment? My summer has been one long snackfest. It's been all about doling food (as healthy as I can, of course) to your hungry little ducklings all day long. My children literally finish their lunch and get up and ask to make cereal. The fruit bowl only lasts about an hour. Yes, they are growing fast and it is lovely to see but seriously, where are they putting it?

Now we are nearing the countdown to new uniforms, covering the books, cleaning out the schoolbags. So instead of tearing your hair out, try these tips for entertaining your brood over the next few weeks.

Get creative

My guys love cutting up old Christmas cards and re-sticking the bits onto new cards. Just think anything with glitter (but do it outside) stickers, paint, glue - let them get creative and it will keep them busy for hours.

Imagination

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Currently, my children are working on their 'book'. It usually gets rolled out five minutes before bedtime so I'm not sure how committed they really are. It involves them writing a line or two about the adventures of a little boy and his dog and spending hours doing the pictures under it. In fairness, it is already about 15 pages long. If they finish this book before I start mine, I'll have to seriously question my own commitment to the cause!

Treasure hunting

While I'm no Don Conroy, putting together a treasure hunt is relatively simple and keeps them busy and active. Or try Geocaching. It is an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS and the treasure is contained in the geocache (container) hidden at a certain location and you replace the treats in it after you get them. You will have to take part too for obvious reasons but it is an afternoon very well spent. Check out www.geocaching.com for details

Discovering

Pick a town you haven't been to or a place that interests you and help your children research all about it. And then go. There are plenty of free activities and attractions that you otherwise might never visit, right on your doorstep. New things are also distracting for everyone and you might learn a thing or two yourself.

Balance

The summer isn't just for martyrs - make sure to plan some nice things for yourself too - a cinema date, a lazy lunch, a wild night with the girls, a weekend away. Once you plan ahead well in advance and rope in some of those who love you to help, you can make it happen.

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Enjoy the sunshine, make the most of the home-work free evenings and enjoy those little ones before they turn into big ones who are too sullen to even want you around. Snack?

Image via Unsplash.com

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