Some love the idea of no schoolrun for seven whole weeks. Some relish being able to spend extra time with the kids. Some are preoccupied with trying to juggle childcare when the schools close. Some are starting to panic at the thought of fifty one days of full on kids. Everyone can benefit from a little forward planning to make the most of the school holidays.
Here are my Golden Rules for a happy summer holiday.
Rule Number One: Gather your supplies
This doesn’t mean spending a fortune in the toy store but a little time this week organising what you already have, and supplementing it with a few inexpensive extras, will set you up for the whole holiday.
Start with what you’ve got. If you haven’t already got a making box, start collecting cereal packets, tin foil, wrapping paper and so on right now. This provides a free, environmentally-friendly supply of art, craft, modelling and construction materials that you can keep topping up all through the summer.
Think about other play resources you have around the home: blankets and sheets for dens, birthday presents that are sitting on a shelf yet to be played with, natural materials from the garden, pots and pans from the kitchen.
And then take a trip to the home-ware and stationery stores to buy a few added extras that the children can use. I don’t buy toys or put-together craft sets, but rather materials the children can use any way they like.
Rule Number Two: Fresh air everyday
Going outside to play will transform your day. I read yesterday that children who play outdoors laugh twenty times more than their indoor TV watching counterparts, and I know as a mum and a childminder that being outside makes children happy. So, whatever the weather, find an opportunity each day to go on a bike ride, visit a park, take toys into the garden or just skip around the neighbourhood. And if your children are reluctant to leave a screen and go out, pull the plug and observe a Compulsory Fresh Air Daily rule!
Rule Number Three: Embrace boredom
You are not a Butlin’s Red Coat and you do not have to plan wall-to-wall entertainment for your children all summer long. Do not fear boredom. Being bored gives children the opportunity to daydream, to imagine, to ponder, to plan, to come up with some self-directed play ideas, to create, to invent.
Children will get bored. You can either dive in with a solution – which can often mean switching on the TV or taking them out somewhere expensive – or you can leave them to it. Through extensive (un-)scientific research, I have concluded that there is a Critical Boredom Tipping Point, which you interfere with at your peril. Children will be bored for five to ten minutes, they will mope and moan and try and pick a fight with their siblings or their parents. Ignore them! Leave them to it. Resist the temptation to interfere. If you have observed Rule Number One (you did, right?) you have plenty of interesting, open-ended resources your children can use for fun, and in ten to twenty minutes they will have started to build a den, or be turning a cereal box into a submarine, or drawing with chalks on the floor in the garden. And if this doesn’t come to pass, practise Rule Number Two.
Rule Number Four: Follow NurtureStore
We’re full of great ideas you can use all summer long. Let your children have a browse through our index up there at the top and see if they can find something which looks fun. Join our Facebook community and we’ll provide you with a regular supply of great ideas. Sign up and we’ll e-mail you a play idea everyday. Visit us whenever you need a new idea, as we’ll be bringing you new ideas right through the holiday. And don’t miss our weekly Summer Play Planner which will give you seven days’ worth of play ideas in one go.
So – are you ready?