Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tips for Successful Summer Holidays

I'm going out on a limb here, with my Tips For Successful Summer Holidays. There's a few reasons.

1. We have one child.
2. That child is a self contained girl who's just as happy to have a PJ day as she is to go out.
3. We are a single income family with a good disposable income.

So I have no idea what it's like to juggle a full time (or part time job), with 8+ weeks of summer school holidays with 2+ kids, on limited income.

However, that being said, after several l-o-n-g, near disastrous attempts of 8+ weeks of holidays, with few friends around to hang out with (while living in Yokohama, or working friends in Winchester) we finally nailed one.

This summer holiday has been pretty darn good. It's also the first summer that we've not had guests staying with us.

Keep in mind, despite this being our second time in Dublin, we still spend a lot of time researching what's going on over school holidays and asking friends as it takes time to learn what's available in a new city.

Most of our friends here work, so kids are off to grandparents for weeks at a time, or to an aunts place to hang out with cousins, or they are away on long summer vacations.  Our expat friends all but disappear 'home' for summer. Some of our Irish friends have holiday homes in Spain, Wexford and other places and decamp.

The weather had been fantastic which has made a huge difference!!!!!!!! It's been a lovely summer in Dublin.

We're 9 weeks into it and still friends which is saying something when it's 24/7 with a 10 year old.

Here are my tips (really it's how we approached this summer vacation with success)

    • Research online and make a list of ALL the free stuff that's going on over summer
    • Investigate Summer Day Camps and email friends if their kids would like to join yours (you can share drop off and pick up)
    • Some camps offer discounts when 2+ kids are booked in together.
    • Check out GroupOn offers, or 2for1 offers, discount offers especially for school holidays.
    • Pinterest has great ideas for creative fun/play.
    • Be A Tourist in your own city; what do they see/do while in town?
      • Check out Hop On Hop Off bus options
      • Go to Tourist Office and find out what's on 
    • Meet with other mums/dads over coffee and compare notes; work out whose able to take leave from work when and help each other out with child minding, or which camps their kids are going into/when; buddy up on craft supplies/ideas; schedule picnic dates, play dates, sleep overs etc.

    • Invite them to create a Wish List of stuff they'd like to do. Let them be as creative and wild as they like .... you can bring them back to earth soon enough.
    • You and your partner create a wish list too :)
      • Suggestions for your lists:
        • Library
        • Museum
        • Art Galleries
        • Science Museums
        • Local Parks and Playgrounds (picnics are good fun too)
        • Bowling
        • Check out Rail travel deals and 'catch a train' 
        • Summer release movies (check out any school holiday movie deals)
        • Putt Putt
        • Special Daddy/Daughter or Mother/Son days
        • Special Daddy/son or Mother/daughter days
        • Check out National Trust or Heritage organisations
        • Fun day trips to explore other parts of town
        • Cooking days at home
        • Movie marathons with a theme (Netflix is great for this)
        • Public swimming pools 
        • Reorganise a bedroom
        • Plant up the garden
        • Craft days - lots of websites showing you how to make your own paints, or play dough, cut up magazines and newspapers, collect empty toilet rolls, or cling wrap rolls, wrapping paper etc for projects.
        • Catch the local bus on a round-trip to see where on earth it goes
        • PJ days are vital.
        • Zoo or farm visits
        • Stay at Home Days
        • While it's not that much fun, clean out wardrobes and cupboards. It's a perfect time as you're home, and the kids can help; you can make it fun!
  • Compare ALL lists at the table with various coloured markers
    • Highlight the ideas that are common to everyone - these are obviously keepers and depending on budget required to fulfil them can be negotiated
    • Then in descending order, highlight in different colours the rest of the suggestions.
    • The least suggested items may not get bumped completely, but can be done with the other sibling is off with a friend.
    • Some stuff you can do more than once, others not at all ......... but at least you've all had some input into the decision making process
  • Have some things booked into the diary BEFORE the holidays even start so that you have stuff to look forward to
    • Sleep overs with friends whose parents might also be juggling work/kids might appreciate a swap of kids for a few nights mid-week.
    • Book a Summer Day camp
      • If you are fortunate to afford more than one summer day camp, try to have a week's break between them thereby spreading out the fun (and finances)
  • Remember you don't have to be busy outside the house every day
    • A morning out/afternoon at home.
    • A day out, next day home.
    • A friend over one day - home alone the next.
  • As summer holidays in the Northern Hemisphere tend to be rather long, about half way thru the holidays, the kids can start doing 30 minutes of chosen 'something' - reading, write a vacation dairy, work thru some maths, do a few science experiments. The brain's as muscle and it needs to be worked.
  • Some Sydney families I knew thru the toyshop would purchase a HUGE puzzle every summer holidays (six weeks December-January) and the entire family and any friends who visited would be encouraged to participate in the puzzle.
  • Do stuff out of the ordinary - MissM was so surprised when I suggested she have a really long cool bath at 11am just for fun. 
  • Encourage boredom! 
    • It gives rise to creative thinking to solve the problem
    • It's healthy to be 'bored' aka, chilled, relaxed, free of responsibility
  • Remember to get your hair done and have a quiet coffee 
    • When the kids are invited to a friends for a play date, make the most of your 'free' time
    • Be honest with your friend - I'll have your kid/s if you have mine for a day as there's things I just need to do.
  • Do the grocery shopping online to avoid tantrums in the supermarket. Let's face it, it's a horrid way to spend time and the kids shouldn't have to be inflicted with it every week of the holidays.
    • You're also entitled to a 'holiday'
  • Take home made lunches and drinks with you as it's much more economical than buying lunch out all the time. 
    • Pack snacks too as the cost of these mounts up very quickly.
    • Avoid fast food options! And not just over summer holidays.
    • Pack a picnic blanket in the car so that when you are out'n'about you can stop and have a pleasant lunch.
  • Be honest with the kid/s when you feel you need time out from them (and them from you). Take 30 minutes for a quiet hot coffee in the sitting room while they are playing; or read a few pages of your book on the bed.
  • A really great idea that worked so very well in Yokohama, but not so well in Winchester was a closed FB group, and people would let others know what they were doing and have an open invitation to join them.
    • They could suggest ideas, new discoveries, recommendations etc.
    • Make plans to meet 'at Starbucks at 10am to take the train to ........'
    • Shout out if the mum needed a break for a few hours

We've hosted a craft morning and lunch with 6 friends from school; been to the movies, visited Chester Beatty Library, gone to the park a few times, she's gone to 2 summer day camps, had lots of pj days at home; cleaned out her wardrobe (she's grown lots!), re organised her room (moved her bed into a new position, which meant book cases had to move), baked cakes'n'cookies, she's watched hours of how to make loom bands on youtube, been on play dates, had friends over .........  read, done a bit of bridging work for school,  taken up knitting (again)

We're just over the half way mark and still friends, so yeah us.

Hope you're coping too and having fun,

With friendship

What are your 5 Tips for a Successful Holiday at Home with the Kids?
Share your coping secrets.


  1. You are a SAINT! One thing we are doing is berry picking - there are lots of pick-your-own farms near us, but we are foraging! tons of bramble/blackberries around in the local woods, along the path next to the train, and even creeping into the garden. Our kids have never had a chance to do this and they are loving it. We are taking along a friend at a time to share the wealth.

    1. I am so far from a Saint you've no idea - yes you do. You spent a week with us so know the truth.

      If anything I am organised to the point of ridiculousness. Guess we've had one too many horrid summers that I promised myself not to ever let it happen again. Plus MissM is getting older and that helps.

      Berry picking YUM. What do you cook with all the berries you pick?

      Have FUN!
      Deep breaths honey

  2. This is the first year in which my kids have been upset about me working. I reduce my hours to 3 mornings a week through the hols but even then they are getting snippy about having to do planned stuff with our childminder instead of me. Then I find myself overcompensating to spend time with them and then losing it because I've had no time for just a cup of tea!

    1. Your kids obviously enjoy your company more than MissM does mine :)

      Sounds like you can't win honey :( 3 mornings a week sounds like a fair and reasonable compromise to us. Maybe they are slightly confused as you work from home - if you had to physically leave the house to go to work it might make a difference.

      Like I said in the chat, what do I know about juggling kidS and work?

      You can only do your best, and stop with the guilts
      huge hugs