For a large majority of school kids in the UK, today will be their first day back to either their existing school or a new school. Having just been off the phone to my wife, she recounted scenes of some kids crying because of new teachers or no teachers. Anyway, I am sure most parents will be glad to see their children back in the school routine and Summer holidays now over.
I must admit, for the first time, we felt that the Summer break did run through quickly, but this was down to some shrewd planning and kind help from family. So, how did we achieve this?
Step 1: Draw up the holiday calendar and establish who’s available for help. Using the good old Excel sheet, we marked out the 6 weeks in manageable chunks and then presented our sob story for child cover. This was done some 3 weeks in advance and proved a hit, we had the buy-in from family.
Step 2: Make a list of all the “free” events going on. Not being a tight bugger here, but this was vital because there were some great group events going on and it also worked as backup in case we had to deviate from our original plan.
Step 3: Pick an outdoor activity for 1 – 2 days per week. Everyone knows that visiting clubs, museums or activity days is not cheap and on top of that the exploding fuel cost makes each and every journey a painful experience on your wallet. We mixed these up, a round of crazy golf, some mornings at the local tennis club, a visit to a local beach, the local play gym. We set the expectation that the kids wouldn’t be touring the country each and every day.
Step 4: Arrange for their friends to meet up throughout the summer. Between a group of us parents, we discussed who was away and who was around and then agreed on a meet up either at the local park for a kick about or a trip to the local bowling alley followed by a bite to eat. This worked well as the kids ran around like headless chickens, they were happy as they were back together again.
Step 5: Set them a project to work on at their pace. So I came up with an idea, drafted up a business letter and posted it back home, addressed to my eldest son. As part of the project, he had been asked to start-up a football club. The letter outlined various activities he had to carry out, including a model of a stadium from cereal boxes. The stadium build is still coming along, as these things do, but it kept him interested, he decided to dedicate 1 day a week to work on this. Below you will see some designs he came up with.
Step 6: Try and fit in a short break away. This is optional as I know how expensive holidays are nowadays, but for the first time we managed to get away to the Isle of Wight, the kids loved it.
Step 7: Let them get bored. Prior to the Summer break I read a few articles on how parents felt under pressure to ensure their kids were kept busy all the time. I remember when we were young, it was a ride on the bike, play in the garden or read. This Summer, I often got the kids just to explore in their own time, just do something, an activity which didn’t involve the television. It’s amazing that kids always find something to do, just need to leave them to it.
Finally, what we found important was to set the expectation from the start, so that kids value these moments and appreciate any efforts you make throughout this period, otherwise what you might have is a child who is never contempt.
Some bits from that Project: