Children may be thrilled that school’s out for the summer but most parents are dreading the weeks to come with two thirds (61%) claiming the summer holidays should be shorter.
Being a parent is a juggle at the best of times, but in the holidays that juggle reaches epic proportions.
Not only do you have to keep everyone alive and entertained, more often than not you have to do so while also keeping on top of your own work commitments.
Oh and let’s not forget the financial fears either.
Between forking out for childcare and finding fun things to do, it’s not surprising a poll has revealed many parents are already wishing the six weeks away.
The survey of 2,000 parents by tuition provider Explore Learning revealed that reasons for the holiday-dread include struggles with managing the work/child balance, boredom and being generally busy.
Half of parents said they find it hard to get time off over the summer holidays and 46% said sourcing childcare for this extended period of time is challenging.
As a result finances are strained as over a third (35%) admit to struggling to pay for childcare, and 39% find it hard to pay for family holidays as they are so expensive.
Keeping children entertained is another parental battle with 43% finding it difficult to keep their children busy and 59% of parents saying their children get bored over the holidays.
Another parental worry is that kids will forget everything they’ve learnt during the school year with 40% citing this as a real concern, while 71% say their child’s academic ability drops over the long summer break.
So how do we survive the long summer break?
"Six weeks is a long time to keep the children entertained but there are some fantastic ways to do this that are easy, affordable, educational and fun,” says Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning.
Become free readers
Local libraries use the summer holidays to invite children to take part in free reading and writing workshops, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for when these are.
“Even when they're not running events, the library is a brilliant place to visit,” explains Gater. “Give your child the freedom to choose whatever book or genre they'd like without spending any money at all.”
Of course, with the constant threat to libraries up and down the country, it's also a fantastic way to show your support!
Your Insta might be littered with pictures of the kids enjoying the holidays, but more often then not those mementos end up languishing on our phones. So how about getting the kids to make a scrapbook of your summer break?
Sure the holidays are testing for parents, but they’re often some of children’s best times. “Help them to cherish these memories by encouraging them to make a scrapbook of what they've done each day,” suggests Gater.
“Task them with collecting items when they're out and about, save ticket stubs, take photos and print up and draw or paint pictures of what they've seen!”
Lazy days spent in front of a screen can’t always be avoided, but if we’re gifted a sunny day, make the most of it by getting little ones outside.
“If they like a certain sport, see if there are some good camps that specialise in what they love near you,” suggests Gater.
“And if sport’s really not for them, encourage them to enjoy the great outdoors by taking them to the beach, on walks and play parks where they can let loose and burn off some of that of that excess energy they'd usually use up in the school playground!”
And if you do head to the beach don’t forget to pack the talcum powder - it’s an easy hack to get sand off kids’ wet legs. You’re welcome.
Switch up the cinema
For when the inevitable summer bad weather hits. “Often there are special parent/child discounts at the cinema in the holidays,” says Gater.
She suggests trying to add an educational element to movie days by encouraging little ones to write a review of the film for their favourite magazine.
Read up a storm
According to recent research, reading together came out as the most popular educational source of entertainment.
“Reading together is a fantastic way of bonding in the evenings and getting their imagination going,” explains Gater. She suggests choosing something you loved as a child.
“Your passion and enthusiasm will shine through and hopefully your child will love it just as much as you!”
Share the childcare load
The work/kids juggle is oh so real for many parents but we’re all in the same boat. Try swapping favours or working out childcare rotas with other parents which should make life a little easier for everyone.
“Play dates are a great way of sharing the load of childcare,” explains Gater. “Perhaps your child could go to a friend for one day and then the friend could come to you the next day.
The benefits of sharing the load are countless.
“Not only is it fun for your child, it helps build their social skills and gives you a day to yourself to do whatever you'd like – or catch up on chores or work!”
Chart their chores
The last thing you want over the summer break is for your child to get lazy. Yes, they will need to take a break after all the hard work of the school year, but you don’t want them to fall into a routine of doing nothing every day!
The trick is finding a balance.
“Since they'll be at home a lot more, allocate chores to them that they must do each week,” suggests Gater. “This will teach them responsibility – and help ease your load too!”