Been too busy to think about school half-term, let alone plan anything? Don’t want to waste a lovely family Bank Holiday weekend frantically ‘Googling’ educationally and emotionally fulfilling kids’ days out, or booking ridiculously expensive family mini-breaks?
We don’t blame you!
These days the pressure is on to plan every second, so if you’re an organised mum or dad who’s already got half term mapped out, then hats off. And if you’re the one who’s escaping to work next week, we salute you.
But if you’re the parent who’s been head down and – BAM! – half-term has just hit you and you’re in charge? Well, this school half-term survival guide for cool parents (yep, we’re talking to you) will be 5 minutes well spent.
1. Get outdoors and wear them out
Go to a large green place. Let them run around to their heart’s content. Play in the free park paddling pools and fountains. Ride the bike or scooter. Fly a kite. Climb trees. Do some chalking. The Woodland Trust and The Wildlife Trust both have good, free guides so kids can enjoy bird, butterfly or flower spotting. Just make sure you don’t exhaust yourself too much to enjoy your evening wine or G&T when the little munchkins are in bed.
2. Go outdoors early & at least once a day
Get them out first thing and at least once a day. Everyone will feel like they’ve accomplished something and be in a better mood! Run them like the puppy they keep nagging you for. When they’re tired throw snacks at them and run them some more. When they stagger home mid-afternoon they’ll be too tired to fight each other (or you!). They’ll slump on the sofa and watch a movie. That’s your guaranteed hour or two of rest/work time.
3. Do the opposite of everyone else!
If it’s raining, go to the zoo. Sunny? Hit the soft play. This is a sure-fire tactic to reduce half-term crowd stress!
4. Always be prepared for a picnic
At all times have a bag pre-packed with a picnic blanket, football and bubbles (or whatever). If the kids say they’re bored and it’s not raining, grab the bag, throw in snacks and you’re sorted. You won’t need to worry about finding a seating area or shelling out loads of money in the park café.
5. Stay at home
If you have a garden you’ve got it made. A bit of paddling pool action (add slide and plastic balls for that splash water park effect), mud pie making, or building a home for mini beasts is all good fun. If you don’t have a garden or it’s raining, run a blue bubble bath, throw in some goggles, mermaids/dinosaurs and have a nice sit down on the loo for 20 minutes while they deep-sea dive. Or dig out those board games, play a couple and pat yourself on the back for spending quality time with your children.
6. Join a family trip
Everyone has that friend who can’t cope with spontaneity and will have half-term all planned out (see earlier reference to ‘organised parent’ above). Well, why not gate-crash their day out – it’s always a bonus when there are other children to keep yours occupied.
7. Visit the relatives
Let’s face it, they’ve been wanting to see the grandkids for ages, so indulge them! (And why not suggest you leave them there for a few days so they can spend some REAL quality time?)
8. Have a mum nap
Go to the cinema and have a cheeky forty winks in the back row. Or suggest your kids play doctors and nurses and volunteer to be the patient.*
*Warning: only works with toddlers and pre-schoolers.
9. Working freelance?
That’s a fresh blog post entirely! But try to remember why you went freelance in the first place (so you don’t have to fight for holiday days with colleagues or arrange and pay for five days of childcare). And don’t feel guilty about doing the odd hour (or day). Have set times for work so you aren’t trying to do it all. No mum/dad guilt allowed, okay?
10. Turn on the TV
Or the iPad or laptop. It really is okay, especially if you’ve already done the outdoors thing. And let’s be honest, even if you decide to go on that educational day out, they’ll still want to watch YouTube clips of Play Doh princesses or Peppa Pig. The BBC has some good advice if you want to know how much screen time is best.
11. Have a date night (or day)
Date time or time with your friends shouldn’t be overlooked, especially during half-term. Towards the end of the week book a sitter and spend time with your other half or friends over a bottle of wine. We’re offering £10 off your first Bubble sit so no excuse! And if your little ‘un is really little (and you can travel to Balham in London), grab a 33% discount for the next Screaming With Laughter comedy club show on Wednesday, May 31st for parents and babies under one.
12. Resign yourself to that ‘I may as well set my wallet on fire’ feeling
Although if you take our advice, it might not be THAT bad …
13. Inset days & PE kits
This is an important one. Check for that inevitable inset day tacked on to the end of the holiday week, otherwise the shock may do you in for good. And don’t forget to wash, pack and return PE bags ready for the first day back at school. This one catches us out every time.
14. Do Nothing
Only boring people get bored. And a well-rested, bright-eyed child on the first day back at school will win you brownie points from the teacher. Wow – are you a cool parent, or what?