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18 December 2023

How To Survive School Holidays

As much as it’s lovely to have the children home from school and getting to spend time with them as a family, it can also be a little daunting having whole blocks of time to fill with them. You may even wonder how you’re going to survive the school holidays! With 14 or more weeks holiday a year that's a lot of time to keep your children entertained.

This is particularly true if you usually work and either take annual leave to be with them, work flexibly or put self-employed work to one side during the school holidays. It’s very difficult to savour every moment when the house is a mess, you’re breaking up the 34th fight of the day, your income is potentially taking a hit and you’re fielding the 7,896th request for a snack!

Children on school holiday enjoying themselves
Whether you are at home or going away these tips will help you get through the holidays with less stress

So how to survive the school holidays? Here are just a few suggestions that can make the school holidays a little bit easier…and hopefully more enjoyable for you, too!

Create a help yourself packed lunch or snack box 

If requests for snacks are a big issue in your house during the school holidays, then creating a help-yourself snack box or packed lunch is something you may wish to consider.

By this I mean a lunch box or Tupperware tub which you fill with all of their snacks, and lunch if you so wish, for the day. You then allow your children to help themselves from it throughout the day, whenever they feel hungry. However, once it’s gone, it’s gone!

By doing this, you set the precedent that they need to decide what they want and when. If you include some treat food within this box, and they eat that first, then there’s no more treats for the day. It will also help your children to learn about snacking between meals, eating a balanced diet and making sure that they do eat their lunch and dinner, too, to prevent them from being hungry. 

And you get some peace without hearing the words, “Muuuuum, I’m hungry!” every five minutes!

You can find some budget friendly packed lunch ideas here.

Include them in your holiday plans

When deciding what to do over the holidays, try to include your children in the planning as much as possible. Ask them what they would like to do over the time off. If budget is an issue, give them certain things to choose from that fit your budget; these could even be free things such as park visits. You will probably discover that they’re happy with a day or two at home playing with their toys or doing crafts, rather than grand outings!

By involving them in the planning, they’re more likely to take an interest in what you’re doing as a family, and this should hopefully cut down on some of the whining and declarations of boredom that can accompany school holidays.

Create a calendar of your plans

Taking the above idea a step further, why not create a calendar of your plans, which is clearly visible and accessible to all family members? This will help them to know what you’re doing when, as well as keeping you on track and organised.

This approach can help to manage expectations, too. For example, if your children will be attending holiday clubs or childminders on certain days, they will know when they’re going to be at home with you and away from the home, as well as knowing when all of the fun days out and playdates are happening, too.

Set clear screen time rules and limits

If you’re worried about the amount of screen time that your children will have over the school holidays, then set your screen time limits up front. Use parental controls or timers to monitor these. With older children you can negotiate the time spent on screens if you so wish; this could even be in exchange for helping out with additional household chores or doing activities you want to encourage like reading, art or exercise.

By setting your screen time limits and rules at the start of the holidays, your children will know where they stand, and they’ll also know that they’re expected to spend time away from their screens and participate fully in family life and days out, too. 

Screen time can be a great way to keep your children quiet and focused so you can get essential work done so don't feel guilty if you need this, just make sure you make the most of this quiet time.

Enjoy, and give yourself a break!

The biggest tip I can give you for surviving the school holidays is just to enjoy as much as possible. Make sure you schedule in some things that you enjoy too. This could be a particular museum visit you’ve been looking at taking the children to for a while, or maybe a coffee date with a friend while the kids are at a club or activity.

Don’t try to do it all; if your house looks like a mess for a few weeks, so be it (but remember the power of 10 minutes), and if you work for yourself and can afford to reduce your hours slightly, then maybe consider if that will take the pressure off. 

Similarly, don’t expect to enjoy every minute; behind so many perfectly posed Instagram worthy moments are often squabbling siblings, a child whining that they’re bored or things that just don’t go to plan. Embrace the school holidays with all of the messy, happy, dull, funny parts and you’ll enjoy it far more than if you expect them to be picture perfect!

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