I’ve written several times about my lack of love for the six weeks holidays, but the truth is that it’s not the summer break I despise at all – it’s noise and crowds. Enforced time with my girls which I’d otherwise spend working is actually a blessing – it’s the reason I chose a flexible career. I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can opt to work a little less over the summer and enjoy a little more ‘girl-time’ with my babies. Of course whether by necessity or design, many other parents will be in a similar situation.
Wonderful though it is to spend quality time with our children, entertaining our littles for extended periods can be some feat: they have limited attention spans (for anything other than Moana and Minions in our house), and voracious appetites (for anything other than what’s available in our fridge).
Here are my top tips for surviving the summer holidays in a heatwave:
1. Get Out Early
Most places are likely to be busy which means I’ll personally avoid them (soft play anyone?), and our usual favourites are outdoors. Ordinarily that’s ideal – we love fresh air and nature – but in this heat it’s just not suitable. By 11am the sun is already baking at near to 30ºc, and that’s too much for me, let alone my baby daughter.
My way around this has been to be up and out early, ready to return home around midday. After which time it’s perfectly acceptable to play in the paddling pool for at least a couple of hours. Water fights are legitimate and encouraged in this weather too.
2. Visit the Library
Due to my anxiety getting out of control when there’s too much noise or too many people (and I fear my big girl may take after me in this respect), many of our usual haunts are out during the busy holidays. But we still love a trip to the library because it’s rarely crowded. We go most weeks and spend a little time there reading, then swap books over to take back home.
A nice little bonus is the fact that we have to drive to our local library. Allow me to explain… I often find – particularly in this weather – that the holidays are as much about filling the day as they are about having fun, and the car journeys can easily use up an hour. If you have kids then you’ll know that even the best thought-out profusion of activities, carefully designed to occupy for an entire day will actually be completed in two hours! Plus the car is air conditioned.
3. Stock Up on Crafts
We popped to the local Hobbycraft to spend some of Pixie’s savings – and she was in awe! We now have plenty of fun new materials with which to experiment and create when Elfin is napping. This equates to tons of fun for Pixie, and some quality time for us.
4. Rotate toys
In our quest to keep cool, we’ll inevitably be spending a lot of time at home in the playroom. My solution to preventing boredom is to rotate toys. They have so many – too many! – and putting some way to bring out in a fortnight keeps things fresh and their attention span a little more engaged.
5. Keep Spare Change
Of course when the temperature soars past 30ºc every day, ice cream is as essential as sunscreen. Just keep in mind that your ability to pay your new best mate, aka the ice-cream man, is the yardstick by which your child will measure your success as a parent.
Of course, there are days which no matter how hard you try, just won’t go according to plan. If all else fails, I pull out the big guns: Disney for the win. A family film after lunch (during which one or both of my girls have an ‘accidental’ siesta) usually sees us through to dinner time.
Do you have any other top tips to ensure a brilliant summer that I’ve missed?
Cynic; Jedi Master; connoisseur of cake: Kate Tunstall blogs at The Less-Refined Mind and Huffington Post, and is the BritMums Current Affairs Round-up Editor. From petty peeves to politics, Kate doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is. As an inevitable role-model to her daughters, she even throws in the odd ‘inspirational’ post in an effort to quell her cynicism and promote positivity.
Kate resides in rural Essex with her champion husband and their young daughters, affectionately known as the ‘Devil Pixie’ and ‘Elfin Angel’ – only one of whom lives up to their moniker…
Sometimes caustic – but always candid – Kate loves a provocative subject matter almost as much as she loves (good) coffee and (great) cake.