The holidays are coming – six whole weeks of 24/7 family time.  If that fills you with dread, then here are some ideas to help you to feel as though you’re in control when the kids aren’t being hustled out of the door first thing in the morning. If you’re both working, the summer break can be a serious challenge – and takes a lot of forward planning. First thing – don’t go on a guilt trip about being a working Mum.  It’s the 21st century, working Mums and Dads are the norm.  Start planning how to manage the situation instead of worrying about whether you will manage.
  • If you’re having a family holiday during the summer break, work out whether this will work out better if you go at the beginning, middle or end of the school break, other activities can be slotted in around this.
  • Can either – or both – of you work from home some of the time?
  • Are any family members close enough – and willing – to help out?
  • Could you do a deal with 3-5 other families with working parents and create a rota where all the kids go to a different home each day so you have fewer days to cover? Also a bigger group of kids, with the right activities and responsibilities, often entertain themselves.
  • Are there holiday clubs for some of the time?
  • If you can work from home, engage children from eight years old in helping with some of your tasks, if possible (my kids used to earn pocket money doing photocopying and collating notes).
  • Get the children involved in a holiday ‘contract’. Ask them what responsibilities they’d like to take on and record this in the contract.  The agreement might include things like:
    • One big activity or trip somewhere each week; something to look forward to. Schedule it in the calendar so they can count down to it.  Afterwards get younger kids drawing about their experiences and older ones writing about it.
    • Do a deal – one day you do something together, one day they look after themselves and you get some work done.
    • Discuss food – what time meals will be, whether they could take on the responsibility for certain meals (older kids or younger ones with supervision), what snacks they like and how they can be accessed (pre-prepared healthy snacks in fridge, one unhealthy snack per day, etc.)
If you’re a single parent you’ll definitely need some support from friends and family. If you’re separated parents – agree dates and times for who is looking after the children, agree who does what and check work commitments.  Create a written schedule and ensure both partners have a copy. Don’t forget that, if the end of term reports weren’t as glowing as you’d hoped, scheduling in regular sessions with an online learning programme, like ExemplarEducation, will be a really productive way to spend time.