7 easy ways to survive holidays

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This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. Here are seven easy to adapt principles to make juggling work, cashflow and your children’s demands happier over the holidays. For more info about parenting see my book Homemade Kids, or for my website click here 

I remember school holidays lasting forever – but state school breaks don’t just seem much shorter, they are shorter. There are only two weeks at Christmas, and two weeks at Easter. Two weeks whizzes past even when you spend all that time at your home. I’m sure my family will make some day trips, but here are also some stay-at-home ideas – inspired by a visit with Nell, Lola and their friends Anna and Orla as we looked around Kew gardens in the most perfect spring sunshine.

1) Don’t rush – the school term is endless clock watching. So in the holidays let them spend longer doing things. Tell yourself they need to do things mindfully. Instead or running around the park and getting hot and sweaty (or if you have children in infants, them getting knackered and throwing a tantrum), suggest taking off shoes and exploring the world with bare feet.

2) Do the same things, differently – how about an easter egg hunt by torch light?

3) Break routines – could the kids create a BBQ breakfast? Or try a picnic instead of lunch at home.

4) Enjoy what’s near to you – well near me is a reservoir where they offer sailing and kayaking. I’m not that keen on water, but seeing as it’s just a short walk from my house, I’d be crazy not to make use of it. A year’s membership is £75 but the first taster session is free. Seems like a good deal.  Mind you if you do take a long trip (eg, for us to Southend or even to Kew Gardens (see photos), stay for as long as you can.

5) Be generous – offer to feed a neighbour’s cat, or other pet, if that helps other people. Yes it ties you to your neighbourhood, but it’s a new lifeskill and something for everyone’s c/v.  If you haven’t already made an achievement book of your child’s swim certificates and golden certificates and evidence of small triumphs then start one now. When your adorable five year old turns into a grumpy, anxious teen this will allow you to show them just how much they’ve learnt over the years. (In contrast I still burn pasta, and speak French even worse than I did when my eldest was born).

6) Experiment with food – if you love ice cream, then learn to make it. Borrow the machine or go round to a friend’s house and do it with them.

7) Be sure everyone has their moment – instead of dictating what’s going on in the holidays, or being tied to your child’s hectic schedule grab a large piece of paper and get everyone to write down (or say) the three things they’d love to do during the Easter holidays. And then see if some of it’s possible – or can be done over the next year. That way you can mix reorganising wardrobes, trips to the dentist/optician with the fun stuff. This is the reason I have recently eaten a burger in McDonalds (thanks Nell). I think if David Cameron tried this tip he’d have already eaten enough Greggs pies to know his favourite. And the price. And would have avoided Pastygate.  At Kew Gardens (see pix) I asked the two 11 year olds, one 10 year old and a 13 year old what they wanted to see (once they’d looked at the map) and then tried to guide them towards it inbetween games on logs and snacks. That way everyone feels they’ve had an adventure (i think!). They were unanimous about trying out Climbers & Creepers (meant for 9 years and under) and also having an ice cream. I was there because I wanted to see magnolias at their best. And Lola choose the trip over shopping (an easy choice if you have no cash!).

Over to you
Do share any simple ideas you have that make time spent together more fun. Thanks – enjoy the holidays.

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2 Comments on “7 easy ways to survive holidays”

  1. Create a holiday memory book. You need one sheet of paper for each day of the holiday. At the end of each day, every member of the family there (and any visiting friends too), has to put something on the paper about that day – they can write a few words describing what they did, or a funny anecdote, a small drawing, stick in a photograph, or a ticket from somewhere, a collected leaf etc. Remember to write the date on each sheet and then place each one into a clear plastic punched sleeve to protect it, and store them in a ring binder – if you use a lever arch file, you can keep several holidays worth in there, separated with dividers. Even if you’re just at home for the day, everyone will think of something to record about the day.

    • homemadekids Says:

      That is a lovely idea Vanessa. And we can start today – Nell and her friend Fernanda have just spotted newts in our apology of a pond, we thought they’d all died or been put off by the lack of water The girls are thrilled with themselves and celebrating by racing around our tiny garden waving plastic tiger cub models. As you do! Nicola

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