Get inspiration for parents!
Subscribe for parenting tips, family money advice, baby names and more
Are you feeling the summer holiday buzz? Possibly not.
With the most unusual end to a school year in living memory, it's difficult to know what the summer holidays will look like in the wake of the nationwide lockdown. But there are many ways to still enjoy the summer, and make lasting, happy memories with your kids.
We know how tricky the lockdown has been for families: working from home whilst juggling childcare, the difficulties of homeschooling, the closures of our favourite shops and restaurants. But we also know that many of us are ready to bounce back and enjoy the summer with our families as best we can.
With the gradual easing of lockdown measures, this is becoming easier by the day. Summer doesn't have to be a bust. With the right information and a little lateral thinking, we believe everyone can experience that well-earned holiday feeling.
What's The Deal With School Holidays?
Since the government announced in June that schools would not reopen in the summer months, it is safe to assume that your children won't be forced into catch-up classes over the holidays. Having said this, some schools are choosing to put their own programmes and resources in place. It is, therefore, best to check the school website so you know when your kids will officially break up and what sort of options are available for them. Then you can plan your summer accordingly.
How To Start The Summer Holidays Right
Chances are, your child has still been participating in school activities over the past few months, whether that's attending school in a socially distanced environment, participating in online classes or completing assignments at home. So even though school days have been far from normal, officially breaking up for the summer holidays will still mean something to them. No more homework. No more gruelling early-morning wake-ups. No more academic obligations.
The arrival of the summer holidays is still, therefore, something to celebrate, and something to celebrate together. Our kids' happiness is our happiness, right? Why not suggest getting a takeaway, or having a special celebratory dinner to commemorate the end of the school year?
You could even make summery fruit 'mocktails' to toast to their achievement. This academic year has been challenging for everyone; making it through as a family is something that deserves recognition, and a proper celebration will help you get the summer holidays off to a good start.
Making The Holidays Fun For Your Family
The summer holidays are a time generally associated with more freedom, socialising and time to relax, and a pesky pandemic doesn't have to change that. If you want to make sure your children still feel the benefits of the change, consider the following things.
1. Focus On Fun
When school is on, learning takes up a lot of our kids' focus. Now that summer is here, fun can prevail. And that's with or without social distancing.
Though some coronavirus-prevention measures are still in place for all our safety, as of 4 July we are now able to meet in groups of up to two households in both public and private (that means indoors and outdoors) provided social distancing measures are upheld. Socialising? With friends? Indoors? Glorious. The rules allowing us a little extra social freedom have come just in time for summer.
Make having fun the goal of the time you spend with your family this summer. Get creative with your days off and arrange activities in which you can all partake. See friends that work and lockdown have prevented you from seeing, and do something fun together.
There are countless examples of interesting things to do on our website, from outdoor games to crafts to family days out. You could put on a talent show, make a treasure hunt for each other in your local park, or even have a water fight, if the sun comes out. The time you spend engaging with each other in an active, enjoyable way will help you best those beastly lockdown blues.
2. Ease Bedtimes And Wake-up Routines
During the school year, it's natural that lots of us want to encourage regular bedtimes at reasonable hours, so that our children feel well-rested and ready to learn. A nice first acknowledgement of the arrival of the holidays could be to ease bedtime restrictions and perhaps allow kids a lie-in in the morning.
3. Mix Up Mealtimes
During term-time, quick, functional meals are often the go-to. But as summer, and the opportunity to spend more time with our kids, approaches, it could be nice to try and make mealtimes into a time for fun and social connection.
If you have access to an outdoor space, why not mark the arrival of the summer holidays with a weekly BBQ or al fresco dinner? If you don't, make the most of the easing of social restrictions and join friends, family or neighbours who do.
Of course, though we would love the luxury of time off to spend with the kids, many of us still have to work through the summer. If this is the case, you could try arranging joint dinners each week with a chosen second household of family friends. Dinner becomes a fun social (-ly distanced) occasion for the whole family and you can take turns cooking -- win-win.
If you have kids who are old enough, you could encourage them to start helping with the cooking now that they are free from the time constraints of school work. It could prove a positive learning experience and help ease the burden of household tasks for working parents. Or, you could not bother with any of this and order pizza. It's the holidays, after all.
Planning A Summer Holiday, Or Not
In light of the government announcement that we are now allowed to travel to certain destinations around the world, it's not hard to imagine why many people are already rushing to book that family holiday. If you are planning a trip, it's worth checking local government guidelines and travel noticeboards before you book, so that you can get an idea of what will be open and what safety measures are in place wherever you're planning to go.
If a full-on holiday isn't an option, there are still plenty of fun things you can do at home.
Plan day trips to local spots of interest. The UK is a beautiful country; use this time to get to know it better. Take your family to the beach (though be sure to try and find a spot that's not too crowded), and soak up those summer rays. You'll have that holiday feeling in no time. Or visit a neighbouring city for a day-long city break. From Durham to York, to Bath, Brighton and beyond, there are countless beautiful and interesting cities up and down the country that are well worth the visit.
Looking for something fun to do a bit closer to home? Why not try camping in the garden? Wrap up in a sleeping bag and tell ghost stories whilst you eat your midnight feast. Or try setting up an at-home music festival with a second household. Assign different stages to different rooms in the house or parts of the garden and each prepare your own musical act or activity. Make wristbands and dress up in festival attire; film everything on your phones to really add to the vibe!
Whatever your situation this summer, there's no reason why you can't have a memorable one.
Originally from Manchester, Olivia has spent the last couple of years living between Toronto and Vancouver. She now works as a freelance writer in London and loves literature, travel and eating anything sweet. Her love of spending time with children began when she worked as an au pair in Paris.