Many working parents will be looking upon the forthcoming summer break with a little trepidation. Quality family time without homework or getting up for the school bus is important. However juggling work commitments and childcare; entertaining children on a budget; activities for a range of ages; or surviving rainy days inside, are common challenges.
1. Be organised. A wall-chart with space for each child means they know what is planned.
2. Use a colour-coded system to highlight work commitments with childcare arrangements, appointments such as dental check-up, playing with school friends, quiet time at home, day trips or summer camps and family holidays. Explain your need for quiet during work-time, so you can have fun together outside these times.
3. Discuss budget for holiday activities. Plan together how they would like to spend it – a good skill to learn for the future.
4. Intersperse activities which need investment with lots of free activities in-between.
5. Plan to be active. Plenty of fresh air and exercise will make down-time easier to manage. Invest in a rounders bat or Kwik Cricket set and organise picnics in the park with other families.
6. Share childcare by reciprocal arrangements with friends’ families. Give and take is crucial.
7. Encourage reading. Set a target, for example to read a book a week. Choose books that interest them. Your school may have a holiday reading list. Autobiography, fiction or reference. It shouldn’t matter, as long as they are engaged with a book.
8. Work on a holiday project which needs research. Encourage them to read, write, draw, add photos and present.
9. Engage youngsters in planning, shopping for and cooking meals or baking.
10. Encourage assistance with chores such as a bedroom clear-out, washing the car, ironing, mowing the lawn, dog walking, in return for pocket money.
Parents, register for free tickets to the future schools fair. Meet state and independent senior schools face-to-face. Attend 16 seminars giving free advice on choosing the right school.