Recently I’ve seen quite a few posts all about planning out the summer holidays. I don’t mean like holidays abroad – I mean the loooong six-week summer holiday break from school or nursery. Obviously a lot of parents will be working for some or all of it but I’ve noticed that many of those who aren’t seem to be EXTREMELY organised. I’ve seen people drawing out charts and tables, showing each day meticulously planned out with detailed, structured activities. Now I love a bit of colour coding as much as the next person, but do you know what I feel when I look at some of these posts? PRESSURE…
Good on you super-organised people 👍🏻
Firstly, let me just say this post is absolutely NOT about pointing fingers or making anyone feel guilty. Those who share their plans and organisation tips do so because it’s really useful for others who are keen on planning their summer holidays too. I bow down to their superior organisational skills and probably secretly wish I was a bit more like them tbh! I may well be in the complete minority. But I just wanted to share my feelings about it in case there are others who, like me, look at these super-duper-organised people and just think ‘EEK!’ Or even maybe have a little twinge of feeling like they’re not good enough if they’re not doing all of that.
Firstly, as I’ve just hinted, I am simply not organised enough! This may be a bit of a surprise given that I’m a teacher. I am one of those people who can somehow have it all really together in their work life but be completely all over the place at home. I’m the parent running in to nursery late every morning despite living two minutes away. I am the parent who always forgets to pack suncream or raincoats or basically anything useful in the kids’ bags. God only knows how I’m going to keep up with it all when they start school! (I’ve heard it’s pretty horrendous keeping track of everything!) I’m just not organised enough to be planning stuff in depth unless I absolutely have to.
Also, I feel for us it just puts too much pressure on everyone to have everything planned out. If the twiglets wake up in foul moods, I don’t want to be dragging them on a massive day out. Equally I don’t want to feel disappointed if that was the plan and we end up cancelling it. Or if we have a rubbish night and are all exhausted, I don’t want to feel guilty for having a quiet day with too much screen time and all the snacks. There’s enough bloody guilt as a mum without adding self-imposed guilt on top!
Not one for strict routines
Probably the main reason for not planning the summer holidays is that it’s just not us. In my parenting life, I have never been one for strict routines. This is probably unusual for a twin mum, as I know lots of twin mums rely heavily on their routine to survive the chaos! When the twigs were babies, I was very much a shove-them-in-the-buggy-and-let-them-nap-there type. (Obvs I was lucky that they would nap there – it could have been a different story!) I didn’t like having our days dictated by naps and would still do classes and so on even if they weren’t at the most convenient times. I’d feed them out and about as much as I could. It probably made my life a lot harder to be fair, but I just preferred to be adaptable and go with the flow a bit. We did have a rough routine but I never really wanted to be too strict with it. Maybe it’s why they didn’t sleep properly for 3 1/2 years – who knows! 🙄 To be fair, we have more of a routine now with nursery and set bedtimes etc. But we’ve always been prepared to adapt when necessary rather than sticking to it rigidly.
It’s good to be bored
I feel like there’s so much pressure these days on parents to be constantly entertaining their little ones. Kids get so much stimulation all the time and everything is instant gratification. They can turn on the TV, go to Netflix, choose what they want and watch it immediately. No waiting around for anything. A lot of parents feel it’s a real negative thing if their children are bored. Often we give our kids some form of screen time if we need to get anything done round the house or whatever. Hands up – I’m totally guilty of this!
But actually, research shows it’s good for kids to be bored. There are lots of reasons for this. Children need quiet, still time to learn from what they’ve experienced. It allows them to develop their imagination by finding ways to entertain themselves. Unstructured time also encourages creativity and allows children to explore their own passions more as they are deciding what they do.
I’m pretty sure when we were kids, we were basically left to our own devices (not electronic ones!!) I mean we were left to occupy ourselves and that was fine. Some of my best childhood memories are of the imaginative games my sister and I used to dream up. Turning my bed into an aeroplane was a firm favourite!
So if we have the odd afternoon or day of doing not much, or if I need to get on with some housework (bleurgh!) then I’m going to try very hard not to feel guilty about it.
We’ll still be going out!
Having said that, I am actually intending to spend as much time as possible out of the house! Don’t think that by not planning too much I mean that we won’t be going out a lot. Recently I’ve been struggling with the twiglets’ behaviour when we’re at home. They’re so destructive and mischievous, and just seem to cause absolute carnage most of the time. The snack demands also go through the roof – it’s actually ridiculous!
I generally find things much easier when we’re out. Whether the twiglets are running around, scooting/cycling, digging in the mud, making pretend campfires… I don’t mind. They just often seem to be happier and better able to occupy themselves. Obviously this is weather-dependent to an extent though. If it’s chucking it down hard every day, I’m going to need to think of some indoor activities too (other than watching films). Five Minute Mum has great ideas for games and activities.
We’ll still be making some plans!
I’m not saying we won’t make any plans in advance for the whole of the six weeks. Obviously some things do require planning. I want to organise some playdates for the twiglets with their little friends. Usually these will need the date booking in advance to make sure people are free and not on holiday etc. I might arrange a couple of Playball sessions too as they love it. I also need to book in boring things like dentist’s appointments (yawn!) We’ll probably try to go to a few crafty/activity-type events but it will be just a case of noting these down in the diary. Then if we go, we go and if we don’t, we don’t. No big deal, no pressure.
I’m also in the process of making a list of possible places we can go. I found this blog post by Surrey Mama really useful for ideas of things to do in Surrey. I wont be deciding when we do what but it just means I’ll have lots of ideas to refer to. I’ll also try to do a mixture of free and paid things – I’m sure the cost of the summer holidays can easily rocket! We’ll aim to take picnics whenever possible rather than eating out to keep costs down.
Maybe I’ll be proved wrong…
Now let me just say that this is my first summer holiday break with my two. Last year they were attending nursery all year round. So I may well be eating my words come September! I may find it’s a complete nightmare not having every day planned out. I may find the twiglets go totally crazy not having enough routine or structure. In which case I will eat a large slice of humble pie and next year will have my timetable and highlighters out planning away! But this is what I feel right now will work best for us this year so we’ll see.
What about you? If you’re spending the summer holidays with your kids, are you planning out your time in detail? Do you like to know what you’re doing and when, or do you prefer to go with the flow? However you do it, I’m sure for all of us there will be some hard moments, maybe whole days. I’m intending to ensure I have wine in to deal with those. And chocolate.
Thanks for reading and happy summer holidays! Good luck!
Til next time,