School’s out for Summer

School’s out for summer – and the kids are jumping for joy at the prospect of six weeks at home. But what about you? Having a house full of bored or squabbling kids is enough to make anyone want to tear their hair out, and when money is tight, it can really add to the pressure.
But you don’t need to be a full-time entertainer, or shell out on expensive holidays or wall-to-wall activities to make the school holidays a success. There are lots of ways to make sure your kids have a decent break and keep your sanity intact too.  Here are a few suggestions for keeping the peace.
Don’t feel you have to keep your children entertained from dawn til dusk Most of us are very good at setting ourselves such high standards that they’re impossible to meet. Then we feel stressed because we haven’t matched up to them. It really is OK for children to feel bored sometimes, and to fit in around your needs, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve not planned an exciting itinerary for every moment of every day. The more relaxed you are, the more fun you’ll have as a family.
Have a family meeting As soon as the holidays start, set aside a time when you can sit and talk about the holidays, and try to agree some rules. If your children are old enough, ask them what they think would make the holidays more fun (not including wall to wall telly and chocolate on tap!) and how you can all make things run smoothly. For example, your rules could include sharing, being caring, no name calling or hitting. Then get everyone to sign the rules and stick them on the fridge.
Set small goals Suddenly deciding to change your whole lifestyle and become a model parent is only going to end in tears. Instead, start small by choosing one thing to focus on each day. It could be an activity, like going swimming or to the park, or something even smaller, like spending ten minutes’ one-to-one with each of your children doing something they want to do. If you make these small plans every day, you’re far more likely to feel a sense of having achieved something with your kids.
Remember the food!  It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget how easily kids’ moods are very affected highs and lows in blood sugar levels.  Children get grumpy or lethargic very quickly if they haven’t eaten properly – and that can lead to bad behaviour and irritability. School holidays can also mean a relaxation of all the usual dietary rules about sweets and junk food, but doing that won’t help with the moods. Sticking to routines for mealtimes and having relatively healthy snacks can and keep them more in balance.
Be sociable Other people can be a lifesaver for you – and for your children. A new face can bring in a breath of fresh air, which can be especially welcome when you’re all feeling a bit stir-crazy. Inviting someone around will change the dynamics instantly, so pick up the phone or knock for a neighbour (and plan in advance if you can). And it also means you’re more likely to get invitations to other people’s houses, and this can be all it takes to brighten a dull day.
Organise a childcare swap Pair up with a mate (or even two) and work out a day or afternoon when you’ll have their kids in return for them having yours. You could even work out a regular day or two a week when you do this over the holidays. The kids will enjoy it too because they get some playmates, and you’ll enjoy it too. Having some time to yourself is very important when you’re looking after children full-time.
Don’t ignore the chores It’s tempting to let your daily routine go when you’ve got the children at home all day. But if there are jobs that need doing around the house, keeping them up will help you stay in control. Better still, get the kids involved; set them small tasks, like sweeping up the kitchen floor or loading the dishwasher, with reward charts for little ones.
Do something out of the ordinary Run the kids a bath in the middle of the day, set up a campsite in the living room, get a can of paint and get the kids involved in painting a wall…. The novelty of doing something different, no matter how small, can be enough to change moods all around. Distraction really can work wonders when kids are bored or fighting.
If you feel like you’re going to explode
Get out of the house: this can often be enough to completely change your mood. If the kids are fighting, or you’re losing your temper, take them out for a walk, even if it’s just around the block. A breath of fresh air can bring a new perspective and make everyone feel more relaxed.
Buy yourself some time! If you feel stress and anger bubbling up, take deep breaths and try to allow your body to relax. If you can, go into another room, shut the door and give yourself some time for rational thinking to kick back in.
Scream into a pillow  If you really need to let it all out, try doing it into a pillow or even pounding it or throwing it around your room (you’ll probably want to do this in private!) Releasing tension in this way can really help.
Talk to someone if you feel like you can’t cope, call a friend you trust,

Have a great break and we will see you all in September 

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