Whether you’re counting down the last few weeks of term or dreading the prospect of having your little critters at home for the holidays, a holiday survival planner will prove mega useful when the time comes.
You can find lots of printable templates online, here’s one you might like but there are all sorts of variations so have a looksee for one that suits you best.
If like me you prefer to have a copy on your pc you can find monthly templates here downloadable for Excel and Word.
Hooray, you’re good to go! Here’s how I set about building mine:
Start with the biggies. I already know which dates we have our family holiday booked, when I’m taking the kids to visit family in Ireland and which week their favourite summer club is running so those go into my template, colour-coded to make it
look pretty obvious at a quick glance.
Add in any definites. I always feel for parents who have to arrange a party in the school holidays. If possible I make sure we RSVP ASAP to make their job a little less stressful. Along with these dates, I fill in things like family celebrations or pre-booked day trips/activities.
Book in the necessaries. I’ve learnt the hard way to plan ahead when it comes to anything school uniform/shoe related! You can now pre-book feet measuring in some stores making the whole process a lot less painful for everyone involved. Apart from the paying bit, that’s always going to hurt. If you need to go to a specialist uniform retailer for certain bits and bobs find out their opening hours (some smaller stores can be a bit random!) and see if they do appointments. It probably makes sense to pencil in morning to buy any other bits of uniform (don’t forget the PE kit!) so at least it’s all out of the way. Do this on a separate day to shoes/uniform shop, there’s only so much dullness anyone can tolerate. Arrange dental check-ups and hair appointments if required.
Fill in the gaps! Whatever free dates are left get divvied out roughly 50/50 as ‘In’ days or ‘Out’ days. However much they might dispute it, my kids (along with my purse) need a day off every so often to recover. I mark these ‘In’ days onto the planner before making arrangements for ‘Out’ days to make sure they actually happen.
IN DAYS: I find that days at home can sometimes become a bit fractious, especially in bad weather when the garden is out of bounds. Over the years I’ve devised a number of ways to keep things running smoothly and calmly most of the time. To start with I have a list of things that the kids need to do each day pinned to the wall. Just really simple little tasks like get dressed, brush teeth, make bed etc. Then a number of activities/jobs to choose from before they can dare utter the word ‘bored’!! This worked really well last year so I’ll definitely be bringing it back this year. This one is a great example which you can tweak to suit your family.Obviously if the weather is nice that helps. My two will happily mess about on the trampoline, terrorise ants and generally get up to mischief in the garden for hours. Chuck in some bubbles, chalks, paddling pool and regular snacks and your sorted. If the weather’s not on your side resort to the old faithfuls, board games, craft, DVDs or a bit of baking will usually do the trick. I’ve got a couple of really simple, kid friendly recipes here and here that you might like to try. For younger kids ‘themed’ days sound a lot more fun than IN days. Whether you have Minion obsessed little scamps or your very own Disney Princess in the making, the internet is your friend! A quick Google will get you no end of themed printable activity sheets (or recipes if you’re feeling really keen). Remember though these days are all about relaxing and recharging – we are not aiming for Pinterest worthy results here!
OUT DAYS: Days out with the kids can easily run up a hefty bill if you’re not careful but with a bit of forward planning you can seriously limit spends here. Firstly decide how much money you can allocate in total to the number of Out days on your planner. Next, brainstorm. If possible get the children involved: tell them the budget and ask them if there is anything in particular (within reason) that they would really like to do during the holiday. Whether it’s a trip to the cinema or a day at the zoo, add it to the planner, along with the cost so everyone can see it and appreciate the value of a day out. I don’t know about you but my children seem to think we own a money tree so this is a nice way to let them feel involved in the decision making and planning while managing expectations. Once the budget is blown (remember to keep a few quid back for ice-creams!) you need to get creative with ideas for any remaining Out days. Again, if it’s a nice day this is relatively easy. Scooters, bikes, walks to the playground and picnics are always a winner. Search online for local free events, DaysOutWithKids, NetMums and WhereCanWeGo are good for this. If you have a few quid left in the kitty head to Poundland for some outdoor games to take to the park, I usually keep a stash of these in the boot of my car. Pencil in playdates! I’ll have the best of intentions to arrange playdates for the kids but if I don’t get these in the planner before the holidays, chances are it just won’t happen. Contact the relevant parents suggesting a few dates you are free and try to organise something before the end of term if you can – otherwise the next time you’ll see them is likely to be in the playground in September!
Sleepovers If possible try to arrange a sleepover (or two) at some point during the holiday. I still think my two are a little young to stay with friends but we are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby where we know the kids will feel at home. It gives you all a bit of space and much as I love the little cherubs, a few hours peace and a Sunday morning lie-in is a welcome treat for any frazzled parent!
If all this planning seems a bit regimented for your liking, I get it; surely the whole point of holidays is that they’re relaxed and free of schedules? Well think of your planner as a guide. Something that the whole family can refer to and see that there is some structure to the weeks ahead. Personally I find this invaluable to my own sanity, especially on Day 1! No more overwhelming sensation of dread, envisioning the chaotic weeks ahead, just Summer holidays, sorted.
I’d love to know if you are a planner (any top tips?!) or the only plan you have is to totally wing it for 6 weeks?