IT'S the summer holidays, and that time of year again when you have to entertain the kids for six whole weeks.
It can be fun but also incredibly exhausting – so it's sometimes difficult to keep the kids happy and maintain your own wellbeing too.
Thankfully, it is possible, and as parenting expert Jennifer Kropf reassuringly says: "A summer holiday packed with fun for the children, which also caters to the parents' sanity and health, is achievable!
"Sit down with your kids, let their imagination fly, and build a wish list.
"This not only aids in ensuring their active participation but also provides a space for them to learn decision-making."
Here, Jennifer shares her top tips to a great summer holiday – for both the kids and you…
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A sense of structure
Remember, while holidays are leisure time, a sense of structure is often beneficial – for both you and the kids.
Jennifer says: "Consistent routines, particularly regarding wake-up and bedtime, can help side-step exhaustion.
"Think of it like a well-oiled machine, functioning smoothly with regular maintenance.
"It also helps preserve that often elusive peace and calm in the household!"
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To complement this, creating a detailed daily schedule can be tremendously helpful.
Jennifer says: "There's an art to it – blending a mix of activities and free time – rather like making a recipe where each ingredient enhances the overall flavour.
"This doesn't mean every day has to be identical; introducing weekly themes can bring a sense of variety and fun.
"For instance, one week might revolve around art, while another could focus on sports."
If you're planning an actual getaway and this involves a substantial amount of travel, make sure you factor in a little recovery time for your kids to ensure a stress-free transition.
Jennifer says: "I've seen the excitement that travels bring to children's faces – however, I've also observed the fatigue that often follows.
"Incorporating 'recovery days' post-travel can aid a smoother transition back to the daily grind."
Limit screen time
Whether it's summer time or not, screen time is a topic often fraught with tension for a lot of families.
Jennifer says: "As a wellness advisor, I've recommended establishing ground rules for online activities.
"Using technology productively, such as learning a new skill or virtually exploring an art gallery, can be a valuable experience.
"It's about shifting the perspective from passive consumption to active engagement."
Learn new summer skills
Summer also breaks provide an excellent opportunity to learn something new and fun – which is something to focus on for both you and the kids.
Jennifer says: "It could be as simple as baking a loaf of bread or as intricate as building a birdhouse.
"Such activities can empower kids with a sense of achievement and self-reliance.
"Engaging in sports or signing up for a training camp, even if it's in your local park, can keep kids physically active and help them develop teamwork skills.
"This also offers parents some much-needed rest and recuperation time.
"Similarly, participating in an art course could unearth hidden talents and boost creativity, serving as an effective boredom buster."
Learn the value of money
Doing something like teaching your children how to earn their own money to instil a sense of independence is also a good idea when old enough.
Jennifer says: "There's something advantageous about earning one's own money, however small the amount may be.
"Encouraging kids to take up small jobs, like running a lemonade stand or dog walking for the neighbours, can provide a taste of independence and financial responsibility.
"The key to a successful summer holiday with your kids is a blend of structure and flexibility, engagement and downtime, and learning and fun.
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"It's a dance that requires practice, but with time, you'll find a rhythm that works best for you and your family.
"Now go forth and make some fantastic summer memories!"
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