Ok everyone: I’m a week into our 12 week mammoth summer holiday and we’ve had a couple of days of rain and more than a few days of absent husband but I’m feeling pretty confident we can pull this off.
12 weeks, 4 children and no planned holidays. <panic stricken face>
Here’s how I’m imagining the next 11 weeks to go:
One of our four wouldn’t mind staying asleep until a teenage-style mid morning. The other three, however, are committed to seeing the hour before 6am and so my days would be exceptionally long if I didn’t have everyone in bed by 8-ish pm. So: no long lie ins for any of us (sad face).
As in, making sure I don’t feel the need to entertain all the time. Boredom is definitely a key element to a lot of the most imaginative play (backed up by science) and so I’m happy to let some days stretch out ahead of them with no plans and no parental direction. (Off the hook)
Divide and conquer
I love watching our four together and spending time as a big group. But I know the children really appreciate the odd moment where they get to be alone – or in a pair – with me (or mr tMatM). So I will make time for the odd solo outing. Also: a truth universally acknowledged, that once you have any number of children that the moment you have one less under your care then suddenly everything seems very easy (and quiet).
Unfortunately and not me this time. Sometimes holidays have a bit of admin.
I have never been so grateful to have an enclosed and beautiful garden. Mr tMatM has been busy making it beautiful enough that I never need to leave.
The garden is also one of the easiest places to entertain a group of different aged children in a very simple way without lots of expensive equipment.
Favourite activities: water (just a wide tub filled with water, or a paddling pool if you are feeling fancy), with watering cans, cars for a car wash, paint brushes to paint with water on brick walls / stone floor. Making paper boats to sail in a tub has also gone down well.
Balls; hula hoops; chalk; fairy houses made from stones collected on walks; stones collected on walks for painting or drawing on with chalk, and stones collected on walks for stone collections.
Also, bringing out toys that would normally be inside – playmobil, or the Brio train set.
The older children are also normally keen to join in with real gardening activities so these rakes and this spade (a super gift) have been well loved. The younger ones like to collect up things in a wheelbarrow, which is also surprisingly helpful.
Books books books
12 weeks is long enough to just about read an entire school year’s curriculum and not that I want to hot house my children but they are happier when they have a bit of a challenge and mental stimulation. So plenty of trips to the library and plenty of reading.
Also: unlike requests for screen time, and in the spirit of independence, reading is one of those activities that children can embrace fully in the knowledge that it is a request parents won’t ever deny. (Some favourite books here, here, and a new list coming soon).
As in, making the most of a familiar and easy destination.
Less easy now that one of us wants to crawl and eat sand instead of sleep soundly in a baby carrier, but the beach is still one of our favourite spots. Everyone is happy collecting shells or digging. Apart from the crawling, sand-eating member of the family.
It’s not a holiday until you’ve tried to venture further than your usual 15-minutes-in-the-car radius and had some successes and failures. Yesterday we had our first trip exploring a little further afield (post upcoming) with a surprisingly successful outward journey, a beautiful destination and the classic end, a slightly hellish return journey. The full gambit.
Most of all though this summer – I am really enjoying having them at home. In fact a long holiday seems less stressful than a short break – the children have time to adapt to a different daily rhythm and settle into a routine at home. And as I keep reminding myself, sibling conflict is an excellent opportunity to develop critical life skills. Sadly I am not sure that listening to siblings in conflict has quite the same benefit.
Happy summer! tMatM x