If you have children in a formal educational setting, you may find the summer holidays are a dream or a six-week challenge

The closure of activities and clubs for the holidays can make finding things to do a real struggle and the summer clubs that do run are usually an extra cost. But with these simple ideas, from Sam from our Single Parent Support team, the summer months can be enjoyed at little cost!

1. Create a summer wish list

By now we have all had good practice at spending time with one another at home during our recent lock downs!  What did you enjoy and what did you not enjoy?  Try sitting down as a family and creating an activity wish list.  Go through it together, ensuring that each family member gets an opportunity to share their favourite activity.

As parents it is also important to schedule in regular time for focussing on self-care activities that allow us to relax and recharge. What reenergises you?  A warm bath? A cup of tea? A good book?  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we also need time for ourselves. If we keep our own energy levels up, we’ll be better able to enjoy time with our kids this summer.

2. Treasure memorable moments

Ask your children what their key memories and traditions are – you might be surprised. I discovered that my children’s traditions were not ones that I had intentionally tried to create, so I made sure we continued them! A great summertime activity might be to create a photo collage of memories or recreate pictures of your family’s favourite moments.  You could decorate a memory box and fill it with objects  and photographs.  See if you can collect items that encourage all your senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste – such as a stick of rock from your favourite seaside resort.

3. Arrange a staycation

Do things the kids love at home that feel like a treat. Why not build a blanket fort in the garden to watch the sunset or set up camp in the living room? You could plan a homemade spa day with mani-pedis and cucumber slices for your eyes. Or make pancakes for breakfast and see who can flip them the highest or even drink out of fancy cups with ice cubes and paper umbrellas!

4. Supermarket sweep

If your kids are older and it works for your family, give them a budget to create a simple meal from the supermarket, such as tortilla pizzas with your favourite toppings and have a ‘home restaurant’ night. Let the kids treat you to an evening “off”! For younger children, ask them to help you pick out their favourite picnic food. You could even take your favourite stuffed toys with you for a teddy bears picnic in your local park.

5. Try out new challenges

Get the family out and about exploring your local area by trying something new, such as geocaching, or organising a scavenger hunt. If you have a faith then the book 52 Faith Adventures for Dads and their Kids by Andy Frost gives some great tips – see if you can borrow it from your local library. While you’re there, why not take part in the library summer reading challenge – perfect for those summertime rainy days!

6. Connect with parents

Join local groups on social media for nearby family-friendly activities and find out what’s on in your area. For some parents that are in receipt of certain benefits or those parenting children with additional needs, there may be some financial assistance for summer activities. These groups are a great way to meet fellow single parents and get through the school holidays together!

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