Cathy Madavan shares some simple reminders for parents this summer as they navigate the highs and lows of parenting in the summer holidays.

We’ve all enjoyed the photos of toddlers in paddling pools, ice creams on beaches and happy families enjoying lovely walks.

And those moments are really precious. But, in my experience, those moments are also punctuated with tantrums (theirs and mine), discovering sand in places I didn’t even know we had, and extensive negotiations (bribery) to convince a teenager that a walk in the place we call ‘outside’ is a good idea.

As wonderful as the summer holidays are, with opportunities to reconnect and step aside from the usual routines, it’s not all plain sailing. Having increased interaction without interruption, managing sibling tension, balancing home, work and childcare issues – it’s okay to admit it’s exhausting sometimes. So, here are three simple reminders that might just help as we prepare for the summer ahead.

Routines still matter

It can be such a relief to relax and ditch some of the normal term-time schedules. But after weeks of late nights and a lack of routine, you can end up with frazzled kids and frazzled parents – which rarely ends well! For many of us, a bit of summertime routine still helps – especially for children who particularly need those regular rhythms. So, whether it is bedtime habits like baths and stories, chatting at meals together, brunch on Saturdays or church on Sundays, a little structure (and enough rest) makes a difference. Also, it can be helpful to gently touch base on reading and homework at intervals throughout the holidays, so that the last week isn’t stress-central for everybody.

Time with others

It’s hard to keep the normal boundaries and behaviours in place when everything is more variable. If you have one of those very stressful days (we all do), try to stay calm and give yourself some time-out if you can. But my go-to strategy has always been to try to get out and meet up with others whenever possible. It is good for the children to be sociable, but parents also need time with friends where we can talk honestly and have a few much-needed laughs too.

Make realistic plans

So, you intend to make a scrapbook of your trip away, you envisage picnics in the park every week, and you are going to get all the school uniform shopping done in the first week. Nice. But then your boss gives you an extra deadline and your first session with PVA glue ends with the cat coated in glitter! Seriously though, it might not all work out perfectly, but it’s great to make some plans, and we loved making a family list of ideas that we would like to do over the summer. It was great fun to create expectation, but it doesn’t have to be extraordinary or expensive – baking, swimming, craft, walking or eating outside – do what works for you, not what works for others.

The most important thing this summer is to have some fun, to make some memories and to spend some much-needed quality time together. Enjoy!

Cathy Madavan

About the author

Cathy Madavan is a popular speaker and author, who, having faced her fair share of life’s curve balls, encourages others to live with courage and resilience. Cathy lives on the South Coast with her husband Mark and their two daughters who are trying to fly the nest!

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