By Heidi Scrimgeour
Dreading the school hols? Or looking forward to ditching the school run and enjoying life at a slower pace? Whichever camp you’re in, here’s our guide to surviving the school summer holidays...
Let’s not beat around the bush - many mums and dads quietly dread the school summer holidays. From the question of how on earth to keep the kids entertained (especially if the weather fails us - please, no...) to whether we can stretch to a family holiday this year, those long weeks off school can seem like an exercise in endurance. And for working parents there’s the added headache of arranging childcare throughout the summer. But with a bit of creative thinking and a dash of forward planning the summer holidays can be the highlight of the year. Honestly. Here’s how…
This is a little cheesy but I think it’s true - the way you talk, feel and even think about the summer holidays can have a real impact on how they pan out. If the kids overhear you stressing about how you’re going to cope with them at home, then there’s every chance that they’ll come to see the holidays as an opportunity to drive you up the wall. In contrast, if they pick up on the vibe that the summer is all about slowing down to spend some fun time together as a family, then you’re probably (marginally) less likely to hear those dreaded ‘I’m bored’ cries before breakfast on day one of the hols. So talk up the holidays and tell yourself that your summer will be brilliant. And it just might!
Fail to plan... plan to fail
Personally, I’m more of a failure than a planner but if I’ve learned one thing about parenthood, it’s that a good plan can make the difference between a brilliant family experience... and a disaster. Obviously, there’s no need to schedule in events and activities for every day of the summer - half the appeal of the holidays is the freedom to stay in your pyjamas watching family films till lunchtime if you so choose. But having some goals in mind is a great way to give some structure to your summer. Try sitting down as a family to draw up a wish list of things you’d each love to do during the summer holidays. Be as creative and inventive as you can, and remember it’s not a task list, so you don’t have to slavishly attempt to tick off every activity before it’s back to school season - just let your list serve as inspiration for your summer plans.
No holiday? No worries
We’d all love a week or two in the sun, ideally at a five star all-inclusive resort with cocktails on tap, a Kindle - fully-loaded with beach reads - at our disposal, and around-the-clock award-winning kids’ clubs. But a holiday or short break in Scotland can be just as good as a trip abroad. Visit www.abbeyford.com for a range of family-friendly accommodation in Fife.
Anyone for holiday club?
Chat with other parents to co-ordinate diaries so that your children can go to the same clubs as their friends. There are loads to choose from in Edinburgh and Lothians - sports, dance, drama, cookery, arts & crafts. The Wild Outdoors offer amazing adventure camps at various locations across Edinburgh where kids can have the most incredible fun-packed days doing shelter building, wild cooking, woodland hunts and zorbing. PLUS - these camps have sleep out options!
For dates and more info go to
Get by with a little help from your friends
Hollie Smith is a parenting author and mother of two. Her top tip for surviving the summer is to avoid being holed up home alone with the kids. “Get together with friends as often as you can - preferably outside if possible. Sod the mess and just prioritise time for hanging out.” Kids love company and a houseful of friends is a sure-fire way to keep them entertained, at the same time as giving you a break from your role as chief entertainer or squabble-resolver.
Get creative with childcare
Amanda Coxen is director of Tinies (www.tinies.com), a UK childcare agency. For working mums and dads, she recommends considering a nanny share with another local family during the summer holidays. “Perhaps an expensive option, but certainly the most flexible one, is to hire a temporary nanny for the holidays,” Amanda explains. “You can have someone come to look after your children every day, or for part of the day, or just a few times per week - you set the hours to fit with your working hours. And it can also be quite a relief to have someone else do the cooking during the school holidays!”
Invest in summer fun
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, the summer is the time to make full use of it. You don’t have to spend a fortune to make it a kid-friendly outside play space, but investing in some games or play activities for the garden is likely to be money well spent. My sons spend hours on their trampoline, and have their hearts set on a playhouse which I’m pretty sure they’d spend the best part of the school holidays in, if we obliged and bought one in time for summer.
Make like a tourist
Seeing your city through the eyes of a tourist can be a fun way to fall back in love with where you live. Visit The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, go on a cruise with Maid of the Forth, wander around the city and enjoy the buzz, go up Arthur’s Seat, visit parks, hills, beaches and enjoy finding some of Edinburgh’s hidden gems.
By Heidi Scrimgeour
If they gave out awards for mum guilt, I’d have them all, every single one. Read the book and got the t-shirt? Forget that - I could give lessons in mum guilt and how to be consumed by it.
I’m not talking about suffering the odd pang of parental guilt when I did something trivial, either. This goes way beyond getting a bit snappy with the kids, rushing them through the bedtime routine so I can collapse on the sofa, or skipping a page or two during bedtime stories and feeling regretful afterwards.
By Sid Madge, Meee
No one knows what’s around the corner, but we can pretty much guarantee it will involve change. New day, new week, new school, new terms, new friends. Getting comfortable with change is a life skill and it is important to help our children to develop this.
By Elisabeth Quinn
Christmas is an incredible time of year but it’s also when we feel most burdened. We think that we have to have the turkey, the tree, the presents… otherwise it “won’t feel like Christmas”. Somewhere along the way we confused a feeling with thinking we need to follow a script to achieve the feeling. But that famous ‘Christmas Feeling’ isn’t in the turkey or the presents. Where is it? Read on:
By Elisabeth Quinn
It’s probably perfectly fitting that just before I sat down to write this article (on letting go of trying to be perfect) I was combing nits out of my kids’ hair. Not only combing nits, but everyone grumpy, shouting, screaming, while combing nits. The neighbours must have thought we were murdering each other. And honestly, how do you even get nits in the summer holidays?
By Dr Margit Gabriele Mulle
Pets make us happier, lift our mood and have a wide range of amazing physical and mental benefits. Having pets, however, does come with responsibility and is a family decision that all family members should agree to. Not all pets are the perfect match for all families. So, which pet is most suitable for your family?
By Kirsty Prankerd
So, you're ready to break the happy news to your child! Here, Kirsty Prankerd, Managing Director of personalised keepsake retailer ‘Write From The Heart’ offers her tips for preparing your first born for the arrival of a new sibling.
By Kirsty Nicholls
“The shorter days, the cold and dark, the loneliness and uncertainty in the first weeks of our son’s life really affected our mental health. That’s why we left Scotland for Spain and the help of my wife’s parents.”
Most of us have been there, right? I remember those long nights, our minds racing with concern for our new baby; the 3am WhatsApp messages to antenatal friends; the coffee dates with fellow new parents, the pitch of our voices rising with exhausted, hysterical laughter; the cosy Bookbug sessions.
So how about those long nights, mind racing, exhaustion and crises of confidence, with no antenatal friends to message, no coffee shops and friendly faces, no classes or activities. Just the same four walls and a walk with the buggy if we’re lucky.
By Heidi Scrimgeour
What’s the one thing most parents wish they did less of?
Inadvertently stepping on Lego in bare feet would probably feature in the top three things we wish we did less of, but I’m going to wager that being ratty and impatient with the kids takes top spot.
Even if you’re blessed with a peaceable disposition which means you’re not prone to over-extending your vocal chords, I bet you’d still agree that you could do with more laughter and less conflict in the course of everyday family life.
Who wouldn’t want to shout less and laugh more?
So, instead of beating yourself up for being a yeller, try these tips for toning down the fishwife act and cranking up the cracking up…
By Heidi Scrimgeour
Scratch beneath the surface of our best ‘perfect parent’ act (you know, the one you put on at Parent/Teacher meetings or for the benefit of your in-laws) and we’ve all got a guilty parenting secret or two. Don’t try telling us that you don’t sometimes eat your favourite biscuits in a quiet corner of the kitchen so that you don’t have to share them with the kids. You know what we’re talking about. So here are ten of the best confessions of imperfect parents to remind you that you’re not the only one who scoffs the kids’ stash of Easter eggs and then claims that they all went ‘off’...
Various, MADE magazine