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.
Various, MADE magazine