Forget expensive holidays - lasting memories are count

Embrace your summer adventures and create new experiences together as a family

Child psychologist Peadar Maxwell says parents shouldn’t beat themselves up about a lack of expensive holidays.

Child psychologist Peadar Maxwell says parents shouldn’t beat themselves up about a lack of expensive holidays.

 

Summertime and the living is easy. Well it can be for those who can afford to jet away to the sun or sign their children up to every summer camp and activity going. But countless others are not so fortunate and have to rely on their own imagination to help entertain youngsters who, no matter how well behaved they are, will become bored at some point over the long school holidays.

However, child psychologist Peadar Maxwell says parents shouldn’t beat themselves up about a lack of expensive holidays and instead start researching what is on their own doorstep.

Most children are not dreaming of far flung places and simply want that experience of getting away from their normal routines

“It can be tough for parents to have to repeatedly tell their children that they simply cannot afford the things other people are doing,” he says. “Holidays away are one of those experiences that families dream about but in many cases it’s just not possible and parents can blame themselves or go into debt to arrange travel.

“But most children are not dreaming of far flung places and simply want that experience of getting away from their normal routines with their family – so making the most of what’s available locally is the best start – whether that’s a picnic, a walk or cycle in a local park or forest (borrow bikes if you don’t have them) or a visit to any beach on a half decent day.”

The Wexford-based expert advises families to avail of every opportunity to enjoy a change from the norm as children will relish any fun times they see their parents participating in.

“Don’t stay at home all summer just because you can’t afford to fly or stay in a hotel,” he says. “Instead go and stay with relatives who live in a different town or for the more adventurous, home-swap with a friend or relative.

“And if you can’t go anywhere far or overnight, try to tap into your childlike side and embrace the playfulness of what you can do. When your children see you laughing and playing together they build great memories of family times.”

Less is more

Dr David Carey, director of psychology at City Colleges, Dublin agrees: “Parents need to realise that they can’t give everything they want to give to their children as sometimes less is more,” he says. “Giving everything, including expensive holiday trips is not always possible, not necessary and often not appreciated by the children.

There is no reason to tell your child you 'can’t afford' a trip away"

“There is no reason to tell your child you 'can’t afford' a trip away. You can simply tell them where you have decided to go, what you have decided to do and let the facts speak for themselves. Do the best you can do, without pressurising yourself - and remember that it’s good enough.

“I would encourage parents to spend time preparing a picnic, go on treasure hunts or a photo trip and plan days out discovering new places in your area. We are lucky in Ireland as we have a lot of fun and free activities available for families – so be creative, think outside the box and even get ideas from the children” 

It is possible to have just as much fun with a staycation on Irish shores with a little bit of planning

Laura Erskine of www.mummypages.ie says there are so many things for families to do around the country without breaking the bank or going on a long journey.

“Giving your family a holiday abroad is not possible for everyone, however it is possible to have just as much fun with a staycation on Irish shores with a little bit of planning,” she says. “If you embrace your summer adventures and create new experiences together as a family, both you and your children will relish the time together.”

20 Simple ideas:

  1. Stage a water balloon fight
  2. Camp in the garden
  3. Fly a kite
  4. Bowling
  5. Make a scavenger hunt
  6. Build a fairy house
  7. Mini golf
  8. Beach picnic
  9. Visit Ireland’s Ancient East or the Wild Atlantic Way
  10. Go to a festival
  11. Make your own ice-cream
  12. Build a fort or den
  13. Go cycling together
  14. Do a family challenge
  15. Visit a Farm
  16. Try go-karting
  17. Try your hand at ziplines and rock climbing
  18. Burn some energy in a trampoline park 
  19. Hit the waterways for a day of kayaking or cruising
  20. Learn a new skill together such as cooking a complicated dish, making a model or painting a picture.

Stress

“Keeping your children entertained over the holidays is not easy, but time spent doing this will not only save you stress, it could save you money too,” says Erskine. “For example, early bookings for family theatre shows means that you can avail of matinee performances, while cinemas offer discounted tickets in the morning time. And booking online will frequently save you time and money as most places of interest offering a special online rate.

 “Other clever ways to reduce your costs is to pick up tourist leaflets and flyers available in the foyer of hotels which promote local attractions and often give a minimum discount of 10 per cent on entry fees. Just be sure to read the small print as these deals often offer such good value on prepaid vouchers that they must be used within a short time frame. Petting zoos, children’s adventure parks and other family day trips are very popular on these sites.”

 But Dr David Carey says while planning days out for children is a great idea, the most important thing is to let them know they know they are loved and if parents don’t have the money to spend on their children this year, it will not be the end of the world.

 “Children need to learn to live with reality,” he says. “We can’t all jet off to Disney every year so live within your means as best you can and continue to save for the big trip in a few years. Let children know they are loved, that’s what they need more than an expensive holiday. Just relax and be yourself and all will be well in the end.”

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