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How to survive the rest of the school holidays: be flexible and develop a new routine

There will be moments of family fun this summer, but it won’t be fun every day. Don’t guilt trip yourself

Are we there yet? No, we are not. There’s still a month left of school holidays. Until government policy on things like paid parental leave catches up with modern family life you’ve got to do whatever it takes to survive the summer.

Be flexible

If you’re juggling kids with work or household responsibilities adjust your expectations, says Susi Lodola, a cognitive behavioural therapist accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

“Routines have to be a bit more flexible during the summer. Let them watch a bit more telly, let them get on the PlayStation, let them stay up a little bit later. Embrace all that freedom that the summer brings,” says Lodola.

Summer is a great time to let younger children practice life skills like getting up themselves and getting their own breakfast, for example.


Develop a new routine

Routines need to be more flexible, yes, but having a loose one can help children and adults grapple with expansive holidays. “It can give kids a little bit of structure and this gives them a sense of security as well,” says Lodola. Work commitments, play dates, the weekly shop – plot things out with your kids on a big sheet at the beginning of the week, says Lodola.

“Let them put in what they want to do, their fun time. Then you get a chance to put in your stuff too. If between 9am and 11am on Wednesday you have meetings they can go on the PlayStation or whatever,” she says. “Tell them, this is my time where I have to work without interruption, and you can have your two hours to watch the film you wanted to watch. This gives them a feeling of empowerment.”

“When you are working it’s hard, but allow a little bit of time for spontaneous activities and some down time too,” says Lodola.

Give them independence

At times when you have other commitments, tell them. If they are old enough tell them they have to do their own thing during that time. “It gives them independence. They learn to structure their own time and entertain themselves. It will boost their confidence and help them to develop essential life skills,” says Lodola.

Lose the guilt

Of course, your childhood summers were spent at the beach; building forts and playing football on the green until bedtime. But were they though? Remove the sepia tinted lens and you’ll see there was plenty of boredom, bad telly and sunburn. That’s what makes that beach trip, fort and footie game a stand-out memory. There will be moments and maybe even hours of family fun this summer, but it won’t be fun all day every day. That’s unrealistic. Don’t guilt trip yourself.

Let it go

Summer holidays mean everyone is spending far more time in the house. Snacking, playing, lounging, fighting – it’s hard to keep the place straight with a herd of sun-creamed elephants barrelling around. Accept that your house will be in a jock for the summer. Clean in September but for now, be like Elsa from Frozen and “let it go”.

Me time

The kids get a treat on a Friday, but what about you? Getting regular breaks from your charges will extend your patience with them. “You’ve got to have some time for yourself,” says Lodola. “Whether that’s going for a walk on your own or getting your hair done. When you are feeling refreshed it becomes much easier to be patient and fun-loving with your kids.”

Learn from it

Come next May a break from the school run, uniforms, lunch boxes and homework will seem golden again. Recall any lessons from this summer and plan accordingly. That might mean partners alternating annual leave, advance booking summer camps or doing childcare swaps with other parents.

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property, lifestyle, and personal finance