Experience a fun and affordable holiday at home this summer.

If you have no plans to go away this summer you might be worrying about how that might play out. What if the kids get bored? What if you get bored? What will you do if the weather is bad so you’re not stuck inside all the time?

Well, in my experience it can be great to have a holiday at home too. Who says that we can only enjoy a holiday by going abroad or away from home? Personally, I think that by having a relaxed holiday at home you and your family can recharge and also build up some surplus energy after a busy school year. Most families are so busy during the year with school, work, homework, activities etc. that what we might just need the most is some time at home together, to simply be, reconnect and chill.

You might be worried about holiday screen time: will they be asking for longer screen time, refusing to get off their screens or just wanting to be on their gadgets all the time? Most likely yes – and that is OK and normal, but it is up to you how you respond and deal with it.

It’s all about preparing and planning
● Family meeting: sit down with your family before, or at the start of, the holiday and talk about expectations – how long they can be on their screens, which gadgets they can have and when etc. Write it up as an ‘agreement’ so you have something to refer to when they demand or beg for more.
Plan some me time: it is amazing to be with our kids over the holiday period, but you also need some time just for you, to be with your friends or partner without the kids. So while you’re at it, talk to your family about how you can get some time too. Maybe they can go to a friend’s house so you get some time to yourself. IF they are old enough to be home alone, set expectations that you will go out alone from time to time or just have some time in your bedroom alone to relax without any demands or requests. If you have a partner, talk about how you can both get some time for yourselves.
● It’s your holiday too: so make sure that you don’t end up cooking, cleaning and entertaining all the time. Otherwise you will most likely end up as a ‘nagging doormat’ or martyr, complaining about WHY you have to do it all and so on. So again, agree with your family about sharing chores, meals, shopping etc. Maybe this is a good time to introduce new responsibilities to your kids so they learn to be more independent and do their bit at home.
● Bedtime routine: it is a holiday and you might be a bit more relaxed about bedtime. But you know your child best. Do they need a steady bedtime even during holidays so they know what to expect? Keeping things the same here will make it easier to get back into a school routine. Or, can you agree a new ‘holiday bedtime routine’ as long as they understand that this will have to change once they are back at school.

Some low cost ideas and activities for a holiday at home:
1. Create an ice cream shop: there is nothing better than ice cream in the summer. Try to make your own, it’s cheaper, more fun and you can have whatever flavour you want – it can even be a healthier choice. You can use the products that you like i.e. soya, almond cream etc. You can use toppings from sprinkles to bananas, berries, popcorns, coconut, jam, M&Ms etc. – the only limit is your imagination! You can each grab a bowl full and everyone can choose their toppings and flavours.
2. Have Christmas in the heat: this is so much fun. Have a pretend Christmas in August in the sunshine. You can decorate a flower bush, make a full Christmas dinner, make presents for each other and sing Christmas songs. Yes, Christmas can come twice!
3. Take the bus to a place you’ve never been before: jump on a bus and see where it takes you. You can get off, go for a little walk and take the bus back again. There is nothing better than experiencing a new thing with your child, where you both learn. By doing this you show your kids how to take the bus, look at the timetable and work it all out with no need to panic over times or schedules.
4. Take the toys out to the garden, forest, park or terrace: why do toys need to be inside? Maybe you can take their teddy, doll, the car or train on a holiday outside. Bring a blanket and have a big play party with all the toys outside.
5. Sleep outside: we don’t have to travel to have a sleepover holiday. Depending on the weather and the size of your outdoor space you could put up a tent or just bring out a mattress into your garden or terrace. Enjoy falling asleep looking at the stars and waking up to the birds. Take turns telling stories, singing a song or reading aloud from a book.
6. Host a summer Olympics in your garden: invite friends and family to an Olympic event, you can even make it last over a few days. Some gmes you can host: who can run the fastest to the end of the garden and back again 5 times. Who can spin a hula hoop around their waist or arm. Who can throw a ball through a hula hoop. Balance a plastic plate on their head while walking to the fence and back. You can invite your kids to come up with games to host. Everyone tries the games and you can choose someone to add up the points. You can make a refreshment and snacks bar (you can also ask participants to bring food and drinks). At the end you can have a ceremony for the winners.
7. Let the dice choose the walk: choose what direction to go according to the dice i.e. throw an odd number, go right. Throw an even number, go left. A 6 means stop and explore what’s around you (even if it’s just looking at the shape of the clouds). A 5 can mean go back 200 metres to see what you have missed i.e. a nice house, flowers, a big tree etc. A 4 means, take a sip of water etc. This way you will find things in your area that you might never have noticed before.
8. Make a rainy day and sunny day bucket list: create these two lists together as a family. You can agree on a budget, so it is either low cost or no cost.
● Rainy day: swimming pool, craft day, baking a cake, movie night at home (or go to the movies if finances allow), sleepover party in the living room etc.
● Sunny day: go to the park with a picnic, sleep out in the garden, find a river or stream where you can paddle etc.

10. Go to Spain without leaving the house: you can choose different countries that you want to go to and do some research about the place i.e. what food do they eat? Then cook it at home. What language do they speak? Try to listen to it. What flag do they have? Draw it. Find a radio station from that country and have fun listening to it.

11. Have a ‘nothing to do day’: our days can be so busy and packed with activities that it’s great to plan a day where you just do nothing and have no plans. Stay in your PJs, eat when you are hungry and just hang out together.

12. Start a family book club: you can choose books that your kids can enjoy too and then join in. It can be with pictures or just writing (according to ability and age). It can even be magazines (i.e. Lego, Barbie, fishing, football etc.), just choose what you will read and then all family members read it. When you are all done, get together with some snacks and talk about it: who was the author and what made them write what they did, where was it set, what did everyone think of it etc.

13. Have a project: this was my favourite when my kids were young and we had holidays at home. We would choose some projects that we could immerse ourselves in without having to stop or be interrupted by school and other activities. This is obviously age dependent, but it could be creating a family website or family only photo album. Or building a Lego town. Creating a vegetable/herb or flower garden. Or putting together your own family cookbook.

And don’t be afraid to let kids be bored: long days at home with ‘nothing’ to do can lead to sibling rivalry, nagging, begging and you might be in danger of falling into the ‘entertainment trap’. But there is nothing wrong with being bored! Actually, when our kids are bored, that is when their busy little brains have had a full rest and can start sparking with creativity and new ideas. Believe me, there is a limit on how long they can be bored before they come up with something to do! You can also have an agreement around what you will do and say when they are bored, i.e. you can have a list of things they can do (i.e. crafts, books, magazines, projects etc.), but most importantly remember that it is OK to be bored! Being bored is actually very healthy and a rare moment to embrace – as long as you can keep your cool if they start whingeing! CLICK here to read more about ‘Why boredom is good’

Have a wonderful holiday.

Mette Theilmann, 

Founder of Predictable Parenting & creator of the Parenting Community app