They may be called the holidays. But every mum knows how much work goes into those supposedly long lazy days of summer.
As the author of ‘Mum Hacks – Time-Saving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life’, I know that this can actually be the most stressful time of the year for many parents – especially if you are also trying to juggle work and childcare. My book already contains hundreds of short-cuts for every conceivable challenge you will face as a parent of little ones. But here’s a small selection which will help reduce your stress levels and win you back more time to have fun with your kids this summer.
If your kids are over five, hold a family meeting at a meal time at the start of the holiday, so they can talk about any projects they’d like to do over the summer – and then stock up with the supplies they need. Draw a colourful mindmap diagram of each child’s ideas and stick it to the wall to jog their memories next time they complain they’re bored.
When the weather’s hot, spend less time sweeping up crumbs and wiping down clean kitchen surfaces by suggesting kids eat outside as much as possible. On windless days, take their art projects outside too so it doesn’t matter how much mess they make.
Blow up a high-sided kids’ paddling pool – but don’t fill it with water – to give babies an outside play pen and a place to keep their toys clean.
If you’re planning some long car journeys, pack one towel in the back seat for every child. It can be used as a blanket, a mop for any spills, or it can be placed on toddlers’ laps to help toys stay put. You can also tuck one end into the top of window and hang it as a sun shade to keep out the sun. Moisten it with water to help mop sweaty brows.
Do less cooking. Summer is the perfect time to serve raw food. It’s not only less preparation, it’s also less mess and washing-up afterwards. Get kids to help you put together a ploughman’s lunch, with some cheese, and a hunk of bread, an apple. You can also try oatcakes, hummus, cold chicken drumsticks, and half baby tomatoes. Just make sure there’s a good selection of protein, whole carbs and vegetables. Kids also love anything they can eat off a stick, so thread some little mozarella balls with baby tomatoes onto a wooden chop stick – or try chunks of strawberries, kiwi and half-grapes. In fact, if you cut anything into regular bite-size pieces and arrange them in some sort of order, they look more appetizing for kids.
Mum Hacks – Time-Saving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life’, by Tanith Carey is published by Crimson, price £9.99.
You can buy at any good book shop or click here.