THE summer is rolling around (not that you would know it by the weather lately!) and the countdown to the children finishing up school is on.
It is a relief to get to the end of the school year, and for the first time in three years the children have spent the entirety of the school year attending, without the interruption of home schooling.
It has been a busy year; after-school activities have been hectic as training, competitions and matches are caught up on, and parties too have featured heavily on the agenda as we all hurtle headfirst into living our lives to the fullest.
In this household, the girls are tired, so we are very much looking forward to ditching the schedules and having days where we are not rushing from one thing to another.
I want the girls to have a chance to breathe, to have the space to think, and for little bodies to have a chance to recoup after a busy year.
One of our favourite activities to do when we want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life is to go for a walk with our dog. There is absolutely nothing relaxing for me as a parent about bringing a red setter for a walk, but it’s a great excuse to get out with the girls.
Given the dog’s affinity for making friends with people who often misunderstand him, we tend to stick to the off-road bicycle tracks in our local forest that are usually quiet during the weekdays.
We never leave the woods without a smile on our faces.
Reading is another great activity to get children to slow down and relax. My two older girls are eight and ten and are big into books. Series like Tom Gates, Dogman, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Timmy Failure and Barry Loser are all big hits here, along with authors like Roald Dahl, David Walliams and Jaqueline Wilson. More hands-on things work for the younger girls like playdough or playing in the sand pit.
I am an avid DIYer, but honestly, if the girls ask to paint I can’t help but groan. However, the summer is the perfect opportunity to get painting because it’s much easier to contain the mess when it is done outdoors.
You could get them to paint terracotta plant pots and then set them to work planting seeds like lettuce that generally start growing quickly enough.
Another nice, slow-paced activity that suits the unconstrained days of the summer is baking. Simple things like fairy cakes, biscuits and scones are a nice way to get a child to start independently baking, and they also make great snacks for one of the 45 times in the day you’ll be asked for food!
I love having the time in the day to let the girls bake or cook, I think it’s an important skill to have. You can also get children involved in preparing snacks or main meals and, given how many times in the day they eat, this can eat up (pardon the pun!) a significant amount of time!
Sometimes, as the summer approaches, we feel under pressure to go on holidays or to have an exciting calendar planned, but embrace having no plans too. It is important to let kids have some downtime, a chance for them to ‘get bored’!
My eldest lady used to be weak at creating her own entertainment, I was always met by demands from her during the day, asking me to suggest things for her to do. She is ten now and has such a deep love for reading and art that I rarely see her from one end of the day to the other. My other girls will only reappear for feeding, such is their ability to play in a world of their own for hours on end.
I think it’s important not to always meet the ‘I’m bored’ statement with a plethora of suggestions for them, let them be bored and give them the space and encouragement to find a solution to their boredom by themselves.
It can be testing at times, but during the school year nearly every minute of the day is accounted for, so it’s important to give them the opportunity to really use their own imaginations, to help them figure out for themselves what they like and dislike doing.