18 tips to keep kids sane on their holidays


Don’t let the school holidays become something to dread. Here are ways to plan out the summer days to avoid chaos and arguments at home while the kids are on holidays.

Kids on holidays

With lots of hours to kill until September, it can be a daunting prospect to keep kids entertained for the summer holidays. Here’s how to avoid temper tantrums and keep the household feeling relatively calm for the summer months. 

1. Keep your routine

Just because the days are longer it doesn’t mean that bedtime goes out the window. Adjust your routine as needed (by all means treat your household to a more relaxed morning start) but it’s good for kids and for you to know when meals will be and to make sure bedtime is non-negotiable. It may start some arguments in the beginning, but better to stand firm now than to have a major re-adjustment before school starts in September. 

2. Set boundaries

Ensure your children know that just because they are home all day it doesn’t mean that they are the boss. They should be aware of what your routine is like, for instance, if you have to log on to your work email after dinner, or if you usually tackle the housework after breakfast, ensure they respect  that time. Likewise, if you normally like to relax with a coffee and a book after the school run, don’t give up that time. They should be able to keep themselves occupied, or have chores to tackle at that time. 

3. Get the kids involved 

Have a brainstorm together to come up with ideas everyone will be happy to plan for the summer. Ensure there is a good mix of free and paid-for activities, day trips and fun ideas for what you can all do together at home too. This is a good way to ensure everyone’s interests are catered for, and planning it in will give everyone something to look forward to. Perhaps your little boy would love an arts and crafts day with everyone involved, or appease your teenager with a movie night of their choice. Get some ideas here!

4. Plan days at home 

This is crucial. Just because you’re not going anywhere, it doesn’t mean most days should be rudderless. Weather-depending, ensure that there is a rough plan for what you will tackle each day so that everyone is on the same page. Perhaps Mondays can be your housework day and Tuesdays can be a day for baking or gardening and so on.  

5. Don’t over-do it

That’s not to say that every day or every hour should be planned out. Remember that kids need rest times too and don’t try to take on too much. It’s okay to let kids be bored sometimes, it’s a natural feeling. In fact, lots of studies show that feeling bored can trigger or creativity and imagination so don’t be afraid to let kids be idle every now and then. 

5. Prepare for the future

The summer can be a great time to help kids get the hang of valuable skills. Putting extra time into teaching them to cook or garden is a great challenge for the summer. Or think about where they will be next year. If they are going to be moving from playschool to school, why not try encouraging them to take an interest in more challenging books or if they’re moving from primary to secondary, have a chat with them about new subjects like home economics, languages or woodwork. It will be a nice time to help them get excited for the new year, and peak their interest in the new subjects they will be taking on.

6. Manage expectations

While of course you want your kics to be excited about summer and to be enthusiastic about spending their days with you, make sure that they are realistic about what their days will be like. Don’t let them get the idea that it will be about days out all the time or that they can run riot around the house. Summer holidays are exciting to look forward to, but remember that it’s about downtime and relaxation for everyone in the house too. 

7. Have a to-go kit

While of course you will have a nappy bag and those sorts of essentials to hand anyway, think about the days when you will want to jump in the car and hit the road. Have a beach bag ready to go with extra big towels, buckets and spades and books for everyone, or have a picnic kit ready to go with utensils and napkins and snacks so that all you have to do is pack a few sandwiches on the morning of and go. Even having spare rain boots and raincoats in the car will ensure you are always ready to go for an impromptu stroll. Visit these spots to get kids excited about sea life, rain, hail or shine!

8. Schedule quiet time 

While nap times are of course an essential for small kids, all ages will benefit from a designated quiet time. Whether it’s a time you all read your books, or you introduce them to some simple mindfulness videos on YouTube, it’s good to get your kids used to the idea that they can’t constantly be shrieking the house down. It’s a valuable skill to have in the classroom too, so quiet time is a good concept to make kids aware of before they’re back in school. Even introducing a cosy time where everyone gets comfy in their favourite chair with a cuppa can be a nice way to have a relaxed chat or a rest. 

9. Book online and plan ahead

Don’t be caught out and just check the night before you head anywhere if you can book tickets online. You can probably make a saving, you will hopefully skip some queues and it will also be a chance for you to check opening times and any other issues you might need to be aware of .

10. Don’t let rain stop you

While no one is happy when it rains in summer don’t let it rule your everyday activities. If it’s just drizzling or a quick shower, get everyone wrapped up and make a break for it. It might not be a day for a super long walk, 

11. Avoid social media guilt

No doubt your pals will have lots of snaps up from their holidays, whether they’re soaking up the sun at a waterpark with their kids or off on yet another day trip. Don’t let anyone else’s summer make you feel guilty, everyone’s free time and budget is different, so just focus on enjoying the time you do get to spend with your family. 

12. Give kids responsibilities

Hopefully your kids will already have a list of chores to call their own around the house, but now that they will be around during the day too, give them some extra work to do. If there is a task that will make your life easier and ensure that you all get to spend more fun time together, enlist their help and explain that this is part of being at home everyday. 

13. Stock up when you can

While we’re not saying you need to batten down the hatches, before the kids get their holidays or when you have some help with childcare, stock up on non-perishable essentials to make your weekly shop with them in tow go that bit smoother. We all know that dragging kids around a supermarket can be a recipe for trouble! 

14. Don’t take on too much

Be realistic about your own energy levels and time available. Of course you want your kids to have amazing summer holidays, but you have your limitations. If your kids are old enough to understand, sit them down and explain what you will realistically be able to do with them, and how many hours of your time that you can devote to doing fun stuff with them. Get them involved so that they are aware that the free time you do have you want to spend with them having fun, so they will need to be patient and understanding about your work and other demands. 

15. Make reading a priority

This is a great gift to give your children. Make reading a non-negotiable ritual for the kids during the holidays. Get them excited about books. Remember the fun of devouring an entire Harry Potter book the day it came out? Or getting down to the library to pick up the next instalment in the Babysitters’ Club series? Make sure that books are part of the summer memories that they will cherish forever.

16. Anticipate the inevitable 

You will have a pretty good idea of what your kids will fight over or throw a tantrum about. Try to prevent future blow-ups, such as setting rules that no one interferes with so-and-so’s CD collection without permission, or that bedrooms are private spaces. You know your kids so try to prevent little battles from breaking out when they’re home more all summer. 

17. Have something special on hand

We’re not saying you should spoil your kid but it’s always good to have a bargaining chip or a nice carrot on a stick to entice some good behaviour! Whether you set up a reward chart, or have a magic box of special activity books or new computer games, get kids used to the idea of waiting or working towards a bonus. 

18. Get outside as much as possible

This should be a given, but it’s easy to allow kids to entertain themselves indoors for a quiet life. Sometimes you have to put the foot down and say no one is allowed indoors if the sun is shining (within reason). Give them some sporting challenges to get competitive with, or get them excited about the nature they can find in the back garden. This will help ensure the kids stay active (and out of your hair!) for the holidays.